Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m back from another few days of more excitement than I really need. Fortunately, the worst of yesterday’s storms missed the City of New Orleans but more than a dozen tornadoes ravaged the south including states north and east of us. I spent most of the evening fixated on the various radars identifying debris and hooks. I can’t wait to get my weather station set up in the backyard!
There is some news coming out of the Justice Department about a criminal probe into the January 6 rally prep and funding. The Washington Post had most of its national security reporters on the story and it’s a big one! They broke the story last night around supper time. “Justice Dept. expands Jan. 6 probe to look at rally prep, financing. Subpoena requests seek information about the planning for gathering outside White House that preceded Capitol riot”
In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally, said the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation — which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation’s history — has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack.
The events of Jan. 6, 2021, are a legally fraught puzzle for federal investigators. Prosecutors and FBI agents must distinguish between constitutionally protected First Amendment activity, such as speech and assembly, and the alleged conspiracy to obstruct Congress or other potential crimes connected to fundraising and organizing leading up to Jan. 6.
The task is also complicated by the proximity of those two very different types of activities — speech and violence — that occurred within hours of each other and less than a mile apart.
Also revealed yesterday were more details concerning the huge loss of phone logs on the day of the attack. This is from the UK Guardian. “Revealed: Trump used White House phone for call on January 6 that was not on official log. Trump’s call to Republican senator should have been reflected in presidential call log on day of Capitol attack but wasn’t.” There was some suspicion of the use of a burner phone or borrowed phones as BB discussed in earlier posts this week. This seems to show at least one phone call that wasn’t logged or was and then removed.
Donald Trump used an official White House phone to place at least one call during the Capitol attack on January 6 last year that should have been reflected in the internal presidential call log from that day but was not, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The former president called the phone of a Republican senator, Mike Lee, with a number recorded as 202-395-0000, a placeholder number that shows up when a call is incoming from a number of White House department phones, the sources said.
The number corresponds to an official White House phone and the call was placed by Donald Trump himself, which means the call should have been recorded in the internal presidential call log that was turned over to the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.
Trump’s call to Lee was reported at the time, as well as its omission from the call log, by the Washington Post and CBS. But the origin of the call as coming from an official White House phone, which has not been previously reported, raises the prospect of tampering or deletion by Trump White House officials.
It also appears to mark perhaps the most serious violation of the Presidential Records Act – the statute that mandates preservation of White House records pertaining to a president’s official duties – by the Trump White House concerning January 6 records to date.
This is from the Norm Eisen link to CNN and his OpEd co-authored with Fred Wertheimer. “Finally, a road map to hold Trump accountable.”
The resignation of two Manhattan prosecutors for their boss’s failure to charge former President Donald Trump over potential financial crimes last month has reignited debate over whether he will ever be held accountable for his alleged misdeeds.
That matters not only looking back but also going forward because perhaps his most notorious outrage — the big lie that he won the 2020 presidential election — has not halted. It continues to drive hundreds of voter suppression and election sabotage bills and anti-democratic candidates across the country. And it has captured and corrupted a significant faction of the Republican Party.
Thankfully, Judge David Carter’s decision on Monday, finding Trump “more likely than not” committed crimes, sets out a road map for finally imposing consequences for the big lie. It does so by tackling the thorniest legal issues regarding Trump, his enablers and the events in and around January 6, 2021 — and showing how they can be addressed by prosecutors.
Perhaps the most daunting of these is the question of Trump’s criminal intent. How can a prosecutor prove what Trump was thinking when he publicly claims good faith but refuses to testify, when those closest to him also resist or are hostile witnesses and when he does not use the prosecutor’s best friend, email?
Intent is where the Manhattan District Attorney’s financial case seemed to come a cropper. Whatever you think of the DA’s failure to prosecute financial crime, and we strongly disagreed, Carter offered a powerful array of evidence about democracy crimes.
Carter applies precedent to show that “a person does not need to know their actions are wrong to break the law.” Trump exceeded this threshold because he likely knew that right-wing lawyer John Eastman’s plan to throw out electoral votes was illegal. Carter cites the January 6 House select committee’s carefully compiled evidence that Trump was advised publicly and privately numerous times that there was absolutely no evidence of significant electoral fraud.
As the opinion notes, Trump’s calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he famously asked the secretary to “give (him) a break” and “find 11,780 votes” (one vote more than Biden’s margin of victory in that state) reveal the former President’s goal: not to undertake any legitimate investigation, but simply to overturn the election. This is strong evidence of a “corrupt mindset,” and it leads Carter to an eminently simple conclusion: “(t)he illegality of the plan was obvious.”
I’d also like to use the Wayback Machine to visit Marcie’s Post of February 21 that covers “HOW JUDGE AMIT MEHTA ARGUED IT PLAUSIBLE THAT TRUMP CONSPIRED WITH TWO MILITIAS at Empty Wheel.
IT IS PLAUSIBLE THAT DONALD TRUMP ENTERED INTO A CONSPIRACY WITH TWO MILITIAS
As Judge Mehta laid out, accepting the claims alleged as true (which one must do on motions to dismiss), there were five things Trump did that made the plaintiffs’ claims of a conspiracy plausible, which is the standard required to reject the motion to dismiss:
- They agreed to pursue the goal of disrupting the vote certification: “The President, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and others “pursu[ed] the same goal”: to disrupt Congress from completing the Electoral College certification on January 6th.”
- Trump encouraged means of obstructing the vote count and the militias (and others) carried them out: “He knew the respective roles of the conspirators: his was to encourage the use of force, intimidation, or threats to thwart the Certification from proceeding, and organized groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers would carry out the required acts.”
- Trump incited law-breaking: “Based on these allegations, it is reasonable to infer that before January 6th the President would have known about the power of his words and that, when asked, some of his supporters would do as he wished. On January 6th they did so. When he called on them to march to the Capitol, some responded, “Storm the Capitol.” Thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue as directed. And, when some were inside the Capitol, they told officers, “We were invited here by the President of the United States.”
- Trump called for collective action: “Fourth, the President’s January 6 Rally Speech can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action. The President’s regular use of the word “we” is notable.”
- Trump ratified the riot: “And then, around 6:00 p.m., after law enforcement had cleared the building, the President issued the following tweet: ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’ A reasonable observer could read that tweet as ratifying the violence and other illegal acts that took place at the Capitol only hours earlier.”
Laying out the conspiracy like this is the easy part.
The hard part is finding that the sitting President could be sued, and could be sued substantially for his speech.
Marcie notes the Judge took care of that part too in 3 easy steps. So, it’s getting increasingly obvious that sitting judges consider Trump guilty-as-fuck to use a JJism. If you want some more of Marcie’s research follow this thread as she schools Ben Wittes for not doing his homework.
Well, enough of the Trump Hell realm. Now to the Russian-created Hell Realm.
That all looks promising. From the NBC Link:
The Biden administration could soon announce a plan to release around 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for as long as six months, a source familiar with the matter has told NBC News. The announcement could come as soon as Thursday.
In Ukraine, an evacuation convoy of 17 buses was able to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol Thursday morning, according to its city council, with further evacuations anticipated for Friday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it had seen Russian forces near Kyiv move north or into Belarus, with both the U.S. and U.K. saying it appeared troops were looking to resupply and reorganize.
But, from the Covid-19 front, it looks like Mitch wants us all to die and go to hell.
The size of a bipartisan package to provide fresh spending to combat COVID-19 could shrink to $10 billion, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday, and the chamber’s top Democrat also suggested its price tag could fall.
Negotiators have been trying for weeks to revive a $15.6 billion compromise they had agreed to earlier this month. That fell apart after House Democrats rejected cuts in pandemic aid to states to help pay for it, and the parties remain divided over how to find savings both sides can accept.
The new money would be to purchase vaccines, treatments and tests, which the administration says are running low, even as the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2 spreads quickly in the U.S. and abroad.
So, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more from all of these black swan events.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good morning, well…many of the cartoons today mention the ‘slap heard around the world.’ So be ready for them…cartoons via Cagle:
I will end this post with these fantastic videos…if they do not embed properly, please be sure to click on the link and watch them. Too funny.
And that is one magic loogie…This is an open thread. May the Schwartz be with you…
Lots of January 6 investigation news breaking this morning. There are also other Trump crime developments.
January 6 News
Nixon had an 18 minute gap; Trump’s gap is much longer. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at The Washington Post: Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls.
Reffitt was the first Capitol insurrectionist to be convicted in a jury trial.
Analysis by Stephen Collinson at CNN: Trump’s January 6 plot appears darker and more dangerous by the day.
Even as a federal judge commented Monday that Trump “more likely than not” sought to commit a crime to stay in office last year, the ex-President’s attacks on democracy are intensifying. They were on display as recently as Saturday night in a lie-filled rally that underscored how his conspiracy to overturn the election — whether it is criminal or not — remains viscerally alive and able to damage future elections.
While much of the country has been transfixed by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, the House committee investigating the insurrection has been racing against the clock ticking down to its own likely demise if Republicans win back the House in November’s midterms. It took another step on Monday toward holding two former Trump advisers to account by advancing criminal contempt referrals.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post and CBS News reported that a gap of more than seven hours exists in the logs of phone calls placed to or from Trump on January 6 that were turned over to the House committee. CNN had previously reported that records were missing regarding the calls.
It’s extraordinary that, more than 14 months on, new details of efforts by Trump and those around him to subvert President Joe Biden’s victory are still emerging. It’s also ironic that this threat to American democracy is being further exposed while Washington leads an international effort to save freedom in Ukraine, which is under much greater assault from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump still seems to hero worship.
Here at home, a flurry of new details in recent days about the ex-President’s behavior justifies continued investigations into the worst attack on American democracy in decades. Those revelations also explain why pro-Trump Republicans were so keen to prevent the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, from ever getting off the ground. And they inject a new political dimension into Trump’s attempted comeback as he casts the 2022 midterm elections as a referendum on the lie that he won in 2020 and seeks to build a return to the White House on the same falsehoods that have drawn in millions of his supporters.
On yesterday’s report that federal judge David Carter determined that Trump committed crimes and the repercussions for Attorney General Merrick Garland:
Carter can’t initiate a case against Trump. But his words didn’t just raise a blaring historical marker over a President committing a potential crime in office — and one that put the entire US democratic system at risk. His comment re-focused attention on the debate within the House committee over whether to make what would be a historic criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department. Such a move would present Attorney General Merrick Garland with the earthshaking decision of whether to prosecute an ex-President who is maneuvering with a $100 million war chest in a potential bid to reclaim his job in 2024.
There could be few hotter political potatoes for an attorney general already facing political pressure to deal with Trump aides who are obstructing the committee.
Failing to pursue Trump in such circumstances would send a signal of impunity for presidents who seek to destroy American democratic institutions, even as Trump’s supporters who ransacked the US Capitol begin to be convicted and face prison terms for apparently acting on their political hero’s wishes.
Last night the January 6 Committee voted to recommend contempt charges for Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for refusing to testify to the committee. In addition, ABC News reports that Jared Kushner is expected to testify to the committee on Thursday.
More Trump Crimes
The New York Attorney General’s Office has “uncovered significant evidence” suggesting that financial statements by the Trump Organization relied on misleading valuations of its real estate assets for more than a decade, the office said in a court filing Tuesday.
Those potentially misleading valuations “and other misrepresentations” were used by the company owned by ex-President Donald Trump “to secure economic benefits — including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions — on terms more favorable than the true facts warranted,” the filing alleged.
The claims by Attorney General Letitia James were made in response to an appeal by the Trump Organization and Donald Trump of last month’s order by a Manhattan state court judge directing Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump to submit to interviews by James’ investigators….
In one glaring example, the financial statements for the Trump Organization from 2010 to 2012 “collectively valued” rent-stabilized apartment units it owned at $49.59 million, which was “over sixty-six times the $750,000 total value the outside appraiser had assigned to these units,” the filing said in a footnote.
The attorney general has said she is conducting both a civil investigation and a criminal probe related to the company.
“Mr. Trump personally certified the accuracy of the Statements for the years prior to 2016, at which point his assets were placed in a revocable trust,” while Donald Jr. “was responsible for the Statements for the years 2016 to 2020,” James noted in the filing.
That document said that from 2012 through 2016, the company’s financial statements said that Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan “exceeded 30,000 square and valued the apartment at up to $327 million based on those dimensions,” the filing noted.
But in 2017, the company’s statement “slashed the apartment’s value by two-thirds, sizing the residence at just under 11,000 square fees,” which is the figure specified in the offering plan for the building, the filing said.
One more from Just the News: Exclusive: Trump calls on Putin to release info on Hunter Biden’s dealings with oligarchs.
Former President Donald Trump is calling on Russian leader Vladimir Putin to release any information he possesses on Hunter Biden’s dealings with oligarchs in Eastern Europe.
In an interview with the Just the News television show on Real America’s Voice airing Tuesday, the former president cited a 2020 Senate report that disclosed Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, then the wife of Moscow’s mayor, provided $3.5 million a decade ago to a company co-founded by President Joe Biden’s son and unanswered questions about why the money was given.
“She gave him $3.5 million so now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it,” Trump said in a wide-ranging interview at his Mar O Lago resort in Florida. “I think we should know that answer.”
A grand jury in Delaware has been investigating Hunter Bjden’s business dealings for possible tax violations, foreign lobbying issues and money laundering. Hunter Biden has acknowledge the probe but denied wrongdoing.
Trump said he also would like to know more about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukrainian oligarch Nikolai Zlochevsky, the owner of the Burisma Holdings gas company that hired the Biden scion in 2014 to its board and paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Shades of Trump’s “Russia, are you listening” appeal for Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.
What’s on your mind today?
Daknikat has a cell phone emergency, so I’m filling in and starting really late–just beginning to look at the news. There’s quite a bit happening.
The Washington Post’s Michael Kranish has a big story about Ted Cruz and January 6: Inside Ted Cruz’s last-ditch battle to keep Trump in power. It turns out that Cruz and John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a memo explaining how Pence could supposedly refuse to certify the election, have known each other for 27 years. Not only that, Trump asked Cruz if he would argue the case to overturn the election if they could get the Supreme Court to hear it. From the article:
An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.
Now, Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyerJohn Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.
As Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could denycertifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposedobjecting to the results in six swing states and delayingaccepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentiallyenabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed hisproposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.
The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.
“It was a very dangerous proposal, and, you know, could very easily have put us into territory where we got to the inauguration and there was not a president,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Jan. 6 committee member, said earlier this year on the podcast “Honestly.” “And I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.”
Eastman and Cruz both worked for Michael Luttig, who was then on the U.S. Appeals Court. Here’s what Luttig has to say about Cruz’s actions:
Luttig told The Post that he believes that Cruz — who once said that Luttig was “like a father to me” — played a paramount role in the events leading to Jan. 6.
“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”
The story also says that Eastman took the Fifth when the Committee asked him about communications with Cruz.
Also from The Washington Post: Jan. 6 committee to seek interview with Ginni Thomas.
So, with that…here are the cartoons:
That is it, all that tRump stuff got me worked up…so this is an open thread, have a good day.