Thursday Reads: Come Hell and High WaterPosted: March 31, 2022
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?