Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: May 28, 2022
I’ve spent a couple of hours now searching the internet for good news. The closest I’ve gotten to finding it is some articles about bad news for Donald Trump.
First up: the investigation into Trump’s efforts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election process in Georgia appears to be building steam.
The New York Times: Up to 50 Subpoenas Expected as Grand Jury Begins Trump Inquiry.
ATLANTA — As many as 50 witnesses are expected to be subpoenaed by a special grand jury that will begin hearing testimony next week in the criminal investigation into whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies violated Georgia laws in their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.
The process, which is set to begin on Wednesday, is likely to last weeks, bringing dozens of subpoenaed witnesses, both well-known and obscure, into a downtown Atlanta courthouse bustling with extra security because of threats directed at the staff of the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis….
Ms. Willis emphasized the breadth of the case. As many as 50 witnesses have declined to talk to her voluntarily and are likely to be subpoenaed, she said. The potential crimes to be reviewed go well beyond the phone call that Mr. Trump made to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Jan. 2, 2021, during which he asked him to find enough votes to reverse the election results.
Ms. Willis is weighing racketeering among other potential charges and said that such cases have the potential to sweep in people who have never set foot in Fulton or made a single phone call to the county.
Her investigators are also reviewing the slate of fake electors that Republicans created in a desperate attempt to circumvent the state’s voters. She said the scheme to submit fake Electoral College delegates could lead to fraud charges, among others — and cited her approach to a 2014 racketeering case she helped lead as an assistant district attorney, against a group of educators involved in a cheating scandal in the Atlanta public schools.
“There are so many issues that could have come about if somebody participates in submitting a document that they know is false,” she said. “You can’t do that. If you go back and look at Atlanta Public Schools, that’s one of the things that happened, is they certified these test results that they knew were false. You cannot do that.”
Read the rest at the NYT.
An Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump‘s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results has subpoenaed half a dozen officials from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, according to copies of the documents obtained by CNN….
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Interim Deputy Secretary of State Gabe Sterling, General Counsel Ryan Germany, former Elections Director Chris Harvey, Legislative Liaison Victoria Thompson and former Chief Investigator Frances Watson, according to copies of the documents.
The subpoenas call for the witnesses to testify on dates from early to mid-June. Raffensperger, who has previously said he would comply with a subpoena, appears slated to be one of the first witnesses to testify on June 2. His call with Trump — in which the former President pressured Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed for Trump to win Georgia — lies at the heart of the Georgia probe.
Sterling, Raffensperger’s deputy, also has said he would comply with his subpoena. Several staffers in the office have already had voluntary conversations with Fulton County investigators and handed over relevant documents and recordings.
Willis, meantime, has said she’s not limiting her investigation to Trump’s infamous call with Raffensperger. She has cast a wide net — looking at Georgia’s fake electors, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy-ridden presentation to state lawmakers and other issues — as she tries to determine whether Trump and his allies engaged in a broad criminal conspiracy to try to swing the Peach State to Trump’s column….
Fulton County investigators traveled to Washington, DC, earlier this month to meet with staffers for the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection to go over information that may be relevant to the Georgia probe, according to the person familiar with the investigation.
Here’s hoping some bad news for Trump and good news U.S. democracy emerges from this investigation.
More potential bad news for Trump: his chosen candidates for 2022 aren’t doing so well.
The New York Times: Trump’s Primary Losses Puncture His Invincibility.
Donald J. Trump had cast this year’s primaries as a moment to measure his power, endorsing candidates by the dozen as he sought to maintain an imprint on his party unlike any other past president.
But after the first phase of the primary season concluded on Tuesday, a month in which a quarter of America’s states cast their ballots, the verdict has been clear: Mr. Trump’s aura of untouchability in Republican politics has been punctured.
In more than five years — from when he became president in January 2017 until May 2022 — Mr. Trump had only ever seen voters reject a half-dozen of his choices in Republican primaries. But by the end of this month, that figure had more than doubled, with his biggest defeat coming on Tuesday when Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia thrashed a Trump-backed challenger by more than 50 percentage points. Three other Trump recruits challenging Kemp allies also went down to defeat.
The mounting losses have emboldened Mr. Trump’s rivals inside the party to an extent not seen since early 2016 and increased the chances that, should he run again in 2024, he would face serious competition….
Mr. Trump remains broadly popular among Republicans and has a political war chest well north of $100 million. But there has been a less visible sign of slippage: Mr. Trump’s vaunted digital fund-raising machine has begun to slow. An analysis by The New York Times shows that his average daily online contributions have declined every month for the last seven months that federal data is available.
Mr. Trump has gone from raising an average of $324,633 per day in September 2021 on WinRed, the Republican donation-processing portal, to $202,185 in March 2022 — even as he has ramped up his political activities and profile.
Unfortunately, it appears that even if the Republicans dump Trump, the party is already suffused with Trumpism and that’s not likely to change.
David Smith at The Guardian: Republican primaries offer look into future of Trumpism without Trump.
The former US president suffered some humiliation on Tuesday when four candidates he handpicked in Georgia lost Republican primary elections in a landslide. It was a stinging rebuke in what has become ground zero for his “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
But it was no rebuke of Maga and all it stands for.
The hard-right, nativist-populist strain of Republican politics predates Trump and will surely survive him. This year’s primary season winners in Georgia and elsewhere have been careful not to disavow the movement, or its patriarch, even when they lack his blessing.
“Donald Trump has transformed the Republican party over the past five years and it is now a solid majority Trumpist party with everything that entails in policy and in tone,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. “On the other hand, Republicans, including very conservative ones, are clearly willing to entertain the possibility of Trumpism without Trump.”
Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, commented: “The results in Georgia were really stunning. Few, if any Republicans, have aroused Donald Trump’s ire so much as Governor Kemp and Brad Raffensperger and they both did substantially better than expected. Donald Trump went all out in Georgia and he ended up an egg on this face, which is significant.
“It may be that the people who have been in the bull’s eye of Trump’s ‘big lie’ campaign have started resenting it and took their resentment out. More generally, I think an increasing number of people are asking themselves a question that they weren’t asking previously: would we be better off with a Trumpist candidate who’s not named Donald Trump?”
Among those asking the question is Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, who campaigned for Kemp in Georgia and told the Politico website: “Trump picked this fight.” Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have also felt at liberty to campaign for midterm candidates denied Trump’s imprimatur.
Then there is Mike Pence, the former vice-president, who defied his old boss by rallying with Kemp on Monday and telling the crowd: “Elections are about the future.” Pence, himself a former governor of Indiana, has made a habit of speaking with pride about the accomplishments of the Trump-Pence administration while distancing himself from the “big lie”.
There’s more analysis at the Guardian link.
Yesterday, Dakinikat focused on the NRA convention in Houston, just after the ghastly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and just two weeks after the racist mass murders in Buffalo, New York. Heather Digby Parton wrote at Raw Story about the NRA’s long history of arguing that they are the true victims of mass shootings: The NRA celebrates in Texas before Uvalde victims are buried.
In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this week some people expected the National Rifle Association (NRA) to cancel its annual meeting and extravagant gun show which starts today in Houston. The city, however, has a binding contract that prohibits it from canceling the show unilaterally. But the mayor, Democrat Sylvester Turner, asked the gun group to voluntarily postpone. They declined.
That’s to be expected, of course. The NRA has never let a mass shooting get in the way of gathering for fun and profit. The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell reminded us this week that they did exactly the same thing after Columbine, the first of the modern school shootings that have plagued America for more than two decades. That mass killing took place in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver where the NRA convention was scheduled to take place just days later. In that case, the Denver mayor told them the city didn’t want them there and even offered to pay them for their trouble if they would cancel. They still refused.
Last year, NPR correspondent Tim Mak came into possession of some recorded calls between NRA officials right after Columbine which showed that their primary concern at the time was that they would look weak if they canceled the meeting. In the end, after contemplating creating a “victims fund” and deciding it would look like an admission of guilt, their only compromise was to cancel the gun show portion of their convention and shorten their gathering to just one day. According to Brockell, NRA president Charlton Heston went on to give a memorable speech that year “blaming the media for scapegoating NRA members as somehow responsible for the tragedy, while ‘racing’ to ‘drench their microphones with the tears of victims.'” The next year he returned to give one of the most famous culture war speeches in history:
I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I’m sure you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you, the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is…
As I’ve stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I’ve realized that firearms are — are not the only issue. No, it’s much, much bigger than that. I’ve come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain accepted thoughts and speech are mandated.
That was almost a quarter century ago so all this recent wailing about “cancel culture” is just a new term for the same culture war that’s been raging for years. And guns have been at the heart of it because the NRA put them there.
I’ve written a lot over the years about Wayne LaPierre and his fantastically successful gun rights movement, for which he can pretty much take total credit. He saw the potential to turn the sporting and hunting organization into a political powerhouse and through his public relations and propaganda skills met his goals in the matter of a few short years. In doing so he made gun ownership a social identity for the American right wing.
Read the rest at Raw Story. Also worth reading is this piece by David Siders at Politico: ‘It’s straight out of a playbook’: At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound.
Of course the top story today is still the events in Uvalde. Here’s the latest, links only:
The Washington Post: Before massacre, Uvalde gunman frequently threatened teen girls online.
Tim Miller at The Bulwark: In Uvalde, the Most Enraging Press Conference in American History.
The New York Times: Gun in Texas Shooting Came From Company Known for Pushing Boundaries.
It’s difficult not to obsess about all the bad news, but we also have to take care of ourselves. So I wish you all well and hope you have a pleasant long weekend. And thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts with us.