Finally Friday Reads: Senator Buzzkill from West VirginiaPosted: July 15, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
There’s some good news from the Insurrection Investigation and some bad news on the Biden Domestic Plan. Let’s start with the good news. Then, I’ll drag Manchin’s ass to the virtual woodshed.
Let me just start out with one fact. The Secret Service is a mess; maybe Major had a reason for biting some of them. We’ve discovered they deleted texts when the Inspector General of Homeland Security told them not to do so. We’re also finding out they are trying to cover up the Trump Temper Tantrum in his motorcade when the Toddler-in-chief wanted to lead his ugly band of traitors to the Capitol on January 6th. This is from CNN: “First on CNN: DC police officer in Trump Jan. 6 motorcade corroborates details of heated Secret Service exchange to committee.”
A Washington, DC, police officer has corroborated to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, details regarding a heated exchange former President Donald Trump had with his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the US Capitol after his rally, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
The officer with the Metropolitan Police Department was in the motorcade with the Secret Service for Trump on January 6 and recounted what was seen to committee investigators, according to the source.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment. A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to comment.
The description of the angry exchange between Trump and his Secret Service detail was a striking moment during the June testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson said that she heard a secondhand account told to her by then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato that Trump was so enraged at his Secret Service detail for blocking him from going to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection that “he reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel” and “then used his free hand to lunge towards” his Secret Service lead agent Robert Engel. Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her the story in front of Engel and he did not dispute the account.
Neither of the agents named in the testimony have commented publicly on Hutchinson’s testimony. But soon after it, a Secret Service official who would only speak on background, said Engel would deny parts of the story regarding Trump grabbing at the steering wheel and lunging toward an agent on his detail. The agency has said the agents involved would testify to that effect, though they have not yet gone back to the committee to testify.
The committee is also engaging with the driver who was in the presidential SUV regarding possible testimony, the source said. A lawyer for the driver did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump is basically unsuited to be an adult, let alone an officeholder. Let me give you some information on those deleted text messages since I brought up the subject. This is from The Washington Post: “Secret Service erased texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, official says.”
A government watchdog accused the U.S. Secret Service of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them as part of an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack, according to a letter sent to lawmakers this week.
Joseph V. Cuffari, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees indicating that the text messages have vanished and that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were being hindered.
“The Department notified us that many U.S. Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021 were erased as part of a device-replacement program,” he wrote in a letter dated Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post. The letter was earlier reported on by the Intercept and CNN.
Cuffari emphasized that the erasures came “after” the Office of Inspector General requested copies of the text messages for its own investigation, and signaled that they were part of a pattern of DHS resistance to his inquiries. Staff members are required by law to surrender records so that he can audit the sprawling national security agency, but he said they have “repeatedly” refused to provide them until an attorney reviews them.
“This review led to weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced,” he wrote, and offered to brief the House and Senate committees on the “access issues.”
Writing for Axios, Andrew Solender believes the “Jan. 6 panel aims to “reconstruct” deleted Secret Service texts.”
“It’s concerning, obviously. If there’s a way we can reconstruct the texts or what have you, we will,” Thompson, who also chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, told Axios at the Capitol on Thursday.
Thompson said the inspector general “was not clear as to how” the texts were deleted, adding that the committee “asked them some time ago to look at it.”
Asked if the committee would bring in Secret Service agents to try to reconstruct the texts, he said, “I think it’s important for us to get as much information about how this discrepancy occurred.”
Thompson said the Jan. 6 panel has not yet interviewed Ornato and Robert Engel, another agent mentioned in Hutchinson’s testimony, but said, “We’ve been talking to them.”
So, Senator Joe Manchin did it again. He basically stopped the Biden Domestic plan from become anything more than a few healthcare items. He tanked the climate change agenda.
From The New York Times article in the above tweet: “How One Senator Doomed the Democrats’ Climate Plan. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia led his party and his president through months of tortured talks, with nothing to show for it as the planet dangerously heats up.”
First, he killed a plan that would have forced power plants to clean up their climate-warming pollution. Then, he shattered an effort to help consumers pay for electric vehicles. And, finally, he said he could not support government incentives for solar and wind companies or any of the other provisions that the rest of his party and his president say are vital to ensure a livable planet.
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who took more campaign cash from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, and who became a millionaire from his family coal business, independently blew up the Democratic Party’s legislative plans to fight climate change. The swing Democratic vote in an evenly divided Senate, Mr. Manchin led his party through months of tortured negotiations that collapsed on Thursday night, a yearlong wild goose chase that produced nothing as the Earth warms to dangerous levels.
“It seems odd that Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity,” said John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
Privately, Senate Democratic staff members seethed and sobbed on Thursday night, after more than a year of working nights and weekends to scale back, water down, trim and tailor the climate legislation to Mr. Manchin’s exact specifications, only to have it rejected inches from the finish line.
“Rage keeps me from tears,” Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a longtime advocate for climate legislation, wrote on Twitter late Thursday.
We have to pick up more seats in the Senate this fall to make this jerk irrelevant. We have this piece from Ronald Brownstein from The Atlantic: “Mother Nature Dissents. From Texas to California, voters are enduring rude wake-up calls about the future of our country.”
Mother nature is entering a dissenting opinion on last month’s Supreme Court decision that weakened the federal government’s ability to combat climate change.
With record heat in Texas that is testing the state’s power grid, a California wildfire that has threatened an ancient grove of sequoias considered a foundation stone of the national-park system, and persistent drought across the West that is forcing unprecedented cutbacks in water deliveries from the Colorado River, the summer of 2022 already is shaping up as another season of extreme and dangerous environmental conditions.
The paradox is that precisely as these events are dramatizing the rising costs of inaction on climate change, Washington faces more difficulty in taking action. That’s not only because of the Supreme Court but also because of the resistance to sweeping legislation in the Senate from every Republican as well as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who represents one of the top coal-producing states, West Virginia. Adding to the strain: The states most integrated into the existing fossil-fuel economy—almost all of them controlled by Republicans—are escalating their efforts to block action on climate change from the federal government and even the private sector.
In all of these ways, both the magnitude of the threat and the difficulty of responding to it are simultaneously rising—a trend that climate scientists find equally frustrating and frightening.
“In a world where facts are no longer the currency, it actually is very hard to make arguments in favor of doing what seems very logical,” Kathy Jacobs, the director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona, told me. “People are questioning really fundamental scientific principles and/or just choosing to ignore them. This post-fact world we are operating in makes dealing with this problem much more difficult.”
This is from NBC News: “Manchin balks at climate and tax pieces of Biden agenda bill but backs health care provisions. Manchin’s position leaves Democratic leaders with a grueling choice: They can either drop the package or pass the provisions he supports.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his staff told Democratic leadership on Thursday that he’s not willing to support major climate and tax provisions in a sweeping Biden agenda bill, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversations.
Instead, Manchin, a key centrist who holds the swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, said he is willing to back only a filibuster-proof economic bill with drug pricing and a two-year extension of funding under the Affordable Care Act, the source said.
Manchin’s move upends lengthy negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., most likely forcing the party to scrap climate change policies and new taxes and delivering a major blow to some of President Joe Biden’s priorities heading into an already challenging midterm election landscape for Democrats this fall.
Manchin “was explicit that he will not support a bill in August” with energy or climate provisions or one “closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthiest” and large corporations, “despite his support for those specific things throughout the entire negotiation,” said the Democrat briefed about the discussions.
Democrats hope to pass a bill before September to prevent major insurance premium hikes under the Affordable Care Act, which could be difficult to avert if they don’t act quickly.
“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon told NBC News in a statement. “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”
A Democratic aide familiar with the talks said Manchin conveyed to Democratic leadership that he could support a package that includes climate and tax provisions as long as they’re paid for — or that he would just want a bill on prescription drugs and ACA money.
I’m not sure how to precisely describe the behavior of the Senator. His actions make him appear quite selfish and power-hungry.
Okay, one more piece of good breaking news then I turn our conversation over to you! “Exclusive: Fulton County DA sends ‘target’ letters to Trump allies in Georgia investigation” as reported by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman.
In the latest sign that she is moving rapidly in her investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sent so-called “target” letters to prominent Georgia Republicans informing them they could be indicted for their role in a scheme to appoint alternate electors pledged to the former president despite Joe Biden’s victory in the state, according to legal sources familiar with the matter.
The move by Willis, a Democrat, threatens to have major political implications in a crucial battleground state with high-profile races for governor and the U.S. Senate this fall. Among the recipients of the target letters, the sources said, are GOP state Sen. Burt Jones, Gov. Brian Kemp’s running mate for lieutenant governor, David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, and state Sen. Brandon Beach.
Jones and Shafer were among those who participate in a closed-door meeting at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, in which 16 Georgia Republicans selected themselves as the electors for the state, although they had no legal basis for doing so. Shafer, according to a source who was present, presided over the meeting, conducting it as though it was an official proceeding, in which those present voted themselves as the bona fide electors in Georgia — and then signed their names to a declaration to that effect that was sent to the National Archives.
The offices or spokespersons for Jones, Shafer and Beach did not respond to requests for comment. Willis, in an interview, declined any comment on the target letters. But she confirmed she is considering another potentially controversial move: requesting that Trump himself testify under oath to the special grand jury that is investigating his conduct.
“Yes,” said Willis when asked if there was any chance Trump will be called to testify. “I think it’s something that we’re still weighing and evaluating.” She also said she had spoken to Dwight Thomas, a veteran local defense lawyer who has been retained to represent Trump, as recently as Thursday. She declined to say what they talked about. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?