Tuesday Reads

Pierre Bernard, La Lecture, circa 1905

Pierre Bernard, La Lecture, circa 1905

Good Afternoon!!

After yesterday, all those naysayers who have spent months attacking Merrick Garland need to stop whining and pay attention to what the DOJ is actually doing. I don’t know how many grand juries the DOJ has going, but we’re slowly learning that the ringleaders of the January 6 insurrection and even Trump administration insiders are being called to testify. Yesterday we learned of the most significant one so far: Mike Pence’s chief of staff Mark Short.

ABC News: Former Pence chief of staff appeared before grand jury probing Jan. 6.

Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, appeared before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Short confirmed to ABC News.

Short, in an interview Monday night with ABC News’ Linsey Davis, said he was subpoenaed by a grand jury and complied with the subpoena, adding he “really can’t comment further than that” upon the advice of his legal counsel.

Short was caught by an ABC News camera departing D.C. District Court on Friday alongside his attorney, Emmet Flood.

Short is the highest-ranking Trump White House official known to have appeared before the grand jury.

Here’s what Short told ABC News in an interview last night:

“I think that having the Capitol ransacked the way that it was, I think did present liability and danger,” he told Davis in the interview. “And I think the Secret Service did a phenomenal job that day. I think that the bigger risk and despite the way perhaps it was characterized in the hearings last week, candidly, is that if the mob had gotten closer to the vice president, I do think there would have been a massacre in the Capitol that day.”

Woman reading, James C. Christensen

Woman reading, James C. Christensen

ABC News also learned that Pence’s chief counsel Marc Jacob also testified to the grand jury. And there’s more:

In March, the Department of Justice expanded its criminal probe into the events of Jan. 6 to include preparations for the rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol, as well as the financing for the event, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Grand jury subpoenas were sent to those who assisted in the organizing and planning of former President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally on the Ellipse near the White House, the sources said, with prosecutors seeking multiple records and documents related to the rally, including text messages and emails, as well as potential communications with other individuals regarding the logistics of the event.

I think there’s a very good chance that subpoenas went to Mark Meadows and Ginni Thomas, both of whom are keeping low profiles.

This is from Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: Mike Pence’s ex-chief of staff testifies to grand jury investigating January 6.

Short testified in response to a subpoena for about two to three hours, according to a source familiar with the matter, though it was unclear what he told the grand jury or whether he produced documents. ABC News earlier reported his appearance.

The development was also the latest indication that the criminal investigation into the Capitol attack has only escalated in recent months, as the House January 6 select committee argues Trump obstructed an official proceeding – a crime – in trying to stop Joe Biden’s certification.


Reading woman dreaming, by Henri Matisse, 1921

It was not clear to which grand jury, and therefore to which investigation, Short testified. The justice department has impaneled several grand juries over the Capitol attack, including one examining Trump’s fake electors scheme, which is also being investigated by a special grand jury in Georgia.

The grand jury investigating the fake electors scheme – grand jury #22-4 – sought information about the involvement of Donald Trump and his lawyers, while the grand jury that subpoenaed former Trump White House official Peter Navarro – grand jury #22-3 – sought his contacts with Trump.

Nonetheless, Short’s grand jury appearance marks the first known time that a top Trump White House official with inside knowledge about Trump’s actions leading up to the Capitol attack and what took place in the West Wing in the following days has cooperated with the justice department.

The DOJ investigation into the fake electors was also in the news yesterday.

The Washington Post: Arizona fake-electors subpoenas show breadth of DOJ Jan. 6 probe.

Grand jury subpoenas issued last month to two Arizona state lawmakers show the breadth of the criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington into efforts by supporters of Donald Trump to use “false electors” to try to undo Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Copies of two subpoenas issued to Republican state senators from Arizona were released Monday via a public-records request, confirming what has been previously reported about the June demands for records related “to the signing or mailing of any document purporting to be a Certificate certifying Elector votes in favor of Donald J. Trump and/or Michael R. Pence.”

Old man reading, by Carl Spitzweg

Old man reading, by Carl Spitzweg

The subpoenas issued to Karen Fann, president of the Arizona Senate, and Sen. Kelly Townsend also seek communications “relating to any effort, plan, or attempt to serve as an Elector” in favor of the then-president and then-vice president.

A subpoena is not an accusation but rather a demand for information that investigators believe may help them solve a crime. The documents released Monday cast a wide net for any communications that Fann and Townsend may have had with any member of the executive or legislative branch of the federal government; any representative or agent of Trump or his campaign; or Trump boosters Jenna Ellis, Bernard Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, Boris Epshteyn, James Troupis, Joe DiGenova, John Eastman, Joshua Findlay, Justin Clark, Kenneth Chesebro, Mike Roman or Victoria Toensing.

That’s a pretty wide net. Read more about the Arizona investigation at the WaPo link.

CNN’s Joan Biskupic has a scoop on the SCOTUS fight over Roe v. Wade: The inside story of how John Roberts failed to save abortion rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts privately lobbied fellow conservatives to save the constitutional right to abortion down to the bitter end, but May’s unprecedented leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade made the effort all but impossible, multiple sources familiar with negotiations told CNN….

New details obtained by CNN provide insight into the high-stakes internal abortion-rights drama that intensified in late April when justices first learned the draft opinion would soon be published. Serious conflicts over the fate of the 1973 Roe were then accompanied by tensions over an investigation into the source of the leak that included obtaining cell phone data from law clerks and some permanent court employees.

In the past, Roberts himself has switched his vote, or persuaded others to do so, toward middle-ground, institutionalist outcomes, such as saving the Affordable Care Act. It’s a pattern that has generated suspicion among some right-wing justices and conservatives outside the court.

Multiple sources told CNN that Roberts’ overtures this spring, particularly to Kavanaugh, raised fears among conservatives and hope among liberals that the chief could change the outcome in the most closely watched case in decades. Once the draft was published by Politico, conservatives pressed their colleagues to try to hasten release of the final decision, lest anything suddenly threaten their majority.

Bonnard, Pierre - Interior with boy reading, 1910-2

Pierre Bonnard, Interior with boy reading, 1910

Roberts’ persuasive efforts, difficult even from the start, were thwarted by the sudden public nature of the state of play. He can usually work in private, seeking and offering concessions, without anyone beyond the court knowing how he or other individual justices have voted or what they may be writing.

That was what many observers argued at the time–that a right wing source release the draft to prevent any of the justices who supported Alito’s draft from getting cold feet.

Even if Roberts had won the battle to save Roe, he would have supported the Mississippi law that banned abortion at 15 weeks; but we would technically still have a Constitutional right to choose. There’s much more about the SCOTUS machinations at the CNN link.

Meanwhile, women’s lives are in danger in red states. NPR: Because of Texas abortion law, her wanted pregnancy became a medical nightmare.

Elizabeth Weller never dreamed that her own hopes for a child would become ensnared in the web of Texas abortion law.

She and her husband began trying in late 2021. They had bought a house in Kingwood, a lakeside development in Houston. Elizabeth was in graduate school for political science, and James taught middle-school math.

The Wellers were pleasantly surprised when they got pregnant early in 2022.

In retrospect, Elizabeth says their initial joy felt a little naive: “If it was so easy for us to get pregnant, then to us it was almost like a sign that this pregnancy was going to be easy for us.”

Things did go fairly smooth at first. Seventeen weeks into the pregnancy, they learned they were expecting a girl. They also had an anatomy scan, which revealed no problems. Even if it had, the Wellers were determined to proceed.

Edouard John Mentha

By Edouard John Mentha

But then disaster struck.

It was May 10, 2022. Elizabeth was 18 weeks pregnant. She ate a healthy breakfast, went for a walk outside and came back home….

Elizabeth stood up to get some lunch. That’s when she felt something “shift” in her uterus, down low, and then “this burst of water just falls out of my body. And I screamed because that’s when I knew something wrong was happening.”

Her waters had broken, launching her into what she calls a “dystopian nightmare” of “physical, emotional and mental anguish.” She places the blame for the ensuing medical trauma on the Republican legislators who passed the state’s anti-abortion law, on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed it, and on the inflamed political rhetoric, which Elizabeth says only sees abortion “as one thing, a black-and-white issue, when abortion has all of these gray areas.”

Read the horror story at the link, if you can deal with it. This is what happens when men who have no clue how women’s bodies work think they have the right to tell control women’s choices.

It looks like Biden is considering another extension of the student loan moratorium. NBC News: Student loan servicers told not to contact borrowers as payment pause deadline nears.

A little more than a month before the student debt moratorium is scheduled to end, the federal government has told loan servicers not to contact borrowers about resuming payments, a trade group official said Monday.

The Education Department has been telling loan servicers not to reach out to borrowers as recently as “the last couple weeks,” said Scott Buchanan, the executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, which represents all of the companies that service the federal loans subject to the administration’s moratorium….

painting-reading-boys Steven Christopher Seward

Painting of boys reading by Steven Christopher Seward

A White House official said Monday night that “no decision has been made” about whether to extend it again. The official said Biden will make a decision before Aug. 31….

Biden has repeatedly extended the moratorium — starting on his first day in office and most recently in April. The moratorium doesn’t apply to borrowers with privately held loans.

Buchanan said his group has previously warned the government about issues that may arise from resuming payments.

It sounds like Biden will extend the moratorium. Ending it right before the midterms wouldn’t be good for Democrats.

Resuming payments would come at a high political cost for Biden and congressional Democrats, who are pushing to energize their base ahead of the midterm elections.

A source familiar with the matter said an extension of the pause on repayment is likely. “I just don’t see how they don’t,” the source said.

“While theoretically they can wait until the 31st, if they do, they are de facto delaying it,” the source added, citing the operational challenges of restarting the program.

That would be good news, in my opinion. I don’t actually have to pay anything on my loans, because my income is so low; but there are lots of young people with massive debt who need this help.

I’m going to end here, because this post is so late. What stories are you following today?

16 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’m sorry this is so late. I’ve had insomnia for the past couple of days, and it’s been difficult getting going in the morning. I hope I can take a nap this afternoon.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Right??? Thanks for this BB.

    • quixote says:

      All of these. Plus judging by fairly consistent divisions of labor across cultures, women were likely the ones who made other important advances. Not “man.” Women tend hearths, do the spinning & weaving, tend gardens. Implications: women figured out how to use fire, how to grow plants nearby to you didn’t have to walk for miles gathering (aka agriculture), and invented rope and cloth. Try to carry lots of stuff without rope. It’s impossible. Civilization is basically impossible without rope.

      Anyway, just more little guess points at the parts of the picture we could be missing by using “man” all the time.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Exactly. The same thing happened in developmental psychology. Until women researchers became prominent, the men had no idea how much babies could do, how they began learning even in the womb, and so much more about how babies interacted with their parents and other people. It was women researchers who discovered how important early childhood is to later development–Mary Ainsworth’s work on Attachment Theory, for example.

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    Well, this is a big fucking deal …

    • quixote says:

      First author on that is The Maggie of Haberman. I guess she’s decided her bread is buttered on the less-sucking-up-to-Trump side?

      I find the signs of fighting among the rats a somewhat hopeful sign.

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. Va in SC says:

    Reading as a theme…the artists are refreshing and beautiful. Thank you for your work.