Rather than deploy the executive-privilege defense (almost certainly a loser since President Biden has waived it; in any case, United States v. Nixon stands for the proposition that executive privilege generally gives way in a criminal prosecution), Pence has cited the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause. This passage from Article I protects lawmakers from arrest on the floor of Congress for things said there.
Friday ReadsPosted: February 24, 2023 Filed under: Donald Trump, morning reads | Tags: Jack Smith, January 6 grand jury, Mar-a-Lago, Mike Pence, Speech and Debate clause, stolen government documents, Ukraine 17 Comments
I’m filling in for Dakinikat today, while she takes her cat Keely to the vet. Keely hasn’t had any problems since the seizure a few days ago, but she needs to be checked out and also get some shots. I’m curious to know what the vet thinks–I hope Dakinikat will update us later on.
The one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is getting lot of coverage today.
This is from The New York Times’ live updates: Here’s what to know on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With messages of support and new pledges of weapons, allies rallied around Ukraine on Friday as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion prompted shows of solidarity around the world and a mix of anxiety and resolve in Ukraine.
“We will be victorious,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told a news conference, saying that Ukraine could win the war this year as long as its allies remain united “like a fist” and continue delivering weapons.
Even as leaders in Ukraine and around the world marked the anniversary with ceremonies and speeches, the fighting continued much as it has for the past year. The war has already done untold damage: Tens of thousands have been killed on both sides, millions of Ukrainians have been made homeless, and Ukraine has sustained tens of billions of dollars worth of damage that has left cities flattened and people around the country grappling with dark and cold.
But Ukrainians have also found strength in shared sacrifice, and hope in the setbacks their country’s forces have dealt Russia on the battlefield. Ukraine has largely stopped the offensives of its much larger and better-armed neighbor and has regained swathes of captured land, aided by the United States and its European allies, which have remained united, funneling billions of dollars of weapons to Kyiv.
The war has reverberated around the globe, reshaping and strengthening alliances, and affecting everything from grain prices to energy policy. But even as Russia found itself more isolated from the West, sanctions have failed to bring the country to its knees, and much of the rest of the world has continued to provide economic or diplomatic support to Moscow.
Read more details and updates at the NYT link.
From the AP: US commits $2 billion in drones, ammunition, aid to Ukraine.
The Pentagon announced a new package of long-term security assistance for Ukraine on Friday, marking the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion with a $2 billion commitment to send more rounds of ammunition and a variety of small, high-tech drones into the fight.
The announcement comes just days after President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Kyiv and pledged America’s continuing commitment to Ukraine. Biden told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his people that “Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”
In a statement Friday, the Pentagon said the aid includes weapons to counter Russia’s unmanned systems and several types of drones, including the upgraded Switchblade 600 Kamikaze drone, as well as electronic warfare detection equipment.
It also includes money for additional ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, artillery rounds and munitions for laser-guided rocket systems. But, in an unusual move, the Pentagon provided no details on how many rounds of any kind will be bought. Including this latest package, the U.S. has now committed more than $32 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion is a chance for all who believe in freedom “to recommit ourselves to supporting Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul — and to recall that the stakes of Russia’s war stretch far beyond Ukraine.”
Biden was scheduled to meet virtually Friday with other Group of Seven leaders and Zelenskyy “to continue coordinating our efforts to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable for its war,” the White House said.
Those efforts include what the White House called “sweeping” sanctions on over 200 people and entities “to further degrade Russia’s economy and diminish its ability to wage war against Ukraine.” The Biden administration will also further restrict exports to Russia and raise tariffs on some Russian products imported to the U.S.
CNN has a story on the new sanctions: US Treasury takes ‘one of its most significant sanctions actions to date’ on anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The US Treasury Department on Friday took what it called “one of its most significant sanctions actions to date” to crack down on those aiding Moscow’s war against Ukraine, targeting Russia’s metals and mining sector, its financial institutions, its military supply chain and individuals and companies worldwide that are helping Moscow avoid existing sanctions.
These latest actions by the Treasury Department are among a series of new measures announced by the Biden administration Friday that are meant to strengthen Kyiv and deter those providing support to Moscow as the war enters its second year without signs of abating.
Friday’s sweeping actions are meant to fill in gaps in existing sanctions that have been imposed over the past year of the war and are intended to impair “key revenue generating sectors in order to further degrade Russia’s economy and diminish its ability to wage war against Ukraine,” according to a White House fact sheet.
The administration on Friday imposed sanctions against a total of “over 200 individuals and entities, including both Russian and third-country actors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort,” according to the White House fact sheet.
The latest tranche of Treasury Department sanctions target a total of 22 individuals and 83 entities, according to a Treasury Department news release, and were taken in coordination with the Group of 7 nations.
The US State Department also imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian officials and entities involved in the war and will take “steps to impose visa restrictions on 1,219 members of the Russian military, including officers, for actions that threaten or violate the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. Three Russian military officials – Artyom Igorevich Gorodilov, Aleksey Sergeyevich Bulgakov, and Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vasilyev – will be blocked from entering the US due to their involvement “in gross violations of human rights perpetrated against Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of wars,” Blinken said.
You can also check these two longer reads about Ukraine:
Defense One: EXCLUSIVE: Seven Former NATO Supreme Allied Commanders Say U.S. ‘Must Do Everything We Can’ for a Ukrainian Victory.
Politico has an oral history of the Russian invasion, compiled from hours of interviews by Politico reporters: ‘Something Was Badly Wrong’: When Washington Realized Russia Was Actually Invading Ukraine.
There is some breaking news about the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case. Both The Guardian and CNN are claiming exclusives.
The Guardian: Classified Trump schedules were moved to Mar-a-Lago after FBI search – sources.
Donald Trump’s lawyers found a box of White House schedules, including some that were marked classified, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in December because a junior aide to the former president had transported it from another office in Florida after the FBI completed its search of the property.
The former president does not appear to have played a direct role in the mishandling of the box, though he remains under investigation for the possible improper retention of national security documents and obstruction of justice. This previously unreported account of the retrieval was informed by two sources familiar with the matter.
Known internally as ROTUS, short for Receptionist of the United States, the junior aide initially kept the box at a converted guest bungalow at Mar-a-Lago called the “tennis cottage” after Trump left office, and she soon took it with her to a government-leased office in the Palm Beach area.
The box remained at the government-leased office from where the junior aide worked through most of 2022, explaining why neither Trump’s lawyer who searched Mar-a-Lago in June for any classified-marked papers nor the FBI agents who searched the property in August found the documents.
Around the time that Trump returned to Mar-a-Lago from his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey at the end of the summer, the junior aide was told that she was being relocated to a desk in the anteroom of Trump’s own office at Mar-a-Lago that previously belonged to top aide Molly Michael.
The junior aide retrieved her work belongings – including the box – from the government-leased office and took them to her new Mar-a-Lago workspace around September. At that time, the justice department’s criminal investigation into Trump’s retention of national security documents was intensifying.
Read the rest at The Guardian.
CNN: Exclusive: How a box with classified documents ended up in Trump’s office months after FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department wants to know how a box containing a handful of classified records scattered among copies of presidential schedules turned up at Mar-a-Lago late last year, well after several rounds of searches of the property by federal agents and aides to former President Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
Investigators working for special counsel Jack Smith in recent weeks have interviewed a Trump aide who copied classified materials found in the box using her phone to put them onto a laptop. After a voluntary interview with the aide, prosecutors subpoenaed the password to the laptop, which she provided, according to one of the sources.
The classified documents contained in the box were discovered in December, after the Justice Department told Trump’s legal team to conduct yet another search for documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
People familiar with the Trump legal team’s efforts to locate documents describe a confusing chain of events that delayed discovery of the box, including having its contents uploaded to the cloud, emailed to a Trump employee, and moved to an offsite location before finally ending up back at a Mar-a-Lago bridal suite that is now Trump’s office – the very place that the FBI had searched just weeks earlier….
The odyssey of the box has been a recent focus of Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, according to people familiar with the line of questioning from federal prosecutors. The haphazard handling of documents that ended up online, on computers and moved around to multiple locations could further complicate Trump’s case in an investigation with criminal implications.
One person who described the box’s movements and the special counsel’s inquiry into it described federal investigators as suspecting a “shell game with classified documents.” The person said Trump’s daily movements and instructions to staff are a core part of prosecutors’ questions as well.
More details at CNN.
Mike Pence is getting quite a bit of attention in the news today, and it’s not positive attention.
CBS News: Special counsel asks judge to compel Mike Pence to testify in Jan. 6 probe.
Federal prosecutors have asked the chief judge in Washington, D.C.’s federal court to compel former Vice President Mike Pence to comply with a grand jury subpoena and testify as a witness in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, three people familiar with the investigation told CBS News.
The motion to compel Pence’s testimony — filed in secret to Chief Judge Beryl Howell in recent days — came after lawyers for former President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege in response to Pence’s subpoena, the people said.
That assertion of executive privilege on Pence’s subpoena, the people added, is in line with how Trump’s team has responded to related subpoenas over the past year, with Trump’s attorneys often arguing that private conversations or interactions with a president should remain confidential….
Pence and his lawyers have also been preparing to invoke the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause as a means of protecting him from the investigation. That clause protects members of Congress from being questioned about their legislative actions by other branches of the federal government.
Pence contends his unique role as both a member of the executive branch and president of the Senate — who presided over Congress’ certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021 — would be covered under the clause….
The motion to compel testimony filed by the special counsel’s office is the logical next step in a criminal probe, with prosecutors seeking to force a witness or third party to comply with a grand jury subpoena. Filed less than two weeks after news broke that Pence had received the subpoena, the legal document asks the court to uphold the subpoena’s legal authority and indicates Justice Department prosecutors are moving quickly in their attempt to get Pence before a grand jury.
Former federal judge Michael Luttig, who advised Pence when he was dealing with Trump’s pressure campaign to get Pence to try to overturn the 2020 election, has an op-ed in The New York Times today: Mike Pence’s Dangerous Gambit.
Former Vice President Mike Pence recently announced he would challenge Special Counsel Jack Smith’s subpoena for him to appear before a grand jury in Washington as part of the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the related Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Pence claimed that “the Biden D.O.J. subpoena” was “unconstitutional” and “unprecedented.” He added, “For me, this is a moment where you have to decide where you stand, and I stand on the Constitution of the United States.” Mr. Pence vowed to take his fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
A politician should be careful what he wishes for — no more so than when he’s a possible presidential candidate who would have the Supreme Court decide a constitutional case that could undermine his viability in an upcoming campaign.
The former vice president should not want the embarrassing spectacle of the Supreme Court compelling him to appear before a grand jury in Washington just when he’s starting his campaign for the presidency; recall the unanimous Supreme Court ruling that ordered Richard Nixon to turn over the fatally damning Oval Office tapes. That has to be an uncomfortable prospect for Mr. Pence, not to mention a potentially damaging one for a man who — at least as of today — is considered by many of us across the political spectrum to be a profile in courage for his refusal to join in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election in the face of Donald Trump’s demands. And to be clear, Mr. Pence’s decision to brand the Department of Justice’s perfectly legitimate subpoena as unconstitutional is a far cry from the constitutionally hallowed ground he stood on Jan. 6.
Injecting campaign-style politics into the criminal investigatory process with his rhetorical characterization of Mr. Smith’s subpoena as a “Biden D.O.J. subpoena,” Mr. Pence is trying to score points with voters who want to see President Biden unseated in 2024. Well enough. That’s what politicians do. But Jack Smith’s subpoena was neither politically motivated nor designed to strengthen President Biden’s political hand in 2024. Thus the jarring dissonance between the subpoena and Mr. Pence’s characterization of it. It is Mr. Pence who has chosen to politicize the subpoena, not the D.O.J.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Another take on this issue from Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Pence has no right to dodge a subpoena.
Former vice president Mike Pence is bent on demonstrating to the MAGA base that he is not about to help prosecute would-be coup instigator Donald Trump, the very person who seemed to delight in egging on the mob that called for Pence’s head. To that end, Pence has threatened to refuse to appear in response to the grand jury subpoena special counsel Jack Smith has issued.
A close examination of Pence’s claim shows that the defense, even if valid in some respects, does not protect him from testifying about issues relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt.
The argument that the vice president is an officer of Congress, and hence covered by the clause, is reasonable. Andy Wright and Ryan Goodman writing at Just Security explain: “The Speech or Debate Clause is designed as a safeguard against politically motivated civil litigation or criminal prosecutions that can chill congressional debate or intimidate legislators.” Therefore, they conclude, “It makes sense that the protections should extend to a Vice President when acting as President of the Senate or in other legislative branch capacity.” The Justice Department already conceded as much in multiple civil suits brought against the vice president (both Pence and then-vice president Joe Biden).
Yet, there is a compelling argument that Pence’s use of the speech and debate clause is inconsistent with the clause’s purpose, which is to insulate members of Congress from pressure from the executive. It might also be argued (as retired judge Michael Luttig has) that Pence’s role on Jan. 6 was purely ceremonial, not legislative, and thus the speech and debate clause does not apply. After all, Pence himself argued that day that he had no legislative authority to nullify the electoral votes.
These points might be subjects of novel litigation. But the government need not dispute the clause’s relevance because a good deal of what Smith wants to investigate is beyond any legislative function, and hence outside the scope of the clause.
Read more at the WaPo.
That’s all I have for you today. What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories are you following?
Have a fantastic weekend, Sky Dancers!!
You too! Wow, this post is packed.
First he makes himself popular with the Magats by trying to avoid participating in the Dump’s coup.
Now he thinks he’ll make himself popular with everyone else by impoverishing old age.
Brilliant, Pence-y. Brilliant.
The race to replace Diane Feinstein in the Senate is getting crowded.
Lots of good candidates! Personally I’m rooting for Schiff.
If I were still in California, Schiff would be my choice.
Love the Vallotton “Laziness” picture – that would be me except I’m always clothed (minus days I go commando because I can’t find panties the right size). LOL I also need a nice wide lounger like that in my teevee room!
Keely is s home and sedated. I get her blood tests by 7 cst. A virus one will take a few days longer. She’s evidently older than I thought but her physical exam was good. I’ll share more when I have it!!
Wishing for good results.
Speaking of blue states …
John Singer Sargent, Repose must be seen in person. As an avid fan of JSSargent, my surprise to see the painting at National Gallery ( DC) in its natural color was immense. So many reproduced images do not do this painting justice….anyone in the nation’s capital, that loves art should see it!!! The light, the particular golds and aqua blue are beautiful….Wonderful coverage of news included!
It is gorgeous. Such lushness.
I love that painting. I have used it before. I really like Sargent.
Mitch says what??
Did he fall on his head and wake up?