Thursday Reads

Tove Jansson, Still life with fruit and flowers on the background of an open door, 1945

Tove Jansson, Still life with fruit and flowers on the background of an open door, 1945

Good Afternoon!!

Once again the news is coming fast and furious today, but the top story has to be the latest about Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old air national guardsman who leaked classified documents on Discord.

The story is getting worse with each passing day. This kid not only had access to secret government documents, but also he stockpiled weapons in his parents’ home and fantasized about being a mass murderer.

NPR: The suspected leaker of Pentagon documents is due back in federal court.

The air national guardsman accused of leaking U.S. government secrets is due back in federal court in Worcester, Mass., at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Federal prosecutors are urging that the defendant, Jack Teixeira, 21, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, remain in jail pending trial.

In a new court filing, federal prosecutors say Teixeira faces significant prison time, if convicted, and poses a serious flight risk. They say he took steps to obstruct the investigation into the leak of U.S. intelligence documents, many of which were about Ukraine’s war against Russia.

According to court papers, investigators found a tablet, a laptop and a gaming console — all of them smashed — in a dumpster at Teixeira’s house after his arrest. Teixeira also allegedly told an associate online to delete all messages with him and that if anyone came asking questions about him, not to tell them anything. Prosecutors also say Teixeira began in February 2022 to access classified national defense information that had no bearing on his job. Not all of those materials have publicly surfaced yet.

NBC News: Intel leaks suspect is a flight risk and could have access to more classified docs, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors will urge a judge Thursday to keep Jack Teixeira, 21, behind bars, arguing he poses “a serious flight risk,” and that a “foreign adversary” could try to help him escape the United States and give him safe haven.

“The information to which the Defendant had access — and did access — far exceeds what has been publicly disclosed on the Internet to date,” the document said. The leaks “have the capacity to cause additional exceptionally grave damage to the U.S. national security if disclosed.”

The 18-page memo said Teixeira had a history of making violent and racist remarks — including posting on social media about wanting to carry out a mass shooting — keeping “an arsenal of weapons”and tactical gear at his house, and trying to thwart federal investigators by apparently destroying evidence.

The filing comes ahead of a detention hearing Thursday in Massachusetts federal court. Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, has been in jail since his arrest earlier this month in a case that represents one of the most significant intelligence leaks in years. The saga has fueled global uproar and doubts over America’s ability to guard its secrets….

“The damage the Defendant has already caused to the U.S. national security is immense. The damage the Defendant is still capable of causing is extraordinary,” prosecutors wrote. “If the Defendant were released, it would be all too easy for him to further disseminate classified information and would create the unacceptable risk that he would flee the United States and take refuge with a foreign adversary to avoid the reach of U.S. law.”

spring-still-life-susan-novak

Spring still life, by Susan Novak

On Teixeira’s fascination with mass shootings:

Teixeira also used his government computer to search for information on previous mass shootings, including “Uvalde” and “Mandalay Bay shooting,” the filing said. Media reports have suggested these searches may have been related to Teixeira’s belief in conspiracy theories that the government had prior knowledge of these shootings, it added. But prosecutors said that coupled with his social media posts and weapons cache these searches were “troubling.”

Teixeira lives in his mother and stepfather’s house in North Dighton, Massachusetts, and in his bedroom keeps a gun locker stocked with handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and an AK-style high-capacity weapon, prosecutors said.

His “arsenal of weapons” also included a bazooka, and a “silencer-style accessory,” according to investigators, who found a tactical helmet with a GoPro camera and mount in the dumpster outside, according to the filing.

BBC News: Jack Teixeira: Suspected leaker made threats and researched shootings, US says.

Jack Teixeira wrote on social media that he wanted to kill a “ton of people” as a way of “culling the weak minded”, according to a court filing.

The 18-page document also claimed the 21-year-old asked what type of rifle would be easy to operate from an SUV.

According to the prosecutors, he posted repeatedly about “troubling” violent acts including a potential mass shooting. He allegedly described building an “assassination van” and driving around shooting people in a “crowded urban or suburban environment”.

He also allegedly searched for multiple recent mass shootings on his government computer, including Uvalde and the Las Vegas shooting.

The filing also said a search of Mr Teixeira’s home had uncovered “a virtual arsenal of weapons, including bolt-action rifles, rifles, AR and AK-style weapons, and a bazooka” that were kept “just feet from his bed”.

It added that he was suspended from high school when a classmate overheard him making threats and discussing Molotov cocktails as well as other weapons.

How the hell did this kid get a top secret security clearance from the Pentagon? Here’s a clue:

In other news, E. Jean Carroll testified in her civil case against Donald Trump yesterday, and it was powerful. Trump didn’t have the guts to show up in court, and that probably didn’t make a good impression on the jury.

Mitchell Epner at The Daily Beast: Jury Has Likely Decided Trump’s Fate in Rape Case Already.

On the first day of trial testimony Wednesday, E. Jean Carroll took the witness stand and provided unvarnished testimony that she was raped by Donald Trump in the 1990s. She testified: “I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it did not happen.”

André Deymonaz

By André Deymonaz

She testified that she and Trump went together to the lingerie department on the sixth floor of Bergdorf Goodman, flirting. When they got there, Trump followed her into the dressing room and pushed her against the wall, knocking her head and disorienting her. He also pulled down her tights, stuck his fingers inside of her vagina—causing her great pain—and stuck his penis inside of her vagina, for a period of time, while she struggled against him.

This testimony is the key to the case. If the jury believes it, they will find Trump liable for the rape of E. Jean Carroll, and likely award her significant damages. If the jury does not believe it, they will return a verdict in favor of the former president.

Based upon more than 25 years of experience as a trial attorney, including service as an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting sex crimes, I believe that it is highly likely that the jurors have already made up their minds about whether Carroll is telling the truth—before she has completed her direct testimony and long before Donald Trump’s attorneys have the opportunity to cross-examine her.

On Trump absenting himself:

This case won’t be a “he said, she said” case—because Trump is unlikely to testify.

In fact, Trump has not attended the trial at all so far. During opening statements, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, appeared to indicate that the trend would continue, saying that Trump’s testimony would only occur in deposition excerpts. Trump’s witness list consists of only two people, Donald Trump and Dr. Edgar Nace, a psychiatric expert witness.

Trump also is not presenting any exhibits, other than excerpts from depositions. If he does not testify, the only way he will get facts into evidence will be through cross-examination of Ms. Carroll’s witnesses.

Ms. Carroll, on the other hand, will present a number of corroborating witnesses:

  • Lisa Birnbaum: The bestselling author will testify that Carroll told her immediately after the incident what Trump had done to her. She will also testify that she told Carroll that she had been “raped.”
  • Carol Martin: The first African-American anchor on local news in New York City (for over two decade) will likewise testify that Carroll told her immediately of the rape by Trump. Martin will testify that she told Carroll not to pursue the case, because he had “200 lawyers” and would destroy her.
  • Jessica Leeds: Another of Trump’s alleged victims, she will testify that she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump when she sat next to him on a flight in the 1970s, when he attempted to place his fingers inside of her vagina.
  • Natasha Stoynoff: Then a reporter for People magazine, she will testify that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her when she was at Mar-A-Lago in the early 2000s, working on a story.

Carroll is also set to present the infamous Access Hollywood video, in which Donald Trump bragged that he could grab women “by the pussy” without consent, because he was “a star.”

Perhaps even more importantly, Carroll already addressed most of the points that Trump’s attorneys wanted to make on cross-examination.

Read more at the link.

still-life-with-a-ginger-jar-and-eggplants-paul-cezanne

Still life with a ginger jar and eggplant, by Paul Cezanne

In addition to all this, Trump posted about the case on Truth Social yesterday, and the judge was not happy. He suggested that Trump could get himself in further trouble by trying to influence the jury.

The Guardian: Judge rebukes Trump for ‘entirely inappropriate’ post before E Jean Carroll testimony.

Before Carroll took the stand…the judge in the case, Lewis A Kaplan, rebuked Trump for an “entirely inappropriate” statement on his social media platform, Truth Social, shortly before proceedings began.

Kaplan warned the former president’s lawyers that such statements about the case could bring more legal problems upon himself.

Trump, who has not attended so far, called the case “a made-up scam”. He also called Carroll’s lawyer “a political operative” and alluded to a DNA issue Kaplan has ruled cannot be part of the case.

“This is a fraudulent and false story – Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote….

The judge told Trump’s lawyers: “What seems to be the case is that your client is basically endeavoring, certainly, to speak to his quote-unquote public, but, more troubling, the jury in this case about stuff that has no business being spoken about.”

He also called Trump’s post “a public statement that, on the face of it, seems entirely inappropriate”.

The Trump attorney Joe Tacopina noted that jurors are told not to follow any news or online commentary about the case. But he said he would ask Trump “to refrain from any further posts about this case”.

“I hope you’re more successful,” Kaplan said, adding that Trump “may or may not be tampering with a new source of potential liability”.

This morning Carroll testified that she has been receiving threats, following Trump’s postings.

Another big story broke late yesterday. Trump has lost high fight to keep Mike Pence from testifying to the January 6 grand jury.

CNN: Trump loses appeal to block Pence from testifying about direct communications.

Former President Donald Trump has lost an emergency attempt to block former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying about their direct conversations, in the latest boost to a federal criminal investigation examining Trump’s and others’ actions after the 2020 election.

The former president has repeatedly tried and failed to close off some answers from witnesses close to him in the special counsel’s investigation. This latest order from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals likely will usher in Pence’s grand jury testimony quickly – an unprecedented development in modern presidential history.

The decision, from Judges Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Greg Katsas on the DC Circuit, came in a sealed case on Wednesday night that CNN previously identified as Trump’s executive privilege challenge to Pence. No dissents were noted on the public docket.

Trump has tried to block Pence from testifying about their direct communications, even after the former vice president wrote about some of those exchanges and a lower-court judge had ruled against him.

Trump asked the DC Circuit for emergency intervention weeks ago. The court refused to put on hold Pence’s subpoena and to override the lower-court ruling, flatly denying Trump’s requests.

Trump could try to appeal again and even press the issue at the Supreme Court. Yet he gave up pushing several past executive privilege challenges to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation after similar rulings from this court of appeals.

breakfast-still-life-1924, Ilya Mashkov

Breakfast still life, 1924, by Ilya Mashkov

One more important story–on the latest developments in the Supreme Court ethics scandal.

Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: King Roberts: The chief justice’s latest trick to ward off oversight is the ploy of a royal, not a judge.

Last Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin invited Chief Justice John Roberts to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about, well, to put it directly—the Supreme Court’s diaphanous ethics regime. On Tuesday evening, in his letter to Durbin in which he declined the invitation, Roberts finally named the problem: “Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence,” he wrote. In other words, the justices can enforce checks and balances on the other branches, but the other branches can enforce no checks or balances upon the justices. Which is precisely the problem the Senate Judiciary Committee is attempting to solve.

In an accompanying “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices,” presumably released for the public, the chief justice laid out the web of laws and practices and guidelines used voluntarily by each justice to determine their individual ethics obligations. Perhaps he was attempting to clarify things, but instead the document illuminates the problem. These obligations and commitments are advisory, unenforceable, and subjective. In response to the widespread concern that no person should be a judge in their own cause, the court has confirmed that it shall continue to be the sole judge of that. (Meanwhile, it will enforce this principle against other courts—which is great, but also … come on!)

Put aside for a moment Politico’s new report that Justice Neil Gorsuch failed to disclose that he’d sold his valuable Colorado property to a prominent lawyer with multiple cases before the court only nine days after he was confirmed, or Bloomberg’s new revelations that Harlan Crow, Justice Clarence Thomas’ GOP-megadonor billionaire friend, also had business before the court, yet his lavish gifts to Thomas were not disclosed because the justice said Crow had no business before the court. Note also that Gorsuch’s failure to disclose has been defended on the grounds that the justice was not friends with the purchaser of his land, whereas Thomas’ failure to disclose Crow’s gifts has been defended on the grounds that the justice was close friends with him. Which “friend” rule wins? Who can possibly know.

The justices themselves are wholly responsible for this high-octane ethics quagmire, which now drags into its fourth week. Any sane institution that relies wholly on public approval, when faced with multiple irrefutable reports of distortions and deception, would respond with a plan to do better. It speaks volumes that the Imperial Court’s response is a promise to simply continue to do the same. Why? Because it thinks the other branches won’t do anything about it. As Ian Millhiser noted in Vox this week, the Constitution makes it extraordinarily difficult to remove a justice, or diminish the court’s power. The reason it is set up this way, believe it or not, is because the framers thought the judiciary would rise above the partisan fray. In practice, however, the Supreme Court has proven remarkably easy for one political party to capture. Its members are selected through a flagrantly political process. It is formed by political imperatives. And yet the court pretends—and demands we all pretend—that it’s magically purified of politics as soon as its justices are seated.

Read the rest at Slate.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a great Thursday, everyone!


19 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’m getting tired of all the complaints about Joe Biden’s age. He’s in much better shape than Trump, who is also old. He’s running and reporters need to find something else to obsess about.

    • quixote says:

      Exactly. I do not understand this oooh-he’s-so-oooold BS. You’d think they’re leaving a giant opening you could sail an aircraft carrier through about their own guy. Biden rides bikes. Their guy rides a golf cart. Barely.

      And that’s the point where he’s the _closest_ in competition with Biden. Biden has done a simply amazing job cleaning up his mess in the face of a useless Congress and a corrupt Court.

      I guess it would be too depressing if Biden ran campaign ads saying “Remember the morgue trucks? Let’s not do that again.”

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes. It’s blatant ageism. There’s always an ugly current of it through American culture — through all modern societies but especially prevalent in the US. Some cultures respect experience.

      Having a knowledge of history before your own lifetime is also valuable though too many think it’s useless. No awareness of the influenza pandemic of 1918? No awareness of how hard the Suffragettes had to fight for the vote? For women’s rights activists in the 60s and 70s so married women could have their own bank accounts, to make marital rape a crime, to legalize abortion? Saw a woman wearing a button that said: “21st Century Suffragette. Same shit, different century.”

    • Marge is a menace to society…

    • dakinikat says:

      How do people like that guy and this idiot get into office? I bet the Russians are dancing in the Kremlin.

    • quixote says:

      “antiwar” Right. Well known antiwar attitude to want to kill a ton of people. The twit couldn’t hold back long enough to find some actual facts to twist?

      I don’t know which boggles me more. Margie Three Names’ insane politics or her solar system-sized stupidity.

    • NW Luna says:

      This kid was obviously a huge risk for some time. The wonder is he hadn’t blasted hundreds of people to bloody bits, and/or sold state secrets to Russia, China or N Korea before now. All those weapons — didn’t his parents have a clue? And the school, and his work online activity. Whoever’s doing background checks at DoD needs to be investigated very closely.

      • quixote says:

        Apparently there was a Dump Executive Order in 2020 taking background checks away from Office of Personnel Management and putting it in DoD. This was to speed things up. Which apparently worked. This Teixeira guy was okayed (rubberstamped?) in 2021.

        • NW Luna says:

          I know, BB put it in above, but my point was that the DoD needs scrutinizing if their process or staff lets risks like this guy through.

          • quixote says:

            Indeed. Couldn’t agree more. It amazes me how the Dump could make absolutely everything anywhere in his orbit worse. You’d think just random chance would let something go right on rare occasions!

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Where oh where is Merrick Garland?

    This walking, talking, ignorant menace is still running around free even as his list of crimes keep piling up.

    The SC will not do anything to rein in corrupt justices while that con woman convicted in CA for the loss of billions in her fraud case gets another reprieve as to when she is expected to report to prison to begin an 11 year term for bilking her investors.

    And Steve Bannon is still out there dredging up chaos on a daily radio program.

    Seems as if “justice” disappeared along with truth when Trump weaseled his way into the WH.

    So discouraging.

  3. dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      Jeeeesus. If there’s a way to screw up, these guys always, *always*, dove into it head first.

      Aside from the criminality, I keep boggling at their bottomless stupidity.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    BB, the paintings are especially lovely — a needed interlude from current news. I especially like the one by Deymonaz.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you. I liked that one a lot too. My favorite is the one at the top with the open door in the background.