But perhaps the most destructive, least noticed part of the bill is a provision that would force virtually all federal regulatory machinery to grind to a halt.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: May 16, 2023 Filed under: Crime, Domestic terrorism, Economy, Global Financial Crisis | Tags: debt limit, GOP extortion, guns, mass shooting, mental illness, violence 12 Comments
I’m still trying to recover from Dakinikat’s post yesterday. She seems convinced that the Supreme Court will agree with the 5th Circuit that the way the Consumer Finance Protection bureau is financed is unconstitutional and their decision will lead to the downfall of the Federal Reserve, Social Security, Medicare, and other off-the-books programs. I’m not convinced it will happen, but I’m still extremely depressed by Dakinikat’s arguments.
But for today, I’m trying to set all that aside and just worry about what’s happening (or not happening) with the debt ceiling. Here’s the latest on that emergency.
This is an opinion piece by The Washington Post’s Katherine Rampell, who is very knowledgeable about economic issues: After breaking itself, Congress tries to break the rest of government, too.
The GOP House’s debt-limit-and-spending-cuts bill does a lot of things to sabotage the basic functions of government. It decimates spending on safety-net programs. It creates more red tape to block Americans from accessing services they’re legally eligible for. And it makes it harder for government to fund itself in the first place.
Tucked into Republicans’ debt-limit-ransom bill is some legislative language that has been kicking around Capitol Hill for a while, known as the Reins Act. If enacted, the law would prevent “major” agency regulations — somewhere around 80 to 100 per year — from going into effect unless Congress first approves each and every one.
To be clear, under current law, Congress already has the ability to rescind regulations it dislikes. This new bill would essentially change the default, so that no major regulation could take effect before Congress gives its blessing.
This change might sound reasonable. After all, tons of American problems have been dumped at the feet of executive-branch agencies (guns, immigration, health costs, etc.). It would be great if federal lawmakers got more involved in trying to solve literally any of them.
But if you think about how Congress actually functions (or rather, doesn’t), you’ll realize this is not an earnest attempt to get lawmakers to roll up their sleeves and conquer the Big Issues. It’s about throwing sand in the gears of the executive branch, so that no one can solve any issue. Ever.
Rampell explains why the system is set up the way it is.
There are two main reasons Congress currently delegates certain regulatory issues to executive-branch agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
First, some policy questions aretechnically challenging. What amount of arsenic in the air is “safe”? What should bethe technical standards for mammography equipment? How should the Volcker Rule be implemented in practice? As talented and hard-working as congressional staff are, they might not have the time or expertise to make informed decisions about such minutiae. Agency scientists or other subject-matter experts are tapped to weigh evidence, solicit input from the public, hold hearings, etc., to execute the objectives Congress has enacted.
The second reason is political.
There are plenty of policy questions that Congress has technical capacity to resolve but might prefer not to. Maybe lawmakers can’t come to an agreement within their caucus. Maybe they know that whatever they choose to do will be unpopular.
So: They punt, and make it some other government functionary’s problem.
For example, Congress has been unable to pass significant immigration reform in more than three decades, leaving the executive branch to address migration-related problems in sometimes legally tenuous ways (see: the legal limbo ofso-called dreamers, or former president Donald Trump’s unfunded border wall). Congress has all but abdicated many of its basic responsibilities to other branches of government, such as passing a budget, setting tariffs or deciding on abortion rights.
Or, you know, making sure the federal government doesn’t default on its debt. Apparently even some Republicans are now rooting for President Biden to direct Treasury to mint a new $1 trillion platinum coin to pay off government expenses or adopt some other deus-ex-machination.
Read more at the WaPo.
Biden and McCarthy are meeting again today. From The New York Times: Biden and McCarthy Set for More Talks as Debt Limit Deadline Nears.
The 3 p.m. meeting comes a day after Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen reiterated that the United States could run out of money to pay its bills by June 1 if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt limit.
Republicans have said they want to slash federal spending before lifting the debt ceiling. The president has maintained that raising the limit is a responsibility of Congress and should be done without conditions to avoid an economic disaster, even as he has said he is open to separate negotiations over spending.
Over the weekend, the White House projected cautious optimism regarding a potential agreement, but on Monday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed doubts.
“I don’t think we’re in a good place,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I know we’re not.”
Some potential areas of compromise have emerged in recent days, however. Mr. McCarthy said on Monday that he wanted to negotiate some of the key provisions of the bill to raise the debt limit that House Republicans passed last month. Those include spending caps, permitting changes for domestic energy projects, work requirements for safety net programs like food stamps and clawing back unspent money allocated for pandemic relief programs. “All of that I felt would be very positive,” he said.
Most of the people on food stamps are children, so this would go along with the new Republican push to get rid of child labor laws.
In addition to Mr. McCarthy, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader; Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader; and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, will join Mr. Biden at the White House.
The government hit the $31.4 trillion debt limit on Jan. 19, and the Treasury Department has been using accounting maneuvers to keep paying its bills. Mr. Biden is also scheduled to leave for Japan on Wednesday to attend the Group of 7 meeting, heightening the sense of urgency to make progress on the debt limit….
“We welcome a bipartisan debate about our nation’s fiscal future,” Mr. Schumer said on Monday. “But we’ve made it plain to our Republican colleagues that default is not an option. Its consequences are too damaging, too severe. It must be taken off the table.”
Ms. Yellen will warn on Tuesday that the standoff over the debt limit is already having an impact on financial markets and is increasing the burden of debt on American taxpayers. Investors, she will note, have become wary of holding onto government debt that matures in early June — when the government could start running out of cash.
“We are already seeing the impacts of brinkmanship,” Ms. Yellen will say at the Independent Community Bankers of America summit, according to excerpts from her prepared remarks.
The Washington Post: Liberals grow fearful Biden may reward GOP for weaponizing debt ceiling.
The White House’s liberal allies are increasingly worried that negotiations with House Republicans over the budget risk rewarding the GOP for threatening the U.S. economy with default, even as Biden administration aides insist the talks have nothing to do with the looming debt ceiling deadline.
Since last week, Biden aides have been in talks with staffers representing leaders in Congress about a deal to fund the federal government next year that would also raise the nation’s debt ceiling, which must be lifted by as soon as June 1 to avoid potential economic catastrophe. President Biden will host House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other top congressional leaders again on Tuesday for more discussions.
The fresh talks follow months in which Biden and his top aides insisted that the White House would not entertain making any trade-offs to raise the debt limit, saying that would set a dangerous precedent that encourages GOP brinkmanship. And yet, to some critics, the administration appears to be doing exactly that — following unrelenting pressure from the business community and even some moderate Democratic voices to enter bipartisan talks after the House passed a spending and debt limit bill last month.
Publicly, Biden administration officials are adamant that they are working with House Republicans on a deal to fund the federal government in the next fiscal year — not to raise the debt ceiling. Privately, however, even some Biden aides recognize that the negotiations appear to be in part about the debt limit. Behind the scenes, negotiators are clear that any deal on the budget must resolve the debt ceiling deadline, as well. Democratic negotiators also acknowledge that they will have to agree to more spending cuts if they want to secure a longer extension of the debt ceiling — an implicit recognition that lawmakers are bartering over the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, an approach Biden has repeatedly disavowed.
“The issue here is principle: If you accept the idea that you can, in essence, be held to blackmail with the debt ceiling, it will be done again and again. Not to be crass, but it’s essentially negotiating with terrorists who have taken hostages,” said Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, a left-leaning think tank. “More and more people in progressive circles are becoming concerned with it.”
Of course most of the mainstream media is reporting on all this as if it’s a typical negotiation over a political dispute, and failing to point out that Congressed raised the debt limit with no fuss when Trump was in the White House.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: The Media Is Normalizing Debt-Ceiling Extortion. No, this isn’t how Congress always does it. It’s different and dangerous.
Ten years ago, when Barack Obama faced down an attempt by House Republicans to extract concessions in return for lifting the debt ceiling, he explained that he saw this tactic as inimical to functioning self-government. “If we continue to set a precedent in which a president … is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to … pay the bills unless you give us … what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely,” he explained….
But as the new Republican-led House seeks to renew the effort to use the debt ceiling as a hostage, a revisionist interpretation has taken hold: This isn’t a new or dangerous tactic, it’s just how Congress operates.
“The House Republicans’ insistence on negotiations and compromise is not hostage taking. It is the ordinary stuff of politics,” claims law professor Michael McConnell. “A standalone clean debt ceiling is dead on arrival … In modern times, the debt ceiling is raised with negotiations,” asserts Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: April 1, 2023 Filed under: cat art, caturday, Crime, Criminal Justice System, Donald Trump, racism | Tags: accelerationism, Alvin Bragg, anti-semitism, blue checks, Douglass Mackey, Elon Musk, George Soros, Manhattan District Attorney, Twitter 17 Comments
Today is the day that Elon Musk said he would remove the blue checkmarks from “legacy” verified accounts on Twitter unless the users paid $8 per month. For businesses and government entities, the cost is much higher. The blue checks identify notable people who provide most of the engagement on the social media site. But so far today, the blue checks are still in place. Over the past few days, news organizations and the White House have said they will not pay, and a number of celebrities have also declined to pay. It doesn’t look like Musk will get much income from this stupid policy.
CNN Business: News organizations reject Elon Musk’s demand of paying to keep checkmarks on Twitter.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, and Vox all scoffed at the notion on Thursday that they would pay Twitter for the feature, which has been free since it was introduced years ago but will soon be phased out.
CNN said it has no intention of paying for Twitter’s subscription service for its accounts but would make a few exceptions for some key staff.
“As of right now, we do not plan to pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions for either our brand or individual accounts, except for a small number of select teams who need this verification as an essential part of newsgathering and reporting,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, CNN’s chief digital officer, in a staff memo Friday.
Twitter announced last week that it will begin “removing legacy verified checkmarks” starting April 1. Musk has aimed to charge organizations that want to retain a checkmark adjacent to their account name $1,000 a month, plus an additional $50 a month for each affiliated account.
Historically, a blue checkmark placed next to the name of an account has indicated that the social media company has confirmed the identity of the person or business operating it. The feature has been helpful to Twitter’s entire community, giving the public an easy way of distinguishing between authentic and inauthentic users.
But Musk, who has sought to change Twitter’s business model and make it less reliant on advertisers — many of which have fled the company since he took over last year — wants to charge for the coveted check.
Musk earlier this year launched Twitter Blue, a subscription service that costs $8 a month. The main benefit? A blue checkmark.
Axios: Scoop: White House won’t pay for Twitter verification.
The White House will not pay to have its staff’s official Twitter profiles continue to be verified, according to guidance issued to staffers via an email obtained by Axios….
Official White House staffers rely on their verified accounts to inform the public on behalf of the administration. Verification, combined with the designated Twitter profiles, helped to ensure the public could trust those messages….
“It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service. Thus, a blue check mark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty told staffers in an email sent Friday afternoon.
The guidance, which was sent internally to White House staffers, doesn’t necessarily apply to government agencies, but a source familiar with White House plans said it may send guidance to some agencies and departments in the future.
This thread by a former Twitter employee provides a great deal of information about the past policies on Twitter verification and why making people who provide most of the content on the site pay for the privilege is really stupid.
It’s a long thread, but very interesting. Read the rest on Twitter.
Zeeshan Aleem at MSNBC: It looks like Elon Musk played himself with Twitter Blue. Elon Musk wanted to monetize blue checkmarks. It’s blowing up in his face.
Beginning April 1, Twitter will start removing “legacy verified checkmarks” from the profiles of celebrities, journalists, civil servants and other public figures. Twitter is making the move in an attempt to force more users to pay for “verified” check marks, as part of its agenda to monetize a service that was previously handled by the company for free.
But so far, the plan isn’t going well. As CNN reports, many media organizations, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO and Vox, are already saying they have no plans to dish out money for Twitter Blue, the fee-based service that includes those blue check marks. The White House will also not be paying staffers for verified accounts, according to Axios. And Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James promises that he “ain’t paying.”
This was an entirely predictable case of Twitter CEO Elon Musk playing himself. Why would media outlets — or anyone else — rush to pay for verified badges when he’s systematically destroyed their meaning? [….]
Musk believed he could turn verified badges into a key source of new revenue for making Twitter profitable, a goal that’s surely growing more difficult as advertisers have fled Twitter en masse after Musk took over the company last year. But now key demographics that he would’ve hoped to have secured for paying for the service — journalists, famous celebrities, and government workers — might be checking out altogether. And that’s because Musk unraveled the purpose of the very thing he wanted to make money off.
As I’ve explained before, Musk fundamentally misunderstood or disregarded the true value of verified badges to most people who had them. Their original purpose was for Twitter to confirm that public figures were who they actually said they were in order to combat impersonation and misinformation. It was the key feature of what made Twitter a reliable source of news: verified accounts helped separate trustworthy statements and reporting from rumors and false claims.
But Musk decided that the reason verified badges were important was not because they verified identity, but because of the way they signaled social clout — and that he could cash in on this by trying to get a bigger network of people to pay for them. So now under his paid verification service, users’ identities are not confirmed, but blue checks can be distributed to anyone willing to open up their wallet. In other words, he’s hollowed out their meaning but kept the trappings intact.
Yesterday, an interesting court case involving Twitter was decided. The case demonstrates how Twitter has been used to promote disinformation.
The Washington Post: Trump supporter found guilty in 2016 Twitter scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton.
Douglass Mackey, a supporter of former president Donald Trump who used Twitter to disseminate false information to redirect would-be voters of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, was convicted Friday on a charge of conspiracy against rights, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn announced.
Sunday Reads: The FuckeningPosted: November 20, 2022 Filed under: 2022 Elections, 2024 Elections, Black Lives Matter, Congress, court rulings, Crime, Elon Musk, Fox News, morning reads, open thread, Political and Editorial Cartoons, Twitter 21 Comments
When your day is going too well and you don’t trust it and some shit finally goes down
Ah, there it is, the fuckening.
Hello, yes…The Fuckening has begun, and from what has been said on the real verified Twit accounts (not those that paid for there blue check) it seems that it is just a matter of time now before Twitter finally bites the dust.
Veep predicted everything!
And now, the cartoons via Cagle website:
I know I posted this information about Shanquella Robinson before, but it’s important.
That is all…this is an open thread.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 11, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Crime, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Elon Musk, impeachment, Merrick Garland, Russia, Secret Service, Trump indictment, Twitter, Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin 21 Comments
We have gone through about 7 years of insanity with Donald Trump, first as a candidate, then as “president,” and now former “president.” At this point, it’s pretty clear that we’ll never be rid of him until he “shuffles off this mortal coil.”
During those years, I always turned to Twitter for the latest news and commentary from journalists and just plain folks. Trump made Twitter occasionally irritating, but now we face what could be an even great threat to the social media platform–a takeover by Elon Musk. And what’s coming could be even worse than I expected.
Musk plans to bring Trump back, and then there this even worse news from Vice: Elon Musk Spoke to Putin Before Tweeting Ukraine Peace Plan: Report.
Elon Musk spoke directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin before tweeting a proposal to end the war in Ukraine that would have seen territory permanently ceded to Russia, it has been claimed.
In a mailout sent to Eurasia Group subscribers, Ian Bremmer wrote that Tesla CEO Musk told him that Putin was “prepared to negotiate,” but only if Crimea remained Russian, if Ukraine accepted a form of permanent neutrality, and Ukraine recognised Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
According to Bremmer, Musk said Putin told him these goals would be accomplished “no matter what,” including the potential of a nuclear strike if Ukraine invaded Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Bremmer wrote that Musk told him that “everything needed to be done to avoid that outcome.”
Last week, Musk posted essentially the same points on Twitter, although he suggested that the referendums in the annexed territories slammed as sham votes by Ukraine and the West be redone under supervision by the United Nations….
The Ukrainian response to Musk’s Twitter peace proposal was succinct – one diplomat told him to “fuck off,” while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted his own Twitter poll.
Meanwhile the Kremlin welcomed Musk’s “positive” proposal to end the war, while his tweets were also cited by Russian state media.
Not only will we never be rid of Trump; The new owner of Twitter apparently be channeling Putin. Terrific.
Yesterday, Russia escalated its attacks on civilians following Ukraine’s damage to a bridge connecting Russia with Crimea. The Kyiv Independent: What’s behind Russia’s unusually big missile attack on Ukraine?
Russia lashed out on Oct. 10, striking many Ukrainian cities with 84 missiles and 24 exploding drones.
The places they hit were all civilian — multiple power plants but also a children’s playground in the center of Kyiv. Most strikes seemed to be timed to the Monday morning rush hour, as if trying to kill as many commuters as possible.
From a human rights point of view, the attacks were inexcusable and will likely be ruled as war crimes. From the battlefield perspective, the Russian armed forces just dropped hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve basically nothing….
Why has Russia chosen to do this? What was it trying to accomplish? And how long can it keep it up?
The facile answer is that Russia was retaliating for the partial destruction of the Kerch Strait bridge on Oct. 8. But that’s just not true. It’s been hitting civilian targets since Feb. 24. Ukraine’s intelligence said that the missile strikes had been planned since the start of October.
“Strategic and long-range aviation units received orders to prepare for massive missile attacks,” the General Intelligence Directorate said in a statement. “The targets were objects of critical civilian infrastructure and the central regions of densely populated Ukrainian cities.”
The goal was to sow panic among Ukrainians. But that wasn’t the only reason. Putin also needed to appease the angry hardliners who want Russia to win the war. The war hawks demanded a massive strike just like this, in response to Russia’s humiliating losses over the past two months, to which the bridge was the exclamation point. Some of these hardliners are driven more by emotion than sense. And they will want a repeat performance.
Read the rest at the link.
Karen De Young at The Washington Post: Ukraine war at a turning point with rapid escalation of conflict.
In little more than a month, the war in Ukraine has turned abruptly from a grueling, largely static artillery battle expected to last into the winter, to a rapidly escalating, multilevel conflict that has challenged the strategies of the United States, Ukraine and Russia.
Russia’s launch of massive strikes on civilian infrastructure Monday in about a dozen Ukrainian cities far from the front lines brought shock and outrage. The strikes, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken described as “wave after wave of missiles” struck “children’s playgrounds and public parks,” left at least 14 killed and nearly 100 wounded, and cut electricity and water in much of the country….
The attacks were the latest of many head-spinning events — from Ukrainian victories on the ground to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear weapons use — that have changed the nature and tempo of the war in recent weeks, and raised questions about whether the United States and its partners may have to move beyond the concept of helping Ukraine defend itself, and instead more forcefully facilitate a Ukrainian victory.
So far, the U.S. supply effort has been deliberative and process-oriented in the kinds of weapons it provides, and the speed at which it provides them, so as not to undercut its highest priority of avoiding a direct clash between Russia and the West. That strategy is likely to be part of the agenda at Tuesday’s emergency meeting of G7 leaders, and a gathering of NATO defense ministers later in the week.
U.S. officials continue to express caution about precipitous moves. “Turning points in war are usually points of danger,” said a senior Biden administration official, one of several U.S. and Ukrainian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. “You can’t predict what’s around the corner.”
Russian leaders have cited their own turning point. Viktor Bondarev, head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament wrote in a Telegram post on Monday that the strikes were the beginning of “a new phase” of what the Kremlin calls its“special military operation” in Ukraine, with more “resolute” action to come.
Max Fisher at The New York Times: Bombing Kyiv Into Submission? History Says It Won’t Work.
Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, follows a long line of wartime leaders who have sought to cow their adversaries by bombing enemy capitals.
Ever since Nazi Germany’s bombardment of London in World War II, enabled by the first long-range missiles and warplanes, nearly every major war has featured similar attacks.
The goal is almost always the same: to coerce the targeted country’s leaders into scaling back their war effort or suing for peace.
It typically aims to achieve this by forcing those leaders to ask whether the capital’s cultural landmarks and economic functioning are worth putting on the line — and also, especially, by terrorizing the country’s population into moderating their support for the war.
But for as long as leaders have pursued this tactic, they have watched it repeatedly fail.
More than that, such strikes tend to backfire, deepening the political and public resolve for war that they are meant to erode — even galvanizing the attacked country into stepping up its war aims.
The victorious allies in World War II did emphasize a strategy of heavily bombing cities, which is part of why countries have come to repeat this so many times since. Cities including Dresden and Tokyo were devastated, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and forcing millions into homelessness.
Still, historians generally now argue that, even if that did play some role in exhausting those countries, it was largely because of damage to German and Japanese industrial output rather than the terror it caused. Axis countries were also aggressive in bombing enemy cities, casting further doubt on notions that the strategy could be a decisive factor on its own.
Read the rest at the NYT if you’re interested.
With the January 6 Committee hearing coming up on Thursday, this story on the Secret Service phones by NBC’s Julia Ainsley is interesting: Secret Service agents were denied when they tried to learn what Jan. 6 info was seized from their personal cellphones.
Secret Service agents asked the agency for a record of all of the communications seized from their personal cellphones as part of investigations into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but were rebuffed, according to a document reviewed by NBC News.
The Secret Service’s office that handles such requests, the Freedom of Information Act Program, denied the request, in which agents invoked the Privacy Act to demand more information about what had been shared from their personal devices.
The request was made in early August, just after news came to light that both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general were interested in obtaining text messages of Secret Service agents that had been erased as part of what the agency said was a planned upgrade.
“This letter is the final response to your Privacy Act inquiry submitted on Aug. 4, 2022, for information pertaining to the release of personal cell phone information and/or other personal identifiable information (PII) by the U.S. Secret Service,” said the letter, dated last Wednesday.
“The agency has determined that regulation does not require a records disclosure accounting to be made in connection with your request,” the letter continued.
The agents’ effort to find out through an FOIA request what records were seized and the subsequent denial of the request underscore a tension between rank-and-file Secret Service agents and the agency’s leadership over what communications should be shared with investigators.
At The Washington Post, Mariana Sotomayor writes about a another new book on the Trump impeachments: New book details how McCarthy came to support Trump after Jan. 6.
In the weeks after the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump of a charge related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was seething.
Frustrated that Trump would not talk to him, stressed that his chance to become House speaker could be in jeopardy and furiousthat a trusted confidante had publicly disclosed a tense call between him and Trump, McCarthy snapped.
“I alone am taking all the heat to protect people from Trump! I alone am holding the party together!” he yelled at Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) during a previously undisclosed meeting in McCarthy’s office on Feb. 25, 2021. “I have been working with Trump to keep him from going after Republicans like you and blowing up the party and destroying all our work!”
Stunned by McCarthy’s anger, Herrera Beutler began to cry. Through tears, she apologized for not telling him ahead of time that she had confirmed to the media details of a call McCarthy made to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, urging him to tell his supporters to leave the U.S. Capitol.
“You should have come to me!” McCarthy said. “Why did you go to the press? This is no way to thank me!”
“What did you want me to do? Lie?” Herrera Beutler shot back. “I did what I thought was right.”
The tense meeting between Republican lawmakers is detailed in the new book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” by Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian and Politico reporter Rachael Bade, a copy of which The Post obtained ahead of its release next week. Several excerpts detail McCarthy’s state of mind from Election Day 2020 to the origination of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“McCarthy’s tirade against Herrera Beutler was just the start of what would become a GOP-wide campaign to whitewash the details of what happened on January 6 in the aftermath of the second impeachment,” the authors write.
There are more revelations about McCarthy in the WaPo story. Basically, McCarthy’s dream is to to become Speaker of the House and in pursuit of that goal he will suck up to Trump as much has he has to.
Lastly, at The Atlantic, Franklin Foer writes about why Merrick Garland will indict Trump: The Inevitable Indictment of Donald Trump.
Foer writes that, although Garland is a cautious, methodical person, he (Foer) is convinced that Trump will be indicted. Here’s why he thinks that. You’ll need to read the whole thing, but here’s an introduction to the arguments.
I have been observing Garland closely for months. I’ve talked with his closest friends and most loyal former clerks and deputies. I’ve carefully studied his record. I’ve interviewed Garland himself. And I’ve reached the conclusion that his devotion to procedure, his belief in the rule of law, and in particular his reverence for the duties, responsibilities, and traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice will cause him to make the most monumental decision an attorney general can make….
Before I lay out the reasons I believe I am correct in this assessment, I want to discuss why it is entirely possible I am not. The main reason to disbelieve the argument that Garland is preparing to indict is simple: To bring criminal charges against a former president from an opposing political party would be the ultimate test of a system that aspires to impartiality, and Garland, by disposition, is repelled by drama, and doesn’t believe the department should be subjected to unnecessary stress tests. This unprecedented act would inevitably be used to justify a cycle of reprisals, and risks turning the Justice Department into an instrument of never-ending political warfare.
And an indictment, of course, would merely be the first step—a prelude to a trial unlike any this country has ever seen. The defendant wouldn’t just be an ex-president; in all likelihood, he’d be a candidate actively campaigning to return to the White House. Fairness dictates that the system regard Trump as it does every other defendant. But doing so would lead to the impression that he’s being deliberately hamstrung—and humiliated—by his political rivals.
Garland is surely aware that this essential problem would be evident at the first hearing. If the Justice Department is intent on proving that nobody is above the law, it could impose the same constraints on Trump that it would on any criminal defendant accused of serious crimes, including limiting his travel. Such a restriction would deprive Trump of one of his most important political advantages: his ability to whip up his followers at far-flung rallies.
In any event, once the trial began, Trump would be stuck in court, likely in Florida (if he’s charged in connection with the Mar-a-Lago documents matter) or in Washington, D.C. (if he’s charged for his involvement in the events of January 6). The site of a Washington trial would be the Prettyman Courthouse, on Constitution Avenue, just a short walk from the Capitol. This fact terrified the former prosecutors and other experts I talked with about how the trial might play out. Right-wing politicians, including Trump himself, have intimated violence if he is indicted.
Trump would of course attempt to make the proceedings a carnival of grievance, a venue for broadcasting conspiracy theories about his enemies. The trial could thus supply a climactic flash point for an era of political violence. Like the Capitol on January 6, the courthouse could become a magnet for paramilitaries. With protesters and counterprotesters descending on the same locale, the occasion would tempt street warfare.
Head over the Atlantic to read the rest.
What are your thoughts on these stories? What other news are you following today?
Thursday ReadsPosted: September 8, 2022 Filed under: campaign financing, corruption, Crime, Donald Trump, U.S. Politics | Tags: Anne Garrels, Bernard Shaw, deaths, DOJ, Fraud, money laundering, Queen Elizabeth II, Russiagate documents, Save America PAC, Steve Bannon, William Russell 23 Comments
Good Day, Sky Dancers!!
I’m not a fan of royalty, but it does seem significant that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain may be dying. She took the throne on February 6, 1952 and is the “longest reigning monarch in world history.” She is 96 years old. The queen is in Scotland and she did not return to London for the appointment of the new Prime Minister Liz Truss. Her family members are either with her at Balmoral Castle or on their way there.
UPDATE: Queen Elizabeth II has died.
The Washington Post: Queen Elizabeth II under medical supervision as family gathers at Balmoral.
Queen Elizabeth II is under medical care at Balmoral Castle after doctors became concerned about her health, Buckingham Palace said Thursday. Her family is traveling to Scotland to be by her side.
Prince Harry and Meghan are en route to Balmoral, a spokesperson for the couple said. Prince William was also on his way to Balmoral. His wife, Catherine, remained in Windsor as their children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, are on their first full day at their new school, Kensington Palace said.
The statement comes a day after Buckingham Palace said Wednesday that the queen, who is 96, had canceled a virtual meeting with the Privy Council on doctor’s advice to rest.
The statements may have been vague on details, but the fact that they were issued at all speaks volumes. The palace typically provides minimal information about the queen’s health.
Also notable: The BBC has suspended programming for today in order to provide updates on the queen’s health.
This morning the deaths of two renowned journalists were announced.
CNN announced: CNN anchor Bernard Shaw dead at 82.
Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw died Wednesday of pneumonia unrelated to Covid-19, Shaw’s family announced in a statement Thursday. Shaw was 82.
Shaw was CNN’s first chief anchor and was with the network when it launched on June 1, 1980. He retired from CNN after more than 20 years on February 28, 2001.
During his storied career, Shaw reported on some of the biggest stories of that time — including the student revolt in Tiananmen Square in May 1989, the First Gulf war live from Baghdad in 1991, and the 2000 presidential election.
“CNN’s beloved anchor and colleague, Bernard Shaw, passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Bernie was a CNN original and was our Washington Anchor when we launched on June 1st, 1980,” Chris Licht, CNN.
Chairman and CEO, said in a statement Thursday. “He was our lead anchor for the next twenty years from anchoring coverage of presidential elections to his iconic coverage of the First Gulf War live from Baghdad in 1991. Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family providing our viewers with context about historic events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go out to his wife Linda and his children.”
And from NPR: Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, dies at 71.
Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, died on Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 71 years old.
At NPR, Garrels was known as a passionate reporter willing to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice if the story required it. She was also a warm and generous friend to many.
When she arrived at NPR in 1988, she already had a lot of experience under her belt — including 10 years in television news at ABC, where she was bureau chief in both Moscow and Central America.
Garrels made a strong impression on NPR’s Deborah Amos. “She was this glamorous television reporter who came here,” she said. “She didn’t dress like the rest of us in the beginning. And she’d has this long and remarkable career before she landed here … She was always braver than me, and I always understood that she was braver than me.”
That bravery led Garrels into many war zones. And when it came to covering a war, she was there at the beginning, in the middle of the battle, and at the peace table. She was the kind of reporter who would drive alone across a war zone if that’s what it took to get the story.
Read more at NPR.
This morning Steve Bannon surrendered to prosecutors in New York on state charges similar to the federal ones for which Trump pardoned him.
The Washington Post: Bannon charged with fraud, money laundering, conspiracy in ‘We Build the Wall.’
Stephen K. Bannon has been charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy in connection with the “We Build the Wall” fundraising scheme, for which he received a federal pardon during Donald Trump’s final days in the White House.
I was hoping for news from the DOJ on whether they will appeal the insane decision by Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to examine the government documents that Trump stole. But the only news I’ve seen is that they are proposing to unseal more of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, perhaps to use in their response to Judge Cannon.
There is plenty more Trump legal news though:
A federal grand jury investigating the activities leading up the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the push by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the result of the 2020 election has expanded its probe to include seeking information about Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, sources with direct knowledge tell ABC News.
The interest in the fundraising arm came to light as part of grand jury subpoenas seeking documents, records and testimony from potential witnesses, the sources said.
The subpoenas, sent to several individuals in recent weeks, are specifically seeking to understand the timeline of Save America’s formation, the organization’s fundraising activities, and how money is both received and spent by the Trump-aligned PAC….
Trump and his allies have consistently pushed supporters to donate to the PAC, often using false claims about the 2020 election and soliciting donations to rebuke the multiple investigations into the former president, his business dealings, and his actions on Jan. 6.
After the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month, Save America PAC sent out a fundraising email in which Trump urged supporters to “rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”
More from The New York Times: Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept.
A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.
According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events….
The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Another Trump aide was subpoenaed in connection with planning for the January 6 coup attempt.
From the article:
Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to a personal aide to former President Donald J. Trump as part of the investigation into the events leading up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, people familiar with the matter said.
The move suggests that investigators have expanded the pool of people from whom they are seeking information in the wide-ranging criminal investigation into efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and that agents are reaching into the former president’s direct orbit.
This week, F.B.I. agents in Florida tried to approach William S. Russell, a 31-year-old aide to Mr. Trump who served as a special assistant and the deputy director of presidential advance operations in the White House. He continued to work for Mr. Trump as a personal aide after he left office, one of a small group of officials who did so.
It was not immediately clear what the F.B.I. agents wanted from Mr. Russell; people familiar with the Justice Department’s inquiry said he has not yet been interviewed. But a person with knowledge of the F.B.I.’s interest said that it related to the grand jury investigation into events that led to the Capitol attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters.
That investigation is said to have focused extensively on the attempts by some of Mr. Trump’s advisers and lawyers to create slates of fake electors from swing states. Mr. Trump and his allies wanted Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay certification of the Electoral College results during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to allow consideration of Trump electors whose votes could have changed the outcome.
At Rolling Stone, Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng offer a possible motive for at least some of Trump’s document pilfering: Trump Told White House Team He Needed to Protect ‘Russiagate’ Documents.
IN HIS FINAL days in the White House, Donald Trump told top advisers he needed to preserve certain Russia-related documents to keep his enemies from destroying them.
The documents related to the federal investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with Trump’s campaign. At the end of his presidency, Trump and his team pushed to declassify these so-called “Russiagate” documents, believing they would expose a “Deep State” plot against him.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation and another source briefed on the matter, Trump told several people working in and outside the White House that he was concerned Joe Biden’s incoming administration — or the “Deep State” — would supposedly “shred,” bury, or destroy “the evidence” that Trump was somehow wronged.
Trump’s concern about preserving the Russia-related material is newly relevant after an FBI search turned up a trove of government documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Since the search, Trump has refused to say which classified government papers and top-secret documents he had at Mar-a-Lago and what was the FBI had seized. (Trump considers the documents “mine” and has directed his lawyers to make that widely-panned argument in court.) The feds have publicly released little about the search and its results.It’s unclear if any of the materials in Trump’s document trove are related to Russia or the election interference investigation. A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
I have a few more articles to share, but I’ll do it in the comment thread. Sorry this post is so late; my internet keeps going in and out.