Posted: August 6, 2022 Filed under: caturday | Tags: abortion rights, adoption, Alex Jones, baby boxes, Chuck Schumer, conspiracy theories, Democrats' climate/health care/tax bill, Joe Manchin, reconciliation, Sandy Hook parents, state legislatures, U.S. Senate, vote-a-rama
Artist Pierre Bonnard and his cat
Today’s top story is the Democrats’ historic climate/health-care/tax bill.
The bill can be passed through reconciliation, after the Senate parliamentarian approved most of the bill’s provisions. One portion of the Medicare drug portion of the bill was disallowed.
The Guardian: Senate Democrats given green light to vote on $430bn climate and tax bill.
US Senate Democrats on Saturday were set to push ahead on a bill that would address key elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda, tackling climate change, lowering the cost of energy and senior citizens’ drugs and forcing the wealthy to pay more taxes.
A Senate rulemaker determined that the lion’s share of the $430bn bill could be passed with only a simple majority, bypassing a filibuster rule requiring 60 votes in the 100-seat chamber to advance most legislation and enabling Democrats to pass it over Republican objections, majority leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement….
“Democrats have received extremely good news,” Schumer said in the statement. “Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate drug prices … This is a major victory for the American people.“ [….]
There are three main parts to the bill: a 15% minimum tax on corporations, tougher IRS enforcement and a new excise tax on stock buybacks. The legislation has $430 billion in new spending along with raising more than $740 billion in new revenues.
Beside billions of dollars to encourage the production and purchase of more electric vehicles and foster clean energy, the bill would set $4 billion in new federal drought relief funds. The latter is a move that could help the re-election campaigns of Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Mark Kelly in Arizona….
One provision cut from the bill would have forced drug companies to refund money to both government and private health plans if drug prices rise more quickly than inflation. The Senate arbiter, known as the parliamentarian, ruled that measure could not apply to private industry.
Frida Kahlo’s cat feeling shunned as she cuddles a monkey
Before they can vote on the bill, Democrats will have to endure a “vote-a-rama,” in which Republicans will try to weaken the bill with votes on proposed amendments. They may also face a fight with good old Bernie Sanders.
USA Today: Senate preps for grueling weekend ‘vote-a-rama’ as Democrats push sweeping climate, health care bill.
In a vote-a-rama, senators can offer up an unlimited amount of amendments to a bill but the process is expedited.
There is only one minute allocated for debate, equally divided between both sides. Then, senators are given 10 minutes to vote. This process repeats for every single amendment.
In a vote-a-rama, senators can offer up an unlimited amount of amendments to a bill but the process is expedited.
There is only one minute allocated for debate, equally divided between both sides. Then, senators are given 10 minutes to vote. This process repeats for every single amendment.
The last time the Senate held a vote-a-rama was when it adopted a budget resolution for fiscal year 2022 last August. Senators offered up 43 amendments for a vote, leading to a session that lasted around 14 hours.
What’s the point of this nonsense?
Most amendments are expected to come from Republicans, who are furious over the deal which was negotiated without their input.
Republican-proposed amendments are expected to fail. But the vote-a-rama will allow Republicans to make Democrats vote on tough issues that could be used for ads on the campaign trail this fall.
The deal also incited the anger of some on the left, who have criticized the bill’s investment in new fossil fuel development – likely due to the importance natural gas and coal are to the economy of Manchin’s home state.
Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on the Senate floor Wednesday,urged lawmakers “to do everything possible to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry,” and promised to offer an amendment nixing fossil fuel investments in the bill.
Sanders’ amendment is expected to fail as the bill is contingent on Manchin’s support.
Senate rules are truly insane.
Photographer Margaret Bourke-White with her kitten in 1944
John Nichols at The Nation: Schumer’s Inflation Reduction Act Includes a Smart Tax on Corporations.
The Inflation Reduction Act that is poised for votes in the US Senate is far from perfect. A scaled-down version of the ambitious plans that President Joe Biden and Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders framed last summer as the “Build Back Better” agenda, it’s the latest step in the series of compromises that’s been referred to as “Build Back Smaller.”
Yet the $740 billion budget reconciliation package worked out by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has ambitions that ought not be underestimated—especially as it arrives at a point when many Democrats had given up hope on getting another omnibus bill enacted before the November midterm elections. As it stands now, according to Politico, the measure “would spend $369 billion on energy and climate change, extend Obamacare subsidies through 2024, direct Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and send an estimated $300 billion to deficit reduction. It would be funded, in part, by a 15 percent corporate minimum tax on big companies and increased IRS enforcement.”
And it looks as if it will include a 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks, which is actually a very big deal. The tax, which would raise $73 billion for climate and health care initiatives, cracks down on some of the ugliest abuses by multinational corporations.
Read all the details at The Nation.
Also in the news: the fight for women’s personhood as Republicans try to turn women into broodmares.
The Washington Post: Indiana passes near-total abortion ban, the first state to do so post-Roe.
Indiana became the first state in the country after the fall of Roe v. Wade to pass sweeping limits on abortion access, after Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed into law Friday a bill that constitutes a near-total ban 0n the procedure.
The Republican-dominated state Senate approved the legislation 28-19 on Friday in a vote that came just hours after it passed Indiana’s lower chamber. The bill, which will go into effect Sept. 15, allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormality or when the procedure is necessary to prevent severe health risks or death.
Paul Klee with his cat Bimbo
Supporters of abortion rights crowded into the corridors of the Indiana Statehouse throughout the day as lawmakers cast their votes, some holding signs that read “You can only ban safe abortions” and “Abortion is health care.” Moments after the vote, some protesters hugged and others stood stunned before the crowd broke out into chants of “We will not stop.”c
In a statement released after signing the bill, Holcomb said he had “stated clearly” following the overturn of Roe that he would be willing to support antiabortion legislation. He also highlighted the “carefully negotiated” exceptions in the law, which he said address “some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face.”
Note he said “some of.” There are bound to be many “unthinkable circumstances” that Indiana state legislators are ignorant about.
The vote followed days of testimony from citizens and a debate that grew heated at times. “Sir, I am not a murderer,” state Rep. Renee Pack (D) said in the chamber after state Rep. John Jacob (R), a staunch abortion opponent who wanted exceptions for rape removed, described the procedure as murder.
Abortion rights organizations quickly rebuked Friday’s decision. Alexis McGill Johnson, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the vote “was cruel and will prove devastating for pregnant people and their families in Indiana and across the whole region.” “Hoosiers didn’t want this,” Johnson said.
In a statement, antiabortion group Indiana Right to Life opposed the exceptions and said the new law did not go far enough in cutting abortion access.
Dana Goldstein at The New York Times writes about what some anti-abortion fanatics are offering as a cruel “solution” to unwanted pregnancies: Drop Box for Babies: Conservatives Promote a Way to Give Up Newborns Anonymously.
The Safe Haven Baby Box at a firehouse in Carmel, Ind., looked like a library book drop. It had been available for three years for anyone who wanted to surrender a baby anonymously.
Ai Weiwei with Lai Lai — one of his 40 cats
No one had ever used it, though, until early April. When its alarm went off, Victor Andres, a firefighter, opened the box and found, to his disbelief, a newborn boy wrapped in towels.
The discovery made the local TV news, which praised the courage of the mother, calling it “a time for celebration.” Later that month, Mr. Andres pulled another newborn, a girl, from the box. In May, a third baby appeared. By summer, three more infants were left at baby box locations throughout the state.
The baby boxes are part of the safe haven movement, which has long been closely tied to anti-abortion activism. Safe havens offer desperate mothers a way to surrender their newborns anonymously for adoption, and, advocates say, avoid hurting, abandoning or even killing them. The havens can be boxes, which allow parents to avoid speaking to anyone or even being seen when surrendering their babies. More traditionally, the havens are locations such as hospitals and fire stations, where staff members are trained to accept a face-to-face handoff from a parent in crisis.
So a child will never know who her parents are unless they can find a way to locate them through on-line DNA matching.
But for many experts in adoption and women’s health, safe havens are hardly a panacea.
To them, a safe haven surrender is a sign that a woman fell through the cracks of existing systems. They may have concealed their pregnancies and given birth without prenatal care, or they may suffer from domestic violence, drug addiction, homelessness or mental illness.
The adoptions themselves could also be problematic, with women potentially unaware that they are terminating parental rights, and children left with little information about their origins.
Read more at the NYT.
From the great Jane Mayer at The New Yorker: State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy.
As the Supreme Court anticipated when it overturned Roe v. Wade, the battle over abortion rights is now being waged state by state. Nowhere is the fight more intense than in Ohio, which has long been considered a national bellwether. The state helped secure the Presidential victories of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, then went for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Its residents tend to be politically moderate, and polls consistently show that a majority of Ohio voters support legal access to abortion, particularly for victims of rape and incest. Yet, as the recent ordeal of a pregnant ten-year-old rape victim has illustrated, Ohio’s state legislature has become radically out of synch with its constituents. In June, the state’s General Assembly instituted an abortion ban so extreme that the girl was forced to travel to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy. In early July, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana obstetrician who treated the child, told me that she had a message for Ohio’s legislature: “This is your fault!”
Gustav Klimt with his cat Katz
Longtime Ohio politicians have been shocked by the state’s transformation into a center of extremist legislation, not just on abortion but on such divisive issues as guns and transgender rights. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who served as governor between 2007 and 2011, told me, “The legislature is as barbaric, primitive, and Neanderthal as any in the country. It’s really troubling.” When he was governor, he recalled, the two parties worked reasonably well together, but politics in Ohio “has changed.” The story is similar in several other states with reputations for being moderate, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania: their legislatures have also begun proposing laws so far to the right that they could never be passed in the U.S. Congress.
Ohio’s law prohibits abortion after six weeks—or even earlier, if doctors can detect fetal cardiac activity—unless the mother is at risk of death or serious permanent injury. Dr. Bernard noted that the bill’s opponents had warned about the proposed restrictions’ potential effect on underage rape victims. “It was literally a hypothetical that was discussed,” she told me. Indeed, at a hearing on April 27th, a Democrat in the Ohio House, Richard Brown, declared that if a thirteen-year-old girl “was raped by a serial rapist . . . this bill would require this thirteen-year-old to carry this felon’s fetus.”
It’s a long read, so please check it out at The New Yorker if you’re interested.
Alex Jones is screwed and I couldn’t be happier.
The Washington Post: Alex Jones ordered to pay $45.2 million more in punitive damages to Sandy Hook parents.
A Texas jury has determined Infowars host Alex Jones must pay the parents of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim $45.2 million in punitive damages. The Friday decision comes a day after the same jury awarded the plaintiffs $4.1 million in compensatory damages, culminating the final phase of a defamation case first brought in 2018 over Jones’s repeated false claims that the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.
Jones was not in court as the jury read the unanimous verdict.
The damages phase of the trial that ended Friday marks the first time Jones, an influential purveyor of far-right conspiracy theories, has faced financial repercussions in court for the outlandish lies he told via his Infowars broadcast about the shooting. Since the early days that followed the 2012 shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 young children, Jones said on his program that “no one died” at Sandy Hook and that the attack was a ruse “staged” by gun-control advocates to manufacture anti-gun sentiment.
In the case brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, the damages hint at what Jones could face in the months ahead in his additional Sandy Hook defamation cases in Texas and Connecticut.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Suzanne Valadon with her cat
Shannon Bond at NPR: How Alex Jones helped mainstream conspiracy theories become part of American life.
Name a traumatic news event in recent decades, and it’s almost certain Alex Jones has claimed it didn’t happen — or not the way you think it did.
The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013? Staged by the FBI.
The shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011? A government mind control operation.
The September 11th terrorist attacks? An inside job.
The conspiracy theorist and radio host was confronted with his track record of fabulism this week in an Austin, Texas, courtroom. He was on trial to determine how much he should pay for defaming the parents of a first grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, after years of falsely claiming that no children died and the families were “crisis actors” in a “giant hoax” designed to take away guns….
Jones got his start in public access broadcasting in Austin, Texas, in the 1990s. From his early days on air, he spouted conspiracy theories about the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
When his wild claims got him fired from a local radio station, he founded Infowars in 1999 and started broadcasting over the internet and in radio syndication.
After the September 11th attacks, Jones surged to fame as a “truther,” claiming the Bush administration was behind the tragedy.
As his audience grew, Jones popularized a vocabulary for pernicious doubt: not just that officials and media are hiding the truth, but that tragic events are being engineered for nefarious purposes.
“He’s at least a catalyst of those prevailing narratives that follow almost every newsworthy tragedy, whether it’s a mass shooting or otherwise,” said Sara Aniano, a disinformation researcher at the Anti-Defamation League.
Read more or listen at NPR.
That’s it for me today. I hope you’re all having a great weekend!
Posted: January 13, 2022 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bob Dylan, Chuck Schumer, Donald Trump, Fake Electoral College certificates, Jim Marchant, Mark Meadows, Ronnie Spector, voting rights bill
We’ve lost another 1960s icon. Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the Ronettes died yesterday. She was a beloved part of the sound track of my high school years.
Variety: Ronnie Spector, Girl Group Icon and Leader of the Ronettes, Dies at 78.
Ronnie Spector, whose hard-edged yet tremulous voice soared on the girl-group hits of the early ‘60s, died on Wednesday of cancer. She was 78….
Née Veronica Bennett, she forged an enduring “bad girl” image with her older sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley – towering teased beehive hairdos, canopies of mascara and eyeliner and tight-fitting slit skirts – that rubbed against the aching romanticism of the Ronettes’ Philles Records hits of 1963-66.
Though producer Phil Spector employed other powerful female vocalists like the Crystals’ Darlene Love, La La Brooks and (on the memorable “River Deep Mountain High”) Tina Turner, the Ronettes’ lead singer became the ideal vehicle for the massive-sounding hits he termed “little symphonies for the kids.”
In “Out of His Head,” his biography of the producer, Richard Williams wrote, “Ronnie Bennett’s hugely quavering, massively sexy voice [was] a pure pop instrument the like of which no one had ever heard before. Spector had found his instrument, and she had found her setting.”
Like burning magnesium, the Ronettes flared hot, brightly and quickly: Their string of hits, which began with 1963’s “Be My Baby,” had played out by 1966, as the producer’s interest in the group had run its course.
Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968. It was an abusive relationship in which Spector “kept his wife a virtual prisoner in their Beverly Hills home for years…” Eventually, Ronnie’s mother rescued her from the marriage in 1972,
In later years, Ronnie Spector recorded fitfully as a solo artist, and was a beneficiary of the rock ‘n’ roll revival of the early ‘70s. She remained an icon among her musician fans: She enjoyed high-profile studio collaborations with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Eddie Money and Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone, and Billy Joel penned the single “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” expressly for her. Her second husband and manager Jonathan Greenfield helped renew her reputation as a live performer.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Ronettes in 2007.
More music news: Did you see that an old Bob Dylan song has been released after staying hidden for 40 years?
In present day news, the January 6 committee has been very busy. The latest news is about forged 2020 Electoral College certificates that came from states that Biden won. Dakinikat posted about this on Monday, but more keeps coming out. At that time we learned about documents from 4 states; now we know there were at least 7 states involved. You can see the forged documents at American Oversight.
CNN: Trump allies’ fake Electoral College certificates offer fresh insights about plot to overturn Biden’s victory.
From Newsweek: Mark Meadows Worked on Creating Fake Electoral College To Overturn Election Results—Report.
Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to Donald Trump, allegedly worked on creating a fake electoral college following the 2020 presidential election. That’s according to a contempt report released Sunday night by the House of Representatives panel investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.
The report comes just days after Meadows launched legal proceedings against the panel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meadows filed a lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. federal court on December 8 after the committee said it would proceed with a contempt case against him for his refusal to appear for a deposition.
Among other issues, the committee said Meadows sent emails and texts about sending “alternate electors” to Congress in November 2020, allegedly saying “I love it” about the idea to an unidentified member of Congress.
“Mr. Meadows received text messages and emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain States to send alternate slates of electors to Congress, a plan which one Member of Congress acknowledged was ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows responded, ‘I love it,'” the committee report said.
“Mr. Meadows responded to a similar message by saying ‘[w]e are’ and another such message by saying ‘Yes. Have a team on it,'” it said.
The committee also said in its report that Meadows introduced former President Donald Trump to then-Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as part of efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Mr. Clark went on to recommend to Mr. Trump that he be installed as Acting Attorney General and that DOJ should send a letter to State officials urging them to take certain actions that could affect the outcome of the November 2020 election by, among other things, appointing alternate slates of electors to cast electoral votes for Mr. Trump rather than now-President Biden,” the report said.
It sure looks like Mark Meadows is in deep sh&t.
The Trumpist Republicans are now working hard to fix future elections in their favor. Ed Pilkington at The Guardian: Trump loyalists form alliance in bid to take over election process in key states.
Extreme Republicans loyal to Donald Trump and his “big lie” that the 2020 election was rigged have formed a nationwide alliance aiming to take control of the presidential election process in key battleground states that could determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential race.
At least eight Republicans who are currently running to serve as chief election officials in crucial swing states have come together to form the coalition.
The group shares conspiracy theories about unfounded election fraud and exchanges ideas on how radically to reconstruct election systems in ways that could overturn the legitimate results of the next presidential race.
All of them backed Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election and cling on to power against the will of American voters. Several of the alliance have been personally endorsed by Trump and have a credible shot at winning the post of secretary of state – the most powerful election officer in each state.
The existence of the “coalition of America First secretary of state candidates” was disclosed by one of the members themselves, Jim Marchant who is running for secretary of state in Nevada. A former business owner and Nevada state assembly member, Marchant has ties with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement….
In an interview with the Guardian, Marchant said that there were currently eight members of the coalition bidding for chief election official posts, with more likely to join soon. He said participants included Jody Hice in Georgia, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Kristina Karamo in Michigan – all three of whom have been endorsed by Trump.
Marchant also named Rachel Hamm in California and David Winney in Colorado, and said that further members were likely to be recruited imminently in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Several in-person “summits” of the candidates had already been held, with the next planned in Wisconsin on 29 January and Nevada on 26 February.
All the candidates named by Marchant have been prominent exponents of false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Finchem attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on January 6 hours before the US Capitol was stormed.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass voting right legislation. The Washington Post reports that Chuck Schumer has a new strategy: Schumer sets up final Senate confrontation on voting rights and the filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer prepared Democrats on Wednesday for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
The details of the next steps, laid out in a memo that Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent to colleagues Wednesday afternoon, comes as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster — the long-standing Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority — in order to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills….
In the memo, Schumer announced his intention to use existing rules to jump-start debate on the voting bills by having the House amend an existing, unrelated bill dealing with NASA and sending it back to the Senate as soon as Wednesday night. Starting debate under those circumstances requires only a simple majority of 51 votes — not a 60-vote supermajority.
But the maneuver does not affect the 60-vote requirement for ending debate and moving to final passage of the Democratic bills. With at least two Democratic senators signaling that they are not willing to erode that provision, Schumer’s plan would set up a final confrontation when and if a motion to close debate is blocked. At that point, Schumer or another Democrat could move to establish a new, 51-vote precedent, subject to a simple majority vote.
Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both defended the 60-vote margin for protecting minority rights and encouraging bipartisanship even as dozens of their colleagues have switched their own views on the filibuster in recent months. Manchin told reporters on several occasions this week he is willing to change the rules only with bipartisan support, not on party lines.
Both Manchin and Sinema, however, have continued to meet with Democratic colleagues who have sought to change their minds. Schumer previously said the Senate would vote on a possible rules change no later than Monday — the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — and a senior Democratic aide said Wednesday that pledge remains in effect.
I’m so sick and tired of hearing about those two. Sigh . . .
What’s on your mind today? What stories are you following?
Posted: October 9, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Chuck Schumer, debt limit, Donald Trump, executive privilege, January 6 Committee, Michael Flynn, Mitch McConnell, QAnon, Senate Judiciary Committee report
Lightning Cloud, by Chiakiro
Politico “Playbook” has a good brief summary of where things stand right now with the January 6 Committee investigation: The Jan. 6 committee drama gets serious. (I’ve added a few links to longer articles.)
JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION STEAMROLLS FORWARD — Over the last 24 hours, we’ve seen major developments in the ongoing investigation into the pro-Trump Jan. 6 riots that sought to overthrow democracy in America.
1) Executive privilege waived: “President JOE BIDEN will not invoke executive privilege to shield an initial set of records from DONALD TRUMP’s White House that’s being sought by congressional investigators probing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack,” report Nicholas Wu, Kyle Cheney, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Meridith McGraw.
— What comes next: Trump has 30 days to challenge the decision in court, after which time, the National Archives will release the documents to the Jan. 6 panel. The former president is already asserting privilege over 45 specific documents requested from the committee, and indicated in a letter that he wants to bar the release of additional documents “potentially numbering in the millions.”
2) Committee subpoenas hit deadlines: The first wave of high-profile subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee have been served, and not all of the subjects are cooperating, as Nicholas, Kyle, Betsy and Meridith detail:
- STEVE BANNON claims that Trump’s invocation of executive privilege means that he doesn’t have to participate. (That strikes legal experts as dubious, seeing as at the time of the 2020 election, Bannon hadn’t worked in the White House for several years.)
- MARK MEADOWS is “engaging with the Select Committee,” per a statement from the panel.
- KASH PATEL issued a statement Friday confirming that he “responded to the subpoena in a timely manner” and is engaging with the committee.
- DAN SCAVINO was officially served with his subpoena on Friday.
— What comes next: In a statement from Jan. 6 Committee Chair BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.), the panel said it “will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.” If they’re serious, a criminal referral would require a full floor vote in the House.More from NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater
— Something to watch:“Congress’ Jan. 6 investigators face an inevitable reckoning with their GOP colleagues,”by Kyle Cheney and Olivia Beavers
By Ophelia Redpath, 1965
Also from Politico: Capitol Police whistleblower delivers scathing rebuke to two of its senior leaders on Jan. 6, by Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan.
A former high-ranking Capitol Police official with knowledge of the department’s response to the Jan. 6 attack has sent congressional leaders a scathing letter accusing two of its senior leaders of mishandling intelligence and failing to respond properly during the riot.
The whistleblower, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons and left the force months after the attack, sent the 16-page letter late last month to the top members of both parties in the House and Senate. His missive makes scorching allegations against Sean Gallagher, the Capitol Police’s acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations — who also served as its former acting chief.
The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on Jan. 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day’s riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on Jan. 6.
The whistleblower’s criticism went beyond Capitol Police leaders to Congress. Without naming specific lawmakers, his letter accuses congressional leaders of having “purposefully failed” to tell the truth about the department’s failures.
POLITICO obtained the letter detailing the allegations, which is circulating among Capitol Police officers, and is publishing portions of it here. To protect the whistleblower’s identity, POLITICO is not publishing the letter in full.
Click the Politico link to read the rest.
By Evelina Oliveira
This morning the Washington Post Editorial Board posted this in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election at a meeting three days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol: Opinion: Without these changes, U.S. democracy will remain vulnerable to Trump and other bad actors.
The Senate report details how Mr. Trump tried persistently to enlist the Justice Department in his scheme to overturn the 2020 election results. His pressure campaign, after Attorney General William P. Barr resigned in December, featured calls and meetings with Mr. Rosen and other top Justice Department staff. It continued as Mr. Trump sent them a preposterous petition he wanted them to file with the Supreme Court asking the justices to void Joe Biden’s victory. It reached its zenith in a cockamamie plot to force Mr. Rosen to pressure state governments to cook the results or be replaced by Jeffrey Clark, a lower-ranking Justice official who would go along with the scheme.
Mr. Trump failed because Mr. Rosen and other officials in key positions refused to cooperate and threatened to resign. But they could not stop Mr. Trump from forcing the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and replacing him with a lawyer the then-president thought would pursue the fraud investigations he wanted to see.
The editors argue:
The seriousness of Mr. Trump’s effort to nullify an election, his continuing lies about the results and the willingness of so many Republicans to indulge those lies call for several responses.
The investigations must continue. The House’s Jan. 6 committee should compel Mr. Clark, who did not cooperate with the Senate Judiciary panel, to testify. The House and the Justice Department must enforce the committee’s subpoenas, which several Trump confidantes appear prepared to flout on the former president’s say-so. The National Archives should turn over documents immediately. If courts are involved, judges must act with urgency….
Most urgently, Congress must reinforce elements of the nation’s democratic infrastructure vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors such as Mr. Trump. It should revamp the ancient Electoral Count Act to limit partisan interference in presidential vote tallying, and it should impose federal election standards that insulate state election officials from political pressure.
The Committee needs to get right to work on enforcing the subpoenas and Steve Bannon should immediately be arrested and jailed. I hope they do something quickly, but I’m not holding my breath.
After he backed down and allowed a vote to avert a U.S. default and a global financial crisis, Mitch McConnell is now threatening to let it happen in December. His excuse is that Chuck Schumer made an
“inappropriate” speech after the vote. Here’s the speech:
Behind Schumer, you can also see Joe Manchin having a hissy fit over the speech. He agrees with his pal McConnell, apparently.
The Guardian: Schumer ‘poisoned well’ over debt limit, McConnell says in insult-laden letter.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sought to fight his way out of a corner on Friday by releasing an angry letter in which he blamed Democrats for the impasse over the debt ceiling he broke by ending a refusal to co-operate he had said was absolute.
In the letter to Joe Biden, McConnell complained about a speech in which the Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, attacked Republicans for their behaviour.
Lamenting Schumer’s lack of civility – which prompted angry scenes in the Senate – McConnell levelled a string of insults at his opposite number.
Paradise Cat, by Hans Ruettimann
“Last night,” the minority leader wrote, late on Friday, “in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry and corrosive that even Democratic senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him.
“This tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”
Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.
McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”
Suddenly being partisan is a bad thing because a Democrat did it? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Finally, a little comic relief: it appears that the Q-Anon nuts have turned on Michael Flynn. Will Sommer at The Daily Beast: Michael Flynn to QAnon Believers: I’m Not a Satanist!
Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been on a relentless media tour since his pardon last year, sitting for interviews with even the most obscure right-wing media outlets to promote the MAGA agenda.
But on Tuesday, Flynn appeared on a little-known YouTube channel called Truth Unveiled TV for a very different reason: rebutting the idea that he led a church congregation in a Satanic ritual borrowed from a nuclear doomsday cult.
In a video entitled “Some Have Said That General Flynn Prayed to Satan in a Recent Prayer,” host Paul Oebel gave Flynn a chance to rebut the growing right-wing controversy alleging he’s signed on with Lucifer.
Steampunk cat lady, by Jeff Haynie
“I even saw a show the other day saying ‘Michael’s flipped on the side of the devil,’” Oebel said. “Can you please explain what happened there?”
“All of these people that talk about turning to whatever…” Flynn said. “People need to stop overthinking what everybody is saying.”
The bizarre YouTube interview marked Flynn’s latest attempt in a weeks-long campaign to convince his one-time fans in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement that he isn’t a Satanist.
Prior to the unusual controversy, Flynn had embraced his position as a hero to supporters of QAnon, taking a QAnon oath, raising money from QAnon believers, and selling QAnon T-shirts. In May, Flynn even appeared at a QAnon conference and endorsed the idea of a military coup.
But QAnon fame is a fickle thing. After promoting QAnon for more than a year, Flynn now finds himself on the business end of the conspiracy theory. Like QAnon targets before him, Flynn is now struggling to persuade angry QAnon believers that he isn’t a secret Satan-worshipper.
Read the rest at The Daily Beast.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend!
Posted: October 7, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: attempted coup, Chuck Schumer, Debt Ceiling, Department of Justice, Donald Trump, January 6 insurrection, Mitch McConnell, Senate Judiciary Committee
Armin Glatter, Reading Girl, Hungarian, 1861-1916
Yesterday Mitch McConnell backed down and offered the Democrats a short-term agreement on raising the debt ceiling. This morning AP reports: Schumer: Agreement reached on short-term debt ceiling fix.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday an agreement has been reached with Republicans to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December, temporarily averting a debt crisis.
“We’ve reached agreement,” Schumer announced as he opened the Senate. “Our hope is to get this done as soon as today.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff over lifting the nation’s borrowing cap, with Democratic senators signaling they were receptive to an offer from Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell that would allow an emergency extension into December.
McConnell made the offer late Wednesday shortly before Republicans were prepared to block legislation to suspend the debt limit until December of next year and as President Joe Biden and business leaders ramped up their concerns that an unprecedented federal default would disrupt government payments to millions of people and throw the nation into recession.
The emerging agreement sets the stage for a sequel of sorts in December, when Congress will again face pressing deadlines to fund the government and raise the debt limit before heading home for the holidays.
A procedural vote — on the longer extension the Republicans were going to block — was abruptly delayed late Wednesday and the Senate recessed so lawmakers could discuss next steps. Democrats emerged from their meeting more optimistic that a crisis would be averted.
Politico speculates that McConnell gave in because he feared the Democrats would finally decide to get rid of the filibuster.
McConnell backed down after Democratic threats of nuking the filibuster for the debt ceiling started to become more real. At their Tuesday lunch, Democratic senators discussed how McConnell’s blockade on the debt ceiling was boosting the case of filibuster reformers. Later that day, Biden, generally a skeptic of filibuster reform, said such a change for the debt ceiling was now a “real possibility.”
George Cochran Lambdin, Girl Reading
McConnell took notice. Our friend Manu Raju at CNN reported, “McConnell told his colleagues he’s concerned about pressure on [JOE] MANCHIN and [KYRSTEN] SINEMA to gut [the] filibuster in order to raise [the] debt ceiling, I’m told. He pointed to this as reason why he is floating short-term increase in order to ease pressure on and push Democrats to use reconciliation.”
McConnell himself alluded to how filibuster reform was the key issue at play. “It’s not clear whether the Democratic leaders have wasted two-and-a-half months because they simply cannot govern, or whether they are intentionally playing Russian roulette with the economy to try to bully their own members into going back on their word and wrecking the Senate,” he said on the Senate floor.
The minority leader seemed skittish enough about where filibuster reform fever was headed in the Democratic caucus that he vetted his compromise plan with Manchin and Sinema, report Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Anthony Adragna.
Democratic supporters of filibuster reform have taken note of how the issue seems to have moved McConnell. “The filibuster is McConnell’s instrument of obstruction,” one Democratic senator told Playbook. “He wants to protect that at all costs. He was at real risk of overplaying his hand as he faced the growing prospect that we would have 51 votes to waive it for the purpose of dealing with debt. He wanted to avoid creating that precedent. Still, would have been better for us to just do it.”
Jennifer Rubin has a good column on McConnell’s possible motivations at The Washington Post: Opinion: Mitch McConnell ‘blinked’ on the debt ceiling. Here’s what that means.
Besides the debt ceiling mess, the biggest story this morning is a report issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Trump’s plans to attempt a coup after he lost the 2020 election.
Katie Benner at The New York Times: Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election.
Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud.
Young Mother in the Garden, Mary Cassatt
On the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.
Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.
Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.
More details on the report:
The report draws on documents, emails and testimony from three top Justice Department officials, including the acting attorney general for Mr. Trump’s last month in office, Jeffrey A. Rosen; the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, and Byung J. Pak, who until early January was U.S. attorney in Atlanta. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to push the department to validate election fraud claims that had been disproved by the F.B.I. and state investigators.
The interim report, released publicly on Thursday, describes how Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off a series of events during a period when Mr. Trump was getting advice about blocking certification of the election from a lawyer he had first seen on television and the president’s actions were so unsettling that his top general and the House speaker discussed the nuclear chain of command.
“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort.”
Mr. Durbin said that he believes the former president, who remains a front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”
The Washington Post: Senate report gives new details of Trump efforts to use Justice Dept. to overturn election.
On Jan. 3, then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and a few other administration officials met in the Oval Office for what all expected to be a final confrontation on Trump’s plan to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a little-known Justice Department official who had indicated he would publicly pursue Trump’s false claims of mass voter fraud.
Vera Alabaster, 1889-1964; Girl Reading
According to testimony Rosen gave to the committee, Trump opened the meeting by saying, “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”
For three hours, the officials then debated Trump’s plan, and the insistence by Rosen and others that they would resign rather than go along with it.
The Senate report says that the top White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, and his deputy also said they would quit if Trump went through with his plan.
During the meeting, Donoghue and another Justice Department official made clear that all of the Justice Department’s assistant attorneys general “would resign if Trump replaced Rosen with Clark,” the report says. “Donoghue added that the mass resignations likely would not end there, and that U.S. Attorneys and and other DOJ officials might also resign en masse.”
A key issue in the meeting was a letter that Clark and Trump wanted the Justice Department to send to Georgia officials warning of “irregularities” in voting and suggesting the state legislature get involved. Clark thought the letter should also be sent to officials in other states where Trump supporters were contesting winning Biden vote totals, the report said.ther DOJ officials might also resign en masse.”
Rosen and Donoghue had refused to send such a letter, infuriating Trump. According to the report, the president thought that if he installed Clark as the new attorney general, the letter would go out and fuel his bid to toss out Biden victories in a handful of states.
Two more interesting articles about the Senate report:
CNN: Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top DOJ lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election.
Politico: Senate Judiciary probe of Trump’s 2020 machinations zeroes in on Pennsylvania House Republican.
Also breaking this morning, Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan reports: ‘The intelligence was there’: Law enforcement warnings abounded in the runup to Jan. 6.
On Dec. 24, a private intelligence company that works with law enforcement issued a grave warning: Users of a pro-Trump internet forum were talking about turning violent on Jan. 6.
“[A] supposedly violent insurrection by [Trump’s] supporters has ‘always been the plan,’” read a briefing by that company, SITE Intelligence Group. SITE sent this bulletin and others to its numerous subscribers, including U.S. federal law enforcement.
Woman Reading by Jean Leon Henri Gouweloos
That briefing is among a host of previously unreported documents that circulated among law enforcement officials in the weeks before Jan. 6 — laying out, some with jarring specificity, the threats that culminated in the attack on the Capitol. They showed just how much of a danger far-right extremists posed to federal buildings and lawmakers. And they bolster the argument that Jan. 6 was not an intelligence failure.
“A potpourri of communities overtly strategized to storm the Capitol building and arrest — if not outright kill — public officials and carry out a coup,” said Rita Katz, the founder and executive director of SITE, which supplied many of the most detailed and specific warnings ahead of Jan. 6She said Jan. 6 represented the most “profound failure to act” she has ever seen in decades of sharing intelligence with the U.S. government.
“Law enforcement officials were alerting their superiors and other agencies to the threats SITE had identified—many of which ended up manifesting that day, just as they were written,” she said. “These warnings were distributed by the FBI and other agencies well before January 6.”
The new documents come from a variety of sources in addition to SITE, including an industry group that tracks threats to rail transportation, the New York City Police Department, a state-government intelligence-sharing hub and the FBI itself. SITE shared its briefings with POLITICO. Property of the People, a transparency watchdog group focused on national security, obtained the other documents through open-records requests.
The documents mirror a flood of public warnings about the gathering danger posed by the outer fringes of the Trump movement in the months leading up to Jan. 6. The congressional select committee probing the attack is scrutinizing the failure of law enforcement to protect the Capitol that day.
There’s much more at the Politico link.
Have a great Thursday, Sky Dancers!!
Posted: January 21, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: Chuck Schumer, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Senate impeachment trial
Chief Justice John Roberts presides over the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump.
The Senate impeachment “trial” begins this afternoon, and Mitch McConnell is doing his damnedest to make sure it won’t be a real or fair one. Awhile back, McConnell said this trial would follow the rules set for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, but–surprise!–that was just one big fat lie.
Nicholas Fandos at The New York Times: McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent.
But when Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, finally released a draft of his resolution on Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the Senate was expected to consider it, there were several meaningful differences from the rules that governed Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, some of which were in line with Mr. Trump’s preferences and his legal team’s strategy.
The measure is expected to pass on Tuesday along party lines, over strenuous Democratic objections….
Mitch McConnell and pals
Like in the Clinton trial, the Democratic House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers will have up to 24 hours to argue their respective cases for and against conviction on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But in 1999, the Senate imposed no additional limit on how the time was used. Mr. McConnell’s proposal states that each side much complete its work within two days, beginning as early as Wednesday.
That means opening arguments could be finished by the end of this week, allowing the senators 16 hours for questioning and a subsequent debate early next week over whether to consider witness testimony. In the fastest possible scenario, the Senate could vote to convict or acquit by the end of January….
When the Clinton trial opened, the Senate “admitted into evidence,” printed and shared with senators all records generated by the House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Clinton. Not so this time.
Though the House’s evidence from the Trump impeachment inquiry would still be printed and shared with senators, it would only be formally considered by the Senate as part of its official record if a majority of senators voted to do so. That vote could only take place after the Senate decided whether to call witnesses and seek additional documents — that is, as the trial moves toward conclusion.
So it’s already looking like a kangaroo court, which surprises no one. McConnell’s rules also don’t guarantee there will be new witnesses or documents.
It says that after senators conclude their questioning, they will not immediately entertain motions to call individual witnesses or documents. Instead, they will decide first whether they want to consider new evidence at all. Only if a majority of senators agree to do so will the managers and prosecutors be allowed to propose and argue for specific witnesses or documents, each of which would then be subject to an additional vote.
If a majority of the Senate ultimately did vote to call a witness for testimony, that witness would first be interviewed behind closed doors and then the “Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules,” if any. Consistent with the Clinton trial rules, this essentially means that even if witnesses are called, they might never testify in public.
Naturally Democrats are not going to take this lying down. The House impeachment managers are holding a press conference right now and Chuck Schumer has already stated his objections. He told NPR this morning that McConnell’s rules are “a national disgrace” and told MSNBC that “Everything in these rules is rigged.” Right now Jerry Nadler is saying that McConnell’s rules amount to an obvious cover-up.
The White House is doing it’s best to make sure the “trial” will be a complete joke. The Hill reports on the Republican impeachment “advisers”:
The White House announced Monday that President Trump appointed several prominent Republican House members to advise his impeachment defense team ahead of the Senate trial set to begin this week.
GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), John Ratcliffe Texas), Mike Johnson (La.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Doug Collins are set to play leading roles.
A statement from the White House said the lawmakers “have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives” throughout the House proceedings and would continue to do so in the Senate.
You’ll notice that those are the Reps who tried to turn the House impeachment process into a shriekfest. According to the Hill, Democrats and even even some GOP Senators didn’t like the idea of House members getting involved in the Senate process.
Key Republican allies in the Senate have also warned against such appointments, warning that the addition of Republican House members would cast the Senate trial in a partisan light.
“I don’t think it’s wise. I think we need to elevate the argument beyond body politics, beyond party politics and talk about the constitutional problems with these two articles,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters earlier this month.
I wonder if McConnell is at all worried about what the public reaction could be to a show trial. The latest CNN poll found that 51 percent of Americans think Trump should be removed from office and 69 percent believe that the Senate trial should include witnesses.
The poll is the first major national telephone poll since the articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate, formally launching Trump’s trial there. They are also the first such poll results since Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, publicly implicated the President in the Ukrainian pressure campaign during a series of television interviews.
The new poll also finds majorities of Americans view each of the charges on which Trump will face trial as true: 58% say Trump abused the power of the presidency to obtain an improper personal political benefit and 57% say it is true that he obstructed the House of Representatives in its impeachment inquiry.
Of course there are partisan, gender, race, age, and geographical differences in attitudes toward the trial:
Overall, 89% of Democrats say he should be removed from office, while just 8% of Republicans feel the same way. Among independents, it’s nearly dead even: 48% say the Senate should vote to remove him, while 46% say that they should not. Views on whether Trump should be impeached and removed are also evenly split across battleground states, 49% are on each side across the 15 states decided by 8 points or less in 2016. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
House impeachment managers take articles of impeachment to Senate.
Beyond partisanship, there are wide divisions in the poll by gender, race, education and age. Nearly six in 10 women (59%) say the Senate should remove Trump from office; 42% of men agree. Among African Americans, 86% say Trump should be removed. That drops to 65% among Hispanics and 42% among whites.
Combining race and gender, about eight in 10 women of color (79%) say he should be removed. That dips to 59% among non-white men, 49% among white women and 33% among white men. For whites, education adds another degree of division: 59% of white women with college degrees say the Senate should remove Trump, compared with 43% among white women without degrees, 44% among white men with degrees and 27% among white men without college degrees. A majority (56%) of those under age 45 say the President should be removed, while older Americans are more evenly split (47% in favor among those age 45 and over, 50% opposed).
This from Politico is shocking, but not surprising: Justice Department backed Trump strongarm of House impeachment probe.
The Justice Department secretly blessed President Donald Trump’s decision to stonewall the Democratic-led House over impeachment last year, the president’s legal team disclosed Monday.
The legal brief submitted to the Senate as part of Trump’s defense includes an opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluding that Trump was justified in categorically rejecting the House’s demands for information before lawmakers passed a formal impeachment resolution on October 31.
“We conclude that the House must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation before the committee may compel the production of documents or testimony in support of the House’s sole power of impeachment,” Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote in the detailed legal rationale.
The opinion was officially dated Sunday and released by the Justice Department on its website Monday, timing that appeared to dovetail with a Senate-set noon, holiday deadline for Trump’s first substantive brief in the impeachment trial.
Chuck Schumer is giving a press conference right now. He is emphasizing that McConnell is trying to make sure that Americans don’t watch the trial because it will begin in the afternoon and last late into the night and early morning hours. There will be a battle between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate today, but so far it appears that McConnell has to votes to pass his ridiculous rules.
The White House is also trying to make sure the American people don’t hear from John Bolton. The Washington Post: Trump’s lawyers, Senate GOP allies work privately to ensure Bolton does not testify publicly.
President Trump’s legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans should Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, including an effort to keep former national security adviser John Bolton from the spotlight, according to multiple officials familiar with the discussions.
While Republicans continue to express confidence that Democrats will fail to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed calling any witnesses in the trial, they are readying a Plan B just in case — underscoring how uncertain they are about prevailing in a showdown over witnesses and Bolton’s possible testimony.
One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.
To receive the testimony in a classified session, Trump’s attorneys would have to request such a step, according to one official, adding that it would probably need the apReaproval of 51 senators.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Here are a couple of good articles analyzing Trump’s impeachment defense.
From Charlie Savage at The New York Times: ‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus.
As President Trump’s impeachment trial opens, his lawyers have increasingly emphasized a striking argument: Even if he did abuse his powers in an attempt to bully Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election on his behalf, it would not matter because the House never accused him of committing an ordinary crime.
Their argument is widely disputed. It cuts against the consensus among scholars that impeachment exists to remove officials who abuse power. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” means a serious violation of public trust that need not also be an ordinary crime, said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on the topic.
“This argument is constitutional nonsense,” Mr. Bowman said. “The almost universal consensus — in Great Britain, in the colonies, in the American states between 1776 and 1787, at the Constitutional Convention and since — has been that criminal conduct is not required for impeachment.”
But the argument is politically convenient for Mr. Trump. For any moderate Republican senator who may not like what the facts already show about his campaign of pressure on Ukraine, the theory provides an alternative rationale to acquit the president.
Read the rest at the NYT.
More analysis from Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at The Atlantic: Trump’s Impeachment Brief Is a Howl of Rage.
The House managers’ brief is an organized legal document. It starts with the law, the nature and purposes of Congress’s impeachment power, then walks through the evidence regarding the first article of impeachment, which alleges abuse of power, and seeks to show how the evidence establishes the House’s claim that President Trump is guilty of this offense. It then proceeds to argue that the offense requires his removal from office….
By contrast, the White House’s “Answer of President Donald J. Trump” to the articles of impeachment, filed by the president’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, does not read like a traditional legal argument at all. It begins with a series of rhetorical flourishes—all of them, to one degree or another, false. The articles of impeachment are “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President,” the president’s lawyers write—as though the impeachment power were not a constitutional reality every bit as enshrined in the founding document as the quadrennial election of the president. The articles are “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election,” and are “constitutionally invalid on their face,” they write, as though the president’s right to extort foreign leaders for political services were so beyond reasonable question, it is outrageous that anyone might object to it.
This document reads like one of the president’s speeches at his campaign rallies. The language is a little more lawyerly, if only a little. In Sekulow and Cipollone’s hands, Trump’s cries of “Witch hunt!” have turned into “lawless process that violated basic due process and fundamental fairness.” His allegations that Democrats are a “disgrace” have turned into “an affront to the Constitution.” And Trump’s insistence that there’s a plot to destroy his presidency has become a “highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the president [that] began the day he was inaugurated and continues to this day.”
But the message is unchanged. It’s not a legal argument. It’s a howl of rage.
Read more at The Atlantic.
I’ve tried to lay out the basics; we’ll soon be able to watch what happens in the Senate for ourselves. Please share your reactions as the day goes on, but feel free to post on other topics as well. It should be an interesting day!