Thursday Reads: Elections are Coming!

Katsushika Hokusai, Peasants in Autumn, 1835-1836, Guimet Museum, Paris, France.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

You have to give Joe Biden credit.  He’s trying to offset the global inflation caused mostly by the remanents of the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now the revival of OPEC supply fixing mainly by the Saudis.  Given their actions, you’d almost think the Saudis and the Russians would prefer another US President. Oil companies aren’t helping either. There is usually a fairly constant profit margin between the price of a barrel of oil and the bottom line of U.S. Oil Companies.  Profits appear to be untethered to the basic costs of raw materials. These things are beyond the control of most governments, and if you check current inflation rates in our trading partners, our inflation rate is average.

Joe is trying to stave off a movement towards voting Republican before the midterms, and with good reason.  First, the Republicans are pushing their usual false narrative on oil prices and production. Yesterday, Biden introduced several initiatives along with some facts on oil production. I doubt the Faux news crowd will listen, but it’s squarely aimed at moderate Republicans and independents.

Earlier this year, because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of oil and gas increased dramatically, and I acted decisively at the time.  And thanks in part to those actions, the price of our gas has fallen 30 percent from the summer highs.

Now it’s down about $1.15 a gallon from their peak during the summer, and gas prices have fallen every day in the last week.  Let me repeat: Gas prices have come down, and they continue to come down again.  They’re now down more than 27 cents a gallon in Wisconsin this past week, 27 cents in Oregon, 16 cents in Ohio, 25 cents in Nevada, 17 cents in — in Indiana in just the last 10 days.  And that’s progress.

But they’re not falling fast enough.  Families are hurting.  You’ve heard me say before, but I get it.  I come from a family — if the price of gasoline went up at the gas station, we felt it.  Gas prices hit almost every family in this country, and they squeeze their family budgets.

And when the price of gas goes up, other expenses get cut. That’s why I have been doing everything in my power to reduce gas prices since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine caused these price hikes — these prices to spike and rattled international oil markets.  (Clears throat.)  Excuse me.

I focused on how we can protect American families from that spike and give folks just a little bit of breathing room, as my dad would say.

Today I’m announcing three critical steps that my administration will take to reduce gas prices at the pump.  First, the Department of Energy will release another 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, extending our previously announced release through the month of December.

Independent analysis they — excuse me, independent analysts have confirmed that drawdowns from the reserves so far have played a big role in bringing down oil prices — bringing them down.  So, we’re going to continue to responsibly use that national asset.

Right now, the Strategic Pol- — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is more than half full, with about 400 million barrels of oil.  That’s more than enough for any emergency drawdown.

Claude Monet, Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil, 1873, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA.

The impact may not be immediately felt, and the Saudis could act to offset it by withdrawing more oil from the market. But it certainly is worth a try. Forbes Magazine has some analysis and stylized facts you may want to review. “Oil Inventories Worldwide And Oil Price Trends – Where Do We Stand In Q4 2022?” The analysis explains how the combined forces of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine joined to create this global situation.  It also shows how we should come out of this if OPEC doesn’t collude to lower production and increase prices like it did during the Carter years.

The EIA forecasts an oil price of $93/b in Q4 2022 and $95/b in 2023. The EIA’s forecast projects a supply-demand parity midway through 2023, which it predicts will last for the rest of the year.

At the beginning of the pandemic, consumption was approximately five million barrels lower than the supply. The EIA’s report projects consumption only slightly below production for 2022, at 99.55 million barrels and 100.03 barrels, respectively.

However, it shows a slight reversal of this balance in 2023. The agency forecasts consumption of 101.50 million barrels and production of 101.28 million barrels for 2023.

This means the Biden initiative could speed up parity.  How will oil companies respond?

Secondly, we need to responsibly increase American oil production without delaying or deferring our transition to clean energy.  Let me — let’s debunk some myths here.  My administration has not stopped or slowed U.S. oil production; quite the opposite.  We’re producing 12 million barrels of oil per day.  And by the end of this year, we will be producing 1 million barrels a day, more than the day in which I took office.  In fact, we’re on track for record oil production in 2023.

And today, the United States is the largest producer of oil and petroleum products in the world.  We export more than we import.  And I still heard from oil comp- — and I’ve heard from oil companies that they’re worried that investing in additional oil production today will — will — in case of the — in case demand goes down in the future, and they’re not going to be able to sell their oil products at a competitive price later.

Well, we have a solution for that.  Today, I’m announcing a plan to refill the Strato- — the Strategic Petroleum Res- — Oil Reserve in the years ahead at a profit for taxpayers.  The United States government is going to purchase oil to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when prices fall to $70 a barrel.  And that means oil companies can invest to ramp up production now, with confidence they’ll be able to sell their oil to us at that price in the future: $70.

Refining and refilling the reserve at $70 a barrel is a good price for companies and it’s a good price for the taxpayers, and it’s critical to our national security.

To put it in context, since March, the average price of oil has been more than $90 a barrel, the highest since 2014.  By selling from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the higher price of $90 earlier this year and then refilling it in the future at a lower price, around $70, it will actually make money for the taxpayers, lower the price of gas, and help bolster production, all while totally consistent with my commitment to accelerate to transition to clean energy.

So my message to oil companies is: You’re sittng on record profits, and you’re — and we’re giving you more certainty.  So you can act now to increase oil production now.

Pierre Bonnard, Autumn View, 1912

Biden also focused on Abortion rights in a speech on Tuesday. This is from CNN. “Biden promises abortion rights law as Democrats try to rally voters.”  More stories of women with pregnancies going wrong in states where abortion is illegal are reaching the press. These stories show how the Republican goal of restricting abortion in all states puts women’s lives in danger.

 

President Joe Biden on Tuesday made a major promise on a push to put abortion rights into law as his party looks to seize on the politically divisive issue in the final push ahead of the midterm elections.

At an abortion-rights-focused speech at a Democratic National Committee event on Tuesday, Biden said that if Democrats elect more senators and keep control of the House in the midterms then he’d make abortion a top issue.

“The court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago and I believe the Congress should codify Roe, once and for all,” Biden said.

He then implored voters to elect more Democrats in order to make sure that bill could pass.

“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land,” Biden added.

Dating back to the 2020 campaign, Biden has called for codifying Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a federal constitutional right to abortion. The Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, transforming access to reproductive health care in the country. It is unclear how politically effective such a promise of prioritizing such a bill will be, given that Democrats have an intensely tough battle in November to keep both the Senate and House.

Trump’s legal problems, and the Republican silence, should continue to drive folks toward the Democratic candidates.  However, the focus may still be more on the economy than anything else. Democracy is on the ballot.  We need to shout that everywhere.   Here’s the most damning court opinion handed to Trump to date.

This is from today’s New York Times. “Judge Says Trump Signed Statement With Data His Lawyers Told Him Was False. The determination came in a decision by a federal judge that John Eastman, a lawyer for the former president, had to turn more of his emails over to the House Jan. 6 committee.”

Former President Donald J. Trump signed a document swearing under oath that information in a Georgia lawsuit he filed challenging the results of the 2020 election was true even though his own lawyers had told him it was false, a federal judge wrote on Wednesday.

The accusation came in a ruling by the judge, David O. Carter, ordering John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who strategized with the former president about overturning the election, to hand over 33 more emails to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Judge Carter, who serves with the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, determined that the emails contained possible evidence of criminal behavior.

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge Carter wrote. He added in a footnote that the suit contained language saying Mr. Trump was relying on information provided to him by others.

The committee has fought for months to get access to hundreds of Mr. Eastman’s emails, viewing him as the intellectual architect of plans to subvert the 2020 election, including Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay congressional certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, 2021. Repeatedly, the panel has argued that a “crime-fraud exception” pierces the typical attorney-client privilege that often protects communications between lawyers and clients.

The emails in question, which were dated between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, came from Mr. Eastman’s account at Chapman University, where he once served as a law school dean.

Judge Carter wrote on Wednesday that the crime-fraud exception applied to a number of the emails related to Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman’s “efforts to delay or disrupt the Jan. 6 vote” and “their knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.”

Judge Carter found four emails that “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the Jan. 6 vote.”

In one of them, Mr. Trump’s lawyers advised him that simply having a challenge to the election pending in front of the Supreme Court could be enough to delay the final tally of Electoral College votes from Georgia.

“This email,” Judge Carter wrote, “read in context with other documents in this review, make clear that President Trump filed certain lawsuits not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the Jan. 6 congressional proceedings through the courts.”

I can’t see how this doesn’t lead to some type of DOJ action.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found more congressional intrigue related to January 6th.  “Texts from Loeffler’s phone shed light on activities ahead of Jan. 6 and 2021 runoff.”

Tricia Raffensperger’s text message,six days after the 2020 elections, was as blistering as it was direct.

Hours after Kelly Loeffler, then Georgia’s junior U.S. senator, called for her husband, Brad, to resign from his post as secretary of state in a bid to appease then-President Donald Trump, the typically measured grandmother made clear exactly how she felt about Loeffler.

“Never did I think you were the kind of person to unleash such hate and fury on someone in political office of the same party,” Tricia Raffensperger wrote, noting that her family is under siege “because you didn’t have the decency or good manners to come and talk to my husband with any questions you may have had.”

“I hold you personally responsible,” she added, “for anything that happens to any of my family, from my husband, children and grandchildren.”

Vincent van Gogh, Appel Orchard with Lime Tree Behind the Mensingh Inn in Zweeloo (Coevorden), 1881, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

You may read the texts at the link.

As Trump’s plan to overturn the election on Jan. 6 unfolded, Loeffler came under increasing pressure from her Georgia colleagues, Republican activists and some of her own aides to join in.

One of the most ardent voices who sought to enlist Loeffler was then-Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene.

A month before the conservative firebrand was sworn into the U.S. House, Greene asked Loeffler to talk “about a plan we are developing on how to vote on the electoral college votes on Jan 6th.”

“I need a Senator!” Greene wrote on Dec. 2, 2020, “And I think this is a major help for you to win on the 5th!!”

I have office hours at the top of the hour, so I’m off to do that!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Mostly Monday Reads: A Fascist Returns to Power in Italy and the Return of the January 6th Committee

Pearblossom Highway, 1986, David Hockney-

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been trying to get a handle on today’s headlines, and wow, there’s chaos afoot in the world and our country.  The New York Times has this for a headline: “U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons.” That’s nothing I thought I’d see again since the Cold War was over.

Then, Italy’s voters elected one of those bleach-blonde fascists we see so much these days on Fox News and Republican Conventions. For Eyes on the Right, Damon Linker analyzes the election results for us: ” What just happened in Italy? Much the same as what’s happened in France, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and the U.S.”

What happened in yesterday’s election in Italy?

At the purely factual level, a coalition of right-wing and center-right parties won big in an election trigged by the collapse of a government led by the center-left Mario Draghi.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) was the biggest vote winner. The Fratelli were founded in 2012 as a successor to the post-fascist MSI (Italian Social Movement), which was itself founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, who served as a minister under Mussolini. The other major members of the coalition are Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A fourth party called Noi Moderati (really a coalition of small, centrist parties) is also expected to join a right-leaning government. At the time of this writing, with about half of the votes counted, it looks like the right will take something in the range of 60 percent of the seats in both the lower and upper houses of the legislature while winning a slightly smaller share of the vote than polls had predicted. (With Salvini’s Lega, especially, under-performing.)

The reality is somewhat less ominous than one might conclude from hearing we’re living through “the return of fascism in Italy.” The incoming government is certainly Italy’s most right-wing since World War II. But it’s also the case that the members of the victorious coalition have much more in common with other right-leaning politicians and parties around the contemporary world than they do with the politics of the 1930s.

I’m not confident that reassures me especially given the Italian voter turnout.  This is from The New York Times: “Giorgia Meloni’s Hard-Right Party Leads in Italy’s Voting. Early results suggest that she could be Italy’s next prime minister, the first woman to hold the position and the first with post-Fascist roots. It will still be weeks before a new government is formed.” One-third of Italian voters sat out the election.

She grew up with a single mother in a working-class area of Rome, and being a woman, and mother, has been central to her political identity.

Being a woman has also distinguished her, and marked a major shift, from her coalition partners, especially Mr. Berlusconi, the subject of endless sex scandals.

But Ms. Meloni, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Salvini share a hard-right vision for the country. Ms. Meloni has called for a naval blockade against migrants and spread fears about a “great replacement” of native Italians. The three share populist proposals for deep tax cuts that economists fear would inflate Italy’s already enormous debt, and a traditionalist view of the family.

Despite the constraints of an Italian Constitution that is explicitly anti-Fascist and designed to stymie the rise of another Mussolini, many liberals are now worried that the right-wing coalition will erode the country’s norms. There was concern that if the coalition were to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, it would have the ability to change the Constitution to increase government powers.

On Thursday, during one of Ms. Meloni’s final rallies before the election, she exclaimed that “if the Italians give us the numbers to do it, we will.”

But the coalition, while winning 44 percent of the vote and a majority in Parliament, appeared not to hit that mark.

There seems to be a growing voter backlash against what the Trump Regime SCOTUS appointments have done to Abortion Rights.  Let’s hope we have a massive turnout for our elections in November.

Politico writer Steven Shepard reports, “Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022. Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again.”

Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.

Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.

It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Whether they’re public firms conducting surveys for the media and academic instructions or private campaign consultants, they have spent the past two years tweaking their methods to avoid a 2020 repeat.

But most of the changes they have made are small. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him. But others worry that Trump’s ongoing dominance of the news cycle — from the FBI seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to litigation against his businesses in New York — effectively is making him the central political figure going into Election Day.

“There’s no question that the polling errors in [20]16 and [20]20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”

David Hockney, Pop Art Paintings 2006 -2009

Let’s hope people just turn out to say no to Trumpism.

The upcoming January 6 Committee public hearing is being overshadowed by a book and the release of information by former senior technical adviser Denver Riggleman.  Riggleman looks a bit too opportunistic for me to fully trust his rationale for doing this. This is an interview with him via CBS’ 60 minutes.

Bill Whitaker: Wait a minute: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?

Denver Riggleman: On January 6th, absolutely.

Bill Whitaker: And you know who both ends of that call?

Denver Riggleman: I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.

As senior technical adviser for the January 6th committee, Denver Riggleman, a former House Republican and ex- military intelligence officer, ran a data-driven operation pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol.

Denver Riggleman: From my perspective, you know, being in counterterrorism, you know, if the White House, even if it’s a short call, and it’s a connected call, who is actually making that phone call?

CNN has identified the rioter and has more information on the Rigglemen story.  Many texts from Mark Meadows “reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines.”  Will this be part of the next public hearing?

As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN.

Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia.

David Hockney

Mark Meadows should be in some deep doo-doo over this, to use a Poppy Bushism. This analysis of the Riggleman interview comes from The Hill‘s Brad Dress. “Riggleman says Mark Meadows text messages reveal ‘roadmap to an attempted coup.’”

“The Meadows text messages show you an administration that was completely eaten up with a digital virus called QAnon conspiracy theories,” the former GOP lawmaker said. “You can look at text messages as a roadmap, but it’s also a look into the psyche of the Republican Party today.”

Before he stepped down in April, Riggleman and his team combed through phone records, emails, social media posts and text messages on behalf of the House committee.

That included 2,000 messages connected to Meadows, which Riggleman called “a roadmap to an attempted coup … of the United States.”

In those messages, Riggleman said his team traced the phone numbers of previously unidentified contacts to members of Congress and Trump allies including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who pushed to overturn the 2020 election.

Riggleman said what “shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife’s efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement.”

 

And, there’s this already.

This is from the Tweet posted above. “If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes. ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’”

The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending. The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has hinted at a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department, both in hearings last month and in interviews during the course of the investigation, by highlighting two potential crimes: interfering with an official proceeding and defrauding the United States. A brief the committee filed in a legal dispute with Trump attorney John Eastman, who hatched the fake-electors scheme in the multipronged effort to overturn the election, also highlights these two offenses. Cheney has further suggested that the committee may include a referral on witness tampering, based on contact Trump had with those called to testify before the panel.

The committee may be tempted to stake out a moderate position regarding criminal charges in a misguided effort to garner public support and make the unprecedented prosecution of a former president more palatable, but the Justice Department must act independently in deciding what, or whether, to charge. To be sure, the DOJ should consider any evidence of criminality uncovered by the committee, but it should give no weight to the committee’s opinion in reaching its determination.

Restricting a federal prosecution to two rather obscure-sounding charges — and a possible third relating to the integrity of the process — would not only downplay the seriousness of Trump’s offenses but could also exacerbate the view that any such prosecution is politically motivated. After the Mar-a-Lago search, that perception took hold among Trump supporters, who accuse the FBI of acting on a technicality involving federal records, even though the bureau had a search warrant signed by a federal judge and based on a showing of probable cause that a crime had been committed. Violating the Presidential Records Act by removing or destroying government documents is not in itself in the same league as insurrection or seditious conspiracy; if, however, the records in question pertain to serious national security breaches — The Washington Post has reported that some of the documents relate to nuclear weapons — that might be a different matter.

You may continue reading that at the WAPO link.

So, I think I’m confused, dazed, and befuddled enough today trying to think all this through.  What do you think?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Come Hell and High Water

The Storm, Pierre-Auguste Cot, 1880, The Met

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m back from another few days of more excitement than I really need.  Fortunately, the worst of yesterday’s storms missed the City of New Orleans but more than a dozen tornadoes ravaged the south including states north and east of us.  I spent most of the evening fixated on the various radars identifying debris and hooks.  I can’t wait to get my weather station set up in the backyard!

There is some news coming out of the Justice Department about a criminal probe into the January 6 rally prep and funding. The Washington Post had most of its national security reporters on the story and it’s a big one!  They broke the story last night around supper time. “Justice Dept. expands Jan. 6 probe to look at rally prep, financing. Subpoena requests seek information about the planning for gathering outside White House that preceded Capitol riot”

In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally, said the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation — which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation’s history — has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack.

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, are a legally fraught puzzle for federal investigators. Prosecutors and FBI agents must distinguish between constitutionally protected First Amendment activity, such as speech and assembly, and the alleged conspiracy to obstruct Congress or other potential crimes connected to fundraising and organizing leading up to Jan. 6.

The task is also complicated by the proximity of those two very different types of activities — speech and violence — that occurred within hours of each other and less than a mile apart.

Edvard Munch, The Storm, 1893 MoMA

Also revealed yesterday were more details concerning the huge loss of phone logs on the day of the attack.  This is from the UK Guardian. “Revealed: Trump used White House phone for call on January 6 that was not on official log. Trump’s call to Republican senator should have been reflected in presidential call log on day of Capitol attack but wasn’t.”  There was some suspicion of the use of a burner phone or borrowed phones as BB discussed in earlier posts this week. This seems to show at least one phone call that wasn’t logged or was and then removed.

Donald Trump used an official White House phone to place at least one call during the Capitol attack on January 6 last year that should have been reflected in the internal presidential call log from that day but was not, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The former president called the phone of a Republican senator, Mike Lee, with a number recorded as 202-395-0000, a placeholder number that shows up when a call is incoming from a number of White House department phones, the sources said.

The number corresponds to an official White House phone and the call was placed by Donald Trump himself, which means the call should have been recorded in the internal presidential call log that was turned over to the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.

Trump’s call to Lee was reported at the time, as well as its omission from the call log, by the Washington Post and CBS. But the origin of the call as coming from an official White House phone, which has not been previously reported, raises the prospect of tampering or deletion by Trump White House officials.

It also appears to mark perhaps the most serious violation of the Presidential Records Act – the statute that mandates preservation of White House records pertaining to a president’s official duties – by the Trump White House concerning January 6 records to date.

This is from the Norm Eisen link to CNN and his OpEd co-authored with Fred Wertheimer. “Finally, a road map to hold Trump accountable.”

The resignation of two Manhattan prosecutors for their boss’s failure to charge former President Donald Trump over potential financial crimes last month has reignited debate over whether he will ever be held accountable for his alleged misdeeds.

That matters not only looking back but also going forward because perhaps his most notorious outrage — the big lie that he won the 2020 presidential election — has not halted. It continues to drive hundreds of voter suppression and election sabotage bills and anti-democratic candidates across the country. And it has captured and corrupted a significant faction of the Republican Party.

Thankfully, Judge David Carter’s decision on Monday, finding Trump “more likely than not” committed crimes, sets out a road map for finally imposing consequences for the big lie. It does so by tackling the thorniest legal issues regarding Trump, his enablers and the events in and around January 6, 2021 — and showing how they can be addressed by prosecutors.

Perhaps the most daunting of these is the question of Trump’s criminal intent. How can a prosecutor prove what Trump was thinking when he publicly claims good faith but refuses to testify, when those closest to him also resist or are hostile witnesses and when he does not use the prosecutor’s best friend, email?

Intent is where the Manhattan District Attorney’s financial case seemed to come a cropper. Whatever you think of the DA’s failure to prosecute financial crime, and we strongly disagreed, Carter offered a powerful array of evidence about democracy crimes.

Carter applies precedent to show that “a person does not need to know their actions are wrong to break the law.” Trump exceeded this threshold because he likely knew that right-wing lawyer John Eastman’s plan to throw out electoral votes was illegal. Carter cites the January 6 House select committee’s carefully compiled evidence that Trump was advised publicly and privately numerous times that there was absolutely no evidence of significant electoral fraud.

As the opinion notes, Trump’s calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he famously asked the secretary to “give (him) a break” and “find 11,780 votes” (one vote more than Biden’s margin of victory in that state) reveal the former President’s goal: not to undertake any legitimate investigation, but simply to overturn the election. This is strong evidence of a “corrupt mindset,” and it leads Carter to an eminently simple conclusion: “(t)he illegality of the plan was obvious.”

Edward Mitchell Bannister, Approaching Storm, 1886, Smithsonian American Art Museum,

I’d also like to use the Wayback Machine to visit Marcie’s Post of February 21 that covers “HOW JUDGE AMIT MEHTA ARGUED IT PLAUSIBLE THAT TRUMP CONSPIRED WITH TWO MILITIAS at Empty Wheel.

IT IS PLAUSIBLE THAT DONALD TRUMP ENTERED INTO A CONSPIRACY WITH TWO MILITIAS

As Judge Mehta laid out, accepting the claims alleged as true (which one must do on motions to dismiss), there were five things Trump did that made the plaintiffs’ claims of a conspiracy plausible, which is the standard required to reject the motion to dismiss:

  • They agreed to pursue the goal of disrupting the vote certification: “The President, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and others “pursu[ed] the same goal”: to disrupt Congress from completing the Electoral College certification on January 6th.”
  • Trump encouraged means of obstructing the vote count and the militias (and others) carried them out: “He knew the respective roles of the conspirators: his was to encourage the use of force, intimidation, or threats to thwart the Certification from proceeding, and organized groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers would carry out the required acts.”
  • Trump incited law-breaking: “Based on these allegations, it is reasonable to infer that before January 6th the President would have known about the power of his words and that, when asked, some of his supporters would do as he wished. On January 6th they did so. When he called on them to march to the Capitol, some responded, “Storm the Capitol.” Thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue as directed. And, when some were inside the Capitol, they told officers, “We were invited here by the President of the United States.”
  • Trump called for collective action: “Fourth, the President’s January 6 Rally Speech can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action. The President’s regular use of the word “we” is notable.”
  • Trump ratified the riot: “And then, around 6:00 p.m., after law enforcement had cleared the building, the President issued the following tweet: ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’ A reasonable observer could read that tweet as ratifying the violence and other illegal acts that took place at the Capitol only hours earlier.”

Laying out the conspiracy like this is the easy part.

The hard part is finding that the sitting President could be sued, and could be sued substantially for his speech.

Marcie notes the Judge took care of that part too in 3 easy steps.  So, it’s getting increasingly obvious that sitting judges consider Trump guilty-as-fuck to use a JJism.  If you want some more of Marcie’s research follow this thread as she schools Ben Wittes for not doing his homework.

Well, enough of the Trump Hell realm. Now to the Russian-created Hell Realm.

Henri Rousseau, Tiger In A Tropical Storm Surprised, National Gallery, London, England

That all looks promising.  From the NBC Link:

The Biden administration could soon announce a plan to release around 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for as long as six months, a source familiar with the matter has told NBC News. The announcement could come as soon as Thursday.

In Ukraine, an evacuation convoy of 17 buses was able to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol Thursday morning, according to its city council, with further evacuations anticipated for Friday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it had seen Russian forces near Kyiv move north or into Belarus, with both the U.S. and U.K. saying it appeared troops were looking to resupply and reorganize.

But, from the Covid-19 front, it looks like Mitch wants us all to die and go to hell.

The size of a bipartisan package to provide fresh spending to combat COVID-19 could shrink to $10 billion, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday, and the chamber’s top Democrat also suggested its price tag could fall.

Negotiators have been trying for weeks to revive a $15.6 billion compromise they had agreed to earlier this month. That fell apart after House Democrats rejected cuts in pandemic aid to states to help pay for it, and the parties remain divided over how to find savings both sides can accept.

The new money would be to purchase vaccines, treatments and tests, which the administration says are running low, even as the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2 spreads quickly in the U.S. and abroad.

So, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more from all of these black swan events.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?