Tuesday Reads

Bowes, Josephine, 1825-1874; Study of Birch Trees

Bowes, Josephine; Study of Birch Trees; The Bowes Museum.

Good Morning!!

Today’s January 6 Committee hearing has now been scheduled for 1PM. As you know, the hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to pressure state lawmakers to set up slates of fake electors. It could be a blockbuster. Politico just broke the news that Ginni Thomas’s communications with Arizona lawmakers could come up in the questioning.

From the Politico Playbook:

The logistics … Chair BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) are expected to open the hearing, and Rep. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) will play a key role. There will be four witnesses broken up over two panels.

— The first panel features (1) Arizona House Speaker RUSTY BOWERS(2) Georgia Secretary of State BRAD RAFFENSPERGER and (3) his deputy, GABRIEL STERLING.

Bowers is expected to describe the pressure campaign from Trump, RUDY GIULIANI and VIRGINIA THOMAS, the wife of Supreme Court Justice CLARENCE THOMAS. In one phone call, Trump and Giuliani pushed Bowers to change Arizona law retroactively “to allow the Legislature to choose a different slate of presidential electors than picked by voters.”

And the Playbook also broke this news this morning:

SCOOP: The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 sent a subpoena last week to ALEX HOLDER, a documentary filmmaker who was granted extensive access to President DONALD TRUMP and his inner circle, and who shot interviews with the then-president both before and after Jan. 6. The existence of this footage is previously unreported.

Landscape with trees, Felix Edouard Vallotton

Landscape with trees, Felix Edouard Vallotton

A source familiar with the project told Playbook on Monday night that Holder began filming on the campaign trail in September 2020 for a project on Trump’s reelection campaign. Over the course of several months, Holder had substantial access to Trump, Trump’s adult children and VP MIKE PENCE, both in the White House and on the campaign trail.

According to the subpoena, which was obtained exclusively by Playbook, the committee wants three main things from Holder:

(1) Raw footage from Jan. 6.

(2) Raw footage of interviews from September 2020 to present with Trump, Pence, DONALD TRUMP JR.IVANKA TRUMPERIC TRUMP and JARED KUSHNER.

(3) Raw footage “pertaining to discussions of election fraud or election integrity surrounding the November 2020 presidential election.”

Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the committee in an interview scheduled for Thursday. Read the full subpoena

The second panel will focus on an election worker from Georgia:

— The second panel has just one witness: SHAYE MOSS, an election worker in Georgia. She and her mother processed ballots in 2020 and were targets of a smear campaign by Trump allies. David Wickert at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a deep dive on Moss, who was accused “of rigging the November 2020 election for Joe Biden with ‘suitcases’ of ballots on election night. The pair were featured in a video that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called a ‘smoking gun’ for voting fraud.”

A committee aide said that Moss would outline how “being targeted by the former president has upended her life and that of her mother. … They were subjected to death threats, intimidation, coercion, forced to go into hiding.”

Raffensperger and Sterling are relatively well known now, but I had not heard of Rusty Bowers before. Here’s some information about him from The Washington Post: Who is Rusty Bowers?

Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers, a Republican, was pressured by Donald Trump and other members of his party to refuse to accept the results of Arizona’s election in 2020. Bowers is expected to be Tuesday’s first live witness before the Jan. 6 panel.

Vickerman, Stanley, 1922-1997; Tree Roots

Vickerman, Stanley; Tree Roots; Kirklees Museums and Galleries

Bowers, 69, supported Trump’s 2020 campaign. When the former president lost the election in Arizona by 10,457 votes, he and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Bowers to persuade him to block the state legislature from certifying the results.

Bowers refused.

His decision to stand firm against Trump put him at the center of the ire of the former president’s supporters. Armed protesters gathered outside his house and screamed that he was a pedophile. Last summer, the state’s right-wing Patriot Party attempted to recall Bowers from office, complaining that he did not do enough to support an audit of the 2020 election. The effort failed, the Arizona Republic reported.

The state lawmaker, who will not be in charge of the Arizona House next year — he decided to seek a state Senate seat instead — received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in April for resisting intimidation from Trump.

Adam Schiff will take the lead in today’s hearing. From Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney at Politico: Jan. 6 committee to highlight Trump’s state-level pressure to overturn the 2020 election.

The select committee intends to lay out Tuesday how Trump leaned on statehouse Republicans — from Pennsylvania, to Georgia, to Michigan, to Arizona and others — to pull off a scheme that would culminate on Jan. 6, 2021, when then-Vice President Mike Pence presided over the counting of electoral votes.

Under Trump’s plan, Pence would be presented with competing slates of electors — those certified by the governors, and those certified by state legislators — and he would assert the extraordinary power to choose which slates to count. But no state legislature responded to Trump’s demand, and Pence, without any genuine controversy, rejected the scheme as illegal.

In fact, the legality of the plan will be at the heart of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing, which will be led in part by panel member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). It’s the select panel’s fourth public hearing as investigators lay out their findings.

Dancing around the large trees at Perros Maurice Denis - 1914, Bo Fransson

Dancing around the large trees at Perros Maurice Denis – 1914, Bo Fransson

Trump-aligned lawyers concocted the effort, leaning on fringe constitutional theory and the guidance of John Eastman, a primary architect of the effort to pressure Pence on Jan. 6. Eastman himself acknowledged in emails obtained by the select committee that the Pence plan would be “dead on arrival” without the backing of state legislatures — yet he pushed ahead anyway, suggesting that the confusion around alternate electors would give Pence enough cover to act.

Trump’s own White House counsel’s office also raised doubts about the plan, according to testimony released by the select panel in court filings. And in the days before Jan. 6, Pence’s chief counsel Greg Jacob engaged in an intense debate with Eastman, contending that not a single justice of the Supreme Court would back his plan — a point he said Eastman reluctantly conceded.

Select committee aides told reporters Monday that the hearing would highlight new evidence of Trump’s direct awareness and involvement in the fake electors scheme. To highlight the issue, the panel plans to hear from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his aide Gabriel Sterling and other state and local officials. Several of Tuesday’s witnesses were subpoenaed to appear. Schiff told the Los Angeles Times Monday the panel would also highlight proof of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ involvement in Georgia.

I don’t want to miss a minute of this!

This is from yesterday’s Washington Post: Trump campaign documents show advisers knew fake-elector plan was baseless.

The convening of the electoral college on Dec. 14, 2020, was supposed to mark the end of the wild, extended presidential election that year.

But when the dayarrived, a strange thing happened. In seven swing states won by JoeBiden, when the Democrat’s electors assembled to formally elect him president, Trump supporters showed up, too, ready to declare that their man had actually won.

“The electors are already here — they’ve been checked in,” a state police officer told the group in Michigan, according to a video of the encounter, as he barred the Republicans from the Capitol in a state Biden won by more than 154,000 votes.

In Nevada,a state Biden had won by about 33,600 votes,a photo distributed by the state Republican Party showed Trump supporters squeezing around an undersize picnic table dressed up with a bit of bunting, preparing to sign formal certificates declaring that they were “the duly elected and qualified” electors of their state.

Ellison, R.; Oak Trees

Ellison, R.; Oak Trees; Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service

At the time, the gatherings seemed a slapdash, desperate attempt to mimic President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.

But internal campaign emails and memos revealthat the convening of the fake electors was apparently a much more concerted strategy, intended to give Vice President Mike Pence a reason to declare that the outcome of the election was somehow in doubt on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was to preside over the congressional counting of the electoral college votes.

The documents show that Trump’s team pushed ahead and urged the electors to meet — then pressured Pence to cite the alternate Trump slates — even as various Trump lawyers acknowledged privately that they did not have legal validity and the gatherings had not been in compliance with state laws.

Adam Schiff spoke to The Los Angeles Times about Mark Meadows’ role in interfering in the Georgia election: House Jan. 6 committee to reveal Meadows’ pressure on Georgia election officials.

The House Jan. 6 committee plans to show in its fourth hearing Tuesday that President Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows “had an intimate role … in this plot to put pressure on [Georgia] state legislators and on elections officials,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the panel, told The Times in an interview.

Among other things, Schiff said the committee investigating the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will release new information about Meadows’ appearance at a key election meeting in Georgia and text messages revealing that he wanted to send autographed Make America Great Again hats to people conducting the audit….

With the Jan. 6 probe, Schiff and House Democrats have a powerful tool they lacked in the previous investigations: Some of Trump’s closest allies have spelled out in sworn testimony the details of the former president’s actions leading up to Jan. 6 and, in many cases, how they advocated against such moves.

In the interview, Schiff, a former prosecutor, expressed surprise that the House committee got so many people to speak on the record.

“I’m glad these people are coming forward,” he said. “I’m glad they’re speaking out. It took a long time for [former Atty. Gen.] Bill Barr to do the right thing. It took a long time for many others who enabled Donald Trump to say ‘I can’t go any further.’”

But he added, if they had spoken out earlier, “we might have been spared all the trauma we went through.”

Bough, Samuel, 1822-1878; Entrance to Cadzow Forest, near Glasgow

Bough, Samuel; Entrance to Cadzow Forest, near Glasgow; York Museums Trust.

I’ll end with some Ginni Thomas news that The Washington Post broke last night: Speaker at meeting of Ginni Thomas group called Biden’s win illegitimate long after Jan. 6, video shows.

Two months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to help President Donald Trump stay in office, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, attended a gathering of right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the “legitimate president,” a video recording of the event shows.

“There is a robbery that is going on in this country right now,” pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant told the crowd, according to video posted to Facebook by an attendee. “In fact, I say it to you and I’ll say it loud and clear, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I won’t bite my tongue. I do believe that Donald John Trump is the only legitimate president.”

The event on March 6, 2021, was a meeting of Frontliners for Liberty. The group vaulted from obscurity to national attention last week with the disclosure that Thomas had invited pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman to speak to its members in December 2020.

The revelation, originating from emails that a judge ordered Eastman to turn over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, showed that Thomas was in contact with Eastman, a key legal architect of the attempt to subvert the election. The judge, David O. Carter of the Central District of California, wrote in a June 7 opinion that the emails, including two in which the group’s “high-profile leader” invited Eastman to speak — were relevant to the committee’s work.

While text messages and emails unearthed in recent weeks have shown that Thomas was involved in those efforts before Jan. 6, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings and interviews with several people involved in the group.

I can’t wait for 1:00! If you’re watching the hearing, please share your thoughts in the comment thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

spoon-feeding-cat4Today’s art work is from the European Renaissance period, around the 15th and 16th centuries, when people apparently liked to treat their pet cats like babies–spoon-feeding them and sometimes even swaddling them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the artists’ names.

In honor of Caturday and to give you a brief respite from the insane news of the day, here’s an article about Willow, the White House cat. Kate Bennett at CNN: As presidential cat, Willow Biden has privileges.

In the dog days of summer, Willow the cat rules the roost.

On Friday, Willow’s crate was spotted being carried by a staff member from the White House residence to Marine One, the presidential helicopter that will ferry the feline – along with President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden – to Rehoboth, Delaware, and the family’s beach house…

“Willow often spends the weekends with the First Family, including in Rehoboth, Wilmington, and Camp David,” the first lady’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN.

When she is not being whisked away for the weekend, Willow has privileges to roam the White House. She is predominantly restricted to the White House executive residence’s private second and third floors, where CNN is told Willow particularly enjoys the solarium, a bright space above the South Portico, where she “receives lots of attention from the Executive Residence staff.” In Wilmington and at Camp David, “she often sits on the porch in the sun,” says LaRosa.

Back home, Willow also likes to visit working staff in the East Wing, taking leisurely naps on the desk of the press secretary, chasing her toys in and out of offices and generally being open to scratches. Once or twice, Willow has explored beyond her domain, making it as far as the chief usher’s office on the main floor, just next to the North entrance.

The East Wing staff has made a sign to alert when Willow is out and about, which features of photo of her face and reads: “Willow is on the prowl! Please keep these doors closed.”

I didn’t know the story of how Willow came to be adopted by Jill Biden until I read this story. They met when Jill gave a speech in rural Pennsylvania, where Willow lived in a barn.

“Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks,” LaRosa said several months ago. “Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden.”

She named her Willow after her hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Though it wouldn’t be until January that Willow actually moved into her digs at the White House, she enjoyed staying with Biden acquaintances in Washington, DC, until the timing was right to officially add her to the Biden home.

Willow sounds like a very clever cat. She knew what she wanted and made it happen.

spoon-feeding-cat2It seems that Trump has been closely following the January 6 hearings, and he’s not at all happy about them. Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast: Trump Slams ‘Human Conveyer Belt’ Pence for Lacking ‘Courage’ to Steal Election.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Mike Pence on Friday for not having the “courage” to overthrow President Joe Biden’s election victory—just a day after the Jan. 6 committee hailed the ex-veep as a hero for not participating in Trump’s failed coup attempt.

Additionally, the twice-impeached ex-president denied that he ever called Pence a “wimp” for not going along with his crazy theory to steal the 2020 election. At the same time, though, Trump repeatedly called Pence a “human conveyer belt” and a “robot” for certifying Biden’s electoral votes….

After railing about the “sham” and “unselect” committee during his speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Friday, Trump turned his attention to Pence and other “RINOs” he felt were insufficiently loyal to him following the election.

“One guy got up and said that he heard me calling Mike Pence a ‘wimp,’” Trump stated. “Now honestly, I’m the president of the United States. I’m sitting, I think they said at my desk. ‘He’s a wimp.’ How many people listen to me—I don’t even know who these people are! But I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp.”

From there, however, the ex-president took aim at his former running mate for failing to assist in illegally keeping him in office—and he basically called Pence a wimp in so many words.

“Mike Pence had a chance to be great,” Trump exclaimed. “He had a chance to be, frankly, historic. But just like [former Attorney General] Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike—and I say it sadly because I like him—but Mike did not have the courage to act.” [….]

Regarding the legal consensus that Pence had “no choice” but to certify Biden’s victory, the disgraced ex-president likened Pence to a “human conveyer belt.”

After claiming he never wanted Pence to “decide” the election but rather just wanted him to send votes back to state legislatures for them to decide, Trump seemed to confirm that he pushed Eastman’s garbage theories in conversations with his vice president. (Though, according to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, this particular encounter never happened.)

“So, I said, ‘Mike, if you do this, you can be Thomas Jefferson,’” the ex-president boasted. “And then, after it all went down, I looked at him one day and I said, ‘Mike, hate to say this, but you’re no Thomas Jefferson.’”

spoon-feeding-cat6Trump also attacked Pence on his fake Twitter social media outlet “Truth Social.” The Independent: Trump claims he never asked Pence to overturn the election on Truth Social after dramatic Jan 6 hearing.

Mr Trump’s words come a day after the House select committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol held its third public hearing, where Mr Pence’s former White House Counsel Greg Jacob testified about the pressure campaign the former vice president sustained at the hands of the president and his legal team.

Multiple video depositions, including from former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, showed how Mr Trump knew his plan to overturn the election results were illegal.

But Mr Trump pushed back on the allegations on his social media platform Truth Social.

“Such LIES & MISREPRESENTATION by the Unselects, and absolutely nobody allowed to challenge what is being said”, Mr Trump posted. “As an example, I never asked V.P. Pence to ‘overturn’ the election (although Thomas Jefferson ‘took’ the Georgia votes), but that he send the votes back to the Legislatures so that they could determine if the irregularities and Fraud were as widespread and signficant [sic] as they seemed.”

Dementia Don’s family needs to stage an intervention and get this man some professional help. He’s likely to get even more enraged on Tuesday, when the January 6 Committee hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia. Georgia Public Broadcasting News: Raffensperger, Sterling will headline Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearings.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his top deputy Gabriel Sterling will testify at Tuesday’s hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, to shine more light on one of the more brazen attempts to overturn the 2020 election….

Raffensperger famously rebuffed former President Donald Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow election defeat, and Sterling was a frequent figure on televised news conferences debunking false claims of fraud and fellow Republicans’ attacks on election workers.

In last month’s primary elections, Raffensperger defeated Trump-backed challenger Rep. Jody Hice.

girl-feeding-a-catTuesday’s committee hearing is expected to highlight the pressure campaign that Trump and his allies exerted on local elections officials in Georgia and other states to reverse the presidential election results, and comes on the heels of a hearing Thursday that outlined attempts to get former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.

The Georgia officials’ public testimony comes after Raffensperger appeared recently in a closed-door special grand jury investigation in Fulton County that is seeking to determine if Trump and others violated several state laws in their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Raffensperger and others have also provided hours of testimony privately to the committee, including discussion of the unprecedented call from Trump, leaked to GPB NewsThe Washington Post and other outlets in the runup to Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate runoffs.

Read more at the link.

The Committee has also requested testimony from Ginni Thomas, after it came out that she exchanged emails with nutty Trump attorney John Eastman during his efforts to overturn the election. NPR reports that Thomas claims she’s looking forward to answering questions:

Ginni Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller in a story published after the start of Thursday’s hearing that she would “look forward” to speaking with the committee.

“I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them,” The Daily Caller reported. Thomas has worked with the Daily Caller in the past, including producing an interview with her husband.

I can’t wait either.

Jim Newell and Jordan Weissmann have questions for her: Ginni Thomas: Were you sending emails about a criminal f***ing conspiracy?

Just how deeply involved was Ginni Thomas in plotting to overthrow the results of the 2020 election? The Jan. 6 committee may be poking around to try and find out. After Trump’s loss, Thomas—wife of Justice Clarence Thomas—texted extensively with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the outcome and pushed Arizona lawmakers to do the same with their state’s vote. This week, the Washington Post reported that the panel is examining emails between Thomas and the lawyer John Eastman, who was Trump’s apparent point man on all things coup-related (and who will now forever be associated with the words “I believe I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works”). After the Post story broke, Eastman posted his email correspondence with Thomas on his Substack in a post titled: “OMG, Mrs. Thomas asked me to give an update about election litigation to her group. Stop the Presses!” It mostly just seemed to confirm that, yes, the two were in contact. The committee is now planning to interview Thomas, who says she is looking forward to clearing up any “misconceptions.” Here’s the key context for all this: At one point, Eastman told another Trump ally in an email that there was “a heated fight underway” at the Supreme Court over the election. It’s not clear where he got that idea. Was he fed this information by his friend Ginni? And what would that tell us, exactly, about Clarence Thomas’ activities at the court? Inquiring minds would like to know what the queen of Boomer texters, and her wildly powerful husband, were up to.

Also see Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: Ginni Thomas Has a Lot of Explaining to Do.

spoon-feeding-cat15This is from CNBC: Ginni Thomas-tied Facebook group ‘FrontLiners for Liberty’ could be a new focus in Jan. 6 investigation.

A Facebook group that appears to be run by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, could become a new point of interest in the U.S. House Select Committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Congressional investigators said they planned to ask Ginni Thomas to testify before the committee hours after Trump attorney John Eastman on Thursday publicly posted a Dec. 4, 2020 email from Thomas asking him to speak to a gathering she called “Frontliners,” which she described as featuring “grassroots state leaders.” Ginni Thomas is listed as an administrator of a Facebook group that goes by a similar name and description: “FrontLiners for Liberty.”

The private group, which listed more than 50 members, was created in August 2020, just two months before the November elections, according to the page’s description.

The groupwhich CNBC reviewed before it was removed from public view, described itself as “a new collaborative, liberty-focused, action-oriented group of state leaders representing grassroots armies to CONNECT, INFORM and ACTIVATE each other weekly to preserve constitutional governance.” Although Thomas’ personal Facebook page isn’t verified, it contained numerous photos ofJustice Thomas.

The group’s pages were removed from public view after CNBC reached out to Thomas about the organization. It now shows a notice from Facebook saying that it’s either been deleted or the privacy settings have been changed.

CNBC also tried to get answers through Facebook messenger to Stephanie Coleman, who is also listed administrator of the group and the wife of the late Gregory Coleman who was Texas’ solicitor general. Greg Coleman was once a clerk for Justice Thomas.

Coleman and Thomas are repeatedly pictured together on Coleman’s personal Facebook page, including a photo of the two together in December 2016 with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

More news, links only:

spoon-feeding-cat13Just Security: 8 Top Former Prosecutors, Senior DOJ Officials on Key New Evidence in Effort to Pressure Pence.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court could soon make it easier to carry guns in six states.

Vice: Uvalde Hires Private Law Firm to Argue It Doesn’t Have to Release School Shooting Public Records.

The Guardian: The ‘big rip-off’: how Trump exploited his fans with ‘election defense’ fund.

HuffPost: The Far-Right’s Assault On An Idaho Pride Event Was Meticulously Planned.

The New York Times: Proud Boys Led Major Breaches of Capitol on Jan. 6, Video Investigation Finds.

David Von Drehle at The Washington Post: A new ‘National Conservative’ manifesto sounds a lot like fascism.

Garry Kasparov at The Wall Street Journal: Awakened to Putin’s Threat, Biden and the West Nod Off Again.

Have a nice Juneteenth weekend everyone!!


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

For the past few days, *Massachusetts* has been trending on Twitter. The reason for that is the state’s tough gun laws.

From The Boston Globe: ‘Massachusetts gun laws have been proven to work.’ Amid spate of mass shootings, policymakers tout Bay State as blueprint.

After 26 students and teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Massachusetts expanded its already far-reaching gun safety law. Following a mass shooting in Las Vegas — the deadliest in US history — it was the first state to ban bump stocks. And when a teenager killed 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., high school, lawmakers here embraced their own “red flag” statute.

Tragedy has regularly proved to be an accelerant for change in Massachusetts, pushing state policymakers to tighten their already strict gun laws at a time when major federal changes have regularly stalled and Republican legislators in other states loosened theirs.

Now, in the wake of horrific gun violence in Buffalo, Uvalde, Texas, and elsewhere, activists and state officials are pointing to Massachusetts as a model, arguing that its rules weaving together background check mandates, far-reaching prohibitions, and local licensing standards should be a guide — if not for Congress, then other states.

“Massachusetts gun laws have been proven to work,” Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who has backed gun safety measures, said Monday, adding that the firearm death rate in this state “justifies thinking about what has been done here in the larger context of the nation.”

“I’ve talked to governors in other states and basically have said to them that they really ought to take a look at Massachusetts laws and make some decisions of their own,” Baker said. “I think it’s undeniable that the laws we have here have worked pretty well.”

Only Hawaii had a lower firearm mortality rate than Massachusetts in 2020; the year before — and in 2016 and 2015, as well — no state did, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And while gun violence has permeated other urban centers, Boston actually saw a drop in homicides and shootings in 2021 and has experienced even fewer so far this year, according to police data.

Yesterday, Massachusetts legislators prepared a letter to encourage leaders in other states to consider using the our state’s gun laws as a model. Some information about Massachusetts gun laws from the Globe article linked above:

Massachusetts passed an assault weapons ban in 1998 and made it permanent in 2004, when the federal ban expired. It also limits ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and requires that any first-time applicant for a six-year firearm license undergo a gun safety course.

All license applicants are also subject to background checks, either for a Firearm Identification Card — which allows people to own and use some rifles or shotguns — or a license to carry, the state’s most popular gun license.

Known as a Class A license, it allows people to own and use handguns and certain other firearms, but also comes with an additional layer of scrutiny. Local police chiefs, who serve as the state’s licensing authority, can deny an applicant they deem to be unsuitable, allowing them the discretion to factor in considerations beyond someone’s criminal record.

That could include whether police have been called to their home, for example, or if they had been the subject of domestic violence incidents that didn’t result in arrests or charges.

Acting after the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., the Legislature tightened its laws further. That 2014 law now allows police chiefs who want to deny, suspend, or revoke a shotgun or rifle license to file a petition in court.

It also mandated the state join a national database for criminal and mental health background checks and required that Massachusetts create an online portal for conducting the required background checks for private gun transfers.

I’ve quoted a lot, because the Globe article is behind a paywall. It also discusses some problems that have cropped up, e.g. the red flag law has seldom been used, and the laws have gotten complex and difficult for enforcement officials to navigate. Nevertheless, there has not been a mass shooting here for 22 years and we have fewer gun deaths than every state except Hawaii.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court may soon make it much more difficult for local lawmakers to keep their states and cities safe.

From the NYT article:

Already this year, the New York Police Department has recovered more than 3,000 guns, and such arrests have hit a 28-year high. But across the city and state, authorities are bracing for a ruling, expected from the United States Supreme Court this month, which could strike down a century-old New York State law that places strict limits on the carrying of handguns.

Overturning the law could make it far easier to legally carry a handgun in the state, which officials say may have violent consequences for cities already struggling to tamp down a spike in gun crime that began two years ago.

“A lot more people are going to now want to go out and get guns. And for all the wrong reasons,” said Richard Aborn, the president of the nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission. “I have people telling me they decided to get a gun that I never dreamed would go out and get a gun. They’re not going to use it illegally but they’re feeling this need to arm themselves in a way that I’ve not seen before.”

And if more New Yorkers are armed, he said, what would otherwise have been minor confrontations could turn deadly.

When the Supreme Court heard arguments over the law in November, a number of justices appeared predisposed against it, leading experts to believe that the law is likely to be struck down. If that happens, the ramifications could reach beyond New York: A handful of other states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts, have similar laws that could also be invalidated.

New York State requires anyone who wants to purchase a handgun to apply for a state license. But there is an additional level of scrutiny for people who want a license that allows them to carry their gun outside their home. The two petitioners before the Supreme Court, both upstate New Yorkers, are challenging the laws governing the carrying of handguns, though gun control advocates in the state worry that the rules for acquiring handguns will be next….

In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul has said that she would consider calling a special session of the State Legislature if the law were overturned. And after a shooting in Buffalo last month in which a teenager motivated by racism killed 10 Black people at a grocery store, she brought up the law unprompted, saying that her administration was “preparing our state for what could be a Supreme Court decision that allows people to carry concealed weapons. We’re ready.”

I imagine Massachusetts lawmakers are also preparing.

With the January 6 hearings coming up on Thursday night, is it possible Trump could eventually get his comeuppance? I sure hope so.

From Dennis Aftergut at Slate:

May was a bad month for former President Donald Trump. And there are darkening clouds on his horizon. On June 9, the Jan. 6 House select committee will hold public hearings as part of its ongoing investigation into the storming of the Capitol last year. In short order, the set of six scheduled televised sessions this month are likely to build momentum toward making the case that the president was directly involved in attempts to undermine the peaceful transition of power. And as the steady dropping of shocking findings from the committee over the course of the past months suggests, the sessions will likely have many viewers on the edge of their seats.

June’s hearings follow a series of escalations in Trump’s ongoing legal battles stemming from his attempts to undermine the 2020 election. May’s legal developments and the looming hearings suggest increasing pressures and prospects that Trump will face criminal charges.

Why was May so bad for Trump? It’s not just a matter of investigators closing in. Georgia’s primary on May 24 delivered a blow to Trump. Three men the former president loves to hate—Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr—all defeated Trump’s candidates in the Republican primary. Trump is already trying to cast doubt on their election results, raising questions about Kemp’s 50-point win over David Perdue. Georgia voters, however, signaled they are ready to move on from the Big Lie.

Meanwhile, two parallel criminal investigations are heating up—one from the Justice Department and another from District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta. Willis is independently investigating Trump’s phone call with Raffensperger in which he shamelessly asked Raffensperger “to find 11,780 votes,” one more than needed to reverse Joe Biden’s Georgia victory. She is also looking into Trump’s pre–Jan. 6 conduct for violation of the state’s criminal prohibition on soliciting election fraud. Last week, we learned that she has subpoenaed 50 witnesses, including Raffensperger, who testified on June 2 for five hours before a grand jury. She has also subpoenaed Chris Carr for June 21.

As for the Justice Department, it is reportedly ramping up its inquiry into Trump’s circle and the fake elector scheme that Rudy Giuliani allegedly led for the Trump campaign. On May 31, the Guardian reported that DOJ’s May 26 subpoena to former Trump aide Peter Navarro specifically refers to Trump and seeks communications with him, hinting at tightening scrutiny for the former president. (On June 2, the DOJ indicted Navarro on two counts of contempt for defying the committee’s subpoena to testify and provide documents.)

There’s more at the Slate link.

A couple of previews of what we might learn from Thursday’s hearing:

From Politico:

Nick Quested, a British documentarian who was embedded with the Proud Boys in the period around Jan. 6, will be one of the witnesses Thursday when the Jan. 6 select committee presents its findings of the violent attack that threatened the transition of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Quested captured some of the most harrowing and vivid footage from the front lines of the violence that day, including key moments of confrontation between members of the mob and Capitol Police just before rioters stormed the barricades. His crew was also present for key conversations among Proud Boys leaders, as well as a garage meeting between the group’s national chairman, Enrique Tarrio, and Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, whose group also played a central role in the January 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The inclusion of Quested among the witnesses suggests the first hearing will focus substantially on the role of the Proud Boys in the attack. That focus dovetails with a decision by the Justice Department on Monday to escalate its case against the leaders of the group, charging Tarrio and four others with seditious conspiracy for their alleged plans to stop the transition of power by force….

The select committee and DOJ have come to view the Proud Boys as key instigators of the Jan. 6 violence. Though members of the group itself were not charged with assaulting police, the charges against them describe their actions as drivers of the most pivotal moments during the riot. Prosecutors have indicated that the Proud Boys strategy included activating non-Proud-Boys members of the crowd — who they referred to as “normies” — to help push past police. The Justice Department has also described the Proud Boys as “directing” and “mobilizing” the crowd to both march to the Capitol, breach its grounds and enter the building itself.

For example, prosecutors have noted that Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs briefly huddled with Ryan Samsel, another charged defendant, just before Samsel charged at a police barricade. Samsel’s push resulted in the first barricades being toppled, causing the first rush of rioters to the food of the Capitol.

An hour later, Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, one of the other defendants in the case, used a stolen police riot shield to smash a Senate-wing window, the first breach of the Capitol building itself. A fellow Proud Boy who helped Pezzola carry the shield, Charles Donohoe, recently pleaded guilty to his involvement in the group’s efforts.

From the article:

A staffer for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign instructed Republicans planning to cast electoral college votes for Trump in Georgia despite Joe Biden’s victory to operate in “complete secrecy,” an email obtained by The Washington Post shows.

“I must ask for your complete discretion in this process,” wrote Robert Sinners, the campaign’s election operations director for Georgia, the day before the 16 Republicans gathered at the Georgia Capitol to sign certificates declaring themselves duly elected. “Your duties are imperative to ensure the end result — a win in Georgia for President Trump — but will be hampered unless we have complete secrecy and discretion.”

The Dec. 13, 2020, email went on to instruct the electors to tell security guards at the building that they had an appointment with one of two state senators. “Please, at no point should you mention anything to do with Presidential Electors or speak to the media,” Sinners continued in bold.

The admonishments suggest that those who carried out the fake elector planwere concerned that, had the gathering become public before Republicans could follow through on casting their votes, the effort could have been disrupted. Georgia law requires that electors fulfill their duties at the State Capitol. On Dec. 14, 2020, protesters for and against the two presidential candidates had gathered on the Capitol grounds.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which begins public hearings on Thursday, is likely to highlight the scheme to appoint fake electors and explore whether top Trump campaign officials initiated the strategy as part of a larger effort to overturn the democratic election.

I’ve also heard that the committee will play video from testimony by Ivanka and Jared. It should be an interesting night. I can’t wait!

What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories have caught your attention today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Reading Sociology, by Kurt Solmssen

Reading Sociology, by Kurt Solmssen

Good Morning!!

I know this isn’t breaking news to any Sky Dancers, but it’s still the best news in a long time. Steve Bannon has been indicted for contempt of Congress. More good news: it appears that Merrick Garland actually is taking the insurrection seriously. From the DOJ statement issued yesterday:

Stephen K. Bannon was indicted today by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress stemming from his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon, 67, is charged with one contempt count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and another involving his refusal to produce documents, despite a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol. An arraignment date has not yet been set in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

Katie Benner and Luke Broadwater at The New York Times: Bannon Indicted on Contempt Charges Over House’s Capitol Riot Inquiry.

A Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Bannon was expected to turn himself in to authorities on Monday, and make his first appearance in Federal District Court in Washington later that day.

A lawyer for Mr. Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies as the House seeks to develop a fuller picture of the actions of the former president and his aides and advisers before and during the attack on the Capitol.

At a time of deep political polarization, the Biden Justice Department now finds itself prosecuting a top adviser to the previous president of another party in relation to an extraordinary attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters on a fundamental element of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power….

After the referral from the House in Mr. Bannon’s case, F.B.I. agents in the Washington field office investigated the matter. Career prosecutors in the public integrity unit of the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington determined that it would be appropriate to charge Mr. Bannon with two counts of contempt, and a person familiar with the deliberations said they received the full support of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

White cat at an open window’, 1855 - Jacobus van Looy

White cat at an open window’, 1855 – Jacobus van Looy

The indictment of Bannon serves as a warning to other Trump goons who have refused to testify before the House January 6 committee.

The charges against Mr. Bannon come as the committee is considering criminal contempt referrals against two other allies of Mr. Trump who have refused to comply with its subpoenas: Mr. Meadows and Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who participated in Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“Steve Bannon’s indictment should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the select committee or try to stonewall our investigation: No one is above the law,” the leaders of the panel, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”

Earlier they had released another blistering statement after Mr. Meadows failed to appear to answer questions at a scheduled deposition. Mr. Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, informed the committee that his client felt “duty bound” to follow Mr. Trump’s instructions to defy the committee, citing executive privilege.

“Mr. Meadows’s actions today — choosing to defy the law — will force the select committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena,” Mr. Thompson and Ms. Cheney said.

They said Mr. Meadows refused to answer even basic questions, such as whether he was using a private cellphone to communicate on Jan. 6, and the location of his text messages from that day.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: The big warning signal Stephen Bannon’s indictment sends.

For more than two years, the Democratic-controlled House struggled to obtain crucial testimony from Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn in its Russia investigation. When he declined to submit to a subpoena, they fought it out in court. By the time an agreement was reached for McGahn to testify this year, Donald Trump was no longer in the White House, and the Russia issue had faded in both import and memories. McGahn said frequently in his testimony that he no longer fully recalled important episodes….

This time, though, the House and its select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob took a very different tack. And it resulted in both a legally and practically significant result.

Rather than try to get a court to make former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon testify, the Jan. 6 committee instead moved quickly to recommend he be held in contempt of Congress. That put the decision into the hands of the Justice Department, which would need to decide whether to file criminal charges. But it would at least be quicker.

On Friday, this approach — an extraordinary gambit necessitated by an extraordinary effort to stymie investigators for most of the past five years — led to an extraordinary outcome: Bannon has been indicted by a federal grand jury, making him the first person charged with contempt of Congress since 1983.

Black cat on the front porch, by Bonnie Mason

Black cat on the front porch, by Bonnie Mason

While an indictment is significant — it’s actually the second time Bannon has been indicted in fewer than 15 months, with the first earning a preemptive Trump pardon — the move is less punitive than it is precedent-setting.

Other witnesses, including former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are also resisting cooperation with the inquiry, now have to contend with the prospect of potential criminal charges….an indictment is a bell that can’t be un-rung. Those like Meadows might defy the subpoenas in the hope of some kind of accommodation — perhaps allowing them to withhold a certain part of their testimony or documents that have been requested. Bannon’s indictment serves notice that the Jan. 6 committee can threaten to play hardball, with plenty to back it up….

Bannon and Meadows are among the first against whom this could even be deployed. Theirs were among the first batch of subpoenas, along with White House communications aide Dan Scavino and national security aide Kashyap Patel. In other words, plenty of others will now have very important decisions to make. Another big one will be Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who spearheaded the effort to get his department to legitimize Trump’s false stolen-election claims.

Down in Georgia, Fulton County DA may be gearing up to impanel a Grand Jury to investigate Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn election results in the state. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Fulton DA mulling rarely used special grand jury for Trump probe.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is likely to impanel a special grand jury to support her probe of former President Donald Trump, a move that could aid prosecutors in what’s expected to be a complicated and drawn-out investigative process.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed the development to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying the move could be imminent.

Some legal observers viewed the news, first reported by the New York Times, as a sign that the probe is entering a new phase.

“My interpretation is that she’s gotten as far as she can interviewing witnesses and dealing with people who are cooperating by producing documents voluntarily,” former Gwinnett County DA Danny Porter said of Willis. “She needs the muscle. She needs the subpoena power.”

Deborah Dewit, Birdwatching

Deborah Dewit, Birdwatching

Special grand juries are rarely used but could be a valuable tool for Willis as she takes the unprecedented step of investigating the conduct of a former president while he was in office.

Her probe, launched in February, is centered on the Jan. 2 phone call Trump placed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he urged the Republican to “find” the votes to reverse Joe Biden’s win in Georgia last November. The veteran prosecutor previously told Gov. Brian Kemp, Raffensperger and other state officials that her office would be probing potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with the performance of election duties, conspiracy and racketeering, among others.

The investigation could also include Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who promoted lies about election fraud in a state legislative hearing; and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was accused by Raffensperger of urging him to toss mail-in ballots in certain counties. Both men have denied wrongdoing.

In other news, another Congressional committee is investigating efforts by the Trump administration to downplay the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Post: Messonnier, Birx detail political interference in last year’s coronavirus response.

The Trump administration repeatedly interfered with efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year to issue warnings and guidance about the evolving coronavirus pandemic, six current and former health officials told congressional investigators in recent interviews.

One of those officials, former CDC senior health expert Nancy Messonnier, warned in a Feb. 25, 2020, news briefing that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable — a statement that prompted anger from President Donald Trump and led to the agency’s media appearances being curtailed, according to interview excerpts and other documents released Friday by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic.

The new information, including statements from former White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, confirms prior reporting and offers additional detail on how the pandemic response unfolded at the highest levels of government.

“Our intention was certainly to get the public’s attention about the likelihood … that it was going to spread and that we thought that there was a high risk that it would be disruptive,” Messonnier told the panel in an Oct. 8 interview. But her public warning led to private reprimands, including from then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, she said….

Anne Schuchat, who served as the CDC’s No. 2 official before retiring this year, also depicted chaotic efforts to control the government’s messages in those early months, telling the panel that Trump officials scrambled to schedule a briefing several hours after Messonnier’s public warning, even though “there was nothing new to report.”

Cat's Siesta, Ksenia Yarovaya

Cat’s Siesta, Ksenia Yarovaya

Schuchat joined Trump and other officials for a briefing the very next day,where Trump insisted that the pandemic’s spreadto the United States was not “inevitable,” even as Schuchat tried to warn Americans to prepare for “more cases.” [….]

Other officials detailed why the CDC held no news briefings between March 9 and May 29, 2020, in the earliest days of the pandemic, effectively muzzling the scientific agency as the coronavirus spread rapidly across the United States.

Kate Galatas, a senior CDC communications official, told the panel that the White House repeatedly blocked the agency’s media requests, including a planned April 2020 briefing that she said would have addressed the importance of wearing face coverings to contain the virus’s spread.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

I’ll end with this article at The New York Times addresses the alarming number of violent threats against public figures we are seeing in U.S.: Menace Enters the Republican Mainstream.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man stepped up to a microphone to ask when he could start killing Democrats.

“When do we get to use the guns?” he said as the audience applauded. “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” The local state representative, a Republican, later called it a “fair” question.

In Ohio, the leading candidate in the Republican primary for Senate blasted out a video urging Republicans to resist the “tyranny” of a federal government that pushed them to wear masks and take F.D.A.-authorized vaccines.

“When the Gestapo show up at your front door,” the candidate, Josh Mandel, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, said in the video in September, “you know what to do.”

And in Congress, violent threats against lawmakers are on track to double this year. Republicans who break party ranks and defy former President Donald J. Trump have come to expect insults, invective and death threats — often stoked by their own colleagues and conservative activists, who have denounced them as traitors.

From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party. Ten months after rioters attacked the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, and after four years of a president who often spoke in violent terms about his adversaries, right-wing Republicans are talking more openly and frequently about the use of force as justifiable in opposition to those who dislodged him from power.

Click the link to read the rest.

What do you think? What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads

hammock-1923-henri-lebasque

Henri Lebasque, Hammock, 1923

Good Afternoon!!

More news broke yesterday about Trump’s intense efforts to overturn the results of the election so he could stay in office. It’s becoming clear that his inciting of the January 5 insurrection was just a last ditch effort after repeated coup attempts had failed.

Remember when the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta suddenly resigned early this year around the time when Trump’s phone calls pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough votes to change the state’s election results?

Yesterday, at the New York Times, Katie Brenner reported: Former U.S. attorney in Atlanta says Trump wanted to fire him for not backing election fraud claims.

Byung J. Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told congressional investigators on Wednesday that his abrupt resignation in January had been prompted by Justice Department officials’ warning that President Donald J. BTrump intended to fire him for refusing to say that widespread voter fraud had been found in Georgia, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Mr. Pak, who provided more than three hours of closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, stepped down with no notice on Jan. 4, saying that he had done his best “to be thoughtful and consistent, and to provide justice for my fellow citizens in a fair, effective and efficient manner.”

While he did not discuss Mr. Trump’s role in his decision to resign at the time, he told the Senate panel that the president had been dismayed that Mr. Pak had investigated allegations of voter fraud in Fulton County, Ga., and not found evidence to support them, according to the person familiar with the statements.

Mr. Pak testified that top department officials had made clear that Mr. Trump intended to fire him over his refusal to say that the results in Georgia had been undermined by voter fraud, the person said. Resigning would pre-empt a public dismissal.

Rowntree, Kenneth, 1915-1997; The Balcony

Kenneth Rowntree, The Balcony

He also described work done by state officials and the F.B.I. to vet Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and said they had not found evidence to support those allegations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is examining Mr. Pak’s departure as part of its broader investigation into the final weeks of the Trump administration and the White House’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to falsely assert that the election was corrupt. The Justice Department’s inspector general is also looking at Mr. Pak’s resignation.

During a phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of Georgia on Jan. 2, two days before Mr. Pak resigned, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Raffensperger to find enough votes to reverse the state’s presidential election results and described fraud allegations that Mr. Raffensperger said were not supported by facts, according to leaked audio of the call.

Mr. Pak had refused to support similar election fraud claims because of the lack of evidence, according to two people familiar with his investigation. “You have your never-Trumper U.S. attorney there,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger during their phone call.

This story on then Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s Congressional testimony came out this morning at The Washington Post: What Rosen told U.S. senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit election.

President Donald Trump’s last acting attorney general has told U.S. senators his boss was “persistent” in trying to pressure the Justice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election.

In closed-door testimony Saturday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to “persuade the president not to pursue a different path” at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer.

Late Summer, Hermann Wessel, 1924

Late Summer, Hermann Wessel, 1924

According to a person familiar with the testimony, Rosen’s opening statement also characterized as “inexplicable” the actions of his Justice Department colleague, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to push Trump’s false claims of election fraud and whom Trump considered installing as acting attorney general to replace Rosen….

On Saturday, Rosen appeared before the Senate committee to deliver his account directly. Donoghue testified as well. During a seven-hour interview, Rosen emphasized how he and other senior leaders resisted Trump’s entreaties.

“The president was persistent with his inquiries, and I would have strongly preferred that he had chosen a different focus in the last month of his presidency,” he said in his opening statement, according to a person familiar with the testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door session. “But as to the actual issues put to the Justice Department, DOJ consistently acted with integrity, and the rule of law held fast.”

Rosen said he thought Trump’s claims about voting irregularities were “misguided, and I disagreed with things that President Trump suggested the Justice Department do with regard to the election. So we did not do them.”

Click the link to read the rest.

Mary Harris at Slate: A Rogue DOJ Lawyer Almost Kept Trump in Office. This is a report of an interview with Mark Joseph Stern, a Slate writer who has been reporting on Trump’s coup attempts. Stern argues that the DOJ’s Jeffrey Clark was supporting the efforts of Trump’s lawyers to get courts to declare various states’ election results invalid.

Mark Joseph Stern: …[Y]ou’ve got Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani claiming there’s mass voter fraud. You’ve got state attorneys general in 18 different states, as well as a lot of conservative intellectuals and Republican politicians, claiming that the election was conducted in an unconstitutional way….

Gari Melchers, The Sun Porch

Gari Melchers, The Sun Porch

So these folks talked about voter fraud, but they focused on this idea that only state legislatures get to decide the rules for a presidential election. And here, you had a lot of other players—governors, state courts, election boards—tweaking these rules in part because legislatures can’t foresee every possible election regulation, and sometimes state courts or secretaries of state or governors will have to step in and clarify things. But also, because of the COVID-19 crisis, you had a lot of states trying new things for the first time. And you also had a lot of states that refused to try new things, whose restrictive voting laws were going to force people to potentially wait in line indoors for a very long time and expose themselves to COVID. But all the modifications certain states made were modest.

Mary Harris: The neatness of making this argument that somehow the election was unconstitutional is that it potentially allows state legislatures to step in and override the vote, right?

That’s exactly right. That’s the endgame here. It’s not as if these folks were flailing and screaming and accusing the election results of being illegitimate. They had a purpose, which was to throw the procedure of the election into sufficient legal doubt so state legislatures would have an excuse to reconvene, step in, essentially ignore the results of the actual vote, and appoint their states’ electors in the Electoral College to Donald Trump….

It looks like most Justice Department officials balked at this idea, but Jeffrey Bossert Clark was all for it. And what we’ve seen in the release of documents that the House Oversight Committee has provided, and also from other reporting, is that he eagerly wanted to have the Justice Department step in in several different ways, specifically in Georgia, to push the state legislature to call its own special session, overturn the actual results, and declare Trump the real winner.

Winslow Homer, Sunshine and Shadow

Winslow Homer, Sunshine and Shadow

We’ve actually seen the drafts of the letters and lawsuits that Clark was typing up furiously and trying to issue on behalf of the entire Justice Department—and that would have potentially nudged Georgia and its legislature toward overthrowing its own election results….

There are a number of reports from high-level Justice Department officials that are somewhat corroborated by other emails we’ve seen about various meetings that were taking place at this time. They show that at this point, Clark had decided that Rosen didn’t have the backbone to steal the election or to intervene on Trump’s behalf. So Clark apparently held unauthorized conversations behind the backs of his superiors with the president himself, and seems to have floated this idea of using the Justice Department to make these state legislatures reconvene and reassign their electoral votes. Trump seems to have really liked this idea and even said to Rosen, Why am I having to deal with you and these state suits when I could be dealing with Clark, who would do everything I say? All I need to do is fire you and make Clark the new acting attorney general, and then he’ll do whatever I want.

Read the whole thing at Slate.

One more story on this topic from Politico: Emails: Senior DOJ officials wrangled over baseless Trump voter fraud allegations.

During Donald Trump’s final weeks in office, top Justice Department officials wrangled over how the FBI should handle a particularly wacky voter fraud allegation promoted by the then-president and his allies. Unreleased emails obtained by POLITICO show just how tense the episode got.

The dispute pitted a senior career section chief against one of the DOJ’s top officials, with the FBI caught in the crossfire. Trump’s appointees at DOJ ultimately prevailed, and their investigation — a probe into a viral video from Georgia that didn’t actually find any evidence of fraud — ended up playing a role in torpedoing the president’s narrative. While Trump’s opponents fretted that the FBI’s involvementwould undermine public confidence in elections and boost Republican talking points, it had the opposite effect.

Summer Porch at Mr. and Mrs. C.E.S. Woods, 1904, Child Hassam

Summer Porch at Mr. and Mrs. C.E.S. Woods, 1904, Child Hassam

At the time of the email dispute, Trump and his allies were lobbing a host of allegations about voter fraud, claiming wide-reaching and nefarious forces had conspired to steal the election for Biden. One allegation in particular commanded the president’s attention:a video showing election workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Trump’s allies claimed it showed the workers secretly pulling ballots out of “suitcases” and using them to commit election fraud.

Officials in the office of Georgia’s secretary of state quickly debunked those claims. But on Dec. 5, Trump alluded to the video at a rally in Georgia, suggesting it proved poll workers were stuffing ballot boxes to help the Democrats.

This led to this dispute between DOJ officials involving the FBI. It’s a convoluted story that I can’s easily summarize, but the story is worth reading.

Unfortunately, the ravages of the Delta variant of the coronavirus are still the top story of the day. Here’s the latest depressing news, links only:

The Daily Beast: No One I Know Is Vaccinated’: Sturgis Rally Bikers Are Coming for America.

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: How the Pandemic Now Ends. Cases of COVID-19 are rising fast. Vaccine uptake has plateaued. The pandemic will be over one day—but the way there is different now.

Rachel Gutman at The Atlantic: Why Is It Taking So Long to Get Vaccines for Kids? A few things still need to happen before the shots can be authorized for Americans younger than 12.

The New York Times: Texas Hospitals Are Already Overloaded. Doctors Are ‘Frightened by What Is Coming.’

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Greg Abbott Surrenders to the Coronavirus. The Texas governor’s warped priorities are allowing an extremist minority to worsen the pandemic.

Mississippi Free Press: Mississippi’s Hospital System Could ‘Fail’ In 10 Days, UMMC Warns As Feds Rush In.

Mississippi Free Press: With Mississippi Hospitals Near Calamity, Gov. Reeves Left State For GOP Political Event.

The Daily Beast: Trump Keeps Rejecting Pleas From Allies for Pro-Vax Campaign.

The Washington Post: Republicans risk becoming face of delta surge as key GOP governors oppose anti-covid measures.

That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?