Mostly Monday Reads: All Things Spiraling in the DarkPosted: December 12, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: crazy right wing republicans, DOJ Investigation January 6, Fusion Energy, House January 6 Committee, Investigations of Trump, Morning reads 13 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
For as long as I can remember, Scientists have been dangling the hope that Fusion Power would solve all of our energy problems. The official announcement will come via the Department of Energy tomorrow. We have some of the news already. It appears to be an essential breakthrough that gets us further toward the ultimate goal of carbon-free and nuclear waste-free energy. This is from CNN:
For the first time ever, US scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain – a source familiar with the project confirmed to CNN.
The US Department of Energy is expected to officially announce the breakthrough Tuesday.
The result of the experiment is a massive step in a decadeslong quest to unleash an infinite source of clean energy that could help end dependence on fossil fuels. Researchers have for decades attempted to recreate nuclear fusion – replicating the fusion that powers the sun.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will make an announcement Tuesday on a “major scientific breakthrough,” the department announced Sunday. The breakthrough was first reported by the Financial Times.
Nuclear fusion happens when two or more atoms are fused into one larger one, a process that generates a massive amount of energy as heat.
Scientists across the globe have been inching toward the breakthrough; in February, UK scientists announced they had more than doubled the previous record for generating and sustaining nuclear fusion.
In a huge donut-shaped machine called a tokamak outfitted with giant magnets, scientists working near Oxford were able to generate a record-breaking amount of sustained energy. Even so, it only lasted 5 seconds.
The heat sustained by the process of fusing the atoms together holds the key to helping produce energy.
As CNN reported earlier this year, the process of fusion creates helium and neutrons – which are lighter in mass than the parts from which they were originally made.
The missing mass then converts to an enormous amount of energy. The neutrons, which are able to escape the plasma, then hit a “blanket” lining the walls of the tokamak, and their kinetic energy transfers as heat. This heat can then be used to warm water, create steam and power turbines to generate power.
This Washington Post article mentions, “Scientists hit a key milestone in the quest to create abundant zero-carbon power through nuclear fusion. But they still have a long way to go.”
In the decades scientists have been experimenting with fusion reactions, they had not until now been able to create one that produces more energy than it consumes. While the achievement is significant, there are still monumental engineering and scientific challenges ahead.
Creating the net energy gain required engagement of one of the largest lasers in the world, and the resources needed to recreate the reaction on the scale required to make fusion practical for energy production are immense. More importantly, engineers have yet to develop machinery capable of affordably turning that reaction into electricity that can be practically deployed to the power grid.
Building devices that are large enough to create fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily difficult to produce. At the same time, the reaction creates neutrons that put a tremendous amount of stress on the equipment creating it, such that it can get destroyed in the process.
And then there is the question of whether the technology could be perfected in time to make a dent in climate change.
Even so, researchers and investors in fusion technology hailed the breakthrough as an important advancement.
“There is going to be great pride that this is something that happened in the United States,” said David Edelman, who leads policy and global affairs at TAE, a large private fusion energy company. “This is a very important milestone on the road toward fusion energy.”
While most of us want to leave a better world to future generations, there are still those who wish to recreate the past with all its divisiveness, oppression, and intolerance of others. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a frightening report to share. “White Nationalists, Other Republicans Brace for ‘Total War. “A collection of radical right figures including white nationalists and ultranationalist European leaders gathered in Manhattan for the New York Young Republicans Club’s (NYYRC) annual gala Saturday night, where that group’s president declared “total war” on perceived enemies.”
“We want to cross the Rubicon. We want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets,” NYYRC president Gavin Wax declared to a room full of supporters at 583 Park Ave., an event venue on New York’s Upper East side.
“This is the only language the left understands. The language of pure and unadulterated power,” Wax added.
At the five-hour event, which Hatewatch reporters attended, white nationalists Peter and Lydia Brimelow of VDARE hobnobbed with Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser and White House official. Donald Trump Jr. was also in attendance.
Republicans publicly lauded members of an Austrian political party founded by World War II-era German Nazi party members. Racist political operative Jack Posobiec shared jokes across a table with Josh Hammer, the opinion editor of Newsweek. Multiple recently elected GOP congresspeople applauded Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told the NYYRC crowd in the event’s closing remarks that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol would have succeeded if she had planned it and that the insurrectionists would have been armed.
“Then Jan. 6 happened. And next thing you know, I organized the whole thing, along with Steve Bannon,” Greene said, referring to allegations that she had led reconnaissance tours of the Capitol for soon-to-be insurrectionists in the days prior to the violence.
“I will tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I organized that, we would have won,” she said, as attendees erupted in cheers and applause. “Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”
The article has more background information on the event’s attendees, groups, and history. It’s not a fun read but a necessary one. I’ve tried hard to understand what makes these people angry and aggrieved. It appears to be raw hatred aimed at anyone who doesn’t fit their mold and might challenge their ability to hog all the power and money.
CBS News reports that Marjorie Taylor Green and Donald Trump, Jr. attended the event. Their speeches were what you would expect. “White House: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s latest Jan. 6 comments a “slap in the face” to law enforcement, victims’ families.”
The White House is reacting sharply to comments made over the weekend by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and how the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, might have gone if she had indeed been its ringleader.
The Georgia Republican spoke Saturday at a dinner hosted by the New York Young Republican Club and recounted how her critics have incorrectly labeled her an organizer of the insurrection that left one person shot dead and led to the deaths of two other police officers.
“I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed,” she said Saturday, according to the New York Post.
She also criticized ongoing U.S. funding for the war in Ukraine and called on Republicans to back former president Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign.
In comments shared first with CBS News, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it “goes against our fundamental values as a country for a Member of Congress to wish that the carnage of January 6th had been even worse, and to boast that she would have succeeded in an armed insurrection against the United States government. This violent rhetoric is a slap in the face to the Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones as a result of the attack on the Capitol. All leaders have a responsibility to condemn these dangerous, abhorrent remarks and stand up for our Constitution and the rule of law.”
You may read the New York Post article. It has information about Don Jr.
Her appearance followed remarks by Donald Trump, Jr., who similarly bashed the “woke” left while expressing glee about how House Republicans might treat Hunter Biden next year.
With Musk releasing troves of data this week showing how Twitter executives decided to suppress a 2020 exclusive story by The Post about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Trump Jr. said it was one more example of how supposed conspiracy theories can turn out to be true.
“Holy s–t … if that was my laptop, I’d be in trouble,” he said.
“Hunter gets to sell art for 200 grand yesterday. So I was thinking about doing some art. I could do some finger painting like Hunter,” Trump added.
He told the friendly audience they needed to similarly speak out no matter how politically incorrect or offensive rightwing talking points might be.
“We need people to be out there unafraid,” Trump Jr. said.
But, her emails.
Politico reports today on “What the Jan. 6 select committee’s final report will look like. A large executive summary describes former President Donald Trump’s culpability for his extensive and baseless effort to subvert the 2020 election, according to people briefed on its contents.”
The Jan. 6 select committee’s final report will begin with a voluminous executive summary describing former President Donald Trump’s culpability for his extensive and baseless effort to subvert the 2020 election, according to people briefed on its contents.
Drafts of the report, which the people briefed say have been circulating among committee members for weeks, include thousands of footnotes drawn from the panel’s interviews and research over the past 16 months into Trump’s activities in the frenzied final weeks that preceded Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob of his supporters battered police and stormed the Capitol.
The committee members are expected to formally approve the report at a Dec. 21 public meeting of the panel described by Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). Lawmakers will be able to propose final edits before the draft is expected to be sent to the Government Publishing Office for printing later this week.
The final report, according to those briefed on it, will have eight chapters that align closely with the evidence the panel unveiled during its public hearings in June and July:
- Trump’s effort to sow distrust in the results of the election
- Trump’s pressure on state governments or legislatures to overturn victories by Joe Biden
- Trump campaign efforts to send pro-Trump electors to Washington from states won by Biden
- Trump’s push to deploy the Justice Department in service of his election scheme
- The pressure campaign by Trump and his lawyers against then-Vice President Mike Pence
- Trump’s effort to summon supporters to Washington who later fueled the Jan. 6 mob
- The 187 minutes during which Trump refused to tell rioters to leave the Capitol
- An analysis of the attack on the Capitol
A person familiar with the drafting of the report emphasized that the report itself may not be limited to an executive summary and the eight chapters and is also expected to include appendices that capture more aspects of the committee’s investigation. The complete report is expected to include investigative findings from all of the select committee’s five investigative teams, which probed Trump’s actions, the mob, the role of extremism in the attack, the money trail behind Trump’s Jan. 6 rally and law enforcement failures on Jan. 6. A committee spokesperson declined to comment.
CNN Politics reports, “Special Counsel Smith speeds ahead on criminal probes surrounding Trump.”
Publicly released court filings have already made clear Trump is under investigation for the mishandling of national security secrets after his presidency.
But the other investigative team, looking at efforts to block the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden after the 2020 election, had even a year ago been given the greenlight by the Justice Department to take a case all the way up to Trump, if the evidence leads them there, according to the sources. Work that’s been led by the DC US Attorney’s Office into political circles around Trump related to January 6 now will move under the special counsel.
Partly led by former Maryland-based federal prosecutor Thomas Windom, DOJ has added prosecutors to the January 6 team from all over the department in recent months. Windom and the rest are also expected to move over to the special counsel’s office. Some, like Mary Dohrmann, a prosecutor who’s worked on several other Capitol riot cases already, appear to be reorienting, according to court records of open Capitol riot cases.
Another top prosecutor, JP Cooney, the former head of public corruption in the DC US Attorney’s Office, is overseeing a significant financial probe that Smith will take on. The probe includes examining the possible misuse of political contributions, according to some of the sources. The DC US Attorney’s Office, before the special counsel’s arrival, had examined potential financial crimes related to the January 6 riot, including possible money laundering and the support of rioters’ hotel stays and bus trips to Washington ahead of January 6.
In recent months, however, the financial investigation has sought information about Trump’s post-election Save America PAC and other funding of people who assisted Trump, according to subpoenas viewed by CNN. The financial investigation picked up steam as DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot, one of the sources said.
In interviews with people in Trump’s orbit over the past several months, some of the DOJ focus has been on the timeline leading up to January 6 and Trump’s involvement and knowledge of potential events that day, according to a source familiar with the questioning.
I will end here since I have an afternoon of doctor appointments and vaccines ahead of me. You may find out more about my art selections today here.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
Thursday Reads: Elections are Coming!Posted: October 20, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: abortion rights, DOJ Investigation January 6, House January 6 Committee, oil prices 21 Comments
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.
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.
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.”
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?
Finally Friday Reads: J6 Committee FinalePosted: October 14, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Capitol insurrection, House January 6 Committee, Republicans are dangerous liars, Trump stolen documents, Trump subpoena 14 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I admit to needing my support dog Temple and her support Kitty Kristal to get through the last of the January 6 Committee’s hearings. Cassiday Hutchinson’s testimony continues to frame the narrative of how Trump planned and carried out his attempted insurrection. Over 30 of Trump’s cronies testified simply by exercising their fifth amendment right. That was one of two clips that really was irritating. The second was a series of statements made by Trump that made his weird cadence so obvious it hurt my ears worse than country music. The scene stealer for the day was Leader Pelosi, whose daughter was filming a documentary and captured the senate and house leadership in their hidey-hole at Fort McNair.
BB pointed out the presence of Republican Louisiana Congressman Steve “Sleazy” Scalise because I was so fixated on watching Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s expression. It’s significant for several reasons. First, he was standing behind McConnell while Leader Pelosi was trying to figure out how to get the Virginian and Maryland National Guard to the Capitol. You could tell it was early in the insurrection because as she spoke to the Governor of Virginia, you could see the mob breaking windows to surge into the Capitol building on a TV screen in the room.
The second reason it’s very important is that Scalise and other Republicans insisted that Pelosi tried to slow down the call to get the Guard a little over a year later. At the same time, we know the only person ignoring that duty was Trump himself.
This is the same guy who once called himself David Duke without the baggage. Steve appears to forget that Italians and Sicilians weren’t considered white in this country for a long time. He even forgets they did field work alongside black Americans in Louisiana. They kept to themselves and spoke their native language for a long time. One of the largest lynchings in New Orleans happened to eleven Italian men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time in 1891. Every time I remember his self-appellation, I remember that not so long ago, the likes of David Duke would’ve been happy to lynch him.
Today’s Republicans are genuinely unable to speak the truth. Senator Liz Cheney of Wyoming is now telling everyone who will listen to vote a straight Democratic ticket rather than lose our democracy. She didn’t make it through the republican congressional primary in Wyoming. Cheney and Adam Kinzinger will be out of Congress after the elections. Kinzinger and Cheney will no longer be able to sit on the Committee should it continue after the elections.
Trump had one of those days yesterday after the January 6 Committee unanimously issued a subpoena for his appearance at the end of that hearing. Earlier in the morning, SCOTUS denied “Trump’s request to allow a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case to review classified documents.” This op-ed is written by Jeff Greenfield for Politico.
It was essentially two-and-a-half hours of leadup to the final moment of the Jan. 6 hearing. Donald Trump, in the words of Vice Chair Liz Cheney, had a “premeditated plan to declare the election was fraudulent and stolen before Election Day”; he knew he had lost and fed his base endless lies about it; he welcomed a siege of the Capitol and did nothing to stop it. And because, in Cheney’s words, the “cause of Jan. 6th was one man… his state of mind, his intent, his motivations…,” his testimony was required.
With that, the committee unanimously voted to subpoena the former president, ensuring the day’s headline news.
It is almost surely a symbolic act. The odds that Trump will enthusiastically appear to make his case is roughly equivalent to Herschel Walker’s admittance into Mensa, and the committee’s writ will expire by year’s end, long before a court fight over the subpoena would be resolved. While it may make for full employment for cable news legal experts, it also has the potential to overshadow the most striking revelations from today’s hearing — that the Secret Service had days of advance knowledge about the potential for violence at the Capitol, as well as the steely resolve of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who reached out for help in combatting the violence as it was happening. (Her conduct also makes a strong case that age is not necessarily a disabling quality in a leader.)
I still believe the actions of Nancy Pelosi were a big deal in the hearing presentation. This is especially true given the events unfolding around her. It truly should put down the old adage that women do not have the “steely resolve” to be leaders under pressure.
Still, the unsigned SCOTUS decision is likely a bigger blow to Trump in the long run.
… the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Trump’s request to allow a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case to review classified documents. The unsigned order involved a relatively narrow dispute, but the lack of any dissents suggests that the court may not give Trump the protection he will seek from the Justice Department, should it end up indicting Trump for violating one or more federal laws. For all of the legal landmines in Trump’s path — breaking Georgia’s laws on election interference, a possible contempt citation if he refuses to comply with today’s subpoena — the Mar-a-Lago case remains the most damaging to Trump, especially considering that at different times, he has more or less acknowledged breaking one or more of the laws regarding federal documents.
The Republicans are trying to make hay with the bad news on inflation. This inflation is due to the Saudi manipulation of the oil market and the Putin invasion of Ukraine. The worst inflation resides in the core elements of oil, gas, and food. This is a worldwide problem, meaning none came from us or any policy. This was the third thing that Greenfield spoke to if you’re interested.
Meanwhile, Trump only appears to have one condition to testify before the Committee. This is via The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo.
After the Jan. 6 committee unanimously voted in favor of subpoenaing former President Donald Trump, he’s been telling those in his orbit he’s not opposed to the idea. “The former president has been telling aides he favors doing so, so long as he gets to do so live, according to a person familiar with his discussions,” The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported on Thursday evening. “However, it is unclear whether the committee would accept such a demand.” Not everyone in Trump’s circle is convinced that him testifying would be a wise idea, however. “He should not,” a Trump adviser who speaks regularly with the former president told The Daily Beast on Thursday evening. A Trump spokesperson didn’t immediately return The Daily Beast’s request for comment. Taking to Truth Social, Trump said he will share his response to the subpoena Friday morning, while claiming the committee is “a giant scam, presided over by a group of Radical Left losers, and two failed Republicans.”
Trump did “lash out” this morning. This is from The Hill.
Former President Trump on Thursday dismissed a House committee’s vote to subpoena him for testimony about the events of Jan. 6, 2021, as a publicity stunt.
“Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?” Trump posted on Truth Social shortly after the House panel investigating the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 voted to subpoena him.
“Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total ‘BUST’ that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly – A laughing stock all over the World?” Trump continued.
He’s so predictable!
This is the other story that was big news for me. NBC News reports, “FBI official was warned after Jan. 6 that some in the bureau were ‘sympathetic’ to the Capitol rioters. “There are definitely varying degrees of enthusiasm from agents across the country,” a source told NBC News.”
A week after the Jan. 6 attack, an email landed in a top FBI official’s inbox expressing concern that some bureau employees might not be particularly motivated to help bring to justice the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol and threatened lawmakers’ lives.
“There’s no good way to say it, so I’ll just be direct: from my first-hand and second-hand information from conversations since January 6th there is, at best, a sizable percentage of the employee population that felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” and that it was no different than the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer of 2020, the person wrote in an email to Paul Abbate, who is now the No. 2 official at the bureau. “Several also lamented that the only reason this violent activity is getting more attention is because of ‘political correctness.’”
The email, recently disclosed publicly in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, reflects an issue that’s been hanging over the Jan. 6 investigation since it began: the notion that there are some in the bureau who weren’t, and aren’t, particularly driven to bring cases against the Capitol rioters.
The content of the full email, which includes a reference to “my first unit,” coupled with the fact that Abbate replied suggests that the sender, whose name is redacted, was likely someone plugged into the bureau or a former agent. The email was labeled external, indicating it was not sent from an active bureau account.
“I literally had to explain to an agent from a ‘blue state’ office the difference between opportunists burning and looting during protests that stemmed legitimate grievance to police brutality vs. an insurgent mob whose purpose was to prevent the execution of democratic processes at the behest of a sitting president,” the person wrote to Abbate. “One is a smattering of criminals, the other is an organized group of domestic terrorists.”
The person also wrote that an official in one FBI office in a “red state” said that more than 70% of that office’s counterterrorism squad and about three-quarters of its agent population disagreed with the violence, “but could understand where the frustration was coming from.”
In his response, Abbate wrote: “Thank you [redacted] for sharing everything below.”
Christopher Wray has some explaining to do. And so does the Secret Service, according to this article in The Daily Beast. David Rothkopf writes, “ The Jan. 6 Committee Gave Us Some Bad News About the Secret ServiceRather than presiding over an intelligence failure, they actually actively enabled the insurrection to take place, with some among their ranks content to look the other way.”
The Secret Service has too many secrets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation requires a thorough investigation.
These are among the most striking conclusions that emerged Thursday from the last public meeting of Congress’s Jan. 6 committee. Laying out its meticulously crafted case against former President Donald Trump for leading an insurrection against the government he had sworn an oath to protect, the committee made it clear that there were many targets that warranted further investigation. Not least of these were the two law enforcement agencies that had long prided themselves on being among the U.S. government’s most shining examples of integrity and service.
The real culmination of the inquiry must be left to the Sphinx-like Department of Justice, whose silence might reveal its commitment to the secrecy that should surround an historically significant investigation. Or that silence might be followed by inaction. We just cannot know at this point, even though the Jan. 6 committee’s revelations made it clear that inaction in the face of the evidence that exists would be one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in U.S. history and would set a dangerous precedent, leaving our entire system at risk.
But there were other disturbing threads that emerged from the congressional inquiry that themselves appeared to require their own independent inquiry. Several of these concern the seeming existence of what might be called the “dark state.” This is not the conspiracy theory fantasy spun by the far right about a “deep state” permanent government that was foiling the will of the people: That was always such a stalking horse, a concept that would enable MAGA officials to root out public servants who placed fealty to the Constitution ahead of loyalty to a political party. Rather it was a real loose alliance among Trump allies in the government who were willing to set aside the rule of law in the service of Trump himself.
At the core of this movement were officials within key government agencies—including the Department of Homeland Security and within it the Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the intelligence community—who had been placed in positions of responsibility because they could be counted upon to bend the rules for Trump.
That’s a lot to read and think about, so I’ll leave BB to pick up what breaks as the day goes on tomorrow. You can also share articles and thoughts below. I found it a very emotionally exhausting day. What have they done to our democracy based on diversity and rights?
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 CommitteePosted: September 26, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes, DOJ Investigation January 6, House January 6 Committee, Italian Elections, US Midterm Elections 2022 20 Comments
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 16 and 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.”
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.
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?
Tuesday ReadsPosted: September 13, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adam Kinzinger, Boris Epshteyn, Cassidy Hutchinson, Department of Justice, Dick Durbin, Geoffrey Berman, House January 6 Committee, House Oversight Committee, Mike Roman, National Archives, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Russia, Senate Judiciary Committee, Tony Ornato, Ukraine 15 Comments
There’s a lot happening in the news today that isn’t about the British royal family; but you probably won’t see much about it on the cable channels–at least until the nighttime shows come on. Among other things, Ukraine is still winning the battle to get Russia to stop destroying their country; the Department of Justice is running multiple investigations of Trump and the January 6 conspiracies; the House January 6 Committee is getting up to speed for more hearings; and other Congressional investigations are cropping up.
The Washington Post: ‘The Russians are in trouble,’ U.S. official says of latest war analysis.
A Ukrainian counteroffensive that has sent Russian forces into a hasty retreat could mark a turning point in the war and raise pressure on Moscow to call up additional forces if it hopes to prevent further Ukrainian advances, U.S. and Western officials said Monday.
Whether the gains are permanent depends on Russia’s next moves, especially whether President Vladimir Putin implements a military draft or orders reinforcements from elsewhere to offset heavy losses in Ukraine, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share recent intelligence analyses.
In mere days, Ukrainian military forces have retaken nearly all of the Kharkiv region that Russian forces occupied since the opening of the war. The rapidity of the pullback appears to have stunned Russian military troops and commanders, officials said.
“The Russians are in trouble,” one U.S. official said bluntly. “The question will be how the Russians will react, but their weaknesses have been exposed and they don’t have great manpower reserves or equipment reserves.”
Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving ahead carefully and consolidating their gains, another official said, noting that Russian forces seem to have recognized that they lacked the weapons and manpower to hold newly liberated towns and villages in the northeast of the country. Some Russian forces abandoned tanks, armored vehicles and ammunition as they fled.
Read more at the WaPo.
The New York Times: The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid Advance.
The strategy behind Ukraine’s rapid military gains in recent days began to take shape months ago during a series of intense conversations between Ukrainian and U.S. officials about the way forward in the war against Russia, according to American officials.
The counteroffensive — revised this summer from its original form after urgent discussions between senior U.S. and Ukrainian officials — has succeeded beyond most predictions. Ukrainian forces have devastated Russian command and control, and appear poised to capitalize on their advances in the northeast of the country and in another campaign in the south.
The work began soon after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told his generals he wanted to make a dramatic move to demonstrate that his country could push back on the Russian invasion. Under his orders, the Ukrainian military devised a plan to launch a broad assault across the south to reclaim Kherson and cut off Mariupol from the Russian force in the east.
The Ukrainian generals and American officials believed that such a large-scale attack would incur immense casualties and fail to quickly retake large amounts of territory. The Ukrainians were already suffering hundreds of casualties a day in what had become a grinding conflict. The Russian forces were experiencing similar losses but were still inching forward, laying waste to Ukrainian towns in the eastern region of Donbas.
Long reluctant to share details of their plans, the Ukrainian commanders started opening up more to American and British intelligence officials and seeking advice.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Mr. Zelensky, spoke multiple times about the planning for the counteroffensive, according to a senior administration official. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and senior Ukrainian military leaders regularly discussed intelligence and military support.
The gist is that Americans helped the Ukrainians plan a strategy, and the Ukrainian army succeeded in carrying it out–beyond all expectations. Read more details at the NYT.
David Rothkopf at The Daily Beast: What Happens to Russia After It Loses?
With reports of Russian troops fleeing like “Olympic sprinters,” leaving behind weapons, crashing their tanks into trees, and turning over more than 3,000 square kilometers of previously held territory to Ukraine, it is only natural to ask: How bad can it get for Russia?
Experts with whom I spoke all agreed that the war will have long-lasting implications for Russia and, as a consequence, for geopolitics. At the very least it puts to rest for the foreseeable future Putin’s notion that he will oversee the rebirth of Russian greatness, of a new Russian empire. At worst, it means that Russia’s decades-long slide that led to its Cold War collapse (and its struggles ever since) will be accelerated, and the country will be consigned by its floundering dictator to a period of greatly diminished global influence.
Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder described the stakes trenchantly: “Russia ceased being a great power a long time ago. It never really recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union, itself the product of a decaying ideology and system.” Daalder said Putin came to power when “Russia was in a state of deep dysfunction” and that he subsequently “set out to build a deeply kleptocratic system that benefited him and his cronies at the expense of the entire society.” This, according to Daalder, has manifested itself with “a military that is unable to engage in modern warfare of maneuver, which after six months still hasn’t established air superiority.” [….]
Stephen Sestanovich, who served during the Clinton administration as ambassador at large for the newly independent states of the former USSR and is currently a professor at Columbia University, offered a different analogy to a second-tier European state, “Russia’s claim to be a great power has long been tenuous, resting on nukes, land mass, and a UN veto. The revival of economic growth in Putin’s first decade helped restore a little luster to the claim. But he’s been largely on the ropes since 2014, and this absurd campaign to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine has put his entire effort at risk. He wanted to make himself an equal of Catherine and Peter. Now it’s going to take quite a comeback to be more than [former Serbian President Slobodan] Milošević with missiles.”
Angela Stent, a Putin biographer and senior adviser at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, echoed that analysis, “After the war is over, Russia will still be the largest country in the world (assuming it does not disintegrate) and it will still have nukes, oil, and gas. But it is deglobalizing and returning to greater autarky.” Stent says that despite maintaining strong ties with many countries in the global south, “its relations with the collective West, which represents the lion’s share of global GDP, have largely collapsed.” Stent adds: “Putin came to power wanting to restore Russia’s role as a great power and have a seat on the global board of directors. He has now lost that. Russia will emerge from this demodernized and diminished in global stature.”
There’s still more expert opinion reported at the Daily Beast link.
Department of Justice Investigations
The New York Times: Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Its Jan. 6 Inquiry.
Justice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald J. Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, people familiar with the inquiry said on Monday.
The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Mr. Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it has often been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Mr. Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records, including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.
Mr. Epshteyn and Mr. Roman have been linked to a critical element of Mr. Trump’s bid to hold onto power: the effort to name slates of electors pledged to Mr. Trump from swing states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory.
On others who got subpoenas:
The names of those receiving the latest round of subpoenas in the investigation related to Jan. 6 have dribbled out gradually, with investigators casting a wide net on a range of issues, including Mr. Trump’s postelection fund-raising and the so-called fake electors scheme.
One of the recipients, people familiar with the case said, was Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to become one of his most loyal West Wing aides, and has remained an adviser since Mr. Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Mr. Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.
Another was Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. Mr. Kerik, who promoted claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudolph W. Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, his lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said on Monday. Mr. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.
The subpoenas seek information in connection with the fake electors plan.
For months, associates of Mr. Trump have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Mr. Trump since he left office.
The fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fund-raising comes as the House committee examining the Jan. 6 attack has raised questions about money Mr. Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.
The January 6 Committee Investigation
CNN: January 6 committee set to meet in person on Tuesday as it debates whether to invite Trump and Pence to appear.
As the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack nears its final chapter, members plan to meet in person on Tuesday and one of the most pressing questions they’ll address is whether the committee should formally request that former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence appear before them.
Such appearances are exceedingly rare in US history. According to multiple sources, the committee does not expect either man to testify, but some members and staff believe the invitations should be extended for the record.
“How do you create a historic record without including formal requests for the two top witnesses,” said one source familiar to the committee’s work.
Members of the committee, including Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, have consistently said they’d like to hear from Pence and would welcome Trump’s testimony should he offer it on their terms but internal discussions about formally reaching out to both men has intensified in recent weeks now that the panel’s investigation will soon come to an end, the sources said….
A source close to Pence’s team told CNN that there have been intermittent conversations between the committee and legal counsel for Pence, but nothing has changed, meaning it’s unlikely he would testify.
Whether the panel decides to call Trump or Pence could prove to be an important data point should the committee ultimately opt to submit a criminal referral for Trump – something members of the panel say they expect to seriously consider, while such a move would be largely symbolic in nature.
Insider: Jan. 6 committee believes former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato was responsible for attempts to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, CNN reported.
Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot believe former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato was personally involved in efforts to discredit former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, according to a report from CNN.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republican members of Congress on the committee, told the outlet this week that representatives on the panel think Ornato led the charge in contradicting parts of Hutchinson’s public testimony earlier this year while he was still at the agency and additional, unnamed agents then backed his claims.
The longtime Secret Service agent who ran former President Donald Trump’s security detail left the agency last month, saying in a statement that he retired in order to pursue a career in the private sector.
Ornato emerged as a key figure in Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony before the committee in June.
Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her Trump had tried to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle he was traveling in and lunged at a Secret Service agent while demanding to be taken to the Capitol during the chaos of January 6, 2021, as he said, “I’m the effing president!”
In the aftermath of Hutchinson’s testimony, anonymous sources began to reject her version of events in the press. Several media outlets reported that Secret Service agents were willing to testify that Trump did not try to lunge at them or take control of the vehicle on January 6 — though none have done so publicly.
Now, Kinzinger is accusing Ornato of being one of the anonymous culprits behind the backlash.
Other Congressional Investigations
The New York Times: Archives Is Unsure Whether Trump Surrendered All Records, Panel Says.
The National Archives has informed congressional aides that it is still unsure whether former President Donald J. Trump has surrendered all the presidential records he removed from the White House, even after months of negotiations, a subpoena and a search of his Florida property, according to the House Oversight Committee.
The archives staff “recently informed the committee that the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody,” Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the committee, wrote in a letter on Tuesday to Debra Steidel Wall, the acting national archivist.
Ms. Maloney said the archives staff had informed the committee staff during a call in late August of its uncertainty about the status of the material, which Mr. Trump was required by law to return.
In her letter, Ms. Maloney requested a formal assessment from the archives of what presidential records, if any, removed from the White House by Mr. Trump remained unaccounted for and whether the archives believed they were potentially still in his possession.
The committee is requesting that the agency “conduct an urgent review of presidential records from the Trump administration to identify any presidential records or categories of presidential records, whether textual or electronic, that NARA has reason to believe may still be outside of the agency’s custody and control,” Ms. Maloney wrote, referring to the National Archives and Records Administration. “Please also assess any other limitations on the completeness, accuracy and accessibility of presidential records provided to NARA by the Trump administration.”
The letter asked the archives to complete an initial assessment and provide its findings to the committee by Sept. 27.
Ms. Maloney also requested that the archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”
The New York Times: Senate to Investigate Charge That Trump Meddled in Prosecutor’s Office.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate allegations that the Justice Department under President Donald J. Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr. Trump politically and pursue his critics, the committee’s chairman said on Monday.
The allegations are in a new book by Geoffrey S. Berman, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2018 through June 2020, when he was fired by Mr. Trump.
The chairman, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, made the announcement in a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, which cited a New York Times report on Thursday detailing the book’s allegations.
Mr. Berman’s book portrays Trump Justice Department officials as motivated by partisan concerns as they tried to initiate criminal investigations or block them, The Times reported.
The book, “Holding the Line,” was obtained by The Times in advance of its scheduled publication on Tuesday.
Mr. Durbin said in his letter, “These reported claims indicate astonishing and unacceptable deviations from the department’s mission to pursue impartial justice, which requires that its prosecutorial decisions be free from political influence.”
He added that the allegations “also compound the already serious concerns” raised by then-Attorney General William P. Barr’s efforts in 2020 “to replace Mr. Berman with a Trump loyalist.”
Wow! This post got really long, so take what you want and leave the rest. I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!!