Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 20, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump, Twitter | Tags: DOJ, Elon Musk, Final report on January 6 insurrection, House Select Committee on January 6, House Ways and Means Committee, Jack Smith, Richard Neal, Trump tax returns 9 Comments
I woke up this morning hoping to find that Elon Musk had kept his word and stepped down as CEO of Twitter after a clear majority of Twitter users voted him out in a poll he posted. It hasn’t happened yet. From CNN:
A Twitter poll created by Elon Musk asking whether he should “step down as head of Twitter” ended early Monday morning with most respondents voting in the affirmative.
Musk had said he would abide by the results of the unscientific poll, which began Sunday evening and concluded with 57.5% voting yes, 42.5% voting no.
More than 17 million votes were cast in the informal referendum on his chaotic leadership of Twitter, which has been marked by mass layoffs, the replatforming of suspended accounts that had violated Twitter’s rules, the suspension of journalists who cover him and whiplash policy changes made and reversed in real time.
Now he says only Twitter users paying $8 per month for a blue check will be able to vote in his stupid polls. BBC News:
Elon Musk has said Twitter will only allow accounts with a blue tick to vote on changes to policy after a majority of users voted for him to quit.
Mr Musk launched a Twitter poll asking if he should step down as chief executive – 57.5% of users voted “yes”.
Since then, he has not commented directly on the result of the poll.
But he has said that Twitter will alter its rules so that only people who pay for a subscription can vote on company policy.
One user claimed that so-called bots appeared to have voted heavily in the poll about Mr Musk’s role at the firm. Mr Musk said he found the claim “interesting”….
In response to a tweet saying Twitter Blue subscribers “should be the only ones that can vote in policy related polls. We actually have skin in the game”, Mr Musk said: “Good point, Twitter will make that change”.
Twitter’s paid-for verification feature was rolled out for a second time last week after its launch was paused. The service costs $8 per month, or $11 for people using the Twitter app on Apple devices, and gives subscribers a “blue tick”.
Previously a blue tick was used as verification tool for high-profile accounts as a badge of authenticity and was free.
I honestly doubt if he’ll do that, because then he would reveal how few people are willing to pay him.
Nevertheless, according to Dan Laden-Hall at The Daily Beast, he is trying to find a replacement: Elon Musk Looking for a New Twitter CEO After Users Told Him to Go: Report.
Elon Musk is actively looking for someone to replace him as CEO of Twitter, CNBC reports.
The news comes after Musk posted a Twitter poll Sunday asking if he should step down as the head of the company. On Monday, when the poll closed, the majority of the 17.5 million votes cast said he should go. The tech boss had promised to “abide by the results” at the time he posted the yes-or-no poll, but he has yet to formally declare his intention to leave.
After buying the social media site for $44 billion in October, Musk said in court last month that he would only be Twitter’s CEO on a temporary basis. “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” he said.
According to the unnamed sources cited in CNBC’s story about his search for a successor, Musk was allegedly looking for a new Twitter CEO before posting his poll over the weekend. The search is said to be ongoing.
But by his own account, the search to find someone to run the social media giant is challenging. “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” he wrote a day later.
The final meeting of the House Select Committee investigating January 6 didn’t offer any big surprises, but they did announce four criminal referrals on Trump to the DOJ. Of course the referrals are essentially meaningless, but the Committee also will transmit the evidence they have gathered in support of the referrals.
Josh Gerstein at Politico: DOJ cares about the evidence, not the criminal referrals.
The historic criminal referral the House Jan. 6 committee issued urging the Justice Department to pursue charges against President Donald Trump is unlikely to sway many minds among prosecutors already pursuing multiple investigations, former DOJ officials said.
Prosecutors are more interested in the thousands of pages of witness statements and other records gathered by the House panel over the past 15 months, current and former officials said.
“I’m sure the Attorney General will welcome any new evidence the committee sends over, but the authority to indict rests with the executive branch, not Congress,” said University of Baltimore Law School Dean Ronald Weich, a former DOJ liaison to Congress. “The decision of whether to bring criminal charges is solely within the purview of the Justice Department. I expect DOJ to respond courteously to the committee, but the referral will not change the outcome.”
“I think a referral will have zero practical effect on what DOJ does,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal public corruption prosecutor in Washington. “They are already investigating, and they’re not going to decide whether or not to charge based on whether they got a referral from Congress.”
Just last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized prosecutors wanted to see the House’s evidence, but he notably omitted any desire to see what conclusions lawmakers reached about what that evidence proved.
“We would like to have all the transcripts and all of the other evidence collected … by the committee, so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigations,” Garland told reporters gathered in his conference room at DOJ headquarters.
In some ways, the House’s new criminal referral could have less impact than others Congress has sent to the Justice Department in the past. That’s because while some referrals spur DOJ into action, prosecutors already have investigations open into the main areas where the Jan. 6 committee sees potential crimes: Trump’s alleged incitement of the attack on the Capitol and his prolonged effort to undermine the 2020 presidential election results.
However, the public will soon be able to see the evidence for themselves, and that will probably lead to more pressure on DOJ to indict Trump. Kyle Cheney: The Jan. 6 committee’s big reveal hasn’t happened yet.
The committee is sitting on a stockpile of nearly 1,200 witness interview transcripts and reams of hard-won documents about Donald Trump’s attempt to derail the peaceful transfer of power. While the select panel’s nine members gathered on Monday to refer evidence of Trump’s potential crimes to the Justice Department, that raw information — not the showmanship of a final in-person public meeting — will tell the story the committee has labored to piece together.
The 160-page executive summary, which precedes a final panel report set for release as soon as Wednesday, hints at the extraordinary range of documents the committee collected. It references at least 30 “productions” of documents from various witnesses and agencies, including White House visitor logs, Secret Service radio frequencies and the Department of Labor, where then-Secretary Eugene Scalia produced a Jan. 8, 2021, memo seeking to call a Cabinet meeting to discuss the transfer of power.
“The select committee intends to make public the bulk of its nonsensitive records before the end of the year,” the panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said Monday. Thompson has stressed that the taxpayer-funded investigation’s materials should be made available to the public: “These transcripts and documents will allow the American people to see the evidence we have gathered and continue to explore the information that has led us to our conclusions.” [….]
Yet crucial questions remain about which evidence the panel will treat as off-limits to the public — including whether it will post hundreds of hours of video interviews alongside its transcripts. Thompson has also emphasized that transcripts will be redacted to exclude private information and law enforcement or national security-related details. And some witnesses who requested anonymity would receive it, Thompson has said.
Call records, with the exception of ones that the committee has found relevant to the probe, would likely remain secret as well, according to the chair.
The report should still be a BFD:
Even so, the panel’s introductory materials gave tantalizing clues about what’s to come. The committee’s executive summary referenced just over 80 of the panel’s interviews and documents collected from 34 agencies or witnesses; among them, Christoffer Guldbrandsen, a documentarian who captured footage of Trump ally Roger Stone, and Bernard Kerik, who advised Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani in his bid to collect evidence to challenge the 2020 results.
The summary also reflects voluminous contacts among key players in Trump’s alleged plot that were not previously known but could be of interest to federal prosecutors. For example, the document describes numerous contacts that then-DOJ officials Jeffrey Clark and Ken Klukowski had with Trump campaign attorney John Eastman in the closing days of 2020 and into early 2021.
In addition, the summary casts doubt on the testimony of some select panel witnesses — like former Secret Service and Trump White House aide Tony Ornato and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who the committee said were not as forthcoming as others who spoke to it.
During her testimony, McEnany had disputed the allegation that Trump was resistant to calling off the mob, but the summary noted that her former deputy Sarah Matthews had told the panel otherwise. Ornato, who played a potentially key role as a witness to an alleged altercation between Trump and his security detail on Jan. 6, drew similar scrutiny after telling the committee he could not recall relaying the account of the altercation despite others’ testimony to the contrary.
“The Committee is skeptical of Ornato’s account,” the panel added in a footnote.
Read the rest at Politico.
Whether or not to indict Trump will be up to Special Prosecutor Jack Smith.
Jose Pagliery at The Daily Beast: Trump Special Prosecutor Has a History of Indicting Presidents.
Witnesses had lost hope and disappeared. Criminal suspect No. 1 had become president. And the long-awaited indictment now seemed unreachable.
Then, American prosecutor Jack Smith came along and took charge, sending his investigators on an aggressive mission to win back reluctant witnesses—by targeting the tight-lipped politicians and militant nationalists who had kept them silent.
The story may sound familiar, if not a bit like resistance fan-fiction. But this story is actually about Smith’s efforts in Kosovo, a small country in southeastern Europe that was historically an Albanian enclave in Serbia. It was difficult every step of the way. Smith had to defend his work from widespread accusations that he was conducting an unfair political prosecution to remove the nation’s favorite leader. And the narrative was that cooperators are traitors—and that these lawyers like Smith were trying to destroy the country.
It may prove to be an invaluable experience.
Since the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Smith as the trusted special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump last month, there have been dozens of news profiles focusing on his time as a domestic prosecutor investigating public corruption. Several have even incorrectly identified the international court he served on. But this is the first sweeping look at what exactly he accomplished while on a special assignment abroad in Europe, where he took down Kosovo’s sitting president—and gained the credentials to target an American one.
Kosovo investigation until Smith took over. “It has huge political consequences. It takes bravery. Jack’s got to decide whether he’s going to indict a former president of the United States. But he did the same thing when it came to Hashim Thaçi.”
Kosovo’s now ex-president remains trapped inside a jail in the Dutch city of The Hague. Understanding how he got there helps contextualize Smith’s legacy at the controversial international prosecutor’s office he led until last month—and his ability to face Trump now.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider whether to release Trump’s tax returns to the public.
CNN: House Ways and Means Committee to meet on future of Trump’s tax returns.
The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and weigh whether to release the information to the public, the end to a years-long effort from Democrats to learn more about Trump’s financial background.
The highly anticipated meeting is years in the making but comes as Democrats have just days to act on whether to release the former president’s tax returns. While there is historic precedent for Ways and Means to release confidential tax information, a decision to put it out to the public would come with intense political fallout as Trump has already declared he is running for president in 2024.
The committee has had access to Trump’s taxes for weeks after winning a lengthy legal battle that began in the spring of 2019. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal requested the first six years of Trump’s taxes as well as tax returns for eight of his businesses back in April of 2019.
Neal and his ranking member Kevin Brady have had access to the information, and rank-and-file members on the committee will have begun to have access and review at least some of Trump’s tax information, according to a source familiar.
It’s not clear if members would have access to all of the information.
Republicans on the committee are preparing to push back hard if Democrats vote to release any of Trump’s tax information, committee sources tell CNN. The argument Republicans will wage, however, won’t center on defending Trump explicitly but rather what the release means for politicians and ordinary people in the future.
Democrats on the committee would rely on section 6103 of the tax code to lawfully release information about Trump’s taxes, but Republicans are prepared to argue that Democrats are abusing the provision, attacking a political enemy and potentially unleashing a system where even individuals could have their personal information exposed if they become targets of the committee.
More stories to check out, links only:
The Washington Post: Another headache for Trump as House panel weighs release of tax returns.
Maggie Haberman at The New York Times: A Diminished Trump Meets a Damning Narrative.
The Washington Post: Congress unveils $1.7 trillion deal to fund government, avert shutdown.
The Washington Post: Lawmakers put Electoral Count Act, crafted as response to Jan. 6, in omnibus bill.
Adam Liptak at The New York Times: An ‘Imperial Supreme Court’ Asserts Its Power, Alarming Scholars.
CNN: 6.4 magnitude earthquake shakes Northern California.
Have a nice Tuesday, Sky Dancers!!