Posted: July 31, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Capitol insurrection, cat art, caturday, Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Jeffrey Rosen, Mark Meadows, Mike Lindell
Painting by Arsen Kurbanov
Yesterday was a busy news day and a very bad day for Donald Trump. The Justice Department has ordered the IRS to hand over his taxes to the House Ways and Means Committee and new evidence was revealed about his efforts to get Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to help overturn the 2020 election.
The New York Times: Treasury must turn over Trump’s taxes to Congress, the Justice Dept. says.
The Treasury Department must turn over six years of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax returns to House investigators, the Justice Department said in a legal opinion issued on Friday that most likely paves the way for their eventual release to Congress and potentially to the public.
Hours later, the Treasury told a federal judge that it planned to move ahead.
The 39-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel dealt a sharp legal blow to a yearslong campaign by Mr. Trump to keep his tax information secret, reversing a Trump administration position that had shielded the documents from Congress.
Portrait of Gerrit Komrij, by Theo Daamen, 1986 Dutch, b.1939
Rejecting that view, the Biden administration opinion said that a request for the tax information first lodged in 2019 by the House Ways and Means Committee was legitimate and that the Treasury Department had no valid grounds to refuse it.
“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the opinion said. “Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”
Democrats on Capitol Hill, who said they aim to examine the I.R.S.’s presidential audit program and Mr. Trump’s conflicts of interest, hailed the decision as a victory for congressional oversight powers and for national security. The House had sued to enforce the request after the Trump Treasury Department objected, and litigation continues.
“The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a valedictory statement.
Katie Benner at The New York Times: Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show.
President Donald J. Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers.
The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.
White Cat with Crescent Moon, Gertrude-Abercrombie, 1909-1977
The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the Justice Department had found no evidence for. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.
Mr. Trump did not name the lawmakers, but at other points during the call, he mentioned Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, whom he described as a “fighter”; Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who at the time promoted the idea that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump; and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, whom Mr. Trump praised for “getting to bottom of things.”
A bit more:
The phone call by Mr. Trump was perhaps the most audacious moment in a monthslong pressure campaign aimed at enlisting the Justice Department in his crusade to overturn the election results.
After the departure of Mr. Rosen’s predecessor, William P. Barr, became public on Dec. 14, Mr. Trump and his allies harangued Mr. Rosen and his top deputies nearly every day until Jan. 6, when Congress met to certify the Electoral College and was disrupted by Mr. Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol, according to emails and other documents obtained by Congress and interviews with former Trump administration officials.
The conversations often included complaints about unfounded voter fraud conspiracy theories, frustration that the Justice Department would not ask the Supreme Court to invalidate the election and admonishments that department leaders had failed to fight hard enough for Mr. Trump, the officials said.
The Justice Department provided Mr. Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to unlawfully reverse the election results.
Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Japanese-French, 1886-1968
So it looks like we’ll be following more Congressional investigations of the the former guy in the near future. You can read specifics of Trump’s demands at that link.
David A. Graham at The Atlantic: The Insurrection Was Just Part of the Plot.
…[T]he House Oversight Committee shed more light this week on just how and why January 6 happened, releasing handwritten notes by Richard Donoghue, a top Justice Department official in the waning days of the Trump administration. The violence of the day has taken center stage, but these notes help put it in context: The angry crowd was just one part of President Donald Trump’s long-running effort to overturn the results of the election in the House of Representatives.
Trump’s effort to call the election results into doubt began long before the votes were cast, but it accelerated immediately after the election. As I wrote on January 26, Trump’s coup attempt started not on January 6 but in the wee hours of November 4, when Trump said at the White House, “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election.” He added: “Frankly, we did win this election.” (He did not, and was not being frank.)
In November and early December, the focus of Trump’s efforts was pressuring state officials in places such as Arizona and Georgia to decline to certify results in favor of Biden, and pressing Attorney General William Barr to cast doubt on the results. But Barr declined, breaking with Trump, and so did pivotal Republicans including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Once Barr was pushed aside, The Washington Post reported this week, Trump began a daily campaign to pressure Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen into doing what Barr would not, trying to place new claims of fraud before the Justice Department. Unbeknownst to Rosen, Trump was also orchestrating a plan to topple him.
Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947
What Trump hoped to achieve from these efforts has always been a little hazy. The Justice Department doesn’t certify elections, and at most could have pursued fraud claims in court—had there been any credible ones, which there were not. The new releases by the House Oversight Committee, first reported by The New York Times,connect the dots. Donoghue explained to Trump that the DOJ couldn’t overturn the result, but the president was unruffled.
“Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen” is how Donoghue recorded Trump’s response in handwritten notes.
All Trump wanted was some semi-independent arbiter to declare the election fraudulent—whether that was the governor of Arizona, the Georgia secretary of state, or the U.S. Justice Department. This much was clear even then, but Trump’s endgame was not. After all, Democrat Joe Biden’s lead was wide enough that a single state declining to certify or a single fraud case couldn’t have erased it. Trump, despite his weakness for conspiracy theories, understood that. But he didn’t need any of these officials to set aside the results on their own. He just needed enough ammunition, no matter how tenuous, that he could derail certification of the election in Congress.
If the election couldn’t be decided based on the results, then it would go to the House of Representatives. Though Democrats held a majority there, the presidency would have been decided by state delegations, of which Republicans controlled more.
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
More stories on Trump’s attempts to subvert the DOJ and his coup attempt:
Margaret Carlson at The Daily Beast: Damn Right Jan. 6 Was a Coup—This Was Trump’s Call That Led There.
Andy Wright at Just Security: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.
Raw Story: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.
Carel Willink, Crayon drawing of a cat with attitude, 1976
Is Trump still trying to get himself “reinstated” as president? I wouldn’t be surprised. A couple of stories that suggest there’s still something going on.
Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: WATCH: Mark Meadows Says Trump Meeting with ‘Cabinet Members’ at Jersey Golf Club About ‘Moving Forward in a Real Way.’
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that former President Donald Trump has been meeting with “cabinet members” at his New Jersey golf resort, mysteriously adding that they’re planning to “move forward in a real way.”
On Friday night’s edition of Newsmax’s Cortes & Pellegrino, Meadows defended Trump’s failed endorsement in a Texas special election runoff, saying “the magic is still there.”
He added that Trump is “a president that is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.” [….]
As he did throughout the interview, Meadows referred to Trump in the present-tense “the president,” and described meeting with “members of our cabinet”:
“Well, we met with several of our cabinet members tonight, we actually had a follow-up member, meeting with some of our cabinet members, and as we were looking at that, we were looking at what does come next. I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of the president, but I can tell you this steve. We wouldn’t be meeting tonight if we weren’t making plans to move forward in a real way, with president Trump at the head of that ticket.”
Although Meadows’ linguistic cues suggested some sort of alt-presidency, the rest of his remarks appeared to refer only to future elections. Meadows did not mention any discussion of a potential Trump “reinstatement” to the presidency, a notion that has been popular with Trump supporters, and reportedly with Trump himself.
Then why did he refer to Trump as “the president?”
Hernán Valdovinos, 1948
Raw Story: Mike Lindell is now hoping Supreme Court allows a do-over election: ‘Maybe that’s a thing.’
On the far-right Brandon Howse Live radio program on Friday, MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell suggested that perhaps the Supreme Court will allow a do-over of the election without electronic voting machines.
“So maybe the Supreme Court will say, hey, let’s have another — let’s do another election without machines,” said Lindell. “You know. Maybe that’s a thing.”
Lindell, who this week withdrew all his advertising from Fox News due to his belief they are insufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump, has been a key purveyor of the nonsense idea that Trump could be “reinstated” as president later this year — although he has recently backed off that idea.
He has also spread false claims about Dominion Voting Systems equipment rigging votes, which has resulted in a lawsuit against him.
Yes, he’s nuts, but does he still have Trump’s ear? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Have a great weekend Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.
Posted: June 3, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because | Tags: Arizona "recount", Donald Trump, Hitler-style rallies, Maggie Haberman, Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, Trump blog, Trump delusions
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!
The demented, delusional former guy just won’t go away. After being banned by Twitter and Facebook, he decided to start a blog. Sadly, very few people read it, so he shut it down yesterday after less than a month. Next he plans to return to his Hitler-style rallies. Will anyone show up to listen to his paranoid rants?
Politico on the blog shutdown and his future plans: Trump’s blog failed, bigly. His next online venture won’t be any easier, by Tina Nguyen and Meredith McGraw.
Twenty-nine days after it was launched, Donald Trump’s blog, once hailed by fans as his triumphant return to the internet, was taken down on Wednesday.
It was just less than three Scaramuccis old. Noah’s Ark had a longer run.
Publicly, Trump’s team described the decision to remove the “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” site as part of the process towards building a larger online footprint. But privately, aides conceded that the site was proving to be more of a nuisance than a bullhorn.
“It was more of a hassle than anything else and it wasn’t getting as many views as the team would have liked,” conceded a person familiar with the decision to take down the blog. “It was drawing more negative press than positive press.” [….]
As Trump’s team took down the blog, it promised that something better was in the offing — a Trump-focused, Trump-branded, Trump-world social network, free of the constraints imposed by Big Tech….
So far, no new platform has been revealed. Anddespite reports leaked out of Mar-a-Lago about a string of meetings with MAGA-friendly developers and apps, the reality is that creating a stand-alone Trump platform — even with an eager, preexisting user base — is, experts say, a daunting, almost-impossible task, complicated by cash, technology, time and talent….
Creating and maintaining a social media site untainted by the influence of Big Tech could run into the tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars, tech experts say. Computer servers that could process his fans’ activity — every like, comment, share and video play — would have to be purchased. Expensive engineers would also have to be hired to maintain those servers. And as several tech experts told POLITICO, skimping on these investments could mean a site that crashes every hour.
“This isn’t going out and buying a PC from Walmart, and connecting to the internet and hosting a website,” said Keith Townsend, a technology consultant who specializes in cloud computing. “This is very complicated stuff that is extremely costly, and who’s going to fund it when it’s not making money?”
I doubt if Trump and his loser buddies have what it takes build and operate a social media platform. It’s more likely Trump will hit the road and try to get people to show up to his ridiculous rallies. Max Burns at MSNBC: Upcoming Trump rallies will help Democrats remind voters why they didn’t re-elect him.
This summer doesn’t mark only the return of family get-togethers and concerts. Starting this month, Donald Trump will also be back in public circulation, headlining a series of grievance-filled summer MAGA rallies. That’s fantastic news for anxious Democrats.
The return of Trump’s hourslong, rambling rallies is an opportunity to remind the American people that Republican craziness hasn’t dialed down a notch since his defeat last year and to remind Democrats that they have reason to focus on their shared values rather than their increasingly bitter Senate fights.
By now, most Americans know to expect plenty of disinformation and far-right red meat from Trump rallies. But they have yet to see how a humiliating electoral loss and Trump’s delusional claim that he’s about to be reinstated as president any day now mix with tried-and-true Trump classics like spreading election disinformation and whining about “cancel culture.”
After just one Trump rally, Democrats will have plenty of sound bites and offensive content to make the case that Trump has learned nothing during his time out of office surrounded by yes men at Mar-a-Lago. And while Trump’s unhinged claims to be the president of the United States in exile may energize MAGA fundamentalists, they reaffirm to independents and moderates who rejected Trump that he has, if anything, grown more detached from reality in defeat.
Let’s hope the cable networks will resist broadcasting these horror shows. Hayes Brown at MSNBC: Donald Trump’s rebooted rallies have no place on your television.
NBC News’ Jonathan Allen reported Tuesday: “Trump returns to the electoral battlefield Saturday as the marquee speaker at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention. He plans to follow up with several more rallies in June and July to keep his unique political base engaged in the 2022 midterms and give him the option of seeking the presidency again in 2024.”
Trump’s return to the rally circuit is a major shift in what has so far been a period of stasis and self-imposed exile at Mar-a-Lago, where he accepts supplicants seeking his blessing and sends out press releases on a blog nobody reads. By holding rallies again, even if theoretically for the benefit of other candidates, Trump will potentially regain a major platform. Let’s hope the news media has learned its lesson from six years ago.
I think that how these first post-presidential rallies are covered will reveal a lot about lessons learned — or not learned. Saturday’s rally simply does not need to be covered live.
For one thing, we can assume that Trump will not hold back. I argued last month that Trump’s social media silence was giving Republicans the space to work on their long-term projects, including re-engineering state election laws. But Trump’s return is likely to push the party line even further — whether GOP leaders want him to or not.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported Tuesday that Trump has been telling people “he expects he will get reinstated by August.” That’s delusional. But it’s something that famed loon, er, lawyer Sidney Powell has been telling other far-right luminaries for months.
And it’s exactly what Trump’s base wants to hear — directly from the man himself.
Yes, Trump supposedly believes he is going to be “reinstated” as president this summer. Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast: MyPillow Guy Says He ‘Probably’ Inspired Trump’s Idea of an August Restoration.
Donald Trump now has the notion in his head that he could return to the White House in August. But the twice-impeached former president isn’t getting that idea from constitutional scholars or his attorneys. Instead, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell apparently inspired him.
“If Trump is saying August, that is probably because he heard me say it publicly,” Lindell told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
On Monday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that former President Trump has been telling associates that he expects to be restored to the presidency by August, after Joe Biden’s election is overturned. President Biden, of course, legitimately won the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and decisively beat Trump in the Electoral College and popular vote. There is zero evidence to support that Trump will be back in office this summer, or at any time during the rest of Biden’s term.
In the past few weeks, two people close to Trump told The Daily Beast, the ex-president had begun increasingly quizzing confidants about a potential August return to power. What’s more, he claimed that a lot of “highly respected” people—who Trump did not name—have been saying it’s possible. Both of these sources said they decided not to tell the former president what they were thinking, which was that it’s not going to happen.
It’s unclear, exactly, who these “highly respected” individuals are, and who first got the August chatter in Trump’s ear. But the August deadline tracks with comments made by Lindell, one of the ex-president’s most ardent supporters and personal friends.
It sounds bizarre and ridiculous, but Trump’s deluded followers might very well believe him and take to the streets when the “reinstatement” doesn’t happen. Jamie Gangel and Donnie O’Sullivan at CNN: Talk of overturning the 2020 election on new social media platforms used by QAnon followers sparks fears of further violence.
Hundreds of people gathered in Texas for a QAnon-sponsored conference over Memorial Day weekend to hear the biggest boosters of Donald Trump’s Big Lie downplay the Capitol riot and bandy about new threats of a coming coup.
Key Trump allies, including Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Allen West; and perhaps most notably Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., attended the three-day event, dubbed “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” at the Omni Hotel in Dallas.
The QAnon conference came amid reports that Trump is attempting to orchestrate another election coup from his far-off kingdom at Mar-a-Lago. According to a Tuesday tweet from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the former President has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August.” Trump’s reported thinking echoes that of his former lawyer’s, Sidney Powell. On Saturday, Powell told attendees to the QAnon conference that Trump “can simply be reinstated.”
“A new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House, and President Trump should be moved back in,” she explained. “I’m sure there’s not going to be credit for time lost, unfortunately, because the Constitution itself sets the date for inauguration, but he should definitely get the remainder of his term and make the best of it.”
Powell was not the only speaker at this past weekend’s event who spoke directly about the possibility Trump could reclaim his throne soon.
And of course Michael Flynn called for a military coup at the same conference.
More stories on the danger we face from right wing Republicans:
Miles Parks at NPR: Experts Call It A ‘Clown Show’ But Arizona ‘Audit’ Is A Disinformation Blueprint.
E.J. Montini at The Arizona Republic: Will Republicans support Donald Trump’s summer coup attempt?
The Washington Post: Trump has grown increasingly consumed with ballot audits as he pushes falsehood that election was stolen.
Ben Jacobs at Vice News: The GOP’s ‘Off the Rails’ March Toward Authoritarianism Has Historians Worried.
David A. Graham at The Atlantic: The Frightening New Republican Consensus. Conservatives may disagree with one another about what happened in 2020, but they’re converging on a belief that Democrats win close elections only through fraud.
Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: The Capitol Rioters Won. Although some Republican leaders deplored their violence, most have come to support the rioters’ claim that Trump’s defeat meant the election was inherently illegitimate.
The New York Daily News Editorial Board: Dangerously delusional Donald: Trump keeps lying to his faithful in the worst way.
The New York Times: Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters.
The Daily Beast: Is Glenn Greenwald the New Master of Right-Wing Media?
Have a nice Thursday!!