Posted: May 14, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: abortion rights, cats relaxing, caturday, Clarence Thomas, January 6 Committee, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Republicans, Roe v. Wade, SCOTUS, Ukraine, women's rights
Liquid Cat, photo by Karen Slagle
My stress level is sky high lately. If only I could relax like a cat, blissfully unaware of the daily shocks we humans have to deal with these days. At least it’s the weekend, so maybe we’ll get a break–or maybe even some good news? Here’s the latest:
The Guardian: Demonstrators across the US protest expected reversal of Roe v Wade.
With the US supreme court apparently poised to overturn the 1973 landmark decision which made abortion legal, hundreds of thousands of people across America are planning to take to the streets to protest the looming decision.
A coalition of groups such as Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn and the Women’s March are organizing Saturday’s demonstrations, whose rallying cry is “Bans Off Our Bodies”. More than 370 protests are planned, including in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago….
The “Bans Off Our Bodies” gatherings will take place three days after Democrats in the US Senate on Wednesday made a largely symbolic effort to advance legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law. All 50 Republicans and one conservative-aligned Democrat – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – voted against the measure, leaving it well short of the 60 votes necessary for it to advance.
Also from The Guardian: Protesters rally outside US supreme court justices’ homes ahead of pro-choice marches.
Pro-choice demonstrators continue to turn up outside the homes of supreme court justices, with the latest target being conservative Amy Coney Barrett, who signed on to a majority draft opinion that was leaked to reveal an intention to overturn the constitutional right to seek an abortion in the US.
“The right to your own body – to do what you want with your own body – is the most personal freedom you can have,” one protester said from among a group wearing long red “handmaid” capes and white bonnets earlier this week to symbolize forced childbearing, as members of the Virginia state police watched nearby….
Several organizations, led by Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March, are preparing for a nationwide day of pro-choice marches on Saturday….
Protesters have so far gathered outside the residences in the Washington DC area of Samuel Alito, who wrote the scorching draft opinion, and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as Barrett and the chief justice, John Roberts, who did not sign on to the draft opinion, unlike the other three and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
Yesterday, British medical journal The Lancet released a scathing editorial warning the U.S. Supreme Court that if they overturn Roe v. Wade, they will have women’s “blood on their hands.”
The Lancet: Why Roe v. Wade Must Be Defended.
“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” So begins a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, leaked from the US Supreme Court on May 2, 2022. If confirmed, this judgement would overrule the Court’s past decisions to establish the right to access abortion. In Alito’s words, “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives”. The Court’s opinion rests on a strictly historical interpretation of the US Constitution: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” His extraordinary text repeatedly equates abortion with murder.
The Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution has been the main foundation underpinning the right of American women to an abortion. That 1868 Amendment was passed during the period of American Reconstruction, when states’ powers were being subjected to certain limitations. The goal of the Amendment was to prevent states from unduly restricting the freedoms of their citizens. That guarantee of personal liberty, so the Supreme Court had previously held, extended to pregnant women, with qualifications, who decided to seek an abortion. Alito rejected that reasoning. He argued that for any right not mentioned in the Constitution to be protected, it must be shown to have had deep roots in the nation’s history and tradition. Abortion does not fulfil that test. Worse, Roe was an exercise in “raw judicial power”, it “short-circuited the democratic process”, and it was “egregiously wrong” from the very beginning. It was now time, according to Alito, “to set the record straight”.
What is so shocking, inhuman, and irrational about this draft opinion is that the Court is basing its decision on an 18th century document ignorant of 21st century realities for women. History and tradition can be respected, but they must only be partial guides. The law should be able to adapt to new and previously unanticipated challenges and predicaments. Although Alito gives an exhaustive legal history of abortion, he utterly fails to consider the health of women today who seek abortion. Unintended pregnancy and abortion are universal phenomena. Worldwide, around 120 million unintended pregnancies occur annually. Of these, three-fifths end in abortion. And of these, some 55% are estimated to be safe—that is, completed using a medically recommended method and performed by a trained provider. This leaves 33 million women undergoing unsafe abortions, their lives put at risk because laws restrict access to safe abortion services.
Read the rest at the link.
At The Washington Post, Dana Millbank writes: Roe’s impending reversal is a 9/11 attack on America’s social fabric.
Washington’s reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has been typically myopic.
Republicans first tried to make people believe that the issue wasn’t the opinion itself but the leak. Now they’re absurdly trying to portray Democrats as supporters of infanticide. Democrats, in turn, squabbled among themselves before a show vote on a doomed abortion rights bill. And the news media have reverted to our usual horse-race speculation about how it will affect the midterms.
This small-bore response misses the radical change to society that Justice Samuel Alito and his co-conspirators are poised to ram down the throats of Americans. Their stunning action might well change the course of the midterms — but more importantly, it is upending who we are as a people.
Assuming little changes from the draft, overturning Roe would be a shock to our way of life, the social equivalent of the 9/11 attacks (which shattered our sense of physical security) or the crash of 2008 (which undid our sense of financial security). As epoch-making decisions go, this is Brown v. Board of Education, but in reverse: taking away an entrenched right Americans have relied upon for half a century. We remember Brown because it changed us forever, not because it altered the 1954 midterms.
Read more at the WaPo.
Clarence Thomas, husband of Ginni Thomas, who supported a coup against the U.S. government, is still whining about the SCOTUS link, which most likely came from a right wing source. Adam Liptak at The New York Times: Justice Thomas Says Leaked Opinion Destroyed Trust at the Supreme Court.
The leak of a draft opinion has done irreparable damage to the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said at a conference in Dallas on Friday night, adding that it had destroyed trust among its members.
“What happened at the court is tremendously bad,” Justice Thomas said. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
The leak of the opinion, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, was “like kind of an infidelity,” Justice Thomas said.
“Look where we are, where that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he said. “And when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder.”
Tough shit. My trust in SCOTUS was gone after Thomas was confirmed by lying about his sexual harassment of Anita HIll.
I won’t quote from this one, but if you want to read an argument by a constitutional scholar who is a Democrat who supports abortion rights but opposes Roe, check out this article at The Wall Street Journal by Akhil Reed Amar: The End of Roe v. Wade. I found it interesting but not that helpful for women who are facing a disastrous and traumatic future around pregnancy and childbirth. The article wasn’t behind the paywall when I opened it.
In other news, Republican Senators refused to visit Ukraine with Democrats, but then they organized their own trip. Please note that one of their GOP colleagues, Rand Paul, is currently blocking a bill to provide more aid to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. The New York Times: McConnell and other Republican senators make a secret visit to Ukraine.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading the latest delegation of American lawmakers to the country as the United States deepens its commitment to Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion.
The surprise visit by Mr. McConnell, who was accompanied by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate is working to pass a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. It follows a string of other clandestine visits, including by the first lady, Jill Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi….
“Helping Ukraine is not an instance of mere philanthropy — it bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression not succeed and carries significant costs,” Mr. McConnell said this week. “If Ukraine fails to repel Russian aggression, there is no question that the threat to American and European security will grow.”
The trip was disclosed by Mr. Zelensky’s office. Details were not yet available from the lawmakers.
Mr. McConnell was joined by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of his leadership team and the Foreign Relations Committee; John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Intelligence Committee; and Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on both the Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees government funding.
In the photos I’ve seen, Zelensky doesn’t look as happy as he did when Jill Biden and Nancy Pelosi visited him.
The New York Times’s Luke Broadwater and Emily Cochrane on the subpoenas of members of Congress by the January 6th committee: Subpoenas for Republicans Raise New Questions for Jan. 6 Panel.
The decision by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to issue subpoenas to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has sent a shock wave through Capitol Hill, heightening tensions in an already hostile environment and raising questions about the future of the inquiry and the institution itself.
The move by the Democratic-led panel set up a showdown with Republicans that could result in the threat of jail time against sitting members of Congress — including Mr. McCarthy, who is in line to be speaker if his party wins control of the House in November. It also had major implications for the investigation, and whether the country will ever get full answers about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that disrupted the peaceful transfer of power and left more than 150 police officers injured.
Some Democrats immediately began clamoring for Mr. McCarthy and other lawmakers to be held in criminal contempt if they fail to appear at their scheduled depositions in late May, while Republicans warned of retaliation if they take control of the House after the midterm elections.
“I wouldn’t be for it, but turnabout is fair play,” Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, said of retaliatory subpoenas. He called the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas a “horrible precedent for the institution,” adding: “It’s a race to the bottom.”
I’d say the refusal of Republicans and Trump associates to honor Congressional subpoenas looks bad for Republicans, especially if they try to investigate Democrats in the future; but for the NYT, it’s always about how everything that happens is bad for Democrats.
Meanwhile at Axios: More bombshells for Jan. 6 committee before June hearings.
The Jan. 6 committee may seek testimony from additional lawmakers as soon as next week, ahead of blockbuster TV hearings that kick off next month, Axios has learned.
Driving the news: Chiefs of staff and other aides to members of the House select committee were told Friday on their weekly call with committee staff to brace for more bombshells ahead of the June 9 start to public hearings, according to two sources on the call….
The big picture: The committee created a major stir with post-election implications when on Thursday it issued subpoenas to five House Republicans, including two of the GOP’s top brass — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
— Members haven’t said how they would enforce those subpoenas.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, told Axios on Thursday that “the fact-gathering process will continue through the hearings.”
What we’re hearing: A U.S. Capitol Police security briefing for members and their chiefs of staff, to prepare for the June hearings, is scheduled for May 20.
That’s what’s happening so far today, as I see it. What’s on your mind?
Posted: February 2, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Cosby, Bob Bauer, Bruce Castor Jr., Butch Bowers, David Schoen, Donald Trump, House impeachment managers, Jeffrey Epstein, Rand Paul, second impeachment trial
Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson along with acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Blodgett lead the Democratic House impeachment managers as they walk through the Capitol Hill
The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins next Tuesday, Feb. 9. As usual, Trump is unprepared and his defense is in chaos. His entire legal team recently quit because he wanted them to argue that he lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud. There was also the matter of the payment of legal fees, according to Axios: Scoop: Fees — not just strategy — blew up Trump’s legal team.
What we’re hearing: The notoriously stingy former president and his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, wrangled over compensation during a series of tense phone calls, sources familiar with their conversations said. The argument came even though Trump has raised over $170 million from the public that could be used on his legal defenses.
- The two initially agreed Bowers would be paid $250,000 for his individual services, a figure that “delighted” Trump, one of the sources said.
- However, Trump didn’t realize Bowers hadn’t included additional expenses — including more lawyers, researchers and other legal fees that would be accrued on the job.
- He was said to be livid when Bowers came back to him with a total budget of $3 million. Trump called the South Carolina attorney and eventually negotiated him down to $1 million.
- All of this infuriated Trump and his political team, who think the case will be straightforward, given 45 Republican senators already voted to dismiss the trial on the basis it’s unconstitutional to convict a former president on impeachment charges.
- Trump’s political arm also was planning to pay separately for audiovisuals, a rapid-response team and legislative liaison.
In the end, the money dispute added to frustrations Bowers and the other lawyers felt about whether the former president’s claims of election fraud should be central to their arguments.
This happened even though Trump had raised $170 million for his defense.
But now Trump has found two new lawyers. Business Insider: Trump’s new legal team includes an attorney who declined to prosecute Bill Cosby and another who met with Jeffrey Epstein days before his death.
Days after five members of Donald Trump’s impeachment legal team quit over a disagreement on strategy, two new lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor Jr., have been added to the roster….
Castor was the district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, from 2002 to 2008. In 2005, Castor declined to prosecute Bill Cosby when he was charged with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. Castor said at the time that “insufficient, credible and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt,” The Washington Post reported.
Years later, after more than four dozen women had accused Cosby of sexual crimes, Castor said he’d verbally offered Cosby an immunity deal in which he declined to prosecute him in criminal court to ensure that Constand would be able to sue him in civil court.
Bruce Castor Jr.
His handling of the Cosby case is widely believed to be responsible for the failure of his reelection bid in 2015….
David Schoen, a criminal-defense lawyer in Atlanta, was a part of the Trump ally Roger Stone’s defense team during his trial on charges of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and making false statements related to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Schoen also met with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the days before Epstein’s death in August 2019. Schoen has claimed that Epstein’s death was not actually a suicide.
Those two sound perfect for Trump. I wonder if he’s paying them?
USA Today: Trump’s lawyers will argue impeachment trial is unconstitutional after split with old legal team over voter fraud.
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team are expected to use an argument at his impeachment trial next week that is already supported by the majority of Senate Republicans in charge of his fate: That the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer the commander in chief….
While Trump’s new team says fraud isn’t at the center of their arguments, they’re not closing the door on them….
Schoen, in an interview with The Washington Post Sunday evening, offered some insight on the path forward, saying he planned to focus on the “weaponization of the impeachment process” and would not argue the president’s claims of voter fraud.
“I am not a person who will put forward a theory of election fraud,” Schoen told the Post. “That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”
Schoen told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Monday night that the trial is unconstitutional and nothing more than an effort to prevent Trump from running for president again. “This is the political weaponization of the impeachment process,” he said.
Schoen also called the trial “the most ill-advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime.” [….]
The new team appears to have a two-pronged strategy: Arguing the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump’s remarks about the election did not incite the deadly riot at the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Democrats have filed their case against Trump. The Washington Post: Trump’s actions described as ‘a betrayal of historic proportions’ in trial brief filed by House impeachment managers.
House Democrats made their case to convict former president Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in a sweeping impeachment brief filed with the Senate on Tuesday that accused Trump of whipping his supporters into a “frenzy” and described him as “singularly responsible” for the mayhem that ensued.
In the brief, the nine House impeachment managers argue that Trump is not protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech provision, which was never intended, they wrote, to allow a president to “provoke lawless action if he loses at the polls.”
“If provoking an insurrectionary riot against a Joint Session of Congress after losing an election is not an impeachable offense, it is hard to imagine what would be,” the brief states.
Democrats also rejected the claim embraced by many Republicans that it is unconstitutional to convict a president after he has left office — an argument that Trump’s lawyers are expected to make in his defense.
“There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the House Democrats wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”
House impeachment managers
Trump is supposed to submit his response later today. It’s difficult to see how his lawyers could have had enough time to prepare careful arguments. More from the Democrat’s case:
The House Democrats wrote that Trump’s embrace of unfounded accusations that the 2020 election was stolen from him helped foment his supporters’ attack on the Capitol. When those false assertions failed to overturn the election, the Democrats wrote, Trump “summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
They added: “The Framers themselves would not have hesitated to convict on these facts.”
The House impeachment managers urged senators to bar Trump from ever serving again in elected office: “This is not a case where elections alone are a sufficient safeguard against future abuse; it is the electoral process itself that President Trump attacked and that must be protected from him and anyone else who would seek to mimic his behavior. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a case that more clearly evokes the reasons the Framers wrote a disqualification power into the Constitution.”
The brief made clear Democrats’ intention to build an emotionally compelling impeachment case against Trump in which they have sought out new cellphone footage of the Capitol siege, as well as details about injured police officers.
The goal is to present the Senate with fresh evidence that reveals what Trump knew in advance of the Jan. 6 rampage at the Capitol, as well as how his words and actions influenced those who participated. The rioting left five dead, including one member of the U.S. Capitol Police. In addition, two officers, one with the D.C. police department, have since died by suicide.
At The New York Times, constitutional legal expert Bob Bauer writes: Why the G.O.P. Argument Against Trying Trump Is So Dangerous.
As the Senate trial of Donald Trump nears, the defense is coming into view. It appears that most Senate Republicans will not defend Mr. Trump’s conduct around the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. Instead, they will rally around an argument about the chamber’s constitutional powers and the supposedly dangerous consequences for our politics if the Senate tries a “late impeachment.”
This argument is built on two closely connected representations, and Senator Rand Paul previewed them in his recent constitutional objection to “late impeachment.”
The first, in Mr. Paul’s words, is that “impeachment is a tool to remove someone from office. That’s it.” The Senate lacks the power to try an impeached president, once out of office, to determine if he is guilty of the charges the House has levied against him.
The second, Mr. Paul and others argued, is that Mr. Trump is now a “private citizen,” and so any action against him could serve no purpose other than revenge….
This Republican argument wholly misconstrues the text, history and structure of the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It is a mistake to minimize impeachment’s broader objectives by suggesting that removal from office was somehow its only or primary function.
The power to impeach specifically provides for two decisions: impeachment and conviction, resulting in removal, and then disqualification from holding office. As drawn from the English practice, and reflected in state constitutions at the time, both these actions were understood to serve the overall purpose of public accountability for egregious abuses of public office.
Indeed, several state constitutions at the time of the federal Constitution’s writing permitted impeachment only after public figures had left office. Public accountability and disqualification were the purposes of impeachment; the Constitution’s addition of removal from office was an expansion on these provisions.
The argument focused on Mr. Trump’s status as a former president is misguided and dangerous. When impeached, he was in office. Moreover, it is highly doubtful that the framers intended the impeachment clause to give the president free rein to commit impeachable offenses in the closing months of his term.
In any case, the Senate always decides on disqualification after the offender is a “private citizen,” since that is what he becomes upon conviction of an impeachable offense. The Constitution does not even specify that this second vote on disqualfication must be immediate. The Senate could vote weeks later, after deliberation and debate, well into the former president’s “private” life.
Still more fundamental: This “late impeachment” argument fails to grasp the constitutional framework within which the question must be considered. The Federalist Papers made plain the framers’ preoccupation with protections against the demagogue, the “unworthy candidate” of “perverted ambition” who practices “with success the vicious arts, by which elections are too often carried.” The provision for “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit” was one of many instances of constitutional checks against popular passions that could lead to the election of officeholders who would threaten to subvert the Republic.
Read the rest at the link. I imagine the impeachment managers will read this article carefully.
So, that’s what we know so far about the impeachment trial. I’ll post more news links in the comment thread below. There’s a lot happening.
Posted: July 27, 2019 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: #MoscowMitch, 2016 election, Baltimore, caturday, Donald Trump, election security, Elijah Cummings, Fox News, impeachment, John Brennan, Mitch McConnell, mpeachment inquiry, Racism, Rand Paul, Victor Blackwell
By Olga Kost
The occupant of the people’s White House began his morning with more racist attacks on people of color. This time it was Rep. Elijah Cummings and the people of Baltimore. I won’t subject you to the tweets, but he claimed that Cummings’ district in Maryland is “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and “very dangerous & filthy place” and that “no human being would want to live there.” He also called Cummings a “brutal bully” because he criticized Trump’s concentration camps.
Apparently the occupant was watching TV this morning before he heads out to play more golf.
Cummings also announced recently that he has subpoenaed the White House for employees’ emails sent on personal accounts. That would include Ivanka and Jared.
This morning, CNN’s Victor Blackwell gave an eloquent response to the occupant’s ugly tweets.
Of course the real source of Trump’s rage is the fact that Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have opened an impeachment inquiry into his crimes.
Joshua Matz at The Washington Post: The House has already opened an impeachment investigation against Trump. (Matz is the co-author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.
Has the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry? That question is starkly presented by a petition that the House Judiciary Committee filed in federal court on Friday. It is also answered by that petition. No matter what certain House Democratic leaders might say about the politics of the matter, there can now be no doubt that the committee is engaged in an investigation of whether to impeach President Trump.
Flora Merleau, Dear Alexander
Through its petition, the committee seeks access to portions of the report by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that were redacted to protect grand jury secrecy. The panel also seeks grand jury testimony bearing on Trump’s knowledge of criminal acts, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Russian connections to his campaign. Finally, the committee seeks grand jury testimony about actions taken by former White House counsel Donald McGahn; this last request probably anticipates the committee’s rumored plans to seek an order compelling McGahn to testify.
It is settled law that House committees can obtain grand jury materials as part of impeachment investigations. So the legal dispute will probably center on whether such an inquiry is underway.
The Constitution itself does not use phrases like “impeachment investigation” or “impeachment proceedings.” This has led some to mistakenly assume that the House is disregarding its impeachment power because it has not yet held a floor vote approving articles of impeachment (or expressly instructing the Judiciary Committee to deliberate on such articles).
But to those who specialize in these matters, that all-or-nothing vision of the impeachment power is mistaken. The Constitution’s text and structure — supported by judicial precedent and prior practice — show that impeachment is a process, not a single vote. And that process virtually always begins with an impeachment investigation in the judiciary committee, which is already occurring.
Here is the historic announcement made by Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
At The Atlantic, four members of the House of Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon, David Cicilline, Pramila Jayapal, and Veronica Escobar write: Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment.
Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees was a watershed moment. At this point, it is up to Congress to act on the evidence of multiple counts of obstruction of justice committed by the president, and to continue our investigation into whether he has committed other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Beryl Cook, The Great Cat
Despite assertions to the contrary by the president and his allies, the special counsel’s report and testimony are not the end of our investigations. We have now filed a petition in court to obtain the grand-jury documents referenced in the special counsel’s report. In that filing, we have made clear that we will utilize our Article I powers to obtain the additional underlying evidence, as well as enforce subpoenas for key witness testimony, and broaden our investigations to include conflicts of interest and financial misconduct.
While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process.
As members of the House Judiciary Committee, we understand the gravity of this moment that we find ourselves in. We wake up every morning with the understanding of the oath that binds us as members of Congress, and the trust that our constituents placed in us to uphold that oath. We will move forward with the impeachment process. Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies under our Article I powers.
Our Constitution requires it. Our democracy depends on it.
An so finally, it is happening.
Yesterday, Mitch McConnell blocked two more election security bills in the Senate. Twitter responded by getting the hashtag #MoscowMitch trending. Newsweek:
The hashtag #MoscowMitch was trending on Twitter on Friday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election bills designed to deter interference by Russia and other states, claiming it was “partisan legislation” by the Democratic Party.
It followed special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday that Russia is still attempting to interfere in American democracy, further to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with a view to disrupting the 2020 contest.
Barbara Perrine Chu, Woman with Black Cat
Then on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report detailing Russian interference dating back to at least 2014 through to 2017 that targeted U.S. election infrastructure with an “unprecedented level of activity.”
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough used the moniker “Moscow Mitch” in reference to McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, multiple times during his MSNBC show on Friday, and tore into the congressional leader for several minutes.
Scarborough made reference to an effort in 2016 ahead of the election by President Barack Obama to sound the alarm to American voters about Russian interference by urging congressional leaders to sign a bipartisan statement condemning it publicly.
At the time, according to The Washington Post, McConnell rebuffed Obama’s suggestion, and said he would view the White House talking publicly about Russian interference before polling day as an act of partisanship designed to aid the then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
As everyone here knows, Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska has promised to pour millions into McConnell’s home state of Kentucky by opening a new aluminum plant there. In addition, Newsweek reports that Mitch McConnell received donations from voting maachine lobbyists before blocking election security bills.
This morning Dana Millbank went there at The Washington Post: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.
This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
By Mariana Kalacheva
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.”
Millbank provides specifics of McConnell’s unpatriotic behavior:
McConnell has blocked all such attempts [to protect our elections], including:
A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence.
A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies.
A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election.
A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes.
McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again. This is the same McConnell who, in the summer of 2016, when briefed by the CIA along with other congressional leaders on Russia’s electoral attacks, questioned the validity of the intelligence and forced a watering down of a warning letter to state officials about the threat, omitting any mention of Russia.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
On Hardball yesterday, John Brennan discussed McConnell’s behavior in 2016.
This days, the GOP is filled with Russian assets like Trump’s suck-up golf buddy Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, who tried to block funding to help 9/11 first responders but fights sanctions on a Russian pipeline. The Daily Beast:
Advocates for a massive Russian natural gas pipeline project have a powerful, quiet ally in Congress: Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and close friend of President Donald Trump. He has quietly worked against sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project, which would dramatically expand Russia’s shipments of natural gas to Germany. Critics say it would also dramatically expand Russia’s influence in Western Europe while harming Ukraine. The Trump administration has weighed sanctioning the project, but has yet to do so. And Trump himself has criticized it.
On Thursday, the senator postponed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s mark-up of legislation that would have put sanctions on the project, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the committee’s proceedings. And while Paul hasn’t publicized his opposition to the proposed sanctions, he sent Senate colleagues a letter before the mark-up explaining his stance. The letter, which The Daily Beast obtained, argues that the legislation in question—a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen—doesn’t clearly state which entities would be sanctioned.
That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?
Posted: July 23, 2018 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Carter Page, Chistine Todd Whtman, FISA court, Helsinki, iran, Rand Paul, Russia, Steele Dosier
by unknown artist, Iran, Tehran, Seated Woman Pouring Wine, oil on calico, 1800-1830
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I don’t even know where to start today other than to state that KKKremlin Caligula is seriously losing it as opposed to his normal state of mostly losing it. The Trumpfest storyline on Russia is falling apart as quickly as D’oh Hair Furor’s mental state. I found Greg Sargent’s piece at WAPO helpful. It contrasts the Dem v. Repug version of the FISA warrant on Carter Page and the Steele Dossier after the release of a redacted version of the FISA warrant went public over the weekend.
This morning, the New York Times’s Charlie Savage has a great piece on the White House’s decision over the weekend to release documents revealing the FBI’s application to a FISA court to run secret surveillance on former Trump campaign official Carter Page. The bottom line: The documents lay waste to much of the narrative about the FBI investigation pushed by Trump — and GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who enshrined that story line in his much-discussed memo — while largely confirming that Democratic efforts to correct that narrative have been offered accurately and in good faith.
The Trump/Nunes narrative rests heavily on the idea that the FBI probe into the Trump campaign was illegitimate, because it was triggered by the “Steele Dossier.” The Nunes memo in January charged that to spy on the Trump campaign, the FBI failed to disclose that former British spy Christopher Steele’s research had originally been funded for political purposes (which Trump and his allies maintain shows the probe had tainted origins). In his rebuttal memo at the time, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California — Nunes’s counterpart — disputed this, noting that the FBI’s application for the warrant did, in fact, disclose that Steele was hired by “politically motivated persons” to “discredit” the Trump campaign.
The newly released documents — in particular, the FBI’s FISA applications — show that Nunes was engaged in disingenuous parsing designed to deceive and that Schiff was telling the truth. The application contained a whole page detailing the FBI’s conclusion that Steele had been hired to do “research” to “discredit” the Trump campaign, and that the FBI deemed Steele credible anyway, having relied on his information in the past. As Savage puts it, the new release offers a “page-length explanation” that confirms what Democrats contended “at the time” about the research’s “politically motivated origins.”
The new documents also lay to rest another dispute. The Nunes memo claimed the FBI relied on a Yahoo News article to corroborate Steele’s account even though Steele was the source for that article. Schiff’s rebuttal pointed out that, in fact, the FBI had cited the Yahoo article to confirm a separate point. The new documents show that Schiff characterized the FBI claim accurately. As Savage notes: “The application dovetails with the Democrats’ account.”
In sum, the new documents show the FBI suspected that a top Trump official (Page) was collaborating with Russia to sabotage the 2016 election, perhaps along with others. As Julian Sanchez notes, there are extensive redactions following the Steele section that strongly suggest the FBI offered other information beyond the Steele Dossier to bolster those suspicions (which Democrats also claimed to be the case). Though those redactions mean this cannot be conclusively proved right now, the documents show that the FBI’s request for a wiretap and subsequent follow-up applications were greenlighted by judges appointed by GOP presidents, based on the info the FBI offered.
artist: Sadegh Tabrizi (Iranian, b. 1939 d. 1917) Fiancailles Oil and metallic paint on canvas
Right Wing media is try desperately to rescue the Nunes Memo. Trump argues that it actually shows proves the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt.
President Trump on Monday made a fresh call to end the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, citing the release over the weekend of a previously classified application to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was under suspicion by the FBI of being a Russian agent.
In a series of tweets, Trump falsely claimed that Mueller’s investigation was prompted by the surveillance. Trump and other Republicans have accused the FBI of relying too heavily on a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer to seek the surveillance order for Page from a federal judge, arguing that Trump was the real target.
In his tweets, Trump complained that the “Fake Dirty Dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele was paid for by Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, saying it “was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!”
It seems clear Michael Cohen is trying to turn state’s witness and we’re approaching the first Manaford Trial. Witnesses have been granted immunity to testify in the case.
With the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort just two days away, the judge in the case ordered the testimony of five witnesses granted immunity by special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis at a hearing Monday morning said he would unseal the documents that would reveal the identities of the immunized witnesses.
Ellis also heard arguments over Manafort’s request to delay Wednesday’s start of the trial. He said he would issue a ruling from the bench on the continuance as early as this afternoon when the hearing resumes after a short recess.
The judge had already denied Manafort’s request to move the trial to Roanoke, Virginia, to escape the widespread publicity about the case in the metro Washington area.
Downing, who took over Manafort’s defense in September 2017, revealed that Manafort’s previous law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering had not turned over the records to the new defense team. He also said that the bookkeeping company refused to give him the records unless Manafort reimbursed the company for the subpoena production, which Manafort did not do.
“Go to court and get the documents,” Ellis scolded Downing. “They belong to your client.”
“We thought we’d get them in discovery, your honor,” Downing responded. “It’s a lot cheaper.”
Tens of thousands of pages of discovery materials that Downing pointed to in requesting a delay in the trial were from devices owned by Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime business deputy who pleaded guilty this spring and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
Asonye said those materials were images from Gates’ devices and were not among the items on the government’s exhibit list. Downing said that they expected Gates to be a witness and thus the “heart” of the case, so they were entitled time to review all of the materials from his devices.
Manafort faces bank fraud and tax fraud charges related to his consulting work in the Ukraine for then-President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of Regions. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to these charges and related charges in DC.
Qajir Noblewoman by Hojatollah Shakiba (b.1949)
Trump continues to get blowback from the severely botched #TreasonSummit in Helsinki. More and more Republicans are speaking out. Today it was Christine Todd Whitman writing an Op Ed in the LA Times stating “Trump is clearly unfit to remain in office”.
President Trump’s disgraceful performance in Helsinki, Finland, and in the days since is an indication that he is not fit to remain in office. Trump’s 2016 “America First” platform might be more aptly named “Russia First” after the disaster that occurred last week.
Trump’s turn toward Russia is indefensible. I am a lifelong Republican. I have campaigned and won as a member of the party, and I have served more than one Republican president. My Republican colleagues — once rightfully critical of President Obama’s engagement strategy with Russian leader Vladimir Putin — have to end their willful ignorance of the damage Trump is doing both domestically and internationally. We must put aside the GOP label, as hard as that may be, and demonstrate the leadership our country needs by calling on the president to step down.
And peak craziness comes in threating tweets to Iran. This out to be giving Bolton and the Dominists some form of hard on. “Iran’s Rouhani warns Trump about ‘mother of all wars’ ” via Reuters.
Mihr Ali, Fath Ali Shah Standing with a Scepter, dated 1809-1810, oil on canvas
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”, but did not rule out peace between the two countries.
Iran faces increased U.S. pressure and looming sanctions after Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state new agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
In Washington, U.S. officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration had launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups.
I’m convinced this Bolton’s prize for letting Trump suck up to Putin. The tweet was in all caps and released on Sunday night some time after the NFL and its players pushed Trump’s race baiting KneeGate into a conference room for discussion. His golf game was off and the media is certainly turned into dogs with teethe for a change. Sunday news was full of discussions on how weak and servile he appeared in Helsinki.
President Trump threatened Iran late Sunday, warning of severe “consequences,” as rhetoric between the two countries’ presidents escalated dramatically.
Mr. Trump, in an all-caps message on Twitter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, wrote that the country would face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED” if he continued to threaten the United States.
Trump may not be the craziest idiot in the beltway at Russia. We always have Aqua Buddha for a distraction too. Twitter is just not a good platform for crazy Republicans. I liked it better when it was mostly beat journalists frankly.
In an unusual move, Paul wrote that he will meet with Trump on Monday to discuss allegations that Brennan is “monetizing his security clearance” and “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media.” Paul added that he would ask Trump to revoke Brennan’s clearance.
That’s right libertarian demigod! If all else fails, muzzle the press!
So, I’m going back with a bad dream I had this morning still swirling in my mind’s eye. I was in a weird office off a long white hallway when a set of drone objects to my door to threaten me. I grabbed them and threw them to the wall while spotting a third heading my way under the controls of this child-looking roly poly Trump in white pajamas. I woke up as I saw a secret service guy in dark glasses and black suit headed my way. Eeesh …
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: December 15, 2015 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Donald Trump, final GOP debate, Fred Trump, housing discrimination, Ku Klux Klan, Las Vegas Journal-Review, Rachel Maddow, Racism, Rand Paul, Seldon Adelson, Ted Cruz
There’s good news and bad news today. The bad news is that there’s a Republican debate tonight. The good news is this is the last Republican debate before the primaries begin.
Honestly, I don’t know if I can stand to watch another GOP debate. I’ll probably give it a try, but I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’d watch the MSNBC coverage if Rachel Maddow were anchoring it; but for some reason Chris Matthews is doing it again.
It’s been quiet here as it usually is during the holiday season, so maybe we can use this thread to comment on the debate. If for some reason we get really busy, I’ll put up another thread tonight. Please let me know if you plan to watch the debate, and we’ll just play it by ear.
The main debate will begin at 8:30PM on CNN, and it will be live streamed on CNN’s website. There will be a kids table debate at 6PM with only four participants: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, and George Pataki.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina on September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane – RTS1TOL
Rand Paul should be at the kid’s table; but for some strange reason CNN is letting him appear on the main stage–perhaps because he whined about it or maybe because CNN likes him, who knows. If you didn’t see it last night, I highly recommend watching Rachel Maddow’s report on the Rand Paul story.
Some stories about what could happen in tonight’s circus/horror show:
MSNBC: Five Storylines to Watch During Tonight’s GOP Debate.
Vox: Republican debate 2015 live stream: time, TV schedule, how to watch online.
CNN: Who will hold the winning hand at Vegas GOP debate? 7 things to watch.
NPR: Tonight’s GOP Debate: Cruz On The Rise As Terrorism Becomes Central Focus.
Ed Kilgore at NY Magazine: Can CNN Get the Cage Match It Wants in GOP Debate?
Here’s another strange story leading up to the debate in Las Vegas tonight. A very wealthy person has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and he wants to remain anonymous–even to the paper’s employees. Now who could this person be. Someone should ask Sheldon Adelson about it.
Mother Jones reports: Did a Republican Megadonor Just Secretly Buy Nevada’s Biggest Newspaper?
The sale has created a controversy because, while there is no rule requiring a newspaper to disclose its owners, the Journal-Review will be, by far, the largest newspaper in America whose owners are secret. The intrigue is not just journalistic: For a well-heeled person interested in influencing an election, owning the largest paper in the state that in a few short months will hold one of the first nominating events of the primary season (third for Democrats and fourth for Republicans) is a good place to start.
The news broke on Friday, when the paper’s management told employees that the publication, which had been owned by a publicly traded chain of newspapers called New Media Investment Group, had been sold for $140 million. The new owners? An LLC based in Delaware called News + Media Capital Group LLC. The only publicly available information on News + Media Capital Group LLC is that it was founded two months ago in Delaware, and it used a corporate agent that hides any identifying information.
Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., speaks during an interview in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TheReview-Journal’s management introduced a man named Michael Schroeder as the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC. Schroeder has been the publisher of a very small chain of newspapers in Connecticut and declined to tell theReview-Journal who the new bosses were, other than to say they were “undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry,” a description that does little to narrow down the field. Another detail that leaked from the paper’s management was that there are multiple owners, at least some of whom are based in Las Vegas. The description is odd, since most individuals who have invested in news organizations previously would be aware that refusing to say who owned the paper would do nothing but stir controversy, especially within the paper’s own staff.
The paper’s management also seemed almost determined to stoke controversy. According to the Huffington Post, a version of the story detailing the paper’s sale went to press with a quote that suggested Schroeder was dismissive of employee concerns about the new ownership.
“They want you to focus on your jobs…don’t worry about who they are,” Schroeder allegedly said at a meeting with employees. But the quote was pulled, as were other critical comments, before a new version of the article was printed.
I guess we’ll find out who it is eventually; but Adelson seems to be the most likely candidate, since he lives in Nevada.
A younger Donald Trump with his father Fred Trump
I know I’ve been writing way too much about Donald Trump lately, but I just had to share something that Dakinikat told me about yesterday. These are old links that I somehow missed when I wasn’t taking Trump seriously early on. Apologies if someone has posted these at Sky Dancing previously.
It looks very much like Donald Trump’s father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a young man. From Boing Boing: 1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.
According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y.
In an article subtitled “Klan assails policeman”, Fred Trump is named in among those taken in during a late May “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all.” At least two officers were hurt during the event, after which the Klan’s activities were denounced by the city’s Police Commissioner, Joseph A. Warren.
“The Klan not only wore gowns, but had hoods over their faces almost completely hiding their identity,” Warren was quoted as saying in the article, which goes on to identify seven men “arrested in the near-riot of the parade.”
Named alongside Trump are John E Kapp and John Marcy (charged with felonious assault in the attack on Patrolman William O’Neill and Sgt. William Lockyear), Fred Lyons, Thomas Caroll, Thomas Erwin, and Harry J Free. They were arraigned in Jamaica, N.Y. All seven were represented by the same lawyers, according to the article.
The final entry on the list reads: “Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, was discharged.”
In 1927, Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 years old, and not yet a well-known figure. Multiple sources report his residence at the time—and throughout his life—at the same address.
Later on in his life, the elder Trump was sued for refusing to rent or sell his properties to African Americans.
A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported ona civil rights suitthat alleged that the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers, and quotes a rental agent who said Fred Trump instructed him not to rent to blacks and to encourage existing black tenants to leave. The case was settled in a 1975 consent degree described as “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated,” but the Justice Department subsequently complained that continuing “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”
If Donald Trump was raised in a home where racism was acceptable, that could explain some of his behavior today. It’s certainly interesting to know about this, and I regret that I didn’t read this article when it first appeared in September. You might want to read this piece at the Academe blog as well: Does It Matter if Donald Trump’s Father Was a Member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Naturally the Trump rally in Las Vegas last night produced more shocking news. McKay Coppins reports at Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Rally Erupts In Chaos And Ugly Confrontation.
The Republican frontrunner had invited a supporter up to the stage to recount how his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Midway though the story, a pair of protesters interrupted.
“That’s why we need gun control!” one called out from the sea of Trump die-hards in the Westgate Resort and Casino ballroom. Click useful source here.
A zealous chorus of boos filled the room, while the two protesters brandished a homemade poster (“NO HATE. YOU’RE FIRED.”) and began shouting over the din….
By the time security swooped in, several amped-up Trump supporters had already encircled the protesters — booing, and chanting, and slowly closing in — while a crush of smartphone-wielding media scrambled to capture footage of the clash. The guards managed to remove one protester, but the other resisted, stiffening his limbs and screaming about the First Amendment as they tried to haul him toward the exits. When he toppled to the floor, a horde of rallygoers assembled to hurl insults and threats at him.
“Light the motherfucker on fire!” one Trump supporter yelled….
One after another, protesters were forcibly dragged from the ballroom — limbs flailing, torsos twisting in resistance — while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence.
“Kick his ass!” yelled one.
“Shoot him!” shouted another.
Trump’s main competitor tonight should be Ted Cruz. From CBS News: Why Ted Cruz might be a threat to Donald Trump.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has surpassed businessman Donald Trump in three recent Iowa polls of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers. Trump has taken notice, and has begun to cast doubt on Cruz’s fitness for the presidency, calling Cruz a “bit of a maniac” on Fox News Sunday, for instance. The two have come a long way sincecampaigning together against the nuclear deal a few months ago, but that was back before Cruz was polling so well in Iowa.
Trump doesn’t like anyone who challenges his lead in the polls – he compared neurosurgeon Ben Carson to a child molester with a pathological disease when Carson’s popularity began rising among Iowans. But while Carson may be seeing his moment pass, Cruz is peaking as voters begin to settle on their favorite candidates, and his mastery of the issues reassures many evangelical voters who would otherwise like Carson.
Read the rest to learn the reasons author Rebecca Kaplan believes Cruz could beat Trump. Frankly, I think Cruz is actually the scarier of the two. A couple more articles on Cruz:
WaPo Wonkblog: A guide to what Ted Cruz really believes.
NBC News: GOP Latinos Slam Ted Cruz and Self-Deportation Plan On Eve of Debate.
So . . . will you be watching the clown show tonight? What stories are you following?