Thursday Reads: Come Hell and High WaterPosted: March 31, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: DOJ Investigation January 6, January 6, Russia Ukraine war, Trump Treason 22 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m back from another few days of more excitement than I really need. Fortunately, the worst of yesterday’s storms missed the City of New Orleans but more than a dozen tornadoes ravaged the south including states north and east of us. I spent most of the evening fixated on the various radars identifying debris and hooks. I can’t wait to get my weather station set up in the backyard!
There is some news coming out of the Justice Department about a criminal probe into the January 6 rally prep and funding. The Washington Post had most of its national security reporters on the story and it’s a big one! They broke the story last night around supper time. “Justice Dept. expands Jan. 6 probe to look at rally prep, financing. Subpoena requests seek information about the planning for gathering outside White House that preceded Capitol riot”
In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally, said the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation — which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation’s history — has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack.
The events of Jan. 6, 2021, are a legally fraught puzzle for federal investigators. Prosecutors and FBI agents must distinguish between constitutionally protected First Amendment activity, such as speech and assembly, and the alleged conspiracy to obstruct Congress or other potential crimes connected to fundraising and organizing leading up to Jan. 6.
The task is also complicated by the proximity of those two very different types of activities — speech and violence — that occurred within hours of each other and less than a mile apart.
Also revealed yesterday were more details concerning the huge loss of phone logs on the day of the attack. This is from the UK Guardian. “Revealed: Trump used White House phone for call on January 6 that was not on official log. Trump’s call to Republican senator should have been reflected in presidential call log on day of Capitol attack but wasn’t.” There was some suspicion of the use of a burner phone or borrowed phones as BB discussed in earlier posts this week. This seems to show at least one phone call that wasn’t logged or was and then removed.
Donald Trump used an official White House phone to place at least one call during the Capitol attack on January 6 last year that should have been reflected in the internal presidential call log from that day but was not, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The former president called the phone of a Republican senator, Mike Lee, with a number recorded as 202-395-0000, a placeholder number that shows up when a call is incoming from a number of White House department phones, the sources said.
The number corresponds to an official White House phone and the call was placed by Donald Trump himself, which means the call should have been recorded in the internal presidential call log that was turned over to the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.
Trump’s call to Lee was reported at the time, as well as its omission from the call log, by the Washington Post and CBS. But the origin of the call as coming from an official White House phone, which has not been previously reported, raises the prospect of tampering or deletion by Trump White House officials.
It also appears to mark perhaps the most serious violation of the Presidential Records Act – the statute that mandates preservation of White House records pertaining to a president’s official duties – by the Trump White House concerning January 6 records to date.
This is from the Norm Eisen link to CNN and his OpEd co-authored with Fred Wertheimer. “Finally, a road map to hold Trump accountable.”
The resignation of two Manhattan prosecutors for their boss’s failure to charge former President Donald Trump over potential financial crimes last month has reignited debate over whether he will ever be held accountable for his alleged misdeeds.
That matters not only looking back but also going forward because perhaps his most notorious outrage — the big lie that he won the 2020 presidential election — has not halted. It continues to drive hundreds of voter suppression and election sabotage bills and anti-democratic candidates across the country. And it has captured and corrupted a significant faction of the Republican Party.
Thankfully, Judge David Carter’s decision on Monday, finding Trump “more likely than not” committed crimes, sets out a road map for finally imposing consequences for the big lie. It does so by tackling the thorniest legal issues regarding Trump, his enablers and the events in and around January 6, 2021 — and showing how they can be addressed by prosecutors.
Perhaps the most daunting of these is the question of Trump’s criminal intent. How can a prosecutor prove what Trump was thinking when he publicly claims good faith but refuses to testify, when those closest to him also resist or are hostile witnesses and when he does not use the prosecutor’s best friend, email?
Intent is where the Manhattan District Attorney’s financial case seemed to come a cropper. Whatever you think of the DA’s failure to prosecute financial crime, and we strongly disagreed, Carter offered a powerful array of evidence about democracy crimes.
Carter applies precedent to show that “a person does not need to know their actions are wrong to break the law.” Trump exceeded this threshold because he likely knew that right-wing lawyer John Eastman’s plan to throw out electoral votes was illegal. Carter cites the January 6 House select committee’s carefully compiled evidence that Trump was advised publicly and privately numerous times that there was absolutely no evidence of significant electoral fraud.
As the opinion notes, Trump’s calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he famously asked the secretary to “give (him) a break” and “find 11,780 votes” (one vote more than Biden’s margin of victory in that state) reveal the former President’s goal: not to undertake any legitimate investigation, but simply to overturn the election. This is strong evidence of a “corrupt mindset,” and it leads Carter to an eminently simple conclusion: “(t)he illegality of the plan was obvious.”
I’d also like to use the Wayback Machine to visit Marcie’s Post of February 21 that covers “HOW JUDGE AMIT MEHTA ARGUED IT PLAUSIBLE THAT TRUMP CONSPIRED WITH TWO MILITIAS at Empty Wheel.
IT IS PLAUSIBLE THAT DONALD TRUMP ENTERED INTO A CONSPIRACY WITH TWO MILITIAS
As Judge Mehta laid out, accepting the claims alleged as true (which one must do on motions to dismiss), there were five things Trump did that made the plaintiffs’ claims of a conspiracy plausible, which is the standard required to reject the motion to dismiss:
- They agreed to pursue the goal of disrupting the vote certification: “The President, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and others “pursu[ed] the same goal”: to disrupt Congress from completing the Electoral College certification on January 6th.”
- Trump encouraged means of obstructing the vote count and the militias (and others) carried them out: “He knew the respective roles of the conspirators: his was to encourage the use of force, intimidation, or threats to thwart the Certification from proceeding, and organized groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers would carry out the required acts.”
- Trump incited law-breaking: “Based on these allegations, it is reasonable to infer that before January 6th the President would have known about the power of his words and that, when asked, some of his supporters would do as he wished. On January 6th they did so. When he called on them to march to the Capitol, some responded, “Storm the Capitol.” Thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue as directed. And, when some were inside the Capitol, they told officers, “We were invited here by the President of the United States.”
- Trump called for collective action: “Fourth, the President’s January 6 Rally Speech can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action. The President’s regular use of the word “we” is notable.”
- Trump ratified the riot: “And then, around 6:00 p.m., after law enforcement had cleared the building, the President issued the following tweet: ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’ A reasonable observer could read that tweet as ratifying the violence and other illegal acts that took place at the Capitol only hours earlier.”
Laying out the conspiracy like this is the easy part.
The hard part is finding that the sitting President could be sued, and could be sued substantially for his speech.
Marcie notes the Judge took care of that part too in 3 easy steps. So, it’s getting increasingly obvious that sitting judges consider Trump guilty-as-fuck to use a JJism. If you want some more of Marcie’s research follow this thread as she schools Ben Wittes for not doing his homework.
Well, enough of the Trump Hell realm. Now to the Russian-created Hell Realm.
That all looks promising. From the NBC Link:
The Biden administration could soon announce a plan to release around 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for as long as six months, a source familiar with the matter has told NBC News. The announcement could come as soon as Thursday.
In Ukraine, an evacuation convoy of 17 buses was able to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol Thursday morning, according to its city council, with further evacuations anticipated for Friday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it had seen Russian forces near Kyiv move north or into Belarus, with both the U.S. and U.K. saying it appeared troops were looking to resupply and reorganize.
But, from the Covid-19 front, it looks like Mitch wants us all to die and go to hell.
The size of a bipartisan package to provide fresh spending to combat COVID-19 could shrink to $10 billion, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday, and the chamber’s top Democrat also suggested its price tag could fall.
Negotiators have been trying for weeks to revive a $15.6 billion compromise they had agreed to earlier this month. That fell apart after House Democrats rejected cuts in pandemic aid to states to help pay for it, and the parties remain divided over how to find savings both sides can accept.
The new money would be to purchase vaccines, treatments and tests, which the administration says are running low, even as the more transmissible omicron variant BA.2 spreads quickly in the U.S. and abroad.
So, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more from all of these black swan events.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Monday Reads: Democracy in FlamesPosted: March 21, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Gulags, Jan. 6 2021, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Mariupol, Russian Invasion of Ukraine, SCOTUS hearings, Trump Treason 25 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
We continue to see attacks on democracy internally and externally as the West fights right-wing extremists magnetized to or ruled by despots. These Right Wingers are taking on the post-World War 2 order abroad. We also continue to see Neo-confederates, NAZI-sympathizers, and theocrats taking on our post-Civil War advances in the United States. Most of this seems deeply tribal and extremely racist, sexist, and nationalistic.
Today, we’re focused on the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson now underway. Senator Amy Klobucher is actually bringing tears to my eyes in her opening statement. Too bad it’s followed by the frivolous ball of flesh known as Ted Cruz. Cruz is lecturing everyone on that old Republican lie about the Supreme Court becoming a legislative body instead of a deliberative one. I have no idea how these folks continue to try to hunt with dogs that won’t.
Even the National Review has called out the outrageous lies he’s been spouting about Judge Jackson calling it a “disingenuous attack”. This was penned by former Federal Prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy.
There is a wide variety of federal offenses that are gathered under the label “sex offenses.” In his critique of Jackson last week, Hawley tweeted that he had “noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children” (emphasis added). That is a misleadingly broad claim, and Hawley is too smart not to know that.
After invoking the image of Jackson as indulgent of “sex offenders” who “prey on children,” Hawley narrows his portrayal a bit: “Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker” (emphasis added). This leaves the impression that he is probably homing in on pornography rather than rape, abduction, and the like — although, as he must know, even that is not clear because a good deal of such sexual abuse goes into the production of porn. In any event, after all the throat-clearing, it emerges that Hawley is not talking about offenders who themselves abuse children, or even those who produce pornography. He is referring to porn consumers.
Hawley cites Jackson’s record as a judge and “policymaker.” The latter refers to her service on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which advises Congress on sentencing issues and promulgates the federal sentencing guidelines — advisory standards that heavily influence but do not control sentencing. (Congress ultimately controls sentencing by setting statutory maximum and minimum penalties, and judges consult the guidelines in each case but are not required to follow them.) What has the senator especially exercised is Jackson’s support for eliminating the existing mandatory-minimum sentences for first-time offenders who receive or distribute child pornography.
Judge Jackson’s views on this matter are not only mainstream; they are correct in my view. Undoubtedly, Jackson — a progressive who worked as a criminal-defense lawyer — is more sympathetic to criminals than I am. If I were a judge, I’m sure I’d impose at least marginally more severe sentences than she has. (Contrary to Hawley’s suggestion, however, she appears to have followed the guidelines, at the low end of the sentencing range, as most judges do.) But other than the fact that Congress wanted to look as though it was being tough on porn, there’s no good reason for the mandatory minimum in question — and it’s unjust in many instances.
The actual Q&A session will be after lunch. I’m really hoping Senator Foghorn Leghorn doesn’t further embarrass Louisiana but I’m not holding my breath. As the hearings opened, Senator Dick Durban hailed Judge Jackson’s magnificent qualifications and experience. This is from NPR: “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings: Live updates.” Grassley used his time to outline the Republican gripe fest that will be later today.
Grassley used his opening statement on Monday to stress that “we won’t turn this into a spectacle based on alleged process fouls” and pointed out that Democrats on the panel interrupted and delayed his opening statement when he chaired the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee, in 2018. He said Republicans will “ask tough questions” about Jackson’s record and said he wanted to hear about her views on the role of a judge.
Some Republicans have already raised concerns about Jackson’s experience as a public defender and indicated they would ask questions about whether her record makes her “soft on crime.” Grassley touched on this line of questioning and suggested these topics are fair game given Democrats’ questions of Trump nominees.
The entire thing about her being soft on crime is basically ragtime and jazz hands given that the nation’s police chiefs support her nomination. But today’s Republicans are more about theatrics than doing their jobs.
Meanwhile, The Rolling Stone has another scoop on how involved high-level Trump officials were with getting the insurrectionists to the Capitol on January 6. This is by Hunter Walker. “Exclusive: Witness Claims Trump’s Chief of Staff Was on Phone Call Planning Jan. 6 March on Capitol. Trump’s team agreed it would encourage supporters to march, but try to “make it look like they went down there on their own,” Scott Johnston tells Rolling Stone” Let the Frog Marches begin!
Trump and his allies have tried to minimize his role in calling his supporters to the Capitol and argue he was simply participating in a lawful, peaceful demonstration.
Scott Johnston — who worked on the team that helped plan the Ellipse rally — says that’s just not so. He claims that leading figures in the Trump administration and campaign deliberately planned to have crowds converge on the Capitol, where the 2020 election was being certified — and “make it look like they went down there on their own.”
Johnston, who says he described the phone call to House select committee investigators, detailed his allegations in a series of conversations with Rolling Stone. Johnston says he overheard Mark Meadows, then-former President Trump’s chief of staff, and Katrina Pierson, Trump’s national campaign spokeswoman, talking with Kylie Kremer, the executive director of Women for America First, about plans for a march to the Capitol. Johnston said the conversation was clearly audible to him since it took place on speakerphone as he drove Kremer between the group’s rallies in the final three days of 2020.
Russia continues to pound Ukraine with artillery and missiles. The governor of the Sumy region said there has been an ammonia leak at a chemicals plant on Monday as a result of a Russian airstrike. Russian demands the surrender of Mariupol. The city council of the besieged city reports that the elderly are crying out for food and water from their bombed apartment buildings.
President Biden will travel to Poland after he meets with European leaders on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. (via the AP) He will discuss humanitarian efforts and express support to the People and government of Poland.
President Joe Biden has added a stop in Poland to his trip this week to Europe for urgent talks with NATO and European allies, as Russian forces concentrate their fire upon cities and trapped civilians in a nearly month-old invasion of Ukraine.
Biden will first travel to Brussels and then to Poland to meet with leaders there, press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday night.
Poland is a crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis. It is hosting thousands of American troops and is taking in more people fleeing the war in Ukraine — more than 2 million — than any other nation in the midst of the largest European refugee crisis in decades.
Biden will head to Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda scheduled for Saturday. Biden will discuss how the U.S., along with its allies and partners, is responding to “the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created,” Psaki said.
This is from the link to the Telegraph above.
Vladimir Putin has been accused of “abducting and deporting” thousands of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol and transporting them deep inside Russia.
Ukrainian authorities alleged Russian forces had rounded up several thousand residents from the shattered port before sending them to remote cities hundreds of miles from the border.
On Sunday night, Moscow gave Ukraine a deadline to surrender Mariupol as gun battles raged in the city centre. In a statement, the Russian defence ministry said Ukrainian and foreign armed units must drop their weapons “without exception” and leave between 7am and 9am (UK time) on Monday.
But on Sunday night Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereschuk said there was no question of surrendering Mariupol, the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda reported.
Russian state media broadcast clips of hundreds of Ukrainians whom it said had been rescued from Mariupol and evacuated eastward to safety in Russian cities.
But Ukrainian officials said they had instead been forced to travel and had been told they had to live and work in their new homes for at least two years.
This was a rumor for a few days but has now been confirmed.
So, there are the three big stories of the day. I’m going to continue to watch Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing but I’m not sure how long I can take the Republican screeds.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?