Nel's New Day

April 11, 2020

A Week of New ‘Loyalists’ for DDT’s Coterie

Wisconsin’s Tuesday election keeps getting worse and worse. Thousands of requested absentee ballots in a hotly-contested Wisconsin election were never delivered or too late for the U.S. Supreme Court deadline to return, in a scenario probably leading to court cases on the event’s validity. The margin in the state’s 2019 Supreme Court race was about 6,000 votes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the post office may not have placed a postmark on ballots when they were mailed in or not put dates on the postmark. Ballots sent by metered mail on April 7 may have postmarks indicating that the ballots were mailed with no specific date, just “APR 2020.”  The U.S. Supreme Court demanded that all mail-in ballots be postmarked by 4:00 pm on April 7. The court ruling may disenfranchise thousands and thousands of additional eligible voters who followed the rules. The state’s election commission agreed to count ballots with that postmark if the USPS states that this postmark was used only on April 7.

The Wisconsin requirement was that the ballot be received by April 13, but the U.S. Supreme Court changed that requirement the day before the election, violating the reason for their ruling—that changes to election rules not be made immediately before the date of the election. Another question is whether to count ballots arriving on Wednesday, April 8, because they had to be mailed by Tuesday, April 7, at the latest to arrive the next day. Ballots with no postmark on Thursday may not be counted although they could have been mailed at the appropriate time. The Supreme Court decision, a “stay pending appeal,” blocked a lower court order from taking effect while a full appeal follows a tortured path through the appellate process. No one knows if counting ballots will have further federal litigation. The high court disregarded its ordinary procedures in a ruling for Republicans in the Wisconsin election case just as it has for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the past.

As Rick Hasen wrote: 

“The biggest problem with the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Wisconsin voting case was not the result (which was still wrong), but the Court’s sloppiness and nonchalance about voting rights and what that means for November.”

Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. Madison has also received absentee ballots with two postmarks, one before the deadline and one after. About 50 ballots also lacked witness signatures. Thus far, an organization has recorded over 2,100 cases of voters who requested but did not receive absentee ballots. Election officials plan to start counting Wisconsin ballots at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 13. 

Eliminating voter rights wasn’t the only corruption from last week.

Last week, DDT continued his purging the U.S. intelligence agencies when he fired Michael Atkinson, the community’s inspector general in retribution for Atkinson’s legal action. One reason was DDT’s act of revenge for Atkinson’s telling Congress about a whistleblower’s complaint that revealed DDT’s extortion of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Three days later, DDT attacked Christi A. Grimm, the acting HHS IG who released a report on hospitals’ struggles to cope with COVID-19 patients. The report included 323 hospitals in 46 states that contradicted DDT’s claims that everything in the hospitals was just fine. Grimm found a “severe” and “widespread” shortage of testing supplies and protective gear at hospitals dealing with the pandemic.

Tuesday, Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, designated to oversee the $2.2 trillion for the coronavirus disaster, hit DDT’s chopping block by moving him to a deputy IG. Picked by the head of a council of IGs, Fine would have led the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to conduct and coordinate audits, but his position as deputy disqualifies him from leading the committee. Investigators are to search for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money in the disbursement of loans, loan guarantees, and financial payments to households and businesses. As a deputy IG, Fine is disqualified to lead the committee.

DDT replaced Fine with the unqualified Jason Abend to the new Defense Department IG, responsible for overseeing audits and criminal investigations of nearly $700 billion in annual spending. Abend is a Customs and Border Protection policy adviser who had previously been special agent at the Federal Finance Housing Agency and HUD. Until Abend is confirmed by the GOP senators who will confirm a ham sandwich, however, Sean Donnell, IG at the EPA will do double duty by also being acting Defense Department IG. Being IG is an easy job under DDT because he doesn’t want any investigations.

Grimm could also be removed from the pandemic committee if she is no longer IG, and DDT has nominated a new Education IG to disqualify the current IG on the panel by moving him to deputy IG. Senate would have to confirm DDT’s appointment before that would happen.

DDT is also appointing his White House lawyer Brian Miller as a special IG at the Treasury Department to oversee distribution of $500 billion to distressed industries. His work is supposed to be coordinated with the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Miller helped put together DDT’s defense for the Senate impeachment trial and will easily manage gifts to DDT’s political allies and donors. During negotiations for the $2.2 trillion bill, DDT said, “I’ll be the oversight.” Now he figured out a way to do it. DDT’s pick will need to deal with a five-member oversight commission: one of them jointly picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the other four each picked by one of the four congressional leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has selected Bharat Ramamurti, a former top aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

DDT also threatened to fire seven more IGs. Before DDT, Republicans thought that government oversight was important. Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), House Oversight Committee Chair, called the Obama administration “the most corrupt government in history” and said about funding during that time, much less than DDT’s new slush fund:

“This money, at the American people’s expense, going through the hands of political leaders, is in fact corrupting the process.”

Some Republicans who exonerated DDT for impeachment because they thought he had “learned his lesson” are getting nervous, especially about DDT’s firing Atkinson. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), endorsed by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Democrat senators, asked DDT for an explanation.

Progressives are pressing congressional members to stop the firing of IGs except for highly limited circumstances, like an amendment the House passed in 2008 for the Inspectors General Act. The Senate axed that provision, but similar legislation has again been introduced.

DDT managed another slush fund in the $2.2 trillion bill through a last-minute provision allowing the Federal Reserve to set up a $450 billion bailout plan with minimal oversight. These funds are exempt from the federal open meetings law without requirements for announcing meetings and keeping records about discussions. The record of votes will be secret until after the health crisis ends. Charles Glasser, media attorney, said:

“We may never know what terms are being given to banks, what collateral is being offered, what repayment methods and duties banks and other financial institutions may have, and those are important questions.”

AG Bill Barr went on Fox’s Laura Ingraham show to support DDT’s firing of Fine, known as a bulldog investigator. Part of Barr’s defense is the ongoing criminal investigation into the FBI’s Russia investigation for possible abuse or improprieties headed by Barr’s guy. Barr described the investigation as a “sprawling case” that “takes some time” to fully investigate. He also accused media criticism of DDT’s pushing an unproved drug, hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19 of being a “jihad.” Barr may not realize that jihad means “striving for the benefit of the community” or a fight against Satan.

Another empty seat in the administration is that of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly who spent $243,000 to fly to Guam to speak to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he fired its captain for saving the crew from possible death and more illness from COVID-19. In his address to the crew who had cheered the captain, Modley called the captain stupid, later apologized, and “voluntarily resigned” his position after talking with Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper.

DDT has become the wrecking ball of the federal administration.

Today’s world deaths (108,834) from 1,780,440 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 210 countries and territories. On April 11, the U.S. has 20,577 deaths in 532,879 confirmed cases. 

1 Comment »

  1. A ham sandwich would be preferable.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — April 13, 2020 @ 9:07 PM | Reply


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