Nel's New Day

January 31, 2023

Supreme Court, House Attempt to Cover Up Scandals

Another ethics scandal has hit the Supreme Court: the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts makes millions of dollars each year by placing lawyers in firms that argue cases before the high court. One of Jane Roberts’ recruits, Ken Salazar, was put into a firm arguing over 125 times before the Supreme Court that has no binding ethics rules. The chief justice refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics and simply watches as “Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” according to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the center-right American Enterprise Institute. A month later, Ornstein said, “This is [Samuel] Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”

The House is trying to match the Supreme Court in corruption and lack of ethics. Its new select subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal collection is thus far composed of a dozen GOP malcontents with one more added unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) increases the number. Leader is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chair of the Judiciary Committee that heads up the subcommittee. The purpose of the subcommittee is to attack the DOJ, FBI, and other intelligence departments as well as the Department of Education and big tech. 

Members include two House GOP leaders, Elise Stefanik (NY) and Mike Johnson (LA); others are Chip Roy (TX), Dan Bishop (NC), Chris Stewart (UT), Kelly Armstrong (NC), Darrell Issa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Greg Steube (FL), Kat Cammack (FL), and Harriet Hagerman (WY) who defeated Liz Cheney last year. McCarthy made the choices to pay for the votes he received in the speaker battle; Bishop and Roy consistently voted against McCarthy for the first 11 of the 15 ballots.

Without Democratic members at this time, the committee is already discussing subpoenas skipping any requests for documents and witness testimony because they don’t need any Democratic support. Jordan’s targets include a current and a former FBI employee, two people associated with the National School Boards Association, and the former head of the disbanded DHS Disinformation Governance Board.

Like Fox, the “weaponization” targets will not be anything detrimental to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and other Republicans. Although Jordan plans to go after recently indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal as part of his attack on that agency, he tried to avoid questions about investigating DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort for his ties to the same Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, also connected to McGonigal.

Another issue that will be ignored in the “weaponization” subcommittee is the failure of special counsel John Durham to investigate DDT after receiving tips about his campaign’s involvement with Russia during his 2016 campaign. On Meet the Press,  Jordan said:

“The Durham investigation is not done. The Mueller investigation is done. And what did he conclude? No collusion, no conspiracy, no coordination.”

That’s one misrepresentation and one lie. The final Durham report is due in February, almost two years before the end of Jordan’s leadership of the Judiciary Committee, and Robert Mueller refuted the “no collusion” statement. Fortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be investigating the omission of former AG Bill Barr’s and Durham’s decision to follow the tips about DDT’s possible involvement with Russia. 

Jordan holds his first Judiciary Committee hearing on February 1, this one about the border followed by the same subject with the Oversight Committee on February 6. Instead of a hearing, DHS wants a member briefing bringing threats of subpoenas from Comer. The GOP also has a problem with a lack of consensus especially between two Texans, conservative Roy and more centrist Tony Gonzales. All during the impeachment resolution of DHS Secretary Mayorkas from Pat Fallon, another Texas representative. Arizona’s Andy Biggs plans to lead impeachment articles against Alejandro Mayorkas this week.

On February 1, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing on government funding because of Covid, focusing on “waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” The Democrats have already studied this issue, but the GOP now has a Covid subcommittee to examine the intent of making viruses and pathogens more deadly or contagious with the evidence-free GOP theory that Covid was intentionally created in a lab.

In the $5 trillion of stimulus aid starting in spring 2020, the federal government may have awarded $5.4 billion in Covid aid to small businesses with ineligible Social Security numbers. Of over 33 million applicants studied, more than 221,000 ineligible Social Security numbers on requests for small-business aid were identified, and 70,000 of these applications were approved despite questionable data. Grift began with two programs created under DDT, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

On February 8, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing about Twitter restricting users from sharing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden and continue with questions about a gallery selling Hunter Biden’s art. Chair James Comer (R-KY) plans to subpoena the Treasury Department after it rejected requests for documents. He declares his investigation “credible,” but conspiracy believers on the committee such as Paul Gosar (AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Green (GA), and Scott Perry (PA) raise skepticism.

Another hearing is from a new subcommittee to look at “strategic competition” between the U.S. and China with a focus on supply chains and social media, specifically TikTok. Although the decision was bipartisan, Democrats warned that the GOP may incorporate conspiracy theories and xenophobic language. Other foreign policy investigations are the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the oversight of aid to Ukraine.

Jennifer Rubin predicts failure from the GOP hearings because Republicans don’t have evidence for their so-called Democratic scandals. Explaining the convoluted right-wing conspiracy theories will take a lot of time and then not be accepted, like Jordan’s attempt on Meet the Press to explain how the FBI “targeted parents. Host Chuck Todd asked Jordan if the FBI should not “look into a death threat when an elected official gets a death threat.” Jordan struggled with the answer.

While the weaponization committee wastes time, the rest of the Republicans have been preparing useless bills that they will pass before sending them into the void. This week, they will address the horror of socialism as the “bill of the month,” according to FreedomWorks providing dark money to the Freedom Caucus members. The resolution outlines “the history of socialism as a failed ideology that has resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people worldwide.” Congress has no Socialist representatives.

A quote in the bill attributed to Thomas Jefferson about not taking money from hard workers to share with others is actually by French economist and philosopher Antoine Destutt de Tracy. The resolution also criticizes DDT’s BFF Kim Jong Un, leader of the North Korea.

Abandoning its concern for deaths, another bill this week will declare “The Pandemic Is Over,” removing healthcare workers from any vaccine mandate and eliminating the right for federal employees to work remotely. Within three years, Covid killed at least 1.1 million people in the U.S. and 6,759,755 worldwide. It is the eighth most common cause of child deaths in the U.S. Thus Republican bills supposedly stop the non-existent deaths from socialism but open up the possibility of millions of deaths from Covid. 

Bills and hearings show how Republicans have abandoned their campaign issues of crime and inflation. Jordan said that he has no interest in police killing the people they are employed to protect which reached an all-time high in 2022. 

When the House finally elected a speaker, it had 11 “ready-to-go” bills for the first two weeks. By the fifth week, they passed only six, some of them toothless resolutions. Some of them have disappeared because of GOP dissension. Primary subjects: two anti-abortion bills, one anti-IRS bill that raises the deficit, and one limiting oil withdrawal from emergency reserves that increases inflation.

Meanwhile, the Senate is waiting for Republicans to decide what committees they wish to join. Or maybe Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is just stalling.

Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“Republicans] prefer to spend time trying to defund the Internal Revenue Service, criminalize abortion providers, threaten economic meltdown, and beat the drum on ‘scandal’ investigations. Instead of working to clamp down on crime, House Republicans want to investigate those prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, armed insurrectionists and ride to the rescue of the former president, the target of multiple criminal investigations.”

For the last six months of 2022, while the GOP was hyping inflation, the rate declined with gas prices levels before the Ukraine war. Wages went up in December. The first bill passed in the House’s new GOP Congress was to increase the deficit by $100 billion by defunding the IRS; another one stopped President Joe Biden from reducing gas prices. Crime rates had already fallen in 2022, four percent lower than the previous year. This year, however, mass shootings are already up, but Republicans will never concern themselves with reducing those disasters. Crime is useful to Republicans only for its racist image as campaigns depict Black candidates as “different” and “dangerous” plus darkening their skin, hoping to make them appear more menacing.

But there’s really big news today in the House: McCarthy convinced Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to recuse himself from his two committee assignments until he no longer was a “distraction.” That’s a long story for another day.

January 30, 2023

Videos Released, Past Comes Home to Roost

Since seven criminal charges including second-degree murder were made against the five Memphis police officers who beat and killed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, three city fire department personal and two emergency medical technicians have been fired. Two other police officers have also been relieved of their duties, and an elite unit to create “peace” in neighborhoods, Scorpion, has been discontinued. On January 7, police pulled Nichols from his car when he was almost home, declaring with no evidence that he was recklessly driving. Their abusive treatment led him to run, the officers viciously beat him, and he died in the hospital three days later.

More questions exist:

  • Do more officers face charges or other discipline, including officers at the scene of the beating who did nothing to stop it?
  • Will there be a reckoning for the police chief?
  • What happens with the two Shelby County deputies put on leave after the sheriff watched the videos?
  • Is nation-wide police reform possible?

Nichols was a FedEx worker who lived with his parents and four-year-old son. Suffering from Crohn’s disease, he weighed only 145 pounds. He loved skateboarding and photography with his own website. At the time of his killing he was headed home on his break to have dinner with his family. 

Last week the world saw the vicious brutality of law enforcement in released videos of Nichols’ treatment. They begin with police yelling at Nichols and pulling him out of his car and culminate with continued beating fewer than 100 yards from his home while he repeatedly cried, “Mom!” After the beating, Nichols waited 22 minutes for an ambulance. The officers who beat him stood around talking during that time, and one of them laughed while Nichols was slumped on the ground.

No video footage exists of the initial traffic stop. The officer was driving a brand-new unmarked car not equipped with dashboard cameras. Police chief Cerelyn Davis did not know why the police officer was using that car. Without proof, officers accused Nichols of reckless driving on the wrong side of the road and of grabbing for their guns. 

Officers involved in the beating were part of a 14-month-old elite unit of 40 officers called Scorpion to saturate high-crime neighborhoods with police presence. The unit’s activities were first suspended, awaiting an examination by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the DOJ, and then shut down the day after Davis praised its “good work.”  

The Memphis police website states best-practice policies to reduce police killings and requires officers to de-escalate situations—“eliminating the need to use force”—when possible and stop excessive violence by other police in all instances. Yet Scorpion officers have a history of excessive force before killing Nichols. 

An analysis of the videos shows police shouted 71 commands in 13 minutes, often confusing, conflicting, and sometimes impossible to obey with escalating force. They told him to show his hands although they were holding them and ordered him to get on the ground when he was already on the ground. According to police training, one officer issues clear and specific commands with professional, proportionate response to any perceived act of defiance. Memphis officers continually did exactly the opposite, shouting at Nichols and beating him. Details are here.

The video of Nichols’ beating wasn’t the only horrifying one released last week. Last Friday, a court made public the body cam of the brutal attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (R-CA) husband, by a Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) supporter while Pelosi was alone in their California home. When officers opened the door of the home on October 28, 2022, both Pelosi and his 42-year-old attacker had a hand on a hammer. The officer ordered the attacker to drop the hammer, and the attacker refused, grabbed the hammer from Pelosi, lunged toward him, and struck him in the head. An officer said, “Oh shit” before two of them rushed into the home and handcuffed the attacker. Nancy Pelosi said her husband is “making progress, but it will take more time.” His surgery had been “to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.”

The attacker admitted the attack and said he was there to take the speaker hostage. “If she f**king lied, I was going to break her kneecaps.” He repeated GOP lies such as the speaker and Democrats spying on DDT’s campaign. On his 911 call, Paul Pelosi subtly indicated he was in danger. The attacker’s online history shows his engagement with extremist and Trump-aligned narratives such as the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Far-right members, including new Twitter owner Elon Musk, spread homophobic rumors about the attacker and Pelosi, accusing them of being in a drunken quarrel. Donald Trump Jr. supported the scurrilous lie by posting an image of underwear and a hammer with the caption it was a Halloween costume for Paul Pelosi. Musk gave a “sort-of” apology after the video was released, but Fox worked hard to maintain its original sleazy lies.  

In a phone call to a TV reporter after the video’s release, a man identifying himself as the attacker said he was upset because he didn’t hurt more people, that he “should’ve come better prepared.” The call came from the jail where the attacker is incarcerated. A blog under his name and registered to his former address last August is filled with fact-free claims against Jews, Blacks, media, and transgender people. Posts are pro-DDT and anti Democratic. A Canadian citizen, he is in the U.S. illegally.

In more QAnon theories, North Dakota legislators are including language about students masquerading as animals in the proposed discriminatory anti-transgender bill. Despite no proof that schools install litter boxes for these students, the strange myth won’t die. Thus, thanks to six Republicans, the bill states that schools cannot “adopt a policy establishing or providing a place, facility, school program, or accommodation that caters to a student’s perception of being any animal species other than human.” Schools using students’ “preferred gender pronoun, if the perceived or expressed gender is inconsistent with the student’s” sex assigned at birth can face up to $500,000 in fines. A rejected bill should have imposed a $1,500 fine each time a person refers to themselves with the “wrong” pronoun.

Last week, the DOJ indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal and former Russian diplomat and interpreter Sergey Shestakov for money laundering and violating sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. According to the indictment, the oligarch hired the two men to investigate another unnamed Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, Deripaska’s competitor for controlling a large Russian corporation. Worth $27.5 billion and the second wealthiest man in Russia, Potanin may have been trying to take over Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium.

Both McGonigal and Deripaska were involved in the FBI investigation of DDT’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia; McGonigal’s email about having “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton helped set off the investigation when the FBI tried to recruit Deripaska for a potential informant. Deripaska was still paying McGonigal and Shestakov money for “dark web” files worth over $500 million in October 2021, the month before the FBI seized their personal electronic devices.

McGonigal may have been behind DDT’s election in 2016 with a search warrant tying candidate Hillary Clinton with Anthony Weiner emails only 11 days before a tight election. Later FBI director James Comey explained he sent the warrant because he feared leaks from the FBI’s New York field office where McGonigal was stationed because of the investigators’ hostility to Clinton.

Two days before FBI director James Comey publicly reopened its probe into Clinton’s emails, DDT insider Rudy Giuliani announced “some pretty big surprises” and bragged about sources in the FBI. The New York Times devoted two-thirds of its front page to the story, and Clinton lost the election. Nothing incriminating was found, but that announcement was too late after all the hype. On October 31, the NYT also cited unmade “intelligence sources” in reporting “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia”—which, of course, was false. The election was November 8, 2016.

Polling expert stated that FBI disclosures cost Clinton as many as three to four percentage points, at least one point, which would have given her Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—and the Electoral College. The NYT never apologized for its egregiously faulty mistakes, and DDT is running for president again.

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) succeeded in getting Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019, followed by the announcement of a Deripaska-linked aluminum plant in Kentucky, where McConnell then won his reelection. The plant wasn’t built. Three years earlier, McConnell had refused to sign a bipartisan statement warning about Russian election interference.

The principal of the Virginia school who ignored the possibility of a six-year-old having a gun at school has been reassigned to another school, and the vice principal has resigned. Earlier in January, the boy shot his first-grade teacher in the chest; she was released from the hospital after over two weeks. The family said the gun, which the boy’s mother purchased, was secured. They also said that a family member usually goes to class with the boy but didn’t on that day. The district school board voted to remove the superintendent as of February 1 with $502,000 in severance.

January 29, 2023

DDT Struggles with Campaign Opening

Once upon a time, the media wouldn’t even use the word “lie” when reporting on former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) despite the 30,000+ lies he told while in office. Those days are over according to the Time headline, “Trump Delivers Bitter Speech Filled With Falsehoods in New Hampshire.”

DDT kicked off his 2024 presidential campaign with his keynote speech at the GOP annual conference when he “pushed false claims about his own electoral losses and suggested foreign leaders shared his doubts about the outcome of the 2020 vote.” He also defended the “fringe benefits” that he provided the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, benefits that put the CFO in prison on 15 felony counts. A possible new meme: “Every day in Joe Biden’s America is a cruel April Fools Day.” In 2016, DDT lost New Hampshire by one-third of a point; his loss in 2020 was seven points. 

Yet DDT is 12 points behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with New Hampshire’s likely GOP primary voters. Heading to South Carolina, DDT said, “I don’t think we have competition this time… We are so far ahead in the polls.” The specter of DeSantis may have been the reason he ranted against transgender rights and critical race theory in South Carolina, tossing in terms like “left-wing radical racists,” “perverts,” and “Marxist hands” as threats to “our children.”

In South Carolina, the rally was missing the state GOP chairman, five GOP U.S. representatives from the state, U.S. Senator Tim Scott who could also run for president, and another potential candidate, Nikki Haley who served as governor before DDT appointed her UN ambassador. DDT’s team had refused to promise them that showing up would not be an endorsement.

The big change in his campaigning includes smaller venues, a high school gymnasium in New Hampshire and a group of 200 at the South Carolina capitol.

Ben Jacobs wrote about DDT’s problem with self-branding  as he tries to be an incumbent and an insurgent. Yet he’s neither—and looks weak, lacking in energy and a coherent message. His meandering speeches didn’t help as he moved from the Taliban’s treatment of dogs to how he’s a millionaire real estate developer but not much of a cook. Next to somewhat moderate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT denounced RINOs, and the crowd later heckled Graham. Immediately after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Graham announced he was through with DDT before almost immediately returning to the fold. Next to Gov. Henry McMaster, he denounced electric vehicles that provided jobs, with McMaster’s help, for over 70,000 people in the state.  

DDT’s rants are repeats about the possible release of the report from the Fulton County (GA) to the public. His three-page meltdown on Truth Social included accusations of “Marxists, communists, racists, and RINOs” and repeated lies about a rigged election and “stuffing Ballots, all caught live on tape.” He concluded with the falsehood that “The Election in Georgia was rigged and stollen [sic]. We have all the evidence needed. That is the crime!”

In addition to some in DDT’s base questioning his 2024 run, he also faces at least five criminal and civil investigations about his behavior before and during his time in the White House as well as his continued strident demands to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election. Interviews with 59 of the 168 RNC members reveal dozens who don’t want DDT to be the 2024 candidate; only four provided complete endorsements of him.

Former DDT associates are also in trouble. Lawyer John Eastman, who created DDT’s illegal rationale for overturning the 2020 election, faces possible disbarment, losing his law license, and 11 disciplinary counts by the California State Bar for pushing lies about election fraud. Some of those lies were testimony to a Georgia state Senate panel in early December. Last year, the FBI executed a search warrant and seized his phone, and last summer he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before the Fulton County grand jury. In testimony before the House January 6 investigative committee, he invoked the Fifth about 100 times.

In the contempt charge against a former DDT aide Peter Navarro, another co-conspirator to overturn the election, DDT waited until a week before Navarro’s trial was scheduled to begin on January 30 to support Navarro’s claim that DDT wanted him to declare executive privilege in not testifying. DDT’s communication created an indefinite delay in the trial while the court’s arguments wrangle about Navarro’s immunity.

Traditionally tightwad DDT donated $1 million from his Save America PAC to Arizona’s circus election “audit” intended to overturn the election in that state. He attempted to hide the source, moving money to allied group Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) and then to a shell company, American Voting Rights Foundation (AVRF) newly registered in Delaware, which gave the funds to contractors and people involved in the audit. The $1 million was the only donation AVRF, controlled by CPI entities, has ever received. Top CPI officials include DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and other senior DDI insiders. DDT had given Meadows $1 million for CPI soon after the January 6 insurrection.

The GOP vice-chair of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, Bill Gates, said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” at the source of the funding for the Maricopa County audit. Arizona law prevents electoral candidates from funding vote recounts which must be financed with taxpayer dollars, a purpose the Cyber Ninjas served. Gates said, “It is highly hypocritical for the Arizona state senate to have allowed the audit to be funded in this fashion.” He added that the $1 million was funded by small donations to DDT’s PAC with no transparency.

New records reported by an Arizona newspaper show DDT receiving direct updates from people in the audit at the coliseum and his allies pressuring the lead contractor on the timing of reporting the findings. Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan used to private messaging system to discuss taking secret donations from DDT.

New York AG Letitia James’ civil lawsuit accusing DDT and his family of widespread bank and tax fraud uses the state’s Executive Law 63 (12) which DDT has been unable to refute. Shut down by judicial threats to sanction his lawyers, DDT dropped two lawsuits against James, one in Florida and the other in New York. The law empowers James to stop any business from “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts,” seeking potentially lucrative damages and canceling its official business certificate. James has asked for $250+ million, revoking Trump Organization’s business credentials, and a ban on it from borrowing from banks in the state. Another New York AG used the same law to take down the for-profit scam of Trump University. A law professor said that DDT’s only defense is claiming everyone lies about real estate values.

DDT has hired another top trial attorney, Joe Tacopina, to attack Mark Pomerantz for writing in his resignation letter to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg that DDT was “guilty of numerous felony violations.”

Because DDT hates to lose, he lied and said he won the Senior Club Championship at his golf courses in West Palm Beach although he couldn’t play the first round. He was attending the funeral of Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway. DDT counted a strong round two days before the tournament began for his claim of a five-point lead on the second day, better than any players posted in the first round the day before. DDT posted his magnificent win on Truth Social and used it to explain why he wouldn’t need a physical exam: winning at golf is “MUCH tougher.”

Last week, the media addressed the probability that DDT would return to Facebook after Meta lifted the two year suspension following his incitement of the January 6 insurrection. A major reason would be to get donations, especially after his big donors aren’t enthusiastic about him. Even with small donors, FB may satisfy DDT’s needs after recent shifts in donations. A GOP campaign worker said that investment returns for advertising in 2020 could be as high as 200 percent. Two years later it was 80 to 90 percent, and midterm candidates in 2022 “struggled to raise money online,” according to veteran GOP digital operative Eric Wilson. He said the FB has moved from a “golden goose” for DDT to a “bronze goose,” especially if Meta shuts down DDT if he displays the same abuse of the social media platform as other two years ago.

Even without DDT’s leaving his Truth Social for Facebook, people on DDT’s social media are complaining about the ads on the venue. Because major advertisers avoid Truth Social, users are exposed to ads described as “miracle cures, scams, and fake merchandise,” as the New York Times wrote. GOP donors financed Truth Social with $37 million, and the platform goes through $1.7 million each month along with problems with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Online marketer Maxwell Finn, spending over $150,000 for ads called the platform “frustrating” and “bare bones,” lacking even basic functionality.

DDT’s return to FB means more election conspiracy theories and QAnon content, possibly driving off those who don’t tolerate extremism. Until then, I’ll enjoy some of the beauty that people share on Facebook, such as this photograph sent by a friend in Alaska—Seattle on a cloudy day.


January 28, 2023

Catch Up, Happier News

An addendum to the January 6 sentences: the man who pepper-sprayed officer Brian Sicknick and other police was sentenced to prison for almost seven years, 80 months. Sicknick died the next day from two strokes. The sentenced man has already been in jail for almost two years. The man who provided the pepper spray pled guilty and was sentenced to time served. About 140 police officers were assaulted at the Capitol on January 6, and federal prosecutors have arrested over 950 defendants in over two years since the attack.

News about the Supreme Court’s failed search for the leaker of the draft to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion almost completely illegal in over half the U.S. reveals another coverup. Selected to independently validate the investigation, so-called expert Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary, has longstanding, undisclosed financial ties with the high court; it privately contracted with The Chertoff Group for security assessments. Chertoff also has personal connections to justices through his Ivy League education, prior judicial clerkships, and positions in two Bush administrations.

Two horrifying videos released this past week showed the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) in their home while the speaker was in Washington and the vicious beating of Tyre Nichols, an innocent 29-year-old Black man, near his Memphis home by five police officers. Nichols died three days after the beating. For today, however, some more cheerful news from the past week.

The 2.9 percent annualized growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter was better than expected, and consumer spending, about 68 percent of GDP, stayed positive. A slide in housing pulled down the GDP, but private investment and government spending helped growth. Jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 186,000, and durable goods orders increased in December. Inflation, which hit a 41-year high last summer, dropped from receding price increases. The news may stop more Fed interest rate increases. The news may discourage rumors of a recession in 2023.

Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that banning abortion would be “very damaging” for the economy because some women couldn’t finish school and increase earning potential. Many women would also not be able to contribute to the workforce at a time when it is short on workers, and they are more likely to live in poverty or need public assistance.

In a speech last week, President Joe Biden said:

“Jobs are the highest in American history, and wages are up, and they’re going faster than inflation. Over the past six months, inflation has gone down every month, and God willing, we’ll continue to do that. Manufacturing jobs continue to grow stronger than any time in the last 40 years. And I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this is all evidence that the Biden economic plan … it’s working.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had claimed that Biden is willing to negotiate with him in the debt ceiling fight, but Biden has also said that he won’t negotiate with House Republicans who want drastic cuts to the budget, possibly to Social Security and Medicare. He asked, “Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we made for the chaos they’re suggesting?”

During his speech, Biden said:

“If Republicans want to work together on real solutions and continue to grow manufacturing jobs, build the strongest economy in the world and make sure Americans are paid a fair wage, I’m ready. But I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip.

“The very notion that we would default on the safest, most respected debt in the world is mind-boggling. I’m not going to get into the reckless threats that take the economy hostage in order to force an agenda that’s going to only limit American workers and weaken us internationally. I won’t let that happen.”

As Biden pointed out, 25 percent of the current national debt was built during DDT’s administration. Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during that time.

The DOJ disrupted a cybercriminal group making ransomware attacks on over 1,500 victims worldwide and extorting millions of dollars in payments. The attacks have increasingly affected hospitals, schools, and government services. A court order seized two back-end servers belonging to the Hive ransomware group in Los Angeles and took control of the group’s darknet website. The DOJ has blocked about $130 million to Hive since July. In the past 18 months, FBI personnel have gained access to Hive’s control panels for victims to have keys unlocking their encrypted systems. Hackers tied to some ransomware attacks have been based out of Russia, including those attacking the Colonial Pipeline in 2021 which halted gas supply to the East Coast.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order closing over 350 square miles of the Superior National Forest in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to mineral and geothermal leasing for 20 years. Although the order is “subject to existing valid rights,” Twin Metals Minnesota, owned by the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, lost its rights last year when the department rescinded DDT’s decision to reinstate federal mineral rights leases in the northeastern Minnesota region. The area is the most-visited federally designated wilderness area in the U.S., drawing over 150,000 visitors from around the world who paddle its 1,200+ miles of canoe routes. This tourism contributes over $17 million to Minnesota’s economy, and three Ojibwe tribes have treaty rights in the area covered by the moratorium.

A cake is not a form of speech, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled when it turned down an appeal from Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop. In 2021, a judge in Denver determined that Phillips illegally discriminated against Autumn Scardina (left) by refusing to make her a birthday cake because she is transgender. He again used his religious beliefs as rationale as he did in an earlier case that went to the Supreme Court. In its narrow decision, the high court didn’t state that Christians were exempt from anti-discrimination laws. After the 2018 ruling, that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had expressed impermissible hostility to religion, Phillips said he would make a birthday cake for anyone. He agreed to make the pink cake with blue frosting until he discovered Scardina is transgender.

Anyone who thinks the Republicans in the House are not prioritizing important issues isn’t alone. Only 27 percent of adults approve of the new House’s priorities while 73 percent think lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the nation’s most important problems. A 67 percent majority disapprove of GOP House leaders compared to 59 percent disapproval of Democratic leadership. Even 42 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent are dissatisfied with their own party leaders compared to only 22 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners’ disapproval of their own party leadership in the House. Of those expressing an opinion, two-thirds have a negative view of the new speaker, McCarthy.

Almost half of those polled, 48 percent, give economic issues, especially effects of inflation on housing, food, and gas prices, the most important issue. Instead of working on that, the Republicans passed a bill to limit draws from Strategic Petroleum Reserve which could raise the price of gas. Other top issues include immigration (11 percent), gun violence and crime (6 percent) government spending and taxes (6 percent), and political divisions or extremism (5 percent). Covid was mentioned by only 1 percent of those surveyed. Only 15 percent believe things in the country are going “very badly,” less than half from last summer’s peak of 34 percent and lower than any time since May 2018.

People living in red states should take note of what Biden has done for them: two-thirds of the announced green-energy projects in the Inflation Reduction Act, opposed almost entirely by Republicans, are in GOP-held congressional districts, 21 out of 33. Billions of dollars are devoted to expanding domestic manufacturing in clean energy and reducing dependence on Chinese imports. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who said climate change is “actually healthy for us,” blasted the bill but declared she’s “excited to have jobs” in her district from the bill. She gave credit, however, to Gov. Brian Kemp.

In writing about the rural resentment developing with right-wing extremism, Paul Krugman stated that the shift might reverse if rural lives can be improved with the restoration of rural communities and if these voters will give politicians credit for the improvements. Katherine Cramer attributes this resentment to perceptions that rural areas are ignored by policymakers, don’t get the fair share of resources, and are disrespected by “city folks.” Yet policymakers have always given special treatment to rural people since the New Deal of the 1930s such as farm subsidies which became 40 percent of total farm income under former Dictator Donald Trump. Other benefits are for housing, utilities, and business. Rural areas have more seniors who get Social Security and Medicare, and the “welfare,” Medicaid and food stamps denigrated by Republicans, are more in rural areas where people pay less in federal taxes. If the GOP carried out their plans, they would hurt their own constituents, especially those in the rural areas.   

January 27, 2023

RNC Elects McDaniel, Seditionists Found Guilty, Culture Shocks Conservatives

Ronna Romney McDaniel, Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) niece, won her fourth round for another two years as RNC leader with 111 votes, becoming the longest-serving chair since the Civil War. Opposition candidates were pillow guy Mike Lindell and California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon who represented former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. (Despite a shortage of votes, Lake still claims her “victory.”) Dhillon had promised a place at her table for Lindell, who received four votes. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who pulled his candidacy, got one vote.

The quality of candidates was at fault in the 2022 midterms, according to McDaniel, a position supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). RNC members weren’t taken in by Dhillon’s conservative alliance and far-right media appearances. One of them said he didn’t care what Tucker Carlson or Charlie Kirk thought. Dhillon’s endorsement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did bring her 11 of her 51 votes from the 168 committee members, and one Dhillon supporter said the 168 members “know more about that the party needs going forward than the rank-and-file voter back home.” DeSantis had called for “new blood.”

The struggle boiled down to whether the members voted for status quo or change. McDaniel’s win may have been helped by the lack of DDT’s endorsement and Dhillon’s abrasiveness. Colleagues considered her messages to follow her GOP supporters spam as well as rude or threatening. Her apology for the messages in a closed-door session were “backhanded,” according to one member. The response Dhillon’s response after McDaniel’s win matched her reported earlier behavior when she said GOP leaders would face widespread distrust in the party members throughout the country.

Talk radio host John Fredericks called the conference exclusive after only one candidate, Lindell, showed up for his public debate. Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi said McDaniel’s victory would tell the rank-and-file Republicans “that their voice doesn’t matter.” Charlie Kirk told Fox:

“It shows that a majority of the members of the RNC have contempt for the people that put them there. I cannot in good faith tell our audience… to keep giving money to the RNC. In fact, I tell them not to.”

The contentious two-month debate leading up to the election criticized fiscal management, poor results in recent elections, and the character of those on all sides of the contest. Dhillon allies raised questions about McDaniel’s compensation and benefits from being chair; McDaniel supporters questioned the high fees that Dhillon’s law firm charged both DDT and the RNC—over $400,000. At the conference, Dhillon’s top advisor threatened a voting member who changed his allegiance to McDaniel with losing votes in a race.

White supremacist MAGAs may not approve a resolution passed at the conference condemning anti-Semitism and specifically Kanye West and Nick Fuentes although the resolution also accuses Democrats—Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Cori Bush (MO)—for “their antisemitism beliefs.” The resolution is correct about West and Fuentes but not the others.

In 2021, McDaniel had said she would not seek a fourth term, but she announced her candidacy on November 14, 2022, and called members to tell them why she should continue as the RNC chair. Her “Vision for Unity” promotes improvement of GOP “legal ballot collecting,” new tactics for small-dollar fundraising, and greater youth vote. She also promised unity within the party.

In McDaniel’s first term as chair, the Republicans lost 40 House seats and the Senate majority. In her second term, the GOP lost the White House to Joe Biden, and Congress stayed Democratic. She was part of DDT’s attempt to overturn the election and helped recruit MAGAs for the faux elector plot. Her third term with the 2022 midterms experienced DDT’s highly improbably candidates: the House has a majority of only four members, two of them with campaign finance improprieties, and the Senate picked up an additional Democrat. And the party remains divided.

McDaniel has been a good fundraiser, but big-ticket Republicans are becoming disillusioned with the party. Another of the chair’s responsibility is to work with states in elections. Although McDaniel is a DDT supporter, the MAGAs would have preferred Dhillon. Unifying the GOP will be like herding cats; the next two years will see how skillful McDaniel is.

Another struggle for conservative Republicans came from the accusation against Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU). A male staffer who worked for Herschel Walker claims Schlapp groped and fondled his genitals at length while the staffer was driving Schlapp after buying him drinks at two different bars in Atlanta last October. Most Republicans are reluctant to attend this year’s ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action. Only Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) enthusiastically declared he would attend. Schlapp has quietly disappeared from the Fox network, which published only one story about the accusation after the staffer filed a lawsuit on January 17 against Schlapp who had denied the sexual abuse. The Fox network has made no other mention of either Schlapp or his wife Mercedes although they were frequent guests prior to that time.

More insurrectionists are receiving guilty sentences from their actions on January 6, 2021. Four Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the second trial with the same sentence. This sentence requires proof that defendants planned to forcibly prevent the execution of a U.S. law. The purpose of attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to overturn Joe Biden’s election by blocking the counting of the electoral votes. The conviction carries up to 20 years in prison, but no date has been set for sentencing.

The government has ten convictions for the charge since the insurrection, and five Proud Boys leaders are currently on trial for the same charge. Oath Keepers had also organized a large number of guns and other weapons at a nearby hotel in Arlington (VA) to use if they managed to further escalate the violence.The man photographed with a foot propped up on a desk in then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office on January 6 has been found guilty of eight federal crimes including four felonies. Sentencing is scheduled for early May; he also faces 20 years in prison for the top charge of obstructing an official proceeding. After the trial, the man’s lawyer claimed it was unfair because Washington, D.C. is not a “state” and the population is mostly “Biden voters.” The man declared he wasn’t part of the protest, that he was looking for a bathroom. He had a stun gun tucked in his pants while in Pelosi’s office but said he thought it didn’t work because it had been washed in the shower. Prosecutors later accused him of lying and being “belligerent” during the trial.

Conservatives are creating more culture wars. Xbox consoles now have an optional feature to save power with a “Shutdown mode,” and radio host Jimmy Failla appeared on Fox & Friends to accuse the company to trying to “recruit kids into climate politics” by “going woke.”  Anchor Ainsley Earhardt agreed with Failla, “You’re right, they’re going after the children.” The majority of gamers possibly using the Xbox are adults: those under the age of 18 comprise only 24 percent of its audience. Faila said the “point of video games [is] for kids to be kids.” He ignored the money savings on electricity bills.

Another crisis for the right wing is the type of shoes depicted on M&M characters and whether they are sexy, causing Mars corporation to retire its 69-year-old “spokescandies.” Much of the hue and cry came from Tucker Carlson, traumatized after knee-high boots and stiletto heels were exchanged for useful footwear. He ranted about Mars changing the appearance of all the female-designated figures “until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with anyone of them. That’s the goal. When you are totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity.” Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted, “You… wanted to have a drink… with an M&M?” In another rant, Carlson said the green M&M is “now a lesbian maybe” and the purple peanut M&M is “obese.” All of the M&M characters are shaped like round candies with stick legs and arms. As usual, the Twitter responses to Carlson’s sexually-frustrated statements were dark humor.

Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee felt that the topic was important enough to officially tweet a complaint about M&Ms and a Disney amusement-park ride that was overhauled because of its racist undertones. 


Fox, which started the entire “anti-woke” war against Mars regarding M&Ms, got punked by A&W with a statement that its mascot Rooty the Bear would have to wear pants. In outrage over the A&W statement, Cheryl Casone talked with Maria BARTIROMO  about “the latest company bowing to woke.” Except the A&W declaration was a joke. And Fox Business fell for it. 

January 26, 2023

Corruption of Barr/Durham Report to Prove Conspiracy Theories

Former AG Bill Barr, appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to cover up DDT’s crimes, tried to make himself look honest a month after DDT lost the 2020 election when he told the country that the election was not rigged, that there was no widespread fraud. He later testified to the House January 6 investigative committee against DDT, clips played during the public hearings, when he called DDT’s stolen election claims “bullshit.” He added about his departure from the DOJ:

“And I didn’t want to be a part of it, and that’s one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did.”

The supposed nobility of Barr’s faux integrity exploded in a report about his May 2019 assignment of John Durham as special counsel to investigate the Robert Mueller investigation about the Russian connection to DDT’s campaign. Barr planned to prove that the much maligned DDT was not involved in any nefarious activities with Russia during his campaign by the “deep state” trying to destroy DDT. Details in a New York Times article from Durham’s investigation negates Barr’s declaration of being on the up and up. 

A ”special counsel” is supposed to be independent, but the two men exhibited a remarkable closeness until Barr’s resignation 18 months later. Weekly updates in Barr’s office and consultations about Durham’s day-to-day work were sometimes accompanied by sipping Scotch and dining together. Together, they traveled the world for the investigation. Revering the office of attorney general, Durham was caught in the web of Barr’s conspiracy theories.

During the fall of 2019, a tip from Italian officials expanded Durham’s inquiry into suspicious and possibly criminal activities connected to DDT. Durham considered the secret information “too serious and credible to ignore,” but Barr told his handpicked counsel to check it himself, even giving him prosecution powers, although this search didn’t fit into Barr’s original assignment to Durham which was to examine the origins of the Russian inquiry.

Barr wanted Durham to find evidence for their shared theory that Mueller’s investigation came from a conspiracy by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Interviews with over a dozen current and former officials found internal dissent and ethical disputes riddling the Durham investigation as it consistently failed, no matter what path it took, despite DDT and Barr pushing their misleading narratives. Durham used Russian intelligence memos with disinformation to obtain emails to an aide for George Soros, the liberal billionaire frequently used as a right-wing scapegoat. Although a judge twice rejected access to the emails, Durham went to a grand jury; the emails had no evidence cited by Durham.

Durham also suffered from resignations, beginning with his longtime aide, Nora Dannehy, after ongoing disputes about prosecutorial ethics in front of other prosecutors and FBI agents. Dannehy complained to Durham about Barr’s unsupported hints about the investigation direction and urged Durham to ask Barr to keep to DOJ policy by not publicly discussing the investigation. Durham refused to challenge Barr. She also opposed Durham’s circumventing a judge’s ruling when he used grand-jury powers to violate a citizen’s right to privacy, saying that he took that step without telling her.

In summer 2020, Barr tried to get an interim report with theories about Clinton’s campaign and FBI gullibility or willful blindness. On September 10, 2020, Dannehy discovered a draft report written by other team members and said no report should be issued before the investigation was completed, especially immediately before an election. She sent a memo detailing her concerns and resigned.

Two other members of the Durham/Barr team resigned after he decided to indict attorney Michael Sussman on flimsy charges. A jury had quickly dismissed the charges in court.

DDT repeatedly claimed the Mueller report found “no collusion with Russia,” but the report detailed “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.” It described how the Kremlin worked to help DDT win and how his campaign expected to benefit from foreign interference. Barr also ordered Paul Nakasone, head of the National Security Agency, to have his agency cooperate with Durham and that NSA’s “friends” helped instigate Mueller’s investigation by targeting DDT’s campaign. Durham combed CIA files but found nothing.

In December 2019, the DOJ independent inspector general, Michael Horowitz, completed its report with a minor discovery that an FBI lawyer had doctored an email to hide errors and omissions in wiretap applications. Its general findings, however, refuted DDT’s accusations and Barr’s rationale for Durham’s inquiry. No evidence existed that FBI actions were politically motivated, and the basis for Mueller’s investigation, an Australian diplomat’s tip that a DDT campaign adviser had advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails, was enough to open the probe.

Durham tried to convince Horowitz to drop his findings about the tip, but Horowitz refused. Barr and Durham planned how to scuttle Horowitz’s report, and Barr issued a statement in opposition to Horowitz’s report just minutes before the inspector general’s conclusions went online. Durham, however, never produced any evidence contradicting Horowitz’s factual explanation about the FBI officials opening the investigation. By summer 2020, Durham knew he had no evidence for Barr’s theory about intelligence abuses, but Barr didn’t make the announcement of no sign of “foreign government activity” and that the CIA “stayed in its lane” until after the 2020 election in November.

Italian officials gave the tip to Barr and Durham on one of their trips to Europe in a search for evidence. Information about Durham’s investigation into the tip—its level, steps taken, revelations, etc.—was never released. The media reported a criminal investigation, but no information was provided about the crime, especially any that might be tied to DDT who promoted the belief that Durham might charge President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden. In August, DDT said in a Fox interview that the two men, along with top FBI and intelligence officials, were caught in “the single biggest political crime in the history of our country” and the only thing stopping charges would be if Barr and Durham wanted to be “politically correct.”

Not stopping DDT’s lies, Barr and Durham continued their inquiry after the search for intelligence abuses hit a dead end. They then looked for a reason to accuse Hillary Clinton’s campaign of conspiring to defraud the government by creating suspicions that DDT’s campaign colluded with Russia. Durham used dubious sources which the intelligence community doubted, memos written by Russian intelligence analysts about purported conversations involving U.S. victims of Russian hacking. Some U.S. analysts believed Russia wrote the inconsistent, inaccurate, or exaggerated claims as disinformation. To justify access to a U.S. citizen’s private communications, Durham wanted to use memos of descriptions of people in the U.S. discussing Clinton’s plan to link DDT to Russia’s hacking and releasing Democratic emails in 2016 as a frame for DDT.  

Because of the weak basis, a judge refused requests to violate the man’s privacy, first from one of Durham’s prosecutor and later from Durham himself. After his losses, Durham invoked grand-jury power to demand documents and testimony directly from the Soros’ foundation and the man. Rather than fighting in court, they complied, but again Durham reached a dead end.

The irony of the NYT report is that Barr and Durham did almost everything that Republicans accused the Democrats of doing in Mueller’s investigation. DDT’s supporters incessantly complained about the possible mistakes in a report by former British spy Christopher Steele, but Durham used disinformation from the Russians in their emails and memos for his inquiry.

Barr had one goal in appointing Durham to do an investigation: “proving” every conspiracy theory that DDT had invented during his campaign and first years in the White House. The AG even accused the National Security Agency of conspiracy against DDT when he set up the meeting with Durham and threatened the agency if it didn’t give Durham whatever he wanted.

Durham was selected for the job because he had a good reputation for following the facts and finding corrupt officials. In a sad end to a long career, he became one of those corrupt officials after Barr picked him to exonerate DDT. Mark Sumner wrote:

“When Barr appointed Durham, he was supposed to be the squarest of square pegs, a tough-guy, no nonsense prosecutor who would follow the facts like Joe Friday on the most deadpan episode of Dragnet. However, those who encountered Durham over the course of the investigation found something different. They found a man who was willing to warp any statement and twist any fact in an effort to find the conspiracy that Trump and Barr had charged him to deliver.”

After over three years, $40 million from taxpayers, and trips to three continents, Durham’s results proved the Mueller investigation to be accurate. His conclusions gave the FBI and DOJ participants top ratings for following procedures, the same ones in the report by the DOJ inspector general that Durham and Barr rejected. Durham put no one in jail and lost both cases he took to trial. One person gave a guilty plea but faced no jail time. Thanks to Barr, Durham has completely lost the reputation he brought into the investigation.

Durham’s report in February 2022 indicated a possible conflict of interest with a law firm, and DDT called for the death penalty. No final report has been issued almost four years after after Barr worked with Durham to prove conspiracy theories. The entire debacle disappeared—until the NYT report today.

January 24, 2023

Pence Caught with Classified Documents, Grand Jury Report Subject of Georgia Hearing

The classified document scandal took a twist yesterday when “a small number of documents bearing classified markings” was discovered at the home of former VP Mike Pence, “small” meaning about a dozen—thus far. Republicans have focused the last few weeks on denigrating President Joe Biden after his lawyers had discovered possibly 30 classified documents from the past 50 years in his office and home, compared to the 350+ documents DDT tried to keep from the National Archives.

Pence repeatedly said he had no documents and, critical of the surprise finding of some classified documents in Biden’s home and office, demanded a special counsel to investigate the situation. He had earlier explained that he wouldn’t have taken documents because of the process he followed. The search uncovering documents in Pence’s possession came at his request. House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) Pence “agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have about the matter” but said nothing about an investigation like he demanded for Biden.  

Former FBI Director James Comey violated that policy by announcing a news—and evidence-free—review of her earlier emails just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. [ I figured it out, but you might want to mention Clinton’s name before you refer to her emails.]

Earlier Jake Tapper asked Comey why he only cares about Democrats’ mishandling of classified document. Comer kept waffling but finally  undercut his entire argument by saying, “Every president—Bill Clinton, Obama, Bush–every president has accidentally taken documents that were deemed classified.” Now it’s Pence.

Republicans are going to have difficulty exonerating Pence without doing the same for Biden. Both of them, along with DDT, had classified documents; the difference is what the three of them did after the discoveries.

Biden/Pence told authorities they had the documents, returned them, promised to cooperate with investigators, and invited searchers into their homes to look for more documents.

Neither of the two former vice presidents rejected requests to return the materials. They didn’t ignore federal subpoenas. They didn’t keep documents, hiding them while they may have returned others.

They didn’t go to court to obstruct the retrieval or fight against federal law enforcement, calling them “the Gestapo.” They didn’t accuse FBI agents of “planting” incriminating evidence or pretend the search and discoveries were part of a “witch hunt.”

They didn’t push fake excuses of having declassified the documents.  

Senators like Marco Rubio (R-FL) are confused by the discovery in Pence’s home but said it wasn’t “nefarious.” He expects the subject will be addressed on Wednesday in a closed hearing of the Intelligence Committee with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines about unrelated topics. Committee chair Mark Warner (D-VA) requested information from Haines about the appearance of over 100 classified documents in an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, the residence and club owned by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), last August under a search warrant. Congressional members may view classified documents only in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) located in the basement of the Capitol; legislators may not take these documents. The White House occupants have not used the same process.

Until the discovery of documents in Pence’s home, Republicans viciously attacked Biden for the discovery, particularly after a “small number” was found in his home last weekend. On Face the Nation, CBS’ Margaret Brennan corrected the rantings of Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) calling President Joe Biden “a serial classified document hoarder” and following it up with rabid accusations. Brennan explained that some of Biden’s few pages predated his White House tenure, going back to his Senate terms.  In contrast, the hundreds of documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago, DDT’s club and residence, were all from only four years. Brennen added:

“Just to clarify, when you reference President Trump, there were 300 classified documents. There was a warrant. There was refusal to comply in terms of handing things over. And the White House and the president’s lawyer are pointing out that in the case of Biden, he granted permission, and this was consensual for the DOJ to come in and search. Does the fact that the Justice Department conducted the search signify anything more to you and give any insight into the sensitivity of the documents?”

According to Turner, “the only reason you can think of as to why anyone would take classified documents out of a classified space at home is to, is to show them to somebody.” That has been the premise of DDT taking the documents since the beginning of the discovery. Yet Turner accused the appointment of Robert Hur, a DDT appointment to US attorney for Maryland in 2018, as a “coverup.” Brennan asked for evidence behind Turner’s allegation; he said that the documents “went on a train with him from his Senate offices” which, of course, Turner doesn’t know. Turner has not asked for a special counsel for Pence.

A major criticism of Biden, voiced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was Biden’s waiting until after the midterm election to publicize the discovery of documents on November 2, 2022. The DOJ, however, has a longstanding policy to not reveal information about candidates before the election that would influence the results. Former FBI Director James Comey violated that policy by announcing a news—and evidence-free—review of her earlier emails just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. Comey ignored senior DOJ officials who told him not to go public.Studies indicated that the revelation likely influenced the outcome of the election, which DDT won with under 100,000 votes in swing states. 

In contrast to the Comey/Clinton debacle, the FBI hid their probe of the ties between DDT’s campaign and its ties to Russia during the summer of 2016 as did the DOJ. Another investigation possibly damaging DDT’s 2016 election campaign, communications between the Trump Organization and the Russian Alfa Bank through back channels, was also kept under wraps and later dropped.

The first discovery of classified documents in Biden’s possession was on November 2, 2022. Biden’s lawyers immediately told the National Archives who gave the information to its inspector general the next day. On November 4, he told the DOJ who examined the situation and began an assessment on November 9.

On the other hand, The National Archives waited for almost four months after Biden’s inauguration before requesting the records that DDT took. Seven months later, DDT’s lawyers told the Archives “they had located some records,” and two months later the Archives took 15 boxes of presidential records from Mar-a-Lago—a year after Biden’s inauguration. On February 8, 2022, the Archives went public about searching for more of the classified documents that DDT took, and the House Oversight Committee subsequently announced an investigation into his handling of them. Investigations and requests continued for another four months while DDT’s lawyers stalled. In June the lawyers returned a few more documents after claiming a “diligent search.” Use of a search warrant on August 8, 2022, revealed “more than twice the amount produced June 3 in response to the grand jury subpoena.” A defensive DDT fought their removal through lies, public statements, and court cases.

With no evidence, GOP legislators accused Biden of knowing that he had the documents, but DDT went through the documents before he refused to return them.

Other big news of the day was the hearing in Fulton County (GA) regarding the grand jury report of gathered evidence regarding the investigation of DDT and his allies to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state. The report will remain secret until a judge permits it to be public. During the proceedings, Fulton County DA Fani Willis said that decisions on whether to seek indictments for “multiple people” were “imminent.” She urged the judge to oppose requests to publicly release the probe’s findings, saying that the public release could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

The grand jury probed DDT’s January 2, 2021 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” enough votes for DDT to win the state, DDT’s national attempt to overturn the election, and the abrupt resignation of former U.S. AG in Georgia B.J. Pak after he said no “suitcases” full of ballots were being mishandled by election workers. Among the 75 people appearing before the grand jury were DDT’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, his then-attorney Rudy Giuliani, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, attorney John Eastman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who had also tried to persuade Georgia elected officials to favor DDT in the election.

The grand jury had no legal right to make formal indictments. Any charges against DDT and/or others would have to be from a traditional grand jury after Willis presents her evidence to the jurors. Sixteen Republicans meeting at the Georgia Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, in a plot to falsely certify the election for DDT have been targets of the investigation and could face criminal charges.

A lawyer for the media argued for the immediate release of the report and said that individual grand jurors could simply tell others about the findings in their report. The judge stated he wanted more time to consider the arguments and his ruling would have significant advance notice before any potential release of the report. The Brooking Institution found several state and federal statutes possibly violated through the attempts to reverse the election results.

DDT’s attorneys did not attend the hearing, stating, “We have never been a part of this process.”

Part of the hearing’s arguments concerned whether the report is classified as a “presentment,” or indictment, under Georgia law. If that is the classification, the judge must follow the jurors’ recommendation to release the information.

January 23, 2023

Gun Violence, U.S. Growing Disease

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 11:45 PM
Tags: , , ,

At least four major mass shootings and two others not meeting the definition of mass shooting since Saturday night have affected families and friends in California, Iowa, and Louisiana.


Saturday night, a 72-year-old man, perhaps the oldest mass shooter in U.S. history, killed 11 people over the age of 50 and wounded another 9 at a Monterey Park dance studio. One of the murdered people died in the hospital today. The shooter attempted to go into another dance studio in nearby Alhambra dance studio 20 minutes after he shot up the first one and then fled in a white van to Torrance where he killed himself today. At the second dance studio, a man related to the owners disarmed the older man and took his gun. A search of his home revealed a .308 caliber rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammo, and material indicating he was making firearm suppressors.

Police for The Lakes at Hemet West, the senior community 80 miles east of Monterey Park where the shooter lived, reported that he had visited their office and alleged fraud, theft, and poisoning involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago. He said he would return with proof but didn’t come back. His ex-wife, who he met at the site of the mass shooting, said he had a hot temper. A friend of the shooter said he came to the dance studio “almost every night” in the late 2000s and early 2010s and complained that the other instructors said “evil things about him.” The shooter was “hostile to a lot of people there,” easily irritated, and didn’t seem to trust people.

This afternoon, seven more people were killed and one critically injured in two Half Moon Bay plant nurseries 30 miles south of San Francisco in another killing by an older Asian man. Believed to be a worker at one of the locations, the shooter, 67, was arrested while sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of a sheriff’s substation. The victims may have been workers in the businesses.   


The Iowa shooting was inside a Des Moines charter school for at-risk youth. Two students died, and the school’s founder and CEO is in serious condition. Police took three suspects into custody at a traffic stop two miles away. The cause was an “ongoing gang dispute,” according to the police. (Technically, the killings were not a mass shooting; the definition is four people or more killed or wounded.)


No one died—yet—in the Baton Rouge nightclub shooting, but 12 people were injured. Three nearby police officers administered life-saving aid until emergency medical technicians arrived, preventing worse injuries.    Eight more people were wounded, two of them with life-threatening injuries, in a shooting in Shreveport. Few details have been released, but it was allegedly from an ongoing dispute between two groups of people.  

And another California:

Since I started writing this, a mass shooting in Oakland (CA) killed one and injured another seven.   

A report from last summer stated that survivors of non-fatal firearm injuries suffer a 40 percent increase in physical pain, a 50 percent increase in psychiatric disorders, and an 85 percent increase in substance use disorders, according to a study by Dr. Zirui Song, who practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his colleagues. The survivors’ family members also suffer massive physical and mental burdens in a 12 percent increase in psychiatric disorders. Taxpayers and employers pay for the healthcare; 96 percent of healthcare spending increase comes from Medicare and employers. Song said:

“In direct costs alone, it’s $2.5 billion in health care spending in the first year after non-fatal firearm injuries. This number is much larger if you include indirect costs of lost wages or productivity.”

Sarah Burd-Sharps, research director at Everytown for Gun Safety, said the epidemic costs $557 billion annually. These include immediate costs of a shooting such as the police response, investigations and ambulance services, and long-term health care costs as well as lost earnings, costs in the criminal justice system, mental health care, etc. Burd-Sharps said the costs are “a very conservative estimate” because “it doesn’t cover things like the trauma of children who don’t want to return their school. The impact on businesses or on property, you know, values and taxes. It doesn’t cover any of those wider reverberations.”

[Left: This chart from four and five years ago understates the gun problem in the U.S. It has worsened since then.]

The U.S. doesn’t have to pay these costs. Other countries don’t have these gun massacres after they enacted reforms to make mass shootings rare aberrational events instead of the daily multiple numbers of mass shootings.

Australia: In 1996, a disturbed 28-year-old Australian who had been bullied at school started shooting with a Colt AR-15 rifle in a Port Arthur café. He killed over 20 people there and in an adjacent gift shop before he reloaded his gun and wandered around, randomly shooting. His finally tally was 35 people dead and another 23 wounded. The country has the same hunting and shooting popularity as the U.S. along with a strong gun lobby, but the government doesn’t allow a minority to block legislation with a filibuster. Within two weeks, federal and state governments agreed to ban semi-automatic and pump-action firearms. Other measures included a buyback scheme to compensate owners of the newly banned firearms, a centralized registry of gun owners, and a public-education campaign about the new laws. The country of 27 million still has 3.5 million guns in private hands but only three mass shootings of at least four people killed in the past 25 years. In the worst event, a farmer killed six family members.

Scotland: In 1996, a 43-year-old former Scout leader used four legally owned handguns to kill 16 students and a teacher in a primary school. Already having strict gun laws, Britain enacted more controls, banning all handguns except for .22-calibre pistols; Tony Blair’s successive Labor government banned those, as well.

Canada: In 1989, a women-hating 25-year-old man killed 14 female students and staff members at Montreal’s École Polytechnique with a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle. The government didn’t move as fast as Britain but eventually included a twenty-eight-day waiting period for the purchase of guns, expanded background checks, a national registration system, and a ban on large-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons. In 2020, after a deranged 51-year-old dental technician murdered 22 people with a Mini-14 in Nova Scotia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an executive order banning fifteen hundred “assault style” weapons, including the AR-15 and the Mini-14.

Israel: Gun enthusiasts try to use the country as a heavily armed democracy, but its gun-control laws are far more strict than in the U.S. Buying a gun requires a government license requiring a minimum-age limit (27 years old for anyone who hasn’t served in the military or national service), achievement on a gun-safety test, and a letter from a doctor that you are sound of mind and body. Many applicants in Israel are turned down, and those approved for gun purchase are mostly limited to buying a single handgun with a limit of fifty bullets. In Texas, the shooter at the Uvalde school on May 24, 2022, legally purchased two AR-15 rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition just days after his eighteenth birthday. He killed 19 children and two teachers.

Strict gun laws in the U.S. won’t stop all mass shootings, but it would be a start.

The government doesn’t keep statistics on mass shootings, but the Gun Violence Archive recorded 647 mass shootings in 2022, 45 fewer than the previous year. Two of the shootings in the U.S. described above won’t be included in the number for 2023 because the definition is at least four people shot in one location, not including the shooter as a victim. The Half Moon Bay shooting was in two locations, and only three people in Des Moines were shot although two of them have thus far died. Over 44,000 people died from gun violence in 2022, down from 45,010 people who died from guns in 2021.  

At least 38 mass shootings have occurred in the first 23 days of 2023, an increase of 33 percent from 2022. The United States is the only country in the world with more civilian guns than people, 120 guns for every 100 people. People in the U.S. are 25 times more likely to have died from a gun homicide than citizens in other high-income countries.

Get ready for all those sanctimonious thoughts and prayers.

January 22, 2023

Santos, GOP Stand for Nothing

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) needs Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) vote more than ever. The rules demanded by the conservatives ended proxy voting, and Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) is covering at home after falling 25 feet from a ladder on his Sarasota property. As of yet, there is no timeline for his recovery. Unfortunately for McCarthy, discoveries continue to spill out, and Santos keeps lying about them.

Santos’ has deep ties with Andrew Intrater, the cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg. Beyond heavily donating to Santos’ campaigns, Intrater invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into Santos’ former employer, Harbor City, now investigated by the SEC for its Ponzi schemes, and Intrator’s investment firm, Columbus Nova, is connected to Vekselberg’s business interests. In 2020 Santos bragged that Columbus Nova was a “client” of his.

When Harbor City’s assets were frozen in 2021, Santos, with help from a former Harbor City employee, formed his company, the Devolder Organization, which paid him at least $3.5 million in the next two years. The business is also incorporated in Florida using the now-empty Melbourne offices of a Ob/Gyn practice as its address along with several companies tied to former Harbor City executives. Odette Daley, the doctor who formerly practiced here, is married to Devaughn Dames, former CFO of Harbor City. After the New York Times story about Santos and Harbor City, he moved the headquarters address to a Merritt Island penthouse, home of Harbor City’s former chief technology officer Jayson Benoit. A few weeks later, the business address shifted to a Fast Mail N More store in Melbourne, using the same box number as D&D International Investment Services Inc., listed as the registered agent for the Devolder Organization. In state records, Dames is president of D&D and Daley as vice president.

Intrator claims that Santos conned him and continued his support for Santos’ election because Santos said he was also a victim of Harbor City’s fraud.

After Santos lied about being a college volleyball player at Baruch College, he gilded the lily with false claims that his volleyball scholarship caused him to get bilateral knee replacements from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the #1 hospital for orthopedic surgery. He also expressed anger at “youth today” who are “sitting on their behinds” with the lie that he earned an MBA from New York University without going into debt. According to Santos, his parents couldn’t help him because they were going through bankruptcy. No records exist of Santos attending Baruch or NYU and his parents going through bankruptcy. 

A homeless veteran said that Santos stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe page that Santos set up to help pay for surgery for the man’s dying service dog. A veterinarian tech suggested that Anthony Devolder, an alias for Santos, could help the veteran because Devolder ran a pet charity. Friends of Pets United has no record of registration with either the IRS or AG offices in either New York or New Jersey. The veteran discovered that Santos closed and deleted the fundraising page; Santos stopped answering the veteran’s texts and calls.

Another vet had been willing to do the life-saving surgery, but Santos/Devolder insisted the dog go to a different vet who refused to perform the surgery. The dog died six months later, and the veteran, who was out of work for over a year because of a broken leg, was forced to panhandle to pay for the dog’s euthanasia and cremation. Other people have reported that Santos scammed them. Last month, a woman reported that never received any funds from a 2017 fundraising event in which Santos charged $50 per person.

Earlier Santos lies:

  • His grandparents fled the Holocaust.
  • His mother died as a result of 9/11.
  • He was mugged on the way to deliver a check for bank rant. (No record of this crime!)
  • He “lost four employees” in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando where 49 people died.

Revisionist lying: Caught in his lie that his mother died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, he said she “was in her office in the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded.” He added that she died a few years later from cancer. When she applied for a visa from Brazil in February 2003, she stated she hadn’t been in the U.S. since 1999.   

Some Santos’ crimes:

  • He stole a checkbook in Brazil from his mother’s patient and bought clothing. (The retail clerk had to pay for the items when the theft was discovered.)
  • He wore a scarf at a “Stop the Steal” rally that he stole from a roommate.
  • He spent exactly $199.99 on several campaign expenditures filed with the FEC, precisely exactly one-cent below the amount required for the FEC to keep receipts. (One was at a restaurant where he spent over $25,000 where that exact amount couldn’t be spent.)
  • His staffer pretended to be McCarthy’s chief of staff for donations.

In an embarrassment for Republicans, Santos allegedly performed in drag in Brazil 15 years ago. Journalist Marisa Kabas has a photo of him as Kitara Revache dressed in drag with fellow drag queen Eula Rochard. Santos denounced drag shows and vigorously slammed gender-nonconforming people, describing their surgeries as “mutilations.” Trying to dodge GOP censure, Santos more quickly denied the drag queen story than the stealing money from a veteran and sick dog story. In 2011, Sandos, going by his Anthony Devolder, appeared to speak positively about his drag queen appearances, and a 2005 video from the Rio Pride parade shows him wearing a black dress and bragging to a Portuguese interviewer about his drag shows. (Photo of Santos from Brazilian drag performer Eula Rochard.) Yesterday, however, Santos admitted to dressing in drag but he’s no “drag queen.” He was “just having fun.”

In a 2011 Wiki bio, Anthony Devolder, aka George Santos, describes his successful Hollywood career after meeting with a producer of the 1996 blockbuster Independents [sic] Day. He name-dropped Steven Spielberg (misspelling it “Spilberg”) instead of director Roland Emmerich and claims to have starred in “a few T.V shows and DISNEY Channel shows such as ‘the suite life of Zack and Cody” and the hit “Hanna [sic] Montana.” He concluded by writing that, two years prior, he “taped his very first movie startting [sic] Uma Turman, [sic] Chris Odanald [sic], Melllisa [sic] George, and Alicia Silver Stone [sic] in the movie “THE INVASION.” The 2007 SF/thriller starts Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

Vanessa Friedman writes about grifter Santos stereotypically dressing the part of the lies he tells—the blue blazer, intellectual glasses, etc.—to match his fabricated résumé. McCarthy just hopes that he can get away with keep Santos’ vote by expressing ignorance about anything connecting with Santos. The closest concern McCarthy showed was to say, “I never knew all about his resume or not, but I always had a few questions about it.”

Four years ago when McCarthy was House Minority Leader, he agreed with the decision to strip then-Rep. Steve King (R-IA) of committee assignments, saying his conference simply could not “tolerate” King’s racism any longer, and the Iowan was no longer a Republican member in good standing. King wasn’t convicted of any crime, and he had been elected for the position, two reasons McCarthy used to put Santos on committees. Yet four years ago, the GOP was the minority party in the House, and King was expendable.

The 21st century has been an embarrassment for House Republicans with scandals for Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Mark Foley as well as the revelation that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert from 1999 to 2007 had sexually molested boys as young as 14 when he was a high school wrestling coach. In 2010 when the Tea Party put the GOP back in the House majority, their leaders promised a “zero-tolerance policy” for members’ embarrassing controversies reflecting poorly on the party. GOP leaders got resignations from then-Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) who had an affair with a congressional staffer and then-Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) who tried to meet women in Craiglist’s personals section. Then-Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) wouldn’t resign for kissing a staffer not his wife, but he lost his re-election within months. None of these people was charged with crimes or send them to the Ethics Committee.

Arithmetical problems representing the need for GOP votes controls the change in morality. Both Democratic and GOP House members have suffered censure and reprimands, but Republican leadership now rewards their members for violent threats toward other members and QAnon lies by giving them seats on plum committees.

Satire showing Santos’ medals during World War II showing how far he might go with his lies. 

Last September, before the election, a small newpaper, The North Shore Leader, laid out Santos’ corrupt past to its largely Republican readership, but the information was largely ignored by the electorate and larger press. Suggestions for Democrats: vet the opposition and pay attention to all the press, not just the major media. 

Meanwhile, Santos’ colleagues aren’t even sure what his name really is, but he has been put on House committees. The “Grand Old Party” stands for nothing.


January 21, 2023

DDT, the Terrible … Very Bad Week

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a bad week: a federal judge ruled that DeSantis violated the state constitution’s free speech rights by dismissing Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren for declaring he would not prosecute women having abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, illegal in the state. Another reason for suspending the prosecutor was Warren’s refusal to criminally charging anyone providing gender-affirming to transgender patients. Florida has no state law regarding the issue. Judge Robert Hinkle wrote, “A governor cannot properly suspend a state attorney based on policy differences, and Warren has “prosecutorial discretion” in all cases.

The U.S. Constitution prevents a federal court from reinstatement of the twice-elected Democratic county attorney, however, and DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske stated the governor won the case, that the judge upheld the governor’s “decision to suspend Andrew Warren from office for neglect of duty and incompetence.” The judge actually wrote that he found “not a hint of misconduct by Mr. Warren.”

Another Florida politician had a much worse week than DeSantis. A federal judge ordered Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and his attorneys to pay $1 million in penalties for a frivolous lawsuit accusing Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and others identified as DDT’s enemies in engaging in racketeering and creating a huge conspiracy against him. DDT and his attorneys had used the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act passed to prosecute the Mafia for the lawsuit and demanded over $72 million in damages. DDT’s lawyer Alina Habba suggested on TV that the government had planted evidence during its search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

DDT claimed Clinton and the DNC conspired with senior FBI officials and others before the 2016 election to construct a connection between DDT’s campaign and Russia to politically damage him. In September, the case was dismissed, and in November, DDT was ordered to pay thousands of dollars because a defendant requested sanctions. The $1 million came from a group of the remaining defendants, including Clinton, also requesting sanctions. Among other criticisms, the judge found that “the pleadings here were abusive litigation tactics … to advance a political narrative.” 

Examining other lawsuits filed by DDT, the judge ruled:

“Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process. He knew full well the impact of his actions.”

When the case was assigned to Judge Donald Middlebrooks, DDT wanted to drop the lawsuit, but Habba suggested he push forward. DDT has now dropped his lawsuit against New York AG Letitia James, also overseen by Middlebrooks who cited it as “vexatious” litigation. DDT wants the lawyers to pay the entire $1 million.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Reed also rebuked DDT in his lawsuit against his niece Mary Trump about a 20-year privacy agreement regarding DDT’s financial records. DDT claimed Trump violated a “confidentiality clause prohibiting all family members” from making the documents public. New York Times reporters used some of Trump’s documents for their Pulitzer Prize-winning report in 2019 about his financial dealings. Two DDT attorneys, Habba and Michael Madaio, each asserted that the reporters ordered Trump to provide them with information. The judge asked the lawyers:

“You used the word ordered again. What authority did they exercise over her, such that she, a grown woman, licensed clinical psychologist, could be compelled by Sue Craig to take any action?”

Trump’s attorney Anne Champion argued Trump could end the agreement because it didn’t list any date for termination. Champion also cited a decision from a state judge allowing a book to be published despite DDT’s younger brother Robert Trump opposition using the same family contract.

In DDT’s deposition for E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against him for sexual assault, he identified a photo of Carroll as Marla Maples. He said, “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife.” His lawyer Alina Habba said, “No, that’s Carroll.” When the news about the assault was made public, DDT had said about Carroll, “She’s not my type.” Millions want to elect DDT as their next president, a man who DDT can’t tell the difference between the woman he allegedly sexually assaulted and one of his ex-wives.

Discovery in LIV’s antitrust lawsuit in California against PGA Tour shows that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been paying DDT millions of dollars a year for the past two years through the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) which owns 93 percent of the organization. MBS picks up 100 percent of the expenses for the league. A strong supporter of the new league, DDT makes prominent appearances at its events and urges PGA players to sign with LIV Golf. PIF declared it doesn’t have to reveal anything because it is an “organ of the Saudi state” and protected by “foreign sovereign immunity.” The news started on the sports pages of USA Today. 

The friendship between DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and MBS paid off too when Kushner received a secret $1.8 bailout for his company after a visit to MBS in 2018. The question was raised regarding a sale of U.S. national security secrets. In 2018, Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was lured into a Saudi embassy, tortured, dissected, and burned. Reports indicated DDT knew about MBS’ role in the killing, but Saudi was excused for the horrific death. Classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago last August included nuclear secrets related to the Iranian nuclear program, according to many reports, information of interest to MBS.

DDT’s plans to return to Facebook and Twitter can doom his own business endeavor, the social media platform Truth Social. This week, his campaign wrote Meta, FB’s parent, asking for the restoration of DDT’s account, and Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, already restored DDT’s account on that platform. Facebook’s ban was for only two years and expired on January 7. Truth Social has failed to pay vendors on time and lost several top executives and board members; DDT’s development projects and condo sales have dried up; and his hotel revenue plummeted during the pandemic.

Initially, shares in Truth Social skyrocketed until they dropped after the Securities and Exchange Commission began their investigation into its parent company. DDT’s company can’t access the huge amounts of investor money until the probe into its merger with another company is finished. The value of shares is tied to the level of DDT’s activity on Truth Social, down to $15 late last year from $97. DDT has an agreement with Truth Social that his postings cannot be in any other location for at least six hours, but the rules don’t apply to content related to political messaging, political fundraising, or get-out-the-vote efforts—DDT’s red meat for his audience.

DDT also lost out in the will of his first wife, Ivana Trump, to the nanny. Trump left most of her estate to their three children—Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—but her former nanny got the $1 million Miami Beach (FL) condo and the dog. DDT did receive co-control of her assets with the three children that included a Czech Republic property, a French property, and her gold-covered Upper East Side townhouse selling for $26.5 million.

Special counsel Jack Smith, investigating DDT, is probing the source of payments for his officials’ lawyer fees, one of them the attorney who urged former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson to lie to the House January 6 investigative committee. The lawyer, also DDT’s attorney, would not tell Cassidy who was paying his fees. Cassidy fired the lawyer after he tried to persuade her to lie under oath.

A serious loss for a conservative presidential contender are votes from evangelical Christians.  Although they compose only 18 percent of the U.S. population, their voters were largely responsible for electing DDT in 2016. Now he’s turned on them, ranting about their disloyalty and blaming them for the GOP underperforming in the 2022 midterm election. Last November, evangelicals started searching for options to DDT as president. Mike Evans, an evangelical advisor to DDT who supported him in both his elections, said that DDT “used” evangelicals

“We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us. I cannot do that anymore.”

Texas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who interviewed evangelical and possible presidential candidate Mike Pence, said that he’ll probably endorse DDT—just not now—but that Pence will be a “strong contender.” Forty-nine percent of Republican primary voters said they would support DDT in 2024, and 54 percent of evangelical voters said they would support him in 2024. That’s a big drop, however, from the 84 percent of evangelicals who voted for him in 2016, and DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also pandering to evangelicals.

The Christian right is losing some of its clout as the U.S. grows less religious because of distaste for Republicans’ merging of religious social conservatism with politics, largely from its attachment to DDT. In 2021, half those surveyed think evangelical leaders’ support of DDT hurt the church’s credibility, and 25 percent said this connection turned them against participating in religion.

Lloyd Green summarizes DDT’s problems:

“His ‘campaign event’ this week was a dud, his legal woes are growing and his cronies are viciously infighting.”

Hovering above DDT’s other problems is the Fulton County (GA) court hearing this coming Tuesday and the possibility of criminal charges against DDT.

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