Nel's New Day

May 14, 2020

GOP Goal: Destroy Institutions Upholding the Rule of Law

Last Tuesday was a  busy day for the three branches of government: the Supreme Court heard arguments from Dictator Donald Trump’s  (DDT) lawyers that he is above the rule of law; a Senate committee heard testimony about the dangers of DDT’s reopening the nation despite the prevalence of COVID-19; and a federal judge responded to DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr about dropping a guilty plea for lying about his attempts to negotiate with Russia without government approval while Barack Obama was president—an illegal action. In all three cases, Republicans have tried to exonerate DDT as his actions break the rule of law.

Supreme Court: 

In an electronic session, SCOTUS justices heard almost four hours of arguments about whether DDT is above the law in his lawsuits against releasing subpoenaed information regarding his financial records. DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow asserted DDT is “a branch of the government” and therefore cannot be investigated for the IRS’ handling of his tax returns, allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election, and his falsification of assets for loans and taxes. 

Sekulow also argued that DDT is so busy he cannot take time to deal with the lawsuits because hey would distract from his presidential duties. DDT supposedly watches seven hours of cable TV each day, not going to the Oval Office until noon for his brief daily briefing instead of early in the morning as his predecessors did. In the afternoon he phones some governors and world leaders before his coronavirus press briefings (aka campaign rallies), but most of those briefings have disappeared. DDT rarely attendings the meetings of the coronavirus task force, ignoring the prepared remarks until immediately before he reads them. When DDT is allowed out of the White House, he plays golf and campaigns for his re-election. In responding to Sekulow’s argument that DDT is busy, Rachel Maddow described DDT’s complete schedule for last Monday.  

President Bill Clinton also argued for the Paula Jones’ 1998 lawsuit to be deferred, but the Supreme Court unanimously agreed Jones could pursue her lawsuit. The only dispensation for Clinton concerned when and where he should respond to demands for dispositions and other information. Justice Neil Gorsuch asked for the difference between the two cases. Sekulow replied that allowing the New York investigation would open the floodgates to up to 2,300 local prosecutors instituting probes.

Sekulow alleged that a “criminal process targeting the president” violates the Constitution. Both Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito seemed to side with Sekulow: Kavanaugh compared financial records to medical ones that probably wouldn’t be given to Congress, and Alito wanted a “limit” on the House’s subpoena power to keep from harassment of a president. DDT’s lawyers frequently used the term “harassment,” ignoring the House’s legitimate purpose to determine DDT’s conflicts of interest for the purpose of strengthening laws.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with DOJ’s principal deputy solicitor general Jeffrey Wall when he questioned the motives of the Congress and argued that Congress needs to explain what laws it might write in order to substantiate a subpoena. She told Wall:

“To impugn Congress’s motive, even the policeman on the beat, if he stops a car and gives the reason that the car went through a stop sign, we don’t allow an investigation into what the subjective motive really was. So, here, you’re—you’re distrusting Congress more than the cop on the beat.”

Since DDT was inaugurated, he has rejected all subpoenas from the House and told all officials that they should not testify at hearings, the most recently everyone on the coronavirus task force. Justice Elena Kagan said that DDT would “essentially make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight and carry out its functions where the presidency is concerned.” As DDT uses political motivation for all his actions, he accuses others of the same.

DDT has consistently claimed he is above the law because of Article II in the U.S. Constitution, yet the constitution has no language establishing executive immunity. The framers of the document specifically prohibited secret bribes, a directive which requires oversight over the president. In discussing the powers of the presidency, James Madison argued that it be “confined” and warned against the “Evils of Elective Monarchies.” The first Congress in “the decision of 1789” empowered lawmakers as whistleblowers to block an executive’s corruption establishing a “throne on the ruins of your visionary republic” and “secure his election perpetual.” The Judiciary Act of 1789 held executive officials accountable instead of above the law.

Much as I am reluctant to be optimistic about anything connected to DDT, top-notch legal minds think that DDT may lose his crown—and his tax returns. Even conservative justice Clarence Thomas, who spoke during the second case in several years, asked Sekulow if the authors of the Constitution explicitly endorsed total criminal immunity for a president. Sekulow tried the spin that the idea had been “discussed” but finally said “no.” A major theory is that the New York case will be successful but that the House’s subpoenas may fail. The Supreme Court decision is final; DDT will have no higher court for an appeal.

Senate:

At exactly the same time the Supreme Court heard the three cases about DDT’s financial records, the Senate conducted a hearing about COVID-19 with four health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci made the biggest splash when he testified that the true death toll from the virus is likely higher than reports and that attempts to a return to normal will cause major spikes in infections. Later he contradicted DDT’s assertion of virus being “well contained” by saying, “If you think we have it completely under control, we don’t.” Others testifying were CDC Director Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attacked Fauci for saying that “the consequences could be really serious” if local economies open too quickly. Paul said, “Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all.” Fauci answered by saying he “never made myself out to be the end-all,” that he’s “a scientist, a physician, and a public health official.” The senator wants all children to go back to school in the fall and accused Fauci of keeping them out of school. Before the hearing, Fauci had said nothing about schools’ reopening, but he answered Paul with a concern about the symptoms of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome now appearing in children and thought to be linked to COVID-19. DDT said that Fauci’s cautionary approach are “not an acceptable answer.”

Justice Department/Federal Judges:

The third major event on Tuesday occurred when a federal judge blocked AG Bill Barr from dropping the case against Michael Flynn who had confessed to lying to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan put the DOJ request on hold until people and organizations can argue about Flynn’s exoneration. Earlier, Flynn repeated that he was guilty of lying, no one had coerced him to plead guilty, and he wouldn’t be taking back his guilty plea. Then he did. Almost 2,000 former DOJ employees representing both political parties who have called for Barr’s resignation may now be involved in the court case, and the proceedings will be public, complete with witnesses and evidence. And just before the November election.

Sullivan also asked John Gleeson, a retired federal judge, to investigate the possibility of Flynn’s perjury. Part of Gleeson’s record is putting John Gotti, a late mob boss, behind bars. Barr, supposedly a prosecutor, will be acting like a defense attorney by claiming that Flynn shouldn’t have been interviewed in an investigation; thousands of former DOJ employees accuse Barr of politicizing the department for DDT’s wishes. Last Monday, Gleeson co-authored a commentary article that states:

“The law provides that the court—not the executive branch—decides whether an indictment may be dismissed. The responsible exercise of that authority is particularly important here, where a defendant’s plea of guilty has already been accepted. Government motions to dismiss at this stage are virtually unheard of.”

The DOJ is part of the Executive branch of government. Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason said the DOJ “cannot have it both ways.” By saying Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI, it’s saying that he lied to the judge. Perjury is a reason for a new indictment.

Mary McCord, acting assistant AG for national security at the DOJ from 2016 to 2017, wrote a piece for the New York Times titled, “Bill Barr Twisted My Words in Dropping the Flynn Case. Here’s the Truth.” She asserted:

“The F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was constitutional, lawful, and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose.”

The commentary clearly refutes Barr’s spin for his request to drop the Flynn case. She quotes Georgetown law professors Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer’s warning that Barr’s dismissal “embeds into official U.S. policy an extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people.” McCord points out Barr’s dismissal was far more than protecting Flynn. Instead, DDT “is discrediting the fundamental institutions that establish the rule of law.”

All that in just one day.

World confirmed COVID-19 cases are over 4.5 million and deaths are over 300,000. In the U.S., deaths are 86,912 on May 14, 2020, out of 1,457,593 confirmed cases. Testing is up to 32,000 per one million people in the U.S., an average of under 100,000 tests per day since he CDC developed its test. DDT prefers less testing. 
 
 

December 14, 2018

DDT: Week 99 – Advent Surprises

In Advent’s 22 to 28 days leading up to Christmas, one custom is the calendar which has pockets or drawers, each concealing a gift that delight children. This Advent is bringing political surprises for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but the “gifts” won’t delight him.

Thinking that he could control the Democrats in the coming year, DDT met with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) last Tuesday. Pelosi and Schumer expected a closed meeting, but DDT invited the press so that they could hear him say that he would be “proud” to shut down the federal government if he didn’t get money for his “wall.” Later in a closed-door meeting, Pelosi told the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee that the wall is “like a manhood thing for him.” DDT said that the money for his new wall would come from his new NAFTA, which means he plans to use non-existent money gained from his new trade agreement for a $25 billion wall.

Some events from the past week that should terrify DDT:

Russian agent  Maria Butina is pleading guilty and giving testimony about her conspiracy to infiltrate the NRA to help Russia. Although Vladimir claims that he and his spies know nothing about her, Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic tweeted:

“Is that why the Russian gov has conducted 6 consular visits to Butina, passed 4 diplomatic notes to State about her case, and had Lavrov personally speak to Pompeo twice about her prosecution? (The official Kremlin Twitter account changed its avatar to a picture of her, too.)”

In possible illegal “coordination” (maybe collusion?), DDT’s presidential campaign and the NRA used the same people and parent company in strategically making ad buys. The law permits the NRA to spend as much money for advertising, but any expenditures sharing information with a campaign is limited to $5,000 as in-kind donations. The NRA spent $30 million.

DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen received a sentence of three years for failure to report his multimillion-dollar payoff for orchestrating secret hush payments to women who claim affairs with DDT and an additional concurrent two months sentence and $50,000 fine for lying to Congress about his dealings with a Trump Tower in Moscow. DDT has thus far failed in his attempts to distance himself from his former fixer, the man who DDT called “my attorney. The slightest chink in the GOP indifference to DDT’s criminal activity came from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) when he expressed “concern” about the possibility that DDT might have implicated himself in a crime, if, according to Cassidy, “this so-called hush money is a crime.”

After almost a day of silence, DDT insisted that the hush-money payoffs were “not campaign finance” despite the admission of the National Enquirer’s owner AMI that it paid off one of the women “in concert with” DDT’s campaign to “suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.” DDT also claimed that, although Cohen pled guilty to these violations of campaign-finance law, they “are not a crime.”

After DDT’s election, he appointed Kushner to replace Cohen as his contact with David Pecker, National Enquirer publisher and chief executive of AMI. Kushner and Pecker talked frequently after DDT’s inauguration on a variety of subjects from relationships with Saudis to dirt on Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. Pecker’s pro-DDT coverage drastically diminished after the raids on Cohen’s office, leading to Pecker becoming an unindicted co-conspirator. AMI’s admission that its pre-election hush-money scheme was specifically connected to DDT’s campaign.

DDT claimed that he would pick only the “best people.” One of them was Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security adviser who is now waiting his sentence for lying to the FBI. Flynn’s defense is that nobody told him the consequences of lying to the FBI. Special investigator Robert Mueller responded to this feeble excuse: Flynn lied multiple times before, during, and after the FBI interview—sticking to his lies even when given a chance to tell the truth—and he was told about the interview topic.

The Mueller team wrote:

“A sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents. He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth. The defendant undoubtedly was aware, in light of his ‘many years’ working with the FBI, that lying to the FBI carries serious consequences.”

Soon after DDT’s inauguration, DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort urged him to vigorously attack the FBI. Communications regarding Manafort’s lying showed that DDT’s undermining the FBI would damage its investigation into the Russian election collusion, as shown in some communications that are the subject of Manafort’s lying. Manafort specifically identified former FBI Director James Comey for damage to the FBI credibility and advised a senior administration official to attack DOJ, the FBI, and Obama officials for seeking FISA warrants to eavesdrop on himself and Carter Page, again to delay the investigation. A hearing on allegations about Manafort’s lying is on January 25.

Beyond investigations into DDT’s campaign, transition team operations, business, and foundation operations, prosecutors are delving into expenditures of his inaugural committee and his super PAC. Foreigners—primarily from Middle Eastern nations—likely contributed donations to both these funds in exchange for influence on U.S. policy, a violation of U.S. law The probe into inaugural donations involves federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Despite the claim that donors to the inaugural committee were “fully vetted and disclosed” to the FEC, the audit has not been made public, and a GOP lobbyist pleaded guilty to arranging for foreigners to pay $50,000 for inaugural tickets through a U.S. purchaser.

Ivanka Trump has been found to funnel huge sums from the inaugural donations into the Trump Organization while she was executive vice president. Internal emails and receipts show that she negotiated hotel prices for venue rentals. Overcharging for event spaces violates tax law, and the IRS can issue steep fines if a person with “substantial influence” over a nonprofit group overcharges for their outside business. Rick Gates, then deputy to the inaugural chair who is guilty of lying to the FBI and conspiracy against the U.S., asked vendors to take payments directly from vendors and sign confidentiality agreements about their payments. With a third of the staff, a quarter of the events, and revenue of twice as much as George W. Bush’s second inauguration, the records for DDT’s inauguration show at least $40 million missing from the funds.

Mueller’s investigation continues with revelations about work by DDT’s officials in the Middle East to influence politics in the United States.

While Republicans were reluctant to criticize DDT’s legal problems, a bipartisan vote in the Senate of 59-41 called for an end to military assistance to Saudi Arabia in connection with its war in Yemen that has killed 50,000 people and starved another 12 million. The Congress can order DDT to remove U.S. military members from “hostilities abroad” without the existence of a declaration of war or authorization of the use of force. Last month, the Senate passed a resolution by 58 to 41 removing the U.S. military’s refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft. House Speaker quashed a similar measure by putting an amendment in the farm bill that just passed, but the House changes party majority at the end of the year. The Senate is also considering a bill suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and imposing sanctions on officials blocking humanitarian access in Yemen or who were involved in the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The “rule of law” has moved 180 degrees in the past two decades. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the GOP investigated Whitewater, a land deal in which the Clintons lost $45,000 several years before Clinton went to the White House. He was impeached for a lie about Monica Lewinsky. In the 1990s, Republicans believed that the rule of law had no exceptions, that a serving president is subject to a civil lawsuit, required to answer a subpoena and testify before a grand jury. One telephone call from the White House to the Treasury Department was classified as obstruction of justice. The current occupant of the Oval Office can threaten and dismiss law enforcement officials for investigating him, intimidate prosecutors, repeatedly defame legal opponents, offer pardons for witnesses against him, lie about multimillion-dollar deals with a country that has leverage against him, and offer a bribe to the president of said country with a $50 million penthouse. Republicans respond by promising more investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

No one knows if a sitting president can be indicted, but a memo from Ken Starr, hidden in the National Archives for almost 20 years, says “yes.” According to Starr, “in this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.” Maybe Republican presidents are exempt, however, since the Supreme Court became an arm of the executive branch.

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