Nel's New Day

January 4, 2023

House Speaker Elections, More News

Members of both political parties claim that the GOP is “broken,” but other frustrated Republicans declare that the GOP is in a state of “self-immolation.” In the fourth vote to become Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received one fewer vote when newly elected Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted present after supporting McCarthy in the first three votes. The 20 votes for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the third vote all moved to Byron Donalds, 44, a Black Republican who formerly represented a Florida district. Two more votes followed exactly the same pattern before the House adjourned. It planned to continue at 8:00 pm on January 4, but a raucous vote postponed the next vote to noon (EST) on January 5. 

Unable to control his own caucus, McCarthy went to Democrats, asking them to support a “consensus candidate” for Speaker or not vote so that he can reach a lower threshold of required votes that would make him Speaker. By the fourth vote, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries (NY) received 11 votes more than McCarthy. McCarthy dissenters such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) are also asking Democrats to help them. The 20 representatives voting against McCarthy are all DDT-supporters, and 18 of them deny the 2020 presidential election was legal.

Ginni Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court justice, has dived into the fray by joining DDT’s former attorney Cleta Mitchell and another two dozen far-right members in a joint letter from the Conservative Action Project to attack McCarthy’s attempts to become Speaker. Other signers of the letter are Kenneth Blackwell of the Family Research Council listed as a SPLC hate group, and David Bossie, head of conservative Citizens United winning the Supreme Court case releasing huge amounts of dark money into U.S. politics. 

A new question about the newly elected GOP representative from New York, George Santos, is whether he meets the requirement of his new office—whether he has been a U.S. citizen for seven years. He claims he was born in Queens, but no one has verified the information. And no one in the House is taking responsibility to do so.

On his website, Santos also lied about being sworn in on January 3, 2023; no House member can be sworn in for the 118th Congress without a Speaker—who hasn’t been elected yet. One response to Santos was that he was “sworn-ish,” ridiculing him for his declaration that he is Catholic but “Jew-ish” after he was caught in the lie of being Jewish. Incoming freshmen members—Robert Garcia (D-CA), Michael Lawler (R-NY), and Yadira Caraveo (D-CO)—made the same mistake.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) changed from yesterday’s tepid attitude toward McCarthy to repeating his racist diatribe against his former Secretary of Transportation to support the Speaker candidate.

“If Republicans are going to fight, we ought to be fighting Mitch McConnell and his domineering, China loving BOSS, I mean wife, Coco Chow.”

In addition, DDT returned to his baseless attacks on election worker Ruby Freeman after trying to destroy her two years ago. In a temp job, Freeman counted votes in Georgia, and DDT claimed she and her daughter Shaye Moss were personally responsible for election fraud. A retiree, Freeman was forced to leave her home, close her small boutique business, and move to an undisclosed location. DDT’s continuing lies will likely lead to a renewal of threats, harassment, and possibly violence from his followers. Already suing a far-right conspiracy website, Rudy Giuliani, and far-right media outlet One America News Network (OANN), Freeman and Moss are within their rights to sue DDT.

Donald Trump Jr. is now hawking bibles on social media: for only $69.99 a person can get “We the People,” the King James version with copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Pledge of Allegiance. The grifting group has displayed its ignorance: the “Bill of Rights” are the first ten amendments of the constitution, making a separate document redundant.

In a victory for women, the DOJ stated that federal law legally permits mail delivery of so-called abortion pills to all states because the sender doesn’t know if the medication will be illegally used. Some states had attempted to ban or restrict the mailings. Both mifepristone and misoprostol are used for managing miscarriages or treating gastric ulcers. Federal law supersedes state laws, and the postal service cannot inspect packages possibly containing prescription drugs.

In a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wichita (KS), patients can obtain abortion pill prescriptions from out-of-state doctors through telehealth. This opportunity comes from a court ruling blocking the state law banning doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication remotely. Patients much visit the clinic in-person for an evaluation, education, and state-mandated counseling from local clinicians before their meeting with an offsite doctor.

As people refuse to wear masks and follow other guidelines to prevent transmitting Covid, the Omicron strain XBB.1.5, becoming the most dominant strain in the U.S. in a few weeks, will drive new cases and not be blocked by Covid boosters. Recently, the sub-variant has gone from 4 percent of the cases to 40 percent; about 75 percent of new cases in the Northeast come from the subvariant. 

Russian files from after its invasion of Ukraine reveal disinformation about U.S.-funded bioweapons, accusing Ukrainian labs of spreading Covid through experimenting with bat coronaviruses. Soon after the accusation, China distributed the biolabs conspiracy theory. Media narratives from Russia and China have been remarkably similar since the invasion, according to hacked emails showing that the countries pledged to join forces in media content and held annual media cooperation meetings since 2008, aimed largely at domestic audiences.

Two days ago, the Buffalo Bills football team stopped play with the Cincinnati Bengals after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest after he tackled a receiver. By January 4, he shows signs of improvement after a blow to his chest may have created heart arrhythmia. Fox host Tucker Carlson, however, attributes Hamlin’s health problems to the Covid vaccination, despite Carlson’s ignorance about Hamlin’s vaccine status. Carlson said, “We don’t know whether he got the shot” but still spread misinformation about the possibility that Hamlin could have received one. Millions of right-wing media spreading misinformation have no knowledge about the vaccine and the cause of Hamlin’s collapse; Carlson calls medical experts “witch doctors.”

Myocarditis, heart inflammation, is an extremely rare side effect of the Covid vaccine: only 617 people experienced the disorder out of 43 million people after they were vaccinated, and the disorder predates the Covid pandemic.The risk of heart inflammation and other cardiac problems is far higher from Covid than from the vaccine. The risk for “commotio cordis,” blunt force trauma to the chest and subsequent sudden cardiac arrest and death, is more common among athletes.

Before DDT left office, he pardoned Jesse Benson, a top aide to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Paul (R-TX), for campaign finance violations. Benson has now been convicted of funneling Russian money to DDT’s 2016 campaign.

According to DDT’s deputy press secretary Judd Deere, DDT didn’t know his schedule was public until a few weeks before he left the White House. In late December 2020, DDT learned his schedule was released to the public and then tried to change the way it was written, making it less specific and presented in “boilerplate” language. For example, the schedule would be that DDT would “work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “make many calls and have many meetings.” No specific times, just generalities. Five hours of his morning would be “executive time” but really watching TV, reading newspapers, and phoning aides, congressional members, friends, administration officials, and informal advisers.  

Elon Musk destroyed over half the value of Twitter in one month. At the end of October, the quarterly holdings report valued Twitter at $19.66; it dropped to $8,626,218 by the end of November. To cut costs, Musk canceled janitorial services this month at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, and Columbia Property Trust sued the company for not paying rent at these headquarters. Supposedly relying on polling, Musk said he would resign as CEO if the majority of respondents wanted him to do so. They did, and he resigned. But he still owns the company.

Researchers have linked the climate crisis with extreme weather patterns to gun violence because of higher-than-average temperatures. Seven percent of shootings in 100 U.S. cities between 2015 and 2020 occurred in unseasonable heat. The Northeast and Midwest had the greatest increases in gun violence on unseasonably hot days. The stress from heat may make people more aggressive. Another link exists between extreme weather and domestic violence, according to over 40 studies. Economic stresses from flooding, drought, and extreme heat in Kenya were connected to a 60-percent rise in domestic violence.

 A bill permitting the FCC to regulate the price of phone calls from prison is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature. A 15-minute phone call from jail now costs $3 not including other charges for setting up and funding the prepaid phone accounts for making calls. Costs vary by state, but phone providers have given kickbacks to prisons and local governments in a $1.4 billion industry.

December 23, 2022

Winter Solstice 2022, Worst Week for DDT?

[Corrected version for December 23, 2022, blog post]

December 21, the 2022 winter solstice, is the day of the year with the least daylight for the northern hemisphere with the exact solstice time at 4:48 ET, sunset. The darkness of the longest night might be comparable to the darkness of ignorance across the U.S.: one-fourth of its people believe the sun orbits the Earth, over one-third don’t know in which century the American Revolution occurred, and over half believe Adolf Hitler gained his power in a coup although he was actually elected. As the light begins to increase in the U.S., perhaps people will learn more about the danger of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, prime presidential candidates for 2024.

Disasters for DDT this past week bracketed solstice, beginning with the tenth and last House January 6 investigative committee public hearing and continuing later in the week with the release of the committee’s final report and information about DDT’s taxes.  

On December 19, 2022, the committee summarized the first nine hearings and released the criminal charges against DDT that committee members unanimously recommended to the Department of Justice: obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, making knowingly and willfully materially false statement to the federal government, and inciting or assisting an insurrection. In addition, the committee refers four congressional members “for appropriate sanction by the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with lawful subpoenas.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is one who defied a subpoena from the committee.

 The committee gave evidence that Stefan Passantino, DDT’s former White House top ethics attorney, told Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to testify under oath that she couldn’t recall details and keep her answers to “seven words or less.” He refused to tell her that funding for her legal bills came from DDT’s Save America PAC and kept urging her to show “loyalty” and “focus on protecting the President,” promising her “a really good job in Trump world.” Hutchinson was a valuable witness with information about DDT’s state of mind and actions before and on January 6, 2021. Before she testified, she exchanged Passantino for a new lawyer. Meadows also wrote Hutchinson trying to persuade her to be “loyal” and “protect” DDT because “we’re a family.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell also unsealed a June opinion stating that several communications among Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), lawyer John Eastman, and attempted election-overturner DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark, and his aide Ken Klukowski are not privileged.   

Under oath, Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s close friend, admitted he didn’t believe DDT won the 2020 election “for one second” but always pushed the lie of DDT’s victory on his show, like other Fox “opinion” hosts did. In his May 2022 deposition, DDT’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani also admitted he didn’t believe the rigged voting machines lies.

On Wednesday, the committee released its 154-page executive summary of the investigation following an 17-month probe with over 1,200 witness interviews, hundreds of thousands of documents, the issuance of more than 100 subpoenas, and public hearings. It preceded the release of the final 845-page report documenting how DDT has continued to spread lies about his winning the election despite warnings from his family members, Cabinet members, and campaign officials that he should stop. Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnamy and national security adviser Robert O’Brien tried to talk DDT out of his rigged Dominion voting machines conspiracy theory. DDT campaign manager Bill Stepian said he locked his door to keep out DDT allies trying to promote the stolen-election claims, one of them Giuliani.

DDT’s lies ignited the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and urged right-wingers, including a number of hate groups, to keep him in the Oval Office. Court cases about his lies supported by supporters, including far-right media, involve lies about rigged voting machines, “dead voters,” and voting numbers pushing recounts. Conservative states passed laws based on the election fraud lies attempting to destroy democratic processes. DDT’s lies also endangered lives of election voters and created a majority of election officials who believe his lies in many areas of the country.

Other findings:

DDT was central cause of the January 6 insurrection; none of the events of that day “would have happened without him.” The entire White House senior staff wanted “a Presidential statement” to persuade rioters to leave the Capitol. “Scared” Kevin McCarthy, House GOP Minority Leader from California, called Jared Kushner begging for his help to persuade DDT to call of those invading the Capitol.

DDT wanted 10,000 troops to protect himself so that he could march to the Capitol on January 6.

 The attack was “foreseeable”: law enforcement failed.

The RNC knew DDT’s claims about a stolen election were lies but still sought donations using the false claimd, receiving millions of dollars. DDT and the RNC received $250 million after the election, primarily from small donors who believed the lie that their money would help “stop the steal.”

DDT tried to talk to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 18 times to overturn Joe Biden’s legal victory in the state.

While DDT continued to claim over 10,000 dead Georgians voted in the 2020 presidential election, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that his son had found a scant “12 obituaries and 6 other possibles depending on the Voter roll acuracy [sic].”

The plan to overturn election in states by ignoring the legal vote and appointing fake DDT electors moved ahead shortly after the election with hundreds of outreaches by DDT loyalists—68 meetings, attempted or connected phone calls or text messages at state or local officials; 18 prominent public remarks targeting the officials; and 125 social media posts mostly from DDT.

Over 30 witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, going so far as to refuse to give their ages. Others such as Meadows and former adviser Steve Bannon wouldn’t be questioned at all.

The hearing was largely about DDT, but the report provided 11 reform proposals to democratically and peacefully transition the presidency between elections—a failure in 2021:

14th Amendment: ban DDT from holding public office because he “engaged in insurrection.” Congress is asked to consider “creating a formal mechanism for evaluating whether to bar” individuals in the report from holding government office under the constitutional statute. In the House, 41 members introduced a bill to block DDT from holding office under 14th Amendment provisions, ratified in 1868.

Subpoena enforcement: grant Congress greater powers to use federal courts in enforcing its own subpoenas after several high-profile DDT allies refused the committee’s subpoenas.

Protection for poll workers: create steeper penalties for threats to election workers and safeguards protecting their identities.

Tougher oversight of the Capitol Police: improve preparedness of the force through congressional “regular and rigorous oversight” and routine hearings in which the Capitol Police Board testifies as well as assuring “full funding for critical security measures.”  

Role of media: scrutinize “policies of media companies … radicalizing their consumers, including by provoking people to attack their own country” to lessen people galvanized by incorrect information

Insurrection Act: “evaluate all such evidence, and consider tasks posed for future elections” after Oath Keepers’ members called on DDT to deploy armed militia or federal troops to stay in office.

National Special Security Event: make the counting of electoral votes on January 6 a national special security event with increased security protections and advance planning and preparation for the proceedings.

Electoral Count Act: reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to protect future presidential elections from being by declaring that the vice president only counts votes and that the number of votes to object a state’s electoral votes increases from one from each the House and the Senate to one-fifth of each chamber.

Combating violent extremism: adopt “whole-of-government strategies” to deal with the violent threat “posed by all extremist groups” and recommend greater information sharing “on a timely basis” on intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

More severe penalties for obstructing the transfer of power: expand federal criminal statutes aimed at punishing victim tampering to include those who try to obstruct, influence or impede the counting of Electoral College votes on January 6.

Accountability measures: go beyond formal recommendations that the DOJ investigate DDT and his key ally, John Eastman, of specific federal crimes and evaluate other DDT allies’ activities “to ensure criminal or civil accountability for anyone engaging in misconduct described” in the document. Further to urge courts and local bar associations to disqualify those in the legal profession participating in efforts to undermine democratic institutions and ask the DOJ to ensuring that agency employees avoid “campaign-related activities.”

Dahlia Lithwick pointed out one lamentable omission in the final report: Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni, got off the hook. No mention was made of Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself from cases involving the insurrection in which his wife both participated and held a vested interest in the outcome.

Clarence and Ginni Thomas were ultimately untouchable for the Jan. 6 investigators for the same reason they are untouchable for purposes of Supreme Court ethics reform: When you’re a justice, they let you do it. And when you are delivering long-sought victories, even ethical Never Trumpers like Liz Cheney will let you do whatever it takes to deliver the goods.

Tomorrow: DDT’s taxes and more disasters for him this week.

November 14, 2022

News Avoiding the Election, Mostly

Great news for Arizona and democracy! Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), lost her election to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Bad news for Arizona: after the losses of her and two other major DDT candidates, Mark Finchem for secretary of state and Blake Masters for U.S. senator, election liars may try to burn the state down. DDT wants an entire new election for the state because Democrats won some of the races, and some of the losers refuse to concede, saying that they will ensure that they win. With a little over 100,000 ballots still to be counted, Kris Mayes is only 3,000 votes ahead of GOP Abe Hamadeh, another DDT election liar who can bring lawsuits for the state.

In a three-hour face-to-face meeting, President Joe Biden and Chinese President XI Jinping looked for ways to work together. Biden said there will be no “new Cold War” and believes China has no imminent plans to invade Taiwan. The leaders were in Bali for the G20 summit, and the meeting came after months of quiet negotiations. Biden asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to follow up on the discussion in Beijing as part of a long process to thaw a tense relationship. Biden kept DDT’s tariffs and restricted selling semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China.

For the first time, Xi warned against nuclear weapons in Russia’s war when he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Chinese senior official said on the condition of anonymity:

“I think there is undeniably a discomfort in Beijing about what we’ve seen in terms of reckless rhetoric and activity on the part of Russia. I think it is also undeniable that China is probably both surprised and a little bit embarrassed by the conduct of Russian military operations.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was absent for part of the summit after he was taken to the hospital for a heart problem. He said he is fine. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, feels that Biden is compromised by China. No evidence, just a “feeling.”

The House January 6 investigative committee may subpoena the phone records of Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward according to a Supreme Court ruling. She had claimed the request for her phone records violated the First Amendment. The committee requested call records, phone numbers, text messages, and IP addresses communicating with Ward’s number between November 2020 to January 2021 when she was connected to the scam of an Arizona alternate electors’ slate to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.      

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision without explanation. Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, had taken part of the attempted coup by writing 29 Arizona lawmakers, urging them to choose “a clean slate of electors” instead of the state electors pledged to Biden in support of the popular vote. Ward and her husband were “fake electors” from Arizona, lying about the 2020 presidential election in their state. Both the state district court and the 9th Circuit Court disagreed with Ward’s arguments, one of the three-judge panel a DDT appointee.

Ginni Thomas is working on another coup, this one to get rid of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for congressional leaders. She joined almost 60 far-right politicians, some of them like Thomas investigated by the House January 6 investigative committee, in signing a letter to delay the choice of GOP leadership in the 118th Congress.  The American Independent’s senior political reporter Emily C. Singer called it a “who’s who of insurrection supporting Republicans.”

A DDT-supported federal judge in the U.S. District Court for D.C. dismissed a year-old lawsuit by Mark Meadows, DDT’s former chief of staff, to block the House investigative committee to subpoena him. He will likely appear and run the clock out to the end of the 117th Congress, but the ruling is a precedent for many other suits in the same court. Meadows was on the telephone when DDT tried to persuade Georgia election officials to “find” sufficient votes for his victory and with DDT on January 6, 2021 when insurrections illegally entered the Capitol.

A federal judge blocked attempts by Rudy Giuliani to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Giuliani’s accusation of election fraud by the mother/daughter pair caused serious threats and harassment against them; Freeman even had to leave her home for months. Giuliani had falsified a video for his lies.

The Senate returns next week, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), also elected for that position in the 118th Congress, scheduled a Wednesday vote on the bill to codify the right to same-gender and interracial marriage. Democratic leader Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said she thinks the bill has the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and has reached an agreement on “commonsense” changes to protect religious freedom with Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ, and Thom Tillis (R-NC). In July, almost 50 House Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill.  

When Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) politely protested Elon Musk’s allowing Twitter impersonation of him—and many others—Musk responded by saying Marky’s own account “sounds like a parody.” Marky tweeted back:

“One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”

A fake tweet from Eli Lilly about free insulin in a supposedly verified account brought outrage after Lilly’s “apology” that it was false, including from a parody imitating Lilly:

“We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account about the cost of diabetic care. Humalog is now $400. We can do this whenever we want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Suck it. Our official Twitter account is @LiIlyPadCo.”

About 37.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 8.4 million need insulin to survive. To manufacture, a vial costs under $10, but Lilly’s list price is $274.70, the generic at $82.41. Most people on insulin require 2-3 vials a month so at least 1.3 million people risk their lives by rationing their insulin. The Inflation Reduction Act caps insulin out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for Medicare participants, but Republicans blocked all other price caps.  

In the midst of ballot-counting, the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel released the newly declassified summary of a joint interview with George W. Bush and his VP Dick Cheney regarding the September 11 attacks. Members of the 9/11 Commission, did not record the event on April 29, 2004, and the released summary document is the only official record, a “memorandum for the record.”

Bush evidenced no sense about the death and destruction set free by his global war; the interview was at the same time as a massive insurgency in Iraq against a U.S. occupation which would kill thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Seeing the first plane hit the World Trade Center, he thought what a terrible pilot. When his chief of staff Andy Card told him the U.S. was under attack, he stayed in the classroom where he had been reading My Pet Goat to children. He tried to “collect his thoughts” and decided he should “project calm and strength.”

Communications equipment kept failing, including the secure phone line between Bush and Cheney. Bush couldn’t find Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and complained about not having “good television” on Air Force One. Cheney was responsible for authorizing the military to shoot down civilian aircraft. Bush also claimed he didn’t know anything about Saudi nationals receiving permission to leave the country after 9/11.

Bush said he got no “actionable intelligence” About Osama Bin Laden and preparation for hijackings or other attacks in the U.S. and claimed CIA Director George Tenet said “the threat was overseas.” Cheney criticized congressional oversight of covert operations, especially by the CIA, because it weakened the agency. To make the U.S. less vulnerable to attack, Bush said, “We had to kill them before they kill us.” Working with Putin was important to use U.S. military and intelligence of bases in central Asia.

Inflation dropped to an annual rate of 7.7 percent in October, down a half percent. The biggest inflationary contributors were shelter, gasoline, and food, the first two items raising historic profits for companies. Buyers will find less inflation in used cars prices, household supplies, clothing and accessories, household gas, and some food items.

Biden gave all veterans and Gold Star families lifetime passes to national parks.

New drugs could restore a woman’s period using the same medication as used in medical abortion, misoprostol or in combination with mifepristone. The process might not be classified as abortion because the woman doesn’t know whether she is pregnant. Misoprostol is also used for gastric ulcers in nonpregnant people but have become more difficult to obtain because of its connection to abortions. The courts, however, have described abortion as related to “knowledge of a confirmed pregnancy” or “intent to end a confirmed pregnancy.” Menstrual regulation doesn’t rely on a confirmed pregnancy, and no states ban or restrict this regulation with an unknown pregnancy status.

September 22, 2022

News – September 21, 2022 (DDT Faces More Trouble)

 Aileen Cannon, a judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), had ruled against the DOJ’s immediately using seized classified documents from Mar-a-Lago on August 8 for an investigation. In one week, however, DOJ appealed; DDT again won Cannon’s approval; DOJ appealed to the 11th Circuit Court for the materials; and a three-judge panel granted a stay on Cannon’s orders in a ruling siding with the DOJ. It may be the fastest judicial action in history. In the temporary victory for national security, the panel said that Cannon “abused” her discretion in requiring outside review of seized classified documents. In a 29-page opinion, the panel wrote:

“For our part, we cannot discern why [Trump] would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings.”

The panel, composed of one judge appointed by President Obama and two appointed by DDT, also unanimously refused to accept the claim from DDT’s legal team that he might have declassified the documents, as did the special master Raymond Dearie, DDT’s choice for special master that Cannon appointed.

“Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents. In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.”

DDT has consistently claimed the documents were not classified because he said they were declassified. On the Fox network, he went farther when he told Sean Hannity by falsely saying that there was no declassification process and he could wordlessly declassify documents:

“You can declassify just by saying “it’s declassified,” even by thinking about it.”

The 11th Circuit Court ruling simplifies Dearie’s work by removing classified documents from his purview; he had said he wanted to avoid reviewing them if possible. The question is whether DDT’s team will appeal the 11th Circuit Court decision.  

Hours before the bad news for DDT from the 11th Circuit, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she has filed a civil lawsuit against DDT, three of his adult children, and the Trump Organization for $250 million in financial penalties to cover over a decade of fraud when they falsely inflated and deflated their assets to pay lower taxes while getting better insurance coverage. She also asked for a judgment barring DDT and his children in the suit from serving as officer or director of any state-licensed or registered corporation, real estate acquisition in New York, and applications for loans from any financial institution in the state for five years.

The lawsuit comes from a three-year civil investigation with 65 witnesses and reviews of millions of documents. The defendants allegedly conspired to violate state laws, falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, and committing insurance fraud. Possible federal crimes, including bank fraud have been referred to federal prosecutors and the IRS. DDT supposedly turned the Trump Organization over to his two adult sons in 2017 and serve as executive vice presidents.

Former AG Bill Barr criticized James for trying “to drag the children into this,” referring to adults ages 38 to 44. Yet all three participated in “the fraudulent valuation methods and assumptions.” As usual, DDT claimed that the lawsuit is political by a “failed A.G.” James said:

“There aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans.”

DDT’s fraud related to 23 assets inflated every year between 2011 and 2021, totaling over “200 false and misleading valuations” between 2011 and 2021 is the building at 40 Wall Street owned by the Trump Organization which was valued at $200 million on a tax filing in 2010 that was valued at $524 the following year. In 2015, DDT’s triplex in Trump Tower, 10,996 square feet was three times that size and valued at $327 million. At that time, only one apartment in New York City, housed in a newly built ultra-tall tower, had sold for as much as $100 million. In DDT’s building, the most expensive apartment had sold for $16.5 million. Rental units worth $750,000 were valued at nearly $50 million. DDT claimed his Mar-a-Lago home was worth $739 million, but it was worth one-tenth of that estimate. 

Last month, DDT was deposed for the lawsuit, but he claimed the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination for all questions except his name. Jurors can consider declaration of the Fifth as negative in civil suits. The Trump Organization also tried to settle last month, but James rejected the offer.

The civil lawsuit could have horrendous results for DDT and his children. New York Times reporter Susan Craig said DDT might have to renegotiate crucial loans because of liquidity problems. If liens are called, loans will be extremely hard to get, and values for them will be much lower than DDT had declared. It would be “financial ruin for the company” as well as be disastrous for a 2024 campaign.  

James’ civil lawsuit is separate from the Manhattan criminal case, but they work together on the inquiry. DA Alvin Bragg criminally charged Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg for a scheme to not pay taxes on noncash perks. He will have to testify against the business as part of his guilty plea. Weisselberg also described instructions to inflate assets on financial statements. Earlier in 2019, Michael Cohen, DDT’s former lawyer and fixer, habitually inflated and deflated DDT’s assets for financial gain.

Donors who think they are paying for “election integrity” by giving to DDT’s Save America PAC are not only providing DDT’s legal fees but also paying for Melania Trump’s fashion designer. The PAC also gave $650,000 to the Smithsonian Institution for portraits of DDT and former first lady Melania Trump. Two artists have reportedly been commissioned for the two portraits. No spending on any “election fraud” as the PAC advertised. The DOJ is investigating.

DDT faces another New York lawsuit since the state’s new sexual assault survivor’s law went into effect. E. Jean Carroll had accused DDT of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s, but the statute of limitations expired. Now adult accusers have a one-year window to bring civil claims over alleged sexual misconduct no matter how long ago it happened. Carroll’s defamation suit can also proceed. Her attorney Roberta Kaplan wrote that the case will be filed on November 24, 2022. While DDT was in the White House, AG Bill Barr’s DOJ had defended DDT in the defamation suit.

Justice Clarence Thomas may also be in trouble if his wife, Ginni Thomas, honestly testifies to the House January 6 investigative committee. She pushed former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election as shown by multiple texts between the election and the January 6 insurrection, and worked with DDT’s election attorney John Eastman for the same purpose. In addition, Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers in late 2020, urging them to overturn the state’s popular vote victory for Joe Biden and put together “fake electors” for DDT. She also emailed two GOP Wisconsin lawmakers with the same intent. In March 2021, Thomas attending a meeting of right-wing activists where the audience was told that DDT remains the “legitimate president.” She has a long history of participating in far-right organizations, many of them with cases before the Supreme Court; her husband has always refused to recuse himself and voted in their favor.

 Lawyers representing asylum seekers allegedly “tricked” into flying from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard are seeking a nationwide injunction to block Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from luring immigrants to travel across state lines. Taking funds from the $12 million federal COVID money assigned by state legislators to transport undocumented immigrants, DeSantis started with 50 asylum seekers, paying Oregon-based Vertol Systems Company over $1.5 million for “relocation of unauthorized aliens.” Florida paid the company $615,000 on September 8, following by $950,000 on September 19. The chartered planes landed in Massachusetts on September 15. DeSantis accused “opportunistic” activists of using illegal immigrants as “political theater.”

Two state legislators asked the DOJ to investigate the asylum seekers’ involuntary relocation from Texas. The letter explained migrants didn’t know where they were being flown and put on the plane under false pretenses.

A federal bankruptcy judge in Houston ordered new officials to supervise Alex Jones’s bankruptcy of his parent company and probably destroyed Jones’ plans to hide his assets from court orders to pay for court rulings in his all four lost defamation trials regarding the Sandy Hook massacre. The DOJ-appointed trustee monitoring the case has expanded duties. Jones is also under scrutiny for a potential role in the January 6 insurrection.

The House January 6 investigating committee has scheduled its first fall hearing for September 28, 2022, at 1:00 pm EST. Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) announced it might not be the last one but would probably be the only one before the November 8 Midterm elections.

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) lawyers tried to stall DDT’s problems from stealing classified documents by claiming that taking them was like having overdue library books, and President Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about preserving democracy that infuriated Republicans. More about that later while the judge decides whether to assign a “special master” for DDT but meanwhile lots of other news.

In the Alaska’s first ranked-choice election, Democrat Mary Peltola’s win by three percent came from half the people voting for GOP Nick Begich refusing to put Sarah Palin for their second choice—29 percent picked Peltola, and 21 percent didn’t vote for anyone. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), presidential wannabe, tweeted that the GOP-created ranked-choice voting process “is a scam to rig elections.” Peltola’s win was an 18-point overperformance for Democrats in a red state. In special elections since March 2021, Republicans were two percent over the estimated leaning for the winners before Roe v. Wade was overturned; after that, Democrats had an 11-percent lean.

Tony Ornato, DDT loyalist and deputy chief of staff for operations, retired two days before a scheduled interview with Inspector General investigators after stalling for two months. A top Secret Service official, Ornato may have tried to send VP Mike Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 6, 2022, so that the presidential counting of votes would be delayed. Pence refused to get into the car. Ornato also told DDT’s White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson DDT demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6 after the rally and lunged for the steering wheel when Ornato refused to drive him there. Having met with the House January 6 investigative committee twice about Pence’s location, Ornato said he will meet with the Inspector General investigators, but, as a private citizen, he cannot be required to do so with a testimonial subpoena.

The House committee has asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for an interview regarding his communications with DDT’s senior advisers, including Jason Miller and Jared Kushner, about television advertising claiming lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that Gingrich was part of the fake elector plot to persuade Pence and congressional members affecting the outcome of vote counting on January 6. Committee investigators interviewed witnesses during much of August and continue to receive many new documents while they work to recover missing texts from the Secret Service and Defense Department that the agencies wiped from phones of former and current officials.

Members are exploring identification of documents that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned in his office fireplace and other mishandling of documents. After the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Meadows made arrangements to return records to the National Archives.

The committee also interviewed some of DDT’s Cabinet secretaries including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao about their conversations after the insurrection in connection with invoking the 25th Amendment, the removal of a president on grounds of incapacitation, mental health or physical fitness. These discussions could show the serious problems of DDT’s behavior.

Former DDT White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 insurrection.

New information about Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may contribute to the January 6 investigation. She pushed state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well as Arizona to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Emails show emails to at least two Wisconsin state lawmakers appear to be pre-generated by Thomas, mirroring form letters she sent to 29 Arizona legislators asking them to interfere in the state’s slate of presidential electors. She told them to unilaterally choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors and “consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

Thomas’ push to overturn the election received scrutiny because of her husband’s refusal to recuse himself in a case about the House’s January 6 investigation. He was the only justice to publicly dissent from the Supreme Court’s move not to block a court order permitting House investigators to see DDT’s White House documents. Thomas also exchanged texts with Meadows in 2020 to persuade him in continuing the fight to overturn Biden’s win. Meadows gave these texts to the House select committee. Thomas has also openly opposed House investigation, calling on the two Republican members of the committee to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Owners of Fox network are defending itself in a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems with the position that media sources shouldn’t be punished for lying about the 2020 election. Dominion asks for $1.6 billion in damages and has moved into discovery with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro being deposed. According to the Fox argument, the First Amendment allows news organizations to lie about public figures if it’s not done knowingly and has no reckless disregard for the truth. A Delaware judge denied the motion to dismiss the suit last year and stated that the case should proceed and that “the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth.”  

On the flip side of the coin, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch’s son, is suing an Australian news outlet, accusing it of lying about Fox and its news about the election. Lachlan Murdoch contends an article calling the Murdoch family “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection and the preceding election lies caused him to be “gravely injured in his character, in his personal reputation, and his professional reputation.” Crikey, the independent outlet, had stated that if DDT is indicted, “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” The First Amendment protects the statement in the U.S., but Australia has no such protection.

The Murdochs will want to avoid discovery because opposing counsel has access to emails and other internal communication. Concern about discovery caused Fox to settle a suit with the family of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who Fox falsely accused of leaking emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election after Rich was shot and killed. In the Dominion lawsuit, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may be forced to join their hosts in being deposed. The owners claim they don’t make day-to-day decisions on programming or tell hosts what to say or not to say, but text messages prove the opposite.

A three-judge panel of the conservative 8th Circuit Court temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans children and teens. The court ruled that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” Last year, over 200 anti-trans bills were introduced in over 30 states, and many of them have passed. Lies sent about trans people include trans children receiving gender-confirming surgery. Conspiracy theorists have attacked Boston Children’s Hospital for its Gender Multispeciality Service program treating children with gender dysphoria, including a bomb threat this week.

A KKK plaque is installed at the entrance of Bartlett Hall, the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point (NY). It depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on a triptych titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.

Florida is rejecting donations of dictionaries after a freeze on new books in its libraries and classrooms so that parents have more control of school materials. In Sarasota, officials declined hundreds of dictionaries from a Venice Rotary Club’s donations. The group has donated over 4,000 dictionaries to the city’s elementary schools for almost 15 years in partnership with a nonprofit called the Dictionary Project. The law requires all “reading material” be “selected” by a certified education media specialist, but the district has none.

Texas loves God, as long as he’s straight, Christian, and English-speaking. A new law requires schools to display donated posters with “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. So parent Sravan Krishna tried to present a sign with the national motto in Arabic to a school district, and they refused after they tried to keep him from speaking. Muslims are the fifth-largest religious group in the state, and Texas has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. The law has no requirement for English, but the school board said they had enough signs. (The law also makes no requirement for the number of signs.)  In addition to presenting posters in Arabic, Krishna donated another one with “God” in rainbow colors. Although a lawyer has said that the motto must be in English, the colored one didn’t pass muster either. About 20 percent of youth in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.  

[Note the U.S. and Texas flag on the sign. According to the law, the sign must include them and only the words “In God We Trust”–nothing more.]

Despite GOP attempts to kill unions, their approval is at the highest point since 1965 at 71 percent. And just before Labor Day!

July 6, 2022

House Committee Announces Seventh January 6 Hearing

The hearings from the House January 6 investigative committee return next week, the seventh one on Tuesday, July 12, 10:00 am EST (meaning 7:00 am on the West Coast!) Fortunately, some of the cable channels rerun the event although Fox network may not even show it the first time because their ratings went down for the sixth hearing. The network has trained the audience to watch only angry garbage.

The focus of this hearing will “reveal its findings about the connections between former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and the domestic violent extremist groups that helped to organize the siege on Congress.” Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) are expected to lead the hearing “to chart the rise of the right-wing domestic violent extremist groups that attacked the Capitol and how Mr. Trump amassed and inspired the mob.” The DOJ has charged the Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers; ten other Oath Keepers; and and Enrique Tarrio, head of the Proud Boys, with seditious conspiracy.

Sarah Matthews, press secretary in the White House while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was there, has agreed to publicly testify after being subpoenaed. She resigned on the night of January 6 after being “deeply disturbed by what I saw” and stated that “our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.” Matthews also defended Cassidy Hutchinson after people downplayed Cassidy Hutchinson for her testimony to the House committee and her access in the West Wing and added that, to answer the accusation of Hutchinson’s testimony of being “hearsay,” the “the January 6 committee would welcome any of those involved to deny these allegations under oath.”

Hutchinson’s testimony was watched by over 13 million people; the hearing, announced only one day before, was the second-most watched one since the first one in the evening by 20 million watchers. On June 28, Fox, largely ignoring the hearing or misrepresenting it, averaged 1.7 million viewers.

Mick Mulvaney, one of DDT’s chiefs of staff after DDT appointed him to other administrative positions, called on Republicans to pay attention to the committee activities:

“When Republicans start testifying under oath that other Republicans lost the 2020 election and then broke the law to try to change that, Republicans should pay attention. Everyone should.”

Mulvaney said that Republicans arguing that the committee’s hearings are “a made-for-TV show trial” and that “there is no cross-examination of witnesses … are correct… But they still should be paying attention.” He called former AG Bill Barr, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Meadows’ former aide Cassidy Hutchinson “eminently credible.” Barr called DDT “detached from reality,” and Bowers disagreed that DDT had told the House Speaker the election was rigged. CBS co-president Neeraj Khemlani hired Mulvaney for as a paid contributor the network because Khemlani expects Republicans to take over Congress in the fall.

After the last hearing on June 28, DDT’s rants on his Truth Social indicates Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and the testimony by Hutchinson hit a nerve—or several of them—by describing the elements of DDT’s sedition. He ended this rant on the Fourth of July by wishing people a “Happy Fourth of July!!!”

“Warmongering and despicable human being Liz Cheney, who is hated by the great people of Wyoming (down 35!), keeps saying, over and over again, that HER Fake Unselect Committee may recommend CRIMINAL CHARGES against a President of the United States who got more votes than any sitting President in history. Even the Dems didn’t know what she was talking about! Why doesn’t she press charges instead against those that cheated on the Election, or those that didn’t properly protect the Capitol?”

Cheney has not ruled out the possibility of criminal referrals against DDT. In return, DDT has increased his statements he might make a presidential run for 2024, making Republicans very nervous, in an attempt to avoid criminal charges.

In the first dozen hours of hearings, testimony has shown the central part DDT played to stay in the White House, plotting to overthrow the legitimate presidential election for Joe Biden. Other revelations:

  • DDT rejected his aides’ advice when he announced victory for the presidency before all the ballots were counted and states projected a win for Biden.
  • Many of DDT’s followers, including his own daughter Ivanka, refused to believe in voter fraud.
  • DDT’s personal lawyer and strongest supporter Rudy Giuliani admitted “lack of evidence.”
  • DDT’s legal architect of rejecting electoral votes, his campaign attorney John Eastman, also admitted that his theory to overturn the election was illegal.
  • DDT’s team tried to pick outsiders such as DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark to carry out their plan because the government mainstays wouldn’t follow DDT’s orders.
  • DDT knew the crowd had weapons on January 6 but told White House officials to let them through the metal detectors anyway and used his speech to encourage them to march on the Capitol.
  • White House lawyers worried about legal problems from DDT’s speech and his march plans, aware that they would appear to incite a riot, obstruct justice, and defraud the electoral count.
  • DDT thought his VP Mike Pence “deserved” the violence that the crowd threatened.
  • Several lawmakers and DDT associates who asked for pardons in connection with January 6 knew they might be breaking the law.
  • Witnesses, including Cassidy Hutchinson, were sent intimidating messages trying to testify their testimony.

The discovery that DDT’s Save America PAC is paying or promising to pay for several witnesses’ legal fees has raised concerns. Until a month before the June 28 hearing, Hutchinson’s lawyer was supposed by the group; she changed lawyers before her testimony. DDT accused the new lawyer of persuading Hutchinson to lie under oath. Subpoenaed witnesses with lawyers paid by DDT’s organization commonly refuse to answer questions. DDT’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said about DDT and the intimidating messages:

“He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.”

During her testimony, Hutchinson brought up White House counsel Pat Cipollone 18 times as a witness to events. The House committee has subpoenaed Cipollone, and he will testify before the committee on Friday, July 8. The question is whether he will answer any of the questions. He did agree to voluntarily cooperate with the probe last April but didn’t full answer some of the questions. 

Tony Ornato, DDT supporter and deputy chief of staff for operations, denied he said DDT lunged for the steering wheel to direct the car to the Capitol, but multiple Secret Service sources verified Hutchinson’s testimony. Also verified were Hutchinson’s accounts of DDT’s frequent dish throwing. One of the intimidating messages to Hutchinson came from her former boss, Mark Meadows, who refuses to obey a subpoena. Mark Meadows denied he asked for a pardon but didn’t say it under oath.

After information about the attempt by Ginni Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, to overturn Biden’s election, she offered to testify before the House committee. Her lawyer, however, sent an eight-page document denying her presence. He wrote that he didn’t “understand the need to speak with Mrs. Thomas.” About the strategy Thomas sent to Meadows, the lawyer said, “She was simply texting with a friend.”  

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has been removed from all House committees because of her QAnon theories affecting her behavior, tweeted she will create her own 1/6 committee because the existing ones won’t permit “rebuttal witnesses.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also got a lot of media coverage for his shifting explanations when asked about his giving Pence a list of fake electors voting for DDT on January 6 in an attempt to give him false votes to the electoral college. First, he said he didn’t know anything about his staff member trying to give fake slate from Wisconsin and Michigan to Pence’s staff member, who wouldn’t take them. A day later he claimed a Pennsylvania congressman brought the slate to his office—a claim immediately disputed by the congressman who said he hadn’t seen Johnson for almost a decade. Caught in that lie, Johnson said the whole thing didn’t even matter. Johnson is so bad at lying that when he told a reporter he couldn’t answer questions because he was on his cellphone, a video picked up the phone ringing.

The senator is running for another six-year term in 2022. The primary is on August 9. Johnson had promised a year ago he wouldn’t run for a third term but now is spreading a fake story about people crying if he didn’t run again. Some Republicans are “crying” because he is running again. Luckily for Johnson, he’s running unopposed—in the primary.

May 20, 2022

Republicans Fight Democrats, Each Other

A week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had his time in the sun by single-handedly blocking the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, the Senate passed the House bill by 86-11. Eleven Republicans, 22 percent of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Paul, and Tommy Tuberville (AL). All 57 dissenters to the bill in the House vote 368-57 are Republicans. 

About the serious shortage of baby formula, Republicans claim that President Joe Biden is doing nothing about the problem or women should breastfeed so they don’t need the formula.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), among the House leadership, called Biden and other Democrats “pedo grifters.” She blamed the shortage on Biden’s economic policies instead of mismanagement by one of the four monopolizing manufacturers with dirty conditions and massive expenditures on the company’s stock. Republicans ignore Biden’s actions solving the shortage:

  • Invoking the Defense Production to speed up the production.
  • Authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to bring more imports for overseas.
  • Requiring suppliers to fulfill orders from baby-formula producers before other customers.
  • Making a deal with Abbott Nutrition for them to manufacture baby formula if they clean up the plant where it’s made.

His ideas seem much better this one from Republicans, introduced by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott: starve migrant infants so that white infants will have the formula. Or Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), allegedly accused of sex trafficking minors, who wants to deny fomula to infants in poor families and save it for “hard-working Americans.”

The House appropriated $28 million in emergency funds for the baby formula shortage, but only 12 Republicans supported the bill. Stefanik, a new mother who uses baby formula, was not one of them, but she did vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act, temporarily waiving exclusive contracts between states and baby formula manufactures for six million people enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children program. Nine other Republicans, however, voted against that bill: Andy Biggs (AZ), Laurie Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Clay Higgins (LA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX).  Stefanik’s own bill was for more foreign imports of the product. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act but didn’t take up the funding bill.  

The U.S. House also passed a bill 217-207 permitting Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration blocking gasoline and home fuel price gouging. Despite the huge hue and cry from the GOP about inflation, no Republicans voted for the bill, and it has little chance of getting the necessary 60 percent of votes in the Senate. Four House Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), and Kathleen Rice (NY). 

The partisan vote in the House of 222-203 on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 shows how the GOP supports white supremacy.

Republicans hate globalization and want to bring home manufacturing, but Senate Republicans will likely drop a small program to train workers in new careers if they lose jobs from offshoring. GOP legislators say the U.S. is not working on new trade deals with other countries although old trade deals are still in effect. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated that Republicans care very little “about people getting laid off because of bad trade deals and tax policy that encourages jobs to go overseas.”

As frustrated as Democrats are with the GOP, Republican splits are causing dissension within the party. Hardline tactics of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus have forced recorded votes instead of voice votes on what should be noncontroversial bills; legislators forced to stay for the voting can’t leave to do other business. A heated confrontation during a 2.5-hour voting on 13 measures led to raised voices from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and caucus members Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), the current chair. Witnesses reported that Rogers promised consequences for the Freedom Caucus members if they continue delaying tactics. Beyond virtuous comments about the need to review all legislature, the Freedom Caucus bragged that they slow down the Democrats’ “agenda.” Suspension bills need a two-thirds’ vote to pass, and some are failing because of GOP opposition. One required the VA to provide contraceptives without co-pays. The bill later later passed after the normal rules process. In another bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only member of the House to oppose a resolution calling on leaders to condemn anti-Semitism.  

The House January 6 investigation committee is heating up the media with more information about who worked to overturn Biden’s presidential election. With evidence that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, the committee wrote him, asking for his testimony. GOP legislators had claimed that security footage shows “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” in the complex on the days before the insurrection. The committee wants to know about “individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”

Both Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IA) denied any tour like that, stating “a constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’” They added, “The family never entered the Capitol building.” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused Republicans of leading tours to people using them to help interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. She didn’t provide any names, and Loudermilk called anyone in Congress who made these claims “morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution.” He asked the House Ethics Committee to “take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.” The committee’s evidence contradicts these denials and raises questions about Loudermilk’s tour and its purpose. He is also among those texting former chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election.

Note that Loudermilk and Davis lied with their claim of “no tours” for the past 16 months.

New committee findings include official White House photos from January 6 showing Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) activites on the day. The probe is also targeting DDT’s 11:20 am phone call with then-VP Mike Pence in a final push for him to overturn the election and DDT’s 2:24 pm attack tweet, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” At that time, the Secret Service was rushing Pence into an underground Capitol loading dock for protection from the mob. The committee perceives this tweet as the driver of the mob’s fury and worst violence as well as DDT’s indifference to it.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder/chair of the Oracle software company and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call with Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, True the Vote’s attorney James Bopp Jr., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) focusing on strategies for overturning the election. Ellison’s part may have been to assess Sidney Powell’s false claims about voting machines. He has been an active participant in a number of DDT’s conspiracy theories.  

Powell, well-known for her evidence-free claims of election fraud in multiple court cases, is now providing financial support for high-profile insurrectionists through donations to her non-profit, Defending the Republic. One of them, Kelly Meggs, is an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges who has a new lawyer after her former one, Jonathan Moseley, was disbarred in Virginia for improper billing practices. In 2009, Virginia suspended his law license for frivolous discovery requests and false statements about the judge in the case. On January 6 he was in a restricted area at the Capitol but said he didn’t notice.

Known as the “Kraken,” Powell is also paying to defend Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, from the network of militia-style groups created in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential election. A few dozen face criminal charges for the January 6 insurrection, and 12 of them have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Powell was responsible for a far-reaching set of conspiracy theories about the non-existent election fraud from billionaire George Soros to the involvement of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who died in 2013. The committee subpoenaed Powell, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for $1.3 billion. She is also facing disbarment in Texas from allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct prohibiting attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, and taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Another DDT shyster lawyer and architect to overturn Biden’s election, Rudy Giuliani, testified to the House committee for nine hours.

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas pushing two Arizona state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win in that state by picking their own electors contrary to the popular vote. The justice is also godfather to the son of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, married to one of the lawmakers, and the lawmaker, Shawnna Bolick, is a candidate for the secretary of state. Incestuous? Definitely a loss of democracy for Arizona’s voters if she’s elected.

March 26, 2022

March 26 – Catching Up on the News

During the past week, the media largely focused on the song-and-dance smear campaign of Supreme Court justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson and the ongoing flattening of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his determination to eradicate all the nation’s civilians. But a few other things occurred.

After a week, Clarence Thomas is out of the hospital after suffering a mysterious illness. While there, he dissented in a Supreme Court ruling of 8-1 for new guidelines that permit a Texas death row inmate’s spiritual adviser to pray aloud and “lay hands” on him during his execution. Now no longer sequestered, he faces continuing ethics questions about his wife, Ginni Thomas, who exchanged 29 texts with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that pushed him to overturn the 2020 presidential election. She argued for continued dispute of the election results, declared that Joe Biden did not win the election, and lobbied for legal strategies to accomplish these ends. Thomas has already defended Dictator Donald Trump (DDT); i.e., having been the only Supreme Court justice against releasing DDT’s records to the House January 6 investigation committee.

In her texts, Ginni Thomas pushed the conspiracy theory that 12 battleground states used DDT’s water-marked ballots to trick Democrats. She encouraged Meadows to watch a video by Steve Pieczenik whose ideas are too far out for Alex Jones. His history of lying includes claims of having worked throughout the national security bureaucracy in classified positions and arresting Pope Francis. Like Jones, he tried to persuade people that the massacre of 20 young children at Sandy Hood Elementary School was faked and said the same thing about Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 attack, and the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 60 people. Ginni Thomas agrees with Pieczenik lies and told Meadows that military “white hats,” the QAnon term for DDT supporters in the federal government, had been deployed to key states.

“I think we should be careful destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want when we want it.” These were Clarence Thomas’ words in a speech last September; his wife should have heeded them. Republican congressional members are solidly on the Ginni Thomas’ side while incensed about Jackson’s ethical behavior. She also pressured congressional members to overthrow the election. Soon after the 2020 election, she wrote to an aide of Jim Banks (R-IN), the incoming Republican Study Committee chair, stating she would have nothing to do with his group until his members go “out in the streets.” The RSC is only less conservative than the tea-party Freedom Caucus.

Voter fraud by Meadows’ wife, Debra Meadows, has emerged.  In October 26, 2020, she two false voter forms, one for voter registration and the other an application for a mail-in ballot. On both forms, his wife certified that she resided at a place for at least 30 days where she didn’t live. Both forms had this notice: “fraudulently or falsely completing this form” is a Class I felony.  She also dropped off her husband’s absentee ballot. Three months earlier, Mark Meadows had protested in an interview about how mail-in ballots and ballot “harvesting,” having someone else drop off a ballot, results in voter fraud. He also “fraudulently or falsely” completed the same forms. And he had the ballot with the wrong address sent to their Alexandria condo. The state Bureau of Investigation is looking into Mark Meadows but declined to say whether their probe would cover his wife actions.

North Carolina should take the Meadows’ case seriously. In 2016, a resident Latisha Bratcher Jones, on probation for a felony after serving time in prison, completed an application to vote because she thought she was eligible. She was indicted for making a false affidavit about being on probation and giving her residence in a different county than the one where she voted. State officials concluded she unintentionally voted illegally, but a prosecutor brought felony charges that could have sent her to prison for 19 months. Eventually she pled guilty to a misdemeanor about living in a different county.

Corruption and conspiracy theories are okay with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), but he apparently draws the line at conviction. At the House GOP retreat, he said that Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) should resign if he is convicted of a felony. Fortenberry was convicted of three felonies, all lying to federal authorities about an illegal $30,000 donation from a foreign billionaire from Nigeria. Conviction is a low bar; he kept House members in their committee seats after their insurrection attempts to overthrow the United States government. 

Instead of using loopholes to get out of trouble, Fortenberry just used lies and excuses. When his campaign violation was discovered, he claimed he didn’t lie and even made a video while he and his wife sat with their dog in an antique pickup out in the Nebraska countryside. Later he used an excuse about “a bad cell phone connection” causing a misunderstanding. Then the accusation was a “failed memory test.” Another Fortenberry excuse was that the FBI were trying to trap him when agents planned to “feed” him information to “set up” future charges. He asked for a second interview and then lied again. Fortenberry claimed that the lead prosecutor had political reasons to attack him. Failing with those tactics, his attorneys explained Fortenberry was confused—because of his age. He was 60.

Fortenberry has resigned from the House of Representatives as of March 31. Nebraska prevents a gubernatorial appointment; replacing Fortenberry requires a special election.

The feud between DDT and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), candidate for U.S. Senate, continues. DDT changed his endorsement of Brooks to the primary opponent, and Brooks went on the road telling everyone that DDT incessantly begged for his help in overturning the election, even after the January 6 insurrection. Brooks said DDT told him to rescind the 2020 election, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, put DDT back into the White House, and hold a new special election to get him elected. DDT called Brooks, who gave a speech on January 6 calling for protesters to take action at the Capitol, “woke” because he told people to put the election behind them.

The 12th missile fired this year by North Korea, the biggest thus far, was first unveiled in October 2020. It flew 71 minutes before landing near Japan’s territorial waters; its height suggests the range could be 9,320 with a normal trajectory, putting the U.S. within striking distance. In 2017, North Korean missiles also demonstrated the possibility of reaching the U.S.

U.S. customs officials stopped Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign manager, from getting on a plane to Dubai with a revoked passport. Over the past decade, Manafort had submitted ten passport applications and had three active U.S. passports, each with a different identification number. Convicted of lying to investigators after pleading guilty to tax and bank fraud, he served two years in prison of his 7.5-year sentence before being released during the COVID pandemic. DDT pardoned Manafort a month before DDT left the White House.  

The truck convoy in Washington, D.C. is still trying to create havoc, but the cracks are starting to show. Their goal is to slow traffic, but they claim they have to pee in their pants because they keep getting slowed down. One of their threats is to make “citizen’s arrests” of the drivers, the DC police officers, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Some of the truckers claim that just driving around the Beltway is a “waste” although their leader Brian Base came back to camp after a few days at home and told them they are succeeding. The rain seems to be an excuse for their not going out on the road. He also said that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), after his media appearance a while back, hasn’t been in touch.   

Last Thursday, convoy member Brandon Jackson, 28, was arrested “on handgun violations” and “charged with ‘illegal possession of a loaded handgun on person.’” A vehicle was blocking the roadway in front of the Hagerstown Speedway where the convoy is camping, and the arrest came during a heated argument between Jackson and another trucker about the convoy’s plans and the possibility of corruption.  Earlier that week, two men, one of them Jackson’s friends, had argued during the morning meeting earlier in the week about who could to speak on the microphone. Jackson accused the organizer of planting a spy among the convoy members.

Two people also said they were attacked by members of the convoy in two separate incidents, one on March 16 and the other March 20. One was on a motorcycle, a trucker tried to knock him over by opening his vehicle’s door.  A group of truckers surrounded the man and pushed him off his motorcycle. A video of truckers assaulting the motorcyclist.

Jobless claims fell by 28,000 to 187,000 for the week ending March 19. The four-week average for claims also fell to levels not seen in five decades. Employers added 678,000 jobs in February, the largest monthly total since July. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.8%, from 4% in January. In total, 1,350,000 Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended March 12, another five-decade low.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg—lots more later.

January 22, 2022

DDT’s Legal Woes

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has a long Teflon history of slipping out of problems, both in his businesses and during his four years in the White House. He’s even contemplating a declaration for the 2024 presidential run to wriggle out of his legal problems—except he’d have to start declaring his financials. Maybe. This past week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis called for a special grand jury to investigate DDT’s alleged election fraud in Georgia, and the House January 6 investigation committee subpoenaed DDT’s close associates, including his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, identified as a coordinator of fake elector certificates in five states.

House Committee:

The Supreme Court rejected DDT’s requests to keep 700 pages of his White House records about the January 6 insurrection from the committee in a decision that cannot be appealed. None of DDT’s three appointed judges dissented with the 8-1 ruling. Only Clarence Thomas disagreed. His wife, Ginni Thomas, had joined others in signing a letter declaring that the 11 Oath Keepers arrested with seditious conspiracy “have done nothing wrong.” On the day of the attack at the U.S. Capitol, she supported the violence in real time on her social media. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the judicial rule that judges must recuse themselves from cases in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or in which their spouse has “an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome.”

The ruling did not answer the question of whether a former president can block the release of records; it just agreed with an appeals court that DDT’s claims for executive privilege over the documents “would have failed even if he were the incumbent” president. The District of Columbia appeals court upheld a lower federal court ruling that “the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight” over former presidents. SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh disagreed that a former president cannot invoke executive privilege but that doesn’t mean “privilege is absolute or cannot be overcome.”

One document obtained by the House investigative committee is a draft executive order from December 16, 2020, for the Secretary of Defense to seize voting machines, keeping DDT in the White House after Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. It cited a federal law for the defense secretary to “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention.” He would be given 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election. The author of the draft is unknown, but the position is consistent with proposals from lawyer Sidney Powell and her statements during a meeting with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, lawyer Emily Newman, and CEO Patrick Byrne.  The draft is here.

A second document is a rough draft of a speech, “Remarks on National Healing,” for DDT to deliver after the January 6 insurrection in which claimed DDT “immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Yet Defense Secretary Chris Miller testified the DDT never contact him at any time to deploy the National Guard. The other comments in the draft were at odds with the statement DDT gave to his supporters 187 minutes after the insurrection began on January 6.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said DDT’s staff members are testifying against DDT to the House committee for various reasons—disgusted about his action, afraid of the investigation committee, and short on financial resources to fight criminal referrals.

District Court:

A district judge heard arguments on three cases about whether allegations of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and his supporters inciting the January 6 insurrection can move forward. The judge asked if DDT’s silence in not stopping them meant DDT agreed with the insurrectionists. This civil litigation is the first one to hold DDT liable after his second impeachment trial acquittal. Also considered are three lawsuits brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), ten other House Democrats, and two Capitol Police Officers. Not argued yet are six other lawsuits against DDT and others for their insurrection roles.

When DDT’s lawyer suggested the judge treated DDT worse because he wasn’t a Democrat, he called that statement “inappropriate” and asked the lawyer to “avoid that.” DDT can be charged if the judge determines DDT was campaigning during the speech. The rioters’ and DDT’s alleged crimes on January 6 may be related to the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1873 against officials who intimidate people from carrying out legal duties such as the Electoral College voting for president and “finding” votes for him.

Appearing without a lawyer, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told the court that the White House asked him to speak at the January 6 rally. repeated his claim that speaking at the rally was an official duty, but he wore body armor while giving the speech. He also gave documents explaining his language in his speech, identified as inciting violence, was appropriate for election speeches. Brooks’ first accusation about a rigged election was his first one in 1982, but he dropped the accusation after he won.

New York Cases:

Evidence from Letitia James, New York’s AG, adds to the collection of facts about how the Trump Organization used “fraudulent or misleading” assessments of its property—golf resorts, apartment buildings, etc.—to cheat on tax benefits and loans. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is operating a separate criminal probe which has obtained DDT’s personal tax turns. Both case are filed against not only DDT but also his two sons and daughter Ivanka who are executives of the Trump Organization.

In his deposition, Eric Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over 500 times, sometimes for his involvement in tax easements for the Seven Springs estate and Westchester golf club. James alleged Ivanka Trump was responsible for “misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government” concerning the winning bid to lease the government-owned Old Post Office Pavilion made into DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel. Sale of the lease could give a $100 million profit to DDT. Other properties Trump handled were DDT’s Chicago hotel, Manhattan’s condos, and Miami’s golf resort.

James’ new filing this week concerns DDT’s Manhattan skyscraper, 40 Wall Street. A lender refused to refinance its loan in 2015 because the Trump Organization’s valuation was too unbelievable. A ProPublica story explained how the occupancy, income, and expense for the loan application didn’t match the figures for city tax authorities, showing there were “two sets of books” for higher loans and lower taxes. In 2010, The Organization declared a value of the building at $601.8 million while the loan appraisal by an independent company came in at $200 million. The business employees, including DDT’s children, provided the same gross misinformation for other DDT properties. One example of DDT’s inflation was the size of his apartment in Trump Tower, which he inflated from its actual size of 10,996 square feet and a valuation of $127 million 2012 to 30,000 square feet and an evaluation of $327 million in 2015. Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg testified that the value as overvalued by $200 million “give or take.” Other details are here.

Weisselberg also couldn’t explain the financial discrepancy of the Trump International Golf Club Scotland, valued at $435.56 million in 2014, double the sum for the year before. DDT bought the property for $12.6 million in 2006 and valued it at $161 million just five years later. DDT also claimed $4.4 million and $5.5 million of UK pandemic 2020-21 support, not included in Trump companies accounts, and recorded millions of losses in 2020, citing Brexit for its problems. DDT was a strong supporter of the UK separating from the European Union because the people “took back their country.” Company accounts show that both DDT’s golf resorts owe $158 million to DDT in personal loans.

Bragg plans to depose DDT, who admitted 30 times in an earlier deposition he had lied about his financial affairs when he sued Timothy O’Brien, senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, for DDT’s financial information in his 2005 book, TrumpNation. The libel suit was dismissed in 2009, but no prosecutor at the time showed any interest in DDT’s potential malfeasance. James may also change her civil investigation to a criminal one. DDT, in his typical stalling fashion, has filed a lawsuit against Letitia James.    

Private Lawsuits:

DDT is defendant in at least six lawsuits, including the one from niece Mary Trump alleging he defrauded her out of her inheritance. Former DDT property tenants in New York allege he illegally raised their rents. E. Jean Carroll, who claims DDT raped her in the 1990s, is suing for defamation because the statute of limitations against her rape has run out. 

Last week, DDT’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen filed a lawsuit against DDT for retaliating against him for publishing his “tell-all” memoir, Disloyal. The suit claims DDT endangered Cohen’s life with an abrupt return to federal prison from home confinement in 2020 and seeks damages for “extreme physical and emotional harm” and violations of his First Amendment rights in the suit against DDT, federal prison officials, and former AG Bill Barr. Cohen was returned to prison after he refused to sign a document blocking him from publishing a book or speaking to the media for the rest of his sentence. Cohen stated the demand violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment, and a U.S. district court agreed with Cohen. His lawsuit concerns a corrupt U.S. president using the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice to retaliate against a political critic.

Disloyal turned into a best-selling book.

DDT’s habit of stiffing people by not paying his bills may come back to bite him. The Trump Organization reserved rooms at the Loews Madison Hotel for DDT’s inauguration, but 13 people didn’t show up. The company failed to pay the $49,358 hotel bill, dodged a credit collection agency, and then pushed the cost onto the nonprofit presidential inaugural committee. The D.C. attorney general Karl Racine is investigating DDT’s children in charge of the Trump Organization for misuse of funding for the committee. DDT’s employee Weisselberg audited the committee’s finances. He was indicted for criminal tax fraud in New York City before D.C. investigators could interview him under oath.

There may be many more lawsuits out there!

September 30, 2021

SCOTUS Justices Need a Code of Ethics

The Supreme Court returns Friday, October 1, and approval of the Supreme Court has dropped to the lowest in history. The reason is not only the agreement from six justices that vigilantism can stay alive and well in Texas until the anti-abortion law is litigated, perhaps many years from now. Without Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to clamp down on news, the public now knows that the FBI suspected serious problems about Brett Kavanaugh before 49 Republicans and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin voted to put him into a lifetime Supreme Court term. It was the closest vote since 1881. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she voted for Kavanaugh because he promised her Roe v. Wade was “settled law.”

Without DDT’s AG Bill Barr, the Department of Justice confirmed the FBI received over 4,500 tips against him and sent “relevant” ones to DDT’s White House where they disappeared. Accusations of Kavanaugh’s sexual assaults from two other women than Christine Blasey Ford were also negated. “Yay” senators also ignored the appointee’s misleading them, possibly lying under oath in 2004 and 2006 as George W. Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about his partisanship as a young lawyer. The tirade at the televised confirmation hearing in 2018 dismissing his misconduct allegations as a “political hit” should have been obvious to Manchin if not to the other Republicans. Kavanaugh claimed then, “What does around come around,” and he’s living up to it. In addition to anti-choice decisions in the Supreme Court this year are disputes about guns, voter-suppression, and elections—possibly even insurrections after January 6. By now his decisions are becoming predictable.

Kavanaugh adds to the solid block of conservatives voting for Republicans: unlimited corporate spending on elections, elimination of federal “preclearance” of voting changes in regions demonstrating discrimination, permission of partisan gerrymandering on the part of the GOP, etc. Like DDT, he has openly criticized mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day although some states make them legal. And like his conservative compatriots, there is no such thing as “settled law.”

People wanting to give partisan Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt forget he worked to put George W. Bush into the White House in Bush v. Gore after he spent four years with Ken Starr investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton. This work was rewarded by his appointment to the D.C. appeals court where a columnist wrote he was “nothing more than a partisan shock trooper in a black robe.” As a White House operative, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was blocked for three years until 2006. Democrats refused to accept protestations that he had nothing to do with warrantless surveillance, torture of terrorism suspects, and “Memogate” about a Republican aide who stole thousands of Democrats’ emails from 2001 through 2003 and shared them with Bush advisers.

During his earlier confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh lied about promoting three judicial extremist nominees despite emails proving he was involved in staging events, reviewing promotional material, attending meetings, drafting statements for Bush officials, providing advice, and recommending one of the nominees. And “Memogate” when he was often listed as either the first recipient of the emails or the only one. In 2004, he swore he had not received any of these emails and in 2006 said he was “not aware of the memos.”

Facing his former lies under oath in 2018, he moved from ignorance to admission he had received some emails but assumed that the aide found the information through typical information-trading between Republican and Democratic aides. One email told Kavanaugh exactly what questions Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would ask him at a hearing, and another was a 4,000-word strategy memo a Leahy adviser sent her employer. A third email, marked “confidential,” stated that “Leahy’s staff is only sharing with Democratic counsels.”

Supreme Court justices are the only ones in the judicial branch who cannot be impeached, and the same goes for unethical behavior. Chief Justice John Roberts sent scores of complaints about Kavanaugh, primarily about his lying under oath, to the 10th Circuit Judicial Council for review; they were returned two months later, dismissed as moot because federal ethics rules don’t apply to Supreme Court justices. The Council did confess that “the allegations contained in the complaints are serious.”

Kavanaugh is not alone in needing a code of ethics. A year after his confirmation, Kavanaugh joined Justice Samuel Alito in meeting privately with representatives of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and posing for photos with them. Opposing marriage equality, NOM was participating at that time as a friend of the court in a case involving LGBTQ rights. Lower federal court judges would have been censured for this behavior, but both Kavanaugh and Alito dissented against the six justices supporting LGBTQ rights in the case. 

A year later, Alito gave an “ireful” speech to the highly conservative Federalist Society, delivering his strong views against gun rights, abortion, LGBT rights, and pandemic-related restrictions on religious gatherings. His statements left no doubt about future rulings. All federal judges except those on the high court must comply by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni may top lack of ethics in the current set of justices because of their mutual scams. She collects unlimited dark money for her Tea Party-connected nonprofit, Liberty Central, and organizes Republicans on issues often reaching the Supreme Court. He works the court, including the ones in which spouses have financial interests.

A recent example is the issue of big tech when Republicans complain about censorship of conservative positions despite evidence that many of these, especially Facebook, have favored Republicans. Ginni promoted a website and “influence network” about big tech’s “corporate tyranny.” Clarence wrote a concurring opinion in a case dealing with DDT’s blocking his critics on Twitter and railed railed against the control “of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties” and the “glaring concern” for free speech.

Ginni started Liberty Central in 2009 with secret donations enabled by that year’s Supreme Court Citizens United decision. Legal ethicists questioned the existence of those secret donations, but the ruling’s permission of secrecy makes investigation difficult. Since then, she opposed the Affordable Care Act, which Clarence always opposes in the Supreme Court.

In the Pennsylvania decision permitting mailed-in ballots counted up to three days after Election Day if postmarked before Election Day, Clarence wrote a scorching dissent using DDT’s argument of fraud, especially in mail-in ballots used primarily by seven states. Yet the number of ballots involved totaled about 10,000 which would not have changed the majority for Joe Biden who won the state 3.4 million votes to DDT’s 3.3 million. Ginni endorsed the rally that led to the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Last year’s SCOTUS decisions set the tone for the upcoming term. The majority voted in favor of the GOP Chamber of Commerce 83 percent of the time and moved to the right in “religious liberty” and voting (non)rights in its shadow dockets.

The court’s power in blocking votes was obvious in gutting another part of the 56-year-old Voting Rights Act after destroying much of it in 2013 by supporting Arizona’s voting-restriction law, struck down by the 9th Circuit Court. One provision was blocking anyone except a relative or caregiver from dropping off a ballot, and the other requiring the tossing of all ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Alito said that courts should use voting rules made in 1982 to make its decision.

In Arizona, precincts are hard to determine because the state seems to change them for every election, and the absentee ballot drop-off restriction is especially damaging to Native Americans on reservations and people who may count on friends to drop off their mail-in ballots. Alito said just because voting may be “inconvenient for some,” doesn’t mean unequal access. but the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation, almost four times the size of Rhode Island, has only one post office, trouble with transportation, and difficulty in mail delivery. 

The 4-4 decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s small extension in the mail-in ballot deadline before Amy Coney Barrett moved onto the Supreme Court bodes future decisions like Bush v. Gore, nullifying thousands of legal ballots. Trying to block state judiciaries from protecting state voting rights under state constitutions goes farther than the decision putting George W. Bush into the White House when Florida later found a majority of votes for Al Gore.

Packing the Supreme Court? That’s what the Republican senators and DDT did before Joe Biden’s presidency.

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