Nel's New Day

November 19, 2020

Biden Works, DDT Kills

President-elect Joe Biden:

Officials, currently in the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as well as former ones and all aware of the importance of national security, are quietly reaching out to Biden’s transition team although Emily Murphy, GSA direction, refuses to start the process. One official described the outreach effort as putting duty to country over party considerations. Although conversations cannot replace formal briefings, they can explain the issues Biden needs to address after January 20.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has ordered anyone in his agencies not to communicate with Biden’s team and told them to alert the deputy surgeon general of any requested communication. Azar said, “We’re about … saving lives here,” as he keeps Biden from knowledge that can save people’s lives. Policy staffers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the immigration agency that handles paperwork like naturalization forms, got the same orders. Part of the goal may be to hide the agency’s abuses and radicalization, disclosed by former USCIS chief counsel Ur Jaddou, now a member of Biden’s transition team.

Illegally led by racist Ken Cuccinelli who refuses to leave despite a judicial decision, USCIS now has a revised citizenship test creating a greater barrier for applicants. The oral test has over two dozen more questions, 128 in all, with a higher number of mandated correct answers. Answers to questions have also been changed. For example, the correct answer to “who does a U.S. Senator represent” was formerly “all the people of the state.” Now the answer is “citizens of their state.” The exam goes into effect on December 1.

Republicans continue to stall the transition, saying it will happen “on time”—which was actually almost two weeks ago.

Pentagon officials confirmed they hadn’t formally begun the transition process but they have started providing unclassified briefing material, which is permitted. Some officials were also willing to meet off site with some of the Biden transition team if Murphy refuses to permit the process into December. Officials agreed with Biden that the his team could not learn about protecting the safety of U.S. troops if they wait until after mid-December. 

While DDT sulks in the White House, Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among other world leaders. Netanyahu said they had a “warm conversation” and agreed to meet soon. Modi also hailed the election of part-Indian Kamala Harris as vice president.

Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are upset about DDT’s firing Chris Krebs, the top cybersecurity official who protected both elections and the power grid. In addition, his agency is in charge of protecting hospitals and vaccine researchers from hacking. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said:

“It just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a—I don’t even know what’s normal anymore. We’ll call it the next normal.”

Other GOP senators who praised Krebs and expressed concern include Mike Rounds (SD), Susan Collins (ME), Richard Burr (NC), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Ben Sasse (R-OH), and Rob Portman (OH). 

From the White House: The removal of troops from Afghanistan is part of DDT’s plan to sabotage the Biden administration. DDT plans to create so many problems with foreign policy that Biden can’t handle it. Toward this end, DDT’s team is preparing the legally-required transition memos with policy challenges but no actions. National security be damned. A sample:

  • Directing new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to focus on cyber and irregular warfare, China in particular.
  • Considering new terrorist designations in Yemen complicating efforts to broker peace.
  • Rushing massive arms sales altering the balance of power in the Middle East with an arms race.
  • Floating the idea of a military strike on Iran’s primary nuclear site.
  • Building a wall of sanctions and creating new penalties.
  • Further expanding illegal Israeli settlement to damage a two-state solution.

DDT is counting on Biden being on DDT’s low level of competence and understanding of diplomacy.

DDT:

DDT plans another superspreader event. Arlington National Cemetery canceled the event “Wreaths across America” because of safety issues for visitors and cemetery staff after consulting with public health officials and the event leaders. DDT overrode Army officials and ordered it reinstated. “It will now go on,” DDT tweeted. Sixty-three days left before DDT is no longer in control.

Reports from Saturday’s “Million MAGA March” in Washington show unregistered firearms, including a loaded submachine gun, from an Atlanta couple affiliated with a militia; an altercation in which a MAGA man hit a counterprotester in the back  and stomped him; and a stabbing in a group of MAGA men with no arrests. Police are also investigating why an officer was with QAnon member Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

DDT’s campaign and Fox’s Tucker Carlson are accusing another live woman of being dead when she voted for Biden in Georgia.

DDT Recount:

DDT is paying Wisconsin $3 million for a recount in two heavily-populated Democratic-leaning counties in another attempt to obtain a majority of the votes or at least block their certification. The selection was supposedly for “the worst irregularities” although state elections chief and local officials had no reports of wrongdoing. The count must be finished by December 1, the deadline for certifying the state’s vote count for electoral votes, but officials estimate it will be finished in less than a week. Four years ago, DDT ridiculed Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s paying $3.5 million for a recount, and his son Eric said the money could have saved at least “5,000 Children’s Lives.” The 2016 recount of the entire state gave DDT another 133 votes. Biden leads DDT 49.6 percent to 48.9 percent—1,630,673 to 1,610,065 votes. In 2016, DDT won the state by 23,000 votes.

The completed Georgia recount found a few minor discrepancies leaving Biden winning by about 0.3 percent. Newest totals will be announced tomorrow. Losing DDT and other Republicans describe the recount as fraudulent. If DDT demands a machine count, it can take up to nine more days. DDT taking Georgia still gives Biden 290 electoral votes, 20 more than he needs to be president.

DDT’s allies called for a protest connected to Georgia’s recount, but social media suggested that the protesters, led by conspiracy-laden Alex Jones, correct “Georiga” State Capitol and suggested they work on their spelling.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is facing an ethics complaint for asking Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to throw away valid ballots. The complaint asks Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “be recused from any investigation or other Senate matter relating to alleged irregularities in the 2020 election” while any probe of his comments is ongoing. Graham’s spokesman said those who filed the complaint are “longtime vocal critics” of both Graham and DDT. Walter Schaub, one of the complainants, was the director of the United States Office of Government Ethics. He resigned because of DDT’s constant unethical behavior. Raffensperger and his wife have received multiple death threats.

DDT Lawsuits:

In a classic approach toward overturning Biden’s win, DDT is suing Nevada’s Democratic presidential electors, one of the six the former chair of the Clark County (Las Vegas) Democratic Party and a homeless veteran who is now homeless. She lost her job when the U.S. Census ended and lives with a friend. Attorneys claim 15,000 voted in Nevada while voting in another state, 1,000 voters didn’t meet residency requirements, and 500 voters are dead. Thus far, the campaign has no evidence, but they claim “40,000 or more” fraudulent votes in Nevada. A Clark County spokesperson stated:

“They are repeating allegations the courts have already rejected, misstating and misrepresenting evidence provided in those proceedings, and parroting erroneous allegations made by partisans without first-hand knowledge of the facts.”

When Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, promoter of old people dying from the coronavirus, offered $1 million for evidence of voter fraud, he proved the state couldn’t find any. He did get a taker: Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) pointed to suspected fraud from a DDT supporter. Patrick didn’t follow it up.

DDT and his “herd immunity” spreader Scott Atlas are determined to kill more people by not protecting them from COVID-19. In addition, Atlas is encouraging people to engage in large Thanksgiving celebrations next week. One of his reassurances is that this might be the last Thanksgiving for some of them anyway. More unnecessary deaths will occur because DDT refuses Biden any information about the upcoming vaccines and their distribution. Everything DDT refuses to do now is a death knell for people—and he doesn’t care. He only wants to stay in Oval Office and play golf.

 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For the seventh consecutive day—and the eleventh day since his election—he has no public events on his schedule. “It feels like bunker mentality,” a White House official said even before DDT canceled his Thanksgiving trip to Mar-a-Lago.  Outside his north windows, he can watch the building of the reviewing stand on his front lawn for Biden’s inaugural parade. [trump north windows] 

On the other hand, FLOTUS Melania Trump is arrange holiday decorations and planning the parties. Perhaps another season of red trees. [red trees]  And get ready for the government shutdown: the budget deadline is December 11, and Congress has gone home for a while.

Meanwhile, with 173,768 COVID-19 in the U.S. today, the total number will hit 12 million by tomorrow night. The 1,964 deaths in one day are the highest since last spring, bringing the total to 256,262 deaths in the United States.

Twitter flagged seven DDT tweets as lies in 45 minutes, making him more and more frantic. The real meltdown on January 20 may come unnoticed when Twitter drops his account because he no longer has immunity as a political leader to use it.

November 17, 2020

Biden Works, DDT Obstructs

Sixty-four days before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) leaves the Oval Office: he fired the man in charge of protecting the nation’s electric grid, two Republicans briefly held up the certification of 863,000 votes in Michigan, DDT’s personal lawyer may have destroyed all validity of DDT’s lawsuits regarding fake election fraud, Emily Murphy still won’t permit the next U.S. president’s transition, and a witness heard a senator violate the law in asking Georgia to throw away valid ballots. And more.

President-elect Biden:

Biden continues to build his team with these nine members. Without a transition, he’s moving in two directions: showing how DDT’s refusal to permit transition hurts people in the U.S. and how roadblocks are stopping him for addresses the nation’s crises. Picks thus far. 

Even if Biden doesn’t investigate DDT, he could get DDT’s tax returns. Biden may prefer not to do this, but a refusal could cause Democrats to lose face after a long battle and court cases for over a year. In August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said DDT’s records would be released if Biden won, and she doesn’t back down. DDT is the only inaugurated man who hasn’t made his tax returns public since Richard Nixon. DDT will likely file a new suit to prevent their disclosure.

Biden can count on Republicans to not follow through. Last week, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) promised to personally “step in” and intervene by Friday if Biden weren’t permitted classified information. This week, he said, “I’m not in a hurry, necessarily, to get Joe Biden these briefings.” He said he meant he could take care of it if he wanted to. After the election, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said DDT’s lawyers had to give evidence to support claims of election fraud; two days later Blunt said DDT “may not have been defeated at all.”

Republicans agree they don’t like DDT’s decision to drop service members in Afghanistan down to 2,500 before he left the Oval Office. Followed by other GOP senators, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), DDT’s top loyalist, lambasted the idea as hurting national security. Undermining democracy is fine, but moving troops back to the U.S. is too much for them. The Pentagon wasn’t happy about the idea of bringing troops home with no justification so DDT just fired his appointees and got new ones who would follow any of his poorly thought-out orders. 

Reasons for opposing DDT’s plans, some of them from the military:

  • DDT is not meeting the conditions of withdrawal in the U.S.-Taliban agreement
  • Taliban fighters can take control of Afghanistan and make it a base for terrorists.
  • Rapid withdrawal hurts our allies.
  • Afghanistan, like Saigon before, will fall quickly, compromising operations against terrorists.

DDT:

DDT’s Fire:

After Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), protected the elections in the U.S. and ran a website debunking false rumors, DDT terminated him with a tweet. Krebs said “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims [of manipulated election systems] either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’” CISA works with state and local officials running U.S. elections, private companies supplying voting equipment addressing cybersecurity and other threats, the monitoring of balloting and tabulation, and industry and utilities to protect the nation’s industrial base and power grid from threats. Firing Krebs leaves the nation’s power grid wide open to the possibility of hacking.

DDT’s Recounts:

Graham said he only talked to Raffensperger about election procedures, but Gabriel Sterling, voting system manager, reported Graham asking if Raffensperger could throw out all the ballots if a percentage of signatures don’t match. Asked why he called Raffensperger, Graham said he also talked about election procedures with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and someone in Nevada. Neither Nevada nor Arizona secretaries of state heard from Graham. His interference in a state election could be a felony.

Today, two GOP-appointed board members refused to certify the votes of Michigan’s Wayne County, home to Detroit and the state most populous county, before reversing their position after a huge public backlash. The two had no reason to block the certification except to eliminate enough ballots to hand the state to DDT. Biden won the county by over 37 percent.

Georgia’s hand recount, scheduled to be completed by tomorrow night, won’t replace the official tally with Biden leading by about 14,000 votes, according to Georgia’s election officials who obtained legal advice. Any serious county discrepancies, such as the discovery of 2,600 uncounted ballots in Floyd County, will result in redoing machine counts for a new total becoming part of the official count. The new Floyd County count puts DDT’s state loss at 13,378. Sterling said the hand count is to verify which candidate won, not to establish a perfect vote count. Thus far, the manual count closely matches the original counts. Candidates have the right to a recount if they lose by less than 0.5 percent; another recount would rescan ballots through computers.

DDT has until tomorrow to decide whether to pay almost $8 million for a recount in Wisconsin, almost four times the cost for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2016. Additional charges come from the coronavirus, a shorter time frame, and increased security needs. Biden is ahead in the state by over 20,000 votes. An audit of Milwaukee County gave Biden a 17-vote increase. December 1 is Wisconsin’s deadline for certifying the vote. DDT may not have money for the recount because donations are primarily going to his PAC or the RNC.

DDT’s Lawsuits:

DDT’s campaign asked a Carson City court to declare DDT the winner of Nevada’s six presidential electors or annul the election, removing the state’s electoral votes. All lawsuits in Nevada to block or delay vote counting in Democratic-leaning Clark County have been rejected for little or no evidence of wrongdoing and fraud. Former Senate candidate Sharron Angle sued to replace the November 3 election with a completely new one. GOP state Senate candidate April Becker also sued Clark County and its registrar of voters for a new election in her race.

DDT’s legal team met today’s 5:00 pm deadline in Michigan to file proper paperwork to keep its case from being dismissed. This lawsuit is to stop the state’s certification of results until review of the election process. DDT’s team had not added three additional defendants—Detroit and Michigan’s NAACP and DNC.

Over a week ago after the media called the election for Biden/Harris, Pennsylvania attorney Marc Scaringi said on his radio show, “The litigation will not work.” His law firm’s website described Biden as the president-elect because he “successfully claimed the role of the 46th president of the United States.” That post has been deleted. After five DDT lawyers withdrew, Scaringi joined the DDT legal team to block Pennsylvania from certifying its election results. The judge has refused Scaringi’s request to delay today’s hearing; the judge won’t decide until Friday.

Lead attorney in the In Pennsylvania case, DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani perplexed the judge with wild unsubstantiated allegations about “widespread nationwide voter fraud” before admitting he isn’t alleging fraud. The attorney for the state questioned whether Giuliani understands basic legal procedures. Giuliani also had to admit the complaint had been narrowed by dropping claims about poll watchers lacking access after he had declared the opposite the night before. Although not appearing in federal court since 1992, he maintained he hadn’t tried a case in “four or five years.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling, DDT’s only win, that a legal violation in Philadelphia not giving observers access to observe the vote count didn’t exist. State law “requires only that an authorized representative ‘be permitted to remain in the room in which the absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are pre-canvassed,’” according to the opinion signed by five justices.

Put in charge of DDT’s “election fraud” litigation, Giuliani is causing chaotic infighting among the campaign’s legal team and campaign officials. He and newly-assigned lawyer Jenna Ellis are attempting a campaign “coup” by wresting power. They claim DDT gave them full control over the legal strategy. Ellis, who refers to herself as “President-elect Jenna Ellis” on Twitter, told campaign staffers they report to her and ordered any remaining campaign staff they follow orders only from people named “Rudy or Jenna.” All other directives are to be ignored. Last Saturday, senior adviser Jason Miller and Ellis ended up in a “screaming match” in front of other staffers and threatened to call DDT to settle the question of who is in charge. Miller also called Ellis “crazy.”

Ellis has frequently given DDT questionable information about election fraud such as the false claim about Dominion Voting Systems deleting DDT votes. She also appeared on television without asking for approval from campaign officials. Yesterday, several lawyers representing DDT in a Pennsylvania lawsuit quit. That case can determine the litigation’s fate. DDT joined Giuliani and Miller in falsely claiming the campaign had not dropped an important part of the federal lawsuit in removing observers not being permitted to watch a count of 680,000 ballots in Pennsylvania. The revised case now affects only dozens of votes. Legal expert Richard Pildes refuted the GOP claims.

Tomorrow will be the fifth day with nothing official on DDT’s schedule. The only work he’s done for months has been to keep a job, and he only wants to stay out of prison and make money—and play golf.                   

COVID-19 in U.S. on November 17, 2020: 157,261 new cases; 1,615 deaths.

October 23, 2020

Barrett: Polar Opposite of RBG, Part II

Two notable liars in GOP leadership made news yesterday—Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). DDT survived his last, and second, debate by interrupting the moderator far fewer times than in the first debate and talking more calmly. The last debate set his performance bar so low some people ignored the incessant lying and inability to answer questions. No compassion for people, no concern for the country. Just covering up all his problems in the hopes that people will change their minds about him and put him in the White House again, like he did in his interview with Lesley Stahl.     

The second event broke Senate rules by moving the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court justice to the Senate floor despite rules requiring the presence of at least two members of the minority party for a quorum. All ten Democrats boycotted the Judiciary Committee meeting. Graham waived the rules and approved Barrett. One third of the GOP committee members—Graham, Joni Ernst (IA), Thom Tillis (NC), and John Cornyn (TX)—facing difficult reelections and a shortage of campaign funds may receive funding from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for delivering Barrett by the Election Day deadline.

Graham’s dishonesty in supporting the confirmation before people select a president and Senate members, made four years ago when he refused President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, is now followed by his ignoring  rules. He claimed the boycott did a “disservice” to Barrett to not consider her vote under two weeks before the election but ignored Garland for almost nine months before Election Day. People have already submitted is already over one-third of the total vote four years ago; voting in the general election started over three weeks before Graham gaveled in the Judiciary Committee hearings for Barrett.

According to Graham, Democrats are responsible for the dissension surrounding Supreme Court justice confirmations after objecting to Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork in 1987. Republicans aren’t to blame for objections to bigoted nominees, according to both Graham and McConnell.

Former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said about Bork:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, school children could not be taught about evolution, writers and artist could be censured at the whim of government.”

Steve Benen wrote:

“Bork, who developed an unfortunate reputation stemming from his role in Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ in 1973, was on record defending Jim Crow-era poll taxes, condemning portions of the Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in public accommodations, and arguing against extending the equal protection of the 14th Amendment to women.”

Even six Republicans voted with Democrats against Bork, and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, confirmed by a unanimous 97 votes. He served with honor until his alleged deal to resign if DDT put highly-flawed Brett Kavanaugh on the high court. Three years after Anthony, David Souter, nominated by GOP President George H.W. Bush, was also unanimously confirmed by a Democrat-controlled Senate. 

By 2016, radically-right GOP Senators followed McConnell in denying middle-of-the-road Merrick Garland the decency of listening to him and giving him a hearing within eight months of the general election. Yet they pushed Barrett in an ill-considered and rapid process starting three weeks and one day before a decision for a president and almost one-third of senators.

Thus far, 47 Democrats and Independents are committed to voting against Barrett along with possibly two or three Republicans. If VP Mike Pence breaks a 50-50 tie, she would be the only Supreme Court justice in history to be confirmed by a vice-president who used undue power in selecting a justice nominated by his president. McConnell dropped the Senate requirement for a Supreme Court confirmation to a simple majority because DDT’s first two nominees couldn’t achieve 60 votes: Neil Gorsuch was confirmed 54-45 and Brett Kavanaugh, 50-48. Even a strong DDT supporter like Alan Dershowitz expressed concerns about future, greater divisive politicization caused by fewer than 51 senators putting a person, particularly a young one, on the Supreme Court for a lifetime job, especially a person obviously selected and confirmed for purely political right-wing reasons.

Barrett is anti-abortion, anti-IVF, anti-contraception, anti-LGBTQ rights.  She dodged questions about the constitutionality of Medicare and Social Security, legality of voter intimidation, need for absentee voting in a pandemic, and presidents’ pardoning themselves, unilaterally changing the date, and staying in the White House through judicial decisions. She expressed ignorance about climate change although she will rule on climate cases. She also can’t remember that the right to protest is covered by the First Amendment. 

In addition, she’s anti-worker, ruling 85 percent of her time on the 7th Circuit Court for corporations. With five conservative justices, Barrett can destroy workers’ rights of unions, collective bargaining, and safety. She already twisted the law to rule against workers for corporations, maintaining the law prevented truckers assigned to yard duty from overtime from overtime (interstate commerce) and blocking minimum wages and other benefits to delivery drivers (identification them as contractors). In the first case, she said driving short distances makes them transportation workers; in the second she said driving short distances doesn’t make them transportation workers.

In another anti-worker opinion, Barrett follows Janus v. AFSCME decision when the right-wing faction of the Supreme Court trashed four decades of precedent to public sector workers don’t have to pay dues or even small fees to unions still forced to represent them.

Barrett tried to conceal her pro-business past as one of two lead attorneys in a six-month case defending a Pittsburgh steel magnate charged with helping drive a major Pennsylvania Hospital System into bankruptcy. The $1.5 billion settlement was one of the largest nonprofit bankruptcies in U.S. history and resulted in several investigations as well as a criminal probe. The Senate questionnaire requests ten cases and their descriptions; Barrett provided only three cases, saying she couldn’t remember any others.

Following the “pro-life” position of protection ends at birth, Barrett deported an immigrant seeking asylum from an El Salvador MS-13 gang after he witnessed them shooting his friends and killing one of them. A dissenting judge on the appeals court called minor discrepancies in the refugee’s story “trivial,” but Barrett sent the terrified man back in hiding. Barrett lacked the decency to comply with his request to redact his name in the decision to keep the El Salvadoran corrupt local police and the vicious gang from learning he was being sent back. 

In a dissent, Barrett upheld DDT’s “public charge” rule, objecting to immigrants’ permanent residence status if they use any public assistance—Medicaid, food stamps, etc. for over 12 months in a three-year period. The time is computed by one type of safety-net program: two different programs in one month accounts for two months. She tried to cover for her opinion by saying she was only ruling on immigrants not affected by the rule, but the majority opinion was addressing the group with restrictions.

In her dissent for Kanter v. Barr, she argued a state doesn’t have the right to ban a felon from buying firearms but can ban them from voting. Several times, she sided with felons in gun cases, using “history” as her justification. 

Barrett overturned a district court finding damages for a Wisconsin county after a prison guard repeatedly raped a pregnant teenage prison inmate hundreds of times before and after she gave birth because the sexual assaults were outside the guard’s official duties. In a similar case, however, she joined a majority of the 7th Circuit Court, finding another Wisconsin county liable in a case in which a jail guard assaulted five women hundreds of times.

Last year Barrett helped college students accused of sexual assault more easily sue their universities. She wrote that the university officials may have chosen to “believe Jane because she is a woman and to disbelieve John because he is a man.”

Barrett also supports giving religious schools the ability to fire anyone they want on the basis these employees are “ministers.” One school fired a woman with cancer to save money on insurance.

On her questionnaire, Barret failed to divulge her involvement in putting George W. Bush into the White House. Twenty years ago, she worked with Bush’s legal team to find thousands of Republican absentee ballots in Bush v. Gore. Martin County officials permitted Republicans to fill in missing information on ballot request forms—a procedure that DDT and Republicans opposed in Iowa and eliminated 70,000 absentee ballot applications. With an appointment on the Supreme Court, Barrett would join two other sitting justices who participated in Bush’s Supreme Court win. John Roberts advised the Bush campaign and prepped a lawyer appearing before the Florida Supreme Court for the election dispute, and Brett Kavanaugh oversaw a manual recount of about 200,000 ballots in which voters failed to properly fill in the bubble next to a candidate’s name.

When asked at last night’s debate for his plans regarding COVID-19, DDT made his usual comment the coronavirus had “rounded the corner” and was getting much better. Today, the United States recorded its highest one-day number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic with at least 82,600 new infections. The surge is across the nation with drastic increases in central and western states such as South Dakota, and Wyoming. In the past two weeks, 24 states broke their records for single-day highs. Over 170 counties in 36 states were designated as having rapidly rising hotspots. DDT blames high numbers on testing, but COVID-19 hospitalizations increased in 38 states last week. Today, the U.S. recorded 8,746,953 cases and 229,284 deaths. Thus far this year, over 300,000 more people than average died in the U.S. All COVID-19 cases are classified as pre-existing conditions, and Amy Coney Barrett wants to do away with the Affordable Care Act. If she succeeds, people with pre-existing conditions, including those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, can be denied health insurance.

October 14, 2020

Barrett: Polar Opposite of RBG, Part I

This week Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the GOP Senators continued the process of packing the Supreme Court by trying to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed for the 7th Circuit Court in 2017 by a vote of 55-43. She has achieved even more notoriety than thought possible after DDT’s event at the White House to make the appointment is now called either the “super-spreader” or “The Rose Garden Massacre” for its vastly increase in White House COVID-19 cases.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-CA), who appeared to the hearing in person despite his refusal to be tested for COVID-19, opened yesterday’s session by saying the hearing is “to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.” He views the committee’s vote as a done deal, not even pretending the hearing’s purpose is to consider the nomination.

The biggest disappointment among GOP senators was no Democratic mention of religion. GOP senators were ready for that topic but nothing else. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was so desperate to attack his Democratic colleagues for anti-Catholic bigotry he leaped on a comment from Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) about Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision permitting married couples to buy and use contraception. Coons, a Catholic, said nothing about Barrett’s religion. No Republican attacked Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) in 2017 when he asked Barrett about Griswold during her earlier confirmation hearing. She said she hadn’t thought about the case because she wasn’t born in 1965, and Kennedy responded:

“Okay. I am going to move on. I get it. I do not agree with the position you are taking where you will not talk to me about the law, but if that is what you are going to want to do, that is your call. It is America. It is a free country.”

Just three weeks before Election Day, Republicans aren’t at all bothered about Barrett’s ignorance regarding a major case for women’s reproductive rights. Asked about it again today, she again professed ignorance about the case.

Much of the GOP fear comes from exposure regarding Barrett’s membership in a fringe religious group called People of Praise, population 1,700. Colin Kalmbacher describes the group as “a right-wing ecumenical group centered on an amalgamation of Catholic scripture and charismatic practice with a male-dominated hierarchy that has been characterized as cult-like.” Like other Pentecostal groups, People of Praise members speak in tongues. Barrett’s history indicates she could be the farthest-right justice in a field of far-right high court members.

Barrett used what she called “the Ginsburg Rule” in refuse answers on vital issues—“no hints, no previews, no forecasts”—but the former Supreme Court justice did offer substantive views about some contentious topics, for example abortion. In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg affirmed Roe v. Wade and said at her confirmation hearing:

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”  

Barrett refused to answer if she agreed with her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Barrett’s history, however, has left a trail of her opinions on issues of immediate concern. Several of these had been left off her questionnaire until the media uncovered them, with the possibility of trying to cover them up.

Anti-abortion:

  • Member of founding group of University of Faculty for Life at Notre Dame: voted “for a letter calling on the university to rescind an award given to then-Vice President Biden because of his beliefs on abortion”; promoted a South Bend (IN) crisis pregnancy center, a clinic misleading women seek abortions and pressuring them to continue their pregnancies with advertising pretending to help women get abortions.  
  • Signature on a 2006 anti-abortion advertisement demanding “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe vs Wade.”  
  • Supporter of St. Joseph County Right to Life which believes life begins at fertilization, wants to criminalize the discarding of unused embryos created for the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process, and believes doctors who perform abortions should be charged as criminals.
  • Teaching anti-abortion groups at Notre Dame: lecture and seminar in 2013; talk on Roe v. Wade now “lost” by the university. 
  • Participation in dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Box (2019) about rehearing a case blocking an anti-abortion law before it took effect with the conclusion she would not block the anti-abortion law.

Anti-LGBTQ rights:  

  • Defense of the dissenters to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case legalizing marriage equality in a lecture at Jacksonville University and calls transgender women “physiological males.”
  • Signature of letter in 2015 including her belief about “marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”
  • Recommendation of lawmakers’ review of Title IX rights for transgender people because “this kind of transgender bathroom access … does seem to strain the text of the statute to say that Title IX demands it.”
  • Devoted follower of late Justice Antonin Scalia’s approach who ruled against LGBTQ rights, including the overturned Texas sodomy.  
  • Board member of private school enacting a policy prohibiting students with unmarried parents, that includes same-gender couples at the time.
  • Hearing testimony: use of term “sexual preference” indicating it is a choice, and her experience with an anti-LGBTQ groups was “wonderful” including her links with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) supporting criminalization of consensual sex between LGBTQ adults. (She said she wasn’t aware of ADF’s attempts to criminalize LGBTQ people or repeal marriage equality, cited on its website.)

Voting/Gun Ownership Rights:

  • Past dissent opinion (Kanter v. Barr) that states can ban felons from voting but cannot ban them from owning a firearm. Barrett argued for restricting participation in political rights to people not deemed “virtuous.”  

Affordable Care Act (ACA):  

  • Author of academic article in 2017 criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion upholding the ACA.
  • Signature on petition protesting the ACA’s coverage of contraception.  
  • Denial that a majority opinion in the current Supreme Court case to erase the ACA would also erase pre-existing conditions.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) angered Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) by tying him to the Senate’s rushing to put Barrett on the high court before hearing arguments to strike down the ACA on November 10.

“The district judge in Texas who struck down the ACA in the case now headed for the court is a former aide to the senator, who has become what the Texas Tribune calls the favorite for Texas Republicans seeking big judicial wins like torpedoing the ACA. The senior senator from Texas introduced in committee the circuit court judge who wrote the decision on appeal striking down the ACA.

“Sen. Cornyn has filed brief after brief arguing for striking down the ACA. He led the failed Senate charge to repeal the ACA in 2017. He has said ‘I’ve introduced and cosponsored 27 bills to repeal or defund Obamacare and I’ve voted to do so at every opportunity.'”

Republicans have tried to convince the public for two days of hearings Barrett wouldn’t dream of taking away their health care. Tuesday morning, Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) punctured that myth in his introduction, “All of you want to impose Obamacare in South Carolina — we don’t want it. We want South Carolina-care, not Obamacare.” He claimed the ACA was “a disaster for the state of South Carolina” and expressed outrage South Carolina got less money than some other states. He concluded that the issue “has got nothing to do with this hearing.”

The uninsured rate in Graham’s state dropped by more than one-third within the first three years of ACA. Eliminating ACA would uninsure hundreds of thousands in his state, and many more would lose current benefits and protections. Other states get more money because South Carolina refuses to take the Medicaid expansion which would insure more low-income families.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed “no one” seriously expects the Supreme Court to tear down the ACA. Two weeks ago, DDT demanded that would happen. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said at the hearing that Barrett would tear down the ACA because, as a mother of seven children, she understands the importance of health care. Her mentor, who had nine children, voted twice to destroy healthcare. Republicans voted 70 times to eradicate, and they surely had hundreds of children.

Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Sasse also didn’t do his homework. Accusing Democrats of using the ACA only for political purposes, he claimed that changing jobs is the Number One reason for being uninsured. Of uninsured nonelderly adults, 45 percent stated they were uninsured because the cost is too high, and another 13 percent said they had lost their Medicaid. Only 21 percent listed losing jobs or changing employees as a reason.  

With DDT’s case going to the Supreme Court on November 10, 57 percent disapprove.

Republicans know how unpopular their positions are. Only one-third of the people want to overturn Roe v. Wade, and over 60 percent favor marriage equality. To deflect the Democrats’ questions, GOP senators talk about Barrett’s darling family, her motherhood, and her impressive résumé. With them, however, the basic issue is getting her vote to put DDT back into the Oval Office and destroy conditions for workers. More later!

October 9, 2020

DDT’s Erratic Behavior Increases

In a finish to Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted people should think hard about who they pick in the election. Responses to his tweet are biting, including the one from Republicans for Biden. or this one from Lesley Abravanel accompanying the photo to the right:

“Seems like we’re all pretty much decided that we’ll go for the guy who didn’t kill 213,000 Americans and the economy.”

Following are more reasons to not vote for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the man with the fly on his head:

With Election Day only 25 days from now, DDT said that VP Mike Pence’s best answer in the debate was to reject a peaceful transition of power unless DDT wins.

“I don’t think I’m contagious at all,” said DDT who claimed he told doctors how to treat him in the hospital. Tomorrow he plans a campaign rally for thousands on the White House lawn and another one in Florida on Monday. No requirements for masks or social distancing. He claims he isn’t holding a political event at the “people’s house,” but his rhetoric will undoubtedly be highly partisan. Thus far, DDT has appeared to the public only in edited videos wearing heavy makeup and struggling for breath. 

DDT is still running against Hillary Clinton. In late October 2016, FBI Director James Comey insinuated Clinton’s emails were incriminating, just ten days before Election Day. They weren’t. Criticized by DDT, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is releasing Clinton’s emails, just a few days before Election Day after a State Department investigation determined no “persuasive evidence” of widespread mishandling of classified information by Clinton or her aides. After DDT’s complaints about Pompeo, the Secretary said, “We’ve got the emails, we’re getting them out.” He didn’t say which ones. DDT had earlier said, “Forget about the fact they were classified.”

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates led by a Republican refused to clear DDT for in-person participation in the October 15 debate, and DDT objected to the change of the town hall-style debate to a virtual event for health and safety protections. Therefore the event is canceled. Joe Biden will hold his own town hall event on ABC.  Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) in-person debate with opponent, Jamie Harrison, was also canceled because Graham refuses to be tested. Questions have been raised about the reason for Graham’s refusal, especially after he attended “The Rose Garden Massacre,” resulting in at least 12 infections.

Questions have also been aroused by unreliable statements from Sean Conley, DDT’s doctor recommended by DDT’s former unreliable doctor Ronny Jackson, and DDT’s behavior. The Monday before DDT announced his diagnosis, presenters at his press conference stayed far away from DDT and used a separate podium. The next day, DDT didn’t take a coronavirus test before the debate, and his erratic, aggressive behavior was consistent with being on steroids. Wednesday, DDT’s fatigue was noticeable. A doctor announced the antibody treatment began on Thursday—before DDT supposedly tested positive for the first time and far too early unless he had tested positive at the beginning of the week. The White House refuses to answer questions about when DDT last tested negative for COVID-19.

DDT has abortions to thank for the antibody treatment he is touting as his personal miracle cure for COVID-19. The development of two drugs for DDT used cells from an aborted fetus, a process DDT aggressively blocks. A researcher said the use of fetal cells “has led to immense medical breakthroughs, including the development of vaccines for polio, measles, and rubella,” and critical understanding of other diseases. DDT called Regeneron’s antibody cocktail and Gilead’s antiviral Remdesivir “miracles coming down from God.” Regeneron developed the treatment from a long-lived line of cells taken from the kidneys of a fetus electively aborted in the Netherlands around 1972. Remdesivir used the same cell lines. Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson use fetal cell lines to develop and test vaccines. In 2019, DDT’s administration banned almost all federal funding for new scientific research using cells or tissue obtained from aborted fetuses. According to GOP guidelines, the use of fetal tissue is wrong unless it is old or provides healthcare for Republicans.

After DDT’s mystery trip to Walter Reed hospital last fall for what he called the first part of his annual physical—the one never completed—he required his doctors to sign a non-disclosure agreement in addition to HIPPA protections. The two who refused are no longer allowed to treat him.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, surely knows far more about DDT’s health than the people of the United States if he listens to private conversations between DDT and his doctors, family, friends, and other advisers. DDT is well known for calling people from unsecured phones and other careless security protocol.

The DOJ will not be releasing damaging information from John Durham’s investigating the investigation into Russia before November 3, frustrating DDT. New Director of Intelligence John Ratcliffe, another of his lapdogs, released almost 1,000 classified pages to the DOJ to Durham’s investigation. Early this week, Ratcliffe released heavily redacted notes written by former CIA Director John Brennan appearing as if he briefed President Obama in 2016 on intelligence from Russian sources. Senior intelligence officials objected out of concern it supports Russia’s unsubstantiated disinformation.

DDT is still running against Hillary Clinton. In late October 2016, FBI Director James Comey insinuated Clinton’s emails were incriminating, just ten days before Election Day after he earlier said that there was no evidence of mishandling them. They weren’t. Criticized by DDT, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is releasing Clinton’s emails, just a few days before Election Day after the State Department said there was no “widespread. Pence also attacked Clinton in the debate, saying that she had colluded with Russia during her presidential campaign.  

DDT alienated former European allies and created horrific humanitarian consequences by placing financial sanctions on 18 Iranian banks although his former sanctions have not stopped problems with the country caused by his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. European nations also fear their banks and other companies will face penalties for conducting business with Iran. DDT’s withdrawal to please Israel and GOP hawks such as Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Tom Cotton (AR) only causes more alienation from the world’s democracies. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed the U.S. allows humanitarian transactions, but the system for this has already failed.

In a monologue on Rush Limbaugh’s program, DDT ranted what was described as a “genocidal screed” against Iran with threats to “do things … that have never been done before.” With groundwork from Pompeo and other hawks, DDT may attack Iran immediately before the election.

With no discussion with the Pentagon—not even an advance notice—DDT tweeted he would pull all U.S. troops from Afghanistan before Christmas. The move violates a separate deal that troops would leave by next May if the Taliban reduced violence and severed relationships with al-Qaeda militants. DDT’s latest declaration pleased the Taliban and worried Afghan leaders. The Taliban has kept its connections with Al-Qaeda.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency wants the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to erase its paper trail and destroy internal documents, including CBP misconduct. Records must be kept because of the way that DHS has violated the rights of immigrants.

Down almost 30 points with seniors, DDT decided to bribe them with $200 “Trump cards” to pay for drugs after he scuttled an agreement of lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. The $7.9 billion campaign cost, including $51 million to create and distribute the cards, comes out of taxpayer-funded Medicare, supposedly in fiscal jeopardy. DDT plans an additional $19 million cost this month for letters to hype the plan to seniors because cards may not arrive before November 3. DDT plans to end Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes if he is reelected, eliminated the ability of Medicare to pay for senior health care.

Another DDT election ploy is his attempt to reinstate the negotiations for a stimulus bill after wiping it out just three days ago. Tuesday, he said the bill cost too much; today he tweets, “Go Big!”  

After a judge ruled William Pendley is illegally serving as acting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) director, possibly invalidating his anti-environmental policies issues during his 430 days, DDT changed his title to the bureau’s Deputy Director for Programs and Policy.  

DDT again lost the Nobel Peace Prize, this year to the UN World Food Programme to combat hunger, created in 1961 at the request of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. In 2018, DDT cut all U.S. WFP funding for the West Bank and Gaza, as well as all other humanitarian aid for Palestinians.

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM), a faith healing school connected to DDT, has had a COVID-19 outbreak of at least 137 cases in the past month. At DDT’s request, the ministry’s leadership anointed “every door in the White House” with olive oil to ward off demons after DDT disguised Bill Johnson, the school’s owner, as a janitor. The radical religious right also circulated photos of DDT during his anointing and “laying on of hands” ritual. The school has 1,600 paying “students.”

My question for today: Why didn’t VP Mike Pence go to Indiana to vote as planned? Yesterday, he gave his speech in Arizona and then headed back to DC. His staff said “no positive tests,” but his performance at Wednesday’s debate shows his willingness to lie.

September 25, 2020

DDT Runs against Democracy for His Reelection

Because Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has no accomplishments during his first term to use in campaigning, his only reelection strategy has been to run against the election and impede democracy in the voting process. Republicans began a decade ago by placing draconian restrictions on voters through photo IDs, loss of early voting, elimination of polling places in places with minority voters—even refusal of Sunday voting to prevent black churches to take buses of people to the polls. DDT laid the foundation for the current voting crisis by packing the courts with his radical right followers who perceive the law as far-right Republicans and not obeying the U.S. Constitution.

As Joe Biden rose in the polling and DDT dropped, DDT used his rallies to create an election “emergency,” first through casting doubt on the credibility of mail-in voting and then by slowing down the postal service. Once voting started, DDT’s supporters, reinforced by his refusal to condemn violence from the radical right, intimidated people standing in line to vote. Thanks to DDT, only the Republicans threaten violence, tell others to bring guns to the polls, support law enforcement action for only the radical right—all tactics by the racists in the last century.

DDT and his government loyalists report, without evidence, dirt on opponents and use unsubstantiated personal attacks on them while they compare public health policy to slavery and force federal scientists to reverse public health guidance. To please DDT, agency directors suppress information about Russian interference in the election, support violent radical right members who attack and kill peaceful protesters, and encourage further violence if people protest killings of Blacks who have minor infractions of the law—if any. DDT’s “GREAT PATRIOTS” are those who create chaos to make demonstrators look violent. Any GOP officeholders who dare to disagree with DDT are threatened with retribution at the polling place.

This past week, DDT has moved higher on the scale of being dictator when he talked about a transition of administrations after the election:

Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”

Fewer than six weeks before the election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is telling the world he plans a coup to stay in the White House, even if voters award Joe Biden an Electoral College majority, and the steps DDT will take to accomplish it. Cautious, even conservative, publications are writing about his strategy. In The Atlantic, Barton Gellman details the evidence about DDT’s army of lawyers and activists planning every shyster legal maneuver ever considered. Before that, Amanda Marcotte (Salon) described DDT’s scheming, and Slate released another piece by political scientist Richard L. Hasen about DDT’s system in destroying democracy. Nate Silver in fivethirtyeight.com saw a possible coup as ridiculous just hours before DDT said, “Get rid of the ballots.” Silver changed his mind, tweeting, “OK this is real bad tho.”

Ratcheting up the lies about the upcoming election, DDT talked about an ongoing investigation into discarded ballots after AG Bill Barr briefed him about a situation in Pennsylvania. DDT first said “six,” and then followed it by “eight.” Forced into revealing information by DDT’s statements, a U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania reported the discovery of nine ballots in a dumpster cast for DDT but later changed to seven with the other two resealed into the original envelopes. In a press release from the attorney’s office:

“Our investigation has revealed that all or nearly all envelopes received in the elections office were opened as a matter of course. It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests.”

DDT’s campaign won its suit in Pennsylvania to discard any ballots not enclosed in two separate envelopes, a secrecy envelope within the mailing envelope. Ballots may have been discarded after the ruling in favor of DDT’s campaign to exclude these “naked” ballots. DDT’s campaign falsely tweeted, “Democrats are trying to steal the election.” A temporary independent contractor worker had thrown away the ballots, and all the garbage during her three days working for the county was searched. The county where the ballots were allegedly found wet for DDT by 20 points in 2016.

In order to guarantee the Supreme Court would select DDT to stay in the Oval Office for the next four years, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reneged on his 2016 and 2018 promised to be ethical about not replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court after his “rationale” about not allowing President Obama a chance to put Merrick Garland on the high court. Now he doesn’t understand why his opponent, Jamie Harrison, would receive $100 million in donations when Graham spent only $13 million in his 2014 reelection campaign. Graham whined to Fox network’s Ainsley Earhardt, “This money is because they hate my guts.” The latest poll puts the two candidates at 48 percent each. “I want you to use my own words against me,” Graham said in 2018, and people are following that wish.

In another anti-democratic statement, Graham told Fox network the courts, not the voting public, will decide the presidential election.

“I promise you as a Republican, if the Supreme Court decides that Joe Biden wins, I will accept the result.”

After the debacle about selecting a new Supreme Court justice, people also know that his “promises” are worthless.

Despite some states permitting mail-in-ballots up to 19 days after Election Day, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced legislation requiring every state to report its final results “within 24 hours after polls close on Election Day.” Yet Electoral College members don’t meet until the Monday after the second Wednesday of December; in 2020, the date is December 16—almost six weeks after the election. According to law, the federal government does not oversee elections; they are conducted and certified by local officials according to state law. Scott wrote he wants all states to be consistent, but he shows no concern for laws regarding absentee voting restrictions, photo IDs, etc.

Worried about unfair election procedures within the state, authors of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress permission to “make or alter” state regulations, but the Election Clause (Article I, Section 4) was never intended to create unfair election procedures. The Elections Clause confers power to regulate congressional elections on the “Legislature” of each state, meaning both government and public referendum.

In one more desperate campaign scam, DDT signed an executive order describing his healthcare “plan” after announcing he would do it since his last campaign. About the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said:

“I’m in court to terminate this really, really terrible situation. If we win, we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always protect individuals with preexisting conditions. If we lose, what we have now is better than the original — the original version of Obamacare, by far. Much better. Much better. Again, we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.”

DDT was right about one thing: it might be “less expensive.” It won’t be “better,” and it won’t “always protect individuals with preexisting conditions.” Effects of DDT’s “winning” the lawsuit to destroy the ACA will take 20 million people off coverage, increase charges for millions more by removing subsidies for affordable coverage, cost people on Medicare far more by returning its “doughnut hole” in prescriptions, lose insurance for young people who stay on their parents’ insurance, and—vital in the time when COVID-19 is considered a preexisting condition—eradicate protections for people with preexisting conditions. Back to health insurance will be the lifetime cap of payments by insurance companies and permission for them to use much less of the premiums for health care costs and quality improvement activities. More profit for companies and less health care for people.

Yet with all these losses in healthcare for people, DDT’s “plan” has no specifics. Like his rally speeches, he claims it is fantastic before he states it will lower costs and expand access. Paul Waldman compared the order to DDT’s real estate secrets revealed when people give a fortune to enroll at Trump University so that they can learn how to be a billionaire: Step One: Become a billionaire.”

The policy states:

“Sec. 2. Policy. It has been and will continue to be the policy of the United States to give Americans seeking healthcare more choice, lower costs, and better care and to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates.”

If that’s true, DDT doesn’t need to make changes. 

The full executive order is here.

In addition, DDT promised the government will send cards to all 33 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries for $200 in prescription drug discounts. The $200 won’t cover the loss of cheaper insurance premiums with guaranteed preexisting conditions and no lifetime cap on payments. Last week, he tried to scam the drug industry out of sending these “Trump cards.” They refused, and the deal for cheaper drugs collapsed. Now he’s taking $6.6 billion out of Medicare for a reelection strategy. The Obama/Biden administration lengthened Medicare for a decade; DDT already shortened it by four years.

 

May 17, 2020

Sunday of Week 173 – A Time for Good News

DOJ’s AG Bill Barr use of a request to drop charges against convicted Michael Flynn as a distraction from the failed leadership of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to have twists.  To smear Joe Biden, DDT’s new incompetent acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell made public (unmasked) the names of people in the Obama administration who asked for unmasking the people in intelligence reports related to Flynn. Biden was one of the names although his request was not illegal or inappropriate.

The “unmasking” could make Flynn’s situation worse because of “unmasking” his illegal activities, including his unauthorized conversations about President Obama’s sanctions on December 29—while Barack Obama was still president—with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Earlier in December, Flynn’s illegal negotiations involved NATO, Syria, Turkey, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. 

  • December 1, 2016: Flynn’s and Jared Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower, concealed for over three months, to arrange a back channel with Moscow and set up cooperation with Russia’s diplomatic facilities to cooperate militarily in Syria.
  • Mid-December 2016: Flynn’s acting as a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government, something he lied about, when Barack Obama was still president, and Flynn’s meeting with senior Turkish officials asking to be paid for secretly carrying out directives from Ankara.
  • December 22, 2016:  Flynn’s call to Kislyak at Kushner’s request to undermine U.S. policy by asking if Russia would delay or defeat an upcoming UN Security Council resolution vote condemning Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Grenell is proving charges against Flynn shouldn’t be dropped.

The DOJ did a bit of accidental unmasking.  After hiding the name of a suspected tie to the 9/11 plot for years, the DOJ inadvertently named Saudi official Musaed al-Jarrah in a court filing. Survivors and families of victims wanted the name for their suit against the Saudi government for complicity in the attacks, but Barr refused. Jarrah’s name and other information was redacted in a 2012 document indicating that Jarrah arranged for two other Saudis to help the first two Qaeda hijackers after they arrived in California in early 2000.

A Miami federal judge ordered ICE to release hundreds of detainees at three South Florida detention centers, citing “cruel and unusual punishment” and “deliberate indifference” to the detainees. She demanded a report within three days about a plan to cut the non-criminal and medically vulnerable populations by the hundreds, twice-weekly reports, and masks for all detainees, replaced weekly, within two days. She also wrote:

“Social distancing at Krome is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day. Further, ICE has failed to provide detainees in some detention centers with masks, soap and other cleaning supplies…. Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence in this record to determine that the present conditions at the three detention centers constitute a violation of the Petitioners’ Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.”

The Miami-Herald reported that ICE segregated up to 100 detainees exposed to COVID-19 with no masks, sanitizer, and possibility of social distancing. Only staff had PPE. A concern is that ICE will transfer detainees to other detention centers to avoid the judge’s orders as the agency started to do when the lawsuit was filed on April 13.

In late April, a federal judge ordered ICE to announce measures expediting the release of parents at family detention centers because facilities lack hygiene and social distancing standards. At that time, about 620 family members, including 285 children, were at three Texas and Pennsylvania facilities. ICE has until tomorrow to identify how many family members and staff tested positive for COVID-19 and why detainee haven’t been released or transferred. The judge also required descriptions of policies and practices to protect infected people from serious illness or death. Four days ago, 943 people out of 1,788 detainees tested for the virus—over half—have tested positive.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the White House to give her 20 emails this week directly relating to DDT’s decision to withhold congressionally appropriated military aid from Ukraine. Judge Amy Jackson will review the documents herself to decide whether the plaintiff will receive them.

The full 4th Circuit Court ruled 9-6 that an emoluments case against DDT, accusing him of accepting foreign government money through his Washington hotel, may continue. Only the Supreme Court can rescue DDT from the case proceeding. A judge in the majority accused dissenters of ignoring precedent and procedure with their opinion that they disagree with the case.

DDT’s campaign has paid over $16 million on legal and compliance services for DDT’s lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders, about ten percent of campaign spendings, between the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

A federal judge upheld his April 15 ruling that rejected permits vital for Keystone XL and other pipeline projects to cross streams and wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer cannot use a blanket water-crossing permit to approve new oil and gas pipelines without considering their impacts on endangered species.

Nine states are suing DDT’s administration for the EPA decision to suspend environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, called the “license to pollute” and violates federal pollution laws and the EPA’s duty to protect the environment. The new guidelines have no end date. The lawsuit states that the EPA lacks legal authority to waive laws and failed to demonstrate the need for its changes. The nine states are California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.

After two decades, the Ashaninka indigenous group won its case over illegal tree logging in Brazil. The community will receive $3 million in compensation and an official apology. The judgment may serve as a legal precedent for other indigenous and environmental lawsuits in Brazil.

A DDT-appointed judge ruled against a defamation lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) family against Esquire’s report that the Nunes farm had moved from his congressional district to Iowa. For campaign purposes, Nunes claimed that he is a dairy farmer, but his farm is halfway across the continent. Nunes’ suit wanted $77.5 million in damages, and the Nunes family wants $25 million. The judge determined that the suit did not explain inaccuracies and allowed for an amended complaint. Nunes, DDT’s pet who leaked information to him when chairing the House Intelligence Committee, has a large number of lawsuits, but no one knows who is paying for them.

Even a few Republicans are upset about DDT firing another inspector general, State Department’s Steve Linick, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) claims that it attacks democracy. That’s not as much a surprise as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying DDT’s reasoning for firing Linick is “simply is not sufficient.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who IG Linick is  investigating for sending his security detail on personal errands for himself and his wife, asked the White House to fire Linick. Grassley said the Congress requires written rationale for firing and “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that a conversation with DDT made him very comfortable about Linick’s firing but wouldn’t explain what was said. Maybe something about DDT protecting Johnson from charges of selling his stake in his family’s privately held company for millions after Johnson learned from classified briefings about the COVID-19 crisis. 

After calling DDT “evil” during his campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has done a complete 180-degree return to approve of everything that DDT does. One of his major donors disagrees with Graham. Richard Wilkerson, former chair and president of Michelin’s Greenville (SC) North America operations, is supporting Graham’s opponent, Democratic Jamie Harrison, in the 2020 election. Wilkerson commented on Graham’s support of DDT despite DDT’s attacks on former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won’t defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?”

Wilkerson also wrote about Graham’s endorsing divisiveness, supporting tax cuts for only the wealthiest, attacking public safety, and opposing expansion of unemployment benefits for people losing their jobs from GOP incompetence.

The USDA will spend $470 million to buy surplus foods—vegetables, dairy, seafood, and meat—for distribution to low-income people, keeping the products from being destroyed. The agency finally took action after weeks of complaints about the food being plowed under and thrown away in other ways. In April, the USDA gave $19 billion for the agricultural industry to help food producers–$16 billion of direct payments to farmers.  

Much to the delight of his Florida neighbors, DDT has withdrawn his request for adding a dock to his property because only residential owners can get docks in the interior south Florida waterways. He still has another problem: in 1993, he signed an agreement that Mar-a-Lago would not be his residence when he bought it for a club, and now he’s using the club as his voting address. It’s called voter fraud. To fix the problem, he has to close the club.

November 26, 2019

Impeachment Worsens for DDT Despite False Defenses

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) pardoned his turkey and left town for Mar-a-Lago, but the impeachment inquiry goes on. The House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing about the impeachment inquiry on December 4, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his lawyer have been invited to attend and question witnesses. They have until December 1 to respond.

Last week, DDT said he seriously considered answering written questions about the inquiry, and he has complained about what he perceived as House leaving him out of the process. His excuse for blocking all current and past aids and officials from subpoenaed testimony and documents is to protect future presidents. Using documents from the White House’s office of Management and Budget, the House Budget Committee prepared a timeline showing that the military aid was withheld while DDT pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Details about the committee’s report is here.

Mark Sandy, the only OMB official to testify in the impeachment inquiry, said that two OMB officials resigned over concerns about DDT’s freezing the aid to Ukraine. One who worked in the legal division disagreed with OMB’s decision because of the Impoundment Control Act limiting the executive branch from changing congressional spending decisions. Sandy said he also expressed concerns about OMB following the law so DDT’s political appointee signed the documents holding up the money for Ukraine.

In other testimony, Sandy said that acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney emailed him on July 12, telling him that DDT ordered a freeze on Ukraine’s military aid. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland also testified that DDT told him and other administration officials to keep pressure on Ukraine. In addition to holding the money so that it would not be released before the end of the fiscal year, DDT also refused to give Congress a formal rescission notice which would provide the reason for withholding congressionally approved funds.

DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also gotten into more trouble. When he met with Zelensky’s top aid in August during a trip to Madrid with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani stayed with Venezuelan energy executive Alejandro Betancourt López in a luxurious estate, purchased through money laundering and bribery. A month later, Giuliani helped represent López in a meeting with the head of DOJ’s criminal division and other federal attorneys, arguing that he should not face criminal charges for his $1.2 billion money-laundering case in Florida. According to the complaint, López and other top officials of the state-owned oil company conspired with business leaders and bankers to steal from the Venezuelan company and launder the money through Florida real estate.

Giuliani has other problems. In late 2018, Judith Nathan’s court filings in her divorce from Giuliani stated that he paid Maria Rosa Ryan, his also married mistress, $286,536 over six months. In that time, he also spent $447,938 on activities “for his own enjoyment” and $165,165 on travel.

A judge has ruled that Don McGahn, former White House top lawyer, must testify to Congress about his time with DDT. In a scorching decision, U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said that McGahn cannot hide behind DDT’s false claim of “absolute immunity.” House Democrats will move closer to new testimony concerning Robert Mueller’s evidence about obstruction of justice if the appeals don’t block them. Jackson wrote that DDT is not a king and doesn’t have unchecked powers. According the ruling, no one is above the law.

Jackson’s opinion can help the impeachment inquiry investigation because it removes DDT’s claim of absolute immunity. Former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman have suggested that they will obey subpoenas if a court so orders. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also said he would go to court to see if he had to testify. Other officials may decide to disobey DDT’s orders to ignore subpoenas with this court ruling. Executive privilege may still allow witnesses who refuse to answer questions.

In recent protection for DDT, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants an investigation into Joe Biden and son Hunter. He tweeted:

“If a Republican was in the same position, they’d certainly be investigated!”

Several people, including Sen. Sean Maloney (D-NY), is taking Graham up on his offer. Maloney responded that he was delighted “to talk about how the kids of powerful people benefit from their parents’ officeholding,” including “Donald Trump Jr., Eric, Jared and Ivanka.” Others chimed in with names such as Andrew Giuliani, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Bush offspring, and Bill Barr’s daughter and son-in-law.

Anti-impeachment advocates are pleased by a recent CNN poll showing that only half the country thinks that DDT should be not only impeached by the House but also removed from office by the Senate. In 1998, the highest polling to remove Bill Clinton from being president was 29 percent, and the House GOP majority voted to impeach that year. Twenty percent more of the population think that DDT should be removed. The percentage of people wanting Richard Nixon removed didn’t climb to 57 percent until the Supreme Court ordered him to give up his audio tapes. 

Only recently have a few documents about DDT’s actions toward Ukraine begun to dribble out. Republicans, many of them terrified to cross DDT, repeat Russian propaganda even when some Fox news hosts correct them. They continue to stand by their false defenses for DDT’s criminal actions of bribery and extortion. 

1. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president was appropriate.—Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)

2. There was no quid pro quo.—Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) although all the testimony to the House disagreed

3. The July 25 call was inappropriate but not impeachable.—Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) who also said that DDT commits these kinds of actions all the time 

4. Trump was expressing his opinion on the July 25 call.—Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

5. Even if there was a quid pro quo, it wasn’t a “corrupt” quid pro quo.—Sen. John Neeley Kennedy (R-LA) who also echoes Russian propaganda arguing points.

6. Even if there was a quid pro quo, this happens in foreign policy.—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who ignored that the “quid pro quo” was for DDT’s personal benefit and not for that of the United States

7. Trump was unaware of the quid pro quo.—Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) although the testimony showed he is wrong

8. Trump is incapable of a quid pro quo.—Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), a position that he got from the Wall Street Journal editorial board

9. Trump’s public call for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens was not serious.—Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) although DDT didn’t say he was “joking”

10. Interpreting Trump’s actions amounts to “differences of opinion.”—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

11. The whistleblower complaint was based on hearsay.—Graham, despite all the first-hand testimony

12. The whistleblower complaint was inaccurate.—House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), despite testimony from people who heard the July 25 call

13. The whistleblower has a political bias.–Scalise

14. The whistleblower is part of the “deep state.”—Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) although the intelligence IG declared it credible.

15. The impeachment inquiry is a secret and unfair process.—Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about the process passed by Republicans in 2015

16. Trump has no due-process rights.—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) although impeachment does not guarantee these rights and DDT hasn’t been charged with anything

17. Ukraine said there was no pressure.—Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH) about a country afraid of not receiving vital aid

18. Ukraine did not agree to any investigations.—Jordan ignoring the facts

19. Ukraine did not know the security aid was held up.—Jordan, disproved by testimony and documents

20. Ukraine ultimately got the security aid.—Scalise refuting the fact that attempted actions are impeachable

21. Impeachment is a coup d’etat.—McCarthy about constitutional procedures

22. Democrats wanted to impeach Trump as soon as he was inaugurated.—Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-OH) lying about the fact that a majority of House Democrats didn’t support impeachment until after the July 25 call

23. Sondland never directly heard Trump mention Ukrainian security aid.—Turner, despite Sondland’s testimony that there was a quid pro quo

24. It’s the media’s fault.—Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), ignoring DDT’s actions

25. It’s Obama’s fault.—Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) although President Obama gave Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars in military support 

26. DDT told Giuliani to run a shadow policy team because he’s “ a great crime fighter” and a “friend.”—DDT  

DDT said he fired Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine because she “wouldn’t hang my picture in the [U.S.] embassy [in Ukraine].” Her legal team explained, “The Embassy in Kyiv hung the official photographs of the president, vice president, and secretary of state as soon as they arrived from Washington, D.C.” A report in 2017 stated that pictures of DDT and Pence weren’t being displayed because the Government Publishing Office did get images from the White House. The White House said that DDT and Pence hadn’t decided when to sit for the portraits.

The two major “fake” defenses: the impeachment isn’t fair, and DDT isn’t impeachable.

November 5, 2019

Impeachment Evidence Piles Up

Congressional testimony is creating a disastrous picture of extortion by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as four transcripts have been released and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, reversed earlier testimony to admit the existence of a quid pro quo. He now admits that he told one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” Earlier, Sondland had said that the only quid pro quo was Zelensky’s invitation to the White House. Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, had testified that Sondland warned Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak that the security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky openly promised an investigation into Burisma, an energy company where Hunter Biden had held a board position.

Today, Congress released transcripts from Sondland and Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine. Parts of these transcripts:

Sondland: He suggested that the quid pro quo “doesn’t sound good” and is probably illegal. His original statement claimed that he didn’t know in May that the Giuliani’s attempt for Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden although the media widely announced this at that time.

Volker: Undercutting Sondland’s testimony, Volker said Giuliani pushed “debunked” conspiracy theories, that Giuliani’s intent was for quid pro quo, including an investigation into the Bidens, was obvious. Giuliani gave DDT the idea that Ukraine was out to get him, according to Volker’s conversation with DDT who told Volker to talk to Giuliani. And Giuliani has announced that he works for DDT who is directing the Ukraine operation. Volker also testified that he sent a Ukrainian official DDT’s script for Zelensky to read, a statement that included an investigation into the energy company that employed Hunter Biden and a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s interfering in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Volker said:

“I agreed with the Ukrainians they shouldn’t [issue a statement mentioning the Bidens and 2016], and in fact told them just drop it, wait till you have your own prosecutor general in place.”

Before the release of the transcript, Republicans claimed that his testimony was good for DDT. The transcripts don’t show anything positive for the GOP and DDT’s argument. Transcripts from both men indicate that they believe DDT wants the investigations into the Bidens for only his personal benefit.

The first two transcripts from the impeachment inquiry emerged yesterday, testimonies of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Yovanovitch: DDT forced her out of her job in May and called her “bad news” during his July 25 phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. She also she felt threatened by DDT’s comments that “[Yovanovitch is] going to go through some things” and was warned about “nervousness” in the White House endangered her “security.” She also reported concerns expressed by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov about the danger of Ukraine being forced into U.S. domestic politics. (Ukrainian defense official Oleksandr Danyliuk expressed concern to Yovanovitch’s replacement, William B. Taylor, about Zelensky being used as a “pawn” for Trump’s reelection campaign, according to Taylor’s testimony.) Yovanovitch said Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland urged her to tweet her support for DDT to help save her job. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/468910-five-takeaways-from-the-first-trump-impeachment-deposition-transcripts   She expressed concern and confusion about DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the unfounded involvement of Ukraine in the U.S. 2016 election interference.  

Yovanovitch also testified that two people from Florida, Lev Parnas and Ignore Fruman, wanted her removed as ambassador for their personal business reasons. Giuliani was Parnas’ lawyer, and both men were indicted last month. Acting assistant secretary of state Philip Reeker told Yovanovitch after she returned in May that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he “was no longer able to protect her from President Trump.” When she asked Pompeo for a statement of support, he denied her request because because it could be “undermined” by DDT “with a tweet or something.”

McKinley: He defended Yovanovitch’s tenure and spoke out against DDT’s efforts to “procure negative political information for domestic purposes” and “what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance political objectives.” He said that he also resigned because of Pompeo’s refusal not to publicly support Yovanovitch after the July 25 call. Four senior officials wanted to issue a statement of support, but Pompeo blocked it even after he had three conversations with Pompeo. [Pompeo said (lied?) to ABC that McKinley never asked for this statement of support.] McKinley also agreed with George Kent that officials asked to testify in the impeachment inquiry were bullied by the State Department to not give testimony. Although McKinley did not oversee Ukrainian issues and didn’t hear the July 25 call, he agreed that DDT’s political allies politicized the State Department as over testimony alleged. He cited Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker. In 47 years working for the State Department, McKinley said he had never seen the agency involved in getting damaging information about the president’s political opponents. 

Pompeo has a serious issue with his undying loyalty to DDT over his employees and his responsibilities. As CIA director, Pompeo knew the evidence about Russian hackers interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of DDT and testified in support of that conclusion in 2017. Now Pompeo supports DDT’s investigation into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the DNC to help Clinton, not DDT. He was the one who helped DDT and Giuliani to oust Yovanovitch with false accusations. State Department officials have been talking to congressional offices for months about the hold on Ukraine military aid, an attempt to cut $4 billion of foreign aid, and DDT’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Testimony against him described his “culture of harassment and impunity.” Like DDT, Pompeo prioritizes his personal ambitions over the United States’ national interests.  

Breaking with DDT and Giuliani, Lev Parnas now plans to talk to congressional investigators looking into impeachment, perhaps because DDT said he didn’t know him although their photos together go back at least five years. Yet DDT “signed off” on the lawyer for Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman, the same lawyer who had defended Paul Manafort. Parnas has fired that lawyer in exchange for new ones who said that Parnas will comply with a congressional subpoena. Parnas knows Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine to support DDT and the ways that illegal foreign donations are laundered to DDT and the GOP.

Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to VP Mike Pence, will probably testify in Congress this week. She was one of the people listening to DDT’s July 25 call with Zelensky when DDT asked for a “favor” in return to releasing the military aid and requested that Zelensky work with AG Bill Barr and Giuliani on investigations into the Bidens.

DDT is openly asking Republicans to doctor the transcripts of the testimonies. He tweeted that they “should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda. House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews.”

An under-reported and truly bizarre piece of the impeachment inquiry comes from DDT’s and conservatives’ conspiracy theory about emails centering on CrowdStrike. The House GOP campaign organization uses this California cybersecurity company to protect its sensitive data and has no plans to change. Yet DDT and some House Republicans accuse CrowdStrike—with no evidence—of conspiring with Democrats in the 2016 election in a Ukrainian-backed intelligence operation to hurt DDT’s winning the White House. DDT still maintains that the hacked DNC server is hidden in Ukraine. Continuing to hire CrowdStrike shows that the GOP knows that the conspiracy theory is wrong, yet Republicans continue to blame CrowdStrike for election interference.  

Continuing the conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election, Giuliani met last week with a theory perpetrator, former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko. In spite of congressional investigations, it appears that soliciting Ukraine to investigate Biden and other Democrats hasn’t stopped, and some Ukrainian lawmakers are still looking into their conspiracy theory about a government campaign to smear Paul Manafort as part of taking down DDT in 2016. In his shadow foreign policy operation to damage DDT’s rivals, Giuliani had met with Telizhenko other times. Telizhenko had worked for Ukrainian businessman Pavel Fuks, a potential partner in DDT’s unsuccessful attempt to build a hotel in Moscow.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may represent the GOP approach toward an impeachment trial in the Senate: he won’t be reading the transcripts and called the probe “a bunch of BS.”  

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a statement, “Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.” It’s a delusion. The transcripts show a quid pro quo, Ukrainian knowledge about it, and DDT directing the extortion scheme.  

October 24, 2019

Barr’s Criminal Inquiry: No Crime, Just Distraction

Six days ago, the State Department determined no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employers in emails sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private computer server. The report, going back nine years and interviewing 130 people, was quietly made public on a Friday evening and reported in the back pages of major newspapers after several years of investigation by numerous agencies and Congress. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently called on his rallies to chant “lock her up” after Michael Flynn initiated the words at the 2016 RNC when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate. In a review of 33,000 emails, the report found 38 current or former employees “culpable” of violating security procedures, but no material had been marked classified until after they had been sent. The vast majority of people “did their best to implement [security policies].”

Despite common security lapses by DDT’s own administration, he continues to attack Democrats with Clinton’s emails and maintains that a server in Ukraine is hiding her emails. The impeachment inquiry into DDT shows that his officials and personal lawyer pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that politically benefit DDT used private phones and cell apps to communicate their efforts.

The completion of the report seemed to be a hiatus of meaningless investigations into Democrats—until tonight. In what appears to be an attempt to distract the media from evidence against DDT revealed within the impeachment inquiry, Bill Barr (left), attorney general and DDT’s fixer, opened a criminal inquiry into the DOJ Russia investigation. John Durham, Barr’s prosecutorial puppet supposedly leading the inquiry, may now subpoena for witness testimony and documents, impanel a grand jury, and file criminal charges. 

A criminal inquiry requires only a “reasonable indication” that a crime has been committed, a much lower standard than the probable cause required to obtain search warrants. The decision is not reviewed by a court. The DOJ does require “an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient.” Without the criminal description, Durham could only voluntarily interview people and examine government files. Some witnesses have refused voluntary interviews.

Barr has typically used his position as a place to protect DDT and fight his enemies since his appointment at the beginning of 2019, but the criminal inquiry is a new low. The situation is unusual as the DOJ conducts a criminal inquiry into the DOJ, using Durham because of the prosecutors’ respected reputation. The DOJ Inspector General typically conducts management reviews, but he cannot empower a grand jury, which may be Barr’s aim. 

In May, Barr claimed that conversations with intelligence and law enforcement led him to think that the FBI acted improperly, if not unlawfully. DDT gave Barr extraordinary powers to declassify intelligence secrets for his initial review, meaning that he can make public documents or information from the CIA and the FBI over their objections.

The FBI investigation into Russian interference began in July 2016 after the Australian government gave information to the FBI that a DDT campaign adviser had been approached with an offer of stolen emails that could damage Clinton’s campaign. At first, the agency didn’t use CIA information but moved forward in August 2016 when John O. Brennan, CIA director at that time, shared intelligence with then FBI director Comey. The CIA provided more evidence to the FBI in early 2017 that Russia tried to get DDT elected. During his investigation, Robert Mueller obtained convictions or guilty pleas from several DDT associates and indictments of over two dozen Russians because of their wide-ranging interference scheme.

According to DOJ guidelines, the FBI “has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Under “Investigations”:

“(1) A general crimes investigation may be initiated by the FBI when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a federal crime has been, is being, or will be committed. The investigation may be conducted to prevent, solve, and prosecute such criminal activity.”

Barr’s micro-managing of Durham’s inquiry including trips to Italy to get help from its officials to support a conspiracy theory, that the Italian government helped set up the DDT campaign adviser who was told in 2016 that the Russians had damaging information that could hurt Clinton’s campaign. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said that his country’s intelligence services had no such role in the Russia investigation. Barr’s trip, circumventing protocols, followed DDT’s bidding in what should have been an independent inquiry, and Barr made a second trip to Italy with Durham. DDT also called Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, pressuring him to help Barr gather information that discredits the Robert Mueller investigation. 

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) caused diplomatic difficulties by sending letters to leaders of Britain, Italy and Australia, urging them to help “investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.” With no evidence, Graham declared that an Australian former diplomat was involved in the supposed plot to take down DDT. Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, rejected Graham’s description of the role of the diplomat, Alexander Downer. DDT worsened the situation by accusing other countries of a wide foreign plot against him.

Durham’s investigation thus far includes interviews with over two dozen former and current FBI and intelligence officials about possible anti-DDT bias among officials working on the Russia investigation and a possible abuse of power in seeking the court order for a wiretap on DDT’s campaign official of interest. Another question is whether CIA officials tricked FBI into opening the Russia investigation. In rejection of the conspiracy theory that the Russian investigation was to block DDT’s election, a former official pointed out that the FBI openly investigated Clinton’s private email server but hid the counterintelligence investigation into DDT’s campaign.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tied Durham/Barr’s inquiry to Ukraine last week, and Durham admitted that he has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens. The DOJ did not give a reason. Most of the people involved in the opening of the Russia investigation have not been interviewed, possibly because Barr is waiting for a criminal inquiry. As this criminal inquiry opens, the DOJ inspector general is finishing his inquiry into the FBI’s conduct during the early time of the Russia investigation including the application for a warrant to wiretap the campaign official.

Thus far, Barr has not clarified what crime Durham is investigating or when the criminal inquiry began. DDT has accused the FBI officials who opened the case of treason, defined as “only in levying War against [the U.S.], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

The New York City Bar Association has asked Attorney General William Barr to immediately recuse himself from any matters pertaining to DDT’s Ukraine scandal because of Barr’s conflict of interest as head of the DOJ. The tipping point of the concern came from Barr’s refusal to recuse himself in the DOJ’s review, also improper, of the whistleblower complaint regarding DDT’s “July 25, 2019 telephone call to request the Republic of Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and former Vice President Biden and his son.”

Barr got his job as AG by writing an unsolicited memo stating that Mueller’s investigation was “fatally misconceived” and criticized the lack of partisan “balance” on his team. The memo also praised DDT’s firing of Comey and, during his confirmation hearings, refused to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite these opinions. Getting the AG job, Barr followed through with his commitment to protect DDT from Mueller’s investigation with an erroneous—one could say biased—synopsis of Mueller’s report followed by dragging his heels until he released a heavily redacted version of the report because of criticism from the usually taciturn Mueller.

The report showed DDT’s wrongdoing, but by then Barr’s “no collusion” repetition had taken root with people who ignored the actual report. Not until DDT’s flagrant quid pro quo with Ukraine extorting the president for the congressionally-approved military aid. In May, Barr testified “I don’t know” to Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether anyone at the White House had “hinted” that he should open an investigation, the one that is now a criminal inquiry.

In other support for DDT, Barr argued for the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census to undercount immigrants and deny communities of federal resources for the next ten years. Barr also has the same obsession to discriminate against individuals and groups with the unconstitutional excuse of “religious liberty.” His focus is to illegally expand DDT’s power through politicizing his own office, to shield DDT’s friends, and to prosecute his enemies. Instead of an independent agency of justice, the DOJ has become a reign of terror guided by the authoritarian leader of the United States.  

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