A few things are on my radar this afternoon … several actually, but three that are jumping up and down screaming, “Pick me! Pick ME!” And so, the choice has been made for me, it would seem.
Who could’a seen it coming?
This in this morning’s The Guardian …
Despite Donald Trump’s claims that the spread of coronavirus is dropping around the US, new infection hotspots are cropping up across Republican heartlands, including in Texas and Alabama. Many of the new hotspots are in states where governors refused to instruct residents to stay at home, or are following Trump’s advice to relax lockdown restrictions.
These figures could be seen as the realisation of a warning from Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the president’s long-suffering right-hand man on coronavirus, on Tuesday.
In his latest contradiction of the president, Fauci warned the virus would not go away on its own, and that reopening the country too quickly could result in a surge in “little spikes that might turn into outbreaks”.
I wonder how those gun-totin’ fools who stormed statehouses brandishing their big guns and displaying their Nazi insignia feel now that they’ve gotten their way? I wonder how many more have to die because of fools like them?
Will justice prevail?
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from Trump’s lawyers concerning the release of his tax and other financial records, as subpoenaed by Congress. Trump’s lawyers contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and cannot be prosecuted while in office. However, at least four on the Supreme Court feel differently …
- “There is a long, long history of Congress seeking records and getting them” from occupants of the Oval Office. – Justice Sonia Sotomayor
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer brought up requests for documents during the Watergate and Whitewater scandals, which occurred under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and were decided unanimously against the president concerned.
- Elena Kagan told Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow a “fundamental precept of our constitutional order is that the president is not above the law”.
The case in a nutshell:
Every president since Nixon, who was elected in 1968, had released tax information. But there is no legal compunction to do so.
Democrats in Congress are attempting to establish whether Trump is breaking ethics laws and constitutional safeguards against profiting from the presidency.
The New York prosecutor Cyrus Vance Jr wants to find out if hush money payments to women who claimed affairs with Trump involved illegal business practices.
Trump is asking the justices to put an end to subpoenas for tax, bank and other financial records which seek information from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm.
Trump’s lawyers, supported by the justice department, contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and cannot be prosecuted while in office.
Opponents of the president say he is simply not above the law.
Appellate courts in Washington and New York have ruled that the documents should be turned over. Those courts brushed aside the president’s broad arguments, focusing on the fact that the subpoenas were addressed to third parties asking for records of Trump’s business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge: “Do you concede any power in the House to subpoena personal papers of the president?”
The Trump attorney said it was “difficult to imagine” a situation in which that would be justified.
However, in 1974 the justices acted unanimously in requiring Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor. And in 1997, another unanimous decision allowed a sexual harassment lawsuit to proceed against Clinton.
What makes Trump different than Nixon or Clinton? What is it that makes Attorney General Barr proclaim him to be ‘above the law’ in all things? Trump is only a flawed human, just as were Nixon and Clinton. He has already been proven to be more corrupt than even Nixon. Per the U.S. Constitution, Congress is tasked with the oversight of the Executive Branch of government. So why … why should he be given carte blanche to hide his possible misdeeds, to keep his dirty secrets from the people of this nation? If he had nothing to hide, he wouldn’t be hiding behind Bill Barr’s very wide coat, now would he?
I hope that Chief Justice Roberts finds that he still has a conscience when it comes time for a vote on this case. There is far more at stake here than whether Trump is allowed to keep his dirty little secrets, for this case will set a precedent for all future presidents. A ruling is expected within a matter of weeks.
Not so fast, Billy Barr …
Remember last week when the Department of Justice under William Barr announced that it would be dropping the charges against Michael Flynn? Most non-trumpies were incensed, as was I.
Bill Barr auditioned for the role of Attorney General by writing a lengthy memo arguing in favor of a fringe legal theory that a President could not obstruct justice, no matter what he did. From the very beginning, Barr has made it clear that he would be Trump’s man in the Department of Justice, and that his loyalty would always be to the President — not the rule of law, not the people of this nation.
But this time Barr may have to answer to a higher authority … the federal courts. Judge Emmet Sullivan has put the Justice Department’s decision on hold – opening the door for legal experts and other outside parties to oppose the administration’s motion to exonerate Flynn of lying to the FBI.
Critics, including Barack Obama and hundreds of former FBI and justice department officials, have questioned whether William Barr was orchestrating favors for Trump. Flynn, guilty of far greater crimes, pleaded guilty to the single charge of lying to the FBI as part of a plea deal arranged in exchange for testimony to Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russia’s interference on behalf of Trump in 2016. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that Flynn did nothing wrong, that he was set up, but the hard evidence says differently and in fact, had he not agreed to the plea deal, he would have been charged with far more crimes, possibly up to and including treason.
It is interesting to note that within the Justice Department, only Barr argued in favour of dropping the charges against Flynn. None of the line prosecutors supervising the case signed the motion and one withdrew from the case. That, to me, speaks volumes.
When Flynn was forced from the White House, Vice-President Mike Pence said he was disappointed the national security adviser had misled him about his talks with the Russian ambassador. Donald Trump called the deception unacceptable.
Now Pence says he would welcome Flynn back to the administration, calling him a “patriot”, as Trump pronounces him exonerated. Ask yourself … ‘Why?’ There’s a reason, and I suspect it pertains to the role Flynn could play as a liaison between Trump and Russia in the upcoming election. Just an educated guess on my part, of course.
I cannot begin to guess at this point how this will end, but it’s good to know the judge isn’t taking his responsibility to truth and justice lightly. This one will keep me on the edge of my seat!