Oh Please, Merrick Garland, SOS!

Robert Reich’s first three sentences of his newsletter this morning echoes my own sentiments exactly.  I don’t want to write about him, don’t want to hear his name or see his ugly mug, and I will go one step further on the third point … I wish he didn’t exist.  Never in my 71 years has a single person disgusted and sickened me as much as the former guy.  But the reality is … we cannot afford to ignore him.


Trump Redux

He looms over the 2022 midterm elections. He cannot be ignored or wished away.

By Robert Reich

24 October 2022

I really don’t want to write about him any more. I’d rather not even think about him. Honestly, I’d rather forget he existed.

But he looms over the 2022 elections like a sword of Damocles. Trump continues to dominate all political coverage. In many respects, he is still the center of American politics — if anything, bigger and more dangerous than he was when he left the White House.

First, consider all the action in federal and state courts.

Just within the last two weeks, Trump has been subpoenaed to appear before the January 6 committee, his appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the FBI’s seizure at Mar-a-Lago of secret documents he stole from the White House was rejected, his former aide Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress, a federal appeals court denied a request by Sen. Lindsey Graham to be shielded from testifying in an investigation into Trump’s interference in the 2020 election in Georgia, other aides were observed after testifying before a grand jury in the criminal investigation of Jan. 6, his name was featured in text messages read aloud at the Oath Keepers trial, and his decision to form a new company (Trump Organization II) was criticized by the New York attorney general, who is suing him.

Never before in history has a former president, his aides, and supporters in Congress been as entangled in legal proceedings stretching years beyond his administration. Never have the legal maneuvers attracted more media attention.

Second is the continuing speculation about whether Merrick Garland will indict him.

The Jan 6 committee has done an outstanding job, but it has also helped Trump become a more historically significant. As Politico’s John Harris noted,  

“The usual journalistic crutch when assessing political legacies is ‘for better or worse,’ but in this case it is only for worse. Trump’s historic significance flows from how effectively he has made people doubt what was previously beyond doubt — that American democracy is on the level — and how brilliantly he has illuminated just how much this generation of Americans looks at one another with mutual contempt and mutual incomprehension.”

While the Jan. 6 committee has dismantled Trump’s deceptions and denialism surrounding the 2020 election, it has also helped build Trump into something larger than he appeared two years ago — a political force too serious to forget. That’s not a bad thing; we must not allow ourselves to forget what he has done to America. But it does cast his shadow over our future in ways few former presidents have ever managed.

Third is the groundwork for an undemocratic coup that Trump and his henchmen continue to lay.

That groundwork is being prepared step by step. A majority of Republican candidates for office in the 2020 midterms are election deniers, including several candidates for the crucial election jobs of secretaries of state and governors.  

The tactics they and their supporters used in primary elections force us to brace for a range of new challenges in the upcoming midterms and in 2024, including disruptive poll watchers and workers, aggressive litigation strategies, voter and ballot challenges and vigilante searches for fraud.

He will almost certainly declare his candidacy for president in 2024 within the next few months.

Just as menacingly for 2024 and beyond, the Supreme Court has taken up the “independent state legislature” doctrine. If upheld, this doctrine would allow state legislatures to do exactly what Trump tried to do in December 2020 — appoint their own slates of electors, regardless of the popular vote.

Finally, Twitter and Facebook are poised to allow Trump back on — to continue to spread his lies on the largest megaphones in the world.

Trump is not only a sociopath. He is also a masterful conman. Social media will soon allow him to continue to spread his lies and hate. (Elon Musk has virtually guaranteed it for Twitter if, as expected, Musk takes over that platform. Facebook has signaled it will do the same.)

A sociopathic conman on social media is terrifying.

It is our terrible misfortune that Trump came to power and continues to infect America and the world just as the tangled weave of other crises — near-record inequality, bigotry (racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia), the climate, the pandemic — have made many Americans vulnerable to his demagoguery.

I didn’t want to write about him today or even think about him. But none of us dares turn our eyes away in revulsion.

Rather than ignore him, we must demand that Trump be prosecuted. Instead of pretending the poison he released into the American system is behind us, we must acknowledge that it is spreading.

As opposed to dismissing him, we must deal with him and the lawmakers who are enabling him head-on — and stop him, and them, through every non-violent means possible.

A Horrendous Ruling …

Are we getting tired yet?  Are we sickened by all we see coming out of the extreme right, the former guy & his minions, and the exaggerated evangelicals?  Would we like to just go somewhere ‘far away from the madding crowd’ and live out our days in peace?  Yeah … me too.  But guess what?  That’s what they’re counting on … the right-wingers who would replace our Constitution with their bible, and replace our democracy with their theocracy are hoping we’ll get so exhausted by it that we’ll tuck our tails between our legs and slink off, leaving them to do as they will.  But NO!!! We’re gonna all take a few nice deep breaths and remind ourselves what’s at stake here, then get back in the saddle and do whatever we can to stamp “PAID” on the lunacy that resides in the U.S. today.

I was enraged and incensed by the news that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ruled to appoint a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago search, possibly delaying the Justice Department’s work that is certain to result in charges against Trump.  The first thing I said was to call her a not-very-nice word meaning prostitute, for in my book she has prostituted herself … she indebted herself to Trump in exchange for a prestigious judicial appointment.  And this week, he called in the debt.  And she paid it, even though her decision goes against the people of this nation, goes against the rule of law, goes against everything she learned in her tenure at University of Michigan Law School.

I share here Robert Hubbell’s views of the horrendous decision …


Judge Cannon did everyone a favor.

Robert Hubbell

7 September 2022

In one respect, Judge Aileen Cannon did everyone a favor in her decision to appoint a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago search. She wrote an opinion so awful and bereft of legal reasoning that commentators on all sides of the political spectrum are panning the opinion as an abomination. Indeed, they are falling over themselves to find adjectives, comparisons, and metaphors that adequately describe the havoc of her decision. Here is a fair sampling:

          And then there is Bill Barr, a man who destroyed his legacy to support Trump. Here is what Bill Barr told Trump’s supporters during an appearance on Fox News:

  • The opinion, I think, was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it. It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways.
  • [T]he government has very strong evidence of what it really needs to determine whether charges are appropriate . . . there’s some evidence to suggest that they were deceived.
  • [N]one of [the government’s case] really relates to the content of documents. It relates to the fact that there were documents [at Mar-a-Lago] and the fact that they were classified and the fact that they were subpoenaed and never delivered.

My point is not to trash Judge Cannon’s integrity, intelligence, or fairness. She has already done so beyond my meager ability to add to the opprobrium already heaped upon her. Rather, the point is that Judge Cannon now understands she is universally regarded as the most incompetent, biased, and clueless federal district judge in the nation—and that is saying something!

          How Judge Cannon responds to that stomach-churning realization is what matters. Will Judge Cannon attempt to undo her grotesque error by revising her order? Will she reject efforts by Trump’s team to exploit the legal gruel disguised as analysis in her opinion? Or will she redouble her efforts to serve as Trump’s surrogate defense counsel from her position on the bench in the Southern District of Florida?

          The next few days will provide much more information about Judge Cannon’s intentions. I infer (read: speculate) that she is in legal waters way above her head and tried to kludge a remedy unsupported by the law. The result is a Frankenstein’s monster that will haunt her for the remainder of her career. Her decision is already being cited as “The Loose Cannon Rule,” under which criminal defendants can seek a stay of federal criminal proceedings whenever evidence is seized under a search warrant.

          The DOJ has many paths forward, most of which are legally complicated and equally unsatisfactory. But as Bill Barr also noted in his comments to Fox News, the decision is more like a “rain delay.” One of the most likely steps is for Merrick Garland to proceed with the special master process and appeal the order staying the investigation—which is a constitutional insult of the highest order.

          In her order, Judge Cannon has told the Article II branch of the government that it may not perform the duties granted to it by the Constitution. As Neal Katyal noted yesterday on MSNBC, none of his first-year law students at Georgetown would suggest such an outlandish and unsupported violation of separation of powers. Although the University of Michigan Law School is not the guarantor of the future performance of its graduates, the faculty at the U.Mich.Law should be revising their syllabi to add a few extra sessions on separation of powers—not to mention a deep dive into US v. Nixon. And judicial ethics. And legal research. And common sense.

          In the end, Judge Cannon’s decision is so bad it cannot stand. The DOJ will find a way to circumvent the worst parts of her ruling. Trump stole classified documents, concealed them, lied about it, and refused to return them after being served with a grand jury subpoena. He is in deep trouble. If past is prologue, Trump will make his predicament worse by uttering new lies and issuing new admissions.

Beyond my Understanding.

You’ve all heard that expression “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” And to an extent, it’s true … here in the U.S. we are so bombarded with the latest horrors that happen on a daily … nay, an HOURLY basis now that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. So, when someone from across the pond weighs in, it is often with more clarity and focus than we can have. Our friend David has done just that with a post he wrote in his sleepless hours last night, and it is well worth the read. He cuts to the chase, leaves aside the minutiae, and clarifies the main thing that needs to happen. Since David is still having trouble getting his comment section working, feel free to leave him your thoughts here and I’ll make sure he sees them. Thank you, David, for your well-stated views!

The BUTHIDARS

I’ve been reading about the disclosures made by the House Select Committee investigating Jan 6th and I confess that it’s blown my mind, In the past I’ve made mention that Trump is a con-man though on large scale with his Trump University Scam and his Trump Charity Scam. I can maybe see how a man with the Gift of the Gab could get away with things for so long but now, not to such a degree.

Donald Trump asked for donations to fund his ‘Official Election Defence Fund’ to pay legal fees to challenge and overturn the ‘stolen’ 2020 Election results. He received 250 million in donations for a fund that didn’t exist then….or since which means he committed Wire fraud. Of that money, 13 million went to pay court expenses. The rest went to organisations run by Trump staffers, The Trump Hotel Collections or to the fiancee of Donald…

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Republican Voices of Experience Speak Loudly

It’s one thing for someone like me, a mere political observer, to say that Donald Trump must be prosecuted for his crimes, particularly the crime of inciting an attempted coup to overturn an election, to kill the voices of We the People.  You and I can say it all we want, but our words carry little or no weight with the courts or the Department of Justice, the people who really matter.  However, when former Justice Department officials who served in Republican administrations say it, then it carries weight and significance.

The following article, published in The Atlantic, was penned by the trio of Donald Ayer, Stuart M. Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut.  Ayer and Gerson worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Gerson also briefly served as the acting attorney general under President Bill Clinton, while Aftergut is a former federal prosecutor and former chief assistant city attorney for San Francisco.  Their words are powerful and I hope that those who need to listen … are listening.


The DOJ Must Prosecute Trump

The January 6 committee has provided overwhelming evidence that the former president was not some bit player along for the ride, but the central driver of a nefarious plot.

By Donald Ayer, Stuart Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut

After seven hearings held by the January 6 committee thus far this summer, doubts as to who is responsible have been resolved. The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome.

The evidence is clearer and more robust than we as former federal prosecutors—two of us as Department of Justice officials in Republican administrations—thought possible before the hearings began. Trump was not just a willing beneficiary of a complex plot in which others played most of the primary roles. While in office, he himself was the principal actor in nearly all of its phases, personally executing key parts of most of its elements and aware of or involved in its worst features, including the use of violence on Capitol Hill. Most remarkably, he did so over vehement objections raised at every turn, even by his sycophantic and loyal handpicked team. This was Trump’s project all along.

Everyone knew before the hearings began that we were dealing with perhaps the gravest imaginable offense against the nation short of secession—a serious nationwide effort pursued at multiple levels to overturn the unambiguous outcome of a national election. We all knew as well that efforts were and are unfolding nationwide to change laws and undermine electoral processes with the specific objective of succeeding at the same project in 2024 and after. But each hearing has sharpened our understanding that Donald Trump himself is the one who made it happen.

As former prosecutors, we recognize the legitimacy of concerns that electoral winners prosecuting their defeated opponents may look like something out of a banana republic rather than the United States of America; that doing so might be viewed as opening the door to prosecutorial retaliation by future presidential winners; and that, in the case of this former president, it might lead to civil unrest.

But given the record now before us, all of these considerations must give way to the urgency of achieving a public reckoning for Donald Trump. The damage to America’s future that would be inflicted by giving him a pass far outweighs the risks of prosecuting him.

The committee’s evidence to date establishes multiple significant points for prosecutors. (A comprehensive summary of the evidence—offense by offense—is available at Just Security’s “Criminal Evidence Tracker.”)

First, contrary to speculation that Trump may have genuinely believed he won the election, and thus in his own mind was seeking rough justice in trying to change the outcome, the committee has demonstrated repeatedly that he knew beyond all doubt that he had lost fair and square. Trump’s former attorney general Bill Barr told the president that claims of widespread voter fraud were “bullshit.” Numerous reinforcements of that message were delivered by many others, including Barr’s successor, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen; former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue; and multiple Trump-campaign officials.

Second, Trump’s involvement in carrying out the scheme was systematic, expansive, and extraordinarily personal. As if to illustrate how personal his intervention was (and is), Republican Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and the representative from Wyoming, dropped a bombshell at the end of Tuesday’s hearing: Sometime since the previous hearing on June 28, Trump himself had contacted a witness, something that his lawyers certainly could have told him could easily lead to charges of witness tampering. Cheney announced that the committee has notified the Justice Department of Trump’s latest misconduct.

The committee’s previous hearings showed that in the months after the 2020 election, Trump himself—not some aide or lawyer or other ally—tried to interfere with the state vote-counting processes. Among the most memorable incidents was his 67-minute January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger asking him to “find” 11,780 nonexistent votes, creating a Trump win. Trump himself also called to try to influence the state’s chief elections investigator, Frances Watson, and spoke with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to urge him to call a special legislative session to appoint alternative electors.

There is also evidence that Trump spoke with Republican Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler after he had declined repeated calls from Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, two Trump-campaign attorneys, to bring the legislature into session to decertify the state’s election results. And Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, also a Republican, both testified that Trump phoned them in December to ask for their help in implementing the infamous bogus-elector scheme. (John Eastman, another Trump lawyer, and Giuliani were also involved with those calls.)

Trump tried persistently to obtain the help of the Department of Justice in creating a false public impression that the election had been fraudulent. After he failed in mid-December to persuade Bill Barr to assert election fraud, Trump called Rosen, Barr’s successor, nearly every day in the same pursuit. And when this effort too failed, at a White House meeting on January 3, he undertook to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a second-tier DOJ official whom Trump had spoken with personally and found more compliant. This effort failed only when Donoghue and Rosen told Trump that the entire department’s leadership would resign if Clark were installed.

Crucial to the whole plot, of course, was the unlawful scheme to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into rejecting or delaying the electoral count. Multiple witnesses testified about being present to hear Trump’s “heated” call with Pence on the morning of January 6. One witness said that Trump called Pence a “wimp.” Ivanka Trump testified that she had never previously heard her father treat Pence that way, and she told another witness that Trump had used the “P-word” to denigrate the vice president’s manhood.

Ample evidence has also shown Trump well knew that Pence could not properly do as Trump urged. Mike Pence’s counsel, Greg Jacob, testified that Trump was present at a January 4 White House meeting where John Eastman admitted the unlawfulness of his and Trump’s plan to have the vice president not certify the electoral count two days later.

A third significant point for prosecutors is that the hearings have put into sharp focus Trump’s personal involvement and advance knowledge of the dangerous circumstances surrounding the January 6 insurrection. Cassidy Hutchinson, who was the principal aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that she overheard Trump complain just before his January 6 speech on the Ellipse that supporters were not being allowed into the security area for his speech while armed, and thus were staying outside. She recalled Trump asking to have the magnetometers removed, saying that he did not care if attendees were armed, because “they’re not here to hurt me.”

Hutchinson also testified that Trump expected to go to the Capitol after his speech and was angry when the Secret Service denied his request to do so, testimony that others have corroborated. He wanted to be part of and lead an armed mob aimed, at minimum, at intimidating Congress and Mike Pence. That is significant evidence demonstrating criminal intent in connection with the crime of inciting an insurrection. Told that the mob had threatened to hang the vice president, Trump apparently responded that he “deserves” it.

Finally, the committee has persuasively established that Trump continued to facilitate the insurrection, even after he returned to the White House once the Secret Service refused to take him to Capitol Hill. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley testified that during the violence, Pence called him to request the National Guard to restore order; Trump made no such call. In fact, Trump did nothing for more than three hours to quell the insurrectionists.

To the contrary, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews testified that by tweeting that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” to overturn the election, Trump was “pouring gasoline on the fire.”

All of that was enough to show Trump’s personal leadership of the Big Lie effort and his complicity in the violence of January 6. But in addition, at Tuesday’s hearing, the committee focused attention on Trump’s December 19 tweet inviting his supporters to a “big protest in D.C. on January 6th.” He added, “Be there, will be wild!” The committee showed evidence of communications among the militant Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters hours after the tweet demonstrating that it was the signal that prompted previously unaligned groups to cooperate in developing military-style operational tactics for the violent Capitol invasion.

In assessing the importance and priority to be given to a DOJ decision to prosecute, the Justice Department Manual lists three factors with special relevance here: “the nature and seriousness of the offense,” “the deterrent effect of the prosecution,” and “the person’s culpability in connection with the offense.”

On the first point, it is hard to imagine an offense that would more urgently call for criminal accountability by federal prosecution than a concerted and nearly successful effort to overthrow the result of a presidential election. It is an offense against the entire nation, by which Trump sought to reverse a 235-year-old constitutional tradition of presidential power transferring lawfully and peacefully.

The fact that a related state grand-jury investigation is proceeding in Fulton County, Georgia, relating to the part of the plot aimed at the Georgia vote count and certification process does not alter or lessen the urgency of this federal interest. Separate state and federal prosecutions can and should proceed when federal interests are as strong or stronger than the local interest.

Nor can there be any doubt about the crucial need to deter future attempts to overthrow the government. For the past 18 months, and presently, Trump himself and his supporters have been engaged in concerted efforts across the country to prepare for a similar, but better-planned, effort to overcome the minority status of Trump’s support and put him back in the White House. Moreover, if the efforts of the former president and his supporters garner a pass from the federal authorities, even in the face of such overwhelming evidence, Trump will not be the only one ready to play this game for another round.

As many have pointed out, deterrence requires that the quest for accountability succeed in achieving a conviction before a jury—here most likely made up of citizens of the District of Columbia. And the Department’s regulations make the odds of the prosecution’s success an important consideration in determining whether to go forward. In the case of a person who has made a career out of escaping the consequences of his misconduct, this is no small issue for the attorney general to take into account.

But as former prosecutors, we have faith that the evidence of personal culpability is so overwhelming that the case can be made to the satisfaction of such a jury. One of us—Gerson—has tried many difficult cases before D.C. juries with success. As a defendant, Donald Trump would open the door to all sorts of things that wouldn’t come into a normal trial, and the prosecutor could have a field day in argument about how this would-be tyrant tried to overthrow the government that has kept our nation free for two and a quarter centuries. Bottom line: Given what is at stake, even with the risk of a hung jury—leaving room for a second trial—there is no realistic alternative but to go forward.

Any argument that Donald Trump lacked provable criminal intent is contradicted by the facts elicited by the January 6 committee. And the tradition of not prosecuting a former president must yield to the manifest need to protect our constitutional form of government and to ensure that the violent effort to overthrow it is never repeated.

And Speaking of Voting Rights …

I had considered doing a Saturday Surprise post today, but … frankly, my heart wasn’t in it and my mind kept going back to an editorial I read yesterday by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Perhaps there might be a Sunday Surprise tomorrow, but for today, please read AG Garland’s words, think about them, put them into the context of the post I wrote yesterday about Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.  Then ask yourself … WHERE are we headed?  WHY should a person’s right to vote be infringed upon because of the colour of their skin?  And WHAT, if anything, can We the People do to stop this runaway train that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, rob them of their voice in our country’s government?


Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote

Opinion by Merrick B. Garland

Friday, 06 August 2021

Merrick B. Garland is attorney general of the United States.

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights.

Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.”

Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression.

Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

By 1965, it was clear that protecting the right to vote required stronger tools. The Voting Rights Act provided them. Central to the law was its “preclearance” provision, which prevented jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices from adopting new voting rules until they could show the Justice Department or a federal court that the change would have neither a racially discriminatory purpose nor a racially discriminatory result.

By any measure, the preclearance regime was enormously effective. While it was in place, the Justice Department blocked thousands of discriminatory voting changes that would have curtailed the voting rights of millions of citizens in jurisdictions large and small.

One thwarted change involved McComb, Miss. A large group of Black residents in the city had long voted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which was close to their homes on the east side of railroad tracks that run through the city. In 1997, the city tried to move that group’s assigned polling place to the American Legion Hut on the west side of the tracks. To cross those tracks, Black voters on the east side — many of whom lacked transportation — would have had to travel substantial distances to find a safe crossing. Recognizing that difficulty, the Justice Department blocked the change.

While the Voting Rights Act gave the Justice Department robust authority, it also imposed checks on that power. Jurisdictions had the option to go to federal court to show that their voting changes were lawful. This ensured fairness and accountability, but without the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that existed prior to 1965. It was a balance that worked and received broad support: Congressional reauthorizations of the act were signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and President George W. Bush in 2006.

That invaluable framework was upended in 2013, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively eliminated the act’s preclearance protections. Without that authority, the Justice Department has been unable to stop discriminatory practices before they occur. Instead, the Justice Department has been left with costly, time-consuming tools that have many of the shortcomings that plagued federal law prior to 1965.

Notwithstanding these setbacks, the Justice Department is using all its current legal authorities to combat a new wave of restrictive voting laws. But if the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision were still operative, many of those laws would likely not have taken effect in the first place.

In a column published after his death, Lewis recalled an important lesson taught by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.”

On this anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must say again that it is not right to erect barriers that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. And it is time for Congress to act again to protect that fundamental right.

A Bombshell That Few Noticed

Last week, we found out that the former guy had instructed then-acting-attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.”  I saw this headline in numerous news sites that I visit daily, and like most of the rest of you, I growled a bit, called him a few choice names, then moved on to other stories.  But as Robert Reich points out … that was the wrong move.  This is THE story that is most important in its implications.  I’ll let Mr. Reich explain …


A Trump bombshell quietly dropped last week. And it should shock us all

Robert Reich

A newly released memo shows that Trump told the acting attorney general: ‘Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen’

We’ve become so inured to Donald Trump’s proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election. Yet the most recent revelation should frighten every American to their core.

On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.” The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, who was also on the call.

The release of these notes has barely made a stir. The weekend news was filled with more immediate things – infrastructure! The Delta strain! Inflation! Wildfires! In light of everything else going on, Trump’s bizarre efforts in the last weeks of his presidency seem wearily irrelevant. Didn’t we already know how desperate he was?

In a word, no. This revelation is hugely important.

Rosen obviously rejected Trump’s request. But what if Rosen had obeyed Trump and said to the American public that the election was corrupt – and then “left the rest” to Trump and the Republican congressmen? What would Trump’s and the Republicans’ next moves have been? And which Republican congressmen were in cahoots with Trump in this attempted coup d’état?

Make no mistake: this was an attempted coup.

Trump knew it. Just weeks earlier, then attorney general William Barr said the justice department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.

And a few days after Trump’s call to Rosen – on 2 January – Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, to “find” votes to change the election outcome. He berated Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.

Emails released last month also show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the justice department to investigate totally unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud – forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the supreme court.

Some people, especially Republican officeholders, believe we should simply forget these sordid details. We must not.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused – still refuses – to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was “stolen” from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage – a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers – after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

But Trump was no accident and he’s not in any dustbin. He has turned one of America’s two major parties into his own cult. He has cast the major political division in the US as a clash between those who believe him about the 2020 election and those who do not. He has emboldened state Republicans to execute the most brazen attack on voting rights since Jim Crow. Most Republican senators and representatives dare not cross him. Some of his followers continue to threaten violence against the government. By all accounts, he is running for president again in 2024.

Donald Trump’s proto-fascism poses the largest internal threat to American democracy since the civil war.

What to do about it? Fight it, and the sooner the better.

This final revelation – Trump’s 27 December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” – should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection” against the US. The current attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, should issue an advisory opinion clearly stating this. If Trump wants to take it to the supreme court, fine.

It’s Only A Matter Of Time

This, from a press release by the Department of Justice, U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, yesterday, July 16th

According to court documents, Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, and Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, began planning to attack targets they associated with Democrats after the 2020 Presidential election and sought support from an anti-government militia group. According to the indictment, the defendants planned to use incendiary devices to attack their targets and hoped their attacks would prompt a movement.

The indictment describes how Copeland and Rogers used multiple messaging applications and discussed the attacks on numerous occasions. For example, in late December 2020, Copeland told Rogers he contacted an anti-government militia group to gather support for the movement and in January 2021, Rogers told Copeland “I want to blow up a democrat building bad.” Copeland agreed, saying, “I agree” “Plan attack”.  The agreed to start with the Democratic Headquarters in Sacramento and to “see what happens.”  In one exchange, Rogers wrote to Copeland, “after the 20th we go to war,” meaning that they would initiate acts of violence after the inauguration on January 20, 2021.

According to court documents, on January 15, just four days after that exchange and five days before the trigger that Rogers and Copeland identified as the start of their campaign of violence, law enforcement officers searched Rogers’s home and business and seized a cache of weapons from Rogers’s home, including 45 to 50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs. Copeland allegedly also attempted to destroy evidence of the plan; after Rogers’s arrest, Copeland communicated with a leader of a militia group who advised Copeland to switch to a new communications platform and delete everything he had. Copeland agreed and when law enforcement obtained Copeland’s devices on January 17, Copeland’s communications with Rogers were missing.

Additional documents filed by the government argue that the defendants understood they would be viewed as domestic terrorists and hoped that their violent acts might start a movement to overthrow the government. In November of 2020, Rogers allegedly used encrypted messaging applications to tell Copeland that he would “hit the enemy in the mouth” by using Molotov cocktails and gasoline to attack targets associated with democrats, including the Governor’s Mansion and the Democratic Headquarters Building in Sacramento.

Rogers and Copeland are both charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.

Rogers & Copeland

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies ramped up his lies of a stolen election in November and after a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence.  Gee, you really think???

I have questions …

  • How in the hell did Ian Benjamin Rogers acquire “40-50 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and five pipe bombs”??? Would you not expect that background checks would have red-flagged this somewhere along the line?  Oh wait … I forgot … you can buy a gun without a background check … apparently you can buy LOTS of guns without a background check.
  • How many more similar plots are out there that the federal authorities aren’t aware of? You know and I know that this was not the sole plan among Trump-supporting lunatics.  You’ll remember that Trump appealed to his supporters and told them to “… fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”  These two got caught … how long until one doesn’t get caught in time?  It’s only a matter of time …
  • WHY isn’t the former guy in jail for inciting to riot with his words? Trust me, if I said the things that the former guy has said, my ass (and the rest of me) would be sitting in a jail cell awaiting trial for inciting violence at the very least.  Is he somehow … more special than you or I?

I sincerely hope that Rogers and Copeland spend the next 20 years, the maximum possible sentence for their crimes, in prison, but the odds are against it.  And one last question … if they had succeeded in their plot, would they be getting a fist bump from the likes of Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and Margie Greene, and would they get an “Atta Boy” from the former guy and his cronies?  Think on that one when you go to bed tonight.

4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

I was thrilled to read yesterday … or was it the day before? … that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland will be taking on the issue of voting rights, given that the U.S. Senate is almost certain to refuse to uphold and protect our civil rights.  Our friend TokyoSand has written about some of the details of Garland’s plan, and included a short video clip of his speech that I hope you’ll take time to watch.  Thank you, TS, for all your good work!


4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

It’s been rough on the voting rights front these last few months, but on Friday, a little sun broke through the clouds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about a jurys verdict in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an important speech outlining some actions the the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would be taking to combat the attack on voting rights. He specifically mentioned the 14 states that have passed laws that make it harder to vote. He even referenced the SCOTUS decision back in 2013 that invalidated a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened to the door to a renewed rush of discriminatory actions.

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They Still Walk Among Us … WHY???

The majority of the people who have been charged with attacking Congress and the Capitol on January 6th are not in jail.  On average in the U.S., only about 25% of people charged with a crime are released while awaiting trial, but among this bunch of thugs and white supremacists, 70% are out on bail at this time.

Eric Munchel, known as “Zip Tie Guy”, who was photographed wearing tactical gear and carrying wrist restraints in the Senate chamber, was released in late March, along with his mother, after an appeals court questioned whether he posed any danger outside the specific context of January 6th.

Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man photographed with his foot on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was released in late April, nearly two months after screaming during a court hearing that “it’s not fair” that he was still in custody when “everybody else who did things much worse are already home”.

Legal experts are predicting that a substantial swath of the alleged rioters may not serve any prison time at all, even if they are convicted or plead guilty.  According to Erica Zunkel, associate director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School …

“I’m both surprised and not surprised. Most of these people are white. The majority of people in the federal system are people of color.”

And there, no matter what other excuses we may be given, lies the crux of the matter.  Racism rears its ugly head, even in matters of treason, of attempting to overthrow the government, in matters of attempting to murder the U.S. Constitution.

At least 440 people have been arrested on charges related to the January 6th attack, according to the justice department, including at least 125 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.  Of those, 330 or more have been released from custody pending trial.  44% are charged only with misdemeanors, such as entering a restricted building or disorderly conduct.  BULLSHIT!  Each and every one was a part of a larger movement that was intended to murder people such as Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, and worse yet, to murder whatever shred of democracy remains in this country.  They fully intended to take away our votes, to turn the tables and hand over the Oval Office to the biggest thug of them all!

Richard Barnett has a webpage soliciting donations for his legal defense!  Barnett breached the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, put his nasty feet on her desk, stole her mail, and left her an obscene note, and yet he is not behind bars today.  According to the website …

For a $100 donation, “Richard will send you an autographed picture of him sitting in Pelosi’s office personally addressed to whomever you like. Richard sends his deepest thanks & appreciation for any amount of money. His employment was terminated because of public pressure to fire him after his arrest.”

The site also says that “He is instead asking those who disagree with him to reconcile the federal government’s all-out prosecution of January-sixers with its failure to prosecute the 200+ Code Pink demonstrators” from the Cavanaugh hearings.  The site also notes that this is a private campaign, as GoFundMe refused to allow his campaign.

And then there’s Federico Klein, a former State Department appointee of the former guy who participated in the attack on January 6th.  Klein was still working for the State Department on January 6th when he helped lead the assault, physically fighting against the front line of officers, even assaulting officers with a riot shield he’d stolen from them.  According to the Court filing …

“Klein’s willing and enthusiastic participation in violence against police officers protecting a lawful proceeding of Congress, for which he is charged with multiple felonies – including a crime of violence – weighs heavily in favor of detention. Not only was his individual conduct and encouragement to other rioters violent and dangerous, but his actions heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day.

Notably, one video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attempt to breach the Capitol by shouting, ‘We need fresh people, we need fresh people’ multiple times.”

Arrested in March, Klein was released on an unsecured bond last month, and worse yet, it is reported that Justice Department lawyers are considering offering a plea deal to Klein.  Say WHAT???  WHY???  This is a man who served as a political appointee in the State Department from 2017 until his resignation on January 19th, 13 days after he attacked Congress.  This is a man who had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, who had top security clearance!

On Friday, the United States Senate, by its action to deny the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6th, told us that they do not take the assault on our government, on We the People, seriously.  They told us that We the People no longer matter.  It appears that the Department of Justice and the Courts feel the same as Congress.  So, are they going to simply give these people a slap on the wrist and tell them to behave, give them the freedom to do the same or worse after the election in 2024?  Think about it.

A Man Of Honour & Integrity Speaks

I have wondered lately about Robert Mueller.  I understood why he was keeping a low profile … to an extent.  His work was done, he did it well, and while I wish he had done more, I also realize that he was prohibited from doing so by the abominable U.S. District Attorney, William Barr.  However, I was surprised that with all Trump’s recent blathering about the Mueller investigation having been a ‘witch hunt’, after the Department of Justice dropping the charges against Michael Flynn, and now Trump commuting Roger Stone’s sentence, Robert Mueller remained silent.  Trump and his henchmen have used every trick in their books to attempt to override the indictments the Mueller team made, and to attempt to convince the public that the Mueller investigation was a sham, naught but an attempt to bring Trump down.  I thought surely it must eat at Mueller, surely he must be itching to speak out, to defend his work, if not his own integrity.  Well, the Roger Stone episode was, apparently, the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Robert Mueller has spoken.  His words are far more important and more intelligent than any you’ll hear from Stone, Flynn, Barr, or Trump.  Mr. Mueller has something that none of them has:  honour and integrity.


Robert Mueller: Roger Stone Remains a Convicted Felon, and Rightly So

By Robert S. Mueller III

JULY 11, 2020

Robert-Mueller

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.