ITMFA VI: Again & Again
February 27, 2020 7:56 AM   Subscribe

According to Rolling Stone, at an impeachment acquittal 'celebration,' the president "started rambling about his behavior in Ukraine, calling himself a victim, while also seeming to get somewhat paranoid, telling the crowd the Democrats will say, “let’s impeach him” again." However, after Republicans voted almost unanimously to acquit him on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Trump’s constant commentary and increasing willingness to flout traditional legal processes signal that the president feels emboldened and unrestrained, said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a history of White House chiefs of staff. As noted by over 2600 former DOJ officials in an open letter calling for AG Barr to resign, "[g]overnments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies." Based on the framing and ratification debates for the U.S. Constitution, impeachment scholar Cass Sunstein says to "[t]hink about what the American Revolution was fought for, and you’ll have a good clue of what impeachment is all about."

Previously: I, II, III, IV, V

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posted by katra (239 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
Three Dozen Questions for Congress (and News Media) to Ask Attorney General Barr (Joshua Geltzer, Ryan Goodman and Asha Rangappa, Just Security)
Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31. The committee has called for his testimony for almost a year, with a standoff at one point over the conditions for his appearance. Whoever was correct during that earlier episode, the public appearance of the attorney general before Congress is long overdue—and many of the questions he’ll face won’t be any easier after the delay.

To the contrary, Barr has become more central than ever to Donald Trump’s presidency. He has reportedly or by his own admission become directly involved in five major investigative and prosecutorial matters that coincide with the President’s personal interests: 1) the Special Counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference; 2) the whistleblower complaint outlining Trump’s actions with Ukraine; 3) the investigation into the investigators of the 2016 election; 4) the prosecutions resulting from Mueller’s investigation, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone; and 5) the indictment of a Turkish bank in alignment with Trump’s personal and financial interests.

[...] At the very heart of the concerns about the current Attorney General is his apparent failure as the nation’s top law enforcement officer to apply the law equally to all Americans. His most sacred duties include avoiding dispensing justice disproportionately for the President’s political friends and imposing scrutiny disproportionately to the President’s perceived political adversaries. Many of our questions go to this core concern—the equal application of the law—by asking Barr whether the treatment he gave to Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and others is unusual, and whether he can even name other cases in which he made similar interventions on behalf of any American, let alone Trump’s perceived adversaries. The answer to those and other questions will reveal the degree to which the Department has been damaged by the appearance and reality of political interference.
posted by katra at 8:09 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


I’m curious if anyone knows the answer to this- can they just, keep impeaching him? Could that be why the first trial was narrow in scope- so they could just keep going with the next thing?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:15 AM on February 27


They can but they pretty clearly don't plan to. The principle of diminishing returns is a real thing, especially when every hypothetical impeachment just ends in the Senate voting for no consequences regardless of the evidence.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:19 AM on February 27 [19 favorites]


Legally, the House could impeach the President every day if they wanted to, and had the votes.

The question is, when does the political cost of doing so exceed the benefits? (And by benefits, I mean more than simply the likelihood of the Senate convicting; it also encompasses the opportunity to reveal the president's wrongdoing to the nation and stepping up publicly to defend the rule of law, balanced against the public perception -- beyond Trump's narcissistic complaining -- of persecution, and the so-called "liberal media" growing bored with the process.)
posted by Gelatin at 8:20 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


I’m curious if anyone knows the answer to this- can they just, keep impeaching him? Could that be why the first trial was narrow in scope- so they could just keep going with the next thing?

> Impeach Trump, Repeatedly (Charles Blow, NYT Opinion)
There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once. [...] McConnell put it this way:

“Yeah, it’s a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change. So, I would have no choice but to take it up. How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up.”
posted by katra at 8:22 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Trump campaign sues The New York Times for libel over Russia opinion article (CNBC)
President Donald Trump’s campaign sued The New York Times on Wednesday for libel over an opinion article, saying the newspaper published its allegedly false claims last year with the “intentional purpose” of damaging Trump’s chances for reelection this year.

The campaign said that the Times falsely reported “as fact a conspiracy with Russia” in the op-ed written by Max Frankel, which was published on March 27, 2019, under the headline “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.”
Trump campaign says it is suing New York Times over Russia opinion piece (Reuters)
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Wednesday it was filing a libel suit accusing the New York Times of intentionally publishing a false opinion article that suggested Russia and the campaign had an overarching deal in the 2016 U.S. election. [...] Trump said he would let the lawsuit “work its way through the courts. And there’ll be more coming.” He did not elaborate.

[...] A draft copy of the suit, attached to a campaign news release, accused the newspaper of “extreme bias against and animosity toward the campaign,” and cited what it called the Times’ “exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.”

[...] In a statement, a New York Times spokesperson said: “The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.” [...] The New York Times was involved in a landmark 1964 Supreme Court ruling that has served as a safeguard for media reporting on public figures. In the case New York Times v. Sullivan, the court decided that the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection for freedom of the press allows even statements that are false to be published as long as the publication was not done with “actual malice.” [...] Benjamin Zipursky, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, said the lawsuit was unlikely to succeed because U.S. defamation law does not allow liability for a sincerely held belief about a public figure, like Trump. He said judges would be skeptical of the claims and inclined to dismiss them.
posted by katra at 8:23 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Pelosi was right, just too bad she was not just a tad bit tougher to hold out against whatever the forces were in the smokeless backrooms that thought they could push through a political process WITHOUT the votes.

In a few months when the markets are crashing and most airline flights require major medical exams to board it would've breaded through, but the dem backroom may have mucked that up too.

(i don't lover her) but Pelosi was right, listen to her on political strategy.
posted by sammyo at 8:28 AM on February 27


He still hasn't grasped the whole 'discovery' thing, has he?
posted by pseudophile at 8:29 AM on February 27 [22 favorites]


Trump campaign sues The New York Times for libel over Russia opinion article (CNBC)

I can't wait for discovery.
posted by Gelatin at 8:29 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Pelosi was right, just too bad she was not just a tad bit tougher to hold out against whatever the forces were in the smokeless backrooms that thought they could push through a political process WITHOUT the votes.

There was never, ever a time, nor will there be, when there will be enough Republican votes in the Senate to amass the two-thirds supermajority necessary to actually convict and remove Trump. The endgame is to damage vulnerable Republicans enough by their obvious participation in Trump's cover-up.

Remember, the vote to acquit was strictly partisan, while conviction was bipartisan, thanks to Mitt Romney. That's literally about the best outcome loyal Americans could realistically hope for, and it speaks to what an ironclad case the Democrats presented.
posted by Gelatin at 8:32 AM on February 27 [36 favorites]


Maybe Trump's pattern is simply to sue or threaten to sue, then withdraw when he gets what he wants before lawsuits hit the discovery phase.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:33 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Maybe Trump's pattern is simply to sue or threaten to sue, then withdraw when he gets what he wants before lawsuits hit the discovery phase.

Trump's pattern has been to threaten to sue, gain the resulting headlines, and count on the so-called "liberal media" not to mention when he fails to follow thru on his threat.

His actually filing a lawsuit is unusual, but he will have to meet an incredibly high burden of proof -- as a public figure and politician, he will have to prove the Times acted with actual malice, not simply that the article was false.
posted by Gelatin at 8:36 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Have there been new impeachment developments, or is this just a politics mega thread?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:38 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


And the prime evidence in the complaint that the Times knew or should have known that the allegation was false is...the Mueller Report, which was not public until three weeks after the article was published, and in any case doesn't disprove it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:39 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


I can't wait for discovery.

Trump will never let it get that far. He'll drop the suit if it hasn't been dismissed anyway before it gets to that point. What I would wonder is if anyone who he is suing or plans to sue has grounds for a countersuit. Regardless, the Supreme Court won't let anything happen to him if they have any input in the matter.
posted by azpenguin at 8:41 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


And the prime evidence in the complaint that the Times knew or should have known that the allegation was false is...the Mueller Report, which was not public until three weeks after the article was published, and in any case doesn't disprove it.

Since truth is an absolute defense to libel, it'd be embarrassing to the president if the courts found the Times article was, in fact, true.

Speaking of truth:

Three Dozen Questions for Congress (and News Media) to Ask Attorney General Barr (Joshua Geltzer, Ryan Goodman and Asha Rangappa, Just Security)

They're all good, but so far this one is my favorite:
7. Can you provide this committee with specific instances, since you have been the Attorney General under President Trump, where you have intervened in a sentencing recommendation on a case that did not personally affect or involve the president or someone he knows personally?
posted by Gelatin at 8:43 AM on February 27 [21 favorites]


The Supreme Court will decide if Trump can fire the head of the CFPB. The implications are enormous. (Ian Millhiser, Vox)
Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear Seila Law v. CFPB, which asks whether the president is allowed to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at will. That question may seem minor and esoteric, but the stakes underlying Seila Law are enormous.

There is an off chance that the Court could use this lawsuit to strike down the entire CFPB — a decision that would dismantle much of the infrastructure Congress built in response to the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, there’s a much greater chance that the Court will use this case to fundamentally alter the balance of power between the president and the federal government’s “independent” agencies.

The “Seila Law” in the Seila Law case is a law firm that is being investigated by the CFPB for allegedly engaging “in unlawful acts or practices (PDF) in the advertising, marketing, or sale of debt relief services.” This lawsuit is its Hail Mary attempt to end that investigation by having the entire agency conducting the investigation struck down. Yet, while that outcome is unlikely, the Court’s decision in Seila Law is likely to fundamentally rework the balance of power between the president and various “independent agencies.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:10 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


How to Reform the Pardon Power (Bob Bauer, Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare)
Begin with the constitutional text, which grants presidents the “Power to grant reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The power covers only federal offenses and excludes the ability to pardon away an impeachment. But these are not the only limits.

A pardon or commutation may be “absolute” for the beneficiary. But it would not in any way afford the president, as the grantor, immunity from commission of a crime in connection with granting a pardon, nor would it cover any such separate crime committed by the grantee. Congress could, for example, make it a crime for the president and the grantee to engage in a bribery scheme in which the grantee makes a personal payment or campaign contribution as part of an explicit quid pro quo arrangement. The president’s subsequent pardon or commutation would remain fully in effect for the offense pardoned, in accordance with the Pardon Clause. But the law would apply to the independent criminal acts committed by the president and the grantee in the course of reaching an illegal agreement about the terms on which a pardon would be granted. Congress can similarly criminalize the use of the pardon to undermine a judicial proceeding, which the president might do by offering it as a means of inducing false testimony.

It is unclear whether the current obstruction of justice and anti-bribery statutes already criminalize these and related presidential acts. To resolve any doubts, Congress should make it an express crime for a president to offer to sell, or to sell, a pardon for personal financial benefit or a campaign contribution, or for the benefit of an immediate family member—or to use a pardon, or offer one, in a corrupt scheme to obstruct a judicial proceeding.
Or, just ITMFA...
posted by katra at 9:11 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Have there been new impeachment developments, or is this just a politics mega thread?

This thread is designed to track the ongoing developments related to the Trump administration's abuse of power and obstruction of justice, as well as the response (or lack of response) in Congress and the courts. It is not intended to be a catch-all politics thread, and past ITMFA threads can be reviewed to help clarify how these discussions have been focused, particularly since the acquittal in the Senate.
posted by katra at 9:35 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


katra FTW! thank you again for another necessary not-megathread thread.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:41 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


As much as I've appreciated mega-threads in the past, and as much as I've appreciated these ITMFA threads, now that the impeachment proceedings have reached their conclusion, I must admit I don't see what remains to discuss. To "track the ongoing developments related to the Trump administration's abuse of power and obstruction of justice" seems pretty mega-thready to me.
posted by dmh at 9:43 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


[I want to chime in on the question of scope and need for these threads, because I both (a) appreciate the spirit in which this was posted and the work katra has put into this larger project, and think there's room to have further discussions of specific aspects/developments of the post-impeachment process and fallout, and (b) share the concern that we're starting to blur the distinction between that specific notional topic and the general sprawl of US politics and Trump administration horseshit in general that became the omnishambles all-topic of the now-retired megathreads.

So to the extent that there is very specifically impeachment-fallout-related stuff worth rounding up and meaningfully, focusedly discussing, I think using this thread as that and as probably a final off-ramp for the last few months of impeachment tracking stuff is fine. And I'm going to ask folks to keep to that. To the extent that there are other specific, happening (not just speculative "Trump saying/threatening shit") events that merit a post, folks aiming to make a dedicated topic-specific post for those things when they happen is where any other discussion should go.

Beyond that, this is probably something that would be best discussed in MetaTalk rather than being a back-and-forth in this or any given thread. I'm not certain we need a MetaTalk for this right now vs. just letting this mod note be a hopefully clear communication about the state of things, but that's what should happen if something does need to happen. Weird times, thank you everybody for trying to be flexible and considerate about keeping this all workable.]

posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on February 27 [26 favorites]


well that's a strong argument in favor of follow-on impeachments (not to minimize those many fine arguments offered by katra and others)
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:01 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


fwiw, my favorite comments in these threads are from people talking about contacting their reps in Congress, and it makes these ongoing discussions feel especially worthwhile. I also really appreciate our ongoing critique of the news media, which is a crucial part of these democracy-focused discussions.
posted by katra at 10:10 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


...I’m curious if anyone knows the answer to this- can they just, keep impeaching him? Could that be why the first trial was narrow in scope- so they could just keep going with the next thing?

At this point, given the roadblock called The Senate, all re-impeaching him will do is provide Trump with boastful crowing-points about Democrats failing again and again.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:25 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


all re-impeaching him will do is provide Trump with boastful crowing-points about Democrats failing again and again.

'75% of Americans' Trends After Poll Shows Majority of Americans Want to Hear Witnesses at Trump Impeachment Trial (Newsweek, Jan. 28, 2020)
The latest Quinnipiac University poll, released earlier today, shows that a large majority—75 percent—of voters think the Senate should allow witness testimony in the ongoing impeachment trial. Respondents appeared to have answered along party lines, with 49 percent of self-identified Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents saying there should be witnesses. [...]

Tens of thousands of Americans took to Twitter to weigh in on whether Bolton and other witnesses should be called to testify, with many users condemning Republican senators for ignoring the majority of voters who believe it would be best for the trial. Others noted the rarity of getting three quarters of voters to agree on anything.
posted by katra at 10:30 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


> There may be no alternative but another impeachment, given the apparent risks of inaction, e.g. (Politico)

AP-NORC poll: Election security, integrity worry Americans (AP)
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress this month that Russia is still engaged in “information warfare” heading into the 2020 election but that law enforcement has not seen efforts to target infrastructure like voting machines.

Still, U.S. officials say one of Russia’s goals is to sow doubt about the integrity of U.S. elections, and the poll suggests that even if Russia isn’t targeting voting infrastructure it may be achieving that goal because of the lack of voter confidence following from the 2016 election.

[...] But concerns vary significantly by partisanship, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to express worries about the security of elections. About 6 in 10 Democrats say they are very or extremely concerned that voting systems might be vulnerable to hackers. Roughly two-thirds also are highly concerned that foreign governments will interfere in 2020 by tampering with results or influencing what Americans think about political candidates.

By contrast, fewer than half of Republicans express significant concern about hackers, and just about a quarter are highly concerned about any form of foreign interference. [...] Trump has often pushed back on the findings by his own intelligence agencies, saying frequently that investigations into interference were a “hoax.”
Judge may hold Mueller-ensnared Russia firm in contempt (Politico)
The Concord trial — scheduled to begin with an initial jury selection hearing on April 1 — represents one of the final outstanding threads from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The special counsel filed charges in February 2018 against the St. Petersburg-based company and two other Russian businesses, as well as 13 Russian individuals, claiming that together they financed and organized an army of internet trolls that worked to sow discord among American voters and sway the last presidential campaign in Trump’s favor. [...] Thursday’s order from Friedrich sides with the federal prosecutors who inherited the Concord case from Mueller’s since-shuttered investigation.
posted by katra at 10:39 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


The President’s War on Intelligence: Yes, It’s Worse Than You Think (Nicholas Rasmussen, Just Security)
The growing politicization of the IC would be deeply troubling enough, but I would suggest that the problem actually goes much deeper. The delayed cost – the real, hidden-for-the -moment cost – of the president’s war on intelligence will be measured in terms of the steps backward that we are taking as a nation to pursue genuine intelligence reform, as we did under both the Bush and Obama administrations in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy.

[...] The fulcrum of this intelligence reform project has been, and remains, the DNI and the ODNI. And from the first days of the Trump administration, it has been clear that the president and most of his key advisers are at best uninformed and ambivalent about intelligence reform and the DNI role, and in some cases actively hostile to the enterprise, looking to roll back the organizational changes and steps toward community integration that we’ve seen since 2004.

[...] Every time that President Barack Obama, at the start of a National Security Council meeting, turned to Jim Clapper, his DNI, to provide the IC context for a difficult policy discussion, he affirmed anew the importance of continuing to follow through on our post 9/11 intelligence reform project. Each of the DNIs chosen by President George W. Bush or Obama was a genuine national security professional, dedicated to the idea of intelligence reform and committed to living up to the mandate set forth in the IRTPA legislation. Is it too much to expect Trump to select a DNI based on their experience and competence, not on one’s ideological orientation or degree of personal loyalty to the president? Apparently it is.

As one of my most sage and seasoned IC colleagues used to remind me, intelligence reform is a journey, not a destination. But if the leader we’ve elected to oversee and chart that continued journey doesn’t know where we are at present, doesn’t much care where we are headed, and isn’t interested in looking at anybody’s map if it happened to be designed by national security professionals who worked under Presidents Bush or Obama, then we are in real trouble.
posted by katra at 11:55 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


I advise caution and/or skepticism with this story, as its potentially explosive claims have yet to be reported by mainstream US media, while national hostilities between the government of Qatar (that funds Al Jazeera) and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia mean that the largest media network currently reporting on the story may have a significant interest in portraying the UAE and SA in a bad light. Nevertheless, I'm watching see if this develops any further.
Report: Saudis, UAE funnelled millions to Trump 2016 campaign (Al Jazeera)
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:31 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Why President Trump Can’t Pardon Roger Stone (Corey Brettschneider, Politico Magazine)
Both the plain meaning of the Constitution’s text and the historical evidence show that once a president has been impeached, he or she loses the power to pardon anyone for criminal offenses connected to the articles of impeachment — and that even after the Senate’s failure to convict the president, he or she does not regain this power. [...] the framers knew not to place blind trust in the president to wield the power justly. That’s why they explicitly forbade a president from exercising the pardon power in “cases of impeachment.” The clause prevents the worst abuse of the pardon power: a president’s protecting cronies who have been convicted of crimes related to the president’s own wrongdoing.

This danger of a president using the pardon power to excuse his or her own crimes was discussed by George Mason at the 1788 Virginia ratifying convention, where delegates debated whether to adopt the document that had been drafted in Philadelphia. Mason thought the danger of the pardon was so great that it was among the reasons he argued the Constitution should not be ratified, and why he refused to sign the document. [...] Defenders of the Constitution knew they needed a robust response to the danger of a president’s abusing the pardon to protect co-conspirators. James Madison, a primary author of the Constitution, argued in reply to Mason that such pardons were barred by the Constitution as already written. He pointed to the protection already in the Constitution: No president could pardon co-conspirators. “If the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter himself; the House of Representatives can impeach him,” Madison responded to Mason.

[...] The best evidence that Stone is tied to those charges is his own self-described role as a protector of the president. “I will never roll on [Trump],” Stone declared in one of many statements. That makes him exactly the type of person Madison had envisioned while limiting the president’s pardon power. It is true that the Stone investigation concerned Russian involvement in the election and that the House charges focused on the more recent Ukraine accusation. But the articles of impeachment focused on the accusation of “abuse of power,” and it is that general high crime at play in Ukraine and elsewhere that links the impeachment and Stone.

[...] Congress should act, too. If it reopens impeachment inquiries into the obstruction of justice outlined in Part Two of the Mueller report, that would only strengthen the case for a limited pardon power in regard to Stone, because the subject of his conviction would be an ongoing “case of impeachment.” More aggressively, it could open a new impeachment inquiry into Trump’s relationship with possible co-conspirators like Stone, which would also have the effect of limiting his possible pardon.
posted by katra at 1:04 PM on February 27 [23 favorites]


can they just, keep impeaching him?

They (the House) could just start not funding him. Loudly. On everything. Cuz, you know . . .traitor crimes.
posted by Harry Caul at 2:09 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I have no doubt that, if Trump pardons Stone, it will be coupled with a legal strategy which will be taken to the Trump-friendly supreme court to explicitly make such pardons constitutionally acceptable by making very narrow the scope of what "cases of impeachment" means, specifically excluding crimes by other people that are not directly and materially linked to the impeachment itself. It is precisely the fact that Stone's crime regarding Russian interference and Trump's crime regarding Ukraine are not the same crime that will allow them to make that argument. "Abuse of power" is vague.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:25 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


If trump pardoned stone, who would have standing to challenge it? Wouldn't the only remedy applicable be for the House to impeach trump again, which would solve exactly nothing? Right now, I'm assuming he will pardon stone, probably sometime after election day. Like many things the president "can't" do, what would actually stop him?
posted by mrgoat at 2:35 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Perhaps too much has been made of this "except in cases of impeachment" thing? The plainest reading of the text is that the President can't override an impeachment (say, of a judge).

Admittedly, the language is unclear enough to just barely admit the broader interpretation. Contemporary commentary (Federalist Papers?) might shed some light on that, but I am not a constitutional scholar.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:37 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


It's starting to seem like the only viable strategy other than voting the assholes out is to wait until there is enough public pressure that GOP senators feel like now, finally, their least-bad option is to convict him. Then, and only then, should the house take up a second impeachment.

The right thing to do would be to keep on impeaching him every time he does something worthy of it. I would like it if we lived in a world where each subsequent impeachment would ratchet up the pressure on GOP senators until they finally relent and do their duty but I don't have faith that we live in that world.

Keep investigating and apply pressure using whatever leverage is available but I don't think another impeachment should be on the table until we know the votes are already there.
posted by VTX at 2:44 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


The plainest reading of the text is that the President can't override an impeachment (say, of a judge).

Absolutely. The argument that Stone was not impeached, and is therefore eligible for a pardon, seems not at all frivolous.

Admittedly, the language is unclear enough to just barely admit the broader interpretation. Contemporary commentary (Federalist Papers?) might shed some light on that, but I am not a constitutional scholar.

Luckily, the Supreme Court is controlled by conservatives who hold a Strict Constructionist philosophy of interpreting the Constitution; so, if the Framers understood this clause to mean that defendants convicted for crimes in the penumbra of impeachment offenses can't be pardoned, we can rely on them to divine that intention with their special powers of communing with the 18th Century, and rule accordingly.

So must I say that the above is not serious? But here is a serious issue: suppose Trump pardons Stone and there is a consensus among law professors, retired judges, etc. , that this is not a legitimate pardon. Who could even bring a case for the Supreme Court to rule on? You can forget about the Justice Department doing it. Can Congress do that? Can the Court that issued the conviction that was pardoned?
posted by thelonius at 2:56 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Court won't let Trump pardon void guilty verdict against Arpaio (Politico)
The pardon meant Arpaio would never be sent to jail, but when he asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to withdraw the guilty verdict in the case, she declined. The pardon could not rewrite history, she declared. [...]

The appeal sparked an internal battle at the 9th Circuit in 2018 after a three-judge panel appointed a special prosecutor to defend the judge's ruling refusing to wipe out the guilty verdict. Justice Department prosecutors had agreed with Arpaio and urged the judge to vacate that finding.

The court's move to appoint a special prosecutor irked some conservative judges, who said it could fuel more demands for court-appointed special counsels. A total of five 9th Circuit judges resisted the move, but a majority of the court declined to disturb the appointment of former prosecutor Christopher Caldwell to argue in the case.

Arpaio took that special-prosecutor issue all the way to the Supreme Court, but the justices declined to take it up.
posted by katra at 3:03 PM on February 27 [26 favorites]


This is the only headline I read today that made me smile.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:51 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


t the largest media network currently reporting on the story may have a significant interest in portraying the UAE and SA in a bad light

Well, it certainly is a relief that the Saudi government has such a spotless record on human rights that no story like this could besmirch their good name...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:30 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


With the looming coronavirus pandemic I'm just waiting for Trump to pardon Martin Shkreli and put him in charge of Vaccine/Cure development efforts.
posted by srboisvert at 6:38 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


What is the state of the various emoluments lawsuits?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:22 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Appeals court tosses Democrats' emoluments lawsuit against Trump (CNN, Feb. 7, 2020)
This emoluments case was one of three ongoing constitutional challenges to Trump and his business, alleging that the President is violating the anti-corruption emoluments clause. Two other emoluments cases attack Trump for his alleged competitive advantage at the Trump-branded real estate empire. Those cases are still moving through the court system.

The three-judge panel -- Judges Karen Henderson, David Tatel and Thomas Griffith -- was in unanimous agreement, saying the Democratic lawmakers lack the standing to challenge the President, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled.

[...] The DC Circuit's ruling could face additional appeals, including to the Supreme Court. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says the House is still considering its options. "It's a very unfortunate ruling," Nadler said. "We'll have to consider options such as whether we should appeal it or not."
Democrats lack legal standing to sue Trump over alleged emoluments violations, appeals court rules (NBC News, Feb. 7, 2020)
In their unsigned ruling, the judges cited Supreme Court precedent, noting the 215 lawmakers filing the lawsuit are not the majority of Congress, and that they might have had standing if they had done so as a majority. "[O]nly an institution can assert an institutional injury," the ruling says.

"Here, regardless of rigor, our conclusion is straightforward because the members — 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the president’s acceptance of foreign emoluments," the decision says.

[...] Two other emolument-related cases are still pending in the courts.
posted by katra at 8:21 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


The "lack of standing" rulings like this are insane to me. "Sure, the president may be breaking the law and violating the constitution, but you have no right to point that out." What?
posted by Roommate at 8:24 AM on February 28 [10 favorites]


"Here, regardless of rigor, our conclusion is straightforward because the members — 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the president’s acceptance of foreign emoluments," the decision says.

Standing in Federal Court (Cornell LII)
At the federal level, legal actions cannot be brought simply on the ground that an individual or group is displeased with a government action or law. Federal courts only have constitutional authority to resolve actual disputes (see Case or Controversy).

In Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (90-1424), 504 U.S. 555 (1992), the Supreme Court created a three-part test to determine whether a party has standing to sue:

1. The plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact," meaning that the injury is of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent
2. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court
3. It must be likely, rather than speculative, that a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury
Emphasis added for how the court's decision appears to reflect the caselaw.
posted by katra at 8:36 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Standing makes sense to a certain extent -- if Alice hurts Bob, Charlie doesn't get to sue Alice over it, because he isn't the one injured.

But the courts and Congressional Republicans are letting Trump get away with obvious Constitutional violations by essentially saying it's the others' responsibility to deal with it.

It's both.
posted by Gelatin at 8:37 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


When does the Supreme Court hear the case on Trump’s tax returns?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:58 AM on February 28


The justices granted review in a trio of cases—"Trump v. Vance," "Trump v. Mazars" and "Trump v. Deutsche Bank"—in which federal appellate courts in New York and Washington rejected the president's arguments to shield financial records from law enforcement and congressional investigators, in December. Cases to be heard in March, probably decided upon in June.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:05 AM on February 28 [13 favorites]


- if Alice hurts Bob, Charlie doesn't get to sue Alice over it, because he isn't the one injured.
The ruling makes sense to me, but isn't [almost] everyone injured when laws are broken but not prosecuted? What's the usual remedy for a non-president? Does the Justice Department have to do it? What about a citizen's arrest? (yeah, I posted that before)

... all re-impeaching him will do is provide Trump with boastful crowing-points about Democrats failing again and again.
I don't know about that. I think the impeachment brought a lot of awareness about some things he has done to a much larger segment of Americans. More than the Mueller testimony and other hearings.
Pointing out some of the many transgressions not addressed by the first impeachment would raise additional awareness.
Speaking of hearings, is there a list of current or forthcoming House investigations?
posted by MtDewd at 12:03 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


"The justices granted review in a trio of cases—"Trump v. Vance," "Trump v. Mazars" and "Trump v. Deutsche Bank"—in which federal appellate courts in New York and Washington rejected the president's arguments to shield financial records from law enforcement and congressional investigators." Law.com (Dec. 13, 2019)

Democrats cite Starr in effort to lift stay in Trump tax returns case (Politico, Jan. 28, 2020)
House Democrats are asking a judge to end a delay in their suit seeking President Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, citing comments from Kenneth Starr, one of Trump's defense attorneys in his impeachment trial.

In a court filing released Tuesday evening, lawyers for the House asked District Judge Trevor McFadden to allow the case to proceed, complaining, “this case has been stalled long enough.”

[...] McFadden announced two weeks ago he was putting the case on hold until a higher court decided a separate suit in which Democrats are seeking to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential elections. Both cases raise the basic question of whether Congress can sue the White House, something the Supreme Court has never clearly addressed.
Brief In SCOTUS Tax Returns Case Offers New Details About NY’s Trump Investigation (TPM, Feb. 26, 2020)
In a Supreme Court brief filed Wednesday for the upcoming Trump tax returns case, New York District Attorney for New York Cyrus Vance made public new information about his investigation into the hush money payments offered to women claiming to have had affairs with President Trump.
posted by katra at 12:10 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Nadler Demands DOJ Provide Information Regarding Political Interference in Roger Stone, Other Cases (U.S. House Committee On The Judiciary, Feb. 28, 2020)
In advance of the Judiciary Committee’s March 31st hearing with Attorney General William Barr, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter requesting that the Department of Justice provide the Committee with information and access to 15 individuals who are currently or formerly employed by the Department and who have knowledge concerning improper intervention in the Roger Stone prosecution and other cases of personal interest to President Trump.

"The Judiciary Committee needs to examine a range of recent actions that smack of political interference, including the Department’s withdrawal of the Roger Stone sentencing recommendation; intervening in the handling of the Michael Flynn prosecution; overruling the decision to relocate Paul Manafort to Rikers Island; opening investigations into career officials involved in the Russia investigation; and a series of controversial interventions into sensitive antitrust matters," said Chairman Nadler. "Our democracy is founded on the notion that no one is above the law, and strict adherence to the rule of law has separated us from all other nations. Attorneys General have supported this principle on a bipartisan basis throughout our history, but that principle is now under assault. There is also a long history of Attorneys General cooperating in oversight inquiries led by both Democrats as well as Republicans, and given the stakes for our nation, we expect Attorney General Barr’s full cooperation here."

Full text of the 4-page letter can be found here.
posted by katra at 12:25 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Former Federal Prosecutors Demand DC US Attorney Resist Political Interference (TPM)
A group of former D.C. federal prosecutors demanded in an open letter that U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea state that his office won’t be used as a political tool against President Trump’s enemies. The letter, released Thursday, asks Shea to “resist any and all political interference by either the President or the Attorney General” and to clarify that his office won’t become a “tool used to favor the politically connected and punish the perceived enemies of the Administration.”

The message, signed by more than 60 former federal prosecutors and first reported by the Washington Post, comes in the aftermath of Attorney General Bill Barr’s effort to intervene in the prosecution of Trump adviser Roger Stone. The prosecutors cite “significant alarm and concern that the Office’s independence, devoid of political influence, is in grave and imminent peril.”
Former U.S. prosecutors in Washington call on new head Tim Shea to assert independence from Barr, Trump (WaPo)
The letter signed by former prosecutors in the office Shea now leads signals continued alarm over Attorney General William P. Barr’s intervention in the case of President Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone and other high-profile cases the office handles.

[...] Trump has publicly attacked the prosecutors, judge and even jurors in Stone’s November trial as biased. In the ensuing controversy, former Justice Department officials have sharply criticized the attorney general, and more than 2,600 former employees have urged Barr to resign.

[...] The most recent letter was drafted independently by assistants to former U.S. attorneys Earl J. Silbert — an appointee of Richard Nixon who oversaw the initial stages of the investigation of the Watergate break-in that led to Nixon’s resignation — and Thomas A. Flannery, another Nixon appointee whom Silbert succeeded when Flannery was named a federal judge by the president.
posted by katra at 12:33 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Nadler seeks interviews with prosecutors who quit Roger Stone case (Politico)
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) requested the interviews in a Friday letter to Attorney General William Barr that also included broader demands for documents and testimony about allegations of political interference by Trump in the work of the Justice Department. [...]

Among the officials Nadler is seeking to interview are John Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut who was picked by Barr to review the origins of the FBI's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election; Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, who Barr selected to review Flynn's case; Robert Khuzami, the former New York-based prosecutor who oversaw the case against Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen; and Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who Barr picked to review all matters related to the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump's impeachment in the House last year.

But the most notable names on the list are four Stone prosecutors: Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando and Jonathan Kravis. [...] It's the latest indication that House Democrats see career employees as crucial sources of information in an era in which Trump has directed his top political appointees to ignore House demands for information.

Democrats similarly turned to career State Department and national security officials during their impeachment investigation as central witnesses to Trump's handling of Ukraine policy. Their testimony helped form the basis of the House's charge that Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine to aid his reelection by investigating Democrats.
posted by katra at 1:00 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Is the Pardon Power Unlimited? (Harold Hongju Koh, Rosa Hayes, Dana Khabbaz, Michael Loughlin, Nicole Ng, Ayoub Ouederni and Brandon Willmore, Just Security)
The short answer is no. As a matter of constitutional law, the president and his aides should not doubt three things. First, even if Trump is re-elected, pardoning Stone, Manafort, and/or Flynn would constitute impeachable conduct — the equivalent of Trump nullifying the rule of law for his own cronies – that would be sufficient to trigger a new round of impeachment and removal. Second, such pardons could independently form the basis for criminal charges of obstruction of justice, in both state and federal courts, after Trump leaves office. Third, while no president has yet been impeached or convicted for abusing the pardon power, we are clearly living in an unprecedented constitutional moment. If Trump is re-elected, yet continues to abuse the pardon power, political weariness about impeachment should not discourage those committed to the rule of law from invoking such pardons to demand accountability.

[...] Of course, what may be legally possible can always be deemed politically difficult or unwise. Americans are plainly weary of impeachment and will likely hesitate to try it again, even in a second Trump term. Even many of the president’s ardent Democratic opponents might argue that as a political matter, the Democrats should not dare to impeach for pre-reelection acts a president who has just been re-elected. But before this political skepticism hardens into conventional wisdom, we should recognize how unique this constitutional moment is. Our nation has never before faced a situation like the current one: a first-term president has been impeached, but not removed, in the face of ample evidence of abuse of power and obstruction, yet not only shows no contrition, but seems emboldened to act even more unfettered after the failure of the Senate’s vote to remove him.

[...] Should Trump squeak to re-election solely through the Electoral College—with an even greater minority in the popular vote than in 2016 and with uncertain aid from Russian electoral interference, as intelligence officials recently testified—it is unclear why the Democrats should tolerate another round of pardons of Stone, Manafort, or Flynn. Such acts would provide ample evidence to start a new round of impeachment proceedings based on renewed proof that a prior pattern of abuse of power and obstruction of justice continues.

[...] So let Trump be forewarned: don’t even think about pardoning Stone, Manafort, or Flynn. Whatever you may believe, the Constitution’s pardon power is not an unlimited, unaccountable power. The more you abuse it to nullify the rule of law for your own cronies, the more such misconduct can serve as the basis for post-presidential prosecutions or another round of impeachment. And this time, perhaps the impeachment road would end with your removal.
posted by katra at 1:28 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I feel like if you write "it's not unlimited because the President can be impeached" you're just saying "it's unlimited" in more words.
posted by Justinian at 1:47 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


There's a legal argument, and then there's a practical one. As a matter of constitutional law, yes - the president can be impeached for improper use of the pardon power. He can even face later legal peril when out of office. (N.B. - trump does not think that far ahead, so this is not a deterrent.)

As a practical matter, there will never be a day when trump is president and there are 67 Democratic senators. trump cannot be removed from office by anything other than an election, and even then, republicans in the senate are lockstep in allowing him to take literally any action, legal or not, to win the next election. (Not to say that impeachment isn't a good idea, and I'm sure going down in history as the only president impeached multiple times would drive him nuts)

So, legally unlimited? Not so much. Practically? Absolutely. The only check on his pardon power in a practical sense is what it does to his political fortunes in November. And after the election - win or lose - expect a slew of corrupt pardons, because he will see no downside to any of them.
posted by mrgoat at 1:59 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


The DC Circuit just ruled, 2-1, that courts have no role in enforcing Congressional subpoenas to the executive branch and that Don McGahn (and by extension the rest of Trump's cronies) doesn't have to do jack shit when ordered to appear before the House, unless 2/3 of the Senate considers it a violation worthy of removal.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:23 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Ah, the strict constructionist legal doctrine of "lol nothing matters".
posted by tonycpsu at 2:34 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Trump wins appeal to block McGahn testimony (Politico)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s ruling overturned a lower court decision requiring McGahn’s testimony and told the judge presiding over the case to dismiss it outright. The ruling is a blow to House Democrats’ attempts to break the Trump administration’s intransigent stance that it can block Congress from talking to witnesses.
Court won’t order former White House counsel McGahn to testify before House (PBS)
Lawmakers could ask the full appeals court to weigh in or appeal to the Supreme Court. But time is getting short if the House hopes to have McGahn or other officials testify before elections in November.
U.S. appeals court grants Trump bid to block McGahn testimony to Congress (Reuters / MSN)
The Justice Department, in arguing that federal courts should stay out of disputes between the executive and legislative branches, said Congress has other ways to address an administration's intransigence including withholding funding for the government and the ultimate power of impeachment.
posted by katra at 2:35 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


You know, I understand that conventional wisdom is that the Sargent at Arms can't actually drag anyone to Congress, since the courts have waffled, but maybe it's time for him to take a little ride over to McGahn and test that theory.
posted by mikelieman at 2:37 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


The default stance of this administration is, basically, “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

The legislative branch is in a stalemate and the judicial branch doesn't want to reveal its underlying powerlessness. So here we are.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:41 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


But before this political skepticism hardens into conventional wisdom, we should recognize how unique this constitutional moment is. Our nation has never before faced a situation like the current one: a first-term president has been impeached, but not removed, in the face of ample evidence of abuse of power and obstruction, yet not only shows no contrition, but seems emboldened to act even more unfettered after the failure of the Senate’s vote to remove him.

At this point, impeachment becomes reminiscent of past civil rights actions, such as strikes and sit-ins. Constitutional processes remain available, so giving up and giving in is not the only option.
posted by katra at 2:46 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


How about getting drunk?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:48 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, this opinion is transparently absurd, flying in the face of both Marbury v. Madison (courts have the responsibility to say what the law is, they don't get to avoid settling constitutional disputes between parties because they're constitutional disputes) and the plain text of the Constitution that says each chamber of Congress has the authority to set its own rules -- "impeachment is the remedy for defying a subpoena" means 34 Senators can block any consequences for noncompliance with a House subpoena.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:51 PM on February 28




it is linked in the politico story katra posted above, but here's a direct link to u.s. court of appeals ruling in judiciary v. mcgahn.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:53 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


How is it an interbranch dispute when McGahn is a private citizen?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:54 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


2 Bush appointees-1 Clinton appointee

1 each from the H.W. and W. administrations, to be more specific.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:54 PM on February 28


The Justice Department, in arguing that federal courts should stay out of disputes between the executive and legislative branches.

This is a bizarre decision. McGahn is a private citizen. He has been subpoenaed by Congress. Trump went to a federal court to void the subpoena.

So how can this court simultaneously hold that they should stay out of disputes between the executive and legislative branches when they are explicitly weighing in for the executive in the dispute by voiding the subpoena of congress. If they were to stay out of it, congress would get its subpoena.
posted by JackFlash at 3:11 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


The court isn't arguing that the subpoena is invalid, to my understanding, but that they aren't gonna enforce it for Congress. Which, ugh.

The obvious conclusion is that Congress has to enforce its own subpoenas.
posted by Justinian at 3:19 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


So I guess this will go to the Supreme Court and we get to find out how John Roberts will vote.

How fucked up is it that goddamn John Roberts is now considered the swing vote on the court?
posted by JackFlash at 3:21 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Former White House counsel Don McGahn does not have to testify to House, appeals court finds (Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, WaPo)
“The Committee’s suit asks us to settle a dispute that we have no authority to resolve. The Constitution does not vest federal courts with some ‘amorphous general supervision of the operations of government,’” Griffith wrote, drawing a concurring opinion from Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson and a dissent from Judge Judith W. Rogers.

In a 20-page concurring opinion, Henderson balked at a sweeping concession of judicial power, rejecting Griffith’s “categorical stance” that neither Congress nor the House or Senate may resort to the courts “in any interbranch dispute.”

“I do not believe, however, Supreme Court precedent supports a holding of that scope,” Henderson wrote. Henderson also rejected a Trump administration claim that top White House aides enjoy “absolute immunity” against compelled testimony saying the assertion is “a step too far, again, under Supreme Court precedent.”

The judges were reviewing a November decision from U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who upheld the House Judiciary Committee’s August subpoena for McGahn. The judge rejected the White House’s broad claim that top advisers like McGahn are “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony” and the assertion that the president can overrule current or former aides “own will to testify.” If McGahn wanted to refuse to testify — by invoking executive privilege, for instance — the judge said he had to do so in person, and question by question.

[...] Before Trump was acquitted, House lawyers told the court in early January that McGahn’s testimony was still critical to “ongoing inquiry into the president’s conduct” and suggested a third article of impeachment was “on the table.”
posted by katra at 3:27 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


How fucked up is it that goddamn John Roberts is now considered the swing vote on the court?

Assumes swinging not in evidence.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:53 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


Off the top of my head, I can think of two significant cases where Roberts sided with liberals to produce a 5-4 decision: The census case, and Kisor v. Wilkie on judicial deference to agencies' interpretations of regulations.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:04 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


The ACA case as well, yes?
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on February 28


Right, I was (unintentionally) limiting myself to post-Kennedy.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:24 PM on February 28


Guardian: "If the announcement of John Ratcliffe as Trump’s nominee for director of national intelligence gives you a feeling of déjà vu, it’s because we were here – literally – just seven months ago. My colleague Julian Borger wrote about some of the concerns over Ratcliffe’s – “an inexperienced but loyal partisan” – at the time.
“Trump is consolidating his personal control over the intelligence community,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA intelligence officer. He said the current directors of the CIA and FBI have found their hands tied increasingly when it comes to accurate intelligence assessment, by risk of being fired for something at odds with Trump’s views.

“I fear that there is a slow takeover of the norms and procedures of governance by this president, amassing unprecedented executive power,” Mowatt-Larssen, now at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, added. “To do that he needs to neutralise or at least silence the intelligence community. He has been doing that for three years, but this takes it to the new level.”


You can read Julian’s full report here.
Guardian: "Lest you thought Senate Democrats would forget that they did not want John Ratcliffe appointed director of national intelligence, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer just came out with a strong statement opposing the nomination:
Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) Replacing one highly partisan operative with another does nothing to keep America safe

When Putin is interfering in our elections—we need a nonpartisan leader at the helm of the Intel Community who speaks truth to power

Neither Richard Grenell nor Rep Ratcliffe comes even close pic.twitter.com/PXYxiQg7Ob February 28, 2020
Guardian: "Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence committee, also has harsh criticism for Trump’s re-nomination of John Ratcliffe as DNI.
Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) We now have an intelligence chief who should not have been fired, an unqualified nominee who should not be confirmed, and an acting director who is patently unfit. All while our elections are perilously at risk of foreign interference.

Just the way the President likes it. https://t.co/P8Px2E6F6r February 29, 2020
posted by katra at 4:34 PM on February 28 [13 favorites]


Pulling this quote from the McGahn opinion:
“We cannot decide this case without declaring the actions of one or the other unconstitutional, and ‘occasions for constitutional confrontation . . . should be avoided whenever possible,’” wrote Griffith, like Henderson a Republican presidential appointee.

That's literally your fucking job, asshat. If two parts of the government are arguing the other is doing something unconstitutional, you're supposed to tell us which one is.
posted by Room 101 at 5:01 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


The Scottish Government has been urged to apply for an unexplained wealth order to investigate Donald Trump’s deals to acquire his Scottish properties.
posted by adamvasco at 5:05 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


Perhaps if we got our news in a different format?

Insider.com: "We hired 2 comic creators from the world of DC and Marvel to tell the full story of why Trump was impeached, and what he got away with."

What The President Did to Get Impeached And Then Acquitted
posted by bz at 6:49 PM on February 28 [21 favorites]


Since the beginning of his presidency, the president has made clear his desires and demands for the IC to produce politically acceptable intelligence analysis that aligns in all cases with the policy preferences and predilections of his administration. katra's comment link

"War on Intelligence"

Apt indeed for this administration. Tbh, this goes beyond "securitayyy" issues and is now wandering into "flying blind with a big bomb strapped to your leg" territory, one that has completely subverted whatever remained of governance and democracy and descended into a closed loop happy happy filter bubble insulating the egos at the top from ever learning anything that might prick their fragile masculinity.

Imagine the impact of these shenanigans on "the allies" and the decades worth of networks and flows created and maintained by educated professionals. American tip offs, once known to save lives, are now about as trustworthy as Trump.

What is the latin for who will fact check the fact checkers?
posted by Mrs Potato at 4:37 AM on February 29 [3 favorites]


The DC circuit couches its decision is a desire to stay out of disputes between the President and Congress, but their decision is an unmistakable win for Trump (and, by extension, any future president). The court can't help but be involved in the dispute; they chose the path that strengthens the president's power and weakens -- if not eliminates -- Congress' oversight ability.
posted by Gelatin at 6:15 AM on February 29 [2 favorites]


The court can't help but be involved in the dispute; they chose the path that strengthens the president's power and weakens -- if not eliminates -- Congress' oversight ability.

While Judge Griffith's opinion is an example of what judges can do to protect the president's power, I think it is also important to note the WaPo article above, which describes how there was no majority supporting “absolute immunity” against compelled testimony, and therefore the decision actually seems to affirm the second impeachment article, which was essentially based on the president asserting "absolute immunity" before and during the impeachment trial.

We don't know what the US Supreme Court will do, but we do know that there is precedent supporting the position of the Democratic party. I think it is correct to be concerned about what might happen, but we also can't predict it, and even though the DC Circuit opinion is a terrible outcome, the worst case scenario of affirming an unbridled executive didn't happen.
posted by katra at 7:02 AM on February 29 [7 favorites]


Is unlawfully installing a department head an impeachable offense, or just unlawful?

BREAKING: Federal judge declares that @HomelandKen was unlawfully installed as Acting Director of @USCIS. Policies he authorized are void.

Opinion here (.pdf).
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:23 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


Dems tread cautiously on Trump investigations after impeachment (Politico)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a March 10 intelligence community briefing for lawmakers, and she's slammed Trump for what she says is politicizing the intelligence community, in part by installing Richard Grenell, a loyalist ambassador, as the acting director of national intelligence.

[...] During the Senate trial, Democrats insisted that if Trump were acquitted, the integrity of the 2020 election — and indeed American democracy itself — would be at risk at the hands of a president thirsty for vengeance and believing himself free of accountability. "For precisely this reason, the president's misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House's top impeachment prosecutor, argued on the Senate floor.

The House Intelligence Committee is declining to discuss the status of its Ukraine probe — or any others that may have begun since the impeachment trial — leaving open to prospect that its Trump-related work is continuing even though it has taken no public steps. That includes any actions to confront a series of loose ends. “While we won’t specifically comment on any ongoing or new investigations that have not been publicly announced, the committee is continuing to pursue a number of investigations, along with the committee’s important oversight work focused on ensuring that our intelligence community is protecting the nation and our upcoming elections are free and fair," said Patrick Boland, a spokesman for the Intelligence Committee.

Six Democrats, including two Intelligence Committee members, on Wednesday wrote to the World Bank head David Malpass about a trip he took to Ukraine in late August, while military aid was on hold and Trump's allies continued to press Ukraine for politically motivated investigations. [...] Another ruling is expected any day on the House's suit to force the Justice Department to turn over Mueller's grand jury material to congressional investigators. [...] the House has argued that they need the testimony because they could form the basis of additional articles of impeachment against Trump, including for obstruction of justice.
posted by katra at 2:04 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Asawin Suebsaeng of the Daily Beast on Donald Trump's poisoned swamp (Dean Obeidallah, Salon)
Daily Beast reporter and co-author of "Sinking in the Swamp" on the empire of corruption that is Trump World

[…] The title of your book is "Sinking in the Swamp," but I know you wanted something else. Tell us about that.

We'd [he and Lachlan Markay] originally pitched the title, "Another S**tstorm in F**ktown: The Donald J. Trump Odyssey." We, or at the very least I, earnestly wanted that to be the title of the book. In my point of view, it is an appropriate title for a book about the current political era. Now, everybody involved in the decision-making process actually had a sway over this—book agents or people working for the publisher 100 percent vetoed that title. The compromise was that "Another S**tstorm in F**ktown" is the title of the first chapter of the book. You can't get everything in life, but there's compromises to be had.

[…] One last thing: You have interacted for years now with people who were in Trump World, left and now are back, like Hope Hicks. You talk about her in your book a great deal. You've dealt with people like Sebastian Gorka and Giuliani and the like. Are you concerned with the idea that some people in Trump's world would literally do anything to keep him in power?

I think it's important, not just as a political reporter, but just as a citizen who consumes this stuff on a semi-regular basis, to be extremely vigilant about what's going on right now. I don't think people need to necessarily set their hair on fire or get hysterical about anything, but we are seeing in real time what looks like President Trump's active attempts to politicize as much as he can, and wring as much fealty as he can, out of supposedly nonpartisan and independent institutions like, say, the Justice Department or the intelligence community.

What is going on in plain sight every day and what we know, and what Trump almost freely admits on a public basis, is that he would prefer these institutions, whether they're the FBI, DOJ, CIA or ODNI, to be unflinchingly loyal to him. Not to the Constitution, not to the country, not even necessarily to a political party, but to Donald J. Trump himself. That is a way scarier prospect — what is currently being attempted, however clumsily, by this president — than someone like Sebastian Gorka, who is easier to write off more as sort of a bumbling character.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:46 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]


Inside Trump’s Purge of His Enemies: 'We’ve Seen This Sort of Thing Before'
(Terry H. Schwadron. DCReport)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:47 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Guardian: Senate Republicans look to continue Biden investigation
Senate Republicans appear to be resuming efforts to investigate Joe Biden and his family, as the former vice president’s primary prospects rise after his South Carolina victory.

Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) SCOOP: Chairman Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee @RonJohnsonWI wants to subpoena witness tied to US firm and Burisma where the former Vice President’s son sat on the board. Letter obtained @CBSNews says government records indicate concerns warranted pic.twitter.com/BBoTB0lGh0 March 2, 2020

Trump’s impeachment focused on whether the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter.

The issue appeared to be abandoned in recent weeks, as Bernie Sanders simultaneously became the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. But Trump’s Senate allies now seem to be resurrecting the issue as moderate Democrats look to consolidate support around Biden.
posted by katra at 10:49 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


I can't wait for major media outlets to treat this with all the seriousness it deserves, and definitely not repeat the "but her emails" debacle of 2016.

(The worst part is that even if Biden loses that'll just mean a different ridiculous investigation during the summer and fall months. They've got the whole DOJ to play with, only the names in the press releases will change.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:24 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


I can't wait for major media outlets to treat this with all the seriousness it deserves, and definitely not repeat the "but her emails" debacle of 2016.

::exhausted sigh:: Judge orders Hillary Clinton deposition in email flap (Politico)
A federal judge has ordered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to sit for a sworn deposition for the first time in connection with her use of a private email account during her State Department tenure.

U.S. District Court Royce Lamberth issued the order Monday in connection with a five-and-a-half-year-old Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the conservative group Judicial Watch filed seeking emails related to the deadly 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Previously: "Judicial Watch's president is Tom Fitton. He's a regular on Fox News, and Trump regularly retweets his commentary on the "Deep State.""
posted by katra at 11:36 AM on March 2 [6 favorites]


Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) SCOOP: Chairman Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee @RonJohnsonWI wants to subpoena witness tied to US firm and Burisma where the former Vice President’s son sat on the board. Letter obtained @CBSNews says government records indicate concerns warranted

As Yglesias points out, this "obtained" stuff is bullshit. Ron Johnson issued it to the press hoping they would distribute it as a press release. The press are cooperating.

Don't give us this "obtained" garbage like you actually had to work for your living. You are just dutifully publicizing a propaganda document simply handed to you by Republicans.
posted by JackFlash at 11:37 AM on March 2 [22 favorites]


From katra's Politico link: "To argue that the Court now has enough information to determine whether State conducted an adequate search is preposterous," wrote Lamberth, who has tangled with Clinton aides for decades in a series of cases. In addition to ordering Clinton's deposition, Lamberth said he'll require Clinton's former chief of staff Cheryl Mills to be deposed, although she was already questioned, in-person and under-oath by Judicial Watch about the issue in another FOIA case. The judge also approved a subpoena to Google for any Clinton emails it may possess.
--
Lamberth previously:
Judge: Clinton's private emails are 'one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency' (CNN, Dec. 7, 2018)

Judge complains he was lied to by feds in Clinton email suit, then retreats (Politico, Oct. 12, 2018)

Royce Lamberth steps down from court post; outspoken on government incompetence (Washington Post, July 16, 2013)

Lamberth, now 76, has a reduced caseload, and spends two months of the year in San Antonio. But here he is tangling with Clinton matters again. (Mrs. Clinton is a private citizen, as is Cheryl Mills (who, incidentally, was on Bill Clinton's defense team during his impeachment).)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:23 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


One thing that none of these Republican legal geniuses have ever been able to explain to me is why some politicians (e.g. Hillary) using private email is a grave offense to transparency while other politicians (e.g. Ivanka, and don’t try to tell me she’s not a politician - she covets the mantle of First Female President) using private email is just how the world works.

I mean, I know the answer is IOKIYAR, but I’d like them to explain it.
posted by SakuraK at 8:45 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


A more appropriate model for comparison would be Colin Powell, who was Hilary Clinton's predecessor as Secretary of State.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:08 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


blast from the past and possible derail: may 26, 2016 Department of State OIG Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements, covering Secretaries Albright, Powell, Rice, Clinton, Kerry.
posted by 20 year lurk at 4:26 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


Is Clinton a target because of some personal grudge, or to engage Trump's base?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:30 AM on March 3


¿Porque no los dos?
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:52 AM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Trump loyalist installed in top intelligence post on National Security Council (Politico)
A White House lawyer and former counsel to the House Intelligence Committee under Devin Nunes has been named senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, the latest instance of President Donald Trump elevating a trusted loyalist to control the intelligence community. Michael Ellis, a deputy to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, started in the role on Monday, according to a senior administration official and a former national security official.

[...] Marc Polymeropoulos, who served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the agency’s Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019, said the position “traditionally has gone to a senior member of the intelligence community, such as the CIA, the State Department, or NSA. It was an apolitical position, coveted and also seen as highly career advancing.”

[...] Ellis has been in the White House counsel’s office since 2017, and was reportedly one of the White House officials who showed Nunes intelligence reports that led to the congressman’s probe into surveillance of the Trump campaign team.

Ellis also featured in the Ukraine scandal, according to testimony heard by the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment investigation. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who served as the National Security Council’s director for Ukraine, told lawmakers in October that Ellis and Eisenberg were the ones who decided to move the record of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into the NSC’s top-secret codeword system—a server normally used to store highly classified material that only a small group of officials can access.

[...] The House Intelligence Committee sought Ellis’ testimony in the impeachment probe in November, but Ellis refused to appear for his scheduled deposition. Ellis was ultimately named in the House’s Articles of Impeachment against Trump, as one of nine administration officials who defied a House subpoena for testimony at Trump’s direction.
posted by katra at 3:24 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


White House withdraws nomination of Defense official who questioned Ukraine aid freeze (Politico)
The White House is withdrawing the nominee for a top Pentagon post, according to two Senate aides, following reports that she questioned the legality of the administration's efforts to freeze military aid to Ukraine. [...] The expected withdrawal of McCusker's nomination in the wake of President Donald Trump's impeachment acquittal was first reported by the New York Post last month.

[...] McCusker featured prominently in emails, published by The New York Times and Just Security, that showed the acting Pentagon comptroller expressing concerns over the legality of White House moves on Ukraine aid.

Unredacted emails published in January by Just Security between McCusker and Michael Duffey, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, show her rejecting a White House talking point that said OMB wasn't blocking the aid.

In another exchange published by the New York Times in December, McCusker pushed back on Duffey when he suggested the Pentagon, not the White House, would be at fault for a potential breach of budget law. "You can’t be serious. I am speechless," McCusker replied.
posted by katra at 3:30 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


When the Abnormal Becomes Typical: Clinging to Memories of Normalcy Three Years into the Trump Administration (Joshua Geltzer, Just Security)
Under any new president, change is normal. We should expect changes in policies, even changes in legal positions. But Trump’s changes are not normal. And they can’t be explained as the actions of a principled norm disruptor who needs to shake up settled institutions in order to deliver for the American people. No, the changes of the past three years represent the deliberate demolition of the very institutions that any president actually relies on to carry out his or her changes in policies and legal positions.

[...] But it’s not just the National Security Council or the broader White House. It’s the federal government as a whole that’s changed in decidedly abnormal, harmful ways. A staggering number of talented intelligence officers, diplomats, lawyers, investigators, policy officials, and even members of the armed forces have left the government. What’s more, the corruption introduced by cabinet members who’ve abused public office for private gain can’t be instantly reversed. Indeed, the experience of foreign countries shows that a culture of corruption, once it takes root, is difficult to eradicate.

And our government has been—again, deliberately—broken in ways that can’t quickly be repaired. Lawyers’ advice has gone unheeded. Intelligence officials’ analysis has been suppressed. Scientists have been silenced. Sure, some civil servants leave the government during any administration, and some processes change. But the exodus and the suppression under Trump aren’t normal—and they’re the very kinds of abnormality that make us weaker, more vulnerable as a nation.

[...] Just look at the past four weeks since Trump was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial. It’s wildly abnormal to retaliate against NSC officials, an EU Ambassador, a Treasury Undersecretary nominee, a Defense Department comptroller nominee, and more because they did their jobs. It’s wildly abnormal for the Justice Department abruptly to reverse itself—twice, in Flynn’s case and then Stone’s—and suggest lower sentences for close associates of the President than the Department’s career prosecutors had just recommended to federal courts. It’s wildly abnormal to punish the Acting Director of National Intelligence because a top official working for him had briefed Congress on the intelligence community’s assessment of 2020 election interference, let alone to replace him unexpectedly with an ambassador best known for his pugnacious tweets.

So here’s a central challenge as the Trump presidency gruelingly lumbers on: making sure that Trump’s relentless abnormality doesn’t become the new normal. After each of these abnormal incidents I’ve just described, those who know what normal is have more or less gone ballistic, denouncing what Trump has done in op-eds, on television, on radio, and—of course—in letters garnering scores of signatures from former officials. To many Americans, this can seem like overkill. One hears them asking, How can it always be so bad? Alas, the answer with Trump is that it is—it’s bad and getting acutely worse. The challenge, three years in, is never to lose sight of that White House shining brightly under the darkened sky some three years ago; to never lose sight of what normal—lawful, sensible, responsible—really is and why it matters.
posted by katra at 3:43 PM on March 3 [26 favorites]


Republicans lean into Biden probe as he surges in Democratic primary (Politico)
Sen. Ron Johnson says he'll soon release a report on Hunter Biden’s ties to the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.
“I am concerned to see that in the Senate there seems to be a renewed interest in furthering these bogus Russian narratives through the use of their investigative powers,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “I just think it’s so deeply destructive to be effectively working in a concert with Russian propaganda artists.”

[...] Yet Johnson contends that his plans have nothing to do with Biden’s 2020 pursuit. “My investigations are not focused on the Bidens. They’re just not. But I can’t ignore them because they’re part of the story. They made themselves part of the story,” Johnson said. “If there’s wrongdoing, the American people need to know it. If there is no wrongdoing or nothing significant, the American people need to understand that as well.”

Johnson’s current posture marks a sharp departure from his position in 2016 when he and a bipartisan team of senators signed a letter supporting Biden’s efforts in Ukraine to crack down on corrupt prosecutor Viktor Shokin.

[...] Johnson's Homeland Security panel, which has been working with the Senate Finance Committee to pursue allegations surrounding Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, is also ramping up its investigative work.

[...] But even some of Johnson’s fellow Republicans don’t appear to be on the same page. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) met with Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Finance Committee chairman, in December to warn them that their investigation could aid Russian intelligence, POLITICO previously reported.
posted by katra at 3:29 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Trump’s latest attack on Jeff Sessions inadvertently confirms one of Mueller’s key findings (Jeff Rupar, Vox)
On Wednesday morning, Trump quote-tweeted a post from Politico about Sessions’s second-place finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary — one that will result in a runoff next month between Sessions and first-place finisher Tommy Tuberville — and wrote, “This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!”

Trump’s tweet is factually incorrect. Sessions actually served as attorney general for about three weeks before he recused himself from the Russia probe on March 2, 2017, on the heels of revelations that he had misled senators during his confirmation hearing about the extent of his communications with Russians in 2016. But more significant than that fib is the broader point Trump communicated: that Sessions should have quickly shut down the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia instead of recusing himself.

Here’s the thing: The president isn’t supposed to direct the attorney general to end specific investigations, especially ones directly involving his campaign. In fact, the perception that Trump had interfered in the Russia investigation (by firing then-FBI Director James Comey two months after Sessions’s recusal) led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment in the first place.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:47 PM on March 4 [15 favorites]


Boy he's really stepped in it this time.
posted by odinsdream at 5:54 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Trump campaign sues Washington Post for libel over Russia allegations (CBS News)
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to award damages "in the millions of dollars" for two articles that included allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in 2016 and invited foreign interference by Russia and North Korea in the 2020 election.

The two opinion pieces in question were published in June 2019, and written by opinion columnists Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman. The campaign said Sargent's piece, under the headline "Trump just invited another Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is making one more likely," falsely stated that special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded that the Trump campaign "tried to conspire with" Russia's "sweeping and systematic" interference effort in the 2016 campaign.

The line it takes issue with appears to be this one: "Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation concluded that Russia's "sweeping and systematic" attack involved massive cybertheft aimed at one major U.S. political party and disinformation warfare designed to divide the country along racial and social lines. Mueller also concluded that Trump and/or his campaign eagerly encouraged, tried to conspire with, and happily profited off of those efforts."

Waldman's piece included the question, "[W]ho knows what sort of aid Russia and North Korea will give to the Trump campaign, now that he has invited them to offer their assistance?"

The lawsuit comes a week after the campaign sued The New York Times in state court over another opinion piece about the Mueller probe. Under Supreme Court precedent, defamation claims against public figures must prove the defendant made false statements with "actual malice" toward the plaintiff, a much higher bar than standard defamation cases.

[...] The line in Waldman's piece at issue in the suit included a link to an ABC News interview with President Trump, in which he would accept information from foreign countries about his opponent in the election, or turn over the material to the FBI. "I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen, there's nothing wrong with listening," the president said. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, 'we have information on your opponent.' Oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
posted by katra at 6:12 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Norway? Russia alarmed by U.S. Air Force visit to Norwegian island (Reuters, Feb. 13, 2020) Tensions have been rising in the energy-producing Arctic as climate change has opened up the region, and Russia has built up its own military presence there and touted the potential of the Northern Sea Route across its northern flank.

Moscow has repeatedly raised concerns over NATO-member Norway’s military spending, its moves to develop its military infrastructure and the deployment of foreign military personnel in the country. Commenting on the U.S. visit to the island, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Reuters Moscow believed Norway’s recent military activity was ultimately aimed at Russia and that such actions destabilize the region.

[Prev: In A Remote Arctic Outpost, Norway Keeps Watch On Russia's Military Buildup (NPR, Nov. 3, 2019); 'Thanks, but no thanks' - Norwegians reject Trump's immigration offer (Reuters, Jan. 12, 2018)]

Washington, D.C. enacted an anti-SLAPP law in 2010; some background.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:35 PM on March 4


The Gravity of Michael Ellis’ Promotion to Senior Director for Intelligence at the White House (Ryan Goodman, Just Security)
What makes the elevation of Ellis to this new post especially surprising is that the most specific charges against Ellis in the Ukraine matter involve his allegedly abusing the government’s national security classification system in a manner that not even Republicans in Congress were willing to defend. [...] Ellis will now be working hand-in-hand with acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, as well as Kash Patel, who recently moved from the NSC to the DNI’s office. Both Patel and Ellis previously worked for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. In March 2017, Ellis became caught up in the White House scandal of sharing intelligence information with Nunes in an apparent effort to discredit the Russia investigation.

[...] The allegations against Ellis in the Ukraine matter are potentially even more serious. [...] Former intelligence and national security officials have noted “red flags” that indicate serious wrongdoing on the part of Ellis and Eisenberg in this matter. First, this was a highly unusual role for the lawyers to play in decisions over classification, Just Security’s Tess Bridegman — who held the same position Ellis as deputy legal adviser to the NSC under Obama —explained in an interview in September when the revelations first came to light.

[...] Second, the actual call memorandum shows that it did not meet the standards for heightened classification. Larry Pfeiffer, who held senior White House security positions in both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, told the New York Times, “You read this conversation and there is nothing ‘compartmented’ from an intelligence perspective … Anyone with half a brain can read it and understand why they wanted to protect the distribution.”

Third, using the classification system for the purpose of hiding politically damaging or embarrassing information would seem to violate a standing executive order. [...] Eisenberg later returned to Morrison telling him that moving the call record was a “mistake” – namely, the Executive Secretariat misunderstood his direction. But if it was that kind of mistake, it should have been undone. [...] Ellis’ role in the Ukraine matter does not end with the placement of the call record on the highly classified server. By all public accounts, including other testimony in the impeachment proceedings (see Fiona Hill and Tim Morrison), Ellis worked closely alongside Eisenberg as his deputy.

[...] Congress should ask now to speak with Ellis. His earlier objection — that he could not bring “relevant executive branch agency counsel to attend any deposition” — should not pose an obstacle. A reason for denying such counsel at the time was to protect the integrity of the impeachment investigation. At a minimum, Ellis owes Congress and the public an explanation given the public trust required for his current position.
posted by katra at 6:58 PM on March 4 [8 favorites]


President Trump tells Sean Hannity that he looked into suing Adam Schiff over parody Ukraine call (Sarah K Burris, Raw Story/Salon)
Parody and satire are legal, which is how shows like “Saturday Night Live” get away with mocking the president
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:26 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Roberts Denounces Schumer for Talking About Kavanaugh the Way Kavanaugh Talked About the Senate (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)
If Schumer’s repudiated words sounded at all familiar to you, or to the chief justice, it might be because at his confirmation hearing, then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh turned to the Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and pledged as follows:
Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation. You sowed the wind for decades to come. I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.*
The upshot here is that Schumer didn’t necessarily start this fight and maybe the guy whose honor Roberts just jumped in to defend bears some responsibility for the threatening rhetoric. Since striding onto the national stage, Roberts has claimed the mantle of being the balls-and-strikes guy at the high court. This is one of those instances, though, in which Umpire Roberts clearly can only see one side of the plate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:28 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Trump: Government will start withholding funds from sanctuary cities after court ruling (Brett Samuels, The Hill)
President Trump on Thursday said his administration will begin withholding funding from self-described sanctuary cities after a federal court ruled last week that it could do so.

"As per recent Federal Court ruling, the Federal Government will be withholding funds from Sanctuary Cities," Trump tweeted. "They should change their status and go non-Sanctuary. Do not protect criminals!"

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on Feb. 26 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) could withhold funding from cities and states that refuse to cooperate with the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:13 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Romney is concerned that the push to subpoena records about the Bidens "could appear politically motivated".

"'There’s no question the appearance is not good,' Romney told reporters, adding that he is still 'considering' his vote."

Another "concerned" Republican. (Although it's amusing to me that even after he voted to remove Trump from office, he's still waffling on something as comparatively inconsequential as this)
posted by thefoxgod at 2:21 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


A new analysis of Biden's tax proposal: "Most noteworthy is the huge increase in taxes on high-income households. The top one percent would see a 40 percent increase in federal taxes (all federal taxes combined). Their average federal tax rate would rise from 29.7 to 41.7 percent. If enacted, this plan would give us the most redistributionist tax code in many years."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:24 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


"Do not protect criminals!"

So we should withhold the salaries of Republicans in the senate since they're protecting Trump?
posted by zueod at 2:28 PM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Questioning Barr's "credibility," a federal judge requests the unreacted Mueller Report (Guardian)
The Department of Justice has been ordered to turn over an unredacted copy of the Mueller report by March 30, so a judge can assess what can be further released publicly.

The ruling of accuses former Attorney General William Barr of misrepresenting the findings of the report before handing it over to Congress. The court decision is the result of a BuzzFeed News lawsuit [seeking] to un-redact the report, which details special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) BREAKING in my/@BuzzFeedNews/@EPICprivacy #FOIA lawsuit to unredact the Mueller report

Judge Walton just ordered DOJ to turn over an unredacted copy of Mueller report by March 30 so he can review it to determine what can be further released publicly

This is what we hoped for! pic.twitter.com/c0B6ZD0vqc
March 5, 2020
posted by katra at 3:02 PM on March 5 [16 favorites]


Romney may vote against Trump again — this time with some bite (Aaron Blake, WaPo)
Romney indicated Thursday that he is skeptical about the need for the Senate Homeland Security Committee to issue a subpoena related to Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company.

“I would prefer that investigations are done by an independent, nonpolitical body,” Romney told The Post’s Mike DeBonis. “There’s no question the appearance is not good.”

Romney also told reporters the effort “appears political” and said, “I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations.”

While Romney’s vote to remove Trump was essentially a symbolic one, that wouldn’t be the case in the committee. Republicans have a 8-to-6 majority, meaning Romney’s vote, when combined with the six Democrats on the committee, would deadlock it at 7-7 and prevent the subpoena from being issued. (Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman hasn’t committed to voting for the subpoena yet, either.)
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:29 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


37 Republicans File Supreme Court Brief Arguing Trump Can't Block Manhattan DA's Tax Fraud Investigation (Matthew Impelli, Newsweek)
A number of former Republican lawmakers recently filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that President Donald Trump cannot stop the Manhattan District Attorney's tax fraud investigation.

The brief, which was filed on Monday, was signed by 37 Republicans, including former members of Congress and the Executive Branch, as well as Trump critics George Conway and John Dean.

According to the brief, the former Republican lawmakers, "are concerned that President Trump's assertions of absolute immunity from process, while in office – and more generally his arguments against accountability in any forum – could impose lasting damage on our constitutional system of checks and balances as well as on the rule of law."
The brief filed (PDF) to the Supreme Court.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:35 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]


judge thomas griffith -- whom you may recall from the lead (and, if i may say so, not particularly clearly-reasoned) opinion of the recent appellate decision in the mcgahn case -- will retire this year, opening a spot on the court of appeals for the d.c. circuit for untethered president horrorshow to fill, various outlets report.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:45 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


marcy wheeler on judge walton's in-camera review of unredacted mueller report order, with substantial excerpts, noted above by katra.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:30 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, "concerned" Romney will vote for the subpoena.
posted by thefoxgod at 11:41 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


The House should return fire and start an investigation on the Trump kids' dealings.
posted by azpenguin at 11:56 AM on March 6 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure what can be done on the federal level. (Ivanka is an 'unpaid advisor,' albeit one who netted millions from DC's Trump International Hotel in 2017 alone). I found "AG James Secures Court Order Against Donald J. Trump, Trump Children, And Trump Foundation" (NYS Office of the Attorney General press release, Nov. 7, 2019) encouraging, though.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:01 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Put it this way - if the GOP can come up with a reason for an investigation, so can the Dems.
posted by azpenguin at 1:35 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Democrats are the majority in the House alone; there's too great a risk of an investigation with shaky foundations driving support for Trump and his odious offspring, given that he's crying "victim of Dem fraud" on the daily. Speaking of which (Trump's mirror for the billioneth time): It looks like Trump is trying to trick people into filling out “census” forms online (Vox, March 5, 2020) Facebook says it’s taking down ads that link to the form because of its policy against misleading census content.
According to Facebook’s ad library, Trump’s Facebook page is running a series of hundreds of ads asking users to respond to what it calls a “census.” But in fact, the ads point to a campaign survey for Trump, not the official 2020 US census. Critics say the ads could mislead users into thinking that they’re filling out the actual census when they’re not — potentially discouraging people from filling out the real US census that will be hitting mailboxes next week. The US census is critical in determining representation and funding for communities, including how $1.5 trillion in federal resources are spent.
--
A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. - A. Hamilton, The Federalist Papers: No. 65 ("The Powers of the Senate Continued," not like there was traction to gain anyway.)
(Also of concern: As of Dec. 19, 2019, FB, the online equivalent of Dodge City, Kansas, circa 1878, has a policy against census misinformation?)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:30 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


The new COS, everybody: Mark Meadows.

"President Donald Trump announced that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) will become White House chief of staff.

"Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, will become the United States special envoy to Northern Ireland, the president added on Twitter."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:33 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


> "Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, will become the United States special envoy to Northern Ireland, the president added on Twitter."

Oh for fucks sake, that's up there with some of the last things N. Ireland needs right now.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:30 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, "concerned" Romney will vote for the subpoena.

BENGHAZI !
posted by JackFlash at 7:14 PM on March 6


Trump Campaign’s Libel Claims Are Long Shots (WSJ)
The lawsuits against the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN open the president up to the potential of an under-oath deposition
A series of libel lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign against large media organizations are likely to run up against tough obstacles and depending on how far they progress, could subject the president to depositions, according to legal experts.

The Trump campaign’s defamation claims against the New York Times on Feb. 26, the Post on Monday and CNN on Friday appear to be unprecedented, legal scholars said. Courts have heard defamation lawsuits from governors, an ex-president and a presidential candidate, but legal scholars said they couldn’t recall the last time a sitting U.S. president or his campaign elevated grievances against the news media into civil legal action. [...] The Trump team’s libel complaints continued Friday with a new lawsuit against CNN, alleging the campaign was defamed by a lengthy opinion article posted in June on CNN.com. The complaint focuses on a passage stating that the Trump campaign had “assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.”

[...] Legal scholars said there is a crucial distinction between statements asserting facts and ones expressing opinions. Opinions are usually treated as protected speech, while an incorrect, defamatory fact isn’t. Libel law tends to have gray areas and close judgment calls.

That is where the president’s campaign—with its powerful platform—may be less likely to get the benefit of the doubt, said Rodney Smolla, a First Amendment scholar at Delaware Law School of Widener University. He said a jury or judge would probably be “extremely skeptical of a suit brought by the president of the United States for libel given the powerful First Amendment principles that protect dissent.”
posted by katra at 7:40 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


i think i'm done pinning my hopes to what legal scholars cited by newspapers say to expect based on precedent and an informed view of the history of jurisprudence.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:46 PM on March 6 [15 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, "concerned" Romney will vote for the subpoena.

Can we please not nominate the guy who will (rightly or wrongly) be an easy target for corruption smears from the same playbook as 2016. I feel like I'm losing my mind!!!!!
posted by dis_integration at 5:43 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Feh. The republicans will smear anyone nominated by the democrats. We need to not nominate the guy who thinks he can be friends with the people launching politically-motivated investigations of his family.
posted by logicpunk at 7:45 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Trump Campaign’s Libel Claims Are Long Shots

Bezos of the Washington Post in particular has unlimited funds for expensive lawyers. Instead of asking for the easy dismissal, I hope he decides to call Trump's bluff and goes full on into discovery and depositions, including the president, Jared, Donny Jr.

Trump is used to intimidating the little people into submission with his legal threats. Bezos has the resources to fight back and make him cry. Good timing for the election.
posted by JackFlash at 10:14 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Christopher Steele Whacks Mueller Report and ‘Bad Faith’ Team Trump (Nick Mutch, Daily Beast)
Christopher Steele, a former British spy who compiled the notorious dossier on Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, attacked the Mueller Report and Trump’s Department of Justice officials on Friday, in his first public remarks since his bombshell allegations were published in 2017.

Speaking to students at Oxford University in England, he described the probe into Russian interference as having failed to do any “drilling down into financial networks and leverage,” which he said was “the way Russian influence works.”

His appearance at the Oxford Union, a 200-year-old debating society, was held in private but attended by The Daily Beast.

Steele said he had been interviewed by Robert Mueller's team probing potential collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government for “two whole days” but said: “I was surprised that very little of what I had discussed with them appeared in the final report.”

He criticized the report for being “too narrow” and failing to follow up on crucial evidence. “There were many things about the report that were good… but other (aspects) that were not so good,” he said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:36 PM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Is the Christian right now in charge of public health inside the Trump administration? (Heather Digby Parton, Salon)
'CDC director Robert Redfield and other important public health officials are Pence-approved evangelical Christians'

[There seems to be] a conservative subculture of evangelical Christians who have found a foothold in the Trump administration clustered around Mike Pence's office. Along millions of other evangelicals, it appears they really believe in Donald Trump.

Setting ideology aside, however, what Trump wants these people to do — cover up his own ignorance and incompetence — is totally at odds with what they must know is best for the health of the American public. Is their worshipful admiration for this man blinding them to the need to communicate honestly with the American people about this crisis? Because that would explain a lot.

Former Bush White House lawyer Richard Painter: "Trump will grab as much power as he possibly can"
(Chauncey DeVega, Salon)
'Former GOP ethics lawyer Richard Painter says Trump is the "American Nero," and democracy is in extreme danger'
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:38 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


'Nero' trends after meme Trump retweeted of himself playing violin is likened to Nero fiddling as Rome burns
“Nero” trended on Twitter early Monday after a meme of President Trump playing the violin drew viral comparisons to the Roman emperor among his critics online.

On Sunday night, Trump promoted the meme, which was initially shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino, that depicted him calmly smiling as he played the violin. The meme was captioned: “My next piece is called nothing can stop what’s coming.”

When Trump retweeted the post, he wrote: “Who knows what this means, but it sounds good to me!”
posted by kirkaracha at 12:19 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


'Nero' trends after meme Trump retweeted of himself playing violin is likened to Nero fiddling as Rome burns

The Hill buries the lede on this by saying that "a few [Twitter users] also noted that the phrase "Nothing can stop what’s coming" is used by "QAnon" conspiracy theorists."
posted by cjelli at 12:36 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


Trump’s Contempt for Expertise Is Guiding His Coronavirus Response (Fred Kaplan, Slate)
This would be startling if it didn’t match how he always purges unwelcome news from within his administration and from his reality.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:46 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Related: The coronavirus outbreak is making expertise great again (Ishaan Tharoor, WaPo)
One of the leitmotifs of right-wing nationalism in the West is a profound rage against expertise.
posted by katra at 12:56 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


A new poll shows that Trump doesn’t actually have magical chaos powers (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
President Trump has absolute confidence in the ability of his magical lying and chaos-spreading powers to remake any reality into a beneficial one for him, no matter how stubbornly that reality appears to be digging in against his immediate interests. (Any given reality, of course, only derives its significance from the degree to which it’s good or bad for Trump.)

And so, faced with alarming new signs that the coronavirus outbreak is spreading and global markets are cratering, Trump unleashed a new set of outbursts that were audacious even for him. [...]

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Trump’s numbers are pretty awful. Only 43 percent of registered voters nationwide approve of Trump’s handling of coronavirus, while 49 percent disapprove. Among key voter groups that Trump needs to win back, those numbers are worse. Only 37 percent of independents approve of his handling of coronavirus, versus 50 percent who disapprove. Among college-educated whites, those numbers are 43 percent and 51 percent. Among suburban voters, they’re 40 percent and 54 percent. Among women, an abysmal 36 percent approve and 55 percent disapprove.

[...] As Jonathan Chait puts it for New York magazine, Trump appears “totally oblivious to the danger of hardening his public image as the national-level equivalent of the mayor in ‘Jaws,’ blithely ignoring reports of a gigantic shark because he didn’t want to hurt the tourism season.”

[...] Trump is, in effect, operating from the assumption that his magical lying and chaos spreading powers can render such concerns a relic of a more innocent, pre-Trumpian time. But maybe, just maybe, Trump is failing catastrophically and the American people know it, and his sprinkling of chaos dust everywhere is only making it all that much worse.
posted by katra at 3:49 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


The emperor has no clue: Trump seems to believe coronavirus will just go away (Dan Froomkin, Press Watch/Salon)
In short: Trump bet on containment rather than mobilization. It was a bad bet. But in Trump's mind, it was a "tremendous success." As a result, top health officials fearful of his wrath assured him it was working, rather than preparing for its inevitable failure. Now Trump is fully invested in making coronavirus appear to disappear, even as it continues to spread. But the only way to do that is to slow-walk testing, put a chokehold on the release of information, repeatedly insist that everyone says he's doing a good job and hope for a miracle.

Where we are now is the result of Trump's bad judgment, compounded by extreme, obsessive vanity — and an executive-branch culture in which officials are too terrified to contradict him.

And make no mistake: his subordinates remain under clear orders to make it all go away. As he put it last week: "We have done an incredible job. We're going to continue. It's going to disappear. One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear."
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:23 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Trump is a self-admitted, longtime germaphobe (The Purell Presidency, Politico, 7/7/19); perhaps the magical thinking is to keep his own panic at bay.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:14 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


DOJ Faces Backlash For Ordering COVID-19 Posters Out Of Immigration Courts (Matt Shuham, TPM)

The posters were acquired and distributed by the judges' union, and opposed by their leadership.
“This is just a reminder that immigration judges do not have the authority to post, or ask you to post, signage for their individual courtrooms or the waiting areas,” acting chief immigration judge Christopher A. Santoro told court administrators, The Miami Herald reported.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:59 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Circuit Court Upholds Decision That Congress Can See Mueller Grand Jury Evidence (Matt Shuham, TPM)
“The Committee’s request for the grand jury materials in the Mueller Report is directly linked to its need to evaluate the conclusions reached and not reached by the Special Counsel,” [D.C. Circuit Court Judge Judith W.] Rogers wrote.... “Courts must take care not to second-guess the manner in which the House plans to proceed with its impeachment investigation or interfere with the House’s sole power of impeachment.”
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:44 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


opinion of the court of appeals for the district of columbia in judiciary committee v. doj (via cnn). haven't read yet, but look forward to trying to reconcile judge griffith's concurrence here with his opinion in the mcgahn case.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:42 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


griffith:
I write separately to address the dissent’s argument that the district court lacked jurisdiction to compel disclosure of grand jury materials under Committee on the Judiciary v. McGahn.... Unlike McGahn, this case does not involve a suit between the political branches over executive-branch documents or testimony. Instead, it involves an application for access to records of the grand jury, whose disclosure the district court has traditionally controlled.
(griffith, j., concurring, at p. 27/75. citation omitted) asked and answered.
posted by 20 year lurk at 12:26 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Trump’s acting intelligence chief declines to meet with Congress for election threats briefing (WaPo)
Acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell has declined to appear before Congress on Tuesday to speak about foreign election threats, citing apprehension about his preparedness to address sensitive subjects that tend to upset the president, according to three people familiar with the matter. The top intelligence community official asked President Trump to be excused from the briefings because he anticipated pointed questions from Democrats about politically volatile subjects — such as intelligence assessments that Russia is once more interfering in U.S. politics, two of the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Maura Beard, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), said in a statement that the agency never told Congress that Grenell would participate in the briefing. She said so despite a list circulated to lawmakers Monday showing that he was scheduled to appear. [...] The intelligence community’s top counterintelligence official, William Evanina, will appear instead, Beard said.

[...] “There is another Russia, Russia, Russia meeting today,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “It is headed up by corrupt politician [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam “Shifty” Schiff, so I wouldn’t expect too much!”

Schiff tweeted in response: “Mr. President, you are wrong. As usual. Today’s briefing for all House Members focuses on the threat of foreign interference in our election. The briefers are agency heads and senior officials. They are your own people. We will insist on the truth, whether you like it or not.”
posted by katra at 1:56 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


Incompetence Exacerbated by Malevolence (Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes, Atlantic)
The coronavirus has dangerously inverted a long-standing White House theme.
Throughout the many disasters that have befallen the Trump administration, one theme has remained a constant: malevolence tempered by incompetence. That description emerged from a text-message conversation between the two of us in January 2017, the day after the release of the president’s first travel ban. Chaos was erupting at ports of entry around the country. U.S. permanent residents were being denied entry. Courts were getting involved. Protesters and lawyers were assembling at airports. And yet, the worst consequences were averted, because the travel ban was so ineptly conceived and executed that it was quickly put on hold and later substantially rolled back.

The phrase took on a life of its own, because so many other events of the past three years followed a similar pattern. [...] Now, however, the disease known as COVID-19 has upended this theme altogether. As the former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero declared on Twitter: “To invert a @benjaminwittes formulation, the Trump administration #COVID19 response might be characterized as incompetence exacerbated by malevolence.”

It is an inversion in more ways than one. In the original formulation of the phrase—malevolence tempered by incompetence—the incompetence not only comes second, but it mitigates the malevolence. In Cordero’s rather apt reformulation, by contrast, the incompetence comes first, and the malevolence doesn’t mitigate it. It makes things worse.
posted by katra at 3:53 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


CDC director breaks with Trump on claim that border wall will help stop coronavirus (Politico)
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that he was unaware of any indication from his agency that physical barriers along America’s borders would help halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. — contradicting an assertion President Donald Trump made earlier in the day.

Appearing before House lawmakers to testify about the public health crisis and the White House’s budget request for his agency, Redfield was asked by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) if the CDC’s recommendations for combating the coronavirus addressed whether “structural barriers” at the borders “would be of any use in mitigating” the growing outbreak.

“Not that I’ve seen,” Redfield replied. [...]

On Tuesday morning, Trump claimed that his campaign trail pledge of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would also aid in containing the coronavirus, writing on Twitter that the structure is “Going up fast” and adding: “We need the Wall more than ever!”

[...] Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar acknowledged in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that the administration did not yet know the total number of Americans who have been tested because “hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in” to the CDC. The secretary said the administration was working with the agency and the private partners to get a reporting system “up and running hopefully this week” to track that data.
posted by katra at 4:12 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


On Tuesday morning, Trump claimed that his campaign trail pledge of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would also aid in containing the coronavirus

Given there are almost 1000 cases in the U.S. and only 7 in Mexico, maybe Trump will finally get the Mexicans to pay for a wall.
posted by JackFlash at 4:19 PM on March 10 [18 favorites]


Trump is using his coronavirus economic stimulus plan to boost his reelection chances (Katelyn Burns, Vox)
President Donald Trump took to Capitol Hill Tuesday to sell lawmakers on his economic stimulus plan for the novel coronavirus outbreak — one that’s seemingly designed to help him get reelected this fall.

Trump’s plan, which he has called “very dramatic,” includes a temporary payroll tax cut and an economic bailout of the airline and cruise industries.

[...] Trump hopes to stem the losses with his economic stimulus plan while also boosting his reelection chances — and pushing a tax cut he’s been touting since last year.

A payroll tax cut would lower the amount of taxes paid by both employees and employers, but wouldn’t help unemployed people or people who miss work without pay due to illness or quarantine. [...]

During a lunch meeting with GOP senators, Trump said that he wants the payroll tax holiday to last through the November election, in order to avoid a sudden tax increase right before voters head to the polls to decide whether he returns to office.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:28 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Republicans face backlash over racist labeling of coronavirus (Guardian)
Academics have warned the practice leads to stigma and racism, and the World Health Organization sent a memo to governments and media organizations at the end of February, urging people not to use the terms “Wuhan Virus”, “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus”.

“Governments, citizens, media, key influencers and communities have an important role to play in preventing and stopping stigma surrounding people from China and Asia in general,” the WHO said.

The branding fits neatly with Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and ongoing trade war, however – as Democratic congressman Ted Lieu pointed out in a tweet, referring to Trump as Potus, the president of the United States.

“One reason @POTUS & his enablers failed to contain #COVID2019 is due to the myopic focus on China. The virus was also carried into the US from other countries & US travelers. Calling it Chinese coronavirus is scientifically wrong & as stupid as calling it the Italian coronavirus.”
posted by katra at 4:42 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


White House likely to pursue federal aid for shale companies hit by oil shock, coronavirus downturn (Jeff Stein, Will Englund, Steven Mufson and Robert Costa; WaPo)
The White House is strongly considering pushing federal assistance for oil and natural gas producers hit by plummeting oil prices amid the coronavirus outbreak, as industry officials close to the administration clamor for help, according to four people familiar with internal deliberations.

President Trump has touted the growth of oil and natural gas production under his administration, celebrating their rise in politically crucial swing states such as Pennsylvania. But many oil and gas firms were hammered Monday by the price war that broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia, driving oil prices down in their steepest one-day drop in almost 30 years.

White House officials are alarmed at the prospect that numerous shale companies, many of them deep in debt, could be driven out of business if the downturn in oil prices turns into a prolonged crisis for the industry. The federal assistance is likely to take the form of low-interest government loans to the shale companies, whose lines of credit to major financial institutions have been choked off, three people said.
'Corporate Socialists' Denounced as Trump Considers Fracking Industry Bailout Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Eoin Higgins, Common Dreams)
"Using a worldwide public health crisis to bail out the fracking industry now would be a disgraceful waste of taxpayer dollars, and would spell further climate calamity."
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:03 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


Won't someone think of the oil companies?
posted by medusa at 6:07 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


White House likely to pursue federal aid for shale companies hit by oil shock, coronavirus downturn

The Brown New Deal
posted by JackFlash at 6:52 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


Intelligence Officials Temper Russia Warnings, Prompting Accusations of Political Influence (Julian E. Barnes, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, NYT)
Intelligence officials told lawmakers behind closed doors on Tuesday that Russia was not directly supporting any candidates as it tried to interfere in the presidential race, an assertion that contradicted an earlier briefing and prompted accusations from Democrats that the Trump administration was politicizing intelligence.

[...] Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the officials during the first of two briefings on Tuesday, saying their assertions differed from a classified hearing last month where a top election security official discussed Russia’s preference for President Trump’s re-election, according to three people present for Tuesday’s session. The previous briefing drew angry responses from House Republicans. [...] Before the day’s briefings, Kashyap Patel, a former White House and congressional aide who moved to Mr. Grenell’s office last month, met with intelligence officials and imposed limits on what they could tell Congress about foreign influence operations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Patel’s comments struck some intelligence officials as an inappropriate politicization of the briefing. Some have been wary of his partisan background since his arrival as a top aide to Mr. Grenell. [...] The intelligence officials who briefed lawmakers did not intend to contradict last month’s testimony even as they avoided repeating the assessments about Russian interference presented there, according to a person familiar with the matter. [...] Russia’s focus, one official said, is less on the election and more on the political debate and policy discussions around the vote. Russia has once again stepped up its interference efforts, officials have said, exploiting existing divisions among Americans to sow chaos. In particularly, Kremlin intelligence operatives have sought to amplify the messages of white supremacist groups to try to incite violence.
posted by katra at 9:00 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Senate Republicans finally release their coronavirus plan: Let Pelosi handle it (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos)

Trump too personally wounded by Pelosi to negotiate with her on coronavirus stimulus deal (Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos)
[...] Trump, master deal maker and negotiator savant, won't be involved in those talks, instead Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will take the lead. According to NBC reporter Eamon Javers, Trump feels too personally wounded by impeachment and other interactions with Pelosi to get in a room with her and pound out a plan to help the country weather the coronavirus. "It doesn't seem like that would end well," Javers said of the thinking of White House aides about trying to get Trump and Pelosi together.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:55 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]




Exclusive: White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations - sources (Aram Roston, Marisa Taylor; Reuters)
The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials.

The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus.

Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said.

“We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,” one official said. “These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.”

The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification.”This came directly from the White House,” one official said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:32 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


For all that Trump rails about the so-called "Deep State conspiracy" against him, he and his minions have been well established as flagrantly abusing the classification process to hide embarrassing information. Recall that sweeping the readout of the Zelensky call into a classified server was one of the revelations of the whistleblower report, and was substantiated by subsequent testimony.

If memory serves me correctly, misusing the classification system isn't illegal, just improper. But it sure does reveal that Trump feels he has something to hide. Including, apparently, how he's handling this crisis.
posted by Gelatin at 10:53 AM on March 11 [15 favorites]


It's definitely not illegal *for him*, because the entirety of the classification system derives from the chief executive's authority. Courts would have a very hard time finding anything unconstitutional about misuse or overuse of classification, and this Supreme Court in particular would never take a side in a separation of powers concern when they can just say "if it's so bad, impeach him for it".
posted by tonycpsu at 10:58 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Trump’s Company Paid Bribes to Reduce Property Taxes, Assessors Say (Heather Vogell, ProPublica and Katherine Sullivan, WNYC)
Five former city employees and a former Trump Organization employee say the company used middlemen to pay New York City tax assessors to lower building assessments and pay less taxes in the 1980s and 1990s.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:05 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


The Republican Party is ideologically incapable of getting us out of this coronavirus crisis (Dartagnan, Daily Kos poster)
It’s clear that the same disparity between Republican and Democratic responses to an urgent calamity impacting the well-being of literally millions of Americans was apparent in 2008 and 2009, and remains apparent today. Republicans—before Trump, and now under Trump—uniformly and robotically respond to any crisis with calls for “tax cuts,” while Democrats respond by addressing the practical ramifications, the nuts and bolts of the actual crisis. With the coronavirus pandemic there is also the massive additional task of managing an unprecedented public health catastrophe. Thus far the Trump administration hasn’t even seen fit to acknowledge the magnitude of that, and continues to downplay its seriousness, even as the infection rates soar throughout the country.

There is a lesson here for all Americans, one that is likely to grow more and more apparent in the coming weeks: Republicans are ideologically unprepared—if not utterly incapable—of managing any crisis of this magnitude. Since their entire ideology assumes that the government is “bad,” they can’t adapt to any situation where government action is clearly the only solution, whether it's an economic crisis brought on by their own fiscal malfeasance, or here, a public health crisis of unprecedented proportions. They simply don’t have those tools in their kits. They are so wedded to their ideology that they can’t even begin to comprehend just how complicated a crisis like this will be, or the measures necessary to protect Americans from disaster.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:04 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


Trump urged Mnuchin to pressure Fed’s Powell on economic stimulus in explosive tirade about coronavirus (Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey, Jeff Stein and Ashley Parker, WaPo)
President Trump, in an explosive tirade Monday, urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to encourage Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell to do more to stimulate the economy, three officials familiar with the exchange said, revealing the president’s mounting fury as his administration struggles to corral economic fallout from the novel coronavirus.

[...] He then told Mnuchin, who had encouraged Trump to nominate Powell in 2017, to engage with the chair and ask him to take more dramatic steps to arrest the stock market’s plummet, according to three White House officials and a senior Republican. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to reveal the exchange.
Reversing stock market declines will do little to save the overall economy or meet the needs of the vast majority of Americans.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:10 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Trump is using the coronavirus to launch a Trojan horse attack on Social Security (Nancy Altman, Independent Media Institute/Alternet)
Donald Trump’s proposal to cut the payroll contribution rate is a stealth attack on Social Security. Even if the proposal were to replace Social Security’s dedicated revenue with deficit-funded general revenue, the proposal would undermine this vital program.

The proposal is a Trojan horse. It appears to be a gift, in the form of middle-class tax relief, but would, in the long run, lead to the destruction of working Americans’ fundamental economic security. While the goal of the proposal is stated in terms of fiscal stimulus, its most important impact, if not its intent, is to do what opponents of Social Security have been unable to do—end Social Security as we know it.

The supposed purpose of a reduction in payroll contributions is to address the coronavirus crisis. Tax cuts do not meaningfully address the coronavirus, or even the resulting market panic. We do want to ensure that people have the cash they need while they face massive uncertainties around employment and other costs. We want people to stay home as much as needed without having to worry about paying their rent or other costs. What we need most is a robust public health response, which the Trump administration is utterly failing to provide.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:12 PM on March 11 [13 favorites]


man, where's the fuckity fuck fuck thread when you really need it?
posted by HyperBlue at 4:55 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Heather Cox Richardson is a presidential historian and professor at Boston College. She's been writing daily recaps of political events ever since the Adam Schiff raised hell to get information about the whistleblower.

Her writings of the last week have understandably been heavy on content about coronavirus and economic news, but yesterday's entry ended like this this:
While we are all focused—with excellent reason—on the pandemic, I cannot help but worry about what is happening when our eyes are elsewhere. Trump has always cared primarily about money, and this sudden drop of the market at night, thanks to his words, seems to me terribly opportune. I am 100% willing to accept that I am just too cynical about politics and money, but “follow the money” has always stood me in good stead when trying to figure things out. I do not know what it means that the market took such a tumble thanks to words that pretty clearly were going to make it fall—perhaps Trump just made an embarrassing mistake, not realizing it would tank the markets—but I think it bears watching.

Two days ago, I missed altogether something else that bears watching, and the fact that I missed it suggests it was barely covered—I’m generally all over the news. On March 9, 2020, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov met Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and, according to the press release from the Russians, discussed “implementation of the arrangements reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump during the summits in Helsinki in 2018 and Osaka in 2019.” There was virtually no coverage of this meeting in the United States; the only record I found was a readout from the Treasury Department, saying just that the meeting had happened. The Helsinki meeting is the one where Trump and Putin met for two hours alone with only their interpreters in the room. The Osaka meeting came just after Putin declared western liberalism obsolete.

Perhaps this meeting was nothing. But, coming as it does in the midst of Russia’s oil war with Saudi Arabia, and alluding to the two-hour conference that so irregularly cut all the usual advisors and staff out of the room, it would sure be nice to know a bit more about it.

All this to say that I am skeptical that all the intrigue over money and power that has plagued this administration since its beginning have suddenly ended as the president and his people turn their attention to the coronavirus. It has seemed to me he saw the pandemic as a media crisis rather than a public health crisis, and if so, there is no reason to think his priorities have changed.

As I say, perhaps I’m just too skeptical. But I suspect it’s more likely I’m a realist.
posted by Sublimity at 5:26 AM on March 12 [15 favorites]


Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts. "The president announced new travel restrictions on Europeans as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, but a few key spots on the continent were spared." (Ryan Heath, Politico)

By some coincidence, those spots are where Trump-owned golf resorts are located.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:19 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


Joke's on him for Ireland because the country is shutting down. After everyone brings more viral loads back from the races in the UK.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:35 AM on March 12


Editorial to the President - Do us a favor (H. Holden Thorp, Editor in Chief; Science Magazine)
But do us a favor, Mr. President. If you want something, start treating science and its principles with respect.
Science is not something where results happen more quickly on demand. It also is not something that benefits from excessive knowledge hoarding and top-down control. And it doesn't help to demonize and ridicule it when it doesn't give the desired results on a reduced budget.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:27 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


Trump Is Failing to Prepare Americans for a Disturbing New Reality (Juliette Kayyem, Atlantic)
In a crisis as severe as the coronavirus pandemic, government officials owe the general public two things: reliable numbers and an honest basis for hope. That’s what citizens get if politicians step aside from the microphone and let experts speak. When Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, testified before a House committee yesterday, he warned that COVID-19 has a death rate 10 times that of the seasonal flu; that the worst is yet to come; and that, without more aggressive containment measures, “many, many millions” of Americans could become infected. This was a sobering message, but his audience could at least take comfort in knowing where things stand.

That has not been true of President Donald Trump, who has pooh-poohed the danger of the new disease, played down case counts, and insisted that the new disease will soon taper off. In a televised address last night, he was visibly uncomfortable and talked about the pandemic not as a deadly health problem but as a venue for global competition. [...] For some time, Trump and his White House have acted as if they only have a public-relations problem to contend with. When Trump designated Mike Pence as leader of the administration’s coronavirus task force, the vice president promptly moved to tighten messaging and take control of public appearances by government experts. Reuters reported yesterday that the White House is insisting that top-level coronavirus meetings be treated as classified—a designation that inhibits scientific transparency and excludes important experts without security clearances.

[...] Entire communities, no less than the professionals in charge of managing any emergency response, benefit from situational awareness. Which is to say, average citizens need factual information not only about the magnitude of destruction but also about the seriousness of the response. Regardless of the nature of a crisis, people need information about how many have been killed or harmed, about which agencies are providing how much aid, about how many hospital beds, shelter beds, meals, and gallons of water are available.

[...] Americans need to brace for impact. Trump’s standard tactics—blaming immigrants and outsiders, promising fantastical walls, wearing red hats with slogans—are powerless against a global pandemic. While the coronavirus is by far the most dangerous crisis that the United States has faced since Trump took office, he has not participated in its resolution in any meaningful way.

But a president isn’t allowed to be irrelevant at a moment of national crisis. Or, to put it another way, an irrelevant president is a harmful one.
posted by katra at 11:23 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


Reversing stock market declines will do little to save the overall economy or meet the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

Helping out the non-stockholding class in the USA is priority #298 for Trump and the Republican party. Appearing to help the white working class by taking things away from others is priority #5 or so (#1-4 can be lumped under "Moloch").
posted by benzenedream at 11:55 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Got to say I'm very darkly humored by an epidemic forcing our government to openly discuss free healthcare, paid sick days, and straight up money for the poor. Makes you think.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:51 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Am mildly surprised to see this on The Verge, mostly because it's not the kind of article I would associate with them.

To improve the US coronavirus response, Donald Trump should resign. "He’s only making the crisis worse" (Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge)
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:56 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


To improve the US coronavirus response, Donald Trump should resign.

its a magic headline because if you replace "coronavirus response" with anything else at all, it still works.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:00 PM on March 12 [26 favorites]


But Pence is already ostensibly in charge of the administration's response. Making him president won't help. (Oh, all right, it'd get Jaren out of the West Wing...)

So this pandemic is what it finally took for the rest of the country and most of the political media to realize the emperor really doesn't have any clothes. Trump isn't handling this crisis any differently than he did the Mueller investigation, impeachment, or the devastation of Puerto Rico. And not every crisis he's waded into has been self-inflicted. But now somehow the stakes are finally high enough that everyone can finally admit he really is an incompetent, clueless, bungling fool.
posted by Gelatin at 2:01 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]




House Democrats’ coronavirus bill delayed as GOP pushes to include Trump proposals (Kevin Breuninger, CNBC)
Key Points:
  • House Republicans made clear Thursday that they won’t support the new emergency coronavirus aid bill unveiled by Democrats in its current form.
  • Lawmakers in both parties are scrambling to take action to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
  • But they have hang-ups with the text of the Democrats’ bill because it omits several of the measures President Trump had called on Congress to enact.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:11 PM on March 12


"Uh-oh, I gotta pen mark. Anybody have any white- D'ya have any white stuff?"
Whiteout to daub on the stain he made on his cuff. No, nobody has any whiteout because it isn't 1983.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:14 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


There's a lot of money in that white powder.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:49 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


There was virtually no coverage of this meeting in the United States; the only record I found was a readout from the Treasury Department, saying just that the meeting had happened.

So how fucked is it that a March meeting between a Russian official and a high-level US official is made public in a Russian press release but not in a US press release or any sort of comment? It’s just so weird that Russians are being more transparent than Americans. Admittedly, it serves their purposes but yeah, we totally need another Fuckity Fuck thread.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:52 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]


It is technically more of a Pandemic Fuckity Fuck thread... but, as they say, any void to scream into in a storm.
posted by bcd at 4:00 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


States Clamor For Trump Emergency Declaration (Josh Kovensky, TPM)
States are scrambling to prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak, petitioning Washington for changes to federal health insurance programs that could help them save lives.

And there’s a way to do it, but it requires one thing: an emergency declaration from President Trump.

Known in the dense legalese that surrounds government insurance programs as a section 1135 waiver, the option allows states to adjust elements of their Medicaid heath insurance programs to respond to an emergency.

States can apply for the waivers only once a President has declared an emergency under the 1988 Stafford Act — which Trump has yet to do, reportedly in part to avoid contradicting himself after he downplayed the severity of the virus. [...]

With thousands of Americans infected and dozens dead, the Trump administration has yet to find a way to effectively test for the presence of the novel coronavirus. But it’s the President’s ongoing refusal to declare an emergency over the disaster — which would unleash aid, funds, and FEMA — which continues to hamper state-level planning.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:09 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


Lapdog political media finally smells blood after Trump's disastrous coronavirus speech (Dan Froomkin for Salon)
'Even elite reporters savaged Trump's clumsy Oval Office address — because they can't stand political weakness'

Donald Trump's massively botched announcement about restricting travel from Europe was an obvious and desperate ploy to cast himself as the protector of the United States and generate some rare positive headlines.

And some in the corporate media fell for it — initially. […]

Hours before the speech, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that it was being written by Trump's know-nothing hack son-in-law Jared Kushner and his lead xenophobe Stephen Miller — which is really all you needed to know.

Trump clearly telegraphed that he was building to what he hoped would be his bullhorn moment, rallying the nation — and the media — behind him as George W. Bush did on a pile of rubble after 9/11
Emphasis mine.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:20 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]




Republicans Think Basic Public Health Measures Are Part of a Radical Left-Wing Agenda (Jordan Weissmann, Slate)
[So] far, the GOP is mostly showing that it’s wary of taking basic steps necessary to protect Americans’ health and the economy during this crisis. It should make you glad that Pelosi has been the one driving these negotiations, and not them.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:30 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


For anyone having discussions with their Trump supporting relatives relating to the COVID-19 response, here's your link to Snopes confirming that the Trump administration did indeed fire the "executive branch team responsible for coordinating a response to a pandemic and did not replace it"
posted by gwint at 7:31 AM on March 13 [11 favorites]


How Trump Designed His White House to Fail (Ben Rhodes, The Atlantic)
'Every president chooses how to manage the flow of information. The consequences of Trump’s decisions are now becoming apparent.'
Ben Rhodes is a former deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama, and compares and contrasts how Obama handled Ebola in 2014 with how Trump is handling COVID-19 now.
Normally, a presidential address in a crisis buys time for further action by reassuring the public that you are on top of something. That opportunity is gone, even as the threat from COVID-19, and its economic fallout, grows by the day. Indeed, public and market reaction to Trump’s speech offered an immediate indictment, not just of his Oval Office address, but of his entire approach to governing.

At this point, the best thing that Trump and his staff can do is completely empower the experts to do their jobs. Give them the resources. Make them the communicators. Have them interface with the state and local officials who will now be on the front line of managing a response that has fallen so far behind where it should be. Let Congress address the obvious need for a stimulus that can minimize the economic harm that comes to ordinary citizens. Let the diplomats manage coordination with foreign countries.

No president can ever predict what crisis will consume his presidency, even if he can be assured that something will. What a president can do is run his White House in a way that gives him the best chance to succeed in a crisis. Because of how the Trump White House operates, it was set up to fail.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:58 AM on March 13 [7 favorites]


The thing that really kills me is looking through the Google news feed and seeing several stories about people Trump, Pence, and who knows who else in the admininstration have met that have now been confirmed as having the coronavirus and how little concern there is for the functioning of the executive office should the gang of incompetents actually get the virus themselves. One would think there'd normally be consideration given to such an eventuality and measures taken to ensure there were plans in place to both seek to prevent such a thing happening and make sure the presidency would be able to continue to function normally.

But, given where we are, it seems all to reasonable to think we might well be better off if the executive branch was put on hiatus for a while since maybe then the rest of the government might be better able to deal with the problem. Protecting the office of the presidency at all costs is the hook to a lot of movie plots, but in real life I guess it isn't that big a deal after all. Fucking clowns.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:52 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


On Thursday, Trump admitted he hadn't told the Europeans what was coming.
"We get along very well with European leaders, but we had to make a decision and I didn't want to take time," he said. "When they raise taxes on us, they don't consult us and I think that's probably one in the same."


Taxes and a deadly pandemic that could kill millions -- one in the same. That's Republicanism in a nutshell.

It's all zero sum, tit for tat to Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 9:06 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


The thing that really kills me is looking through the Google news feed and seeing several stories about people Trump, Pence, and who knows who else in the admininstration have met that have now been confirmed as having the coronavirus and how little concern there is for the functioning of the executive office should the gang of incompetents actually get the virus themselves. One would think there'd normally be consideration given to such an eventuality and measures taken to ensure there were plans in place to both seek to prevent such a thing happening and make sure the presidency would be able to continue to function normally.

Here in Canada the prime minister announced yesterday that he was undertaking a precautionary self-isolation; his wife was being tested yesterday and indeed tested positive last night.

Because I do not want to live in an echo chamber, some of my friends are conservative, libertarian, deeply stupid, or some combination thereof. And because I am an idiot, I sometimes read the comments on news stories. Between these two sources, I have read no end of mockery about the leader of the country “scurrying away into hiding.”

I agree that having some sort of plan in place for contingencies might be a good idea (especially when the virus seems to hit the elderly especially hard and the president* is 73 years old) but that might be out of character for him.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 AM on March 13


For what it’s worth, the Independent ran a story about forty minutes ago that the White House is going to invoke the Stafford Act. It includes this paragraph:
He told reporters on Thursday: "We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act ... I have it memorised, practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I'll do it. I have the right to do a lot of things that people don't even know about."
I swear, the best satire writers on the planet could not come with more on-the-nose dialogue for this character.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:25 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


Republicans Think Basic Public Health Measures Are Part of a Radical Left-Wing Agenda

This is one of the hardest things to deal with, personally. The amount of denial among my conservative coworkers—and open contempt for any precautionary measures—is ridiculous to me. So far I've heard that it's just like the flu, this is just a market correction, the vacation they bought next month is such a deal, etc.

One of us is very wrong about the state of things for the next year and I don't think it's me. I suspect I am getting a reputation as a no-fun liberal, but dude, I am not the one in an at-risk cohort here.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:36 AM on March 13 [12 favorites]


Inside Jared Kushner’s coronavirus research: a wide net on a giant Facebook group (Anita Kumar, Politico)
'The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser takes a leading role in a variety of Trump challenges, this time responding to the escalating coronavirus outbreak.'

Just before midnight Wednesday, a doctor asked a group of fellow emergency room physicians on Facebook how they would combat the escalating coronavirus outbreak.

“I have direct channel to person now in charge at White House,” Kurt Kloss wrote in his post.

The next morning, after hundreds of doctors responded, Kloss explained why he sought the suggestions: Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had asked him for recommendations.

Kloss, whose daughter is married to Kushner’s brother, sent Kushner 12 recommendations Thursday morning.

The Facebook crowd-sourcing exercise showed how Trump‘s team is scrambling for solutions to confront the outbreak after weeks of criticism for the administration's sluggish response, a shortage of tests and the president’s own rhetoric downplaying the pandemic. It is now expected to consume the final year of Trump's first term and threaten his campaign for a second term.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:21 AM on March 13 [8 favorites]


'The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser takes a leading role in a variety of Trump challenges, this time responding to the escalating coronavirus outbreak.'

ffs. In other timeline, the president and staff would attend briefings given by well-prepared experts.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:54 AM on March 13 [7 favorites]


I think we're definitely (obviously) in National Emergency territory, but I'm very concerned that invoking it might give such broad powers as to, say, halt the election.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:56 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


The slow-walk response to the virus might be all that was necessary to suppress voter turnout enough to skew the election. Definitely affecting primaries and if it continues much longer it will affect the Convention, the debates and key campaign appearances. Door knocking for votes/registration during a pandemic anyone?
posted by HyperBlue at 11:04 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I think we're definitely (obviously) in National Emergency territory, but I'm very concerned that invoking it might give such broad powers as to, say, halt the election.

Trump can't keep California, New York, Illinois, and other blue states from holding elections. And if there's a dispute about the electoral college total, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives.

One hopes Trump has been told that trying to stop the election is a sure-fire way to ensure his loss.
posted by Gelatin at 11:15 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


And if there's a dispute about the electoral college total, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives.

...which votes by state delegation, not by Representative. If it's thrown to the House, Trump is re-elected, because Wyoming = California.
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


Every evil thing will be done under the cover of coronavirus. These people can't do anything useful for the populace but they have years of training in taking advantage of emergencies to line their own pockets.
posted by benzenedream at 12:12 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


Every evil thing will be done under the cover of coronavirus.

Like the proposed payroll tax break.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:55 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


So at today's shitshow of a press conference, they were 30 minutes late to their own thing. When asked about the slow response, Trump replied, "I don't take responsibility at all."

When pressed about who closed the CDC task force on pandemics (hint: it was him!), he said, "That's a nasty question... When you say ME, I didn’t do it.”

Somehow the stock market went up during the proceedings, but I doubt it will stay. Also, the market is besides the point, it is the thousands and thousands at risk by this do-nothing fool and his gang of sycophants.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:30 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


The powers of the president (and FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor) under the Stafford Act (signed into law on November 23, 1988, and as amended by The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018) ("As of December 18, 2015, the definition of Private Nonprofit Facility at section 102(11)(B) includes 'broadcasting facilities'") are rife for abuse under this administration.

Iran is digging "Coronavirus burial pits so vast they’re visible from space" (WaPo, March 12, 2020), including white mounds of lime, leading analysts to suspect "that the number of people struck down by the virus there is significantly higher than the official figure" of 429; meanwhile, The US retaliatory strikes on an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, briefly explained (Vox, March 13, 2020): A day after an Iran-backed militia killed one British and two American troops in Iraq, the United States responded by bombing five of the group’s weapons facilities on Thursday night — escalating an already intense rivalry with Tehran that could turn into a bigger war.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:37 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Another day, another incompetent Republican president who couldn't win the popular vote gets caught with his pants down in a crisis and people die as a result.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:41 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


So at today's shitshow of a press conference, they were 30 minutes late to their own thing. When asked about the slow response, Trump replied, "I don't take responsibility at all."

When pressed about who closed the CDC task force on pandemics (hint: it was him!), he said, "That's a nasty question... When you say ME, I didn’t do it.”


The buck does definitely not stop here. I mean, some people are saying it’s the best buck they have ever seen, and believe me, this is a tremendous buck which is getting more and more recognition, but I will do everything in my power — and you know, I have amazing powers that no one knows about— everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t stop here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:44 PM on March 13 [11 favorites]


James Dannenberg resigns from Supreme Court Bar via open letter to Chief Justice John Roberts (Dahlia Lithwick)
It is clear to me that your Court is willfully hurtling back to the cruel days of Lochner and even Plessy. The only constitutional freedoms ultimately recognized may soon be limited to those useful to wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males— and the corporations they control. This is wrong. Period. This is not America.
The letter is fire.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:52 PM on March 13 [29 favorites]


I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it. (Beth Cameron, WaPo Perspective)
When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic.

One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19.

[...] It’s unclear whether the decision to disband the directorate, which was made in May 2018, after John Bolton became national security adviser, was a tactical move to downgrade the issue or whether it was part of the White House’s interest in simplifying and shrinking the National Security Council staff. Either way, it left an unclear structure and strategy for coordinating pandemic preparedness and response. Experts outside government and on Capitol Hill called for the office’s reinstatement at the time.

Its absence now is all too evident. In his remarks Wednesday night, the president talked about travel bans and the resilience of the U.S. economy but made little specific mention of the public health crisis unfolding across America — exactly the kind of detail a dedicated NSC pandemics infrastructure would have pushed to address.

[...] Covid-19 wasn’t preventable, but it was predictable. Hopefully, its impact can still be limited. But it is well past time for the U.S. government to show the leadership required for an effective domestic and global response. We need to start sprinting. Come April and May, no one will wish the United States had done less.
posted by katra at 10:28 PM on March 13 [15 favorites]


JUST IN: House Overwhelmingly Passes Coronavirus Response Bill (Reed Richardson, Mediaite)
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Democrats’ coronavirus response bill by a 363 – 40 margin on early Saturday morning, setting up its speedy passage through the Senate and signing by President Donald Trump early next week.

The suspension bill, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, gained Trump’s key endorsement on Friday evening, ensuring its passage despite objections from 40 House Republicans, who voted against it. The primary aid suggestion floated by the White Hosue, a payroll tax holiday through December 2020, was not part of the bill.

Instead, this legislation, negotiated between Democratic leaders, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, includes key measures to speed the medical campaign against the pandemic — among them free COVID-19 testing for all Americans — and to alleviate the economic impact upon the country’s workers — including new paid sick and family leave benefits as well as expanded unemployment insurance, food security, and Medicaid — due to the widespread, public health-directed shutdowns.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:34 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


McConnell took the weekend off, so nothing happens with this bill until Monday.

GOP Senators should go up on manslaughter charges for this.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:57 PM on March 13 [11 favorites]


Judge Blocks Rule That Would Have Kicked 700,000 People Off SNAP (Maria Godoy, NPR)
A federal judge has issued an injunction blocking the Trump administration from adopting a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.

In a ruling issued Friday evening in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell called the rule change capricious, arbitrary and likely unlawful.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:50 AM on March 14 [17 favorites]


The primary aid suggestion floated by the White Hosue, a payroll tax holiday through December 2020, was not part of the bill.

That's a battle for another day. The current bill explicitly avoided the contentious argument over aid to households. Nancy Pelosi has said that they will begin work on another bill next week to tackle that issue.

The Republican proposal is a payroll tax cut which regressively gives more money to higher income households. It also encourages sick people to go to work since you don't get the tax break unless you are working. It could also evolve into a stealth attack on Social Security since the payroll tax funds Social Security.

The Democratic proposal is for direct check payments to all households. Everyone get the the same amount. Republicans really, really hate this idea. But Trump, who cares nothing about himself and his re-election will probably twist Republicans arms with his tweets. Trump doesn't care about the citizens. He cares about his election. Unfortunately, Democrats, by making Trump look good, hurt their own election chances.
posted by JackFlash at 9:28 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


'I don't take responsibility': Trump shakes hands and spreads blame over coronavirus (David Smith, Guardian)
The wartime president Harry Truman used to keep a sign on his desk that said: “The buck stops here.” Trump, however, seems eager to wash his hands of the matter, if not actually wash his hands. “Yeah, no, I don’t take responsibility at all, because we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” he said. “It wasn’t meant for this kind of an event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about.”

Then Yamiche Alcindor of PBS asked why, in 2018, Trump had dissolved the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and biodefense. Like a schoolboy caught red-handed, he blustered: “Well, I just think it’s a nasty question because what we’ve done is – and Tony has said numerous times that we’ve saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing. And when you say ‘me’, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people I could – ”
Trump’s False Claims About His Response to the Coronavirus (NYT)
Mr. Trump said he was not responsible for disbanding the White House’s pandemic team.

[...] The top White House official tasked with leading the country’s response to a pandemic left the administration in May 2018 and his team was disbanded by Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton, The Washington Post has reported. While there is no evidence that Mr. Trump personally directed the ousting of these officials, he also did not replace them in the nearly two years since, despite repeated bipartisan urgings from lawmakers and experts.
Trump is breaking every rule in the CDC’s 450-page playbook for health crisis (WaPo)
[...] the Trump administration’s zigzagging, defensive, inconsistent messages about the novel coronavirus continued Friday, breaking almost every rule in the book and eroding the most powerful weapon officials possess: Public trust.

After disastrous communications during the 2001 anthrax attacks — when white powder in envelopes sparked widespread panic — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a 450-page manual outlining how U.S. leaders should talk to the public during crises. [...] The fundamental principles behind good public health communication are almost stunningly simple: Be consistent. Be accurate. Don’t withhold vital information, the CDC manual says. And above all, don’t let anyone onto the podium without the preparation, knowledge and discipline to deliver vital health messages.
posted by katra at 9:51 AM on March 14 [11 favorites]


‘Blinded by greed’: Financial reporter examines Deutche Bank’s disturbing relationship with Donald Trump (Alex Henderson, Alternet)
The banking sector in general has received more than its share of scathing critiques since the economic crash of September 2008 and the Great Recession, but no bank has been more controversial in the Trump era than Germany’s Deutsche Bank. In his new book, “Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction,” journalist David Enrich (known for his finance reporting for the New York Times) delves into President Trump’s relationship with Deutsche. And Enrich discusses the book in a Q&A interview (English translation) with the German weekly Der Spiegel (which means “The Mirror” in German).

Speaking to Der Spiegel’s Alexander Sarovic, Enrich explained that Deutsche Bank “has been involved in really serious scandals all over the world, ranging from money laundering and manipulating markets to violating international sanctions — from bribing public officials to deceiving governments and regulators.” And according to Enrich, Deutsche helped Trump win the United States’ presidential election in 2016.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:26 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


Then: Reporters reveal forgotten detail of how Sen. Susan Collins sabotaged pandemic preparedness funds (Julia Conley, Alternet)
Political observers on social media pointed to an overlooked vote by Sen. Susan Collins from over a decade ago as one example of Republicans’ disregard for public health, which has helped the coronavirus outbreak rapidly spin out of control in the U.S. as the government lags behind other industrialized countries in tracking and controlling the spread of the disease.

Roll Call correspondent Niels Lesniewski highlighted an April 2009 article from the publication in which Collins was forced to defend her refusal to include pandemic flu funding in an economic stimulus package two months earlier, several months into the Great Recession.
Now: Susan Collins criticizes federal coronavirus response, urging Trump to ‘step back’ (Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News)
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins criticized the federal government’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak on Friday, characterizing the Trump administration’s messaging as “inconsistent” while saying testing “should be more available than it is.”

The Maine Republican took questions from reporters after meeting leaders from medical groups in Augusta. Collins said she thought President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for incorrectly saying that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu and Americans who want tests can get them, should “step back” from a public response to the virus.

“It is very important that health professionals be out front and that there be a consistent message,” Collins said, suggesting that the president appoint a public health official, such as Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to lead messaging, and that the federal government hold daily briefings.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:50 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


The House coronavirus bill’s paid leave provision would leave out millions of workers (Anya van Wagtendonk, Vox)
The House of Representatives passed a sweeping coronavirus financial aid package early Saturday morning aimed at easing the economic toll that the novel coronavirus takes on individuals. Passed with bipartisan support, the emergency measure strengthens existing unemployment insurance and food assistance programs, and will provide free diagnostic testing for the virus.

But another portion of the bill, providing paid leave options for people who are infected or need to give care, has been criticized for a key shortcoming: it doesn’t cover everyone. In a country with no federal paid leave program, millions of Americans receive no paid leave through their employer, either. While some local jurisdictions, including 12 states and Washington, DC, have their own paid leave programs, a quarter of American workers, or about 33.6 million, receive no form of paid sick leave, with the lowest-paid workers being especially vulnerable.

In the face of a virus that has been deemed a global pandemic, limiting exposure to other people is a central means of staving off the spread. Allowing people to stay home and self-isolate is a key part of that effort. But even if H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, is enacted, millions of working people will still be left without a way to take time off from work and continue to make a living.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:16 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


11 March: Trump Is Seething Over Having to Work With Pelosi on a Coronavirus Response (Daily Beast)
Among other things, the president fears that the House Speaker would use a private meeting to try and embarrass him.
12 March: Trump Is Scared of Being Humiliated By Pelosi Again (Washington Monthly)
Even in the midst of a national crisis, the president is consumed with nursing his fragile ego.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:24 PM on March 14 [8 favorites]


14 March: Trump World Descended on Mar-a-Lago as It Became a Coronavirus Petri Dish (Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast)
President Donald Trump’s treatment of the coronavirus pandemic gained a sense of urgency late last week, just as he was forced to grapple with a potential outbreak among his inner circle and at his favorite Florida club.

Two individuals who tested positive at a party last Saturday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, and one more at a Republican fundraiser at the club the next morning, brought the reality of the pandemic right to Trump’s doorstep. But the severity of the exposure may not be fully appreciated.

Those present at the events, according to a Daily Beast scouring of public social media posts, included Trump family members, administration and campaign aides, donors, activists, at least one staffer for an allied U.S. senator, and some of the president’s most prominent media boosters.

The prospect of an outbreak amid the president’s inner circle was a wake-up call for a president who was initially reluctant to acknowledge the potential scale of the pandemic and convinced that his enemies were inflating its dangers to damage him. On Friday, just hours after his doctor said Trump wouldn’t need to be tested for coronavirus, he was, in fact, tested. The White House announced late Saturday that the test came back negative.
Emphasis added.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:28 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


[Guys it's not a megathread]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:31 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME THAT HE'S NEGATIVE
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:36 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Let's not jump to conclusions. The white house announced that he's negative. That doesn't mean he is. Even if he's positive, the white house wouldn't admit it until he's barfing on foreign leaders.
posted by mrgoat at 5:49 PM on March 14 [15 favorites]


I would expect Trump to tweet that it was positive, the greatest test ever.
posted by JackFlash at 7:30 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Every last medical report we've seen from Trump, since before the 2016 election even, has been clearly dishonest across the board. I can't see how anyone in their right mind would assume this announced test result indicates anything about the actual truth one way or the other. We'll have to see if he becomes visibly symptomatic.
posted by bcd at 9:58 PM on March 14 [23 favorites]


Looks Like McConnell Wants GOP-Appointed Judges to Retire Now Because He Fears Trump Loss in 2020 (Colin Kalmbacher, Law & Crime)
According to the New York Times, McConnell is currently in the process of asking GOP-appointed judges who are eligible for retirement to buy that little judicial farm in Florida and get off the bench posthaste.

Citing “multiple people with knowledge of his actions,” the outlet reports that McConnell has been reaching out to such judges and promising to replace them with like-minded so-called strict constructionist judges.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:24 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


the outlet reports that McConnell has been reaching out to such judges and promising to replace them with like-minded so-called strict constructionist judges.

And people get all outraged when anyone suggests that the next Democratic president do some court packing.
posted by JackFlash at 3:10 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


On Fox News, suddenly a very different tune about the coronavirus (WaPo)
For weeks, some of Fox News’s most popular hosts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, characterizing it as a conspiracy by media organizations and Democrats to undermine President Trump. Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity and Laura In­graham accused the news media of whipping up “mass hysteria” and being “panic pushers.” Fox Business host Trish Regan called the alleged media-Democratic alliance “yet another attempt to impeach the president.”

But that was then.

With Trump’s declaration on Friday that the virus constitutes a national emergency, the tone on Fox News has quickly shifted. [...] Trump, meanwhile, has long looked to Fox News and its personalities for guidance and approval, a dynamic that may have been pivotal this week after host Tucker Carlson reportedly visited with the president in person to urge him to take the coronavirus seriously.

[...] Regan’s on-air speculation at the start of last week that coronavirus was merely another impeachment gambit for Democrats drew widespread pushback. Clearly the mood was changing at Fox by the time the network announced late Friday that her discussion-and-commentary program on Fox Business would leave the air indefinitely, to be replaced by long-form programming — part of a larger overhaul of the prime-time schedule, Fox officials said, intended to free up resources that would help bolster coverage of the crisis during “critical market hours.”

[...] Then on Sunday, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) appeared on Fox News and urged Americans to “stop panicking” and for those who are healthy to “just go out.” [...] Fauci and other specialists have urged people not to gather in restaurants, and several states have ordered the closure of bars, restaurants and food courts. Anchor Maria Bartiromo offered no response to Nunes’s comment. On Monday, a day later, Fox News contributor Nicole Saphier, a doctor, specifically called out the congressman on air to contradict his advice and told viewers to stay home.
posted by katra at 7:18 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Remember, kids: Never Waste A Good Crisis
posted by pseudophile at 9:02 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


The DOJ is now just a subsidiary of Trump Inc.
posted by valkane at 9:17 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


That case has summer complicating factors.
prosecutors said they had to weigh the risk of potentially exposing sensitive national security information against the benefits of continuing with the case against a company that likely wouldn’t face any significant punishment in the U.S.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:34 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


[Couple deleted; folks I'm not sure why coronavirus-mishandling stuff is in here. This thread is about fallout from the impeachment, such as retaliation against those witnesses etc. It's not a megathread about general everything.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:37 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


U.S. judge freezes House lawsuit seeking President Trump’s IRS tax records (WaPo, March 20, 2020) The judge said he will wait at least until an appeals court rules on whether Congress, in a separate case related to former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn, can sue to compel executive branch officials to testify. U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden of Washington indicated that the hold in the tax records case could go on longer if the McGahn case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The House sued the administration in July after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with a subpoena for Trump’s business and tax records issued in May. The Justice Department has sought to toss out the case for Trump’s tax records, based on White House claims of immunity from congressional oversight. [...]

It remains unclear whether appeals in the McGahn case can be resolved before the House request for Trump’s tax returns expires when this term of Congress ends after November’s election.

posted by Iris Gambol at 3:39 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden

How is this not prefaced with "Federalist Society member, Trump supporter, donor and appointee, and volunteer member of Trump's transition team"?

And don't miss this gem of logic from the linked article:

McFadden said he was “dubious” about the department’s claim that Congress cannot go to court to enforce its legal demand for information because doing so would “supplant the centuries-old process of political negotiation” between the executive and legislative branches.
posted by zueod at 5:51 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]


posted by LobsterMitten (staff) : [Couple deleted; folks I'm not sure why coronavirus-mishandling stuff is in here. This thread is about fallout from the impeachment, such as retaliation against those witnesses etc. It's not a megathread about general everything.]

Do we have a corona mishandling thread? I found some covid-19 threads, but none of them, in scanning the search snips, seem to be about the mishandling. But it's been a long day, in a long week, and I'm willing to admit I may have missed it.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:27 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Do we have a corona mishandling thread?
Perhaps "The Politics of the Pandemic"?
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:36 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus crisis is being discussed in the Modelling 2019-nCOV outbreak thread, which focuses on the progression and prediction of the spread, as well as in the #StayTheFuckHome: A Movement to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic thread, which focuses on containment and mitigation efforts.
posted by katra at 10:47 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]




Do we have a corona mishandling thread?

Am putting together a few words for an FPP.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:18 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]




Side note from today's Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson)
History has an annoying way of moving glacially, glacially, glacially... until it suddenly turns on a dime. We are in one of those sudden changes. Nothing brought that home to me more than a question from a reader asking where Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani had gone. Just over a month ago he was in the headlines as we learned that the Department of Justice had set up a system to receive information from Giuliani about Hunter Biden and his insistence-- contrary to all our Intelligence agencies-- that it was Ukraine and not Russia that attacked our 2016 election. Today, just over a month later, I had to google him to find out where he'd gone. He has apparently started his own youtube channel to show that the conspiracy he claims to have uncovered in Ukraine reaches all the way through the Democratic party leadership.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:16 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


House Judiciary Committee postpones March 31 Barr hearing (Politico)
House Democrats had billed Attorney General Bill Barr’s March 31 testimony as a crucial opportunity to unearth answers about President Donald Trump’s efforts to influence Justice Department decisions related to two former associates. Now the Judiciary Committee has postponed it indefinitely.

The hearing is the latest to succumb to the lockdown on Capitol Hill, where only the Senate remains in session attempting to hammer out a massive coronavirus relief package. All matters not related to coronavirus have been effectively shelved.

[...] “Due to overwhelming health and safety concerns, the @HouseJudiciary will postpone our March 31st oversight hearing with Attorney General Barr,” the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), tweeted on Monday afternoon. “DOJ has made a commitment to rescheduling the hearing for when the crisis abates and the Committee is able to reconvene.”

[...] The decision underscores the fact that nearly all inquiries and investigations led by Congress are on pause amid the coronavirus response, which has superseded nearly everything else in American life.
posted by katra at 1:19 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Thank you katra. Amidst this pandemic there is a LOT of shenanigans going on to keep the death cult going.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:37 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


us court of appeals for the 1st circuit upholds district court invalidation of DoJ rules conditioning federal law enforcement grants upon rhode island "sanctuary" cities' assisting federal immigration laws and policies, joining the 9th and 7th circuits (more or less) in split with 2nd circuit, which held for DoJ. opinion of judge selya (with judge barron and associate justice souter) in city of providence and city of central falls v. barr.
We have carefully considered the district court's useful rescript, the comprehensive briefs of the parties and the amici, the DOJ's kitchen-sink-full of clever legal arguments, and the thoughtful but conflicting views of sister circuits. At the end of the day, we conclude that the DOJ's reach exceeds its grasp; it lacked authority to impose the challenged conditions.
from the introduction, promising further interesting diction within.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:07 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Dems tread cautiously on Trump investigations after impeachment (Kyle Cheney, Politico)
Since Trump's Feb. 5 acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, the Democrats who led the prosecution have taken no public steps to reignite the probe that threatened Trump's presidency — his effort to get Ukraine to investigate his political adversaries — despite arguing at trial that there were reams of evidence yet to emerge.

They've issued no new subpoenas or requests for witness interviews and documents, and they've made no new efforts to go to court to pry loose evidence blocked by the White House. Separate efforts to access Trump's financial records and other potentially damaging evidence about his conduct have been bottled up in courts for months.

As a result, the investigations that animated the House's Trump-focused oversight work since taking the majority in 2019 has gone relatively quiet — just as Trump has embarked on a government-wide retribution campaign and appeared less restrained than ever before.

The change in posture is an acknowledgment, House Democrats say, that in a world where Senate Republicans are bear-hugging Trump, and the courts are declining to operate at the speed of the congressional calendar, there are very few options that a single chamber of Congress can pursue short of withholding funds for agencies like the Justice Department — particularly when impeachment is no longer in their election-year arsenal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:42 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


No, impeachment didn’t ‘distract’ Trump from coronavirus (Joshua A. Geltzer, WaPo Opinion)
The new talking point of President Trump’s media allies is that his lackluster response to the coronavirus isn’t his fault but the fault of those who pursued impeachment by distracting him. Breitbart’s Joel Pollak wrote a timeline of the events with a headline of “Democrats Pushed Impeachment While Coronavirus Spread.” Sean Hannity referenced Pollak’s piece and said Democrats “were in the throes” of a quest to remove Trump from office.

This notion is so farcical that many Americans will rightly dismiss it out of hand (after all, we expect our presidents to be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time). But it’s not simply that impeachment didn’t distract Trump from coronavirus. Rather, impeachment indicated how he would respond, from his refusal to face facts, his abuse of public trust for private gain and his sidelining of actual government expertise in favor of outside channels. All of these traits were on vivid display during Trump’s impeachment, and all of it has defined his appalling response to the coronavirus — with deadly results.

Trump’s impeachment was triggered by his refusal to face facts. In fixating on Ukraine, Trump held doggedly to a conspiracy theory [...] That belief was utterly baseless, yet Trump clung to it, even after his first homeland security adviser told Trump repeatedly that the conspiracy theory had been “completely debunked.” Similarly, in the face of World Health Organization projections, reports trickling out of China, and widespread coverage of mounting fatalities in Italy, Trump refused to face facts. On separate occasions, he claimed that the virus was “totally under control”; that the United States had “pretty much shut it down coming in from China”; that “within a couple of days” the outbreak in the United States “is going to be down close to zero”; and even that “we’re very close to a vaccine.” None of this was even close to true; but in much the same way his defiance of basic facts set in motion his impeachment, Trump insisted on it.

Trump was also impeached for using the federal government for personal gain rather than public interest, contrary to his oath of office. [...] That same instinct has been on display with the coronavirus. [...]

Just as Trump was warned by his own intelligence agencies about the danger posed by pandemics and indeed by the coronavirus specifically, the U.S. Senate was, through impeachment, warned about Trump and his abuse of power. It’s insufficient to laugh off the notion that Trump’s impeachment somehow excuses his atrocious performance in the face of coronavirus. It’s more profound: Trump’s impeachment foreshadowed precisely this failure. Now, we’re all stuck with the choice the Senate made — with life-or-death consequences.
posted by katra at 2:36 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


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