Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Last Call For Johnny Come Lately

Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson says that health issues are forcing him to retire at the end of 2019, meaning both of Georgia's senate seats will be up for grabs in 2020.

Isakson, a three-term Republican, said he decided to resign because of the “mounting health challenges” that include several falls from Parkinson’s disease and surgery this week to remove a growth on his kidney.
“It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state,” the 74-year-old Isakson said in a statement.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, will appoint a replacement for Isakson, who was elected to a third term by a wide margin in 2016. Though Isakson’s term doesn’t expire until 2022, the timing of his retirement means the seat will be on the ballot next year.

Three Georgia Democrats have already announced challenges to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a first-term Republican who is up for election in 2020. Isakson’s seat will likely draw several other Democrats, who see Georgia as increasingly competitive.

It’s not yet clear who Kemp will appoint to fill Isakson’s seat, though potential candidates include Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, state Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Among the potential Democratic contenders for the seat are the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; Jon Ossoff, a former candidate for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District; Jason Carter, the runner-up for governor in 2014; and Michelle Nunn, who was defeated by David Perdue in the 2014 Senate race.

Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost last year’s race for governor and earlier ruled out a 2020 bid for Perdue’s seat, said through a spokesman that she would not run next year. Instead, she said, she’s focused on an expansion of her voting rights initiative

“While she will not be a candidate herself, she is committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year,” said the spokesman, Seth Bringman.

So to recap, Isakson is retiring, Brian Kemp gets to name a replacement for 2020, both Senate seats are up from grabs, and Stacey Abrams isn't running for either one.

Dems just got handed the opportunity of a generation here, a shot at two Senate seats in a rapidly purpling Southern state with a wildly unpopular Trump at the top of the ticket.

Let's see this done, guys.

The Great Wall Of Fascism

In any remotely sane section of the multiverse, this Washington Post story would be the end of the Trump regime.

President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

Trump has repeatedly promised to complete 500 miles of fencing by the time voters go to the polls in November 2020, stirring chants of “Finish the Wall!” at his political rallies as he pushes for tighter border controls. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of “replacement” barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure.
The president has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat. With the election 14 months away and hundreds of miles of fencing plans still in blueprint form, Trump has held regular White House meetings for progress updates and to hasten the pace, according to several people involved in the discussions.

When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials who attended the meetings.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he has told officials in meetings about the wall.

“He said people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election,” one former official said.

I mean, that would be it right there.  Both House and Senate Republicans would say this is unacceptable and that they would expect Mr. Trump to resign immediately.

Sadly, nothing will happen.  Well, right up until armed troops come in and start taking people's land for the wall, that is.

But he's joking, right?

It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the prosecution of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for his involvement in the Muller investigation.  More than anyone else, Trump sees McCabe as a traitor, because to Donald Trump, the chief goal of the FBI is to protect DOnald Trump and his interests.  McCabe refused to play that game and was fired days before his retirement pension became effective.  Trump has been grumbling about McCabe on Twitter ever since.

But last week McCabe was hired by CNN as an on-air commentator, and that was Trump's final straw.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who became one of President Donald Trump’s top enemies within his own administration, is joining CNN as a contributor, a network spokesperson said. His first day is Friday.

McCabe spent two decades in the FBI before he was fired in March 2018 by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions just more than 24 hours before his planned retirement.

The CNN gig comes as McCabe is fighting that termination in court. Earlier this month, McCabe filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that his removal was part of a scheme by the president to remove government employees “because they were not politically loyal to him.”

McCabe’s hiring was reported earlier by CNN’s senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.
The Justice Department said he was fired because he broke FBI rules by improperly disclosing information to the press related to an investigation into Hillary Clinton. A Justice Department inspector general report later found McCabe had “lacked candor, including under oath” in describing those disclosures to investigators.

Neither the Justice Department nor the White House immediately responded to a request for comment. A formal response to McCabe’s lawsuit is not due in court until October.

That was last week.  Over the weekend, Trump decided that McCabe is going to jail and his Justice Department is going to bury McCabe in a box somewhere.

Federal prosecutors in Washington appear to be in the final stages of deciding whether to seek an indictment of Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump, on charges of lying to federal agents, according to interviews with people familiar with recent developments in the investigation.

In two meetings last week, Mr. McCabe’s lawyers met with the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who is expected to be involved in the decision about whether to prosecute, and for more than an hour with the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, according to a person familiar with the meetings. The person would not detail the discussions, but defense lawyers typically meet with top law enforcement officials to try to persuade them not to indict their client if they failed to get line prosecutors to drop the case.

An indictment of a former top F.B.I. official is extremely rare and would be the latest chapter in the saga of Mr. McCabe, who was fired last year over the issue now under criminal investigation — whether he failed to be forthcoming with internal investigators examining the F.B.I.’s dealings with the news media.

An indictment would be certain to draw praise from Mr. Trump, who has made his attacks on Mr. McCabe a centerpiece of his yearslong campaign to discredit the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the Russia investigation.

As Ben Wittes of Lawfare points out, the fact that this story made the NY Times means McCabe is now absolutely facing imminent political prosecution.

Let me translate this paragraph for you: Such meetings generally take place when indictment is imminent; they happen when the government plans to bring charges. You should thus expect charges against McCabe to be forthcoming any day. And if such charges don’t happen, that doesn’t mean they weren’t planned but, rather, that some extrinsic event has intervened.

Why is that shocking? Because as best as I can tell, the facts available on the public record simply don’t support such charges. The only visible factor militating in favor of the Justice Department charging McCabe, in fact, is that the department has been on the receiving end of a sustained campaign by President Trump demanding McCabe’s scalp.

To be sure, the inspector general’s report that prompted McCabe’s firing paints a deeply troubling portrait of McCabe’s conduct. It describes, in brief, how McCabe authorized an October 2016 disclosure on background to the Wall Street Journal and then misrepresented his role in the story on several occasions—including to the inspector general. I have no reason to disbelieve the inspector general’s account of this episode and no interest in defending McCabe’s alleged conduct. While McCabe has disputed the findings, he has not—at least not as of yet—presented a plausible alternative narrative that accounts for the facts the inspector general recounts. My point here is thus not to suggest that McCabe did nothing wrong.

But criminal charges? At least based on what’s in the inspector general’s report, this is very far from a criminal case. Criminal dispositions on false statements matters in internal investigations are exceptionally rare. Absent some gross aggravating factor, I struggle to think of any other examples. Workplace false statements are normally handled through internal disciplinary means, not criminal charges. There are countless public cases of gross misconduct and lies about that misconduct that are routinely declined as criminal matters.

But not this time, because Trump called up his Attorney General over the weekend and said "This McCabe asshole is not gonna be on CNN, you put him in prison or else."  You can make the argument that CNN messed up by hiring McCabe because he's too close to the news still and it probably did.

But sending him to prison is far worse and far more indicative of corruption and abuse of power. Bill Barr is doing what Trump hired him to do.

Expect more political prosecutions coming.  Lots more.  


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