Saturday, May 9, 2020

Last Call For Trump Goes Viral, Con't

As Greg Sargent calls out, the White House has exactly the kind of rapid, through and robust COVID-19 testing protocols that Donald Trump refuses to make available for the American people because they're not necessary for the rest of us serfs.

Katie Miller, the wife of adviser Stephen Miller, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The infection of Ms. Miller, a close adviser to Vice President Pence, means potential exposure to President Trump’s inner circle — so reporters are raising questions about White House internal testing policies.

The White House has indicated to reporters that Pence and many members of his staff have been getting tested daily, and Pence and Trump appear not to have had contact with Katie Miller recently.

Meanwhile, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany sought to reassure the news media that the White House testing procedures are sound. I wanted to draw attention to this quote from McEnany:

“We have put in place the guidelines that our experts have put forward to keep this building safe, which means contact tracing," McEnany told reporters during Friday’s news briefing. "All of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers, we are now putting them in place here in the White House. So as America reopens safely, the White House is continuing to operate safely.”

The careful reader will note a jarring juxtaposition here. McEnany claims both that the United States is reopening safely and that the White House is operating safely. But only one of these two — the White House — actually has the sort of testing regime the White House itself is now implicitly acknowledging is a prerequisite to safety.
The rest of the country largely lacks this level of testing — because Trump doesn’t want to take the steps necessary to stand up a robust federal testing regime.

The rub here is that the guidelines by themselves (which McEnany referenced) aren’t enough. Equipment and resources are also necessary.

Trump, Pence and their aides have access to rapid and regular testing, which is also given to those who meet with them. They have access to the resources that enable the very sort of safe testing regime McEnany described here.

It’s true that the fact that Miller tested positive — as one of Trump’s valets did earlier this week — shows that having robust testing isn’t absolutely foolproof. The coronavirus can still get in. But as Philip Bump notes, having that intensity of testing is exactly what prevented it from spreading.

Trump and his staff get tested and tested regularly.  We on the other hand get to wait in line for tests that just aren't available and never will be.

And remember, Trump's own rabid base is being told testing is not needed to be a Real American Warrior and to go back to work without a mask.  They either don't notice the ridiculous hypocrisy or they are glad to die for the God-Emperor of Stupid.

And if you still think we don't need testing:

These plants have hundreds of sick workers each.  These workers have traveled all over the Midwest.  Cases and deaths will continue to rise. And Donald Trump is both mentally and emotionally unable to lead the country out of this disaster...a disaster the White House now officially believes is over.

In a week when the novel coronavirus ravaged new communities across the country and the number of dead soared past 78,000, President Trump and his advisers shifted from hour-by-hour crisis management to what they characterize as a long-term strategy aimed at reviving the decimated economy and preparing for additional outbreaks this fall.

But in doing so, the administration is effectively bowing to — and asking Americans to accept — a devastating proposition: that a steady, daily accumulation of lonely deaths is the grim cost of reopening the nation.

Inside the West Wing, some officials talk about the federal government’s mitigation mission as largely accomplished because they believe the nation’s hospitals are now equipped to meet anticipated demand — even as health officials warn the number of coronavirus cases could increase considerably in May and June as more states and localities loosen restrictions, and some mitigation efforts are still recommended as states begin to reopen.

The administration is struggling to expand the scale of testing to what experts say is necessary to reopen businesses safely, and officials have not announced any national plan for contact tracing. Trump and some of his advisers are prioritizing the psychology of the pandemic as much as, if not more than, plans to combat the virus, some aides and outside advisers said — striving to instill confidence that people can comfortably return to daily life despite the rising death toll.

On Friday, as the unemployment rate reached a historically high 14.7 percent, Trump urged Americans to think of this period as a “transition to greatness,” adding during a meeting with Republican members of Congress: “We’re going to do something very fast, and we’re going to have a phenomenal year next year.” The president predicted the virus eventually would disappear even without a vaccine — a prediction at odds with his own science officials.

A White House spokesman defended the status of testing by pointing to comments in mid-April by two of the medical professionals on the task force, Anthony S. Fauci and Adm. Brett Giroir, saying there have been enough tests to safely reopen the country.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also backed the administration’s response, saying, “President Trump is committed to a data-driven approach to safely reopening the country. His steadfast leadership has saved American lives, and the American people recognize his leadership.”

Some of Trump’s advisers described the president as glum and shell-shocked by his declining popularity. In private conversations, he has struggled to process how his fortunes suddenly changed from believing he was on a glide path to reelection to realizing that he is losing to the likely Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, in virtually every poll, including his own campaign’s internal surveys, advisers said. He also has been fretting about the possibility that a bad outbreak of the virus this fall could damage his standing in the November election, said the advisers, who along with other aides and allies requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The president is also eager to resume political travel in June, including holding his signature rallies by the end of the summer in areas where there are few cases, advisers said. Trump’s political team has begun discussions about organizing a high-dollar, in-person fundraiser next month, as well as preliminary planning about staging rallies and what sort of screenings might be necessary, according to Republican National Committee officials and outsider advisers. One option being considered is holding rallies outdoors, rather than in enclosed arenas, a senior administration official said.

Officials also are forging ahead with the Republican National Convention planned for late August in Charlotte, albeit a potentially scaled-back version.

Once again:

We are being sacrificed for Trump.  We are being told to accept 2,000 deaths a day as the New Normal, and that toll is going to increase dramatically over the next few weeks as the true cost of "re-opening the economy" becomes bloodily apparent.

When do we say hell no to this?

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The investigation into the race-driven murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia continues, as the suspects, Greg McMichael and his son Travis, were arrested Thursday afternoon for the February murder, and now we know exactly why it took so long: The elder McMichael worked for and was friends with the county DA, Jackie Johnson.

Two Glynn County commissioners say District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office refused to allow the Glynn County Police Department to make arrests immediately after the Feb. 23 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

The GBI announced the arrests of Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Greg McMichael, 64, on Thursday - more than two months after the fatal shooting. They were denied bond Friday afternoon.

“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them. These were the police at the scene who had done the investigation,” Commissioner Allen Booker, who has spoken with Glynn County police, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”

Greg McMichael, now retired, once worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office.

Commissioner Peter Murphy, who also said he spoke directly to Glynn County police about the incident, said officers at the scene concluded they had probable cause to make arrests and contacted Johnson’s office to inform the prosecutor of their decision.

“They were told not to make the arrest,” Murphy said.

Johnson recused herself from the case within days of the shooting. Her office has not responded to a request to comment on the commissioners’ account of what happened, or on the case in general.

Arbery would have turned 26 today.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.

Friday morning, GBI Director Vic Reynolds told reporters another arrest could be forthcoming. He also noted that by statute, the GBI’s involvement in a local case must be requested and declined to comment on how other agencies have handled the case.

“In a perfect world would we have liked to have been involved in February? Of course,” Reynolds said. “But it’s not a perfect world.” 
Reynolds confirmed the harrowing video capturing Ahmaud Arbery’s death on Feb. 23 was made by William Bryan, who had helped Greg and Travis McMichael pursue Arbery as he ran through the Satilla Shores community just south of Brunswick.

“We’re investigating everyone involved in the case, including the individual who shot the video,” Reynolds said.

Again, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood would have never been prosecuted or even investigated if the video trophy hadn't been leaked, and frankly the case would have been closed under Georgia's stand your ground laws if the video hadn't been taken in the first place.

The McMichaels (and Bryan) would have 100% gotten away with murder otherwise.  Greg McMichael was a retired cop.  Retired cops don't get charged with murder.

As a side note, county prosecutor/district attorney/judge advocate elections matter. A local DA who dropped a felony murder charge because the suspect worked for her at one time and the victim was black should be facing a lifetime in prison along with the killers.

Johnson, the DA, recused herself because she had worked with Greg McMichael before.  But the second prosecutor, George Barnhill, also came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to charge the McMichaels and then recused himself after the Arbery family asked him to because Barnhill's son also worked for Jackie Johnson in the DA's office.  It went to a third DA, Tom Durden.

The NY Times picked up the story shortly after Durden became involved, then NBC News picked it up at the end of April.

And then the video spread Tuesday after Shaun King posted it on Twitter (side note numero dos, it may be the first real Black Lives Matter activist thing King has done in years in a career marked by grift and lies)  The police and the DA's office had the video all along, but again, nothing was going to be done about it. It was only after the video leaked and caused outrage across the country that Durden brought in the GBI, the arrests were made, and he pushed for the grand jury proceedings.

Without the video, the McMichaels get away with this. We were never, ever meant to see it, the case was never, ever supposed to go to grand jury, let alone trial.

This is 2020.  This level of massive injustice still exists daily.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

Barack Obama has weighed in on the Flynn meta-pardon, and as a legal scholar, Obama is brutal in his assessment.

Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it's the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”

Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury. But the Justice Department, in a filing with a federal judge on Thursday, asked that the case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller be dismissed, arguing that FBI agents did not have a justifiable reason to question the then national security adviser about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak — talks FBI agents and Mueller’s prosecutors concluded he had lied about.

Still, Obama’s unvarnished remarks were some of his sharpest yet about the Trump administration and appeared to forecast a dramatically stepped-up political role he intends to play in this year’s election. The comments came during a lengthy chat in which he also sharply criticized the response to the coronavirus pandemic, blaming it on the “tribal” trends that have been stoked by the president and his allies.
“This election that’s coming up on every level is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party. What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life. And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well. It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.

“That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden
,” he added.

Once again President Obama makes it very clear what the choice is in November, and I'm glad that the gloves are finally off.  We didn't listen to him last time, but something makes me thing we may actually not make the same mistake twice.

It's About Suppression, Con't

For all the endless complaining that Republicans do about how voting by mail is "fraud", the GOP sure does like to steal elections.

Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post. 
“You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”

Buck says he was merely asking Bremer to abide by a committee decision. 
At issue is the Republican primary for the District 10 seat currently held by Sen. Owen Hill, who’s term-limited. State Rep. Larry Liston and GOP activist David Stiver both ran for it. To qualify for the November ballot via the caucus and assembly process, a candidate must receive 30% of the vote from Republicans within the district. 
During a district assembly in March, Liston received 75% of the vote and Stiver just 24%, according to documents filed later in Denver District Court. Stiver complained the election was unfair, and the issue was taken up with the state central committee, which agreed, Buck said in an interview Wednesday. 
The central committee consists of nearly 500 members, including elected officials and county officers. About 200 were on the line during an April 17 conference call in which the group voted to place Stiver on the ballot for the seat, even though he failed to receive 30% of the district’s votes. After the vote, Buck asked Bremer, the District 10 chair, whether he would comply with the committee’s decision. 
“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call. 
“Uh, yes, sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state,” Bremer replied. 
“And will you do so?” Buck said. 
Bremer: “I will seek legal counsel as I am being asked to sign an affidavit that states Mr. Stiver received 30% of the vote. I need to seek legal counsel to find out if I am putting myself in jeopardy of a misdemeanor for doing that. ” 
Buck: “And you understand that it is the order of the central committee that you do so?”
Bremer: “I will consult with counsel. Yes, sir, I understand the central committee has ordered me to sign an affidavit stating that a candidate got 30% who did not. And I will seek legal counsel and determine if I am legally able to follow that.” 
Buck: “All right, Mr. Bremer, I understand your position; we will now move on.” 
Buck, a lawyer, told The Post on Wednesday that it has been the tradition in both parties for their committees to make such decisions.

Note here Buck isn't denying he basically committed a felony. His excuse is that COVID-19 makes elections hard and besides the Democrats do it too, so who cares?

But hey, the Supreme Court made it clear today that convicting state officials on fraud charges is no good.

The Supreme Court threw out fraud convictions on Thursday against two New Jersey officials involved in the "Bridgegate" political scandal, the George Washington Bridge traffic jam that rocked the administration of then-Gov. Chris Christie. 
Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Elena Kagan said that "for no reason" other than "political payback" the aides "used deception" to cut access lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the bridge. 
The move "jeopardized the safety of the town's residents," Kagan wrote, but concluded that "not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime." 
Bridget Anne Kelly, who served as an aide to Christie, and Bill Baroni, the deputy director of the Port Authority, were convicted for their roles in the scandal and ultimately sentenced to 13 and 18 months in 2017. Currently out on bond, they asked the Supreme Court to reverse their convictions.

The ruling is the latest example of the court narrowing the type of conduct by public officials that can be considered fraud under federal law. 
In recent years, the court has decisively narrowed the government's ability to charge public officials with federal crimes for corruption offenses, most notably in 2016 after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a businessman who wanted the governor to intervene on his behalf with state officials to benefit his business. 
"Once again, the Supreme Court has thrown out federal criminal convictions of public officials who, by their own admission, abused their power for corrupt and illegitimate purposes," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. 
"The harder question is whether Congress will respond to rulings like this one by expanding the scope of these laws, or whether we're going to end up with a world in which criminal liability for such nefarious conduct depends upon the color of one's collar," Vladeck added. 
Christie's aides argued that they were wrongly convicted and that prosecutors overreached when they charged them under various federal fraud statutes.
Kagan added that the aides' scheme did not aim to obtain money or property, and therefore they could not have violated wire fraud laws. 
In a statement to CNN, Christie says members of his administration were "dragged through the mud" since the case was first taken up by the Justice Department. 
"As many contended from the beginning, and as the court confirmed today, no federal crimes were ever committed in this matter by anyone in my administration. It is good for all involved that today justice has finally been done," Christie said.

So even if Buck was charged, corruption isn't a federal crime.  Colorado's state Supreme Court is refusing to hear the case for the same reason.

Finally, let's not forget that the Trump regime is now openly stating that it will sue Democratic states "into oblivion" to stop voting by mail.

President Donald Trump’s political operation is expanding its legal effort to stop Democrats from overhauling voting laws in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican National Committee and Trump reelection campaign are doubling their legal budget to $20 million as litigation spreads to an array of battleground states. With the virus likely to complicate in-person balloting in November, Democrats have been pushing to substantially ease remote voting restrictions — something the Trump campaign and RNC are aggressively fighting in the courts.

Trump, who has long been fixated on voter fraud, has taken a personal interest in the project. He is expected to discuss the legal maneuvering during a meeting with his political team Thursday.

The battle over voting laws — specifically Democrats' efforts to make it easier for people to vote remotely during the pandemic — has emerged as a key front in the general election showdown between the parties.

More than two dozen Republican operatives are focusing on the legal battles and have been closely coordinating with party officials at the state and local levels. The Trump campaign and RNC recently intervened in Nevada, where Democrats are pushing for the state to ease restrictions by mailing ballots to all registered voters. Republicans have also been active in New Mexico, where they fought back a similar Democratic-led lawsuit.

The legal skirmishing has also been taking place in such battlegrounds as Pennsylvania and Georgia. While Republicans say they are open to some changes amid the pandemic, they are opposed to many of the farther-reaching reforms Democrats are pursuing.

“We will not stand idly by while Democrats try to sue their way to victory in 2020,” said RNC chief of staff Richard Walters. “Democrats may be using the coronavirus as an excuse to strip away important election safeguards, but the American people continue to support commonsense protections that defend the integrity of our democratic processes.”

The RNC and Trump campaign initially announced in February that they would direct $10 million to legal fights. But the party, Walters said, is prepared to sue Democrats “into oblivion and spend whatever is necessary.”

Democrats have long pushed to ease voting restrictions. Marc Elias, a prominent election law attorney who is leading the party’s effort, said Democrats were currently focused on litigation in more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Many of the lawsuits, he said, involve expanding vote-by-mail rules.

He acknowledged, however, that the Republican Party’s massive investment is a hurdle.

“We’re not unrealistic about the fight that is ahead,” Elias said. “There is no question that Donald Trump and the Republican Party have made opposing voting rights a top priority for their campaign.”

We just have to accept that massive corruption and voter fraud by the GOP is standard in America, as one of the lawyers for the New Jersey plaintiffs argued.

"In an ideal world, public officials would always act solely in the best interest of the public," Roth argued. "But our world is decidedly not ideal, and politics is one of its inherent features, accepted as the cost of democratic accountability."

You play the game, you pay the cost.  Welcome to America.
Related Posts with Thumbnails