Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Last Call For Lowering The Barr, Con't

Attorney General Bill Barr is now openly tipping his hand as to what is coming in the plan to steal the 2020 election for Trump by disenfranchising millions of voters.

The Department of Justice has weakened its long-standing prohibition against interfering in elections, according to two department officials.

Avoiding election interference is the overarching principle of DOJ policy on voting-related crimes. In place since at least 1980, the policy generally bars prosecutors not only from making any announcement about ongoing investigations close to an election but also from taking public steps — such as an arrest or a raid — before a vote is finalized because the publicity could tip the balance of a race.

But according to an email sent Friday by an official in the Public Integrity Section in Washington, now if a U.S. attorney’s office suspects election fraud that involves postal workers or military employees, federal investigators will be allowed to take public investigative steps before the polls close, even if those actions risk affecting the outcome of the election.

The email announced “an exception to the general non-interference with elections policy.” The new exemption, the email stated, applied to instances in which “the integrity of any component of the federal government is implicated by election offenses within the scope of the policy including but not limited to misconduct by federal officials or employees administering an aspect of the voting process through the United States Postal Service, the Department of Defense or any other federal department or agency.”

Specifically citing postal workers and military employees is noteworthy, former DOJ officials said. But the exception is written so broadly that it could cover other types of investigations as well, they said.

Both groups have been falsely singled out, in different ways, by President Donald Trump and his campaign for being involved in voter fraud. Trump has repeatedly attempted to delegitimize ballots sent through the postal service, just as the country experiences increased voting by mail spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. He has also raised the specter that the ballots of military members, among whom he enjoys broad support, might be suppressed.

The DOJ and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Experts who reviewed the revision said they were concerned it could be exploited to help the DOJ bolster Trump’s campaign.

“It’s unusual that they’re carving out this exception,” said Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama. “It may be creating a predicate for the Justice Department to make inflated announcements about mail-in vote fraud and the like in the run-up to the election.”

I don't know what people were obviously expecting here other than Barr rescinding the non-interference policy just weeks before the election. Of course Barr will announce a "major probe into election mail fraud" that calls the results into question, and it will be in Trump states that Biden picks up from 2016. The probe will be as widespread as it needs to be in order from Trump to declare the election void and to simply assume power.

He's counting on it as an excuse to justify authoritarian violence. People still think Trump is going to simply give up and get indicted in January. As it becomes clear Trump is going to lose catastrophically, he'll become even more dangerous day after day.

The next three months and change are going to test America like it hasn't been tested in decades.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

The news last month that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf (The Bad Wolf™) was sitting on a DHS report outlining just how much of a domestic terrorism threat white supremacists militia groups were in the US in the Trump era turned out to be completely true, not that any ZVTS readers doubted the whole white supremacist domestic terrorism militia thing, or the whole Trump regime being less than truthful about the existence of the report thing.

In response to criticism that Donald Trump was quite literally asking white supremacist terrorist groups like the Proud Boys to "stand by" at the first presidential debate last week to be ready to commit election-related violence in his name, the DHS has released their full yearly domestic terrorism threat assessment, and it's gruesome, chilling stuff.

The threat assessment highlighted white supremacists as the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years and Russia as the primary threat to spreading disinformation.

“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years,” Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, wrote in the foreward to the assessment. The threat report also stated that “Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the homeland.”

The agency also highlighted Iran and China’s cyberwarfare abilities and warned of a potential surge in migration to the southwest border.

The delayed release of the report has been a point of scrutiny for a department that has faced consistent accusations of morphing into a tool for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. After the department singled out domestic terrorists and specifically white supremacists in a terrorism framework in September 2019, the agency’s leadership committed to releasing a follow-up assessment to the threat as well as a blueprint to confront it within months. It took far longer.

Brian Murphy, who was demoted from his post as the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence chief in August, said last month in a whistle-blower complaint that Mr. Wolf and his deputy, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, blocked the release of the assessment because of how it would “reflect upon President Trump.”

The Homeland Security blueprint did finally emerge, shortly after Mr. Murphy’s complaint. It included $10 million for nonprofits and other organizations to prevent extremist violence.

The administration’s treatment of white supremacy re-emerged as an issue last week, when Mr. Trump failed to condemn white racist violence during the presidential debate, even after Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, affirmed to Congress the lethal threat of the racist extremists.

Now, the Homeland Security Department has done so in the assessment.

“This threat assessment confirms two things: that white supremacist extremists are the top domestic threat to the homeland, and they are often inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

But this is the Trump regime, and every aspect, every facet of American government exists in part to serve Dear Leader, and the DHS and this report are no different.

The threat assessment for the most part mirrored drafts that were leaked to the public, refuting concerns that the department would dilute any warnings. The department did add a section absent from previous versions of the report, titled “exploitation of lawful and protected speech and protests.”

The section echoed Mr. Trump’s description of city governments led by Democrats as fostering chaos.

“We have seen over 100 days of violence and destruction in our cities,” according to the report. “The co-opting of lawful protests led to destruction of government property and have turned deadly.” 
While a majority of the protests against police violence and racism this summer were peaceful, some did include individuals who committed violent acts, including in Portland, Ore., where the Homeland Security Department sent teams of tactical agents. The aggressive methods of those agents, including forcing demonstrators into unmarked cars and using tear gas, is under investigation by the inspectors general for the Homeland Security and Justice Departments.

In other words, VIOLENT DEADLY EXTREMISTS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM or something and the Democrats are just as guilty of encouraging their people to be violent too in the name of political expediency.

Which is horseshit in the same way that civil rights leaders were "terrorists" sixty years ago during the Jim Crow era of literally constructing separate neighborhoods, restaurants, hotels, schools, and goddamn drinking fountains for Black America because government policies mandated our second-class citizenship.

Only that's a bigger threat than ever. In the last four years this regime has paved the way to overturn the entire voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, and LGBTQ+ rights era and take us back to Jim Crow. They remain one Supreme Court justice appointment away from enough votes to overturn as much of it as they want to as "unnecessary relics of an era that no longer needs legislation to protect".

Thomas Jefferson said all men are created equal, and the guy owned slaves the day he wrote those words, because slaves weren't people (and women and anyone who wasn't a land-owning white male didn't count either.)

I'm tired of this. In the space of five years we went from real hope in this country to fighting for basic rights in the middle of a pandemic that government is trying to pretend doesn't exist and a lifetime trying to fix everything that's been broken.

We have to win.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

An increasingly desperate, out-of-control Donald Trump is now declassifying Russian disinformation on the 2016 investigation into Trump's Russia ties and passing it off as "bombshell" accusations that Hillary Clinton "masterminded the plot" to spy on the Trump campaign. 

Even as he recovers from a coronavirus case that left him hospitalized for days, President Donald Trump has intensified a late-campaign effort to undermine widely accepted evidence about Russia’s election interference efforts in 2016.

Trump authorized the declassification and release of documents this week based on intelligence that even his own advisers warn could be Russian disinformation, in what his allies have signaled is aimed at sowing doubt about the intelligence community’s conclusion that the meddling in the 2016 campaign came at the Kremlin’s direction — and was intended to boost Trump’s candidacy.

As Trump was still recuperating in the presidential suite at Walter Reed on Monday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the president had “already tasked me with getting some declassification rolling” on sensitive Russia probe documents.

Some of those documents were released on Tuesday afternoon, including heavily redacted notes from former CIA Director John Brennan after a briefing with then-President Barack Obama. The notes describe intelligence reports that were drawn from Russian operatives, summaries of which Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified last week.

In the legible, unredacted portion of Brennan’s notes, first published by Fox News, he wrote: “We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED].”

In another section, the notes describe an alleged plan “approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

A second, also heavily redacted document released on Tuesday, a summary of the intelligence the CIA prepared for the FBI, describes “an exchange” between unknown individuals regarding “Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from the use of her private email server.”

Some Trump allies have framed this latest declassification push not as an effort to question Russia's interference at all but simply to question the "Trump-Russia collusion" narrative that loomed over the White House for much of Trump's presidency. But Ratcliffe's release suggested that the Russian intelligence indicated that attributing 2016 interference to Russia was part of a Clinton plot to stir up a scandal against Trump. And many Trump allies have deployed the new evidence to broadly declare that the entire scandal was cooked up by Democrats.

Republicans and Democrats had previously rejected this Russian chatter as likely disinformation intended to deflect from Moscow’s own hacking operation targeting the Democratic National Committee. And Clinton herself was publicly making the case at the time that Trump was inviting Russian interference. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, said last week that the documents were “baseless bullshit.”

Four people familiar with the matter said the Russians’ assessment of Clinton was only one part of a larger intelligence report that was billed as an initial examination of Russian cyberattacks targeting the 2016 election, and was not the reason that it was referred to the bureau.

The people all described Ratcliffe as “cherry-picking” portions of the intelligence to try to tarnish Trump’s political enemies.
Ratliffe here is certainly doing what Trump ordered him to do, and Trump now knows he's losing badly. The next several weeks are going to be full of distractions and garbage like this heading into the election, and if Trump loses by the margin I believe he will, then he will spend his lame duck months in a scorched earth campaign to destroy the Democrats.

COVID-19 has knocked out all his campaign major players, save Mike Pence. Barr himself is in isolation for possible exposure, Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, and Hope Hicks are all ill, and oh yeah, he's hopped up on drugs and is staring down COVID-19 himself.

It's going to be bad, folks.  I predict he will order Joe Biden's arrest before long.


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