Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Last Call For The Pursuit Of Justice

The usual suspects are blowing fuses over this NBC News article that finds Joe Biden doesn't want to dedicate the Justice Department to prosecuting Trump.
President-elect Joe Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn't want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, according to five people familiar with the discussions, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration.

Biden has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk making every day of his presidency about Trump, said the sources, who spoke on background to offer details of private conversations.

They said he has specifically told advisers that he is wary of federal tax investigations of Trump or of challenging any orders Trump may issue granting immunity to members of his staff before he leaves office. One adviser said Biden has made it clear that he "just wants to move on."

Another Biden adviser said, "He's going to be more oriented toward fixing the problems and moving forward than prosecuting them."

Any decisions by Biden's Justice Department regarding Trump, his staff, his associates, his business or his policies wouldn't affect investigations by state officials, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has fought to obtain Trump's tax returns.

As Biden tries to balance his own inclinations with pressures from within his party, his advisers stressed that he is seeking to reset the dynamic between the White House and the Justice Department from what it has been under Trump.

Biden wants his Justice Department to function independently from the White House, aides said, and Biden isn't going to tell federal law enforcement officials whom or what to investigate or not to investigate.

"His overarching view is that we need to move the country forward," an adviser said. "But the most important thing on this is that he will not interfere with his Justice Department and not politicize his Justice Department."
OK, so what does this mean? If you're getting SEE BIDEN REFUSES TO SEND TRUMP TO PRISON HE'S COMPLICT out of this, you're not getting the point.
The point is Biden wants an independent Justice Department again, who operates under federal law.
The point is Trump will almost certainly pardon everyone he can, including himself. 
The point is the NY state investigations from Cyrus Vance and Letitia James will proceed.
Trump was never going to be prosecuted by the Justice Department, guys.  Trump was always going to issue pardons, and as Marcy Wheeler reminds us:

New York state already has a tax investigation into Trump, so a federal one would be duplicative. And the pardon power is absolute; there’s little likelihood DOJ could investigate the pardons that Trump grants, because doing so would be constitutionally suspect.
But there are still a number of federal investigations at the DoJ that are ongoing.  If Barr kills them or Trump pardons everyone involved as a subject of those investigations, that's not Biden's fault.
The money was always on Trump facing state charges, and I'm sure red states will be licking their chops to return the favor. Biden's right about it being divisive.

It doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done, but Biden does have to go on record as saying that the DoJ does have to be returned to independence here, and most importantly that he want no appearance of Biden ordering new investigations or charges against Trump.

This has got to happen, guys.  Good for Biden getting it out of the way now.

Biden, His Time, Con't

President-elect Joe Biden continues to put together his White House staff, and the latest addition is New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond as senior public engagement advisor, the same role Valerie Jarrett played for all eight years of the Obama administration.
Cedric Richmond will join Joe Biden’s administration in a senior role overseeing public engagement, leaving his seat in the House of Representatives just after being elected to his sixth term, according to people familiar with the situation.

Richmond, who was one of the national co-chairs of Biden’s campaign, will be one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the White House. Richmond, whose district includes New Orleans, has a news conference scheduled for Tuesday where he is expected to announce he is leaving Congress.

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Richmond represents a safe Democratic district, so it’s unlikely the House will lose another Democratic seat after several incumbents were defeated by Republicans in this month’s election. 
Indeed, Richmond won his LA-2 race by nearly 40 points.  Democrats will be fine here.

So what does Richmond bring to the table? Quite a bit, and then some.
Richmond is a former Congressional Black Caucus chairman and was Biden's campaign co-chair starting all the way back in April 2019 and helped him get the unprecedented primary victory he needed over Bernie Sanders and more.

Richmond, 46, has been with Biden every step of the way as a member of the campaign’s inner circle. No one from Louisiana has been closer to him over the past 18 months.

On Saturday, the Biden campaign named him as one of five co-chairs of its presidential transition team.

“He’s going to be a powerful person, come January, if Biden wins. It’s that simple,” said James Carville, who knows something about how being a close adviser to the winning candidate can elevate your status, thanks to his work for Bill Clinton in 1992.

“In Washington, basically, unless you’re a committee chairman, the perception of influence is your access to the president,” Carville said. “That’s the way power flows. It’s the most valuable coin there is. It just confers enormous prestige. He’ll have that. He’ll be a big deal.”

The typical politician would be eager to trumpet his or her access to someone who could be the next president. Not Richmond.

“I’m not trying to overstate my importance and blow my horn,” he said during a recent interview. He didn’t make himself available for a follow-up interview.

Richmond did say his title as campaign co-chairman is not an honorary one.

“It’s day to day for me,” he said. “It’s everything you would expect a person on a campaign level to do — senior level. Anything from previewing ads to debate prep to general nightly strategy calls and other stuff. Talking to members of Congress, recruiting supporters. It’s overwhelming. It’s a lot.”
In other words, Richmond has already been doing this job for nearly two years, just on the campaign trail.  Now he'll continue in the White House. And yeah, I have no issue with Richmond keeping Biden honest about the folk that won him the primary and the presidency: Black voters.

And Richmond has a long career ahead of him too, he's only 47.  He's going to go far.

Keep an eye on him. Joe Biden will certainly be doing so.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

After four years of a man in the Oval Office openly supporting white supremacists and calling on them to "stand by" and to "be ready", it's no wonder that the US has now reached the highest number of hate crimes since 2008 according to the FBI.

Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade as federal officials also recorded the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the FBI began collecting that data in the early 1990s, according to an FBI report released Monday.

There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, which includes 22 people who were killed in a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas, the report said. The suspect in that August 2019 shooting, which left two dozen other people injured, was charged with both state and federal crimes in what authorities said was an attempt to scare Hispanics into leaving the United States.

There were 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 the year before — and approaching the 7,783 of 2008. The FBI’s annual report defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation, among other categories.

Some of the 2019 increases may be the result of better reporting by police departments, but law enforcement officials and advocacy groups don’t doubt that hate crimes are on the rise. The Justice Department has for years been specifically prioritizing hate crime prosecutions.

The data also shows there was a nearly 7% increase in religion-based hate crimes, with 953 reports of crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions last year, up from 835 the year before. The FBI said the number of hate crimes against African Americans dropped slightly to 1,930, from 1,943.

Anti-Hispanic hate crimes, however, rose to 527 in 2019, from 485 in 2018. And the total number of hate crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation stayed relatively stable, with one fewer crime reported last year, compared with the year before, though there were 20 more hate crimes against gay men reported.

As the data was made public on Monday, advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, called on Congress and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to improve data collection and reporting of hate crimes. Critics have long warned that the data may be incomplete, in part because it is based on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country.

Last year, only 2,172 law enforcement agencies out of about 15,000 participating agencies across the country reported hate crime data to the FBI, the bureau said. And while the number of agencies reporting hate crimes increased, the number of agencies participating in the program actually dropped from the year before. A large number of police agencies appeared not to submit any hate crime data, which has been a consistent struggle for Justice Department officials.

“The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement.
Improving FBI hate crime data collection, as well as having a Justice Department with an actual Civil Rights division again, is something Biden will have control over immediately when he gets into office.

It''ll be nice having a government that cares about stopping hate crimes more than protecting those who commit them again.


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