Saturday, November 21, 2020

Last Call For Rounding Up The Enablers

Republicans assisting and enabling Trump's illegal coup attempt are going to find out the hard way that they are not shielded from state laws on election malfeasance, as at least Michigan Republicans are discovering this weekend.

Michigan’s attorney general is exploring whether officials there risk committing crimes if they bend to President Trump’s wishes in seeking to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in their state, according to two people familiar with the review.

The move by Dana Nessel, a Democrat, reflected a growing sense of unease among many in her party and some Republicans that the president was continuing his unprecedented efforts to reach personally into the state’s electoral process as he seeks to prevent Michigan from formally declaring a winner there.

On Wednesday, two Republican officials in Wayne County sought to rescind their vote to certify the election results in their county, where Detroit is located, after Trump called them Tuesday night.

On Friday afternoon, four leaders of Michigan’s Republican-controlled state legislature met with Trump in the White House at his invitation.

Tensions surrounding the White House encounter seemed to ease somewhat late Friday when there were signs the lawmakers would not side with Trump.

No details of the meeting were available late Friday. But the lawmakers issued a statement saying that they “have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election.”

A spokesperson for Nessel declined to comment for this article.

The attorney general is conferring with election law experts on whether officials may have violated any state laws prohibiting them from engaging in bribery, perjury and conspiracy, according to people familiar with the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.
Why yes, a conspiracy to defraud a state's voters is a criminal act, as all sides appear to agree on. And Republicans in several states are hopefully going to find this out the hard way.

A Taxing Situation, Con't

The AP is confirming the NYT story that Letitia James and the NY AG's office (and possibly Cyrus Vance and the Manhattan DA's office) has indeed subpoenaed Ivanka Trump over her status as a Trump Organization consultant for tax write-off purposes, something that could land Trump's daughter in a plea deal to flip on Daddy Dearest. And once again, being state charges, Trump can't pardon the mess.

New York's attorney general has sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization for records related to consulting fees paid to Ivanka Trump as part of a broad civil investigation into the president's business dealings, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that a similar subpoena was sent to President Donald Trump's company by the Manhattan district attorney, which is conducting a parallel criminal probe. Ivanka Trump alleged in a Thursday night tweet that the probe constituted "harassment."

"This 'inquiry' by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there's nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless," she claimed.

The Associated Press could not immediately independently confirm the district attorney's subpoena but the one sent by Attorney General Letitia James was described by an official briefed on the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The records requests followed recent reporting in The Times, based partly on two decades' worth of Trump's tax filings, that the president had reduced his company's income tax liability over several years by deducting $26 million in consulting fees as a business expense.

Records strongly suggested, The Times reported, that $747,622 of those fees had been paid to Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, through a company she owned at a time when she was also a Trump Organization executive.

If true, that wouldn't necessarily pose a problem for Ivanka Trump herself, as long as she paid income tax on the consulting payments, which she reported publicly.

It could, however, raise questions about whether the Trump Organization's related tax deductions were allowable. The Internal Revenue Service has, in the past, pursued civil penalties over large consulting fee write-offs it found were made to dodge tax liability.

The Times wrote that there was no indication Ivanka Trump is a target of either the state's or the city's investigation.

The Trump Organization's lawyer, Alan Garten, and its media relations office didn't immediately return messages Thursday.
So we'll see what happens here, but my guess is we're going to see Trump's kids flipped on Trump in the days leading up to January 20th.


America Goes Viral, Con't

As we cross the Rubicon of 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, 80,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 2,000 daily deaths, keep in mind this is all before Thanksgiving week, where tens of millions of Americans are expected to ignore CDC guidance and spread the pandemic nationally over the next several days, with exactly the kind of behavior that will exponentially increase our current disastrous figures. At this point hospitals are begging Americans to stay home as they are running out of healthy staff.

More than 1,000 hospitals across the United States are "critically" short on staff, according to numbers released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Those hospitals, which span all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, represent about 18% of all hospitals that report their staffing status to HHS. And that number is expected to grow: 21% of all hospitals reporting say they anticipate having critical staffing shortages in the next week.

The worst-hit state is North Dakota with 51% of hospitals that reported saying they're facing shortages; seven states say over 30% of their hospitals are in trouble.

This is the first time the federal agency has released this data, which includes limited reports going back to summer. The federal government consistently started collecting this data in July. After months of steadily trending upward, the number of hospitals reporting shortages crossed 1,000 this month and has stayed above since.

The data, however, are still incomplete. Not all hospitals that report daily status COVID-19 updates to HHS are reporting their staffing situations, so it's impossible to tell for sure how much these numbers have increased.

While the data is a welcome addition to the arsenal of information that public health officials have to fight COVID-19, it highlights the shortcomings of what the federal government has made available to the public. Though the government has precise daily figures for COVID-19 hospitalizations at thousands of the country's hospitals, it shares only a small subset of this information to people outside government.

Pinar Karaca-Mandic, a professor at the University of Minnesota who leads a project that collects COVID-19 hospital data, calls the new information release a "very positive data development and effort."

"That offers a possibility to plan ahead, especially the anticipated staffing shortages," she says. There is still a lot of hospitalization data that the federal government does not make public that could further inform researchers and the public, she says, including the ages and race of those hospitalized.

Looking ahead toward the next week, additional hospitals report expecting staffing shortages in 40 states, as well as Puerto Rico. Nebraska, Virginia and Missouri top the list in places that are expected to have the biggest upticks.

Basically if Thanksgiving is as bad as I believe it's going to be, you can double all the already record-setting COVID-19 numbers this week by December, and I think that's being extremely generous.  I believe 400K-500K new cases, 160K-200K hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths a day are very possible. And that many hospitalizations will rapidly overwhelm the American hospital system.

December 2020 is going to be a living nightmare, one every American will remember for the rest of their lives.

And for possibly hundreds of thousands of us, those lives won't make it to January.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

It's too late for Republicans in Congress to rein in Trump. Far, far too late. They have lost control of the monster they created.
A growing number of veteran GOP lawmakers are pushing back on President Donald Trump's tactics to overturn election results showing he lost the race, raising concerns that his tactics could hurt the US response to the coronavirus crisis and undercut a key pillar of democracy. 
In recent days, more Republicans have spoken out -- even though party leaders and a vast majority of congressional Republicans continue to back Trump's efforts to challenge the results. 
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan -- all senior Republicans -- have each raised concerns in recent days about the transition of power. 
Their pleas come as Trump has yet to concede the general election, and the General Services Administration has yet to formally recognize President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thus denying him access to contacts with federal agencies, funding to help ramp up government hiring for the new administration and access to classified intelligence briefings. The delayed transition has sparked concerns about national security and the impacts it could have on the incoming Biden administration's Covid-19 response, especially the distribution of a vaccine. 
"If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one. That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution," Alexander, who chairs the influential Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, wrote in a statement Friday, highlighting the impact the transition could have on pandemic response. 
Alexander is retiring at the end of his term this year. 
Similarly, when asked about Trump's efforts to overturn the election results Friday, Granger told CNN she has "great concerns about it," adding, "I think that it's time to move on."
Granger, a veteran Texas Republican, added Friday that Trump should be transparent about the situation. 
"I think it's time for him to really realize and be very clear about what's going on," Granger said. 
When asked Thursday if Trump should concede, Upton, a senior Michigan Republican who was targeted by Democrats but won his reelection bid by 16 points, said, "Yeah. I think it's all said and done." 
Upton also dismissed any evidence of voter fraud in his home state. 
"No one has seen any real identification of any real fraud," Upton said, when asked about the Trump allegations of widespread fraud in Detroit. Trump will meet with the Republican leaders of the Michigan state legislature at the White House Friday afternoon as Trump and his legal team continue to mount a long-shot effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to Biden.
It's too late. It's far, far too late. The rough beast is not just slouching towards Bethlehem, it's running at a dead sprint with a jet pack. The time for this was November 5th, not two weeks later. Trump's base is loose, the terrorist cells are activated.

Upton, Alexander, and Granger (and Romney) will be better off than the rest of the GOP who remained silent. History might even remember that they said something before the violence started.

But for the rest of the Republicans, they will burn along with America.
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