Saturday, December 19, 2020

Last Call For The Galleria Of Crime, Con't

Jared Kushner is a crafty bastard, and the Trump crime family continue to rob his cultists blind. Paul Waldman at WaPo:

If you thought you’d heard about all the financial chicanery Donald Trump and his family have engaged in during his presidency, rest assured there’s plenty more to be revealed. Here’s the latest story, courtesy of Business Insider:

President Donald Trump's most powerful advisor, Jared Kushner, approved the creation of a campaign shell company that secretly paid the president's family members and spent almost half of the campaign's $1.26 billion war chest, a person familiar with the operation told Insider. 
The operation acted almost like a campaign within a campaign. It paid some of Trump's top advisors and family members, while shielding financial and operational details from public scrutiny. 
When Kushner and others created the company in April 2018, they picked Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump to become its president, Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence as its vice president, and Trump campaign Chief Financial Officer Sean Dollman as its treasurer and secretary, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations about the shell company.

To be clear, it could well be that no laws were violated, scrupulous about obeying the rules as the Trump and Kushner families are known to be. But the whole point of shell companies is to hide something; in this case, the campaign was able to show over $600 million in payments to the shell company, American Made Media Consultants Corp., on its Federal Election Committee filings, without the details that would be known if whatever they were spending money on was paid directly to vendors.

And while most of that $600 million probably went to buy advertising, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the favored officers of the shell company got nice salaries, nor if there were ways that it was used to funnel campaign contributions back to Trump himself.

We may never know. But I know this: Trump’s supporters couldn’t care less, even if it’s their money.

That’s because he has spent years convincing them that self-dealing and graft are perfectly fine. The only question is whether it’s the people you like who are benefiting.

This was always Trump’s argument about unethical behavior: not that he’s innocent and others are guilty, but that everyone is guilty, so we shouldn’t worry about his misdeeds. Everyone is corrupt, everyone is on the take, everyone mistreats women, we’re living in a world without morals or principles and all that matters is whether you win

He never made any bones about it. Even in 2016, when Hillary Clinton charged that he was probably refusing to show his tax returns because he paid no taxes (which turned out to be pretty much true), he replied, “That makes me smart.” Obeying the rules is for suckers and chumps.

By now, Trump’s supporters — who will remain his supporters after he leaves office — firmly believe that. If he pulls a new scam and they’re his victims? That just shows what a genius he is.
If Trump takes our money, well, he deserves it.  If you get a dime, we reserve the right to inflict as much violence against you and yours as we can.
That's how Trump's America works.
We'll still be living in it long after he's out of the White House.

A Supreme Miss On The Miscount

The US Supreme Court on Friday punted on the legal challenge to the Trump regime's efforts to eliminate all undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census, with the 6-3 ruling by Roberts Court conservatives calling it "premature" and ordering the case sent back to the lower courts for lack of standing.

The United States Supreme Court on Friday, by a vote of 6-3, said an effort to block President Donald Trump from excluding undocumented immigrants from a key Census count was "premature," effectively allowing the administration to move forward with its plans even as the justices left the door open to future challenges.

By subtracting millions of immigrants from the Census total, Trump hopes to shape the apportionment of congressional seats, the allocation of billions in federal funds and the contours of the nation's electoral map for at least the next decade. If he succeeds, it would be the first time in 230 years that the process would exclude large swaths of people inside the U.S.

The Court's conservative majority, in an unsigned opinion, said the scope and impact of the president's promised action is not yet clear.

"At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review," the Court said.

"The President, to be sure, has made clear his desire to exclude aliens without lawful status from the apportionment base. But the President qualified his directive by providing that the Secretary should gather information 'to the extent practicable' and that aliens should be excluded 'to the extent feasible.' Any prediction how the Executive Branch might eventually implement this general statement of policy is no more than conjecture at this time," it said.

While the Census concluded earlier this year, the government told the Court last month that analysts at the Commerce Department, which oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, were still trying to estimate the number of undocumented immigrants in the country, including a breakdown of long-term residents and more recent arrivals.

"The count here is complete; the present dispute involves the apportionment process, which remains at a preliminary stage," the Court's majority said. "The Government's eventual action will reflect both legal and practical constraints, making any prediction about future injury just that—a prediction."

In dismissing the challenge to Trump's plan for now, the Court made clear that it was not a decision on the merits. "We hold only that they are not suitable for adjudication at this time," they said.
Justice Breyer's dissent was powerful.

The liberals’ dissent, which was penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, said that putting off the decision would bring about severe costs, as another round of litigation would delay states’ redistricting processes, and on the merits, the question of the policy’s legality was not “not difficult.” Breyer said that the text of the relevant law, its history and the legislative record behind it support the conclusion that the Trump policy violates statutes passed by Congress concerning the census and apportionment. He stopped short of weighing in on whether it was unconstitutional.

“Where, as here, the Government acknowledges it is working to achieve an allegedly illegal goal, this Court should not decline to resolve the case simply because the Government speculates that it might not fully succeed,” Breyer wrote.
We'll see how this shakes out, but I don't have a good feeling on this that the Roberts Court is entertaining the notion that what Trump is doing isn't patently wrong. They have clearly stated that they intend to leave out undocumented immigrants and violate the Constitution. I don't understand the whole "speculation" nonsense.

Anyway, this will get another day before SCOTUS.

Looks Like Mitch Will Win Again

Mitch McConnell continues to outmaneuver and outplay Democrats at every turn, like he has for the last decade, and frankly it's getting exhausting. Senate Democrats at this point are walking away from the COVID-19 relief talks with something, better than nothing, and nobody's happy, and it's not just Pelosi and Schumer.
It's also far less than what we need, and he's sabotaging the country just like the GOP did with the Obama stimulus 12 years ago.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is getting much of what he wants in an emerging coronavirus relief package, after months of digging in his heels against a demand by Democratic leaders to pass a multitrillion-dollar package that would shore up the ailing finances of state and local governments.

The GOP leader isn’t getting liability protection for businesses and other organizations but McConnell himself last week proposed dropping that controversial item along with another large tranche of funding for state and local government.

State and local funding was a top priority of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Democrats are getting $90 billion in relief for local governments but it will be distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning city and state leaders will have less control. Democrats say that money for housing assistance will also help ease the fiscal burdens on states.

But McConnell is getting a deal a lot closer to what Democrats dismissed as the “emaciated” plan he pushed in recent months than the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act that Pelosi and Schumer said should have been the “starting point” of the talks.

That was quickly leading to some criticism on Wednesday as it emerged the sides were closing in on an agreement, though in Congress, some Democrats taking shots at the package still said it should be approved.

“This is not any place close to what is needed,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said of the emerging $900 billion deal.

But Warren said Democrats have little choice but to accept a much smaller relief package than they wanted in order to get a deal.

“That makes for a very difficult negotiation,” she said of McConnell’s staunch insistence on a “targeted” package below $1 trillion.

She faulted the GOP leader, saying “Mitch McConnell is willing to let American families walk away with nothing.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) similarly criticized the bill while giving his blessing to its outlines.

Sanders had pushed for a new round of stimulus checks, something that will be a part of the final package.

But the checks will not be as large as he wished, and it will not include other provisions including the aid to local governments that he’d backed.

“There is simply not enough money in the proposal to deal with the unprecedented crises that we now face,” Sanders said Wednesday.

He told CNN that “we met very stiff resistance from Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership.”

“What we got now is not enough but it is something,” he said.

A Democratic senator who requested anonymity to assess the emerging deal said McConnell largely got what he wanted.

“He got negotiators down way away from where Nancy Pelosi was and he’s going to do a package that’s not going to be enough for the American people and he’s not doing anything on state and local [funding] and he didn’t have to compromise on the liability protections,” the senator said.

So Mitch once again holds the country hostage and wins, while Democrats congratulate themselves that hey didn't butcher even more hostages in the process. Yay, Congress!

In the end, Mitch wins again and again because he is more ruthless, more willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power, and more willing to sacrifice the American people, and the Democrats are  simply not.  If he's still in power come January, expect this to continue for the entire Biden administration:

Mitch wins because he's willing to shoot hostages, and when they die, the police are always blamed, period. And every single voter will blame Biden and the Dems in 2022 and they will give the GOP even more power, and the cycle of abuse continues until we're all dead.

We have one shot to break that cycle in Georgia on January 5. One.

A Pence-ive Escape Plan

Mike Pence, doomed to be the final traitorous villain in Trump's downfall, is hoping that if he runs away in the final two weeks of his term that the Trump cultists will forget who he is.

On Jan. 6, Vice President Mike Pence will oversee final confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Then he’ll likely skip town.

As vice president, Pence has the awkward but unavoidable duty of presiding over the session of Congress that will formalize Biden’s Electoral College victory — a development that is likely to expose him and other Republicans to the wrath of GOP voters who believe President Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him.

But Pence could dodge their ire by leaving Washington immediately for the Middle East and Europe. According to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the vice president is eyeing a foreign trip that would take him overseas for nearly a week, starting on Jan. 6.

Though Pence aides declined to confirm details of the trip, which remains tentative, a U.S. government document seen by POLITICO shows the vice president is due to travel to Bahrain, Israel and Poland, with the possibility of more stops being added. A pre-advance team of Pence aides and other U.S. officials left earlier this week to visit the planned stops in preparation for the multicountry tour, which would be Pence’s first trip abroad since last January, when he traveled to Rome and Jerusalem on a whirlwind two-day sojourn.

On the surface, the trip is part of a push to underscore the Trump administration’s role in brokering a series of diplomatic agreements to normalize relations between Israel and a handful of Arab countries, including Bahrain. But for Pence, visiting these countries is also a way to bolster already-strong credentials with the Christian right, which strongly supports Israel. And it allows Pence — once again — to put distance between himself and Trump’s complaints about the election outcome that are likely to intensify after Congress affirms Biden’s win.

It’s a tactic Pence has used to navigate the final days of Trump’s presidency: stay out of the spotlight and insulate himself from his boss’s baseless election-fraud crusade, all while still finding ways to burnish his own credentials and technically toe the party line.

Pence has promoted Trump in his work as head of the government’s coronavirus task force and while boosting two GOP Senate candidates facing runoff races in Georgia. But he’s declined to publicize his minimal involvement in the president’s election-fraud strategy. And while he has privately assisted the Trump campaign when asked — joining donor calls and lending his signature to fundraising pleas — his public comments since the election have almost all centered on other topics, including hosting an event focused on the Trump administration's anti-abortion policy at the White House on Wednesday.

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” one Pence ally said of his tentative travel plans
I have no sympathy for the guy, and I'm actually glad to see that like the previous two Republican Veeps we've had, his political career is essentially over and he has no shot at the Oval Office. Granted, both Quayle and Cheney are making bank in the private sector these days, and I'm sure Pence will go back to Indiana and join a legal firm or stay in DC as a venture capital outfit lobbyist, but what I'd like to see is Pence end up in Leavenworth instead.

What he won't do is run for office again.  He'll be primaried out of existence if the tries, and he knows it. Trump's boundless capacity for retribution will see to that.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.
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