Thursday, January 7, 2021

Last Call For Pardon The Destruction, Con't

With Mike Pence now permanently on Trump's naughty list and any Ford pardons Nixon scenario up in flames after Pence refused to steal Trump a second term, Trump is now moving forward on his next phase of lawlessness, a self-pardon and pardons for all who remain loyal to him.

President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the impact would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he has broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to storm the Capitol in a mob attack.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request comment.

Mr. Trump has considered a range of pre-emptive pardons for family, including his three oldest children — Donald Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — Ms. Trump’s husband, the senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and for close associates like the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Trump has expressed concerns to advisers that a Biden Justice Department might investigate all of them.

Mr. Trump, who has told advisers how much he likes having the power to issue clemency, has for weeks solicited aides and allies for suggestions on whom to pardon. He has also offered pre-emptive pardons to advisers and administration officials. Many were taken them aback because they did not believe they were in legal jeopardy and that accepting his offer would be seen as an admission of guilt, according to the two people.

After yesterday, it's clear now that Trump will crucify anyone who doesn't support him until the bloody end and leave them to the tender mercies of Merrick Garland. It's also clear he's going to pardon himself, and that we're going to have this power tested in a Supreme Court that is 6-3 conservative.

If they side with Trump, our country is lost.

It's About Suppression, Con't

Georgia, like other Southern States, is a Black voter suppression state, not a red state. When Black voters are allowed to participate, Democrats win. Of course, the number one priority among Georgia Republicans is to make sure Black voters in the state are never allowed to vote in the number that they did on Tuesday ever again.

Voting was never easier in Georgia than in November’s presidential election. But it might not last.

Republican legislators plan to crack down on voting access after record turnout helped Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia, flipping the state after 24 years of GOP presidential wins.

They blame absentee ballots, used by 1.3 million Georgians who voted from home during the coronavirus pandemic. In all, 5 million people voted in the general election.

That era of widespread absentee voting will quickly come to an end if the Georgia General Assembly passes laws this year to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, ballot drop boxes and unsolicited absentee ballot application mailings, as Republicans have proposed.

When the legislative session begins Monday, Democrats are bracing for a wave of bills from the Republican majority that would make it harder to vote in the name of preventing potential fraud. There’s no credible evidence of absentee ballot fraud in Georgia’s general election besides isolated cases under investigation by the secretary of state’s office, election officials said.

“They lost, and now they want to change the rules to give themselves a competitive advantage,” said House Minority Leader James Beverly, a Democrat from Macon. “The pendulum swings, and people can see through this foolishness in the truest sense of suppression and disenfranchisement.”

Republicans say they need to protect election integrity from the possibility of cheating. Some of the legislators seeking to limit absentee voting also signed onto a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the state of Texas’ failed lawsuit to overturn Georgia’s election results.

State Sen. Burt Jones, a Republican from Jackson, said in-person voting is safer than depositing ballots in the mail or drop boxes.

“When you don’t have a secure chain of custody, particularly with drop boxes, there’s no reason for that to be in the process,” Jones said. “You’ve got three weeks of early voting and Saturday voting. You’ve given ample time and opportunities for people to get the effort to go in to vote.”

For Jones and his colleagues, the threat of illegitimate absentee voting outweighs the benefit of greater participation in democracy.

The popularity of absentee voting exploded last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The voting method typically used by about 5% of voters rose to 26% in the 2020 presidential election.

More Republicans than Democrats voted absentee as recently as the 2018 primary, when voting by mail was often used by older Georgians. In November’s election, almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans returned absentee ballots after President Donald Trump ridiculed them, even though he himself has voted by mail.

Former Republican U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently wrote that absentee ballot drop boxes “make it harder for Republicans to win,” a claim that Democrats attacked as an acknowledgement that restricting voting is the GOP’s goal rather than fighting fraud.

“Expanding access to voting equals more people voting equals Republicans losing elections,” said state Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat from Atlanta. “It’s the reality in Georgia that for many years we’ve seen more restrictive voting laws get passed, and that means Democrats need to work harder to overcome those restrictive voting laws.”

One of the proposals, backed by the Senate Majority Caucus and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, would end at-will absentee voting. Under a state law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2005, any registered voter is allowed to cast an absentee ballot.

Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse if they want to vote outside a polling place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those excuses can include age, disability, sickness or travel.

Another restriction under consideration would be banning ballot drop boxes, authorized by rules the State Election Board approved last year to avoid the uncertainty of U.S. Postal Service delivery. In addition, Republican lawmakers say they want to require photo ID for absentee voting, ban early voting buses used in Fulton County, and prevent anyone from mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters, as Raffensperger did before the primary.

“It seems like there’s a coordinated effort to limit access to the ballot, and it’s not something we need after so many gains” in voting options last year, said Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia, a government accountability organization. “We’re definitely going to be on the defensive.”
Republicans now know for sure after 2020 that they can't win elections with huge turnout, or that they can only win them up to a certain, gerrymandered point. Yes, they picked up a dozen House seats, but they lost four Senate seats now and the White House. 

So, never again. Voter suppression in Republican-controlled states are the future, turnout smashed below 50% by the tools of Jim Crow, to keep the last generation of white supremacists in power. And 2022 will prove that they still have a lot of state legislatures and gerrymandering to keep that power for another decade.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The Washington Post editorial board makes it clear that Donald J. Trump needs to go now.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.

Mr. Trump encouraged the mob to gather on Wednesday, as Congress was set to convene, and to “be wild.” After repeating a panoply of absurd conspiracy theories about the election, he urged the crowd to march on the Capitol. “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he said. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” The president did not follow the mob, but instead passively watched it on television as its members tore down fences around the Capitol and overwhelmed police guarding the building. House members and senators were forced to flee. Shots were fired, and at least one person was struck and killed.

Rather than immediately denouncing the violence and calling on his supporters to stand down, Mr. Trump issued two mild tweets in which he called on them to “remain” or “stay” peaceful. Following appeals from senior Republicans, he finally released a video in which he asked people to go home, but doubled down on the lies fueling the vigilantes. “We love you. You’re very special,” he told his seditious posse. Later, he excused the riot, tweeting that “these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.”

The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security
. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Failing that, senior Republicans must restrain the president. The insurrection came just as many top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), were finally denouncing Mr. Trump’s antidemocratic campaign to overturn the election results. A depressing number of GOP legislators — such as Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — were prepared to support Mr. Trump’s effort, fueling the rage of those the president has duped into believing the election was stolen.

Mr. McConnell, to his lasting credit, was not. “President Trump claims the election was stolen,” he said. But “nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale, that would have tipped the entire election. . . . If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.” He added: “I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.” As if to prove his point, the Trump mob would soon climb up the Capitol walls, and Mr. McConnell and his colleagues would seek refuge in secured locations.

Now that the stakes are viscerally clear, Mr. McConnell and every other Republican, almost all of whom bear some blame for what occurred on Wednesday, have an overriding responsibility to the nation: stopping Mr. Trump and restoring faith in democracy. That began Wednesday night with the resumption of the congressional session and the continuance of the electoral vote count. Some of the lawmakers who sought to benefit from Mr. Trump’s mob-stoking rage suspended their cynical posturing — though they will always bear the stigma of having contributed to the day’s shameful events.

The chaos confirmed once again the voters’ wisdom in rejecting Mr. Trump in favor of Joe Biden. The president-elect rose to the moment. “I call on this mob, now, to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s not protest. It’s insurrection.” He concluded: “Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.”

Mr. Biden is right. Rules, norms, laws, even the Constitution itself are worth something only if people believe in them
. Americans put on their seat belts, follow traffic laws, pay taxes and vote because of faith in a system — and that faith makes it work. The highest voice in the land incited people to break that faith, not just in tweets, but by inciting them to action. Mr. Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.
He will go in 13 days. He should absolutely be removed sooner.
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