Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Last Call For Georgia On Trump's Mind, Con't

The Georgia state investigation into Donald Trump's post-election pressuring phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find the votes" to overturn the presidential election in the state is now a full-fledged criminal probe of Trump, as expected.

Prosecutors in Fulton County have initiated a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results, including a phone call he made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Mr. Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to help him reverse his loss.

On Wednesday, Fani Willis, the recently elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to numerous officials in state government, including Mr. Raffensperger, requesting that they preserve documents related to Mr. Trump’s call, according to a state official with knowledge of the letter. The letter explicitly stated that the request was part of a criminal investigation, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The inquiry comes as Mr. Trump faces a second impeachment trial in Washington this week, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in stirring up the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6. The violence that day followed weeks of false claims by the former president that election fraud deprived him of victory, including in Georgia, where he lost by about 12,000 votes.

For two months after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump relentlessly attacked election officials in Georgia, including Mr. Raffensperger and the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, claiming they were not doing enough to uncover instances of voting fraud that might change the outcome. In addition to the phone call to Mr. Raffensperger, he also called Gov. Brian Kemp in early December and pressured him to call a special legislative session to overturn his election loss. Later that month, Mr. Trump called a state investigator and pressed the official to “find the fraud,” according to those with knowledge of the call.

The inquiry makes Georgia the second state after New York where Mr. Trump faces a criminal investigation. And it comes in a jurisdiction where potential jurors are unlikely to be hospitable to the former president; Fulton County encompasses most of Atlanta and overwhelmingly supported President Biden in the November election.

The Fulton County investigation comes on the heels of a decision Monday by Mr. Raffensperger’s office to open an administrative inquiry.

Ms. Willis has been weighing for several weeks whether to open an inquiry, after Mr. Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger on Jan. 2 alarmed election experts who call it an extraordinary intervention into a state’s electoral process.

Former prosecutors said Mr. Trump’s calls might run afoul of at least three state laws. One is criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, which can be either a felony or a misdemeanor; as a felony, it is punishable by at least a year in prison. There is also a related conspiracy charge, which can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A third law, a misdemeanor offense, bars “intentional interference” with another person’s “performance of election duties.
I know my standing prediction is that Trump will never be indicted, let alone convicted, so that applies to Georgia even more than New York. I absolutely believe Gov. Brian Kemp will move against Fani Willis and openly interfere in the case, with Willis most likely being removed from the investigation, or the investigation being moved out of her hands to another Trump-friendlier prosecutor.
And as with New York, prosecutors could decide that it's simply too dangerous to prosecute safely, arguing that Trump supporters are in fact deadly armed domestic terrorists who are liable to harm prosecutors, officers of the court, journalists, and regular people.

That's going to be fun, huh?

But there's the chance I will be wrong and Trump really is indicted by a state court.

We'll see what happens, but again, I would not get your hopes up for any accountability.

Fetterman, Not The Better Man

And there goes the career of Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who I talked about yesterday as a possible rising star in the party, crashing to earth in less than 24 hours later.

At the height of protests last year over police violence against Black people, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, called for police officers to be better trained to defuse incidents where those involved did not threaten public safety.

“We must fall on the side of de-escalation every time,” Mr. Fetterman wrote, citing his experiences as mayor of the town of Braddock, outside Pittsburgh.

But as Mr. Fetterman — one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent Democrats — enters the race for U.S. Senate this week, an incident from his past highlights his own judgment in the heat of one such moment.

In 2013, when he was mayor, Mr. Fetterman used his shotgun to stop an unarmed Black jogger and detain him, telling the police that he had heard shots fired near his home and spotted the man running, according to the police report. “Fetterman continued to yell and state that he knows this male was shooting,” the police report says.

An officer who patted down the man, Christopher Miyares, then 28, found no weapons. The officer noted that Mr. Miyares was wearing running clothes and headphones. Mr. Miyares was released.

On Tuesday, in response to questions from The Times, Mr. Fetterman’s campaign shared a new two-and-a-half minute video in which the candidate described the incident and defended himself — a sign that his campaign anticipated that the events from eight years ago would resurface with potential political fallout for his Senate bid.

In the video, Mr. Fetterman says that he was outside his home with his 4-year-old son when he heard “this crushing burst of gunfire,” and “I immediately made a series of split-second decisions.”

He said he saw someone “dressed entirely in black and a face mask” running in the direction of an elementary school. Noting that the date, in January 2013, was not long after the Sandy Hook school shooting, Mr. Fetterman said, “I made the decision to stop him from going any further until the first responders could arrive.”

According to accounts Mr. Fetterman gave in 2013 to local media, he chased the man in his pickup truck and used a 20-gauge shotgun he kept in the truck to hold him until the police appeared.

“I believe I did the right thing,” Mr. Fetterman told WTAE-TV at the time. “But I may have broken the law in the course of it. I’m certainly not above the law.” 
At no point in the video or in the article does Fetterman apologize for what he did to an unarmed Black man, aiming a shotgun to him because Fetterman thought he must have been a criminal.  Worse, Fetterman was not a police officer but he believed he had the right to aim a shotgun at another human being and detain him anyway.
He doesn't even try to apologize.

So yeah, thus ends the Senate aspirations of John Fetterman, because I will gladly donate to his Democratic primary opponent, even if the leading contender is a Blue Dog like Conor Lamb.

Didn't even make it 24 hours. Never should have been Lieutenant Governor, either.

He finished a distant third in the 2016 Senate primary for a reason, turns out.

Location Israeli A Problem

Even if Joe Biden wanted to move the location of the main US Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem after Trump moved it in 2019, the Senate wouldn't approve it, so it looks like for the foreseeable future, the embassy will remain right where it is.

The White House confirmed Tuesday that President Joe Biden intends to keep the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, where it was relocated during the Trump administration. The issue of where to locate the embassy has been a fixture of negotiations over Israeli and Palestinian territory and authority for decades.

A White House spokesperson confirmed to CQ Roll Call the administration’s intentions, following up on a query from last Friday’s White House press briefing.

“The U.S. position is that our embassy will remain in Jerusalem, which we recognize as Israel’s capital,” the spokesperson said. “The ultimate status of Jerusalem is a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations.”

The Senate voted 97-3 last week during the budget vote-a-rama in favor of an amendment supportive of the location of the embassy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in response to questioning during his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing that the embassy would remain in Jerusalem, but White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had not been definitive on Friday.

Still, the lack of clarity from the White House had prompted criticism over the weekend from freshman Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., who had been U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Donald Trump.

“This question was posed because, on the previous day, the United States Senate had sent an unequivocal signal on this topic,” Hagerty wrote in a Saturday letter to Biden. “In order to correct the discrepancy that unfortunately now exists between our two branches of government and send an unequivocal message to our allies in Israel, I urge you to confirm — immediately and publicly — that your Administration will continue to implement U.S. law and maintain the American Embassy’s location in Jerusalem.”

The amendment to the budget resolution was led by Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Only Sens. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., opposed the amendment.

In moving the embassy, the Trump administration followed through on provisions of a 1995 law known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Implementation had previously been suspended by presidents of both parties, which had kept the U.S. embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv

In other words, the president who really tied Joe Biden's hands on this was Bill Clinton, not Donald Trump. Clinton, Obama, and you can argue Clinton actually had his hands tied by Congress in 1995, the bill passed with overwhelming veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, and Clinton let it pass unsigned and kicked this particular diplomatic can down the road for 25 years.

There's nothing Biden can do, it's been preordained for a quarter-century.


Related Posts with Thumbnails