Thursday, May 13, 2021

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

If Joe Manchin's top secret plan for getting things passed in the Senate is suggesting reasonable things that Republican senators public take flaming dumps on, then I guess it's working like a charm.


It didn’t take long for a supposedly bipartisan compromise on voting rights legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is floating to get dumped on by a key Republican.

At a Thursday Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to vote on one of President Biden’s key Justice Department nominees, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) didn’t call out Manchin by name. But he referenced a proposal Manchin has recently floated — first to a local news outlet, and then more explicitly in an interview Wednesday with ABC News — for addressing voting rights.

Manchin is currently the lone Senate Democrat not publicly supporting the For The People Act, Democrats’ sprawling democracy overhaul legislation that would beat back many of the restrictive state-level voting policies advancing across the county. The For the People Act — also known as S1 — stands no chance of becoming law for as long as Manchin and other centrist Democrats oppose blowing up the filibuster to ram it through.

Manchin says he would not support major elections legislation done on a purely partisan basis. Instead, Manchin has suggested that lawmakers focus on a restoring the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court invalidated the formula that determined which states — based on their history of discriminating against minority votes — must get federal approval for changes to their election practices.

Manchin is now pitching a fix to the Voting Rights Act that would subject all 50 states to the so-called preclearance process. That goes farther than the VRA restoration legislation that has been previously introduced, which is moving separately from s1 so Democrats can create the kind of legislative record that will make the law more resistant to legal attack. Manchin nonetheless has described the approach as something to be done with bipartisan support.

On Thursday, Cornyn signaled that such an idea would not get much buy-in from the Republican Party.

He characterized it in suspicious terms. The idea of a 50-state preclearance system has only been outlined by Manchin in vague terms, which to Cornyn, meant that there is an “effort afoot” to do through the “back door” what S1 was trying to do through the “front door:” a supposed federal “takeover” of the U.S. election system


Subjecting all 50 states to VRA pre-clearance would remove the bias that the Roberts Court cited in 2013 when they ripped that entire section of the act out. Mitch McConnell has been blocking a fix to the VRA ever since, and he knows that if federal elections were free from GOP interference at the state level, that the GOP would never win again.
If Manchin's fixes are being tossed out as non-starters, then when does Manchin finally say "screw it" and kill the filibuster?
Answer: who knows?
But our entire democracy depends on his whims, and I'm rapidly getting sick of it.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn has reached a deal with the Justice Department on testifying about his former boss, to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee in a closed door session.

Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors about then-President Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, the House and the Justice Department announced in a court filing Wednesday night. 
The interview will happen "as soon as possible," and a transcript will be released in the days after, the court filing said. 
The committee members who interview McGahn can ask him about the incidents documented in the Mueller report of Trump's attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and block the Russia investigation, and about the Mueller investigation's accuracy. 
The Justice Department can assert executive privilege or McGahn can decline to answer on other topics, which would essentially block House Democrats from learning details McGahn might know about other major scandals during Trump's presidency.
McGahn served as the top lawyer on Trump's 2016 campaign and served as White House counsel until fall 2018. 
The agreement is a major concession from the executive branch after the Trump administration sought to broadly block former and current officials from testifying to Congress, and McGahn's recalcitrance ended up in court as the most potentially consequential case over testimony. Yet the agreement comes after much of the political jeopardy Trump faced as president passed -- leaving House Democrats with far less momentum in their investigations of Trump related to obstruction. 
"When the former President vowed to fight 'all of the subpoenas' aimed at his Administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction. We begin to bring that era of obstruction to an end today," Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. 
The agreement will put an end to the two-year standoff in court over McGahn's congressional testimony, which Democrats sought after Mueller documented multiple instances of Trump's obstructive acts. The Mueller investigation relied on McGahn as one of its most significant witnesses against Trump.
Could McGahn;s testimony be the key to a criminal referral of Trump to the DoJ?  Possibly, but I remain extremely skeptical of any federal charges for Trump, as I have said.

It's the right thing to do, but the price will be extraordinary.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

It's been true for years now, and it remains true today: the largest terrorism threat to the United States remains white supremacist domestic terrorists bent on destroying democracy in America and establishing a white ethno-state through military insurrection. The Biden Administration is not mincing words when it comes to the scope of the threat, either.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas told senators on Wednesday that the greatest domestic threat facing the United States came from what they both called “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”

“Specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Mr. Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The cabinet secretaries’ comments reflected a dramatic shift in tone from the Trump administration, which deliberately downplayed the threat from white supremacists and similar groups, in part to elevate the profile of what former President Donald J. Trump described as violent threats from radical left-wing groups.

Last year, a former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch filed a whistle-blower complaint in which he accused the department of blocking a report about the threat of violent extremism and described white supremacists as having been “exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent targeted attacks in recent years.”

Mr. Mayorkas told senators on Wednesday, “The department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally.”

As Mr. Garland and Mr. Mayorkas testified before the Appropriations Committee, former members of the Trump administration told the House Oversight Committee that Mr. Trump’s false claims to have won the 2020 election had fueled the domestic terrorism threat, a point many Republican lawmakers have rejected. Earlier on Wednesday, House Republicans ousted Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership position for publicly pushing back on Mr. Trump’s claims, in the latest sign of Mr. Trump’s continued hold on the party.

While the Justice and Homeland Security Departments have long been involved in countering violent extremism inside the country, Biden administration officials have said the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol showed an urgent need to focus more on domestic extremism.
Republicans are trying to do anything they can to change the subject from their own assistance to these Trumpist terrorists to blaming Black Lives Matter, because Republicans agree with the goals of these terrorists. Attorney General Merrick Garland was more than ready for the GOP.

Senate Republicans did not share that focus on Wednesday and instead grilled Mr. Garland and Mr. Mayorkas on border security issues.

The top Republican on the committee, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, said that Democrats were politicizing the issue by describing violent domestic extremists as coming from the far right.

He equated the Capitol riot to the protests against police violence last summer, and asked Mr. Garland why the Justice Department seemed to be prioritizing pursuing the perpetrators of the Jan. 6 attack over those who looted shops and attacked law enforcement during racial justice protests.

Mr. Garland said that “if there has to be a hard hierarchy of things that we prioritize,” the Jan. 6 attack would be at the top because it most threated democracy.

“I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Mr. Garland said, calling it “an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.”

“That does not mean that we don’t focus on other threats and that we don’t focus on other crimes,” he said.
I'm betting about now Mitch McConnell is maybe reconsidering his decision to block Garland's path to the Supreme Court. He'd still have a 5-4 conservative majority now, but Garland is way out of Mitch's league as AG.

We'll see how this goes. I still don't see any federal indictments for Trump officials in the future, the chance of deadly violence is just too high, not to mention making a martyr out of someone. I know it needs to happen, but the price is something we have to be willing to pay, and I don't think we're ready to even have that discussion yet.

I don't know. We'll see. Merrick Garland knows a lot of things that I do not, and that's a good thing.
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