Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Last Call For Return To Mueller Time, Con't

The Justice department is really, really trying to be too cute by half with the order by federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson to release the memo former Trump AG bill Barr used to justify not charging Trump with any federal crimes. On one hand, the DoJ is protecting their own. On the other hand, America needs justice on this.

The Justice Department late Monday night released part of a key internal document used in 2019 to justify not charging President Donald Trump with obstruction, but also signaled it would fight a judge’s effort to make the entire document public.

The filing comes after a federal judge excoriated former U.S. attorney general William P. Barr — and the Justice Department more broadly — for their explanations of how and why it decided not to pursue a criminal case against Trump over possible obstruction of the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The Justice Department filing is likely to both fuel and frustrate Trump’s biggest critics, particularly Democrats who have long argued that Barr stage-managed an exoneration of Trump after Mueller submitted a 448-page report into his findings about his investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the election, and whether Trump tried to obstruct that investigation.

The central document at issue is a March 2019 memo written by two senior Justice Department officials arguing that aside from important constitutional reasons not to accuse the president of a crime, the evidence gathered by Mueller did not rise to the level of a prosecutable case, even if Trump were not president.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a scathing opinion saying that she had read the memo and that it showed that Barr was disingenuous when he cited the document as key to his conclusion that Trump had not broken the law. On Tuesday, Jackson ordered the public release of the still-secret portions of her opinion discussing the Justice Department's Trump memo.

In that ruling, the judge also accused department lawyers of misleading her about the internal discussions that surrounded the memo and ordered the memo be released, though she gave the government several weeks to decide whether to appeal.

As that deadline neared, the government filed papers seeking both to appeal the ruling and to appease the court by offering a partially unredacted version of the document — making the first two pages public, while filing an appeal to try to keep the other half-dozen pages secret.

“In retrospect, the government acknowledges that its briefs could have been clearer, and it deeply regrets the confusion that caused. But the government’s counsel and declarants did not intend to mislead the Court,” the Justice Department lawyers wrote in asking the judge to keep the rest of the document under seal while they appeal her ruling.

The parts of the memo released Monday night offer a deeper glimpse into why the judge was angry — and indicate that the decision not to accuse Trump of a crime had been the subject of previous conversations among Justice Department leaders.
The memo written by Steven A. Engel, then the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and Edward O’Callaghan, then a senior department official closely involved in supervising the Mueller investigation, was addressed to Barr, then the U.S. attorney general.

“Over the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation, we have previously discussed these issues within the Department among ourselves, with the Deputy Attorney General, and with you since your appointment, as well as with the Special Counsel and his staff. Our conclusions are the product of those discussions, as well as our review of the Report,” the lawyers wrote in the newly public section.
In other words, the DoJ really, really does not want to reveal to the country what Barr was advised to do, when Judge Berman makes it obvious in her opinion that the problem is the advice was written at the same time as Barr's decision not to prosecute, which is CYA justification after the fact.  The usual suspects on the right are howling victory chants, saying it proves that there was never anything Trump would have ever been charged with, even if he wasn't in the Oval Office.

But that's the entire point. The memo was written in order to support a conclusion Barr had already reached.

The whole memo would help to prove that, which is why we'll never see it. Merrick Garland could stop it. He will not. His entire staff would quit.

That's unfortunate.

Infrastructure, Weak Con't

We know we're in the final phases of Biden's infrastructure package becoming "No Republicans will vote for it regardless" and shoved through reconciliation because the "collapse" word is now getting involved.

Washington’s bipartisan infrastructure talks may soon look a lot like its cicada population: squashed after staggering around haplessly.

Senate Republicans negotiating with the White House sounded dour notes on Monday evening and are mulling whether to even make a counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s proposal last week. Democrats are increasingly calling for Biden to consider going it alone rather than see the GOP water down his agenda.

An unofficial deadline for a bipartisan accord on infrastructure hits a week from now and negotiators are some $1.5 trillion apart, with severe differences in both size and scope, after more than a month of talks. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said Republicans won’t come up “anywhere near the number the White House has proposed,” and Democrats are even more skeptical that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will greenlight a deal they find palatable.

“We’re too far apart. Because I think Mitch’s ultimate purpose is not compromise but delay and mischief,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who sounded less urgent notes in an interview last week. Biden is “entitled to his judgment on this but if I were in a room with him, I’d say it’s time to move on.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the next move is up to Republicans and the White House is “not quite there” at bailing on the talks. The main holdups are moderate Democrats, who are signaling they still aren't quite ready to go it alone on a massive new spending bill, ensuring the plodding talks continue for at least a few more days.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) both said they remain hopeful about talks with Republicans. Asked about the obviously dire state of the talks between Biden and Republicans, centrist Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said: “It’s always darkest before dawn.”
No, this will be DOA by Memorial Day next week, and Dems can move forward and deal with Manchin and the Georgia and Arizona Dems. It'll be fun too.

But we'll finally move forward.

Florida Man Now Controls Social Media

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a laughably unconstitutional bill that punishes social media companies for banning state and local politicians with large fines as a direct response to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube banning Donald Trump.

Florida on Monday became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter moderate speech online, by imposing fines on social media companies that permanently bar political candidates for statewide office.

The law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is a direct response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s bans of former President Donald J. Trump in January. In addition to the fines for barring candidates, it makes it illegal to prevent some news outlets from posting to their platforms in response to the contents of their stories.

Mr. DeSantis said signing the bill meant that Floridians would be “guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites.”

“If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable,” he said in a statement.

The bill is part of a broader push among conservative state legislatures to crack down on the ability of tech companies to manage posts on their platforms. The political efforts took off after Mr. Trump was barred after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Lawmakers around the country have echoed Mr. Trump’s accusations that the companies are biased against conservative personalities and publications, even though those accounts often thrive online.

More than a hundred bills targeting the companies’ moderation practices have been filed nationwide this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of the bills have died, but a proposal is still being debated in Texas.

Twitter declined to comment. Google and Facebook did not immediately offer comments on the signing of the bill.

The Florida law makes it illegal to bar a candidate for state office for more than 14 days, in a move that would seem to outlaw the kind of permanent ban the social media platforms applied to Mr. Trump’s accounts. Companies would be fined $250,000 per day for cases where they barred a candidate for statewide office. The fine is lower for candidates seeking other offices.

The law says the platforms cannot take down or otherwise prioritize content from a “journalistic enterprise” that reaches a certain size. Conservatives were outraged last year when Facebook and Twitter limited the reach of a New York Post article about the contents of a laptop it said belonged to Hunter Biden, the younger son of President Biden.

Under the law, platforms are also required to be clear about how they decide to take down content or leave it up. Users could sue the platform if they felt those terms were inconsistently applied.

A late amendment to the bill exempts companies from the law if they own a theme park or an entertainment venue larger than 25 acres. That means the law is unlikely to apply to websites owned by Disney, which operates the Walt Disney World Resort, and Comcast, which owns Universal Studios Florida.

In Florida, as in dozens of other states, the Republican lawmakers’ push to punish social media companies follows the party’s other efforts to feed the demands of a conservative base that remains loyal to Mr. Trump.


So it won't hurt Disney or Comcast, but any other social media site can be sued in Florida if they "limit the reach" of certain "journalistic enterprises". The plan is for conservative media outlets to sue the social media giants for millions in the state on a regular basis, until they admit defeat or something. At the very least, expect lots of actions in Florida state courts, with the hope of discovery and lots of owning of the libs.

Normally in a fight between the GOP and Big Tech I'd be rooting for a meteor to wipe out both sides, but the GOP passing laws to limit what can be allowed to be said online is pretty much a first amendment mess that should have both the press and media companies screaming, because they're next.


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