Thursday, October 21, 2021

Last Call For Matt's #MeToo Moment, Con't

Apparently GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz isn't just facing major sexual misconduct charges, his "wingman" Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector from Gaetz's home of Florida, has spilled so much information on Gaetz that federal prosecutors are still cataloguing it all.
Joel Greenberg, the former Florida official whose crimes in the state ensnared Rep. Matt Gaetz in a federal sex trafficking investigation, has been providing the Justice Department with new information as he continues to cooperate with authorities following a guilty plea earlier this year. 
At a brief hearing in Orlando federal court Monday, Roger Handberg, an assistant US attorney, said that Greenberg has made allegations to investigators that "take us to some places we did not anticipate." 
"What investigators do is they follow up on that to try to corroborate the information that's been provided," Handberg said. 
Greenberg, a former county tax commissioner and close friend of Gaetz's, pleaded guilty to six charges in May, admitting that he had knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex. 
As part of his plea agreement, he was required to give "substantial assistance" to investigators as they build out related cases. His lawyer has said that Greenberg has held a series of proffers, or meetings, with the Justice Department. 
Handberg did not say what investigations Greenberg was providing new information to authorities about, although CNN has reported that Greenberg has told the Justice Department about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. 
Greenberg faced dozens of criminal charges before his guilty plea, and the ongoing investigations related to him have also roped in a circle of local politicians and businessmen who authorities are scrutinizing for possible fraud. 
In court Monday, Handberg called Greenberg a "prolific criminal." 
"Mr. Greenberg was not alone," Handberg said. 
Gaetz, who is also under investigation for obstruction of justice related to the investigation into him, has not been charged with a crime. He has repeatedly denied having sex with an underage woman. 
The hearing was held following a request by Greenberg's attorney to delay Greenberg's sentencing for a second time so that he could continue to provide information. The Justice Department had not opposed the request. 
Handberg called the need for a second delay "unusual" but added the department was in an "unusual situation given the number of different investigations and lines of investigation we are pursuing."
When federal prosecutors ask that they need to delay a trial because their chief states' evidence witness against you has so much additional credible information to give that they are pursuing additional lines of investigation, you are screwed beyond belief.

Greenberg has been feeding the feds stuff for almost a year now. There's so much of it, they're asking for more time to build their case because it's that big.

If this is a tactic to get Gaetz to turn over on a bigger fish, say, Trump...well, this is how you do it. This has now gone far beyond a #MeToo moment, not to minimize it, but Gaetz could be facing decades in prison if the feds are still racking up the charges.

The Justice Department has added two top prosecutors from Washington to the child sex trafficking investigation of Representative Matt Gaetz, according to two people briefed on the matter, a sign of the complex and high-stakes nature of the inquiry into Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest congressional allies.

The prosecutors — one a public corruption investigator with an expertise in child exploitation crimes, and the other a top leader of the public corruption unit — have been working on the Florida-based investigation for at least three months, the people said.

It is not unusual for prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington to be added to local teams of federal investigators in high-profile cases that require a deep and specific expertise like sex crimes.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) made an unexpected announcement during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

"I think someone may be trying to kill me," Gaetz said shortly after he was recognized on the House floor. "If they are successful, I would like my constituents and my family to know who stopped their arrest."

Gaetz then claimed that he received a death threat from someone who claimed to be a professional hit man on Twitter and who supposedly traveled to Washington D.C.

According to Gaetz, the Capitol Police recommended that the individual be arrested, but the Department of Justice supposedly refused to take action.
Yes, Gaetz made this claim on the House floor on Wednesday. No evidence, no anything, and he claims if he "suddenly dies" that we all know what happened to him.

The real victim in the end is Matt Gaetz, right?

The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

 In the end, the Republican platform is about allowing white supremacy to reign supreme, and for Black folk, especially Black Democrats, to be eliminated.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn received multiple threats, including one of lynching, after he penned an opinion piece critical of former President Donald Trump, he told the Des Moines Register.

Wilburn, a state representative from Ames, is the first Black chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Although he’s become accustomed to hateful comments as an elected official and party leader, “it's important for people to know that this is not normal and it’s not OK,” Wilburn said in an interview.

Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle confirmed his department is investigating the threats, and Story County Attorney Tim Meals said his office has also been made aware of the incidents.

Wilburn authored an opinion piece titled “Iowa Republicans put loyalty to Trump over helping Iowans,” which the Des Moines Register published on its website Oct. 8 and on its print opinion page Oct. 9. The piece was timed ahead of Trump’s rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines Oct. 9. It was the former president's first trip back to the state since he lost the election and a mob of his supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol in January.

After the essay's publication, Wilburn said he received two threatening phone messages and one threatening email to his legislative email address, which all made reference to what he wrote in the article.

“The voicemails include very explicit language. Every other word was the ‘n-word,’” he said.

Wilburn said he could not share more details about the contents of the calls because the investigation is pending. But he said he was compelled to report these instances of harassment, though he has received others, because of the “intensity” of the language.

“What stood out this time was the language that was used — specifically, the very direct statement about lynching,” he said. “And I get angry about that — that people feel that they can come in and make you feel less than human, subhuman, with that type of reference to lynching. There's the history behind that and trying to intimidate Blacks, intimidate African Americans.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann expressed support for Wilburn in a statement Tuesday.

"I strongly condemn the racist threats made toward Chairman Wilburn," he said. "We can have a spirited debate on issues and candidates without threats of violence. I am pleased the authorities are looking into this and hope those responsible are held accountable for their actions."

The Iowa GOP party chair strangly condemns this, he says.
But he'll do everything he can to support Trump.
And that means getting the votes of the people who want to see  Ross Wilburn swinging from an oak tree.

Let's not forget that part.

The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

I've been telling everyone that President Manchin holds 100% of the cards in the Build Back Better/Good Package negotiations because he's stacked the deck, and now we finally get to see the last and most powerful card in his hand if David Corn's story is to be believed, and Manchin actually calls it "Bullshit".

In recent days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this. Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an “American Independent.” And he has devised a detailed exit strategy for his departure.

Manchin has been in the center of a wild rush of negotiations with his fellow Democrats and the White House over a possible compromise regarding Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better package, and Manchin’s opposition to key provisions—including Medicare and Medicaid expansion, an expanded child tax credit, and measures to address climate change—has been an obstacle that the Democrats have yet to overcome. As these talks have proceeded, Manchin has discussed bolting from the Democratic Party—perhaps to place pressure on Biden and Democrats in these negotiations.

He told associates that he has a two-step plan for exiting the party. First, he would send a letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, removing himself from the Democratic leadership of the Senate. (He is vice chairman of the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications committee.) Manchin hopes that would send a signal. He would then wait and see if that move had any impact on the negotiations. After about a week, he said, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent.

It is unclear whether in this scenario Manchin would end up caucusing with the Democrats, which would allow them to continue to control the Senate, or side with the Republicans and place the Senate in GOP hands. In either event, he would hold great sway over this half of Congress.

Without Manchin’s vote, the Democrats cannot pass the package in the 50-50 Senate. And a vote on this measure is key to House passage of the $1 trillion bipartisan road-bridges-and-broadband infrastructure bill the Senate approved in August. (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, has also been a problem for the party.) Manchin has met with Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and a variety of his fellow Senate Democrats this week in an effort to strike a deal. Through it all, he has insisted that $1.75 trillion is his top and final offer, and he has constantly said no to proposed programs that almost every other congressional Democrat supports. He has told his fellow Democrats that if they don’t accept his position, they risk getting nothing.

Manchin told associates that he was prepared to initiate his exit plan earlier this week and had mentioned the possibility to Biden. But he was encouraged by the conversations with Sanders and top Democrats that occurred at the start of the week and did not yet see a reason to take this step. Still, he has informed associates that because he is so out of sync with the Democratic Party he believes it is likely he will leave the party by November 2022.

Manchin has repeatedly said that he has a significant philosophical difference with most of his fellow Democrats. He has told reporters that he believes major programs in the Build Back Better bill would move the United States toward an “entitlement mentality” and that he cannot accept that. In a recent meeting with Biden, Manchin told the president that he sees government as a partner with the public not the ultimate provider, according to people who heard the senator’s account of the conversation. He explained to the president that in his view Biden didn’t win the presidency last year by championing progressive proposals, and he pressed the president to recall his campaign promise to bring people together. He also reminded Biden that he has vowed not to support any package unless it contains the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of incest or when the life of the mother is at risk
Now that if up there is a big one. David Corn isn't exactly the best person in the beltway Village. He's had #MeToo issues and credibility problems on the Steele Dossier in the past, and been publicly called out on both.
If Corn is right here, it means Democrats need to take President Manchin's deal, accept what he allows you to have, or get nothing and lose the Senate. Note that he's saying it's "likely" that he will leave the party by November 2022. Whether that means siding with the GOP and Biden losing everything, well, now that's up to Biden, isn't it, said the hostage taker.


So we're right back to "Will he, won't he" because frankly, feeding David Corn this rumor would be a GOP operative's dream story sowing Democratic disarray.  What would Manchin gain from going down as the most hated Democratic senator since Joe Lieberman and John Edwards? 

The answer is a shitload of money, frankly.

Besides, it's not like Manchin cares too much about making deals or getting things passed as voting rights went down in flames again in the Senate on Wednesday.

Democrats argued that the bill is a necessity after Republican state legislatures passed laws limiting access to the ballot box following former President Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

"Across the country, the Big Lie -- the Big Lie -- has spread like a cancer as many states across the nation have passed the most draconian restrictions against voting that we've seen in decades," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "If nothing is done, these laws will make it harder for millions of Americans to participate in their government." 
President Joe Biden issued a harsh statement during the vote, calling it "unconscionable" that Republicans would block the legislation from advancing. 
"The United States Senate needs to act to protect the sacred constitutional right to vote, which is under unrelenting assault by proponents of the Big Lie and Republican Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys-General, and state legislatures across the nation," Biden said. 
Amid the Republican blockade, Democrats on the left have increasingly called on their party's senators to gut the Senate's filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to advance most legislation
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a Senate Democratic candidate, said in a statement, "every Democratic Senator who votes in favor of this bill today, but won't support getting rid of the filibuster, is engaging in performative politics, and is content with the GOP's complete assault on our democracy." 
But at least two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they are unwilling to change the filibuster rule and are crucial votes for the Biden administration's economic agenda
On the other hand, Corn does have a lot of clicks and views and follow-ups to gain if he's the bad faith actor here and he's being rolled by his sources.

On the gripping hand, well, Manchin himself has been conducting this entire trashing of the Biden plan in bad faith.

Of course if the story is true, the best part is after Manchin gets done playing this game, then it will be Vice-President Sinema's turn to whittle the bill down even more to see what she can get out of the deal as well. Something will pass I expect, but what that something is will be 100% up to the two of them.

The real question is which of these known bad faith actors then is acting in bad faith. I don't know the answer to that, but I do know the answer to the general Manchin/Sinema problem.
Remember, the answer here is more and better Dems, not staying home in 2022. That would render Manchin's antics irrelevant. Sinema too. 53, 54 Democrats in the Senate, and somehow keeping the House, and we're in far better shape.

But if history's any indication, we'll only get five or six more Republicans in the Senate and fifty or sixty more in the House instead.


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