Saturday, November 6, 2021

Last Call For Insurrection Investigation, Con't

Last month's revelations about the Trump "brain trust" using a suite in DC's Willard Hotel as a coup command center seems to have motivated another round of subpoenas from the January 6th commission, according to The Guardian's Hugo Lowell.

The House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January is poised to issue subpoenas to top Trump lieutenants involved in attempting to subvert the 2020 election results from a “command center” at the Willard hotel in Washington, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The subpoenas, which could be issued as soon as next week, reflect the select committee’s interest in events at the hotel just across from the White House, where Donald Trump’s most loyal aides plotted to keep him in office.

The select committee is targeting about 20 individuals connected to the Trump command center at the Willard, among them the legal scholar John Eastman, who outlined ways to deny Joe Biden the presidency, the source said.

The subpoenas seeking documents and testimony are aimed at obtaining the legal advice offered to Trump on how he could manipulate events on 6 January to stop certification of Biden’s election win, the source said.

House investigators are moving to pursue Trump lieutenants who gathered at the Willard to uncover the “centers of gravity” from which Trump and his advisers conspired, the source said – and whether the former president had advance knowledge of the Capitol attack.

The select committee appears to be seeking a full account of what transpired in several suites at the Willard in the days leading up to 6 January and during a final “war room” meeting the night before the Capitol attack.

The select committee is targeting Eastman after it emerged that he outlined scenarios for overturning the election in a memorandum presented at a White House meeting on 4 January with Trump, former vice-president Mike Pence and Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

At that meeting, according to a source close to Trump, Eastman ran through the memo that detailed how at the joint session of Congress on 6 January Pence might refuse to certify electoral slates for Biden and thereby hand Trump a second term. 
Which is all fine and good, but what I'm not seeing is any indication that AG Merrick Garland is going to do anything at all to Steve Bannon on the congressional contempt referral for refusing his subpoena from last month.

To many in Washington, the criminal contempt case against Steve Bannon appears cut and dried: The podcaster and former Trump adviser has openly spurned a congressional subpoena to testify in an investigation into the January 6 US Capitol attack, claiming to be covered by executive privilege even though he wasn't a government employee at the time. 
But the longer it takes for the Justice Department to make a decision on whether to prosecute Bannon, the more questions swirl around whether this was the right strategy for congressional investigators. Democratic critics, already frustrated with Attorney General Merrick Garland over other moves, have focused their impatience over the Bannon referral on Garland because he has ultimate say on whether Bannon is prosecuted. 
It's been more than two weeks since the House voted to refer Bannon's case to the Justice Department. Since then, Garland has said little publicly about the status of Bannon's referral, but some people close to the attorney general say his experience of being blocked from the Supreme Court by Republicans for partisan reasons means he's not unaware of the political forces he has to navigate. 
While Justice officials say they expected criticism over the delay in making a decision on the Bannon criminal referral, Garland has established a methodical approach to making decisions, aware that the department will be criticized no matter which way it goes.
Justice Department officials tell CNN that prosecutors don't feel pressure to act more quickly. Given that criminal referrals are rare and even more rarely enforced by the department, the Bannon decision will be dissected for years to come so the lawyers have to be sure they get it right, officials say.
That's...actually a fair point, *if* Garland is going to prosecute. We simply don't know if he will. But keep in mind Garland not prosecuting will "be dissected for years to come" too.


Trump Cards, Con't

Donald Trump continues to have the only Republican primary vote that matters, and now he's picking Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly's GOP opponent in Arizona in 2022.

Former President Trump is set to attend a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort next week with Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters, his first public involvement in the state’s marquee Senate race.

An invitation to the fundraiser obtained by The Hill shows the event will be held on Wednesday and costs $2,900 per person to attend. Donors or couples giving $25,000 ahead of the event will also be granted a picture with Trump.

The invitation also shows that the host committee for the event includes an array of prominent tech titans and conservative mega donors, including Peter Thiel, who has already dumped $10 million into a super PAC backing Masters, and Rebekah Mercer.

Masters is the chief operating officer at Thiel Capital and president of the Thiel Foundation. News of the fundraiser was first reported by Politico.

Trump’s involvement in the fundraiser is notable given that he has not issued an endorsement in the GOP Senate primary. He has officially backed candidates running in Arizona’s gubernatorial and secretary of state races.

It was not immediately clear if the fundraiser was an indication that Trump was leaning toward endorsing Masters, who has a mutual ally with the former president in Thiel, or if Trump is still considering throwing his weight behind another contender.

Among the other Republicans running for the chance to take on Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) next year are Arizona Secretary of State Mark Brnovich and businessman Jim Lamon.
Maters is perfectly cast from the Trump mold: a stupidly rich, completely amoral executive who will say or do anything to win. Mark Brnovich will never be the candidate, he failed to steal Arizona for Trump and Trump won't lift a finger for him.

Both Masters and Brnovich have competed to display their loyalty to Trump, who remains wildly popular with the GOP grassroots in Arizona, though Trump has knocked Brnovich for what he suggested was insufficient support of a Republican-led audit of the November presidential race in the state.

That audit ultimately showed that President Biden won Arizona by a slightly wider margin than initially believed.

Brnovich has tried to bolster his conservative bona fides by using his office to sue the Biden administration on its vaccine mandates for businesses, though Masters has released ads knocking the attorney general as weak on illegal immigration.

An internal poll commissioned by the pro-Masters Saving Arizona super PAC this month and obtained by The Hill showed Brnovich's unfavorable rating jumped from 9 percent to 20 percent since the launch of the ad and that Masters’s support in the primary among likely voters rose from 5 percent to 14 percent.

The poll showed Brnovich leading Masters by a 29-5 margin in August compared to a 26-14 margin in October.
Current Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey has no chance for the same reason Brnovich is a dead man walking: he failed to deliver Trump his "election fraud!" victory over Biden.
No, Kelly should be preparing to take on Masters now, and he should be ready. 

The Gavel Crashes Down Once More

Late last night, the five members of The Squad, plus Brooklyn Rep. Jamaal Bowman, called Nancy Pelosi's bluff on passing the Senate infrastructure bill in the House. With their five no votes, the Senate bill could not pass on Democratic votes alone. They thought they had finally beaten her.

The House on Friday passed the biggest U.S. infrastructure package in decades, marking a victory for President Joe Biden and unleashing $550 billion of fresh spending on roads, bridges, public transit and other projects in coming years.

The vote was 228-206 and sends the legislation to Biden for his signature. It capped a day in which Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to deal with a last-minute standoff between party progressives and moderates that took hours of intense negotiations and the president’s intervention to resolve.

Pelosi and Biden, however, were unable to land a House vote at the same time on a more than $1.75 trillion tax and spending package that makes up much of the rest of Biden’s domestic agenda. The House instead is set to approve a procedural measure teeing up a vote after lawmakers return from next week’s break and the Congressional Budget Office delivers a cost analysis.

That was a last-minute concession to a small group of moderates who refused to vote for the spending package without the CBO score. Progressives also made a concession by supporting the infrastructure legislation before a vote on the larger spending package.

“I’ve spoken to the president a number of times today and the president appreciates that we are working in good faith with our colleagues agreement,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement. “We’re going to trust each other because the Democratic Party is together on this, we are united that it is important for us to get both bills done.”

Sure, it was all kabuki, Pelosi allowed the Squad to have their purity tantrum and demonstrated to everyone by getting thirteen Republican votes that the bill's passage was preordained. Despite the drama the bipartisan bill passed and Pelosi had a dozen plus Republicans help her, just as more than a dozen Republican senators helped Chuck Schumer 3 months ago.

In the end, never bet against Pelosi when her chips are in and the vote is on. That's the good news. the bipartisan bill is headed for Biden's desk this weekend.

Now the bad news.

The thing is that there's a higher stakes game the next table over in two weeks, the Build Back Better plan. President Manchin has all the chips in that pot. He can trash the game and the Biden plan now...

...but if he does, he's the villain. Is he really okay with that? Is Sinema?

We'll see.

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