Democrat Mary Peltola was the apparent winner of Alaska’s special U.S. House race and is set to become the first Alaska Native in Congress, after votes were tabulated Wednesday in the state’s first ranked choice election.
Peltola led Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin after ballots were tallied and votes for third-place GOP candidate Nick Begich III were redistributed to his supporters’ second choices. Peltola, a Yup’ik former state lawmaker who calls Bethel home, is now slated to be the first woman to hold Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat.
If results are confirmed as expected by the state review board later this week, she will succeed U.S. Rep. Don Young, the Republican who held the office for nearly five decades — since before Peltola was born. The special election was triggered by Young’s death in March.
“I feel like I need to catch my breath for a minute,” Peltola said in the moment after results were announced in a live video by state election officials in Juneau. Peltola was surrounded by family and campaign staff at an Anchorage office.
“What’s most important is that I’m an Alaskan being sent to represent all Alaskans. Yes, being Alaska Native is part of my ethnicity, but I’m much more than my ethnicity,” she said.
It is an outcome largely seen as an upset. Peltola would be the first Democrat to join Alaska’s three-person congressional delegation since U.S. Sen. Mark Begich lost reelection in 2014. And she defeated two Republicans to do so. Combined, Palin and Nick Begich III, nephew of Mark Begich and grandson of former U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, commanded nearly 60% of first-place votes.
Begich was the first candidate eliminated, after no other candidate exceeded the 50% threshold needed to win under Alaska’s ranked choice voting system. The second-place votes of Begich’s supporters were then tallied in what is called an instant runoff. Only half of Begich’s voters ranked Palin second — not enough for her to overtake Peltola.
Peltola had 39.7% of the first-place votes to Palin’s 30.9%. In the instant runoff, Peltola ended up with 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987, or 51.47% to 48.53%. A small number of additional ballots have not yet been counted by election officials, likely not enough to change results.
Peltola ran a largely positive campaign as Begich and Palin traded barbs in the final weeks before the Aug. 16 special election, emerging as the victor with a platform that highlighted her position as the only candidate on the ballot who supports abortion access — an issue that has become important to voters with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision removing federal protections for access to the procedure (the procedure remains protected under the Alaska Constitution).
Peltola has also said she is “pro-fish” and emphasized her plans to protect subsistence fisheries in Alaska as salmon stocks decline in the region where she has fished throughout her life.
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Last Call For Moose Lady Is Not Loose, Con't
Orange Meltdown, Con't
Yes, Trump had piles of classified documents lying around his desk at Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department sought a search warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida after obtaining evidence that highly classified documents were likely concealed and that Mr. Trump’s representatives had falsely claimed all sensitive material had been returned, according to a court filing by the department on Tuesday.
The filing came in response to Mr. Trump’s request for an independent review of materials seized from his home, Mar-a-Lago. But it went far beyond that, painting the clearest picture yet of the department’s efforts to retrieve the documents before taking the extraordinary step of searching a former president’s private property on Aug. 8.
Among the new disclosures in the 36-page filing were that the search yielded three classified documents in desks inside Mr. Trump’s office, with more than 100 documents in 13 boxes or containers with classification markings in the residence, including some at the most restrictive levels.
That was twice the number of classified documents the former president’s lawyers turned over voluntarily while swearing an oath that they had returned all the material demanded by the government.
The investigation into Mr. Trump’s retention of government documents began as a relatively straightforward attempt to recover materials that officials with the National Archives had spent much of 2021 trying to retrieve. The filing on Tuesday made clear that prosecutors are now unmistakably focused on the possibility that Mr. Trump and those around him took criminal steps to obstruct their investigation.
Investigators developed evidence that “government records were likely concealed and removed” from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department sent Mr. Trump’s office a subpoena for any remaining documents with classified markings. That led prosecutors to conclude that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the government filing said.
The filing included one striking visual aid — a photograph of at least five yellow folders recovered from Mr. Trump’s resort and residence marked “Top Secret” and another red one labeled “Secret.”
But department officials are not expected to file charges imminently, if they ever do. And the specific contents of the materials the government recovered in the search remain unclear — as does what risk to national security Mr. Trump’s decision to retain the materials posed.
While the filing provided important new information about the timeline of the investigation, much of the information was mentioned, in less detail, in the affidavit used to obtain the warrant, which a federal magistrate judge unsealed last week.
The Road To Gilead Goes Through...Republican Candidates' Websites?
Congressional Republicans and candidates are running for the hills away from the carnage of the end of Roe, suddenly removing their complete and total support for reducing women to second-class citizens whose reproductive systems belong to the state, and pretending they've never heard of Dobbs, abortion, or the Supreme Court.
Yesli Vega, a Republican running for the U.S. House in a competitive Virginia district, no longer mentions her connection to former president Donald Trump in the bio section at the top of her Twitter page.
Colorado state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, also running in a battleground House race, has stopped promoting language defending “The Sanctity of Life” on her campaign website. Now, there is no mention of abortion at all, a review of the website showed.
And the campaign of Blake Masters, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona, has removed from his campaign website references to strict antiabortion positions he once championed, along with references to false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
At least nine Republican congressional candidates have scrubbed or amended references to Trump or abortion from their online profiles in recent months, distancing themselves from divisive subjects that some GOP strategists say are two of the biggest liabilities for the party ahead of the post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day.
“The Dobbs decision has clearly energized Democratic voters to the point where they have closed the enthusiasm gap with Republicans,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime GOP pollster, referencing the Supreme Court ruling that ended the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Asked whether it hurts the GOP to have Trump back in the news, Ayres replied, “The best case for Republican candidates in the midterms is making the upcoming election a referendum on the Biden administration.”
He added: “Anything that distracts from that focus weakens the Republican position.”
Tracking back to the political middle after a primary is common practice long used by candidates of both parties. But the attempts by Republicans in competitive contests to pivot away from abortion and Trump have emboldened Democrats to mount an aggressive offense on those issues, which they see as key to their efforts to outperform once dim expectations in congressional races.
A Pew Research Center survey earlier this summer found 57 percent of Americans disapproved of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, while a Washington Post-Schar School poll found 65 percent saying the court’s decision represents a major loss of rights for women in America. Some states do not allow abortion when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest; a Washington Post-ABC News poll this spring found 79 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in such cases, a consistent finding in polls for more than three decades.
Both President Biden and Trump, who has received renewed attention recently after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate, are unpopular, making them targets for the opposing party in the midterms. Trump’s favorability rating was just 38 percent and Biden’s was just 43 percent, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
But during the primaries, Trump was a big draw, as he remains popular among many Republicans. Many Republicans ran as candidates aligned with him, a dynamic that has caused some discomfort as the pivot to the general election started.
Vega, who is trying to unseat Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in one of the key seats Republicans hope to flip to win back control of the House, used to say in her Twitter bio that she was a “Pres. Trump appointee,” a reference to her appointment in December 2020 to the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity. Several weeks ago, after Vega secured the GOP nomination, it disappeared.
Asked about the change, Vega’s campaign consultant Sean Brown ignored the question and responded with an apparent reference to Biden’s recent announcement that he would cancel a portion of student loan debt held by many Americans. “Safe to say the story of Democrat candidates refusing to say whether they support Biden’s blatantly political tuition giveaway next?” Brown wrote.
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Last Call For Going After Joe
Republicans hoping to seize control of the House in November are already setting their sights on what is, for many of them, a top priority next year: impeaching President Biden.
A number of rank-and-file conservatives have already introduced impeachment articles in the current Congress against the president. They accuse Biden of committing “high crimes” in his approach to a range of issues touching on border enforcement, the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Those resolutions never had a chance of seeing the light of day, with Democrats holding a narrow control of the lower chamber. But with Republicans widely expected to win the House majority in the midterms, many of those same conservatives want to tap their new potential powers to oust a president they deem unfit. Some would like to make it a first order of business.
“I have consistently said President Biden should be impeached for intentionally opening our border and making Americans less safe,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.). “Congress has a duty to hold the President accountable for this and any other failures of his Constitutional responsibilities, so a new Republican majority must be prepared to aggressively conduct oversight on day one.”
The conservative impeachment drive is reminiscent of that orchestrated by liberals four years ago, as Democrats took control of the House in 2019 under then-President Trump. At the time, a small handful of vocal progressives wanted to impeach Trump, largely over accusations that he’d obstructed a Justice Department probe into Russian ties to his 2016 campaign. The idea was repeatedly rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), not least out of fear that it would alienate voters in tough battleground districts.
The tide turned when a whistleblower accused Trump of pressuring a foreign power to find dirt on his political opponent — a charge that brought centrist Democrats onto the impeachment train. With moderates on board, Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September of 2019, eight months after taking the Speaker’s gavel. Three months later, the House impeached Trump on two counts related to abusing power.
The difference between then and now is that liberals, in early 2019, were fighting a lonely battle with scant support. This year, heading into the midterms, dozens of conservatives have either endorsed Biden’s impeachment formally, or have suggested they’re ready to support it.
At least eight resolutions to impeach Biden have been offered since he took office: Three related to his handling of the migrant surge at the southern border; three targeting his management of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year; one denouncing the eviction moratorium designed to help renters during the pandemic; and still another connected to the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden.
Those proposals will expire with the end of this Congress. But some of the sponsors are already vowing to revisit them quickly next year. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the lead sponsor of four of the impeachment resolutions, is among them.
“She believes Joe Biden should have been impeached as soon as he was sworn in, so of course she wants it to happen as soon as possible,” Nick Dyer, a Greene spokesman, said Monday in an email.
Remember, "high crimes and misdemeanors" are "whatever 218 House members decide it means" should Kevin McCarthy's motley mess get control. We certainly won't have any reasonable or even logical response to the nation's problems for years to come, nothing but impeachment hearings, committee hearings, subcommittee hearings, oversight hearings, and in the meantime Americans will just have to sit around while these idiots masturbate in public.
We have to keep the House and Senate or nothing gets done, another two years of worthless gridlock, and Americans suffering under Republican stupidity.
Vote like your country depends on it, because it does.
Secret Squirrels, Con't
Tony Ornato, the senior Secret Service official who served as a top aide in Donald Trump’s White House and faced scrutiny from the Jan. 6 select committee earlier this summer, announced his retirement Monday.
The agency confirmed Ornato’s retirement, which was announced internally earlier in the day. He’s the latest high-level official in the Secret Service to announce his departure in recent weeks. Spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said Ornato — who joined the Secret Service in 1997 — became eligible for retirement earlier this year and leaves the agency in good standing.
Ornato’s role in the Trump White House made national headlines after explosive testimony by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said he had briefed Trump and other White House officials about armed elements within Trump’s rally crowd on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021.
Although Ornato quickly signaled he was willing to testify in response to Hutchinson’s account, he has yet to appear for a new interview with the select committee, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Asked about the status of those discussion, Guglielmi said “We have continuously made Tony Ornato available.” He noted, however, that Ornato is now a private citizen and no longer a federal employee.
In a statement, Ornato said he retired today “to pursue a career in the private sector.”
“I retired from the U.S. Secret Service after more than 25 years of faithful service to my country, including serving the past five presidents,” he said. “ I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year.”
Ornato’s departure comes shortly after the director of the Secret Service, James Murray, announced his own intention to retire but put it on hold amid expanding investigations into the agency’s conduct in the days surrounding the Capitol attack.
The Jackson, Hole
Jackson’s water system is failing and water across the city is entirely unsafe to drink, officials said at an emergency briefing Monday night. State leadership have warned all residents of Mississippi’s capital city to boil water before drinking or even brushing their teeth.
“We need to provide water for up to 180,000 people for an unknown period of time,” Reeves said tonight.
“Please stay safe,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said at the evening briefing. “Do not drink the water. In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes. Be smart, protect yourself, protect your family, preserve water, look out for your fellow man and look out for your neighbors.”
Reeves declared a state of emergency over the Jackson water crisis tonight, ordering the state to step in to prop up the failing O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant and to deliver potable water to Jackson residents beginning tomorrow.
“This is a very different situation from a boil water notice,” Reeves said at a press event tonight. “Until it is fixed, we do not have reliable running water at scale. The city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to flush toilets and to meet other critical needs. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency will take the state’s lead on distributing drinking water and non-drinking water to residents of the City of Jackson.”
Following a month without clean, drinkable water, Jackson has now mostly lost water pressure, with operational collapses at O.B. Curtis reducing the flow of water through the city’s distribution system to the degree that residences and businesses across the city have little or no water at all.
While the city highlighted the potential flooding of structures at O.B. Curtis due to the high crest of the Pearl River over the weekend, officials have yet to firmly establish the direct causes of the plant failures at the water treatment plant.
“The main pumps had recently been damaged severely,” Reeves said, “about the same time as the prolonged boil water notice began. The facility is now operating on smaller backup pumps.”
Whatever the cause, Reeves said that the State will be intervening to prop up the water plant on the brink.
“The state has created an incident command structure, is surging our resources to the city’s water treatment facility and beginning emergency maintenance, repairs, and improvements,” Reeves said. “We will do everything in our power to restore water pressure and get water flowing back to the people of Jackson.”
A lack of visibility at O.B. Curtis has Mississippi State Department of Health leadership unable to answer how much water is currently flowing out of the plant and into Jackson’s pipes. Tomorrow, leadership warned, they may discover that O.B. Curtis is not producing any water at all.
Operational failures at O.B. Curtis are downstream from the facility’s most pressing issue—a near complete lack of qualified personnel. Class A water operators and regular maintenance staff are sorely needed at O.B. Curtis. The governor said tonight that the State would be acquiring the operators necessary, and would split the cost with the City of Jackson.
“We will cash flow the operation and the City will be responsible for half of the cost of the emergency improvements that we make,” Reeves said. “I want to make something very clear to those operators we have been and will be reaching out to: You will be paid for your work. The state is owning that guarantee.”
Monday, August 29, 2022
Last Call For Climate Of Emergency, Con't
Earth is on course to lose at least 3% of the Greenland ice sheet by the end of the century, contributing at least a foot in sea level rise.
Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a study published Monday.
The findings in the journal Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.
The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.
“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.
“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.
One reason that new research appears worse than other findings may just be that it is simpler. It tries to calculate how much ice Greenland must lose as it recalibrates to a warmer climate. In contrast, sophisticated computer simulations of how the ice sheet will behave under future scenarios for global emissions have produced less alarming predictions.
A one-foot rise in global sea levels would have severe consequences. If the sea level along the U.S. coasts rose by an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found, the most destructive floods would take place five times as often, and moderate floods would become 10 times as frequent.
Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday warned of “riots in the streets” if former President Trump is prosecuted for his handling of classified materials found when the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home.
“If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information, after the Clinton debacle … there’ll be riots in the streets,” Graham told former South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy, who now hosts Fox News’s “Sunday Night in America.”
Trump shared a clip of the interview on Truth Social later Sunday evening.
Gowdy was chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which probed the 2012 terror attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead and uncovered a private email server used by Clinton.
Graham expressed concern that Trump is treated with “a double standard” and repeated his warning of riots regarding the Georgia special grand jury investigating attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.
Graham himself has been subpoenaed in that probe in connection with phone calls made to Georgia election officials seeking to change the election results in the state.
Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't
The European Union is planning urgent steps to push down soaring power prices, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
“The skyrocketing electricity prices are now exposing, for different reasons, the limitations of our current electricity market design,” von der Leyen said in a speech at the Bled Strategic Summit in Slovenia. “It was developed under completely different circumstances and completely different purposes.”
She added, “That’s why we are now working on an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market.”
The unprecedented spike in power prices, which have soared almost 10-fold in the past year, has fueled inflation and increased the economic burden on businesses and households recovering from the pandemic. More and more member states are calling for a price cap and the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, plans to convene an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers on Sept. 9.
The exact details of an EU intervention plan are still being developed, and EU diplomats said the EU’s executive arm could offer a detailed plan as soon as this week.
With Russia squeezing gas deliveries and power-plant outages further sapping supply, the pressure is growing on EU leaders to act quickly or risk social unrest and political upheaval. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala is seeking backing for his price-cap plan and plans to discuss possible limits with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“High energy prices are a Europe-wide problem that we need to tackle at European level,” Fiala said on his Twitter account. “Ahead of the EU Energy Council we want to find a way to help people and businesses that we can agree on with other European leaders.”
Czech officials are proposing to cap prices of natural gas used for power generation, Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Sikela said on Monday.
“We may open the question of emission allowances, as some other member states have done in past, that also present a major part of the total price,” Sikela said. “We may open the question of the overall market regulation, total decoupling of the prices,” adding that the bloc cannot meddle too much with the market or fuel speculation.
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Last Call For Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't
Even right-leaning pollster Trafalgar Group has Wisconsin Democratic Senate Candidate Mandela Barnes up by 2 over GOP Sen. Ron Johnsom, and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tied with Republican Tim Michels.
Nate Silver is still giving Johnson a 60-40% shot at winning. Incumbency and being the out-of-the-White House party is still a powerful combination.
And even given that, Silver is also giving Dems a 2/3rds chance of keeping the Senate right now. Right now the polls show the Dems hanging on in rough incumbent races in GA, NV, AZ and NH, and Dems getting the flip they need in PA with Fetterman over Oz in case one of those races goes to the GOP.
Headed into 2022, Republicans were confident that a red wave would sweep them into control of Congress based on the conventional political wisdom that the midterm elections would produce a backlash against President Biden, who has struggled with low approval ratings.
But now some are signaling concern that the referendum they anticipated on Mr. Biden — and the high inflation and gas prices that have bedeviled his administration — is being complicated by all-encompassing attention on the legal exposure of a different president: his predecessor, Donald J. Trump.
Those worries were on display on Sunday morning as few Republicans appeared on the major Washington-focused news shows to defend Mr. Trump two days after a redacted version of the affidavit used to justify the F.B.I. search of his Mar-a-Lago estate revealed that he had retained highly classified material related to the use of “clandestine human sources” in intelligence gathering. And those who did appear indicated that they would rather be talking about almost anything else.
Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, acknowledged that Mr. Trump “should have turned the documents over” but quickly pivoted to the timing of the search.
“What I wonder about is why this could go on for almost two years and, less than 100 days before the election, suddenly we’re talking about this rather than the economy or inflation or even the student loan program,” Mr. Blunt lamented on ABC’s “This Week.”
Gov. Chris Sununu, Republican of New Hampshire, also pointed to a fear that Mr. Trump’s legal troubles could hurt his party’s midterm chances.
“Former President Trump has been out of office for going on two years now,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “You think this is a coincidence just happening a few months before the midterm elections?”
The Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, which followed repeated requests over more than a year and a half for Mr. Trump to turn over sensitive documents he took when he left office, initially prompted most Republicans to rally around the former president, strengthening his grip on the party. Some reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies as they called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I. Others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “Gestapo” and “tyrants.”
Polls showed an increase in Republican support for Mr. Trump, and strategists quickly began incorporating the search into the party’s larger anti-big-government messaging. They combined denunciation of the F.B.I.’s actions with criticism of Democrats’ plans to increase the number of I.R.S. agents in hopes of rallying small-government conservatives to the polls.
But as more revelations emerge about Mr. Trump’s handling of some of the government’s most sensitive documents, some of those voices have receded.
“Some of the president’s biggest cheerleaders — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan — have gone kind of silent,” Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an anti-Trump Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That tells you all you need to know.”
When Blake Masters was running for the Republican nomination for Senate in Arizona, he floated what he called a “fresh and innovative” idea.
“Maybe we should privatize Social Security. Right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it,” he said at a June forum with the fiscal conservative group FreedomWorks.
Masters subsequently backtracked. “I do not want to privatize Social Security,” he told the Arizona Republic after he won the primary. “I think, in context, I was talking about something very different. We can’t change the system. We can’t pull the rug out from seniors.”
Democrats saw an opening in the key Arizona race. The party's Senate campaign arm rolled out an ominous TV ad highlighting the footage, accusing Masters of seeking to “cut our Social Security and privatize it” to finance tax breaks for the wealthy, while “gambling our life savings on the stock market.”
Asked to clarify his position, Katie Miller, Masters campaign spokesperson, told NBC News: “Blake’s position has always been clear. All he wants to do is incentivize future generations to save through private accounts.” She described his stance as “Social Security-and.”
Ahead of the 2022 election, Masters is one of many Republicans to touch what has been called the “third rail” of American politics — a costly but popular pillar of the safety net that gives monthly cash benefits to those 62 and older, who vote in big numbers. In major Senate and House races across the country, GOP candidates have called for cutting long-term Social Security spending to tackle inflation and resolve the program's finances. Democrats are trying to make them pay a political price, arguing that the same Republicans created a budget hole by cutting taxes for top earners.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said at a recent campaign stop that Social Security “was set up improperly” and that it would have been better to invest the money in the stock market. Earlier, Johnson told a radio show that Social Security and Medicare should be axed as "mandatory" programs and be subject to "discretionary" spending, meaning Congress would have to renew them yearly or they'd end.
His Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, responded that the two-term incumbent senator “wants to strip seniors of the benefits they’ve worked their entire lives for” and “throw Wisconsin’s middle class overboard” to serve corporate donors.
Orange Meltdown, Con't
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has sent a letter to the House Intelligence and House Oversight committee chairs, saying the intelligence community is conducting a damage assessment of the documents taken from former President Donald Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) are working together to facilitate a classification review of relevant materials, including those recovered during the search," Haines wrote in her letter to House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney.
Several members of Congress have called for an intelligence damage assessment of the documents.
Politico was first to report on the letter.
Haines also sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee saying her office would lead an assessment about the risks to national security, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
In addition, the Justice Department sent a letter to the Senate panel saying that it would be sharing materials with the intelligence agencies while adhering to its longstanding tradition of not disclosing any non-public information during an active investigation, the sources said.
Maloney and Schiff said in a joint statement that they were "pleased" that Haines has launched the intelligence damage assessment of classified documents found at Trump's home in Florida.
The two chairs, who had called for the assessment after the FBI searched Trump's home earlier this month, also said that the assessment must move "swiftly."
On Friday, Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said in a statement following the release of the redacted affidavit that his panel had made a bipartisan request for "a damage assessment of any national security threat posed by the mishandling of this information."
A federal judge in Florida gave notice on Saturday of her “preliminary intent” to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to conduct a review of the highly sensitive documents that were seized by the F.B.I. this month during a search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s club and residence in Palm Beach.
In an unusual action that fell short of a formal order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, signaled that she was inclined to agree with the former president and his lawyers that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents.
But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, set a hearing for arguments in the matter for Thursday in the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach — not the one in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically works.
On Friday night, only hours after a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant for the search of Mar-a-Lago was released, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed court papers to Judge Cannon reiterating their request for a special master to weed out documents taken in the search that could be protected by executive privilege.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers had initially asked Judge Cannon on Monday to appoint a special master, but their filing was so confusing and full of bluster that the judge requested clarifications on several basic legal questions. The notice by Judge Cannon on Saturday was seen as something of a victory in Mr. Trump’s circle.
From a legal and constitutional standpoint NARA was not only justified in denying Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, it really had no choice in the matter.
To understand why this is so, it is helpful to break down the question into three questions:
(1) Does a former president ever have the right to successfully assert executive privilege to prevent access to presidential records by the incumbent president or executive agencies acting under the incumbent’s authority?;
(2) If such a right exists, could it be successfully exercised under the current circumstances?; and
(3) Who decides the first two issues?
Executive Privilege by a Former President
First, the PRA makes clear that nothing in its provisions are to be interpreted as expanding or diminishing the former president’s constitutional rights. Indeed, both the statutory language and legislative history make clear that Congress has been extremely skeptical of the notion that a former president can successfully assert executive privilege under any circumstances without the support of the incumbent president. While the executive branch has taken a different view, that argument has never extended so far as to suggest that the former president can successfully assert the privilege in opposition to the incumbent, much less that he can do so when the incumbent himself is seeking access to presidential records for purposes of carrying out the constitutional functions of the executive branch.
For example, when in the 1980s the Office of Legal Counsel issued a much criticized opinion (later rejected by the D.C. Circuit) that an incumbent president should ordinarily defer to a former president’s assertion of executive privilege with regard to the latter’s presidential records, it nonetheless explained that “this principle must yield when it conflicts with the discharge of the incumbent’s constitutional responsibilities;” thus, “if the incumbent President believes that the discharge of his constitutional duties (e.g., investigation and prosecution of alleged crimes) demands the disclosure of documents claimed by the former President to be privileged, it may be necessary for him to oppose a former President’s claim.” (emphasis added). Similarly, the author of the opinion, Assistant Attorney General Charles Cooper, when summoned to defend it before Congress, explained that “an incumbent President need not respect a former President’s claim of privilege if the incumbent feels that it would interfere with his ability to execute his legal and constitutional responsibilities as he, alone, understands and perceives them.”
Whether a former president should ever have the unilateral power to assert executive privilege over the objection of the incumbent remains an unsettled issue, as the Supreme Court recently recognized in Trump v. Thompson. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this notion is in considerable tension with OLC’s general approach to executive privilege. At least one member of the Supreme Court (Justice Kavanaugh) nevertheless believes that “[a] former President must be able to successfully invoke the Presidential communications privilege for communications that occurred during his Presidency, even if the current President does not support the privilege claim.” In Thompson, however, Justice Kavanaugh was writing in the context of a congressional request (from the January 6th Committee) to access presidential records; it is by no means clear that he would maintain the same view where the incumbent president himself was seeking access to the records for purposes of carrying out the executive’s legal and constitutional functions.
Indeed, Kavanaugh, during his tenure in the White House counsel office, famously defended a controversial executive order on presidential records issued by President George W. Bush. That order made it extremely difficult for the public, Congress or the courts to access presidential records over the objection of a former president. However, the order explicitly provided that it did not address access by the incumbent president to those records, a fact somewhat bitterly noted by congressional critics at the time.
In short, the notion that a former president can block his successor from accessing presidential records that the incumbent believes he needs for purposes of carrying out executive functions would be the most extreme manifestation of a doubtful legal theory, and one that has no support in any legal authority to date.
Sunday Long Read: Clip Joint
THE BLANK SCREEN was already intimidating enough. Then, out of nowhere, an incorporeal know-it-all popped up to make us feel even worse about the novel notion of word processing in the mid-’90s. “It looks like you’re writing a letter,” a googly-eyed, caterpillar-browed paperclip in Microsoft Word observed when we may or may not have been trying to write a letter. The metallic office supply bounced around the margins of documents and never stopped looking over our shoulders, even as it blinked back at us impatiently. “Would you like help?”
Many users found its polite but presumptuous suggestions invasive, obnoxious, and creepy. Almost immediately, computer geeks and neophytes panned it. Microsoft banished it. Time labeled it one of the 50 worst inventions ever. But nearly three decades after its genesis at the Redmond tech giant, Clippit—better known as Clippy—improbably lives on.
Last year, Microsoft officially revived the Office Assistant that debuted in Office 97. The character replaced a plain old paperclip in Microsoft 365 to help liven up the company’s emojis and indulge a social media outpouring. Clippy can now permanently live in Word files, Outlook emails, or other common workplace apps. In one of the company’s Teams backgrounds, the paperclip hovers above yellow legal pad paper on a pedestal in a cement-walled basement, seemingly exiled to the dungeon of bad tech ideas.
Though coding circles treated Clippy like New Coke, pop culture never quite quit the retired paperclip. When Darryl Philbin needed help with a resume in the season seven finale of The Office, he pined for Clippy. When users couldn’t grasp Pied Piper’s platform in Silicon Valley, the startup begrudgingly turned to a virtual assistant named “Pipey.” When Seth Meyers needed a dash of comic relief amid news that a PowerPoint may have spurred the Capitol insurrection last year, he joked Congress would “have to subpoena Clippy.” Saturday Night Live nodded to this nagging cultural endurance in a sketch six years earlier. As J.K. Simmons tries to type a letter to a friend on Microsoft Word, a shimmying push pin, “Pushie,” prods him with suggestions. Then Simmons’s character discovers a “Murder Pushie” option. Yet, the actor can’t bring himself to click it.
Nerd culture’s attachment to Clippy is even stronger, manifesting most frequently on social media and dark corners of the internet. An erotic short story, “Conquered by Clippy,” reveals perhaps the wildest level of obsession (“‘assist me deeper’”). Viral fan art renders the sentient silver fastener as everything from mildly impressed to pregnant. The assistant’s once-grating command bubble and syntax is basically Mad Libs for passive aggressive memes, including those aimed at the sort of existential conundrums posed by tech today. “It looks like you’re writing unsubstantiated nonsense,” a popular one begins. “Would you like to turn on all-caps?”
These days, an annoying Word creature might seem eminently tolerable compared to the ghouls on Twitter. Now that Alexa’s in our bedroom and Siri’s in our hand, Clippy’s a throwback to what seems like a more benign digital age.
But to those involved, directly and indirectly, with what’s been called one of the worst user interface rollouts in tech history, Clippy’s comeback is varying degrees of bewildering and vindicating. Especially after what happened to Bob.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
The Quiet Fall Of Paris
Black conservative pundit Paris Dennard has been through quite the journey as Trump's "Black voice" in America. After getting fired from CNN in 2018 over sexual misconduct allegations while he was among the faculty as Arizona State University, Dennard remained Trump's loudest Black supporter, joining the RNC in 2020 as national spokesman and Black affairs director.
The Republican National Committee has fired Paris Dennard as its national spokesman, according to two people familiar with the move.
Dennard had been serving as a national spokesman and director of Black media affairs for the committee. He started working for the RNC in March 2020.
“Paris Dennard no longer works for the RNC. We don’t comment on personnel matters,” RNC chief of staff Mike Reed said in a statement.
One person familiar with the firing said it took place earlier this week. Dennard did not respond to a request for comment.
Dennard, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House, was a high-profile on-air surrogate for former President Donald Trump. Dennard served on Trump’s commission on White House Fellowships, and during the 2020 campaign he was on the advisory board of Black Voices for Trump, an initiative aimed at helping the former president expand his share of the Black vote.
Friday, August 26, 2022
Last Call For Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't
Two Ohio Republicans want to make it illegal for landlords, homeowner associations and others to ban the flying of "thin blue line" flags after the father of a fallen officer was told to take his down.
House Bill 712, introduced by Reps. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, and Kevin Miller, R-Newark, would add thin blue line flags to the list of flags Ohio prohibits landlords, mobile home park operators, and HOAs from prohibiting. The flags on the current list are the U.S., State of Ohio, service flags belonging to "the immediate family of an individual serving in the armed forces," those honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action.
"For me, it’s about public safety," Miller said. "It’s for those that serve us on a daily basis."
But an HOA in Miller's district saw things differently.
Tom DiSario, the father of Kirkersville Police Chief Steven "Eric" DiSario, told The Newark Advocate in May that his homeowner's association sent him a letter saying his "political sign in the form of a flag" violated neighborhood deed restrictions.
"To be honest, when I saw the letter that people are fighting me over something very valuable to me and personal, I broke down and cried," Tom DiSario said. "That's how much it meant to me."
His son was killed five years ago while responding to a shooting at a nursing home, and he told The Newark Advocate that he sees the black and white American flag with a bright blue stripe as a way to honor his son's sacrifice and those made by other officers across the country.
But the flag has also become controversially associated with white supremacy movements and those who opposed policing reforms. In 2021, University of Wisconsin-Madison's police chief banned officers from displaying the flag while on duty, saying the flag had been "co-opted" by people who perpetuated "hateful ideologies."
Miller, who retired from the Ohio State Highway Patrol when he joined the legislature, said that's not how he sees the thin blue line flags.
"The police protect everybody; Whatever race, whatever nationally, whatever creed," he said.
Sure. They'll protect you. They may have to kill your Black ass in order to do it, but they will protect Ohio, dammit.
Look, I can understand flying a POW-MIA or military flag if you served and the state protecting your right to do it. But there's no positive meaning in the "blue line" flag. It's a deliberate perversion of the American flag, one that puts the police above the rest of the American people, enshrining their right to treat the rest of us as an opposing force that they occasionally have to put a few bullets in to control us.
In Columbus, embrace of the thin blue line flag by CPD led local attorney Nick Pasquarello to register a complaint with the department in October 2020 after he photographed the flag on display in the window at the substation located at 950 E. Main St. Though Pasquarello, who also worked as a legal observer during last summer’s Black lives matter protests, said he directed his complaint at all instances in which CPD officers displayed the thin blue line flag, when he received a letter earlier this month rendering judgment, it addressed only the flag in the window at the substation in dismissing his claim.
Replying to an interview request from Alive to discuss how CPD views the thin blue line flag, spokesman James Fuqua wrote, “I’m not sure we would be able to comment on a theoretical symbol,” adding, “There is no specific department stance on it.” Asked if not having a specific department stance on the symbol could be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of the flag, since it continues to be displayed by CPD officers, Fuqua wrote, “I must state again that we cannot comment on something that is theory based with no factual background to support it.” Fuqua did not respond to a third email sent in follow-up.
“At some point, there has to be some messaging out that bridges the gap between the police and the community, and the silence [from CPD] on it is worse than saying almost anything at all, whether you say you agree with [critics of the flag], or you say, ‘We’re going to fly this no matter what,’” said Anthony Wilson, who added that he continues to honor law enforcement by lighting his front porch with a blue bulb even as he refuses to fly the thin blue line flag. “I’m going to keep saying this, but you have to find ways to bring people together, because that’s the only way police are going to be truly successful, is to be in real partnership with the community. And the only way you’re going to see a reduction in crime is for the community to be in real partnership with police. So when you have a symbol that has become so divisive, that creates such a gulf, a divide in the community, my hope is the Powers That Be see that and say, ‘Hey, is this something we maybe need to rethink?’”
More recently, the symbol has even spread outside of CPD, with Attorney General Yost making a social media post featuring a photo of the thin blue line flag, which drew a range of critical responses on both Twitter and Facebook. “This flag is not some Rorschach test upon which every person gets to project some imagined meaning,” Yost said in an emailed statement to Alive in which he described the flag as one that “honors those who have died in the line of duty on behalf of the community.” “I embrace both the voices that honor police and those who call for accountability and racial justice — and I reject those who draw their identity from further dividing us.”
“What [Yost’s social media post] shows is just how embedded systemic racism is, because that’s really what we’re talking about,” said attorney Sean Walton. “What we’re talking about is a movement for racial justice, and a movement to put an end to constitutional violations that seem to occur disproportionately against communities of color. And so in pushing for a movement toward simple rights, toward fairness and equity, we again have public officials, elected officials and people who represent systems of government speaking out in opposition to justice. … It shows how intertwined these systems are, and how much of an uphill battle social justice is going to be.”
Both Walton and Jones acknowledged that barring CPD officers from publicly displaying the thin blue line flag wouldn’t solve the larger issues with policing, but both positioned it as an important step in beginning efforts to improve police-community relations.
“Banning the thin blue line flag is low-hanging fruit,” said Jones, who would also like to see CPD address its use-of-force policies, along with providing officers additional training on de-escalation without lethal use of force. “Banning the flag is not going to repair all of the issues in the Columbus Division of Police. It’s not going to completely repair trust, or enhance respect. But what it could do is remove a barrier to engaging in the community. Because people see that flag and they will pause. And it can deter them from even wanting to interact with the police.”
Along with dropping the thin blue line flag, Walton said he would like to see police departments begin to challenge and eradicate the mindset that has helped give rise to the symbol, one in which police view themselves as engaged in a perpetual battle against a community of which they should be a part.
“But they’re making it clear they’re not a part of the community, that they are their own separate entity. And you have to change that culture. You have to change that us-against-them mentality,” said Walton, who saw this mindset on view during the Black lives matter protests that unfolded in the city last summer, where police responded to protesters with such force that a federal judge recently described officers as having “run amok” in a decision restricting future police use of force against peaceful demonstrators. “And part of doing that is making commitments like banning the thin blue line imagery. But then it’s also really challenging that culture and digging into it, because we're not going to get the change that we seek unless officers understand that it's not us against them. We're all in this together.”
Orange Meltdown, Con't
Trump's camp demanded the release of the affidavit supporting the search warrant served at his Florida resort earlier this month, and a judge agreed to a heavily redacted version of the document being made public. I don't know what Trump was thinking however, because the document absolutely shows that he was an unprecedented national security threat to the nation.
Federal investigators obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month by pointing to a raft of highly classified material they’d already obtained from there, according to a legal affidavit unsealed Friday.
Records the FBI obtained from Trump’s Florida home in advance of the Aug. 8 search bore indications they contained human source intelligence, intercepts under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and signals intelligence, as well as other tags indicating high sensitivity. Several of those tightly-controlled documents contained Trump’s “handwritten notes,” the partially-redacted affidavit detailing the Justice Department investigation says.
In those boxes, agents found 184 unique documents, 25 of which were marked “top secret,” 92 of which were marked “secret,” and 67 of which were marked “confidential”–the lowest level of national security classification. According to the affidavit, NARA officials found some of those “highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly [sic] identified.”
Prosecutors also added in another court filing unsealed Friday that the ongoing criminal probe into government records stashed at Trump’s Florida home has involved “a significant number of civilian witnesses” whose safety could be jeopardized if their identities were revealed.
The court filings unsealed Friday also revealed that the magistrate judge who issued the warrant for the search of Trump’s residence received legal arguments from Trump’s attorneys before doing so.
Those arguments came in the form of a three-page, May 25 letter from Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran. In the letter, Corcoran sought to discourage the Justice Department from proceeding with a criminal investigation or potential criminal charges over the presence of classified records at Mar-a-Lago.
“Public trust in the government is low. At such times, adherence to the rules and long-standing policies is essential,” Corcoran wrote. “President Donald J. Trump is a leader of the Republican Party. The Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of the Executive Branch, is under the control of a President from the opposite party. It is critical, given that dynamic, that every effort is made to ensure that actions by DOJ that may touch upon the former President, or his close associates, do not involve Politics.”
Notably, the letter came before a June 3 meeting between Trump, his attorneys and DOJ officials at Mar-a-Lago, where the department’s counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt and FBI agents viewed parts of the premises. Trump has repeatedly described his interactions with DOJ as cordial, with aides noting that he shook hands with Bratt during the meeting. But those accounts didn’t mention the heightened tensions reflected in Corcoran’s letter.
Similarly, Trump has described that DOJ asked him to install a lock on his storage facility after the June 3 meeting. But DOJ revealed in the affidavit that this request was delivered with far more alarm than Trump conveyed.
“As I previously indicated to you, Mar-a-Lago does not include a secure location authorized for the storage of classified information,” DOJ wrote in a letter to Corcoran at the time. “As such, it appears that since the time classified documents [redacted] were removed from the secure facilities at the White House and moved to Mar-a-Lago on or around January 20, 2021, they have not been handled in an appropriate manner or stored in an appropriate location.”
Corcoran, in his May 25 letter, also argued that presidents have “absolute authority” to declassify documents, although he did not explicitly say that Trump had done so.
Some Trump allies have asserted that he explicitly or implicitly declassified materials by taking them from the Oval Office to the White House residence or other locations, though no evidence has emerged of a formal declassification order.
Indeed, the affidavit unsealed Friday contains a reference to former Trump adviser Kash Patel — one of Trump’s authorized representatives to the National Archives — claiming in a Breitbart News article that Trump had declassified many of the records at issue.
In a post on his social media site, Trump lashed out shortly after the affidavit was unsealed, complaining of heavy redactions and noting that the word “nuclear” wasn’t mentioned despite reports that documents related to America’s nuclear secrets were among the cache held at Mar-a-Lago. Trump, notably, didn’t say whether or not such documents were in fact among them, only that there was no reference to them.
Ridin' With Biden, Con't
President Biden on Thursday night launched a push toward the midterm elections with a fiery speech in Rockville, Md., in which he cast the Republican Party as one that was dangerously consumed with anti-democratic forces that had turned toward “semi-fascism.”
It was some of the strongest language used by Biden, a politician long known — and at times criticized for — his willingness to work with members of the opposite party.
“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security,” Biden said, referencing former president Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan. “They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”
“This is why in this moment, those of you who love this country — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we must be stronger,” he added.
As if on cue, the rally was interrupted by a heckler yelling, “You stole the election!” The crowd booed as the man was escorted out, holding his two fingers up like President Richard M. Nixon and taking a brief bow.
Earlier in the evening, speaking at a reception that helped raise $1 million for Democratic campaigns, Biden more pointedly raised concerns about American democracy and the Republicans he views as a threat.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” Biden said. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.”
Bringing up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his frequent interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden also criticized his predecessor for weakening the United States on the global stage.
“I underestimated how much damage the previous four years had done in terms of America’s reputation in the world,” the president said.
The rhetoric was an escalation for Biden and an indication that he views the threat as greater than just Trump and an ideology that shows little sign of abating. It marked a transition as well, as the president turned more pointedly toward the midterm elections and attempted not only to tout his own record but to create a sharper contrast with the opposing party.
“I want to be crystal-clear about what’s on the ballot this year,” he said near the start of his remarks, during which he removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot.”
“The very survival of our planet is on the ballot,” he added. “Your right to vote is on the ballot. Even democracy. Are you ready to fight for these things now?”
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't
The day after Torrance police shot Christopher DeAndre Mitchell in 2018, his mother and a dozen of his loved ones staged a protest outside the department’s headquarters.
At the same time, a group of officers — including the two who had killed Mitchell — were discussing the situation via text message.
“Was going to tell you all those [N-word] family members are all pissed off in front of the station,” one wrote, according to court documents recently reviewed by The Times.
Court records show the officers later mused about what might happen once the identities of those who shot the 23-year-old became public.
“Gun cleaning Party at my house when they release my name??” one asked.
Yes absolutely let’s all just post in your yard with lawn chairs in a [firing] squad,” another replied.
Eight months ago, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed portions of racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by at least a dozen Torrance police officers, a scandal that sparked an investigation by the California attorney general’s office.
Criminal cases in which the officers were involved continue to be dismissed, and at least one man has been released from prison. Lawsuits filed against officers involved have already cost Torrance more than $10 million. Still, most of the officers implicated remain employed by the city.
The state attorney general’s office filed a subpoena in May for thousands of pages of Torrance police records, but officials have declined to provide updates on the state investigation. Despite critics’ calls for a civilian board to oversee the Police Department — as Los Angeles has — there’s little evidence that Torrance officials have taken tangible steps toward reform since the scandal exploded.
And earlier this year, another trove of offensive texts came to light.
In response to a court filing from officers implicated in the scandal, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office submitted an exhibit containing all 390 “anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic or transphobic remarks” allegedly made by the officers between 2018 and 2020. The documents, which were heavily redacted, included the comments about Mitchell’s loved ones and contained racist cartoons of Black and Latino residents as well as remarks about lynching suspects and killing Black children.
Officers have long been trying to suppress evidence of the texts, which were found last year shortly before prosecutors charged former Torrance police officers Christopher Tomsic and Cody Weldin with spray-painting a swastika inside a car.
A search warrant executed as part of that case found Tomsic, Weldin and at least 15 other officers had been exchanging racist, violent and homophobic messages for years, court records show. The officers’ attorneys argued the search went way beyond the scope of the criminal investigation, so most of the texts should be barred from use in prosecutions or internal disciplinary hearings.
Ironically, it was that move to suppress the texts that made them available, after the district attorney’s office filed its report on the messages in court.
A Major Case Of Diary Mens Rea
Two Florida residents pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to trafficking in stolen goods for selling a diary and other personal effects of President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden, the Justice Department said.
The criminal charges are the first to emerge from a federal investigation into how, prior to the 2020 presidential election, the journal reached the conservative video outlet, Project Veritas. The group has said it paid for rights to the publish the diary, but never did so because it couldn’t authenticate it. Contents from the diary later emerged on a more obscure right-wing site.
Last November, the FBI carried out search warrants at the home of the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, and two of his colleagues, in connection with the investigation. None of those individuals have been charged, but O’Keefe has denounced the raids as an attack on press freedom.
In a Manhattan federal court hearing Thursday, Aimee Harris, 40, of Palm Beach and Jonathan Kurlander, 58, of Jupiter each pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge stemming from their involvement in selling the journal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said in a statement.
“Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office,” Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “They sold the property to an organization in New York for $40,000 and even returned to take more of the victim’s property when asked to do so. Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person’s personal property, and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result.”
Both defendants pleaded guilty as part of agreements with prosecutors. Kurlander has agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of his deal, Williams’ office said. Details of the plea agreement were not immediately available. Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison, but defendants are typically sentenced under federal guidelines that usually call for a sentence well below the maximum.
A White House spokesperson referred a request for comment on the charges to the Justice Department. A lawyer for Ashley Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the developments.
And while O'Keefe and his merry miscreants at Project Veritas continue to scream about "jounalistic protections" keep in mind that it's not the Biden administration or liberals who want to get rid of those protections.
No, that would be Justice Clarence Thomas and the conservatives on the Roberts Court.
Orange Meltdown, Con't
Former President Trump on Wednesday called on Republicans to boot Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from his post as Senate minority leader, accusing the senator of being a “pawn for the Democrats.”
In a statement, Trump cited a Wednesday story from The Federalist about McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao’s alleged ties to China in calling for the senator’s ouster from his longtime leadership post.
“Mitch McConnell is not an Opposition Leader, he is a pawn for the Democrats to get whatever they want,” Trump said in his statement. “He is afraid of them, and will not do what has to be done. A new Republican Leader in the Senate should be picked immediately!”
Trump has feuded with McConnell, who he has dubbed “Old Crow,” since the Senate leader denounced the former president in Congress for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Over the weekend, the former president slammed McConnell for making remarks last week about “candidate quality,” in a reference to Republicans running for Senate, a number of whom were hand-picked by Trump. McConnell has said the race for Senate control in November will be close.
Trump also took a dig at Chao, his former Transportation secretary who resigned from office one day after the Jan. 6 attack, calling her McConnell’s “crazy wife.” In Wednesday’s message, he called her “Coco.”
Last year, Trump also called for Republicans to select a new Senate leader to boost the party’s chances of retaking Congress in 2022.