Monday, March 28, 2022

Last Call For Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

I've talked about Trump White House legal adviser John Eastman before as the author of Trump's "legal strategy" to steal the Oval Office from Joe Biden. Eastman is increasingly looking like the key to Trump's January 6th conspiracy on the White House side, and two big stories today back that up. First, January 6th Committee investigators are taking a very close look at Eastman's relationship with Sen. Ted Cruz and his role in trying to overthrow the election.

An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.

Now, Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyer John Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.

As Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could deny certifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposed objecting to the results in six swing states and delaying accepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentially enabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed his proposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.

The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.

“It was a very dangerous proposal, and, you know, could very easily have put us into territory where we got to the inauguration and there was not a president,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Jan. 6 committee member, said earlier this year on the podcast “Honestly.” “And I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.”

The Jan. 6 committee’s investigators have recently focused on Eastman’s efforts to pressure Pence to declare Trump the winner, but there has been little public notice that Cruz and Eastman have known each other since they clerked together 27 years ago for then-U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig. Cruz’s proposal ran on a parallel track to Eastman’s memos.

Luttig told The Post that he believes that Cruz — who once said that Luttig was “like a father to me” — played a paramount role in the events leading to Jan. 6.

“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”
Ted Cruz was the point man in the Senate to execute the Eastman Memo plan once Mike Pence scuttled the elector vote count. He was part and parcel of the conspiracy along with Eastman, and there's no reason he should still be in the Senate, let alone walking around as a free man and not a seditious felon. 

A federal judge said Monday that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman may have been planning a crime as they sought to disrupt the January 6 congressional certification of the presidential election. 
"Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021," Judge David Carter wrote Monday. 
Carter, a federal judge in California, ordered Eastman to turn over 101 emails from around January 6, 2021, that he has tried to keep secret from the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack. 
Carter's reasoning is a startling acknowledgment by a federal court that Trump's interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal. 
Trump has not been charged with any crime nor has Eastman. 
"The illegality of the plan was obvious," Carter writes. "Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election ... Every American -- and certainly the President of the United States -- knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed."

Add more to the evidence against Team Trump...and Ted Cruz.

Rand-Dumb Roadblocks

The House overwhelmingly passed legislation to remove Russia from Most Favored Nation trade status, but in the Senate, Rand Paul is doing everything to block it, and as usual, it's human rights language in the bill that Paul is objecting to, in this case, applying Magnitsky Act reauthorization to Moscow, something Paul has been trying to scuttle for a long time now.

The original Magnitsky bill targeted “gross” violations of human rights. The language in the Russia trade bill would expand that to target “serious” human rights violations, codifying language used in a Trump-era executive order.

But Paul wants language put into the bill that would reinsert “gross” violation of human rights and define that as dealing with torture, cruel and inhumane treatment and indefinite detention, though Paul said he was open to including other actions in the definition.

Paul argued that language as written in the House-passed could be used to sanction individuals who deny access to abortions, a concern echoed by a group of House Republicans.

“It has to be in the body of it. I’m not voting on it. It has to be in the body” of the bill, Paul said about the change.

Senate leadership tried to offer him a vote on his proposal if he would, in exchange, agree to speed up both the trade bill and the energy ban. Schumer said that Paul “appears to be the lone senator demanding this” and that he thought all other 99 senators would approve the deal to let the trade and energy package move quickly.

"The question before Sen. Paul is … is he going to tank PNTR because his interpretation is not forced into his bill? Can Sen. Paul take yes for an answer?" Schumer asked.

Paul, however, rejected that offer.

Paul’s demand has infuriated senators who worked on the sanctions language.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) argued that Paul was trying to relitigate a fight that he had already had, and lost, in the Foreign Relations Committee. Cardin also argued that Paul’s amendment would undercut sanction efforts.

“The substance of it is that it would not allow us to do what we need to do in regards to Mr. Putin and Russia,” Cardin added.

Senate leadership has started the process of putting both bills on the calendar, which will make them available for a vote. But the Senate is also facing a time crunch that absent a deal with Paul could delay the Russia bills for weeks.


Or, you know, never. Paul has blocked legislation for years in some cases, winning concessions. Other times, he has folded. We'll see what happens here, but the bigger question is why would Rand Paul care about Russia denying abortions? 

I mean, it's not like he's a white supremacist misogynist who wants more "correct" white babies to be born, right?

Oh, wait.

The House(s) That The Queen City Built

Mayor Aftab Pureval is getting things done in Cincinnati, finally. After being stalled out for almost four years under former Mayor John Cranley, the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund is finally getting some attention, and millions in much needed cash.

The group of people putting together a comprehensive plan for housing in Cincinnati met for the first time Friday, nearly a year after Council established its mission.

The Housing Advisory Board will recommend criteria for how to spend the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The fund was established in 2018 and has never been used for its intended purpose: to incentivize the preservation and production of affordable housing through loans and grants.

The fund itself will be managed by the nonprofit Cincinnati Development Fund; one of the board's first tasks will be to determine the parameters of that partnership.

"Our primary function in this relationship is to add back-office capacity, strength of our team who is engaged and embedded in the community, and to be able to maintain regulatory compliance and reporting requirements that the city needs," said CDF President Joe Huber. "This board was specifically chosen by the city because of their expertise and what they brought to affordable housing over the years."

The board will also consider wider issues of affordability, including advising the city manager's office on a review of zoning policy and recommended reforms.

The board consists of 13 people, including former Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who is serving as chair. Other members include representatives from CMHA, The Port, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, LISC Greater Cincinnati, and developers (see a full list of members at the end of this article).

Council Member and Board Member Reggie Harris says one of their first tasks is to define the goals.

"If the housing advisory board is successful, and the trust is working well, what does the city look like?" Harris said.

Recent efforts to bulk up the fund include Mayor Aftab Pureval's plan to add $5 million from federal stimulus and establish an annual revenue source using year-end carryover funds.

An outline provided by city staff Friday shows a breakdown of the $57 million available for distribution in the near future:

  • Section 108 loan: $34 million (a revolving loan fund using federal HUD dollars)
  • Fund 439 and related capital: $3 million
  • Private investments: $12 million
  • American Rescue Plan: $5 million
  • CDF Leverage: $3 million

This $57 million does not include what was already in the fund (about $2 million). It also seemingly doesn't include the $6.4 million allocated from the American Rescue Plan last year, which is separate from the $5 million in ARP approved this month).

Several board members asked for clarification on how much money is in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (and related funds) and which parts of that money fall under the advisory board's jurisdiction.

The board will meet monthly. The Department of Community and Economic Development plans to publish meeting minutes on a forthcoming web page.
Again, Mayor Cranley had years to get this project going, and he did nothing. Pureval's been in office for a few months, and already affordable housing is a priority. 

I like the look, Cincy.
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