Sunday, April 10, 2022

Last Call For January 6th Justice

Some Democrats on the House January 6th Committee are afraid to refer Trump for Justice Department prosecution because it would look partisan, and at this point I have to ask "Did any of you actually look at Washington for the last 30 years, because Republicans are going to be coming after all of you anyway."

The leaders of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Donald J. Trump, even though they have concluded that they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said.

The debate centers on whether making a referral — a largely symbolic act — would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.

Since last summer, a team of former federal prosecutors working for the committee has focused on documenting the attack and the preceding efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election. The panel plans to issue a detailed report on its findings, but in recent months it has regularly signaled that it was also weighing a criminal referral that would pressure Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to open a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump.

But now, with the Justice Department appearing to ramp up a wide-ranging investigation, some Democrats are questioning whether there is any need to make a referral — and whether doing so would saddle a criminal case with further partisan baggage at a time when Mr. Trump is openly flirting with running again in 2024.

The shift in the committee’s perspective on making a referral was prompted in part by a ruling two weeks ago by Judge David O. Carter of the Federal District Court for Central California. Deciding a civil case in which the committee had sought access to more than 100 emails written by John C. Eastman, a lawyer who advised Mr. Trump on efforts to derail certification of the Electoral College outcome, Judge Carter found that it was “more likely than not” that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman had committed federal crimes.

The ruling led some committee and staff members to argue that even though they felt they had amassed enough evidence to justify calling for a prosecution for obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiring to defraud the American people, the judge’s decision would carry far greater weight with Mr. Garland than any referral letter they could write, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.

The members and aides who were reluctant to support a referral contended that making one would create the appearance that Mr. Garland was investigating Mr. Trump at the behest of a Democratic Congress and that if the committee could avoid that perception it should, the people said.

Even if the final report does not include a specific referral letter to Mr. Garland, the findings would still provide federal prosecutors with the evidence the committee uncovered — including some that has not yet become public — that could be used as a road map for any prosecution, the people said.
Well holy shit, isn't that the point of an investigation, to gather fucking evidence?

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy says he has no regrets about having Republicans boycott the special committee probing the Jan. 6 riot, dismissing the investigation as a political hit job.

“This is nothing but a political show,” McCarthy told NBC News in an interview last week just off the House floor. “They already have the report written and they’re trying to create a narrative for it instead of trying to get to the truth.”

But with the Jan. 6 committee preparing to shift next month from the investigative phase to public, televised hearings, McCarthy’s decision last summer to shun the panel will face perhaps its biggest test.

Unlike the first Trump impeachment hearings in 2019, loyalists of the former president will not be in a position to “run interference,” in the words of one GOP source, during the Jan. 6 panel proceedings. Specifically, they won’t be able to aggressively cross-examine witnesses, rebut or interrupt Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and other Democrats, or introduce their own evidence.

Instead, the hearings will be tightly controlled and well-choreographed, focusing on areas like the plot to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory; intelligence and security breakdowns related to the attack; and what former President Donald Trump and his inner circle were doing during the hourslong riot that claimed several lives.

That's opened McCarthy up to criticism from some fellow Republicans.

“I would say it’s absolutely a strategic mistake,” said a senior House GOP aide. “You’re going to have a united front, you’re not going to have a sideshow.

“One of the reasons Democrats’ impeachment hearings failed so spectacularly in 2019 was because you had [GOP Reps.] Elise Stefanik and Jim Jordan and Doug Collins and Mike Turner — all of them running interference because they were sitting on the panels," the aide added. "And they were able to push back on whatever Democrats were trying to press Gordon Sondland and Fiona Hill about. They’re not going to have that this time.”

McCarthy’s decision to yank his members off the Jan. 6 panel — a response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocking two of his picks — means pro-Trump Republicans largely have been left in the dark about what's in store for the public hearings. Other than public reporting, Republicans aren't aware of leads the committee is chasing, what witnesses are saying in the 750 depositions the panel has conducted in private, and what’s in the nearly 90,000 documents received by the panel.

“That’s an error,” the GOP aide said. “If Republicans were on a committee and were able to participate in any of this right now, they could be leaking things, they could be setting their own narratives.
GOP aides bragging about using the press, and the press covers it approvingly.
We're in so much trouble.

The Big Lie, Con't

The Big Lie is the driving force of the GOP campaign in 2022, with Republican after Republican not only repeating the Big Lie in order to win in November, but implying that if they win, that they will do everything they can to make sure no Democrat will ever be allowed to claim victory again.  Nearly 18 months after the 2020 election, Alabama GOP Gov. Kay Ivey is running on this exact platform.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump by “the fake news, Big Tech and blue state liberals” in a campaign ad released Monday, making her the latest high-profile candidate to support unfounded conspiracy theories that the election was illegitimate.

“The fake news, Big Tech and blue state liberals stole the election from President Trump, but here in Alabama, we are making sure that never happens,” the governor says in the ad, titled “Stole.” “We have not, and will not, send absentee ballots to everyone and their brother. We banned corrupt curbside voting, and our results will always be audited. I’m Kay Ivey. The left is probably offended – so be it. As long as I’m governor, we’re going to protect your vote.”

The ad did not elaborate on why Ivey believed the election was stolen from Trump.

There has been no evidence to suggest the 2020 election was stolen.

Ivey campaign manager William Califf said in a statement that the governor would ensure that Alabama’s elections are secure if she wins re-election.

“Gov. Ivey stood with Trump and fought to secure our elections. Here in Alabama, we didn’t have the issues they had in other states,” Califf said. “Gov. Ivey will continue to stand strong and make sure that our elections are secure so that what happened to President Trump in other states will never happen in any election in Alabama.”
Now this is Alabama, a state where Democrats don't have a prayer anyway thanks to racist white Republicans dominating the state for years.  Black Democrats have all been stuffed in Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell's 7th District connecting Birmingham and Montgomery for the last decade, and the rest of the state's six districts all have a 30-point GOP lean. 

Which means there's no threat of a close election, and Kay Ivey is running on The Big Lie because she thinks the people of her state are stupid.

Thing is, stupid people have a vote, too.

For now.

Sunday Long Read: The Day The Curtain Fell

Our Sunday Long Read comes to us from Michele Berdy, the Arts editor for the independent Moscow Times, who had lived in Moscow for more than 40 years, as she recounts her career and her escape from Russia as she mourns the future of journalism in Putin's regime.

The day before Russia launched its war against Ukraine, I was in the seaside city of Sochi in southern Russia, not far from the Ukrainian border, attending an arts festival and enjoying a break from the dark and snowy Moscow winter among palm trees and verdant hillsides.

Sochi is on the Black Sea, as is Ukraine. My colleagues and I had been talking for months about aerial photographs that showed a build-up of troops near Russia’s borders with Ukraine, apparently threatening a new invasion. Was it preparation or intimidation? Nothing seemed to be happening, even as the U.S. started warning of an imminent attack.

I work at The Moscow Times, an independent newspaper founded in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that publishes online in both English and Russian. As the paper’s arts editor, I was planning to attend the Sochi Winter International Arts Festival beginning on February 16. A few days before I was to leave, I asked my editor if I should go — would it be safe for me to be on the Black Sea coast if war broke out?

“You’ll be in a group,” she said, “and I don’t think it will start.” I said, “I don’t either, but the thing is — I didn’t think Russia would annex Crimea in 2014.” She said, “I didn’t think they’d invade Georgia in 2008.”

I recognize now that the dots were all there. We just couldn’t connect them. We couldn’t imagine a full-scale invasion because a full-scale invasion was unimaginable.

And so I went to Sochi, what now feels like a thousand years ago, and spent every night in the city’s seaside Winter Theater watching the best of Russian and foreign culture, a mix of traditional and very untraditional musical and theater performances, with standing ovations and curtain calls and the local babushkas holding the hands of grandchildren while whispering instructions on proper theater etiquette.

I flew back to Moscow on the evening of February 23. The next morning the war began.

Everything changed in the blink of an eye. Within two weeks, I would find myself in a minivan with a driver and six people, three dogs and mountains of suitcases and bags, getting ready to cross the border out of Russia. I would be the last one of the Moscow Times staff to leave the country, part of an exodus that included most of the foreign correspondents in Russia and thousands of Russians.

I was leaving a place I’d lived for more than 40 years.
It's amazing to me that journalists who had lived in Moscow for decades simply didn't see -- or refused to see -- Putin's invasion plans and his military invasion of Ukraine. His goal was always to rule Russia as a new czar, and to reconstitute the Soviet Empire.

I'm glad Berdy was able to escape, but such lotus-eating globally is how we got here in the first place.
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