Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Last Call For The Ravnsborg And The Tower

After his impeachment in April by South Dakota's state House, SD Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg faced a state Senate trial and possible removal from office on Tuesday over his conduct in a fatal hit and run crash that left a man dead in 2020, and when Ravnsborg faced the music he had no chair to sit in when it stopped playing.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was removed from office on Tuesday after an historic impeachment trial in the state Senate, nearly two years after he fatally struck a man with his vehicle.

Ravnsborg was facing two articles of impeachment stemming from his role in the 2020 car crash: one for crimes that resulted in death, and the other for malfeasance related to his conduct after the collision.

The senators voted 24-9 in favor of the first article — the exact number of votes to meet the two-thirds threshold necessary for conviction and removal — and 31-3 for the second. Those outcomes triggered a third vote on whether Ravnsborg should be barred from holding future office, with all 33 senators present voting in favor of that.

Ravnsborg, a Republican who was elected state attorney general in 2018, now becomes the first South Dakota official to be removed from office –– more than two months after he became the first to ever be impeached following a vote in the state House of Representatives.

For almost two years, the ordeal surrounding Ravnsborg has gripped South Dakota locals and brought national attention to the sparsely populated state.

It also became a dominant focus for the state’s governor, Kristi Noem, who repeatedly called on Ravnsborg to resign. After Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors over the crash, Noem immediately called on the legislature to move forward with impeachment.

Following the vote in the state Senate on Tuesday, Noem celebrated the outcome.

“After nearly 2 years the dark cloud over the Attorney General’s office has been lifted,” the governor said on Twitter. “It is now time to move on and begin to restore confidence in the office.”

Ravnsborg was driving back to the capital city of Pierre on September 12, 2020 when he veered off the road and struck a man named Joseph Boever. The subsequent chain of events is what elevated the crash to a scandal. Ravnsborg claims he did not realize he hit a man that night, and after calling 911, the responding county sheriff loaned the attorney general his personal vehicle to complete his trip back to the capital city of Pierre that night.

When he drove back to return the sheriff’s vehicle the following morning, Ravnsborg and his chief of staff stopped by the scene and found Boever’s lifeless body. Ravnsborg claims that was the first moment he knew he had hit a man.

There has been pervasive skepticism surrounding that account, which was a central topic at Tuesday’s trial.

“He absolutely saw the man,” said Alexis Tracy, one of two attorneys leading the prosecution.

Tracy said Ravnsborg had “countless” opportunities “to do the right thing.”

In his closing arguments, Mark Vargo, the other prosecutor, probed some of Ravnsborg’s comments made to investigators, at one point playing a clip of the attorney general clumsily saying he never saw the man.

“You’ve heard better lies from five-year-olds,” Vargo said


Ravnsborg really believed he would never be removed in this way and that he would simply be able to run in November for a second term. That will not happen now. Justice was not served here, but accountability was to be had for once in the GOP.

It's the exception that proves the rule of a party of corruption.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Democratic party strategists are gearing up for the death of Roe v Wade in the next week or two, in an attempt to massively rally voters to show up at the polls once abortion becomes de facto illegal in half the US.

In every poll running in every targeted House district around the country, House Democrats’ campaign arm is testing how voters feel about the Supreme Court likely overturning Roe v. Wade.

The group’s strategists have drafted fundraising emails that will blast out to millions of supporters in the hours after the decision comes out. They’ve cut video clips of what GOP candidates say about abortion. They’re developing analytics models to find and target voters who back abortion rights.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s preparations, previewed by a committee official, are a window into the Democratic Party’s broader efforts to capitalize — in the middle of a brutal-looking midterm election climate — on the Supreme Court’s likely reversal of Roe v. Wade, which would change a half-century of precedent and let states decide the legality of abortion.

Support for Roe is at an all-time high with voters, and the Democrats’ strategy is aimed at firing up a flagging Democratic base, while also trying to compete for some of the college-educated, female, suburban swing voters who backed them during the Trump era. The question, though, is how to make abortion a top issue for voters in November while facing a range of challenges, especially gas prices averaging $5 a gallon and inflation ticking up.

“We’re not going to be able to keep it in the national news, but we’re going to put a lot of money on paid advertising — on TV, on digital ads, on mail, on radio — and in key places across the country, and that’s how this issue will matter,” said Stephanie Schriock, former president of EMILY’s List, a Democratic pro-abortion-rights group. “And in some states, it will be in the news every day, because state legislatures are going to push this issue further and further to the right with outright bans.”

The DCCC is one of many entities on the left meticulously planning how to jump on the post-Roe moment, starting in the minutes after it happens.

The Democratic National Committee put together briefings and message trainings with state parties, surrogates and campaign staff on Roe, while the Democratic Governors’ Association will be launching the “Protect Reproductive Rights Fund,” which will direct cash and volunteers through the fund to states where abortion is poised to be banned altogether.

The DGA — charged with electing Democratic governors, who will be on the front lines on this issue — is already drafting language for fundraising emails, social media posts and texts and direct mail to voters.

American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, had its full roster of paid influencers pivot all their conversations to Roe after POLITICO published a draft majority opinion overturning the precedent in May. And in the Senate, Democrats are drilling into candidates’ statements on abortion, particularly those who support banning it even in cases of rape and incest, a stance that former President Donald Trump hasn’t gone so far as to agree to.

As for spending, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood and NARAL, a trio of abortion rights groups, announced $150 million in spending on the 2022 midterms.

“We will be using every tool in the toolbox to tell this story,” said Heather Williams, executive director at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “We know that Roe is not the only issue [in the midterms], but Roe is a motivator … and we definitely see that voters who may be only presidential-year voters — that Roe falling certainly gives them additional motivation and urgency.”

Democrats’ efforts come as support for abortion rights hits an all-time high. Gallup, which has tracked views on abortion for decades, found that voters self-identifying as “pro-choice” jumped to 55 percent in recent weeks. The Pew Research Center found that six in 10 Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. After the draft opinion reversing Roe was published, the Kaiser Foundation found that two-thirds of Americans said they do not want the 1973 decision to be overturned.

But even though a majority of Americans don’t want Roe overturned, that doesn’t mean they will automatically vote along those lines in November.

“I don’t think it wins us the persuasion fight, given everything else the public is facing, from inflation to rising costs to supply chain problems,” said Josh Ulibarri, a Democratic pollster.

“The decision will help motivate our base,” Ulibarri continued. “I see no data, no focus group, no survey where Republicans win on the abortion fight. We win it handily. But is that more powerful than when a voter looks at their receipt when they check out at Target?
The problem is the DCCC and the DGA are still clown shows. Current DCCC leader Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney might very well get redistricted out of the House altogether by Democrats in his own state of New York because he's such an asshole, and Gov. Roy Cooper in NC has his hands full with the NC GOP overriding nearly all of his vetoes, including anti- abortion laws.

The cold hard reality though is that the economy is the number one issue with voters. We'll see what voters think, but this was a battle we lost in 2016 and now millions of women will pay the price.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Tang The Conqueror has apparently realized just how bad the January 6th hearings have been and will continue to be, so much so that Trump is going to play the Roger Stone game with former White House legal adviser John Eastman, offering Eastman up to the Committee (and AG Merrick Garland) in order to try to save his own ass.

With the Justice Department and Jan. 6 committee taking a close look at Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, he and his cronies could certainly use a fall guy, and it looks like they’ve found their patsy: right-wing lawyer John Eastman.

Eastman worked for Trump as the attorney devised legal strategies to overturn the election to keep the outgoing president in power. But, in recent weeks, Trump has confided to those close to him that he sees no reason to publicly defend Eastman, two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The ex-president is also deeply annoyed with Eastman and all the negative “attention” and media coverage that the lawyer’s work has brought Trump and his inner sanctum, including during the ongoing Jan. 6 hearings on Capitol Hill.

Furthermore, to those who’ve spoken Trump about Eastman in recent months, the ex-president has repeated an excuse he often uses when backed into a corner, as investigators confront him with an associates’ misdeeds: He has privately insisted he “hardly” or “barely” knows Eastman, despite the fact that he counseled Trump on taking a string of extra-legal measures in a bid to stay in power and wrote the so-called “coup memo,” which laid out the facsimile of a legal argument for reversing Trump’s election defeat.

Behind closed doors, Trump will occasionally ask questions about Eastman’s fortunes, including bluntly inquiring: “Is [John] going to jail?” according to a source who has heard the former president say this. But publicly, Trump has stayed silent. Over the past several months, Trump has been strongly advised by lawyers and several associates not to openly discuss Eastman or his work — and to personally avoid the man altogether, according to three sources familiar with the matter. At this time, Trump, his legal advisers, and various political counselors would prefer to cut ties with Eastman and keep their distance, in a perhaps vain attempt to build a firewall between the lawyer who enthusiastically pitched strategies for delegitimizing the 2020 election outcome and the ex-president who repeatedly sought his help.

“It has been repeatedly communicated to the [former] president that he should not even bring up Johnny Eastman’s name because he is maybe the most radioactive person [involved in this] when it comes to…any so-called criminal exposure,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter says. “Johnny does not have many friends in [the upper crust of] Trumpworld left, and most people loyal to the [former] president are fine with him being left out on his own, to deal with whatever consequences he may or may not face.”

Indeed, the infamously garrulous Trump has publicly kept his mouth shut about Eastman, a lawyer whose work became integral to the scandalous efforts to nullify President Biden’s 2020 victory. (Trump even considered Eastman as counsel for his post-insurrection impeachment.)

Nowadays, in the top ranks of MAGAland, there’s a clear attitude towards Eastman (“Johnny,” as some Trump advisers derisively call him): He might be going down. So be it, as long as he doesn’t take anyone else down with him.

Eastman and a Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment from Rolling Stone.
Now, the long game as with Stone, is that Trump expects to be back in power, and he'll pardon everyone involved on his Team Stupid Conpiracy checklist.
But anyone even slightly self-aware on this knows Eastman was a key player, and giving him up could have him turn on Trump to save himself.
The bigger issue is that Trump now knows he's in real trouble over this coup thing. The walls are getting a bit closer this week.
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