Friday, July 1, 2022

Last Call For Deal With The Devil, Con't

A longtime Kentucky federal judge has announced she will step down, clearing a path for President Joe Biden's controversial nomination of an anti-abortion Republican to replace her.

U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell of Kentucky's Eastern District is taking senior status, according to the official listing of federal judge vacancies.

The vacancies listing shows Caldwell submitted her notice to move to senior status June 22, but the date hasn't been determined for when that vacancy will begin. The vacancy didn't appear on the federal website until Friday, July 1.

This move would free up a spot for Biden to nominate Chad Meredith, which the White House recently told Democratic officials in Kentucky the president planned to do.

The Courier Journal broke the story Wednesday.

Those Kentucky Democratic officials have blasted Biden for readying the nomination of the Federalist Society member, including Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, the only Democrat in Kentucky's congressional delegation.

At his press conference Thursday, Beshear said it is his understanding that Biden has not yet submitted Meredith's nomination, “which I hope means in the very least it's on pause."

"If the president makes that nomination, it is indefensible,” he said.

Spokespeople for the White House have repeatedly declined to answer questions about the status of Meredith's potential nomination, only saying "we do not comment on vacancies."

Yarmuth and other officials have said they believe Biden's move is part of a deal cut with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell so he won't hold up future federal nominations by the White House
The one, singular, actually unarguable thing about President Biden's term so far is that he is kicking ass on federal judges and getting then through the Senate at a record pace, beating out even Trump and McConnell's larding of the judicial. 

Turns out that comes at a price though. Mitch still gets to decide which federal judges Biden appoints here in Kentucky.

I'm thrilled of course that the man who destroyed the Senate "blue slip" process where senators get to block judicial appointments in their state as a courtesy gets that courtesy extended to him.

Republicans ruin everything.




Hearing Aides For America, Con't

One of the crimes lost in the shuffle of the January 6th Committee hearings last month was the outright, mobster-level witness tampering by Trump's cronies by offering to pay for legal fees in exchange for those testifying in front of the House to "do the right thing" for Trump. More attention is being paid to that evidence these days.

Former President Donald J. Trump's political organization and his allies have paid for or promised to finance the legal fees of more than a dozen witnesses called in the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, raising legal and ethical questions about whether the former president may be influencing testimony with a direct bearing on him.

The arrangement drew new scrutiny this week after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide in his White House, made an explosive appearance before the House panel, providing damning new details about Mr. Trump’s actions and statements on the day of the deadly riot.

She did so after firing a lawyer who had been recommended to her by two of Mr. Trump’s former aides and paid for by his political action committee, and hiring new counsel. Under the representation of the new lawyer, Jody Hunt, Ms. Hutchinson sat for a fourth interview with the committee in which she divulged more revelations and agreed to come forward publicly to testify to them.

It is not known whether Ms. Hutchinson’s change in counsel led directly to her willingness to appear at a televised hearing and provide a more detailed, wide-ranging account of what she witnessed, but some members of the panel believe that it played a role, according to two people familiar with the committee’s work.

Mr. Trump claimed that Ms. Hutchinson’s new lawyer could have prompted her to make false statements. “Her story totally changed!” he complained on his social media site, Truth Social.

The episode raised questions about whether Mr. Trump and his allies may, implicitly or explicitly, be pressuring witnesses to hold back crucial information that might incriminate or cast a negative light on the former president. Mr. Trump and his advisers have been accused before of trying to influence witnesses in past investigations involving him. The committee is known to ask witnesses frequently during closed-door interviews whether anyone has tried to influence their testimony.

Ms. Hutchinson has told the Jan. 6 committee that she was among the witnesses who have been contacted by people around Mr. Trump suggesting that they would be better off if they remained loyal to the former president. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the panel, quoted two witnesses making such claims on Tuesday and suggested that the committee was looking into the possibility that the former president or his allies were trying to obstruct its inquiry, saying that, “most people know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns.”

Unlike witness tampering, which is a crime, there is nothing illegal about a third party covering legal fees for a witness. Aides to former President Bill Clinton reported being overwhelmed with legal bills because of the various inquiries into his and his family’s personal and business affairs, and were dismayed when a legal-defense fund set up by Mr. Clinton’s allies to help the first family pay its multimillion-dollar legal debts did not help them. Mr. Clinton later pledged to help raise money to cover his former aides’ legal expenses, but did not make any major effort to do so.

In the case of Mr. Trump, several former aides have requested that he pay their lawyers’ fees, many of them citing financial hardship and the exorbitant cost of representation in connection with a major congressional investigation. Still, given Mr. Trump’s potential criminal exposure and interest in the inquiry’s outcome, the practice has come under added scrutiny.

According to financial disclosures, in May alone, Mr. Trump’s “Save America” political action committee paid about $200,000 to law firms. That including $75,000 to JPRowley Law, which represents Cleta Mitchell, a pro-Trump lawyer who has filed suit to try to block the committee’s subpoena, and $50,000 to Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, which has represented Stephen K. Bannon, a close ally of the former president who refused to meet with the panel and has been charged with criminal contempt. The managing partner at the firm representing Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

It was not immediately clear whether those payments were for covering legal fees connected to the Jan. 6 inquiry, but people familiar with the matter said the PAC has paid for the representation of several former officials and aides in the investigation, including some high-profile ones such as Stephen Miller, who served as a senior adviser to Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump’s PAC paid a portion of Mr. Miller’s legal bills.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump also declined to comment.


Paying for legal fees isn't illegal, paying for legal fees with the expectation that it will affect your testimony as a quid pro quo very much is illegal, and these idiots put that in writing.

Meanwhile, actually illegal witness tampering is going on as well.

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson received at least one message tacitly warning her not to cooperate with the House January 6 select committee from an associate of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The message in question was the second of the two warnings that the select committee disclosed at the end of its special hearing when Hutchinson testified about how Donald Trump directed a crowd he knew was armed to march on the Capitol, the sources said.

“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” read the message. The redaction was Meadows, the sources said.

The message was presented during closing remarks at the special hearing with Hutchinson by the panel’s vice-chair, Liz Cheney, who characterized the missive as improper pressure on a crucial witness that could extend to illegal witness tampering or intimidation.

The exact identity of the person who sent Hutchinson the message – beyond the fact that they were an associate of Meadows – could not be confirmed on Thursday, but that may be in part because the select committee may wish to interview that person, the sources said.
So yes, take your picke from Trump's Cavalcade of Crime, Merrick Garland.

Pick and prosecute.

The Coming Supreme Storm

I have to admit, 2022 was the worst Supreme Court term of my lifetime, a historic destruction of rights in order to serve white supremacy and to put the nation's non-white folk at a lethal disadvantage in the years ahead.

And I am telling you now, 2023 may be worse.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear a North Carolina case with nationwide implications — on whether state legislatures should be immune from judicial oversight in state court when it comes to setting election rules. 
The arguments put forth by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature concerned a controversial topic known as the “independent state legislature doctrine.” While the matter before the Supreme Court stems from a gerrymandering lawsuit in North Carolina, critics said the argument could be used in any state, for a variety of purposes — like overturning the results of future presidential elections. 
“This case is not only critical to election integrity in North Carolina, but has implications for the security of elections nationwide,” N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore said in a news release. He’s a main party in the case, called Moore v. Harper, which will likely be argued in late 2022 or early 2023. 
The basic premise is that there should be few checks and balances when it comes to election law. State legislatures should have near-total control over the rules, the theory says, without state courts being allowed to decide if a state’s elections laws are constitutional. 
The N.C. Supreme Court harshly shot down the argument earlier this year, in its ruling in the gerrymandering case. “It is also repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences,” the state’s highest court wrote. 
The N.C Supreme Court has a Democratic majority. But the U.S. Supreme Court has a conservative majority which could see things differently, GOP leaders in North Carolina hoped — even though previous versions of the U.S. Supreme Court have also shot down the argument over the decades, and as recently as 2015. 
Republican lawmakers told the U.S. Supreme Court that they believe the Constitution intends for legislative leaders, not the courts, to have the final say over elections law — “and this Court should intervene to protect the Constitution’s allocation of power over this matter of fundamental importance to our democratic system of government.”
Understand that if there are five SCOTUS votes for this -- and there are already four -- we are looking at permanent control of the country by Republicans. State legislatures will simply declare Republicans winners with no recourse. Democratic wins will be simply annulled by a simple majority of Republicans in Republican-controlled legislatures.

The election laws in a couple dozen states will mean whatever the Republicans want it to mean. And in 2024, Republicans will simply give the state's electoral votes to the Republican. Vote totals won't matter. As bad as things are right now, if the Roberts Court decides that only state legislatures can ever run elections, then no Democrats will ever be elected from those states again.

At that point, history tells us massive violence follows.

This one's the end of democracy, folks.

Voting now may be the only way to stop it.
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