Friday, October 21, 2022

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

As many have suspected, the stolen classified documents Trump kept in his Mar-a-Lago pool closet contained sensitive national security information about both Iran and China.

Some of the classified documents recovered by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China, according to people familiar with the matter. If shared with others, the people said, such information could expose intelligence-gathering methods that the United States wants to keep hidden from the world.

At least one of the documents seized by the FBI describes Iran’s missile program, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Other documents described highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China, they said.

Unauthorized disclosures of specific information in the documents would pose multiple risks, experts say. People aiding U.S. intelligence efforts could be endangered, and collection methods could be compromised. In addition, other countries or U.S. adversaries could retaliate against the United States for actions it has taken in secret.

The classified documents about Iran and China are considered among the most sensitive the FBI has recovered to date in its investigation of Trump and his aides for possible mishandling of classified information, obstruction and destruction of government records, the people said. The criminal probe is unfolding even as the Justice Department and a district attorney in Georgia investigate alleged efforts by Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and as a House select committee has subpoenaed the former president seeking documents and testimony related to those allegations.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in having the documents at Mar-a-Lago, claiming in a recent television interview that he declassified any documents in his possession, and that a president can declassify information “even by thinking about it.” National security lawyers have derided those claims.

A spokesman for the former president did not respond to requests for comment Friday morning. But after this article published online, Trump posted on social media, decrying what he called leaks “on the Document Hoax” and suggesting that the FBI and the National Archives and Records Administration were trying to frame him.

“Who could ever trust corrupt, weaponized agencies, and that includes NARA,” Trump wrote. “ … Also who knows what NARA and the FBI plant into documents, or subtract from documents — we will never know, will we?”
Foreign agents certainly have seen these documents. There's no way they were kept secure with known Chinese, Russian, and Saudi nationals running around the place as Trump's guests, and probably even more infiltrating the resort as staff.

Even if Trump didn't sell these documents to the highest bidder, he almost certainly showed them off to brag. Trying to blame this on the FBI is just silly.

Trump is in real trouble, and even he knows it.

Bannon Bonked Badly

The human racism factory is going to federal prison for four months for contempt of Congress.


A federal judge on Friday sentenced Stephen K. Bannon, a longtime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump who aided in the effort to overturn the 2020 election, to four months in prison for disobeying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Bannon, 68, was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress this summer after Judge Carl J. Nichols rejected an array of arguments offered by Mr. Bannon’s defense team, including that he was protected from being compelled to testify by executive privilege.

Mr. Bannon will remain free pending his appeal. 
The sentence, coming a year after Mr. Bannon was held in contempt by the House, is two months short of what federal prosecutors had requested this week. They had accused Mr. Bannon, the onetime editor of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart, of having “pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” from the moment he received the subpoena seeking information about his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his electoral defeat.

“Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes,” said Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee, who also imposed a fine of $6,500 on Mr. Bannon.

In a contentious exchange with the defense team before announcing a sentence, he said Mr. Bannon had shown “no remorse for his actions” and had yet to “demonstrate he has any intention of complying with the subpoena.”

In issuing the sentence, Judge Nichols dismissed Mr. Bannon’s claims that his refusal to testify was protected by executive privilege. But he also cited Mr. Bannon’s belated effort to reach an agreement with the committee, his service in the Navy, his lack of a criminal history and the unsettled judicial status of executive privilege as factors mitigating against a longer sentence.

Mr. Bannon, a rapid-talking provocateur who has used his daily internet radio show to skewer the government for prosecuting him, approached his sentencing with the same defiance that has characterized his attitude toward the congressional summons that prompted the case. He told reporters that he viewed President Biden as “illegitimate” as he entered Federal District Court in Washington, flanked by his lawyers.

After thanking reporters for showing up, he went on to claim that Democrats would face their “judgment day” in the coming midterm elections and urged all within earshot to oppose the Chinese Communist Party.

He sat impassively in a dark military-style jacket and an untucked blue shirt as the sentence was issued.
Bannon, as mentioned, will remain free on appeal, thanks to the Trump-appointed judge. no doubt shilling for his legal fees and martyring himself, or trying to. Bannon was never going away, anyway. He is 100% the face of the Republican party, and 100% of the racist voters in the party who remain in the post-Trump era. 

We'll see if he actually goes to prison. The appeals process could take years.

Legal Eagles, Con't

Not a good day for the GOP in the arena of the federal courts, as the 11th Circuit and SCOTUS handed down big L's to Sen. Lindsey Graham and GOP attorneys general, respectively. First, Graham lost his bid to quash the subpoena in the Trump election fraud investigation by Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Wilson.

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Sen. Lindsey Graham’s emergency request that it halt a subpoena for his testimony from the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating efforts to undermine the 2020 election in Georgia.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court judge in ruling that the South Carolina Republican senator may be questioned about certain topics.

“(C)ommunications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials” are not legislative activities protected by the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, the three-judge panel ruled.

With its new ruling, the appeals court lifted the temporary hold it had placed on the subpoena while it was considering Graham’s case.

However, Graham may not be questioned about conduct related to any fact-finding he was doing about whether to vote to certify the 2020 election results, the court ruled, okaying the approach taken by the lower court.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the investigation, has indicated that she wants to question Graham about his phone calls with Georgia election officials as former President Donald Trump and his allies were seeking to reverse his defeat in the state.

The appeals court said if there was a dispute over whether investigators’ questions about those calls related to the fact-finding he was doing for the certification vote, Graham could raise those issues when he is testifying. But the new ruling makes clear that the three other categories of conduct fall outside of the protections of the Speech and Debate Clause, which shields legislators from certain law enforcement activities connected to their duties as lawmakers.

The 11th Circuit order was unanimous and came from a panel made up of two Trump appointees and a Clinton appointee.
Meanwhile, the courts refused to block President Biden's college debt relief program, not once, but twice.

Federal courts on Thursday delivered two wins for President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a challenge to the program brought by a Wisconsin taxpayers group. And on the same day, a federal district court judge rejected a separate lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states.

Student loan cancellations, worth up to $20,000 per eligible borrower, could begin on Sunday.

The appeal at issue in the Supreme Court case was considered an uphill battle because lower courts had ruled that the group, the Brown County Taxpayers Association, did not have the legal right or “standing” to bring the challenge. Under normal circumstances, taxpayers don’t have a general right to sue the government over how it uses taxpayer funds.

Barrett acted alone because she has jurisdiction over the lower court that ruled on the case. She declined to refer the matter to the full court. Her denial appeared as a single sentence on the court’s docket.

A federal judge in Missouri, US District Judge Henry Edward Autrey, rejected the lawsuit from the GOP-led states also because the plaintiffs did not have the legal standing to bring the challenge.

As I said before, the issue is standing: who is harmed by the student debt relief program, and what harm needs to be redressed? The courts' answer at both the appeals and SCOTUS level is that there is no harm. I'm shocked, personally. I figured Justice Barrett would go along but she 100% did not.

Too nuts even for her. 

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