Monday, January 9, 2023

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

The special grand jury investigating Donald Trump's 2020 election interference in Georgia has finished its work and is suggesting that its report be made public, as Fulton County DA Fani Willis weighs her options going forward with possible indictments.

The Georgia special grand jury investigating whether former President Donald Trump and his allies unlawfully sought to interfere in the state's 2020 U.S. presidential election results has issued its final report, a court filing showed on Monday, but it remained unclear whether criminal charges will follow.

In an order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney dissolved the grand jury now that its work is complete and set a Jan. 24 hearing to determine whether the report will be made public. The jurors recommended that their findings be released, McBurney said in the order.

The special grand jury, which was convened at the request of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, had subpoena power but not the ability to issue indictments. Willis will ultimately decide whether to bring charges against Trump or anyone else, though the jury's report could include recommendations.

Willis, a Democrat, opened a criminal investigation soon after a January 2021 phone call in which Trump, a Republican, urged top election officials to "find" enough votes to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's statewide victory.

The grand jury heard testimony from numerous state officials including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, as well as key Trump advisers such as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and attorney Rudy Giuliani, many of whom unsuccessfully attempted to quash their subpoenas.

Prosecutors have told Giuliani he is a target and could face criminal charges, as well as Trump allies who backed a scheme to appoint alternate electors in a bid to deliver Georgia's electoral votes to Trump, rather than Biden, in the Electoral College process that determines the outcome of presidential elections.
So, the questions are if the report will ever see the light of day, and if DA Willis will press charges. Doing so immediately would make her a target, both in the political sense as GOP Gov.  Brian Kemp and the GOP-dominated state legislature will almost certainly try to attempt to remove Willis from office if she does charge Trump and/or his inner circle, and in the dangerously literal sense of the very real possibility of violence by Trump faithful, up to and including Atlanta PD, Fulton County Sheriff's office, or the Georgia State Police.

We'll know soon, possibly by the end of the month.

The Circus of the Damned, Con't

One of the biggest concessions that House Republicans ripped out of Kevin McCarthy is Jim Jordan's "special" committee to "investigate" ongoing Justice Department investigations into Trump and his inner circle, something the GOP hopes will lead to leaks and sabotage of any federal case against Trump and a pretense for impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland.
House Republicans are gearing up to investigate the Department of Justice and the FBI, including their “ongoing criminal investigations,” setting up a showdown with the Biden administration and law enforcement agencies over their criminal probes, particularly those into former President Donald Trump.

The new House GOP majority has proposed that a new select subcommittee be formed – a result of one of the key concessions House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to his opposition to secure the gavel.

In addition to having the power to investigate all ongoing criminal probes of the executive branch, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government would also “be authorized to receive information available to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” giving it access to the most highly classified information in Congress, according to the proposal.

An earlier draft of the select subcommittee proposal gave it less power and was much narrower in scope: It would have only been able to focus on the FBI, DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security, and made no mention of getting access to ongoing criminal investigations.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, an early holdout against McCarthy who became a key negotiator for the hard-liners, said on Fox News that changes made to the select subcommittee proposal, particularly seeking a budget as big as the January 6 select committee, was key to getting those initially opposed to McCarthy on board.

“So we got more resources, more specificity, more power to go after this recalcitrant Biden administration,” Roy said Friday. “That’s really important.”

The select subcommittee would be under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee, which is partly why Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the committee’s incoming chairman, was crucial to the negotiations last week that led to the proposal. As Judiciary chair, Jordan would oversee the subpoenas of the select panel. By contrast, the House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol made subpoena decisions unilaterally. Jordan has foreshadowed that he will make investigating assertions that the FBI and DOJ have been politicized a key focus of the House Judiciary Committee as chairman.

“We’re going to get into what’s going on at the FBI,” Jordan said Sunday on Fox.

If the proposal passes, McCarthy would be able to select 13 lawmakers to serve on the subcommittee, five of whom would be chosen in consultation with House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. McCarthy would also pick the subcommittee chair. This was similar to the setup of the January 6 select committee, for which then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave then-Minority Leader McCarthy five spots to fill. But when Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s picks, the California Republican pulled all his members from serving on the panel.
So yes, this is going to be the Evil Mirror Universe version of the January 6th Committee, complete with farcical accusations and damaging leaks in an effort to capsize investigations into Trump and his flunkies.
I'm not sure if Democrats participating in this bad faith effort will help or hurt them. I see the need to at least try to mitigate the stupidity, but they'll just be used as political props for the next two years.
We'll see what Hakeem Jeffries decides to do.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

In a Friday Night News Dump™ crapped out late last week while the world was watching our dysfunctional House GOP Circus of the Damned and laughing at Kevin McCarthy openly for his stupidity, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his own coming Pyrrhic humiliation at the hands of Disney and invited everyone to pull up a seat for the show.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will seek to bring Disney's special governing district under direct state control in a bid to end the entertainment giant's multi-decade arrangement with the Sunshine State.

DeSantis is expected to appoint a new board to control Reedy Creek, the self-governing area that is currently de facto run by The Walt Disney Company, and allows it to maintain its own infrastructure and public services. Created in 1967, the district also allows Disney to raise taxes and issue bonds to finance the expenses required to run services for Walt Disney World resort.

“The corporate kingdom has come to an end," said DeSantis's communications director, Taryn Fenske, in a statement. "Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes."

Fenske added that a state-controlled board would also ensure that neighboring Orange County cannot use Reedy Creek-related issues "as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents.”

Fox News first reported the Friday development, citing sources in DeSantis' office. In a document posted to the website of Osceola County, which also borders Orange County and Reedy Creek, notice was given that the proposed legislation would leave no current aspect of Reedy Creek untouched.

Florida legislators already voted in a special session last year to dissolve all special districts like Reedy Creek in Florida by June 2023. It was not immediately clear how that earlier vote would impact the new proposal.
DeSantis is clearly betting that he has better lawyers than Disney, and there's tens of billions of dollars at stake here. He's expecting Disney to surrender and for his army of trolls to attack the company until they do. Maybe there's a deal in the works, but I'm betting this fight is going to last years and cost both sides buckets of cash...which is what DeSantis wants anyway.
This is going to be nasty, especially if you live in central Florida, because it's going to be the people of the Orlando area who are going to definitely suffer the most when DeSantis wrecks the economy there for good.

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