Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Last Call For Losing The Clown Show

House GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy has now fully lost control of his own caucus, with Rep. Lauren Boebert now trying to force an impeachment vote on President Biden as well as a second censure vote for Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged House Republicans to vote against the resolution brought forward by GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado forcing a vote to impeach President Joe Biden this week, arguing now is not the right time, multiple sources in the closed door meeting told CNN.

House Republicans are divided over Boebert’s resolution, with a number of members emerging from the meeting expressing frustration with the conservative congresswoman’s push to force a vote on the politically contentious issue.

McCarthy argued that Republicans should let committee investigations play out and warning that jumping to impeachment now could threaten their slim majority, the sources said. The speaker noted that House Republicans have taken back the House five times in the last 100 years, and two of those times lost the majority the next cycle.

“What majority do we want to be,” McCarthy asked his conference, according to a source in the room “Give it right back in two years or hold it for a decade and make real change?”

McCarthy said he asked Boebert to speak during the closed door conference meeting and she declined, a source familiar told CNN. Boebert did not attend the Wednesday meeting, the source said. CNN has reached out to Boebert’s office for comment.

McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday he does not support the resolution.

“I think to prematurely bring something up like that, to have no background in it, it undercuts what we’re doing” at the committee level, he said.

A number of House Republicans have filed articles of impeachment against Biden since the party took the House majority, but Boebert made a specific procedural move on Tuesday that would force the chamber to vote on the impeachment of Biden this week.

It’s not clear when the vote will happen, if at all. Boebert told CNN she would not force the full House to vote Wednesday night, and it’s still possible a vote to kill the impeachment resolution could happen later this week.

Now, it's 100% clear that Boebert doesn't have the votes, but McCarthy is now juggling bottles of nitroglycerin during an earthquake. If he kills the vote, he's going to have a revolt on his hands. If he allows the vote, he's also going to have a revolt on his hands.  He's survived so far, but less than six months into his term as House Speaker, he's already looking at a moment that could break his circus tent poles in half and bring the whole mess down on his head.

There's not much left for McCarthy to give away to keep Boebert sweet, and it'll only take one furious Republican to call for a vote of no confidence in McCarthy's ringmaster performance.

Get the popcorn, folks.

Supremely Corrupt Cads, Crooks, And Creeps, Con't

ProPublica, after exposing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his massive "gifts" from GOP megadonor and Nazi memorabilia enthusiast Harlan Crow, has now zeroed in on Justice Samuel Alito, and boy will you not be surprised at what they discovered.

In early July 2008, Samuel Alito stood on a riverbank in a remote corner of Alaska. The Supreme Court justice was on vacation at a luxury fishing lodge that charged more than $1,000 a day, and after catching a king salmon nearly the size of his leg, Alito posed for a picture. To his left, a man stood beaming: Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire who has repeatedly asked the Supreme Court to rule in his favor in high-stakes business disputes.

Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way.

In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund came before the court at least 10 times in cases where his role was often covered by the legal press and mainstream media. In 2014, the court agreed to resolve a key issue in a decade-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina. Alito did not recuse himself from the case and voted with the 7-1 majority in Singer’s favor. The hedge fund was ultimately paid $2.4 billion.

Alito did not report the 2008 fishing trip on his annual financial disclosures. By failing to disclose the private jet flight Singer provided, Alito appears to have violated a federal law that requires justices to disclose most gifts, according to ethics law experts.

Experts said they could not identify an instance of a justice ruling on a case after receiving an expensive gift paid for by one of the parties.

“If you were good friends, what were you doing ruling on his case?” said Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor and leading expert on recusals. “And if you weren’t good friends, what were you doing accepting this?” referring to the flight on the private jet.

Justices are almost entirely left to police themselves on ethical issues, with few restrictions on what gifts they can accept. When a potential conflict arises, the sole arbiter of whether a justice should step away from a case is the justice him or herself.

ProPublica’s investigation sheds new light on how luxury travel has given prominent political donors — including one who has had cases before the Supreme Court — intimate access to the most powerful judges in the country. Another wealthy businessman provided expensive vacations to two members of the high court, ProPublica found. On his Alaska trip, Alito stayed at a commercial fishing lodge owned by this businessman, who was also a major conservative donor. Three years before, that same businessman flew Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, on a private jet to Alaska and paid the bill for his stay.

Such trips would be unheard of for the vast majority of federal workers, who are generally barred from taking even modest gifts.

Leonard Leo, the longtime leader of the conservative Federalist Society, attended and helped organize the Alaska fishing vacation. Leo invited Singer to join, according to a person familiar with the trip, and asked Singer if he and Alito could fly on the billionaire’s jet. Leo had recently played an important role in the justice’s confirmation to the court. Singer and the lodge owner were both major donors to Leo’s political groups.

ProPublica’s examination of Alito’s and Scalia’s travel drew on trip planning emails, Alaska fishing licenses, and interviews with dozens of people including private jet pilots, fishing guides, former high-level employees of both Singer and the lodge owner, and other guests on the trips.

ProPublica sent Alito a list of detailed questions last week, and on Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s head spokeswoman told ProPublica that Alito would not be commenting. Several hours later, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Alito responding to ProPublica’s questions about the trip.
So yes, Justice Alito banged out a "pre-buttal" op-ed in the friendly WSJ yesterday, attacking the ProPublica story as "misleading" and stuffed that behind its paywall. Josh Marshall at TPM braves the muck to rake it:

You’ve likely seen that TPM Alum Justin Elliott and the team at ProPublica is back with another big exclusive about the Supreme Court. This time, for once, Clarence Thomas is in the clear. Now we’re talking about the intemperate and peevish Sam Alito who took an all expenses paid fishing trip to Alaska back in 2008, courtesy of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. In a characteristic move, Alito refused to respond to the reporters’ questions and then published his answers as an oped in The Wall Street Journal in a kind of prebuttal and attack. Because yes, he’s that guy.

The bulk of the story is a detailed run-down of what Alito did, what a Justice needs to disclose and what kind of high powered gifts should dictate a recusal in cases where Singer had some direct stake – there’ve been a number. But the gem in Alito’s piece is the explanation the private jet flight.

As for the flight, Mr. Singer and others had already made arrangements to fly to Alaska when I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant. It was my understanding that this would not impose any extra cost on Mr. Singer. Had I taken commercial flights, that would have imposed a substantial cost and inconvenience on the deputy U.S. Marshals who would have been required for security reasons to assist me.

Alito seems to suggest that he was flying to Alaska and it turned out Singer happened to be flying to Alaska too. And he happened to have a spare seat on his private jet. So what sense would there be in having the seat go to waste? In the spirit of the Alaskan wilderness taking the seat was sort of a resource conservation effort in which Alito was lending a hand.

But of course Singer didn’t just happen to going to Alaska. He was going to Alaska specifically to spend quality time with Sam Alito. The whole thing had been arranged by The Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, who asked Singer if he and Alito could fly up with him on his private jet.

And here’s where the whole picture starts to come into focus – both the Alito story and the Thomas ones. Needless to say none of these billionaires are just old friends in the sense you or I might recognize. But they didn’t just glom on to their Justice on their own. Everyone here is part of Leo’s network. Harlan Crow is a big Republican donor but also a big Federalist Society donor. So is Paul Singer. So is the owner of the fishing lodge. In fact, Leo’s network is so vast and deep-pocketed that eventually he decided he was too big for the Federalist Society and struck out on his own. Indeed last year he secured a record-breaking $1.6 billion donation as a kind of judicial corrupt grub steak to fund all his future endeavors
So we know that at least two Supreme Court Justices are bought and paid for by Federalist Society jackasses, and probably all six of the conservative justices. 

Keep that in mind as the most damaging rulings taking rights from tens of millions are handed down in the next week or so.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Donald Trump sent some of his lawyers and political advisers on a “small fact-finding mission,” as a person with knowledge of the matter describes it to Rolling Stone. The former president wanted to know, according to that source and another person close to Trump: “What is Mark doing?”

Trump was referring to his former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Justice Department investigators and Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office had been keen on questioning Meadows under oath about Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election and to hoard government documents. And it’s been an ongoing mystery to Trump and his team how much Meadows has given the feds, and whether or not he’s actually cooperating. Months ago, Meadows and his lawyer severed communications with most of Trumpland, in a move that continues to frustrate people working to keep the now twiceindicted former president out of deeper legal peril.

The Trump attorneys and advisers who went looking for answers returned with bad news for Trump: They couldn’t figure out what was going on, leaving them to repeat rumors and speculation.

Meadows, his lawyer, and Trump’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment from Rolling Stone.

Meadows’ team is keeping quiet. Early this month, The New York Times revealed that Meadows had indeed testified before the grand jury, but scant details have been unearthed about what he discussed or to which specific topics his testimony was related. And Meadows’ lawyer George Terwilliger this month offered only vagueness: “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

That cryptic statement did not sit well with much of Trumpworld. In recent weeks, several lawyers and confidants had already discussed their unconfirmed suspicions with Trump that Meadows was being very useful to the feds in order to reduce Meadows’ own possible legal exposure, two other people familiar with the matter say. Both sources independently tell Rolling Stone that when the topic has come up within the past several months, Trump has at times said that he doesn’t know what Meadows is doing, adding that it would be a “shame” if the MAGAland rumors were true.

In the days since Terwilliger’s brief statement to media outlets, some of Trump’s longtime allies and close advisers have taken to sardonically referring to Meadows by using the rat emoji in their private conversations, according to a source with knowledge of the situation and a screenshot reviewed by Rolling Stone.

However, others in Trump’s immediate orbit have recently sought to reassure him that, for now at least, he should not read too much into Meadows’ silence, two people with direct knowledge of the matter say. Despite all the rumors that have been flying, these individuals have told Trump that there is no hard evidence yet that Meadows is formally cooperating, and that he could simply be following lawyers’ advice to keep a low profile, answering the feds’ questions when he has to until the special counsel investigation runs its course.
Unfortunately for Meadows and other witnesses, Trump has for years often seen little difference between a witness having an official cooperation agreement with prosecutors, and someone who is legally required to answer questions and in doing so offers up potentially damning information to the authorities, according to sources who’ve spoken to Trump about federal probes and other investigations over the decades. Indeed, Trump was furious over the degree of detail in the notes made by his own attorney, Evan Corcoran, which have since become very useful for prosecutors in this case.

There's no proof that Meadows is singing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but the Trump camp is deep into the paranoid style, and Meadows continues to refuse to deny the accusations.

Personally, I hope Meadows is indeed giving Jack Smith the grand jury info necessary to indict Trump for January 6th and a host of other charges.

We'll see who's right: if Meadows was cooperating, somebody would have ratted him out for doing so by now.
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