Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Last Call For Lordy, There Are Tapes

Ladies and gentlemen, here's audio evidence that Donald Trump committed a federal crime.

CNN has exclusively obtained the audio recording of the 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump discusses holding secret documents he did not declassify.

The recording, which first aired on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” includes new details from the conversation that is a critical piece of evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump over the mishandling of classified information, including a moment when Trump seems to indicate he was holding a secret Pentagon document with plans to attack Iran.

“These are the papers,” Trump says in the audio recording, while he’s discussing the Pentagon attack plans, a quote that was not included in the indictment.

In the two-minute audio recording, Trump and his aides also joke about Hillary Clinton’s emails after the former president says that the document was “secret information.”

“Hillary would print that out all the time, you know. Her private emails,” Trump’s staffer said.

“No, she’d send it to Anthony Weiner,” Trump responded, referring to the former Democratic congressman, prompting laughter in the room.

Trump’s statements on the audio recording, saying “these are the papers” and referring to something he calls “highly confidential” and seems to be showing others in the room, could undercut the former president’s claims in an interview last week with Fox News’ Bret Baier that he did not have any documents with him.

“There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things,” Trump said on Fox. “And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”

Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 37 counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The audio recording comes from a July 2021 interview Trump gave at his Bedminster resort for people working on the memoir of Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff. The special counsel’s indictment alleges that those in attendance – a writer, publisher and two of Trump’s staff members – were shown classified information about the plan of attack on Iran. 
If you still want to know why Republicans are trying to invent a Joe Biden "bribery scandal" out of smoke and mirrors where nobody can actually come up with the tapes proving anything at all happened, it's because these tapes proving Trump is a crook actually exist.

A Supreme Week From Hell, Con't

The good news: the "independent state legislature" theory is dead and buried after a 6-3 SCOTUS decision today authored by Chief Justice Roberts. The bad news is the NC GOP is likely to redraw an even worse, more gerrymandered map that favors the GOP and will cost Democrats two or more House seats in 2024.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to impose new limits on state courts reviewing certain election-related issues by ruling against Republicans in North Carolina fighting for a congressional district map that would heavily favor their candidates.

The justices ruled on a 6-3 vote that the North Carolina Supreme Court was acting within its authority in concluding that the map constituted a partisan gerrymander under the state constitution.

In doing so, the court declined to embrace a hitherto obscure legal argument called the “independent state legislature” theory, which Republicans say limits state court authority to strike down certain election laws enacted by state legislatures.

After the then-Democratic-controlled state Supreme Court issued the ruling last year, the court flipped to Republican control following November's mid-term elections and recently overturned the decision, a move that prompted questions about whether the justices even needed to decide the case.

The congressional map in North Carolina will be re-drawn ahead of the 2024 election anyway because of a state law provision that says interim maps can only be used for one election cycle. As a result of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling, that map is likely to tilt heavily toward Republicans.

The independent state legislature argument hinges on language in the Constitution that says election rules “shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.”

Supporters of the theory, which has never been endorsed by the Supreme Court, say the language supports the notion that, when it comes to federal election rules, legislatures have ultimate power under state law, potentially irrespective of potential constraints imposed by state constitutions.

A Supreme Court ruling that embraced the theory would have affected not only redistricting disputes, but also other election-related rules about issues like mail-in voting and voter access to the polls that legislatures might seek to enact even when state courts have held that those rules violate state constitutions. The theory could also bring into question the power of governors to veto legislation.

Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist embraced a version of the theory in the Bush v. Gore ruling issued later in 2000, which ultimately led to Republican George W. Bush’s taking office as president. During December's oral argument, several justices cited Rehnquist’s opinion, which did not secure a majority at the time, in support of the notion that there should be some constraints on the scope of state officials, including judges, to make changes to election laws enacted by legislatures that are not anchored in law.

The independent state legislature theory has subsequently been cited by supporters of former President Donald Trump in various cases during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

The North Carolina case was being closely watched for its potential impact on the 2024 presidential election.
Roberts stepping in himself here to put an end to this nonsense is definitely one of those "I'm not going to go down as the villain in history!" kind of efforts, even though it's largely too late for that. Still, with both the NC state legislature and state Supreme Court firmly in the hands of the GOP, expect the 7-7 party split in the US House to become 10-4 or even 11-3 GOP in 2024. Your state's gerrymander will depend on whom you elect to run your state.

The real issue though is that Roberts does leave the door open for federal review of state Supreme Court rulings on gerrymanders in "extraordinary" cases. That could be very important down the line and it's going to be tested sooner rather than later. We're not out of the woods yet.
Also, the Chief Justice rules that states are bound by their constitutions as far as electors go, so the Trumpian theory of "alternate slates of electors" also gets tossed into the trash can.

Oh, and Clarence Thomas's dissent is just two dozen pages of whinging. Fuck him.

Equal Justice, Under The Law, Con't

The Club Q shooter who massacred five and injured 19 others in Colorado Springs last year is getting five consecutive life sentences with no parole, as Colorado abolished the death penalty in 2020.

The suspect accused of fatally shooting five people and injuring 19 others last year at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado has pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and agreed to serve five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole as part of a deal with prosecutors, the defendant told a judge.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, also pleaded guilty Monday morning to 46 counts of attempted murder in the first degree – with 48-year consecutive sentences each – and no-contest to bias-motivated crimes in the November 19 massacre at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Shortly after Aldrich confirmed the plea deal, survivors began to give victim impact statements as the court moved directly to the sentencing phase.

“Why isn’t the punishment for this much harsher?” Ashley Paugh’s husband, Kurt Paugh, said in court. Her sister described the state of mind of the slain woman’s child – prompting tears in the courtroom.

“My 11-year-old niece wants to forgive you because that’s what she says her mom would want her to do,” Stephanie Clark said to Aldrich.

Aldrich, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, was charged with more than 300 state counts, including murder, assault, attempted murder and hate crimes. Prosecutors could not seek the death penalty in the case because Colorado in 2020 abolished the death penalty – becoming the 22nd state to do so.

The massacre at Club Q – long considered a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in a city with a history of being anti-gay – evoked memories of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which left 49 people dead.

The Club Q victims – Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump and Paugh – were among at least 642 people killed in 2022 in mass shootings with four or more wounded, excluding shooters, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

This year’s pace of slayings is on track to exceed that, with 385 people killed in mass shootings in the first 177 days of this year, the Gun Violence Archive reports.
I've got to say good riddance to a monster. I don't believe in capital punishment, but five consecutive life sentences without parole, one for each murder, is exactly what they deserve. 

I hope this stops the next LGBTQ club shooting, but we all know more violence is coming here in Gunmerica.
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