Thursday, July 20, 2023

Last Call For The GOP Circus Of The Damned, Con't

With Trump facing an imminent third set of indictments, he's apparently coming to collect one of the many markers he has from the House GOP Circus of the Damned, and its Ringmaster, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Problem is, McCarthy may not be able to deliver what Trump wants: expungement of Trump's impeachments.
Several moderate House Republicans are loath to revisit Trump’s impeachments — especially the charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (In fact, though only 10 of their GOP colleagues voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, several more wanted to but were too worried about threats to their offices and families to take the plunge.)

But should McCarthy follow through, those members won’t have a choice. Given the speaker’s tenuous position with Trump allies in the House and the threat of his ouster looming over every move, McCarthy has no real option but to bow to the former president’s whims — even if it means putting vulnerable frontliners in a precarious political position.

The speaker has denied that he made such a promise to Trump at all, according to one Hill aide. From McCarthy’s point of view, he merely indicated that he would discuss the matter with his members — putting him and Trump on a collision course.

McCarthy’s own leadership team is divided on the matter.

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who many believe is angling to be Trump’s running mate should he win the nomination, has pushed for an expungement vote. In late June, she teamed up with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on a resolution that would’ve cleared Trump of the impeachment charges.

But in a recent leadership meeting, moderate Republicans pushed back on the idea, arguing that any expungement vote would be poisonous to the reelections of members in Biden-won districts — particularly given that polling suggests most Americans disapprove of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.

It’s also unclear whether an expungement vote even has enough support to pass the House, given the GOP’s slim five-seat majority. Two sitting Republicans — Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) — voted to impeach Trump, and are unlikely to support expungement.

Then, beyond the skittish moderates who’d prefer not to take the vote, there’s the clutch of constitutionally minded conservatives — who, we are told, have privately voiced skepticism that the House has the constitutional authority to erase a president’s impeachments.

Some senior Republicans — even those who back Trump — worry that an expungement vote would expose divisions in their ranks and only embarrass Trump if the effort comes up for a vote and loses.

“I’m for Trump,” one senior GOP member tells Playbook. “The problem is: If you have an expungement, and it goes to the floor and fails — which it probably will — then the media will treat it like it’s a third impeachment, and it will show disunity among Republican ranks. It’s a huge strategic risk.”

For now, some in McCarthy’s leadership team are under the impression that a vote won’t happen, with one person calling it “too divisive.” And though McCarthy has publicly backed the push, senior Republicans speculate that his words were merely an attempt to curry favor with the former president.

“I think it’s more of a messaging thing to please Trump,” one senior GOP aide said.
No foolin?
The fact that McCarthy most likely lacks the votes for this is hysterical, and we'll see what happens when Trump tries to get his asterisk in the history books.

He should be more worried about spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

The government of Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has completed their rewrite of Black history in the state for students this fall and the results are just as bad as I warned you they would be.

The Florida State Board of Education approved new rules Wednesday for how Black history will be taught in public schools that critics are decrying as a “step backward.”

The updated standards say students should learn that enslaved people “developed skills” that “could be applied for their personal benefit,” and that in teaching about mob violence against Black residents instructors should note “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.”

“These standards are a disservice to Florida’s students and are a big step backward for a state that has required teaching African American history since 1994,” the Florida Education Association (FEA), the state’s largest teachers union, said in a statement.

The standards are the latest development in an ongoing debate in Florida over how Black history should be taught in school. Earlier this year, the education board rejected a new Advanced Placement high school course on African American studies, arguing it lacked “educational value,” igniting protests and outrage.

Meanwhile, the state legislature has passed a raft of new laws backed by Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who contends the measures remove “woke indoctrination” and empower parents. The laws ban the teaching of critical race theory, an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism, and forbid teachers from offering instruction that makes other students “feel guilt” because of actions committed by others in the past.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz argued at Wednesday’s meeting in Orlando that the changes to the Black history curriculum make it more “robust.”

“I think this is something that is going to set the norm for standards in other states,” Diaz said, adding that Florida would continue to “teach the good, bad and the ugly of American history” in an age-appropriate manner.

But critics said the dozens of new “benchmark clarifications” to the existing Black history curriculum water down that history. The changes include teaching elementary school children to “recognize Rosa Parks and Thomas Jefferson as individuals who represent the United States.” The FEA criticized the approach, saying it excludes a deeper teaching of their “histories and struggles” in favor of easy identification and memorization.

Genesis Robinson, political director of Equal Ground, a voter education group, said the new standards omit important lessons regarding the history of civil rights in Florida and ultimately dehumanize people of color.

“Black history is more than being able to identify well-known Black people,” he said.

A spokesman for DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment. Alex Lanfranconi, communications director for the state Department of Education, echoed Diaz’s remarks on Twitter, saying the new standards “teach it all.”

“Don’t believe the union lies,” he wrote.

More than a dozen speakers at Wednesday’s board meeting opposed the changes, including state Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D), who helped pass a law in 2020 that requires schools to teach lessons about the Ocoee Massacre. The incident in 1920 began when several Black residents attempted to vote, and ended with as many as 60 people dead, making it the deadliest instance of Election Day violence in U.S. history.

Thompson said the new curriculum “suggests that the massacre was sparked by violence from African Americans. That’s blaming the victims.
Has anyone stopped to consider that Black kids in Florida might "feel guilt" over having the schools tell them that our ancestors were responsible for their own massacres because they wanted to, you know, not be slaves?

Of course not. By the way, Florida's Education Secretary saying  “I think this is something that is going to set the norm for standards in other states” is an open threat to criminalize Black History.

Treat it as such.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

As we get closer and closer to Donald Trump's expected federal indictment on January 6th crimes, Trump Whisperer Maggie Haberman and crew find that Jack Smith's target letter included the notion that Trump's 2020 election fraud efforts may be prosecuted under civil rights statutes.
Federal prosecutors have introduced a new twist in the Jan. 6 investigation by suggesting in a target letter that they could charge former President Donald J. Trump with violating a civil rights statute that dates back to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The letter to Mr. Trump from the special counsel, Jack Smith, referred to three criminal statutes as part of the grand jury investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss, according to two people with knowledge of its contents. Two of the statutes were familiar from the criminal referral by the House Jan. 6 committee and months of discussion by legal experts: conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of an official proceeding.

But the third criminal law cited in the letter was a surprise: Section 241 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which makes it a crime for people to “conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person” in the “free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

Congress enacted that statute after the Civil War to provide a tool for federal agents to go after Southern whites, including Ku Klux Klan members, who engaged in terrorism to prevent formerly enslaved African Americans from voting. But in the modern era, it has been used more broadly, including in cases of voting fraud conspiracies.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to discuss the target letter and Mr. Smith’s theory for bringing the Section 241 statute into the Jan. 6 investigation. But the modern usage of the law raised the possibility that Mr. Trump, who baselessly declared the election he lost to have been rigged, could face prosecution on accusations of trying to rig the election himself.

A series of 20th-century cases upheld application of the law in cases involving alleged tampering with ballot boxes by casting false votes or falsely tabulating votes after the election was over, even if no specific voter could be considered the victim.

In a 1950 opinion by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, for example, Judge Charles C. Simons wrote of applying Section 241 in a ballot box-stuffing case that the right to an honest count “is a right possessed by each voting elector, and to the extent that the importance of his vote is nullified, wholly or in part, he has been injured in the free exercise of a right or privilege secured to him by the laws and Constitution of the United States.”

In a 1974 Supreme Court opinion upholding the use of Section 241 to charge West Virginians who cast fake votes on a voting machine, Justice Thurgood Marshall cited Judge Simons and added that every voter “has a right under the Constitution to have his vote fairly counted, without its being distorted by fraudulently cast votes.”

The line of 20th-century cases raised the prospect that Mr. Smith and his team could be weighing using that law to cover efforts by Mr. Trump and his associates to flip the outcome of states he lost. Those efforts included the recorded phone conversation in which Mr. Trump tried to bully Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough additional votes to overcome Mr. Biden’s win in that state and promoting a plan to use so-called fake electors — self-appointed slates of pro-Trump electors from states won by Mr. Biden — to help block or delay congressional certification of Mr. Trump’s defeat.

“It seems like under 241 there’s at least a right to an honest counting of the votes,” said Norman Eisen, who worked for the House Judiciary Committee during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment. “Submitting an alternate electoral certificate to Congress (as opposed to casting false votes or counting wrong) is a novel scenario, but it seems like it would violate this right.”
It seems fitting to go after Trump with a law used to stop Klan intimidation of voters.
We'll see what happens, but expect Jack Smith to go to his grand jury very soon to get indictments.
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