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Cover image of Fiona Hill's book
Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.

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10.Aug.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Tables turning Permalink to this item

Judd Legum hit the nail on the head this morning with a tweet responding to Perry Stein's WaPo "Justice" piece, risibly headlined to imply the search of Mar-a-Lago shows the DOJ is "politicized." Or something. I didn't take the jump, because Legum's point is more important. Let's shout it out for all the people in the back ("half of America," as all the leading RW sycophants are saying): Political journalism is plagued by omission bias.

"There is an assumption that inaction by the DOJ would be apolitical. But a decision to ignore evidence of criminal behavior because Trump is a powerful figure would be an intensely political."

Snippet of shop window display

That's been the case since "the Golden Escalators" scene. Trump's fraudulent business practices, tax cheating, immoral behavior and well of corruption have been a largely open book from before the get-go, and the one durable talent he's shown is for getting away with it. The very same Republicans who called him out with accurate derision on his way up folded like cheap suits once it was clear he had successfully hijacked the Republican Party, and then seized power. Here's GQ's June, 2016 collection, for example. Con artist, bankrupt, "going to shatter and fracture the Republican Party and the conservative movement," said Marco Rubio. Done, and done. Vulgar. "Utterly amoral," "a pathological liar," said the younger Ted Cruz. "He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party," said Lindsey Graham.

Rick Perry decried Trump's "barking carnival act [with] a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued," with you-can't-make-this-up foreshadowing: in an address at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington.

Let no one be mistaken: Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

Perry also declared “I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard,” but, well, he did kind of go quiet after he got to be Secretary of Energy ("oops"), and part of the doo-wop chorus at that 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree, saluting the Scout Law's enumeration of all the qualities the former guy lacks: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. (It's like he hit the duodenariofecta.)

But now the National Archives aren't having it, and good for them, good for the DOJ, good for the FBI, and good for the American people. Just for the record, the FBI executed a legal search warrant a Mar-a-Lago (not a "raid"), and neither they nor the DOJ are in the business of publishing that sort of thing. The recipient of the warrant could publish it, along with the search inventory they will have been provided, and if they didn't have anything to hide, they for sure would do that.

By comparison, one person responds to Legum's point, inaction would be political. We saw this in the treatment of witnesses against Kavanaugh ignored." Christopher Wray's FBI turned in the tips to the White House counsel's office, which rendered Mr. K's second background investigation into "a White House-directed bag job of no value whatsoever," as Charles P. Pierce put it, after Wray answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee just a week ago. That is how you politicize the Department of Justice.

Before I could get all my thought ducks in a row for this morning's blog post, here's NYU's Jay Rosen to update us that "the Post has changed [the "depoliticize"] headline, which was painfully under-thought." The new headline, and ok, I guess I'll link to it, FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago lands Merrick Garland in a political firestorm. I guess "wholly fabricated outrage" was over the length limit.

P.S. Something about the theme of "omission" reminded me of one of my early web essays (before "blog" had hit the mainstream). I tracked it down, datelined May, 2000, but the Comdex reference is 1999, for sure. Not exactly on point today, but a period piece you might find interesting, with a political twist at the end: What are you overlooking?

9.Aug.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Searching for lies in all the right places Permalink to this item

Hoo boy, we've got some excitement now. The FBI convinced a federal magistrate judge to sign off on a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, and they executed a lawful search (we presume). Or, as the exploding heads of the former guy's army of quisling puts it, A RAID!

If you're as upset by this as I am (or even a little bit more than "not at all, actually"), it might be TIME FOR SOME FUNDRAISING. Let's check the spam bucket. "Mike Pompeo," via news@theamericanfreedom.com says the search warrant was "shameful." (Has he seen it, I wonder? Not that that would matter for fundraising.) If you be very afraid, send money? Yes, he put it in bold face and underline:

"Remember this: if they will go after a former President, they will go after you."

The fine print says his email was PAID FOR BY CHAMPION AMERICAN VALUES. NOT AUTHORIZED BY ANY CANDIDATE OR CANDIDATE’S COMMITTEE so that's cool, he's just freelancing on the outrage of the day.

Bee in lavender photo

There are many more third-tier politicians looking to grab them some. Here's a guy running for NC-13 I've never heard of, Bo Hines, says he's "Trump-endorsed," pulling out the stops in three colors with highlighting and links and what-not, buttons to press to send him money to "SUPPORT PRESIDENT [sic] TRUMP" as if he's going to share? Ha ha.

And of course Gov. Ron DeSantis, who says he is "STUNNED." Oh wait, that's weird, he didn't say anything about the MAL kerfuffle, just worried about some candidate he's supporting (in Nevada) slipping behind in fundraising. Jim Jordan's keyword is WEAPONIZED. Turn your fury into a donation for... Jim Jordan, natch!

FPOTUS hisself weighed in, claims the "large group of FBI agents" "raided," and "occupied" his "beautiful home," a.k.a. golf club.

"[I]t's important that you know that it wasn't just my home that was violated - it was the home of every patriotic American who I have been fighting for since that iconic moment I came down the Golden Escalators in 2015."

That iconic moment. "Paid for by Save America JFC, a joint fundraising committee of Save America and Make America Great Again PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee." More golden oldies from the NRSC. WITCH HUNT! Buy a t-shirt! The RNC dipped a beak in. Kevin McCarthy wants some of your money too, because UNPRECEDENTED, and DEMANDING AN INVESTIGATION. Also, Chuck Grassley. TEAM SCALISE, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and to benefit SCALISE FOR CONGRESS and EYE OF THE TIGER PAC. ("DROP EVERYTHING," he says.) JD Vance, under cover of The "Trump Strategy Team."

McCarthy also put out a blast threatening to come after Attorney General Merrick Garland, right after he gets to be Speaker of the House.

It's bathetic, to be sure, but dark as hell. Will Bunch's latest newsletter, Trump’s crimes spark a Mar-a-Lago raid — but don’t look away from the fascism, touches on the latter, as the FBI search threatens to drive last week's CPAC shitshow out of the news, while the cauldron is still bubbling.

"While the news media has largely turned off Trump rallies due to his tiresome obsession with 2020, the ex-president used CPAC as an opportunity to finally roll out a vision for what a second term in January 2025 might look like — making his past invocations of “American carnage” feel like Disneyland. Perhaps Trump was motivated by coming after the political strongman of Europe, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. If CPAC wanted a taste of fascism, it would be a former U.S. president that offered the real deal, and not some Eastern European."

5.Aug.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Stuff I didn't learn in school Permalink to this item

My first choice for headline was "they didn't teach me," but at this point, who can say what they tried to do? (Can you be taught, but not learn, or are the two actions inextricably linked?) At any rate, I don't remember hearing what Heather Cox Richardson has pointed out multiple times, but maybe not as succinctly as in her Aug. 4 Letter's opening paragraph:

"Congress established the Department of Justice in 1870, overseen by the attorney general, to protect civil rights in the southern states after state legislators and state law enforcement officers refused to treat their Black neighbors as equals. If the states would not honor the principle of equality before the law, the federal government would."

152 years later, we're still right there. Three DOJ projects now in process:

4.Aug.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Some truth will out Permalink to this item

A bit late kicking off the 268th monthly edition of the blog. It's the same old onion (not to be confused with The Onion), being deconstructed to expose more and more of the rot in the core. I did not know Alex Jones' Infowars tagline before reading the latest installment of Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American. It might be the truest thing on the site: “There’s a War on For Your Mind!”

Partial image of p.77 of Senate report

She reread one of the seminal documents of our recent history, the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference in the 2016 election with its heightened relevance in the moment. (I still haven't gotten around to a first full read of its 5 volumes and additional views. It comes in PDF if you like, 1,348 pages with >60% whitespace and a ton of redactions.) In (her) summary:

"During the Trump administration, after an extensive investigation, the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that “the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election... by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”

"But that effort was not just about the election. It was “part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society…a vastly more complex and strategic assault on the United States than was initially understood…the latest installment in an increasingly brazen interference by the Kremlin on the citizens and democratic institutions of the United States.” It was “a sustained campaign of information warfare against the United States aimed at influencing how this nation’s citizens think about themselves, their government, and their fellow Americans.”

And you have to say, the effort has paid off remarkably well, with the breadth of its unexpected success emboldening Vladimir Putin in his dream of Soviet resurrection.

Alex Jones slots into the story, "not limited to foreign nationals." It's necessary to talk about George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, the sorry cuckolds of the GOP House members, and that as-yet not positively identified George W. Bush aide's pithy take on the "reality-based community," declared passé. (We think it was Karl Rove; why wouldn't Turd Blossom want to take credit and admit it, I wonder?)

And Alex Jones' doofus attorney who—whoops-a-daisy—misforwarded "a digital copy of two years’ worth of the texts and emails on Jones’s phone and, when alerted to the error, didn’t declare it privileged."

“This is your ‘Perry Mason’ moment,” Jones responded, a reference to the fictional lawyer famed for his stunning 11th-hour courtroom reveals. “I gave them my phone.”

"[Attorney Mark] Bankston noted Jones had testified under oath that he personally searched his cellphone for Sandy Hook text messages and was unable to find any. Bankston asked, “You know what perjury is, right? I just want to make sure you know before we go any further.”

(Jones said he did know, but "I'm not a tech guy.") Weirdly enough, Jones already lost the lawsuit and was found responsible for all damages" because he adamantly refused to hand over evidence. Now he's got a stack of criminal liability on top of a multimillion dollar L.

The story's not too technically complicated, and is explained in the middle of Dan Solomon's Twitter thread. Bankston "did not believe the phone [data] was placed in the folder intentionally," and notified opposing counsel, "who under Texas law had ten days to respond that the materials were transmitted in error."

Man, that must've been the longest ten days of Bankston's life waiting to see if it would be pulled back. But no! The two year poached oeuvre will cover January 6, conveniently enough, and there are other prosecutors (and the January 6 Committee) that will be keen to thumb through the contents. Even with all the Fifth refusals Jones gave the committee, there's a lot of perjury in the air.

Update:

The obscenity is not that Alex Jones is like this. The obscenity is that millions of Americans love and admire and support Alex Jones being like this, and make him filthy rich for being like this.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

— SomewhatProblematicCrossExaminationHat (@Popehat) August 3, 2022

29.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sinking ships and missing evidence Permalink to this item

The trumpiest of the last administration's insiders were motivated to destroy evidence to hide their roles in the attempted coup. Add grand finale fill-ins for homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, and deputy Ken Cuccinelli to the Secret Service folx whose text messages "for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol" have vanished. Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti report in the Washington Post.

"In a nearly identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agencywide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office did not notify Congress until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records."

Agencywide. Vanished. Seven months before the Trump loyalist inspector general Joseph Cuffari thought to mention it to Congress.

For his part, Wolf says he turned everything in to the DHS before he skittered down the hawser, five days after the Jan. 6 attack, suddenly uncomfortable about overstaying his "acting" ambit by, well, forever, since he was never lawfully serving as acting secretary. Whoops! H/t to Heather Cox Richardson for this bon mot from CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig:

Every federal law enforcement agency - including DHS / Secret Service - is fully aware that it must retain emails and texts, and has internal policies and technology to ensure compliance.

You don’t get to say “technology upgrade” and just toss everything out. They know this.

— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) July 29, 2022

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007