Saturday, September 30, 2023

But MAGA Is All Powerful And Is Going To Take Over The World!

At least that’s what Twitter* says.
Schumer: After trying to take our government hostage, Maga Republicans won nothing

Or, you know: not.

*Yeah, I know. But fuck ‘em, I refuse to recognize the full stupidity of Elmo.

I’ll Feel Bad About This In The Morning

But that’s tomorrow, and this is today.

(I have it on good authority this is an actual sign in actual Colorado.)

“High Crimes And Misdemeanors…”

 …means something different to…well, Republicans:

Comer's critics worried that he set the bar too high for impeaching Biden by suggesting they must prove the president personally benefitted from his family's foreign business, saying that evidence might not actually exist, and Republicans have been pressing him to lower the threshold to show that he engaged in "abuse of power" by taking no action to stop his family from trading on his name.
Not sure how that’s an “abuse of power,” or a “high crime and misdemeanor,” but no Constitutional theory allows the judiciary to review the actions of the House in impeachment.

Personally I think we need a more parliamentary system, or some method to rein in a rogue President (Trump) that doesn’t rely on waiting until the next quadrennial election.

Or we can just lower the standard to “the House is Republican and the POTUS is a Democrat.” Which is where we’re going already.

So, Basically… πŸ…

House Democrats and “moderate” Republicans saved the country from disaster:
The House of Representatives passed a 45-day stopgap spending bill on Saturday after after Republicans refused to abide by a deal cut with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling over the summer. The vote was 335-91, with 90 Republicans and 1 Democrat (Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) voting against the continuing resolution (CR). The bill will now go to the Senate.
Among other things, this means Trump is a paper tiger. He commands the fealty of some House members, but not enough of them to actually control the government. They make the most noise, but when it comes down to the nut cuttin’, they ain’t in charge.
Matt Gaetz, one of the main antagonists to McCarthy throughout the process, was seen sitting in the back of the chamber alone on his phone.
They’re just sittin’ in the back, talkin’ on the phone. A majority of none.
I’m beginning to notice a pattern that Matt Gaetz talks a lot of shit and never backs it up.
Yup. Kinda like Trump.

AOC (unsurprisingly) has a good take on it:
Here’s what went down: we just won a clean 45 day gov extension, stripped GOP’s earlier 30% cuts to Social Security admin etc, staved off last minute anti-immigrant hijinks, and averted shutdown (for now). 
People will get paychecks and MTG threw a tantrum on the way out. Win-win

Friday, September 29, 2023

Data Mule

Am I a data mule for re-posting this?
Trump: "The mission to help you liberate California from communist rule begins at noon on inauguration day 2025"
Or am I just wondering why the press won’t report on a speech like this from the vaunted “front runner” of the GOP?
Trump sneers about Nancy Pelosi, whose husband was assaulted by a deranged MAGA: "How's her husband doing, anybody know?" 
He adds that the wall around her house "didn't do a very good job."
You’d think that would get press attention, but he recently called for Gen. Milley to be executed for treason and nobody in the MSM noticed. How about this, then?
Trump in California goes on a long rant about why he thinks farmers should be allowed to use more water. He also says he feels bad for "rich people in "Beverly Hills" who can't take long showers.
He had more to say on the subject:
Trump claims he will fill the canals to irrigate the bathrooms and dampen the forests to prevent fires
Still not done:
Trump: We can actually dampen our forests with water that costs us nothing that will come pouring down. If you had dampened floors, you wouldn’t have forest fires
Well, maybe it will show up in some political ads this time next year.
Trump says people in Beverly Hills leave their car doors wide open so people can steal their tires
Can we at least have a “national conversation” about what he wants to do as POTUS?
Trump pledges to have his DOJ investigate every Dem AG and DA in the country
Because he wants to shoot people in the streets:
Trump: "Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store. Shot!"
You know what? Fuck it. Trump is gonna be Trump, and the media is gonna act like he almost never speaks in public. I’m gonna go read the “Government’s Reply In Support Of Opposed Motion” and watch them use Trump’s words against him in a forum where it matters.

Unicorns and Nessies

In this article STILL rehashing the hearing-that-was-a-fiasco-for-the-ages (I'll stop writing about it soon!), there is a tweet cataloging the complaints of a nameless GOP operative about said hearing.  I won't quote it, I'll just paraphrase:

1) Comer didn't control the hearing, allowing Democrats to attack (not sure how that works, actually, unless the majority is supposed to silence the minority under parliamentary House rules?)

2) Comer's own witnesses disputed the House arguments on impeachment (interesting the problem is with disputation of the House arguments; not with any evidence...)

3) Comer "failed to attract mainstream media attention RE more damning evidence."

Ah, there it is!  The sasquatch, the yeti, the Loch Ness Monster of MAGA!  "More damning evidence," which they insist they have, but no one has ever seen.  It's the Canadian girlfriend of evidence:  you wouldn't know it, but it's much better than any evidence you've ever had!

Who are these jamokes?  More to the point, since the xweet is from a reporter for WaPo, why are WaPo reporters trading in this shit?  It's absolutely no better than anonymous gossip from some mook in a parking garage.  Yes, I'm referring to "Deep Throat," but Bernstein never quoted "Deep Throat" in his news articles.  That character didn't who up until the book he and Woodward wrote, where they filled in the background on how they got the story that toppled Nixon.  And even then it turned out "Deep Throat" was a real person giving Bernstein real information. (Or was it Woodward who go the information?  I think maybe it was.  Shit, I gotta watch that movie again, 'cause I think now it was Redford in the parking garage talking to Hal Holbrook in the shadows.  Oh, what the fuck ever!)

The morons in the House are literally quoting shit fresh off the internet as if it were vetted and examined intelligence, rather than "raw intelligence" of the type they still complain about was in the Steele dossier (Trump is suing Steele over that dossier.  I doubt he has the money to pursue it, now.) I mean, these people are as dumb as posts.

And the reporters who take stenography for them aren't much better. I mean, against that anonymous quote, the Bulwark article has this:

Live on Fox News, Steve Doocy has repeatedly questioned Chairman Comer’s inability to point to “any evidence” that shows President Biden is compromised, that any policy was ever influenced, or that any crime was committed, even stating:  “You don't actually have any facts to that point. You've got some circumstantial evidence . . . And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is—there's no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.” 

Former Trump official Sebastian Gorka tweeted that “Comer is failing in his efforts to investigate” President Biden, called Chairman Comer’s supposed findings “crap—he’s reporting stuff that we knew 2 years ago,” and said that Chairman Comer’s Biden probe is “pathetic.”

Breitbart editor Emma Jo-Morris criticized Chairman Comer for promoting bribery allegations against President Biden even though he has “not shown [proof] to the public,” while Steve Bannon also lambasted Chairman Comer for failing to provide evidence to support his bribery allegations, saying of Chairman Comer, “You’re not serious.  It’s all performative.”

Kris Kolesnik, former senior counselor and director of investigations for Sen. Grassley, wrote that Chairman Comer and Chairman Jim Jordan “struggle mightily with the concept of credibility.” (emphasis added)

So where the actual goddamned fuck is this "damning evidence," except lodged in the mind of this anonymous GOP "senior aide" alongside the UFO/sasquatch/Nessie/Jersey Devil sightings? 

Speaking of Trump and money, his legal fund is running low:

Save America paid more than 30 law firms and additional legal consultants before it began to pull back in recent months.

The PAC had more than $100 million on hand in early 2022 but transferred $60 million to MAGA Inc., the super PAC supporting Trump's 2024 presidential campaign. It made a refund request for that donation.

MAGA Inc. has been sending back money, according to a person briefed on the matter, and the PAC could continue to pay legal bills for Trump and possibly others if that money is routed back to Save America. 

And trials haven't even started yet.  The one on Monday is guaranteed to eat up a lot of cash (one more reason Chris Kise wondered if the judge would just pass on it). Watch the donut, not the hole.  There's nothing conclusive yet; it's just an argument.  But I expect the evidence to surface soon that Trump is hurting for money as the monitors begin to take over activities at several of his entities subject to the NY court order (and get their hands on the books, and....lots of layers to that onion.)  I wouldn't start a hearing on it in Congress; but I think if you pay attention, you may see Trump pulling back on some of his extreme legal positions as they don't pay off (governments won't get tired of delays and just go away) in court, and just cost him money he finds he can't afford to spend (because he needs it for trials).

Just a suggestion....

Where’s Elmo?

A federal anti-discrimination agency filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Elon Musk's Tesla of allowing "pervasive" racism at its Silicon Valley car plant and retaliating against Black workers who opposed such abuse.

”On the ground in Eagle Pass”  so he can “see the migrant crisis for himself.”

And pose for a photo op with his hat on backwards.

Gee, I wonder why he chose yesterday to do that? πŸ€”

Elmo, Disrupter Of Cowboy Hats


Do not adjust your TeeVee set. There is nothing wrong with the picture. His hat IS on backwards.

Or his head is. Experts are still undecided.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

MAGAts In The House

Sure, whatever:
Raskin says he heard directly from Republicans on the House floor that the right-wing believes Kevin McCarthy set up today’s inquiry hearing to fail. 
Raskin: They couldn’t believe that such a disaster would just happen by accident
They don’t need evidence. They just need better…hearings?

Or maybe it is just a matter of evidence:
Dale: So the Congresswoman is right. Congressman Donalds did leave out critical context.. Donalds did not release the Hunter Biden text message that preceded his uncle's response so he didn't allow people to understand this was about alimony.
Context really is all.*
Buttigieg: Several of the house Republicans tried to attack the administration over the East Palestine derailment, making no mention of the fact that they are demanding cuts to railroad safety inspections. And are threatening the government shutdown in order to get their way.
But they just need 9 more months!
AOC on MSNBC: "It really cannot be understated how deceptive that was -- to take critical messages out of context, to tear apart the context that they're in, and then to photoshop a text message bubble ... and this is supposed to be the Republican case for impeachment?"
They’d have proved their case if not for meddling people like AOC.
The Republican impeachment hearing today was so bad I think they asked ChatGPT to write their questions with no fact checks.
Or maybe if not for the Republicans who kept leaving the room:
Raskin: We saw a meltdown on the Republican side of the aisle, where the Republican members were fleeing the committee room in droves, embarrassed and humiliated by what was going on.
In other news:
Trying to remove the Fulton County criminal case to federal court would require Trump to explain why his attempt to overturn the election was part of his official duties as president. 
That would not end well for Trump.
I just have a hard time believing Trump would make that rational an assessment. Or that his lawyers could convince Trump it was pointless (he could always try it without testifying. He’s forced his lawyers to take more frivolous actions.).

And now I’m wondering if Chris Kise’s question to the NY judge (basically, “Do we need a trial?”) wasn’t a question exploring just cutting their  losses in the case. Arguably, Kise was thinking about losses in terms of legal expenses. Trials are expensive, and Trump has lost this one in the worst way possible.. The only way out is to settle over the weekend (civil settlements are ALWAYS to cut losses and stop the legal bills.). But I don’t think Trump is constitutionally capable of that. So Kise was looking for another way out.

I continue to think Trump’s running out of money, and he knows it. If he can’t reverse the NY judgment, how can he fight the other cases? How can he afford his delaying tactics and frivolous arguments? How can he pay for all those trials and still maintain the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed (i.e., known all his life)?

Pay attention. What seems impossible now, may soon seem inevitable.

*That context is here, btw.

Context Is All

So maybe this explains why Trump now thinks he ran against Obama in 2016:
On Truth Social, Trump's platform is now running racist birtherism ads implying former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and is therefore an illegitimate president. Trump repeatedly attacked the first Black president of the United States in this manner, and it is one of the ways he was able to build his base of racist supporters prior to being carried down the golden escalator.

Clearly the motivation here is that if Trump was illegitimate, every Democratic President must also be illegitimate.

But it always gets worse:

The Truth Social birtherism ad links to a website inviting visitors to purchase "The Trump Dictionary." The Trump Dictionary claims to be the "re-education of the American nation," claims "Trump is the Shakespeare of our age," purports to use Trump's definitions of words to redefine the English language, claims to have over 600 "redefined words" and over "100 witty nicknames given by Trump," and says it would be perfect for "history buffs."
Is Trump reliving past glories as his future comes more and more to resemble the “American Carnage” he predicted for the country (himself always excluded, of course)? Or is he just delusional?
Yet, maybe something at else is at play here. Showing signs of cognitive decline, Donald Trump may actually believe he is running against Barack Obama in the 2024 election. At a recent rally, Trump told a crowd that he was leading Obama in the polls by a lot. We'll leave it there.
The answer for those of us responsible for picking the next POTUS can only be: “Yes.”

Biden warned there is a danger we may be walking away from the idea that we are all created equal, "we've never fully lived up to that idea, but we've never walked away from it. But there's danger we are walking away from it now." 
Biden continued: "All of us are being asked right now, what will we do to maintain our democracy?" 
"Will we put partisanship aside, and put country first? I say we must. And we will."  
After cooly facing down a heckler, Biden said, "Democracy never is easy, as we just our all for democracy makes all things possible...regardless of party that means respecting free and fair elections; accepting the outcome, win or lose." 
"It means you can't love your country only when you win." 
Biden told the story of his first visit to the G7 leadership meeting in Britain as President, where he was asked by then Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, "Mr. President what would you think if you picked up the paper tomorrow and it said a thousand people broke down the doors of parliament, marched and killed two bobbies [police], in order to overthrow an election for Prime Minister. What would you think then?" 
"I know almost every world leader...everywhere I go in the world they look and they ask the question, is it going to be ok?" 
The President then called out the threat to our democracy by name: "There's something dangerous happening in America now. There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy. The MAGA movement." Biden then vividly described the intent of Trump and his followers to annihilate the rule of law and the Constitution to give Trump absolute power.  
Specifically he called into sharp clarity Trump's plan to silence the Press and give himself broad reaching powers, including creating a branch of civil servants loyal to Trump above the Constitution, and most chillingly, the call to execute Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley. 
"The silence is deafening," Biden said of the Republican non-response to these fascist threats. 
Biden concluded with a fiery denunciation of Trump's mocking of fallen troops by calling them "suckers and losers." 
Biden said, "Was John [McCain] a sucker? Was my son Beau, who lived next to a burn pit for a year, and came home and died, was he a sucker for volunteering to serve his country?" 
"We should all remember, democracies don't have to die at the end of a rifle. They can die when people are silent...when people are willing to give away that which is most precious to them, because they feel frustrated, disillusioned, tired and alienated. I get it...democracy requires all of us, and all the major parties. You matter." 
Referencing the crowd of students he was addressing, Biden said, I've never been more optimistic than I am today...because young people today...they are the most gifted, most tolerant, most talented and the best generation in American history."

Or we could embrace birtherism again. Although why it matters now is still beyond me. 

And as if to prove the cosmos (or something, or somebody) at least enjoys a good compare and contrast, Trump offers one today:

Trump reposted a "fedsurrection" conspiracy theory post which claims government agents actually created the January 6th riot at the Capitol. The post Trump amplified claims any Trump supporter at the riot who wore a mask was actually "Antifa."
Okay, sure; now prove it in court. If you can’t, it truly doesn’t matter.

Also, too:
Trump continued attacking voting right when he boosted a call for the GOP to fight "to get rid of mail in voting and electronic voting machines."
I think the only thing that will satisfy him is to restrict the vote to white, male property owners who cast votes on paper during daylight hours which are then tabulated before midnight. Without machines being involved at all.*

Well, he wants to end birthright citizenship, and that’s in the Constitution, too.

"The political action committee, called Win It Back, has close ties to the influential fiscally conservative group Club for Growth. It has already spent more than $4 million trying to lower Mr. Trump’s support among Republican voters in Iowa and nearly $2 million more trying to damage him in South Carolina," reported Jonathan Swan. "But in the memo — dated Thursday and obtained by The New York Times — the head of Win It Back PAC, David McIntosh, acknowledges to donors that after extensive testing of more than 40 anti-Trump television ads, “all attempts to undermine his conservative credentials on specific issues were ineffective."
It seems MAGAts see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear, and whatever “liberal” or delusional thing Trump says, they just accept it and roll on. And there’s nothing the Club for Growth can do about it.

Damned shame, isn’t it? But Frankenstein couldn’t control his monster, either.

*And no, that doesn’t solve anything. But then, Trump has no idea what he’s talking about.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

So, is this:
According to a court filing discovered by Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Trump has notified the court that he won't seek such a change. The move comes after Mark Meadows' similar request was denied. 
"The move is a big surprise," Tamar Hallerman of AJC wrote. "Conventional wisdom for a long time was that Trump would try removal and then appeal any losses."
The handwriting on the wall?

Or a reflection of Trump’s concern for his finances and legal bills? Maybe his fundraising is not a bottomless well. Maybe the summary judgment has made him see the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. πŸš† 

Either way, this sure looks like his strategy of endless delays is proving too expensive against an adversary who doesn’t run out of money. Or patience.

I don’t know if it’s yet come to this. But I’ve been expecting it to come to this, sooner or later. I also think it’s not a coincidence this follows the judgement in New York.

Trump is looking at the handwriting on the wall. And he knows what it means.

(BTW: the older interpretation of the title is that all three words are a reference to money. Ironic, no?)

And They’d Have Gotten Away With It!

If not for those meddling kids!
“I think it's — clearly, the Democrats are trying to lead us away from the purpose of this hearing and that purpose was gaining other peoples' perspective about the use of the inquiry," he said, explaining that the goal wasn't to provide evidence but have a holistic conversation about whether an impeachment was warranted. 
"Today, there is not that direct link," Sessions said about the evidence gathered over the past several years. "The purpose of that inquiry is to determine if there is that link."

 Of course, how do they establish that link without evidence? Conversations are grand; but this ain’t Xitter. This is reality. You don’t establish the validity of an impeachment by the meeting of certain minds (and you didn’t even get that. What, do you need a new panel? And maybe a hearing without the Democrats to spoil your party?).

Further to the point: 

"My colleagues and I have spent nine months gathering information, vetting allegations, and establishing the concerning fact pattern upon which this inquiry is based."
And after 9 months you still don’t have evidence to turn this “fact pattern” into a grounded allegation? So what’s the excuse? You just need another 9 months? Is it more likely you have a fact pattern you want to see, but no evidence for that fact pattern? Is.Biden that clever? Or are you looking for something that simply isn’t there?
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) made similar comments, confessing that they don't have any evidence. He explained that the purpose of the first hearing "is to establish the predicate for going to get additional information that the committee needs to finish its investigation."
And yet you couldn’t do that much. Doesn’t seem like such a heavy lift after 9 months. Unless you are trying to lift nothing; that’s the heaviest lift of all.
"Prof. [Jonathan] Turley said in a sense he needs to see more than what's been laid out, but that's the purpose of the inquiry," Donalds continued. "If we felt we had everything necessary for articles of impeachment, we would have dropped articles of impeachment. That's why we're in the inquiry phase, to get that information to get a final determination if an impeachment is warranted or not."
Turley wants to see more if the goal is establishing a high crime or misdemeanor. What he meant was, you ain’t close to being there yet. Talking to non-witnesses (none of the witnesses today had information; just speculation) is not moving toward that goal. What you clearly hoped for was some new basis to demagogue on; and you didn’t even get that.

As Rep. Markowitz said, this was an:
"unmitigated disaster for the Republicans. Their own witness says there isn't any evidence to impeach Joe Biden. These guys are going to need a federal declaration. They're going to need FEMA to bail them out, that's how bad the disaster is."

How Conveniently They Sum Themselves Up

Tom Fitton is, among other things, the reason Trump thinks the PRA makes Trump invisible and bulletproof in the Florida case (Fitton sold Trump on that).

Fitton is not a lawyer. He’s never even been to law school. Maybe he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once, I don’t know.🀷🏻‍♂️ 

Boris Epsteyn gets the blame for Trump’s lawyer chaos, but I suspect Fitton is at least 50% of the cause.

In a nutshell, this is our guy:
"Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, initially sat directly in front of me at the edge of the room, {then he} moved his handwritten “Reserved” sign to another, more centrally located chair where he would be in full view of the C-SPAN camera feed."
Don’t sleep on the detail of the “handwritten “Reserved” sign.” That’s what makes it art. πŸͺ§ 

The Bigger Fool

 How it went:

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the three Republican star witnesses a simple question: "In your testimony today, are you presenting any firsthand witness account of crimes committed by the President of the United States?" 
GOP Witness Jonathan Turley replied, "No, I'm not." 
GOP Witness Eileen O'Connor responded, "I am not." 
GOP Witness Bruce Dubinsky answered, "I have not." 
In another moment, Turley confessed, "I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment.”
Even the GOP didn’t like it:
NEW: Frustration in the GOP over 1st impeachment hearing, as the GOP witnesses undercut their narrative &say no evidence of crimes. 
“Picking witnesses that refute House Republicans arguments for impeachment is mind blowing. This is an unmitigated disaster," said senior R aide.
Well, except the House Judiciary Committee, which reported in from Fantasy Island 🏝️:
. @GOPoversight and @RepJamesComer are crushing it at this hearing. 
-Witnesses testify that we’ve passed the threshold of evidence to open the President Joe Biden impeachment inquiry. 
-Mountains of evidence showing Biden Family influence peddling 
-Only the beginning.
No one else saw it that way.
Cavuto: For the better part of six hours, I have been following these hearings, talk an hour off to do my fox business show earlier today. I don't know what was achieved… None or the witnesses provided any proof for impeachment

And, also, too: 

The way this was built up was, ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire’ …Well, we just got a lot more smoke.”
Smoke gets in your eyes, ya know.

Not even James Comer agreed with the Judiciary Committee:
Even Comer knows the hearing didn’t do well: This hearing wasn't supposed to be about fireworks and bells and whistles
But before that:
Jared Moskowicz, always the Happy Warrior, then said that as a former FEMA Director he recognizes a disaster when he sees one. He then let Republicans on the committee know that Steve Bannon was over on his podcast ranting and raving about how incompetent they were and how terrible Turley was as a witness.

 When Kweisi Mfume made a motion to subpoena Giuliani in order to get some first hand information, Comer called for a vote on his motion to deny Mfume’s motion, and the only two Republicans voting for it were Comer and Jordan. The rest had left the room, knowing a train wreck when they see one.

And if there’s any doubt what this hearing is about:

Greg Casar then challenged every member of the committee to raise their hands if they believed that both Trump and Hunter Biden should be held accountable if juries convicted them of their pending indictments. All Democrats held their hands up, no Republicans did.

No report on how many Republicans were actually in the room at the time. 

A splendid time was had by all. But the closing question is : who is the bigger fool?

1) James Comer, the head Bozo of this clown show;


2) Steve Bannon, for expecting anything more than this?

Lines are open; this is a free call.

One Graphic…


…to explain what the House Oversight Committee was doing today. Although it was worth it just to give the Honorable Rep. Crockett a platform:

Rep. Crockett: "I will ask for unanimous consent to enter into the record...a fact sheet with Trump's shady business dealings with the Chinese government..."
Wait for it...
But when we start talking about things that look like evidence, they want to act like they're blind!...These are are our national secrets, looks like in the shitter to me. This looks like more evidence of our national secrets set on the stage at Mar-a-Lago."
BOOM! goes the dynamite!

Good times, good times…

In other news, I actually agree with Trump about something:
Cancel future Republican presidential debates, Trump advisor says ahead of Miami event
We'd all be better people for it. It’d almost be as if Trump pled guilty to all 91 counts and saved us a lot of trouble and bother. I mean, based on his track record in court, it’s not like he has a snowball’s chance in hell, is it?

Lies, Damned Lies …

 And flat out made up shit:

AOC: That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image. It was a fabricated image, I don't know where it came from, I don't know if it was staff of the committee,

AOC at the “impeachment inquiry” hearing. She wasn’t finished, either.

AOC: Mr. Turley, simple question for you. In your testimony today, are you presenting any first-hand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States? 
Turley: No, I'm not.
As for that “fabricated image:"
Republicans present fake texts messages today as evidence to impeach a President that they pulled off some QAnon disinformation social media page. If this was court, everyone would be filing out because the case would be dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct.
There was also an argument about Devin Archer’s testimony being admitted into the record. Shockingly, James Comer wanted it kept out:
Devon Archer was previously hyped as Republicans’ star witness, a former Hunter Biden business partner. After he laid out in detail that Joe Biden was *not* incriminated by anything, Fox News just spread the idea that he’d said the opposite.
The reviews are in:
What a disaster for the GOP. A complete, unmitigated disaster.
They aren’t good.
GOP leadership thought this “impeachment inquiry” would distract from the fact that they are shutting down the government in 2 days. There’s no evidence, so this is a boring waste of time. A complete snoozer. Half of the audience cleared out, no line outside, & lots of press left
The show closed out of town:
all 3 of the big cable networks have now ceased broadcasting the impeachment hearing. Newsmax is still taking it.

Pretty Much Everything You Need To Know About…

The "impeachment inquiry:”
BREAKING: James Comer says that the Bidens had nothing to sell but Joe's Brand. 
That's precisely the argument that Trump gave in the NYS case in which he was just described as a fraud. 
HIs property didn't have value, his brand did.
Jonathan Turley spoke:
Turley says these are facts: 
1) Biden has spoken falsely abt these deals (this is not entirely true). 
2) Biden was focus of multi-million influence peddling. 
3) Biden MAY have benefited from scheme. 
The connection between 2) and 3) is purely speculative. It is NOT a “fact.”

Jamie Raskin brought visual aids:
Jamie Raskin shows boxes containing all the documents that James Comer has had no problem getting w/o impeachment, which show no evidence of wrongdoing.



Turns out the impeachment inquiry is not very inquisitive:

BREAKING: REpublicans are objecting to Devin Archer's testimony--their own witness!--to be introduced into Congressional record.
And we end where we started:
BREAKING: Byron Donald establishes that it's a red flag when ownership moves from one family member to another, as has happened with Donald Trump!!!
This impeachment inquiry (“l Am Curious (Yellow)”) is about:

1) Both-siding Donald Trump’s crimes, both charged and alleged but uninvestigated;

2) Pure vengeance by Trump via the House GOP;

3) All of the above.

The witness:
Turley: The public does not buy into the idea that you can sell your family brand if it's influence peddling.
And the GOP House member:
BREAKING: Mace has just laid out why Trump hid his tax returns, because he was hiding $17.5 M from a Chinese company AS PRESIDENT.
Give away the game.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

No, I Didn’t Pay Attention To The Debate Tonight

I’ve attended probably 30 primary debates and watched most of them over the last 30 years. 
This is the most shambolic trainwreck I’ve ever seen.

Why do you ask? 

🎢 "Turn Out The Liiiiights, The Party's Over! 🎢

The estimable NTodd mentioned that he'd read the NY Judge's ruling; so I decided I should, too.

The NY judge’s ruling is here.

I’m not going to try to cut and paste pieces of it; I just want to point out the disingenuous nature of most of the commentary on it, especially the baseless criticisms of it.

Much of that criticism revolves around Trump’s ignorant claim that he didn’t defraud anyone because he paid all his loans off in time. No one supporting that argument has read the opinion, because the judge includes the entire text of Executive Law sec. 63(12), upon which the judgement rests. It’s on page 2 of the opinion, you can’t miss it.

Unless, that is, you don’t read it.

Funny thing about judges: they explain why they do what they do. They have to. Superior judges can look down on their work at almost any time and reject it. Unlike screamers and yammerers on Xitter or in front of a TeeVee camera, judges have to show their work.

In that vein, the court discusses the defendants’ argument that a disclaimer from Mazars, the non-party accountants, absolves them of all blame for fraud.  Per the court, this was actually a standard disclaimer that the financial statements had not been audited by Mazars and that "Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements..."  Trump cannot say, as he has since the ruling, that everybody knows he's a liar: "It has been stated that '[t]he rule is clear that where one party to a transaction has superior knowledge, or means of knowledge not open to both parties alike, he [sic] is under a legal obligation to speak and his [sic] silence constitutes fraud.'" 

In simpler terms: it don't work that way.

It's worth pointing out here that the court is ruling on two motions for summary judgment:  one from the state, and one from Trump, et al. After 7 pages outlining the arguments raised by the defendants, and rejecting them, the court notes that for all of these arguments (made in defendants' motion for summary judgment), "this Court rejected every one of the aforementioned arguments."  Rejected not once, but twice.  Even after rejecting these arguments a second time, the court forebore to impose sanctions, "believing it had 'made its point.'"  That's the Court quoting its previous opinion in the matter.  The next sentence is a big, big hammer being dropped from a very great height:

Apparently, the point was not received.

One would not know from reading defendants' papers that this Court has already twice ruled against these arguments, calling them frivolous, and twice been affirmed by the First Department [New York appellate level]. (emphasis in original)

The sad upshot of this is that tout le Xitter is arguing (pointlessly) over the valuation of MAL.  That issue is hardly the heart of this case, or of this opinion. You can find the comments like "This is a fantasy world, not the real world." That comment is in this section, on the sanctions against the lawyers for peddling what the Court is too polite to call bullshit. But the real action is that Trump's lawyers ran out of arguments after the first round, and kept reloading with the same worthless claims and defenses.  If you still think Trump has a colorable defense in any case going forward, or is just keeping his powder dry for trial where he'll spring a big surprise against Fani Wallis or Jack Smith, well....I can't help you, then.

Trump keeps banging on about the "worthless clause" he says is his "King's 'X'". On p. 12 the court quotes the "worthless clause," and on the next page, a passage from Trump's deposition where he describes this clause as the magic shield that Trump thinks makes him invisible and bulletproof.  I will quote the court's conclusions on this "argument":

However, defendants' reliance on these "worthless" disclaimers is misleading. The clause does not use the words "worthless" or "useless" or "ignore" or "disregard" or any similar words.  It does not say, "the values herein are what I think the properties will be worth in ten or more years." Indeed, the quoted language uses the word "current" no less than five times, and the word "future" zero times.

Additionally..., a defendant may not rely on a disclaimer for misrepresentation of facts particularly within the defendant's knowledge. [citation omitted] Here, as the valuations of the subject are, obviously, particularly within defendants' knowledge, their reliance on them is to no avail.


Thus, the "worthless clause" does not say what the defendants say it says, does not rise to the level of an enforceable disclaimer, and cannot be used to insulate fraud as to facts peculiarly within defendants' knowledge, even vis-a-vis sophisticated recipients.

Trump is shouting at clouds when he rants about this issue.

This is where I cut to the chase, because I'm having to re-type these quotes, and it's going to be tedious going in a minute, for you and for me.  Let me just drop in this quote from the NYTimes about this ruling, as cited in a xweet from emptywheel:

Mr. Trump's family business itself has not been dissolved. Although popularly known as the Trump Organization, it actually comprises hundreds of entities, many of which were not named as defendants in the lawsuit. But the decision could still have a sweeping impact, with the potential to shut down an entity that employs hundreds of people working for Mr. Trump in New York.

Yeah, strictly speaking, that seems to be correct.  Legally speaking, it’s bullshit.  Here's a section of the court's ruling:

Having prevailed on liability on standalone Executive law sec. 63(12) cause of action, the Attorney General is entitled to the first two prayers for the relief sought in her complaint: (1) canceling any certificate filed under and by virtue of New York General Business Law sec. 130 for all the entity defendants found liable, as well as any other entity controlled or beneficially owned by individual defendants found liable herein, which and who participated in or benefited from the foregoing fraudulent schemes.

"All the entities found liable" includes individuals and:

The Donald J Trump Revocable Trust

The Trump Organization, Inc.

Trump Organization, LLC

DJT Holdings, LLC

DJT Holdings Managing Member Trump Endeavor 12, LLC

410 North Wabash Venture, LLC

Trump Old Post Office, LLC

40 Wall Street, LLC

Seven Springs, LLC

I'm pretty sure the language of that ruling covers any entity operating under the "Trump Organization" umbrella without each such being individually named as defendants.

Further to the point, the court explicitly: 

ORDERED that any certificates filed under any by virtue of GBL sec. 130 by any of the entity defendants or by any other entity controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Alan Weisselberg, and Jeffrey McConney are canceled....

So I'm pretty sure this order covers "hundreds of entities, many of which were not named defendants in the lawsuit." Insofar, anyway, as they are part of the Trump Organization, or owned or beneficially operated by any of the defendants.

In the opinion the court also examines the appraisal history for purposes of financial statements and insurance policies, of the following properties:

The Trump Tower Triplex

Seven Springs Estate

Trump Park Avenue

40 Wall Street



US Golf Clubs

Much attention has been focussed on the language of the order in this section, but our interest is in this: for all of these properties the court finds that defendants engaged in fraud in the valuation of the properties.  Clearly the underpinning of these findings is that the defendants entities and individuals control or beneficially own said properties. Otherwise their fraudulent valuation would be irrelevant here.  In other words, all the defendants are named, even if every organiztion under the "Trump Organization" is not cataloged somewhere in this order.  I'd go so far as to say Trump's "family company" has been dissolved, since any GBL sec. 130 certificate it holds, or is held by the individual defendants operating under the "Trump Organization," has been canceled.

I admit this is complicated stuff.  I'm just not sure it's that complicated.  Effectively, Trump has been sued into bankruptcy court and found to be insolvent. Not, under bankruptcy law, because he is unable to pay his creditors on time, but because, under New York law, he and the other defendants are guilty of massive and persistent fraud.  

ORDERED that within 10 days of the date of this order, thea parties are directed to recommend the names of no more than three potential independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the canceled LLC's; and it is further 

ORDERED that the Hon. Barbara S. Jones (ret.) shall continue to serve as an independent monitor of the Trump Organization until further court order 

Basically, Trump and his companies are bankrupt.  His companies and his company's companies are out of business. Their assets will go to pay creditors, and there's not a damned thing any of the defendants can do about it, aside from appeals I'm quite sure will be fruitless.

This judge seems to know what he's doing; and he showed his work.

Just 25 Weirdos?

Josh Marshall argues:
I don’t think that we can repeat enough times that this isn’t another shut down where congress is fighting with the White House or the House w the Senate. The govt is shutting down because the GOP speaker is fighting w abt 25 GOP weirdos.
Problem is, there’s still a big gap between what some GOP representatives say on camera, and what they say when the vote count is called.
Republican white woman from Georgia who happens to consort with white nationalists decides a top government executive who happens to be Black should work for free and the Republicans let her do that.

MTG  sponsored an amendment to reduce Defense Secretary Austin’s salary to $1, and it passed the House. Pretty sure that took more than 25 votes

Trump Screeds

In which I willingly play "data mule": 


I'm pretty sure we've been getting it; especially in cases where you are the defendant.

This political hack judge, who values, Mar-a-Lago, the most spectacular parcel of real estate in Palm Beach, and perhaps all of Florida, at $18 million in order to reduce valuations on my financial statements, which are, in fact, lower than my actual net worth, must be stopped. I have had very unfair judges since entering politics, but nobody has been as unhinged as this guy. Mar-a-Lago is worth, perhaps, 100 times more than he values it. 

The taxing authorities in Florida are very interested.  The number cited in the Judge's order came from the Florida county official in charge of valuing property for tax purposes in the county where MAL is located.  Maybe they should accept your valuation, and tax MAL accordingly.

You really aren't very good at this, are you?

Other properties are likewise worth substantially more. I am worth billions more than my very conservatively stated financial statements, 

The taxing authorities of Florida, New York, and New Jersey, as well as the IRS, would be very interested to know this.

and therefore could not have defrauded the banks, who all made money & were all paid back, or are current, with no defaults or any other problem. 

The NYS Martin Act doesn't require a showing of harm, or even reliance, on the fraud you were charged with.  I know you don't understand that but, buddy, you're screwed.

Additionally, there is a powerful Disclaimer Clause on the first pages of the Financial Statements it states that nothing in the financial statement should be excepted as fact!

I think you meant "accepted," but "excepted" works just as well, since that "disclaimer clause" is not worth the paper it's printed on.  Again, the judge knows the law; you don't.  You lose.

Ya think he's ever gonna figure out the difference between the courtroom and the chatroom?  Or are he and his children ever going to stop digging that hole they're already in?

Junior started out by saying that this decision was “the start of a Bolshevik Revolution.” 

Does Jr. even know what a "Bolshevik revolution" is?  'Cause I'm pretty sure it didn't come from a courthouse; and I'm also pretty sure the "bolsheviks" in America aren't too upset at a rich guy like Trump getting what's coming to him.  In fact, I can't think of a 19th century European revolution (Russia was a 19th century country at the time, let's be honest) that did start that way.

He then claimed “the biggest brokers” in Palm Beach disagreed with the judge, even though his father testified he never had Mar-a-Lago appraised.

Back to the issue of the evidence Trump's lawyers put forward in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Or, rather, failed to put forward.

Junior then repeated the lie that the judge said it was worth $18 million, which is not what the judge said at all. The judge simply noted that Trump's testimony that Mar-a-Lago was worth $1.5 billion was preposterous, and cited as just one example the fact that it was valued for property tax purposes at $18-27 million. 

Incidentally, Trump in the past disputed that amount for being TOO HIGH in order to get his taxes reduced, but I guess they just decided not to talk about that.

At this point I don't think anyone can take their shovels away. 

Worth Emphasizing

First, set the table:
I guess the Republican Party is just going to pretend that their nominee isn’t actually going to trial in March on easily-proven federal felonies and is just hoping that trial won’t turn out like every other court case Donald Trump has ever been involved in.
Then the meal:
In a 35-page decision, Judge Engoron also excoriated Trump and his lawyers for making nonsense arguments, so badly misquoting legal cases that they turned the law upside down, and other legal misconduct. 
Five Trump lawyers were each fined $7,500 for making “frivolous” arguments. 
A judge calling a lawyer’s argument “frivolous” is the equivalent of saying it is no better than nonsense from a drunk in a bar, as I teach my Syracuse University College of Law students. 
Trump's lawyers suck. The briefs presented to Chutkan are a joke. They presented no viable defense in the fraud case (summary judgment is VERY hard to win. If you can’t derail it, you really have no defense. You should always have a summary judgement defense.). He presented no defense to E. Jean Carroll, and is again facing a damages-only trial against her, having lost a partial summary judgment in that case, too.

To say his future includes jail time is almost not a prediction now, and more a statement of fact. Snowballs in hell have a better chance than Trump in court, going forward.

The Three Kinds Of Appraisals

According to my bankruptcy professor, a sitting bankruptcy judge at the time during the great Texas real estate collapse of the’80’s, there were three kinds of real estate appraisals:

 1) windshield;

 2) wild-ass; and 

3) “Hell if I know, but it looks good on paper!”

 To which we now add a third: the Ted Cruz.

I’ve been to Mar-a-Lago many times. It is a spectacular property. 
The idea that it is worth only $18 million—give Palm Beach astronomical real estate prices—is utterly idiotic. 
Only one problem there, Rafael:
It's not the judge's valuation. It's the Palm Beach County assessor's. And while $27 million is obviously an undervaluation, Mar-A-Lago can't be developed or turned into a single-family estate. Its deed requires it to remain a club, which radically reduces its re-sale value.
You’re a Harvard trained lawyer and former Solicitor-General of Texas. You do know how to read 35 page court order, right?

Nice Work If You Can Get It

The court ruling against you is pretty much ironclad proof it wasn’t.


 Stick a fork in ‘im, he’s done.

A New York State judge on Tuesday cancelled all of the business licenses for the Trump Organization and its 500 or so subsidiary companies and partnerships after finding that Trump used them to, along with his older two sons, commit fraud. 
Under the New York General Business Law you can only do business in your own name as a sole proprietor or with a business license, which the state calls a “business certificate.” All of Trump’s businesses were corporations or partnerships that require business certificates.
And now I know why the judge fined the lawyers:
In a 35-page decision, Judge Engoron also excoriated Trump and his lawyers for making nonsense arguments, so badly misquoting legal cases that they turned the law upside down, and other legal misconduct. 
Five Trump lawyers were each fined $7,500 for making “frivolous” arguments. 
A judge calling a lawyer’s argument “frivolous” is the equivalent of saying it is no better than nonsense from a drunk in a bar, as I teach my Syracuse University College of Law students. 
Those lawyers may well find it wise to hire their own lawyers as Judge Engoron’s findings could form the basis of disbarment proceedings, something already underway against Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor, and John Eastman, a former dean of the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif.
ETTD. Everything. Basically, Trump has been forced into Chapter 7:
Barring a highly unlikely reversal by an appeals court, Trump’s business assets eventually will be liquidated since he cannot operate them without a business license. Retired Judge Barbara Jones was appointed to monitor the assets, an arrangement not unlike the court-supervised liquidation of a bankrupt company or the assets of a drug lord. 
Creditors, any fines due the state because of the fraud, and taxes will be paid first from sales of Trump properties. 
The various properties are likely to be sold at fire sale prices and certainly not for top dollar when liquidation begins, probably after all appeals are exhausted.
🎢 Turn out the lights, the party’s over…🎢

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Well, That Explains It

I’d wondered how Trump was liable for fraud without reliance by the entities he defrauded. Common law fraud requires both fraudulent intent and reliance on the misrepresentations to someone’s detriment. But Trump was charged under a New York statute, not common law:

The reason for that is the statute that was invoked," Conway continued. "It's called the Martin Act, which was enacted 102 years ago. And it is extremely powerful, a weapon the state can use against fraudsters. It's powerful for a number of reasons. One is, it doesn't require proof of fraudulent intent by the business or its CEO or any of its officers." 
Conway explained it also doesn't require proof that Trump's fake numbers "are actually relied on by anyone. It's enough that the numbers kept on the books, whether the company be publicly traded or a private corporation like trump corporation — it's enough that the numbers are false." 
Despite complaints by Eric Trump, there was no dispute that the numbers were fake.  
"Trump's defense, which isn't a defense under the Martin Act, was, well, nobody was going to rely on it, we basically said nobody should rely on it, essentially, everyone knows I'm lying because I'm a liar," Conway said. "Not far from the truth. The other aspect of the Martin Act and that's the most important piece of what happened today, is that it provides for extraordinary remedies even in the civil context. And those remedies include, basically, the stripping of the ability to do business in the State of New York and ordering the dissolution of a business doing business in New York. And that's what the judge did today." 
Ultimately, it's still up to a jury to decide exactly what Trump owes in damages — but irrespective of that, said Conway, "the Trump Organization is out of business. And that's not good for Donald Trump."

Trump would be right in his defense if reliance were an element under the statute; but it isn’t. His lawyers should have explained this to him. Maybe they did, and he paid no attention. 

It doesn’t matter now.

Donald Trump is no longer in business in New York State. A judge canceled all of his business certificates and appointed a judge to monitor the assets. 
Barring an unlikely reversal by an appeal court, the assets will be sold and Trump, Don Jr., & Eric are barred from business.

Well now I know what happens to the jet. I wonder who owns MAL?

And who cares?
Hey @PhilipRucker ? Will you be assiging 6 journalists to write about how a judge found Trump and TWO SONS engaged in a decade of fraud, like you assigned 6 journalists, several conflicted, to report that Biden's son unlawfully owned a gun for 11 days 5 years ago?
It’s a fair question.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Add a few gratuitous references to case law, and this could be a pleading in one of Trump’s cases. Once again, Trump running for President is supposed to be a kind of “King’s’X’” that exempts him from all liability, criminal or civil.

Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

And the funny thing about that MAL appraisal he and Eric are on about (committing still the fraud they were just convicted for): Trump’s “evidence” for this valuation was in his deposition, where he said he just “felt” it was the right number. That’s a failure to present evidence; the kind of thing summary judgments end up getting decided on. Why Trump’s lawyers let that happen is another question entirely.

“If they do this to me, they can do this to YOU!” Yes, if you commit fraud for decades and base your income on doing so, you can be convicted of fraud, too.

This is a child throwing a tantrum, not an adult facing what just happened to his business. It’s insipid, stupid, and fails to grasp reality. What it doesn’t present is any kind of response to the judgment.

My Civil Rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether Federal or State, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision.

Yeah, I’m sure some Appellate Court will read this post and swoop in and save Trump’s bacon. That’s how it works, isn’t it? 

This is a man who doesn’t know whether to shit, or go blind.

This entire scream just presents more evidence this man is not fit to be POTUS. That he’s not fit to do business in New York State alone is reason enough to reach that conclusion.

Lies And Consequences

As I was saying about growing up to be Trump’s lawyers:

Engoron also ordered sanctions for Trump's attorneys. Each will have to pay $7,500.
No idea why they were sanctioned, but judges don’t sanction lawyers willy-nilly.

Judge Arthur Engoron in Donald Trump's NY civil case found Trump liable for fraud Tuesday and ordered the cancellation of all business certificates of all entities controlled or owned by Trump or his family in NY. 
The ruling found that the disgraced ex-president and his company deceived banks and insurers by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing. 
It is the harshest repudiation yet of the perceived image of Trump as a shrewd billionaire business mogul and paints a picture of a career criminal who made money by scamming his financiers. Trump lied about the value of his assets for years to secure favorable loan terms and defraud insurers.
This is where I remind you that Trump gave a 7 hour deposition in this case, which the court considered and found not credible as a matter of law. Trump’s defense was that his financial statements all included a “worthless” clause:
This clause is basically a disclaimer at the beginning of the statements that any entity who receives them should conduct their own assessment of the value of his properties and he was not responsible if the valuations provided by him were incorrect. Essentially, it is his position that this clause gives him immunity from being held liable for any misrepresentations since that disclaimer renders all the numbers in the statement "worthless."

That’s like Trump’s claim the PRA protects him from criminal prosecution in Florida. Or those signs people put up saying “Not Responsible For Damages.” Yes, under the right circumstances, they are. So is Trump. His “worthless” clause, was.

Here is a quote from the order that hammers this point home:

The defenses Donald Trump attempts to articulate in his sworn deposition are wholly without basis in law or fact. He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the SFCs were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time (i.e.; "But you take the 2014 statement, if something is much more valuable now - or, I guess, we'll have to pick a date which was a little short of now. But if something is much more valuable now, then the number that 1 have down here is a low number. NYSCEF Doc. No. 1363 at 69-75). He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because be could “find a buyer from Saudi Arabia” to pay any price he suggests.
That gives you a good idea why this happened:
In addition to finding that Trump committed fraud, the judge canceled the certificates of various Trump businesses, appointed a former judge as an independent monitor of the Trump Organization, and will appoint receivers to manage the canceled LLCs.
I’m guessing the jet is a company asset. I know what would happen in bankruptcy, but what does Trump hold onto of company assets if the companies are shuttered?

I’d like to think even credulous Beltway journalists understand this is fraud of the first water. And that maybe the guy who thinks it’s just fine is not just another Presidential candidate.
Curious where those journos who reported that it was BREAKING news that the son of a Presidential candidate unlawfully owned a gun for 11 days 5 years ago are on the news that the corporate person of a Presidential candiate engaged in longterm fraud?
Yeah; I’m not holding my breath.

This is the 3rd time in a month that we've seen at least a partial summary judgment in a key Trumpworld case.

 First it was Giuliani's defamation case.  

Then it was Trump in second E. Jean Carroll case.  
Now, Trump's NY fraud case.

Word comes that Trump’s lawyer has hired a lawyer. No, not that; to help him represent Trump. An SDNY alum. Given what Trump demands of his lawyers, it says something that this one is working on Trump’s cases, but not for Trump.

Trump has four criminal trials in his future. There is no reason to believe that future is any brighter than the recent past. The question now is: the political press has ignored a judge’s ruling that Trump is a rapist. Will they also ignore that his business career is one long case of fraud?

Besides, I understand Joe Biden is still old.

The leading Republican candidate has been found liable for sexual assault and fraud, his companies found guilty of fraud, and he's charged with 91 OTHER felony counts. That he is not dismissed politically out of hand says much more about us, than about him.

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Trump's Lawyers....

This is far worse than I ever would have imagined:

For hundreds of years, our country has embraced the core value that the “government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content,” Case 1:23-cr-00257-TSC Document 60 Filed 09/25/23 In re Murphy-Brown, LLC, 907 F.3d 788, 796–97 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564, 573 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted)). This freedom from government censorship is fundamental to our national ethos and “it can hardly be doubted that the constitutional guarantee has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office.” Monitor Patriot Co. v. Roy, 401 U.S. 265, 272 (1971).

Tossing these foundational principles aside, the Biden Administration charged President Trump—the leading contender in the 2024 Presidential Election—for statements he made as president. Now, keenly aware that it is losing that race for 2024, the prosecution seeks to unconstitutionally silence President Trump’s (but not President Biden’s) political speech on pain of contempt. See Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’ n, 558 U.S. 310, 349 (2010) (“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”).

The correct terminology is "former President Trump." We only have one president at a time.  I do like the "keenly aware" stuff; but it's bullshit as a legal issue (i.e., assuming facts not in evidence, and all that).  And the motion by DOJ is aimed at maintaining the fairness and authority of the court and the criminal process.  Note how quickly they conflate whatever Trump says with "political speech."  I'm only surprised they didn't lead off with "ELECTION INTERFERENCE!" 

This is the heart of their argument:

In support, the prosecution presents nothing but pretexts, claiming that the Court must muzzle President Trump to ensure that: (1) the prosecution, the Court, and witnesses are not “intimidated” by political criticism; and (2) the District of Columbia citizenry (who voted by a margin of around 95% for Biden in the 2020 election) do not magically transform and become biased in President Trump’s favor.

To say it's utter bullshit is still to give it too much regard.  You can be forgiven for forgetting Trump is out on bail (he could be in jail, where his pronouncements would be controlled by the Bureau of Prisons).  You can also be forgiven for wondering how "witness intimidation" is actually protected "political speech."  This is a shell game, in other words; but one with no pea, and no shells.  "No damned cat, and no damned cradle!"

That's not a winning argument.  This isn't even "throw it against the wall and see what sticks!"  This is a Trump-quality rant presented as a legal pleading.  I can't wait to see how they appeal this to the D.C. circuit.  Oh, no, it doesn't get any better:

At bottom, the Proposed Gag Order is nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent, who has now taken a commanding lead in the polls. Indeed, this very Motion came on the heels of adverse polling for President Biden. His administration’s plan is quite simple: unleash a 45-page speaking indictment, discuss and leak its talking points in the press, and then cynically attempt to invoke the Court’s authority to prevent President Trump and those acting on his behalf from presenting his side of the story to the American people during a political campaign. This desperate effort at censorship is unconstitutional on its face. NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415, 445 (1963) (the First Amendment is a value-free provision whose protection is not dependent on “the truth, popularity, or social utility of the ideas and beliefs which are offered”).

If you're wondering what NAACP v Button has to do with that paragraph, I can only tell you:  so am I.  To say none of that amounts to a legal argument should, I would hope, be obvious to anyone except a die-hard MAGAt.  It's not the the motion is completely daft:

As the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized, “speech critical of the exercise of the State’s power lies at the very center of the First Amendment.” Gentile, 501 U.S. at 1034; New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 273 (1964) (“Criticism of their official conduct does not lose its constitutional protection merely because it is effective criticism and hence diminishes their official reputations.”). This includes criticism of the Court and the Special Counsel.

It's that the attempt at an argument consistently misses the point, and hopes the judge will be beguiled to do so, as well. Criticism of the Special Counsel is not witness intimidation, and criticism of the judge and the proceedings is language not protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, the argument here is simply "ELECTION INTERFERENCE!", in which a political campaign is akin to McCarthy's idea of super-investigative powers bestowed by a claim that a House investigation is an "impeachment inquiry."

The prosecution would silence President Trump, amid a political campaign where his right to criticize the government is at its zenith, all to avoid a public rebuke of this prosecution. However, “above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Police Dep’t of City of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972).

The prosecution may not like President’s Trump’s entirely valid criticisms, but neither it nor this Court are the filter for what the public may hear. 

Trump wants to make this about his "entirely valid criticisms," but that isn't the issue.  He desperately wants it to be, though, because without that, HE HAS NO VALID DEFENSE TO THIS MOTION!

Again:  it doesn't work that way.  Even Aileen Cannon would know better.

This is a literal statement in this motion:

If the prosecution wishes to avoid criticism for abusing its power, the solution is simple: stop abusing its power. The Constitution allows no alternative.

And then the response goes on continuing to complain that DOJ has presented no evidence in support of its motion. 

Try to follow this reasoning, for example:

Quite the opposite, the prosecution’s cited posts [in context, that would be the Truth Social posts cited in the DOJ motion] show that President Trump intends to redress the unfairness of this proceeding through legitimate means. This includes, for example, filing motions with the Court—a form of relief that President Trump has every right to pursue and talk about. 

Trump has every right to pursue motion practice in court.  He doesn't have every right to talk about it outside the court.  And posting on social media is not a prerequisite, or even an adjunctive practice, to seeking redress in court "through legitimate means."  But the argument here is that, for Trump, a presidential candidate, it is.  Who knew declaring your candidacy for POTUS gave you extra-constitutional powers?

It goes on and one like that for 25 pages, over and over again asserting that DOJ is doing the political bidding of Joe Biden, Candidate, and Trump is a victim of the Deep State.  Well, that part is implicit rather than explicit, but it's not hard to find.  The sad thing is to compare this quality of legal representation with that being given Hunter Biden, where his very able defense counsel is tying the Special Prosecutor in knots, and ably suing people like Giuliani for slander and invasion of privacy.  It's worth paying attention to what Hunter's lawyers are doing because, by contrast, Trump's lawyers are from Clown College. 

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.  I'm looking forward to the DOJ response.

Insatiable Curtiosity

At this point I'm just wondering how much of this was given to the J6 committee in interviews before her (briefer) public testimony?

On New Year's Eve, Hutchinson was told by her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to start putting together a plan. She ignored it, hoping it was a fleeting idea. He asked again the following day.

"I called Kevin [McCarthy]. 'Hey, I know that you’ve never personally brought a presidential package up to the Capitol for the State of the Union. But we’ve used your leadership office as a holding area for the staff. If we were to make a movement from the rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol on January 6th, do you think it would be a viable option to use the same plan? I’m just trying to gauge what your thinking is about this.'"

McCarthy freaked.

“You guys aren’t coming to the Capitol, right?” he asked Hutchinson. “There’s no way he wants to do that. Why would he want to come up to the Capitol?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Mark just asked me to figure out if there was a plan that we could potentially put in place. Kevin, I assure you this move can’t happen as of now. There are going to be way too many people. It’s not safe to bring him up.”

“So why even ask about it?” McCarthy said. Hutchinson wrote he was "losing patience" over the conversation. “I’m asking you to cover my back so I can tell Mark and the president that I made a call to Capitol Hill about it, and there are people on the Hill who are aware of a potential movement.”

“Yeah, okay, no. You guys aren’t coming here," McCarthy said.

“I know! I just have to ask," she told him. 

Not that I question her veracity; I just wonder how much of this was available public knowledge, v. what's coming out now.  Knowing the media (which is still reporting on the DOJ "gag order" motion as if it weren't filed 10 days before it was partially unsealed at the motion of the DOJ), I wouldn't be surprised if some of this could have been publicized months earlier.

It would also lend credence to her recollections to know they'd already been given freely, under oath.

It's Only Racism When It Favors Non-White People

Mo Brooks takes to Xitter:

GOP blames activist federal judges for injecting racism into Congressional redistricting, THUS

handing Congress to #Socialist #Democrats GOP: PLACE BLAME FOR BAD JUDGES WHERE IT BELONGS: #DonaldTrump #RichardShelby &

ShelbyCOS #KatieBritt, who appt them! 

Gee, I wonder what triggered him?

In yet another blow to Alabama Republicans, the Supreme Court has declined to reinstate a congressional map ruled a racial gerrymander by lower courts, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The order is the second time this year that the generally conservative-favoring court has blocked congressional lines found to discriminate against Black voters in the state, who for years have only been given a single majority district out of seven, despite making up a quarter of Alabama's population.

A lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court in the previous term, Allen v. Milligan, found that this arrangement was illegal under the Voting Rights Act, and that Black voters had a right to a number of districts more representative with their share of the population — a decision that surprised many legal observers, who had expected the justices to rule for Alabama.


The consequence of the ruling was that Alabama was required to draw a new map that contained two majority-Black districts. However, the legislature openly defied this order, drawing a new map that, just like the old one, only had a single majority-Black district.

A three-judge panel overseeing the redistricting, including two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, rejected this remedial map as not compliant, paving the way for a court-appointed special master to select a map instead. Alabama responded by appealing, unsuccessfully, to the Supreme Court to reinstate the map they had drawn. 

Everybody knows black people don't vote right!  Damned outside agee-taters!

"Are There No Workhouses?"

Freeze 'em in the dark!

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly embracing drastic measures to avoid a government shutdown, including a massive 70 percent cut to a program that provides assistance to lower income families who have trouble affording heat during the winter.

The Washington Post reports that McCarthy has decided to push through a number of cuts demanded by far-right members of his caucus with the hopes of getting enough votes to avoid a shutdown of the House over a spending bill – despite the fact that the proposed cuts would likely be doomed in the United States Senate.

In addition to the aforementioned cuts to home heating, the Post reports that the plan being put forth by Republicans also calls "for a roughly 80 percent cut to funding for schools that serve high concentrations of students in poverty," and would also "cut by at least half a fruit and vegetable benefit for poor pregnant mothers, which serves roughly 5 million people." There would also be "multibillion cuts to the National Institutes of Health, Head Start, and preschool grants."

If that doesn't work, starve 'em!  Either way, fuck 'em!  Poor people ain't worth shit!

And because she's in the news: a reminder that Cassidy Hutchinson is 26 years old, and has more poise and maturity than any member of Congress or public figure currently berating her.  You may disagree with her politics or her public statements, but I would be proud to have her as a daughter (and I like to think, with justification, my 32 year old daughter would show as much poise and steel were she similarly situated).

This afternoon [the day of her testimony before the House J6 committee] a 26-year-old former assistant showed more courage and integrity than an entire administration full of grown-ass adults who were purportedly working in service to the American people, but had long ago decided to serve only their ambition and grievance.

Cassidy Hutchinson did so at risk to her safety. Her social circle. Her career.

And she overcame all of the self-serving rationalizations that prevented the powerful, whose manhoods she held in her palm, from stepping to the plate.

She shames every Republican who still thinks they have to kiss Trump's ring finger. 

FAFO: Federal Courts Edition

 Especially when it comes to rules of procedure, Federal courts don't play:

Meadows's Georgia legal team gets a reprimand from 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- with threat of automatic dismissal -- if they don't start filing properly.

Just how many completely up-fucked lawyers are out there? 

Not So Past


A) Ken Paxton initiated settlement discussions in the civil suit by former Texas AG employees that lead to his impeachment (this fact is actually a bone of contention now).

B) Pursuant to those discussions the case was abated by the Texas Supreme Court.

C) Since the settlement is dead, because the House can’t take up the issue of funding it until the next regular session in 2025, if at all, the plaintiffs want the case to go forward.

D) That kind of delay, by the way, is fine with Paxton:

A spokesperson for Paxton’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Earlier this year, Paxton’s office argued against making the lawsuit active again since a settlement was on the table, telling the court that approval of the settlement could take more than one legislative session.

E)  Paxton is taking that line because returning the suit to active status:

...would allow [the plaintiffs] to do what the House impeachment managers could not — including examining financial documents and putting Paxton, Paul, Paxton’s girlfriend Laura Olson and Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton under oath.
Will the Supreme Court go along with Paxton’s argument? It seems pretty clear the House response of impeachment rather than funding is “not only’No,’ but ‘HELL NO!’” And while legislatures do change after every election, I don’t know of a legal doctrine that says you get another bite at the apple (or several more) on that basis. Legislative acts are presumptively binding on subsequent legislatures. It would be an extreme injustice to tell plaintiffs whose suit has been authorized that they have to wait until a legislative session finally approves a settlement previous sessions have refused to authorize. Not only is there no such doctrine, but how many sessions do you make them sit through before you finally take “No” for an answer?

Paxton thinks he’s invisible and bulletproof; but I think plaintiffs get their day in court; and that includes a lot of discovery and evidence the Senate impeachment trial never heard. Even if it means Laura Olson taking the 5th in public.

As William Faulkner said, the past isn’t over. It isn’t even past. Much as Paxton might wish it to be so he can run for Cornyn’s seat and leave all this far behind.