…so…basically there’s no way I’m getting to everything this morning…& at least some of this stuff came up in the comments of yesterday’s DOT…but all the same…here goes
New York Attorney General Letitia James’s decision to join forces with the Manhattan district attorney to investigate the Trump Organization “in a criminal capacity” doesn’t mean her office found a smoking gun in the case, legal experts said Wednesday.
But the development doesn’t bode well for former President Donald Trump’s company, either.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has separately been investigating a variety of allegations of financial improprieties against Trump’s company. Court documents show that Vance is investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” which could include falsifying business records, insurance fraud and tax fraud.
James’ investigation has covered some of the same ground as Vance’s, including looking into four real estate projects and Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills, an NFL team. Her office is likely to have some documents that Vance’s doesn’t, and it has taken depositions — including one from Trump CEO Eric Trump — that could be useful to Vance’s team.
The cross-designation also means James’ investigators would have access to information from Vance’s inquiry that they would otherwise not be entitled to, including Trump’s tax returns and other financial information, Vacco said.
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, agreed that the two offices’ teaming up was bad news for the Trump company.
“Two prosecutorial heads are better than one. To have that sort of synergy, that’s bad for the target of the investigation. How bad? We just don’t know,” Kirschner said.
Kirschner said the announcement might also have been meant to send a signal to anyone who might not be cooperating with James’ investigation.
“It’s a signal to everybody,” Kirschner said. “Do not play games.”https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/not-a-positive-development-what-new-criminal-probe-could-mean-for-trump-org
“The civil [investigation] is really concerned with, did you break rules?” said Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University. “And criminal is concerned with, were you trying to do wrong?”
“You’re getting into the internal, mental state of the actor,” said Tristan Snell, who worked in the state attorney general’s office from 2011 to 2014. To start a criminal investigation of someone, Snell said, the attorney general would want evidence that “they knew what they were doing at the time, and they went and did it anyway.”
Snell said James’s announcement on Tuesday could indicate that she has found that sort of evidence illuminating the decision-making of someone in Trump’s orbit.
In this case, James interviewed several key Trump Organization figures, including CFO Allen Weisselberg and Trump’s son Eric, before announcing that her investigation had become a criminal one.
Legal experts say it would be an uphill battle to have that testimony thrown out.
But the move does raise potential danger for the ex-president and his inner circle.
Trump has faced civil lawsuits from the New York attorney general before — in 2013, over his collapsed Trump University, and again in 2018, over his use of funds in the Donald J. Trump Foundation charity. Both cases cost him money: Trump settled suits over Trump University for $25 million and paid $2 million in damages for his misuse of the foundation.
But neither case threatened his liberty, or that of his family. Criminal charges might. If James files charges against a member of Trump’s inner circle, it could increase pressure on that person to “flip” on Trump and testify against the former president to reduce their own legal liability.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/19/trump-organization-investigation-ny-explained/
…of course…some people are determined to see this…let’s call it differently
Trump attacked James, who announced the criminal probe Tuesday, and other officials in a lengthy statement that said, “There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime.”
Trump said the prosecutors’ investigations are simply “a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of the United States. Working in conjunction with Washington, these Democrats want to silence and cancel millions of voters because they don’t want ‘Trump’ to run again.”
The former president said the probes are the result of lawmakers failing to stop him in Washington, so he said they turned the issues over to New York “to do their dirty work.”https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-calls-new-york-criminal-investigation-corrupt-desperate-search-for-crime
…well, all right…I could totally comment
…but I’m short on time & have shit to get to…& I would literally be here all day…but I will say this…only a fucking moron could possibly even pretend to be unaware of the fact that by definition a criminal investigation would necessarily be in search of a crime…that’s how that shit works…it’s an investigation…into something criminal
According to a new book, Obama called Trump a “madman”, a “racist, sexist pig”, “that fucking lunatic” and a “corrupt motherfucker”.
The reported remarks by Obama about Trump seem likely to prompt an angry reaction from the 45th president.
Trump still has huge power over the Republican party. But he is in increasing political and legal jeopardyfrom a prospective 9/11-style commission into the 6 January Capitol attack and multiple investigations into his financial affairs.
Trump’s loathing for Obama is well-known and oft-expressed, beginning with his championing of the racist birther conspiracy which said Obama was not qualified to be president.
Obama’s strongest remark, Dovere reports, was prompted by reports that Trump was speaking to foreign leaders – including Vladimir Putin, amid the investigation of Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow – without any aides on the call.
“‘That corrupt motherfucker,’ he remarked.”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/19/barack-obama-donald-trump-book
…funny how some folks don’t seem to be fans of that sort of approach
Republican leaders are trying to sink legislation establishing an independent commission on the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that would probably scrutinize former president Donald Trump’s role in the riot and his conversations with Republican lawmakers that day.
The bill passed the House on a 252-to-175 vote Wednesday with 35 Republicans supporting the measure, but its chances of clearing the Senate dimmed after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came out against the bill earlier in the day.
He said he opposes the legislation because it is a “slanted and unbalanced proposal” a day after he said his members were open to voting for the plan but needed a chance to read the “fine print.”
While McConnell and McCarthy both slammed the deal as partisan and duplicative, despite its being struck between the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee, other Republicans were more direct about their concerns that the commission’s work would be politically problematic for the party.
The number of House Republicans who supported the bill, however, showed that some members of the party believe the investigation is needed even if most viewed it as a political non-starter.
In recent weeks, some House Republicans have downplayed the events of Jan. 6, with one lawmaker suggesting images from inside the Capitol resembled a normal tourist visit and another questioning how anyone could be sure the rioters were Trump supporters.
But videos from that day show an angry mob, many clad in Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” gear, waving Trump flags, violently beating and dragging police officers as they breached security barriers, climbed through broken windows and entered the Capitol.
Democrats and some Republicans have noted that McCarthy, who did not speak during floor debate on the bill, is urging a no vote on legislation that would create a commission that would probably call him to testify because he spoke to Trump that day, pleading with him to publicly call on the mob to leave the Capitol.
“He absolutely should,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said during a recent interview with ABC News. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed. I think that he very clearly . . . said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day.”
McConnell’s opposition came after he told reporters Tuesday that Senate Republicans were “undecided” about the commission.
McConnell’s opposition makes it more likely that enough Republican senators will band together against the commission legislation to block it from proceeding. The bill will need to garner 60 votes in a 50-50 Senate to clear a filibuster.
In February, McConnell voted to acquit Trump of impeachment charges that he incited the attack on the Capitol. The minority leader condemned Trump’s behavior after the vote saying he was “practically and morally responsible’ for the attack.”
But since that time, McConnell has avoided addressing the topic, answering questions about Trump’s continued role in the party by saying he is focusing on the future.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mcconnell-comes-out-against-jan-6-commission-imperiling-its-chances-of-becoming-law/2021/05/19/story.html
The House bill envisions that the commission would not only look at the security of the Capitol but also “the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process” and make recommendations for action. It could, for instance, seek to find out what role Trump played in encouraging the attack, as well as his response once it was taking place — something that could lead to members of Congress themselves being subpoenaed.
…but then mitch’s job is pretty much to prevent the senate from doing it’s job…so it’s no great surprise he’d take that approach
To be very clear, Republicans are not generally against investigations.
From 2011 to 2017, when the party controlled the House and the president was a Democrat, there were two investigations of a botched sting operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an investigation of a government grant process that gave money to a failed solar-energy company, two investigations of alleged targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, and no fewer than eight investigations into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
In 2019, we illustrated all of these probes.
Two of the investigations were underway at the time of the 2016 election. One centered on “Operation Fast and Furious,” the ATF operation. The other was the select committee focused on Benghazi.
When that investigation began, then-House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised it as being essential because the Obama administration had “willfully disregarded our subpoenas and impeded our investigations.” There had been other investigations into the attacks, but the administration was insufficiently forthcoming, in McCarthy’s view, necessitating the more robust committee probe.
Again, this was after seven other investigations of Benghazi had already ended. The probes did uncover that Clinton used a private email server while serving in Obama’s Cabinet, a fact that would haunt her candidacy. But for all of the examination of the Benghazi attacks themselves, no evidence emerged of wrongdoing by the Obama administration. Then Donald Trump won and the political utility dried up as well.
Now, McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have come out in opposition to the establishment of a bipartisan commission to examine the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy suggested that it was already being sufficiently probed thanks to the efforts of two Senate committees. On Wednesday, McConnell did the same.
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” his statement read. “The facts have come out and will continue to come out.”
One fact that’s a bit murky is what Trump said to McCarthy on that day. Earlier this month, CNN reported that McCarthy was not looking forward to the idea that he might have to testify under penalty of perjury about that conversation, one in which Trump told him that the rioters were “more upset about the election than you are,” as McCarthy told other Republican lawmakers at the time. This is something about which McCarthy has repeatedly refused to speak, the sort of formal stonewalling that, in 2014, prompted him to back a Benghazi committee. Things change.
No one is likely less excited about the idea of a commission than Trump himself. Over at his blog, the former president called on McCarthy and McConnell to block any independent commission, calling it “more partisan unfairness.” He framed it as a function of Democrats playing political hardball, perhaps missing that the current proposal emerged from a bipartisan agreement.
It’s useful to consider why this proposal is uniquely problematic for Trump.
A bipartisan commission that develops an agreed-upon assessment of the violence of Jan. 6 will almost certainly determine that Trump bore significant blame for the events that day. He spent months claiming that Democrats would and then did steal the election — baseless claims that have only gotten more ridiculous over time — and he actively encouraged people to come to Washington on that day. The second impeachment also found that Trump played a role in the day’s events, but it was followed by “exoneration.” A committee report laying out his culpability would have no such resolution.
More worrisome to Trump, certainly, is the prospect of facing criminal or civil penalties for possible past behavior, including during his time running the Trump Organization before he ran for office. Some part of his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election likely stemmed from awareness that the presidency offered a shield against criminal prosecution, as a much-debated opinion from the Justice Department argues. Without that shield, he’s at risk.
But Trump is clearly not considering this development dispassionately. In an extended rant on his blog, Trump attacked the state, New York City and Democrats generally as he hailed his own presidency’s perceived successes. He made eyebrow-raising claims such as that “pledging to take out your enemies, and be[ing] elected to that job by partisan voters who wish to enact political retribution” would mean that the United States is “no longer a free constitutional democracy” — an assertion that those who recall the “lock her up” chants directed at Clinton in 2016 will find a bit odd.
If Trump’s blog posts are a perfect measure of the level of concern or frustration he feels about a thing, which they well might be, he is about 12 times as unhappy about the criminal investigation as he is about a Jan. 6 commission. There has been no proof offered of criminal activity by Trump or his company, and he should be considered innocent until such proof is demonstrated. He may, in fact, believe that the probe into his company is motivated by partisan bias and, in fact, aspects of it may be. But it is also possible that, for example, various pieces of evidence hinting at tax improprieties are yielding significant problems. Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen — dubbed “a lying, discredited low life” in Trump’s rant — certainly has suggested that something untoward happened.
What’s happening in both cases is that Trump is facing some effort at possible accountability that he can’t control. Sure, he will argue — in both cases — that he’s being unfairly targeted by his political opponents. But given his track record, there’s no reason to grant Trump the presumption that he’s presenting his innocence honestly. It is immediately clear that he did something wrong that led to Jan. 6: he actively tried to deceive his followers even as he encouraged them to show up en masse. (Speaking to his acting secretary of defense on Jan. 5, he said that “10,000 troops” would be needed in Washington the following day.) It’s less immediately clear that he violated the law and will be indicted on criminal charges, but, again, one would be advised against placing a heavy wager that he didn’t.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/19/significant-trump-fear-inches-closer-accountability/
It is no wonder that Republican leaders in the House do not want to convene a truth and reconciliation commission to scrutinize the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The more attention drawn to the events of that day, the more their party has to lose.
Mitch McConnell himself was outraged. In a Feb. 13 speech on the Senate floor he said:
January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president.
Memorably, McConnell went on:
There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.
Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia nearly matched McConnell’s turn-on-a-dime. As The Washington Post reported on Tuesday,
Clyde last week downplayed the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, comparing the mob’s breaching of the building to a “normal tourist visit.” But photos from that day show the congressman, mouth agape, rushing toward the doors to the House gallery and helping barricade them to prevent rioters from entering.
Gary Jacobson of the University of California-San Diego wrote in an email that “the public’s reaction to the riot, like everything else these days, is getting assimilated into the existing polarized configuration of political attitudes and opinions.”
Such things as the absurd spectacle (of the vote recount) in Arizona, Trump’s delusory rantings, the antics of the House crackpot caucus, and the downplaying of the riot in the face of what everyone saw on TV, may weigh on the Republican brand, marginally eroding the party’s national stature over time. But never underestimate the power of motivated reasoning, negative partisanship and selective attention to congenial news sources to keep unwelcome realities at bay.
Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University, adds some detail:
My sense is that the move by Republican office holders to muddy the waters over what happened at the Capitol (and Trump’s role instigating the events) likely contributes to the waning of G.O.P. voters’ concerns. We heard a burst of these efforts to rewrite the history this past week during the House oversight hearing, but keep in mind that those efforts came on the heels of earlier efforts to downplay the violence, whitewash Trump’s role, and to cast doubt on the identities of the insurrectionists. No doubt, House G.O.P. leaders’ stalling of Democrats’ effort to create a “9/11 type” commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 has also helped to diffuse G.O.P. interest and to keep the issue out of the headlines. No bipartisan inquiry, no media spotlight to keep the issue alive.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised that public criticism of the Jan. 6 events only briefly looked bipartisan in the wake of the violence. G.O.P. elites’ decision to make loyalty to Trump a party litmus test (e.g., booting Rep. Cheney from her leadership post) demands that Republicans downplay and whitewash Trump’s role, the violence that day, and the identity of those who stormed the Capitol. Very little of American political life can escape being viewed in a partisan lens.
Alexander G. Theodoridis of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst wrote in an email that “the half-life of Jan. 6 memory has proven remarkably short given the objectively shocking nature of what took place at the Capitol that day.” This results in part from the fact that
there is now seemingly no limit to the ability of partisans to see the world through thick, nearly opaque red and blue colored lenses. In this case, that has Republicans latching onto a narrative that downplays the severity of the Capitol insurrection, attributes blame everywhere but where it belongs, and endorses the Big Lie that stoked the pro-Trump mob that day.
A UMass April 21-23 national survey asked voters to identify the person or group “you hold most responsible for the violence that occurred at the Capitol building.” 45 percent identified Trump, 6 percent the Republican Party and 11 percent white nationalists. The surprising finding was the percentage that blamed the left, broadly construed: 16 percent for the Democratic Party, 4 percent for Joe Biden and 11 percent for “antifa,” for a total of 31 percent.
Ariel Malka, a professor at Yeshiva University and an author of “Who is open to authoritarian governance within western democracies?,” agreed in an email that both liberals and conservatives “engage in biased reasoning on the basis of partisanship,” but, he argued, there is still a fundamental difference between left and right:
There is convincing evidence that cultural conservatives are reliably more open to authoritarian and democracy-degrading action than cultural liberals within Western democracies, including the United States. Because the Democratic Party is the party of American cultural liberals, I believe it would be far more difficult for a Democratic politician who favors overtly anti-democratic action, like nullifying elections, to have political success.
These differences are “transforming the Republican Party into an anti-democratic institution,” according to Malka:
What we are seeing in the Republican Party is that mass partisan opinion is making it politically devastating for Republican elites to try to uphold democracy. I think that an underappreciated factor in this is that the Republican Party is the home of cultural conservatives, and cultural conservatives are disproportionately open to authoritarian governance.
In the paper, Malka, Yphtach Lelkes, Bert N. Bakker and Eliyahu Spivack, of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Amsterdam and Yeshiva University, ask: “What type of Western citizens would be most inclined to support democracy-degrading actions?”
Their answer is twofold.
Westerners with a broad culturally conservative worldview are especially open to authoritarian governance. For what is likely a variety of reasons, a worldview encompassing traditional sexual morality, religiosity, traditional gender roles, and resistance to multicultural diversity is associated with low or flexible commitment to democracy and amenability to authoritarian alternatives.
Westerners who hold a protection-based attitude package — combining a conservative cultural orientation with redistributive and interventionist economic views — are often the most open to authoritarian governance. Notably, it was the English-speaking democracies where this combination of attitudes most consistently predicted openness to authoritarian governance.
The challenge facing Democrats goes beyond winning office. They confront an adversary willing to lie about past election outcomes, setting the stage for Republican legislatures to overturn future election returns; an opponent willing to nurture an insurrection if the wrong people win; a political party moving steadily from democracy to authoritarianism; a party that despite its liabilities is more likely than not to regain control of the House and possibly even the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.
…doesn’t change the fact that the response itself is a damning indictment of the the GOP & it’s outright bullshit…but damn if it doesn’t have me thinking about guy fawkes
…mind you…when you cling to artificially manipulated bullshit…it can cost you
The cry from the bitcoin and crypto brigade during previous bursts of volatility was YOLO, or you only live once. That’s an easy thrill-seeking motto to utter when prices decline by the odd 10%. It becomes harder to cling to when the price is down by 30% in a day, and 50% in a month, and there’s panic in the air.
For true crypto believers, every decline is a buying opportunity – and, indeed, there was a late rally to limit losses. For the rest of us, though, the hallmarks of speculative excess have been present for a while. A trivial but telling example is the posters one can still see in London and other major UK cities that read: “If you’re seeing bitcoin on the Underground/side of a bus/a billboard, it’s time to buy.” No, it’s time to think the party is over and the smart money is heading home.https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2021/may/19/the-30-one-day-fall-in-bitcoins-value-looks-like-a-turning-point
Meanwhile, bitcoin’s usefulness as a currency evaporates if the price can yo-yo wildly within a single day. And, in the background, there’s the worry that central banks simply won’t allow their monetary systems to be usurped by free-wheeling anonymous payments systems, a point China would seem to have confirmed. Even if the underlying blockchain technology is brilliant, regulators matter.
…& damn if there isn’t a proverbial shit-ton of other shit I could get into…but I literally don’t have time for that today…which might be a blessing in disguise for you lot…the way I’m feeling this morning it’s not clear you’d get a word in edgewise…but on the other hand it kind of sucks for me since what I actually have to get done today is likely to be not a lot of fun & quite possibly almost as aggravating as the bullshit I’d otherwise be ranting about…& I don’t know about you but I could do with a little catharsis…because this shit is fucking hard to swallow & I’m more than a little sick of choking down lies in service of misjustice