…wild surmise [DOT 9/8/22]

or end of a beginning...

…it’s a funny thing

Joe Biden’s $740bn package tackling climate, the deficit and healthcare that has just passed the Senate and is almost certain now to become law is a far cry from his original even bigger ambitions, but it still represents a major triumph for the president.
The estimated $740bn package is full of Democratic priorities. Those include capping prescription drug costs at $2,000 out of pocket for seniors, helping Americans pay for private health insurance, and what Democrats are calling the most substantial investment in history to fight the climate crisis: $375bn over the decade.

Almost half the money raised, $300bn, will go toward paying down federal deficits.

…so it goes with this whole reconciliation thing…so I guess that makes sense

It’s paid for largely with new corporate taxes, including a 15% minimum tax on big corporations to ensure they don’t skip paying any taxes at all, as well as projected federal savings from lower Medicare drug costs.

…&…you know…contrary to a lot of how it feels when you compare it to the original build back better thing the GOP stonewalled the hell out of

…it might actually be a big deal…& a good thing…if perhaps not really what it says on the tin

It’s not at all clear the 755-page bill will substantially ease inflationary pressures, though millions of Americans are expected to see some relief in healthcare and other costs.

…even some of the things that didn’t make it might be something the democrats can make use of

Seniors would also have insulin prices capped at $35 a dose. A provision to extend that price cap on insulin to Americans with private health insurances was out of line with Senate budget rules and Republicans stripped it from the final bill.

They really did it. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is mainly a climate change bill with a side helping of health reform, passed the Senate on Sunday; by all accounts it will easily pass the House, so it’s about to become law.

This is a very big deal. The act isn’t, by itself, enough to avert climate disaster. But it’s a huge step in the right direction, and sets the stage for more action in the years ahead. It will catalyze progress in green technology; its economic benefits will make passing additional legislation easier; it gives the United States the credibility it needs to lead a global effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Given all this, however, why did every single Republican senator vote against the I.R.A.? They aren’t all ignorant and innumerate; I’m pretty sure that Romney, for example, knows that he’s talking nonsense.

Nor can we easily invoke differences in ideology. The I.R.A.’s climate push mostly relies on tax credits — and Republicans have themselves used tax credits to achieve social goals, like the (much abused) Opportunity Zone credits in Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut.

Almost surely, what we’re really looking at is the politics of spite. Every Republican in the Senate was willing to kill our best chance at avoiding climate disaster, simply to deny the Biden administration a win.
Did Democrats Just Save Civilization? [NYT]

…that’s just a “for instance”, though…since I’m somewhat having to remind myself that there’s actually a considerable amount of news about a considerable amount of stuff…on account of…well…I know it already got covered to some extent in the NOT yesterday…& in some senses there’s not a whole lot to cover as yet…but like a squirrel to a terrier…my attention keeps coming back to the other thing

…I mean

The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

Mr. Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action to retrieve them. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.
The F.B.I. would have needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant. Proceeding with a search on a former president’s home would almost surely have required sign-off from top officials at the bureau and the Justice Department.
The search was at least in part for whether any records remained at the club, a person familiar with it said. It took place on Monday morning, the person said, although Mr. Trump said agents were still there many hours later.
The search came as the Justice Department has also been stepping up questioning of former Trump aides who had been witnesses to discussions and planning in the White House of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss.
The law governing the preservation of White House materials, the Presidential Records Act, lacks teeth, but criminal statutes can come into play, especially in the case of classified material.

Criminal codes, which carry jail time, can be used to prosecute anyone who “willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States” and anyone who “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates or destroys” government documents.

…it’s easy to get carried away

It wasn’t until the fourth sentence of Donald Trump’s lengthy statement revealing an FBI search of his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago that the former president suggested that politics were at play. From that sentence on, however, politics was inextricably entwined with the law enforcement action — precisely as Trump would probably have hoped.

Trump’s effort to paint the search as political covered multiple dimensions at once.
That’s three things: The FBI’s search is an attack by Democrats (1) because they fear Trump in 2024 because of polling (2) and they want to damage Republicans in the midterms (3). And that’s just the first politics-focused sentence of several in the statement he published on his social-messaging platform.

It’s important to note that there is no reason to think the FBI’s action was triggered by politics. On the contrary, the default assumption should more reasonably be that the decision to search Mar-a-Lago received unusual consideration given the significance of searching the property of a former president and demi-presidential candidate.
The idea that this search would somehow negatively affect Republican chances in November also seems misplaced. For one thing, it drowns out the relatively good week Biden is having, with the passage of a hefty reconciliation bill by the Senate on party lines. For another, it risks mobilizing Republicans against the government in much the same way (if not to the same extent) that the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade energized Democrats. If Trump’s narrative about the search being politically motivated takes hold, the ramifications in terms of motivating Republican voters will be negative for Biden, not positive.
Monday’s search makes very real the possibility that Trump might face criminal prosecution. It may also shift the timeline for Trump’s expected announcement of his candidacy for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination. After all, his complaint that he was being targeted as a potential 2024 opponent of Biden’s carries less weight than if he is actually an potential Biden opponent.

In July, Rolling Stone reported that Trump had spoken with confidantes about the benefits of running for and then being president in terms of federal prosecution. Trump, an individual told the magazine, had spoken of “how when you are the president of the United States, it’s tough for politically motivated prosecutors to ‘get to you.’ ” That prosecuting presidents is considered verboten according to Justice Department guidelines was, of course, a central theme of Trump’s actual presidency.

All of this is why the Justice Department was treading carefully as details about Trump’s post-election actions mounted. Garland has been a target of criticism by the left for not actively prosecuting Trump, the former president having proved his guilt beyond reasonable doubt to his political opponents. But it was inevitable that any serious law enforcement action targeting Trump would trigger precisely the sort of politics-laden response that emerged nearly simultaneously with the news itself.

This is precisely why the American legal system has so many checks aimed at minimizing any political interference. It is also why Trump spent so much time and energy insisting (including in his statement on Monday) that, despite objective evidence, the FBI and the Justice Department were hopelessly biased. That works much better for him than treating the search of Mar-a-Lago as serious and, if you’ll pardon the pun, warranted.

…one way or the other

Specifically, the law in question — Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code — makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” them.

If convicted, defendants can be fined or sentenced to prison for up to three years. In addition, the statute says, if they are currently in a federal office, they “shall forfeit” that office, and they shall “be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

On its face, then, if Mr. Trump were to be charged and convicted of removing, concealing or destroying government records under that law, he would seem to be ineligible to become president again.
On Monday, one of the most prominent voices pointing to Section 2071, the Democratic lawyer Marc Elias — who served as general counsel for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign — initially cited the law’s disqualification provision in a Twitter post as “the really, really big reason why the raid today is a potential blockbuster in American politics.”

He followed up with another Twitter post acknowledging that any conviction under Section 2071 might not ultimately bar Mr. Trump from seeking the presidency again — but arguing that a legal fight over it would still be important.

…or just lost in the sea of which loose ends are being raveled up by which siloed investigation from which case in which jurisdiction

While the search appears to be part of an investigation into Trump’s unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after his presidency, the businessman and politician is facing investigations and lawsuits on a number of fronts.

Here’s a recap.
What lawsuits and investigations is Donald Trump facing? [Guardian]

…after all…we know he’s…not great about how paperwork is meant to work…or plumbing for that matter

Claims that Donald Trump periodically blocked up White House and other drains with wads of paper appear to be borne out in photographs leaked ahead of the publication of a new account of the 45th presidency.

On Monday, Axios published photos of folded-up paper, marked with Trump’s telltale handwriting, using his favored pen, a Sharpie, submerged at the bottom of various toilet bowls.
Trump, described by Axios as “a notorious destroyer of Oval Office documents”, was the alleged flusher. But photographs of presidential White House toilet document dumps are possible evidence of a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
According to an earlier Axios report, Haberman’s account of the Trump presidency is the one that “Trump fears most”. Several advisers are unhappy with his decision to talk to the reporter but concluded that he couldn’t help himself – despite once calling her a “maggot”.

…&…well…we know how they do

For Democrats and other Trump critics, it was a long overdue step towards justice and proof that no one – even a former president – is legally untouchable.
But Republicans responded furiously to the development, following Trump’s lead in claiming that the search showed the justice department waging a politically motivated witch-hunt. Their florid rhetoric will do little to assuage fears that a prosecution of Trump could lead to social unrest and even political violence.

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Countless times we have examples of Democrats flouting the law and abusing power with no recourse.

“Democrats continually weaponize the bureaucracy against Republicans. This raid is outrageous. This abuse of power must stop and the only way to do that is to elect Republicans in November.”

…&…look…I know alanis morrisette confused a lot of people about what constitutes irony…& I know that seems like not-a-big-deal…but if you’ll excuse me for a spot of absurdist conjecture…if more people understood the significance of irony I’m not sure that wouldn’t actually come with a side of a significant number of largely empty heads actually exploding

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the House, claimed in a statement that the justice department had reached “an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” and vowed that, when Republicans take back the House, they will conduct immediate oversight of the department.

He said ominously: “Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

Lindsey Graham, a US senator for South Carolina and Trump ally, noted that midterm elections are about a hundred days away and Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024. “Time will tell regarding this most recent investigation. However, launching such an investigation of a former President this close to an election is beyond problematic.”

Bob Good, a Republican congressman, wrote on Twitter: “The continued weaponization of the federal government against its citizens and political opponents continues under the Biden/Garland march toward a police state.”

Congressman Ronny Jackson added: “Tonight the FBI officially became the enemy of the people!!!”


Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, denounced the search as “un-American”, while Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – which hosted an event in Dallas, Texas, last week with speakers including Trump and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán – also joined the condemnation.
Mike Pompeo, a former secretary of state under Trump, tweeted: “Executing a warrant against ex-POTUS is dangerous. The apparent political weaponization of DOJ/FBI is shameful. AG must explain why 250 yrs of practice was upended w/ this raid.”

…the upside of all this…at least to me…is that whether the rats are fleeing a sinking ship or chewing through one another in a desperate attempt to escape a situation of their own malignant creation…they are clearly in panic mode in what seems an awful lot like something…what was it now…oh, yeah

Tucker Carlson is “shitting himself” over the possibility that texts between him and far-right conspiracy loon Alex Jones will leak, a source close to the Fox News star told Confider.
Two years’ worth of text messages sent and received by Jones are now in the possession of the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection after the far-right conspiracy king’s lawyers accidentally sent a digital copy of all his texts to the lawyers representing the families affected by the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, which Jones repeatedly dubbed a “hoax.” (Last week, a Texas jury ruled that Jones must pay a combined $49 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the parents of one of the schoolchildren killed in that 2012 mass shooting.)

…&…well…it might not be all it’s cracked up to be

But the files do not appear to include text messages from the time most of interest to the committee: the day of Jan. 6, 2021, and the weeks building up to the attack, according to people familiar with the document production.

Though the phone data was retrieved in mid-2021, the most recent message is from mid-2020, according to Mark Bankston, who represents Sandy Hook parents suing Mr. Jones for defamation for lies he spread about the 2012 school shooting. That time period is before Mr. Jones became involved in plans to amass a pro-Trump crowd in Washington to march on the Capitol as Mr. Trump fought to remain in office despite his defeat at the polls.

…that’s not to say it can’t still fuck with some folks who thoroughly deserve it

Mr. Bankston has said they included texts with the political operative Roger J. Stone Jr. Mr. Bankston received the phone data from Mr. Jones’s lawyers, who had sent it to him mistakenly.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Stone also were among the group of Trump allies meeting in and around, or staying at, the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which some Trump advisers treated as a war room for their efforts to get members of Congress to object to the Electoral College certification.

…so…if the preponderance of partisan messaging should make you feel like things are strictly bad-to-worse

The FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday seems like it would put the brakes on the former president’s political ambitions. But if anything, dramatic actions against him by the Justice Department, in this case tied to classified information Trump allegedly took with him from the White House, according to an NBC source familiar with what happened, is only likely to grease those ambitions further. Trump’s denial of the outcome of the 2020 election before his CPAC fans indicates he doesn’t feel bound by any legal reality — and, in fact, being the subject of a criminal investigation could even fuel his campaign.

Trump may believe that an indictment could help his political profile, promoting his longtime campaign theme of being an aggrieved martyr. Already he’s been able to raise tremendous sums based on telling his core supporters there’s an election conspiracy that denied him re-election; actual proof of criminal targeting under the Biden administration could be catnip to these followers.

Even if Trump were convicted before the 2024 election, it wouldn’t likely be much before. He would almost surely be out on bail, still running for the presidency and claiming that the verdict would be reversed on appeal. As of late July, Trump remained the leading choice for the Republican presidential nomination, with about 50% support, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average and almost every individual poll that shows him with massive double-digit leads over his closest competitor.

Indeed, despite some naysayers, all signs still point to a Trump run. We ignore them at our peril — doing so means losing precious time both reminding Americans of the “clear and present danger” to our Constitution that he poses and preparing for how best to defeat him.

…even if that could still go the other way

Under federal law, if he is formally running, his $103 million Save America PAC can contribute only $5,000 to his campaign. And the Republican National Committee has said that if he runs, it must stay neutral among Republicans and stop covering hefty legal bills related to a separate probe by the New York state attorney general.

…there really might be a bottom line

At the same time, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis’ grand jury is hearing from Trump’s inner circle about his possible interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential vote. And in February, the National Archives requested that the Justice Department look at whether Trump’s handling of White House records broke federal law.

…& between the various phones & other devices that have been siezed…& the likes of this

On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against Navarro, accusing him of withholding emails that should have gone to the National Archives and Records Administration.

“While serving in the White House, Mr. Navarro used at least one non-official email account — an account hosted by the non-official service ProtonMail — to send and receive messages constituting Presidential records,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Navarro did not copy each email or message constituting Presidential records that was sent or received on his non-official account or accounts to his official government email account.”
“Discussions with Mr. Navarro’s counsel to secure the return of Presidential records ultimately proved unsuccessful,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Navarro has refused to return any Presidential records that he retained absent a grant of immunity for the act of returning such documents.

…there’s one bit of speculation I can’t help but consider…when it comes to filling in the gaps…or reading between the lines

According to the DOJ, the emails were first discovered through a House subcommittee’s investigation into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis (the Subcommittee) obtained copies of electronic messages from individuals, other than Mr. Navarro, as part of its investigation into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and those messages reflect that Mr. Navarro used a non-official email account, namely, a ProtonMail account, to send and receive Presidential records,” the complaint says. “Through the Subcommittee’s work, NARA became aware of Mr. Navarro’s use of a non-official email account to send and receive Presidential records.”
“Mr. Navarro is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration,” the complaint alleges, adding that the “wrongful retention” violates D.C. law, federal common law, and the PRA.

The DOJ has asked for a writ of replevin, which is an order to seize property that has been “illegally taken or wrongfully withheld” and kept in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

…with enough devices that were part of an encrypted sequence of communications…it’s possible to variously recover &/or interpolate a considerable amount of what might very well prove entirely damning evidence…just sayin’

…so…just for a moment…consider the part where an unannounced visit to straight up take shit he won’t give while he’s elsewhere…where “he” is a one-time-president…that’s not a step to take lightly…it requires the judge signing the paperwork to accept that he can’t be relied upon to engage in good faith with the legal system to a sufficient degree that it warrants taking the gloves off & warming up that strong arm of the law we hear so much about…&…well…that cheers me up a fair bit if I’m honest?

…anyway…speaking of buried ledes…any chance of some volunteers?

…I’ll be sounding off again on thurs…but this sun…the following tues/thurs…& one more sunday after that…I won’t necessarily have a phone signal, much less wifi & access to a laptop…so…there’s four DOTs going begging?

[…& I haven’t forgotten about the tunes part…but I will need another coffee first]



  1. Yes, thank you Marc Elias “— who served as general counsel for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign —” for your keen legal analysis.

    In April 2015, Hillary Clinton engaged Elias as attorney of record and general counsel for her 2016 presidential campaign. According to The Washington Post, in April 2016, Elias hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to create the research that resulted in the Steele dossier. On October 24, 2017, Perkins Coie released Fusion GPS from its client confidentiality obligation.

    That worked out well.

    But it is nice to see MAGATs whipped into a frothing frenzy (as long as they don’t pull another insurrectionary stunt.) Over the New York Post (which is not particularly pro-Trump, by the way; it’s a Murdoch paper and Murdoch turned on him some time ago after Trump had outlasted his usefulness) the main story about the raid has attracted well over 3,000 comments, might be many more by now, and they’re running about 200:1 pro-Trump. There’s lots of chatter but two whataboutisms recur: Hunter Biden and Hillary’s buttery males. There’s probably a BeNGhaZI!!! or 20 thrown in but I didn’t read them all. Sleepy Joe, inflation that’s killing the middle class, the “useless Fauci Ouchie shots that are not a vaccine because it doesn’t prevent you from catching the China virus,” it’s all there, but there’s scant discussion of the Official Records Act.

    • One interesting bit about Elias is that he turned down the chance to use Steele’s report in 2016.

      Steele got frustrated that Clinton’s campaign seemed to shelve it and after the election started pushing it in the background until McCain took up the baton, and it really took off after Ben Smith and Buzzfeed published it in early 2017.

  2. This is all certainly interesting, but I’ll believe Trump will face actual sanction shortly after he’s actually barred from office/paying fines/behind bars and at no point before that moment. The law isn’t neutral, and he’s spent his entire life getting away with any number of crimes (not paying contractors, rape, slander, tax fraud) with no real issue. I still see no reason why that’ll change.

    It has been pretty funny to see the GOP go full caudillo, though: “For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.”

    • …gotta think it’s going to make for some interesting coverage once the Jan 6th committee hearings return to the airwaves

      …& iirc that’s still this side of any traditional surprises october might have in store

      …so…all in all I feel pretty good about the direction that all seems to be headed in…particularly if this proves to be the snowball gathering momentum rather than just more mass?

      • I think you’re right on the direction. I think the problem with the stasis prespective is that it’s built on the idea that what we’re seeing now is essentially tapped out.

        If the raid is just about proper document handling this would be true. But I cannot imagine this is just about matching record numbers to a catalog listing, as much as the GOP will yell and the press wants to take their words as good faith.

        Likewise with January 6. If it’s just rando rioters then he’s fine, but as much as the GOP wants to say that, and the press is inclined to leave it, that’s not where it’s going.

        With abortion, despite what Jonathan Weisman of the NY Times claimed, the GOP is not backing off in recognition of unpopularity, and it’s not limited to cases of feminists driving 30 miles to another state. It’s angering a very broad group of people who would otherwise avoid voting.

        Due to the election and fundraising calendar we’re only looking at about six months before GOP challenges have to start, and we are going to see at least one serious rival, possibly Lucifer or the zombie of Ronald Reagan himself.

      • It’s not nothing. And keeping “Trump the criminal” in front of voters leading into the midterms is excellent for the Democrats, who suddenly look reasonably strong going into what I figured would be disastrous midterms. (We’ll see if Biden is dumb enough to demand student loan repayments to start just before the election. He might be!)

        I’m just very cynical about justice coming for any of these people because it never does. Mango Unchained might have been annoying enough to the powers that be that they’ll throw him to the wolves. But ultimately, that’s what matters: What the powerful think about you is really what your level of “justice” will be.

    • Yeah, Trump is running, he’ll get the nomination, and he’ll win because enough right wing states have already changed their election laws to ensure the outcome.  Then, those DOJ investigations will come to an abrupt end–followed shortly thereafter by another major purge.

      • …not trying to claim that can’t happen…but…I don’t share your certainty

        …I’d even go as far as saying it looks less likely than it did as time goes by

        …& I’m not generally known for my optimism?

      • I’m a lot less convinced about this. I think Trump is a much weaker candidate this time around. Just because the crazies adore him doesn’t mean he’s going to draw as well as he did … and he lost the popular vote pretty solidly in ’16 and then bigly in ’20. I’m honestly not sure the GOP wants to use its get-out-of-democracy-free card to help the guy who’s more of an anchor at this point!

  3. @SplinterRIP
    Just to confirm, we’re talking about:

    August 14
    August 16
    August 18
    August 21

    I can do them, but after the ball got dropped last time, I want to be rock-solid on the actual days. If anyone else would like to pick any up, I’m happy to share, but I’ll do them.

  4. Shut up, Handsy, you’re no longer relevant. You’re just damn lucky your successor seems more than willing to stonewall, evade, and stymie most attempts to get to the bottom of  your decade-long reign of terror. Of course, she being your former LG you probably have lots of dirt on her, and you’ve probably come to some kind of Mutual Assured Destruction agreement.


  5. I just assumed Ron DeSantis has been repeatedly cumming in his pants with glee at how he can use this to position himself as the better presidential candidate than Trump.

    I think DeSantis is also fucking horrible. But he doesn’t own the cult like Cheeto Mussolini does.

  6. ALSO!

    I would like to see the Trumpie weirdos blame Mitch McConnell for this.

    1. Obama has a Supreme Court seat to fill. Obama wants Merrick Garland.

    2. Mitch McConnell refuses to have the Senate allow a new justice to be seated during the last year of Obama’s presidency.

    3. Biden wins election. Biden appoints Merrick Garland as head of  DOJ.

    4. Ispo Facto this raid is McConnell’s fault.

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