More to ignore, Book 87.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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FaPuUksWQAUkiFz
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Geogre
Aug 16, 2022 at 07:35:16 AM

What’s NOT in the Box? [Empty Wheel] (long in time)

Once more, I’m practicing a form of brutalism here. Marcy Wheeler is careful and thoughtful in her discussion at Empty Wheel blog in “Trump’s Timid (Non-Legal) Complaints about Attorney-Client Privilege,” and, to be useful for people here, I’m going to be rough with her text. I hope I can capture her reasoning.

First, her occasion is Trump’s Truth SoCalled complaint of yesterday that, as the Foxen report,

“the former president’s team was informed” that the materials seized via what I’ve called the SSA receipt “contain information covered by attorney-client privilege” but that DOJ “opposed Trump lawyers’ request for the appointment of an independent, special master to review the records.”

He is claiming that the FBI took SOME materials with attorney-client privilege. This gets us into the two receipts and Ms. Wheeler’s (and everyone else’s) theories about what they represent. Let me let her explain the two receipts and her terminology:

There’s the one consisting of five boxes and a separate category, “Documents,” not associated with any boxes, signed by the Supervisory Special Agent. There are no classified documents described. I’ll refer to that as the SSA Receipt [Supervising Special Agent]. . .
Then there’s the one that consists of 27 items, mostly boxes, many with sub-items, which are often descriptions of the kinds of classified documents contained in the box or the leather case they were seized in. It was signed by a Special Agent. I’ll refer to that as the CLASS Receipt in this post.

Got it? In her previous posting, she suggested that one of them was bound for the Southern District of Florida and would be related to Espionage Act violations (destruction and improper handling of materials essential to the defense of the United States) — the SSA receipt — while the other — the CLASS receipt — was bound for Washington, D.C. and related to obstruction and the presidential records act violations. Trump’s assertion of privilege for only the SSA receipt may or may not modify this thinking.

She doesn’t think he’s just making stuff up. First, if this were the customary Trump distracto-lie, then it would have been bigger. Second, it would have covered everything. Instead, it’s specific and weak.

He also claims, of all things, executive privilege. Emphasis added:

It’s a nonsense claim, legally. Probably every single box seized last Monday has materials covered by Executive Privilege in them, because every single box would include communications directly with Trump. But there is absolutely no basis for any EP claim for a single thing seized from Mar-a-Lago because the Presidential Records Act underlying the seizure is designed, specifically and especially, to make sure all the EP materials are preserved for history. . . . Trump’s not making an EP claim to try to delay DOJ’s access to the 27 items, which are mostly boxes, on the CLASS receipt. So he must have learned something about the materials itemized in the SSA receipt to which, in a frantic and transparently silly effort, he’s trying to delay DOJ’s access.

I hope I’m not over-sharing, but Empty Wheel answers a question some here have asked. She gives a reason that the SSA (which is mainly papers rather than classified documents) may well represent things NARA discovered that Trump had tried to destroy or obstruct from other government agencies.
In the following, I have done some elision. Every one of these

would similarly be likely to have attorney-client privileged documents. Take a few examples:
  • One thing Trump is likely to have withheld is the Perfect Transcript between him and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which is something Congress was entitled to get during impeachment. That transcript was hidden from Congress by White House lawyer John Eisenberg, among other lawyers, thereby according the transcript a weak privilege claim, but one easily overcome by the obstructive nature of the choice to withhold it.
  • Another set of things we know were withheld from several investigations were documents showing sustained communications with Russia that should have been turned over by the Trump Organization. The most provable of those were the communications between Michael Cohen and Dmitri Peskov’s office in January 2016 . . . The Trump Organization did not produce to SSCI the copy of Paul Manafort’s Securing the Victory email he sent to Rhona Graff. The subpoena response on all these issues was handled by Trump’s corporate lawyers, Alan Futerfas and Alan Garten, and so would be privileged — but also crime-fraud excepted — evidence that Trump obstructed various Russian investigations.
  • While one draft of Trump’s termination letter to Jim Comey was ultimately turned over to Mueller (after reports that the only extant copy was one preserved by DOJ lawyers), the Mueller Report narrative surrounding it makes it clear that Trump and Stephen Miller worked over several drafts before the one shared with others. Those earlier drafts were likely not turned over, in part because White House Counsel lawyers advised Trump that these drafts should “[n]ot [see the] light of day.” . . .
  • I don’t want to even imagine what advice from Rudy Giuliani that Trump has withheld from various investigations, particularly pertaining to January 6. Most of that would be (shitty) legal advice. . .
In other words, aside from the documents Trump tried to rip up or eat or flush, many of Trump’s known violations of 18 USC 1519 would involve lawyers directly. Virtually every investigation into Trump was stymied by improper decisions by lawyers. And those withheld documents would once have been privileged, but they’d also be solid proof of obstruction.

The attorney-client privilege would be easy to defeat (crime-fraud exception), if the documents are all withheld subpoenaed materials.

She notes something that the rest of us haven’t paid much attention to. DOJ is talking to someone who purports to be Donald Trump’s attorney in this matter. I suspect that it’s not Ms. Bobb, but perhaps it is (and perhaps she’s so good an attorney that her taking a job as an on-air talent at OANN was not an indication that her practice was poor). This is important because Ms. Wheeler says. . . we should expect a plea.

. . .the crimes under investigation include, at a minimum, violations of the Espionage Act. DOJ always tries to find a way to resolve those from the get-go, because prosecutions about stolen classified information are always damaging to the equities you’re trying to protect. That’s all the more true in the unprecedented case where the suspect is the former President. At a minimum, DOJ likely has or will float Trump the offer of an offramp like an 18 USC 2701 guilty plea if he cooperates to tell the government about the whereabouts of all the classified documents he stole.
And if what Trump is trying to hide in the obstruction investigation is even more damning, as his behavior suggests it might be, DOJ might actually have enough leverage to make Donny to consider such an offer.

The government never wants open court discussions of national secrets, for obvious reasons, and it doesn’t want to damage its officials’ postures any more than it has to, either. She points out that the silence and lack of activity is itself suspicious. Something is happening. Something extraordinary. (The Trending diary on Andrew Weissmann expecting charges for TFG is on the same track: charges are indicated, and soon.)

Now, please, go to the Empty Wheel blog and read the original to see how I screwed it up, if I did. She’s a professional, and it shows.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A Washington state man who recited the Pledge of Allegiance during his sentencing hearing for breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 will spend some time behind bars, although not as much as the federal judge overseeing his case would have wanted.

John Cameron, 55, was sentenced Monday to three years of probation and 30 days of intermittent incarceration after pleading guilty in April to a misdemeanor. Cameron was among the thousands who attended then-President Donald Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, in which Trump called on his supporters to march to the Capitol building and “fight like hell” as Congress began to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.

Cameron did just that, and joined the scores of Trump supporters who breached the Capitol building, spending about 20 minutes inside. He was seen in an office suite and the Crypt before exiting the building through a broken window after being told to do so by police.

He pleaded guilty in April to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. The statute also allows for five years of probation, but Hogan is among a handful of federal judges in D.C. who have determined that the parading misdemeanor does not allow for a so-called “split sentence” of jail time and probation.

At Monday’s sentencing, Hogan got around that issue with the intermittent incarceration aspect of the sentence. The judge ordered Cameron to serve his jail time in three-day increments, but made it clear that he believed the defendant deserved significantly more time behind bars, largely due to Cameron’s repeated statements on social media implying that he believes he is being unfairly prosecuted for his political beliefs.

“I think you’re lucky that the government has stayed with its guilty plea in this matter,” the judge said.

Cameron, who was repeatedly heard Monday responding to Hogan’s comments before the judge finished speaking, appeared to try to engage the judge in a more casual type of exchange than what is normally seen in criminal sentencing hearings.

“Do you know you my favorite president of all time is, Your Honor?” Cameron asked the judge when the time came for him to speak on his own behalf.

Hogan did not audibly respond.

“You might know a little bit about him,” an undeterred Cameron continued. “It’s Ronald Reagan.”

Cameron then described the accomplishments of his “favorite president” — ending the Cold War and “taking us out of a recession” among them — to Hogan, a Reagan appointee, before pivoting to a different tack entirely.

“I would like to recite the Pledge of Allegiance right now,” Cameron said. “Would you allow me to do that, Your Honor?”

“It’s your right to speak to the Court,” the judge replied flatly.

Cameron then went on to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pray that a truly great statesman comes to the U.S., like Reagan,” he said after finishing the Pledge.

Cameron told Hogan that he didn’t intend to participate in any violence on Jan. 6, and that in fact the entire incident — in which 140 law enforcement officers were injured as the pro-Trump mob overwhelmed police, forcing its way into the Capitol by breaking windows and doors and forcing lawmakers to evacuate or shelter in place for hours — was quite pleasant.

“When I was there,” Cameron said, “I saw Americans walking in and out in an orderly manner. I saw police who were in a little partition not doing anything.”

“You never saw any broken windows?” Hogan asked.

“I never did,” Cameron replied.

“You never heard any bells or sirens going off?” the judge pressed.

Cameron said that the only alarm he heard was a “beeping fire alarm.”

“Had there been a single law enforcement officer or law enforcement at all who said ‘Don’t go in,’ I wouldn’t have gone in,” Cameron insisted, despite acknowledging that he had walked over an upturned bike rack that had been used by police as a barrier to the crowd.

“So you thought you had a right to go into the building, without security, without permission,” Hogan said, adding a warning: “You’re getting close to withdrawing your guilty plea, I’ll tell you that right now.”

“No,” Cameron said. “I am guilty of picketing within Capitol grounds and illegal picketing. I didn’t plead guilty to trespassing. But I picketed within the Capitol and that was illegal.”

Cameron then went on to describe how the “financial cost” of his actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6 have been “incalculable,” because he has been “deplatformed” from Facebook and has relied on financial support from the right-wing crowdfunding website GiveSendGo. He also described his own “mental anguish” over being called a traitor and insurrectionist.

Hogan then spent several minutes offering Cameron the opportunity to acknowledge the violence around him at the Capitol that day, to no avail.


“You’re being willfully blind to what was going on, frankly,” Hogan ultimately told the defendant.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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"Trump Broke the Law!" "We Don't Care!"

Dan K

Taggan Goddard’s Political Wire picked up a couple of seriously concerning articles this morning. First up is: The New Era of Political Violence Is Here, by Tom Nichols (In The Atlantic behind a paywall). Specifically:

Donald Trump is central to this fraying of public sanity, because he has done one thing for such people that no one else could do: He has made their lives interesting. He has made them feel important. He has taken their itching frustrations about the unfairness of life and created a morality play around them, and cast himself as the central character. Trump, to his supporters, is the avenging angel who is going to lay waste to the “elites,” the smarty-pantses and do-gooders, the godless and the smug, the satisfied and the comfortable.

The first consequence of Trump is that, while he broke the law, while he admits (sort of) that he broke the law, and while his followers agree he broke the law, they don’t care. In fact, they admire him all the more for it.

I [Tom Nichols] spoke with one of the original Never Trumpers over the weekend, a man who has lost friends and family because of his opposition to Trump, and he told me that one of the most unsettling things to him is that these same pro-Trump family and friends now say that they believe that Trump broke the law—but that they don’t care. They see Trump and his crusade—their crusade against evil, the drama that gives their lives meaning—as more important than the law.

Second article, from the Intelligencer: Why Every New Trump Crime Just Makes Republicans Angrier at the FBI But the Feds have not treated him unfairly, by Jonathan Chait:

[T]he weirdest thing about this trust heuristic is that it assumes the more credible party to this dispute is serial lawbreaker and pathological liar Donald Trump rather than the lifelong Republican he appointed to lead the agency. But the deeper and more twisted belief system being expressed by Trump’s allies is the premise that the FBI has engaged in a pattern of political bias against their party since the Clinton saga.

Chait concludes:

The underlying cause of this pathological dynamic is a right-wing propaganda bubble that pumps conservatives full of rage, cordens [sic] them off from any information that would mitigate their sense of persecution, and primes them to be led by demagogues who feel free to act with impunity, knowing their base will stay loyal regardless. This dysfunction produced Trump’s rise in the first place. And now every new instance of Trump’s misconduct simply confirms to the Republican Party that he was right all along.

Trump, following his mentor Roy Cohn, has always looked at the law as a nuisance and a challenge. His pitch to his followers is that the law is keeping them from their rightful position in society. He’s not entirely wrong there; powerful interests have long shaped the laws of this country to work for their benefit at the expense of everyone else. Trump is no different from them — but he has managed to mesmerize his base into believing that he is the one, the only one, fighting the law on their behalf.

In fact, he is using, misusing, ignoring, and breaking the law solely for his own benefit.

We may be able to pick away at the margins by making that argument, but the bulk of his base has been made impervious to that line of reasoning. If there is any way to reach those people, it will have to be by way of showing that he is hurting
them.

That’s hard to do, we already know. Trump has very cleverly — like many Republicans — crafted immediate short-term benefits for his base while pushing the long-term pain down the road and blaming the Democrats. He tried to do that with Covid, but failed, which is almost certainly why he lost his re-election. That is the key to keeping from winning the next one.

It’s possible the revelation that he seriously damaged our security with his casual (at best) handling of our nuclear secrets will be one thing his base will have enough trouble with that they will edge away from him. There are already some signs that Republicans who rushed to defend Trump from the FBI are toning their rhetoric down, or hiding from the press, as his theft of nuclear documents becomes impossible to look away from.


“Trump will get us all killed!”

This is a slogan we need to start promoting. It won’t help with the fundamentalists who are looking forward to precisely that — they expect to be raptured out of the way when the apocalypse happens. But, played right, it could peel enough Trump supporters to make the difference. They may not care about the law, but they do care about living.
........

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022 · 12:24:47 PM EDT · Dan K
New op-ed from Catherine Rampell in WaPo on the same theme: Is there no crime Trump could commit that would lose him GOP support? Her suggestion:

If [Rep Michael Turner (R-OH)] and his Republican colleagues genuinely believe the classified documents Trump squirreled away are no biggie, they could prove it by pledging to read their contents into the congressional record. If these lawmakers don’t think this is a wise idea, and worry that making such documents public might jeopardize national security, then perhaps they should object to those documents being stored at Trump’s not-exactly-locked-down beach house, too.

Additional point: They can only do that if Trump really did declassify those documents. And that doing so won’t violate the Espionage Act.
........
.........

Despite fevered GOP whining, from the start the FBI has always helped and protected Trump

Frank Vyan Walton
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Heading into midterm elections, Georgia officials fear a frightening shortage of poll workers

Rebekah Sager

With early voting for the midterm elections beginning in just 62 days, every major county in the state of Georgia is scrambling to find poll workers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports that election officials are looking to fill thousands of vacant spots.

Aug. 16 is National Help America Vote Day, a day created to recruit the nation’s much-needed poll workers.

Keisha Smith, elections director for DeKalb County, tells the AJC, “We’re looking to expand and to bring in new people until Election Day. I worry about everything ... but we’re on track to meet our numbers.”
.........
The job of a poll worker doesn’t come with high pay, and the hours can be long. Not to mention that following the 2020 presidential election, many election workers were subjected to threats and harassment from supporters of former President Donald Trump—those who denied the outcome of the election and win by Joe Biden.

Appearing before the Jan. 6 committee on June 21, Wandrea "Shaye" Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, famously gave some of the most powerful testimony. The two detailed the terror inflicted on them by a racist smear campaign led by Trump and his top campaign attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who baselessly alleged wrongdoing by Moss and Freeman during the 2020 election.

The two Georgia election workers were driven from their homes, threatened on social media, and left feeling afraid to go out in public. Even Moss’ grandmother was caught up in the fray, menaced by Trump supporters and the web of lies created by Trump and Giuliani.

“It was just a lot of horrible things there,” Moss told the House select committee, adding that many of the social media comments directed at the women “were racist” and “hateful.”

Those hateful threats have likely helped lead to a nationwide shortage of poll workers.

According to ABC News, 130,000 U.S. poll workers have stopped serving in the past three midterm elections. And the Brennan Center for Justice reports that 20% of local poll workers said they were “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to work the 2024 election. In addition to Georgia, California, New York, and Texas have reported shortages of election workers, per ABC News.

However, despite the low pay and threats by the MAGA sycophants, Politifact reports that many poll workers remain undeterred.

"Democracy has been challenged, and it’s all based around voting," says Robin Levin, a retired schoolteacher and poll worker in Florida’s Broward County. "Our whole democracy is voting, and when you lose voting, you have no democracy. That’s my biggest fear. That is my whole reason to get more involved.”

Many of Georgia’s election officials are confident the shortage will resolve itself before the midterms. Some counties have even raised the pay for poll workers to help ensure that.

Starting pay is $15 per hour in DeKalb County. The day rate is $175 in Fulton County, $150 in Cobb County, and $120 in Gwinnett County, according to the AJC.

Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said, “We’re recruiting them up to the last minute. … I don’t think we’ve ever gone into an election where we’ve met every goal for poll workers—even when it was patriotic to be a poll worker.”

To fill the gap, Vet the Vote is aiming to recruit 100,000 veterans and their relatives to work the polls nationwide. “A shortage of poll workers creates operational challenges, including polling places being closed, disproportionately impacting communities of color,” the website reads.

Joe Plenzler, a Marine Corps veteran and an elections judge responsible for administering voting procedures in Charles County, Maryland, told ABC News, “Veterans are made of stern stuff, we have been to war and aren’t easily intimidated. … I found that other volunteers in the polling site are more reassured working alongside veterans who have been to war.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Inspector general at center of missing Secret Service texts scandal will not recuse

Brandi Buchman

Joseph Cuffari, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, has said he will not recuse himself from a probe of Secret Service text messages tied to Jan. 6 that were deleted despite multiple requests from Congress that they be retained.

Cuffari relayed his decision to members of the House Oversight and House Homeland Security Committees in a letter dated Aug. 8. Cuffari said he would not step down from the internal probe because doing so would “upend the very independence that Congress has established for Inspectors General” and potentially burden witnesses in the internal investigation.

Cuffari just a week ago told members of Congress he would seek legal advice about remitting internal records to Congress before he would cooperate.

Not only will he not recuse, but according to his new public letter, the inspector general further said he would not allow members of his staff to sit for transcribed interviews as committees first requested on Aug 1.

Cuffari Response to Step Down by Daily Kos on Scribd

Cuffari’s refusal to step aside was made public when Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Bennie Thompson, who separately chair the House Oversight Committee and House Homeland Security Committee, published their response to the Trump-appointed inspector general.

“Your obstruction of the Committees’ investigations is unacceptable, and your justifications for this noncompliance appear to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress’s authority and your duties as an Inspector General. If you continue to refuse to comply with our requests, we will have no choice but to consider alternate measures to ensure your compliance,” Maloney and Thompson wrote.

It was only last month that Cuffari told the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that the Secret Service texts had been deleted.

At first, the watchdog said the messages were erased as a part of a pre-planned, agency-wide device reset and that he had only learned they were lost in December 2021. Cuffari also lamented a lack of cooperation from the Secret Service.

But Cuffari, it turns out, knew about the missing messages far before then. He learned of them in May 2021. Yet, for 14 months, he failed to notify anyone of his findings, as required under law.

He “abandoned” the review, Maloney and Thompson wrote.

When he met with members of the Jan. 6 committee this July, Cuffari quickly ordered a criminal probe into the missing texts and directed the Secret Service to stop its own forensic search while the matter was under review internally.

The missing Jan. 6 texts are are just one of many issues Maloney and Thompson have with the inspector general.

In their letter, they noted how he has long failed to comply with congressional requests for documents and in particular, those related to sexual harassment and domestic abuse allegations raised by staff at the Department of Homeland Security. There are mounting concerns that Cuffari allows staff to work “with independence and objectivity.”

“Full compliance with our requests is necessary,” Maloney and Thompson. citing, among various other legal precedents, the rights of Congress established by the Supreme Court in Hutcheson v. United States in 1962.

“Legislative inquires need not yield to parallel proceedings, even if those proceedings are criminal in nature,” the high court found.

Cuffari should respond by Aug. 23, the committee chairs wrote.

They also ordered Cuffari’s deputy inspector generals, Thomas Kait and Kristen Fredricks, to appear by that date, as well.

Cuffari’s appointment was reportedly under the scrutiny of President Joe Biden in recent weeks. Anonymous sources told The Independent that Biden was taking a greater interest in Cuffari but things have since been quiet. A spokesperson for the White House did not return multiple requests for comment to Daily Kos.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump attempted to weaponize Mar-a-Lago documents to use against FBI and DOJ

Mark Sumner

The Washington Post has laid out a timeline of events related to Donald Trump’s illegal transfer of highly classified documents to Mar-a-Lago and the government’s efforts to recover those critical documents. One thing that becomes clear when looking at the order of events is that, when confronted over his holding information that had national security significance, Trump did not move to immediately return this material. Instead, he dedicated two of his most loyal henchmen to finding a way to flip the script and leverage the documents he had stolen against the FBI and DOJ.

The National Archives was aware that Trump took records that belonged to the government to Mar-a-Lago shortly after he reluctantly slunk away from the White House, but eight months were spent in negotiating before Trump gave up the first scrap of paper. Shortly after the archives retrieved 15 boxes of material last February, there was information that Trump’s document stash contained both documents classified as top-secret, and information behind the bungling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also included such national treasures as Trump’s love letters to Kim Jong Un.

While it wasn’t until August that the FBI carried out a historic search of the building Trump is illegally using as his primary residence, that doesn’t mean nothing was happening during those months in between. The archives, and other agencies, spent months trying to get the remaining materials back from Trump. But rather than cooperate, Trump adopted a strategy of stalling and lying about what he had. And when it was clear the DOJ was closing in, Trump appointed Devin Nunes’ former aide, Kash Patel, and a right-wing media mogul, John Solomon, with the goal of using those documents against the agencies trying to get them back.

........
In the weeks after Trump’s departure from Washington, it became obvious that some high-profile materials—like the mash note exchange with Kim and the letter that President Obama left for Trump on the day he moved into the Oval Office—were missing. So the National Archives began to contact Trump’s team in Mar-a-Lago, searching for the lost material.

But Trump’s response was anything but swift. It was a full eight months later before he began allowing his aides to box up some of the documents. Finally, over a year after he left office, a contractor took away 15 boxes of material that should never have been in Trump’s possession. That story generated the expected response from national media.



However, even if the NYT was treating this story as unimportant, it was almost immediately obvious to the National Achieves that not only did the boxes returned contain documents that were classified at one level or another, but what Trump had sent back was incomplete. This launched a second effort to secure the documents in place and take whatever actions were necessary to safeguard their return.

Less than ten days after the first group of boxes shipped out from Mar-a-Lago, representatives from the National Archives went to the Department of Justice, to inform them that Trump was in receipt of classified material and to seek help in getting it back.

For over three months, between February and May of 2022, the DOJ negotiated with Trump’s team, seeking the return of any classified material. But no materials came as Trump continued to claim there was nothing else to send. Finally, in May, the DOJ went before a federal grand jury and obtained a subpoena for any classified materials Trump held at Mar-a-Lago.

On becoming aware of this, Trump took immediate action—not to return the documents, but to once again claim there were no classified documents. As early as May 5, Patel did an interview for Breitbart in which he claimed there was no classified material at Mar-a-Lago. However, his statement included a hint of what was to come in the form of a claim that “Trump had already declassified material.” Then, as The New York Times reported on Saturday, Following a visit from the FBI on June 3, an attorney for Trump signed a written statement declaring that all material marked as classified had been returned to the government.

That this was untrue was obvious to the FBI agents who had seen such documents during their visit. The FBI requested on June 8 that a stronger padlock be used to secure a record area that the agents had been shown on June 3. However, the Post reports that security footage obtained on June 22 shows boxes being moved in and out of this supposedly secured area, even after the DOJ told Trump to lock it down.

On June 19, Trump formally named Patel and Solomon as “representatives for access to Presidential records of my administration” with the specific task of using the documents at Mar-a-Lago to “make available to the American people previously declassified documents that reveal a clear conspiracy to unlawfully spy on candidate and then President Donald J. Trump—by the FBI, DOJ, and others—the largest state-sponsored criminality in American history.” In other words, Patel and Solomon were tasked with using these documents to attack the same agencies seeking their return.

Solomon now claims he never had access to the documents and had been hired “as a reporter.” However, Solomon is best known for his highly inaccurate columns attacking the climate crisis, and for a running series of articles in which he repeatedly lied about his sources as part of a smear campaign against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, as well as spreading lies about Hunter Biden. So taking any claim by Solomon at face value is never recommended.

Meanwhile, even as the FBI continued to negotiate in an effort to get Trump to turn the material over, some of his own aides expressed concern to the DOJ about how that material was being handled. According to the Times, investigators were in contact with “roughly half a dozen” of Trump’s aides at Mar-a-Lago. It was information from one of these firsthand witnesses that spurred the FBI to stop negotiating and seek a search warrant.

Putting it all back in order:

  • Trump took highly classified material from the White House and stored it in an unsecured location at his home without telling anyone.
  • When the National Archives came looking for documents, it took eight months of back-and-forth before Trump passed along 15 boxes of material.
  • When the archives noted classified information among the documents returned, they took this to the DOJ for further investigation.
  • Trump claimed there were no more classified documents. This included a written statement from his attorney.
  • Trump put Patel and Solomon in charge of the documents—not to sort out issues, but to use them to expand the myth of Trump as victim.
  • The DOJ continued to negotiate for more months to see what still remained. When they finally got a look at what Trump had in storage, it was clear that there was more classified material.
  • Seeing what Trump had, the DOJ instructed him to better secure the documents while they continued to negotiate for their return.
  • Rather than keeping the documents secured, security footage showed that boxes of documents were being moved in and out of the supposedly secure area.
  • One of Trump’s own aides tipped off the FBI that there were serious concerns about the content and handling of the documents.
  • The FBI sought and executed a search warrant.
The full timeline of events makes it clear that the National Archives and Department of Justice spent almost every week of the last 17 months seeking to get back the documents Trump illegally removed from the White House. It also makes clear that Trump, and his team, repeatedly said there were no classified documents, even when they knew that wasn’t true. And it makes clear that, in response to increasing moves to recover the documents, Trump responded by attempting to weaponize the information in a direct attack on the FBI and DOJ.
 

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Judge squashes Alex Jones’ attempt to delay his day of reckoning—again

Walter Einenkel

On Monday, Judge Julie Manning made it clear that Alex Jones can try all of the legal shenanigans that he wants, but the families suing Jones will have their day in court. Manning ruled that “The plaintiffs’ rights to have that process continue in the Connecticut Superior Court should not be disturbed,” and therefore could continue forward with their lawsuit of Jones separated from Jones’ company Free Speech Systems, which had also been named in the defamation lawsuit.

Earlier this month, the embattled host of Infowars and his lawyers were able to stall jury selection in one of his Sandy Hook Elementary school defamation cases. They did this in a motion to have the case transferred from Connecticut state court to federal bankruptcy court. This came one week after Jones’ Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy.

Attorney for the plaintiffs in the case Chris Mattei told the Associated Press: “We’re grateful the bankruptcy court saw through Alex Jones’s brazen effort to block a jury from being empaneled and holding him accountable. We look forward to trial.”......
 

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Biden signs historic Inflation Reduction Act

Joan McCarter

GettyImages-1415247975.jpg


President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday afternoon, the big climate change, tax fairness, and health care reconciliation bill that Democrats passed in record time this month. Biden was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Whip James Clyburn. The big celebration signing will happen next month, when Congress is back in D.C., but enacting the legislation now will start the ball rolling immediately on the many provisions it has to help American consumers and to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.



“With this law, the American people have won, and special interests lost,” Biden said. “The American people won, and special interests lost. […] This administration began in a dark time in America, a once-in-a-century pandemic, devastating joblessness, clear and present threats to democracy and the rule of law, doubts about the future of America itself. And yet we have not wavered, we have not flinched, and we have not given in. Instead, we are delivering results for the American people.“

Biden also blasted Republicans for their refusal to support any part of this bill. “In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interest in this vote, every single one,” Biden said. “The big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill, $100 million. And remember, every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. Every single Republican in Congress voted against lower prescription prices, negotiating drug costs, a fairer tax system. Every single Republican voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.”

Biden continued, previewing the message he’s going to take into the midterm elections: “My fellow Americans, that is the choice we face. We can protect the already powerful, or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot. That is the America I believe in. That is what i believe in. And today, we have come a step closer to making that America real.”

Ahead of the official bill signing, the White House provided a briefing memo titled “By the Numbers,” detailing the major provisions of the legislation and how it will move the nation forward.


Some highlights:

  • 5 to 7 million Medicare beneficiaries could see their prescription drug costs go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • 50 million Americans with Medicare Part D will have peace of mind knowing their costs at the pharmacy are capped at $2,000 per year, directly benefiting about 1.4 million beneficiaries each year.
  • 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply. […]
  • 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of $800 per year on health insurance premiums
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance than without the law. […]
  • Families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year.
  • $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able to install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, saving families $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year. […]
  • Power homes, businesses, and communities with much more clean energy by 2030, including:
    • 950 million solar panels
    • 120,000 wind turbines
    • 2,300 grid-scale battery plants
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Strengthen climate resilience and protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests. […]
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons – 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted.
  • Deploy clean energy and reduce particle pollution from fossil fuels to avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030. […]
  • 15%: the minimum tax on corporate profits the Inflation Reduction Act imposes on the largest, most profitable corporations.
  • $124 billion: savings over 10 years the Inflation Reduction Act will generate from collecting taxes already owed by wealthy people and large corporations, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • And no family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

To quote Biden at another historic bill signing, “This is a big ****ing deal” for the American people.
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History Made!!! President Joe Biden Officially Signs The Inflation Reduction Act into Law!!

OwossoHarpist
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: More explosions in Crimea as 'secret weapon' strikes again

Mark Sumner

On Tuesday, there were reports of at least two large explosions in occupied Crimea, well beyond the range of Ukrainian artillery or of any HIMARS ammunition known to be in Ukrainian hands. This time the primary target appears to have been a stockpile of ammunition and equipment near a railway, and if that description makes it seem less significant than previous strikes on warehouses and buildings, videos of the site indicate otherwise. Russia appears to have a lot—a lot—of materiel, from ammunition to vehicles, sitting right beside the tracks at a site near of the city of Dzhankoi.

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Explosions deep in Crimea reportedly destroyed a Russian supply depot and disabled local rail.



A second explosion appears to have taken out an electrical substation in the same area. The railway leading south into Crimea is electrified, so taking out this electrical station may have been targeted at preventing trains from moving in a large section of Crimea.

The distance of these explosions from the nearest area of Ukrainian control, like a previous strike in Crimea, generated immediate speculation on just how Ukraine accomplished this blow. Russian-related sources initially attributed the explosion to a drone attack. Others immediately jumped to the conclusion that Ukraine is in possession of longer-range HIMARS rockets. At roughly 200 kilometers from the nearest areas under solid control by Ukraine, this new explosion is twice as far inside Russian territory as a previous explosion which devastated a Russian air base at Novofedorivka last week. This would still be in the range of the ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System), which can be fired from HIMARS, but despite widespread speculation, there is still no evidence that Ukraine has been sent any of these missiles.

If this was a drone strike this far into Russian territory, the major signal it sends is simple: Russian air defenses are ****ed. Good luck to Vladimir Putin in his recently announced initiative to sell more Russian weapons systems if this is the level of protection they provide.




However, The New York Times is quoting a Ukrainian official in giving a cause that should be even more frightening to both the Russian military and all Russians in occupied territories. According to the unnamed official, the explosions were generated by “an elite Ukrainian military unit operating behind enemy lines.” Russia’s state news agency seems to agree, as they’ve now labeled the explosion “an act of sabotage.”

If Ukrainian military units are operating deep in Crimea, striking Russian infrastructure, supply depots, and even bases … then exactly what does that say about the area supposedly under Russian control? Crimea was Russia’s primary target back in 2014, and was immediately annexed by Putin following that previous invasion. But these attacks make it seem as if Russia not only can’t halt partisan attacks in areas like occupied Kherson, they can’t even secure the territory they’ve claimed for the last eight years as part of Russia.

There is no way of looking at this which isn’t bad for Russia.

For nearly a month now, Ukraine has been engaged in a campaign of striking Russian supply depots, command centers, and transportation hubs. They’ve engaged a number of different systems—HIMARS, drones, artillery, and even Ukraine’s miraculously still operating air force—to hit high-value targets in Russian territory.

These attacks have not only generated some highly significant losses for Russia, like most of an air wing, but they’ve also created shortages and logistical issues that have measurably slowed Russia’s advance in the Donbas and limited its ability to attack elsewhere. Russia has responded to Ukraine’s strategic actions by flinging more missiles into civilian areas of Ukrainian cities, which has absolutely increased the death, destruction, and general misery affecting the people of Ukraine. However, this doesn’t seem to have altered Ukraine’s ongoing campaign to disrupt Russian operations.

It seems that wherever Russia tries to stack more than a few boxes of shells, or park a few vehicles, Ukraine is capable of finding them. And destroying them. No matter how far they are in Russian occupied territory. Make that “Russian occupied territory,” because Russia’s control over these regions seems a lot less solid than it did a few weeks ago.

Which is why, south of the latest explosions at the Crimean city of Simeropol, Russians seem to have decided that this is a very good time to end their summer holidays. Though, with that electrical station down, it’s not clear how long they’ll be waiting for a train.



In the last few minutes, there have been reports of what appears to be another explosion or series of explosions. If accurate, this would be even deeper in supposed Russian territory than the attack at Dzankhoi. According to sources on Telegram, multiple explosions were heard from the Russian air base in Gvardeyskoe, west of the city of Simferopol. Again, the initial attacks report a drone as the source of the attack, but there are likely to be competing claims within the hour.



It’s been over two weeks since the last update of the Daily Kos Ukraine maps, and the biggest news is that seeing the difference between that last take and current conditions in most areas requires a microscope. Russia has made some advances along the line between Bakhmut and Siversk, and active fighting is underway east of both towns.

But the biggest thing happening in Ukraine right now isn’t likely to be capturing any particular town or village—it’s the effort to gut Russian efforts well away from the line of combat. By attacking concentrations of planes, equipment, ammo, and commanders, Ukraine is exacting much higher costs from Russia than they can in hammering it out at the line. And they’re showing Russia that the idea of “safe areas” is an illusion.

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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022 · 11:08:53 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Reinforcing the idea that these attacks are part of a larger plan, directed at not just taking away Russia’s resources, but limiting their logistical options.

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022 · 10:46:37 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Every now and then in this conflict, I run into a little “I didn’t even know they had those” moment when it comes to weapons systems. Here is one of those at work.

The DM22 HEAT “directional mine” looks something like a tiny machine gun emplacement. It can be set up off to the side of a roadway and dangles a 40 meter thread of nearly invisible fiber optic line waiting for something to pass. When something hits that line, the “off route mine” fires a high explosive anti-tank shell. Watch for the little puff of smoke on the left side of the road right before this Russian truck slews to a halt.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Report: Missing records probe led to questions from FBI for Trump White House lawyers

Brandi Buchman

Seeking to unearth more information about the boxes of classified documents held at Mar-a-Lago, the FBI has now interviewed former Trump White House attorneys Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, according to new reports citing anonymous sources on Tuesday.

The development was first reported by The New York Times. The sources said that Philbin was interviewed in the spring. It is not yet clear when Cipollone met with the FBI. The meetings were sparked when the FBI reached out to both men.

On Jan. 19, 2021, a day before Trump left the White House, he appointed a panel of seven officials to serve as his personal liaisons to the National Archives.

Trump appointed Mark Meadows, Cipollone, Philbin, John Eisenberg, Scott Gast, Michael Purpura, and Steven Engel.

Then, on June 19, 2022, he changed up the roster. This time, Trump wrote a letter to the Archives asking that Cipollone and Philbin be removed as his records representatives. In their place, he named Kashyap “Kash” Patel and John Solomon.

In-depth analysis from Washington Post reporter Philip Bump and further analysis from independent journalist Marcy Wheeler explore the “curious” timeline in depth here and here.

When presidents leave office, under the Presidential Records Act, they are required to remit their official documents to the National Archives in full. Former Vice President Mike Pence did this at the end of the Trump administration, according to the Archives, but Trump did not.

Not exactly.

When the Archives became aware Trump had yet to hand over all of his records, it was Philbin the institution reached out to. According to the Times, Philbin tried retrieving the documents but was rebuffed by Trump.

“It’s not theirs, it’s mine,” was the refrain often repeated by Trump when officials would bring up the records.

Trump finally turned over 15 boxes of records to the Archives in January, but a subpoena followed five months later for other records believed to be held at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

By the first week of June, Trump’s attorneys met with officials from the Justice Department and were cooperative. Further, at the meeting one of his attorneys signed a letter stating Trump had returned all materials with classified or confidential demarcations.

Evan Corcoran, Trump’s attorney, told The Wall Street Journal it was at this time that the former president’s team also gave authorities access to surveillance footage from a storage area in Mar-a-Lago.

While Daily Kos could not independently confirm the following detail, it has been widely reported, including by The Wall Street Journal and CNN, that at least one witness to the meeting tipped off law enforcement about the possibility of additional classified materials retained on the property.

Eric Trump, the former president’s son and the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, appeared on Fox News Monday and said his family would release the surveillance footage “at the right time.”

The Times said the FBI has reached out to at least six people who now work for Trump to discuss the records.

Eleven sets of classified records were removed from Mar-a-Lago last week, many of which were deemed “top secret.”

The former president whipped supporters into a frenzy following the search and called on the Department of Justice to make the search warrant public, something Trump could do all on his own but chose not to.

Instead, Attorney General Merrick Garland called Trump’s bluff and asked the court to unseal the warrant.

It confirmed the Justice Department was investigating whether the 45th president broke no fewer than three laws, including the Espionage Act, when he failed to return the documents.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden administration cancels another $3.9 billion in student debt

Laura Clawson

The Biden administration is cancelling another $3.9 billion in debt for 208,000 borrowers. It’s another round of cancellation of federal loans for people defrauded by for-profit colleges, which turns out to be a very large group.

The newly announced move will affect people who attended the ITT Technical Institute—yet another defunct for-profit scammer—between 2005 and its closure in 2016. Previously, the Biden administration announced complete debt forgiveness for people who attended Corinthian Colleges, which added up to $5.8 billion for 560,000 students, and agreed to settle a class action lawsuit pushing for action on borrower defense to repayment applications. The borrower defense to repayment provision allows the discharge of debt for people whose schools engaged in misconduct, and that settlement was worth a projected $6 billion in debt cancellation for 200,000 people.

Some former ITT students may be included in that number if they applied for borrower defense, but under the administration’s new announcement, they don’t have to have sought that for their loans to be discharged. And if President Joe Biden allows student loan payments to resume after Aug. 31, ITT loans will remain in forbearance until the cancellation can be fully processed.
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“It is time for student borrowers to stop shouldering the burden from ITT's years of lies and false promises,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

In addition to the Corinthian Colleges debt cancellation and the borrower defense to repayment settlement, the Biden administration has also revamped the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, introduced fixes to income-driven repayment, and extended relief to people with disabilities. But President Biden has not yet announced a decision on universal loan forgiveness, and if so, how much to forgive, with reports saying he will forgive $10,000 per student with income caps. That would wipe out student debt for about one in three borrowers, but a much smaller percentage of those who owe more than they originally borrowed 12 years after starting college—a group that is disproportionately Black.

The very fact that there are people who owe more than they originally borrowed shows the brokenness of the system, and makes a strong case both for full forgiveness of interest on past student loans and an end to interest on all current and future loans. Student debt would not be a $1.7 trillion problem affecting 45 million people without interest accumulating, raising the eventual price of higher education much higher for people whose families couldn’t afford to pay for it up front than what’s paid by people for whom the cost was manageable to begin with. Why should the child of, say, a home health care worker and a janitor pay more for college than the child of a doctor and a computer programmer?

The Biden administration has, through targeted interventions, cancelled nearly $32 billion in student debt. That’s far more than previous administrations, but it is not close to wiping out the existing problem, and it doesn’t make the fixes needed to keep the problem from continuing to get bigger.