Lordy, There May Be Consequences

Judge hammers Trump election lawyers

Rudolph Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee, on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Trump attorneys, Jenna Ellis, far left and Sydney Powell, second from left, also appear. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Let’s not indulge in irrational exuberance here, but it is possible that some things do matter, after all.

On Wednesday, a federal judge dropped a massive hammer on a gaggle of Trump election lawyers, including uber-fraudsters Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, “ruling that a lawsuit laden with conspiracy theories that they filed last year challenging the validity of the presidential election was ‘a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.’”

In her decision, Judge Linda V. Parker of the Federal District Court in Detroit ordered the lawyers to be referred to the local legal authorities in their home states for possible suspension or disbarment.

Declaring that the lawsuit should never have been filed, Judge Parker wrote in her 110-page order that it was “one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election,” but another to deceive “a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed.”

“This is what happened here,” she wrote.

Lying to the public may simply be politics, but lying to the courts turns out to a very different thing altogether. Who knew?

There’s more, of course.

Rudy Giuliani, who helped lead the alt-reality attacks on the election, has already had his law license suspended in New York… and in D.C. He, Powell, Wood, and others — including the My Pillow guy — face billion dollar defamation suits from Dominion Voting Systems.

Also on Wednesday; the House January 6 Committee made it clear that they are not playing around. Their massive document requests targeted a host of familiar faces in and around Trump World, as the probe sought information from the National Archives, the Justice Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Interior, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The committee asked the National Archives for “all documents and communications within the White House” involving a host of Trump World denizens, including Hope Hicks, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Trump adviser Peter Navarro, Kayleigh McEnany, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Melania Trump, all Trump’s adult children except Tiffany Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone.

You probably recognize some of these folks:

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Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but Wednesday’s developments pose a challenge to one of the central features of Trumpian politics: that there are seldom consequences for even the worst behavior.

In this post-coherence, post-moral world they have created, nothing matters. More often than not, egregious behavior is actually rewarded. Lies-Racism-Grifting = more clicks, higher ratings, more campaign cash.

Think of it as a Bizarro marketplace where awfulness is the coin of the realm. Marjorie Taylor Greene can indulge in bizarre conspiracy theories… and raises millions of dollars in campaign cash. Paul Gosar aligns himself with white nationalists, and the GOP shrugs. Steve Bannon rips off the rubes, and gets himself a pardon. Donald Trump embraces the most toxic lies about the election, and remains the GOP front-runner for a second term.

We could go on… but we’ve all lived in this world long enough, haven’t we?

That’s what makes the developments on Wednesday interesting. For the last few years, the deplorables have not only adjusted their moral compasses to TFG, but have gotten used to a political/legal universe in which they would never really be held accountable.

Most of them assume that is still the case, and maybe it is.

“They fight!” they tell themselves. But it’s all cosplay until the subpoenas show up and the judges have their say.



Two GOP splits.

(1) Via the NYT: “The Latest G.O.P. Schism: How to Handle Afghan Evacuees.”

Reporter Annie Karni notes that “former President Donald J. Trump and Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader — have sought to fold the issue of Afghan refugees into the anti-immigrant stance of the party’s far right.”

“We’ll have terrorists coming across the border,” Mr. McCarthy said last week on a call with a group of bipartisan House members, according to two people who were on the call, where he railed against the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal. He also brought up the issue of migrants entering the country along the U.S.-Mexico border in his discussion of Afghans being evacuated….

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Trump suggested, without evidence, that unvetted Afghans were boarding military flights and that an unknown number of terrorists had already been airlifted out of Afghanistan. The former president has also criticized the evacuation of vetted Afghans from Kabul, arguing that military planes should have been “full of Americans.”

The unusual split is pitting traditional conservatives, who are more inclined to defend those who have sacrificed for America, against the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee wing of the party. And it is a fresh test of Mr. Trump’s power to make Republican leaders fall in line behind him.

“The core divide within the Republican Party, post-Trump, is on immigration,” said Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster. “The Republican Party used to be the party of immigration, and Trump changed all of that.”

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(2) Kristi Noem breaks with DeSantis (and others) on banning vaccine mandates by private business. Via Reason:

As businesses grapple with the tradeoffs of requiring employees and customers to get vaccinated, some Republican officials have decided to take this choice out of their hands. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), for instance, has prohibited both public and private entities from requiring proof of vaccination, creating conflict with several industries—including cruise lines—that would like to mandate vaccines. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has done the same in his state.

Two Republican state legislators in South Dakota have proposed a similar ban on private vaccine mandates. The COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom of Conscious Act, authored by Reps. Jon Hansen and Scott Odenbach, would effectively stop all businesses from requiring vaccination. But unlike DeSantis and Gianforte, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is opposing the ban on private vaccine passports on grounds that the government does not and should not have the right to bully businesses.

"I don't have the authority as governor to tell them what to do," said Noem. "Since the start of this pandemic, I have remained focused on what my authorities are and what they are not. Now South Dakota is in a strong position because I didn't overstep my authority. I didn't trample on the rights of our people, and I'm not going to start now."

This has sparked some blowback from the usual sources, including Ben Shapiro’s website

ICYMI. You may rightly regard Noem as deplorable, but check out her response to Walsh’s piggery:

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The Big Lie about vetting.

Before the Ingraham-McCarthy-Trump claims about unvetted Afghans gain more traction, it’s worth looking at the actual facts here. As CNN notes, “there is a lengthy multi-step process for SIV applicants to apply for visas to the US. Applicants must meet certain employment qualifications and provide supporting documents, including proof of employment, a letter of recommendation, and evidence of Afghan nationality.”

​​In fact…

The folks at Task and Purpose have a lengthy post laying out all of the hoops, checks, rechecks, and vetting that Afghan evacuees have to undergo.

Afghans applying for a Special Immigrant Visa must submit information from their employer, a letter of recommendation from their “direct U.S. citizen supervisor,” and a statement outlining the threats they face as a result of their employment with America, according to a Congressional Research Service report outlining the SIV program. If that paperwork is approved, they move on to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Interpreters who worked with the U.S. military must also provide evidence of that employment, a letter of recommendation from either the Chief of Mission — the person in charge of a U.S. diplomatic mission abroad — or a general or flag officer in the military unit they served with, as well as proof that they received a background check and screening by the U.S. military or chief of mission. 

When USCIS has approved the application, it’s then sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, which then tells the applicant to begin gathering required paperwork including “copies of passport biodata pages, birth certificates, and civil documents; police certificate, if applicable; and a refugee benefits election form,” the report says.

After all of that paperwork is reviewed, the National Visa Center schedules in-person visa interviews for the applicant and any family members who also applied at a U.S. embassy or consulate. 

For the most part, SIV applicants are not being evacuated from Afghanistan directly to the US. Prior to the fall of Kabul, the US brought several flights of Afghan SIV applicants who were at the very end stages of the process and their family members to Fort Lee, Virginia, to finish the process.

You can read the whole thing here.


George Washington did it.

I had some thoughts last night:

Some background that you might to share with your anti-vax in-laws:

On Feb. 5 [1777, Washington wrote John Hancock, president of Congress, sharing his plans to “innoculate all the Troops now here, that have not had it,” as well as his intention to “innoculate the Recuits as fast as they come in to Philadelphia [sic].” The general assured Hancock that the army would lose no time while the recruits were in quarantine, as they had to wait while “their cloathing Arms and accoutrements are getting ready” anyway.

Washington also alerted the nearby state conventions, urging them to inoculate their troops before sending them to winter quarters. He also reminded them: “We intend for the present to keep the Matter as much a Secret as possible, and I would Advise you to do the same.” If the British discovered that the Continental Army was recovering from the inoculation, they would certainly seize the opportunity to strike.

Quick Hits

1. The Case for Subpoenaing Members of Congress to Testify on the January 6 Insurrection

Kim Wehle writes in the Atlantic:

Although not expressly stated in the Constitution, Congress’s power to gather facts to assist in lawmaking efforts is well established in Supreme Court case law. The theory is that a “legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information,” and “some means of compulsion are essential to obtain what is needed.” Because legislating is Congress’s constitutional duty, the Court in 2020 issued a ruling in its favor on another unprecedented question: serving a congressional subpoena for a sitting president’s financial information held by his accounting and tax firms. In Trump v. Mazars, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 7–2 Court—with only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissenting—that although a presidential subpoena raises distinct separation-of-powers concerns, the House committees’ subpoenas were valid: “Without information, Congress would be shooting in the dark.”

Cheap Shots

Apology?


Idiocracy update.