The putrid heap of orange-tinted lard in the White House will do everything in his power to stay there after Jan. 20, 2021. That includes installing a Supreme Court justice with experience in stealing presidential elections. While the Senate Democrats are still grappling with that particular issue, House Democrats are working on how they're respond to various scenarios, including the scariest: a for-real, legitimate tied electoral vote should that happen.
This is about being prepared for the worst, so don't panic or anything because Trump's polling is still very, very bad for him. But with minority rule being the norm in American governance, it's not impossible that we end up with a tied electoral college. That's what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to start mobilizing her team with a letter sent Sunday reminding them of the House's responsibility and what they need to do now. Which is basically make sure Democrats win House races in hopes of flipping a few delegations.
It hasn't happened since 1876, but here's how it works in the event of a tie: Each state's delegation gets a single vote. That means holding a majority of state delegations in the chamber. Despite the fact that there are 232 Democrats and 198 Republicans, Republicans still have the delegation edge—all those at-large and one to three member rural red states represented by Republicans have given them a 26-22 edge. So here we go again, the popular vote loser, the candidate that is in opposition to the ruling majority in the House, could still get the majority of votes in the warped Congress and take it all.
"The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win," Pelosi wrote. "We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so." There are some very close states. Pennsylvania is tied, with nine Democratic seats and nine Republican. Michigan is barely Democratic, seven to six with independent Justin Amash holding the 14th seat there. He's retiring and is likely to be replaced by a Republican. Every single seat matters more than ever this cycle, even though Democrats will easily retain the House.
They need seats to flip, but they need seats where they also get the state delegation. Two they're eyeing right now are Montana's and Alaska's. They're at-large seats, where there's just one seat for the entire state. Our Daily Kos elections team just moved Montana from Likely R to Lean R, with Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams holding a 46-44 edge in the polling average. In Alaska, Democrats are looking the Alyse Galvin to unseat the longest serving member of Congress, Don Young. Galvin is a registered independent, but gained the challenger's spot in the state, which allows independents to contest in party primaries. In 2018, she gave Young the toughest challenge he's had in three decades, getting 46.5% of the vote.
Other than those flips, it's about consolidating seats in close delegations and defending swing state seats. Democrats have a one- or two-vote seat advantage in seven states where they have to make sure vulnerable members stay safe: Arizona (Democratic edge 5-4), Iowa (Democratic edge 3-1), Maine (2 Democrats), Minnesota (4-3 Democratic edge), Nevada (3-1 Democratic edge), and New Hampshire (2 Democrats). Florida has a one-seat Republican advantage, 14 to Democrats' 13. The Alaska and Montana at-large seats are held by Republicans, meaning a Democrat would change the delegation’s vote in a presidential tally.
"We're trying to win every seat in America, but there are obviously some places where a congressional district is even more important than just getting the member into the U.S. House of Representatives," Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional lawyer, told Politico. This means that Democrats are not just focusing on protecting vulnerable Democrats, but expanding the map.
If House Democrats are preparing for this eventuality, you can be sure that they are gaming out other possible challenges Trump will bring. It’s a balancing act for Pelosi, realizing she has to both combat Trump—she even obliquely threatened a potential second impeachment effort to gum up Senate works and prevent a rushed Supreme Court appointment—and not rocking the boat so much she could tip vulnerable Democrats in those key delegations overboard.
Talking with nine swing-state voters who went for Trump in 2016 about the coming SCOTUS fight.
When I logged onto the Zoom call I began the discussion with an open-ended question: “How has your thinking about the presidential race changed—or has it—since we last spoke?”
Their answers surprised me. No one even mentioned the Supreme Court. Instead many of the women volunteered that they were leaning much more toward Joe Biden because of Donald Trump’s recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Their disgust was palpable.
After accusing Biden of being on drugs and Bloomberg of bribery, calling for the impeachment of a senator, repeating his usual vague insinuations about ballots and his usual vague promise of an Obamacare replacement, Trump has arrived at his golf club.
The report also reveals the Trump Organization wrote off around $26 million in unexplained “consulting fees” between 2010 and 2018. Some of those tax deductions match consulting fees paid to Ivanka Trump in her financial disclosures. https://t.co/kVdcFPPccT
You don't need a fancy algorithm to know that Trump is losing, pretty badly at the moment. The Supreme Court pick doesn't seem to be helping him. The COVID situation may be getting worse again. Maybe the debates will help. But the clock is ticking: people are already voting.
From this poll: 1) Biden +12 in 13 battleground states; 2) Biden even in red states Trump won by 11 in 2016; 3) Biden even in veteran and active duty military households. As Kobe would say, job not done.https://t.co/o0DH1guP6y
I was a Republican governor of Pa. I’m voting for Joe Biden
Whether the Republican Party can restore itself or not, I don’t know. Whether it wants to or not, I don’t know that either. But what matters to me is that the core group of conservative principles I held as a young man when I cast my first vote decades ago are with me today. They are the same principles exhorted by my party’s forebears -- Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Those principles have been indispensible to me in deciding to extend my hand of support to Joe Biden, who I believe absolutely must be America’s next president.
Per new ABC/WP poll, Trump heads into weeks of confirmation fight over preserving #ACA protections for #preexistingconditions w/Biden holding these leads on handling health care: +48 non-whites; +47 col+ white women,+ 26 ages 18-29, +24 indies. Biden's even w/non col white women https://t.co/GNdJAIJAu6
Four years ago, Trump survived ‘Access Hollywood’ — and a media myth of indestructibility was born
I come away from all of this — the past four years of shocking scandals and constant lies, the conversations with voters, the media’s beating-our-heads-against-the-wall coverage of Trump voters who still like Trump — with a changed viewpoint about the needle that supposedly doesn’t move.
Actually, it does move.
In looking back at the “Access Hollywood” episode, I came across an academic study published this year by scholars from the University of Massachusetts and Brandeis University that cuts against conventional wisdom. Entitling their paper “Just Locker Room Talk?,” the political scientists concluded that the revelations did make a difference, finding “consistent evidence that the release of the tape modestly, though significantly, reduced support for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.” These effects were similar among men and women, but noticeably larger among Republicans compared with Democrats.
Yet another measure of how suburban turnout may soar in Nov. Combined w/a recovery from 16's big decline in Black turnout, it seems very possible that the non-college white vote share, which has been dropping 2 pts every 4 years, could fall 3, creating a deeper hole for Trump. https://t.co/la7HLXO6ck
Yes, airborne transmission is happening. The CDC needs to set the record straight.
But on Monday, the CDC removed this information from its website, bizarrely explaining that it “does not reflect our current state of knowledge.”
So let’s review our current state of knowledge, shall we?
Many scientists have known that airborne transmission of the virus was happening since February. The CDC, however, somehow failed to recognize the accumulating evidence that airborne transmission is important and therefore failed to alert the public.
If presidential elections really turn on how the country is doing, there's a good reason for the incumbent to sweat.
The U.S. budget deficit tripled this year to $3.3 trillion, by far the highest ever. The U.S. economy shrank at a 31.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, by far the worst ever. The trade deficit is at its highest level in 12 years. Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in six years. Unemployment claims, which had never topped 700,000 in a week before March, have topped 700,000 every week since March. Farm bankruptcies are rising, even though government payments to farmers are at an all-time high. Homicides are rising in America’s cities after decades of decline, while a series of police killings of unarmed Black Americans has triggered anguished protests and civil unrest. The West Coast is on fire, and 2020 may turn out to be the hottest year in recorded history. America’s reputation abroad is the worst it’s been since the Pew Research Center began doing international surveys.
In related news, a virus that has already killed 200,000 Americans is still spreading in much of the country, even though it’s mostly under control in most of the rest of the world. Now the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, less than two months before an election that was already inflaming some rather scary tensions, has created a potential constitutional crisis, while President Donald Trump is refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden.
Voters are already starting to vote, and the president is already proclaiming that the election is going to be riddled with fraud, which is not so awesome.
On the other hand … let’s see ... Hamilton is streaming on Disney Plus?
Per new ABC/WP poll, Trump heads into weeks of confirmation fight over preserving #ACA protections for #preexistingconditions w/Biden holding these leads on handling health care: +48 non-whites; +47 col+ white women,+ 26 ages 18-29, +24 indies. Biden's even w/non col white women https://t.co/GNdJAIJAu6
Takeaways from NBC News/Marist polls of MI & WI 1. Majorities of likely voters say 2020 winner should get to fill SCOTUS vacancy Winner should fill vacancy MI 54%, WI 56% Trump should fill vacancy immediately MI 35%, WI 37% Trump should fill after election MI 7%, WI 5%
How to fix public health weaknesses before the next pandemic hits
The list could go on. The common denominator is an antiquated and unstandardized system of linking data from clinical records and public health monitoring in ways that provide evidence on how to control the virus while minimizing the disruption to the economy and society. Electronic medical records — envisioned as a boon for public-health surveillance, providing data that could be readily analyzed — turn out to be much better for billing than for the exchange of data.
The next phase of pandemic response that might be placed at risk by these spotty data systems is vaccination. Accurate records of who has been vaccinated, when and with which vaccine will be essential. They will encourage trust in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, ensure prioritization of the groups that should first receive the vaccine, and aid in monitoring vaccine impact on the pandemic. A patchwork of local systems, already strained, is not well-suited to this task.
COVID-19 is political, so scientists should be too
I ran for Congress because it needs more scientists. But that’s just one of many ways we can have more influence on our government.
Every race is unique, and it is particularly challenging to draw lessons from campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing I learned is that a background in health and an unconventional profile can be appealing to voters across the political spectrum. My campaign found high levels of support with both progressive and more conservative voters, and across the district’s diverse geography. Could having more scientists in Congress, with our focus on evidence and data, help bridge the political divide?
Public health needs a political constituency. Otherwise, the funds won’t be there.
Oh, & like most NYT/Siena state polls, this national survey finds Biden in a strong position even though it has undecided higher for non-white than white voters. The decided voters in those groups give Biden big leads. Where does Trump go for more votes? https://t.co/PP2jntVCFV
As long as there have been books, there have been tightasses trying to ban them, and American tightasses are among the most obnoxious, Jesus-freaked, and delicate-fee-fee’d tightasses in the civilized world. There were 377 cases of attempted book banning in 2019 (over 12,647 over the last 38 years), which is why an important group has designated this Banned Books Week:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.
Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week 2020 will be held September 27– October 3. The theme of this year’s event proclaims “Censorship Is A Dead End. Find your freedom to read!”
By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
The top 5 banned books last year were (cue the sound of conservative Christians grinding their teeth): George by Alex Gino; Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Outby Susan Kuklin; A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundoby Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller; Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth; and Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. Kudos to you all, you’re definitely worth reading.
See the various events scheduled for this week here. So far Trump hasn’t called for any book bannings or burnings. He may be dumb as rocks and more corrupt than Al Capone, but I'll give him credit for one thing: he's smart enough to know not to mess with librarians.
And now, our feature presentation...
Cheers and Jeers for Monday, September 28, 2020
Note: Candy corn is Baby Jesus’s tears of joy. No proof, really...it just makes sense.
By the Numbers:
Days 'til the Biden-Trump debate: 1
Percent of Biden supporters and Trump cultists, respectively, polled by ABC News-WaPost, who say the opening on the Supreme Court makes it more important to them that their candidate wins the presidency: 64%, 37%
Estimated number of people, according to the ACLU, who can't vote this year because of the patchwork of state felony disenfranchisement laws that leave them out of the democratic process: 5.8 million
Percent of American Millennials (18-36) who hold a "biblical worldview"—i.e. God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe and stills rules it today; Satan is real; the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings—according to a study released by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University: 2%
Percent of population 56 and older who have a biblical worldview: 9%
Amount the U.S. economy has lost since 2000 because of discrimination against Black citizens in areas like education and access to business loans, according to a Citigroup study: $16 billion
Number of New York Metro workers who were suspended for building a secret man cave under Grand Central Station: 3
CHEERS to peepers protection. As a public service to you, our dear C&J reader, once a year we conduct a simple vision test to make sure your eyeballs are functioning the way they should be, thus making for a more enjoyable blogging experience. So, if you would, please read the words on this chart officially authorized by the National Ophthalmological Society:
Yes, that’s correct. It says: “The Republican President Is Fucked.” Your eyes are perfect! You’re good to go for another year. Please enjoy a complimentary lollipop from the reception desk.
» Born on the planet Orpglorb-7 three million years ago, upon which she immediately ate her parents, siblings and attending physicians
» Spent several thousand years educating herself in the ways of catastrophic death and destruction as a radioactive fungus-kraken hybrid
» Worked up the ranks of Orpglorb government, becoming Director of Suffering and Pain, where she was awarded the coveted Beating Heart Ripped From The Chest And Shown To The Victim Award
» Signed an authorization that vaporized several planets devoted to peace and harmony so she could use the residual debris to launch her own Echoes of Their Screams jewelry line
» Prefers to go by her nickname: Madam Finger Lightning
» Mother of 16,000 hatchlings, all of whom she ate at birth
» Hobbies include Armageddon management, non-anesthesia abdominal surgery, and bursting out of unsuspecting neighbors' chests
Ha Ha, just kidding. She's much worse: Federalist Society.
CHEERS to G-d's Amazing 25-Hour Miracle Diet. The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur started at sundown yesterday (which in Maine is, like, 6 O'clock now) and continues through today. According to C&J's go-to guide, Torah Tots…
Yom Kippur is a Shabbat...no work can be performed on Yom Kippur.
It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25+ hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, perfumes, etc.), marital relations and wearing leather shoes.
The holiday is a somber one during which Jews confess their sins and seek forgiveness over the course of a day. That's why I'm not Jewish—I'd barely get started before the closing buzzer went off.
JEERS to keeping track of America’s fugliest numbers. While Trump and McConnell continued piloting their SCOTUS nomination steamroller over all that is just and good in America, the mighty Covid-19 Wurlitzer played on (33 million cases around the globe now, with over 20 percent of them in the U.S.). Our Monday tradition of maintaining a benchmark of the awfulness for the C&J historical record continues. Let’scheck the most depressing tote board in the world as our death toll now approaches the population of America’s 109th-largest city Birmingham, Alabama:
20 weeks ago: 1.4 million confirmed cases. 80,000 deaths.
10 weeks ago: 3.8 million confirmed cases, 143,000 deaths
5 weeks ago: 5.8 million confirmed cases, 180,000 deaths
This morning: 7.3 million confirmed cases, 209,000 deaths
And in other covid news, Florida Governor Ron DeSuperspreader has officially given the green light for the entire state to become a giant maskless covid bump-and-grind beer & titties pool party, while banning local governments from spoiling all the fun by imposing their own stupid "life saving" "regulations." Up yonder in the hereafter, God sighed as He logged on and placed another mega-order of bunk beds from Ikea.
CHEERS to order in the courts. Some clear-eyed action by the Knights of the Oaken Gavel in recent days as they pour the hot lead of justice from their parapets onto the heads of the schemers trying to bring down Castle Democracy:
Staffing FraudA federal judge ruled Friday that [Bureau of Land Management acting director William Perry Pendley] has been serving unlawfully, blocking him from continuing in the position in the latest pushback against the administration’s practice of filling key positions without U.S. Senate approval. The ruling came after Montana’s Democratic governor in July sued to remove Pendley, saying the former oil industry attorney was illegally overseeing an agency that manages almost a quarter-billion acres of land, primarily in the U.S. West.
Voting RightsLess than three weeks before early voting begins in Texas, a U.S. district judge has blocked the state from eliminating straight-ticket voting as an option for people who go to the polls this November. In a ruling issued late Friday, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo cited the coronavirus pandemic, saying the elimination of the voting practice would “cause irreparable injury” to voters “by creating mass lines at the polls and increasing the amount of time voters are exposed to COVID-19.”
2020 Census[US District Judge Lucy Koh] ruled late Thursday night that national counting for the 2020 census can continue through October 31. … The National Urban League and several other groups, including the city of Los Angeles, had sued the government, asking for a preliminary injunction to block the government from concluding the count on September 30. …Los Angeles' City Attorney Mike Feuer said the injunction was a major win for amore accurate Census count in a statement released after the stay was issued.
And this just in: Eric Trump has to show up next week in front of a judge in New York and explain why crimes seem to follow him around like the perennial dirt swirling around Pig-Pen. The judge's first words to Eric will be: "Place your right hand on the Bible." The judge's next words to Eric will be: "No, your other right hand."
Ten years ago in C&J: September 28, 2010
JEERS to unequal treatment. Here's another example of the oft-used phrase, "It's Okay If You're A Republican." Two years ago, President Obama announced he was ordering his departments to cut $100 million, admitting it was a small and mostly-symbolic gesture to set the tone for the new administration. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell pounced on it as meaningless. And yet, when promoting the GOP's new "Pledge to America," one of its co-authors could only recommend cuts across the entire spectrum of federal programs that totaled—you guessed it—$100 million:
For the math challenged, [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy's proposed cuts amount to 0.01% of the federal budget, leaving 99.99% of the federal budget—including entitlements (Medicare, Social Security), defense and interest on the debt; about 80% of the budget—intact. And he won't name any non-defense discretionary programs he'd cut. Wow, is that bold or what?
Please contain your laughter. For purely selfish reasons, I want him to hear mine the loudest.
And just one more…
CHEERS to intercepted documents. My intel squirrel Sgt. Fluffy brought back a doozy from D.C.:
From the Desk of Ronna McDaniel
This Week's RNC Motivational Action List
Sept. 28 - Oct. 4
Monday Take all the time you need to reflect on all the positive and worthwhile things you learned over the weekend from the Values Voters Summit. Spend the remaining 23 hours, 59 minutes and 55 seconds reviewing your preemptive Biden impeachment list.
Tuesday Clear your head of "stinkin' thinkin'" by picturing a happy, placid scene of illegals being shipped back to Mexico in boxcars via the main entrance through the Great Wall of Trump.
Wednesday With that nip of fall in the air, today is a good day to write a letter to your local newspaper warning about the dangers of global cooling. Go ahead and make up your own facts—they'll print it anyway.
Thursday Butt-dial John Bolton and let one rip. Then scratch a pesky itch with your open-carry Glock, but don’t bother checking to see if it's unloaded because you're a responsible Republican gun owner so how could it not be?
Friday Don't take no for an answer, give no for an answer. Then practice mansplaining lady parts in front of a mirror so you'll be ready to win hearts and hoo-hahs at upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.
All Week: Don’t bake a single thing for the gays.
Have a great week! God Bless America and Money and Trump and Bombs!
And here’s the Democratic motivational action list: in 36 days, make the makers of the Republican motivational action list cry.
Have a tolerable Monday. Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?
Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial
“Bill in Portland Maine knows he’s crazy; it’s so self-evident. Quite frankly, I don’t pay that much attention to him. I think it’s really a sad, sick situation.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun mobilizing Democrats for the possibility that neither Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump will win an outright Electoral College victory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon that would send the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives to decide.
Under that scenario, which hasn’t happened since 1876, every state’s delegation gets a single vote. Who receives that vote is determined by an internal tally of each lawmaker in the delegation. This means the presidency may not be decided by the party that controls the House itself but by the one that controls more state delegations in the chamber. And right now, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash.
A battle inside the House could be brutal, even more politically bare-knuckled than Trump and Senate Republicans pushing through a Supreme Court nominee days before the election. In some states, a single seat could decide the partisan makeup of a delegation. There could be extended legal challenges over declaring victors in House races, as national party leaders and their legal teams dive headlong into the results for individual races at the county or even precinct level.
Pelosi, in a Sunday letter to House Democrats, urged them to consider whether the House might be pulled into deciding who is president when determining where to focus resources on winning seats in November. This could lead to more concerted efforts by Democrats to win in states such as Montana and Alaska — typically Republican turf but where Democrats have been competitive statewide. In these states, Democratic victories could flip an entire delegation with a single upset House victory.
“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” Pelosi wrote. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”
Pelosi has also raised the issue repeatedly in recent weeks with her leadership team. Other senior House Democrats told POLITICO they’d heard about these concerns from colleagues in recent weeks.
“We’re trying to win every seat in America, but there are obviously some places where a congressional district is even more important than just getting the member into the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional lawyer.
Trump, too, has taken notice of the obscure constitutional resolution to a deadlocked Electoral College, both in public and private.
“And I don’t want to end up in the Supreme Court and I don’t want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress — does everyone understand that?” Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday. “I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state, so we actually have an advantage. Oh, they’re going to be thrilled to hear that.”
In private, Trump has discussed the possibility of the presidential race being thrown into the House as well, raising the issue with GOP lawmakers, according to Republican sources.
Under the Constitution, the winner of the presidential election isn’t officially chosen untilCongress certifies the Electoral College vote total on Jan. 6, 2021. That vote comes several days after the newly elected Congress is sworn in, meaning the delegation totals will change to reflect the winners of House races in November.
If neither Biden nor Trump has secured the 270 electoral votes required to win, the newly seated House delegations will then cast votes to determine a winner. States whose delegations reach a tie vote are not counted.
But it’s more than a math equation. If the House is asked to resolve an Electoral College stalemate, the country will be witnessing one of harshest exercises of raw power in history. If Democrats retain control of the House, they could opt against seating potential members whose elections remain contested, even if state officials say otherwise.
An informal whip count has already begun. Democrats hold a one- or two-vote seat edge in seven states that are expected to feature at least one sharply contested House race: Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire. Republicans hold a similarly tenuous edge in Florida. The Alaska and Montana at-large seats are held by Republicans, meaning a Democrat would change the delegation’s vote in a presidential tally.
Pennsylvania’s House delegation is split evenly between the parties, but Democrats are expected to pick up seats after a redistricting that blunted some GOP advantages. Michigan is a wildcard as well, despite the slight Democratic edge in the delegation makeup. Amash, an independent who supported Trump’s impeachment, is retiring, with his seat likely to go to a Republican Trump ally who would leave the delegation deadlocked.
A Democratic Party strategist said the party apparatus was still primarily focused on protecting Democrats in vulnerable districts. But winning state delegations is also on the radar — especially in states where the efforts align.
“It is fair to say that this is something that folks have been thinking about,” the strategist said. “There is a great deal of overlap like Alaska, Montana.”
Prior to ex-House Republican Mike Pompeo becoming Trump's secretary of state, it was generally understood that U.S. secretaries of state were not allowed to use the tools of their office for rank partisan politicking. Using government resources to campaign is illegal; turning the top diplomatic job in the country into a tool of partisanship damages U.S. credibility abroad by signaling, to world counterparts, that the U.S. diplomat is In This For Themselves.
All of that is gone now because Donald Trump simply chose to ignore those constraints, and Republicans—with the singular exception of one Mitt Romney, exactly once—wholeheartedly adopted the same merging of party and state as the new way things are done. This was helped along immensely by Trump's surrounding of himself with hard-right ex-House Republicans contemptuous of the rules from the outset. Mike Pompeo is a poster child for this. He continues to assist Trump in the cover-up of a criminal Ukrainian extortion scheme—one timed to allow Russian incursions into that country to proceed and be solidified while much needed U.S. aid was used to pressure for Trump reelection favors. He continues to abet Trump's incompetent dismantling of U.S. foreign policy infrastructure.
And, of course, Pompeo is using his State Department role to campaign aggressively for Trump and Republicans throughout the country. The premise is that key Trump-supporting demographics and swing states just happen to need conservative foreign policy priorities explained to them by, literally, the top U.S. diplomat—one who admittedly has little else to do since all such policy decisions have been stripped from him and his government agency in favor of the new policy, Whatever Trump Last Said. The reality is that Pompeo is touring the country giving campaign speeches to, as the AP reports, a white evangelical church in Plano, Texas; the hard-right Value Voters Summit; and other appearances in Wisconsin, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and of course his home state of Kansas. Pompeo has famously been eyeing higher office himself—a plan that briefly looked scuttled when Pompeo was implicated in impeachable crimes, but one Pompeo appears to be inching back to with hopes that voters no longer remember or resent him for that now that the Trump administration has delivered at least a half-dozen other scandals and death-dealing clusterfucks for them to chew on instead.
The important thing to remember here is that Pompeo is crooked. He is crooked in the William Barr way, and fairly precisely: He has been caught directly assisting in Trump's impeached-for acts; he has been caught in a campaign to cover up those acts and his involvement for Trump's benefit and his own; he has done each of these things in service of elevating Republican power regardless of legality or institutional norms; and he makes no particular effort to hide the use of his office as explicitly partisan, to be used for shoring up allies and punishing enemies.
While Barr pressures his underlings into producing documents meant to portray Trump's detractors and investigators as the "true" criminals of Russian election hacking while undermining further investigations into Trump and all allies, Pompeo weaves through the country on a heavy campaign schedule to tell conservative audiences that they should "go to the polling place and express your preference" for his hard-right claims and declarations, as AP quoted him telling his Texas audience.
Without dwelling on it: Again, Mike Pompeo using his government perch to address the Republican National Convention—from Israel, no less—was such a grotesque insult to supposed diplomatic nonpartisanship that it would have likely ended with Pompeo's removal from his post during any of the last half-century's worth of presidencies. Republican lawmakers, however, are embracing Pompeo's acts as they are Trump's, and Barr's. There is no Republican caucus demanding Trump adhere to the rule of law, or the Hatch Act, or basic expected decencies.
The whole point of immunizing Trump during impeachment was to enable further corruption. It was the expected outcome. It clearly worked, as Trump's rapid gutting of oversight offices and inspectors showed. We are now at a point where Trump and Barr are openly crafting plans to eliminate votes if the November elections do not go his way, and continue eliminating votes for as long as it takes until the Republican Party can claim a crooked victory.
The reasons are not just to retain power, though; Trump's team and Trump's allies need a victory for more personal reasons. There has been a mountain of criminal acts, cover-ups, ethical violations, and rank corruption from Barr, from Pompeo, from Trump himself, and other Trump cabinet members past and present. The moment they lose power, there is a danger that the remaining shards of true, neutral law enforcement will come for them—and those ex-officials will no longer have means to block those investigations.
Every investigation currently being blocked and corrupted can only be blocked or corrupted so long as the corrupters remain in power. Republicans like Pompeo, still identified as having played a role in international extortion whether his Republican Senate allies are supportive or are not, has no time to worry about laws or norms as he scurries around the country to protect himself from the consequences of his own corruption.
Daily Kos publishes about a thousand stories each week, many written by Community members like you and me. It’s easy for stellar stories to get lost in that volume, which is why the Rescue Rangers assembled 14 years ago—to elevate good writing that deserves a bigger audience. The Rangers are a team of volunteers who read every single story that gets published. If you post a story, know that at least two sets of eyes will review it.
With the shift to the new front page, rescued stories are a bit trickier to locate, so we’ve created this roundup. You can also see the list of our stories as they are rescued day by day. Bésame’s introduction to this series was published last Saturday; it contains some history, some description of rescue criteria, and a lot of great conversation in the comments.
This week’s collection covers all rescues from Sept. 18 at 7PM ET through 7PM Sept. 25. These stories offer a broad range of topics, including polling, health care, and citizen action, along with some culture. That breadth is a unique strength of the Daily Kos Community.
Teachers, COVID-19 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 by LeftOfYou, a lawyer with decades of experience with the ADA, who shares insights into the complex issue of "reasonable accommodation.” Teaching in-person classes places people with certain health conditions at higher risk amid the pandemic, but the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides them with significant legal rights.
La Mesillaby Desert Scientist explores the author's favorite small town in New Mexico. He writes: "My well over 50 years along the border I think qualifies me to be a certified desert rat. Unlike many Southwestern desert towns, which often look like they died somewhere around 1950 and are quietly melting into the ground, Mesilla was a fascinating place to visit." Details of the town's history and people make this a fascinating story to read.
Movie Review: Scream (1996) And Its Antecedents by disinterested spectator is a trip through the nuances of character development in horror movie remakes and sequels, Warning: It is an amazing collection of spoilers that analyzes the interactions of the people who populate movies in this genre. We get snippets from different movies, including Invasions of the Body Snatchers, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and An American Werewolf in London as we journey through what characters do and know about themselves and the world—and how that impacts some characters’ fates.
"Doubt" and "A Wilderness of Error"by GrafZeppelin127 examines the 1970 story of Jeffrey MacDonald, a brutal murderer, through the ideas presented in the play/film Doubt. Can we ever really know what happened? Or is this story so embedded in our collective consciences that none of us can escape our own preconceived opinions?
Tzadik by guavaboy is a personal story inspired by reading a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsberg that called her a tzadik—a Hebrew word for “a righteous person.” The author recalls an Israeli song which takes on new meaning, now that he understands a tzadik as RBG.
Mozilla Foundation takes a look at political ads on streaming platforms by Alonso Del Arte ponders the dilemma of targeted advertising. If you thought cutting the cable cord and paying to stream content would protect you from unwanted political advertising, think again. Your data could be used, according to the Mozilla Foundation, to target you for particular ads, including deceptive political promotions, on streaming platforms … with virtually no transparency.
The Beat Goes On by Jacks Grandpa considers the long-term effect of Supreme Court decisions in a historical context, such as the Dred Scott decision. Public opinion later changed legal decisions like that one, and that may happen again, even with a new hardline conservative Court.
Diary of a Phonebankerby iLuvReading is a personal essay on how phone banking has changed during the pandemic. The author explores their own questions about the effort, including “Why would I call people I’ve never met, knowing that they might say nasty things to me? Why would I reach out to voters in states that I’ve never visited? And why would I call for candidates who might not win?”
Return to the Partisan Divide Cafe by Grey Panther offers an uplifting piece of original prose that begins by focusing on the first sip of a good morning coffee, and ends with this pearl: "Living in the moment of a good thing, and not losing it to fret is a great start to any morning."
Isabel Wilkerson Takes a Deeper Look by Toddlerbob gives a personal dive into Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wilkerson’s analysis of how caste impacts our society in her newest book Caste, the Origins of Our Discontents. He makes connections to other books and media, while highlighting how well Wilkerson provided “lots of examples that the thinker can distill into concepts.”
Counting the Cost by ruleoflaw, who is scheduled for a kidney transplant soon, says "I am one of the fortunate ones. I get health insurance through my job and my employers have been very supportive and understanding … I am presently drawing short-term disability (paid) through them. All this is good news, but before I go under the knife, I’d like to show you the dirty underside of our health care system." He then delineates what his treatments cost and likely why his insurer quickly approved his transplant.
SCOTUS, Civ 4, and Spy Spam by Risen Tree considers what congressional Democrats can do to stop the confirmation of a third Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice. Adapting what he has learned from a game he calls "spy spam," the author suggests different stalling tactics. For example, the House can impeach Trump "over and over and over again" and for good measure, impeach others like AG Bill Barr and the postmaster general. The opposite tactic is needed in the Senate, where the transition of the articles of impeachment should be stalled.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who's up for reelection this fall, took a bold stand for the republic Thursday after Donald Trump had brazenly refused the day before to commit to a peaceful transition of power. “He says crazy stuff," said Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change.”
Wow, strong stuff. Sasse really drew a line in the sand. But despite his hardball tactics, Trump shockingly went straight back at it Thursday. Asked again if he would accept defeat if he lost the election, Trump responded, “We want to make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be.” Because there's nothing Trump values more than honesty.
Sasse, his pathetic response, and those of all his Senate GOP counterparts—with the possible exception of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah—are exactly why Trump is destroying this nation without a single care in the world. Every time Trump has done something totally unconstitutional or illegal— like deliberately corrupting our once-sacred elections—GOP senators have waved it off with a wink and a smile. Or worse yet, they've actively worked to band together and save Trump’s presidency, even in the face of a mountain of evidence. Voting to acquit Trump of impeachment charges without hearing from a single witness was both a masterpiece of cowardice and the height of complicity.
Once Senate Republicans proved to Trump that no matter what he did, they could always be counted on to either look the other way or even exonerate him, Trump was free to do absolutely anything. And so he does.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who did her part to give Trump his get-out-of-jail-free card during the impeachment trial, had the gall to later suggest that Trump had learned "a pretty big lesson.” Now, there's some serious duplicity. Hope Collins is resting easy at night—maybe just skip that last look in the mirror before bed.
On Thursday, I made an honest mistake while writing up a story for the Daily Kos website. I published a piece that included an outdated poll of the presidential election. I should have caught it, but I didn't. When I realized my mistake, I started shaking as my blood pressure spiked and I sought to get it off the site immediately, which honestly took longer than I had hoped. It's certainly not the first mistake I've made as a reporter/blogger and, frankly, I've done worse.
But in this moment when the world feels upside down and we are all collectively pushing as hard as possible to save our democracy, it just felt horrible to think I may have misled people, however unintentionally, especially given all the misinformation out there.
I went for a walk to shake it off. Later in the day, I started revisiting the damage done with a touch more perspective. No one had lost their job. No one had died. I hadn't irreparably harmed our democracy or willed future generations to suffer decades of fascist rule. I hadn't personally let children go hungry during a pandemic (though children are going hungry) out of sheer malice. I hadn't left struggling families without food, shelter, health care, and a basic sense of safety and dignity. And on top of the 200,000 already dead, I hadn't consigned tens of thousands more Americans to death in the coming months through the indifference and incompetence of my leadership.
Nope. That's what Senate Republicans like Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, and their entire band of miscreants have done. Through their conniving, they have lent a helping hand to Donald Trump as he's worked to flush every last vestige of this centuries-long experiment down the toilet and hang the American people out to dry.
Pondering all that really put my own misstep on the day in a new light. How do these people sleep at night? Do any of them have a conscience? Do they have kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews they care or worry about? And it may sound silly to even ask, but do they give a damn about anybody else at all but themselves?
Following Trump’s failure to commit to leaving office peacefully, just one lone Republican senator dared to stand up for our democracy, however small a gesture it was. "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable," Romney tweeted Wednesday evening.
GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who trampled the Constitution to steal a Supreme Court seat, promised an "orderly transition" in a tweet without ever mentioning Trump. That's worthless as ever. Mitch McConnell doesn't believe in democracy, he believes in raw power. And if Trump has an opening to contest the election and hold on to power, McConnell will back him 100%. Just like with impeachment.
All that is to say, these people are simply horrific. Perhaps only Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has shown more disdain for U.S. democracy. Frankly, no one summed it up better than the satirical website The Onion.
See if you can follow this: In an effort to depict Donald Trump as if he were in an espionage conspiracy with the Kremlin, the Obama administration used bogus information, from a man the FBI suspected was an actual Russian spy, to brand as a suspected Russian spy a former U.S. naval intelligence officer who had actually been a CIA informant.Your head spinning? Mine too.And that’s just the beginning. It turns out that Igor Danchenko, the man the FBI suspected of being an actual Russian spy, initially provided the bogus information about the American, Carter Page, through a former British spy, Christopher Steele. Through a couple of cut-outs, Steele had been retained by the Clinton campaign to dig up -- or, alas, to make up -- Russian dirt on Trump. Through his private intelligence business in London, Steele was known to be working for Russian oligarchs, while Danchenko was on Steele’s payroll. That is, the Clinton campaign, and ultimately the Obama administration, colluded with Russians for the purpose of accusing Donald Trump of . . . yes . . . colluding with Russians.Danchenko, who in 2005 reportedly told a Russian intelligence officer that he hoped someday to work for the Russian government, became Steele’s source on Trump. Even before October 2016, when the FBI and the Obama Justice Department first sought a surveillance warrant against Page based on the information Steele was compiling, it was obvious that the information was unreliable -- some of it laughably so.But the story was just too good. Nobody bothered to check the information or press Steele about its sourcing.For months, Steele had been logged on bureau records as an official FBI informant. Nevertheless, in the most significant investigation in its modern history, the FBI did not identify Steele’s “primary sub-source,” Danchenko, until December 2016 -- two months after the bureau, under oath, used the uncorroborated Steele/Danchenko information in what the FBI and Obama Justice Department labeled a “VERIFIED” application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).Wait, there’s more. The FBI could easily have figured out Danchenko was Steele’s source months earlier. So why do it in December 2016? Because by then, they had no choice. It had become necessary a few weeks earlier to boot Steele out of the investigation -- at least ostensibly. That’s because he had been outed publicly as a media source for information about his investigation of Trump.The public outing of Steele (in a Mother Jones article by David Corn, shortly before the 2016 election) should have come as no surprise. It had been obvious since at least September, when information from Steele was published in a Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, that Steele had been leaking to the media in order to help the Clinton campaign. Yet, the bureau repeatedly represented under oath to the FISC -- four times between October 2016 through June 2017 -- that “the FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information [in the Isikoff article] to the press.”To the contrary, as the Justice Department Inspector General (IG) found, there was considerable FBI suspicion that Steele was Isikoff’s source. Moreover, the FBI had continuous access to Steele. Note: I said (above) that Steele was ostensibly kicked out of the investigation. In reality, the bureau continued to get information from Steele through Justice Department official Bruce Ohr (though neither the FBI nor the Justice Department revealed that fact to the FISC). Still, as the IG concluded, no one at the FBI ever asked Steele if he was the source for the Isikoff article. Obviously, they didn’t want to know the answer -- that way, they could just keep insisting to the court that they didn’t believe he was the source.That doesn’t even scratch the surface of deceit.When FBI agents interviewed Danchenko for three days in January 2017, they learned, undeniably, that Steele’s story about his source “network” -- the story the bureau and the Justice Department told the FISC again and again -- was a risible distortion. Steele did not have a network of sources; he had Danchenko. In turn, Danchenko had a motley collection of drinking buddies, a grifter, a girlfriend, and an anonymous source Danchenko cannot identify. And, as Eric Felton recounts in infuriatingly hilarious detail, none of these sub-sources could actually vouch for anything they heard, or wildly speculated, about Trump and Russia.The “Well-Developed Conspiracy of Cooperation” On this score, we can’t let pass the opportunity to describe what Steele and, ultimately, the FBI portentously describe as a “close associate” of Trump’s who asserted that the candidate-turned-president was in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the regime of Vladimir Putin.Danchenko told FBI agents that a man he labeled “Source 6” was “this guy” whom he thinks -- but is not sure -- he once talked to on the phone for “about 10 minutes.” In a Thai restaurant, you see, Danchenko ran into a U.S. journalist he managed to chat up about Trump and Russia. The journalist told Danchenko he was “skeptical” because “nothing substantive had turned up” tying the two together. But the journalist referred Danchenko to a “colleague,” who advised Danchenko to talk to “this guy” via email. Danchenko took the email address and tried to reach “this guy” but didn’t get a reply.Weeks later, though, Danchenko got a call from an anonymous Russian who never identified himself. Danchenko assumed it was “this guy” . . . but he can’t say for sure. So, Danchenko simply labeled the presumed “this guy” as “Source 6,” with whom he had a brief “general discussion about Trump and the Kremlin” supposedly having “an ongoing relationship.”It was left to Steele, the old intel pro, to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. By the time the craftsman was done “summarizing” Danchenko’s unverifiable, anonymously sourced gossip, “this guy” had evolved from Danchenko’s “Source 6” to Steele’s “Source E,” depicted as “an ethnic Russian and close associate of . . . Donald TRUMP,” who had “admitted” that “there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian leadership (emphasis added). Indeed, according to Steele, “Source E” had even “acknowledged” that Russia was “behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee [DNC], to the WikiLeaks platform” -- a storyline that just happened to be all over the media at that point.As the IG has found, Steele’s allegation that Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy” of cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, as well as the claim that Russia released the DNC emails in an effort to swing the 2016 election to Trump, were central to the surveillance application by the FBI and Obama Justice Department, and to the FISC’s issuance of surveillance warrants.And now we know, the liberal inflation of unsubstantiated -- indeed, unattributable -- rumor into purported probable cause that the now-president of the United States was a Kremlin mole is not the half of it.Why Are We Just Hearing This Now? Once the FBI identified Danchenko as Steele’s source, agents soon realized he was the same man the FBI had investigated as a suspected Russian spy six years earlier. You can’t even make this up, so I’m not -- it is in a letter and accompanying FBI report, transmitted on Thursday from Attorney General Bill Barr to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.).It is mind-boggling that this information has been withheld from the public for years, despite congressional efforts to pry it from the FBI and Justice Department since 2017 (when Republicans controlled the House). In December 2019, when the IG’s report on FBI FISA abuse was released, many critical parts of it were redacted. These included Footnote 334 on page 186, which tantalizingly stated, “When interviewed by the FBI, the Primary Sub-source [i.e., Danchenko] stated that” -- with remaining lines blacked out.After some complaints from Capitol Hill about the redactions, the Justice Department showed a bit more leg. As to Footnote 334, we were now told that Danchenko had “stated that [he] did not view [his] contacts as a network of sources, but rather as friends with whom [he] has conversations about current events and government relations.” That was vital information, but it wasn’t the whole story -- a passage in the footnote remained blacked out.Finally on Thursday, we were told the rest of the astonishing story. The now-unredacted portion states that Danchenko “was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed [his] documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers” (emphasis added).Apparently, the information has been concealed from the public for the sake of the Durham investigation. (When information becomes public, that complicates the ability of investigators to question people about what they know and how they know it.) But John Durham, the Connecticut U.S. attorney who is investigating “Russiagate” irregularities, informed Barr that disclosure of the information would not interfere with his investigation at this point.2005-2010: Danchenko’s Suspected Spying for Russia In any event, what remarkable irony. Recall (from my recent three-part series regarding the guilty plea of FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith) that the period between 2009 and 2011 is part of the time-frame during which Carter Page was an official CIA informant. He was providing the agency with intelligence about Russians with whom he was in contact -- a fact the FBI did not disclose to the FISC when it framed those contacts as evidence that Page was a spy for Russia, even though the FBI had been told, by both Page and the CIA, that Page had in fact been a CIA informant.Well, now we know that, in framing Page as a Russian spy, the FBI relied on nonsense provided by Danchenko, a man the bureau actually believed was a Russian spy, though this inconvenient detail, too, was concealed from the FISC.As has been publicly reported, Danchenko worked for the Brookings Institution, a prominent center-left Washington think-tank, specializing in foreign affairs. Brookings feeds experts, mainly to Democratic administrations when they are in power, and serves as a Democratic administration in waiting when they are not.When Danchenko worked at Brookings from 2005 through 2010, it was directed by Strobe Talbot, a close friend of, and later deputy secretary of state under, President Bill Clinton. Susan Rice worked at Brookings during the Bush years before becoming Obama’s national-security adviser, and career diplomat Victoria Nuland, who became a prominent assistant secretary in the Obama State Department, also worked at Brookings (she is married to Robert Kagan, a top Brookings scholar). Small world that it is, Nuland green-lighted Steele’s provision of intelligence to the State Department, was briefed on the Steele dossier during the 2016 campaign, and has acknowledged that Steele was invited to the State Department to give a personal briefing about his anti-Trump research (though she says she did not attend it). While at Brookings, Danchenko worked closely with Fiona Hill, with whom he co-wrote a research paper in 2010, shortly before leaving the country. Hill, of course, gained notoriety as an important Trump impeachment witness, owing to her time at the Trump National Security Council, to which she came from Brookings, after a stint on the National Intelligence Council under Bush-43 and Obama.The Brookings angle is relevant because of events in late 2008 that triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation of Danchenko.At that time, it was clear that there would soon be new Obama administration. The FBI received a tip that, at a Brookings function, Danchenko approached two of his co-workers. One was a research fellow for a person the bureau describes as “an influential foreign policy advisor in the Obama Administration.” Danchenko expressed interest in whether the research fellow would join this influential principal in the new administration. Danchenko was said to have made an offer to the two Brookings employees: If they “did get a job in the government and had access to classified information,” and wanted “to make extra money,” he could put them in touch with the right people for that sort of thing. There is no indication that the Brookings employees acted on the offer, but at least one of them suspected that Danchenko was a Russian spy.Naturally, this tip caused the FBI to do more digging. Agents quickly realized that Danchenko was associated with two other subjects of counterintelligence investigations. In 2005, he had been in contact with a Washington-based Russian officer, with whom Danchenko seemed “very familiar.” In 2006, he been in contact “with the Russian embassy and known Russian intelligence officers.”In fact, the FBI learned that Danchenko had visited one of these intelligence officers in his Russian embassy office. He allegedly told the officer that he hoped one day to enter the Russian diplomatic service. They went so far as to discuss future plans and Danchenko’s completing some documents for the Russian government -- which, in October 2006, the intelligence officer discussed transmitting via diplomatic pouch, presumably to Moscow. The FBI also interviewed associates of Danchenko’s, who described him as pro-Russian and hopeful to return to Russia. One person recalled being pressed by Danchenko for information about “a particular military vessel.”The bureau was sufficiently alarmed that, in July 2010, agents began the process of seeking a FISA surveillance warrant for Danchenko. But he left the country two months later, so the investigation was closed without an application to the FISC having been made, but with the understanding that the investigation could be re-opened if Danchenko ever came back to the U.S.2017: Danchenko Is Interviewed by the FBI as Steele’s Source He did eventually come back, and sat for those three days of interviews in January 2017. During this questioning, he utterly discredited the Steele dossier, the underlying basis for the FBI court-authorized surveillance of Page. Yet, there is no indication in the extensive FBI report of these interviews that the bureau grilled Danchenko about the 2005 to 2010 activities that had sprouted suspicion that Danchenko was a Russian spy. Subsequently, the FBI did not tell the FISC that Danchenko had been the subject of a counterintelligence probe on suspicion that he was a clandestine agent of Russia. To the contrary, the bureau told the FISC that Danchenko seemed credible -- which would be funny if it were not so outrageous, since what Danchenko was supposedly credible about was the fact that the Steele dossier was incredible.Despite Danchenko’s testimony, the bureau continued standing behind the dossier. Far from correcting the deceptive claims made to the FISC, and notwithstanding all they knew about Steele and Danchenko, the FBI doubled and tripled down: In January, April and June 2017, the Justice Department submitted 90-day renewal applications, representing to the FISC that the FBI believed Steele and his information were credible. On that basis, the court kept reauthorizing the warrants, enabling the FBI to continue monitoring Page . . . even though the investigation was turning up nothing.Conclusion Let’s summarize, shall we? At the very time Carter Page, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer, was an informant providing the CIA with information about Russians who might be a threat to U.S. interests, the FBI was investigating Igor Danchenko, a Russian national, on suspicion that he was a Russian agent potentially threatening to U.S. interests.Danchenko became a contractor for Christopher Steele’s intelligence firm, whose clients included Russian oligarchs. That fact, the IG report explains, raised concerns about Steele in the FBI’s Transnational Organized Crime Unit -- concerns which, Eric Felten has reported, were shared by State Department intelligence officials.In 2016, Steele accepted a Clinton campaign-commissioned assignment to dig up Russian dirt on Clinton’s opponent for the presidency, Donald Trump. To carry out this work, Steele relied on Danchenko to gather the information. Danchenko used what he now says was a group of dubious social acquaintances, and at least one source he never identified, to provide unsubstantiated and salacious rumors and innuendo about Trump.Steele took this information, portrayed it as sensitive intelligence from reliable sources, and presented it to the FBI -- vouching that it had come from an intelligence “network.”The FBI, several of whose investigators were found by the IG to be overtly anti-Trump, failed to corroborate Steele’s information. Yet, the bureau represented that it was “verified” to the FISC, which thus proceeded to issue warrants against Page on the theory that the Trump campaign -- even, perhaps, the nascent Trump administration -- was in a corrupt conspiracy with the Kremlin.That is, a suspected Russian spy was used by our government to frame an American as a suspected Russian spy. A good friend of mine likes to say, “It’s always worse than you think.” That’s a fine epitaph for the Trump-Russia investigation.
Amid calls for significant changes to the Supreme Court and Senate, Democrats are set to introduce a bill next week that would set Supreme Court term limits at 18 years.
Term Limits For SCOTUS
The Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act, according to Reuters, will be introduced by Democrats next Tuesday.
It would set term limits for the Supreme Court at 18 years, and allow every President to appoint to nominate two justices per term.
“It would save the country a lot of agony and help lower the temperature over fights for the court that go to the fault lines of cultural issues and is one of the primary things tearing at our social fabric,” said Democrat Representative Ro Khanna.
Khanna will introduce the bill along with Representatives Joe Kennedy III and Don Beyer.
The bill would exempt current justices from the rules. Justices who finish their term would retire from the Supreme Court and then rotate to lower courts.
“That’s perfectly consistent with their judicial independence and having a lifetime salary and a lifetime appointment,” Khanna argued.
This sentiment has been echoed by other Democrats. “Mitch McConnell set the precedent,” Senate candidate Ed Markey tweeted.
“No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it… we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.”
Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.
If McConnell “were to force through a nominee during the lame duck session—before a new Senate and President can take office—then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court,” Nadler wrote.
Filling the SCOTUS vacancy during a lame duck session, after the American people have voted for new leadership, is undemocratic and a clear violation of the public trust in elected officials. Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start.
Honestly, there isn't much that Senate Democrats can do to fully prevent a Republican majority, slim though it may be, from seating another Supreme Court nominee from Donald Trump, illegitimate as that nomination might be. What they can do, however, is delay it until after the election. And after the election, the chances of blocking it are probably better. There could very well be some defeated Republicans who won't have anything to lose anymore and might just decide not to seal their legacies with something so ignoble as this. Additionally, if they can delay throughout November, Democrats will likely have a new member—Arizona's Mark Kelly, who could be seated as early as Nov. 30 by Arizona law.
To that end, congressional procedural experts have drawn up a memo that's reportedly circulating on Capitol Hill that details the myriad options available to Democrats—both in the House and Senate—to eat up Senate time and prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham from rushing the nomination through before Nov. 3. There's no silver bullet here for Democrats to stop the confirmation, but there are tons of BBs.
We talked about a lot of what the Senate can do in this post, but didn't explore the House's options. Like sending over articles of impeachment. (I nominate Attorney General Barr for that one, personally.) The House could act on Senate bills pending in the House, amend them, and send them back as privileged—the Senate could be forced to act on them.
In a perfect world, Sen. Chuck Schumer and team would deploy all of them. As of now, they are not. As of now, with no official appointment, they don't have to. McConnell is going to have to deal with the continuing resolution the House just passed to fund government through Dec. 11 early next week, because the deadline is midnight Wednesday.
Republicans are not devoid of ways of trying to keep Democrats from doing this—they can keep putting up things for unanimous consent, like this resolution expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, what Democrats could do is use every tactic from Republicans to engage the Republicans in hours of debate on them. That's something they need to be doing anyway: standing on the floor punching holes in Republican arguments and making them answer for their blind loyalty to Trump.
Democrats can start doing these things now to show McConnell their resolve to stand together in making his life hell, dissuading him from trying to push through the nomination before the election. They can use a wide variety of procedural tactics to force Republicans who need to be spending all their time on their reelection at home to stay in Washington, D.C., having to be subject to a call to come to the chamber at any given time. Sowing as much unrest as possible among those Republicans is always helpful.
It's about meeting McConnell's fire with fire; it's about not being steamrolled, and not letting him and Trump further foul the Supreme Court of the United States.