Thursday, June 30, 2022
The following post is by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:
After today’s explosive testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson — who served as chief assistant to Mark Meadows and was literally and figuratively in the middle of Trump’s White House — I don’t see how Attorney General Merrick Garland can avoid prosecuting Trump, as well as Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani.
If you didn’t hear or see her testimony, Hutchinson portrayed a plot, in which Trump was directly involved, to stop the counting of electoral ballots on January 6. Meadows, Giuliani, Mike Flynn, and Roger Stone were also directly involved. Trump knew rioters were coming to Washington with weapons, and knew they had weapons on January 6. He knew they were threatening the life of Mike Pence. He knew they were dangerous. He wanted to be on Capitol Hill when they stormed the Capitol. He could have stopped them at any point, but he chose not to.
It was the most chilling depiction yet of a president in charge of an attempted coup. Trump knew exactly what was happening and what he was doing. He knew he was acting in violation of his oath of office and inciting violence in order to stay in office. He repeatedly refused to listen to reason, or to change course.
More than any other hearing to date, the audience for today’s hearing was not just the American public but also the Attorney General. Time and again, Hutchinson gave testimony about serious federal crimes.
Hutchinson testified that (in rough chronological order):
1. As early as December, a plan was emerging that was considered “potentially dangerous for our democracy” and with “dangerous repercussions,” John Ratcliffe, Trump’s director of national intelligence, told Hutchinson at the time.
2. When Attorney General Barr said publicly that the Justice Department hadn’t found evidence of election fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election, Trump exploded – throwing lunch against the wall of the dining room off the Oval Office, breaking plates. When she attempted to help the valet clean up, the valet warned Hutchinson to stay clear of him.
3. On the evening of January 2, Giuliani asked Hutchinson, “Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It’s going to be a great day. We’re going to the Capitol. Talk to the Chief about it.” When she spoke with Meadows, he said “there’s a lot going on Cass … things may get real, real bad on January 6.”
4. On January 4, Trump’s national security advisor Robert O’Brien asked if he could speak with Meadows about potential violence on January 6. Tony Ornato, Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of all security, also had reports of potential violence on January 6.
5. On January 5, Trump asked Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and Mike Flynn; Hutchinson believes they talked. Flynn had set up a “war room” at the Willard Hotel. Meadows wanted to join their meeting but Hutchinson advised against it. He dialed into the meeting instead.
6. On the morning of January 6, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, asked Hutchinson to “please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.” He was “concerned we were obstructing justice or obstructing the electoral count” and “look like we were inciting a riot.”
7. Moments before his January 6 rally on the ellipse, Trump was angry because he wanted the area to be filled with his supporters and worried that camera shots would show it sparsely filled. When told that Secret Service wasn’t letting people with dangerous weapons through the metal detectors (magnetometers), Trump said: “I don’t fucking care they have weapons. Let my people in. They aren’t here to hurt me. Take the magnetometers away” and “they can march to the Capitol after the rally is over.”
8. Later, when Trump was finishing his speech and rioters were on the way to the Capitol, Ornato asked Hutchinson to let Meadows know of the danger. But Meadows didn’t want to hear it. Sitting in a secure vehicle near the ellipse, Meadows repeatedly shut the door on her. Almost a half hour later, when she was finally able to tell him of the danger, he said “Alright, how much longer does the president have left in his speech?”
9. When Trump was back in his limousine (“the beast”) after the rally, he wanted to go to the Capitol but the Secret Service wouldn’t let him. When chief Secret Service agent Bobby Engle refused, Trump tried to grab the steering wheel and then lunged at Engle.
10. When the riot began, and they were back in the White House. Hutchinson heard Meadows tell Cipillone, “The President doesn’t want to do anything about it.” Moments later, when Cipillone and Meadows met with Trump, Hutchinson heard them talking about the “hang Mike Pence chants.” A few minutes later, when Cipillone told Meadows, “Mark we need to do something more, they’re literally calling for VP to be hung,” Meadows said, “you heard him, he doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong, and Mike deserves it.”
11. As rioters stormed the Capitol, many people phoned Meadows, urging that Trump tell rioters to stop. He could easily have walked down to briefing room just steps from the Oval Office. But Trump did nothing until 4:17 pm when he released a video, telling the rioters “go home, we love you, you’re very special … go home in peace.”
12. The next day, on January 7, many of his advisers wanted Trump to give remarks about national healing, but Trump resisted. Hutchinson said “he didn’t think he needed to do anything more” and “didn’t think the rioters had done anything wrong, that the person who did something wrong was Mike Pence.” Concerned that his cabinet might otherwise invoke the 25th amendment and relieve him of his duties, Trump ultimately delivered remarks, but still refused to use the words “this election is now over.”
13. Both Giuliani and Meadows wanted presidential pardons.
A final note: Liz Cheney, vice-chair of the committee, noted that several potential witnesses had been warned not to testify or to testify in ways that would not implicate Trump. She reminded the public (and any potential witnesses) that this attempted interference was itself a federal crime.
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
The following is an op-ed by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith in The New York Times:
The Supreme Court has spoken: Roe is gone. But the Supreme Court doesn’t get the final say on abortion. The American people will have the last word through their representatives in Congress and the White House.
With its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an extremist Supreme Court has overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, stripping away the constitutional right to an abortion and ruling that the government — not the person who is pregnant — will make the critical decision about whether to continue a pregnancy. At least nine states have already banned abortion; over a dozen more could soon follow suit by severely restricting or outright outlawing abortion, putting the lives, health and futures of girls and women at risk.
If we sound angry and alarmed, that’s because we are. This decision is devastating — and we have seen what happens next. We both lived in an America where abortion was illegal. A nation in which infections and other complications destroyed lives. A nation in which unplanned pregnancies derailed careers and livelihoods. A nation in which some women took their own lives rather than continue pregnancies they could not bear.
But we must hold on to hope. Each of us can and should act — both elected officials and everyday Americans. We can start by helping those who need access to an abortion. Support Planned Parenthood and other organizations that are expanding their services in states where abortion is available. Contribute to abortion funds. Encourage state legislators to protect reproductive rights in states like New Mexico and Minnesota that border places where abortion services will most likely be severely restricted and even criminalized. Encourage employers in states with abortion bans to give their employees adequate time off and money for travel to find the abortion care they need. Do all you can — and demand the same all-you-can approach from all of our elected leaders.
Earlier this month, along with Senator Patty Murray and half the Senate Democratic Caucus, we sent a letter to President Biden outlining executive actions he could take to defend reproductive freedom. These actions include increasing access to abortion medication, providing federal resources for individuals seeking abortion care in other states and using federal property and resources to protect people seeking abortion services locally. We need action, and we need it now.
On Friday, with the release of the Dobbs decision, we entered a perilous time that threatens millions of women across this nation. We urge the president to declare a public health emergency to protect abortion access for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services. The danger is real, and Democrats must meet it with the urgency it deserves.
We’re in this dark moment because right-wing politicians and their allies have spent decades scheming to overrule a right many Americans considered sacrosanct. Passing state laws to restrict access to abortion care. Giving personhood rights to fertilized eggs. Threatening to criminalize in vitro fertilization. Offering bounties for reporting doctors who provide abortion services. Abusing the filibuster and turning Congress into a broken institution. Advancing judicial nominees who claimed to be committed to protecting “settled law” while they winked at their Republican sponsors in the Senate. Stealing two seats on the Supreme Court.
For nearly 50 years, right-wing extremists rejected the beliefs held by an overwhelming majority of Americans. They doubled and redoubled their efforts to create a future in which women and their doctors could face a prison sentence for seeking or providing basic health care. When these extremists couldn’t impose their radical views through the legislative process, they stacked the courts. And now that the Supreme Court has opened the door by overturning Roe, Republicans will continue their assault on our civil rights and liberties.
Former Vice President Mike Pence called for a national ban on abortion in all 50 states; Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, flat out stated that it’s a possibility. And the logic laid out by the majority in Dobbs seems to undercut other precedents, raising the alarming possibility that we could soon see an assault on privacy and marriage equality.
In order to fix the damage Republicans have done to our system in their efforts to control women’s lives, we need broad democracy reform: changing the composition of the courts, reforming Senate rules like the filibuster, and even fixing the outdated Electoral College that allowed presidential candidates who lost the popular vote to take office and nominate five of the justices who agreed to end the right to an abortion.
We can’t undo in five months the damage it took Republicans five decades to accomplish, but we can immediately start repairing our democracy. The public is overwhelmingly on our side. A vast majority of Americans oppose the decision the Supreme Court just made. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And more Americans describe themselves as pro-choice today than at any other point in the last 25 years.
Let’s be clear: Roe may be gone, but the protections it once guaranteed are on the ballot. States like Kansas and Kentucky have initiatives to strip away state constitutional protections for abortion, while Michigan and Vermont are working toward statewide votes to create constitutional protections for reproductive freedom. But make no mistake, this radical decision affects all Americans, not just those in states where the right to a safe, legal abortion will soon fall.
Now is the time to demand that every single candidate for every single office voice a firm position on reproductive rights. Ask every Senate candidate to commit to reforming the filibuster rules, so that the chamber can pass federal legislation protecting the right to reproductive freedom. If voters help us maintain our control of the House and expand our majority in the Senate by at least two votes this November, we can make Roe the law all across the country as soon as January.
Simply put: We must restore our democracy so that a radical minority can no longer drown out the will of the people. This will be a long, hard fight, and the path to victory is not yet certain. But it’s a righteous fight that we must win — no matter how long it takes. The two of us lived in an America without Roe, and we are not going back. Not now. Not ever.
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
The charts above reflect the results of the new NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist Poll -- done on June 24th and 25th of a nationwide sample of 868 registered voters with a 5.1 point margin of error.
This GOP claim is ridiculous, and they don't even try to explain how it would work. They are just pandering to the religious right because they don't want to admit what the real solutions are to prevent gun violence.
The following post is by Kate Cohen in The Washington Post:
Monday, June 27, 2022
Charts are from the Pew Research Center.
This Pew Research Center analysis focuses on public opinion of the United States, Russia and NATO in 17 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. The report draws on nationally representative surveys of 19,903 adults from Feb. 14 to May 11, 2022. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Surveys were conducted face to face in Poland and Israel and online in Australia.
Data collection began a week prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Japan. All other countries began fieldwork the same day as or shortly after the invasion. Due to the time it takes to translate, program and test questions on our international surveys, we prioritized gathering data at the start of this significant international event rather than delaying, or pausing, fieldwork to add questions specifically about the war or the actions taken by world leaders in response. Analysis focuses on ratings of Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, the countries they lead and NATO as the war in Ukraine was unfolding. In this report, the data is discussed in the context of over a decade of cross-national trends.
Views of Russia and NATO also include data from the United States. We surveyed 3,581 U.S. adults from March 21 to 27, 2022, after the start of the war in Ukraine. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.
The following post is by Max Boot in The Washington Post:
Everyone knows that the Founders were afraid of the tyranny of the majority. That’s why they built so many checks and balances into the Constitution. What’s less well known is that they were also afraid of the tyranny of the minority. That’s why they scrapped the Articles of Confederation, which required agreement from 9 of 13 states to pass any laws, and enacted a Constitution with much stronger executive authority.