Feb. News Reports

 

 JIPLogo

Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative February 2021 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this.

Feb. 2

Top Headlines

 

More On Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Law, Crimes, Race

 

Trump Impeachment, Election Claims, Fund-raising, Riots

 

U.S. Politics, Governance

World News

 

Top Stories

 

capitol mob

ny times logoNew York Times, Washington Live Updates: Impeachment Managers Call Trump ‘Singularly Responsible’ for Riot, Staff reports, Feb. 2, 2021. The nine House Democrats presented their case against former President Trump in a filing, warning that acquitting him could do grave damage to the nation.

  • Mr. Trump has a noon deadline to outline his defense. Here’s the latest.
  • Democrats launch ads against Marjorie Taylor Greene as McConnell blasts her as a “cancer” on the Republican Party.
  • Federal authorities are arresting people for domestic threats they might have just monitored in the past.
  • Biden faces dilemma on what to do with watchdogs appointed by Trump.

The riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was the direct result of a campaign by former President Donald J. Trump to undermine American democracy and overthrow the election at any cost, the House impeachment managers will argue in his Senate trial. They warn that acquitting him and failing to disqualify him from future office could do grave damage to the nation.

In a meticulously detailed 80-page pretrial brief filed with the Senate on Tuesday, the nine House Democrats preparing to prosecute the case next week argued that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for a violent attack on the democratic process, and would do anything to “reassert his grip on power” if he were allowed to seek election again.

Addressing Republicans’ arguments head on, they also asserted that the Senate clearly had jurisdiction to try a former president. Mr. Trump’s legal team and many Republicans have argued that his status as a private citizen now makes such a proceeding unconstitutional.

“That outcome is not only supported by the facts and the law; it is also the right thing to do,” the managers wrote. “President Trump has demonstrated beyond doubt that he will resort to any method to maintain or reassert his grip on power. A president who violently attacks the democratic process has no right to participate in it.”

The House filed its arguments two hours before a noon deadline for Mr. Trump to offer his first formal impeachment defense on Tuesday, in the form of a written answer to the charge of “incitement of insurrection.” The trial is scheduled to begin in earnest on Feb. 9.

The former president is all but certain to wave off the bipartisan charge as illegitimate, but the exact shape of his defense remains to be seen after a last-minute shake-up of his legal team. While Mr. Trump is said to have wanted the trial to include a full defense of his bogus election fraud claims that helped ignite the attack, his advisers and Republican senators are pushing a less inflammatory argument that trying a former president is simply unconstitutional.

Taken together, the two documents should provide the clearest preview yet of how Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial will play out when it begins in one week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s lawyers deny he incited the Capitol riot as the House impeachment managers press their case to hold him responsible, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Feb. 2, 2021. Former President Donald J. Trump shook up his legal team just 48 hours before the legal brief was due.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers denied on Tuesday that he incited the deadly assault on the Capitol and argued that the Senate had no power to try a former president, as House prosecutors made their case that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 rampage and must be convicted and barred from holding any future office.

The dueling filings provided the clearest preview yet of a politically fraught impeachment trial — the second in just a year — scheduled to begin in earnest next Tuesday. Both sides indicated they were ready for a debate over the constitutionality of trying a former president. They were also lining up diametrically opposed interpretations of a set of events witnessed on live television across the nation.

In his first formal answer to the “incitement of insurrection” charge against him, Mr. Trump’s lawyers denied that he was responsible for the Capitol riot or that he intended to interfere with Congress’s formalizing of President Biden’s election win. They said his words to supporters, some who later stormed the building — “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” — were protected by his First Amendment right of free speech. They said they were not meant as a reference to violent action, but “about the need to fight for election security in general.”
Read the Brief from Trump’s Defense Team on Impeachment Charge

Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team submitted a brief on Tuesday to the Senate outlining his defense against the impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection.”

“It is denied that President Trump incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior,” the lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen, wrote in the 14-page filing.

Notably, the document avoided repeating or attempting to defend Mr. Trump’s bogus claims that the November election had been “stolen” from him by widespread fraud, which the former president had wanted to be the central feature of his defense. But his lawyers in effect argued that Mr. Trump believed he won, and therefore was within his rights to “express his belief that the election results were suspect.” His claims could not be disproved, they added, because there was “insufficient evidence.” (Judges rejected more than 60 lawsuits by Mr. Trump and his allies claiming varying degrees of fraud or irregularities.)

Above all, the former president’s lawyers said the Constitution did not permit the Senate to try a former president after he had left office — despite the fact that the Senate has tried a former official in the past.

The response arrived two hours after the nine House Democrats preparing to prosecute the case argued in their own 80-page pretrial brief that Mr. Trump was directly to blame for the violent attack on Jan. 6 and a broader attack on democracy that showed he would do anything to “reassert his grip on power” if he were allowed to seek election again.

brian sicknick

washington post logoWashington Post, Officer Brian D. Sicknick, fatally injured in the Capitol riot, to lie in honor in Rotunda, Paul Duggan and Meagan Flynn, Feb. 2, 2021. Brian D. Sicknick, above, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died of injuries he suffered when a riotous mob rampaged through the building Jan. 6, is set to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda for 14 hours starting Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, his cremated remains will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sicknick, 42, was among scores of officers hurt when rioters supporting the false election claims of President Donald Trump violently besieged the Capitol, trying to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory.

Authorities have not publicly specified the cause of Sicknick’s death, which is being investigated by D.C. police homicide detectives.

He died Jan. 7, a day after the riot. Now, a month later, members of Congress will pause to honor him in the same historic building where he was injured, and where the Senate is preparing to hear arguments in Trump’s trial on an impeachment article alleging he incited the insurrection.

“The heroism of Officer Sicknick and the Capitol Police force during the violent insurrection against our Capitol helped save lives, defend the temple of our democracy and ensure that the Congress was not diverted from our duty to the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said in announcing the ceremonies for Sicknick, which will not be open to the public.

“His sacrifice reminds us every day of our obligation to our country and to the people we serve,” the two top Democrats said in a statement.

ny times logoNew York Times, 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election, Jim Rutenberg, Jo Becker, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, Matthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidt, Updated Feb. 1, 2021. How a Lie Stoked the Assault on the Capitol.

In the days between election and inauguration, a lie former President Trump had been grooming for years overwhelmed the Republican Party. A Times examination shows how that lie grew, finally managing to upend the peaceful transfer of power that had been the bedrock of American democracy.

By Thursday the 12th of November, President Donald J. Trump’s election lawyers were concluding that the reality he faced was the inverse of the narrative he was promoting in his comments and on Twitter. There was no substantial evidence of election fraud, and there were nowhere near enough “irregularities” to reverse the outcome in the courts.

djt march 2020 CustomMr. Trump did not, could not, win the election, not by “a lot” or even a little. His presidency would soon be over.

Allegations of Democratic malfeasance had disintegrated in embarrassing fashion. A supposed suitcase of illegal ballots in Detroit proved to be a box of camera equipment. “Dead voters” were turning up alive in television and newspaper interviews.

The week was coming to a particularly demoralizing close: In Arizona, the Trump lawyers were preparing to withdraw their main lawsuit as the state tally showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading by more than 10,000 votes, against the 191 ballots they had identified for challenge.

As he met with colleagues to discuss strategy, the president’s deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, was urgently summoned to the Oval Office. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was on speaker phone, pressing the president to file a federal suit in Georgia and sharing a conspiracy theory gaining traction in conservative media — that Dominion Systems voting machines had transformed thousands of Trump votes into Biden votes.

Mr. Clark warned that the suit Mr. Giuliani had in mind would be dismissed on procedural grounds. And a state audit was barreling toward a conclusion that the Dominion machines had operated without interference or foul play.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Clark a liar, according to people with direct knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Clark called Mr. Giuliani something much worse. And with that, the election-law experts were sidelined in favor of the former New York City mayor, the man who once again was telling the president what he wanted to hear.

alexandria ocasio cortez resized yoho speech july 23 2020 house tv via ap

washington post logoWashington Post, Ocasio-Cortez reveals she’s a sexual assault survivor, recounts ‘trauma’ of Capitol riot: ‘I thought everything was over,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Feb. 2, 2021. As rioters threatened to breach the Capitol on Jan. 6, a staffer rushed into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office and told her to hide. Soon after she ran into a bathroom, she heard a thunderous banging noise outside.

“Where is she? Where is she?” someone yelled, Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in an Instagram Live chat on Monday night. “And this was the moment where I thought everything was over.”

The person thumping on the doors turned out to be a police officer trying to move her to a secure location, Ocasio-Cortez said, but the harrowing moment was just the first of many as a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol.

With around 150,000 viewers watching live, Ocasio-Cortez (shown above in a file photo) for the first time recounted in detail what she had earlier described as a near-death experience during the attempted insurrection. The New York Democrat also revealed during the 90-minute discussion that she is a survivor of sexual assault. She compared lawmakers like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), whom she accused of trying to play down the seriousness of the riot, to abusers who attempt to silence and undermine victims.

“These folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize. These are the same tactics of abusers. And I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez added: “I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”

Representatives for Cruz and Hawley did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

Ocasio-Cortez said demanding accountability for the Capitol riot wasn’t about politics.

“This is at a point where it’s not about a difference of political opinion,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is about just basic humanity.”

ny times logoNew York Times, McConnell Slams ‘Loony Lies’ Spread by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Catie Edmondson, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). Senator Mitch McConnell issued a scathing rebuke saying the “conspiracy theories” embraced by the House member amounted to a “cancer” on the G.O.P.

Senator Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the Republican Party, issuing what in effect was a scathing rebuke to the freshman House Republican from Georgia.

mitch mcconnell palmer CustomIn a statement reported by The Hill, Mr. McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, right, never named Ms. Greene, but he referred to several of the outlandish and false conspiracy theories she has espoused and warned that such statements were damaging the party.

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” Mr. McConnell said. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

House Republican leaders in the past week have been mostly silent as pressure mounted to respond to the cascade of Ms. Greene’s problematic social media posts and videos that have surfaced in the past week, in which she endorsed a seemingly endless array of conspiracy theories and violent behavior, including executing Democratic leaders. At the same time, they are weighing calls within their ranks by loyalists of former President Donald J. Trump to strip Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, of her leadership post as punishment for her vote to impeach Mr. Trump.

In a separate statement reported by CNN, Mr. McConnell weighed in on behalf of Ms. Cheney, who represents Wyoming’s sole congressional district, calling her “a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them.”

Mr. McConnell, who is said to believe that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, has made it clear he is open to voting to convict the former president for “incitement of insurrection,” although he voted with the vast majority of Republicans last week to dismiss the case as unconstitutional.

The twin statements by Mr. McConnell amounted to a rare step by the most powerful Republican in Washington to insert himself into an increasingly ugly intraparty feud.

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to impose fines of up to $10,000 on lawmakers who flout security screening, Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 2, 2021.  The House voted Tuesday night to penalize lawmakers who seek to bypass the security screening measures that have been enacted in the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, with members facing a $5,000 fine for the first offense and $10,000 each time thereafter.

The measure passed on a 216-to-210 vote, with all but three Democrats present voting in favor and all Republicans present voting “no.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Rules Committee, defended the move in an impassioned floor speech in which he blasted the “elitist mentality” of those who have ignored the screening procedures, imploring his fellow lawmakers to recognize that “the rules apply to us, too — and it’s time all of us acted like it.”

“Apparently, some of my friends on the other side think differently,” McGovern said. “Some are acting as though by being elected to Congress, they have been anointed to some sort of special club — one that gets to pick and choose what rules to follow.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Sleight of Hand: Shouting Fraud, While Pocketing Donors’ Cash, Shane Goldmacher and Rachel Shorey, Feb. 1, 2021. With breathless, often misleading appeals, the former president promised small donors that he was using the money to fight the election results, but in fact stored much of it for future use.

With often misleading appeals, the former president promised that he was using the money to fight the election results, but in fact stored much of it.

rachel powell fbi farrow

Rachel Powell wearing a pink hat standing among rioters at the U.S. Capitol. Videos show Rachel Powell, seen here wearing a pink hat and sunglasses, using a battering ram to smash a window and a bullhorn to issue orders at the Capitol riot.Photograph by Lev Radin / Pacific Press / Shutterstock

ronan farrowThe New Yorker, Investigation: A Pennsylvania Mother’s Path to Insurrection, Ronan Farrow, right, Feb. 2, 2021. How claims from Rudy Giuliani and Alex Jones spurred a parent of eight to become one of the Capitol riot’s biggest mysteries and a fugitive from the F.B.I.

Before the pandemic, Rachel Powell, a forty-year-old resident of a small town in western Pennsylvania, sold cheese and yogurt at local farmers’ markets and used Facebook mostly to discuss yoga, organic food, and her children’s baseball games.

But, last year, Powell began to post more frequently, embracing more extreme political views. Her interests grew to include conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the results of the Presidential election, filtered through such figures as Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the Infowars founder Alex Jones.

On May 3, 2020, Powell wrote on Facebook, “One good thing about this whole CV crisis is that I suddenly feel very patriotic.” Expressing outrage at the restrictions that accompanied the pandemic, she wrote, “It isn’t to late to wake up, say no, and restore freedoms.” Several days later, she posted a distraught seven-minute video, shot outside a local gym that had been closed. “Police need to see there’s people that are citizens that are not afraid of you new yorker logoguys showing up in your masks. We’re going to be here banded together, and we’re not afraid of you,” she said. “Maybe they should be a little bit afraid.”

On January 6th, during the storming of the United States Capitol, Powell made good on that threat. Videos show her, wearing a pink hat and sunglasses, using a battering ram to smash a window and a bullhorn to issue orders. “People should probably coördinate together if you’re going to take this building,” she called out, leaning through a shattered window and addressing a group of rioters already inside. “We got another window to break to make in-and-out easy.”

In recent weeks, as journalists and law-enforcement officials tried to identify participants in the assault, she came to be known as “Bullhorn Lady” and “Pink Hat Lady.” She appeared on an F.B.I. “Wanted” poster, was featured in cable-television news segments, and became an obsessive focus of crowdsourced investigative efforts by laypeople and experts. Forrest Rogers, a German-American business consultant who is part of a Twitter group called the Deep State Dogs, recently identified Powell and reported her name to the F.B.I. She is now being sought by law enforcement.

In her first public comments since the riot, Powell acknowledged her role in the events at the Capitol. During a two-hour telephone interview, she claimed that her conduct had been spontaneous, contrary to widespread speculation that she had acted in coördination with an organized group. “I was not part of a plot—organized, whatever,” Powell, who was speaking from an undisclosed location, told me. “I have no military background. . . . I’m a mom with eight kids. That’s it. I work. And I garden. And raise chickens. And sell cheese at a farmers’ market.”

During the interview, she reviewed photographs and videos of the Bullhorn Lady, acknowledging that many of the images showed her, and offered detailed descriptions of the skirmishes they depicted. She declined to comment on some of her conduct—including smashing windows and shouting orders to fellow-rioters—that could carry criminal charges. “Listen, if somebody doesn’t help and direct people, then do more people die?” she said. “That’s all I’m going to say about that. I can’t say anymore. I need to talk to an attorney.”

 

djt 2020 hat Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Poor handling of virus cost Trump his reelection, campaign’s report finds, Josh Dawsey, Feb. 1, 2021. The 27-page internal document shows that voters in 10 key states rated the pandemic as their top voting issue, and that President Biden won higher marks on the topic.

Former president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a post-election autopsy completed by Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio.

The 27-page document shows that voters in 10 key states rated the pandemic as their top voting issue, and President Biden won higher marks on the topic. The report also indicates that Trump lost ground among key demographic groups he needed.

The internal report cuts against Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him and that Biden could not have fairly beaten him — and mirrors what many Trump campaign officials said privately for months.

The analysis by Fabrizio, a Florida pollster who has worked for Trump for years, was shared among campaign advisers late last year and was provided to The Washington Post on Monday night. Politico first reported on the existence of the document.

The states studied were Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

Voters in the states overwhelmingly supported a mask mandate — 75 percent — and Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease specialist, secured an approval rating almost as high. Trump did not support a mask mandate — sometimes mocking the wearing of masks — and regularly criticized Fauci, threatening to fire him at times.

Advisers repeatedly encouraged Trump to wear a mask, stop attacking Fauci and signal to the public that he was taking the coronavirus more seriously, particularly after he was hospitalized and given an experimental drug.

Trump was largely resistant and mocked the virus down the stretch, sarcastically saying “Covid, covid, covid” at his rallies and falsely predicting the virus would leave the news after the election. More than 400,000 people have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to issue new immigration orders that signal caution, Nick Miroff, Seung Min Kim and Maria Sacchetti, Feb. 2, 2021. A new task force will try to reunite separated families. But some Trump-era border controls will remain.

President Biden will announce executive actions Tuesday ordering the review and potential reversal of the Trump administration’s deterrent policies along the Mexico border and the barriers it created in the legal immigration system, senior administration officials said Monday evening.

The directives will also create a homeland security task force to reunite families separated by President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” border crackdown.

ICE logo“President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safe and stronger and more prosperous with a safe, orderly and humane immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together and allows people — both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations — to more fully contribute to our country,” a senior official told reporters.

Although officials described in broad terms their intent to repudiate the previous administration’s policies, they acknowledged that some of Trump’s border control measures will remain in place for the time being, in one sign of their concern about a new migration wave building in the middle of the pandemic.

Biden’s orders will “review,” though not cancel, the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, that sent more than 60,000 asylum seekers to wait outside U.S. territory while their claims are processed in immigration courts. The Biden administration has stopped placing asylum seekers in the program, but applicants with pending cases will not be allowed to immediately enter the United States while officials figure out how to dismantle the program.

The president’s latest orders also leave intact the emergency pandemic measure known as Title 42 that allows border authorities to rapidly “expel” back to Mexico those who cross the border illegally. Department of Homeland Security officials have said the measures are necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside U.S. border stations and immigration jails, while immigrant advocates have urged an immediate halt to the expulsions, saying they leave families and children vulnerable to criminals in dangerous border cities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeff Bezos to Step Down as Amazon C.E.O., Karen Weise, Feb. 2, 2021. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, said on Tuesday that he will hand over the reins of the e-commerce giant this summer and transition into the role of executive chairman, in a changing of the guard amazon logo smallfor one of the internet’s foundational companies.

Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will be promoted to run the entire company, Amazon said. The transition will be effective in the third quarter, which starts in July.

jeffrey bezos washington post“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Mr. Bezos, 57, said in an email sent to employees. As executive chairman, he said, he intends “to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.”

The move marks the end of an era for Amazon. Mr. Bezos, left, has personified the company since he founded it as an online bookseller in 1996, growing it into a $1.7 trillion behemoth with more than 1.2 million workers. Under his leadership, Amazon expanded into sales of millions of different items, became a logistics giant, upended the retail industry — and then spread further into cloud computing, streaming entertainment and artificial-intelligence-powered devices.

ny times logoNew York Times, Alejandro Mayorkas is confirmed to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Maggie Astor and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Feb. 2, 2021. The alejandro mayorkasSenate confirmed Alejandro N. Mayorkas on Tuesday as secretary of homeland security, making him the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold that job.

Mr. Mayorkas, right, — a former deputy secretary of homeland security as well as a former director of the department’s legal immigration agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services — was confirmed to President Biden’s cabinet by a vote of 56 to 43 in the Senate. He is the first Senate-confirmed leader of the Homeland Security Department in roughly 21 months.

Six Republicans voted with all the Democrats to confirm Mr. Mayorkas: Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, us dhs big eagle logo4Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Born in Cuba to parents who later fled Fidel Castro’s revolution, Mr. Mayorkas is known for helping develop the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which deferred deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The Trump administration tried to end the program but was stymied by the Supreme Court, and President Biden has promised to preserve it.

In a Senate hearing last month, Mr. Mayorkas said that if confirmed, he would make it a priority to combat domestic terrorism, a longtime problem that has become more pressing after right-wing extremists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

But Republicans in the hearing focused their questions largely on immigration and border security, which will require a balancing act for the new secretary of homeland security. josh hawley missouriAfter the hearing, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, right, vowed to block a quick confirmation because, he said, “Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border.”

us senate logoMr. Mayorkas faces the challenge of following through on the Biden administration’s pledge to roll back the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies, which largely blocked people from seeking asylum in the United States. He will also lead a new task force to identify families separated at the border and issue recommendations on how to reunite them.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Mayorkas faced some criticism over an investigation completed in 2015, which found that he had intervened to speed up consideration of visas for foreign investors with ties to Democrats. The investigators said at the time that Mr. Mayorkas had created “an appearance of favoritism and special access,” but they did not find any illegal behavior.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said on Tuesday that he would not vote for Mr. Mayorkas, arguing that he had turned Citizenship and Immigration Services into an “unethical favor factory for the Democratic Party royalty.”

Mr. Mayorkas said during his confirmation hearing that he had felt obligated to involve himself in a system “plagued by problems.” He said he had received requests from both Democrats and Republicans to assist with the cases.

 

More On Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian vaccine is over 91% effective, peer-reviewed test results show, Erin Cunningham, Paul Schemm and Lateshia Beachum, Feb. 2, 2021. The findings make Sputnik only the third vaccine to have an efficacy of over 90 percent, after Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

In the first publicly available test results for Russia’s already widely distributed vaccine, Sputnik V, it was shown to be 91.6 percent effective against the coronavirus in Phase 3 trials, according to peer-reviewed results published in the Lancet, a British medical journal.

The findings make Sputnik only the third vaccine to have an efficacy of over 90 percent after a vaccine from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, produced with German biotech firm BioNTech, and one from U.S. biotech firm Moderna.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Feb. 2, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 104,030,451, Deaths: 2,250,222
U.S. Cases:     26,912,555, Deaths:    454,223

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anti-vaccine protest at Dodger Stadium was organized on Facebook, including promotion of banned ‘Plandemic’ video, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). The activity shows how the social media site remains a critical organizing tool of the anti-vaccine movement.

The anti-vaccine protest that temporarily cut off access to a mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium was organized on Facebook through a page that promotes debunked claims about the coronavirus pandemic, masks and immunization.

The Facebook page, “Shop Mask Free Los Angeles,” issued a call last week to gather Saturday at the baseball park. Health authorities have been administering shots to as many as 8,000 people a day at the site, one of the largest vaccination centers in the country. Such venues form a critical component of the effort to corral the pandemic, which has lashed Los Angeles County so brutally in recent weeks that oxygen for patients has been in short supply.

The online activity illustrates the extent to which Facebook remains a critical organizing tool of the anti-vaccine movement, despite the company’s repeated vows to curb coronavirus misinformation and its assurance that it has removed more than 12 million pieces of such content. It also shows how social networking services could foster more confrontational tactics by those committed to false ideas about the dangers of immunization as the mass vaccination effort ramps up.

“I’m concerned this is the next phase of their anti-vaccine activism, going to places where the vaccine is being distributed and being disruptive there,” said Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University and an authority on vaccine resistance.

Such activity, she said, could come to resemble protests at abortion clinics or demonstrations against stay-at-home orders at state capitols, a prospect that worries public health officials as they aim to speed vaccinations in a race against more-transmissible and possibly more-lethal variants now confirmed in this country.

washington post logoWashington Post, New diabetes cases linked to covid-19, Erin Blakemore, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). Researchers don’t understand exactly how the disease might trigger diabetes, or whether the cases are temporary or permanent. Researchers don’t understand exactly how the disease might trigger Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or whether the cases are temporary or permanent. But 14 percent of those with severe covid-19 developed a form of the disorder, one analysis found.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 F.B.I. Agents Killed in Shooting in Florida, Johnny Diaz and Adam Goldman, Feb. 2, 2021. Two F.B.I. agents were killed and three others injured as they were serving a warrant in South Florida on Tuesday morning in one of the deadliest shootings in the bureau’s history.

The F.B.I. said the incident occurred just after 6 a.m. as the agents descended on an apartment complex in the city of Sunrise, which is west of Fort Lauderdale. The agents were serving a warrant related to a case involving violent crimes against children.

FBI logoOfficials said the man being investigated, whose identity was not released, had apparently barricaded himself inside the complex and was found dead. It was unclear how he died.

Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, identified two of the agents killed as Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger.

“Every day, F.B.I. special agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe,” Mr. Wray said in a statement. “Special Agent Alfin and Special Agent Schwartzenberger exemplified heroism today in defense of their country. The F.B.I. will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”

Two of the wounded agents were transported to the hospital, the F.B.I. said. The third did not require hospitalization.

There was a heavy police presence around the Water Terrace apartment complex on Reflections Boulevard. The police asked commuters to avoid the area and residents to stay home. Officers from various police agencies swarmed the neighborhood.

Officers stood in a somber line saluting as a gurney carrying one of the bodies draped in an American flag was placed into a fire rescue truck at the Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. A procession of dark law enforcement S.U.V.s and motorcycles with sirens and lights then escorted the ambulance to the county medical examiner’s office.

The agents shot on Tuesday were the first who had been fatally shot in the line of duty since November 2008, when Special Agent Samuel S. Hicks, 33, was killed, according to the F.B.I. The agency keeps a list of agents who were killed or died in the line of duty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ginni Thomas apologizes to husband’s Supreme Court clerks after Capitol riot fallout, Robert Barnes, Feb. 2, 2021. Conservative political activist Virginia Thomas told her husband Justice Clarence Thomas’s former law clerks that she was sorry for a rift that developed among them after her election advocacy of President Donald Trump and endorsement of the Jan. 6 rally in D.C. that resulted in violence and death at the Capitol.

“I owe you all an apology. I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions,” Thomas, who goes by Ginni, recently wrote to a private Thomas Clerk World email list of her husband’s staff over his three decades on the bench.

“My passions and beliefs are likely shared with the bulk of you, but certainly not all. And sometimes the smallest matters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let politics divide THIS family, and learn to speak more gently and knowingly across the divide.”

clarence virginia thomas swearing inA sampling of posts made to the group were shared with The Washington Post by a member upset with some of the pro-Trump messages written by Ginni Thomas and others in the lead-up and aftermath of the election. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment. Several former clerks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the listserv is private, verified the dispute in what is normally an affable setting meant to celebrate achievements of the clerk “family.”

Besides the friction there, Thomas (shown with her husband at his 1991 swearing-in ceremony) has drawn outrage among liberals for public political commentary on her “Ginni Thomas” Facebook page. Her comments there celebrated Trump’s supporters who assembled in D.C. on Jan. 6, hundreds of whom stormed the Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people.

In the early morning post, Thomas encouraged her Facebook followers to watch the day’s events unfold on conservative news media, writing, “LOVE MAGA people!!!!”

She added in another: “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING.”

Thomas later appended an apparent disclaimer that said, “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol],” according to Mark Joseph Stern of Slate.com, who first wrote about the posts. The Facebook account is no longer visible.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni Thomas have a huge Capitol insurrection problem, Bill Palmer, Feb. 2, 2021. In the days surrounding the January 6th domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, there was scattered buzz that Ginni Thomas – wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – had made social media posts inciting the attack. Those posts then disappeared, and we’ve been waiting for confirmation of whether they really came from her.

bill palmer report logo headerIt turns out they did. Now Ginni Thomas is apologizing to Clarence Thomas’ staffers for the position she put them in, according to the Washington Post. Let’s be clear here. They’re the type to only apologize if they conclude that they’re in trouble, and that they need to strategically “apologize” in the hope of mitigating the scandal they’re facing.

So this disingenuous apology can be taken as a sign that Ginni Thomas is worried about the mess she’s made for herself and her husband.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Don’t Kill Me’: Others Tell of Abuse by Officer Who Knelt on George Floyd, Jamiles Lartey and Abbie VanSickle, Feb. 2, 2021. Interviews with three people who were arrested by Derek Chauvin described an unusually rough officer, quick to use force and callous about their pain.

Nearly three years before the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd as he cried out that he couldn’t breathe last May, Zoya Code found herself in a similar position: handcuffed facedown on the ground, with Mr. Chauvin’s knee on her.

The officer had answered a call of a domestic dispute at her home, and Ms. Code said he forced her down when she tried to pull away.

“He just stayed on my neck,” Ms. Code said, ignoring her desperate pleas to get off. Frustrated and upset, she challenged him to press harder. “Then he did. Just to shut me up,” she said.

Last week, a judge in Minnesota ruled that prosecutors could present the details of her 2017 arrest in their case against the former officer, who was charged with second-degree unintentional murder in Mr. Floyd’s death.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Louisiana man hired hit men to kill a woman accusing him of rape, police said. Instead, they allegedly killed his sister, Andrea Salcedo, Feb. 2, 2021. When two men showed up at a one-story house with a green metal roof in the small Louisiana town of Montegut last month, they were searching for a woman they’d been paid to kill. They had been hired by another man who was charged with raping the woman and who wanted her dead before she could testify, police said.

Inside the house, the gunmen asked two women if either of them were the rape victim. When one woman said she was, they fatally shot her, police said.

Before leaving, they allegedly shot and killed her neighbor, too.

But neither woman was the intended target, police said at a Monday news conference.

Instead, police said the hit men had fatally shot 34-year-old Brittany Cormier — the sister of Beaux Cormier, the man who allegedly hired the pair. Police identified the other woman killed as her neighbor, Hope Nettleton, 37.

Police praised Brittany Cormier for intentionally claiming to be the victim in an attempt to protect the woman accusing her brother of rape.

“Brittany Cormier tells the shooter she’s the rape victim, accepting her fate to save the life of an actual victim,” Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet said Monday.

On Friday, authorities charged Beaux Cormier, 35, and the two alleged gunmen, Andrew Eskine and Dalvin Wilson, with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the women’s deaths. Both Eskine and Wilson confessed to killing both women, police said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jack Palladino, 76, Hard-Charging Private Investigator, Dies After ‘Brutal Attack,’ Michael Levenson and Alan Yuhas, Updated Feb. 2, 2021. Jack Palladino, a private investigator who had worked for Bill Clinton and other famous clients, died four days after he sustained a severe head injury in an attempted robbery, the authorities said. Mr. Palladino was placed on life support after sustaining a severe head injury on Jan. 28 in what the San Francisco district attorney, Chesa Boudin, called “a brutal attack” in the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

Two people were arrested in the attack and booked at the San Francisco County Jail on charges that include attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.

Mr. Palladino was known for making surreptitious recordings, deploying attractive women or posing as a journalist to extract information and discredit accusers.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, he was hired by the Clinton campaign after Gennifer Flowers released tapes of phone calls with Mr. Clinton to back up her claim that they had had an affair.

Mr. Palladino embarked on a mission, as he put it in a memo, to impugn Ms. Flowers’s “character and veracity until she is destroyed beyond all recognition.”

“Every acquaintance, employer and past lover should be located and interviewed,” Mr. Palladino wrote. “She is now a shining icon — telling lies that so far have proved all benefit and no cost — for any other opportunist who may be considering making Clinton a target.”

Mr. Weinstein, the once-powerful movie mogul who was sentenced last March to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, had hired Mr. Palladino’s firm to defend him against accusations of sexual assault, the journalist Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker in 2019.

As a part of its work for Weinstein, Mr. Palladino’s firm “created dossiers on both journalists and accusers,” Mr. Farrow reported.
The Morning: Make sense of the day’s news and ideas. David Leonhardt and Times journalists guide you through what’s happening — and why it matters.

According to The New Yorker, Mr. Palladino also worked for the singer R. Kelly, who was arrested in 2019 on federal child pornography and obstruction charges.

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary and Book Excerpt: Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion analyzes the Legal Schnauzer “arrest for blogging” as part of the Alabama Cabal’s repeated attacks on the First Amendment, Roger Shuler, Feb. 2, 2021. Who became so unnerved by Tommy Gallion’s book on Alabama political corruption that he (or they) tried to sabotage it by causing a statement to be included on the copyright page of the second edition that the book is a work of fiction?

We don’t have an answer to that one yet, but Gallion has written a letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon Publishing, in an effort to solve the mystery. We do know, however, what is in Part Three, which was added to the book for the second edition. It focuses largely on victims of what Gallion calls the “Alabama Cabal.” Did something about Part Three help spark the act of sabotage? With the title “Reign of Terror,” Gallion obviously is serious about the subject matter. Here is part of his work from Part Three:

thomas gallion book coverFrom Shadow Government, Southern Style, including Part Three (“Reign of Terror”) (2020), by Thomas T. Gallion III; available from Amazon and Kindle eBooks:

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Cabal’s Raping of Freedom of the Press

Next, the Rileys went after journalist Roger Shuler, who has an internet publication (a “blog”) called Legal Schnauzer, widely read primarily in Alabama. Roger, like Russ Fine, began exposing the corrupt Rileys. . . . What the Rileys did to shut down Shuler and his blogs is terrifying.

Allegedly, the Rileys hand-picked a circuit judge from approximately !00 miles away, rather than use the local judges in Shelby County, which is one county south of Jefferson County (Birmingham), and a Republican-controlled county. What is so alarming is the power the Rileys had over the judicial and police powers in Republican areas in Alabama. Shuler told me that the out-of-town judge would not allow the Shulers to even defend themselves and simply found them in contempt for not appearing at a hearing they did not know about. Carol Shuler has nothing to do with Legal Schnauzer, and they sued her just to further punish her husband. Here are some of the facts presented in the Shulers’ legal fight and are contained in the court files:

* On October 23, 2013, Shelby County deputies entered Roger Shuler’s home without showing a warrant nor telling him why he was being arrested. They proceeded to beat him up, shoved him to the floor three times, and doused him with pepper spray in his garage. One deputy threatened to break Shuler’s arm, handcuffed him, put him in the squad car, and took him to jail for a preliminary injunction issued by the Rileys’ handpicked judge to shut down . . . portions of
his web site. . . . (At this point, there had been no discovery nor trial on the . . . lawsuit for defamation.)

* Later that night, deputies tried to arrest Carol Shuler, who was asleep in her upstairs bedroom. She avoided the deputies and they tried more times to arrest her the first week that Roger was in jail. This outrageous conduct continued until Mrs. Shuler was able to get local, state, and national coverage on what [the Rileys were] doing to them; then it suddenly stopped. This is apparently the only journalist imprisoned because of a preliminary injunction, which is in violation of due process and violation of the law in our country for over 200 years.

Serious questions arose during this reign of terror about whether the lawsuit was even filed before the arrest of Shuler. Shuler could not find out because the judge allowed the file to be sealed without the defendant agreeing to same. Has any lawyer ever heard of a file being sealed when the defendant cannot even review the file of which he is a party?

Later, Attorney David Grespass met with Shuler in his jail cell and said he had been able to see the sealed file, and it showed that no summons had been issued at the time of Shuler’s arrest. Shuler was put in jail by the judge for failure to appear at a hearing for which he had never been served the summons. Therefore, the preliminary injunction order is unconstitutional on its face.

To make matters worse, Shuler was held in jail for five months, and was not allowed to post bond. He was subjected to a suicide, fights, drugs, bodily threats, and pure Hell. Shuler had an attorney friend Greg Morris from Fultondale, Alabama. Shuler asked Morris to help him [with the subsequent civil-rights lawsuit in federal court], and [Morris] agreed to do so, but on a limited basis because he had a solo practice and did not have the funds to get involved in a case that would break him. Morris also contacted the Alabama Bar Association and spoke with an attorney and told him what was happening to Shuler. The bar attorney told him to not get involved. Morris had prepared an affidavit as to the facts and was going to file it with the court. The bar attorney told Morris to tell Shuler, “No, no you don’t have permission, you stay away from that…” Morris stated to Shuler, “I don’t know what they are going to do to you, Roger. I can’t imagine why they have such a hard-on. But the bar is telling me, “Greg, do not get any further involved.”

 

More On U.S. Riots, Terrorism, Impeachment

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the G.O.P. Argument Against Trying Trump Is So Dangerous, Bob Bauer, below right, Feb. 2, 2021. By Republicans’ logic, a president is free to commit insurrection so long as it’s at the end of his term.

As the Senate trial of Donald Trump nears, the defense is coming into view. It appears that most Senate Republicans will not defend Mr. Trump’s conduct around the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. Instead, they will rally around an argument about the chamber’s constitutional powers and the supposedly dangerous consequences for our politics if the Senate tries a “late impeachment.”

robert bauerThis argument is built on two closely connected representations, and Senator Rand Paul previewed them in his recent constitutional objection to “late impeachment.”

The first, in Mr. Paul’s words, is that “impeachment is a tool to remove someone from office. That’s it.” The Senate lacks the power to try an impeached president, once out of office, to determine if he is guilty of the charges the House has levied against him.

The second, Mr. Paul and others argued, is that Mr. Trump is now a “private citizen,” and so any action against him could serve no purpose other than revenge.

So less than a month after the events of Jan. 6, the impeachment process might be foundering on the remarkable claim — one that some senators seem to have adopted disingenuously so that they can avoid a defense of Donald Trump’s action and pose instead as guardians of the Constitution. It is the claim that a president can escape the consequences of egregious, impeachable conduct, and in particular disqualification from future office, so long as the Senate runs out of time to try the case before the end of his term.

This Republican argument wholly misconstrues the text, history and structure of the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It is a mistake to minimize impeachment’s broader objectives by suggesting that removal from office was somehow its only or primary function.

Mr. Bauer teaches constitutional law (the presidency) and political reform at New York University Law School. He served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama and was a senior adviser to the Biden campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, He Threatened Pelosi. Agents Didn’t Wait to See if He Really Meant It, Nicole Hong, Feb. 2, 2021. After a “9/11 moment,” federal authorities have begun arresting people for domestic threats they might have just monitored in the past.

A Proud Boys supporter in New York accused of posting violent threats on the social media network Parler. A Colorado man charged with sending a text about “putting a bullet” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A man near Chicago implicated in a voice mail message about killing Democrats on Inauguration Day.

They were all arrested in recent weeks as part of an escalating effort by law enforcement officials across the country to react more quickly to menacing rhetoric in the wake of the deadly U.S. Capitol breach.

Law enforcement agencies have long struggled to decipher whether online statements could lead to real danger, wary of bringing cases hinged largely on speech that could be protected by the First Amendment. But the volume of tips about threats has skyrocketed since the Capitol assault, leading some officials to decide not to wait to see if violent language developed into action.

Nearly a dozen people who the authorities said made politically motivated threats by social media or phone have been charged with federal crimes. Although most of them were nowhere near Washington on the day of the riot, they have become part of its sprawling fallout, with investigators also scouring the country to track down hundreds of rioters and probing whether right-wing extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys had organized the attack.

“The riot increased our sense of urgency because it showed the possibility of what could happen,” said a senior law enforcement official in New York, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing investigations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s new lawyer says he does not plan to promote election fraud claims, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Katie Shepherd, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). One of former president Donald Trump’s new impeachment lawyers said Sunday that he has no plans to advance claims about a fraud-ridden, stolen election in the upcoming Senate trial — even though the previous legal team is said to have bowed out after Trump stressed he wanted that to be a focus of his defense.

Atlanta-based attorney David Schoen told The Washington Post in an interview Sunday night that he will not “put forward a theory of election fraud. That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”

Schoen, who was named to head Trump’s defense team Sunday evening, along with Bruce L. Castor, a former prosecutor in Pennsylvania, said he would concentrate on making the case that it is unconstitutional to impeach a president after he has left office.

couy griffin facebook

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Nedw Mexico county official Couy Griffin, above, predicted of Inauguration Day at the Capitol, “blood will run out of the building.”

washington post logoWashington Post, N.M. official who warned of ‘blood running out of’ U.S. Capitol jailed pending trial in Jan. 6 riot case, Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, head of Cowboys for Trump, was ordered jailed pending trial after prosecutors argued that his violent rhetoric showed he would not abide by court release conditions.

A New Mexico county commissioner charged in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot was ordered to be jailed pending trial Monday after prosecutors alleged his violent rhetoric and belief that President Biden “will never be president” showed he would not abide by court release conditions.

Otero County, N.M., Commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, head of a group called Cowboys for Trump, was arrested Jan. 17 after prosecutors said a video posted on his personal Facebook page Jan. 7 showed him in restricted areas during the breach of the Capitol.

On the video, prosecutors said, Griffin also vowed to return armed to Washington for Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20, saying, “We could have a Second Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally yesterday. You know, and if we do, then it’s going to be a sad day, because there’s going to be blood running out of that building,” referring to the Capitol.

“But at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it,” Griffin continued, according to a charging affidavit.

In a detention hearing Monday, U.S. Magistrate Zia M. Faruqui of Washington said Griffin’s “very minimal” criminal history and the fact that he is an elected official and faces only a misdemeanor trespassing charge weighed in favor of release.

However, the magistrate added, based on the government’s proffered information, Griffin did not believe in the legitimacy of a democratically elected U.S. government, believed that “violence is on the table” and threatened an “exponential increase in violence.”

“I don’t believe he believes orders are to be respected or followed,” Faruqui said, saying it was only through turning Washington into a “fortress” that authorities deterred further violence to a peaceful transfer of power.

“It appears the defendant does not believe in the rule of law and is a threat to people in the Capitol building,” the judge said.

 

troy faulkner capitol riots

Investigators said they identified Troy Faulkner, above, after he was caught on camera allegedly kicking in a window of the U.S. Capitol while wearing a jacket emblazoned with his own company’s name and telephone number. (Photo: FBI)

HuffPost via Yahoo News, Feds Arrest Man Who Wore Jacket With His Phone Number On It To U.S. Capitol Riot, Lee Moran, Feb. 2, 2021. Federal authorities have arrested an Ohio painter over his alleged participation in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Investigators said they identified Troy Faulkner, 39, in YouTube footage after he was caught on camera allegedly kicking in a window of the Capitol while wearing a jacket emblazoned with his own company’s name and telephone number.

Faulkner, of Whitehall, called an FBI hotline to turn himself in on Jan. 13, a week after the deadly insurrection carried out by supporters of former President Donald Trump, according to charging documents.

Investigators said they matched the cellphone number that Faulkner gave during the call to the one displayed on his jacket. They also confirmed via the Ohio secretary of state’s website that he owned Faulkner Painting, the business promoted on the back of his jacket.

In the days following his call to the hotline, Faulkner posted messages on Facebook claiming “we weren’t fighting against antifa we’re fighting against the government,” per the complaint.

He also reportedly wrote: “We took it to there front door unlike the p****ass BLM.”

On Jan. 14, Faulkner appeared to admit his involvement in the violence, telling the Ohio Capital Journal, “I knew I shouldn’t have kicked in the window. I was upset and wasn’t thinking rationally.”

Faulkner made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Friday. He is charged with two felonies of the destruction of government property and obstruction of an official proceeding and misdemeanor charges of violent entry on the Capitol grounds and entering a restricted building, per the Associated Press. He was remanded in federal custody, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Raked In Cash Denying His Loss, Little Went to Actual Legal Fight, Shane Goldmacher and Rachel Shorey, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party entered this year having stockpiled more than $175 million from fund-raising in November and December based on his false claims of voter fraud, spending only a tiny fraction on lawyers and bills for his effort to overturn the presidential election, according to new campaign finance reports filed on Sunday night.

The picture that emerges in the new Federal Election Commission reports is of Mr. Trump mounting a furious public relations effort to spread the lie and keep generating money from it, rather than making a sustained legal push to try to support his conspiracy theories.

His campaign’s single biggest expense in December was a nearly $5 million media buy paid to the firm that bought his television advertisements. His second-largest payment, $4.4 million, was for online advertising. And the Republican National Committee pocketed millions of dollars in donations — collecting 25 cents for every dollar Mr. Trump raised online — in the final weeks of the year as it spent relatively little on legal costs.

All told, Mr. Trump’s campaign spent only $10 million on legal costs — about one-fifth of what it spent on advertising and fund-raising, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings from Nov. 4 through the end of the year.

During that period, Mr. Trump’s conspiracy-fueled accusations that votes had been miscounted or misappropriated repeatedly fell flat in the courts. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president by voters on Nov. 3, confirmed by the Electoral College on Dec. 14 and ratified by Congress on Jan. 6 — the same day that Mr. Trump incited a mob that stormed the Capitol.

But while Mr. Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election did not keep him in power, they did spur millions in contributions from loyal supporters and provided both him and the party with an enormous infusion of cash.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee ended the year with more than $80 million in the bank after the fund-raising blitz, and Mr. Trump had $31 million in the new political action committee he formed in November for his post-presidential political ventures.

That accounts for just some of their haul. The party and the former president had roughly $63 million more in two shared accounts waiting to be distributed between them, with Mr. Trump’s PAC entitled to 75 percent of the money raised in December, giving him an estimated $70 million PAC war chest.

Most of the money appears to have come online and from smaller contributors, with relatively few five- and six-figure checks, especially once the calendar turned to December. One $100,000 check in early December came from Elaine J. Wold, a major Republican donor in Florida.

U.S. Politics, Governance, Civic Life

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP senators hopeful after virus relief bill talks with Biden, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package that Democratic leaders want to pass quickly. A 10-member GOP group countered with a much narrower $618 billion proposal.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House plays down prospects for Biden-GOP meeting on relief bill, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, Feb. 1, 2021. The White House played down prospects for a Monday evening meeting between President Biden and Senate Republicans on coronavirus relief legislation, with press secretary Jen Psaki indicating it will be a chance for Biden to hear Republicans out, but not negotiate with them.

Psaki also said Biden is more concerned about his proposed $1.9 trillion package being too small than being too big. The 10 GOP senators who are meeting with Biden at 5 p.m. have proposed a $618 billion package, a fraction of what Biden is pushing.

“What this meeting is not is a forum for the president to make or accept an offer,” Psaki said at a White House briefing. “But it’s important to him that he hears this group out on their concerns, on their ideas. He’s always open to making this package stronger.”

As Psaki was briefing reporters, Biden tweeted in support of his proposed relief bill and called on Congress to pass it “immediately.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Republican Economic Plan Is an Insult, Paul Krugman, right, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). It’s bad faith in the name of paul krugmanbipartisanship. So 10 Republican senators are proposing an economic package that is supposed to be an alternative to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The proposal would reportedly be only a fraction of the size of Biden’s plan and would in important ways cut the heart out of economic relief.

Republicans, however, want Biden to give in to their wishes in the name of bipartisanship. Should he?

No, no, 1.9 trillion times no.

It’s not just that what we know about the G.O.P. proposal indicates that it’s grotesquely inadequate for a nation still ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Beyond that, by their behavior — not just over the past few months but going back a dozen years — Republicans have forfeited any right to play the bipartisanship card, or even to be afforded any presumption of good faith.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The GOP’s biggest response to Trump’s baseless voter fraud push could still be coming, Aaron Blake, Feb. 2, 2021. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law has been keeping tabs on efforts to restrict voting rights or curtail mail-in voting in state legislatures. It counts more than 100 bills that have been introduced in 28 states — many of them in states that are under complete GOP control. More than one-third of them are meant to limit mail voting, which was a focus of the baseless fraud claims by Trump and his team.

Bills being introduced, of course, doesn’t mean that they’ll actually be enacted. Any member of a legislature can introduce a bill that may or may not have support in the broader chamber or be signed by the governor.

But in many of the states that decided the 2020 election, Republicans have the power to enact such laws. Thirteen states were decided by eight percentage points or fewer, and six of those have complete Republican control — i.e. both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. Only one of the 13 is completely controlled by Democrats: Nevada.

The inclusion of Arizona, Georgia and Texas on that list is particularly relevant. All three have been trending blue, with Arizona and Georgia going narrowly for President Biden in the 2020 election. But Republicans continue to have the power to increase voting restrictions in them — restrictions that could affect future elections for years to come. There will undoubtedly be significant pushes in each of them, especially in Arizona and Georgia, given how much many Republicans in those states have argued the 2020 results were invalid.

Forbes, Pentagon Fires Trump Appointees — Like Lewandowski, Gingrich — From Advisory Board, Joe Walsh, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is purging all of the Pentagon’s advisory boards, he announced this week, firing dozens of unpaid advisors and derailing former President Donald Trump’s controversial attempts late last year to give board seats to his political allies.

Austin is asking every member of the Department of Defense’s more than 40 advisory committees — which offer outside advice on topics like policy, technology and business — to step down in the next two weeks, Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.

DOD is launching a review of all advisory boards that weren’t set up by Congress, and Austin could order some boards to be reorganized or eliminated altogether, Kirby said (Austin’s decision was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday).

Kirby says this sweeping action was driven partly by the Trump administration’s decision to abruptly fire scores of board members late last year and replace them with political loyalists like former campaign chief Corey Lewandowski, Republican operative David Bossie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Army officer Anthony Tata.

Last week, the Pentagon prevented some of those Trump appointees from being seated on advisory boards by halting their onboarding process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Shrinking the GOP, one state at a time, Jennifer Rubin, right, Feb. 2, 2021. The Hill reported last week: “More than 30,000 voters who had jennifer rubin new headshotbeen registered members of the Republican Party have changed their voter registration in the weeks after a mob of pro-Trump supporters attacked the Capitol — an issue that led the House to impeach [President Donald Trump] for inciting the violence.”

The defections underscore the urgency of Republicans’ efforts to stem their demographic decline. As the portion of electorate that was White went from 71 percent to 67 percent between 2016 and 2020, Republicans were once again reminded that the diversification of the electorate is bad news for a party that relies so heavily on white grievance.

That should explain why Republican efforts to make voting harder, which has been underway for years, intensified after the 2020 election. As the progressive Brennan Center for Justice explains: “In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced three times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to this time last year. Twenty-eight states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 106 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).”

Attorney Lin Wood with President Trump at the White House (March 2020).

Attorney Lin Wood with President Trump at the White House (March 2020).

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump lawyer Lin Wood is having a really bad day, Bill Palmer, Feb. 2, 2021. Trump lawyer Lin Wood made himself infamous for falsely claiming that the 2020 election was rigged. He made himself a pariah when he began threatening violence against Mike Pence, among other dangerously inappropriate remarks. Now Wood may have made himself an inmate.

bill palmer report logo headerDespite the claims of conspiracy theorists like Lin Wood, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. But now it turns out there may indeed have been one instance of voter fraud in Georgia – committed by Lin Wood. That’s right, the state now says it’s investigating whether Wood illegally voted in the Georgia election while he was a resident of South Carolina.

It’s not clear how far this will go in a legal sense. To be criminally charged with voter fraud, there generally has to be fraudulent intent, and not merely an honest mistake. But at the least, this completely takes the legs out from Wood’s core argument about voter fraud. Just about the only case of voter fraud in Georgia was committed by him.

This comes after the Georgia bar launched an investigation into whether to disbar him from practicing law, and decided to seek a mental health evaluation of him. Meanwhile we’re still waiting to see whether he’ll face criminal charges for his explicit threat to kill Mike Pence. In any case, Lin Wood is having quite a bad day as it is.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Liz Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump prompts a voter rebellion in her home state, Robert Samuels, Feb. 2, 2021. A star of the Republican Party widely seen as a potential future House speaker, Liz Cheney has suddenly emerged as a vivid example of something completely different — a traditional Republican who may no longer have a home in a party dominated by Trump and the far right.

No matter that she voted with Trump more than 90 percent of the time, or that she occupies the lone Wyoming congressional seat that her father, the former vice president, held for 10 years. Few voters care that as the third ranking Republican in the House she is well positioned to bring home federal spending.

In this city in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, her reputation has boiled down to a simple question: whether she is for Trump or against Trump. And, as far as many people here are concerned, with her Jan. 13 impeachment vote, Cheney staked her claim.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg to lead Transportation Dept., the first openly gay person confirmed to a Cabinet seat, Michael Laris and
Ian Duncan, Feb. 2, 2021. The days since the presidential inauguration have been wall-to-wall Pete Buttigieg.

He’s been on “The View,” “The Tonight Show” and talked to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, deploying the rhetoric he used on the campaign trail to boost President Biden and their shared agenda. The goals focus on climate change and racial justice, in addition to more traditional issues of infrastructure, safety and federal spending.

pete buttigieg mayor south bend inIn the days before his 86-to-13 Senate confirmation Tuesday to become transportation secretary, Buttigieg, right, has taken the new administration’s broader message to people who might miss it. In the process, he’s seeking to expand views of what it means to be transportation secretary — a job Biden says will have an outsize role in pushing his priorities but one that comes with sharp limits on formal powers.

The position’s low-profile could present Buttigieg with an opportunity, public policy experts say.

“Nobody has any idea what that job entails,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who studies political communication and is director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “If you’re going to define a role, it’s much easier than redefining a role.”

The former South Bend, Ind., mayor honed his political skills in the Republican lion’s den of Fox News, where he appeared on Biden’s behalf during the campaign. “He’s basically becoming a spokesperson for the administration,” Jamieson said.

washington post logomichael gerson file photoWashington Post, Opinion: Trumpism is American fascism, Michael Gerson, right, Feb. 1, 2021. It is revealing how a political movement that claims to be dedicated to the recovery of national greatness has so readily and completely abandoned many defining national ideals. Donald Trump’s promise of American strength has involved the betrayal of American identity. 

Axios, Schiff lobbying Newsom to be California’s next AG, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba, Feb. 2, 2021. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is quietly lobbying Gov. Gavin Newsom and his allies to appoint him California’s next attorney general, according to people familiar with the matter.

adam schiff squareWhy it matters: If Newsom selects Schiff, right, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a confidant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats would lose a powerful party voice in the U.S. House and temporarily give up a seat in their slim 221-211 majority.

Nonetheless, Pelosi has given her approval to Schiff’s bid, a clear sign she thinks she can manage without him. according to people familiar with the matter. Spokespersons for Schiff and Pelosi declined comment.

The attorney general’s job also would better position Schiff, a high-profile Democrat who led the Russia investigation into then-President Trump, to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, should the 87-year-old decide not to run for reelection in 2024.

The AG’s job is being vacated by Xavier Becerra, who President Biden has nominated to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Russian Activist Navalny Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison, Anton Troianovski, Feb. 2, 2021. A Russian court sentenced Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, to more than two years in prison on Tuesday, a decision likely to send him for a lengthy term in a far-flung penal colony for the first time.

alexey navalny 2017The Russian authorities have signaled that they will not be swayed by public pressure to release Mr. Navalny, right, the 44-year-old anticorruption activist. They have put several of his top allies under house arrest, and on Sunday they deployed a huge police force in cities across Russia to quell protests over the past couple of weeks calling for his freedom.

“Hundreds of thousands cannot be locked up,” Mr. Navalny said during the hearing before he was sentenced. “I really hope that more and more people will recognize this. And when they recognize this — and that moment will come — all of this will fall apart, because you cannot lock up the whole country.”

In anticipation of more protests on Tuesday, a heavy presence of riot police officers in body armor, camouflage and black helmets cordoned off the Moscow neighborhood surrounding the courthouse. Officers stood in front of entrances to the nearest subway station and checked people’s documents, and parking lots around the station were filled with police vans carrying reinforcements. The police detained at least 237 people, according to the activist group OVD-Info.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Myanmar coup, Suu Kyi’s ouster heralds a return to military rule, Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin, Feb. 2, 2021 (print ed.). Aung San Suu Kyi, right, defended Myanmar’s generals against genocide charges at The Hague. She praised soldiers as they unleashed artillery against ethnic minority settlements.

aung san suu kyi 2011 myanmar She took only modest steps toward democratic changes that would chip away at the army’s political power.

It wasn’t enough.

On Monday, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup, detaining Suu Kyi, elected ministers from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party and others in a predawn raid. Though condemned internationally for defending the military and its campaign against the myanmar flagRohingya minority, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest until 2010 now finds herself again at the generals’ mercy.

The coup underscored the fragility of Myanmar’s decade-old, quasi-democratic transition. Many assumed that despite its imperfections, Myanmar’s political evolution would continue with Suu Kyi as head of the civilian government and with entrenched powers for the military, led by Min Aung Hlaing. But the military was never comfortable with its enduring unpopularity and Suu Kyi’s godlike status among ordinary Myanmar people, analysts said, despite its role in engineering the country’s opening after half a century of isolationist rule.

Wayne Madsen Report, Analysis: The Myanmar coup and Erik Prince, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 1, 2021. The military coup that ousted Myanmar’s democratically-elected State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, her government, and the civilian governments of all of Myanmar’s states and regions, has provided Joe Biden and his wayne madesen report logoSecretary of State, Antony Blinken, with their first foreign policy crisis.

erik princeAnd this crisis, along with looming problems in Yemen, Libya, South Sudan, and Mozambique, may involve chicanery and treason on an international scale by Erik Prince, left, the brother of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. Prince, who uses the code name “Echo Papa,” has been at the center of Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns’ interfaces with foreign actors, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Feb. 1

Top Headlines

 

More On Virus Victims, Responses

 

Trump Impeachment, Election Claims, Fund-raising, Riots

 

U.S. Politics, Governance

 

U.S. Law, Courts

 

U.S. Media News

 

World News

 

Top Stories

 

capitol mob

ny times logoNew York Times, 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election, Jim Rutenberg, Jo Becker, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, Matthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidt, Updated Feb. 1, 2021. How a Lie Stoked the Assault on the Capitol.

In the days between election and inauguration, a lie former President Trump had been grooming for years overwhelmed the Republican Party. A Times examination shows how that lie grew, finally managing to upend the peaceful transfer of power that had been the bedrock of American democracy.

By Thursday the 12th of November, President Donald J. Trump’s election lawyers were concluding that the reality he faced was the inverse of the narrative he was promoting in his comments and on Twitter. There was no substantial evidence of election fraud, and there were nowhere near enough “irregularities” to reverse the outcome in the courts.

djt march 2020 CustomMr. Trump did not, could not, win the election, not by “a lot” or even a little. His presidency would soon be over.

Allegations of Democratic malfeasance had disintegrated in embarrassing fashion. A supposed suitcase of illegal ballots in Detroit proved to be a box of camera equipment. “Dead voters” were turning up alive in television and newspaper interviews.

The week was coming to a particularly demoralizing close: In Arizona, the Trump lawyers were preparing to withdraw their main lawsuit as the state tally showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading by more than 10,000 votes, against the 191 ballots they had identified for challenge.

As he met with colleagues to discuss strategy, the president’s deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, was urgently summoned to the Oval Office. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was on speaker phone, pressing the president to file a federal suit in Georgia and sharing a conspiracy theory gaining traction in conservative media — that Dominion Systems voting machines had transformed thousands of Trump votes into Biden votes.

Mr. Clark warned that the suit Mr. Giuliani had in mind would be dismissed on procedural grounds. And a state audit was barreling toward a conclusion that the Dominion machines had operated without interference or foul play.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Clark a liar, according to people with direct knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Clark called Mr. Giuliani something much worse. And with that, the election-law experts were sidelined in favor of the former New York City mayor, the man who once again was telling the president what he wanted to hear.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Sleight of Hand: Shouting Fraud, While Pocketing Donors’ Cash, Shane Goldmacher and Rachel Shorey, Feb. 1, 2021. With breathless, often misleading appeals, the former president promised small donors that he was using the money to fight the election results, but in fact stored much of it for future use.

With often misleading appeals, the former president promised that he was using the money to fight the election results, but in fact stored much of it.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Myanmar coup, Suu Kyi’s ouster heralds a return to military rule, Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin, Feb. 1, 2021. Aung San Suu Kyi, right, defended Myanmar’s generals against genocide charges at The Hague. She praised soldiers as they unleashed artillery against ethnic minority settlements.

aung san suu kyi 2011 myanmar She took only modest steps toward democratic changes that would chip away at the army’s political power.

It wasn’t enough.

On Monday, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup, detaining Suu Kyi, elected ministers from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party and others in a predawn raid. Though condemned internationally for defending the military and its campaign against the myanmar flagRohingya minority, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest until 2010 now finds herself again at the generals’ mercy.

The coup underscored the fragility of Myanmar’s decade-old, quasi-democratic transition. Many assumed that despite its imperfections, Myanmar’s political evolution would continue with Suu Kyi as head of the civilian government and with entrenched powers for the military, led by Min Aung Hlaing. But the military was never comfortable with its enduring unpopularity and Suu Kyi’s godlike status among ordinary Myanmar people, analysts said, despite its role in engineering the country’s opening after half a century of isolationist rule.

Wayne Madsen Report, Analysis: The Myanmar coup and Erik Prince, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 1, 2021. The military coup that ousted Myanmar’s democratically-elected State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, her government, and the civilian governments of all of Myanmar’s states and regions, has provided Joe Biden and his wayne madesen report logoSecretary of State, Antony Blinken, with their first foreign policy crisis.

erik princeAnd this crisis, along with looming problems in Yemen, Libya, South Sudan, and Mozambique, may involve chicanery and treason on an international scale by Erik Prince, left, the brother of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. Prince, who uses the code name “Echo Papa,” has been at the center of Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns’ interfaces with foreign actors, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

 

More On Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Feb. 1, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 103,604,527, Deaths: 2,239,418
U.S. Cases:     26,768,819, Deaths:   452,286

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, based on current scenario 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, New diabetes cases linked to covid-19, Erin Blakemore, Feb. 1, 2021. Researchers don’t understand exactly how the disease might trigger diabetes, or whether the cases are temporary or permanent. Researchers don’t understand exactly how the disease might trigger Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or whether the cases are temporary or permanent. But 14 percent of those with severe covid-19 developed a form of the disorder, one analysis found.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates, U.S. Vaccination Rollout Gathers Speed, as Threat of Variants Grows, Staff Reports, Feb. 1, 2021. Amid signs of progress, scientists warned the spread of coronavirus variants must be contained before they become dominant. Here’s the latest.

  • Vaccinations are rising as the U.S. races to outrun the rapidly spreading variants.
  • Amid mounting public frustration, France resists a new national lockdown.
  • A snowstorm forces New York City to suspend vaccinations as it sows chaos along the Northeastern coast.
  • BioNTech promises 75 million additional vaccine doses for the E.U.
  • U.S. cases are falling, but the daily toll is still enormous.
  • The Chinese police arrest more than 80 people suspected of manufacturing fake vaccines.
  • $500 billion in aid to small businesses: How much did it help?

 

More On U.S. Riots, Terrorism, Impeachment

seth abramson headshotProof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump’s Dozen Impeachment Defenses, Ranked in Order of Legal and Factual Validity, seth abramson proof logoSeth Abramson (shown at right, lawyer, professor, author, syndicated columnist), Jan. 31, 2021. A dry run of Donald’s dozen debunked, discredited, and disreputable defenses.

Here are the dozen defenses Trump will flirt with at his impeachment trial, ranked by their plausibility, viability, and accuracy as a matter of both law and fact. {Note: Keep in mind that “trial” should be in quotes here, as this isn’t a criminal trial but a political one, so typical courtroom protocols regarding evidence, witnesses, conflicts of interest, decorum, examinations, and common sense are thrown over the balcony.}

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Names Two Members of Impeachment Defense Team, Maggie Haberman and William K. Rashbaum, Feb. 1, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump officialFormer President Donald J. Trump on Sunday named two lawyers who will represent him in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate, a day after he parted ways with five members of his initial team.

David Schoen, below left, a Georgia-based lawyer who represented the longtime Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., and Bruce Castor, below right, a former district attorney in Pennsylvania, were announced in a news release from Mr. Trump’s office.

david schoen“Notably, Schoen has already been working with the 45th president and other advisers to prepare for the upcoming trial, and both Schoen and Castor agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional — a fact 45 senators voted in agreement with last week,” the news release said.

The lawyers will be deployed immediately: Mr. Trump is due to file a response to the House charges by Tuesday, and the trial is scheduled to start next week. The announcement came a day after Mr. Trump parted ways with his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, a South Carolina-based lawyer whom Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, helped bring to the Trump team, and four other lawyers who were supposed to work on the defense.

bruce castorA person familiar with the decision called it “mutual,” and others said there was no chemistry between Mr. Trump and Mr. Bowers, a quality Mr. Trump values in his lawyers. Mr. Bowers also maintained a low-key appearance in the press, while Mr. Trump prefers people who will go on television and defend him.

There also was never a letter of intent signed between Mr. Trump and the lawyers who left, and a person close to the former president said there was a disagreement about strategy. Mr. Trump has told advisers he wants the defense to focus on his baseless claims about election fraud, a person familiar with the discussions said. A person close to the former president disputed that that was the case, but conceded that Mr. Trump had dismissively said the case was so simple that he could try it himself and save money. Related story below:

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump taps new impeachment lawyers who drew spotlight in past work, Rosalind S. Helderman, Amy Gardner and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 1, 2021. One described his jailhouse visit with Jeffrey Epstein on Fox News. The other built a reputation as an imposing county prosecutor who put murderers behind bars but declined to prosecute comedian Bill Cosby.

One lawyer has touted the number of accused mobsters who dot his client list and described his jailhouse visit with accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein during a spot on Fox News.

The other built a reputation as an imposing county prosecutor who put murderers behind bars — only to come under the spotlight after he declined to prosecute comedian Bill Cosby on charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted a Temple University athletics official.

david schoenNow, the duo of Atlanta-based attorney David Schoen, left, and Pennsylvania lawyer Bruce L. Castor Jr. are taking over former president Donald Trump’s legal effort, just a week before his Senate trial for allegedly inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

They replace a group of low-key, respected South Carolina practitioners, who bowed out of representing the former president just before their first filing on Trump’s behalf is due Tuesday.

In announcing Schoen and Castor’s hiring on Sunday, Trump’s office said the two men were chosen because of their “national profiles and significant trial experience in high-profile cases.”

With Schoen and Castor, Trump — who has long been more consumed with his lawyers’ television appearances than their legal bona fides — gains two solo practitioners who are not shy about public attention, even if they are not leading constitutional scholars.

Castor is the cousin of Steve Castor, the House minority counsel who gained prominence during Trump’s first impeachment trial, and Steve Castor played a role in his cousin’s hiring, according to a person familiar with the decision, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations.

Trump’s legal team had been impressed with Steve Castor’s performance during the televised impeachment hearings, and “he was part of the discussions” to find new counsel after the previous team parted ways with the president, the person said.

Schoen told The Washington Post that he was asked by Trump to join the team about two weeks ago — he believes at the recommendation of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, whom he briefly represented. He said he had talked with Trump once before, when he called Trump to thank him for commuting the sentence for Stone. When Trump called, he “recognized his voice right away.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s new lawyer says he does not plan to promote election fraud claims, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Katie Shepherd. Feb. 1, 2021. One of former president Donald Trump’s new impeachment lawyers said Sunday that he has no plans to advance claims about a fraud-ridden, stolen election in the upcoming Senate trial — even though the previous legal team is said to have bowed out after Trump stressed he wanted that to be a focus of his defense.

Atlanta-based attorney David Schoen told The Washington Post in an interview Sunday night that he will not “put forward a theory of election fraud. That’s not what this impeachment trial is about.”

Schoen, who was named to head Trump’s defense team Sunday evening, along with Bruce L. Castor, a former prosecutor in Pennsylvania, said he would concentrate on making the case that it is unconstitutional to impeach a president after he has left office.

Axios, Scoop: Fees — not just strategy — blew up Trump’s legal team, Alayna Treene, Feb. 1, 2021. Disagreements over legal strategy weren’t the only reason Donald Trump’s defense team collapsed just days before his second impeachment trial, Axios has learned.

What we’re hearing: The notoriously stingy former president and his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, wrangled over compensation during a series of tense phone calls, sources familiar with their conversations said. The argument came even though Trump has raised over $170 million from the public that could be used on his legal defenses.

The two initially agreed Bowers would be paid $250,000 for his individual services, a figure that “delighted” Trump, one of the sources said. However, Trump didn’t realize Bowers hadn’t included additional expenses — including more lawyers, researchers and other legal fees that would be accrued on the job.
He was said to be livid when Bowers came back to him with a total budget of $3 million. Trump called the South Carolina attorney and eventually negotiated him down to $1 million.

All of this infuriated Trump and his political team, who think the case will be straightforward, given 45 Republican senators already voted to dismiss the trial on the basis it’s unconstitutional to convict a former president on impeachment charges.

Trump’s political arm also was planning to pay separately for audiovisuals, a rapid-response team and legislative liaison.

In the end, the money dispute added to frustrations Bowers and the other lawyers felt about whether the former president’s claims of election fraud should be central to their arguments.

 

couy griffin facebook

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Nedw Mexico county official Couy Griffin, above, predicted of Inauguration Day at the Capitol, “blood will run out of the building.”

washington post logoWashington Post, N.M. official who warned of ‘blood running out of’ U.S. Capitol jailed pending trial in Jan. 6 riot case, Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 1, 2021. Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, head of Cowboys for Trump, was ordered jailed pending trial after prosecutors argued that his violent rhetoric showed he would not abide by court release conditions.

A New Mexico county commissioner charged in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot was ordered to be jailed pending trial Monday after prosecutors alleged his violent rhetoric and belief that President Biden “will never be president” showed he would not abide by court release conditions.

Otero County, N.M., Commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, head of a group called Cowboys for Trump, was arrested Jan. 17 after prosecutors said a video posted on his personal Facebook page Jan. 7 showed him in restricted areas during the breach of the Capitol.

On the video, prosecutors said, Griffin also vowed to return armed to Washington for Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20, saying, “We could have a Second Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally yesterday. You know, and if we do, then it’s going to be a sad day, because there’s going to be blood running out of that building,” referring to the Capitol.

“But at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it,” Griffin continued, according to a charging affidavit.

In a detention hearing Monday, U.S. Magistrate Zia M. Faruqui of Washington said Griffin’s “very minimal” criminal history and the fact that he is an elected official and faces only a misdemeanor trespassing charge weighed in favor of release.

However, the magistrate added, based on the government’s proffered information, Griffin did not believe in the legitimacy of a democratically elected U.S. government, believed that “violence is on the table” and threatened an “exponential increase in violence.”

“I don’t believe he believes orders are to be respected or followed,” Faruqui said, saying it was only through turning Washington into a “fortress” that authorities deterred further violence to a peaceful transfer of power.

“It appears the defendant does not believe in the rule of law and is a threat to people in the Capitol building,” the judge said.

washington post logoWashington Post, One of Trump’s new lawyers declined to charge Bill Cosby. The other maintains Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, Katie Shepherd, Feb. 1, 2021. When Bruce L. Castor Jr. ran for district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa., in 2015, the campaign hinged on his decision years earlier not to charge comedian Bill Cosby with sexual assault. And after Castor lost the race, he sued the woman he blamed for the defeat: one of Cosby’s victims.

His suit, which was dismissed in 2018, made national headlines as the prosecutor who defeated him criminally charged Cosby, eventually sending him to prison.

Now, Castor is poised to represent another politician dismayed over a recent election loss: former president Donald Trump.

Following a sudden exodus of lawyers who had been working on Trump’s defense for his Feb. 9 impeachment trial, the former president on Sunday announced that he’ll be represented by Castor and David Schoen, another attorney with ties to several high-profile, controversial defendants, including Roger Stone and Jeffrey Epstein.

Castor and Schoen will take on the job after Trump’s previous attorneys left over his insistence that they argue he actually won the 2020 presidential election, a false claim the former president has often repeated since November, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Raked In Cash Denying His Loss, Little Went to Actual Legal Fight, Shane Goldmacher and Rachel Shorey, Feb. 1, 2021.  Former President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party entered this year having stockpiled more than $175 million from fund-raising in November and December based on his false claims of voter fraud, spending only a tiny fraction on lawyers and bills for his effort to overturn the presidential election, according to new campaign finance reports filed on Sunday night.

The picture that emerges in the new Federal Election Commission reports is of Mr. Trump mounting a furious public relations effort to spread the lie and keep generating money from it, rather than making a sustained legal push to try to support his conspiracy theories.

His campaign’s single biggest expense in December was a nearly $5 million media buy paid to the firm that bought his television advertisements. His second-largest payment, $4.4 million, was for online advertising. And the Republican National Committee pocketed millions of dollars in donations — collecting 25 cents for every dollar Mr. Trump raised online — in the final weeks of the year as it spent relatively little on legal costs.

All told, Mr. Trump’s campaign spent only $10 million on legal costs — about one-fifth of what it spent on advertising and fund-raising, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings from Nov. 4 through the end of the year.

During that period, Mr. Trump’s conspiracy-fueled accusations that votes had been miscounted or misappropriated repeatedly fell flat in the courts. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president by voters on Nov. 3, confirmed by the Electoral College on Dec. 14 and ratified by Congress on Jan. 6 — the same day that Mr. Trump incited a mob that stormed the Capitol.

But while Mr. Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election did not keep him in power, they did spur millions in contributions from loyal supporters and provided both him and the party with an enormous infusion of cash.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee ended the year with more than $80 million in the bank after the fund-raising blitz, and Mr. Trump had $31 million in the new political action committee he formed in November for his post-presidential political ventures.

That accounts for just some of their haul. The party and the former president had roughly $63 million more in two shared accounts waiting to be distributed between them, with Mr. Trump’s PAC entitled to 75 percent of the money raised in December, giving him an estimated $70 million PAC war chest.

Most of the money appears to have come online and from smaller contributors, with relatively few five- and six-figure checks, especially once the calendar turned to December. One $100,000 check in early December came from Elaine J. Wold, a major Republican donor in Florida.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Hey Donald Trump, please proceed! Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 1, 2021. After his newly hired impeachment trial legal team quit over the weekend, bill palmerDonald Trump has hastily announced that he’s hired yet another new legal team.

bill palmer report logo headerNotably, multiple major media outlets reported that Trump’s lawyers quit because he wanted them to spend the impeachment trial arguing phony conspiracy theories about how he secretly won the 2020 election, and they weren’t willing to do it. It’s not yet clear if Trump’s new lawyers are going to be willing to push these conspiracy theories. But if Trump decides to go that route, he’ll merely be helping to finish himself off.

While a conviction would be nice, that’s not really what this impeachment trial is about. It’s an opportunity to drive home the message to the public that Trump really did incite the Capitol terrorist attack, and that it was part of a larger failed crime spree centered around trying to steal the election. It’ll drive Trump’s approval rating even lower, and it’ll drive up public demand for Trump’s criminal prosecution – which is what will really keep him from being able to make some kind of unlikely comeback in 2024.

If Trump decides to have his lawyers spend the impeachment trial pushing election conspiracy theories, this has to be seen as a victory for those who want to see Trump finished off. Such nonsense will only hurt Trump’s approval rating and remind everyone of his guilt. Instead of fretting over the notion that Trump might turn his trial into a circus, we should simply tell him to “please proceed.”

U.S. Politics, Governance, Civic Life

ny times logoNew York Times, Democratic Party Enters 2021 in Power — and Flush With Cash, for a Change, Shane Goldmacher, Feb. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The Democratic National Committee has a roughly $75 million war chest, raising the party’s hopes of keeping power in 2022 and accelerating a Democratic shift in the Sun Belt states.

After years of flirting with financial disaster, the Democratic Party entered 2021 not only in control of the White House, the House and the Senate but with dnc square logomore money in the bank than ever before at the start of a political cycle.

The Democratic National Committee will report to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday that it ended 2020 with $38.8 million in the bank and $3 million in debts, according to an advance look at its financial filings. In addition, there is roughly $40 million earmarked for the party, left over from its joint operations with the Biden campaign, according to people familiar with the matter. This gives the Democrats a roughly $75 million war chest at the start of President Biden’s tenure.

“This is a number that is unimaginable,” said Howard Dean, a former party chairman.

The D.N.C. was badly outmatched financially in recent years by the Republican National Committee — by as much as 50 to 1 in terms of cash less than 18 months ago — and the enormous $70 million balance could have significant political consequences for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. The R.N.C. will also detail its finances entering 2021 on Sunday. It had $58 million in the bank as of late November, with President Trump’s baseless accusations of fraud helping raise tens of millions into its coffers in the days after the election.

“We had to juggle who we were going to pay,” Tom Perez, who until earlier this month was the chairman of the D.N.C., said of the early part of his tenure, which began in 2017.

jaime harrison twitterMr. Perez has been succeeded as party chair by Jaime Harrison, who lost his bid last year to unseat Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, left.

With Mr. Biden occupying the White House, the party also has an institutionalist president who is expected to invest far more than his predecessors in party-building efforts. Former President Barack Obama famously shunned the party apparatus in favor of his own organization, a move widely thought to have harmed the party as Democrats ceded control of state legislative chambers and governorships during his two terms.

Mr. Biden’s choice of Mr. Harrison, a former state party chairman in South Carolina, has buoyed the hopes of some state-level leaders, who often feel forgotten, that they will be better treated in the Biden era. Mr. Harrison has already pledged a “50-state” investment strategy, pushing to embed the party into communities and states that are off the traditional battleground map.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Democrats are faced with a choice. Protect the filibuster or protect democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Feb. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The ej dionne w open neckDemocrats can use their House and Senate majorities to reform our politics, guarantee voting rights and enhance our democracy. Or they can surrender to an anti-majoritarian, money-dominated system, and allow the more accessible approach to voting created during the coronavirus pandemic to be destroyed.

This means that the party must recognize that the Senate filibuster, contrary to happy myth, does not promote bipartisanship or constructive compromise by requiring most bills to get 60 votes. No, in the face of a radicalized Republican Party, maintaining the current filibuster rules means abandoning any aspirations to a legacy of genuine achievement.

Sorry, there is no third way here.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP senators hopeful after virus relief bill talks with Biden, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, Feb. 1, 2021. President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package that Democratic leaders want to pass quickly. A 10-member GOP group countered with a much narrower $618 billion proposal.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House plays down prospects for Biden-GOP meeting on relief bill, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, Feb. 1, 2021. The White House played down prospects for a Monday evening meeting between President Biden and Senate Republicans on coronavirus relief legislation, with press secretary Jen Psaki indicating it will be a chance for Biden to hear Republicans out, but not negotiate with them.

Psaki also said Biden is more concerned about his proposed $1.9 trillion package being too small than being too big. The 10 GOP senators who are meeting with Biden at 5 p.m. have proposed a $618 billion package, a fraction of what Biden is pushing.

“What this meeting is not is a forum for the president to make or accept an offer,” Psaki said at a White House briefing. “But it’s important to him that he hears this group out on their concerns, on their ideas. He’s always open to making this package stronger.”

As Psaki was briefing reporters, Biden tweeted in support of his proposed relief bill and called on Congress to pass it “immediately.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What the Republican counteroffer to Biden’s stimulus plan means, Jennifer Rubin, right, Feb. 1, 2021. Ten Republicans on Sunday jennifer rubin new headshotsketched out a $600 billion counteroffer to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. While the GOP proposal contains money for coronavirus testing and vaccination as well as for small businesses and some direct payments to individuals (albeit a smaller amount to a more restrictive group of people), the gap between the two plans is enormous.

The Post also reports: “The GOP proposal jettisons certain elements that have drawn Republican opposition, such as increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

The counteroffer underscores several aspects of the dynamic between Congress and the new president.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosFirst, despite the media hounding the White House about when they will resort to reconciliation, the outreach from the White House has induced at least some kind of response. This is how negotiations work: posturing, initial offers and more discussion before you can determine if there is a bill to be had. Second, the Republican counteroffer suggests there is some segment of the party nervous about pure obstructionism. Biden has been banking on a split in Republican ranks that would give him reasonable negotiating partners to bypass Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his MAGA crowd.

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Biden has all the leverage on this, Bill Palmer, Feb. 1, 2021. President Biden has a two-thirds approval rating. In a majority rule society, that is overwhelming unity. The republicans can either come on board or not. But Biden has already unified the country in the way that matters, and he’s going to carry out his unified majority’s agenda.

bill palmer report logo headerYes, President Biden is meeting with the ten Republican Senators who are offering him an absurd lowball “compromise” on COVID relief. That’s because he has to take the meeting, or else they’ll criticize him for not taking the meeting. But Biden has all the leverage, and he knows it, and so do they. Biden will get his relief package with fifty votes through reconciliation if the Republicans don’t cave.

I’m less interested in whether Trump is convicted at his impeachment trial, and more interested in Trump getting convicted at his criminal trial. 

Axios, Hawley rakes in grassroots cash after Capitol attack, Lachlan Markay, Feb. 1, 2021. January was Sen. Josh Hawley’s best fundraising month — by far — since his 2018 election, with a flood of small-dollar donations more than eclipsing the corporate cash he lost after leading an effort to block certification of President Biden’s Electoral College win.

Why it matters: Corporate PACs cut ties with the Missouri Republican after the Capitol insurrection that followed the Hawley-led gambit. But his grassroots fundraising bonanza in the weeks after shows the GOP base still firmly in Hawley’s camp.

What’s new: According to a memo released by Hawley’s campaign on Monday, his political operation brought in $969,000 in January.

That’s more than Hawley’s campaign has raised in any single month since October 2018, just before he was elected to the Senate.
The average donation in January was $52, with contributions from roughly 12,000 new donors, according to the campaign. It now has roughly $2.1 million cash on hand.
“It is crystal clear that a strong majority of Missouri voters and donors stand firmly with Senator Hawley, in spite of the continued false attacks coming from the radical left,” says the memo by Hawley pollster Wes Anderson.

Hawley’s January fundraising got a huge assist from an independent political group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, which told Axios last week that it had already bundled more than $300,000 in contributions for the senator since the Capitol attack.

The big picture: The surge in grassroots support for Hawley underscores a larger GOP divide widened by last month’s attack on the Capitol.

Three prominent Missouri Republicans—former Sen. Jack Danforth and high-dollar GOP donors Sam Fox and David Humphreys—also disavowed Hawley.
Anderson’s memo said none of the three had donated to Hawley’s campaign since 2017. But their public rebukes were emblematic of the establishment’s fury at him.

The bottom line: The financial incentive for many Republicans right now is to remain firmly in line with Trump and his still-loyal backers.

The American Prospect, Analysis: First 100 Days: CBO May Determine Wages for 32 Million Workers, David Dayen, Feb. 1, 2021.Yesterday, ten Republican Senators took their shot at weakening Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, proposing a smaller bill and seeking a meeting with the President.

The Republican proposal would maintain vaccine funding from Biden’s bill, but reduce eligibility for direct payments, cut the proposed federal boost to unemployment from $400 to $300 and limit the extension to June (from September), remove state and local fiscal aid and a host of other measures, and generally skimp everywhere. It would cost around $600 billion, less than one-third of Biden’s plan.

Biden is humoring the Senators by inviting them to the White House for a meeting, but I doubt much comes of it. Senate Democrats are uninterested in negotiating down needed relief, wary of how this played out in 2009, with a too-small stimulus and big midterm losses. Nobody is choking on the $1.9 trillion number thus far, and no fetish is being made of bipartisanship.

Bernie Sanders says Democrats have the votes to pass Biden’s bill without Republican support, using a process he would manage called budget reconciliation. Republicans acknowledge that, even if their bill gets passed, Democrats can advance more in reconciliation. The House is kicking off that process today, and the Senate will as early as tomorrow. But there’s one critical element to the reconciliation process that will determine whether millions of Americans will get a raise at work. And that in large part will come down to a group of economists in the Congressional Budget Office.

Briefly, the reconciliation process works this way: both chambers of Congress pass a budget resolution, with instructions to various committees. The committees go back and write a bill, under some broad guidelines in the budget resolution that will match what Biden wants in his American Rescue Plan (namely, a $1.9 trillion bill). Because it’s a budget bill, everything in it has to have a significant budgetary impact. That’s true of almost all of the relief bill, which is largely just spending on various items.

However, there’s one element of Biden’s plan that, at first glance, might not seem budgetary. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, in line with a bill Sanders and others released in January. The bill would increase wages for 32 million Americans. But will it survive the Byrd rule, named for former Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, which dictates whether measures have enough budget impact to make it through reconciliation?

The Congressional Budget Office has the role of “scoring” legislation for its budgetary impact. What CBO says doesn’t necessarily dictate to the Senate parliamentarian whether a bill can be accomplished in reconciliation. But it doesn’t hurt to show a big number at CBO.

When CBO scored the Raise the Wage Act (the $15/hour minimum wage bill) in 2019, it showed almost no budget impact, with spending over the 10-year budget window of just $76 million. That’s because it only assessed the impact of the federal government having to pay more money to workers and contractors that it directly employs.

However there’s a significant ancillary impact on the federal budget from raising the minimum wage, in two ways. First, when people make more money they become less reliant (at least under current eligibility restrictions) on federal safety-net programs, like Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps). Second, higher wages means more tax revenue, both in federal withholding and in payroll taxes that go to Social Security and Medicare.

 

U.S. Law, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Supreme Court Test for Biden: How Boldly to Disavow the Trump Agenda, Adam Liptak, right, Feb. 1, 2021. President Biden’s adam liptakadministration may not be as cautious as usual about changing his predecessor’s legal positions.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was annoyed.

“The position that the United States is advancing today is different from the position that the United States previously advanced,” he told a lawyer in the solicitor general’s office, the elite unit of the Justice Department that represents the federal government in the Supreme Court.

The Obama administration had filed a brief disavowing a position taken by its predecessor, saying it was the product of “further reflection.”

“That is not the reason,” Chief Justice Roberts said. “It wasn’t further reflection.” The new position, he said, was prompted by a change in administrations.

The rebuke was in 2012, but its memory lingers in the solicitor general’s office, where the Biden administration will soon have to decide whether to disavow positions taken by its predecessor in major cases, including ones on health care and voting.

In an office that prizes its reputation for credibility, consistency and independence, solicitors general of both parties have said they are wary of veering from positions staked out by their predecessors.

Justice Elena Kagan, who was President Barack Obama’s first solicitor general before joining the court, has said, for instance, that “a change in position is a really big deal that people should hesitate a long time over.”

But a new law review article presents a dissenting view, concluding that the Biden administration need not fear announcing bold reversals of stances taken by the Trump administration. It was written by Michael R. Dreeben, who worked in the office for more than 30 years, most of them as the deputy solicitor general responsible for criminal matters, arguing 105 cases in the Supreme Court. He also served on the staff of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Morning: Make sense of the day’s news and ideas. David Leonhardt and Times journalists guide you through what’s happening — and why it matters.

“The new administration should be not reluctant to give the court better views of what it thinks the law is because of undue concern about positional consistency,” Mr. Dreeben, who is now a lawyer with O’Melveny & Myers, said in an interview. “The court will understand that new administrations have new views, particularly coming on the heels of the Trump administration, which in many ways pressed a radical vision of its jurisprudential agenda on the court that a successor administration is entitled to push back on.”

The article, published in The Yale Law Journal last month, contrasted the Obama administration’s rare reversals to the Trump administration’s frequent and stark ones.

“The Obama administration swept into office following eight years of Republican rule, and ample areas existed for revision and change,” Mr. Dreeben wrote. “But President Obama’s solicitors general took a highly restrained approach to reversing the positions of their Bush predecessors. During President Obama’s first term in office, no cases featured overt reversals of positions taken in the Supreme Court.”

The Trump administration took a different approach, Mr. Dreeben found.

The most pressing question for the Biden administration for now is whether it should change the government’s position in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. In a brief filed last year, the Trump administration told the justices that a revision to one provision of the law meant that the entire statute must fall. That is, of course, at odds with President Biden’s support for the law.

 

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Survey Says: Never Tweet, Ben Smith, Feb. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The tensions in newsrooms over reporters’ social media presence are not just about politics.

twitter bird CustomTwitter has occupied an uncomfortable place between journalists and their bosses for more than a decade. It offers journalists both a newswire and a direct line back into the news cycle. But it has also set off a tug of war between the voice of the brand and of the individual.

More staid newsrooms, like The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, have to varying degrees barred journalists from breaking news and developing big voices on the service, while some newer and more ideological outlets, like Vox and The Intercept, encourage and benefit from their journalists’ social media presence.

Caught in the uncomfortable middle are the defining American news brands — The Times, The Washington Post, CNN and NBC — where managers alternate between sending irritated emails and biting their tongues, and journalists marvel and complain at the question of who gets away with what on Twitter and who gets in trouble. One of those who crossed that hazy line was a freelance editor at The Times, Lauren Wolfe, who was recently fired.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jamie Tarses, Executive in a Hollywood Rise-and-Fall Story, Dies at 56, Brooks Barnes, Feb. 1, 2021. She broke barriers as a woman in the TV industry and turned out hit after hit, only to see it all fizzle under a very public spotlight. 

 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Russia cracks down on Navalny protests, arresting thousands, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Robyn Dixon, Feb. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The alexey navalny 2017Kremlin responded to a second straight weekend of protests on Sunday with a violent crackdown, arresting thousands in a show of Moscow’s unease at the growing unrest triggered by the treatment of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, right.

A week after tens of thousands of Russians joined demonstrations in more than 100 cities throughout the country, authorities moved to stem Sunday’s rallies before they started, using more aggressive tactics.

But thousands came out despite the threat of arrest — the turnout in some Russian cities was believed to be higher than a week ago — boosting the opposition’s hope of a sustained movement.

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Biden draws the line, Robert Harrington, Feb. 1, 2021. It remains to be shown if Republicans will be part of President Joe mohammed bin salman al saudBiden’s total reset of relations with Saudi Arabia and its Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, right, also known as “MBS.”

bill palmer report logo headerBad guys like MBS and Putin and Kim and Bolsonaro and Erdoğan and Duterte can start trembling. There’s a new Sheriff in town, and he doesn’t like black hats. Also, new details of the Khashoggi murder may soon be declassified by the CIA.

So President Joe Biden has ordered a freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He has signalled he will terminate US military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. After just a little over one week into his term, the President has suspended billions of dollars worth of arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

It’s time Americans once again find out who their friends really are and act accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top