Walls Close in on Trump

Today, the last day of the Democratic National Convention, things are not going well for Donald Trump.

For example:

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero threw out President Donald Trump’s challenge to a subpoena seeking his tax returns, a decision that all but guarantees a New York grand jury access to these documents in the near future. Trump will fight Thursday’s order, but he has run out of options: The Supreme Court already rejected his sweeping claims on immunity, then gave Marrero a road map that led ineluctably to a decision against the president. And soon, at long last, New York prosecutors will obtain the tax returns that he has fought so long to conceal.

It’s possible there will be further challenges to Judge Marrero’s decision, and it might even go back to the Supreme Court, but Trump is out of arguments. Even so, because the documents are going to a grand jury they won’t be made public right away. So the clock is running out on the chances of seeing the returns before the election.

But Trump isn’t going to be able to hide what’s in them forever. The GOP establishment may want to consider whether it will be better or worse off if Trump wins another term.

And then his old pal Steve Bannon got into trouble.

Steve Bannon, a former senior White House adviser to President Donald Trump, has been arrested and charged with three other men for swindling donors who supported a private effort to build sections of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Bannon and the other men were indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with their roles in the non-profit group “We Build the Wall.”

The group had raised $25 million. Those who donated money were told that 100 percent of funds would be used to build the wall, but the indictment said that wasn’t the case. You’re shocked, I know. This is from Raw Story:

One of the recently indicted members of the “We Build the Wall” crowdfunding campaign allegedly used money from donors to buy a ship that was seen last month participating in a “boater parade” in honor of President Donald Trump.

As flagged by New York Times reporter Evan Hill, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York claims in its indictment that “We Build the Wall’s” leaders funneled money from the crowdfunding campaign to illegally buy a wide array of luxury goods.

Charles Pierce:

The vision of the last heir to House Harkonnen in cuffs is delicious enough. (The “administrative state” has got your ass now, pally.) Just as flavorful is the report that this bust happened at all because administration* house counsel Bill Barr botched the neutering of the SDNY US Attorney’s office and was forced to leave Audrey Strauss, the assistant to the US attorney he defenestrated, in charge, so that one day it would be Strauss who clapped Bannon and his co-conspirators in irons. And the single most delicious tidbit is that Bannon et. al. got themselves busted by…wait for it…the U.S. Postal Service police. Well played, Irony. Well played.

But there’s another lesson in all of this—namely, that the genius dealmaker in the White House is the biggest sucker in two shoes. You can convince the guy of anything. Brad Parscale was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier and he got rich off the campaign. The MyPillow guy has sold him on poison as a cure. Bannon saw a guy on whom he could ride to glory and riches simply by reassuring him of his own towering genius. He almost got there, too.

Update (11:43 a.m.): Here is the alleged scam’s “advisory board.” I knew Curt Schilling had to be in there somewhere. Another smart guy who could be held up by mail.

Going back to this Politico article — Trump now says he never approved of the “Build the Wall” campaign. But it’s extremely murky whether he approved it or not. Some say he did; some day he didn’t. He might have approved it one day and disapproved it ten seconds later; one does not know. But all manner of Trump Administration officials, plus Donald Jr., have openly endorsed it in the recent past.

See also Paul Waldman, Bannon’s indictment confirms that the American right is made up of con artists.

If you’re keeping score, the group of people around the president who have been charged with crimes now includes Trump’s campaign CEO, Trump’s campaign chairman, Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, Trump’s personal lawyer, Trump’s national security adviser and Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser. …

… But the story of Bannon’s arrest isn’t just a reflection on Trump — though it certainly is that. It’s also an extremely common story on the right and has been for decades, long before Trump came along.

Conservative operatives such as Bannon have always viewed the right’s rank-and-file with utter contempt, as little more than a collection of fools to be taken advantage of. Their perspective is that of the con man who looks at his marks and says: These people are so dumb, it would almost be a crime not to separate them from their money.

Waldman goes on to remind us of Republican gfiters going back to Richard Viguerie, who figured out in the 1960s that the right mailing lists were the key to raking in big bucks, and not just for conservative causes. The many cons and grifts that cling to conservative politics have been documented for years; see, for example, Rick Perlstein, The Long Con, from 2012.  I’m not saying Democrats are all pure as the driven snow, but there is no comparable parallel on the Left that I can see.

The nation’s newspapers are still cranking out coverage of last week’s Senate findings that the 2016 Trump campaign did indeed collude with Russia. See, for example, The Trump Campaign Accepted Russian Help to Win in 2016. Case Closed, by the New York Times editorial board. Unfortunately, most voters will never hear about it, because it hasn’t been on teevee that much.

And then there was Barack Obama’s speech at the DNC convention last night, which must have pushed every button Trump has and probably created some new ones.

From the transcript:

I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously, that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.

But he never did. For close to four years now, he’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.

Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished and our democratic institutions threatened like never before. …

…Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.

We can’t let that happen. Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy. Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too. Do what Americans have done for over two centuries when faced with even tougher times than this — all those quiet heroes who found the courage to keep marching, keep pushing in the face of hardship and injustice.

I don’t believe a U.S. president has ever slammed a successor this harshly. Because this was the coronavirus convention, these words were delivered quietly but clearly to a camera, not a cheering, partisan audience. And I have to say, this week both Barack and Michelle Obama provided master classes on how to deliver a strong speech without a crowd.

But we’re not done. Tomorrow the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing featuring the testimony of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The House Oversight Committee — featuring Rep. Katie Porter! — will question DeJoy and Postal Service board of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan on Monday, the same day the RNC convention begins. By all accounts, Trump is livid.

We still don’t know what we’ll see at the RNC convention next week. I am not sure how much I will be able to stand to watch. There are lists of “confirmed speakers” going around on social media that I suspect are bogus. Here’s the most recent information I could find:

In addition to Trump, the lineup is expected to include first lady Melania Trump, Pence and Donald Trump Jr.

Additionally, FOX News has confirmed Covington Catholic High School graduate Nicholas Sandmann, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Pennsylvania congressional candidate Sean Parnell, and anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, activist Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed during the Parkland shooting, and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple that waved guns at protesters, are scheduled to appear or make remarks.

I hadn’t heard of Sean Parnell, so I looked him up. Get this:

In a Sept. 17, 2019 appearance on Fox Nation, about one month before he announced his run to challenge U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon), Parnell says that modern-day feminism has driven a wedge between men and women.

“The idea that a woman doesn’t need a man to be successful, the idea that a woman doesn’t need a man to have a baby, the idea that a woman can live a happy and fulfilling life without a man, I think it’s all nonsense,” said Parnell. …

… “From an evolutionary standpoint, it used to be women were attracted to your strength because you could defend them from dinosaurs,” said Parnell. (Dinosaurs went extinct more than 65 million years before humans evolved.)

“But now your financial status in today’s society is emblematic of your strength, which is why you have all these young hotties marrying these old guys,” he continued. “I am gonna say something very un-PC, I reject this study wholesale. I feel like the whole happy wife, happy life nonsense has done nothing but raise one generation of women tyrants after the next.”

Where do they find these specimens?