The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

The News This Week, So Far

Getting slammed with news today.

First, from the WTF Is He Thinking department — Lindsey Graham TODAY introduced a nationwide abortion ban bill to the Senate. He claims this will help Republicans in the midterms.

All together now — WTF Is He Thinking?

It’s called the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.” It would ban abortions after 15 weeks gestation, which is way before “late-term” status. Also,

The bill includes exceptions for “situations involving rape, incest, or risks to the life and physical health of the mother,” Graham’s office said. It also “leaves in place state laws that are more protective of unborn life” — indicating that it would not supersede more draconian bans in red states, but would hypothetically impose new restrictions in blue ones.

If he thinks this is some kind of compromise that would be broadly accepted, I think he’s nuts.

In the medical world, “late-term” is used to describe the very end of a pregnancy; births can stretch from early term at around 37 weeks to late around 41. The anti-abortion world has successfully hijacked the phrase to apply to much earlier abortions, implying that the procedure would be done on a virtually fully developed fetus. The gambit goes hand-in-hand with the long anti-abortion tradition of using imagery of very advanced fetuses on its signage and promotional material, even while the vast majority of abortions happen in the first trimester.

The notion of “fetal pain” is another popular one in anti-abortion circles, and the legislation for which they lobby. The medical consensus is that fetuses don’t develop the necessary structures to feel pain until the third trimester — well past Graham’s 15 weeks. 

This isn’t going to satisfy the True Believer Abortion Criminalizers at all. And some Republicans are still going with the “Dobbs just returned it to the states” talking point, and this messes them up. Never mind being bad law; politically this was a purely boneheaded move on Graham’s part. Politico is reporting the bill is not being well received by GOP senators.

Mar a Lago News. The usual people I can usually count on to write smart legal analysis of things filed in court haven’t yet addressed yesterday’s response from the Trumpers I posted about yesterday. This best I could find is Jennifer Rubin

The Trump legal brain trust’s latest filing has been met with proper ridicule. From its characterization of the documents retrieved from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as “purported ‘classified records’ ” (Is there some doubt?) to its contention that the former president had the power to declassify documents (even though the absence of classification would not protect him from prosecution under the Espionage Act), the brief is incoherent, to put it mildly. Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa tells me, “It literally contradicts itself in several places.”

Nevertheless, the filing is quite revealing, even if any rational judge would dismiss it out of hand. It demonstrates that Trump really has no excuse for having highly classified documents unsecured at Mar-a-Lago. …

… There is a risk of overanalyzing the brief. Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe explains, “His defense comes down to ‘I’m President Trump.’ ” Trump seems to balk at the suggestion that he has to explain to the FBI which documents he considers privileged. “To me, that’s equivalent to: ‘Shut up, I explained.’ ” Tribe says. “Not much of a defense.”

General Trump Corruption News. If you saw Rachel Maddow’s last night you heard the interview with Geoffrey S. Berman, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2018 through June 2020, when he was fired by Trump. (Here’s a 2020 article from Vox with background.) See also the New York Times. The basic charge is that Trump’s White House, through AG Bill Barr, pressured the SDNY to be a political tool — for example, by bringing charges (any charges) against Democrats Trump didn’t like, and especially before the 2018 midterm election. When people on Trump’s side faced investigations, pressure was brought to drop the investigations or even reverse convictions.

Investigations into this have been announced.

January 6 News. Also yesterday, the New York Times reported that in the past week the Justice Department has issued 40 subpoenas in regard to its investigation of January 6. They also seized phones of a couple of Trump advisers I don’t think I’ve heard about before — “Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020.” It is alleged they are connected to the fake electors scheme.

There’s more! Greg Sargent:

The Associated Press adds more, reporting that subpoenas have been issued to seek “information about the political action committee’s fundraising practices.”

This is of interest because the Save America PAC’s “fundraising practices” seem to represent the moment when the “big lie” monetized itself into the “big grift” in spectacular fashion.

As the Jan. 6 House select committee documented, Trump and his allies raised as much as $250 million with countless texts and emails that were full of lies about the 2020 election. Some missives, which were sent out in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021, called for donations to an “Official Election Defense Fund.”

But that fund didn’t exist, the committee demonstrated. Much of the money flowed to the newly created Save America PAC, not “election-related litigation.” That PAC donated millions to groups connected to top Trump advisers, the committee claimed, such as former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

I may be caught up now.