Senator Feinstein’s death leaves an open seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And it’s possible Senate Republicans will block anyone from filling that seat, this Politico article says. Although they may not. The Dems need 60 votes to confirm her replacement, it says. If the seat is left open it’s going to be really hard to get judges confirmed.
See also Kate Riga at TPM about who might be appointed to fill Feinstein’s seat.
Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark described the first House impeachment inquiry hearing: “The charitable view is that the first hearing was a dumpster fire inside a clown car wrapped in a fiasco.” There are many reports that Republicans are furious with James Comer for his obvious incompetence. Instead of presenting evidence that might tie President Biden to some criminal activity, the first hearing apparently was about establishing a rationale for an impeachment inquiry. The results were, apparently, inconclusive. The witnesses all suspected Joe Biden could maybe be connected to something nefarious through his wayward son, Hunter, but they couldn’t say for certain what that might be and had no actual evidence of anything. Perhaps the committee should have worked out their rationale before holding public hearings.
Meanwhile, the Democrats on the Committee were on a roll. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (D-TX).
Bail bondsman Scott Hall on Friday became the first defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to take a plea agreement with prosecutors. During an impromptu hearing before Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, Hall pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.
First off, let me say that nobody is better than Chris Hayes when he’s really wound up about something. This is from last night. Just watch.
Gen. Mark Milley will be retired as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this Sunday. I’m hoping he will have a lot to say once he’s no longer active military.
On to Trump in Michigan. As expected, reporters found that people waiving “union members for Trump” and “auto workers for Trump” were neither union members nor auto workers. They were just people who showed up (on invitation) and handed the signs by Trump’s staff. The fact that Trump spoke at a non-union plant at the invitation of the owner appears to have been well publicized throughout Michigan and everywhere in the Detroit media market, at least.
Some of the more bizarre Trump statements are drawing attention.
But the gist of the speech was that auto workers should just ignore their union and trust him instead. He refused to answer a question about whether he supported the 40 percent raise the UAW was seeking (they’ve just cut it to 30 percent, according to Bloomberg). Matt Steib at New York magazine:
Throughout the rally, Trump tried to frame himself as the pro-union candidate for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership that had the potential to take auto-manufacturing jobs abroad. But the candidate who has railed against union protections for years wasn’t exactly supportive of the UAW’s demands to increase wages and improve benefits. Prior to his speech, he did not respond to a reporter’s questions about whether or not he backed the 40 percent raise the UAW is demanding.
At one point during a long diatribe against electric vehicles, he said, “I don’t care what you get in the next two weeks, or three weeks, or five weeks,” referring to the length of the strike. (According to Trump, it wouldn’t matter due to the Biden administration’s support of electric vehicles and the potential for the growing industry to undercut union jobs.) “I don’t think you’re picketing for the right thing,” he added.
Mr. Trump repeatedly asked for the endorsement of the U.A.W. president, Shawn Fain — calling him “Shawn” — but did not back any of the union’s contract demands.
“Your head man, Shawn, he’s a good man,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, though it was unclear if there were more than a handful of U.A.W. members present. “But he’s got to endorse Trump.”
Mr. Fain, who appeared with Mr. Biden during his visit to the picket line, has withheld the union’s endorsement, saying it must be earned. But Mr. Fain has been clear that the U.A.W. would never support Mr. Trump, who pursued many anti-union policies in office. …
…“Get your union leaders to endorse me, and I’ll take care of the rest,” Mr. Trump said.
In other words, just trust Trump.
UAW leaders were all over the media trash-talking Trump yesterday. The Biden Administration also pushed back against Trump’s phony “concern” for workers, in television ads and in many statements released to the press. I think the best Trump can hope for from this visit is that maybe he didn’t lose too many voters. The people fool enough to believe in him still do. I can’t imagine he gained any support, though. See also Josh Marshall.
I’m thinking that Trump’s “I [heart] auto workers” stunt, planned for this evening, could end up being a big miscalculation on his part. Here’s how the Biden/Trump visit to auto workers is being covered in Detroit local television news:
This is a good look for Biden, and Shawn Fain is all over Michigan media being quoted that Trump “serves the billionaire class” and that UAW officials will not be meeting with him. That Trump’s “rally” will be at a non-union facility also speaks volumes. I fully expect Trump to blast the unions and blame the UAW for the workers’ grievances. And that’s not a message that’s going to win him any new voters. It may be that the old ones are still so besotted with him that there’s nothing he could do to lose them, but if he doesn’t expand his base he can’t win in the rust belt the way he did in 2016.
It isn’t clear to me who Trump’s audience will be tonight. It’s a non-union plant. I am reading that there will be UAW members or former UAW members in the audience, but we’ll see.
Meanwhile, Trump’s visit to Michigan is giving a lot of news outlets an excuse to review Trump’s 2016 promises versus what he actually did in his one term, but how much of that will reach the standard low-information voter is hard to know.
But a ruling on Tuesday by a New York State judge that Mr. Trump had committed fraud by inflating the value of his real estate holdings went to the heart of the identity that made him a national figure and launched his political career.
By effectively branding him a cheat, the decision in the civil proceeding by Justice Arthur F. Engoron undermined Mr. Trump’s relentlessly promoted narrative of himself as a master of the business world, the persona that he used to enmesh himself in the fabric of popular culture and that eventually gave him the stature and resources to reach the White House.
Then the story reviews Trump’s current other criminal and civil cases and notes that his poll numbers and donations continue to go up.
Whether the effect of Justice Engoron’s ruling is any different remains to be seen. But his finding imperils both Mr. Trump’s public image and his business empire. The former president now faces not only the prospect of having to pay $250 million in damages, but he could also lose properties like Trump Tower that are inextricably linked to his brand.
Of course, he and his lawyers will just bluster and say the judge is crooked. And the true believers will accept this. But he’s going to Michigan today with this on his mind, and he’s not famous for being chill in the face of adversity. If he ever totally blows a campaign event, it’s likely going to be this evening.
— in which Trump clearly is confusing Jeb Bush with George W. Bush. He also recently claimed to have “beaten” Barack Obama in some election, somewhere. Of course, if Joe Biden had made a gaffe on that scale the right-wing media would be screaming about it from the rooftops, and soon the mainstream press would be writing more headlines about how everyone is concerned about Biden’s age. With Trump, everyone politely looks the other way. The mainstream press isn’t even covering many of his speeches and rallies.
But tonight’s speech will get some attention.
In other news: Same old same old. We’re still hurtling toward a shutdown, and I don’t see any way out of it.
A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House.
Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general, found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee the Trump Organization’s operations.
That’s going to wind up the old fart nicely. Next he’ll be calling for an investigation of all the courts, followed by firing squads.
While the trial will determine the size of the penalty, Justice Engoron’s ruling granted one of the biggest punishments Ms. James sought: the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of Mr. Trump’s New York properties to operate, a move that could have major repercussions for the Trump family business.
The decision could terminate his control over a flagship commercial property at 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and a family estate in Westchester County. Mr. Trump might also lose control over his other New York properties, including Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan and his golf club in Westchester.
The order will not dissolve Mr. Trump’s company, which is a collection of hundreds of entities, but the decision could nonetheless have a sweeping impact on the heart of its New York operations. If Justice Engoron’s decision is not reversed by an appeals court, it could shut down an entity that employs hundreds of people working for him in New York, effectively crushing the company. …
… Justice Engoron’s decision narrows the issues that will be heard, effectively deciding that the trial was not necessary to find that Mr. Trump was liable and that the core of Ms. James’s case was valid. It represents a major blow to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers had sought to persuade the judge to throw out many of the claims against the former president. …
…The judge also ordered sanctions against Mr. Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500.
Now, on to Biden in Michigan:
Short but sweet. The UAW hasn’t formally endorsed Biden, but today Biden and UAW President Shawn Fain were clearly on the same page. Trump is almost certainly going to slam the Union leadership tomorrow. Given his current behavior, he may call for executions.
In last night’s piece, I noted that while Bob Menendez’s D.C. dam was mostly holding, the story was dramatically different in New Jersey where virtually everyone in the state party establishment had already called on him to resign. Just in the last couple hours the D.C. dam appears to be giving way. Sens. Warren and Rosen and, most importantly, his New Jersey colleague Cory Booker have now each called on Menendez to step down. I’d be surprised if half his senate colleagues hadn’t followed suit by the end of the day.
As I wrote last night, at this point it almost doesn’t matter whether Menendez resigns. New Jersey is a machine politics state. You can win an election if you don’t come from the machine — either because you can spread around a lot of money (as former Gov. and Sen. Jon Corzine did) or because you have some unique political gifts. But if you’re a machine type politician who lacks a ride-or-die mass constituency and the machine abandons you, I think you’re toast. A primary challenge can likely drive Menendez from office. The only question is whether state Democrats can coalesce around a single challenger.
My concern is that if the New Jersey Dems don’t get their act together the seat could go to a Republican next year. That shouldn’t happen, but it could.
I did watch Rachel Maddow‘s interview of Cassidy Hutchinson last night. It was interesting, although I can’t think of anything she said that surprised me. The closest was that Matt Gaetz responded to something said about him by claiming that he and Hutchinson dated for a time. She said that wasn’t true. I tend to believe her. Gaetz is so weird.
Today we seem to be in a waiting mode. Lots of things are about to happen. I’m looking forward to what happens with President Biden on the UAW picket line tomorrow. This could be a real turning point for the 2024 campaign, and maybe for the Democratic Party. It would be great if it could become an unabashedly pro-union party again, which it hasn’t been for more than fifty years, IMO. See also Biden is presiding over a labor renaissance.
And let me just say I’m really tired of the way media are covering Biden. If you cruise around looking at headlines and news roundups, over and over it’s People are concerned about Biden’s age; Democrats are worried about Biden’s poor poll numbers; “Biden World” is worried about Biden’s re-election chances for one reason or another; Maybe Biden shouldn’t run. Etc. It’s no wonder people who aren’t news/politics junkies think they should be concerned about Biden’s age and think he really isn’t doing much. I have been pleasantly surprised by Joe Biden as President. There have been some things that could have been done better, but on the whole he’s been more progressive than I thought he’d be.
Trump, on the other hand, may be descending into new depths of crazy. His thing right now is to accuse everybody he doesn’t like of treason. This was him over the weekend:
Late Friday night, the former president of the United States—and a leading candidate to be the next president—insinuated that America’s top general deserves to be put to death.
That extraordinary sentence would be unthinkable in any other rich democracy. But Donald Trump, on his social-media network, Truth Social, wrote that Mark Milley’s phone call to reassure China in the aftermath of the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.” (The phone call was, in fact, explicitly authorized by Trump-administration officials.) Trump’s threats against Milley came after The Atlantic’s publication of a profile of Milley, by this magazine’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, who detailed the ways in which Milley attempted to protect the Constitution from Trump.
Here’s the kicker:
And yet, none of the nation’s front pages blared “Trump Suggests That Top General Deserves Execution” or “Former President Accuses General of Treason.” Instead, the post barely made the news. Most Americans who don’t follow Trump on social media probably don’t even know it happened.
Of course not. The news needs to fill up with more headlines about how everyone is worried about Joe Biden’s age. When Trump is a meaningless three years younger and no doubt in worse health.
Former President Donald Trump spent his Sunday night threatening Comcast and NBC, saying if he gets a second term in the White House he would investigate the independent media outlets for “treason” and make them “pay a big price.”
“Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC … should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason,’” Trump wrote on his favorite bootleg social media platform Truth Social.
“I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events,” Trump added. “The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!”
Trump going after members of the media is nothing new for the man who thinks he coined the term “fake news,” but campaigning on targeted threats of retribution takes things to a more alarming level.
You’d think media would be more proactive in bringing this to people’s attention. They’re the ones he’s going to target if he gets back in the White House, and there will be nothing to stop him. Especially after he’s purged the civil service of everyone who questions his views.
Until then, though, l’État n’est pas Trump.
The good news is that Sen. Bob Menendez is up for re-election next year. He made a statement this morning in which he said the many other Democrats calling for him to step down were just taking advantage of a “political opportunity.” He was, I think, supposed to declare he is definitely running for re-election, and I’m not sure he did. But he’s not resigning, either.
This is good. A couple of days ago, Paul Waldman wrote at MSNBC that to stop Trump’s “union stunt” in its tracks, that’s just what the President should do. Trump, you probably heard, is planning to address the strikers on Wednesday during the second Republican Party presidential debate.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain had asked the President to come and stand with the workers on the picket line earlier today. (Fain is a French surname, but every time I hear his name i think of Sinn Féin, the Irish political party, pronounced Shin Fain. But I guess he’s not Irish.) Politico:
The announcement of his trip was seen as a seismic moment within certain segments of the labor community. “Pretty hard-core,” said one union adviser, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Trump’s plans for Wednesday seem a bit vague, but I understand he will speak to a “room” of auto workers. Some news stories call it a “rally.” He has no plans to visit the picket lines at this time. And he was not invited to do so by Shawn Fain.
Shawn Fain, the UAW president who has previously said that a second Trump presidency would be a “disaster,” seemed to argue against Trump’s efforts.
“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”
Dave Green, a UAW regional director in Ohio and Indiana, said the former president’s actions during his time in office give him “zero credibility” with organized labor now, adding that he doesn’t see a way the UAW would ever endorse Trump.
“His only intention here is to try and get votes for himself. And also divide our members against each other using political rhetoric,” Green told The AP on Monday.
The first thing Trump said about the strike is that “The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump.” This is the leadership the union members elected. Trump’s argument is that the auto workers will soon all lose their jobs because electric cars will be made in China. I hope Biden explains why that’s not going to happen.
“I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike. He said, you strike, you’re fired. Simple concept to me,” Scott said at the Iowa event. “To the extent that we can use that once again, absolutely.”
In other news:There are some things you can count on to happen regularly. Flowers bloom in the spring. The Old Faithful geyser keeps doing its geyser thing. Beer sales spike before the Super Bowl. Dogs bark at squirrels.
And Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is suspected of corruption. This seems to happen regularly. There’s always somethng with Menendez. But I think they’ve got him this time. The governor of New Jersey, also a Democrat, wants Menendez to resign. Chuck Schuner does not, for some reason. I’d rather he were out of the Senate, frankly.
I am not hanging on every bit of news coming out of the House, because it all seems to be bad. And I’m not sure the details really matter. It all boils down to a mob of bad, spoiled children stomping on everyone else’s sandcastles.
As I understand it, yesterday a group of what are generously known as “moderate” Republicans had a long meeting on Wednesday and worked out some kind of spending agreement that the whole House was supposed to vote on today. Whether it was a good agreement or a bad agreement, I don’t know. But guess what happened?
But any good feelings out of that meeting crumbled Thursday morning, when five Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Eli Crane (Ariz.) and Matthew M. Rosendale (Mont.) — voted against advancing the measure to a final vote. Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) switched his vote from “yes” to “no,” which allows Republicans to bring up the motion again later if they have the votes.
This article doesn’t say why MTG et al. pulled the plug, but MSNBC is reporting that Trump has been talking to them and wants them to leverage the looming shutdown to “defund” the prosecutions against him. Trump posted on his failing social media platform, “This is also the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots. They failed on the debt limit, but they must not fail now. Use the power of the purse and defend the Country!”
To which Matt Gaetz responded, “Trump opposes the continuing resolution. Hold the line.”
There has been much commentary pointing out that the nutjob caucus makes no sense. They can’t seem to settle on why they keep blowing up the apprpriations bills or what they really want. Yesterday Josh Marshall pointed to reports that the Republicans were debating whether to move the CR debate away from spending levels and toward border security. “It illustrates perfectly what most of us already know, which is that policy issues are just an excuse to shut the government down because it’s something Republicans like to do,” he said. And that’s true; I think the children see themselves as being bold and brave and blowing up the Deep State, or something. But they’ve also been talking to Trump all this time.
This a defense funding bill, people. The old Republican Party is dead.
The notecards with classification markings were at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate when FBI agents searched the property on Aug. 8, 2022 — but the materials were not taken by the FBI, according to sources familiar with what Michael told investigators.
When Michael, who was not present for the search, returned to Mar-a-Lago the next day to clean up her office space, she found the documents underneath a drawer organizer and helped transfer them to the FBI that same day, sources told ABC News.
The sources said Michael also told federal investigators that last year she grew increasingly concerned with how Trump handled recurring requests from the National Archives for the return of all government documents being kept in boxes at Mar-a-Lago — and she felt that Trump’s claims about it at the time would be easy to disprove, according to the sources.
Sources said that after Trump heard the FBI wanted to interview Michael last year, Trump allegedly told her, “You don’t know anything about the boxes.”
Michael became Trump’s executive assistant in the White House in 2018 and continued to work for him when he left office. She resigned last year, in the wake of Trump’s alleged refusal to comply with federal requests, ABC News said.
Trump’s, shall we say, undisciplined work habits always remind me that he never held a real job in his life.
Former DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark is not, apparently, as smart. By all accounts he completely botched his bid to remove his RICO case from state court to federal court. I don’t think a decision has been made yet, but per David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:
So Kristen Welker is now the moderator of Meet the Press, and I’m sorry to say she interviewed Donald Trump for her debut. And I take it the interview was a mess. It was not live but taped and edited, and it was still a mess.
To some political observers, the new interview –where Trump talked over his questioner and received little pushback — was yet another debacle that led American Enterprise Institute scholar and Atlantic contributor Norman Ornstein to declare it was a huge error in judgment.
According to Ornstein, “Oy. Trump says the Capitol Police testified against Nancy Pelosi, and then burned all the evidence. Lie upon lie upon lie. Unchallenged by Welker. Every word out of his mouth is a lie, and he talks over any questioner. Just a colossal mistake to showcase this sociopath.”
After viewing clips from the “Meet the Press’ interview, media critic Dan Froomkin complained, “In these clips, Trump utters about 30 different lies, and there’s zero pushback from Kristen Welker, who instead calls him ‘fired up’ and ‘defiant’ – and ‘the president.’ This is, actually, worse than the CNN town hall in terms of normalizing a maniac.”
I didn’t watch, but I read some of the transcript. Basically Trump just talked over the questions. Welker did attempt to challenge him but he talked overe the challenges. He basically just bulldozed Welker and left her buried under a heap of lies.
He repeatedly refused to answer questions—directly telling Welker “I’m not going to tell you” when asked if he watched the chaos on Jan. 6 from a White House dining room—and made multiple ludicrous claims that were left largely unchallenged, or weakly so. (Democrats want to kill babies after birth! Nancy Pelosi was responsible for Jan. 6!)
NBC produced multiple post-interview fact-checks on air and online, including after each interview segment during the broadcast, but that is no replacement for an on-the-spot confrontation. Presenting an evidence-backed fact check to Trump’s face allows an audience to watch him reject truth in real time. That serves a greater purpose than roundups scattered throughout NBC’s online platforms.
I think the only way you could get him to stop spewing lies and confront the questions being asked of him is with an electric cattle prod.
I suppose it would have to be a right-wing media outlet running that headline. Just as long as it kills her re-election to the House …
Update: This is a long read, but worth it. The article focuses on one of the lesser-known Georgia RICO conspirators, a bail bondsman named Scott G. Hall, and goes into detail how he got mixed up in the conspiracy and what he did.