Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report at Politico that Trump’s co-defendants are begining to turn on him. Apparently their lawyers think their best defense is that they were just following Trump’s orders.
In court documents and hearings, lawyers for people in Trump’s orbit — both high-level advisers and lesser known associates — are starting to reveal glimmers of a tried-and-true strategy in cases with many defendants: Portray yourself as a hapless pawn while piling blame on the apparent kingpin. …
… In late August, an information technology aide at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort dramatically changed his story about alleged efforts to erase surveillance video and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Jack Smith, who has charged Trump with hoarding classified documents. The aide, Yuscil Taveras, was not charged in the case, but his flip may help him dodge a possible perjury charge prosecutors were floating — and it is likely to bolster Smith’s obstruction-of-justice case against Trump and two other aides.
Then, three GOP activists who were indicted alongside Trump in Georgia for trying to interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden’s win in the state asserted that their actions were all taken at Trump’s behest.
And last week, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows — also charged in the Georgia case — signaled that his defense is likely to include blaming the former president as the primary driver of the effort.
That’s the problem with coups d’état. Yeah, there’s power and glory if you win, but you’re in a heap o’ trouble if you lose.
Several of the attorneys who spearheaded President Donald Trump’s frenzied effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election tried, and failed, to collect payment for the work they did for Trump’s political operation, according to testimony to congressional investigators and Federal Election Commission records. This is despite the fact that their lawsuits and false claims of election interference helped the Trump campaign and allied committees raise $250 million in the weeks following the November vote, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said in its final report.
So no power, no glory, and no money. And no point falling on any swords on behalf of Trump.
In other news: A Catholic priest named Richard W. Bauer is genuinely horrified that the anti-abortion movement is working to kill a very successful U.S.-funded anti-AIDS program.
Some House Republicans refuse to move forward with a five-year reauthorization of the program in its current form because of evidence-free insinuations that it indirectly funds abortion. PEPFAR’s legislative authorization expires at the end of this month. Unless Congress acts urgently to renew it, the world could lose PEPFAR as we know it.
PEPFAR is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a George W. Bush initiative that actually had excellent results. Father Bauer spent years in Africa working with AIDS patients and saw the results himself. “The results were astounding,” he said. “PEPFAR has meant that millions of H.I.V.-positive children and adults who were near death have been brought back to life.”
Father Bauer traced the rumor that PEPFAR is funding abortions to a report from the Heritage Foundation that claimed, without evidence, that PEPFAR is promoting abortion in Africa. “That same report callously referred to H.I.V. as a ‘lifestyle disease’ and framed antiretroviral therapy as a partisan talking point,” Father Bauer wrote. He emphasizes that the programs is saving countless lives, which he has seen for himself, and that the program has always been closely monitored to be sure the money is being spent as intended.
My first reaction to this was that the anti-abortion movement has always traded in lies. Over the years they’ve claimed abortions cause breast cancer; that women who abort suffer psychological damage; that women don’t get pregnant from rape; that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal body parts. I’ve written about the lies of the Fetus People a lot over the years; see, for example, “Smoke and Mirrors and Abortion” from 2013. Most of them can’t get basic facts about gestation right. It’s a wonder they reproduce, yet they somehow do so.
And, of course, with righties, little details like facts and evidence are meaningless. They believe what they want to believe, or whatever somebody decides is expedient for them to believe.
So it is that the entire right-wing anti-abortion political infrastructure in the U.S. has decided that PEPFAR is evil and must be destroyed. Politico reports today that the law governing PEPFAR expires at the end of this month, and at the moment there seems to be no way it will be renewed. The only hope is probably some short-term funding that will have to be re-fought every few months.
And of course on the Right there’s no political penalty to allowing African babies to die of preventable disease. At least they aren’t being aborted! Priorities, you know.