A Month after Trump Learned that Mueller Knew of the Pardon Deal, Cassandra Fairbanks Learned the Pardon Was Off

Cassandra Fairbanks gave a statement in the Julian Assange extradition hearing yesterday that WikiLeaks supporters seem to believe will help Assange.

Mostly it reveals that Don Jr’s buddy, Arthur Schwartz, knew and shared highly classified details about the WikiLeaks investigation with a known WikiLeaks associate, one who had recently worked for Russia’s Sputnik and was visibly close with Guccifer 2.0 during the election operation. (Fairbanks rather pointedly avoided disclosing that she used to work for the Russian propaganda outlet, saying only she had been “involved in similar areas of work” as the propaganda she does for Gateway Pundit). Fairbanks’ statement reveals that she repeatedly shared the information she learned with Assange, but not publicly. She didn’t do so immediately. Rather, she did so around January 7, 2019, just  weeks before Roger Stone was indicted (Fairbanks met Stone in 2016 through far right channels), and then again on March 25, after Bill Barr revealed that Trump and his failson had avoided conspiracy charges.

Fairbanks’ statement further reveals that after Fairbanks had exposed Schwartz (and his source for the information) legally for sharing the information, Schwartz reacted like a lot of right wing men do when put in danger, by espousing violence, in this case, the death penalty for WikiLeaks associates. Fairbanks also described how both Schwartz and Ric Grenell are assholes who throw around their power, which might make Fairbanks reconsider the right wing nutjobs she chooses to hang out with, but likely won’t help Assange avoid extradition.

So far, that doesn’t help Assange all that much. It says that a former propagandist for Russia shared non-public information with Julian Assange and in response, her source for that information responded furiously.

Fairbanks also repeats Grenell’s name a lot, though without corroborating that he — and not Don Jr — was Schwartz’s source. Indeed, at one point, Fairbanks suggested that Schwartz, in October 2018, implied that “lifelong friends” might be affected, which she seems to have taken to mean Jr.

Fairbanks did one more thing. DOJ charged Assange on December 21, 2017. Fairbanks, by her own description, was lobbying for WikiLeaks in her right wing chat room in that period, but Schwartz didn’t reveal the charges then. Assange was indicted on March 6, 2018. By her own description, Fairbanks was still lobbying for Assange in that right wing chatroom, but Schwartz didn’t reveal the charges.

But on October 30, 2018, when Fairbanks lobbied for Assange, Schwarz not only revealed the charges (in great detail), but he also told Fairbanks, “a pardon is not going to fucking happen.”

Just over a month earlier, on September 17, 2018, by submitting questions to be answered, Robert Mueller had revealed to Donald Trump that he knew of the pardon discussions for Assange (it’s unclear whether that was the first Trump learned Mueller had this question, but it wasn’t in the set posed earlier in 2018). Trump would eventually answer — after the election — without even denying that those pardon discussions happened, but only denying that he recalled them starting prior to the 2016 election.

Did you have any discussions prior to January 20, 2017, regarding a potential pardon or other action to benefit Julian Assange? If yes, describe who you had the discussion(s) with, when, and the content of the discussion(s).

I do not recall having had any discussion during the campaign regarding a pardon or action to benefit Julian Assange.

This is a pardon discussion that Roger Stone appears to have kicked off. But it is also one that WikiLeaks has, twice, nudged Don Jr about. The second of those times, Julian Assange implicitly threatened — with the hashtag #Vault 8 — further leaks of CIA hacking tools.

It may be the case that the US government didn’t move to provide concrete assurances to the UK that Assange wouldn’t be executed until that time, though Fairbanks doesn’t specifically tie Schwartz’ knowledge to the agreement, and the ABC news article she claims does so would actually place it a month earlier, in September.

It may in fact be the case that Trump didn’t take concrete steps to facilitate the arrest that his DOJ had already put in motion until after he realized that providing the pardon offered so long before would put him, Trump, in concrete legal danger, to say nothing of his failson, Schwartz’s buddy.

Roger Stone (and possibly Don Jr) pursued a pardon for a guy who at that very time was burning the CIA to the ground. That’s, at the very least, politically awkward. It likely exposed Jr in ways that made Schwartz furious and defensive.

But this is, by Fairbanks’ own account, still about that pardon — the one that WikiLeaks keeps pretending doesn’t exist.

182 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      Why would it be a big deal that the President was involved in a high profile international extradition? The opposite would be a big deal. This is … nothing abnormal.

      Except that Fairbanks has now incriminated herself in a sworn statement that can be used against her in two countries.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It would be customary to involve the president in a high-profile extradition. Of necessity, it implicates foreign policy and relations between heads of state, and the related publication of grievances justifying it, which might conflict with other foreign policy objectives.

      What is unusual is Trump’s use of Ric Grenell. A president does not normally use his ambassador to Germany to negotiate with Ecuador or the UK, or task his NSA to ensure the arrest offshore of a foreign national and arrange his extradition. The impetus for that normally comes from the DoJ, in conjunction with the State Department.

      But it is “normal” for Trump, who tells whomever he trusts in the moment to do whatever he wants. It’s a way to employ his ignorance, upend expectations, and destroy necessary bureaucratic knowledge, record-keeping, and lines of authority. Chaos is Trump’s usual method to avoid accountability.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Wasn’t the Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland still in good graces at the time since he hadn’t been pulled into impeachment hearings yet? IIRC, Sondland was the go-to for the Ukraine stuff, so Assange’s situation between Sweden and the UK would be squarely within his scope of duties. It’s not like he and DJT weren’t pals then.

        So, the decision to use Grenell is even more curious.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Sweden was largely out of the picture at that point. That would suggest Trump was engaged in parallel negotiations with Ecuador’s new, right wing government, to withdraw sanctuary, and with the UK, to arrest, detain, and extradite Assange after he served time for jumping bail. That he be held incommunicado seems likely.

          The use of Grenell for either task makes no legitimate sense. That suggests another closely held play among Trump insiders, not government, is afoot. If this were a routine administrative matter, a) Trump wouldn’t give a shit, and b) it would have been handled by the usual agencies in the ordinary course of business. The question is whether the Assange business is a fulcrum or sideshow to that Trump business.

      • emptywheel says:

        Well said. The use of Grenell suggests graft could be involved. Or stuff really damning to the President. Or maybe he just wanted to use Grenell.

        But it does not, by itself, make the extradition unusual.

        • bmaz says:

          What makes this extradition hearing unusual is the ridiculous and impertinent shitshow of run on evidence Assange is being allowed to present in spite of its irrelevance.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Is this really playing to the so-called “audience of one” for a pardon? Otherwise, as almost all of the legal folks here have noted, none of this helps Assange in the UK and can be used against him in the US.

        • Dmbeaster says:

          The defense to extradition appears to be purely political – a judicial equivalent of jury nullification if the argument works. I looked at the US- British extradition treaty recently, and the standard to enforce extradition from Britain to the US is low. It does not require a probable cause showing, unlike extradition in the opposite direction. That has cause some ruckus in Britain – that the treaty seems lopsided in favor of the US.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The existence of a “political” exception to an international extradition is not analogous to “jury nullification.” Nor does it relate to whether the requesting state needs to show probable cause or not.

          The exception is a fundamental aspect of extradition. The US, for example, was fond of the exception when it deemed the Soviets and Chinese were engaging in “political” show trials.

          Whether the exception applies in Assange’s case is a fact question. But that’s distinct from the existence and reasons for the exception itself.

        • bmaz says:

          Jury nullification is a farce for rubes, even when there is a jury. I’ve looked at the 2003 US/UK treaty for years because of Assange (and linked it here numerous times), including when he first got rolled up there before illegally absconding to the Ecuadoran broom closet. This hearing is a pure farce.

        • Chetnolian says:

          I know you believe that under relevant US laws Assange is “bang to rights” to use a non-legal phrase. I also appreciate why you strongly consider it is actually the proper working of the US jusfical system.

          But please stop calling the proper process of a foreign court a farce. It is a hearing under English Law on the right of the USA to extradite Assange from the UK. The Treaty, as you well know, has an exception for political prosecutions. The rule of law, in which I assume we all agree, gives Assange a right to dispute the extradition and as we do not have a 1st Amendment his best shot is to suggest the prosecution is political. .He is entitled to produce whatever evidence he wishes to support his position which, pace Marcy, includes selecting which of the frankly bizarre approaches on a pardon by the cabal which currently runs the USA he chooses to use to best support his case. Ignoring others is his privilege. His evidence is subject to close examination by the very able representative of the US Government, James Lewis QC.
          I predict at the end District Judge Vanessa Baraitser will decide that English Law permits Assange’s extradition, and that Assange will appeal. Then it’s anybody’s guess.

          Curb your impatience and let our legal system work its way through please.

        • bmaz says:

          No, I will not because it is a farce. There is no reason in the world all that bogus shit should be being allowed to be presented ad infinitum. It is impertinent and irrelevant to the extradition issues. It is a clown show.

        • emptywheel says:

          Assange’s best chance is the medical stuff he’s presenting as of yesterday.

          Barring deciding in favor of that, I agree–she’ll agree the law permits and, and it’ll be on appeal for some time.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Well said. The US has a stable of lawyers. The presiding magistrate, occasionally fair, gives much more leeway to the prosecution. Assange’s arguments are unlikely to prevail, barring perhaps, as EW mentions, health reasons.

          Sadly, Augusto Pinochet persuaded then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, that his allegedly poor health should preclude his extradition, at least for a time, until HMG worked out something more permanent, set him free and back to Chile rather than to Spain, which had sought his extradition. All in, a quick 16-month process.

          HMG is likely to ignore the partial precedent, including the circumstance that it allowed the wealthier and more mobile Pinochet to manage his defense from palatial digs in St. George’s Hill, not from solitary confinement in Belmarsh.

  1. mulder says:

    Typo, I think. A repeated sentence…
    Fairbanks did one more thing. DOJ charged Assange on December 21, 2017. [Fairbanks, by her own description, was lobbying for WikiLeaks in her right wing chat room in that period, but Schwartz didn’t reveal the charges.]Assange was indicted on March 6, 2018. [By her own description, [Fairbanks was lobbying for Assange in that right wing chatroom, but Schwartz didn’t reveal the charges.]

    • emptywheel says:

      Hopefully I clarified. I meant to distinguish that he hadn’t told her earlier but did once Failson’s exposure became clear.

    • soothsayer says:

      Thanks for sharing this. It is shocking to say the least, that Faux News and anyone else in their orbit would use the phrase “Colour Revolution”, since the main proponent is nonviolent demonstrations, strikes and interventions against corrupt and/or authoritarian regimes, specifically and only to “advocate democracy” in a society that does not have a current Democracy, by building up strong pressure for change.

      What is scary and ridiculous, is:

      (1) The required precursor of a Colour Revolution is a state with no democracy, and/or including “ballot fraud”, which is another Faux News talking point that is being pushed to muddy trust in the vote * and our Democracy, especially in case they lose.

      (2) Per the article you shared, as Jankowicz points out, this echoes Putin, who “likes to suggest they are CIA-organized, robbing protesters of their agency and discounting the real grievances that brought them to the streets in the first place.” Faux News is basically echoing Kremlin and Putin talking points.

      * For this reason I fwd this article to my sig, since she works for a non partisan US Think Tank that is doing research working with everyone across the spectrum to firm up our democracy against outside or internal forces of division. God bless her and her colleagues for the work they do.

      On a related topic, with the above article in mind, I saw a new docu that came out, called “Agents of Chaos”, whose premise sickens me more every day, the core realization of how internal forces would ever and even continue to work with our Adversaries on false talking points for chaos and division, for the simple fact of winning at all cost.

  2. klynn says:

    “…still about that pardon” is correct! Thank you EW. This is important in the timeline. Wish more would see this timeline issue and amplify it.

    Welcome back Rayne. Hope you are well.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bob Mueller, unlike Bill Barr, is an institutionalist. As a former Marine, with a long career at the FBI, he believes in order, rules, and the chain of command. I accept that in wartime, that saves lives and provides continuity. But that belief left him adrift after he realized his President and Attorney General had gone over to Dick Cheney’s dark side.

    Moreover, adherence to the chain of command requires not just following the rules, it requires reciprocity and some measure of fairness. In Trump and Barr, Mueller found, instead, malevolence and cruelty. If Andrew Wiessmann is correct, he also found fear, fear that his chain of command would turn on him, shut him down, and destroy his records.

    In the context of a criminal investigation, the conduct that elicited that reasonable fear shouts a defendant’s guilt. Yet, rather than pursue and confront its implications, Bob Mueller followed the chain of command. We’ll be paying the price for that for a long time to come.

    • soothsayer says:

      Hi EoH, hope you are well. I do like Mueller, I respect his MO.

      But, I agree. In this task, more was required, because the main antagonist, Russia, its agents, unwitting assets, and useful idiots, do not play by the rules, and will subvert the rules as needed. They not only have, they will continue to do so; and now more critically as a foil against our democracy, with even more fellow travellers.

      With your thought in mind on paying the price, I had started to read this article on inside reporting from one of the key protagonists, “The Inside Story of the Mueller Probe’s Mistakes”, which he speaks to the whole team disagreeing at points, and not being as effective as the moment called for. Weissmann’s actual book is called “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation.”, and it speaks to your point, where in the article it writes the book reflecting it as such: “portrays a group of talented, dedicated professionals beset with internal divisions and led by a man whose code of integrity allowed their target to defy them and escape accountability.”


    • soothsayer says:

      Ha, I realize just now, that you paraphrase Weissmann himself. So apologies, as I assume you in fact already came across this or another related article on his upcoming book. Regardless, I still agree with your last statement, that yes we will be paying the price for a long time.

    • harpie says:

      This is George Packer speaking [The Atlantic], but it seems to me to be a good summary [I added the numbers]:

      And Mueller?
      1] He was incapable of navigating the world remade by Trump.
      2] He conducted himself with scrupulous integrity and allowed his team to be intimidated by people who had no scruples at all.
      3] His deep aversion to publicity silenced him when the public badly needed clarity about the special counsel’s dense, ambiguous, at times unreadable report.
      4] His sense of fairness surrendered the facts of presidential criminality to an administration that was at war with facts.
      5] He trusted his friend Barr to play it straight, not realizing that Barr had gone crooked.
      6] He left the job of holding the president accountable to a Congress that had shown itself to be Trump’s willing accomplice.
      7] He wanted, above all, to warn the American people about foreign subversion of our democracy, while the greater subversion gathered force here at home. […]

      • harpie says:

        Packer explains the title of the book:

        The title comes from an adapted quote by the philosopher John Locke that’s inscribed on the façade of the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C.:
        “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.”

        • ducktree says:

          Hello, harpie!

          Good olde mildewy John Locke, who much preferred the right to “property” over “[other people’s] pursuit of happiness.”

          That describes the entire Trump conejera.

      • MB says:

        Add to that list (from an interview with Andrew Weissman on MSNBC yesterday):

        Mueller had rehearsals for his congressional testimony and he didn’t do well at them, in relation to recalling facts and dates with specificity. The concern level was high enough that they had Aaron Zebley sit next to him to provide prompts. Also, Zebley was apparently a minority voice on the SC team who wanted to keep the scope of the investigation narrow, i.e. don’t follow the money and who cares about the counter-intelligence angle.

  4. BobCon says:

    I’m curious if Michael Schmidt’s book touches on Don McGahn’s involvement in the Assange pardon offer, whether trying to advance it, stall it or clean up after it. The vague response to the Mueller question shows McGahn had to have known about it, but in a quick search I didn’t see a sign that Schmidt covered it.

    An earlier post suggested Schmidt may not have even read the Mueller report, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Schmidt never pursued the issue. He seems mostly pleased that McGahn was willing to talk at all, and wasn’t going to do anything to spoil the deal.

  5. Alan Kurtz says:

    It’s of no import to the Assange extradition, but I am fascinated by a tidbit in Cassandra Fairbanks’s statement relating to Chelsea Manning. In January 2018, Chelsea attended, at Cassandra’s invitation, Mike Cernovich’s alt-right bash “A Night for Freedom” in NYC. In so doing, according to The Washington Post, Manning “infuriated the far left,” which felt betrayed. A year later, we now learn, Fairbanks “met with Chelsea Manning in person and told her that I feared that they might come after her again”—meaning the U.S. government, as part of its attempt to extradite Assange. Fairbanks’s heads-up gave Manning at least a month to secure the services of a lead attorney (Moira Meltzer-Cohen) with expertise in grand jury resistance. By February 5, 2019, when Manning was served through counsel with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury, she was legally and emotionally prepared. Even for an icon of the left, it’s helpful to have friends in far-right circles.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s helpful to have access to competent counsel and a head’s up that you’re in the government’s legal crosshairs. Which raises the question whether DoJ or someone else leaked to Fairbanks – and why – or Fairbanks was being cautious, but had not hard evidence.

      • Alan Kurtz says:

        In her statement, to which emptywheel links in the first sentence of this blog, Fairbanks says Arthur Schwartz on October 30, 2018, “told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning.” Schwartz’s sources were back-channel Trump insiders, not DoJ.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thanks. I agree with EW that Fairbanks is so compromised, her affidavit is unlikely to be useful to Assange.

        If he did so, why did Arthur Schwartz leak so fulsomely to Fairbanks? The defining characteristics in her bio are contradiction and changeability. She’s a marginal journalist, at best. Is it because Schwartz is an egomaniacal tool who thought that her employment at Gateway Pundit (or Sputnik) assured she would use the information only in ways that helped Schwartz and Trump?

        Schwartz should be worried about a leak investigation. That he would leak only to Fairbanks seem unlikely. His leaks will be within the statute of limitations for some time.

        • emptywheel says:

          The other possibility is that Schwartz wanted her to share it with Assange, but didn’t think she’d get caught.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That would be consistent with the vehemence with which Schwartz denied that Assange would be pardoned, in that he wanted to be clear that that message got to Assange. Strange position, if Trump thought Assange had information that could still hurt him. I assume that means he didn’t think he had.

          It would also mean that details of the extensive surveillance of Assange inside the embassy were not known to Schwartz – and presumably Grenell – as there appears to have been nowhere that Assange could talk which was not surveilled. I’ll take any chinks in their armor that can be found.

    • harpie says:

      Hurley adds at 2:47pm, and I can empathize:

      (apologies, docket was actually updated today, I have just forgotten what day it is)

    • bmaz says:

      That I hard to know. Pushing conference out after such a death may, or may not mean anything. My bet would be that, no, it does not.

      • harpie says:

        Yeah, well, I know I sound paranoid and cynical…
        but I feel that might at least be understandable in the circumstances.

        I also felt Trump/cronies coordinated with the COURT for the timing of the death announcement.

        Killing Roe v. Wade is a long standing wet-dream for them, and they’re planning on installing yet one more “omnipotent moral busybody”** there, ASAP.

        ** Barr quoted CS Lewis in his speech to the religious fanatics last week:
        “It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

  6. harpie says:

    2:23 PM · Sep 22, 2020

    Some NEWS that only procedure nerds will care about! Senate Democrats invoked the two-hour rule to prevent committees from meeting as a protest tactic on the SCOTUS fight, per Democratic leadership aide.

    This happens to be the first suggestion in Adam Jentleson’s article yesterday:

    Democrats Need a Plan. Fast.
    Here’s how they can apply maximum pressure, brand the process as the illegitimate farce it is and lay the groundwork for desperately needed reform.
    Adam Jentleson [Mr. Jentleson was a deputy chief of staff for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.] Sept. 21, 2020

    […] There are a range of tools available to Democrats to apply constant pressure. The Senate operates on what are called “unanimous consent” agreements, or U.C.s — pacts that set the daily schedule and the terms of conduct for all business. As the name suggests, every senator has to agree to a U.C. If a single senator objects, the U.C. is blocked. […]]

  7. Rugger9 says:

    OT: It appears Faux News’ has a doctor saying that Biden is on speed. Now, there are a few things wrong with that (i.e. how would he be certain in this age of HIPAA even if it’s true?) but I am aware of leniency regarding defamation for a public figure such as Biden.

    What makes this different to me is that this guy is acting as an MD and making a claim of illegal drug use by Biden. IIRC, when a crime is alleged then the public figure can sue for defamation.

    Of course I’m sure it’s really about projection because it is DJT trying to pivot from the “sleepy Joe” meme to someone who will wipe DJT’s butt tonight and that has to be explained away.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Defamation regarding a public figure requires “actual malice,” that is, issuing a knowing falsehood or having a reckless disregard for whether something is true.

      Ironically, a medical doctor would be held to a higher standard than some radio shock jock, in accusing a presidential candidate of taking an illegal drug – or a legal drug for an illegal use. She would be expected to know more about such drugs and their use. It would seem easier to show actual malice. But as always, the magic is in how the claim is framed.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Biden wouldn’t, it’s DJT projection and preparing to downplay Biden taking him to the woodshed even if the topics selected by Chris Wallace are favorable to DJT.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t believe Biden uses any drug that isn’t prescribed by his doctor[s]. Nor do I think he’s had plastic surgery.
          It’s all projection from the super-sized multiplex in Trmp’s head.

        • BeingThere says:

          Parsing these Trump projections one layer further, he slathers on the orange spackle to cover up a nightmare failure face-lift ?

          His supplication to Putin to avoid getting the hose again has to become 2021’s cleansing hose of Justice

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Trump has an established pattern with projection. While it probably derives from his emotionally starved childhood and began as a psychological survival strategy, it has morphed into full-blown obsession masquerading as campaign strategy. The more insistent his accusations, the more likely they are to be true of him. I have no doubt his handlers have tried using various medications to keep him focused and coherent–no doubt prescribed and thus “legal,” if slightly off-label in application; he has supine MDs to serve him. So far? Doesn’t look like anything’s working.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    OT but speaking of medical issues likely to come before the SCOTUS, we have yet another WH communications director trying to tap dance around the fact that in spite of repeated promises over four years, the McCain-torpedoed attempt to gut the ACA and just this week how a plan was ready to go, there is still no plan for replacing the ACA. IIRC, that was one of the ideas raised by the TX hack judge responsible for this challenge, and IIRC it’s part of the WH amicus filing: that a replacement that did not have the flaws was imminently available. But, sadly no.


    • harpie says:

      As Marcy tweets, none of this is surprising:

      9:24 AM · Sep 23, 2020

      It’s also quite obvious. Trump was very explicit about how he planned to win by cheating in 2016. He has been very explicit, systematic, even, in ensuring there will be no result on November 3 and that his allies at least will therefore declare irregularity.

      2016 – – the most important election of our lifetimes.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I came to the site tonight expecting to see this article under full blowup. I cannot believe it is being ignored. THIS IS HOW HE IS STEALING THE WHITE HOUSE

      • Eureka says:

        Ignored? Earl has some threads about it, and I added some actionable items below (see Elias @ Democracy Docket). But it is also not new — Trump and GOP have been doing (besides plotting, laying the groundwork for) these things all along, and remember bmaz’s post about this ca. 4th of July? (As for the topic being revived, one commenter on twitter, Teri Kanefield, thinks that the Trump flack(s) funneled this to the media precisely so that his strongman threats would take over the cycle from his otherwise poor position and bad news, bolstering his authoritarian image and accomplishing his goal of diminishing faith in democracy).

        It’s also why I’ve been bothering to comment throughout the late spring/summer, as events occur, as to electoral matters in Pennsylvania. It’s all been leading to “this”, whatever “this” ends up being.

        I mean, as a voter pending disenfranchisement, it’s pretty much all I am concerned about.

        Adding, bmaz’s post:

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, well, such is theoretically correct. But we are in a time when you never know. Something to keep in mind though.

        • Eureka says:

          Yep, new frontiers (we could surely imagine ones like this after Trump-Russia got in office and out of accountability, if not the specific means). I’m debating whether pandemic brain makes it harder, or easier, to deal with.

          I’m ready to order up an ink-stamper to label those secrecy envelopes (DO NOT DISCARD!…) if they’d let me, lol. Seriously, though, the counties have been buying those ballot-opening machines like mad. The post-primary delays were a prod in that regard (speed).

        • vicks says:

          Speaking of PA
          I’m not sure what’s stranger, a federal judge that seems uninterested in resolving Trump’s election lawsuit before the election, 9 ballots getting discarded, 9 ballots being found, or an update from the justice department highlighting the fact that 6 of the 9 ballots contained votes for Trump?

        • Eureka says:

          Hi vicks, these didn’t appear on the page (for me, anyway) until after I talked to myself about it at the bottom of the page (lol). Yeah, lots of strange. But I think the schedule for Trump’s federal case is about as expected; what he’ll mainly* complain about (three freaking extra days to receive ballots mailed by election day, and rules around that) will be going on a separate track, via PA GOPers, to SCOTUS (that date hasn’t been set yet unless something happened this am). We’ll see… later or laaater

          *both of these suits are going after ‘leftovers’ (or lower-hanging fruits) on their voter suppression wishlists after PA SC ruled on a bunch of issues.

        • vicks says:

          I’m in a time out, so my comments aren’t very timely these days….
          The judge in the NJ mail in ballot lawsuit expressed concern over the lack of urgency by Trump’s lawyers so close to the election and it got me wondering if Trump really does have a plan to create chaos on Election night could “pending” litigation over mail-in ballots be used to create some of the smoke he will need to pull it off?

        • Eureka says:

          OK gotcha. I’d buy a chaos intent or sloppy lawyering (redundant) with that one (also they have made unsubstantiable claims in other cases — another time-/resource-wasting tactic) (maybe they are using all of poor Lindsey Graham’s coffer cash on litigation. Priorities!). We are perhaps at the mercy of judges all over the land to whip-snap them. But meantime, problems.

          I don’t remember if he’s got litigation out in CO (so you have a measure of the feeling), but as a voter under his and GOP’s suits it does create those clouds of uncertainty he is looking for.

    • harpie says:

      Please consider this thread.
      It was retweeted by the, to me new found voice of Jennifer Mercieca who is “a rhetoric prof.” [! :-)] and author of Demagogue For President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump

      David Pepper is the Chairman of @OHDems.

      10:34 PM · Sep 23, 2020

      THREAD I’ve said it privately, I’ve tweeted it some, but I’m going to lay it out bluntly. Please listen.

      Too many insiders continue to categorize certain states as “tipping point” states as if we’re in a normal political environment. But we’re not in a normal moment […]

      Bottom line:
      A] the results in Ohio will be clear earlier than many states.
      B] Trump will have a hard time claiming that the results here are not legitimate. And
      C] a blue Ohio will be clear as day that Trump will not be reelected.

      Now THAT sounds like a tipping point.

      8/ There are other similar states […]

    • klynn says:

      If BBarr is the most Christlike then the Bible needs some major editing.

      For starters, remove all the “one another” verses, strike the Beatitudes and remove the depiction of Christ clearing the money changers from the Temple.

    • Tom says:

      Maybe they mean Christlike as in “Jesus H. Christ!”

      Imagine Barr at the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes and the Feeding of the 5,000. He’d be wandering among the crowd asking people, “Are you going to finish that? Are you going to finish that? Excuse me, but are you going to finish that?”

  9. Rugger9 says:

    OT, but Axios is reporting about an email that Chief of Staff Meadows sent out regarding the reassignment of White House Liaisons (WHLs) to the various agencies. In it, he pointed out that the WHL is there to serve as the WH contact within the agency rather than the agency’s contact to the WH. This is basically a Soviet commissar updated, and it is going to be run by John McEntee who is the 30 year old bodyguard elevated to making political decisions in the WH. If anything, the generally non-cooperative WH will be even less responsive to stuff like FOIA requests and subpoenas.

    Why do this with six weeks until the election? Good question.

    • P J Evans says:

      They want to make sure nothing comes out in the next six weeks that would give even more people any reason to vote for Biden.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      BushCheney’s commissars on steroids. (And Cheney was known to become livid when even a lowly park ranger said something awkward about a single outdoor speech of his.)

      A fucking 30-year old bodyguard in charge of agency communications with the White House? Give me a break. The guy is in charge of omerta, of knee-capping anyone who talks, and promising to do the same to anyone thinking about it. It’s the national version of the Trump thug, who shows up in the parking garage when a talkative former bedmate of his is loading her child in the back seat. Nice kid you got there, shame if anything happened to it.

      What the Dems could do with this via policy and propaganda, if Ms. Pelosi were not shilling empty reforms, some of which require impossible-to-achieve constitutional amendments to enact.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The bottom line seems to be this: Donald Trump is planning a coup. The Attorney General – and congressional Republicans – are wholly onboard with it. The specifics will vary opportunistically, and by state. but that’s where they’re going.

    A 6-3 “conservative” S.Ct. majority, with any of the leading FedSoc puppets newly added, will find a reason not to challenge the executive branch’s “political” conduct. That majority also removes Chief Justice Roberts’ ability to act as a swing vote. He could go over to the light and the “conservatives” would still win every vote.

    Congress will offer its hopes and prayers, and Senator Collins her deep concern – and her optimism that this time, Donald Trump will have learned his lesson and not do it again. Gird your loins, sharpen your pitchforks, let your congresscritters know what you think, and please vote. The bigger the landslide, the harder it will be for Trump to “win” and for his supporters to ratify it.

    • BeingThere says:

      Regarding that coup, back in 2017 when he appointed Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman, other than his outward brashness, slipped under the radar (he’s been off the radar for 3 yrs now). I called this at the time as Trumps preemptive move for taking down the communications in the US when his autocratic moves reach that point – like sliding a rook up the chessboard in an idle move. Recall those dictatorial shutdowns of telecom infrastructure elsewhere: Lybia in March 2011, Egypt Feb 2011, Russia (with the 2019 installed kill switches for internet disconnection and thus all telecom, plus domain specific blocks to YouTube), China’s network blocking (to US/EU domains and services). Other past examples Marcos’s control in Spain limiting telephony, North Korea’s lack of telecom, Romania under Ceausescu. It could be claimed Pai is a sleeper agent, ready to pull the switches on command. It all comes from the dictator’s cesspit along with building a wall to keep people in (the encouragement of covid spreading for covid travel clampdowns fall into that bucket too), spying on people, secret police, private armies…

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Team Biden is preparing for another Brooks Brothers riot, a la Florida in 2000, it might be preparing to fight the last war, rather than the one it’s in. This year, I see two kinds of riots: the real kind, comprised of fat thugs with beards and guns and baseball bats, down from the Highlands, their blue-painted unmasked faces crying, “Freeeeeedom!”

    The other is comprised of corrupt Republican state legislators, working in their own back yards. Local rules will determine what each does, but the object is to abuse the Electoral College and substitute, where necessary, their choice of Trump for the popular vote for Biden.

    The GOP’s shrinking percentage of the total vote makes this election an existential event for them: win or die, that is, exist as a permanent minority, permanently out of power at the federal level. Trump & Co., are leveraging that fear and cheating to win. That makes this an existential event for everyone else, including Team Biden.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The talented, forthright, and experienced Robert Mueller underestimated the corruption he was up against – according to Andrew Weissmann – and got rolled by Barr and Trump.

      Mueller escaped being pinned not by executing a reversal, but by staying off the mat. He chose not to pursue Trump’s financial history and other avenues exceptionally likely to produce damning evidence of Trump’s criminal conduct. So, on a larger electoral canvass, it can happen here.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Maybe, if you’re a fictional supercomputer named Joshua playing thermonuclear war games with a 21-year old Matthew Broderick.

        Bob Mueller chose to play when he accepted the assignment to investigate a sitting president. It appears from Andrew Weissmann’s book that he fudged it, to stay within the framework of government and public service he wanted, rather than the one he had, presented by Donald Trump and Bill Barr. Donald Rumsfeld warned against that.

      • BeingThere says:

        When the topic and info from one’s own FD-320 on observed pre-election conspiracy activities don’t even get a footnote in the report it begs one to question where it went. I wonder how many others have a similar question.

  12. Eureka says:

    Marc E. Elias: “Donald Trump said: “My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits. We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don’t win those lawsuits, I think—I think it puts the election at risk.” So far, we are winning those lawsuits, but the fight continues. [link]”
    10:49 PM · Sep 23, 2020

    Active Cases Archives | Democracy Docket

    ^ click by state

  13. Marinela says:

    From 2009-2011, when democrats had the Senate and Presidency, they should’ve had the imagination, or vision, to retire RBG, as Kennedy did under Trump Presidency.
    Democrats need to play a long term game, and not drop the ball when they hold power.

    But I think she probably didn’t envision the changes that are happening now.
    To be fair, nobody did.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I think that is the real reason she hung in there. Bill Clinton selected her and she thought she could give Hillary a SC justice of her choosing

        • Kathleen Galt says:

          Playing a game of craps with that SCOTUS seat was not the wisest choice RBG ever made. Why are so many people making excuses for her stubborn resistance to retire given her health circumstances?

          Huge, irresponsible and seriously consequential mistake…

    • Rayne says:

      The problem was a confluence of timing and players. RBG wanted another couple jurists like herself and Sotomayor to balance out the court. Sadly, Obama was too pragmatic and went with more moderate jurists he thought the GOP-majority Senate would approve, like Kagan and Garland, and in the end the GOP said they weren’t going to give a hearing to a third jurist nominated by a Black president. So RBG held out as long as she could waiting for a Sotomayor.

      If she could have held out another 30 days she might have pulled it off, but cancer and age combined are ruthlessly apolitical.

      For the record, I don’t think Kennedy was a planned retirement as much as the lowest hanging fruit when Trumpists wanted to put a fully bought-and-owned jurist on the bench to protect Trump’s ass if decisions went before it related to Trump’s impeachment or other lawsuits against him and his administration.

      • Geoguy says:

        I’m sure everybody here remembers this regarding other potential lawsuits against Trump. Justice Kennedy’s son was the global head of the real-estate capital markets division at Duetsche Bank when Trump borrowed about a billion dollars from the bank. (from Business Insider, June 29, 2018, titled “Trump’s business career is more connected to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy than we ever knew”). Of course Duetsche Bank is a Russian money laundromat.

        • Marinela says:

          I was curious on why Kennedy would volunteer to step down in a Trump administration.
          Didn’t hear any investigative reporting on this aspect on the timing of his retirement.
          If he was blackmailed, could Kavanaugh be forced to step down since he replaced a problematic vacancy.
          What a mess.

      • Marinela says:

        But you don’t govern on speculation. You govern with contingency plans for the worst case possible.
        Like in poker, hope alone gets you to loose a lot of money, in politics you loose a lot of leverage.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On that Trump Stealing the White House meme that is finally percolating through the pundit class, sane voices are reminding us that Trump can’t control state elections. https://twitter.com/Teri_Kanefield/status/1309131600375021575

    That seems to ignore today’s GOP, at both state and federal levels, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization. State legislatures and State Attorneys General do have that power, and they can and will – see Florida and Wisconsin – work mightily to influence the ultimate make-up of their Electoral College votes to promote a Trump victory.

    Other voices are mindful that Trump has openly acknowledged he will reject an electoral loss. By his definition, it could only happen if Democrats cheated, which would make it illegitimate. Trump also refuses to address a hypothetical peaceful transfer of power, because it is impossible for him to lose. In 2015, one could have ignored those statements as hyperbole. After nearly four years of Trump in the Oval Office, and with Bill Barr at his side, is anyone still comfortable dismissing his claims as exaggeration?

    Asha Rangappa concedes Trump is like that, but cautions that we should not, “allow his *wishful* reality to *become the reality.” https://twitter.com/AshaRangappa_/status/1308929151789924354

    Rangappa, like Bob Mueller before her, seems to miss that Donald Trump is not engaged solely in delusional thinking. He and Bill Barr are already making his wishes reality. Blaming the victim for acting on the reasonable inferences about Trump and Barr’s conduct is the wishful thinking. Let’s not fall down Bob Mueller’s rabbit hole, and insist we’re dealing with a sane president, who understands norms and values restraint. If Donald Trump were like that, he would not be Donald Trump and Bob Mueller would never have been hired to investigate him.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep, meh. Former FBI, Yale Law faculty, admits to being “tiger momish,” which I would call admitting to bad parenting. But the MSM likes her and frequently gives her a pedestal. Critiquing her bothsidesism seemed a worthy effort.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As for state GOPs, two Republican members of the North Carolina state board of elections abruptly resigned, while the election is in progress. NC is a hotly contested state. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/24/politics/north-carolina-board-of-elections/index.html

      “[T]hey felt misled by the state attorney general’s office and board staff when they agreed to a settlement that would allow voters to fix absentee ballots with missing information.” That means they didn’t read it, or, more likely, were called onto the carpet by their patrons for unanimously agreeing to it.

      The departing Goopoers disagreed with the settlement because it was too favorable to voters, in that it, “guts the absentee witness requirement, extends the acceptance of all absentee ballots almost a week past the statutory deadline and weakens protections against ballot harvesting.”

      The behavior complained of – and discarded by this settlement – is pure voter suppression. No one outside of a Trumpista believes that a witness should be a required when casting an absentee ballot. Existing laws already severely punish fraudulent voting. The requirement was an invention to toss out absentee ballots that lacked the witness signature. Luckily for North Carolina’s voters, its state Attorney General is a Democrat, a rare event in a state with a GOP-dominated legislature.

      North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, called the resignations “political theater at its most destructive.,,,” “The proposed consent order is a negotiated compromise response to the greatest public health crisis in 100 years, the USPS slowing of mail delivery, and a federal court order mandating a cure process for mail in ballot errors.”

      The rationale is reasonable and painfully obvious. It is also ignored by the GOP, which wants victory ueber alles. This victory for voters in North Carolina is unusual. Let’s make it common. Stealing an election and installing a make-believe president for life can happen here. Let’s make sure it doesn’t.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        More on these two resignations, from digby. “It is a sound bet that what really blindsided Black and Raymond was vicious pushback they likely received from Republican operatives from the state house to the White House.” https://digbysblog.net/2020/09/trumps-co-conspirators-are-getting-busy/

        It is not clear how much business the body can conduct with just three [remaining Democratic] members. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is charged with filling vacancies from a list provided by the Republican Party’s state chair.

        Whaddya think such a list is not forthcoming? This allows the GOP to cast any actions taken by the three Democrats on the Board as tainted, and to allege that changes to absentee ballot rules to which Republican members agreed will mean absentee ballots are as well.

        If the GOP response in North Carolina works, it will be rolled out in other states. Plus, “works” is not limited to getting or suppressing votes. It includes advancing the framing of alleged Democratic cheating and a Trump win. It doesn’t have to be true – it’s usually not – it just has to be useful in the moment. As Trump sussed out long ago, the US system is not good at undoing a fait accompli, however outrageous.

        Worth another look at this Barton Gellman piece, which digby cites. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          There’s an argument critical of the Gellman piece, in that only a few states might be able to tinker with their EC representatives that way. I think that misses important points.

          For one thing, it only takes a few states. Politicos and their patrons, who have access to supercomputers – common nowadays – know the most likely ones. For another, Trump is taking a spaghetti at the wall approach. He doesn’t know which of many approaches will work. He doesn’t need to, so long as enough of them work.

          For another still, Trump may not need an outright win, which he seems unlikely to get under any circumstances. He needs enough chaos, enough states in play for long enough, to throw the election to the lawyers, in some national version of the 2000 Florida recount.

          The American political system is not very good at undoing a fait accompli. That favors the brash and the illegal, if done with enough bravado and cooperation from Republican elites, themselves worried about being relegated to permanent minority status.

      • P J Evans says:

        The witness requirement reads to me like another attempt at voter suppression, under the label of preventing almost-nonexistent voting fraud.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Shorter Lindsey Graham, “There will be a peaceful transfer of power, I can assure you, as long as the Democrats don’t squeal on the way to the barbecue.”

    • Eureka says:

      They’re keeping the screws on poor Linds until he gets that SCOTUS nom _through_: he’s already got a hat-trick of Fox appearances so far this week, begging for cash (i.e., the spigot hasn’t opened sufficiently. Yet.):

      Manu Raju [last night]: “This is at least the third time Graham has gone on Fox this week to plead for money for his race. He went on Hannity on Monday, Fox and Friends this morning and Hannity again tonight” https://twitter.com/mkraju/status/1309312281138925572

      Acyn Torabi: “Lindsey Graham: I’m getting overwhelmed… help me, they’re killing me moneywise. Help me [video, though there’s an even funnier one from a prior appearance]”

      • Eureka says:

        Urg. These people never even leave space for a moment of schadenfreude. Graham was also peddling peeks at their playbook:

        southpaw: “This quote alone should disqualify Graham from ever holding public office again. The Supreme Court doesn’t decide elections in this country (except, yes, that one time) and it has no constitutional role in declaring a winner. Shameful. [NYT link; screenshot quote transcribed below]”

        “People wonder about the peaceful transfer of power,” Mr. Graham said on Fox News on Thursday. “I can assure you, it will be peaceful.”

        “I promise you as a Republican, if the Supreme Court decides that Joe Biden wins, I will accept the result,” Mr. Graham added. “The court will decide, and if Republicans lose, we’ll accept the result.”

      • Rayne says:

        Does it sound to you like Graham’s desperate pleading is for something more than money? What kind of help is Graham really demanding apart from money?

        Wondering if the spigot has been throttled as a means of reining in Graham who has flirted with insufficient loyalty to Trump. For example, the DeVos family is dumping all kinds of money in Michigan on a tight race against incumbent Sen. Gary Peters when they could easily flip Graham some cash.

        • Eureka says:

          Yeah, because in one of the earlier videos I saw, he sounded relatively ‘flat’, like a broken man surprised to be broken, like betrayed-feeling, socially on the outs. Like he couldn’t believe he was in this position. (Judgement call on his affect: I’ll never find that video again, but I bet you’d see similar.) (Oh, and I also saw since posting initial comment that he was on Fox again this am.)

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Peter Baker https://twitter.com/peterbakernyt/status/1309158340874907651 summarizes a NYT colleague’s (@npfandos) better reporting (https://twitter.com/froomkin/status/1309159831937470467) on Sen. Johnson’s committee’s finding that it found nothing – nada, zip – to suggest that Hunter Biden’s work had any effect on his dad, Joe Biden’s work.

    Baker lingers over Hunter’s seven figure income, but omits that that was over ten or more years, making his annual income about $400K. Not small potatoes, but not the sort of money that moves mountains. Successful senior associates at top NYC and DC law firms make that much, partners much more.

    Sen. Johnson and Baker also lament that children of the rich and powerful cash-in on their parents’ status. OMG, clutch my pearls. How do they imagine the most expensive kindergartens, schools, and colleges populate themselves? Or private companies (Trump Organization, the Koch brothers organization) or Hollywood studios in their heyday? Where do members of Ivy League and Oxbridge secret societies come from?

    The myriad of quid pro quos and mutual favors among the wealthy get people out of jams, get them elected, appointed to powerful courts and legislative bodies, and hired in their first job or most important job. The mutuality of this socialism of the rich complies with anti-nepotism rules, but by subterfuge, not compliance. It keeps the wealthy in their bubble and everyone else out of it.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, that is the kind of money that all kinds of name brand people make per year for attaching their names to corporate boards seeking legitimacy. If Johnson thinks this is sketchy, there are a LOT more places he ought to look. Some of them right here in the ‘ole USA. Johnson’s report is garbage.

    • P J Evans says:

      If Baker thinks seven figures over 10 years is sketchy, he should take a look at his own salary on the same time scale. (And we never have found out who paid Bart K’s debts. Those of us with much smaller loads would appreciate that kind of reward for hard work.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I don’t know how much Baker earns, but it’s likely to be at least high six figures. His paper pays its OpEd columnists seven figure-salaries every year. So, yea, the Hunter Biden spin is just that, spin.

  17. Molly Pitcher says:

    From the unfortunate Hill:


    The Senate passed a resolution on Thursday reaffirming its support for a peaceful transition of power, one day after President Trump refused to commit to such a transition next year if he loses in the November election.

    The resolution, offered by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), passed by unanimous consent.

    • Molly Pitcher says:


      Better than that:

      “A bipartisan group of 489 former national security officials have endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

      The group, National Security Leaders for Biden, said that President Trump “has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office” and “cannot rise to meet challenges large or small.”

      “Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us,” the group wrote in a letter released Thursday.

      Those who signed the letter include 22 retired four-star generals and numerous high-profile Republicans such as former Navy Secretary Sean O’Keefe and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thanks for both of those. It’s hard to overstate how unusual it is for retired flag rank and other senior officers to come out so openly against a sitting president and commander-in-chief. Those officers are not alone: they are usually tightly networked with those who acted as their patrons while in service, and those for whom they acted as patrons.

        It speaks to how outrageously unfit for this job is Donald Trump. It speaks to how unlikely it is serving officers would back any attempt by Donald Trump to stay in office if he is generally perceived to have lost the election.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I just wish this were more widely circulated so that the shakey supporters of Trump could be further undermined

  18. Molly Pitcher says:


    I think Caputo might actually have been under some pretty high stress.

    “Department of Health and Human Service spokesman Michael Caputo, who took leave last week after making bizarre, conspiracy-filled rants on Facebook, has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer, The Buffalo News reports. A spokesman for Caputo confirmed he had squamous cell carcinoma, a type of head and neck cancer, which had originated in his throat. Diagnosed after surgery last week for a lump on his neck, which he alluded to when he said he was taking a leave of absence, Caputo is yet to determine a plan for medical treatment”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There are apparently several types of squamous or epithelial cell cancers, those in the throat (“head and neck” isn’t very specific) being only one of them. Statistically, it is associated with alcohol and tobacco use (75%) and HPV exposure.

      If it’s primary in the throat (e.g., tonsils or larynx) but has metastasized (typically, to lymph nodes and then elsewhere), it’s apparently likely to be at an advanced stage, with a poorer long-term prognosis. Not welcome news.

      As for his politics, under pressure, we tend less to lie than to say what we think, but normally filter out.

  19. Eureka says:

    Credit to That Clerk Rachel, who has probably (partly) figured out what was going on in Luzerne County [see also rest of convo for further likely spots of (naïve) BOE error/mistake]. Too bad DOJ — or, first, their GOP DA — didn’t just consult her before putting out those unusual press releases:

    That Clerk Rachel: “@grace_panetta @BrettLoGiurato @_justinlevitt_ @JessicaHuseman If they actually are November ballots, I have to believe they are federal write-in absentee ballots. [QT next]” https://twitter.com/badachie/status/1309228943518715905

    That Clerk Rachel: “@DwightShellman @JessicaHuseman Knowing that PA hasn’t sent out ballots to all voters & that the UOCAVA deadline was only 5 days ago, I have to believe these ballots are federal write-in absentee ballots. It’s very easy to mistake the 1st page of a FWAB for a federal postcard application (which is just an app).[images]”

    That Clerk Rachel: “@MaxHailperin @grace_panetta @BrettLoGiurato @_justinlevitt_ @JessicaHuseman Another thing that suggests they were FWABs. Voters often neglect to seal the FWAB ballot inside their own envelope. This means that when they are returned, staff need to remove the application page and then reseal the ballot itself in the envelope it was mailed in. [screenshot text, including that two were re-sealed]”

    • Eureka says:

      [NB: this just suggests that they are saving up USA McSwain (who has already politicized a pled-out election fraud case by publicizing it for the primary)’s capital for something “worse.” Like a November-kinda surprise.]


      Justice Dept. statement on mail-in ballot investigation appalls election law experts

      This is what Trump was cooking up on Fox (Radio, IIRC) Thursday morning, followed by Minister McEnany. And Marcy caught one of KY’s finest jumping the gun, perhaps:

    • Eureka says:

      I’d mentioned the Luzerne County DA’s (GOP) party affiliation* because WaPo broaches partisanship only to note Trump’s claim of a Democratic plot — and twice — with no further context. Luzerne was one of three PA counties that went from Obama x2 to Trump in 2016 (and by a wide margin). Fox News also hosted a Town Hall there with Bernie Sanders very early in the primary process for 2020. Pence declared it to be “Trump Country” during a recent visit.

      Incomplete details of what happened with the ballots (per Freed) is summarized here:

      It’s ‘imperative’ mail-in ballot issues get corrected, U.S. Attorney tells Luzerne County officials https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/09/its-imperative-mail-in-ballot-issues-get-corrected-us-attorney-tells-luzerne-county-elections-officials.html

      “In addition, our investigation has revealed that all or nearly all envelopes received in the elections office were opened as a matter of course.”

      Staff told investigators that envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar that they believe not opening envelopes would cause them to miss ballot requests, Freed wrote.

      “Our interviews further revealed that this issue was a problem in the primary election – therefore a known issue – and that the problem has not been corrected,” Freed said.

      *see also this thread https://twitter.com/KDbyProxy/status/1309211268356755458, which also links Freed’s updated statements (besides correcting the targeted misuse of “mail-in ballots” (generalized, in line with recent propaganda) for “absentee ballots” (military, which these are)

    • Eureka says:

      Stephanie K. Baer: “Yet another press release regarding the investigation into “discarded” mail-in ballots at a Pennsylvania county elections office, this time from the county.[screenshots and a BuzzFeed link] [thread]

      “County explains that on Sept. 16 the elections director learned “a temporary seasonal independent contractor” who just started work Sept. 14 “incorrectly discarded into the office trash” the military ballots. This worker is no longer employed by the elections bureau.”

      “As pointed out by @mattdpearce, the press release also notes that county staff were unaware that the ballots involved were cast for President Trump until it was disclosed by the US Attorney’s office in their statement yesterday.[screenshot]”

      Adding, about these dates: it wasn’t until September 17th that PA SC declared that so-called naked ballots would not be accepted in the general, FYI [they were allowed in the primary, but not all counties actually accepted them (as documented in Jonathan Lai tweets/articles) — not sure about Luzerne]

      • Eureka says:

        (cut off)… not sure about Luzerne’s practices then, which would have informed their practices on the dates cited in press release.

        The point: this all goes against the ‘discarded because they were naked ballots’ theory going around.

        Why don’t we know anything more about this mysterious temp worker (If we are to know anything of this investigation at all)? Was it mistake, or sabotage?

        Comments at local (Luzerne County) newspapers with lots of talk of voting in person/ can’t trust mail ballots … in, remember, “Trump Country” (Pence’s designation)….

    • P J Evans says:

      I read that 7 were for Trmp and 2 were not. But the county is saying they didn’t know who they were for.

      (I got a CA mail-in ballot last year, for a local election, that didn’t get used – it came too late – and it has an outer envelope, a secrecy cover, and the ballot itself.)

  20. greengiant says:

    Where is the best track log of Fairbanks? Friend of not only Stone, but Mike Flynn Jr, Posobiec and Crackas with attitude.

  21. harpie says:

    Please consider this [via Cheryl Rofer]:


    America is trapped in an abusive relationship—not just with the pussy-grabbing President Donald Trump, our abuser-in-chief, but also with the Republican Party, its white Christian base, the police, and the increasingly uninhibited “good guys with guns,” whose vigilante actions are evidently becoming increasingly brazen.

    And unless liberals, leftists, and all Americans of good conscience are willing to confront the abusive character of the authoritarian right in no uncertain terms, I frankly don’t see how we can defeat surging fascism and set this country on a healthy democratic path. […]

    • harpie says:

      This is WHY:
      9:53 AM · Sep 26, 2020

      Portland, Oregon thread. Again. [screenshot]

      The Proud Boys say they’re converging on Portland at noon today to confront Antifa. Antifa says they’ll be there too to confront the Proud Boys. Oregon has declared that Portland is now in a state of emergency.

      The DOJ recently declared Portland an “anarchist jurisdiction.” It’s not clear whether that is just a federal defunding threat or whether the federal agencies may play a role in what happens today.

        • bmaz says:

          Meh, could always have been submitted to feds if there was a federal crime. They are just trying to scare people.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Federalizing responses to state-level protests, upping the potential penalties to intimidate those engaged in protest, and normalizing the process of drafting locals to serve Bill Barr’s private army. What could go wrong? It’s also a way to avoid state courts and prosecutors.

          BTW, what federal property or interest are those Oregon State Troopers meant to protect? Because otherwise, they’re just armed mercenaries working for Bill Barr, paid for through unappropriated taxpayer money.

      • Tom says:

        We’ve all seen those clips of various police forces fraternizing with those militia groups, thanking them for their support, sharing information with them, giving them bottled water, and generally being all buddy-buddy. To me, police forces who behave that way are giving up any pretense that they are professional law enforcement officers. If they were, they would be the first ones to be sending those militia goons packing and ordering them back to their holes. Any police force with pride in itself as a professional organization would be sending the public the clear message that keeping the peace and maintaining law & order is THEIR job; amateurs need not apply. The police should be discouraging the idea that any boob can arm and equip himself at the local army surplus store and then take to the street to play policeman or soldier. To me, that’s just condoning violence and lowering the reputation of the police as a professional body performing a public service.

        If I bought a white coat and a stethoscope, I don’t think I’d be allowed to hang around hospital wards offering medical advice to all and sundry. If I bought a briefcase and some yellow legal pads, I don’t think I’d be allowed to loiter around the local court house giving out legal advice. Why? Because doctors and lawyers see themselves as professionals with professional qualifications and standards to uphold.
        But police who accept and treat militia types as somehow being colleagues or brothers in a common cause are just degrading themselves and abdicating their responsibility to act as professionals.

  22. harpie says:

    Marcy retweets:
    8:07 AM · Sep 26, 2020

    First three images: how the NYT covered a single brief meeting between the ex-president spouse of a presidential candidate and the AG. [TARMAC!!!!!]

    Last image: how it’s covering an overt, years-long campaign by the AG to control investigations and prosecutions for the president’s benefit. [screenshots]

    This is an example of what Stroop is saying in the article I linked to, above:

    To riff on the work of retired UC Berkeley cognitive scientist George Lakoff, who documented the ways in which Americans understand politics through family-related metaphors, if the United States is a dysfunctional family, then much of the media has taken on the role of the peacemaker.

    In a dysfunctional family, the peacemaker “may become anger-phobic and attempt to smooth out differences before a healthy interchange can take place,” according to couples’ counselors Linda and Charlie Bloom. The flurry of discussion around Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the apparent frontrunner to be named Trump’s pick to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, neatly illustrates the dynamic in which the right gaslights the American public, and the media normalizes and perpetuates the gaslighting. […]

    • harpie says:

      This is the NYT article from Stancil’s last screenshot:

      Barr’s Approach Closes Gap Between Justice Dept. and White House

      The attorney general has brought the department closer to the White House than it has been in a half-century, historians said.
      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/25/us/politics/william-barr-justice-department.html Sept. 25, 2020

      When the top federal prosecutor in Washington recently accused the local police of arresting protesters without probable cause, Attorney General William P. Barr stepped in. […]

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is in response to a standing ovation for Kyle Rittenhouse’s mom, at a Waukesha County, Wisconsin, GOP women’s event, in the state where her son, at age 17, allegedly killed two and shot a third person with a military assault weapon-style rifle. He crossed a state line, armed himself, and sought people whose politics he disagreed with, because they made him angry and afraid. And he used his weapon.

    A standing ovation for murder. Anyone who still believes that today’s GOP is incapable of mass atrocities is a dangerous fool.


  24. harpie says:

    I have a comment in moderation, but here’s the short version:

    Barrett, Roberts and Kavanaugh
    ALL worked for Bush and the Cheney-Gang on the 2000 Florida [NON-]recount]

      • harpie says:

        Sorry for the trouble, bmaz… [hope it’s better, soon],
        and for me maybe seeming kinda’ frantic today…
        and Thank you!

        • bmaz says:

          Meh, no worries whatsoever, we are fine here. But it is already getting to where you miss the A/C.

          Still fine. If it goes more than two hours more, in the heat of the day, we may then have an issue.

        • bmaz says:

          We “used to”, but it was never big enough to support our A/C units. But could handle the Fridge, some fans and the internet and a TV, even if in a condensed area of the house. But it got stolen from a friend’s house. Might look into getting another one. But anything that would also power the A/C units is enormously expensive. And, frankly, it is an extremely rare thing here, last time we needed that, when the small generator was still here, was very long ago.

  25. harpie says:

    bmaz: Thanks for linking to this:

    One of first female Ranger School graduates leads Honor Guard for Justice Ginsburg
    Sep 25, 2020 / 05:46 PM [VIDEO]

    This morning, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.

    And there was a local connection as a joint military Honor Guard took Ginsburg’s body into the rotunda. That Honor Guard was led by U.S. Army Capt. Shaye Haver, one of the first two women to graduate from Ranger School. […]

    Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in 1996 when the high court opened up the all-male Viriginia Military Institute to women […]

    At the end of the VIDEO, but not in the article, the correspondent relates he has texted with Haver, about the experience, yesterday, and she said:
    “It was an honor”.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s Feminist Icon, Is Dead at 87
    Linda Greenhouse Sept. 18, 2020

    […] [from the opinion:] “Inherent differences between men and women, we have come to appreciate, remain cause for celebration,” she wrote, “but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity.” Any differential treatment, she emphasized, must not “create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women.”

    • harpie says:

      This, from the Greenhouse article is great:

      On June 26, 1996, as Justice Ginsburg delivered her opinion in the V.M.I. case, there was a subtext, not necessarily apparent to the courtroom audience. She described the moment in a speech the following year to the Women’s Bar Association in Washington: how she had glanced across the bench to her colleague, Justice O’Connor, who herself had helped weave the legal fabric that supported the V.M.I. decision. Justice O’Connor, early in her tenure as the first woman on the Supreme Court, had written a majority opinion that ordered an all-female state nursing school in Mississippi to admit men, warning against using “archaic and stereotypic notions” about the proper roles for men and women. Justice O’Connor’s opinion in that 1982 case relied on the Supreme Court precedents that Ruth Ginsburg’s cases had set. And Justice Ginsburg’s opinion in the V.M.I. case in turn cited Justice O’Connor’s 1982 opinion, Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan. The constitutional circle was closed. […]

      I just love that.

      • bmaz says:

        Sandra Day is still alive. She was never as beloved as RBG came to be in the later years of her life. I used to see her around, a little bit here, where she is (am pretty sure she still is, though not in the original house I knew).

        O’Connor is an immensely good and important woman, much less trailblazing Justice. And a wonderful woman who was never the press and whatnot characterization of her. Not to say I always agreed with her decisions, but she was magnificent in being able to discuss. Sandra Day O’Connor deserves equal status when she passes. Let that be.

  26. harpie says:

    Two related thoughts:

    1] Amy Coney Barrett Is Even More Extreme Than Antonin Scalia
    Barbara McQuade 9/26/20

    […] If Barrett is confirmed, then the Court will include five justices, a majority of the Court, who will have been appointed by presidents who did not win the popular vote. In addition to Barrett, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote to Al Gore, named John Roberts and Samuel Alito. When justices are installed by presidents who lack democratic support, at some point, the Court itself loses public confidence, and its decisions lose the respect of the people. The Court risks being seen as just one more cog in a political machine. […]

    2] https://twitter.com/IsaacDovere/status/1309980818270494721
    6:18 PM · Sep 26, 2020

    One way to think of what’s happening: a president who lost the popular vote by 3 million will now be supported by GOP senators cumulatively representing 15 million fewer Americans than those represented by the Democratic senators to cement a majority on the Supreme Court

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      DiFi seems to think that Americans should blithely accept that 6-3 reactionary Supreme Court majority as the price to be paid for democracy. Perhaps her wealth and age allow her to think so.

      DiFi’s argument is deeply flawed, most spectacularly because that majority is not a result of “democracy.” It’s the result of McConnell and Trump’s commitment to reactionary white male supremacy, and raw, unaccountable power. They “win” by abusing democracy and all its little norms and rules, and by persuading the comfortable that it’s too much work to fight against them. Fuck that.

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