November 28, 2022 / by 

 

How Richard Barnett Could Delay Resourcing of the Trump Investigation

In the rush to have something to say about what Special Counsel Jack Smith will do going forward, the chattering class has glommed onto this letter, signed by US Attorney for Southern Florida Juan Gonzalez under Jack Smith’s name, responding to a letter Jim Trusty sent to the 11th Circuit a day earlier. Trusty had claimed that the Special Master appointed to review the contents of Rudy Giuliani’s phones was a precedent for an instance where a judge used equitable jurisdiction to enjoin an investigation pending review by a Special Master.

The question raised was whether a court has previously asserted equitable jurisdiction to enjoin the government from using seized materials in an investigation pending review by a special master. The answer is yes. The United States agreed to this approach – and the existence of jurisdiction – in In the Matter of Search Warrants Executed on April 28, 2021, No. 21-MC-425-JPO (S.D.N.Y.) (involving property seized from Hon. Rudolph W. Giuliani) – and, under mutual agreement of the parties, no materials were utilized in the investigation until the special master process was completed. 1 See, e.g., Exhibit A. The process worked. On November 14, 2022, the United States filed a letter brief notifying the District Court that criminal charges were not forthcoming and requested the termination of the appointment of the special master. See Exhibit B. On November 16, 2022, the matter was closed. See Exhibit C.

As the government noted, none of what Trusty claimed was true: the government itself had sought a Special Master in Rudy’s case and Judge Paul Oetken had long been assigned the criminal case.

That is incorrect. As plaintiff recognizes, the court did not “enjoin the government,” id.; instead, the government itself volunteered that approach. Moreover, the records there were seized from an attorney’s office, the review was conducted on a rolling basis, and the case did not involve a separate civil proceeding invoking a district court’s anomalous jurisdiction. Cf. In the Matter of Search Warrants Executed on April 9, 2018, No. 18-mj-3161 (S.D.N.Y.) (involving similar circumstances). None of those is true here.

The government could have gone further than it did. The big difference between the Special Master appointed for Rudy and this one is that Aileen Cannon interfered in an ongoing investigation even though there was no cause shown even for a Special Master review, and indeed all the things that would normally be covered by such a review (the attorney-client privileged documents) were handled in the way the government was planning to handle them in the first place.

Josh Gerstein had first pointed to the letter to note that both Gonzalez, the US Attorney, and Smith, the Special Counsel, had submitted a document on Thanksgiving. The claim made by others that this letter showed particular toughness — or that that toughness was a sign of Smith’s approach — was pure silliness. DOJ has been debunking false claims made about the Special Master reviews of Trump’s lawyers since August. That they continue to do so is a continuation of what has gone before, not any new direction from Smith. Indeed, the most interesting thing about the letter, in my opinion, is that a US Attorney signed a letter under the authority of a Special Counsel, the equivalent of a US Attorney in seniority. If anything, it’s a testament that DOJ has not yet decided where such a case would be prosecuted, which would leave the decision to Smith.

A more useful place to look for tea leaves for Jack Smith’s approach going forward is in Mary Dohrmann’s workload — and overnight decisions about it.

Thomas Windom is the prosecutor usually cited when tracking the multiple strands of investigation into Trump’s culpability for January 6. But at least since the John Eastman warrant in August, Dohrmann has also been overtly involved. She’s been involved even as she continued to work on a bunch of other cases.

With two other prosecutors, for example, she tried Michael Riley, the Capitol Police cop convicted on one count of obstructing the investigation into January 6. In addition to Jacob Hiles (the January 6 defendant tied to Riley’s case), she has prosecuted a range of other January 6 defendants, ranging in apparent levels of import:

She has also been involved in several non-January 6 prosecutions:

In other words, on the day Smith was appointed, Dorhman was prosecuting several January 6 defendants for trespassing, several for assault, and a cop convicted of obstructing the investigation, even as she was investigating the former President. Though she hasn’t been involved in any of the conspiracy cases, Dohrmann’s view of January 6 must look dramatically different than what you’ll see reported on cable news.

As laid out above, Dorhmann has been juggling cases since January 6; this is typical of the resource allocation that DOJ has had to do on virtually all January 6 cases. That makes it hard to tell when she started handing off cases to free up time for the Trump investigation. That said, there have been more signs she’s handing off cases — both the Vaughn Gordon and Sean McHugh cases — in the days since Smith was named.

But something that happened in the Richard Barnett case revealed how her reassignments on account of Smith’s appointment have been going day-to-day.

Back on November 21 — three days after Garland appointed Jack Smith — Richard Barnett’s attorneys filed a motion asking to delay his trial, currently scheduled for December 12. Their reasons were largely specious. They want to delay until after the DC Circuit decides whether to reverse Carl Nichols’ outlier decision that threw out obstruction charges in the context of January 6; even Nichols hasn’t allowed defendants awaiting that decision to entirely delay their prosecution. They also want to delay in hopes the conspiracy theories that the incoming Republican House majority will chase provide some basis to challenge Barnett’s prosecution.

On November 4, 2022, a Congressional report from members of the House Judiciary Committee released a one thousand page report based on whistleblowers documenting the politicization and anti-conservative bias in the FBI and the Department of Justice. This historic report will no doubt serve as a road map for probes of the agencies now that the Republicans have gained control of the House of Representatives. Included among the many allegations is the recent revelation that the FBI fabricated schemes to entrap American citizens as false flag operations for political purposes. This devastating report was compounded ten days later on November 14, 2022, by revelations that the FBI was involved in infiltrating other groups of January 6th defendants.

As a third reason, Barrnett’s team noted that one of his lawyers, Joseph McBride (who famously said he didn’t “give a shit about being wrong” when floating conspiracy theories about January 6) had to reschedule a medical procedure for the day of the pretrial conference.

Mr. Barnett’s attorney, Mr. Joseph McBride, was scheduled to have a necessary medical procedure on November 17, 2022, but due to unforeseen complication, the procedure could not be performed and must be rescheduled for December 9, 2022, the day of the pretrial conference and a few days before trial.

Per Barnett’s filing, the government objected to the delay.

Counsel for the Government stated that they will oppose this motion, however, they agreed to stay the deadline for Exhibits, due Monday November 21, 2022, until this motion is resolved. The Government also requested that a status conference be scheduled for that purpose.

According to the government response, Barnett’s attorneys first requested this delay on November 17, the day before Smith was appointed. That’s the day Barnett’s team asked the government whether they objected to a delay.

The government has diligently been preparing for trial. Under the Court’s Amended Pretrial Order, the parties were due to exchange exhibit lists on November 21, 2022. ECF No. 63. On November 17, 2022, however, defense counsel Gross contacted the government to state that the defense again wanted to continue the trial. Defense counsel also indicated that the defense was not prepared to exchange exhibit lists on November 21.

By the time the government filed their response on November 22, four days after Smiths’ appointment, DOJ had changed its mind. DOJ still thinks Barnett’s reasons for delay are bullshit (and they are). But the government cited an imminent change in the prosecution team and suggested a trial a month or so out.

As reflected in the Defendant’s motion, the government initially opposed the Defendant’s request for a continuance. Def.’s Mot. at 1. As discussed below, the government maintains that certain of the Defendant’s proffered reasons do not support a continuance of the trial. Nevertheless, the government has considered all the attendant circumstances and no longer opposes the motion. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the government submits that the Defendant’s motion should be granted without a hearing, the trial date vacated, and a status hearing set to discuss new trial dates.

[snip]

Finally, the government notes that while it is diligently preparing for trial, an imminent change in government counsel is anticipated. Thus, given the government’s strong interest in ensuring continuity in its trial team, coupled with the defendant’s lack of readiness, the government, in good faith, will not oppose the defendant’s continuance. Under such unique time constraints, the government therefore requests that the Court vacate the trial date, without need for a hearing, and set a new trial date and extend the remaining pretrial deadlines by 30 to 45 days. [my emphasis]

The judge in the case, Christopher Cooper, ruled on Wednesday that he will only delay the trial if both sides can fit in his schedule. In his order, he mostly trashed the defense excuses. But he noted that the government, too, should have planned prosecutorial changes accordingly.

The Court will reserve judgment on the Defendant’s 88 Motion to Continue the December 12, 2022 trial date pending receipt of a joint notice, to be filed by November 28, 2022, indicating specific dates on which the parties would be available for trial following a brief continuance. If the parties cannot offer a date that also conforms with the Court’s schedule, the Court will deny the motion and proceed with the scheduled trial. The Court finds that none of the reasons advanced in the Defendant’s motion are grounds for a continuance. This case was charged nearly two years ago, one trial date has already been vacated at the defense’s request, and the present date was set over four months ago. Defense counsel, which now number at least three, have had more than ample time to prepare for trial. The defense has not identified any material evidence that it is lacking, either from the government’s voluminous production of both case-specific and global discovery, or from other public sources. Nor is the pendency of the appeal in U.S. v. Miller an impediment to trial. This and other courts have proceeded with numerous January 6th trials involving the charge at issue in Miller. If the Circuit decides the issue in the defense’s favor, then Mr. Barnett will receive the benefit of that ruling. There is no good reason to halt the trial in the meantime. As for any anticipated change in government trial counsel, the government has been aware of the current trial date for months and should have planned accordingly. That said, the Court would be willing to exercise its discretion and grant a brief continuance should a mutually agreeable date be available. The Court notes, however, that it has a busy docket of both January 6th cases and other matters and therefore may not be able to accommodate the parties’ request. [my emphasis]

Unless and until Dorhmann spins off all her other cases, it won’t be clear whether a change in Barnett’s case indicated she expected to focus more time on Trump or that DOJ wanted to create single reporting lines through Smith (or even whether the change in prosecutorial team involved one of several other prosecutors assigned to the case).

Lisa Monaco has been micro-managing the approach to January 6 from the moment she was confirmed in April 2021. Sure, it’s certainly possible that DOJ didn’t make the final decision on whether to appoint a Special Counsel, and if so, whom, until after Trump announced he was running or until after the GOP won the House. Maybe they delayed any resource discussions until after finalizing a pick.

But depending on the reasons why DOJ changed its mind on Barnett’s case, it’s possible that his still-scheduled December 12 trial could delay the time until Smith has his team in place, by several weeks. It’s also possible DOJ will just go to trial, a high profile one that poses some evidentiary complexities, with the two other prosecutors.

As I’ve suggested above, managing the workload created by the January 6 attack has been unbelievably complex, with rolling reassignments among virtually all prosecution teams from the start. Dohrmann’s caseload is of interest only because the mix of cases she has carried range from trespassers to the former President.

But at this moment, as Smith decides how he’ll staff the investigation he is now overseeing, that caseload may create some avoidable complexities and potentially even a short delay, one that could have been avoided.


What If the Special Counsel Is about Scott Perry, not Just Donald Trump?

When he announced the appointment of a Special Counsel yesterday, Merrick Garland described that “recent developments,” plural, led him to conclude that he should appoint Jack Smith as Special Counsel to oversee the investigations into Donald Trump.

The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution.

Based on recent developments, including the former President’s announcement that he is a candidate for President in the next election, and the sitting President’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a Special Counsel.

The recent developments he focused on were presidential: Trump’s announcement he’d run again and Joe Biden’s stated plan to run for reelection. But he also described the basis for the appointment not as a conflict (as Republicans and Trump are describing the investigation by a Biden appointee by his chief rival), but as an extraordinary circumstance.

Unsurprisingly, Garland never named Trump as the reason for the appointment. The only time he referenced Trump, he referred to him as the former President. That’s DOJ policy.

When he described the subjects of the January 6 investigation, he included both “any person” but also any “entity” that interfered in the transfer of power.

The first, as described in court filings in the District of Columbia, is the investigation into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021.

The scope of the January 6 investigation that Smith will oversee is far broader than Trump and will almost certainly lead to the indictment of multiple people in addition to Trump, if it does include Trump — people like Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, possibly Mark Meadows.

But if we assume that everyone who has had their phone seized in that investigation is a subject of it, then Scott Perry, the Chair of the House Freedom [sic] Caucus, would also be included. Perry was the one who suggested that Trump replace Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark so DOJ would endorse Trump’s challenges to the election outcome. He pushed a number of conspiracy theories at the White House and DOJ (including the whack Italian one). Along with Meadows and Rudy Giuliani, Perry was putting together plans for Trump to come to the Capitol on January 6. After one meeting with Perry, Meadows burned some papers.

Perry isn’t even the only one who was closely involved in the plot to steal the election. Jim Jordan, the incoming Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was closely involved as well and is very close to likely subject Mark Meadows.

Indeed, if you include all the members of Congress who discussed or asked for pardons, the number grows longer, in addition to Perry, including at least Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Jordan, Perry, Gaetz, Biggs, Gohmert, and Marge would amount to most of the probable seven person majority in the House.

Marge, as it turns out, is already dreaming up ways to defund this investigation (the means by which she wants to do this, the Holman Rule, probably wouldn’t work; I believe there’s a preauthorized fund from which Special Counsel expenses come from).

To be clear, thus far, Perry is the only one whose actions have overtly been the focus of legal process, when the FBI seized his phone back in August. It’s certainly possible DOJ did so only to get content, such as Signal texts, that implicate someone else, like Clark.

But given how close the majority in Congress is, any prosecution of a Republican member would threaten to disrupt that majority. Which means any investigation into Republican members of Congress would pose a more immediate threat to the current status quo than a Trump prosecution would.

Jack Smith’s background — including a stint heading DOJ’s Public Integrity Division during the period when Congressman Rick Renzi was prosecuted — is more suited for the January 6 investigation than the stolen document one. Including, as it turns out, the difficulties of prosecuting someone protected by the Speech and Debate clause.


What that Report Purportedly Authenticating the “Hunter Biden” “Laptop” Really Said

I’ve reported on the WaPo story on the security review of the disk drive commonly referred to as the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” a bunch of times.

But in advance of ripping apart this James Comer fan-fiction about Hunter Biden and before the Twitter thread I did disappears into the Elmo dumpster fire, I wanted to repeat it here. The WaPo asked security experts Matt Green (who worked with his Johns Hopkins students) and Jake Williams to review the drive to see what they could authenticate.

They discovered that people had kept adding content to the “laptop,” making it impossible to say what was on the “laptop” when it was provided to the blind computer repairman.

In their examinations, Green and Williams found evidence that people other than Hunter Biden had accessed the drive and written files to it, both before and after the initial stories in the New York Post and long after the laptop itself had been turned over to the FBI.

Maxey had alerted The Washington Post to this issue in advance, saying that others had accessed the data to examine its contents and make copies of files. But the lack of what experts call a “clean chain of custody” undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.

“The drive is a mess,” Green said.

He compared the portable drive he received from The Post to a crime scene in which detectives arrive to find Big Mac wrappers carelessly left behind by police officers who were there before them, contaminating the evidence.

That assessment was echoed by Williams.

“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” Williams said.

Still more important: some of the forensic data that would be necessary to authenticate the drive itself had been deleted.

Analysis was made significantly more difficult, both experts said, because the data had been handled repeatedly in a manner that deleted logs and other files that forensic experts use to establish a file’s authenticity.

“No evidence of tampering was discovered, but as noted throughout, several key pieces of evidence useful in discovering tampering were not available,” Williams’ reports concluded.

Williams was able to authenticate fewer than 10% of the files on the drive, though that included some emails involving CEFC China Energy.

The portable drive provided to The Post contains 286,000 individual user files, including documents, photos, videos and chat logs. Of those, Green and Williams concluded that nearly 22,000 emails among those files carried cryptographic signatures that could be verified using technology that would be difficult for even the most sophisticated hackers to fake.

[snip]

In particular, there are verified emails illuminating a deal Hunter Biden developed with a fast-growing Chinese energy conglomerate, CEFC China Energy, for which he was paid nearly $5 million, and other business relationships. Those business dealings are the subject of a separate Washington Post story published at the same time as this one on the forensic examinations of the drive.

The “Big Guy” email could not be authenticated.

Some other emails on the drive that have been the foundation for previous news reports could not be verified because the messages lacked verifiable cryptographic signatures. One such email was widely described as referring to Joe Biden as “the big guy” and suggesting the elder Biden would receive a cut of a business deal.

There were authenticated emails from Burisma, but if Burisma was hacked (as a security company, Area 1 Security, said it was before the laptop was disclosed), hackers could have faked cryptographic signatures, including on those from Burisma advisor Vadym Pozharskyi that have been the focus of a lot of attention.

The drive also includes some verified emails from Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company for which he was a board member. President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie Joe Biden to the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma led to Trump’s first impeachment trial, which ended in acquittal in February 2020.

The Post’s review of these emails found that most were routine communications that provided little new insight into Hunter Biden’s work for the company.

[snip]

Both Green and Williams said the Burisma emails they verified cryptographically were likely to be authentic, but they cautioned that if the company was hacked, it would be possible to fake cryptographic signatures — something much less likely to happen with Google.

Note, as I understand the timing, these emails could have been altered only if the laptop reaccessed the Burisma server after the hack.

In any case, the “laptop” is a completely unreliable shitshow precisely because Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon were in such a rush to make it a political scandal.

And yet the new Republican majority in Congress is sure it is “real.”

James Comer has kicked off his tenure as Oversight Chair by proclaiming that the forensic mess left behind by frothy conspiracy-mongers is, instead, “REAL.”


Welcome to the Jim Jordan and James Comer Look the Other Way Committees, Brought to You By Access Journalism

In an article published 112 days before the November election, Politico included this sentence about all the investigations Republicans planned to conduct if they won the House.

Republicans on the [Oversight] committee plan to hold high-profile probes into Hunter Biden’s dealings with overseas clients, but they also want to hone in on eliminating wasteful government spending in an effort to align the panel with the GOP’s broader agenda.

Politico’s Jordain Carney did not note the irony of planning, almost four months before the election, an investigation into foreign efforts to gain influence by paying the then Vice President’s son years ago, next to a claim to want to eliminate wasteful spending. He just described it as if yet another investigation into Hunter Biden, even as DOJ continued its own investigation, wasn’t an obvious waste of government resources.

Politico’s Olivia Beavers didn’t point that out either in a 1,400-word profile in August on James Comer entitled, “Meet the GOP’s future king of Biden investigations,” the kind of sycophantic profile designed to ensure future access, known as a “beat sweetener.” (Beaver is currently described as a Breaking News Reporter; this profile was posted 3 days after the search of Mar-a-Lago.) She did acknowledge that these investigations were, “directing the party’s pent-up frustration and aggression toward Democrats after years in the minority,” not any desire to make government work or eliminate wasteful spending. But she nevertheless allowed Comer and his colleagues to claim that an investigation into Joe Biden’s son could be credible — that it would somehow be more credible than the bullshit we expect from Marjorie Taylor Greene.

He’s long been known on both sides of the aisle as a sharp and affable colleague, and has the tendency to lean in with a hushed voice, almost conspiratorially, only to crack a well-timed joke that’s often at his own expense. Beyond that personal appeal, though, Comer emphasized it’s his priority to ensure the oversight panel’s work remains “credible.”

That’s a tricky path to tread, given his party’s investigative priorities are still subject to the whims of former President Donald Trump as well as an increasingly zealous conservative base and media apparatus. But Comer’s particularly well-suited to the task, according to more than two dozen House Republicans interviewed. And if he manages to do it right, it could provide a launching pad to higher office — Comer is not discounting a future bid for Senate or Kentucky governor, though that likely wouldn’t occur until after his four remaining years leading the panel.

“I’m not going to be chasing some of these right-wing blogs and some of their conspiracy theories,” Comer told POLITICO in an hour-long interview conducted in a rented RV trailer that his campaign had parked at the picnic. “We’ll look into anything, but we’re not going to declare a probe or an investigation unless we have proof.”

[snip]

And though Comer has said Hunter Biden would likely get subpoenaed in the event of a declined invitation to the committee next year, he doesn’t want to appear trigger-happy with issuing subpoenas, either.

“This isn’t a dog-and-pony show. This isn’t a committee where everybody’s gonna scream and be outraged and try to make the witnesses look like fools,” he said, before nodding at House Democrats’ past probes of the Trump campaign and Russian election interference. “Unlike Adam Schiff, we’re gonna have something concrete, substantive on Hunter Biden or I’m not going to talk about Hunter Biden.”

Beavers didn’t mention the platitudes she included in her August article when she reported, yesterday, on the press conference Comer and Jim Jordan have scheduled for today, less than 24 hours after the 218th House seat for Republicans was called, to talk about the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) discussed plans to investigate politicization in federal law enforcement and Hunter Biden’s business affairs.

“We are going to make it very clear that this is now an investigation of President Biden,” Comer said, referring to a planned Republican press conference Thursday about the president and his son’s business dealings.

Beavers has let Comer forget the claim, which she printed as good faith in August, that Comer was “not going to declare a probe or an investigation unless we have proof.”

Olivia. Comer lied to you in August. As a journalist, you might want to call that out.

There is no functioning democracy in which the opposition party’s first act after winning a majority should be investigating the private citizen son of the President for actions taken three to six years earlier, particularly not as a four year criminal investigation into Hunter Biden — still overseen by a Trump appointee — continues.

There is no sane argument for doing so. Sure, foreign countries paid Hunter lots of money as a means to access his father. But according to an October leak from FBI agents pressuring to charge the President’s son (one that Comer pitched on Fox News), which claimed there was enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden for tax and weapons charges but which made no mention of foreign influence peddling charges, that foreign influence peddling apparently doesn’t amount to a crime. Nothing foreign countries did with Hunter Biden is different from what Turkey did with Mike Flynn, Ukraine did with Paul Manafort, Israel did with George Papadopoulos, and multiple countries did with Elliot Broidy. Jim Jordan and James Comer not only had no problem with that foreign influence peddling, they attacked the FBI for investigating them.

If James Comer and Jim Jordan really cared about foreign influence peddling, they would care that, since leaving the White House, the Trump family has entered into more than $3.6 billion of deals with Saudi Arabia ($2 billion to Jared’s investment fund, a $1.6 billion real estate development in Oman announced the day before Trump’s re-election bid, and a golf deal of still-undisclosed value; Judd Legum has a good post summarizing what we know about this relationship). Given that the Oversight panel under Carolyn Maloney already launched an investigation into Jared’s fund — like Hunter Biden’s funding, notable because of the obvious inexperience of the recipient — Comer could treat himself and American taxpayers with respect by more generally investigating the adequacy of protection against foreign influence, made more acute in the wake of the opinion in the Steve Wynn case that guts DOJ’s ability to enforce FARA.

With today’s press conference, you will see a bunch of journalists like Olivia Beavers treating this as a serious pursuit rather than pointing out all the hypocrisy and waste it entails as well as the lies they credulously printed during the election about it. You will see Beavers rewarding politicians for squandering government resources to do this, rather than calling them out for the hypocrisy of their actions.

Maybe, if Comer becomes Governor of Kentucky, Beavers will have the inside track on access to him. I guess then it will have been worth it for her.

This Hunter Biden obsession has been allowed to continue already for three years not just because it has been Fox’s non-stop programming choice to distract from more important matters, but because journalists who consider themselves straight journalists, not Fox propagandists, choose not to call out the rank hypocrisy and waste of it all.

For any self-respecting journalist, the story going forward should be about how stupid and hypocritical all this is, what a waste of government resources.

We’re about to find out how few self-respecting journalists there are in DC.

Update: NBC journalist Scott Wong’s piece on the GOP plans for investigations was similarly supine. The funniest part of it is that it treated a 1,000 page “report,” consisting almost entirely of letters Jordan sent, as if it were substantive. I unpacked the details NBC could have disclosed to readers here.

Meanwhile, this Carl Hulse piece doesn’t disclose to readers that Marjory Taylor Greene’s investigation into the jail conditions of January 6 defendants, besides being an attempt to protect potential co-conspirators, also is falsely premised on claims that the January 6 defendants are treated worse (and not better) than other defendants as well as false claims that many of the pre-trial detainees are misdemeanants.


A Parliamentary Congress or a Batshit One?

With the call of two Arizona and one California House race yesterday, it seems clear the Republicans will hold a majority in the House next year — though it’s not yet clear whether the Congress will start with a 219-216 split or a 221-214 split. Sometime today, Kevin McCarthy will win a majority of votes in the GOP caucus to be the presumptive Speaker next year, though not before defeating Andy Biggs, in what will be a test vote of conservative votes.

That’s when things get interesting.

To win today, McCarthy only needs a majority. To win in January, McCarthy needs a majority of the votes cast, presumably 218. So if the final count is 219-216, he can’t afford any defections.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan have already endorsed McCarthy. Marge — one of the shrewder wingnuts — explained why she would support McCarthy.

If we don’t unify behind Kevin McCarthy, we’re opening up the door for the Democrats to be able to recruit some of our Republicans and they may only need one or two since we don’t know what we will have in the majority.

Since then, Don Bacon has announced that — if Republicans don’t get 218 votes on January 3 — he would consider backing a moderate Democrat as Speaker.

Even newly elected Long Island Republican George Santos, who is a fire-breathing MAGAt but who will be one of the most vulnerable Republicans in 2024, has said he wants the GOP to wait six months before they start launching witch hunts into Biden.

I know maybe four people (aside from Nancy Pelosi) who understand enough about rules of Congress to comprehend the full implications of such a close Congress. For some reason — possibly because they’ve spent the last six months writing beat sweeteners — the press seems to think the Freedom Caucus (led by Scott Perry, whose phone was seized as part of the January 6 investigation) will be in the driver’s seat going forward. In the short term, it’s just as likely that people like Don Bacon will be.

There are several possibilities: One is that McCarthy does get the votes on January 3 and presides over a Congress that reels from day-to-day, serially held hostage by the worse instincts, legal challenges, and health concerns of the members of both parties (the current Congress has lost 16 members over the last two years, six to death, and McCarthy has already said he’ll end proxy voting even as COVID continues to recur in new variants).

If that happens, expect many if not most things to get done via Discharge Petition, in which members can bypass the Speaker if they get 218 votes on something.

Also expect the most vulnerable Republicans to be susceptible to flipping parties if the fire-breathers in the party demand too much, particularly if the margin gets close to even.

Another possibility is that McCarthy doesn’t get the votes, giving Democrats a chance to cobble together a majority of the solid middle, led by someone other than Nancy Pelosi (non-members like Tim Ryan or Adam Kinzinger could be options, though Bacon has said that Liz Cheney is not one). Such a majority would need to command the votes of a larger number of people — probably closer to 240 — but it would also be more sustainable over the Congress.

And all this will be happening as the GOP fights among itself about whether it will continue down a Trumpist cult or become a political party again.


In the Wake of Trump’s Third Electoral Failure, NYTimes Boasts of Hiring a Third Trump-Whisperer

His sanction-worthy misrepresentations of the Igor Danchenko indictment notwithstanding, Jonathan Swan is a good reporter. Indeed, his move to the NYT, which frees him to write like a human being rather than a McKinsey consultant (AKA Axios style), will likely be a significant improvement on his coverage of DC politics.

But it is downright insane that, at a time the GOP and Fox News are at least making noise about ditching Trump, the NYT pitched this hire — and their own political reporting — in terms of Trump.

Our insightful, authoritative and addictive coverage of the election this year drove home an essential truth: The Times’s political team is simply the best in the business.

Take our coverage of Republicans and Donald J. Trump.

We have Maggie Haberman, the dominant reporter of the Trump era, whose prolific, revealing and exclusive coverage has become indispensable to millions of readers. We have Michael Bender, whom Maggie admired as her “fierce competitor” from his days at The Wall Street Journal, and who has delivered exclusives on everything from the former president’s plans to buy Greenland to examinations of how Trumpism remade the Republican party.

And today we are thrilled to tell you that Jonathan Swan, a gifted, dogged and high-impact reporter, will be joining The Times. Jonathan, a national political reporter at Axios, is one of the biggest news breakers and best-sourced reporters in Washington.

Even if you have never met Jonathan, you know his stories. He first reported that Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate deal, that Steve Bannon would be fired and that Paul Ryan would retire from Congress.

Or perhaps you watched his riveting interview with then-President Trump in 2020, which won Jonathan an Emmy (and made his facial expressions famous.) Ben Smith, the former media columnist for The Times, wrote at the time that it was “perhaps the best interview of Mr. Trump’s term.’’

Jonathan’s nine-part written series on the final days of the Trump administration won broad acclaim, and the podcast on which it was based rose to No. 1 on the Apple charts. [my emphasis]

Again, I think the Swan hire is a net good for reporting — but aside from the degree to which Swan is an improvement over Jonathan Martin, who just moved to become Politico’s Politics Bureau Chief — that has nothing to do with the NYT.

Particularly accompanied as it is by Maggie’s multiple efforts to suggest Trump is still The One, the pitch of Swan as a Trump-whisperer — rather than simply as a very good reporter of right wing politics — this announcement commits to keeping Trump (as a politician, rather than, for example, a criminal suspect, something none of these three are very good at reporting) the center of attention.

And it comes in a piece that boasts of election reporting it calls, “insightful, authoritative and addictive,” but which had some rather spectacular failures — particularly with the Fettrman debate and a correct Kansas poll they downplay. While in August NYT acknowledged that a Red Wave might not come, their review of why it didn’t still seems to misunderstand what it means to vote to save democracy. If you wanted to understand the election, the NYT was generally unhelpful, and that’s before you consider its focus on horse race coverage rather than policy.

They think they did good a job, or at least are telling themselves they did!

Why would you boast that your political reporting is “addictive,” anyway? unless you’re proud of the way Trump used Maggie’s work to flood the zone with press clippings that had the effect of obscuring larger crimes.

The NYT’s pitch of a good reporter in terms of Trump comes as other outlets have made hires based on their shitty news judgment that there would be a Republican wave the outlet would want access into. Most famously, as early as March, CBS hired Mick Mulvaney in anticipation of a non-existent Red Wave still 8 months in the future.

[A] top network executive seemed to lay the groundwork for the decision in a staff meeting earlier this month, when he said the network needed to hire more Republicans to prepare for a “likely” Democratic midterm wipeout.

“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis, being able to make sure that we are getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms,” CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani told the staff of the network’s morning show, according to a recording of his comments obtained by The Washington Post. “A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.”

The thing is, these shitty expectations for a Republican landslide may distort coverage going forward, because multiple news outlets paid big money to invest in access to people who lost, most of all into a guy who lost fairly spectacularly three times now.

As they did in 2020, voters gave democracy another lifeline. They voted, affirmatively, for democracy. But it’s not clear the press view protecting democracy, as opposed to protecting access, with anywhere near the same urgency.

Update: Just as I published this piece, I saw this NYT column, which not only continues to make everything about Donald Trump, fails to account for how narrow margins in both houses change this calculus (particularly with regards to its facile claim that, “party leaders are asked to declare their allegiances to Mr. Trump or other potential rivals”), and has this incredible paragraph:

 First there was Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, and then the attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry, the “Access Hollywood” revelations late in the 2016 campaign, his public declaration that he trusted Vladimir Putin more than he did American intelligence agencies.More recently, Mr. Trump has waged a two-year misinformation campaign, claiming his 2020 defeat was “rigged.” His supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. He now faces investigations into efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia, into his company’s finances and into his handling of classified documents.

It gets the chronology of the first sentence wrong. It calls Trump’s lies about 2020 “misinformation,” not “disinformation.” It claims he tried to “disrupted” the peaceful transfer of power and not prevent it. It suggests any investigation into an attempt to overturn the election is limited to Georgia. The description of the stolen document investigation as one into “handling” of classified documents misstates the crime, but it par for the course in legacy media coverage of that investigation. (And it has a typeset — with the missing space after the period — and a tense error that suggests it was not edited, even ignoring the lack of Oxford comma.)

Trump no doubt wants to keep himself as the center of attention. He no doubt will demand loyalty oaths from people willing to bet he’ll succeed. But if he does succeed — with whatever catastrophic effect on the country — it will be significantly because of editorial decisions the NYT made.


Yes, DOJ Is Reportedly Investigating the 2018 Election that Trump Just Invoked with Ron DeSantis

In the wake of Tuesday’s shellacking of Democrats in Florida and the losses of winnable seats by Trump endorsees, Republicans are explicitly discussing Ron DeSantis as if he is the head of the party, in lieu of Trump. That set off a temper tantrum on the second shittiest social media site run by a narcissistic billionaire [sic] in which Trump:

  • Accused Fox of fighting him and likened the focus on DeSantis to the 2016 election
  • Claimed his endorsement of DeSantis in 2018 was a “nuclear weapon” that took out Adam Putnam
  • Took credit for DeSantis’s victory over Andrew Gillum
  • Claimed he “sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win”

This last bullet, which seems to claim that Trump deployed DOJ resources to help DeSantis win, has attracted a great of attention.

It would be utterly corrupt to imagine that Trump used DOJ resources to help in an election — though there is evidence he did in 2020: when Bill Barr’s efforts to undermine the Mike Flynn prosecution released altered Peter Strzok notes that Trump used in an attack on Joe Biden. He of course tried to do far more, going so far as attempting to replace Jay Rosen with Jeffrey Clark to give DOJ sanction to frivolous lawsuits.

Plus, people are far too quickly suggesting this claim is made up entirely, and that there’s no evidence of misconduct in 2018. That’s true not just because Trump’s lies generally have some basis, albeit really tenuous, in reality.

Just ten days ago, after all, the NYT reported that prosecutors on at least two investigative teams (which might actually be prosecutors bringing together networked conspiracies as seemed likely for 14 months), implicitly boosted by cooperation from Joel Greenberg, are investigating the 2018 Stop the Steal effort in Broward County.

The NYT article focused on efforts by Trump’s rat-fucker and friends to shut down challenges to the vote count: a Jacob Engels/Proud Boy mob in Broward County.

President Donald J. Trump and other top Republicans were stoking claims that the election had been stolen, and their supporters were protesting in the streets. Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys and people close to Roger J. Stone Jr., including Representative Matt Gaetz, took part in the action as the crowd was chanting “Stop the Steal.”

The time was 2018, the setting was southern Florida, and the election in question was for governor and a hotly contested race that would help determine who controlled the United States Senate.

Now, four years later, the Justice Department is examining whether the tactics used then served as a model for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In recent months, prosecutors overseeing the seditious conspiracy case of five members of the Proud Boys have expanded their investigation to examine the role that Jacob Engels — a Florida Proud Boy who accompanied Mr. Stone to Washington for Jan. 6 — played in the 2018 protests, according to a person briefed on the matter.

[snip]

The 2018 protests were triggered by the tight outcome of the races for United States Senate and Florida governor. On election night, the Republican Senate candidate, Rick Scott, declared victory over the Democrat, Bill Nelson, but the race was close enough that local officials were set to hold recounts in key locations like Broward County.

Prominent Republicans, including Mr. Trump and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, suggested on social media that the Democrats were trying to steal the election. Mr. Engels promoted an event in Broward County, writing on Twitter that he was headed there “to handle this situation” and was going to “STOP THE STEAL.”

On Nov. 9, a group of about 100 angry protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, descended on the Broward County elections office, carrying pro-Scott and pro-Trump signs and protesting the recount.

The event drew support from several far-right activists in Florida linked to Mr. Stone — among them, Ali Alexander, who later organized Stop the Steal events around the 2020 election, and Joseph Biggs, a leader of the Proud Boys who has since been charged alongside Mr. Tarrio in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case.

Undoubtedly, the Proud Boys are not the FBI (though the FBI in this phase was far too credulous of the Proud Boys). But given the NYT report, it is nevertheless the case that Trump-related Broward County rat-fuckery in 2018 not only happened but is already under investigation.

It may even be the case that DOJ collected information about such things in near real time. DOJ obtained renewed warrants on three Roger Stone accounts on August 3, 2018. It continued to investigate Stone and associates at least through October 2018. And an investigation into the rat-fucker remained ongoing through his November 2019 trial and into at least April 2020.

Again, that doesn’t mean that Trump’s specific claim — that DOJ was involved in all this — is specifically true. It means that before you dismiss it out of hand, you should ask what bread crumbs of reality this probable lie is based on.

When Trump started threatening DeSantis, I immediately thought of Roger Stone, because collecting dirt with which to exert political pressure is what Trump’s rat-fucker does and because Stone was always active in these same circles. And the Broward County Stop the Steal effort may be the least of it.


Oprah Beats Trump!

Among the factors that helped John Fetterman to pull off a win over Mehmet Oz was a late endorsement from Oprah Winfrey. The endorsement mattered not just because of who she is, but because Oz came to national attention on her show. Which means that in the highest profile Senate race of the night, Oprah’s endorsement proved more valuable than Trump’s.

That was, remarkably, even true of Liz Cheney. Both Democrats she endorsed — Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin — are projected to win reelection in swing districts. Cheney endorsed far fewer people than Trump, but both endorsees won.

Trump’s record was more mixed — but only JD Vance has yet won a high profile race, beating Tim Ryan in Ohio. Reportedly, Vance did not mention Trump in his victory speech. Ouch.

We won’t know who will win the Senate until at least the results of the Nevada race. The state changed its mail deadline this year, so it’s unclear how many votes will come in from Clark County; on update, Catherine Cortez Masto is behind Adam Laxalt but may make that up in mail-in votes. If CCM does not win, it’ll come down to a December run-off in Georgia.

And as of now, a number of outlets won’t call the House until more races come in. As of 12PM IST, the GOP has 199 seats to Dems’ 178. It’s even still possible Dems will retain control. Even Lauren Boebert’s seat is still too close to call, but it looks increasingly likely Adam Frisch will unseat her.

Except for perhaps Pennsylvania, Democrats had their best results in Michigan. Along with Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson all winning reelection, it appears Dems have flipped both houses of the legislature. And in addition to Slotkin, Hillary Scholten, a former DOJ immigration lawyer, beat John Gibbs in my own district, MI-3. Dems were helped mightily by the abortion referendum on the ballot, which handily won. This result was also made possible by a neutral redistricting measure passed in 2018. What has happened in MI in recent years may be a model for democratic renewal. And it certainly positions “Big Gretch” well going into 2024.

Florida and New York have been (thus far) the bright spots for Republicans, with Ron DeSantis and Mario Rubio winning by comfortable margins and Republicans flipping Dem seats in a New York after Dems totally botched redistricting.

There were other key Trump candidates who also lost, including (if AZ results hold), all the election-denying Secretary of State candidates in swing states.

So where does that leave us? A 50-50 Senate and House. If Dems win one or both, their superior discipline and the advantage of the Presidency will make it possible to get things done. If Republicans win the House, I expect endless chaos. No Republican — and certainly not Kevin McCarthy — has the leadership to manage a virtually tied House. (Mitch McConnell could undoubtedly make the most of a 51-49 Senate, however.

The more important factor is within the Republican Party. Republicans may finally have to face what an electoral disaster Trump is for them. He has never won a majority, and under his leadership, the Republicans have lost the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and a mid-term election in which they should have flooded Dems. The GOP lost this time by running a bunch of MAGAt candidates who were far easier for Democrats to defeat And DeSantis’ strong win will set up a natural conflict between the two men in Florida.

The tension between those two — as well as the tension between Trump and McCarthy or McConnell (Trump has, perhaps cynically, endorsed both continuing on as leaders) — may shift the internecine war from one that pits Trumpist Republicans against the country to one that pits Trumpist Republicans against those who would like to move on. It is possible that by setting up a war (or wars) within the GOP, this result will have the effect of suffocating the MAGAt flame.

It’s never a good idea to rule Trump out. But this election gives the Republicans an opportunity to rip the bandaid of Trumpism off. DeSantis is no better as a person (he’s the competent authoritarian everyone has warned about, but he is nowhere nearly as charismatic as Trump). But tensions between the two of them may serve to give Democrats time to maneuver.

This post was updated at 12:00 IT/7AM ET.


Mid-Term Election 2022: Control of Congress and Reproductive Rights [UPDATE-7]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Polls closed across most of Eastern Time Zone about an hour ago and will close soon in Central.

IF YOU WERE IN LINE BEFORE END OF YOUR LOCAL POLLING (7:00 OR 8:00 P.M. DEPENDING ON LOCALE), STAY IN LINE AND VOTE.

This post will be updated sporadically through the evening and into tomorrow with news about election outcomes across the U.S.

Please also stay on topic in this thread, mid-term election-related discussion only.

Please also share how turnout was in your area if you voted today. Thanks!

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 9:10 PM ET —

Daniel Nichanian (a.k.a. @[email protected], @[email protected]) has pulled together a tremendous cheat sheet to all the elections and issues on ballots today.


Thanks, Daniel! Note that he and the journal he manages, Bolts, have a presence on Mastodon on the journa.host server.

Here’s how things were going in Ann Arbor MI at 6:40 p.m. this evening:

Hope this is a really good sign for the top of the ticket — those women in Michigan — and Proposal 3 to enshrine reproductive rights in Michigan’s state constitution.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 9:30 PM ET —

Washington Post is doing this right though the news is grim:

It’s disgusting to know that candidates who don’t believe in democracy were elected to office today by way of the democracy they’re undermining.

TEXAS: Ken Paxton, who’s on the ballot, is trying to screw with the vote in progress.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-3 — 10:30 PM ET —

TEXAS: And the corrupt dirtbag pulled it off, managed to cut off voting.

As you can see, Marc Elias is watching this closely. Harris County, home to the city of Houston, is the most populous county in Texas; it’s also less than 28% non-Hispanic white. Can’t have those people voting, can we, Paxton?

GEORGIA: A nauseating dead heat in the Senate race.

GOOD NEWS

MARYLAND: Democrat Wes Moore is the state’s first Black governor-elect. Marijuana was also legalized. And GenZ takes its first seat in a state legislature this election:

VERMONT: Pete Welch is the projected winner of U.S. Senate seat as successor to Senator Leahy. Democrat Becca Balint wins VT-01 House seat, and the state is the first to approve reproductive rights as part of its state constitution.

* Should have noted earlier that Balint’s win is for the ONLY House seat representing Vermont; VT-01 is an at-large district.

BAD NEWS

VERMONT: Republican Phil Scott won re-election as governor.

FLORIDA: DeathSantis has won re-election in spite of trying to kill off his base. Marco Rubio appears to have held onto his seat.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-4 — 11:30 PM ET —

GOOD NEWS

FLORIDA: Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost is the first GenZ candidate to win a House seat this election, taking FL-10 which includes Orlando. He was a March for Our Lives organizer.

ILLINOIS: J.D. Pritzker (D) won re-election as governor.

PENNSYLVANIA: Josh Shapiro (D) appears to have won the governor’s race. Thank goodness. (Fetterman looks good but still not a closed deal.)

OHIO: Democrats Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Shontel Brown (OH-11) and Joyce Beatty (OH-03) win reelection. Emilia Sykes (D) won the redistricted OH-13; the old OH-13 had been Tim Ryan’s district.

BAD NEWS

OHIO: J.D. Vance to the Senate and Mike DeWine returns as governor. Republicans Brad Wenstrup wins re-election to OH-02, Bob Latta returns in OH-05, and that asshat Jim Jordan wins re-election to OH-04.

Goddamn it, Ohioans, really? Just stay the hell on your side of the border.

This is just ridiculous:

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-5 — 12:15 AM ET 09-NOV-2022 —
This was good:


The ballot count is still going Fetterman’s direction.

GOOD NEWS

CALIFORNIA: Alex Padilla (D) appears to have won the U.S. Senate race.

MAINE: Janet Mills (D) has been re-elected as governor.

MICHIGAN: Gretchen “that woman in Michigan” Whitmer has won re-election as governor. Go Big Gretch! The triumvirate of estrogen, including Jocelyn Benson (D) as secretary of state and Dana Nessel (D) as state attorney general appear to have won re-election with huge margins. HUGE. Congrats to Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D) as well.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Maggie Hassan (D) returns to the Senate.

NEW YORK: Kathy Horchul (D) is elected as governor.

OHIO: Greg Landsman (D) appears to have flipped OH-01.

RHODE ISLAND: Seth Magaziner (D) retains RI-02 for Democrats after Jim Langevin’s retirement.

VIRGINIA: Abigail Spansberger (D) keeps her VA-07 House seat.

BAD NEWS

GEORGIA: Not unexpected but that Trumpy wretch Marjorie Taylor Green won re-election in GA-14. That district is effed up.

MISSOURI: Eric Schmitt, one of RAGA’s members, won the U.S. Senate race. Just revolting.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Ted Budd (R) narrowly wins the U.S. Senate seat.

Which means the Senate remains far too pasty and not representative of our nation:

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-6 — 1:45 AM ET 09-NOV-2022 —

Huh. Is this what a red wave looks like?

GOOD NEWS

MICHIGAN: Proposal 2 which established a right to vote, and Proposal 3 which established reproductive rights, passed and will become part of the state’s constitution.

MASSACHUSETTS: Big night with governor’s office flipped by MA Attorney General Maura Healey (D), first openly gay governor. Andrea Campbell (D) won the AG’s race, now the first Black AG in that state. See community member pdaly’s comments in thread below about Massachusetts.

MINNESOTA: Tim Walz (D) won re-election. Dean Phillips retained his MN-03 House seat as did Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Angie Craig (MN-02).

MISSOURI: Amendment 3 which would legalize marijuana possession and use by adults age 21 and older appears to have passed.

NEW JERSEY: Andy Kim (D) will be back as representative for House district NJ-03.

NEW MEXICO: Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham won re-election to the governor’s office.

TENNESSEE: Amendment 3 passed, abolishing slavery. Holy mother of gods I had NO idea this was an issue.

WISCONSIN: Tony Evers (D) re-elected as governor. Take a bow, Ben Wikler, for organizing Wisconsin Dems. Democrat Mandela Barnes’ race for Ron Johnson’s Senate seat is neck-and-neck, doubt this will be settled by dawn.

BAD NEWS

ALABAMA: Wes Allen (R), election denier, won the Secretary of State race.

ARKANSAS: Issue 4 which would have legalized marijuana failed. Snoop Dogg must be heartbroken. Equally heartbreaking: Sarah Huckabee won the governor’s race.

INDIANA: Election denier Diego Morales (R) won the Secretary of State race. This one is particularly bad because he’s worked in SOS at lower level receiving poor performance reviews.

IOWA: Dear gods, you fools re-elected Chuck Grassley who’ll be 95 if he should finish his term as Senator. Election denier Kim Reynolds (R) won the governor’s race. I can’t with you.

NORTH DAKOTA: Voters rejected marijuana legalization.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Election denier Monae Johnson (R) won the Secretary of State race; voters also rejected marijuana legalization (though it had passed in 2020).

VIRGINIA: Elaine Luria (D) who has been a House January 6 Committee member, lost her re-election bid for VA-02 to Jennifer Kiggans (R).

WYOMING: Election denier Chuck Gray (R) won the Secretary of State race, but ran unopposed. He’s said he’s going to purge the SOS department of those who don’t agree with him.

~ ~ ~

There have been some big firsts tonight:

I hope I wake up to more like this.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-7 — 2:15 AM ET 09-NOV-2022 —

Okay, I lied, I’m still awake and wound up because SENATOR FETTERMAN!!!

And there’s strong possibility my state Michigan may go completely blue.

But seriously, I do need some sleep. See you in the morning!


Vote NO on ‘Flaw and Disorder’ Republican Attorneys General

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. / ~Rayne]

Critical to the massing of insurrectionist rioters on January 6 is a group of elected Republicans, several of which are running for re-election.

Unfortunately, the media has forgotten their role and lost sight of them even though they’ve had a good news peg to use for investigation and reporting.

That group is the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which funded and produced a robocall to encourage insurrectionists to attend and participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

State Attorney General

State

Status

Steve Marshall Alabama

Incumbent

Treg Taylor Alaska

Appointed, term ends 2022

Mark Brnovich Arizona

Lost primary

Leslie Rutledge Arkansas

Running for AR Lt. Gov.

Ashley Moody Florida

Incumbent

Chris Carr Georgia

Incumbent

Lawrence Wasden Idaho

Lost primary

Derek Schmidt Kansas

Running for KS Gov.

Todd Rokita Indiana

Term ends 2025

Daniel Cameron Kentucky

Term ends 2024

Jeff Landry Louisiana

Term ends 2024

Lynn Fitch Mississippi

Term ends 2024

Eric Schmitt

Immediate Past Chairman

Missouri

Term ends 2025 | Running for U.S. Senate

Austin Knudsen

Policy Chairman

Montana

Term ends 2025

Doug Peterson Nebraska*

Not running

John Formella New Hampshire

Term ends 2025

Drew Wrigley North Dakota

Incumbent

Dave Yost Ohio

Incumbent

John O’Connor Oklahoma

Not running

Alan Wilson

Chairman

South Carolina

Incumbent

Mark Vargo South Dakota

Not running

Jonathan Skrmetti Tennessee

Term ends 2030

Ken Paxton Texas

Incumbent

Sean Reyes Utah

Term ends 2025

Jason Miyares Virginia

Term ends 2026

Bridget Hill Wyoming

Not running

Patrick Morrisey West Virginia

Term ends 2025

Not on this list of current RAGA members is Chris Carr, an incumbent running for re-election in Georgia.

Carr resigned from RAGA five days after the attack on the Capitol.

Note that some of these RAGA members are seeking higher office.

Some of them were much more active in the January 6 conspiracy, like Ken Paxton who sued the states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania over the 2020 election results and spoke at the January 6 rally in Washington DC before the assault on the Capitol.

Paxton also has avoided accountability to his state for securities fraud charges; he was indicted in 2015 and has yet to stand trial. He’s pulled hijinks to avoid being served a subpoena related to a lawsuit by an abortion rights fund. He’s avoiding his responsibilities to the state of Texas.

Paxton has also refused to condemn the insurrectionists or the attack on the Capitol.

None of these RAGA incumbents should be re-elected because they supported the conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings on January 6, 2021. None of them made a public mea culpa about their role as financial supporters.

The RAGA members seeking higher office should be denied their quest; they have refused to support democracy though they swore oaths to do so.

Every RAGA member needs to answer for their contribution to January 6. The media needs to do a better job to this end. None of these folks should feel comfortable attempting to run for top law enforcement official in their state which is an indication media hasn’t done an effective job uncovering RAGA’s culpability on January 6.

Furthermore, corporations which donated to RAGA, suspended their donations, and then donated again to RAGA should be scrutinized.

______

(* There is no Democratic Party candidate running for this open seat. This is unacceptable.)

Copyright © 2022 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2022-mid-term-election/