Trump’s Attack on Black Votes Was There the Whole Time, We Just Didn’t Call It a Crime

As I noted in an update to this post, NYT and the Guardian have clarified that the third charge mentioned in Trump’s target letter was 18 USC 241, Conspiracy against Rights, not — as Rolling Stone originally reported — 18 USC 242.

This piece, from November 2021, explains why 241 is such a good fit to Trump’s efforts to discount the votes of 81 million Biden voters.

The Supreme Court has stressed that Section 241 contains “sweeping general words” and directed courts to give the provision “a sweep as broad as its language.” In United States v. Classic it established that the statute protects not only the right to vote but the right to have one’s vote properly counted. Classic upheld an indictment of officials who sought to aid one candidate by refusing to count votes cast for his opponent.

The broad language of Section 241 clearly encompasses the actions of those involved in Trump’s coup attempt, and the Court’s precedents support that conclusion. Evidence currently available shows that the conspirators agreed to a common scheme to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election, took innumerable acts designed to accomplish that goal, and intended thereby to effectively deprive millions of voters in half a dozen states—and the rest of the 81 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden—of their right to vote and have their votes properly counted.

In Anderson v. U.S. the Court explicitly held that Section 241 reaches conspiracies designed “to dilute the value of votes of qualified voters.” It requires only an intent to prevent votes from being “given full value and effect,” an intent that includes an intent “to have false votes cast.” Evidence suggests that Trump and his supporters attempted exactly that in Georgia. They pressured local officials to somehow, some way magically “find” 11,780 additional votes to give Trump victory there and negate the votes of nearly two and a half million Georgia voters.

And it’s not just the concerted effort to eliminate the votes of 81 million Biden voters on January 6.

The recent news that Jack Smith has subpoenaed the security footage from the State Farm arena vote count location in Georgia, taken in conjunction with Trump’s efforts in places like Michigan — where his efforts focused on preventing a fair count of Detroit, where he had actually performed better than in 2016, rather than Kent County, the still predominantly white county where he lost the state — is a reminder that Trump and his mobs, many associated with overt white supremacists like Nick Fuentes, aggressively tried to thwart the counting of Black and Latino people’s votes. It was the same play Roger Stone used when he sent “election observers” to Black precincts in 2016, just on a far grander scale, and backed by the incitement of the sitting President.

As I said in the other post, we’ll see how Jack Smith charges this soon enough.

For now, I want to talk about how the press cognitively missed this — myself included. I want to talk about how the press — myself included — didn’t treat an overt effort to make it harder to count the votes of Black and Latino voters as a crime.

In its piece (including Maggie, but also a lot of people who aren’t as conflicted as she is), NYT points to both Norm Eisen (who didn’t see this, either, and whose recent prosecution memo on the charges we did expect didn’t even cite the pending decisions in the DC Circuit) and the January 6 Committee as if they are where this investigation came from.

Two of the statutes were familiar from the criminal referral by the House Jan. 6 committee and months of discussion by legal experts: conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of an official proceeding.


The prospect of charging Mr. Trump under the other two statutes cited in the target letter is less novel, if not without hurdles. Among other things, in its final report last year, the House committee that investigated the events that culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol had recommended that the Justice Department charge the former president under both of them.

Alan Feuer (who is bylined along with Maggie) knows as well as I do, neither ConfraudUS (18 USC 371) nor obstruction (18 USC 1512(c)(2)) came from the January 6 Committee. J6C — and people like Eisen — were still looking at insurrection long after I was screaming that DOJ would use obstruction. They — and people like Eisen — still hadn’t figured out how DOJ was using obstruction even after Carl Nichols specifically raised the prospect of using it with Trump.

NYT’s discussion of the pending appeal from Thomas Robertson in the DC Circuit (in the last paragraphs of the article) is as good as you’ll see in the mainstream press. They know well the obstruction charges builds on years of work by DOJ’s prosecutors, but nevertheless point to J6C’s fairly thin referral of it, as if that, and not the charges in 300 January 6 cases already, is where it comes from.

The reason we knew DOJ would use obstruction is because DOJ has been, overtly, setting that up for years.

In its description of the unexpected mention of 241, though, NYT describes that “prosecutors have introduced a new twist.”

Federal prosecutors have introduced a new twist in the Jan. 6 investigation by suggesting in a target letter that they could charge former President Donald J. Trump with violating a civil rights statute that dates back to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Again, it was a surprise to me, too. I’m not faulting the NYT for being surprised. But that doesn’t mean prosecutors “introduced a new twist,” as if this is some fucking reality show. It means journalists, myself included, either don’t know of, misinterpreted the investigative steps that DOJ has already taken, or simply didn’t see them — and I fear it’s the latter.

To be sure, in retrospect there are signs that DOJ was investigating this. In December, WaPo reported that DOJ had subpoenaed election officials in predominantly minority counties in swing states (notably, the journalists on the story were local reporters, neither Trump whisperers nor the WaPo journalists who’ve given scant coverage to the crime scene investigation).

Special counsel Jack Smith has sent grand jury subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to President Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — seeking any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies.

The requests for records arrived in Dane County, Wis.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; and Wayne County, Mich., late last week, and in Milwaukee on Monday, officials said. They are among the first known subpoenas issued since Smith was named last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee Trump-related aspects of the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the criminal probe of Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home and private club.

The subpoenas, at least three of which are dated Nov. 22, indicate that the Justice Department is extending its examination of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives related to the 2020 election.

The virtually identical requests to Arizona and Wisconsin seek communications with Trump, in addition to employees, agents and attorneys for his campaign. Details of the Michigan subpoena, confirmed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, were not immediately available.


Previous subpoenas, in Arizona and other battleground states targeted by Trump, have been issued to key Republican players seen as allies in his pressure campaign to reverse the results of the 2020 election. Maricopa County, the sprawling Arizona jurisdiction that is home to Phoenix and more than half the state’s voters, was among several localities on the receiving end of that pressure.

The Post could not confirm Tuesday whether the latest round of subpoenas went to local officials in any other states. The office of the secretary of state in Pennsylvania, another 2020 contested state, declined to comment. State and local election officials in another contested state, Georgia, said they knew of no subpoenas arriving in the past week. Officials in Clark County, Nev., the sixth contested state, declined to comment.

The Arizona subpoena was addressed to Maricopa County’s elections department, while the Wisconsin versions were addressed to the Milwaukee and Dane clerks. All seek communications from June 1, 2020, through Jan. 20, 2021. [snip]

These subpoenas asked for Trump’s contacts with local election officials, in the predominantly minority counties that Democrats need to win swing states, going back to June 2020, well before the election itself. By December 2022, DOJ was taking overt steps in an investigation that even before the election Trump had plans targeting minority cities.

And there may have been a still earlier sign of this prong of the investigation, from the NYT itself. Alan Feuer (with Mike Schmidt) reported in November that prosecutors were investigating Stone’s rent-a-mob tactics, going back to 2018 but really going back to the Brooks Brothers riot in 2000, the same fucking MO Stone has adopted for decades, using threats of violence to make it harder to count brown people’s votes.

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.

The prosecutors want to know whether Mr. Engels received any payments or drew up any plans for the Florida demonstration, and whether he has ties to other people connected to the Proud Boys’ activities in the run-up to the storming of the Capitol.

Different prosecutors connected to the Jan. 6 investigation have also been asking questions about efforts by Mr. Stone — a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump — to stave off a recount in the 2018 Senate race in Florida, according to other people familiar with the matter.


The 2018 demonstrations in Florida did not come close to the scale or intensity of the assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, but the overlap in tactics and in those involved was striking enough to have attracted the attention of federal investigators.

Information obtained by investigators shows that some of those on the ground in 2018 called the protests “Brooks Brothers 2.0,” a reference to the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” during a recount of the presidential vote in Florida in 2000. During that event, supporters of George W. Bush — apparently working with Mr. Stone — stormed a local government building, stopping the vote count at a crucial moment.

As I noted at the time, the NYT story ignored Stone’s 2016 efforts, but his efforts to intimidate Black voters at the polls in that year was the origin of the Stop the Steal effort that Ali Alexander was entrusted to implement in 2020 while Stone awaited his pardon.

And we know from evidence submitted at the Proud Boys trial that their role in mobs was not limited to January 6, but was instead mobilized on a moment’s notice immediately after the election.

Tarrio even indicated that he had gotten instructions from “the campaign.”

Finally, for all my complaints about the treatment of Brandon Straka, this prong may have — should have — gone back still earlier, to the belated discovery of Straka’s grift.

This investigation has been happening. It’s just that reporters — myself included — didn’t report it as such.

It’s not just the epic mob Trump mobilized on January 6, an attempt to use violence to prevent the votes of 81 million Biden voters to be counted. It was an effort that went back before that, to use threats of violence to make it harder for election workers like Ruby Freeman to count the vote in big cities populated by minorities.

One reason TV lawyers didn’t see this is they have always treated Trump’s suspected crimes as a white collar affair, plotting in the Willard, but not tasing Michael Fanone at the Capitol.

But it is also about race and visibility.

January 6 was spectacular, there for the whole world to see.

But those earlier mobs — at the TCF center in Detroit, the State Farm arena in Atlanta, Phoenix, Milwauke — those earlier mobs were also efforts to make sure certain votes weren’t counted, or if they were, were only counted after poorly paid election workers risked threats of violence to count them, after people like Ruby Freeman were targeted by Trump’s team to have their lives ruined.

And we, the press collectively, didn’t treat those efforts to disqualify votes as the same kind of crime, as part of the same conspiracy, as Trump’s more spectacular efforts on January 6.

Update: Added the campaign texts. Thanks to Brandi, who knew exactly where to find them.

Update: Ironically, Bill Barr’s testimony may be pivotal to prove that Trump targeted Detroit because of race. That’s because Barr specifically told Trump he had done better in Detroit than he did in 2016.

Trump raised “the big vote dump, as he called it, in Detroit,” Barr said. “He said ‘people saw boxes coming into the counting station at all hours of the morning’ and so forth.”

Barr said he explained to Trump that Detroit centralized its counting process at the TCF Center downtown convention hall rather than in each precinct. For the November 2020 general election, Michigan’s largest city counted its absentee ballots at the convention center under the supervision of state Bureau of Election Director Chris Thomas. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most ballots cast were absentee.

“They’re moved to counting stations,” Barr said. “And so the normal process would involve boxes coming in at all different hours.”

“I said, ‘Did anyone point out to you … that you did better in Detroit than you did last time? There’s no indication of fraud in Detroit,” Barr said he told Trump.

Everyone in MI knows — and I’m sure Trump knows — he lost MI because he lost Kent County, which as more young people move into Grand Rapids has been getting more Democratic in recent years. That Trump targeted Detroit and not Kent (or Oakland, which has also been trending increasingly Democratic) is a testament that this was about race.

Update, 7/30: Both NAACP and ACLU recognized this in real time. Here’s ACLU’s suit.

168 replies
  1. Afterthought says:

    Aside from the legal steps Trump took on this front, this prong of his scheme to overturn the election was very much overt in his rhetoric at the time. It was clear from his speeches that he didn’t want votes counted in large, majority black cities. Philly, Milwaukee, Atlanta. This is where all the ‘fraud’ was coming from, to hear him tell it.

    • John kahler says:

      (Perhaps JDKAHLER , haven’t posted in a while. Sorry Raine if I goofed.) Yes, Philly. Where I voted and watched as Rudy and team desperately worked to block and obstruct the count. Majority minority city. Folks in my neighborhood stood in line at city ballot collection sites to be sure our votes were counted, and trump wanted them cancelled. Fortunately our *GOP* county commissioner took on the con men and defended the process. He’s now appointed sec state in the Dem Shapiro (in 2020 PA AG) admin.

      Saw a report where one of our illustrious GOP state senators sued a Erie press outlet and during discovery defendants uncovered direct communication between legislators and Trump and toadies (Erie county among those that voted Biden). Our wacky GQP senator mastriano reported to actually question trump’s efforts. Away this week, have to dig in further. More there too.

      [FYI – you have (3) comments here to date as “John Kahler,” no worries. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      By the numbers, the counties/municipalities Special Counsel subpoenaed as Trump campaign targets:

      Dane County WI (home of Madison): 77.6% white (2020 Census)

      Milwaukee WI: 36.1% white (2020 Census)

      Maricopa County AZ (home of Phoenix): 53.3% non-Hispanic white (2020 Census)

      Wayne County MI (home of Detroit): 47.79% non-Hispanic white (2020 Census)

      And the county in which election workers Freeman and Moss were targeted:

      Fulton County GA (home of Atlanta): 37.95% non-Hispanic white (2020 Census)

      I will bet if I go back and dig around back during the foreclosure crisis these locations were among the hardest hit. There’s a reason the GOP targeted community activism group ACORN for extermination.

      • Joeff53 says:

        ACORN was probably the most effective left leaning voter registration organization ever. That the Dems failed to see this, and let themselves be punked by OKeefee into defunding it, is one of the more glaring acts of political malpractice in memory.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah? And what have you done to help replace ACORN?

          Democrats knew what was going on; do you not remember all that was going on at the time? The public was fried because of the 2008 economic crash, the foreclosure crisis itself. The entire left didn’t have enough wattage or money to address rebuilding a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization when they were having enough problems dealing with the fucking Tea Party, especially when they were further fragmented by Occupy Wall Street (and what concrete results did OWS achieve?).

          Were there problems in the Democratic Party? Sure — Tim Kaine as DNC chair was a major fuckup as was his successor, both better suited as elected representatives than as organizers. But the Dem Party at federal level had its hands full after losing the majority due to Tea Party organizing in tandem with the ACA. Further, the Dem Party is NOT the same as a nonprofit, nonpartisan community organizing entity; imagine how much more aggressive GOP’s side minions would have been had ACORN = Dems.

          I get really fed up with people whining, “Oh but the Democrats…” when the people whining about them are the underlying reason there’s not enough bodies and resources to aim at problems, while forgetting the size/scale of the problems they and the entire left faced.

          Pick a voter activism group. Show up and help them. Quit whining.

        • Doug R100 says:

          Good point. I would argue that the Dem party itself took up some of the slack, a lot due to Obama folding in his OFA into the party itself.

        • Rayne says:

          At the same time the folding of OFA into the party allowed Tim Kaine to kill off the dynamic outreach both Obama and the party had with voters at a time when more communication to bolster support of the ACA was needed, long before the Tea Party began its attack on both the ACA and Obama.

        • Justlp34 says:

          I’ve been meaning to do this, but thanks Rayne for the final nudge I needed. I just joined Vote Save America and signed up to make calls in Ohio for their special election. I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to make a small difference.

        • Rayne says:

          Thank you and keep up the good work.

          Looking back over the nearly 20 years since I met Marcy, I can say one of the biggest mistakes (if not the biggest) made on the left including the Democratic Party is that we haven’t ensured long-term engagement. We had a blue wave in 2006, which helped set up Obama’s win in 2008, and then the ball was dropped before mid-terms in 2010. We lost momentum. We should have recognized and communicated this was not a battle but a war, not a sprint but a marathon, and one which takes a lifetime and longer.

          Fascists Hitler and Mussolini had been dead only a little over 70 years when fascism returned. It did so globally and we weren’t prepared to shut it down. This time we need to make it a permanent societal commitment to end it, and many small steps like calling voters are part of that process.

  2. Joseph Trepel says:

    Have you considered Sec. 241 to support charges v. Trump in the 7 1/6 deaths? Trump’s incitement + inaction during the insurrection mirror the inaction of the three police in the successful George Floyd federal civil rights prosecution. Each count a capital offense.

    • bmaz says:

      This is crazy talk. Nobody is going to get the death penalty. Where do people come up with that nonsense?

      • Kari says:

        They did not mention the death penalty. Are you referring to ‘the seven Jan.6th deaths’?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, when someone refers to “capital punishment”, they are very much mentioning the death penalty. As to the “deaths”, ask them, not me.

        • David Brooks says:

          I think there are some here who still get a certain frisson when they notice 241 has the same capital penalty provision as 242.

        • David Brooks says:

          My more substantive thought on the death penalty is that it seems to signify how serious and solemn Congress was about the offenses described in 18 USC 241 and 242, at the time of passage.

          Admittedly I’m not familiar with the contemporaneous challenges, or if it was normal to list the penalty for any conspiracy leading to death/kidnap/etc.

    • timbozone says:

      Re: “Have you considered Sec. 241 to support charges v. Trump in the 7 1/6 deaths? Trump’s incitement + inaction during the insurrection mirror the inaction of the three police in the successful George Floyd federal civil rights prosecution. Each count a capital offense.”

      Can you cite any US case, even one, from, say, the past 40 years, in which anyone was convicted and sentence to the death penalty for incitement to riot or any other related crimes involving political speech/partisan hackery? I ask this honestly, if only to find out how it is that you could post what you posted in any sort of credulous state of mind.

  3. MKZD_curious says:

    Whew, what a deep relief to read this. The infringing of civil rights for voting bothered me mightily in 2016, but I suppressed it as events moved on. Thank you, Marcy.

    PS – I commented once before long ago and can’t remember my previous sign in or email.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Make a note of the username you used today and continue using it going forward; you’ve commented previously as “MKZB” and “M.A.D.” but neither comply with the site’s 8-letter minimum username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. Kennygauss says:

    Holy cow thanks for this, I am making sure all my contacts know about this, should be made mandatory to publish.

  5. introbang says:

    Could 241 be used in gerrymander cases?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You’ve been commenting as “interrobang” until now; you also made a typo in your email address. Both change of username and email address typo make you look like a sockpuppet or identity spoofer. PLEASE use the same name each time. /~Rayne]

    • jecojeco says:

      Interesting thought, gerrymandering to gut Democatic voting power has very tight overlay with nullifying minority votes, it’s not that subtle.

      GOP has declared war on minority/heavily democratic votes by all means possible as demographics swing hopelessly against them. Gerrymandering was their first tool of choice, then defeating renewal of the voting rights act, then targeting vote counts in 2020 in Philly, metro Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee/Madison. Increasing interference in Harris (Houston) county. And even fake electors to nullify all votes but only in states that voted for Biden.

      Recently trump called for direct federal administration of DC and then said he couldn’t get a fair trial in DC for Jan 6 because of his plan to directly administer “dirty, filthy Washington”. I think his strong man grand scheme includes direct federal administration of large cities to address crime yaddayadda as a smoke screen for Homeland Security or the military to conduct “fair votes” under his direction – and nullify minority/Dem votes in large cities. Maybe thats what he mant by his “10 new cities” which would override state & local regulations.

        • Purple Martin says:

          Except for the DC National Guard (chain of command thru DoD even without Title 10 federalization), most of the direct federal administration of DC is per Article 1, not Article 2, no?

          What Trump was talking about is Executive branch authority to override anything the city council counsel or mayor (or police, or election officials, or schools for that matter) may direct.

          (And in at least one more echo of Trump, Ron DeSantis has demonstrated a desire for the same thing in Florida.)

        • jecojeco says:

          If trump is framing his call for more direct US administration of DC as an argument for moving his (maybe) Jan6 trial elsewhere maybe he should repeat that message for any “dirty, filthy” heavily minority city where he might be tried, NYC, Atlanta, Newark (if Bedminster happens). trump and DeSantis probably want to directly administer large Dem cities like Bantustans.

        • Rwood0808 says:

          If I recall correctly a 241 charge needs only to establish intent, correct?

          Smith doesn’t need to prove that trumps actions actually resulted in voters’ rights being violated.

        • David Brooks says:

          “…conspire to injure..” and “…in disguise…with intent to prevent or hinder…” suggests you are right.

  6. Don Cooley says:

    The even broader implication of prosecuting trmp under this statute is it can be used to sue every state that is willfully targeting minority voters. SCOTUS threw out the requirement that certain states get prior approval of voting law changes on the absurd claim that discrimination was over, that nobody would deprive targeted groups under color of law of their right to vote and have vote counted. They did NOT throw out the right, just the prior approval. Federal judges will have precedent to throw out any moves to make it harder or to have vote thrown out for minor technicalities. They might be able to go after local officials who are going beyond even the most egregious laws to suppress communities with various intimidation ploys.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      It would certainly be a strong possibility if 241 is charged as EW notes. We’ll see. It will be even stronger if/when Defendant-1 gets convicted for it. I would expect that SC Smith will lay out the process and evidence needed to file to be followed by every civil rights attorney.

      I’m also wondering why the FedSoc types haven’t targeted the 24th Amendment which eliminated poll or any other type of tax to vote.

      Careful what you wish for, RWNJs.

    • Joeff53 says:

      Don’t forget it’s a criminal statute which means proof beyond a reasonable doubt and unanimous jury.

  7. ken m abbott says:

    We’ve known about Trump and family’s racism since the 70’s. It seems his entire life has been race motivated.

    • Rayne says:

      Do you know how that sounds to persons of color? Like the reason he was elected was because he was a racist.

      Seriously, if white people have known since the 1970s when the feds sued Trump for racial discrimination in housing, why did they still vote for him? You don’t need to answer that, it’s a purely rhetorical question because *waves around at all the white supremacists walking around unbothered*

  8. obsessed says:

    Wow. You’ve got my head spinning! On Straka, do you now think DOJ got their leniency’s worth after all? Also, do you think this increases the likelihood of a new Stone indictment? Finally, is it possible before seeing the indictment to speculate on how tricky this one will be to win in court?

    • emptywheel says:

      I checked when they discovered Straka’s grift last year. It is explicitly NOT covered by his plea. So he could actually be charged for the TCF mob.

      As for Stone … I’m going to hold off on where I think this goes from here.

      • klynn says:

        IANAL. Could Stone’s pardon land in a definition of obstruction with this charge?

        This focus on oppressing the black vote takes me back to Ohio during the 2004 election with King-Lincoln Brownsville and our state GOP leaders targeting precincts with high black voter turnout.

        • Quake888 says:

          Yes, but if, hypothetically, the quid pro quo for the pardon is that the pardonee has to commit new crimes that benefit the pardoner, wouldn’t the pardoner have criminal liability.

        • zirczirc says:

          “The pardon power is unfettered.” So once granted, is a pardon unrevocable? A subsequent president can’t rescind it? Or even the same president should he/she have a change of heart? “Unfettered” to my mind would mean a president could rescind a pardon, but I strongly suspect that is not the case.

        • emptywheel says:

          A pardon is irrevocable. In several cases, DOJ has charged people for other stuff post Trump pardon, and another guy who got his sentence commuted was rolled up yesterday.

          That said, even Bill Barr has said granting pardons may be obstruction as it was here.

        • bmaz says:

          A Constitutionally provided, and unfettered, power is not obstruction. I don’t care what Bill Barr says.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          I’m guessing that the act isn’t obstruction but it sure tells me a lot about the intent to obstruct if otherwise charged. I would expect the link from pardon to act would have to be established.

        • Scott_in_MI says:

          Is it a general legal principle that acts within the scope of an official’s duties can’t constitute an element of an obstruction charge, or do you consider the pardon power to be a special case because it’s Constitutionally specified?

        • Scott_in_MI says:

          The proper remedy for – as a hypothetical – a president who obstructs an investigation by getting other people to destroy evidence and then pardoning them, would then presumably be impeachment.

        • timbozone says:

          Does that mean that the “unfetteredness” of a pardon also prevents the President himself for being questioned about the issuing of that pardon?

          I think that the inability to question Congressional members for their statements and actions while doing Congressional business is explicitly stronger within the Constitutional framework. There is no wording in the Constitution indicating that a pardon issued somehow relieves the President himself of any legal consequences personally should he be found to have issued the pardon for his own conspiratorial corrupt purposes. Obviously, my rhetoric is worrisome on its face, given that the notion of “corrupt purpose” is subject to the political winds of popular and Congressional sentiment. Thus, the gray area of President’s facing legal sanctions for their issuance of pardons to unsavory individuals seems to have remained mostly un-adjudicated over the past two centuries, most Presidents having, wisely, shied away from exercising the power to such an extent that they fell too afoul of popular and/or Congressional sentiment.

          In Ex Parte Garland the pardon itself is ruled to be unfetterable. Here is the precise statement in the ruling:

          “The benign prerogative of mercy reposed in him cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions.”

          Generally, this likely means that the Congress cannot use its own promulgated statutes to restrict the ability of the President to issue pardons, nor can they design laws that somehow attempt to circumvent the absolute legal validity and consequence of duly issued Presidential pardons; the power of pardon was ruled to be the President’s alone, and such attempts at proscription would be pointless and fruitless within the Constitutional legal framework the gist. However, with regard to possible Presidential criminal intent, incidental collusion with Federal (and state) laws not specifically designed to limit Presidential pardon powers is not dealt with in any substantive way in Ex. Parte Garland… at least not from what I can tell in a cursory reading of the particular ruling.

        • Wajimsays says:

          Damn Hamilton! Floundering Fathers indeed

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You published this comment under your old name Wajim which I am changing this once to Wajimsays. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          I’ll take my odds on that. Easily, especially with this SCOTUS.

          Also, lol, you cite Barr and Graham??

        • emptywheel says:

          You’ve heard of the Senate Judiciary Committee, right? Because IN ADDITION to them, Klobuchar and Leahy said the same.

          I honestly suspect you MISUNDERSTAND what I’ve said bc it is not remotely controversial.

          It’s like selling pardons.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, no, am completely fine in my understanding. I do not misunderstand it in the least. You are citing a bunch of politicians for something never tested in law. And as to something that is the most plenary power of the Article II branch in the Constitution. But, yeah, sure, I just “misunderstand” you.

        • emptywheel says:

          So, thanks for confirming that we agree GIVING pardons is unfetterable. Once Trump does it, it’s done.

          But, of course, that’s not what I was talking about.

          Just as an example, Trump entering into a hypothetical agreement that Roger Stone will commit a future crime and Trump will reward him with a pardon is not in the Constitution.

        • bmaz says:

          I neither agree with that nor confirm that. If Trump is elected and subsequently pardons the hypothetical Stone, then the pardon will stand. And it will not constitute a separate crime.

        • Ewan Woodsend says:

          Bmaz’s explanation of the pardon power is what has been understood by other nations who copied this model more recently. The French constitution (1958 and subsequent modifications) which is inspired by the American one when it comes to the President has an article about presidential pardon (“grace”) with no caveat, and another one where it says that the president is not liable to actions performed as a president, except in front of the International Court of Justice. Impeachment (“destitution”) can be pronounced by parliament in certain cases but that doesn’t change anything about the pardons.
          The constitution of the Philippines (1987 and subsequent modifications) which mirrors even closer the US constitution has also pardon :

          SECTION 19. Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment.

          He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.

          Impeachment is the remedy. On the other hand, once he/she is impeached, he/she might be liable to prosecution regarding his/her actions as president depending on how you understand section 3(7).

  9. Lady4Real says:

    I could’ve told you all about the dog whistles in Philadelphia by Guilliani, or the intimidation of Ms. Freeman by surrogates of Kanye West was all about disenfranchising Black voters. It was as plain as the nose on my face. We (my husband, son, family members) talked about how it felt like the 1950s and 1960s all over again. Except we were born in ’66-’69 and didn’t experience racism and disenfranchisement the way our parents did.

    • Ruthie2the says:

      I don’t think it’s the attacks against Black voting in and of themselves that Marcy and others were surprised by, but that one of the charges reported focus on it.

      The hysteria on the right is hardly new, as you point out, even if it reached new levels in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

      • bmaz says:

        A target letter is more common than people seem to think. But it is not a charging document. Let’s wait and see what and how such a real indictment reads.

        • Ruthie2the says:

          Understood. Commenting on a mobile device isn’t as easy as on a computer, and sometimes it doesn’t come out as I intend. I know only what I’ve read (minus what I haven’t been able to retain, lol), but I was referring to the reporting on charges listed by journalists.

          But your comment does bring another question to mind. By the time a target letter has been sent, has, as I would assume, the decision on which specific charges will be brought been more or less finalized? Journalists were right on the charges in the documents case, if not the number, for instance.

          I ask in part because the SC is reportedly continuing with interviews.

        • bmaz says:

          Great question. Usually, yes, the prosecutors would know what they want to charge. Is that always the case? No, not to my experience. I do not think many conclusions can be drawn yet, but will be known soon.

        • emptywheel says:

          Journalists were working with what Trump’s lawyers saw in the summons, so the indictment had already been filed.

          I think the biggest question here is whether there’ll be multiple counts of both ConFraudUS and obstruction as is totally feasible.

          As for ongoing investigation: I’ve long said that this investigation is unusual in that DOJ will likely have to charge the head of the conspiracy first. So I expect DOJ to fill in the rest of the conspiracy after Trump is charged.

        • hstancat says:

          May the rest of the alleged conspirators be charged in a separate case? Or is DOJ required to supercede in the existing case and then move for severance if it wants to try Trump separately (i.e., sooner)?

          [new 8 char handle; hope this is correct way to change]

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

        • obsessed says:

          I’ve long said that this investigation is unusual in that DOJ will likely have to charge the head of the conspiracy first.

          Ah! Could you either elaborate on why they’ll likely have to do this, or give us link to a post where you’ve already explained it? Thanks. I’m almost to the point of putting my life on pause and re-reading this site from Nov. 2020 to the present. I just took a peek at the All Posts section of this site and roughly calculated that the EW book on Trump’s election-related crimes is up to about 1500 chapters … then went to PayPal for another donation.

        • Tech Support says:

          As much as I have tried to keep up closely with all of this, I’m sure I have missed this point you’ve been trying to convey:

          “I’ve long said that this investigation is unusual in that DOJ will likely have to charge the head of the conspiracy first.”

          I know I’ve been toodling along waiting for Stone, Jones, and Ali to get indicted as a run-up to a Trump indictment but apparently I’ve been missing the plot. If/when the indictments subsequent to the target letter are made, would love a recap on this idea.

        • smf88011 says:

          While a target letter is common, a high percentage of the times they are sent are when the prosecutor believes they have a strong case and will outline the laws that they are “considering” charging someone with. (Source: Glenn Kirschner – former Assistant US Attorney for DC) It is just like not knowing that the sun will rise tomorrow. There is no guarantee it will happen but more than likely will.

        • Purple Martin says:

          Not to denigrate Glenn Kirchner, but of the many consistently wrong TV lawyers, he’s consistently one of the wrongest: “Overstating the Case” subdivision. (OK that does seem denigration, doesn’t it?).

          But to be fair, yesterday he didn’t use the “sun will rise tomorrow” for all target letters, but specifically limited it to this SC target letter as differentiation from others.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Go ahead and denigrate, just not unreasonably. As bmaz points out, it sees entirely reasonable in his case.

    • Rayne says:

      That. It was obvious in 2016 the influence operations targeted states which had large non-white communities, sizable electoral vote counts, and the possibility of being a swing state if suppression and influence operations worked.

      It’s been obvious all along how this works to people of color. They just aren’t using dogs the way they used to back in the 1960s.

      Wait, my bad. They are.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        Texas would be blue already if suppression and influence operations didn’t work. Though, there has been some progress on that front. Ground Game Texas reports: “ Here’s what we learned from 2022: While Texas saw overall voter turnout drop 7.3% from 2018 to 2022, this trend did not hold true for Black voters in cities in which we did work. A prime example of this trend is visible in Harker Heights where we saw overall voter turnout decrease 2.7% from 47.3% in 2018 to 44.6% in 2022, while we saw an uptick in Black voter turnout. In 2018, Black voter turnout was 41.2%, but in 2022 – in the wake of our initiatives – it increased marginally to 41.4%. More promisingly, the turnout of Black petition signers increased from 64.4% in 2018 to 66.5% in 2022, a noteworthy rise of 2.1%.

        In Killeen, African-American residents are subjected to marijuana enforcement at disproportionate rates compared to their population. From public information requests, we know that nearly 80% of arrests for marijuana possession were conducted against African-American community members, double their share of the local population —even though national research shows that marijuana usage is likely higher among white community members.

        By putting marijuana reform on the ballot, we gave voters an opportunity to vote for justice and progressive change.

        The results show we are onto something.”

        Here is their website:

  10. harpie says:

    11/XX/19 Republican National Lawyers Association conference, Wisconsin

    [TRUMP campaign’s Justin CLARK gives a closed-door talk, [which was recorded by someone] He had a lot to say about Election Day operations, or “EDO.”]

    “Wisconsin’s the state that is going to tip this one way or the other … So it makes EDO really, really, really important,” [] “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes … [Democrats’] voters are all in one part of the state, so let’s start playing offense a little bit. And that’s what you’re going to see in 2020. That’s what’s going to be markedly different. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program, and we’re going to need all the help we can get.” [] “first and foremost is the consent decree’s gone.” [He was referring to a court order forbidding Republican operatives from using any of a long list of voter-purging and intimidation techniques. The expiration of that order was a] “huge, huge, huge, huge deal,”.

    From: The Election That Could Break America If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?
    Barton Gellman November 2020

  11. Konny_2022 says:

    The issue of mail-in ballots and the measures taken by the Postmaster General to make it harder such ballots could be delivered in time comes back to my mind. The reporting I remember from the summer 2020 was that it seemed a coordinated measure or at least some sort of collusion by the then-president and the then-postmaster general (who’s still in office) to suppress minority votes. Does it belong in this context, or is it OT? In the latter case I apologize for this posting.

    • phred says:

      Please God, let Louis DeJoy get swept up in this. What rankles me still is the destruction of millions of dollars of sorting machines to slow mail delivery. And as far as I am aware absolutely nothing was ever done about it.

      DeJoy’s dismantling of the postal service has been a national tragedy, but no one in a position to do anything about it seems bothered. It’s heartbreaking.

      • harpie says:

        Emphatically Endorse!

        ALSO, there was a concerted effort to control the Census happening that year.

      • bgThenNow says:

        The constraints on mail carriers are enormous. I don’t know from where these strictures originate. I know from dealing with certain mail carriers who deliver to a box where there are multiple tenants that the carriers are not allowed to walk back or forward to the box. Every step of their route has been counted, and they are under pressure not just to have a consistent count of steps per the prescribed number, but the schedule also demands they deliver everything in a specified time.I also know that they walk to vacant homes every day because it is part of the step count and if the address again becomes active, they need to maintain their step count. It is terrible that all these “efficiencies” result in absurdities like this.

        • posaune says:

          bg: Seriously, does the USPS count mail carriers steps? Are they required to wear a step counter device? Geez, the physical version of key-stroke counting.

          Once, my 8-yo son was walking around the neighborhood with my visiting SIL; they got lost — not a clue as to how to get home. Then, my son saw our mail carrier, whom he knew! And our mail carrier actually walked to our home with them. Such a kind man!
          p.s. that was 12 years ago!

        • bgThenNow says:

          According to a number of mail carriers I have talked to about this, yes. Their steps are counted. There are various ways the USPS has been taken down. This is another one.

        • Matt___B says:

          Ugh – keystroke counting. I worked at a typing service in 1976 that had specially-outfitted IBM Selectric typewriters that had keystroke-counters built-in. Definitely favored fast typists since nobody there had an hourly wage…

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          DeJoy practices a toxic capitalism, and is obsessed with privatizing the USPS, believing that nothing government does should obstruct private sector profit-taking.

          He probably borrowed a plethora of employee and motion-monitoring tools from the private sector, notably Amazon. The usual process includes: alienate employees, gut the resources they have to do their jobs, get as many as possible to quit, claim that induced failure is inherent failure and proof that the target institution should be privatized. Because only the private sector can do anything constructive. Wash, rinse, repeat.

        • Rayne says:

          In a thread about the invisibility of systemic racism, it’s also important to note that full privatization of a quasi-government service means systemic racism can be hidden, preventing achievement of a diverse workforce partially paid for by tax dollars.

          One only need look at Koch businesses which operate as LLCs and therefore have zero public reporting because they are not publicly-held corporations.

          BTW, the public has never gotten a full report on what investigations into postmaster Louis DeJoy found wrt conflicts of interest. I would love to know if he holds any investments which rely on “improvements” at USPS.

        • TonesinOC says:

          I often find myself thinking he must be heavily invested in “Late Fees” charged when a payment is late due to his efforts.
          I am a paranoid nut, though.

        • FiestyBlueBird says:

          Interesting question. That said, here’s a bit of a counter-narrative on DeJoy. (I accept any upbraids I may deserve.)

          I, too, was dismayed about DeJoy early on. I read all the negative stories. My sister experienced frequent delays on meds delivered by mail.

          But two recent and quite lengthy articles have cooled my steam a bit.

          Time published this one in March 2023:

          First two paragraphs:

          Louis DeJoy thought his workday was done as he arrived home one evening in February 2022. The Postmaster General was locked in a grueling, monthslong battle with Congress over a bill to shake up the Postal Service. But as he settled in, his cell phone rang and, pulling it out, he saw who was calling and could already guess why. It was Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The second most powerful Democrat in America wanted to know how the whip count was coming.

          As it happened, the count was coming along very nicely. DeJoy may be best known as the Trump-era GOP megadonor the left accused of meddling with mail-in voting to subvert the 2020 election. But by the time Schumer called him on that frigid winter night, DeJoy was on his way to convincing congressional Republicans—120 in the House and 29 in the Senate—to buy into a lengthy Democratic wish list of postal reforms. When President Joe Biden signed the landmark legislation into law two months later, it guaranteed a union-friendly version of six-day mail service and stabilized health coverage for the 650,000 USPS employees. “There’s no way we could have gotten [the] votes without Louis DeJoy,” says Jim Sauber, the chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers at the time. “That’s for sure.”

        • Rayne says:

          What a fluffy beat sweetening piece.

          This explains why I haven’t heard jack from my senator:

          … In the Senate, DeJoy kept in regular touch with Schumer, and the bill’s two co-sponsors, Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Bloom, a former USPS Board of Governors member, remembers Peters telling him, “I can’t get the Republican votes without DeJoy.” It passed the 50-50 Senate with 79 votes. …

          So they backed off DeJoy in order to get GOP votes.

          And this is all we’re going to get about his conflicts of interest which may still be of concern?

          …Meanwhile, there’s no longer an ethical cloud hanging over DeJoy’s head. Both the Federal Election Commission and the FBI closed investigations into him related to campaign contributions, and the USPS Inspector General said he met “all applicable ethics requirements related to disclosure, recusal, and divestment” pertaining to his holdings with Postal Service contractors upon taking the job. …

          Sorry, I need far more than this glossy profile to be satisfied with a guy who decided to make major changes to First Class service in the middle of a pandemic and an election season. Go ahead and point to the percentages swagged in this piece, but a white dude wrote this and thought a 1% failure rate for on-time delivery of mail-in ballots was fine.

          Uh, nope.

        • FiestyBlueBird says:

          I accept, Rayne, bmaz. Points taken. The other piece I believe was in BusinessWeek a few months earlier. It, too, was basically saying he may not be as bad as feared.

          Anyways, excellent post by Marcy.

      • Tetman Callis says:

        It may be worth noting that Postal Service jobs provided access to the middle class for many Black Americans, who could get good union jobs at the USPS. An attack on the Postal Service could be seen as an attack on Black Americans.

        Here’s a modified link to a Politico story on the issue from August 2020:

        https: //

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It was a great leg up into the middle class, providing well-paid, stable jobs with benefits and union protections, for millions, including many women and people of color. Republican operatives know that and have targeted it.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        The one organization that was ideally placed to provide (limited) social media as a public utility. I suppose there are some very powerful interests that are backing DeJoy’s effort.

    • Taxesmycredulity says:

      I have the same question. It would seem that hindering the vote would be of a piece with hindering the count, but IANAL. Forbes referred to it as undermining:

      “The ongoing changes at the USPS have sparked fears that DeJoy and President Donald Trump are attempting to use the agency to undermine the November election.”

  12. bloopie2 says:

    Wow. Just Wow.

    OT, but here’s another Trump related item from yesterday. Trump had tried to remove the Stormy Daniels hush money criminal case from state court to federal court. Denied. The judge said that the prosecution team “put forth evidence strongly supporting their allegations that the money paid to Cohen was reimbursement for a hush money payment”. The judge noted the lack of any formal retainer agreement, and also a handwritten note that appears to show a Trump Organization employee calculating Cohen’s repayment. “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was purely a personal item of the president — a cover-up of an embarrassing event … Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a president’s official acts. It does not reflect in any way the color of the president’s official duties.”

    Wonderful statements calling Trump out.

  13. Amicus12 says:

    When the reality of the potential dimensions of the 241 charge(s) starts to sink in, we can expect the usual howls of outrage of bringing such a charge against Trump in federal court in the District.

    The truth of the matter appears to be that eligible black jurors are underrepresented in the federal jury pool. According to WaPo reporting, “[b]lack adults make up about 46% of eligible D.C. jurors, but only about 30% of those are brought in to federal court for possible service.”

    The other thing to note, is that all three of the identified charges are self-reinforcing: Trump tried to steal an election, and thereby steal the government of the United States of America in violation of the rights its citizens.

  14. harpie says:

    Brandon Van Grack:
    Jul 20, 2023 · 12:23 AM UTC

    People interested in recent prosecutions of Section 241 should look at the case of Douglass Mackey for interfering in the 2016 election. [LINK] 1/2

    As described by DOJ, Mackey conspired w/ Twitter/social media users to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message which, in reality, was legally invalid.

    Mackey was convicted in March. 2/2

    Marcy wrote about MACKEY on March 31, 2023, here :

    • harpie says:


      Douglass Mackey — who was indicted for attempting to suppress the Black and Latino vote in 2016 — was found guilty of conspiring to violate his targets’ right to vote.

  15. Benvindo Soares says:

    The GOP just like a desperate immigrant – will always exploit what they percieve to be the weakest point of a border. The tell has always been, where, most the 60 odd lawsuits … were filed. I suspect if one wanted to question the 2016 results you would begin in those places. Like Detroit. IMO.

    • ExRacerX says:

      There’s a lot to unpack in that first sentence/analogy. To start with, most immigrants cross the border legally.

      • Benvindo Soares says:

        Indeed. My apologies . I should have said desperate human nature.

        I myself, came here legally.

        • ExRacerX says:

          No worries. To your point, truly desperate people will try anything, so they weren’t JUST attacking the weak spots; they were flinging various flavors of poo at the walls across the country. Luckily, most of it dripped right back down.

  16. Joberly1954 says:

    A little Reconstruction history here: 18 USC 241 was originally passed by Congress in 1870, the first of three “Force Acts” enacted to put legislative teeth behind the Fifteenth Amendment. The Act of May 25, 1870 was titled “[to] Enforce the Rights of Citizens of the United States to Vote…” and may be found at 16 Statutes at Large, 140-141.

    The language in the second paragraph of Section 241 about “If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway” was originally Section 6 of the 1870 law. Congress wrote this legislation to give US attorneys in the Reconstruction South the power to go after the KKK.

    Section 6 of the Act of 1870 also had a lifetime ban for persons convicted on holding “any office or place of honor, profit or trust created by the Constitution,” language similar to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

  17. Ravenclaw says:

    In other words: Even well-informed, fair-minded, well-meaning (mostly white) people totally missed the signs that DoJ was investigating crimes targeting (mostly black) people – and the importance of the specific acts carried out to disenfranchise those people. Dang. And some “experts” in my field still claim there’s no such thing as implicit bias.

    Thanks as always for the scholarship – and honesty. If we can’t acknowledge our own blinders, we’ll never figure out how to get rid of them.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Shame is mostly toxic. Only useful at all when it prompts us to strive for change. Which you are obviously doing in a very committed way.

      • Benvindo Soares says:

        …with respect – I wish you wouldn’t . I’m pretty sure you wrote about the spirit of this Law before. It also appears the DOJ has become creative and truthful. A primis IMHO long over do.

        I reckon we give them credit – as you have – beginning with your views on DOJ work performance … On some level you knew .


      • Bruce Stewart says:

        I note that this posting is currently the lead item on Memeorandum; never expected to see that, but well deserved.

        • Purple Martin says:

          In a comment reply yesterday (to Rayne), I noted I’d been seeing Emptywheel popping up in Memorandum more often lately. But this is the first time I’ve seen it make top line, with a dozen discussion links under it (Digby’s entry quoting Marcy was one).

          Top line item usually stays there all day, so this post should get substantial (as you say, well-deserved) extra attention.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        Reminds me of a line from “Trouble Every Day” (by Zappa and the Mothers of Invention): Hey, you know something, people?
        I’m not black, but there’s a whole lots a times I wish I could say I’m not white.

    • Legonaut says:

      As usual, I had a comment in mind only to find someone else said it much better. Thanks, Ravenclaw – and a hearty “amen” for your second graf.

    • ShallMustMay08 says:

      This! I thought I had my head in right place after a twist years ago. But not enough.

      Sherrilyn Ifill noted this morning their LDF lawsuit for KKK act still outstanding.

  18. Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

    In 2000, there was the effort by the State of Florida to disenfranchise 10s of thousands of African-American voters by removing them from the voting rolls.

    The “incident” in 2008 in a 95% plus AA voting district in Philadelphia is also instructive. My BiL, an attorney, was sent there by the Obama 2008 campaign in anticipation of ReThug dirty tricks. The so-called “election observers” were only there to challenge AA voters. They were not “intimidated” by four clowns with pool cues (aka the New Black Panthers). No one was deprived of their right to vote. The RW poutrage was 100% performative.

    • Rayne says:

      Active systemic disenfranchisement hasn’t ended. Marc Elias’s Democracy Docket in just a couple days within the last week observed:

      The Department of Justice (DOJ) asked to join a federal lawsuit challenging the anti-democratic Mississippi law House Bill 1020, which creates a new unelected court system in Jackson. The DOJ argues that the law “intentionally discriminates” against Black residents and violates the 14th Amendment.

      In Florida, a federal judge declined to temporarily block two provisions of the state’s recently enacted voter suppression law, Senate Bill 7050. One provision prohibits individuals with certain felony convictions from handling voter registration applications and the other requires third-party voter registration organizations to provide a receipt to each voter registration applicant containing identifying information, including their full name.

      The Alabama House passed a new congressional map that does not contain a second majority-Black district as the U.S. Supreme Court required in its decision in Allen v. Milligan.

      The House map now heads to the state Senate, which will vote later today on a separate proposed map that also fails to include a second majority-black district. A court-appointed special master may take over the map drawing process if necessary.

      A lawsuit was filed by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and four individuals with former felony convictions challenging Florida’s onerous and inconsistent system for voting rights restoration as well as the state’s “election police” unit. The plaintiffs allege that the current system violates Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act as well as the First and 14th Amendments.

      That’s just from July 12 and 19 alone. I left out the voter roll purge in Georgia, happening even as Trump is still under investigation in that state.

  19. vinniegambone says:

    I am thinking of John Lewis and Elija Cummings looking down and smiling at the “Good trouble, necessary trouble, trouble that will redeem the soul of America trouble. ” Jack Smith and his team are creating against these racist tactics waged by active full blooded racists.

    If Stone isnt the mastermind of this, he sure as hell considers hinself such. And Enrico Terrio and Ali Alexander, may they rot for betraying their brothers and sisters by being Trump and Stone’s shoe shine boys, that’s all they’re considered.

    Comgressman Clyburn one would think is grateful this worm is turning.

    Regardless of trial dates or convictions, this evil plan hopefully gets publisized extensively to draw out largest black turnout ever against these nazi scumbags.
    I sooo hope they get eventually get Stone, and hope ththe remainder of his days are painful, joyless, and troubled for whatever part he had in planning and executing this plan.

  20. IainUlysses says:

    But that doesn’t mean prosecutors “introduced a new twist,” as if this is some fucking reality show.

    Thank you for that.

  21. Benvindo Soares says:

    Beto’s silence as of late – began to interested me, month’s ago after Paxton’s proclamations on voter rolls .

    I suspect he has a dog, that hunts in this game. I reckon time will tell.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      I’m not sure Beto is, even with the conditions he has to face in TX. OTOH, no one seems to grasp that Sununu leaving as NH’s governor means he’s available as a dark horse compromise candidate if/when Defendant-1 goes down.

      He’s not much of an improvement.

      • Ruthie2the says:

        I had the misfortune to experience the first several years of his governorship. He’s terrible, but adept at masking it to appease centrist/unaffiliated voters. Naturally, mainstream news outlets buy the con and treat him as a serious, respectable politician. Maddening.

        • Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

          IMO his “superpower” is being much better at hiding his sheer assholery than his father.

        • Ruthie2the says:

          Having lived in either Maine or Massachusetts at the time, never mind having been younger and less politically aware, I knew only the broad outlines of the father’s political career.

          In any case, that a lot of people can’t see through Sununu’s obfuscation and smarminess, or that maybe they even like it, isn’t surprising after 2016.

      • BirdGardener says:

        I googled Beto O’Rourke’s name and ‘2023;’ he’s been teaching at the University of Chicago. Or rather, he was teaching from January through (presumably) the end of the semester; I don’t know how long his contract runs. You could surely look it up!

  22. Mister Sterling says:

    We won’t know until tomorrow or next week, but if Smith’s team has drawn a clear line between Trump’s public bashing of back counties (Trump’s tell is that he always says “corrupt” instead of “black”, e.g. “These corrupt officials in [X] County.”), then this sets the stage for an unlikely landmark conviction. I’m ancient enough to remember Lee Atwater. I still don’t know if his story of suppressing the black vote in 1988 is to be believed. But when he talked about it, the news media responded with a shrug.

    • Rayne says:

      I still don’t know if his story of suppressing the black vote in 1988 is to be believed.”

      I’d tell you to ask a Black American of your own age but they don’t need to be tasked with educating you. Simply acknowledge systemic racism is so endemic, suppression of BIPOC voters is fact nearly everywhere in the U.S. where there are BIPOC voters — even minority majority communities aren’t safe from it as general elections in 2016 and 2020 showed.

      • RealAlexi says:

        Yep. And in 2016 suppressing the black vote via demoralization was one of he main goals of the Russian campaign on behalf of Trump.

        (That Russian campaign remains in imho really about destroying what was presumed to be a Hillary Presidency before it got off the ground. And it got a big assist from Trump as opposed to the other way around. He NEVER envisioned really winning he Presidency)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When a corrupt dirty trickster tells you how corrupt he is, believe him the first time.

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    This might be a good time to refresh our memories of a speech Merrick Garland gave on 6/11/21. The whole speech can be accessed in the link below. But these are some of the final remarks:

    “Finally, we have not been blind to the dramatic increase in menacing and violent threats against all manner of state and local election workers, ranging from the highest administrators to volunteer poll workers. Such threats undermine our electoral process and violate a myriad of federal laws.”

    “The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, together with the department’s National Security and Criminal Divisions, the 93 United States Attorneys, and the FBI, will investigate and promptly prosecute any violations of federal law.”

    “Nearly two and a half centuries into our experiment of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” we have learned much about what supports a healthy democracy.”

    “We know that expanding the ability of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar. That means ensuring that all eligible voters can cast a vote; that all lawful votes are counted; and that every voter has access to accurate information. The Department of Justice will never stop working to protect the democracy to which all Americans are entitled.”

    • Thomas Paine says:

      Wow ! I remember that quote. I think Judge Garland was visiting Tulsa, OK at the time. This makes me wonder if the scope of this investigation is much broader and started much earlier than anyone imagined. I agree with many of the other commenters other comments here. Marcy’s blog entries on the latest Trump target letter are revelatory and this indictment could well be historic in its impact.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        That speech was in the Great Hall in DC, addressing the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

  24. TexasODB says:

    Wow. This blog’s coverage of this target letter has been amazingly good. I think it may even improve (my) mental health by providing such clear examples of how to think clearly about things and learn from the unexpected.

    I have a question which might be inappropriate given what we know at this time: Is there any reason why it might be easier to charge 241 rather than 242 as Dr Wheeler and others were suspecting? If I am out of line with speculation I apologize.

  25. bloopie2 says:

    This past May 14, HBO ran an episode of Succession about the fictitious election night, in which, to quote Wikipedia: “A vote center in Milwaukee is firebombed, destroying thousands of ballots that would have likely gone to Democratic candidate Daniel Jiménez.”

    Somebody there had been paying attention. I wonder when that episode was written.

  26. Purple Martin says:

    Unrelated, yet related Trevor McFadden alert.

    This Emptywheel post has just been bumped off Memorandum’s top line by a Kyle Cheney Politico item of Judge McFadden getting upset at the Special Counsel’s office, by believing something Stanley Woodward told him about an entirely different Jan 6th case.

    I swear, this is all turning into playing Mad Libs with Keven Bacon.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Even for the youngish, evangelical college-trained McFadden, believing Stanley Woodward about the reason he’s late to a hearing is credulous. (But, see, Aileen Cannon.)

      McFadden presumably has no jurisdiction over the prosecutors in a case not before him, but he does have their colleague before him. But who can rebut the one-sided claims Woodward made in an offhand comment to defend himself from criticism about being late? And where’s the privilege he claims those other prosecutors attempted to violate?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I see that McFadden turned this into a petulant circus, using federal marshals rather than a clerk to summon the prosecutors presenting to the grand jury, telling them they were wanted in his court room – on an unrelated matter. But believing Woodward without waiting to hear from the other side is even less judicial – or credible.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I asked you a question on the next thread, about how Woodward would have known what questions were being asked of his client during a secret grand jury proceeding he was not allowed to be a witness to.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:


          So Woodward is outside the room where a grand jury is meeting. and down the hall from a courtroom where he has another client waiting for a sentencing hearing. But he has no staff and no other ability to communicate with that court’s clerk to say he’ll be delayed and to inform the judge. He can’t call his office and tell someone there to do it? Or do it himself. Must be nice to be so important a litigator.

  27. Randy Baker says:

    Inasmuch as this is the very first statutory predicate for a prosecution listed in THE DOJ’s “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses,” Eighth Edition, (page 33) it is not clear to me why Smith’s reliance on this statute should be particularly surprising.

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