Spirit of Revenge: John Roberts Says Joe Biden Can Demand an Investigation of Ginni Thomas

As I wrote in this post, John Roberts chose to cloak his radical opinion eliminating rule of law for Presidents by nodding to George Washington’s Farewell Address.

Our first President had such a perspective. In his Farewell Address, George Washington reminded the Nation that “a Government of as much vigour as is consistent with the perfect security of Liberty is indispensable.” 35 Writings of George Washington 226 (J. Fitzpatrick ed. 1940). A government “too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction,” he warned, could lead to the “frightful despotism” of “alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge.” Id., at 226–227. And the way to avoid that cycle, he explained, was to ensure that government powers remained “properly distributed and adjusted.” Id., at 226.

It is these enduring principles that guide our decision in this case.

As I showed, that was partly an attempt to spin the usurpation of Executive Branch prosecutorial authority between Administrations as, instead, protection of the separation of powers of co-equal branches.

But it was also an attempt to deploy Washington’s warnings against partisanship as if they counseled doing what Roberts was doing, rather than the opposite.

Roberts had the audacity, for example, to quote from a passage talking about how unbridled partisanship could lead to foreign influence, corruption, insurrection, and authoritarianism and suggest he was preventing that, rather than immunizing it.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. [my emphasis]

As I described in the initial release of Ball of Thread, the podcast I’m doing with LOLGOP, the Republicans on SCOTUS really believe Trump’s garbage claims that his prosecution was about revenge and despotism, rather than an effort to stave it off.

Trump has gotten people who claim to care about the country to view up as down, fascism as freedom.

Never mind that a court riddled with corruption scandals invoked the passage of the Farewell Address warning against it.

Between the shock of the overall holding and the obsession with Joe Biden’s poor debate, though, there has been little focus on an equally troubling part of Roberts’ opinion: one sanctioning the wholesale politicization of DOJ.

In the passage throwing out the charges involving Jeffrey Clark altogether, Roberts prohibits review of not just DOJ’s prosecutorial decisions (except, of course, when they involve a President’s predecessor, in which case DOJ has very constrained authority), but also of the President’s involvement in those decisions.

The Government does not dispute that the indictment’s allegations regarding the Justice Department involve Trump’s “use of official power.” Brief for United States 46; see id., at 10–11; Tr. of Oral Arg. 125. The allegations in fact plainly implicate Trump’s “conclusive and preclusive” authority. “[I]nvestigation and prosecution of crimes is a quintessentially executive function.” Brief for United States 19 (quoting Morrison v. Olson, 487 U. S. 654, 706 (1988) (Scalia, J., dissenting)). And the Executive Branch has “exclusive authority and absolute discretion” to decide which crimes to investigate and prosecute, including with respect to allegations of election crime. Nixon, 418 U. S., at 693; see United States v. Texas, 599 U. S. 670, 678–679 (2023) (“Under Article II, the Executive Branch possesses authority to decide ‘how to prioritize and how aggressively to pursue legal actions against defendants who violate the law.’” (quoting TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 594 U. S. 413, 429 (2021))). The President may discuss potential investigations and prosecutions with his Attorney General and other Justice Department officials to carry out his constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Art. II, §3. And the Attorney General, as head of the Justice Department, acts as the President’s “chief law enforcement officer” who “provides vital assistance to [him] in the performance of [his] constitutional duty to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’” Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U. S. 511, 520 (1985) (quoting Art. II, §1, cl. 8).

Investigative and prosecutorial decisionmaking is “the special province of the Executive Branch,” Heckler v. Chaney, 470 U. S. 821, 832 (1985), and the Constitution vests the entirety of the executive power in the President, Art. II, §1. For that reason, Trump’s threatened removal of the Acting Attorney General likewise implicates “conclusive and preclusive” Presidential authority. As we have explained, the President’s power to remove “executive officers of the United States whom he has appointed” may not be regulated by Congress or reviewed by the courts. Myers, 272 U. S., at 106, 176; see supra, at 8. The President’s “management of the Executive Branch” requires him to have “unrestricted power to remove the most important of his subordinates”—such as the Attorney General—“in their most important duties.” Fitzgerald, 457 U. S., at 750 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).

The indictment’s allegations that the requested investigations were “sham[s]” or proposed for an improper purpose do not divest the President of exclusive authority over the investigative and prosecutorial functions of the Justice Department and its officials. App. 186–187, Indictment ¶10(c). And the President cannot be prosecuted for conduct within his exclusive constitutional authority. Trump is therefore absolutely immune from prosecution for the alleged conduct involving his discussions with Justice Department officials. [my emphasis]

Here, Roberts turns the Take Care Clause on its head. Whereas conservative judge Karen Henderson viewed the Take Care Clause to require that the President obey the law, Roberts instead sees that as a source of permission for the President to demand investigations, even if they are proposed for an improper purpose.

In doing so, Roberts gives Joe Biden permission to demand an investigation of Ginni Thomas for the purpose of revenge against her spouse.

To be sure, in spite of Roberts’ expansive permission for President’s to politicize DOJ, there appear to be limits. Joe Biden cannot order the IRS to review whether Clarence Thomas has written off all the undeclared boondoggles Harlan Crow has given him.

One of the only laws specifically mention the President, it turns out, is 26 USC 7217, which prohibits certain people, including the President himself, from asking the IRS to take investigative action against a taxpayer.

It shall be unlawful for any applicable person to request, directly or indirectly, any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service to conduct or terminate an audit or other investigation of any particular taxpayer with respect to the tax liability of such taxpayer.

(b)Reporting requirement
Any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service receiving any request prohibited by subsection (a) shall report the receipt of such request to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.


(e)Applicable person
For purposes of this section, the term “applicable person” means—
(1)the President, the Vice President, any employee of the executive office of the President, and any employee of the executive office of the Vice President; and

This law could one day, in the not-too-distant future, come before the Justices. It could even do so in the specific context at issue here, Donald Trump’s pressure on Jeffrey Rosen on December 27, 2020.

That’s because, as laid out in Hunter Biden’s selective and vindictive prosecution claim, in the very same conversation where Trump demanded that DOJ make false claims about election fraud, he also pressured Rosen to investigate Hunter Biden “for real.”

On December 27, 2020, then Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue took handwritten notes of a call with President Trump and then Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, showing that Mr. Trump had instructed Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue to “figure out what to do with H[unter] Biden” and indicating that Mr. Trump insisted “people will criticize the DOJ if he’s not investigated for real.”57

57 Dec. 27, 2020 Handwritten Notes of Richard Donoghue Released by H. Oversight Comm. at 4 (emphasis added), www.washingtonpost.com/context/read-richard-donoghue-s-handwrittennotes-on-trump-rosen-calls/cdc5a621-dfd1-440d-8dea-33a06ad753c8; see also Transcribed Interview of Richard Donoghue at 56 (Oct. 1, 2021), H. Oversight Comm., https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GPO-J6-TRANSCRIPT-CTRL0000034600/pdf/GPO-J6- TRANSCRIPT-CTRL0000034600.pdf.

Hunter Biden’s as-applied challenge to his gun charges are more likely to get to SCOTUS and do so more quickly.

But his prosecution, with the President privately and publicly intervening both as President and as candidate to replace his father raises fairly unprecedented questions about the due process rights of a person whom the President has demanded be investigated for the purpose of revenge.

Until such a case gets reviewed, however, John Roberts has invited Joe Biden to call up Merrick Garland and demand not just that DOJ open an investigation into Ginni Thomas, but to appoint a Special Counsel who could continue the investigation for the foreseeable future.

By refusing all review of improper pressure on the Attorney General, John Roberts has not eliminated the risk of revenge and despotism.

He has, rather, sanctioned it.

91 replies
  1. wa_rickf says:

    “…to view…fascism as freedom.”

    WOW! Powerful descriptor! Succinct and precise.

    • Playdohglobe says:

      “to view Fascism as Freedom”

      Thank you Marcy for your clarity.
      We have seen this before:
      “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” 1984 – Orwell

      This is a great insight into the mindset of many MAGA Americans. Blinded by hate, corrupted by the lust for power and totally awash in gaslighting..our system is failing.
      Fascism is not the answer..history has shown what happens. IT is horrendous.

      see – 7/01/24 23-939 -Trump v. United States

      The MAGA SC decision on Trump Immunity is the New Enabling Act from 1933. Now playing out in 2024.

      ” March 1933 The Enabling Act becomes law in Germany, giving the chief executive powers to enforce his own laws without checks and balances. The passing of the Act marked the formal transition from democratic republic to totalitarian dictatorship. 6 months later, it was a 1 party state”

      The most powerful way to either control or empower humans is language.

      Freedom is the ability to say what’s true, to say what you think, and to make your own choices.

      Totalitarian governments succeed when they turn off our individuality via gaslighting.

      “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

      Those who say the Trump is going to win…they believe in Fascism.

      The Justice system failed Germany in 1933. In the USA, the lawyers and judges are not only failing in 2024, the MAGA Supremes just wrote the new Enabling Act.

      The Media is complicit int he gaslighting, NYT, Fox, Wapo everyone ignores the obvious danger to not saying the Truth.

      DJT is corrupt to the core, The Supreme court is corrupt to the core and the MSM is complicit in that corruption. Large parts of America have been lobotomized in this scene.

      No headlines calling for DJT to resign after felony convictions. ETTD.

      Voting in massive numbers against MAGA Fascism is our only solution..as many here have said. I am hopeful it will be enough.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you for this historical note. The 1933 Enabling Act does indeed seem an apt comparison. Having spent too much of the past week in a fog of inchoate rage and anxiety, I am happy whenever someone pins down a detail.

        • JerseyGuy says:

          FYI: The only party to vote against the Enabling Act in 1933 were the Social Democrats led by Otto Wels. The libs, the centrists, the German equivalent of the GOP, and of course the Nazis all voted for the Act. Worth reading Wels’ speech explaining his vote. Easy to find with a Google search.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME USERNAME and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You attempted to publish this comment as “njandy” which doesn’t meet the site’s username minimum standard; I have edited it this one time to match your original username which does meet the standard. Make a note of it and check your browser’s cache and autofill. /~Rayne]

      • freebird says:

        This German episode wrang from the philosophy of the proto-Nazi Carl Schmitt who posited that the sovereign’s authority is absolute. In Germany, the rightists claimed that they were stabbed in the back by the leftists, the Depression occurs, Hitler wins, Hindenburg dies, Reichstag’s fire, political parties abolished which leads to WWII. Desperate Nazis then try to kill a drug addled Hitler. Germany is occupied for decades until another authoritarian regime collapses.


      • c-i-v-i-l says:

        “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true… Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”
        “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

        Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism

        • jdmckay8 says:

          This stuff is as old as civilization.

          one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism;

          reminds of line the Simon and Garfunkel/The Boxer:

          A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest.

      • jdmckay8 says:

        Excellent and very illuminating. I’ve awakened since the SCOTUS decision with those same quotes you cite from 1984 on my mind. I read 1984 in HS 50 years ago, and didn’t know I remembered them precisely. It sent chills down my spine then.

        This is the most sobering moment wrt health and ability of America to thrive… in my lifetime. Really serious stuff.

    • SteveBev says:

      The collapse of German legal rationality and the rule of law coincided with the institutionalisation of what became two cardinal and interwoven interpretive canons -the Fuherprinzip ; and “German common sense ; what is good for Germany”

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Orwell wrote 1984 and Animal Farm as cautionary tales. He did not intend them as instruction booklets.

  3. ApacheTrout says:

    It would seem that any law that specifically identifies the President as an ‘applicable person’ is ripe for challenge as an unconstitutional restriction on the core powers of the President.

    • harpie says:

      And…surprise, surprise!… / s
      that particular citation also uses the word “Nation’s”…NOT “President’s”.

      Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511 (1985)

      […] As the Nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the Attorney General provides vital assistance to the President in the performance of the latter’s constitutional duty to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” U.S.Const., Art. II, § 1, cl. 8. Mitchell’s argument, in essence, is that the national security functions of the Attorney General are so sensitive, so vital to the protection of our Nation’s well-being, that we cannot tolerate any risk that in performing those functions he will be chilled by the possibility of personal liability for acts that may be found to impinge on the constitutional rights of citizens. Such arguments,

      “when urged on behalf of the President and the national security in its domestic implications, merit the most careful consideration.” […]

      re the case:

      In 1970, petitioner, who was then the Attorney General, authorized a warrantless wiretap for the purpose of gathering intelligence regarding the activities of a radical group that had made tentative plans to take actions threatening the Nation’s security. During the time the wiretap was installed, the Government intercepted three conversations between a member of the group and respondent.

      • harpie says:

        John MITCHELL appointed by NIXON
        AG from January 21, 1969 – March 1, 1972

        To repeat, from the case, MITCHELL argued [emphasis added]:

        we cannot tolerate any risk that in performing those functions he will be chilled by the possibility of personal liability for acts that may be found to impinge on the constitutional rights of citizens. Such arguments,

        when urged on behalf of the President and the national security in its domestic implications, merit the most careful consideration.”

  4. Veritas Sequitur says:

    As President Joe Biden so strongly stated on the hustings last week in the Carolinas, “. . . revenge and retribution never built a d*mn thing.” Truer words were never spoken. For the full remarks by President Biden at that campaign event, see this link ~~~>>> https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/06/28/remarks-by-president-biden-at-a-campaign-event-raleigh-nc/

    As the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer daily newspaper so appropriately asserts, “. . . Biden on his worst day remains lightyears better than Trump on his best.” For the full editorial published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, follow this link ~~~>>> https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/editorials/first-presidential-debate-joe-biden-donald-trump-withdraw-20240629.html

    The disgraceful mess at the sadly diminished and unprecedentedly unpopular supreme court is in some measure the unfortunate consequence of poor leadership by Roberts, whose reported history of repeated serious problems (2020 on the grounds of the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland, 2007 on a dock at Hupper Island in Maine, 1993 on the grounds of a golf course) with his head perhaps should come as no surprise. Roberts presides in a court infamously marked by unjust rulings from on high fundamentally undermining public safety and health, wildly unethical judicial practice, undisciplined shenanigans featuring leaks at the court, mismanagement of workflow with poor prioritization of cases alongside a sloppy backlog of cases crowded into end-of-term, and a dangerous addiction to the notorious shadow docket.

  5. klynn says:


    “By refusing all review of improper pressure on the Attorney General, John Roberts has not eliminated the risk of revenge and despotism.”

    Does Biden even have to ask Garland for Garland to act on investigating her? Can’t he deploy the Mob language Trump uses which would nudge Garland to read between the lines?

    Let’s say “someone” sends your above post to Garland. Might Garland be able to act on it and receive Biden’s blessing after the fact? The “ask without asking” to preserve deniability when accused of applying pressure? And if yes, what does it matter if Roberts did not review it?

    That’s how Trump usurps the law. Surrounds himself with “yes people” then talks in coded language to get what he wants, law be damned. Then when accused, fanes he’s innocent and a victim.

  6. Amicus12 says:

    As I began reading this post my mind went to the tax provision and lo and behold it wound up there.

    “Responding to actions taken by President Nixon to obtain copies from the IRS of tax returns filed by certain individuals, request IRS audits of persons on an ‘enemies’ list, and enable multiple agencies to request tax returns from the IRS, Congress enacted Section 1202 of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, imposing strict limits on the IRS’ ability to disclose tax information to the President, government agencies, and Congress itself.” https://www.levin-center.org/the-watergate-hearings/

    Section 7217 was part of the Tax Reform Act of 1976 directly responsive to Nixon’s audit’s requests and made such conduct on behalf of the President a criminal felony.

    Does this Court believe that Congress has the power to enact such legislation? It seems uncertain. And with respect to the President’s exercise of “core Constitutional functions” the answer is “no.” That’s a very scary precept because the President, under Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Hence, my prior observation that the Court’s decision is a roadmap to dictatorship.

    Washington had lived through this danger; he had stopped the Newburgh Conspiracy. The Farewell speech should be read against the background of that incident; he rejected the concept of an imperial President or a President for life, much as he had rejected his officers’ efforts to make him dictator or King.

    The evidence is compelling that Trump sought to end democracy. And a majority of the Court responds “so what.”

  7. Raven Eye says:

    So Roberts is essentially laying out the path for execution of Project 2025. One could almost imagine an Ikea-like set of assembly instructions: Drawings of the little builder-guy, the list of parts, and the step-by-step.

    Could the Heritage Foundation have imagined such a gift?

    • Rayne says:

      Could the Heritage Foundation (and the Federalist Society and the Council for National Policy) have laid out this plan?

      They’ve only been working on it since the 1980s.

      • Raven Eye says:

        I know that the the Heritage Foundation has been working on this for a long time, and the selection of Supreme Court justices has been a top priority. Roberts, the Chief Paper-Boy of their dreams, has laid the morning paper at their doorstep. Thomas got his quarter-million dollar R/V load forgiven. I hope Roberts at least gets a new bicycle — maybe even an e-Bike.

        • Rayne says:

          All those named in one way or another contributed to or were influenced/directed by the Heritage Foundation, Federalist Society, and CNP.

          ADDER: example going back to 2007 — https://inthesetimes.com/article/the-administration-goes-for-broke

          By tying up the state in a fiscal straitjacket, war encourages such foul play on the home front. This fact helps explain why members of the far-right Council on National Policy, a who’s-who of religious extremists that Norquist helps steer, find a silver lining in the Iraq fiasco.

    • jdmckay8 says:

      And they’ve been getting much bolder in plainly Facist declarations just in last few weeks, as spoken by Kevin Roberts: Heritage’s President.

      “In spite of all this nonsense from the left, we are going to win. We’re in the process of taking this country back. No one in the audience should be despairing,” Roberts said, adding, “And in spite of all of the injustice, which, of course, friends and audience of this show, of our friend Steve know, we are going to prevail.”

      “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” he added later.

      From a Steve Bannon podcast not dated in the article.

  8. boloboffin says:

    The President is the only person the Constitution allows to use a hammer. We need the President to use the hammer to hammer in nails. Since this is true, we must not investigate any of the times the President hammers something in case the President gets hammer-shy.

    This may mean some people and things that should not be hammered get hammered by the President, but this is a sacrifice the Court is willing to make.

    Seriously, the logic here is “shall not be infringed” writ large.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      At the age of 94, Pete Seeger died a few months after this concert. Like me and like Joe Biden, he didn’t have the voice he used to have. But each of us are alike in knowing the difference between right and wrong. We have to unite our voices and exercise our responsibility to vote for democracy and against fascism in November.


      “Pete Seeger – If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song) (Live at Farm Aid 2013)”

      • c-i-v-i-l says:

        On his guitar, Woody Guthrie had the words “This machine kills fascists.” Agreed, we can all choose ways to resist, including voting, helping to register people and get out the vote, and speaking out about the difference between right and wrong, between justice and injustice, between freedom and subjugation, between truth and lies, between the golden rule and hate.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I was appalled a few weeks ago when mentioning politics to my doctor. He said he may not vote. He said it’s a choice between a narcissist and a man with dementia. Aghast, I exclaimed, “Well, I’m voting for Biden.”

          This was before the debate. And my doctor clearly thought Biden had dementia. I’m pretty sure my doctor is a registered Democrat. So, after the debate I’m sure he is even more convinced.

          But what was even more startling to me was the worst he could say about Trump was that he is a narcissist. Something is very, very wrong with that. I suspect there are people in his household who are Republicans. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they routinely watch Fox news.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Your doctor’s medical judgment does not seem to extend to politics. Biden appears to be aging gracefully, and is still doing a better job professionally than Trump and many Goopers in Congress ever have.

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      It’s a ruling in search of a problem though, no? What, in the quarter-millennium+ history of this country, suggests that any necessary action by any POTUS was stifled by the specter of prosecution?

      • Rayne says:

        Example: The specter of any punitive legal action didn’t stop Trump from signing an executive order his first week in office banning Muslims traveling to the US AND THEN firing the acting AG Sally Yates for preventing the DOJ from defending the ban which had not been reviewed in advance of enactment by the Office of Legal Counsel.

        Trump’s firing of Yates was not for cause but punitive and retaliatory which violates federal law. It didn’t stop Trump.

        He won’t wait a week if he should be elected.

  9. CovariantTensor says:

    “John Roberts has invited Joe Biden to call up Merrick Garland and demand not just that DOJ open an investigation into Ginni Thomas, but to appoint a Special Counsel who could continue the investigation for the foreseeable future.”

    That would be particularly ironic since Thomas is the one who took the opportunity in his majority ruling to question the validity of special counsels.

  10. LaMissy! says:

    Project 2025 and the Supremes demonstrate that the coup neither began nor concluded on January 6, but were events in a much longer arc.

    As to Biden’s performance at the debate, why did he begin so ineptly and seem to gather his wits later in the debate as well as at the post-debate event? Is it possible Trump’s team somehow introduced a performance inhibiting substance in Biden’s water bottle or some such?

    We know Trump is constantly projecting and confessing – he kept saying Biden would be on drugs. I cannot think of a better way to cause chaos among Democratic voters than to insure a poor presentation.

  11. zscoreUSA says:

    Investigate H Biden “for real”?

    Is that an implication that one or more of the investigations in Hunter were not real?

    Which investigation(s) by DOJ would Trump not consider real? The FBI tax, money laundering, FARA investigation? The Brady investigation involving Smirnov? The money laundering investigation that led to Mac Isaac laptop being obtained? The gun investigation? The FBI counterintelligence surveillance over concerns of Hunter and Jim? The SDNY investigation into securities fraud and money laundering?

    Does he just mean “real” is having a press conference to announce it?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I suspect that when Trump says investigate someone “for real,” he doesn’t mean police procedures and trial, he means take care of them the Chicago way.

    • emptywheel says:

      I have long suspected that Donoghue wrote in the “FBI” and “H” after the fact, and what Trump was really after was an investigation of Joe, one that he knew to involve the Attorney General’s office.

      • harpie says:

        Huh…I guess that’s possible, and I definitely wouldn’t put it past TRUMP.


        I’ve been looking at that doc. again for the first time in quite a while. I think the “FBI” and “H.” may have been added later to clarify. TRUMP is talking about FBI at the end of pg 3, [how nobody there likes him] and then switches to something else at the top of pg. 4, then goes back to FBI …it could be D. just wanted to make that switch clear.

        As for “H.”, I’ve thought the line [which is indented under the FBI passage] says:

        *- You figure out what to do with H. Biden – people will criticize the DOJ if he’s not investigated for real

        But now I’m wondering if it’s possible that the next line says

        […] people will criticize the DOJ if HB’s not investigated for real

        I’ll be interested to know what you think of that possibility.

        • harpie says:

          That wouldn’t change the fact that
          TRUMP’s actual goal was to get to Joe through Hunter.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Yes, I agree, harpie. I think it does say HB. The B is the same as the B in Biden from the preceding line/phrase.

      • harpie says:

        Thanks, SL! If that is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if we all figured that out back in the day, but my brain was just too overloaded to absorb it. lol!

    • harpie says:

      Probably for TRUMP, it’s only “real” if the results are HIS results…
      kind of like the election.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      I think “for real” is a reference back to Trump telling Donoghue:

      “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen”

      Trump knew that wasn’t “for real.” It was just to create a set-up for disinformation.

      The “for real” part this time would be going through the mechanics of establishing the disinformation, rather than just “saying” it.

      So, even if it wasn’t true, it would be real because of the corroborating falsehoods, travel, witnesses, hardware, software, etc. It would be a “real” package of disinformation that would look like an investigation.

  12. Eichhörnchen says:

    RIP “Abuse of Power.” According to the Roberts court, if the president does it, it is not abuse.

  13. jecojeco says:

    If we dodge the trump as dictator bullet we still have the corrupt, radicalized anti-Constitutional SCOTUS to deal with. They’ve clearly moved beyond the mischief stage and are in full scale democracy wrecking ball mode, they can’t be allowed to age out in disgrace over a couple decades.

    We better pray and work towards a resounding electoral defeat for trump because this court is jonesing to help install a dictator. Biden may have to take decisive, unprecedented actions after Nov5 to save our democracy. I’m not sure institutionalist like Biden & Garland realize how vulnerable our institutions have become with this MAGA rot. Look at the harm a pip-squeak like Cannon has unleashed

  14. KingletRanch says:

    Do we know whether Ginni T. is already under investigation for J6-related doings?
    Might be that happened long before the obscene immunity decision.

    I get the sense that the body of decisions issued this term were almost (?) a last-ditch effort of the Extremes to do as much damage as they could in case they don’t get another chance.

  15. Krisy Gosney says:

    I’m not an expert on these christofascists but if you view the nation as founded in hard right Christianity and all the founders as conduits for God’s voice and ideas, as they believe them to be, then does Robert’s interpretation of Washington’s words make more sense for an originally Christofascist nation that lost its way and the Republicans on the SC see their mandate as a return to our founding Christofascism?

    • jecojeco says:

      I don’t know if the various Christian groups who settled the US were “hard right”, most were rebels from the English Catholic (Anglican church). I think most mainstream Protestants now are pretty liberal and just the Catholics and fundamental Protestants are hard right -and that’s the horse trump is riding – when he isn’t riding porn stars. Only one of the seven Catholics on SCOTUS isn’t hard right and that isn’t at all representative of the US Catholic population, IMO.

      Like they say, there are no atheists in foxholes and I’m praying our republic survives without widespread political violence which I think this SCOTUS is inviting

      • Brad Cole says:

        1 problem with Originalism is assuming that there was a common mind in 1775, much less 1675. Maryland was founded by Catholics as a haven from enforced Protestantism, PA for Quakers (a radical sect), Mass for another radical Protestant sect (subsequently overtaken by Puritans), etc.

  16. Jake2525 says:

    Didn’t Bill Barr say at his confirmation hearing that selling a pardon for money would be clearly illegal? So was he wrong?

    • Rayne says:

      Ah, one merely needs to offer a gratuity after the pardon and it’s all good, with or without presidential immunity.

  17. Savage Librarian says:


    Say, John Roberts, so that’s the skinny
    SCOTUS has on ignominy
    Now Biden has the rights wherein he
    can investigate dear old Ginni

    CJ Roberts’ Constitution
    finally sanctions retribution
    Now that we know his resolution
    Let’s exercise its conclusion

    Let’s follow Hunter’s object lesson
    if there is no transgression:
    Thomas in an investigative session
    would offer a related impression

    No more obstacles to impinge
    No more worries about the stench
    That base urge for revenge
    now is sanctioned from the bench

    Roberts tells us to embrace
    his very own in-your-face
    promotion of the court’s disgrace
    for Americans in the human race

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Guardian has joined the NYT in the media campaign to oust Joe Biden.

    For three and a half years, Joe Biden was wrapped in a metaphorical ball of cotton wool by an anxious White House staff eager to protect him from the worst of himself.

    That’s Robert Tait’s introductory paragraph. It’s embarrassing how so many in the media are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that they knew all along how fragile and incompetent the most successful president in decades was from the start. Time to call bullshit.


    • timbozone says:

      I wouldn’t but anything past the Trump seditionist gang of dirty tricksters. Still doesn’t explain Biden’s “debating” golf scores on national TV though.

  19. harpie says:

    Where Steve Bannon leaves us Bannonism, and its focus on retribution against Americans who disagree with the MAGA movement, will persist as he serves a four month sentence https://www.mediamatters.org/steve-bannon/where-steve-bannon-leaves-us Madeline Peltz 07/01/24 1:07 PM

    […] Project 2025 is the Trump movement’s vehicle for enacting Bannon’s vision of retaliation, which goes far beyond what’s in the Mandate for Leadership.

    “On the spectrum of MAGA,” he recently told NBC News, “I would say President Trump is a moderate in our movement. And I think the MAGA movement is shifting day by day to the right.” […]

    Under a second Trump presidency, not only would the administration likely draw on the Project 2025 framework, but it would also be under pressure from Bannon and his supporters to go significantly further. […]

    Significantly further that Project 2025.

    • harpie says:

      Peltz links to Charlie KIRK who sent this Xeet just before BANNON went to prison:

      7:20 PM · Jun 28, 2024

      There is VIDEO of BANNON talking to his supporters. This is what BANNON says:

      People ask you what can we do? Listen. Pray for our enemies.

      Don’t, I don’t have time, do not write a letter to me at all. It will not be read. I am not going to take a second to read your letters. I’m not.

      Cause, you know why? I don’t want you taking time to write a letter. I want you to get to work. This is all about victory. This is victory, there is no substitute for victory. There is no substitute for victory. You know that. I know that.

      Use your time, husband your resources and use your time. Your time is not sending me some missive in prison that I’m not gonna read.

      You know why I’m not gonna read? ‘Cause I’m gonna be working outside of my job in prison, I will be working the rest of the hours on what?

      Total and complete victory.

    • harpie says:

      [I put this at the BANNON post, but it goes here as well.]

      In her July 4, 2024 Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson connects

      – SCOTUS Trumpunity and other edicts,
      – Steve [I will “be more powerful in prison than I am now”] BANNON,
      – Kevin ROBERTS and his Project 2025 and its “tight cooperation”
      with [new EU President!] Victor ORBAN:

      […] [ORBAN] will be operating for six months in that position under a slogan taken from Trump and adapted to Europe: “Make Europe Great Again.” The day before taking that office, Orbán announced that his political party was forming a new alliance with far-right parties in Austria and the Czech Republic in order to launch a “new era of European politics.” […]

  20. MsJennyMD says:

    Senate Confirmation Hearing Statements from:
    Kavanaugh – September 2018, “No ones above the law in the United States that’s a foundational principle.”
    Gorsuch – April 2017, “… and nobody is above the law in this country and that includes the President of the United States.”
    Alito – January 2006, “No person in this country no matter how high or powerful is above the law.”
    Roberts – September 2005, “I believe that no one is above the law under our system and that includes the president. The president is fully bound by the law uh the Constitution and statute.”

    • harpie says:

      The Supreme Court Is Fully MAGA-Pilled. The Time for Action Is Now or Never. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2024/07/supreme-court-maga-john-roberts-trump-handmaiden.html Lithwick / Stern July 03, 2024

      […] Someday historians will manage to explain why the same Roberts court that declined to rig the 2020 census in favor of Republicans, declined to intervene in the bogus 2020 election fraud cases, declined to rubber-stamp a wholly fabricated “Independent State Legislature Theory,” and refused to protect from investigation Trump’s personal papers and advisers made the sharp turn in 2024 to become his handmaids.

      At some point the rumors that there was a 3-3-3 court with a careful and moderate center became simply laughable, and those same “moderate” justices made the decision that whatever impulse toward public legitimacy had constrained their conduct in recent years was for suckers:

      Having taken on far too many high-profile game-changing cases, the choice for the 2023–24 term was go big or go home. They went big. […] [internal links removed]

  21. harpie says:

    There’s supposed to be a fight going on between TRUMP and the Christofascists re abortion,
    but Sarah Posner identifies a problem with that story:

    Jul 5, 2024 at 7:47 AM

    Washington Post has more on the story first in Politico the other day about the clashes between the Christian right and the Trump campaign/RNC on platform drafting.

    It’s getting heated, but what will it amount to? [THREAD]

    […] The public outrage from the Christian right is a huge gift to Trump, actually. It makes a rift between him and his extremist base visible to the public, giving him more ammunition to claim he’s more moderate on abortion even than his own party and has power to transform the party itself. 7/x […]

    He’s banking on them sucking it up and submitting to him as usual. They stood by him through everything (pussy-grabbing, Charlottesville, impeachments, and more). He’s counting on them to ultimately give in. In the meantime, the public fight serves two purposes: 15/x

    a) Creating the absolutely false impression Trump has “moderated” on abortion, the proof being the Christian right is really angry with him; and

    b) allowing the Christian right organizations to prove to their funders they haven’t given up the fight criminalize abortion everywhere.

    Fin. 16/16

  22. harpie says:

    Today from NYTimes:

    Varying Treatment of Biden and Trump Puts Their Parties in Stark Relief Republicans and Democrats live in radically different universes, interpreting the same set of facts through radically different lenses. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/07/05/us/politics/biden-trump-parties.html
    Peter Baker July 5, 2024, 5:03 a.m. ET
    [Peter Baker has covered the past five presidents and written multiple books on the presidency.]

    So far, the most highly rated comment:

    A voter // St Louis // 14m ago
    You. You are pushing him out. Your headlines. Your coverage. Not one single negative sentence about Trump. What does that say about our democracy?
    Rich donors and the new media determines our candidate.


    • Rayne says:

      I thought the same thing when I read that Peter Baker bit. The NYT has gone all out to remove Biden from the race but gee, there’s a difference between the varied treatment.

      Duh. Fucking duh.

      • harpie says:

        Yup! At this point, it can only be interpreted as malice, imo.

        [Is there a comment still in the pokey on this post?]

        [FYI – there’s nothing outstanding in the Pending bin, nor in Spam or Trash. ?? /~Rayne 11:33 am ET]

    • harpie says:

      Second most highly rated comment:

      Resistance SF // San Francisco // 19m ago
      Could it also be that the media grades Trump on a curve? I’ve watched a few of Trump’s campaign rallies and half the time; I have no idea what he is talking about. But the press doesn’t obsess over Trump’s missteps like they do with Biden? Why? It seems very unbalanced.

    • harpie says:

      The same thing happened on the Editorial Board’s call for Biden to drop out.
      The most highly rated comment [and it keeps going up]:

      SoBlue // Illinois // June 28
      Has the editorial board asked Trump to step aside for being a felon?
      49 Replies // 11,107 Recommended

      The second most highly rated, which agrees with the Editorial,
      has 2,000 fewer votes than the first.

    • harpie says:

      nycsouthpaw’s comment at BlueSky cued me to look that up.

      Jul 5, 2024 at 12:12 PM

      Due respect to the professor, this is laughable special pleading on behalf of John Roberts—his old boss—whom he repeatedly conflates with the whole court in this piece. [screenshot]

      Arrogating decisions to yourself whenever your evening dose of Fox News convinces you that Trump needs protecting isn’t “statesmanship;” it’s being functionally pro-Trump.

    • harpie says:

      More from Wikipedia:

      He is the 2017 recipient of the Federalist Society’s Paul M. Bator award. [That link is not operable]
      In 2021, Baude, together with fellow faculty members David A. Strauss and Alison LaCroix, was appointed by President Joe Biden to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.
      In August 2023, Social Science Research Network (SSRN) provided access to an article by Baude and fellow legal scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen entitled The Sweep and Force of Section Three that is scheduled for publication in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and outlines how Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution disqualifies Donald Trump and others from holding office because of their participation in the attempt to overturn the election of Joe Biden as president.[17] Legal scholars J. Michael Luttig and Laurance H. Tribe concurred in their article published in The Atlantic on August 19,[18] and on the same date, so did historian Heather Cox Richardson.[19]

      Here’s that HCRichardson link:

    • harpie says:

      From the Richardson link:

      […] This paper was a big deal because while liberal thinkers have been making this argument for a while now, Baude and Paulsen are associated with the legal doctrine of originalism, an approach to the law that insists the Constitution should be understood as those who wrote its different parts understood them. That theory gained traction on the right in the 1980s as a way to push back against what its adherents called “judicial activism,” by which they meant the Supreme Court’s use of the law, especially the Fourteenth Amendment, to expand the rights of minorities and women. One of the key institutions engaged in this pushback was the Federalist Society, and both Baude and Paulson are associated with it.

      Now the two have made a 126-page originalist case that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits Trump from running for president. Their interpretation is undoubtedly correct. But that interpretation has even larger implications than they claim. […]

      • harpie says:

        Richardson, after a short history lesson that begins with the Lincoln assassination:

        […] Republicans in the 1860s would certainly have believed the Fourteenth Amendment covered Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of a presidential election. More, though, that amendment sought to establish, once and for all, the supremacy of the federal government over those who wanted to solidify their power in the states, where they could impose the will of a minority. That concept speaks directly to today’s Republicans. […]

    • harpie says:

      From the BAUDE Op-Ed:

      […] What is going on? Some critics say that everything the court does is generally unprincipled and illegitimate, which is not correct.

      Others may suggest that the court is pro-Trump, that it is twisting the law in order to help the most recent (and potential future) Republican president. But that is highly doubtful, too. Among other things, Chief Justice Roberts, the author of Trump v. United States, was repeatedly attacked by Mr. Trump.

      What is more likely is that in these cases, the court sees itself as trying to save the country from other institutions’ disproportionate responses to Mr. Trump. It believes that lower courts and the Justice Department have succumbed to a version of Trump derangement syndrome, which is said to afflict so many liberal elites and even Never-Trump conservatives.
      It trusts states to handle the homelessness crisis but not ballot access for insurrectionists, even though the Constitution trusts states with both. It trusts juries to handle fines for securities fraud but not punishment for abuse of the presidency, even though the Constitution trusts juries with both.

      When dealing with Mr. Trump in particular, the court is so sure that our other institutions cannot be trusted that it fails to look in the mirror.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Thanks so much for all your work, harpie! Very helpful and much appreciated.

Comments are closed.