Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The plot thickens


We begin today with Hugo Lowell of the Guardian previewing today’s hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol, which will focus on efforts by the Trump Administration to get the Department of Justice to endorse their false election claims.

The panel investigating the Capitol attack is expected at its fifth hearing to focus on how Trump abused the power of the presidency to twist the justice department into endorsing false election claims – and potentially how the Republican congressman Scott Perry sought a pardon for his involvement.

The finer details of the hearing were outlined to the Guardian by two sources close to the inquiry who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details ahead of the hearing. They cautioned that the details might still change.

Among the points the select committee is expected to cover include how Trump pursued a relentless campaign against the leadership of the justice department to more aggressively investigate debunked claims of fraud, and threatened to fire them when they refused.

The foundation of that effort, extraordinary even by the standards of the Trump presidency, culminated in a 3 January 2021 meeting at the White House where Trump almost appointed a loyalist as acting attorney general until the leadership warned of en masse resignations.

Today’s witnesses will include former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel.

Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO report on why the select committee hearings will take a brief hiatus after today’s hearing.

After the committee’s Thursday hearing — which will focus on former President Donald Trump’s effort to deploy the Justice Department to help overturn the 2020 presidential election — House investigators will resume hearings in July, Thompson said.

Thompson (D-Miss.) cited newly received footage from documentarian Alex Holder, who had access to Trump and his family before and after Jan. 6; new documents from the National Archives; and a flood of new tips received during the committee’s first four public hearings.

Although panel leaders have only teased the possibility of two public hearings beyond Thursday’s, Thompson said they may add one or more hearings, depending on the evidence it collects in the coming weeks. The House is scheduled to leave town for two weeks beginning Friday and to return on July 12. Thompson said the panel’s hearings would likely resume “after the recess.”

Spencer Hsu, Josh Dawsey, and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post report that, in the meantime, the FBI has issued subpoenas to several state-level officials reportedly involved in the false electors scam.

Agents conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at different locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Among those who received a subpoena Wednesday was David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who served as a Trump elector in that state, people familiar with the investigation said. Shafer’s lawyer declined to comment.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan received subpoenas, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But it was not immediately clear whether that activity was related to a federal probe or a state-level criminal inquiry.

Amanda Marcotte of Salon notes that the ordeal that Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Lady Ruby Freeman endured at the hands of Trump, Giuliani, and Fox News was good old-fashioned white supremacy.

Moss and Freeman were singled out for the same reason that Fox News runs endlessly ridiculous segments villainizing Vice President Kamala Harris for every sneeze or smile. She was targeted for the same reason Republicans turned the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson into a circus of white resentment. Trump zeroed in on these two women for the same reason he spent years hyping the ridiculous conspiracy that President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen of the United States. It’s all a head nod in the direction of the unspeakable but clearly animating belief of MAGA nation: People of color are not legitimate American citizens.

Moss and Freeman were singled out for the same reason that Fox News runs endlessly ridiculous segments villainizing Vice President Kamala Harris for every sneeze or smile. She was targeted for the same reason Republicans turned the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson into a circus of white resentment. Trump zeroed in on these two women for the same reason he spent years hyping the ridiculous conspiracy that President Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen of the United States. It’s all a head nod in the direction of the unspeakable but clearly animating belief of MAGA nation: People of color are not legitimate American citizens.

The background articles giving context to Moss’ testimony were a brutal reminder of what unsubtle and noxious racists both Trump and Giuliani are. Falsely accusing Freeman of supposedly passing thumb drives to Moss (it was actually candy), Giuliani literally used the phrase “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine” during a hearing with Georgia lawmakers. He was leaving nothing to chance in trying to make this conspiracy theory go viral on the right. Trump referred to Freeman as a “hustler” in his infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The over-the-top racism worked, as the lie crashed through right-wing social media like a tsunami, resulting in the horrendous abuse and threats to her life that Moss recounted Tuesday.  

David A. Graham of The Atlantic says that the depths of GOP moral depravity are revealed by the fact that in spite of the abuse that was heaped upon Rusty Bowers and Bowers’ family by Trump and the MAGA crowd— abuse which occurred even on the very day of the hearing—  Bowers says that would vote for Trump again.

Bowers’s testimony was powerful because it was somber, serious, and clearly heartfelt. This is also why it was threatening to Trump, who issued a statement before the hearing even began, attacking Bowers and claiming he’d agreed with Trump that the election was rigged. Under oath, Bowers said flatly that Trump’s account was false.

And yet in an interview with the Associated Press published yesterday, Bowers also said he would back Trump if he runs for president in 2024. “If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the country. In my view it was great.” […]

But Bowers’s ambivalence is more disturbing and perhaps more frightening because his words and actions suggest a greater integrity and seriousness. This is a man who testified that Trump pressured him to break the law and his own religious views in service of an agenda that included, Giuliani told him, “lots of theories,” but “we just don’t have the evidence.” A man who was subject to threats and intimidation by armed protesters even as his daughter lay dying in his home, and who was falsely labeled a pedophile. A man about whom Trump had lied on the very day of his testimony.

That’s insane.

Renée Graham of the Boston Globe says that the “Trumpublicans” are throwing Republicans by the wayside.

Texas Republicans ended their convention with an aggressively far-right party platform that “rejects the certified results of the 2020 presidential election,” condemns “homosexuality” as an “abnormal lifestyle choice,” wants schoolchildren to “learn about the humanity of the pre-born child,” and wants the already gutted 1965 Voting Rights Act to be “repealed” and “not reauthorized.”

The Lone Star state should change its unofficial motto “Don’t Mess with Texas” to “Texas Is a Mess.” But such off-the-rails extremism isn’t confined to one state. We’re deep into the part of “Psycho” where “Mother” has completely overtaken Norman Bates.

“Mother,” of course, is Trump — twice impeached, booted from the White House by more than 81 million voters, and (if Attorney General Merrick Garland can be roused to act) perhaps some day facing indictment for his multiple schemes to subvert democracy and overturn the 2020 election. Instead of rejecting Trump in 2015, Republicans saw an opportunity to regain executive power by coddling white supremacy and this nation’s most base instincts. Now the monster they unleashed is turning its fangs on the party that created it.

Robert Rigby writes for LGBTQ Nation about why he is leaving the teaching profession after more than two decades of service.

I’ve been a leader in Fairfax County Virginia and the DC Metro area in advocacy for LGBTQ issues and other marginalized folks for more than two decades. We’ve been through several waves of book-banning, anti-LGBTQ rallies, and large threatening crowds. Earlier in life, I was involved in what we called “reparative therapy” and “conversion ministries” for 15 years. I was a closeted queer student at Dartmouth when Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza led an outside newspaper about the college, with weekly attacks on queer and Black students and teachers. My teenage years were spent in Florida during the heyday of Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign.

Education for me now is worse than any of that. This is happening in a school system in Virginia in 2022, eight miles from the dome of the U.S. Capitol (which is not immune from assault either, we have seen). In Fairfax, a very blue, progressive, diverse suburban county, we thought we were immune to the extremism; we thought we were past that. We have two queer people on the board and two parents of queer children. Nondiscrimination policies, health benefits, and some support for LGBTQ students and staff have been in place for years.

But then the public screaming about pedophilia and rape started. Books were banned and restored, yet week after week, month after month, we continued to hear about the evils of homosexuality, how queer and allied teachers are groomers, how wealthy white children are the true victims of racism, and Black and brown students get special favors. There was a memorable moment when a virulent person told parents and their disabled children that they were going to hell because of the Pride shirts they were wearing.

Abby Vesoulis of Mother Jones reports that Republican-controlled states will not comply with the red flag incentive component of the new gun control legislation that passed the U.S. Senate.

In a deadlocked Congress that has struggled to pass bills to keep kids fed and local governments running, the Uvalde shooting spurred momentum for this package to come together, though it falls short of many Democrats’ goals. The House, with its stronger Democratic majority, was able to pass a slate of gun control measures immediately after the Texas shooting that would have blocked semiautomatic rifle sales to people under the age of 21, created stricter gun storage regulations, and outlawed the sale of magazines holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. That package stood no chance in the evenly divided Senate, where most bills have to garner the support of at least 60 senators because of the filibuster. An idea to create a national red flag law emerged in the hours immediately following the Uvalde shooting, but Democratic lawmakers saw both logistical challenges to that proposal and political ones.

Thus, optional funding for states to create their own red flag laws seemed like the safest bet to get anything across the finish line with Republicans wary of taking any action on guns, lest they lose their re-elections. Tellingly, several of the GOP senators in the bipartisan Uvalde-response contingent are retiring.

But while the incentive money could be used to help states that already have red flag laws, half a dozen state lawmakers and experts tell Mother Jones it is unlikely federal funding will persuade states that don’t already have red flag laws to create them.

Jessica Parker of BBC News reports that Ukraine will be approved as a candidate to join the European Union.

Ukraine is set to be approved as an EU candidate at a Brussels summit on Thursday, after the European Commission gave the green light.

Ukraine applied days after the Russian invasion in February, and the process has since moved at a record speed.

Its ambassador to the EU told the BBC it would be a psychological boost for Ukrainians.

But Vsevolod Chentsov admitted “real integration” could only start when the war was over.

Candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership and France said this week there was “total consensus” on Ukraine. But it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee of success.

The Western Balkan countries of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have been candidate countries for years; in some cases for over a decade. Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for candidacy in 2016 but has still not succeeded.

Anna Fil of Deutsche Welle reports on Russian POW’s in Ukraine that were given permission to talk to DW.

DW interviewed four prisoners after they gave their consent; they were all professional soldiers and had nothing to hide, they said.

“Honestly, we were deceived,” Roman, who is from Vyborg in Russia, tells us. “In the beginning, we were told it was about humanitarian things. But I was immediately sent to the front lines.” Roman was injured during fighting in the Kharkiv region. The Ukrainian military, he says, took him along and provided medical care.

On the other hand, Artyom, another prisoner, says he made a conscious decision to take part in the “special military operation” against Ukraine. (Editor’s note: This is the official Kremlin term for Russia’s war against Ukraine.) […]

Asked why he went to Ukraine, Artyom says: “On television, they tell us that we are supposedly fighting for a good cause but in reality that is not the case at all. It was only here that I realized that.”

Artyom calls the Russian army “looters and murderers” when speaking with DW.

Finally today, The Grammarian, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, indicates where the San Francisco School District got it wrong and pop star Lizzo got it right.

Late last month, the San Francisco Unified School District announced that, out of respect for Native Americans, it was eliminating the word chief from employees’ job titles: chief of staff, chief technology officer, etc.

It’s the kind of language decision that ignores language itself in favor of political posturing.

Claims of offensiveness surrounding chief disregard the word’s etymology, which is essential in determining intent, not to mention its myriad definitions that have nothing to do with Native Americans.

The word chief comes from Middle English, and before that, Old French. It dates to 1297 — almost 200 years before English speakers met Native Americans. Shakespeare was fond of it.

I remembered one occurrence of the word in Shakespeare in one of the more famous soliloquies in Hamlet ; The Bard did use the word frequently.

And while I would not call, say, Whoopi Goldberg or any other female comedian hysterical based simply on the etymology of the word, if someone says something that makes me ROFL, I’d use it.

Context is everything.

Everyone have a good day!



Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.