Trump enters the stage

Discussion of the recent unfolding of history.

Re: Trump enters the stage - Class Act?

Postby Meno_ » Tue Feb 16, 2021 4:23 pm

What you could see and hear in the Senate as Republicans broke wi...
OPINION
Block Trump from office with the 14th Amendment's aiding an insurrection exclusion
Republicans subscribed to Trump like he was a cable package, and paid an extraordinary price to be the governing party. They can bring an end to this soon.

CHRIS DEATON | OPINION CONTRIBUTOR | 34 minutes ago


False rumors swirled that President Trump invoked the Insurrection Act after riots at the U.S. Capitol. Here's what you should know about the act.
USA TODAY
Taking Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at his word, the buck for former President Donald Trump’s incitement of the U.S. Capitol mob should stop somewhere — just not in his house.


“He didn’t get away with anything yet,” McConnell said on Saturday evening, after enough Republican senators voted to acquit the former president of an impeachment charge. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

Stipulated. But we still have a Congress, too.

McConnell made the case that Trump was guilty of an offense punishable by more than a Senate floor speech. The upshot of the top Senate Republican’s remarks is that he believes Trump is the but-for cause of the Jan. 6 insurrection, whose participants assaulted the Capitol “in his name,” carried “his banners,” hung “his flags” and screamed “their loyalty — to him.” His assessment was plain: “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

Options beyond censure, conviction
The question was left open, though, of who is responsible for penalizing the provocation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the idea of a congressional censure: “We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”

McConnell’s suggestion that district attorneys’ offices could take it from here if they choose is accurate — but it also reveals his perspective that Congress’ work is finished in the meantime.

It shouldn’t be. By the GOP’s timid standards, McConnell’s comments and the surprising seven Republican votes for conviction were an authorization for use of political force against the former president. Now, more than at any point in the previous four years, there appears to be a window for bipartisan accountability on Capitol Hill.

If Congress lacked accountability mechanisms other than impeachment or censure, it’d be one thing. But it’s not wanting for options.


President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence with leading Senate Republicans in 2019 at the U.S. Capitol.
ALEX BRANDON/AP
One of them is enforcement of Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which states that no state or federal office holder “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

In other words: No second chance to place your hand on the Bible and repeat after the judge if you were an insurrectionist the first go-round. This novel idea was floated by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Tim Kaine, D-Va. It merits widespread consideration now, given how it meshes with the emerging Republican position on Trump’s culpability for Jan. 6 and Congress’ capability for responding to it.

The idea moots three Republican concerns: procedural, constitutional and political.

First, is there a procedural problem? No. Forty-four Senate Republicans voted that Trump’s most recent impeachment trial was unconstitutional, but a Section Three vote is entirely different. There is no constitutional roadblock to taking up congressional enforcement of a constitutional provision itself.

Acquitted: Shared identity and fear of Trump kept most Republicans in line

Second, is the idea constitutionally unassailable? Yes. Section Three, about aiding an insurrection, relates to a judgment of Congress, not a criminal court. The House and Senate could pass a resolution that states the facts about Trump’s conduct leading up to and on Jan. 6, for example, and concludes that Section Three disqualifies him from holding office in the future.

The implications of this would be political, not criminal. It would allow state officials to call into question the legitimacy of a hypothetical Trump campaign or complicate his ballot access. Congress could approve a similar measure that permits the attorney general to render an opinion about an office seeker’s eligibility under Section Three. These are not judicial branch judgments originating from the legislative branch, and do not create constitutional problems.

Trump is not a cable package
And finally, is this politically feasible? It is. Congress already voted on language to bar Trump from future office. Such a section was included in the House’s impeachment article.

Seventeen Republicans voted in favor of it: 10 in the House; seven in the Senate. That should represent a floor, not a ceiling, for Section Three legislation. Only three more Senate Republicans would need to support the measure for the chamber to surpass a required 60-vote threshold to consider legislation of this type.

Congressional action on Section Three is the natural endpoint of Republicans’ distinguishing between Trump’s legacy and Trump the person. For the entirety of his presidential term, most Republicans subscribed to him as if he were a cable package. Many just wanted the tax reform. But to remain in his good graces, they supported him not only for signing legislation.

Trump's two impeachments: Republicans can't be trusted with our democracy

They also signed up for the international and science bundle. They defended him through the Russia investigation and Ukraine impeachment, the bullying of governors and pushing of pseudo-medicine during the coronavirus pandemic, “the tweets” and “very fine people” and, ultimately, “stop the steal.” This was the extraordinary price for Republican governance.

Those days can end soon. As presidential hopeful and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said to Politico: “Take the good that he built, leave the bad that he did, and get back to a place where we can be a good, valuable, effective party.”

Congressional Republicans should make the distinction now — and not just “leave” the bad but punish it. “Good” political parties keep their houses in order.



© Copyright Gannett 2021



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The Guardian - Back to home


Supporters wait for Donald Trump to drive by in West Palm Beach, Florida on 15 February 2021.
Show caption

Trump remains 2024 candidate of choice for most Republicans, poll shows
59% of Republican voters said they wanted Trump to play prominent role in party, but tens of thousands left after Capitol riot

Tue 16 Feb 2021 10.01 EST


If the 2024 Republican presidential primary were held today, Donald Trump would be the clear favorite to win big. That was the message from a Politico-Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday, three days after Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial, on a charge of inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January.

Wall Street Journal warns Republicans: ‘Trump won’t win another election’
Among Republican voters, 59% said they wanted Trump to play a prominent role in their party, up a whopping 18 points from the last such poll, taken in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. A slightly lower number, 54%, said they would back Trump in the primary.

Tens of thousands of Republicans left the party after the Capitol insurrection, and a majority of Americans have told other pollsters they would like to see Trump banished from politics.

Though the 45th president will be 78 by election day 2024, he will be able to run again if he chooses, having escaped being barred from office after a 57-43 Senate vote to convict – with seven Republican defections but 10 votes short of the majority needed.

Mike Pence’s life was threatened by Trump supporters at the Capitol, as the vice-president presided over the ratification of electoral college results confirming Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden. He placed second in the Politico-Morning Consult poll, with 12%.

Name recognition is a powerful force so far out from the contest concerned. Donald Trump Jr shared third place, with 6%, with Nikki Haley. The former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador has tried to distance herself from Trump since the Capitol riot.

“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” Haley told Politico shortly after the attack. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

She also said Trump was “not going to run for federal office again”. Trump has not committed either way. After his acquittal, he told supporters: “Soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant and limitless American future.”

In a message seen by the Guardian on Monday, one former Trump White House insider said a run was “gonna happen … or he will be drafted”.

Mitt Romney, a figure from the Republican past as the 2012 nominee but now a Utah senator who has twice voted to convict Trump on impeachment charges, scored 4% in the new poll. Ted Cruz of Texas, one of the senators who backed Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat, scored 3%. Josh Hawley of Missouri, the other prominent Republican in objections to election results, was in a pack of names lower even than that.

The battle for the soul of the party is on. On Monday, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell followed an editorial in the Wall Street Journal which said Trump would not win another national election with a column of his own.

McConnell restated his argument, made in a Senate speech in which he otherwise excoriated Trump, that Trump’s acquittal was a matter of constitutional law. Scholars, and the Senate twice, have rejected the argument that Trump could not be tried because he had left office.

McConnell has also made clear that he will oppose pro-Trump candidates seeking Republican nominations in the 2022 midterms, if he thinks they would damage chances of beating a Democrat

© 2021 Guardian News & Media Limited
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Re: Trump enters the stage - ....and the beat goes on...

Postby Meno_ » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:15 pm

Impeachment is over. The 2020 election? Not yet
Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell as each seeks to exert leadership after impeachment trial



Moments after voting to acquit Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for the deadly Capitol riot. Still, he said conviction would be unconstitutional. (Feb. 13)
AP
WASHINGTON – Seeking to keep control of a divided Republican Party, Donald Trump on Tuesday attacked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – the GOP's highest-ranking elected official – after comments he made about Trump's culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.


"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump said in a written statement put out by a political action committee called the "Save America PAC."

In a stark statement that laid bare the party's fractiousness over Trump, the ex-president described McConnell as a "hack" who will not be able to lead the Republican Party back to victory. Division within the party has been on full display since the Capitol riots, after which 10 House Republicans voted to impeach him and seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him at his impeachment trial Saturday, when he was acquitted.

The statement came three days after McConnell criticized Trump over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, even as he voted to acquit the former president at the impeachment trial. McConnell said he did so because he did not think it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a former president.

The Senate Republican leader did, however, hold Trump responsible for the attack, saying Trump's false claims of fraud in his election loss to Joe Biden inspired extremist followers to commit violence.

"This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decisions or else torch our institutions on the way out," McConnell said on Saturday.

Trump has not spoken on camera since leaving the White House. His office has put out written statements under his name, as it did after the Senate acquittal vote on Saturday.

Trump thanked Republicans who supported him and, suggesting a future run, said the political movement he began with his 2016 election has "only just begun."

So far, at least, Trump is winning the internal battle with Republicans who want him to go away. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Tuesday said that "a majority of Republican voters (54 percent) said they would support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election."

Republicans who back McConnell said Trump is the one who caused the GOP to lose control of Congress and the White House during last year's elections.

"I love Trump warning about the demise of a party that just lost the House, Senate, and White House under him," tweeted Brendan Buck, a former spokesman for GOP House speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

Buck later added: "I am so here for this conflict and so Team Mitch."

Then-President Donald Trump and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2017.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
More: Mitch McConnell votes to acquit but says Trump's actions were a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty'

More: Republican leader Mitch McConnell: Attack at the Capitol was ‘provoked by the president’

In his written statement on Tuesday, Trump did not mention McConnell's impeachment comments. He instead accused McConnell of practicing "business as usual" politics, and failing to stand up to Chinese trade practices.

Trump also blamed McConnell for Republicans losing control of the Senate, something for which McConnell holds Trump responsible. The Senate Republican leader has suggested that the party needs to move past Trump as it tries to regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections.

Trump has vowed to support primary challengers to Republican lawmakers who either supported impeachment or refused to help him overturn the election. The latter group includes state officials like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who Trump criticized as "inept" in his statement.

More: A bloody insurrection, a deadly pandemic: Historians weigh in on Trump's legacy after his acquittal

More: 'Tribalism is a hell of a drug.' Trump impeachment trial reopens GOP battle lines even as he is acquitted

Trump also plans to get involved in the congressional elections, and may seek to win the presidency again in 2024.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack," Trump said, "and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."

Seven Republicans were among the 57 senators who found Trump guilty of inciting the riot, but conviction required 67 votes, two-thirds of the Senate.

If the Senate had voted to convict, it could also have disqualified Trump from holding office in the future, nullifying a 2024 presidential run.

As the Democratic-led House moved to impeach Trump in mid-January, McConnell at one point said he had not decided on the president's guilt. After his acquittal vote, McConnell made clear he based his decision on the belief that the trial was unconstitutional, not Trump's guilt.

"Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty," McConnell said in his speech.



© Copyright Gannett 2021
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Re: Trump enters the stage - GOP big split

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:13 am

Impeachment is over. The 2020 election? Not yet
Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell as each seeks to exert leadership after impeachment trial
DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 7 hours ago


Moments after voting to acquit Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for the deadly Capitol riot. Still, he said conviction would be unconstitutional.
AP

WASHINGTON – Seeking to keep control of a divided Republican Party, Donald Trump on Tuesday attacked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – the GOP's highest-ranking elected official – after comments he made about Trump's culpability for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.


"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump said in a statement put out by a political action committee called the Save America PAC.

In stark terms that laid bare the party's fractiousness over Trump, the ex-president described McConnell as a "hack" who will not be able to lead Republicans back to victory. Division within the party has been on full display since the Capitol riots, after which 10 House Republicans voted to impeach him and seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him at his impeachment trial Saturday, when he was acquitted.

The statement came three days after McConnell criticized Trump over the attack on the Capitol, though he voted to acquit at the impeachment trial. McConnell said he did so because he did not think it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a former president.

The Senate Republican leader held Trump responsible for the attack, saying his false claims of fraud in the election he lost to Joe Biden inspired extremist followers to commit violence.

"This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decisions or else torch our institutions on the way out," McConnell said Saturday.

Trump has not spoken on camera since leaving the White House. His office has put out statements under his name, as it did after the Senate acquittal vote Saturday.

Trump thanked Republicans who supported him and suggesting a future run, he said the political movement that started with his 2016 election has "only just begun."

Trump is winning the internal battle against Republicans who want him to go away. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Tuesday said, "A majority of Republican voters (54 percent) said they would support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election."

Republicans who back McConnell said Trump caused the GOP to lose control of Congress and the White House during last year's elections.

"I love Trump warning about the demise of a party that just lost the House, Senate, and White House under him," tweeted Brendan Buck, a former spokesman for GOP House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

Buck said, "I am so here for this conflict and so Team Mitch."

While Donald Trump was in office, he and Republican leader Mitch McConnell were allies for the most part. After election losses, the Capitol riot and the former president's impeachment, their relationship has soured.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
More: Mitch McConnell votes to acquit but says Trump's actions were a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty'

Republican leader Mitch McConnell: Attack at the Capitol was ‘provoked by the president’

In his statement Tuesday, Trump did not mention McConnell's impeachment comments. He accused the Kentucky senator of practicing "business as usual" politics and failing to stand up to Chinese trade practices.

Trump blamed McConnell for Republicans losing control of the Senate, something for which McConnell holds Trump responsible. The Senate Republican leader suggested the party needs to move past Trump as it tries to regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections.

Trump vowed to support primary challengers to Republican lawmakers who supported impeachment or refused to help him overturn the election. The latter group includes Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump criticized as "inept" in his statement.

A bloody insurrection, a deadly pandemic: Historians weigh in on Trump's legacy after his acquittal

'Tribalism is a hell of a drug.' Trump impeachment trial reopens GOP battle lines even as he is acquitted

Trump plans to get involved in the congressional elections and may seek the presidency again in 2024.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack," Trump said, "and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."

Seven Republicans were among the 57 senators who found Trump guilty of inciting the riot, but conviction required 67 votes, two-thirds of the Senate.

If the Senate had voted to convict, it could have disqualified Trump from holding office, nullifying a 2024 presidential run.

As the Democratic-led House moved to impeach Trump in mid-January, McConnell said he had not decided on the president's guilt. After his acquittal vote, McConnell made clear he based his decision on the belief that the trial was unconstitutional, not Trump's guilt.

"Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty," McConnell said."



© Copyright Gannett 2021



Some Republican bigwigs say MCconnell is dead in the water without Trump, who now wants him out.
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Re: Trump enters the stage Dr.Fauci troubles

Postby Meno_ » Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:14 pm

NewsWorldAmericasUS politics

Fauci on the differences between Trump and Biden administrations
Dr Fauci says Trump did ‘terrible things’ to him and now has to live under armed security
The doctor said he has been living under the protection of armed security since last April

The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. To support truly independent journalism, please consider making a contribution or taking a subscription.

Donald Trump would do "terrible things" anytime Dr Anthony Fauci disagreed with him publicly, the doctor revealed in a recently released interview.

The Mr Trump's antagonistic behaviour towards Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, inspired his supporters to do the same. Now, Dr Fauci has to live under the care of armed guards since last April.


During an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Fauci - who became a household name thanks to his press conference appearances in the early days of the coronavirus's spread throughout the US, often times looking dismayed by Mr Trump's comments - said the former president was vindictive and used his loyalists in other government offices to undermine him.

“Like he allowed [White House trade adviser] Peter Navarro to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong,” the doctor said. “He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.”

Read more
Dr Fauci says Trump gave up fighting the pandemic once he lost the election
Dr Fauci laughs after learning the meaning of new dating term ‘Fauci-ing’
Fauci awarded $1m Israeli prize for public health career and ‘speaking truth to power’ during pandemic
Mr Trump's frustration with Dr Fauci quickly became apparent as the doctor regularly contradicted him and quickly became liberal Americans' preferred source of information regarding the pandemic. Dr Fauci became a minor celebrity, while Mr Trump faced mountain of criticism for his botched response to the pandemic.

Eventually, Mr Trump sidelined Dr Fauci, barring him from further public appearances, and replaced him with Dr Scott Atlas, who was loyal to the president.

Mr Atlas had no expertise in infectious diseases and often parroted whatever talking point Mr Trump was pushing at the time.

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Dr Fauci - who has worked with six presidents - said Mr Trump was not the first president he struggled to work alongside.

In the 1980's, Dr Fauci was serving under former President Ronald Reagan, and recalled the Republican's reluctance to take the AIDS crisis ravaging the LBGT community seriously.

Even still, Dr Fauci felt his relationship with that president was significantly better than the one he shared with Mr Trump, claiming Mr Reagan "never did anything to obstruct what I was trying to do."

He said Mr Trump's reliance on bunk "science" and insistence on repeating conspiracy theories directly undermined his attempts to let facts guide the country's coronavirus response.

“I was trying to let science guide our policy, but [Mr Trump] was putting as much stock in anecdotal things that turned out not to be true as he was in what scientists like myself were saying,” Dr Fauci said. “That caused unnecessary and uncomfortable conflict where I had to essentially correct what he was saying, and put me at great odds with his people.”

Mr Trump became fed up with Dr Fauci questioning and correcting him, and disparaged him both privately and publicly.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Mr Trump said during a call with his staffers last year. “Fauci is a disaster.

The president also complained about the positive media attention Dr Fauci received.

Near the end of his time in office, Mr Trump - who was still convinced he would have a second term - openly pondered firing Dr Fauci.


Dr Fauci admits he worried about contracting Covid-19 in Trump White House
Double-masking: Should you wear two face masks to protect against Covid? Dr Fauci suggests it ‘makes sense’
The fight against vaccine hesitancy is more important than ever
Mr Trump's former strategist and ally, Steve Bannon, agreed with the idea and wanted it to be taken an extreme step further; he called for the doctor's head to be posted on a spike outside the White House.

“Now I actually want to go a step farther, but I realize the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man,” Mr Bannon said. “I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England, I’d put the heads on pikes, right, I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats. You either get with the program or you’re gone – time to stop playing games.”

Dr Fauci called the comments "very unusual."
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Re: Trump enters the stage - The new justice?

Postby Meno_ » Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:33 pm

Merrick Garland: What to know about Biden's Attorney General pick
Trump's fate hangs over attorney general nominee Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing
KEVIN JOHNSON AND BART JANSEN | USA TODAY | 2 hours ago


Merrick Garland, Biden's attorney general pick, has a long history with the Justice Department. Here are three things to know about Judge Garland.
USA TODAY
When Merrick Garland accepted President Joe Biden’s nomination to serve as attorney general, the federal appeals court judge said he looked forward to a Justice Department “homecoming” where he first began in the Carter administration.


Yet any celebration marking his return to Main Justice – 24 years after departing for the federal bench – could be short-lived.

Not since Watergate has any attorney general nominee faced the kinds of questions awaiting Garland as he prepares to take his seat Monday for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Opener: What Garland plans to say at anticipated confirmation hearing

DOJ: The Justice Department urgently needs a reset. Enter Merrick Garland. Is he up for it?

The rolling crisis that defined the Justice Department and its relationship with former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly sought to bend the agency to serve his political interests, is now just one of many challenges facing the nominee.


Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
SUSAN WALSH, AP
Last month, a resurgent domestic extremist movement was thrust into public view during the deadly Capitol siege. The stunning assault has launched federal law enforcement authorities on one of the most far-reaching investigations in history while raising deeper concerns about the government’s capacity to contain the threat.

Conspiracy case: 6 more associated with Oath Keepers charged

As senators weigh confirmation, Garland is certain to be confronted with pointed inquiries about whether Justice should investigate, and potentially prosecute Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 riots that left five dead, including a Capitol police officer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all but threw Trump’s fate to the Justice Department last week when the former president was acquitted by the Senate at his impeachment trial.

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said following the Senate trial. “No question about it ... He didn’t get away with anything, yet. We still have a criminal justice system in this country. We still have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”


More: Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell as each seeks to exert leadership after impeachment trial

While there is little open opposition to Garland's nomination, a striking departure from 2016 when President Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court was blocked by a Republican-controlled Senate, the contentious nature of the challenges before him now make Monday's hearing perhaps the most anticipated of any Biden Cabinet nominee.

What to know: Who is Merrick Garland, the attorney general nominee?

Should DOJ pick up where Trump's Senate impeachment left off?
At virtually every opportunity since the close of Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, the Biden administration has deflected questions about the former president's potential criminal vulnerability for inciting the Jan. 6 riots.

More: Trump impeachment trial vote acquits him in historic second impeachment proceeding

"We're doing something new here," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, adding that an "independent Justice Department (would) determine what any path forward and any investigation would look like."

Aside from the not-so-subtle dig at the Trump White House, which routinely intervened in some of the most politically sensitive matters at Justice, Psaki effectively put the department — and Garland — in the hot seat.


Pending confirmation, it now will be largely Garland's call on a criminal investigation and the resulting shadow Trump may cast on the new administration.

As much as Biden has sought to rid Justice of the kind of politicization that marked the Trump Justice Department — from the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey for his management of the Russia investigation to dropping the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn — any decision involving Trump is fraught with political implications.

William Yeomans, a former Justice official whose service spanned the administrations of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, said that if the facts ultimately lead to Trump, the former president "must be held accountable."

House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
GETTY
"It has been and must remain a fundamental tenet of our adherence to the rule of law that we do not tolerate the use of the prosecution power to target individuals simply because they are political opponents," Yeomans said. "That generally means we must proceed with care in prosecuting a former president, particularly one of a different political party. But, it does not mean that a former president whose crimes are uncovered by a fair and full investigation should escape accountability."


Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and faced difficult questions about the administration's torture policies during his Senate confirmation hearing, said Garland should not commit "one way or the other" on the possible legal jeopardy facing Trump.

"Given the political nature of the case and the public interest, he may commit or at least say he would consider appointing a career prosecutor to make an initial assessment (on) whether a formal investigation should be commenced," said Gonzales, one of two Republican attorneys general who have announced their support for Garland.

More: Gonzales, 3 other ex-attorneys general sign letter of support for Garland

At the same time, Gonzales said Garland "may be pressured by Republicans to formally recuse himself from the final decision whether to prosecute."

"I am not aware of any legitimate reason he would be required to do so under DOJ regulations if he wants to make this decision," Gonzales said. "There is no financial, political or personal reason I know of to recuse. But he will be pressed about this."


Can DOJ rebuild White House firewall?
On the campaign trail, Biden said the Justice Department had been transformed into the "president's private law firm" under Trump, who casually penetrated the institutional firewall with a well aimed tweet.

"I want to be clear to those who lead this department (about) who you will serve," Biden said when introducing Garland as his nominee Jan. 7. "You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice."

Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
View | 9 Photos
Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
Garland has taken his lead from Biden, drawing stark parallels to the post-Watergate era when Justice faced a similar challenge to separate itself from the raw political interests of a president.

While accepting the nomination, he invoked the name of Edward Levi, the revered former attorney general nominated by President Gerald Ford to restore the department's credibility following the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


"As Ed Levi said at his own swearing in, 'Nothing can more weaken the quality of life, or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear, than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose,'" Garland said, quoting the former attorney general.

If confirmed, Garland said it would be "my mission ... to reaffirm those policies as the principles upon which the department operates."

Hunter Biden and Durham probes continue
A test of that commitment looms with the continuing federal tax investigation involving the president's son, Hunter Biden, and the pending inquiry into the origins of the Russian investigation led by Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham, appointed by former Trump Attorney General William Barr.

President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
USA TODAY
Before departing in December, Barr resisted Trump's calls to appoint a special prosecutor in the Biden case.


At the time, Barr said the investigation was being handled "responsibly and professionally" by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

Although all presidentially appointed federal prosecutors are expected to submit their resignations during transitions to new administrations, the Biden administration said the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney leading the Hunter Biden inquiry and Durham would remain to complete their work.

"These were decisions that were made in order to fulfill (Biden's) promise of maintaining independence and ensuring that he sent that message and every action that was taken," Psaki said earlier this month.

The enemy within: Is domestic terror law now necessary?
The Capitol assault was still fresh when a long-simmering debate began anew: Is federal law enforcement adequately equipped to confront the resurgent domestic terror threat.


The question, which has prompted new calls for equal penalties for both domestic and international terror offenses, is certain to spill into the Senate hearing for Garland, who during his previous Justice tenure, oversaw the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing — the most deadly domestic terror attack in U.S. history.

In remarks prepared for delivery at Monday's Senate hearing, Garland cast the fight against extremism as "central" to the department's mission.

"We have to do something," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said this month during the first congressional examination of the domestic threat following the Jan. 6 attack. Thompson has since sued Trump and Giuliani.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT, AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
More: After massacres and thwarted plots, federal authorities confront limits in fighting domestic terror


For some, including Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a former chairman of the Homeland panel, the remedies should include legislation that treats domestic terrorists no differently than their international counter-parts.

During the Homeland panel hearing, McCaul said the Capitol attack "cries out" for such action.

"I think it sends a strong message about where Congress is that we treat domestic terrorism on an equal plane as international terrorism," McCaul said.


U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, shown at an August 2019 meeting, said this week an Austin company is making progress toward a COVID-19 treatment.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN FILE
More: Domestic extremism has become 'mainstream,' could threaten American life for 20 years

While domestic terror is codified in federal law as an effort to "intimidate or coerce" a civilian population or government, there are no corresponding criminal penalties to back it. That has forced law enforcement to head off potential threats with the tools at their disposal, including leaning on the public to provide tips and charging suspects with violating weapons laws, hate crimes or illegal threats in the absence of a domestic terrorism charge.

The government has moved to thwart right-wing extremism when it appeared to be on the precipice of violence, though authorities face significant limits in the form of free speech rights.


And some fear that a revamped domestic terrorism law raises the prospect of formally designating groups as domestic terror organizations, similar to ISIS or al-Qaeda, merely because their messages may be repulsive.

Brian Jenkins, a longtime terror analyst and senior adviser at the Rand Corp., said any effort to single out specific domestic groups may only deepen the country's partisan divide.

"While (a domestic terror law) looks like an attractive option now, it may not be easily applied," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Garland, whose prosecutorial experience is steeped in domestic terrorism, may be uniquely suited to confront the current threat environment.


Deputy U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, left, and interim U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan answer questions during a news conference May 18, 1995, in El Reno, Okla. Garland, a Harvard lawyer, was the Justice Department's point man on the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
DAVID LONGSTREATH/AP
"This is someone who oversaw the investigation of Timothy McVeigh who was charged, convicted and ultimately executed for carrying out the worst domestic attack in U.S. history," Jenkins said, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber. "And Garland did that without a domestic terrorism law."

Are troubled police agencies back in DOJ's crosshairs?
Garland’s nomination follows a summer of racial justice protests, prompted by deaths and injuries of Black men and women during police encounters.

While the incidents highlighted troubling law enforcement tactics, they also called attention to the Trump Justice Department's departure from enforcement strategies that had sought to hold police agencies accountable for misconduct.

The Trump administration launched one investigation into a law enforcement agency during its four years, compared to 25 inquiries into "patterns and practices" of conduct in police agencies during eight years of the Obama administration.


Civil rights advocates have argued that Trump's deference to law enforcement has seriously undercut confidence in policing in Black communities, and Biden has vowed new scrutiny of police tactics led by a re-invigorated Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

If confirmed, it would be up to Garland, however, to set the tone on how aggressively to pursue those priorities.

"That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice," Garland's prepared remarks state. "Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change."

More: 12 charts that show how racial disparities persist

Paul Butler, a Georgetown University law professor who prosecuted public corruption at the Justice Department, said Biden recognizes that policing problems are worse than “a few bad apples.”


“I think that will be a new and unique opportunity for the attorney general because no president has described bias in the terms that Biden has used, including frequently referencing white supremacy and systemic racism,” Butler said. “The reason that that’s a challenge is that systemic racism is built into operations and policies and even law. It’s daunting.”

In December, Biden joined an online meeting with seven civil rights group leaders to hash out the path forward.

During that meeting, Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Biden the administration needed to undo “extensive damage” in enforcing federal civil rights laws.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as Kristen Clarke delivers remarks after being nominated to be civil rights division assistant attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 07, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA, GETTY IMAGES
“We need this administration to make fighting white supremacy, confronting racial violence, addressing police violence and tackling rampant voter suppression topline priorities,” Clarke said at the time.

More than a month after that meeting, Biden nominated Clarke to serve as an assistant attorney general in charge of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Biden also nominated another leader on that call, Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to become associate attorney general.

Since then, Gupta, the acting Civil Rights chief in the Obama administration, has become a target of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has sought to brand her as a proponent for defunding police.

Vanita Gupta is President-elect Biden's nominee for Associate Attorney General.
ANDREW HARNIK, AP
But Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, called Gupta a “gifted leader” for her service in the Obama administration, when she pioneered accountability for abusive police departments.

She also fought to protect voting rights at the leadership conference, for “elections that are free, fair, secure and safe,” Waldman said.

Biden, meanwhile, has made no secret of his regard for Justice's civil rights mission.

"The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice and the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we're all created equal and deserve to be treated equally," Biden said when introducing his team of Justice nominees last month.

In preparing for the hearing, Garland noted in his written remarks that Senators had asked why he would agree to leave a lifetime judicial appointment to return to Justice.

"I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the Rule of Law."






© Copyright Gannett 2021




Merrick Garland: What to know about Biden's Attorney General pick
Trump's fate hangs over attorney general nominee Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing
KEVIN JOHNSON AND BART JANSEN | USA TODAY | 2 hours ago


Merrick Garland, Biden's attorney general pick, has a long history with the Justice Department. Here are three things to know about Judge Garland.
USA TODAY
When Merrick Garland accepted President Joe Biden’s nomination to serve as attorney general, the federal appeals court judge said he looked forward to a Justice Department “homecoming” where he first began in the Carter administration.


Yet any celebration marking his return to Main Justice – 24 years after departing for the federal bench – could be short-lived.

Not since Watergate has any attorney general nominee faced the kinds of questions awaiting Garland as he prepares to take his seat Monday for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Opener: What Garland plans to say at anticipated confirmation hearing

DOJ: The Justice Department urgently needs a reset. Enter Merrick Garland. Is he up for it?

The rolling crisis that defined the Justice Department and its relationship with former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly sought to bend the agency to serve his political interests, is now just one of many challenges facing the nominee.


Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
SUSAN WALSH, AP
Last month, a resurgent domestic extremist movement was thrust into public view during the deadly Capitol siege. The stunning assault has launched federal law enforcement authorities on one of the most far-reaching investigations in history while raising deeper concerns about the government’s capacity to contain the threat.

Conspiracy case: 6 more associated with Oath Keepers charged

As senators weigh confirmation, Garland is certain to be confronted with pointed inquiries about whether Justice should investigate, and potentially prosecute Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 riots that left five dead, including a Capitol police officer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all but threw Trump’s fate to the Justice Department last week when the former president was acquitted by the Senate at his impeachment trial.

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said following the Senate trial. “No question about it ... He didn’t get away with anything, yet. We still have a criminal justice system in this country. We still have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”


More: Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell as each seeks to exert leadership after impeachment trial

While there is little open opposition to Garland's nomination, a striking departure from 2016 when President Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court was blocked by a Republican-controlled Senate, the contentious nature of the challenges before him now make Monday's hearing perhaps the most anticipated of any Biden Cabinet nominee.

What to know: Who is Merrick Garland, the attorney general nominee?

Should DOJ pick up where Trump's Senate impeachment left off?
At virtually every opportunity since the close of Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, the Biden administration has deflected questions about the former president's potential criminal vulnerability for inciting the Jan. 6 riots.

More: Trump impeachment trial vote acquits him in historic second impeachment proceeding

"We're doing something new here," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, adding that an "independent Justice Department (would) determine what any path forward and any investigation would look like."

Aside from the not-so-subtle dig at the Trump White House, which routinely intervened in some of the most politically sensitive matters at Justice, Psaki effectively put the department — and Garland — in the hot seat.


Pending confirmation, it now will be largely Garland's call on a criminal investigation and the resulting shadow Trump may cast on the new administration.

As much as Biden has sought to rid Justice of the kind of politicization that marked the Trump Justice Department — from the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey for his management of the Russia investigation to dropping the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn — any decision involving Trump is fraught with political implications.

William Yeomans, a former Justice official whose service spanned the administrations of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, said that if the facts ultimately lead to Trump, the former president "must be held accountable."

House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
GETTY
"It has been and must remain a fundamental tenet of our adherence to the rule of law that we do not tolerate the use of the prosecution power to target individuals simply because they are political opponents," Yeomans said. "That generally means we must proceed with care in prosecuting a former president, particularly one of a different political party. But, it does not mean that a former president whose crimes are uncovered by a fair and full investigation should escape accountability."


Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and faced difficult questions about the administration's torture policies during his Senate confirmation hearing, said Garland should not commit "one way or the other" on the possible legal jeopardy facing Trump.

"Given the political nature of the case and the public interest, he may commit or at least say he would consider appointing a career prosecutor to make an initial assessment (on) whether a formal investigation should be commenced," said Gonzales, one of two Republican attorneys general who have announced their support for Garland.

More: Gonzales, 3 other ex-attorneys general sign letter of support for Garland

At the same time, Gonzales said Garland "may be pressured by Republicans to formally recuse himself from the final decision whether to prosecute."

"I am not aware of any legitimate reason he would be required to do so under DOJ regulations if he wants to make this decision," Gonzales said. "There is no financial, political or personal reason I know of to recuse. But he will be pressed about this."


Can DOJ rebuild White House firewall?
On the campaign trail, Biden said the Justice Department had been transformed into the "president's private law firm" under Trump, who casually penetrated the institutional firewall with a well aimed tweet.

"I want to be clear to those who lead this department (about) who you will serve," Biden said when introducing Garland as his nominee Jan. 7. "You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice."

Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
View | 9 Photos
Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
Garland has taken his lead from Biden, drawing stark parallels to the post-Watergate era when Justice faced a similar challenge to separate itself from the raw political interests of a president.

While accepting the nomination, he invoked the name of Edward Levi, the revered former attorney general nominated by President Gerald Ford to restore the department's credibility following the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


"As Ed Levi said at his own swearing in, 'Nothing can more weaken the quality of life, or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear, than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose,'" Garland said, quoting the former attorney general.

If confirmed, Garland said it would be "my mission ... to reaffirm those policies as the principles upon which the department operates."

Hunter Biden and Durham probes continue
A test of that commitment looms with the continuing federal tax investigation involving the president's son, Hunter Biden, and the pending inquiry into the origins of the Russian investigation led by Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham, appointed by former Trump Attorney General William Barr.

President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
USA TODAY
Before departing in December, Barr resisted Trump's calls to appoint a special prosecutor in the Biden case.


At the time, Barr said the investigation was being handled "responsibly and professionally" by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

Although all presidentially appointed federal prosecutors are expected to submit their resignations during transitions to new administrations, the Biden administration said the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney leading the Hunter Biden inquiry and Durham would remain to complete their work.

"These were decisions that were made in order to fulfill (Biden's) promise of maintaining independence and ensuring that he sent that message and every action that was taken," Psaki said earlier this month.

The enemy within: Is domestic terror law now necessary?
The Capitol assault was still fresh when a long-simmering debate began anew: Is federal law enforcement adequately equipped to confront the resurgent domestic terror threat.


The question, which has prompted new calls for equal penalties for both domestic and international terror offenses, is certain to spill into the Senate hearing for Garland, who during his previous Justice tenure, oversaw the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing — the most deadly domestic terror attack in U.S. history.

In remarks prepared for delivery at Monday's Senate hearing, Garland cast the fight against extremism as "central" to the department's mission.

"We have to do something," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said this month during the first congressional examination of the domestic threat following the Jan. 6 attack. Thompson has since sued Trump and Giuliani.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT, AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
More: After massacres and thwarted plots, federal authorities confront limits in fighting domestic terror


For some, including Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a former chairman of the Homeland panel, the remedies should include legislation that treats domestic terrorists no differently than their international counter-parts.

During the Homeland panel hearing, McCaul said the Capitol attack "cries out" for such action.

"I think it sends a strong message about where Congress is that we treat domestic terrorism on an equal plane as international terrorism," McCaul said.


U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, shown at an August 2019 meeting, said this week an Austin company is making progress toward a COVID-19 treatment.

More: Domestic extremism has become 'mainstream,' could threaten American life for 20 years

While domestic terror is codified in federal law as an effort to "intimidate or coerce" a civilian population or government, there are no corresponding criminal penalties to back it. That has forced law enforcement to head off potential threats with the tools at their disposal, including leaning on the public to provide tips and charging suspects with violating weapons laws, hate crimes or illegal threats in the absence of a domestic terrorism charge.

The government has moved to thwart right-wing extremism when it appeared to be on the precipice of violence, though authorities face significant limits in the form of free speech rights.


And some fear that a revamped domestic terrorism law raises the prospect of formally designating groups as domestic terror organizations, similar to ISIS or al-Qaeda, merely because their messages may be repulsive.

Brian Jenkins, a longtime terror analyst and senior adviser at the Rand Corp., said any effort to single out specific domestic groups may only deepen the country's partisan divide.

"While (a domestic terror law) looks like an attractive option now, it may not be easily applied," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Garland, whose prosecutorial experience is steeped in domestic terrorism, may be uniquely suited to confront the current threat environment.


Deputy U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, left, and interim U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan answer questions during a news conference May 18, 1995, in El Reno, Okla. Garland, a Harvard lawyer, was the Justice Department's point man on the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
DAVID LONGSTREATH/AP
"This is someone who oversaw the investigation of Timothy McVeigh who was charged, convicted and ultimately executed for carrying out the worst domestic attack in U.S. history," Jenkins said, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber. "And Garland did that without a domestic terrorism law."

Are troubled police agencies back in DOJ's crosshairs?

Garland’s nomination follows a summer of racial justice protests, prompted by deaths and injuries of Black men and women during police encounters.

While the incidents highlighted troubling law enforcement tactics, they also called attention to the Trump Justice Department's departure from enforcement strategies that had sought to hold police agencies accountable for misconduct.

The Trump administration launched one investigation into a law enforcement agency during its four years, compared to 25 inquiries into "patterns and practices" of conduct in police agencies during eight years of the Obama administration.


Civil rights advocates have argued that Trump's deference to law enforcement has seriously undercut confidence in policing in Black communities, and Biden has vowed new scrutiny of police tactics led by a re-invigorated Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

If confirmed, it would be up to Garland, however, to set the tone on how aggressively to pursue those priorities.

"That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice," Garland's prepared remarks state. "Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change."

More: 12 charts that show how racial disparities persist

Paul Butler, a Georgetown University law professor who prosecuted public corruption at the Justice Department, said Biden recognizes that policing problems are worse than “a few bad apples.”


“I think that will be a new and unique opportunity for the attorney general because no president has described bias in the terms that Biden has used, including frequently referencing white supremacy and systemic racism,” Butler said. “The reason that that’s a challenge is that systemic racism is built into operations and policies and even law. It’s daunting.”

In December, Biden joined an online meeting with seven civil rights group leaders to hash out the path forward.

During that meeting, Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Biden the administration needed to undo “extensive damage” in enforcing federal civil rights laws.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as Kristen Clarke delivers remarks after being nominated to be civil rights division assistant attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 07, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA, GETTY IMAGES
“We need this administration to make fighting white supremacy, confronting racial violence, addressing police violence and tackling rampant voter suppression topline priorities,” Clarke said at the time.

More than a month after that meeting, Biden nominated Clarke to serve as an assistant attorney general in charge of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Biden also nominated another leader on that call, Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to become associate attorney general.

Since then, Gupta, the acting Civil Rights chief in the Obama administration, has become a target of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has sought to brand her as a proponent for defunding police.

Vanita Gupta is President-elect Biden's nominee for Associate Attorney General.

But Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, called Gupta a “gifted leader” for her service in the Obama administration, when she pioneered accountability for abusive police departments.

She also fought to protect voting rights at the leadership conference, for “elections that are free, fair, secure and safe,” Waldman said.

Biden, meanwhile, has made no secret of his regard for Justice's civil rights mission.

"The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice and the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we're all created equal and deserve to be treated equally," Biden said when introducing his team of Justice nominees last month.

In preparing for the hearing, Garland noted in his written remarks that Senators had asked why he would agree to leave a lifetime judicial appointment to return to Justice.

"I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the Rule of Law."




© Copyright Gannett 2021




Merrick Garland: What to know about Biden's Attorney General pick

Trump's fate hangs over attorney general nominee Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing



Merrick Garland, Biden's attorney general pick, has a long history with the Justice Department. Here are three things to know about Judge Garland.
USA TODAY
When Merrick Garland accepted President Joe Biden’s nomination to serve as attorney general, the federal appeals court judge said he looked forward to a Justice Department “homecoming” where he first began in the Carter administration.


Yet any celebration marking his return to Main Justice – 24 years after departing for the federal bench – could be short-lived.

Not since Watergate has any attorney general nominee faced the kinds of questions awaiting Garland as he prepares to take his seat Monday for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Opener: What Garland plans to say at anticipated confirmation hearing

DOJ: The Justice Department urgently needs a reset. Enter Merrick Garland. Is he up for it?

The rolling crisis that defined the Justice Department and its relationship with former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly sought to bend the agency to serve his political interests, is now just one of many challenges facing the nominee.


Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
SUSAN WALSH, AP
Last month, a resurgent domestic extremist movement was thrust into public view during the deadly Capitol siege. The stunning assault has launched federal law enforcement authorities on one of the most far-reaching investigations in history while raising deeper concerns about the government’s capacity to contain the threat.

Conspiracy case: 6 more associated with Oath Keepers charged

As senators weigh confirmation, Garland is certain to be confronted with pointed inquiries about whether Justice should investigate, and potentially prosecute Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 riots that left five dead, including a Capitol police officer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all but threw Trump’s fate to the Justice Department last week when the former president was acquitted by the Senate at his impeachment trial.

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said following the Senate trial. “No question about it ... He didn’t get away with anything, yet. We still have a criminal justice system in this country. We still have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”


More: Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell as each seeks to exert leadership after impeachment trial

While there is little open opposition to Garland's nomination, a striking departure from 2016 when President Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court was blocked by a Republican-controlled Senate, the contentious nature of the challenges before him now make Monday's hearing perhaps the most anticipated of any Biden Cabinet nominee.

What to know: Who is Merrick Garland, the attorney general nominee?

Should DOJ pick up where Trump's Senate impeachment left off?
At virtually every opportunity since the close of Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, the Biden administration has deflected questions about the former president's potential criminal vulnerability for inciting the Jan. 6 riots.

More: Trump impeachment trial vote acquits him in historic second impeachment proceeding

"We're doing something new here," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, adding that an "independent Justice Department (would) determine what any path forward and any investigation would look like."

Aside from the not-so-subtle dig at the Trump White House, which routinely intervened in some of the most politically sensitive matters at Justice, Psaki effectively put the department — and Garland — in the hot seat.


Pending confirmation, it now will be largely Garland's call on a criminal investigation and the resulting shadow Trump may cast on the new administration.

As much as Biden has sought to rid Justice of the kind of politicization that marked the Trump Justice Department — from the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey for his management of the Russia investigation to dropping the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn — any decision involving Trump is fraught with political implications.

William Yeomans, a former Justice official whose service spanned the administrations of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, said that if the facts ultimately lead to Trump, the former president "must be held accountable."

House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
House prosecutors ended their arguments Feb. 11, the third day of former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial.
GETTY
"It has been and must remain a fundamental tenet of our adherence to the rule of law that we do not tolerate the use of the prosecution power to target individuals simply because they are political opponents," Yeomans said. "That generally means we must proceed with care in prosecuting a former president, particularly one of a different political party. But, it does not mean that a former president whose crimes are uncovered by a fair and full investigation should escape accountability."


Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and faced difficult questions about the administration's torture policies during his Senate confirmation hearing, said Garland should not commit "one way or the other" on the possible legal jeopardy facing Trump.

"Given the political nature of the case and the public interest, he may commit or at least say he would consider appointing a career prosecutor to make an initial assessment (on) whether a formal investigation should be commenced," said Gonzales, one of two Republican attorneys general who have announced their support for Garland.

More: Gonzales, 3 other ex-attorneys general sign letter of support for Garland

At the same time, Gonzales said Garland "may be pressured by Republicans to formally recuse himself from the final decision whether to prosecute."

"I am not aware of any legitimate reason he would be required to do so under DOJ regulations if he wants to make this decision," Gonzales said. "There is no financial, political or personal reason I know of to recuse. But he will be pressed about this."


Can DOJ rebuild White House firewall?
On the campaign trail, Biden said the Justice Department had been transformed into the "president's private law firm" under Trump, who casually penetrated the institutional firewall with a well aimed tweet.

"I want to be clear to those who lead this department (about) who you will serve," Biden said when introducing Garland as his nominee Jan. 7. "You won’t work for me. You are not the president or the vice president’s lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation, to guarantee justice."

Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
View | 9 Photos
Merrick Garland: Biden's pick for attorney general
Garland has taken his lead from Biden, drawing stark parallels to the post-Watergate era when Justice faced a similar challenge to separate itself from the raw political interests of a president.

While accepting the nomination, he invoked the name of Edward Levi, the revered former attorney general nominated by President Gerald Ford to restore the department's credibility following the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


"As Ed Levi said at his own swearing in, 'Nothing can more weaken the quality of life, or more imperil the realization of the goals we all hold dear, than our failure to make clear by words and deed that our law is not the instrument of partisan purpose,'" Garland said, quoting the former attorney general.

If confirmed, Garland said it would be "my mission ... to reaffirm those policies as the principles upon which the department operates."

Hunter Biden and Durham probes continue
A test of that commitment looms with the continuing federal tax investigation involving the president's son, Hunter Biden, and the pending inquiry into the origins of the Russian investigation led by Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham, appointed by former Trump Attorney General William Barr.

President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
President-elect Joe Biden's son was in the spotlight during the presidential campaign for his business dealings with Ukraine and China.
USA TODAY
Before departing in December, Barr resisted Trump's calls to appoint a special prosecutor in the Biden case.


At the time, Barr said the investigation was being handled "responsibly and professionally" by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

Although all presidentially appointed federal prosecutors are expected to submit their resignations during transitions to new administrations, the Biden administration said the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney leading the Hunter Biden inquiry and Durham would remain to complete their work.

"These were decisions that were made in order to fulfill (Biden's) promise of maintaining independence and ensuring that he sent that message and every action that was taken," Psaki said earlier this month.

The enemy within: Is domestic terror law now necessary?
The Capitol assault was still fresh when a long-simmering debate began anew: Is federal law enforcement adequately equipped to confront the resurgent domestic terror threat.


The question, which has prompted new calls for equal penalties for both domestic and international terror offenses, is certain to spill into the Senate hearing for Garland, who during his previous Justice tenure, oversaw the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing — the most deadly domestic terror attack in U.S. history.

In remarks prepared for delivery at Monday's Senate hearing, Garland cast the fight against extremism as "central" to the department's mission.

"We have to do something," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said this month during the first congressional examination of the domestic threat following the Jan. 6 attack. Thompson has since sued Trump and Giuliani.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT, AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
More: After massacres and thwarted plots, federal authorities confront limits in fighting domestic terror


For some, including Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a former chairman of the Homeland panel, the remedies should include legislation that treats domestic terrorists no differently than their international counter-parts.

During the Homeland panel hearing, McCaul said the Capitol attack "cries out" for such action.

"I think it sends a strong message about where Congress is that we treat domestic terrorism on an equal plane as international terrorism," McCaul said.


U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, shown at an August 2019 meeting, said this week an Austin company is making progress toward a COVID-19 treatment.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN FILE
More: Domestic extremism has become 'mainstream,' could threaten American life for 20 years

While domestic terror is codified in federal law as an effort to "intimidate or coerce" a civilian population or government, there are no corresponding criminal penalties to back it. That has forced law enforcement to head off potential threats with the tools at their disposal, including leaning on the public to provide tips and charging suspects with violating weapons laws, hate crimes or illegal threats in the absence of a domestic terrorism charge.

The government has moved to thwart right-wing extremism when it appeared to be on the precipice of violence, though authorities face significant limits in the form of free speech rights.


And some fear that a revamped domestic terrorism law raises the prospect of formally designating groups as domestic terror organizations, similar to ISIS or al-Qaeda, merely because their messages may be repulsive.

Brian Jenkins, a longtime terror analyst and senior adviser at the Rand Corp., said any effort to single out specific domestic groups may only deepen the country's partisan divide.

"While (a domestic terror law) looks like an attractive option now, it may not be easily applied," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Garland, whose prosecutorial experience is steeped in domestic terrorism, may be uniquely suited to confront the current threat environment.


Deputy U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, left, and interim U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan answer questions during a news conference May 18, 1995, in El Reno, Okla. Garland, a Harvard lawyer, was the Justice Department's point man on the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
DAVID LONGSTREATH/AP
"This is someone who oversaw the investigation of Timothy McVeigh who was charged, convicted and ultimately executed for carrying out the worst domestic attack in U.S. history," Jenkins said, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber. "And Garland did that without a domestic terrorism law."

Are troubled police agencies back in DOJ's crosshairs?
Garland’s nomination follows a summer of racial justice protests, prompted by deaths and injuries of Black men and women during police encounters.

While the incidents highlighted troubling law enforcement tactics, they also called attention to the Trump Justice Department's departure from enforcement strategies that had sought to hold police agencies accountable for misconduct.

The Trump administration launched one investigation into a law enforcement agency during its four years, compared to 25 inquiries into "patterns and practices" of conduct in police agencies during eight years of the Obama administration.


Civil rights advocates have argued that Trump's deference to law enforcement has seriously undercut confidence in policing in Black communities, and Biden has vowed new scrutiny of police tactics led by a re-invigorated Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

If confirmed, it would be up to Garland, however, to set the tone on how aggressively to pursue those priorities.

"That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice," Garland's prepared remarks state. "Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change."

More: 12 charts that show how racial disparities persist

Paul Butler, a Georgetown University law professor who prosecuted public corruption at the Justice Department, said Biden recognizes that policing problems are worse than “a few bad apples.”


“I think that will be a new and unique opportunity for the attorney general because no president has described bias in the terms that Biden has used, including frequently referencing white supremacy and systemic racism,” Butler said. “The reason that that’s a challenge is that systemic racism is built into operations and policies and even law. It’s daunting.”

In December, Biden joined an online meeting with seven civil rights group leaders to hash out the path forward.

During that meeting, Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Biden the administration needed to undo “extensive damage” in enforcing federal civil rights laws.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as Kristen Clarke delivers remarks after being nominated to be civil rights division assistant attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 07, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA, GETTY IMAGES
“We need this administration to make fighting white supremacy, confronting racial violence, addressing police violence and tackling rampant voter suppression topline priorities,” Clarke said at the time.

More than a month after that meeting, Biden nominated Clarke to serve as an assistant attorney general in charge of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Biden also nominated another leader on that call, Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to become associate attorney general.

Since then, Gupta, the acting Civil Rights chief in the Obama administration, has become a target of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has sought to brand her as a proponent for defunding police.

Vanita Gupta is President-elect Biden's nominee for Associate Attorney General.
ANDREW HARNIK, AP
But Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, called Gupta a “gifted leader” for her service in the Obama administration, when she pioneered accountability for abusive police departments.

She also fought to protect voting rights at the leadership conference, for “elections that are free, fair, secure and safe,” Waldman said.

Biden, meanwhile, has made no secret of his regard for Justice's civil rights mission.

"The Civil Rights Division represents the moral center of the Department of Justice and the heart of that fundamental American ideal that we're all created equal and deserve to be treated equally," Biden said when introducing his team of Justice nominees last month.

In preparing for the hearing, Garland noted in his written remarks that Senators had asked why he would agree to leave a lifetime judicial appointment to return to Justice.

"I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the Rule of Law."



© Copyright Gannett 2021
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Lindsay Graham

Postby Meno_ » Sun Feb 21, 2021 10:17 pm

“Count me out,” Graham (R-S.C.) said in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, adding that he was sad to see his journey with Trump end this way. In an interview two days later, Graham said “he’d never been so humiliated and embarrassed for the country” and spoke in palpable frustration over how his longtime ally handled the riot.

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Just weeks later, he is singing a different tune. Graham is set to visit the former president’s gilded Mar-a-Lago Club on Sunday to spend two days golfing and dining with Trump. He has spoken to the former president nearly daily since Jan. 6 — more frequently than any of his Republican colleagues in the Senate — and served as an informal adviser to Trump’s defense team during his Senate impeachment trial this month.


Meanwhile, Graham said he has not spoken with President Biden, a longtime friend from the Senate, since his Jan. 20 inauguration.


A group of Trump supporters confronted Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) at Reagan National Airport on Jan. 8 after he condemned the violence at the Capitol. (Reuters)
Graham’s post-presidential embrace of Trump — which puts him squarely at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — is the latest twist in his on-again, off-again relationship with a man he once called a “kook” and warned could destroy the party. It comes after the four-term senator said he reviewed polling in South Carolina and across the country that shows Trump’s enduring strength among Republicans, even after the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in five deaths.

“If he ran, it would be his nomination for the having,” Graham said of Trump in an interview. “I don’t know what he wants to do. Because he was successful for conservatism and people appreciate his fighting spirit, he’s going to dominate the party for years to come. The way I look at it, there is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump.”

Graham is now positioning himself as a leader of the pro-Trump wing of a party that is increasingly divided about how to reckon with the divisive 45th president.

In Graham’s view, embracing Trump is simply practical politics. To critics, he is showing a willingness to tolerate Trump’s attacks on democracy in exchange for proximity to power.

In the wake of the Capitol attack and the GOP’s losses of the House, Senate and White House, some in the Republican Party’s upper echelon are calling for a different path forward, worried that Trump’s toxic brand will prevent the party from winning general elections in 2022 and 2024.

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley has said the party needs to turn the page on Trump, who she said has “fallen so far.” After voting to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, McConnell delivered a scathing speech, calling him “practically and morally responsible” for the violence at the Capitol — and he has told allies he plans to never speak with Trump again.

Some are trying to pave a path in the middle: Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is scheduled to visit Mar-a-Lago next week to meet with Trump, even as she vows to stay neutral in the internecine warring, according to a person familiar with her plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, in part to encourage Trump not to attack any incumbent House Republicans.

Graham walks out of a meeting room for Trump’s defense team on the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
But Graham is all in. While he told reporters a day after the Capitol attack that “the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution,” he now says he was talking narrowly about what happened Jan. 6. His “count me out” remarks were a reference to attempts to challenge the 2020 election results, he says — not a statement that he was finished with Trump.

Two days after the insurrection, he met with Trump for four hours to discuss quietly finishing his term and the potential of impeachment, among other topics. He then flew with him to Texas the next week and called fellow senators, urging them not to support a move to convict Trump in a trial and bar him from future office. In private and public, he has taken on Republicans who are critical of Trump, including McConnell, who he has pushed to change course.

“He doesn’t speak for most Republicans when it comes to the comments he made about Trump,” Graham said of McConnell’s speech after the impeachment trial. (He added that McConnell deserves credit on other fronts, such as furthering the appointment of conservative judges.)

On Feb. 13, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said former president Trump could still be held accountable within the criminal justice system. (The Washington Post)
A spokesman for McConnell did not respond to a request for comment.

Longtime GOP operatives and people who know both men have said Graham is simply seeking to stay relevant and likes being close to powerful people.

Matt Moore, a prominent South Carolina political consultant who worked for Graham in his 2020 reelection campaign and once chaired the state party, said the explanation for Graham’s posture is simple: he wants to align himself with the party’s most popular figure.

After previously facing criticism in his home state for not being conservative enough, Graham was reelected last year by double digits after his strong embrace of Trump, who romped to victory in South Carolina.

And Graham, more than anything, according to both allies and critics, wants to be as close to the action as possible.

“It’s smart politics,” Moore said. “Republican voters love President Trump. He wants to have a seat at the table than not. He knows a smart bet when he sees it.”

Graham is also well aware that those who cross Trump pay the price with his supporters. Two days after his “count me out” speech, Graham was accosted by pro-Trump supporters who denounced him as a “traitor” at Washington’s Reagan National Airport. This week, Haley’s Facebook page was inundated with thousands of commenters attacking her for criticizing Trump. The former president rejected her request for a meeting, a Trump aide said. And party officials in Kentucky have denounced McConnell and called for his resignation.

Trump-McConnell clash threatens to settle into a cold war as GOP eyes midterms

Graham has disappointed those in South Carolina who preferred the more moderate Graham — the one who was closely allied with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who died in 2018, and at one point worked on a deal with President Barack Obama to cut carbon emissions that ultimately fell apart.

His critics say they remember a Graham who despised Trump and what Trump stood for — and was not so craven, in their view. One longtime McCain confidant said Graham is no longer in touch with many of his old friends.

Amanda Loveday, a former executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party who helped run a Biden super PAC in 2020, said it was frustrating to watch Graham continue to prop up Trump.

“Like a lot of others, I have voted for him,” she said. “Everyone in South Carolina used to think he was the most reasonable man in Washington, and that has changed. Now people think he has tied himself to a horse that is unexplainable. There really is no explanation to it. He has the power to tell the Republican Party that they’re moving on.”

One Biden ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation, said Biden asked last fall “what had happened to Lindsey.” The longtime former senator from Delaware, who once regarded Graham as a friend, was “shocked” by some of Graham’s comments during the campaign.

The White House declined to comment.

In an interview, Graham said he still planned to negotiate policy with Biden at the right time, and would like to work with him on an infrastructure deal.

“Joe is a fine man,” he said. “There will be a day for that.”

Graham took a very different stance toward Trump when the real estate developer was running for president in 2016. The senator regularly questioned his fitness to lead and said the Republican Party deserved to be destroyed if it selected Trump as the nominee. At one point, Graham called on Trump to “stop being a jackass,” prompting Trump to taunt him at a rally and read Graham’s cellphone number out loud.

But Graham said that once Trump was elected, he wanted to help him be successful — and has grown to like him.

Some former Trump aides and GOP strategists say Graham likes the stardom of being around Trump. Even Trump has remarked to allies that he is surprised at Graham’s approach after their brutal 2016 encounters, and former Trump aides said Graham was always angling to get on the golf course with the president.

Trump shakes hands with Graham during a November 2019 event about judicial confirmations in the White House. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Jason Miller, a spokesman for the former president, declined to comment, other than to say that the two men have a “very friendly” relationship.

In Graham’s telling, he spends time with Trump because “I genuinely like his company.”

“During the primary, I ran out of bad things to say about him. It’s an odd thing that we wound up where we did,” he said, adding: “I had more access to him than any and all presidents combined. He’s a good listener, believe it or not.”

Nowadays, he said he is driven simply by what is best for the GOP, which he says has a “conundrum” on its hands.

“You look at the polling, it shows he dominates the Republican Party, but that a majority of the general population wanted to convict him,” Graham said. “From November 3rd to January 6th he took a giant step backwards, but he had a consequential presidency. His policies are going to stand the test of time. If President Trump continues to be sort of disciplined and talks about policy, some of those personal issues will begin to lessen.”

Trump is expected to speak at the conservative conference called CPAC in Florida for his first post-presidential address, an aide said. His speech will focus on the future of the Republican Party and immigration, the aide said.

During the impeachment trial, Graham emerged as Trump’s top ally in the Senate. He regularly huddled with the lawyers, giving the team feedback from the Senate conference and proposing arguments that might keep certain Republican senators from voting to convict, and calling Trump sometimes multiple times a day, according to Trump advisers.

“He made me feel comfortable,” said David Schoen, one of Trump’s defense attorneys. “He said, ‘Don’t be nervous.’ He was very friendly the entire time.”

Graham’s post-election call with Raffensperger will be scrutinized in Georgia probe, person familiar with inquiry says

Trump initially hired another team of South Carolina lawyers upon Graham’s recommendation but split with them days before the trial. Graham said he wasn’t bothered by the abrupt change.

“Not at all,” he said. “There were too many cooks in the kitchen.”

Now, Graham says, he is intent on talking to Trump about helping the GOP win the Senate and House in 2022. Before heading to Mar-a-Lago this weekend, Graham said he was in Arizona to get an update on the border wall with Mexico, hoping to make one of Trump’s signature issues a 2022 priority.

Still, even as he touted Trump’s sway, Graham acknowledged that the party needs to expand its reach — a tacit acknowledgment of how the former president has polarized the Republican brand.

He said he planned to talk with Trump about how he can help make Republicans more electable, ticking off the very demographic groups alienated by the former president.

“Trump has got to up his game. The Republican Party has to up their game. But I like the way we’re headed,” Graham said. “We’re becoming the working-class party, and his populism is helping us. We just need to get suburban women back. What hurt us was style more than policy. Too much drama. Too much over-the-top. We’ve got to get the independents back.”






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Re: Trump enters the stage - finally the world will know""

Postby Meno_ » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:31 pm

Supreme Court allows release of Trump tax returns

Updated 10:29 AM ET, Mon February 22, 2021
article video
Supreme Court allows release of Trump tax returns What you need to know
The Supreme Court cleared the way for a New York prosecutor to obtain former President Trump's tax returns.
The documents will be subject to grand jury secrecy rules that restrict their public release.
The ruling deals a massive loss to Trump who has fiercely fought to shield his financial papers from prosecutors.
Our live coverage has ended. Read the latest on the Supreme Court case here.
2:11 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021
Trump slams SCOTUS decision on his tax returns
From CNN's Ariane de Vogue
Former President Trump has released a statement responding to the Supreme Court's decision on releasing his tax returns to a New York prosecutors.
"The Supreme Court never should have let this 'fishing expedition' happen, but they did," Trump said in the statement.

The former President went on to call the decision "all Democrat-inspired."

"This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo," Trump continued.

More on today's ruling: The Supreme Court's decision is a bitter loss for Trump, even if the tax records are shielded from public disclosure, after he consistently argued that the subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was overbroad and issued in bad faith.
It means that the grand jury investigation into alleged hush money payments and other issues will no longer be hampered by Trump's fight to keep the documents secret.

The ruling was issued without comment or noted dissent.
Vance celebrated the order, saying in a tweet, "The work continues."

12:01 p.m. ET, February 22, 2021

Trump's accounting firm says they're "committed to fulfilling" legal obligations
From CNN's Ariane de Vogue
Mazars, Trump's accounting firm, reacted in a statement to today's Supreme Court ruling, saying it is "committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations."

The company added: "Due to our industry's professional obligations Mazars cannot discuss any clients, or the nature of our services we provide for any client, in a public forum without client consent or as required by law."

Following today's Supreme Court ruling, although Trump's personal lawyers may continue to fight their appeal in the case, the fact that the documents will be released by Mazars, effectively ends the dispute.
The subpoenas span documents from January 2011 to August 2019, including Trump's tax returns, from Mazars. The documents relate to the Trump Organization's employment of Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and hush money payment Cohen allegedly made to two woman who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Trump.

11:23 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

These are the Trump financial documents that Manhattan District Attorney Vance will get to see
From CNN's Ariane de Vogue and Kara Scannell
Today's Supreme Court ruling means that the grand jury investigation into alleged hush money payments and other issues will no longer be hampered by former President Trump's fight to keep the documents secret.
The documents, however, will be subject to grand jury secrecy rules that restrict their public release.

The subpoenas span documents from January 2011 to August 2019, including Trump's tax returns, from his long time accounting firm, Mazars. The documents relate to the Trump Organization's employment of Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen and hush money payment Cohen allegedly made to two woman who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Trump.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office is investigating whether the Trump Organization violated state laws and is looking into the legality of tax deductions, including from conservation easements and consulting fees the company took, as well as what the Trump Organization told lenders and tax authorities about the value of its assets.

Vance's investigation started its investigation in earnest in August 2019, initially looking into the hush-money payments Cohen facilitated to silence two women's claims that they had affairs with Trump. The former President has denied the affairs.

Vance's office has said the records are crucial to the investigation, in part because of the statute of limitations for the potential crimes they are investigating.

10:37 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021

The events that led to today's ruling
From CNN's Ariane de Vogue
Today's Supreme Court ruling to clear the way for a New York prosecutor to obtain former President Trump's tax returns is the culmination of an ongoing battle between the Manhattan DA's office and the former President.
Here's a look back at the events that took place before today's decision:

Last July, the Supreme Court, voting 7-2, rejected Trump's broad claims of immunity from a state criminal subpoena seeking his tax returns and said that as president he was not entitled to any kind of heightened standard unavailable to ordinary citizens.
The justices sent the case back to the lower court so that the President could make more targeted objections regarding the scope of the subpoena.
In October, a federal appeals court said "there is nothing to suggest that these are anything but run-of-the-mill documents typically relevant to a grand jury investigation into possible financial or corporate misconduct."
Trump's personal lawyers then took the case back to the Supreme Court, urging the justices to put the lower court ruling on hold while the justices considered whether to take up the appeal.
10:17 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021
Manhattan District Attorney responds to Supreme Court order: "The work continues"
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance released the following statement Monday in response to the US Supreme Court order in Trump v. Vance:

"The work continues," the statement read.

More on today's ruling: The Supreme Court decision is a bitter loss for Trump, even if the tax records are shielded from public disclosure, after he consistently argued that the subpoena issued by Vance was overbroad and issued in bad faith.

Vance tweeted his statement earlier today:
10:23 a.m. ET, February 22, 2021
What you need to know about the Supreme Court's ruling on Trump's tax returns
From CNN's Ariane de Vogue
The Supreme Court cleared the way for a New York prosecutor to obtain former President Trump's tax returns, dealing a massive loss to Trump who has fiercely fought to shield his financial papers from prosecutors.
The ruling is a bitter loss for Trump, even if the tax records are shielded from public disclosure, after he consistently argued that the subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was overbroad and issued in bad faith.

What this means for Trump: The grand jury investigation into alleged hush money payments and other issues will no longer be hampered by Trump's fight to keep the documents secret. The documents will be subject to grand jury secrecy rules that restrict their public release.The ruling was issued without comment or dissent.
Some background: Last July, the Supreme Court, voting 7-2, rejected the Trump's broad claims of immunity from a state criminal subpoena seeking his tax returns and said that as president he was not entitled to any kind of heightened standard unavailable to ordinary citizens. The justices sent the case back to the lower court so that the President could make more targeted objections regarding the scope of the subpoena.

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Merrick Garland:



His attorney general confirmation is a foregone conclusion taken from the last two hours of hearings.

On particular to the above shift to prosecution of violation of tax laws, his statement of an objective, non partisan process was quite appearent and honest, and his plea for across the board faith in his honesty seemed like an unnecessary invocation
In fact , it appeared, that even Senator Cruise was satisfied with his given answer.

The question was about the equal responsibility to prosecute politically favored donations, such as IT&T case under the Nixon debacle and yet to resolve cases of the same sort accurred under the Trump administration., as well as the fear of unfair antitrust legislation toward Google, where it is a big Democratic donor.



There was little to conflict with the idea of relegation of political duty taken up by an objective Justice Department, and although toward the end, Barr did stand up well to pressure, overall he left the department in need of rehabilitation.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Angry Trump? Or, Mad?

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:25 pm

Trump plots future -- and revenge -- from sunny Florida link

Updated 7:31 AM EST, Thu February 25, 2021

(CNN)In a South Florida war room, occupied most days by a party of one, a former President of the United States is plotting his return -- and his revenge.

He typically spends mornings on his nearby golf course, making and taking calls from a golf cart that doubles as his mobile, and self-driven, office. The multiple trips to the links in the last few weeks have served to accomplish a long-promised goal, says someone who spent time with him recently: Donald Trump claims he has increased his drive by 20 yards, a new favorite brag to golfing partners, or anyone who will listen.

Eighteen holes later, he leaves his Trump International Golf Club and returns to Mar-a-Lago, where he retreats within his quarters to his own private living space, separate from that of his wife, and ponders two main questions: Who is with him? And who is against him?

According to multiple people familiar with Trump's current habits, who requested anonymity to speak freely to CNN about the former President's day-to-day focus, his stated goal -- barring impact from ongoing criminal investigation -- is to run for president again, in 2024. Of course, he has no incentive to rule it out right now -- keeping himself in the mix helps sustain his kingmaker role. Looking to flex on 2022, he hopes to prove to both critics and supporters that he is the GOP's most effective puppeteer -- a role he will likely remind the party of during his weekend appearance at Conservative Political Action Conference.

His short-term goal includes watching his son Donald Trump Jr., the MAGA base's fervent mouthpiece, barnstorm his way across the country on behalf of Trump loyalists and supporters for midterms.


Donald Trump Jr. deposed by DC attorney general as part of inaugural funds lawsuit
"Once 2022 kicks into high gear, expect Don (Trump Jr.) to be an extremely active presence on the campaign trail," a person who works with Trump Jr. told CNN, confirming not only the younger Trump's taste for political battle but that of the former President, as well.

Donald Trump's influence on the elections is becoming clearer by the day. Just Tuesday, former Sen. David Perdue announced that he will not launch a campaign, though he had very recently filed papers to do so. The decision follows close on the heels of Perdue's recent visit to Palm Beach, where he played golf with Trump, says a person familiar with the Georgia Republican's schedule.

On Tuesday evening, according to The Washington Post, Trump held court with Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. The quest, say those familiar with the visits and calls of varying Republican politicos, is to feel out where the former President's head is on the party's future, and whether he feels inclined to assist or oppose a particular person.

"We've seen this for years now -- Trumpian offers of encouragement that are more like the mafioso 'nice little business you have here' threats," says Doug Heye, a longtime Republican strategist and consultant who formerly worked in senior communications roles for leadership on Capitol Hill. "The problem for these candidates moving forward is that despite always hustling to score points, Donald Trump doesn't give points, he only takes them away. One at a time."

Family dynamics in flux

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner move out of DC and lease luxury condo in Miami
At Mar-a-Lago, the family is closing ranks around the former President, and his plans, but the leader of next-gen Trump politics is not Ivanka Trump, long thought to be heiress to her father's domain, be it real estate or politics. She's been the subject of effusive comments from Trump: In 2019, in the same breath, he touted Ivanka Trump for both US ambassador to the United Nations and head of the World Bank, and in an interview with The Atlantic he said she would be "very hard to beat" if she were to run for president herself. But apparently Ivanka Trump not only has zero interest in politics at the moment, three people close to her tell CNN, she also has been surpassed in popularity with Trump's base by her older brother.

In 2019, it was clear that Trump Jr. was the ranting Republican hype-man the base couldn't live without. Trump Jr. was not only in high demand for appearances and events, but he also was filling rooms, spewing conspiracy theories on social media, freewheeling with his attacks on Democrats, so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and anyone who did not agree with Trump's theories and policies -- truthful or no.

Ivanka Trump, ensconced now in an expensive seaside Miami condominium while a new mansion nearby is set for build on a $30 million plot purchased late last year, wants "nothing to do with politics," a friend of hers said of her current state of mind.

Instead, she is "getting her family settled, and that's her only focus," said the friend.

Trump has been to Mar-a-Lago to visit her father since moving to Florida, says another person familiar with her comings and goings, but her interest in discussing her dad's next pass at the White House is nil. The five years Trump spent on the campaign and in the White House "was a lot," her friend told CNN, and talk of a political future is verboten. Paparazzi have captured shots of Trump in recent weeks, mostly lounging on the beach adjacent to her new home. One day she was spotted reading "The Book of Joy" by the Dalai Lama.

But the absence of interest in political engagement, if understandable, paves the way for her brother to shine even brighter in his dad's orbit -- even if he is not the favored child. (In an interview in 2019, Trump said of his older son, "Don is, uh, he's enjoying politics; actually, it's very good.")

Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, have served as highly effective surrogates for his father for close to three years, about as long as the couple have been a couple, and they show no sign of slowing down. Next week the pair will host a high-dollar meet-and-greet fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, for South Dakota's Republican governor, Kristi Noem, a person with knowledge of the event told CNN.

Noem is up for reelection in 2022, and the $1,000-per-person event will technically be Trump and Guilfoyle's first official foray into the election cycle. The party's VIP experience, according to the person familiar, includes participation in a roundtable discussion with Noem, Trump and Guilfoyle, as well as a photo -- the price of the upgraded face time is $4,000 per person. No word on whether the former President will make an appearance, but Noem is a friend -- she once gifted the then-President with an $1,100 4-foot replica of Miount Rushmore with his face included, according to a New York Times report.

Sunshine State headquarters

Trump to speak at CPAC in first public appearance since leaving White House, while Pence declines invitation
Like his sister, Ivanka Trump, and his half-sister, Tiffany Trump, who also recently made a move to Miami, Trump Jr. intends to make the Sunshine State his permanent residence. Two people with knowledge of the situation said he intends to move closer to his ex-wife, Vanessa Trump, and the couple's five children.

Vanessa Trump spends a good deal of the year in Jupiter, Florida, where her ex-husband has been eyeing an $11 million waterfront mansion in the town's exclusive Admiral's Cove development. A person familiar with Trump Jr.'s ventures would not confirm the purchase of the home, which, according to real estate records, is under contract pending sale, and a representative of the real estate firm handling the sale would not comment to CNN on speculation Trump is the buyer.

But the commitment to Florida, an enthusiastically Trump-friendly state the former President won last November -- indicates the Trumps aren't tied to New York City as their hub. Besides, it's much more pleasant for Trump to host his visitors at Mar-a-Lago, which has a built-in audience of members, many of whom are also sycophants.

One person familiar with Trump's activities at Mar-a-Lago says he's more and more acting as CEO of the club, involved in operations, renovations and membership. For a time, his Palm Beach neighbors expressed disdain that Trump would be living mere blocks from their multimillion-dollar mansions -- a disruption they no longer wished to endure after the last four years of security and privacy challenges.

"I really don't think most Palm Beachers are even thinking about Trump any longer. He really never leaves his two clubs," said Laurence Leamer, a part-time Palm Beach resident and author of two tell-alls about the area, "Madness Under the Royal Palms" and "Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Palace."

Trump is habitual, which makes it all the easier for those who want to find him, to seek his blessing or beg forgiveness for turning their backs, a practice Heye thinks will only increase in the months to come.

"For many, the fealty never ends. But part of Trump's bet when his campaign became serious was that the party would bend to him, he would not bend to the party. He was right," he said.

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Raging Trump





POLITICS
Trump rages at top Republicans even as advisors urge him to focus attacks on Biden, Democrats

Former President Trump continues to rage at top Republicans who push back against him, despite some advisors insisting he should take aim at President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders instead.
Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and longtime GOP political operative Karl Rove are among the targets of Trump's anger, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller responded to CNBC's request for comment for this story by emailing: "Fake news. We're focused on winning back the House and Senate in 2022."
RT: Donald Trump, serious, pensive 191101
Former President Donald Trump
Tom Brenner | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump continues to rage at top Republicans who have criticized him, despite some advisors insisting he should take aim at President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders instead, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and longtime GOP political operative Karl Rove are among the targets of Trump's anger, these people said.


These people declined to be named in order to speak freely.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller responded to CNBC's request for comment for this story by emailing: "Fake news. We're focused on winning back the House and Senate in 2022."


CNBC had asked which Republicans Trump intended to target during midterm primaries after the former president said he plans to back several primary contenders who support his Make America Great Again agenda.

There are 20 Senate seats currently held by Republicans, including four who aren't running, which will be up for grabs in 2022. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial who is up for reelection next year. The entire House is at stake, as well.

Trump's anger at Republicans who have criticized him was most publicly evident in his statement lambasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whom Trump called a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."


Trump's remarks came after McConnell, even after voting to acquit the former president in his second impeachment trial, said Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot. Trump said in response that he plans to back primary contenders in the 2022 midterm elections who stand with him.

Advisors have told Trump that many Republican voters, who have been polled by the former president's strategists, do not want to see an all-out war in the GOP. Instead, they would rather see Trump focus his attacks on Biden and top Democrats.

Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has told associates that he wants to persuade McConnell to engage with Trump in order for the two to settle their differences ahead of the midterms, according to one GOP advisor. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is reportedly planning to meet with Trump this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in an attempt to play peacemaker.

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the NRSC, told CNBC that Scott is "not involved in mediating anything. He's focused on the future and winning back the Senate. He's spending every day raising money and talking about how important it is to save this country by stopping the Democrats' mad rush into socialism and loss of freedom and prosperity."

"I don't know if he's spoken to the Leader recently but we don't talk about private conversations he had with other Senators," Hartline added.

Representatives for McConnell and Scott did not respond to requests for comment.

Still, Trump's allies aren't backing away from the idea that support for his agenda will help Republicans in primaries.

"When you know you've got the muscle of President Trump behind you, and all of the devoted loyal followers of the president, and even as important or more important, his America First policies, that's going to be hard to beat," Roy Bailey, a Texas businessman and former head of Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, told CNBC.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a staunch defender of Trump's in Congress, tweeted that Republicans will be rejected by the base of the party if they don't embrace the former president's agenda. Gaetz has called for the ouster of Republican House leader Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., after she voted to impeach Trump.


Rove has emerged as a leading Republican critic of Trump, and the former president isn't happy about it, one person said. Rove, an ex-senior advisor to former President George W. Bush, wrote a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending his longtime ally McConnell and holding Trump directly responsible for the party's losses in the dual Georgia Senate runoffs.

"Mr. Trump lost those Georgia seats by making his campaign appearances there not about the need for checks and balances on the incoming Biden administration, but instead about his rage over losing the presidential election," Rove wrote on Wednesday.

Trump is also mad at Thune, who is up for reelection next year, another person said. The South Dakota Republican voted with Trump over 90% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight data. But he has also been a vocal Trump critic regarding the Capitol Hill insurrection.

Trump had warned in December that Thune would face a primary challenge after the senator said efforts to challenge the Electoral College results would "go down like a dog" in the Senate. The Cook Political Report has Thune's race as "solid Republican."

After voting to acquit the president in his impeachment trial, Thune said: "What former President Trump did to undermine faith in our election system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is inexcusable."

Thune criticized Republican activists in a recent interview with the Associated Press. He said that these activists have engaged in "cancel culture" by rushing to censure GOP lawmakers who voted to support Trump's impeachment.

Thune, according to the AP, said he plans to assist candidates "who don't go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing."

"At the grassroots level, there's a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates," he said. "But I think we're going to be looking for candidates that are electable."



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