Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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New details about the direct role that Donald Trump played in developing a strategy to overturn the 2020 election were revealed in a federal court filing from election coup attorney John Eastman late Thursday.
Eastman is several months into a battle to keep records of his work for Trump in the run-up to January 6 confidential. but in his latest parry to bar access to emails he says should be protected under attorney-client privilege, he has revealed that Trump sent him at least “two hand-written notes” containing information “he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation” challenging election results.
Evidence of Trump’s hand in developing this strategy is not the only thing that Eastman wants U.S. District Judge David Carter to keep away from prying eyes. He also asked the court to protect correspondence with no less than seven state legislators, White House attorneys, and other officials who received his guidance on the appointments of Trump’s so-called “alternate” electors.
Details on those officials and legislators in the filing are limited since Eastman was careful to keep their identities private.
But as first reported by Politico:
“But several of the attorneys filed declarations supporting Eastman’s descriptions of his work for Trump. Those declarations, filed under seal with the court, include attestations from Kurt Olsen, the lead lawyer in a Supreme Court lawsuit that Trump backed to overturn the election results, as well as Bruce Marks, a Pennsylvania lawyer who worked on Trump’s election litigation.”
Olsen was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee in March. His push to change election laws at the Justice Department just ahead of the Capitol attack prompted the demand for his records and testimony. Olsen, in response, countersued the select committee.
Notably, Eastman also mentions in his filing that there are at least “six conduits to or agents of the former president” that he dealt with directly when strategizing the overturn.
Three are individuals who had roles with Trump’s campaign and serve as attorneys and the other three were members of Trump’s “immediate staff and one attorney.”
“While Dr. Eastman could (and did) communicate directly with former President Trump at times, many of his communications with the President were necessarily through these agents,” the filing states.
In another section of the motion, Eastman clarifies further, saying he also “communicated directly with Trump by phone and email through his assistant or attorney agents.”
Even now, Eastman promotes claims and makes insinuations that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump. There is no evidence to support these statements. He was equally adamant in the motion to Judge Carter that the select committee probing the attack is acting unconstitutionally and prejudicially.
Time and again, however, when the committee’s standing has come up in a legal challenge, courts have found otherwise, deeming it a valid and constitutional body acting within the scope of its congressional authority.
“The Select Committee has accused Dr. Eastman and his client of acting to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress with corrupt intent, based on its claim that Dr. Eastman and his client (and others) engaged in the ‘big lie’ about election illegality and fraud. But that claim, that premise, is itself false. One might even say that the assertion of a ‘big lie’ is itself the actual Big Lie,” Eastman maintained in the motion Thursday.
This batch of emails Eastman wants hidden comprise just 600 records. The committee has requested access to 90,000 pages of records housed with Chapman University, Eastman’s former employer.
The committee initially subpoenaed Eastman directly but he refused to comply.
That decision has been a boon for the committee: Judge Carter ruled in March that Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” engaged in a conspiracy meant to stop Congress from engaging in the counting of certified votes, one of the last steps on the path to a transfer of power.
Eastman was previously revealed to be the author of a six-point pressure strategy targeting former Vice President Mike Pence. Eastman advised in the document that Pence had the final say in stopping the certification. In truth, Pence did not, his role, under the constitution, was overwhelmingly perfunctory.
The conservative attorney took a swing at Judge Carter’s ruling from March, and in particular, a section where Carter said the evidence indicated Eastman's conduct was not “driven by preserving the Constitution, but by winning the 2020 election.”
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
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Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are defending their vote to restrict low-income families' ability to buy formula during the ongoing shortage.
Two Republican lawmakers are upset that Congress overwhelmingly voted to ease restrictions for poor families to purchase infant formula during the current shortage, saying that allowing low-income families to obtain life-sustaining nutrition for their infants comes at the expense of more well-off families.
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) were two of just nine House Republicans who voted against the Access to Baby Formula Act, which would allow low-income families who use benefits from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to purchase a wider variety of sizes of formula containers. WIC has rules on the size of cans beneficiaries can purchase, which has made obtaining formula during the shortage even harder for low-income families.
Greene justified her vote against the bipartisan bill by falsely claiming it would somehow hurt families who do not receive government assistance.
"The WIC program is making it more difficult for [parents not on WIC] to buy baby formula," Greene told a right-wing cable show on Thursday.
Greene went on to lie about lower-income families who use WIC, claiming they can "buy as much baby formula" as they want while non-WIC families are limited.
WIC still has maximum monthly allowances for ounces of formula a beneficiary can purchase. The law Congress passed would simply allow WIC beneficiaries to purchase a wider variety of sizes of formula cans to get to that allowance.
Gaetz made similar false claims about the impact of eliminating some restrictions on WIC formula benefits.
"H.R. 7791 would make baby formula shortages worse for most Americans," Gaetz tweeted on Wednesday. "It will allow WIC to utilize a far greater portion of the baby formula market, crowding out many hard-working American families."
Gaetz and Greene's position is far out of the mainstream, even among their own party.
They were two of just nine House Republicans to vote against the bill, which will ease restrictions for WIC beneficiaries and gives the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to "modify or waive any qualified administrative requirement" for state agencies that administer WIC benefits. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent.
"The Senate has just passed legislation to help ease the terrible nightmare parents are facing trying to find baby formula for their kids," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. "It's rare that we have unanimity in the Senate on important measures, and I wish we had more. But this is one of these important issues and I'm glad we're acting with one voice."
According to the White House, about half of the formula in the United States is purchased by WIC beneficiaries. Florida and Georgia — where Gaetz and Greene hail from, respectively — have some of the highest WIC participation rates, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2021, about 403,000 families used the program in Florida, while about 185,000 families used it in Georgia.
While states determine the exact income eligibility for WIC, the federal government says that states cannot provide WIC benefits to people earning more than 185% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $51,000 a year for a family of four. On May 12, President Joe Biden's administration recommended that states ease restrictions on the size and types of formula WIC beneficiaries could buy in the wake of the formula shortage.
Infant formula has been in short supply since February, when Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest formula producers in the United States, recalled formula made at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Four infants who consumed formula from the plant were hospitalized with dangerous bacterial infections, two of whom died.
The Sturgis plant currently remains closed, and the few other domestic formula producers cannot keep up with the increased demand. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it has reached an agreement with Abbott on the criteria needed to reopen the plant, it's unclear when the company will meet the criteria. Even when formula production at the plant resumes, it will still take six to eight weeks for the new formula to hit shelves.
This week, Biden announced more measures to help alleviate the formula shortage, including invoking the Defense Production Act to increase supply and using federal resources to quickly import more formula from other countries.
On Wednesday, the House passed a separate emergency funding bill on Wednesday to address the ongoing formula shortage, with almost every single House Republican voting against it.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.