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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a new interview with New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani gave disturbing, delusional, and at times deeply anti-Semitic comments.

Despite the fact that the former New York mayor’s conduct in Ukraine helped get Trump impeached, he is still carrying on with the self-destructive scheme. And he’s still carrying on with giving free-wheeling media interviews, it seems, even though there are signs he may be at severe legal risk himself.

Here are five key moments from Giuliani’s interview with Nuzzi:

1. Giuliani unleashed a string of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros.

He said former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whom he calls Santa Maria Yovanovitch, is “controlled” by George Soros. “He put all four ambassadors there. And he’s employing the FBI agents.” I told him he sounded crazy, but he insisted he wasn’t.

“Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him,” he said. “Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DA’s in the United States. He’s a horrible human being.”

This section of the interview elicited rapid outrage on social media.

“Giuliani arguing that he is ‘more of a Jew’ than a literal Holocaust survivor is the logical conclusion of Trumpist Jews’ argument that liberal and left wing Jews (the majority of American Jews!) are not really Jewish,” said the Atlantic’s Adam Serwer. “The ‘not really Jews’ argument is also a permission slip to engage in anti-Semitism, since in their minds, It’s not really anti-Semitism if the targets are not truly Jewish!”

“I hope to see [The Conference of Presidents, the Anti-Defamation League] and the major Jewish denominations & orgs swiftly condemn this revolting statement. Mr. Giuliani has no right to define who is a ‘real’ Jew, according to his own political preferences,” said national security analyst Tamara Cofman Wittes.

2. He admitted to having business interests in Ukraine.

While attempting to argue that, despite what has been written, “I have no business interests in Ukraine,” he told me about his business interests in Ukraine.

“I’ve done two business deals in Ukraine. I’ve sought four or five others,” he said. Since he’s been representing the president, he said, he has been approached with two opportunities in Ukraine, both of which he turned down to avoid accusations of impropriety.

The scope of Giuliani’s interest in Ukraine outside of getting the country to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf remains obscure, but his business ties to the region may be key.

3. Giuliani raged at the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who are said to be investigating him.

“If they are, they’re idiots,” he went on. “Then they really are a Trump-deranged bunch of silly New York liberals.” He added that he didn’t know for sure if he was being investigated at all, though subpoenas issued to Giuliani associates by the SDNY reportedly request documents and correspondence related to Giuliani, his firm, and, specifically, “any actual or potential payment” to or from Giuliani.

“If they think I committed a crime, they’re out of their minds,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I know how not to commit crimes. And if they think I’ve lost my integrity, maybe they’ve lost theirs in their insanity over hating Trump with some of the things they did that I never would’ve tolerated when I was U.S. Attorney.”

The idea that Giuliani’s knowledge of the law may save him is dubious. His previous comments about, for instance, Trump’s hush money payments to Stormy Daniels suggested he didn’t understand the nature of the possible charges against his clients.

4. Giuliani went on a baseless and outrageous rant about David Holmes, one of the witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry.

While speculating about possibly cross-examining witnesses as Trump’s defense attorney in a Senate trial, Giuliani floated completely spurious and desperate allegations against Holmes:

He had a few ideas for going after the credibility of witnesses. “The guy that overheard the telephone call,” for instance, “anybody check if the guy has an earpiece? Maybe he didn’t have it in. How old is he? How old is that guy?” There was a possibility that he was deaf, he said, and didn’t know what he heard. “How do we know he isn’t a paranoid schizophrenic?,” he said. “How do we know he isn’t an alcoholic?”

None of these accusations were based on anything and, for what it’s worth, Holmes’ key testimony about Trump’s comments went largely uncontested by Gordon Sondland, who had the conversation in question with Trump.

5. Giuliani completely undermined a key defense for Trump in the impeachment case.

Giuliani and Nuzzi discussed evidence that showed Giuliani called the White House:

He swore that although he doesn’t know whom he called, he knows he didn’t discuss anything improper with whoever it was. “Those calls — I can tell you what they don’t have to do with: They don’t have to do with military aid. I never discussed military aid with them. Never discussed military aid with anyone until it first appeared in the New York Times of late August of 2019. I had no idea we were withholding it, if we were.” He didn’t think it was such a big deal once he read about it, he said, because it was “typical Trump; he withholds aid till the last minute until he makes them beg for it.”

The idea that Trump was making Ukraine “beg for” the military aid is precisely what is so disturbing about the scandal, because it shows the president was using his office and congressionally approved funds to place pressure on the Ukrainian president while also asking for investigations of political opponents. Trump has previously claimed that “There was absolutely no pressure” on Ukraine. Giuliani — who, remember, is supposed to be Trump’s lawyer — says otherwise.

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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