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Regarding “horse race” coverage of presidential primaries, the current Democratic contest quite resembles the Kentucky Derby. Coming out of the starting gate, there are at least twice as many entries as there ought to be. The majority have no realistic chance.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio? Crackpot new age guru Marianne Williamson? Former tech executive Andrew Yang? I could go on. All such long-shot, 500 to 1, vanity candidates can do is make a cluttered, potentially dangerous mess of things. Rather like this year’s actual Kentucky Derby, I suppose—more stampede than horse race.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be leading the field heading into the first turn. Which most often means he’ll fade in the stretch. Wire-to-wire winners are rare in presidential primaries. The most recent was Hillary Clinton, hardly an inspiring example. Many Democrats have their money on Biden largely because everybody knows his name, and he’s personally popular. Never mind that he’s something like 103 years old.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. Since the majority of Americans dislike Donald Trump, many Democrats think Biden’s the best bet to win next year, when his real age will be 78. Too old to be president, in my view as his marginally younger contemporary. And far too old for the even more exhausting job of campaigning. That applies to Uncle Bernie too, who’s a year older. For that matter, Trump himself is showing signs of wear.

But I digress. Democrats being Democrats, it’s considered discriminatory—the cant term is “ageist”—to mention the candidate’s advanced years. So instead, they decided to bicker about race, a topic that brings out the worst in almost everybody.

Joe Biden, see, was a U.S. Senator back in the 1970s, when Deep South segregationists, all Democrats, walked the earth and ran all the important committees. You wanted to get anything through Congress, you had to deal with them. Rattling on in his loosey-goosey way at a fund-raiser, Biden explained how the experience of working with odious specimens like Senators James O. Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA) made him confident he could bargain with Trumpist Republicans.

Biden described his deep philosophical differences with the two, affecting a deep Southern drawl (rarely a good idea), and calling Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.” He added that Eastland “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’ ”

Most people would call Eastland’s language patronizing, but short of offensive, which seemed to be Biden’s meaning. He certainly wasn’t bragging about “white privilege.”

“Well, guess what?” he continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done…But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

Two of Biden’s more estimable rivals sensed a potential opening. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker announced himself hurt by the former vice-president’s flippant use of racist language and called for an apology. Biden then demanded a counter-apology for doubting his motives. Lame on lame.

See, I quite doubt anybody’s called Cory Booker “boy” since he turned twelve. He grew up a football star in a comfortable New Jersey suburb, played at Stanford, and became a Rhodes Scholar.

The first time he ran for mayor of Newark, incumbent Sharpe James called Booker a “faggoty white boy,” and accused him of “collaborating with the Jews to take over Newark.” In 2012, he became a folk hero by running into a burning apartment building to carry a neighbor to safety. Fire officials said he could have been killed.

So I think Booker’s not somebody whose feelings are easily hurt.

Ditto California Sen. Kamala Harris, whose parentage is Indian and Jamaican. She objected to segregationists being referenced positively at all. If Talmadge and Eastland had their way, she observed, she could never have become a U.S. Senator. True, although they couldn’t prevent African-American Sen. Edward Brooke (R-MA) from serving even then.

Harris spoke feelingly about seeing her mother, a medical researcher, treated “like she was a substandard person” by people who assumed “she was somebody’s housekeeper…based on how she looks.”

Painful, I’m sure. Unless your own mother was a housekeeper.

Anyway, it’s nothing to do with Joe Biden. “I don’t think his remarks are offensive,” said legendary civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). “During the height of the civil rights movement we worked with people and got to know people that were members of the Klan.  We never gave up on our fellow human beings.”

This can’t be news to black voters in South Carolina, most of whom attending Rep. Jim Clyburn’s annual political fish fry told Daily Beast reporter Hanna Trudo they regarded the whole thing as media nonsense. As a preacher she interviewed told her: “If you give the devil a ride, he will drive.”

IMAGE: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) addresses the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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