Start your day with National Memo Newsletter
The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Attorney John C. Eastman, who wrote a memo outlining a scheme to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results, is among the Trump allies who has been subpoenaed to testify before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6 insurrection. But Eastman, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, is refusing to testify, and he explained his decision in a letter to the committee.
In the letter, which was dated December 1 and addressed to Democratic Rep. and select committee chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham wrote, “Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena.”
The Fifth Amendment protects the constitutional right not to be forced to incriminate oneself. While it is commonly invoked in criminal trials, it is far less common for it to be invoked in congressional investigations of the president and his aides. And Eastman isn't the first in this case to invoke the Fifth — former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark has likewise expressed his intent to do so.
Burnham went on to say, “Members of this very Committee have openly spoken of making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice and described the Committee’s work in terms of determining ‘guilt or innocence.’ Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him.”
Eastman’s refusal to testify is drawing plenty of reactions on social media. Attorney Max Kennerly observed:
1) It's fine to assert your rights. Even innocent people have good reason to take the Fifth.\n\n2) Unless you're a juror in a criminal trial, it's also fine to draw reasonable inferences from that silence. It's meaningful that one of the architects of January 6 refuses to testify.https://twitter.com/kyledcheney/status/1466816276777639938\u00a0\u2026— Max Kennerly (@Max Kennerly) 1638552437
Luke Zaleski, legal affairs editor at Conde Nast, tweeted:
We\u2019re living through an endless cycle of republican abuse of power and obstruction of justice that has seen two impeachments and an ongoing insurrection so far. There is no end, no bottom, they simply will not comply with the imperatives of government or institutions of justice— Luke Zaleski (@Luke Zaleski) 1638552896
Here are some more reactions posted on Twitter:
Almost as if trying to overturn a legitimate democratic election is illegal...— Alan Wingender (@Alan Wingender) 1638551305
surprise, surprise, surprisehttps://twitter.com/ElectionLawBlog/status/1466836841085112320\u00a0\u2026— Rick Hasen (@Rick Hasen) 1638556189
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Critics are responding with alarm to news Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is asking for millions of taxpayer funds to create his own militia force, separate from the existing National Guard.
CNN calls it "a World War II-era civilian military force that he, not the Pentagon, would control." And while the law allows for the move, it was created "as a temporary force to fill the void left behind" when the state's National Guard was deployed overseas, and "disbanded after the war ended."
But the highly-controversial Florida Republican, seen as one of the top 2024 GOP presidential candidates, is also making clear his motives are a further escalation in his war of words against the Biden administration.
"DeSantis also said this unit, called the Florida State Guard, would be 'not encumbered by the federal government.' He said this force would give him 'the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.'"
For some reason, Ron Desantis now feels the need to create a state militia under his control.pic.twitter.com/q4EJUEGG4i— Ron Filipkowski (@Ron Filipkowski) 1638535058
It's also being seen as one more potential attack on science during the coronavirus pandemic era. All National Guard members must be vaccinated. DeSantis opposes all vaccine and mask mandates and has invited unvaccinated, fired police officers from others states to move to Florida – and offering them a $5000 payment.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, now a U.S. Congressman but running to unseat DeSantis, called DeSantis' militia a "handpicked secret police" force.
No Governor should have his own handpicked secret police.https://twitter.com/byJasonDelgado/status/1466440915292233730\u00a0\u2026— Charlie Crist (@Charlie Crist) 1638464416
Perhaps one of the strongest warnings comes from SiriusXM Progress host Dean Obeidallah, who calls it "the beginning of a 'Red Army' as the GOP prepares for war."
DeSantis also said this unit would be "not encumbered by the federal government." In other words it would be Ron DeSantis personal militia. You know like political leaders in Iraq and Syria have. #TrumpsRedArmyhttps://twitter.com/DeanObeidallah/status/1466745848260435973\u00a0\u2026— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@(((DeanObeidallah)))) 1638537269
"The same Republicans who claim January 6 was not a terrorist attack but just a 'tourist visit' now tell us not to be concerned with Ron DeSantis forming a personal militia that he says will 'not encumbered by the federal government,'" Obeidallah adds. "This is a Red Army!!!"
MSNBC's Joy Reid likened the move to fascism, asking: "So… y’all know this is fascisty bananas, right…?"
Attorney and DeSantis critic Daniel Uhlfelder noted the governor's "classic authoritarian move" on bringing his son to the announcement.
In a classic authoritarian move Ron DeSantis brought his young son to brag about announcement of his reinstatement of long defunct Florida state guard. \n\nThe Florida state guard would be under DeSantis\u2019s sole power without any interference. \n\n\u2066@RemoveRon\u2069pic.twitter.com/tr6HyDJmZL— Daniel Uhlfelder (@Daniel Uhlfelder) 1638535331
"More setting up for 2024 coup!" tweeted Amy Siskind, The New Agenda founder and author of The Weekly List.
Research and strategic communication CEO Fernand Amandi describes DeSantis' move as "What wannabe totalitarian, fascist, authoritarian dictators do."