Senators Reid And McConnell Illustrate The Senate’s Tradition Of Compromise
January 28 | 2013
The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning
The New York Times late on Tuesday afternoon published two separate reports revealing previously unknown details from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s double-pronged investigation into Donald Trump’s likely unlawful actions, including that investigators have interviewed or subpoenaed approximately two dozen people who are among those who know the ex-president best: Mark Meadows, Trump’s final White House chief of staff, and “more than 20” of the ex-president’s Secret Service agents.
The Times, pointing to the “surprise revelation” that a federal grand jury has been convened in Florida, reports Meadows has testified before the grand jury, presumably in Washington, D.C. The 20 or more members of the ex-president’s Secret Service detail have either testified before the D.C. grand jury or been subpoenaed to do so.
Meadows is a “key witness” who allegedly was intimately aware or involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he is believed to also have knowledge of the ex-president’s likely unlawful handling of classified and top secret documents.
Suggesting there could be “unknown complexities” with the revelation of a Florida grand jury, The Times reports Special Counsel Jack Smith’s D.C. grand jury appears to have stopped hearing testimony recently from witnesses, while the one in the Sunshine State “began hearing evidence last month,” but has seen “only a handful of witnesses.”
Based on “people familiar with the matter,” the Times explains, “if both grand juries are in operation, it suggests that prosecutors are considering bringing charges in both Washington and Florida. It is possible that Mr. Trump could be charged in one jurisdiction while other people involved in the case are charged in the other.”
“But if only the Florida grand jury is currently hearing testimony, it suggests two possibilities,” according to the Times. “One is that the investigation in Washington is largely complete and that prosecutors are now poised to make a decision about bringing charges there while still weighing other potential indictments in Florida.”
Other possibilities are that the special counsel believes Florida is the proper venue to file charges against Trump, in the documents probe, or even that the Florida grand jury was convened to accommodate “local witnesses.”
But former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Harry Litman told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace Tuesday that if the special counsel files charges in the wrong venue, the entire case “can go away” and cannot be retried.
“I think Smith has made all his decisions,” Litman added. “The fact that there was this meeting yesterday, only happens when everything’s final. I think there’s a draft indictment and everything, but a very important strategic decision is venue, and I think that they’re pursuing something separate in the Southern District of Florida.”
Meanwhile, the Times notes that “Mr. Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.” Apparently, even Trump has “at times asked aides questions about how Mr. Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, played coy when asked about his client’s possible grand jury testimony. Terwilliger told the Times, “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”
In addition to his knowledge, if not participation in efforts to overturn the election, and his knowledge of Trump’s mishandling and possible attempts to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation into the classified documents, Meadows “tangentially” is involved in a meeting that Special Counsel Smith now has on recorded audio. Although he was not present, that meeting was about Meadows’ book. In the audio, Trump allegedly made clear he knew the highly-classified Pentagon document had not been declassified, shattering his stated defense, and he allegedly said he wanted to share it, which could lead to more legal troubles for him.
Andrew Weissmann, a former top DOJ official, tweeted in response to the Times’ story on Meadows, “Did he plead or was he given immunity?”
Professor of law at NYU Law, Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel for the Department of Defense, served up this equation:
“Put these 2 things together and what do you have? 1) Meadows ‘has testified before a federal grand jury…in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office’! 2) Meadow’s actions seem to be kept secret from Trump team! Answer: A cooperator?”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Lice so severe that even kerosene couldn’t kill them. Shoeless feet padding aimlessly. Gross malnourishment.
That’s how people described the Yellow Hammers, a semi-isolated colony of the ostracized and downtrodden in Illinois that developed during the Reconstruction Era.
The history of the Yellow Hammers is murky. As the legend goes, a Colonel Brodie of the Civil War — it doesn’t include a first name — came home to Alabama, the Yellowhammer State, and relocated to Wilmington, Illinois where he purchased several acres of wooded land and invited anyone from his home state to come live on it, creating essentially an encampment people called “Brodie’s Woods.” Those people who relocated to Wilmington from Alabama were impoverished, almost permanently, and made pariahs in the community as they huddled on Brodie’s land.
The pariahs’ poverty prevented those among them who were employed from purchasing their own equipment so they used company tools — when they were able to work — whose handles were painted yellow.
These stories, reported by a high school student, can’t be confirmed. First, the only nineteenth century colonel named Brodie was about 12 years old when the Civil War started. One William Brodie from Alabama fought in the Civil War but there’s no record of his being a colonel. A now defunct local Chicago newspaper, the Surburbanite Economist, reported in 1970 that an area of Wilmington, Illinois was known as Brodie’s Woods, but that’s one of very few verifiable mentions of the area.
The more likely story of the root of Yellowhammer is that a cavalry of soldiers from Huntsville went to Kentucky during the Civil War to aid Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s — history will call him both a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and an innovative warrior — Company A of the Confederate Army. They wore new sharp gray uniforms adorned with brilliant yellow trim. A Confederate soldier in tatters said they looked like the bird the yellowhammer, a type of woodpecker, which was made Alabama’s state bird in 1927. The Yellowhammers ended up becoming valuable team members; they supported several of Gen. Forrest’s victories, one of which frustrated Gen. Ulysses Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign.
That the history of the Yellow Hammers is so hard to pin down says quite a bit about the state today; tracing what really happens proves difficult. Even though Alabama media tries to cover events inside the prisons, the state of news in 2023 dictates that coverage isn’t as complete as anyone would like.
Just as the history of the Yellowhammers is unclear, the view into Alabama’s prisons is muddied by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) and its commitment to opacity. The officials who run that system do not like looksies. Early this year, ADOC stopped releasing the number of in-custody deaths on a monthly basis, ostensibly because there were so many that they either couldn’t keep up or didn’t want to be embarrassed by their inability to protect the state's wards.
Nevertheless, the reports of carnage that keep dripping out — two men were murdered on May 15, 2023, an additional pair added to a list of over 60 since January 1, 2023 — have contributed to a narrative that men and women in Alabama prison are incorrigible, even feral, when all they’re doing is adapting to the environment that the state has established for them.
The truth is that a good number of them are quite high-minded. When they staged a strike last fall, they didn’t even protest the squalid conditions they live in, which happen to be deplorable. Instead they sought policy reform on sentencing and parole which will ultimately benefit people beyond them.
Their strike demands were imminently reasonable, despite Gov. Kay Ivey’s disagreement. But the demands were really only part of the story of the strike. My sources tell me that — under the guidance of some dedicated leaders who I won’t name now — rival gangs and sworn enemies convened in good faith to hammer out what they needed to ask for. In that respect, they’re behaving better than many of us on the outside if they can display that type of comity. They came together despite the fact that they worry every day — along with family and friends — that they’ll be killed or starved. They’re fighting back non-violently. Bravely.
And even effectively. Because of the strike demands, lawmakers introduced two bills poised to pass the Alabama legislature. First is a bill that would mandate the right to attend one’s own parole hearings by video (they can’t attend these crucial proceedings now) and second is a bill that would allow people serving life sentences to petition to have their punishment reduced. Most prison work stoppages achieve nothing. This group of men and women convinced people to listen and act. Do not count these people out.
That doesn’t mean the wind is under their yellowhammer wings. Gov. Ivey just signed a bill into law that reforms the so-called “good time” statute by making it harder to earn time off one’s sentence because ADOC failed to take the good time of someone who attempted escape. Their resilience doesn’t mean they’re safe now or being treated justly. It’s just the opposite.
Alabama’s prison population reflects a lot of their yellowhammer history. Like woodpeckers, they’re tenacious fighters. Much like the Yellowhammer Cavalry in 1862, they're nimble, capable of putting up a few wins, but then ultimately forgotten.
And they aren't living much differently than Brodie’s Yellow Hammers. Some aren’t supplied shoes and therefore aren’t allowed in the chow hall. As I have reported before, the ADOC intentionally starves them when they assert their rights. They wander, often squatting in dorms where they’re not assigned because they want to avoid being raped. The violence doesn’t cease; I hear reports of outright beatings that all too often result in lost “good time” but no medical treatment. And they huddle, displaced and ostracized, in one of Alabama’s 15 state-sanctioned colonies of fear and panic.
But unlike the legend of Brodie’s Woods, these tales are true and verifiable. There’s no fiction here. It’s traceable. It tracks, all too well.
That’s why today The National Memo announces an unflinching series that goes inside Alabama’s criminal legal crisis: the Yellowhammer Files. We’re going to trace and track data and stories until something changes. Check these files as they are published and you will be stunned by what you read.
Chandra Bozelko served more than six years in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent. Her work has earned several professional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Los Angeles Press Club, The National Federation of Press Women and more.Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.