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Tag: chuck grassley

In January 6 Probe, Things Are Getting 'Real Bad' For Trump Gang

The stunning revelations from the last public session of the January 6 committee have not yet been fully analyzed. Side disputes concerning the details of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony — such as whether the former president assaulted a Secret Service agent on January 6 for refusing to drive him to the Capitol (though there is no doubt that he intended to go there) — have distracted from the emerging clues about Trump's coup plot.

First, it's critical to understand that the bizarre fracas alleged to have occurred inside the presidential vehicle was not merely an impulsive outburst by an enraged Donald Trump. His Secret Service detail's refusal to take him to the riot scene at the Capitol infuriated the president because that trip up the hill was part of an elaborate plan he and his gang were trying to execute. He had dispatched a huge mob he knew to be armed and angry to intimidate Pence from certifying the election of Joe Biden as president.

Whatever Trump aide and former Secret Service agent Anthony Ornato said to Hutchinson about the president's hissy fit was far less significant than what Rudy Giuliani told her four days before the riot.

"Are you excited?" the former New York mayor asked her, clearly excited himself. "The sixth is going to be a great day. We're going to the Capitol. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's going to be with the members [of Congress], he's going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it" — meaning her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — "he knows about it."

When Hutchinson mentioned her cryptic chat to Meadows, he said: "There's a lot going on, Cass. Things might get real, real bad on January 6."

Things got worse than "real bad," in part because Vice President Mike Pence was resisting the role set for him by coup strategist John Eastman, a conservative law professor recruited to develop a scheme to deny the constitutional process of accepting the rightful electors. Defending his constitutional responsibilities, Pence declined to accept their fake electors or to send the electoral count back to the states to be "fixed" by Republican state legislators.

And that led not only to demands for his summary lynching by Trump's supporters, but a gambit to remove him from his traditional role in the counting of electoral votes and replace him with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the president pro tempore of the Senate.

On January 5, the dim Grassley suddenly blurted a rather bald hint about what he anticipated the next day during the joint session of Congress where the electoral votes were to be tallied. "Well, first of all, I will be — if the vice president isn't there, and we don't expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate." Recall here that the next day, Pence refused to get into a vehicle with Secret Service agents from his detail under the Capitol, as rioters roamed its hallways seeking to murder him, because he feared the agents might kidnap him to prevent the certification of Biden's victory.

What if they had? Without Pence present, Grassley could have carried out the Eastman scheme. His Senate staff quickly tried to whitewash that incriminating remark, but emails from Trump lawyers prove they wanted Grassley, not Pence, to oversee the count for precisely that reason.

It may not be mere coincidence that Grassley's top aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee was Barbara Ledeen, a notorious intriguer closely associated with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. Ginni Thomas is known to have expended great energy promoting the coup in communications with Meadows and others — and has recently reneged on an agreement to testify before the select committee. She no longer seems "eager" to answer questions under oath. Stonewalling is the Ginni Thomas defense.

At this point in the investigation many crucial aspects of the plot remain opaque, including the precise roles played by Roger Stone and Mike Flynn, who urged a new banana-republic style election under military control, and by the members of Congress who were prepared to toss out the votes of their constituents and install Trump as dictator. Both Stone and Flynn took the Fifth Amendment, Flynn infamously doing so when asked whether he supported the peaceful transition of power under the Constitution.

Meanwhile more witnesses have come forward, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who testified for eight hours without invoking the Fifth Amendment. There's a lot more information that we will soon know — and it's "real, real bad."

‘No Principles’ Grassley Roasted For Hypocritical Attack On Judge Jackson

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the seven-term Republican senior Senator from Iowa, promised his side would not turn Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson‘s Supreme Court confirmation hearing Monday “into a spectacle,” yet proceeded to do just that.

Republicans are vastly opposed to Judge Jackson, who, as many have noted, is not just more qualified than every Supreme Court Justice currently on the bench was when they were nominated, but more qualified than at least three of them combined.

Grassley, 88, running for re-election this year, is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Monday he delivered his opening statement, using it to promote his fictitious judicial theories, saying outright that he will use the hearing to determine if Judge Jackson subscribes to originalism – which only right-wing judges do.

Originalism” was created in the 1980s to turn the country back to the days of its founding. The Constitution was written as a living document, to be interpreted over the ages and amended as necessary. Grassley and most Republicans support this made-up theory of originalism.

He is being widely attacked for that and many other remarks he made.

“Never has an endless lecture from an impossibly boring man of no principles been so intolerable to listen to,” said professor of international relations, political scientist, and journalist David Rothkopf as Grassley spoke.

He added:

“Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley have already turned today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into a spectacle. For them, it’s a Day of Festivus to air all their hypocritical grievances about the past,” said CNN’s Keith Boykin.

The Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal observed: “Grassley says Democrats voted against nominees that were ‘diverse racially.’ This is a good time to remind you that Donald Trump’s nominees were 85% white and 75% male and he’s the only president to not appoint a black male judge since Nixon.
The GOP is obsessed with identity.”

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Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Republicans Oppose More IRS Audits Of Super-Rich Tax Evaders

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A provision in the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill announced on June 24 would provide for investing more money in enforcement of laws targeting top earners who evade payment of taxes. Republican senators are furious.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third-ranking member of the minority party leadership, told Axios on Wednesday that "spending $40 billion to super-size the IRS is very concerning." "Law-abiding Americans deserve better from their government than an army of bureaucrats snooping through their bank statements," he said.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn warned of "a huge potential for abuse": "Bigger government results in more waste, fraud, and abuse."

"Throwing billions more taxpayer dollars at the IRS will only hurt Americans struggling to recover after waves of devastating lockdowns," said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. "Instead of increasing funding for the IRS, we should abolish the damn place."

Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who backed the bipartisan framework, complained, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted on May 17, this year's Tax Day, "Im all for catching tax cheats +closing tax gap BUT Biden plan 2pump more $ into IRS & expand bank reporting is ripe for overreach + imposes more burdens on small biz/family farms."

Earlier in the year, Biden introduced the American Jobs Plan, a $2.25 trillion transportation, climate, water, broadband, child care, and caregiving infrastructure package, and the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion package investment in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care. He proposed funding the plans by raising tax rates on corporations and those earning $400,000 or more and by spending $80 million more to enforce existing tax laws.

Republicans unanimously opposed the plans, drawing what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called a "red line" against any tax increases for wealthy Americans or businesses.

Instead, a group of 10 Republican and Democratic senators agreed on a plan to boost enforcement by half of Biden's initial request to help fund $567 billion in new transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure spending. They proposed that the rest of the funding would come from sources that would include petroleum sales, wireless spectrum auctions, and unused 2020 relief funds.

The White House says $40 billion in spending to improve tax law enforcement would more than pay for itself, bringing in $140 billion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it would bring in $103 billion over a decade. All of this is money already owed to the government under existing tax law.

"There's just a ton of money out there that we're not collecting," former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told the Washington Post on Friday. "Why don't we collect some of that before we raise taxes on the people that are already paying?"

In recent years, the IRS has had to cut back on enforcing the law due to massive budget reductions. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2010 and 2018, the budget for enforcement dropped 24%, the number of enforcement personnel drop 31%, and the audit rate for millionaires dropped 61%.

"The steep decline in audits for high-income individuals stemming from IRS underfunding means that low- and moderate-income households claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are now audited at roughly the same rate as the top 1 percent of filers," Chye-Ching Huang — then the senior director of economic policy with the Center — told the House Ways and Means Committee in February 2020.

An April report by the Center for American Progress noted that while recent official estimates suggest the United States loses about $600 billion a year in unpaid revenue "on April 13, 2021, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress that he believes the United States is losing much more revenue—possibly $1 trillion or more every year."

Seth Hanlon, one of the report's authors, told The American Independent Foundation in May that smarter IRS enforcement would mean more compliance for the richest Americans — but fewer audits for everyone else.

"The whole point is it will let the IRS target audits in a smarter way, so honest people are gonna be less likely to be audited. People earning under $400,000 — as long as they're tax compliant — are gonna be less likely to be audited. The audit rate for those earning under $400,000 won't go up," he said.

Polling show strong popular support for making sure richer Americans pay their fair share. An April Monmouth University poll found 65% support for funding Biden's spending proposals with increased revenue from those making more than $400,000, compared to 33% opposition.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

In Key '22 Senate Races, Republicans Already Face Headwinds

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Last year, Senate Republicans were already feeling so desperate about their upcoming midterm prospects that they rushed to wish Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa a speedy and full recovery from COVID-19 so that he could run for reelection in 2022. The power of incumbency is a huge advantage for any politician, and Republicans were clinging to the idea of sending Grassley—who will be 89 when the '22 general election rolls around—back to the upper chamber for another six-year term.

GOP fortunes have improved slightly since then, with historical trends improving their midterm prospects since Democrats now control the White House and both chambers of Congress. But the Senate map is still a long ways away from a gimme for Republicans, and several recent developments have brought good news for Democrats.

The first of those is a new poll from the Des Moines Register showing that nearly two-thirds of Iowa voters (64 percent) believe "it's time for someone else" to hold Grassley's seat versus the 27 percent who want to see the octogenarian reelected to an eighth term. Women voters were especially brutal, with seven out of ten saying they were ready to give Grassley the heave-ho.

Grassley's numbers with GOP voters lagged too, with just 51 percent committing to supporting him again, while just seven percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents agreed. Grassley's overall job approval clocked in at a meager 45 percent; it's his lowest level since 1982.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., upends Republican thinking that another Grassley run could help safeguard the seat. In fact, Grassley may be a liability in the general election, or GOP primary voters may choose an alternative. In any case, Iowa's Senate race could prove more competitive than Republicans had hoped.

Meanwhile, the GOP primary race for North Carolina's open Senate seat has been scrambled by Donald Trump's surprise endorsement of hard-right Congressman Ted Budd, according to Politico. Following Trump's input at the state party convention earlier this month, former North Carolina governor-turned-Senate candidate Pat McCrory rushed to dismiss the endorsement as falling "flat" in the room.

Now, retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr is coming to McCrory's rescue, reportedly arguing both publicly and privately that he is "the only one in the race" who can win the seat statewide. "Pat McCrory has a commanding advantage," Burr told Politico.

Burr, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges, also took a swipe at Trump's rationale, or lack thereof.

"I can't tell you what motivates him," Burr said of Trump. "I've never seen individuals endorse a candidate a year before the primary. That's unusual."

Judging by Budd's own internal polling, Burr has a point. McCrory enjoys far higher statewide name recognition, and he's leading Budd by about two dozen points, 45 percent to 19 percent. Another Republican contender, former Rep. Mark Walker, garners just 12 percent of the vote, with 23 percent still undecided.

McCrory, who has been meeting with GOP senators to make his case, is running as an establishment Republican. Budd obviously occupies the Trump lane now. It's a scenario that could easily leave one side or the other feeling resentful depending on which Republican prevails, and any result on the GOP side could wind up depressing at least some general election turnout among Tar Heel Republicans.

But that's the least of the GOP's worries, according to McCrory's camp, which is intent on catastrophizing the ultimate result of a Budd primary win.

"If Republicans want a majority in the U.S. Senate, they will nominate Pat McCrory," said McCrory adviser Jordan Shaw. "Otherwise, Democrats are going to take this seat and keep the majority."

Republicans Insist On Preserving Filibuster (Except When They Don’t)

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Republicans are mounting an aggressive campaign to keep their power to block nearly all of the new Democratic majority's legislative proposals.

But while they now defend the Senate's filibuster rule as vital for "bipartisanship," they unanimously voted to eliminate it for Supreme Court nominations less than four years ago.

While it only takes a simple majority in the 100-member U.S. Senate to pass legislation, with few exceptions it takes a three-fifths supermajority — 60 votes — to end debate and actually hold a vote. Segregationists long used those cloture rules to block civil rights legislation and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell used them a record-breaking number of times to obstruct President Barack Obama's agenda.

Senate rules would allow just 51 senators to change that 60-vote threshold. After Democrats retook a narrow majority in the chamber on Wednesday, McConnell (R-KY) and his colleagues began demanding Democrats agree in advance not to do so.

Much of their argument has centered on the importance of preserving the super-majority requirement as a way to ensure bipartisan decisions.

But back in April 2017, the 60-vote requirement also applied to Supreme Court nominations. When Donald Trump nominated conservative Neil Gorsuch to the high court, he lacked the needed supermajority to be confirmed.

Rather than find a nominee palatable to a large bipartisan majority, McConnell and every Republican senator voted to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. They then confirmed him on a mostly party-line vote for a lifetime appointment.

That has not stopped many of those same Republican senators from taking the opposite view now.

McConnell is currently blocking an organizing resolution that would allow Senate committees to operate, demanding that he keep his power to block bills.

"Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years," his spokesman told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

"The 60 vote cloture requirement (filibuster rule) requires bipartisanship and provides stability in our laws -- something we should all want in a big, diverse country of 330 million people," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted on Friday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) agreed, tweeting on Friday, "Senate GOP majority fended off calls to end legislative filibuster incl from Pres Trump We didn't cave 2pressure 2go 'nuclear' on legis filibuster bc we knew weight of keeping Senate the gr8 deliberative body Framers of Constitution intended Its time for Senate Democrats 2do same."

On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted a years-old quote from Biden explaining the rationale for the filibuster rule, opining, "Makes sense to me!"

According to a Politico report on Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) backed McConnell's efforts to force Democrats to keep the rule, saying, "You want to do it before there's an emotional, difficult, controversial issue. So that it isn't issue-driven, it's institution-driven."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the outlet that his party needs Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to say "we're not going to change the legislative filibuster."

Sens. McConnell, Cornyn, Grassley, Rubio, Collins, and Graham all voted for the 2017 rule change.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Grassley, Who Hasn’t Missed Vote Since ’93, Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Early on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley announced that he was quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19. By late afternoon, Grassley released a statement announcing that he had tested positive for the virus, saying "I'll be keeping up on my work for the people of Iowa from home … and I look forward to resuming my normal schedule when I can."

This is big news for a variety of reasons. One obvious reason is that the Republican Party, its terrible handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and their members' bad public health examples have led to the very real threats of sickness and death within their ranks. The other reason is that Chuck Grassley, up until today, had not missed a Senate vote since 1993. Being in actual COVID-19 quarantine will mean that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempts at further packing the courts during the lame duck session of Trump's tenure as corrupter in chief will not include Sen. Grassley's vote.

Losing Grassley today means that the loss McConnell took trying to get Judy Shelton (Trump's loony toon nominee for the Federal Reserve) through has been further hampered.

At Barrett Hearing, Only Republicans Talk About Religion

Senate Republicans have claimed for weeks that Democratic attacks on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's faith are just around the corner — but the only people at her confirmation hearing talking about Barrett's faith were Republicans.

Monday was the first day of Barrett's controversial confirmation hearing. During opening remarks, exactly seven senators mentioned her Catholic faith: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

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Grisham Warns ‘People Should Pay’ For Impeaching Trump

For months, congressional Republicans have complained that the impeachment of Donald Trump was delaying important policy, repeating the mantra “get back to work.” Now that the impeachment process is over, they are instead pushing for new investigations in retaliation.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham essentially admitted this plan on Fox News on Thursday, previewing Trump’s remarks set for the afternoon. “I think he’s gonna also talk about how just horribly he was treated and that maybe people should pay for that,” she said.

Here is what Republicans have already announced:

Investigation of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has not held public office since 2013 and has not been a candidate since 2016.

Still, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Homeland Security & Government Affairs chair, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to request “additional information” about a September 2019 State Department report on “security violations” related to a private email server she used during her tenure in Barack Obama’s cabinet.

Investigations of Joe and Hunter Biden

The origin of Trump’s impeachment was his explicit request that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox Business that the Senate Foreign Relations would soon investigate the Bidens.

On Wednesday, Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that they would investigate Hunter Biden.

On Thursday, the Trump administration began providing documents related to Hunter Biden, including financial records, to Johnson and Grassley, according to Yahoo! News.

Investigation of the anonymous whistleblower

In the same Fox Business interview, Graham also announced that “in the coming weeks” the Senate Intelligence Committee “will call the whistleblower” who first alerted Congress to Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo.

“Why is it important? I want to find out how this crap started. If the whistleblower is a former employee of, associate of, Joe Biden, I think that would be important. If the whistleblower was working with people on [House Intelligence Chair Adam] Schiff’s staff that wanted to take Trump down a year and a half ago, I think that would be important,” Graham explained, suggesting multiple unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

“If the Schiff staff people helped write the complaint, that would be important. We’re going to get to the bottom of all of this to make sure this never happens again,” Graham added.

Investigation of House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff

Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed Schiff (D-CA) for his impeachment. Last month, he said, “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man.”

Trump warned, “He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that House Republicans would seek an investigation into Schiff. “After President Trump is acquitted, let’s get to the bottom of how this nightmare started,” he wrote on Twitter.

In remarks on a right-wing radio show, he demanded a probe to “get to the bottom of the lies of Adam Schiff that put this country through the nightmare.”

Punishing Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a great deal of GOP ire after she tore up a copy of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on national television on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced he was filing an ethics complaint against her, accusing the California Democrat of conduct “beneath the dignity of the House.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) also filed a resolution of disapproval, aimed at forcing a House vote to condemn the Speaker. She called Pelosi’s conduct “a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.