Tag: lindsey graham
Chuck Grassley

'Flip-Flop Fest': Republicans Whine After Garland Names Hunter Biden Special Counsel

Republicans expressing outrage after Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday elevated the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney investigating Hunter Biden to special counsel status are now being mocked and chastised after it was revealed they have been demanding the Attorney General appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden for over a year.

“Half of the House Republican conference wrote to Merrick Garland last year asking him to appoint a special counsel in the Hunter Biden case. Now that he’s done it they are acting mad,” wrote Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

Fritschner pointed to this letter to Garland from April, 2022, signed by nearly 100 House Republicans, demanding he appoint a special counsel.

“We believe that in the case of Hunter Biden a Special Counsel must be appointed to preserve the integrity of this investigation and any subsequent prosecution. A Special Counsel would also ensure there is no bias in the investigation or undue influence from the White House,” the Republicans wrote.

Doing so, they insisted, would “help restore” some “trust for the American people…in government institutions.”

For example, among the House Republicans who signed the April 2022 letter demanding a special counsel, is Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who on Friday, responding to a report about the elevation of David Weiss to special counsel status, wrote: “The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight. All this while the House Oversight Committee has put fourth mounting evidence of President Joe Biden’s role in his family’s schemes.”

The ridicule of Republicans came quickly.

Fritschner blasted U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI):

Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall, pointing to Fritschner’s comments, responded: “Friends don’t let friend[s] try to appease Republicans.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), known for his sarcastic and scathing remarks ridiculing Republicans during House committee hearings, ridiculed the entire House GOP Friday afternoon. After pointing to a post from February they made demanding a special counsel, he suggested they might need treatment for amnesia.

Fritschner blasted Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI):

That social media post from the House GOP included a letter from Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan blasting Garland for not appointing a special counsel.

National security attorney Brad Moss slammed Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for demanding a special counsel be appointed, only to complain when one was.

Norman Ornstein, the political scientist and emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, responded, adding: “Chuck Grassley has long been an embarrassment to the Senate and clearly seems to have been privy to the attempt to steal the election. He needs to resign.”

Indeed, Sen. Grassley was one of 33 GOP Senators who, in September, not only demanded Garland appoint a special counsel, but demanded David Weiss be granted special counsel status.

“Under Department of Justice regulations and federal law, you have the power to provide special counsel authorities and protections to U.S. Attorney Weiss. Given that the investigation involves the President’s son, we believe it is important to provide U.S. Attorney Weiss with special counsel authorities and protections to allow him to investigate an appropriate scope of potentially criminal conduct, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and provide additional assurances to the American people that the Hunter Biden investigation is free from political influence,” the GOP Senators wrote.

Read the tweets above or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Mexican Army

Do Republicans Really Think Bombing Mexico Will Win Drug War?

There is no border in the world anything like the one between the United States and Mexico: a wealthy industrialized nation sharing a 2,000-mile frontier with a developing country barely able to raise its millions above subsistence-level poverty. It’s as if France were to border directly upon Algeria, or Germany upon Somalia.

American writers from Ambrose Bierce, who vanished during the Mexican revolution of 1913, to Cormac McCarthy, whose All the Pretty Horses depicted Mexico as a place of enchantment and deadly violence, have always seen it as a land of extremes. Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 film The Wild Bunch dramatizes near-phantasmagoric violence.

The brilliant Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz maintained that mutual incomprehension between the two countries was permanent and inevitable. America’s legacy, Paz wrote in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “is Democracy, capitalism and the Industrial Revolution,” while Mexico’s is “the counter-reformation, monopoly, and feudalism.”

The American belief in the inevitability of progress doesn’t really exist there, although half the Mexican population would probably emigrate to “el Coloso del Norte” if they could.

I once visited the home of a seasonal worker in a remote, picturesque village in Jalisco, whose mother insisted the whole town would follow him to California if they could.

“Todos, todos, todos,” she said. “No hay nada para nosotros en Mexico.” (“All of us. There is nothing for us in Mexico.”)

So naturally, Republicans want to bomb them. Because, of course, nothing has ever succeeded like America’s vaunted war on drugs, and looking manly and warlike is Job One among GOP politicians. Writing in The Atlantic, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum compiles an alarming list of conservative politicians who think the best way to fix the eternal crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border is to bomb and/or invade that country.

Supposedly, presidential candidate Donald Trump has asked his advisers for a plan of attack. His mini-me rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has proposed a naval blockade of Mexican ports. The idea is to interdict chemicals Mexican drug cartels use to manufacture fentanyl. (Suggestion: Take a look at a map showing that country’s thousands of miles of coastline on the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. DeSantis’ suggestion is absurd on its face.)

GOP senators are breathing smoke and fire. Last year, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing: “We can also use special operators and elite tactical units in law enforcement to capture or kill kingpins, neutralize key lieutenants, and destroy the cartel’s super labs and organizational infrastructure. We must work closely with the Mexican government ... but we cannot allow it to delay or hinder this necessary campaign.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham argues that “Our nation is being attacked by foreign powers called drug cartels in Mexico ... They are at war with us. We need to be at war with them.”

Somebody will have to tell me where and when a nation has bombed its way out of a drug addiction crisis. But then, I had the great advantage of riding in Mexican Army helicopters more than 40 years ago during “Operación Condór,” back when the drug killing Americans was heroin and the cartels were mainly a regional problem in the state of Sinaloa.

I thought they ought to call it “Operación Pato Muerto,” i.e., dead duck, because the authorities had no chance of eradicating heroin poppies grown by destitute campesinos from a remote area in the Sierra Madre as large as California, where government authority scarcely existed.

Indeed, I’ve never met a Mexican who believes that country’s government has either the will or the ability to eradicate drug smuggling as long as we Yanquis keep buying the stuff. Not even Roberto Montenegro, the courageous Mexican reporter who arranged my helicopter ride and who was murdered on the cathedral square in Culiacán a couple of months after I left.

This, too, as Frum astringently points out: Mexicans do have a democracy, and they do get to vote. What’s more, they know a whole lot more about us than we know about them, and most feel that we’ve corrupted them more than the other way around. No Mexican politician can afford to be seen as countenancing a U.S. insult to that country’s sovereignty.

“Mexicans are dying,” Frum points out, “because of American drug purchases. Mexico has about one-third the population of the United States but four times the homicide rate.” Most are dying in gang wars over market share. “Does Mexico do too little to halt the flow of opioids northward? The United States does nothing to halt the flow of guns southward.”

Every Mexican citizen knows this proverb: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.”

Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of The Hunting of the President.

Reprinted with permission from Sun Times.

Donald Trump

Republicans Who Know That The Trump Indictment Is Devastating

What will Republican voters make of Trump's federal indictment? There have already been polls, but they are too early to mean much. Voters' reactions will be influenced by Republican leaders and media personalities. For the past eight years, "influencers" have rallied around Trump. The base has accordingly dismissed every allegation as politically motivated and the politicians, in turn, have pointed to the opinions of "the people" as justification for sticking with Trump themselves. Rinse and repeat. That minuet continued after the indictment was announced, but this time there were some interesting dissenters.

Yes, the usual lemmings, Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik and more, leapt from their chairs to offer bad-faith excuses for Trump. McCarthy found himself defending the placement of highly classified documents in a Mar-a-Lago bathroom because "bathroom doors have a lock." Most of the talking heads on Fox and other right-wing outlets decried the "weaponization" of the justice system and many, including some members of Congress, went even further and urged violent resistance.

But there were some Republicans — even some stalwart Trump defenders — who swallowed hard this time and told the truth. Even on Fox News Sunday.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr, appearing on Fox, was unsparing. "I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were, frankly. ... And I think (the search) was a right thing to do, and ... the counts under Espionage Act that he willfully retained those documents are solid counts."

"Solid counts," not a "boxes hoax," as Trump calls it. Barr continued, "I do think that ... if even half of it is true, then he's toast. I mean, it's a pretty — it's a very detailed indictment, and it's very, very damming."

Law professor Jonathan Turley has been a reliable Trump shill for some time, and even as recently as the night the indictment was announced, he was predicting confidently that "Trump could run on pardoning himself." But on Friday, after reading the indictment, Turley was sounding chastened. Allowing that "we haven't heard from the other side," Turley acknowledged that "It is an extremely damning indictment ... Some of the evidence is coming from his former counsel." Referring to the photos of boxes stacked in various locations, he said, "It's really breathtaking. Obviously, this is mishandling. Putting classified documents into ballrooms and bathrooms ... borders on the bizarre." And he cautioned the Trump attorneys (yet to be named), "The Trump team should not fool itself. These are hits below the water line ... It's overwhelming in its details."

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy wasn't pulling any punches either. Asked by Fox's Shannon Bream whether some of the evidence in the indictment might never be seen by a jury, Gowdy said, "Well, the most damning piece of evidence to me is the audiotape. I mean, you want to talk about consciousness of guilt?"

Alan Dershowitz has embarrassed himself by his past Trump advocacy, including during an impeachment trial, and yet he, too, was awed by the strength of the indictment, which he said was "stronger than many people anticipated."

The "most important" and "most difficult for Trump" he argued, were the audiotapes. "It may not be a smoking gun, but it's a gun, and it's a very important piece of evidence, and it's enough to convict ... (Trump) of knowingly possessing unauthorized classified material ... Donald Trump has a lot to worry about."

National Review would not, it's safe to say, be mistaken for an anti-Trump publication. They fall more into the anti-anti-Trump camp much of the time. But in the wake of this indictment, they've run a number of scorching essays. Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, had no patience for the Trump as victim narrative:

"These are not the people who want to take him out. This is not Joe Biden, Liz Cheney, congressional Democrats, or the 'fake news' media. ... No, the evidence comes from Trump's lawyers. The people who were trying to minimize his criminal exposure and push back against his destructive tendencies. The people who were trying to help him. ... If you tell me I need to look the other way on that because Hillary Clinton got a pass, I respectfully suggest that you've lost your way."

Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was not a Trump apologist, but he's an influential conservative legal analyst, and he was at pains to debunk the argument some were floating that the Presidential Records Act somehow permitted Trump to do what he did. He tweeted, "I marvel at various leaps people (including, I'm sorry to see, people I like) are making in claiming this case means that (the) Presidential Records Act gives Trump protection against criminal prosecution for allegedly retaining (and lying about retaining) classified materials."

Finally, three of Trump's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination declined to bend the knee this time. Asa Hutchinson called on Trump to withdraw from the race and scorned Vivek Ramaswamy for promising to pardon Trump. Chris Christie declared that the facts in the indictment are "devastating." And Nikki Haley suggested that "Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security."

Would it have been better for the entire GOP to have taken an off-ramp many years ago? Without doubt. But that cannot blind us to the fact that right now, some former Trump allies are telling the truth, and that may just influence a few Republicans who've rarely heard this kind of thing from their own side before.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Former President Donald Trump

Why Trump's Defenders Hesitate To Pronounce The Words 'Not Guilty'

With the news on Thursday that a grand jury in New York had indicted Donald Trump, Republicans erupted into universal support of law-breaking. Whether it was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tearfully soliciting additional funds so Trump wouldn’t need to pay his legal bills, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis admitting that he has never read the Constitution, or the entire cast of Fox News falling down the Q rabbit hole to talk about how “they” are laying a trap for Trump supporters, there was one thing that those screaming about the horror of Trump’s indictment never said.

They never said Trump wasn’t guilty.

Of course, none of them have seen the charges against Trump, much less one sentence of the evidence. They don’t know what the grand jury heard. But they don’t need to. Because for Republicans, it’s not about the law. It never is.

In response to Trump’s indictment, Republicans have declared that the U.S. is now a “police state,” told people to be ready with their AR-15s, and made endless attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Speaker Kevin McCarthy called Trump’s indictment “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA” and every right-wing pundit and politician in piling on a description of Bragg as a pawn of George Soros. In case this isn’t clear, what they’re saying is that Bragg is a Black man who was supported by Jews, so he’s not allowed to charge an important white man.

But again, no one is claiming that Trump is clearly innocent. That would be hard to do since, going back to the Mueller Report, investigators reported that they had “uncovered evidence of potential wire fraud and FECA violations pertaining to Michael Cohen.” The charging documents in Cohen’s own indictment made Trump’s involvement in these crimes blindingly obvious.

That evidence pointed straight at “Individual 1,” the not so coded code name used for Trump during the investigation. It was Individual 1 who arranged six-figure payments to both adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal to keep them quiet about affairs with Trump. The investigation showed that, in spite of his denials, Trump had always been aware of the payments.

It was also Individual 1 who arranged a “catch-and-kill” deal with National Enquirer, in which the tabloid cut a check for McDougal’s story under the pretense of publishing it, then buried the story behind an exclusivity agreement.

These actions included clear violations of campaign and accounting laws. Cohen was found guilty on eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations made at the express request of Trump and with Trump’s involvement. That has always been clear.

However, the federal investigation never got around to charging Trump. Two years ago, the Associated Press reported that the federal case against Trump related to these charges “was dead,” and that no one else was following up.

An attorney for one key witness described the investigation as “dead,” adding prosecutors have even returned certain evidence they collected — a likely indication no one else will be charged. The attorney spoke on the condition of anonymity because prosecutors have not discussed the case publicly.

Why would prosecutors not follow up on what appeared to be a slam-dunk case involving the person behind a crime that had already been successfully prosecuted and charged? Well … reasons.

One current and one former law enforcement official told the AP that factors beyond presidential immunity prevented Trump from being charged for his role in buying the silence of Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, who said they’d had extramarital affairs with him.

There you go. Two anonymous officials, one of them retired, said there were “factors” that prevented Trump from being charged, but they wouldn’t talk about what those factors might be.

But even these sorry, we can’t charge him, and we can’t tell you why officials didn’t make any pretense that Trump didn’t commit the crime. Because he did. it’s just that, because reasons, he can’t be charged.

Now that Trump has been indicted, everyone Republican seems to be screaming that this is the worst day ever in the history of days, but they’re not coming any closer to explaining just why Trump should not face charges for things he clearly did.

And again, we don’t even know what those charges will be. Most seem to be assuming that Bragg will charge Trump with state charges related to falsifying business records when he shuffled the books around to hide his payments to Daniels and McDougal. The list might include one or more violations of campaign finance law.

However, it’s worth noting that the last witness called before the grand jury wasn’t Michael Cohen, it was David Pecker, the CEO of the company behind National Enquirer, who was granted immunity back in 2018 specifically so investigators could learn about Trump’s involvement with the deal to silence McDougal. That makes it seem that at least some of the charges against Trump might be related to his role in this scam.

It seems likely that the full list of charges against Trump will include violating federal campaign laws, but there may be other things coming that no one is really anticipating. One of those is almost certainly the charge that was the first one laid against Cohen—tax fraud. It’s entirely possible that all the charges against Trump are state charges for tax fraud or accounting fraud, with no federal campaign component at all.

Or the grand jury might have heard testimony about how Trump shot a sheriff, stole a car, and beat up children. We simply don’t know. Neither do all the Republicans screaming in outrage.

But Lindsey Graham thinks he has a solution.

Sound legal advice there from Mr. Graham. Trump should give it a try.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.