Tag: lindsey graham
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.

'I Don't Think You'll Be Shocked': Georgia Grand Juror Teases Trump Indictment

'I Don't Think You'll Be Shocked': Georgia Grand Juror Teases Trump Indictment

There’s a lot more to come in the Georgia investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that state, based on what the foreperson of the recent special grand jury told CNN on Tuesday. While the only recommended indictment that made it through the redacted version of the grand jury’s report that was released to the public was perjury, more indictments were recommended in the unredacted report. “It’s not a short list. It’s not,” Emily Kohrs told CNN. She added, “There may be some names on that list that you wouldn’t expect. But the big name that everyone keeps asking me about—I don’t think you will be shocked.”

So, yes, it sounds like the special grand jury recommended indicting Donald Trump. That’s a long way from it happening, or from a guilty verdict, or from Trump actually being sentenced, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The special grand jury was not able to issue indictments itself. Rather, it made recommendations for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who could then take them to a regular grand jury. In late January, Willis cited “imminent” charging decisions, so it seems that well before the public saw scraps of the special grand jury report, Willis was taking action.

Asked by Kate Bolduan if the “not short” list of recommended indictments was more than 12, Kohrs called it “probably a good assumption.” She also described hearing “a lot of very compelling evidence, a lot of very interesting things, things that we didn’t expect. We discovered a lot as we went.”

As for Trump’s insistence that the special grand jury report exonerated him, Kohrs called it “Fascinating,” adding, “I’m not positive he read the right document.”

Trump was always going to claim he was exonerated, though. In fact, his attorneys had said that the special grand jury exonerated him even before its report was released. Because he was never called in or subpoenaed by this grand jury, they claimed, “we can assume that the grand jury did their job and looked at the facts and the law, as we have, and concluded there were no violations of the law by President Trump.”

Trump’s absence from in-person testimony doesn’t mean the grand jury didn’t hear from him. Willis kicked off this investigation in response to Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he demanded that Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes,” the number Trump needed to win. It was always safe to say that the grand jurors would hear from Trump in recorded form, and Kohrs told CNN that wasn’t the only Trump call they heard. “Yes. I’m positive I have heard the president on the phone more than once,” she said.

In the CNN interview, referring to the report’s recommendation of perjury charges for some, Kohrs drew a distinction between “crimes we were called to investigate and crimes that were committed in the room.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, who fought hard to avoid testifying, said on ABC’s This Weekthat he had “no concerns about [his] testimony,” and Kohrs told the Associated Press that he did answer questions. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, on the other hand, repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment (which probably means he didn’t commit perjury).

While the investigation began with that Trump call to Raffensperger, it expanded beyond that to consider evidence on the slate of false electors attempting to throw the state to Trump; state legislators’ false allegations of election fraud; the resignation of Byung Pak as U.S. attorney in Atlanta, a resignation he told congressional investigators was because he had heard Trump was planning to fire him; the computer forensics team hired by Trump allies that copied voting system software in one Georgia county; and the harassment campaign directed against Fulton County elections worker Ruby Freeman.

Trump seems in jeopardy of indictment here, which would definitely draw the biggest headlines, but there is also plenty of room there for indictments of people most of us have never heard of but who were eager members of the effort to overturn an election and commit a coup. And those people are also important—not just in Trump’s 2020 attempt but in 2024 and beyond. If there are no consequences now, those people will just keep going.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Charlie Kirk

Grifters Feuding: Inside The Rift Between Trump And Turning Point USA

Turning Point USA founder and right-wing radio host Charlie Kirk has been taking jabs at former President Donald Trump, despite his professed support for his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election. Reports in NBC News and The Washington Postdetail both a rift between the Trump camp and TPUSA’s organization as well as an internal divide at TPUSA over how to approach a potential presidential match-up with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

According to NBC, close advisers to Trump say he has “‘been watching' Kirk’s relationship with DeSantis” as well as Kirk’s opposition to Trump’s handpicked Republican National Committee leader, Ronna McDaniel. This story came shortly after the Washington Postreported that Students for Trump, “a key asset” of TPUSA’s campaign work, has cut ties with the organization, further “raising questions about how closely Turning Point will be associated with Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign.”

The report details that TPUSA’s chief operating officer, Tyler Bowyer, tried and failed to negotiate a deal to remove Trump’s name from the organization’s accounts and rename them “as official Turning Point properties.” Bowyer’s plan also would have paid right-wing social media influencers to fundraise for Republican candidates via these accounts, which other Students for Trump leaders worried “would leave too little money for candidates.”

Kirk denied the NBC story on his February 10 show, calling it a “silly piece” and reiterating that he is “behind Trump, period.”

Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Kirk’s show on February 14 to deny the story: “I was unaware there was any rift between you and I, Charlie, whatsoever.” (The story detailed the division between the elder Trump and Kirk; Trump Jr. was not said to be involved.)

Yet on his radio show and at live events, Kirk has shown increased frustration with Trump’s decisions since late 2022, and he’s gotten only more detailed in his criticisms as the Republican primaries approach.

Criticizing Trump For Attacking DeSantis

Since late 2022, Kirk has criticized Trump’s attacks on DeSantis. At a TPUSA event in November, Kirk made it clear he is an “outspoken fan of Gov. DeSantis,” and that he “did not like it when Donald Trump attacked DeSantis,” and he said he hopes Trump will stop. On December 1, Kirk said that he is “very pro-DeSantis,” and does not “like any of the negative DeSantis stuff,” then brushed off a remark from a viewer that DeSantis should step back in 2024.

Kirk brought Trump’s DeSantis attacks up again on the February 2, 2023, edition of his radio show, saying that he told Trump during a visit to Mar-a-Lago that he “thought that this line of attack” against DeSantis “is not effective” and he doesn’t “think it actually helps him.” He then asked the opinion of his guest, Citizen Free Press writer Kane, who agreed that MAGA supporters “don’t want to see Trump reaching out and speaking ill of Gov. DeSantis.”

Kirk said the show asked his audience their views and the emailed response was “overwhelmingly negative on Trump attacking DeSantis” and that they believed “this is not the way that he should be running,” because DeSantis has proven himself as “a rock star conservative governor that has made Florida a freer place, a more prosperous place.”

During a February 7 segment praising DeSantis for his fascist-style takeover of New College of Florida, Kirk made sure to mention that Trump still does not like DeSantis, pointing out that Trump called him “a RINO globalist” who is “doing far worse than other Republican governors.” Kirk and his guest, conspiracy theorist Darren Beattie, then praised DeSantis for his “innovative and effective approach” to governance.

Kirk highlights rifts in the Trump-led MAGA base by periodically asking his audience about whom they plan to vote for in 2024. According to him, “the general consensus” is “I'm still behind Trump, but I have concerns.”

Criticizing Trump’s Decisions

On December 1, Kirk said that if DeSantis runs for president in 2024, “one of the sharpest critiques of President Trump will be the fact that Anthony Fauci stayed around as long as he did.”

On December 15, even as “the most pro-Trump guy in the world,” Kirk questioned why Trump pushed an NFT collection as a major announcement.

On January 30, Kirk said it was “really demoralizing" to find out that Trump supported Ronna McDaniel for RNC chair, calling it a “big mistake.”

Criticizing Trump's Alliance with Lindsey Graham

On January 30, Kirk said that, “as a Trump supporter,” it was “perplexing” that Trump accepted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) endorsement and asked his audience if they agreed.

Kirk said during his February 2 show that he would “rather see Donald Trump attack Lindsey Graham than Ron DeSantis.”

The next day, Kirk hosted conservative writer Pedro Gonzalez to talk about Trump’s apparent alliance with Graham. Kirk made clear that he is “disturbed and bothered at Lindsey Graham's proximity to Donald Trump.”

Gonzalez responded that “if Lindsey Graham is critical to your success, that's not a good sign for your campaign.” He continued, “I think Lindsey Graham fits this pattern of Trump making awful decisions when it comes to the people that he trusts around him.” Kirk did not push back.

Kirk’s criticism reflects the challenge right-wing media face during the 2024 presidential race: With DeSantis proving himself as the more effective fascist, can Trump supporters celebrate the governor without upsetting his main rival? Kirk is now learning that Trump will accept nothing less than blind, unquestioning loyalty.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Far-Right House Republicans Vote To Kill Child Sex Abuse Protection Act

Far-Right House Republicans Vote To Kill Child Sex Abuse Protection Act

The bipartisan Respect for Child Survivors Act, a law that would aid victims of child sex abuse and their families, just passed the House in a 385-28 vote.

All 28 votes against the bill came from Republicans.

The bill would require the FBI to form multi-disciplinary teams to aid sex abuse victims and their families in order to prevent re-traumatization from investigation and any cases from being dropped. These teams would include “investigative personnel, mental health professionals, medical personnel, family advocacy workers, child advocacy workers, and prosecutors,” Newsweek reported.

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the legislation.

“I applaud Senator Cornyn’s leadership on this issue to correct an egregious wrong committed by certain FBI agents regarding their treatment of victims of sexual abuse,”said Sen. Graham.“Requiring the FBI to use appropriate, tried and true methods to interview child victims will help ensure the FBI’s failure in the Nassar case doesn’t happen again. This legislation will make it clear that we expect better.”

However, not all Republicans expect better from the FBI, it seems.

The bill was opposed by the following GOP Representatives: Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar (Arizona); Dan Bishop and Virginia Foxx (North Carolina); Lauren Boebert (Colorado), Mo Brooks and Barry Moore (Alabama); Louie Gohmert, Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls, Chip Roy, and Michael Cloud (Texas); Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice, Austin Scott, and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia); James Comer and Thomas Massie (Kentucky); Rick Crawford (Arkansas); Byron Donalds and John Rutherford (Florida.); Bob Good (Virginia), Clay Higgins (Louisiana), Tom McClintock (California), Ralph Norman (South Carolina), Scott Perry (Pennsylvania.), Matt Rosendale (Montana), and Jeff Van Drew (New Jersey).

Despite this, the bill is supported by the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, the National District Attorneys Association, Army of Survivors, the National Children’s Alliance, Keep Kids Safe, Together for Girls, Darkness to Light, the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and the Brave Movement.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.