The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: merrick garland

Stop Attacking Merrick Garland: He's On The Case And Trump Is Scared

It has become something of a sport in certain media circles and elsewhere to complain, sometimes vociferously and repeatedly, that the Attorney General of the United States has been too plodding and reticent in the way he and his department have gone about the business of investigating Donald Trump for crimes committed while in office and afterwards, specifically, his attempts to overturn the results of the election he lost in 2020, and his removal from the White House and subsequent mishandling of thousands of government documents, hundreds of them classified, when he stored them in insecure facilities at his home and office at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

Critics of Garland are fond of pointing out that two years have passed since Trump’s meetings and phone calls with lawyers and other aides making plans to appoint fake slates of electors from battleground states he lost, and use the fake electors to stall or even stop the counting and certification of electoral ballots on January 6, 2021. More than a few articles I have read complain that Garland did not pick up the torch passed by Robert Mueller in his report, which detailed numerous instances of Trump apparently obstructing justice and/or congressional investigations of the attempt by Russia to influence the 2020 election and/or aid Trump’s campaign. In Mueller’s report, he held that Department of Justice rules prevented him from bringing charges against a sitting president. Well, these writers want to know, what about now? Trump is no longer president. Why couldn’t the DOJ charge him with obstructing justice in the ways that Mueller found he did back in 2019?

Merrick Garland has empaneled two grand juries in Washington, D.C., to investigate Trump’s possible criminal behavior in trying to overturn the presidential election, his incitement of the crowd that assaulted the Capitol on January 6, and his apparent theft of government documents when he left office, as well as his 18-month-long obstruction of attempts by the National Archives and the DOJ to get him to return the documents to the government, where they belonged. Reports in the press say that the DOJ – that would be Merrick Garland’s DOJ – has put hundreds of witnesses before both grand juries and questioned them about Trump’s alleged crimes. An entire team of DOJ attorneys, operating under the supervision of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has been working non-stop to assemble documentary evidence, video evidence, audio recordings, and testimony of witnesses about Trump’s various alleged crimes.

During this time, Trump has done everything in his power to stop or delay the DOJ investigation. He had one of his lawyers lie on an affidavit certifying that he had turned over all the classified documents sought by a DOJ subpoena. The DOJ was forced to go into federal court and get a search warrant, which they used to search Mar-a-Lago, where they turned up 103 folders of classified documents Trump had failed to turn over pursuant to the subpoena. Getting the search warrant, carrying out the search, and going through all 22,000 pages of government documents that Trump held at Mar-a-Lago has taken time.

Trump then sued in federal court in Florida and got a judge, conveniently one he had appointed to the federal bench, to order a special master to review all 22,000 of the documents Trump took from the White House for possible protection under either attorney-client or executive privilege. That process, begun in September, is still ongoing and has caused the Department of Justice to file two appeals with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals seeking access to the documents the FBI seized from Mar a Lago so they can be used as evidence in their criminal investigation of Donald Trump.

The DOJ won its first appeal and was granted the right to use the 103 folders of classified documents in its investigation. Oral arguments will be held next Tuesday in Atlanta on the DOJ’s second appeal, which seeks access to the unclassified documents for use in its criminal investigation of Trump. All of this has taken several months, and the special master process is still not finished.

The DOJ has faced repeated attempts by witnesses it has subpoenaed to avoid testifying before its grand juries. Trump has had his SuperPAC fund lawsuits by witnesses seeking to avoid testifying. The DOJ has had to grant immunity to at least one witness to force him to testify truthfully about several matters under investigation, including the documents investigation and the January 6 investigation.

Now Trump has filed the necessary paperwork to become a candidate for the presidency in 2024, in an obvious attempt to make it more difficult for the Department of Justice to carry out its investigations of him. He has already started yapping about a “witch hunt” and comparing it to the Mueller investigation. He has his minions out in droves echoing his complaints. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has called for defunding the DOJ investigation of Trump and the special counsel Garland appointed yesterday to lead the investigation. Recently she even went so far as to call for the impeachment of Merrick Garland.

Which brings up the most recent thing Garland has done in his investigation of Trump: On Friday he appointed former U.S. attorney and war crimes investigator Jack Smith as special counsel and put him in charge of both branches of the criminal investigation of Trump. The Republican right has raised a deafening scream in unison, of course, which should give you some idea of how frightened they, and Trump, are of this appointment. They should be. Special Counsel Smith will bring a fresh set of eyes to an investigation that has accumulated thousands of pages of evidence and thousands of pages of witness testimony.

Investigations like the one being carried out by the DOJ against Trump are enormously complicated and taxing. There is a tendency for prosecutors to get bogged down in the details of what they are investigating. If Special Counsel Smith is anything like he is being described by legal experts over the last 24 hours, he will get rapidly up to speed with the ongoing investigation and will have the opportunity to cut through some of the fog that has accumulated over the months, making decisions that might narrow its focus, enable prosecutors to reach conclusions, and begin to bring indictments.

Prosecuting a former president of the United States has never been done before. The new special counsel cannot just look at evidence and bring charges. He must bring charges that can be proved in a court of law and will convince a jury, some of whom may have voted for Trump, to convict him on charges that carry a decade or more of jail time if he is convicted. That is not an easy task.

Plodding and painstaking and reticent are good things for a prosecutor to be. Merrick Garland has said repeatedly over the last two years that no one in this country is above the law. I don’t think he has qualm one about charging Donald Trump for his crimes, but it’s not up to him whether Trump goes to jail. That will be up to a jury of Trump’s peers, an unknown if there ever was one.

Stay tuned. Merrick Garland is on the case, and so am I.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

In Latest Appeal, Trump Tries To Hide A Very Dangerous Secret

Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to take over the two criminal investigations of Donald Trump that are already underway. Smith is a former head of the Department of Justice’s public integrity division, and has been the chief prosecutor in The Hague at the International Criminal Court prosecuting war crimes in Kosovo since 2018.

The appointment of Smith as special counsel comes on the day after the DOJ filed its reply brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of Trump’s lawsuit that sought the order to appoint a special master to review all of the materials seized at Mar-a-Lago for protection under attorney-client or executive privilege. Judge Eileen Cannon had ordered that all the documents seized by the FBI could not be used by the DOJ in its criminal investigation of Trump until the special master review process was completed.

The DOJ appealed the order concerning the classified documents to the 11th Circuit, which quickly ordered that the DOJ be allowed to use the 103 folders of classified documents the FBI found in its search of Trump’s office and personal residence in its investigation and prosecution of Trump. The DOJ filed a second appeal asking that the 11th Circuit order that the department can use all of the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago in its prosecution. Trump opposed the motion, and yesterday’s DOJ filing responded to Trump’s answer to the DOJ’s appeal.

The position Trump is taking with the 11th Circuit is astounding. Essentially, Trump is telling the court that because the government documents were removed from the White House while he was still president, in late January of 2021, they are his personal property. It’s his “I took them, so they’re mine” defense. The assertion flies in the face of the Presidential Records Act, which states that any document shown to the president or used by him in the execution of his official duties is a presidential record and is therefore the property of the federal government and belongs in the National Archives along with all other records of his administration.

The DOJ in its filing called Trump’s position “novel and erroneous.” Not only did Trump never assert in his initial lawsuit before Judge Cannon that the documents at Mar-a-Lago were his “personal” records, he failed to raise his “novel and erroneous” argument in the previous action before the 11th Circuit.

The federal rules of procedure and several Supreme Court cases, cited by the DOJ in its brief, say that a plaintiff cannot raise in an appeal issues which the plaintiff did not use in his or her initial lawsuit. In other words, it’s not allowed to suddenly come into the appeals court and say, “Oh, wait a minute. I forgot to raise this issue before, so here it is this time.”

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) does not allow a president to designate official records as “personal” simply because he removed them from the White House during the time he was president. In fact, the PRA was passed by the Congress after Watergate specifically to disallow that. After leaving office, Richard Nixon attempted to keep possession of the White House tapes and assert that they were his property in order to prevent them from being used by reporters and historians writing about what he did while he was president. The PRA specifically forbade that and designated all records, documents, and other materials that originated while a president is in office as documents and materials owned by the government, not the president.

Further, the DOJ noted, it wouldn’t matter if the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago were the personal property of Trump, because search warrants like the one authorizing the search of Mar-a-Lago regularly give the FBI the right to seize anything found in the property subject to the warrant that may have been used in a crime. From the DOJ brief: “A document’s categorization as a ‘personal’ record does not preclude the government from obtaining it through a search warrant or using it in a criminal investigation. Law enforcement officials routinely conduct judicially authorized searches to seize evidence of crimes…Nothing in the law prohibits the government from using documents recovered in a search if they are ‘personal,’ and the search warrant here authorized the government to seize materials stored collectively with records bearing classification markings regardless of their status as ‘personal’ or Presidential records.”

The documents seized from Mar-a-Lago were taken pursuant to just such a warrant and purpose – for use in an investigation and possible criminal prosecution of the former president, not only for taking the documents with him to Mar-a-Lago, but for mishandling them after he left office. The documents are also needed by the DOJ to prove that Trump committed obstruction of justice when he refused for more than 18 months to return them to the government, along the way defying a subpoena for the documents in question. Failure to respond in a timely and honest fashion to a subpoena from the federal government is the very definition of obstruction of justice.

The rest of the DOJ’s 40-page brief goes deeply into the weeds of issues of jurisdiction and one essential issue which Trump mooted for himself by asking for and being granted review by a special master in the first place. In his first lawsuit before Judge Cannon, Trump raised an issue under Rule 41(g), which gives a person the right to apply for the return of any property seized pursuant to an “unlawful” search and seizure. Trump had asked for return of his property and documents under that rule, but because of the special master review, he and his legal team have already been given access to all of the 22,000 documents seized by the FBI, so the DOJ simply responded, “Plaintiff has now had an opportunity to review all of the seized records except those bearing classification markings, and the government has no objection to Plaintiff retaining copies.” That excludes the classified documents, which the government has previously held belong to it because of their classified markings.

Way down in the weeds of the Trump filing and the DOJ response, there are other, even more complicated corners revealing what is really behind Trump’s appeal. And here we turn to Marcy Wheeler at her Emptywheel blog for some clarification. It is often the case that a person will file a great big lawsuit, and subsequently, an appeal that raises a whole bunch of great big legal issues and makes all sorts of great big claims only because he, the plaintiff, wants to protect one or two things that if brought to light will cause him real damage.

Wheeler thinks that is exactly the case here, and it concerns a document over which Trump claimed executive privilege. It is not a single document, however, but what the DOJ called a “compilation that includes three documents that post-date Plaintiff’s term in office and two classified cover sheets, one SECRET and the other CONFIDENTIAL. Because Plaintiff can only have received the documents bearing classification markings in his capacity as President, the entire mixed document is a Presidential record.”

Based on a close read of the DOJ brief, Wheeler wrote in her blog that Trump is claiming executive privilege over the “compilation” because it provides proof that Trump was using classified material after he left office “into his ongoing personal business.” The “compilation” documents, along with a document that apparently concerns the pardon of Roger Stone, both include a classified document along with non-classified materials. According to Wheeler, both of the documents “were stored in a readily accessible desk drawer. And they both reflect more personal business.” And they were both accessible by Trump’s personal secretary, Molly Michael, who was Trump’s executive assistant in the White House and who moved in the same position with Trump to Mar-a-Lago after he left office.

Wheeler believes, and I think she’s right, that the DOJ wants access to all of the documents seized from Mar a Lago, both classified and unclassified, because they want to use the documents they described as “compilation” when they question Molly Michael before the Washington grand jury. She is the witness who can provide evidence the DOJ needs to prove that Trump did not take the documents from the White House solely because he wanted them as “souvenirs,” as some reports have said, but because he wanted to use some of the classified documents in his post-White House personal business. “[Molly Michael] is likely the witness who can say when it was compiled. She would be the witness who could explain why Trump integrated a Secret document into his ongoing personal business. She might even testify that she saw the entire compilation, including the page over which Trump is claiming privilege, which would vitiate that privilege claim.”

That’s what’s really going on behind the scenes of the Trump and DOJ filings with the 11th Circuit. Trump is trying to protect himself from being charged with a very serious crime – misusing classified documents for personal gain – as Wheeler points out, a criminal act any juror could easily understand. For that reason, among all the others, the DOJ is trying to get the 11th Circuit to kick all the documents loose from the restrictions put on them by Trump’s personal pet, Judge Aileen Cannon.

So that’s where we stand tonight, folks, as the new special counsel, Jack Smith, is said to be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean flying back from The Hague to take over the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump. The 11th Circuit will hear oral arguments next Tuesday concerning the DOJ appeal, and legal experts today said that based on its quick resolution of the last appeal in favor of the DOJ, it is likely to do the same thing this time.

Watch this space. I’ll be covering the next steps in this case that may end up with a former president of the United States facing a jury of his peers for the first time in our history.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Ex-Prosecutors: 'More Than Enough Evidence' To Indict Trump On Documents

Justice Department prosecutors in the Mar-a-Lago documents case might have amassed enough evidence to charge former President Trump with obstruction of justice, but a formal recommendation has yet to be made to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources privy to the investigation.

Investigators in the classified records probe appear conflicted on whether or not to charge the former president in the highly-politicized case — given the gravity of potential political ramifications — with some agents pushing for action, unfazed that Trump could announce a 2024 bid for the White House.

FBI agents executed a court-approved search warrant on the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago estate on August 8, seizing thousands of government documents, hundreds of which were classified. These documents are now at the center of a criminal probe into a possible violation of three federal statutes, including the mishandling of classified material and obstruction in violation of Title 18, United States Code, §1519, according to the New York Law Journal.

Under that law, it is a crime to alter, conceal, destroy, or falsify a document to impede, influence, or obstruct a federal agency’s investigation, and while career agents of the Justice Department handle chronicling a probe of this magnitude — “discussing strengths and weaknesses… and making recommendations” — it’s Garland who has the final say, Bloomberg noted.

The Justice Department has already officially stated — in its brief to the Supreme Court opposing Trump’s plea for the high court’s intervention — that the FBI had found “that efforts had likely been undertaken to obstruct the investigation.” However, even if Garland were to approve an indictment, no charges would be filed until after Christmas, what with the midterm elections just three weeks away.

“This just happens to be occurring in the hot-house environment of a politically sensational case involving the former President of the United States, but the nuts and bolts of it are the same,” David Laufman, the former head of the DOJ team undertaking the records probe, told Bloomberg. “In a case like this, you want a case to be as bulletproof as possible.”

“Based on what we see in the public record now, which is only a portion of the evidence the Department of Justice and FBI have amassed, it would appear they have more than enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the former President of the United States engaged in obstruction of justice,” Laufman added.

A former Florida state prosecutor, Dave Aronberg, echoed Laufman’s sentiments in a statement to Newsweek, predicting that Trump could be facing an indictment as soon as the midterms are over, what with the slate of legal trouble he’s currently facing, one of which is a Justice Department investigation into his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

"We have reports that involve nuclear materials, we have reports that involve foreign spies, but we don't know [those allegations] for sure," Aronberg told the publication. "And that's where I'm guessing [the documents do] involve that, and I think he will be indicted after the midterms."

Weighing in on a federal judge’s opinion this year that Trump had “likely” attempted to interfere in the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, Aronberg opined that charges related to the Mar-a-Lago documents case were more likely to see the light of day than insurrection-related charges.

"You have to have a direct link between Trump and the violence on that day for prosecutors to charge," Aronberg said. "Based on what we know now, not sure."

"To get [classified documents charges], you have to show something that is really damaging to our national security," Aronberg noted. "If the documents matter is about Kim Jong Un's love letters, it's not going to happen; you're not going to see a prosecution."

For Right-Wing Pundits, Garland Is Damned If He Indicts Trump -- And Damned If He Doesn't

The Justice Department keeps revealing damning details about the ongoing investigation into Donald Trump’s illicit possession of highly classified documents and his alleged effort to conceal and retain those materials. That has some commentators arguing against an indictment of the former president on the grounds that it might spur a backlash from conservatives who will argue that Democrats have weaponized the DOJ.

Trump’s “defenders would claim that every person ostensibly committed to the dispassionate upholding of the rule of law is in fact motivated by rank partisanship and a drive to self-aggrandizement,” Damon Linker wrote last week in The New York Times. “This would be directed at the attorney general, the F.B.I., the Justice Department and other branches of the so-called deep state. The spectacle would be corrosive, in effect convincing most Republican voters that appeals to the rule of law are invariably a sham.”

But this smear of federal law enforcement cannot be staved off by declining to indict the former president, as Linker suggests. It is true that a bloc of Republicans and right-wing media personalities have spent the weeks since the FBI’s August 6 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort loudly arguing that the action was a partisan sham, and they would certainly continue to do so if he were indicted. Another faction, however, is now preparing to go after the Justice Department on the exact same grounds of Democratic partisanship if it decides not to indict the former president.

This damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t tendency runs through the columns of Andrew McCarthy, a Trump-skeptical legal commentator respected in higher-brow conservative circles. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor whose columns run in National Review and The New York Post and who regularly provides legal commentary in his role as a Fox News contributor.

McCarthy’s August 9 column, written in the immediate aftermath of the Mar-a-Lago search, provided a somewhat more sober version of the incendiary conspiracy theories of a justice system weaponized for Democratic benefit that were replete at the time on Fox. The National Review columnist argued that the Justice Department had “obviously” used concerns about classified information “as a pretext” to find evidence tying Trump to the January 6 insurrection. He warned against filing charges on such grounds, saying that such an indictment “would fuel the perception that Democrats are using the Justice Department as a political weapon.”

“The Biden Justice Department is under enormous pressure from the Democratic base to indict Trump, and it is straining to deliver,” McCarthy concluded.

A couple weeks later, McCarthy was still telling readers that any Trump indictment would be politically motivated. After reviewing the redacted affidavit supporting the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, he concluded that the Justice Department would be unlikely to indict the former president unless it had strong evidence to prosecute an obstruction of justice charge or Trump talked himself into an indictment.

“I don’t think the Justice Department and FBI want to prosecute Donald Trump on classified-information or document-retention offenses in light of all the considerable downsides of doing so,” McCarthy explained. But he added: “Of course, the Biden Justice Department has shown itself to be very responsive to the demands of Democrats’ progressive base. As the midterms approach, if the left’s rabid insistence on a Trump indictment gets intense enough, all bets are off.”

After Tuesday’s damning DOJ filing, however, McCarthy concluded in his August 31 column that the DOJ possesses “formidable” evidence of obstruction on Trump’s part and that Attorney General Merrick Garland will likely approve charges. That evidence is so damning, in fact, that McCarthy wrote that the only explanation for not indicting Trump would be that the DOJ is in the service of the partisan interests of the Democratic Party.

This is a serious obstruction case that appears as if it would not be difficult to prove. The Justice Department is under immense pressure from the Democratic base to indict Trump, and the jury pool in Washington, DC, where the government would file any indictment, is intensely anti-Trump. It is thus hard to imagine that Attorney General Merrick Garland will decide against filing charges.

The best hope Trump has of avoiding an indictment is that Democrats would rather run against a wounded Trump in 2024 than indict him in 2022.

Note that McCarthy left himself room to accuse Garland of partisanship regardless of what the attorney general does: If he files charges, it will be because his department is “under immense pressure from the Democratic base to indict Trump,” while if he refrains, the only explanation is that he thinks it will help Democrats by keeping Trump on the 2024 presidential ballot.

To his credit, when the facts change, McCarthy’s stated view changes. To his detriment, the throughline is that if the Justice Department doesn’t do what he wants, it must be because it’s run by Democratic partisans.

It’s easy to imagine that this line of reasoning might spread amid the faction of the GOP that would prefer to see another candidate — perhaps Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — on the ballot in 2024 in Trump’s stead. It gives such individuals a talking point that suggests moving on from Trump without actually criticizing his behavior: It’s the Democrats who want Trump to be the 2024 Republican nominee! You can tell that’s true because the Justice Department isn’t indicting him!

The staunchly pro-Trump faction, of course, has a different view.

The Justice Department would be wise to follow the facts wherever they may lead and make a decision about whether to indict Trump based on what it finds. Trying to avoid right-wing allegations of partisanship is futile — in that information ecosystem, such conspiracy theories are the coin of the realm.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Margie Greene Says 'Radical Communist' Garland Should Be Fired

United States Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) this week called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to be fired over the Federal Bureau of Investigation's execution of a search warrant at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday, August 8th.

The FBI's "raid" as Trump has named it in numerous angry posts on his financially imperiled Twitter knockoff app Truth Social was authorized by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart of the Southern District of Florida on Friday, August 5th. Yet the Justice Department was meticulous in building its case before presenting the now-released, partially redacted affidavit to Reinhart to sign.

But Trump's right-wing defenders like Greene have insisted that Trump is the victim of a crusade by his political foes, despite them having presented zero credible evidence to support that conclusion.

"Merrick Garland, he didn't just step across the line, he went like, he ran right through the line and ran a whole football field-length past it. And he should – you know we fire people in the private sector for doing bad things. Same thing needs to happen in the government. He needs to be fired," Greene asserted at MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell's Moment of Truth Summit. "He is a radical communist and he's abusing the power of, of the most, most powerful federal, um, you know, law enforcement agency."

Greene filed articles of impeachment against Garland on August 12th.

Watch below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

GOP House Candidate: Garland Should Be 'Executed' For Trump Search

New York Republican Carl Paladino, running for a U.S. House seat, said Attorney General Merrick Garland should probably be “executed” in a radio interview this past weekend, and later when pressed backtracked, claiming he was just being “facetious,” as The Buffalo News first reported.

“So we have a couple of unelected people who are running our government with an administration of people like Garland,” Paladino said in an attack on President Joe Biden in a Saturday interview with the far-right wing Breitbart media site.

Garland “should be not only impeached he should probably, should be executed, the guy is just lost,” Paladino said.

Paladino called Garland, a former U.S. Supreme Court nominee and former chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a “lost soul” who is “trying to get an image and his image, his methodology is just terrible.”

“To raid the home of a former president is just, people are scratching their heads and they’re saying, ‘What is wrong with this guy?’ ”

Later in the interview Breitbart Radio host Matthew Boyle asked Paladino, “Carl, what you just said about Garland, you said you think ‘he should be impeached and probably executed.’ Can you explain that? What do you mean by that?”

“I’m just being facetious,” Paladino replied. “The man should be removed from office. He’s shown his incompetence. He wants to get his face in front of the people. And in short, he’s got some mettle to him, but his choice of issues and his choice of methodology is, is, is very sad. And then he wants to take full blame for it, you know he’ll, he’ll stand there.”

Paladino, who is strongly endorsed by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the chair of the House Republican Conference, has a long history of appalling remarks and actions.

Just last month the New York Post reported he “has a convicted sex offender on his company payroll who also now works as ‘assistant treasurer’ of his campaign.”

“Joel Sartori was controller of Ellicott Development when he was busted in 2013 for accessing child porn on a company computer,” The Post adds. “Sartori was convicted of two felonies — possessing and promoting kiddie porn — and sentenced to 10 years’ probation in 2017, court records show.”

As CNN has reported, Paladino has called Black people “dumb and hungry,” claimed they are “conditioned” to only vote for Democrats, while insisting he’s not “a racist.” He also said a woman who had accused Donald Trump of sexual assault “probably enjoyed” it.

Stefanik, the third most powerful House Republican, on June 3 praised Paladino as an “inspirational” leader, a “doer,” and “the kind of leader we need today.” That endorsement came just days before it was revealed Paladino in 2021 had called Adolf Hitler “inspirational,” and “the kind of leader we need today” (audio.)

Stefanik later doubled down on her endorsement despite Paladino’s praise for Hitler, a genocidal fascist responsible for the murders of approximately 17 million people.

As CNN also reported, in 2016, “Paladino had said he would like to see Michelle Obama ‘return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,’ and that he hoped Barack Obama would die of Mad Cow Disease after having sex with a cow.”

Listen to Paladino’s remarks about Attorney General Garland below or at this link:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

#Endorse This! Randy Rainbow Serenades Trump With 'Lock Him Up Yesterday'

Randy Rainbow is back with a fresh song parody, "Lock Him Up Yesterday."

Set to the tune of “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, it pokes fun at Donald Trump for claiming the actual word “yesterday” is a “hard” word for him to pronounce clearly.

“Yesterday. Such a complicated word to say when his dentures start to slip away,” sings Randy. Well, if Trump is having trouble pronouncing "yesterday", then he'll stroke out trying to pronounce "espionage."

Hilarious as always and tuneful too.

Watch the entire parody below:

O.J. Trump And The Mar-A-Lago 'Plant'

“This is sad, O.J.” That’s what Ron Shipp, a police officer and friend of O.J. Simpson, said on the stand at Simpson’s murder trial when he learned the defense was trying to suggest that the former football player was framed.

Donald Trump has often been compared to Benito Mussolini, George Wallace and Richard Nixon, with the last two, at least, looking a little better than he does on close inspection. Now add O.J., who — like Trump — tried to cover his guilt with the time-honored approach of so many defendants: by blaming the police.

OK, Trump hasn’t killed anyone (unless you count the roughly 200,000 coronavirus deaths that could have been avoided had he urged masks and vaccination.) But if he did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, his cult followers would rally around him at approximately the same decibel level as they have in the days since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago on Monday.

The torrent of attacks on the FBI and Democrats is not likely to subside much, even after the release of the warrant Friday (a preemptive move by Trump World), which included clear probable cause. We learned that the former president had refused to comply with a subpoena for highly-classified documents that he was hoarding at home. At a minimum, Trump failed to secure nuclear secrets from the prying eyes of the many spies posing as lounge lizards and visiting suck-ups at his club. House Republicans cancelled a press conference after the attack on the FBI office in Cincinnati by a January 6 insurrectionist (later killed by authorities), but they’ll be back on the warpath soon enough, however dangerous their incitement might be. On Friday night, their despicable leader released the names of the FBI agents who searched his mansion, painting a MAGA target on their backs.

Trump’s “Free O.J.!” mob is following a preposterous script. The liars and enablers who make up today’s GOP are trying to cast Attorney General Merrick Garland — the straightest of straight arrows— in the improbable role of Mark Fuhrman, a cop who became more despised during the 1994 O.J. trial than the murder suspect himself. See, Garland is worse than Trump! Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, Jesse Watters and other Trump lackeys now claiming evidence was “planted” at Mar-a-Lago are doing their best imitations of Simpson’s facile attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, though that is terribly unfair to Cochran.

Let’s just uproot the “planted evidence” argument for a moment. It’s being spread now by Trump himself, a sign that he’s worried about the evidence the FBI has gathered. It goes without saying that his conspiracy-addled cult followers will keep peddling this lie for years. In the O.J. case, Cochran implied that Fuhrman or some other racist and crooked cop planted a bloody sock and a bloody glove and a bloody footprint from a Bruno Magli shoe at the murder scene and in Simpson’s house. This was far-fetched during the Simpson trial but it’s downright plausible compared to what would be required to plant evidence in the Mar-a-Lago case—evidence, of course, that had already been, uh, “declassified”.

Imagine what the FBI would have to do to frame Trump. It’s a helluva lot harder than, say, planting drugs on an 18-year-old Black kid in a bad neighborhood, a crime that is more common than most people assume. Corrupt FBI technicians would somehow have to forge highly-classified documents about nuclear weapons that would then have to stand up in court as authentic. Easy-peasy!

That’s about as much juice as I can squeeze out of O.J. Fortunately there are many other takeaways from last week’s stunning developments:

On the basic question of what motivated the search, I’m of two minds. Since 2015, I’ve operated on the assumption that whenever you think Trump has touched bottom, he crashes through the floor. Given that everything else about him ends up even worse than it first appeared, this would suggest that the documents will turn out to contain Trump’s hand-written notes on the coup plot, his betrayal of the United States at the 2018 Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, or (and!) his apparent determination as far back as 2019 to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Now that he’s out of office and his family is making multi-billion dollar business deals with the royal family in Riyadh, the last of these might be the most likely scenario.

At the same time, there’s a lot to suggest this really is just about mishandling classified material—an offense the government has always taken very seriously, and which DOJ argues in the warrant violates not only the Presidential Records Act but possibly the Espionage Act and statutes on obstruction of justice. Trump and his flunkies are already insisting that as president he had the power to issue a “standing order” declassifying even nuclear secrets without going through any “bureaucratic” process. Nuclear secrets—no biggie. Who cares if some deep state types say this release of this information would pose an “exceptionally grave” threat to national security? Expect to hear that fatuous claim about 5,000 times on Fox in the next couple of years, then again in court.

Could Garland, famous for playing it by the book, have merely been enforcing a subpoena from last spring for the boxes of documents belonging to the government that Trump was refusing to hand over? Now that the secrets are safe, might he call it a day on Trump’s failure to protect them? Possibly so, though it’s more likely the still-sealed government affidavit that accompanied the warrant includes something less “stale,” as prosecutors put it.

William M. Arkin, an intelligence expert and great reporter I know and trust, writes that two sources tell him that there was a “mole” at Mar-a-Lago. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that “someone familiar with the stored papers told investigators there may be still more classified documents at the private club after the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes earlier in the year.” That—not a “weaponized” DOJ—is what precipitated the search warrant.

Trump claims to be buoyed by supporters rallying behind him but he’s got to be worried about exactly what’s in those 27 additional boxes removed on Monday. One of them contained material on Roger Stone and his pardon. Might there be something else in Stone’s files that implicates Trump? Michael Cohen, Trump’s onetime fixer, told CNN that his old boss no doubt “feels trapped” and is worried that the source Trump calls a “rat” (spoken like true mobster) has more dirt on him.

Many commentators across the spectrum this week thought that mishandling and withholding classified material was too small a crime to justify prosecuting Trump — as if anything short of the former president committing treason did not justify enforcing the law; as if the Feds in the 1930s should not have prosecuted Al Capone for something as minor as income tax evasion. Really? Law enforcement should retreat in the face of partisan noise and threats of violence?

In my cable news gorging this week, it felt as if many of the same analysts saying that Garland was too aggressive if he didn’t have something earth-shaking were claiming a month ago that he wouldn’t be aggressive enough. The only thing that changed was the simultaneously terrifying and tiresome cannonade from the GOP. It intimidated a surprising number of people into accepting Trump’s frame on the story—until Garland, late in the week, turned the tables.

But of course the carnival of hypocrisy will never close. Trumpsters don’t oppose all law enforcement, only the investigations aimed at them. They’re against defunding the police until they’re for defunding the FBI.

It was only six years ago that Trump got elected in part by harping on Hillary Clinton’s emails, which might have contained classified information unsecured on her private server. He said the issue was disqualifying and delegates to the Republican National Convention — the same people making excuses for him today — chanted ominously: “Lock Her Up!”

Sometimes the hypocrisy is so bald even Trump can’t ignore it. “I once asked [not “once,” about 50 times], ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’” he said after pleading the Fifth more than 400 times on Wednesday in a deposition in a civil suit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Now I know the answer to that question.”

As it happens, Trump was correct the first time, though no president should trample on any constitutional right. In civil cases, it’s permissible for a jury to infer guilt from a defendant taking the Fifth. Which is why Trump is likely to owe millions in civil judgments stemming from his financial shenanigans.

In the meantime, the braying of the asses continues unabated. “This is the worst attack on the republic in modern history—period,” the powerful radio host Mark Levin thundered on Fox News. How so, Mark? Because it is “unprecedented”? (A word that newscasters this week turned into a pejorative.)

Kevin Williamson, an anti-Trumpist, had a good response to that in the National Review:

“The FBI’s serving a search warrant on Donald Trump’s residence is not — in spite of everything being said about it — unprecedented. The FBI serves search warrants on homes all the time. Donald Trump is a former president, not a mystical sacrosanct being.”
If we really believe, as we say we believe, that this is a republic, that nobody is above the law, that the presidency is just a temporary executive-branch office rather than a quasi-royal entitlement, then there is nothing all that remarkable about the FBI serving a warrant on a house in Florida.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and the others demagoguing the issue all know better. They know the FBI search did not break or even bend the law. It was the temerity of it that they thought, rightly, would be red meat for the base — the very idea that anyone would dare hold their Dear Leader to account. We’re all so inured to rightwing nonsense that Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) comparing the FBI to the Gestapo flies right past us—as if executing a search warrant is the same as executing six million Jews.

Fortunately, Garland is genuinely non-political, which means he won’t let the political assessment of how his prosecution is “playing” impede his efforts. In fact, the most important — and gratifying — conclusion we can draw from the Mar-a-Lago search is that the long debate over the intentions of the attorney general — does he have the intestinal fortitude to prosecute Trump? — is over. He may not be a flashy hard-charger, but his steady, implacable will to push back against outrageous intimidation and uphold the rule of law — wherever that might lead — is now on the display for the whole world.

On Thursday, Garland skillfully called Trump’s bluff that the attorney general would stay silent while the former president controlled the media narrative. All week, it bothered me that even some good reporters and interviewers fell for Trump’s ferocious spin, and imposed a double-standard that conjured 2016 and boded ill for 2024. I wasn’t alone. Ben Rhodes, a former Obama speechwriter, tweeted:

If Garland’s seriousness about holding Trump to account was the best news of the week, the worst news was how Republicans closed ranks around the former guy. I’m not worried about it in terms of the midterms. The Republicans enraged by the Mar-a-Lago “raid” were already certain to turn out for Republican candidates. It’s hard to imagine swing or sporadic voters (those who usually avoid midterms) coming out in droves because Trump is playing the victim card again.

But this episode may make it more likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2024. It gives him something to talk about other than the “stolen” 2020 election, which was boring even some of his ardent supporters. As his cult of personality further solidifies, you’ll see Ron DeSantis’ stock heading south.

It’s scary to watch the Kool-Aid going down the hatch. Here’s Matt Schlapp [Chairman of CPAC]:

“It’s an unshakable bond. People ask the question—Is he the leader? .. Yes, and I think he will be until he takes his last breath.”

His last breath — in the bunker? So even if slam dunk evidence emerges that Trump is a traitor, you wouldn’t criticize him, Matt? There are literally NO circumstances where he is not your leader? This isn’t a smitten insurrectionist saying this. Schlapp was George W. Bush’s White House political director. As head of the American Conservative Union and now CPAC, he’s arguably the leading “conservative” (whatever the hell that means nowadays) in the U.S. today. And all he can say is, “Heil Trump!”

The 2020s are not the 1990s, when peace and prosperity allowed us to distract ourselves with low-stakes melodramas like the O.J. Simpson trial. This is not a drill. I don’t think Trump will be reelected; even before January 6, he never cracked 50 percent approval ratings and had alienated broad swaths of independent voters. But history shows anything is possible when you receive the nomination of a major political party. If Trump is the 2024 GOP nominee and we have a severe recession, he can argue how great his economy was from 2017 to 2020, a misleading but plausible claim, and—with the help of election deniers in key states—slip back into the Oval Office. What would happen next is not a liberal fever dream but, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a mortal threat to American democracy. This time, Trump would know what he’s doing. Within weeks, the FBI would be transformed from a “deep state” enemy into the new dictator’s secret police. Bet on it.

Jonathan Alter, a political analyst for MSNBC, writes the Old Goats newsletter on Substack. Alter's most recent book is His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life.

Reprinted with permission from Old Goats