Donald Trump

Hats In Hand, Trump Lawyers Plead A Very Weak Case To Special Counsel

The two attorneys for Donald Trump who “wrote” the letter last month requesting a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland, James Trusty and John Rowley, were at the Department of Justice yesterday morning to try to convince prosecutors not to charge their client in the stolen classified documents case. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday morning that they met with Special Counsel Jack Smith is in charge of that, and other, Trump investigations for the DOJ.

It was bound to be an awkward meeting since the letter to Garland accused the DOJ of investigating Trump “in an outrageous and unlawful fashion.” It isn’t often that lawyers representing a client in a criminal matter begin their pre-indictment talks with prosecutors by accusing them of being the ones who broke the law.

The meeting between the Trump lawyers and prosecutors for the Office of the Special Counsel comes just two months after the federal grand jury looking into the stolen documents case heard testimony from a Trump aide who was present for the 2021 interview at Bedminster when Trump talked of having a top-secret document concerning plans for a U.S. attack on Iran. After the grand jury heard testimony from the unnamed Trump aide, a subpoena was issued for the top-secret Iran document as well as any other material in possession of the former president related to the Iran attack document, such as recordings or notes of the meeting at Bedminster.

Trump’s attorneys turned over some material to the special counsel in response to the subpoena but said that they could not find the top-secret document Trump claimed to have in his possession and was said to wave around during the interview with two ghost-writers for his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

It was the second time that lawyers for Donald Trump told the Department of Justice that they could not find certain top-secret documents that had been sought by a subpoena. The other time was in June 2022, when DOJ lawyers met at Mar-a-Lago with Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran, who turned over an envelope containing 38 top-secret documents along with an affidavit saying that the Trump lawyers couldn’t find any more classified documents than that.

An FBI search of Mar-a-Lago later that summer in August turned up over 100 classified documents the Trump attorneys, who had the run of Mar-a-Lago, couldn’t find. All of which was probably on the agenda of Monday morning’s meeting at the Office of the Special Counsel.

The FBI never sought, nor was there ever issued, a search warrant for Trump’s summer residence and office at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Defense attorneys have a phrase to describe the kind of meeting attended by Trump’s lawyers with Jack Smith’s prosecutors. They call it a hat-in-hand meeting. That’s the one where as a defense attorney you know because of stuff like missing classified documents and previous affidavits you have supplied to the DOJ that contained perjury that you have absolutely no chance of forestalling an indictment of your client, so you go hat-in-hand to those who have evidence of everything criminal your client has done and ask for leniency in the charges the prosecutors are contemplating.

Something along the lines of…you know our client, he’s always misplacing things and misremembering what happened with important documents, and we didn’t really intend to mislead you with the certification we gave you last year that we couldn’t find any more classified documents…

Maybe Trusty and Rowley were sitting there in an office at the Department of Justice shrugging their shoulders and saying, c’mon guys, how would you like to have this guy as a client! Can you give us a break?

Just imagine you’re a lawyer for a confessed criminal – yeah, I took the classified documents, because they’re mine! – and the prosecutors you’re sitting across from have followed every incriminating statement made by your client, and they have all the evidence that they had to get a search warrant to seize from your client’s club and from his own desk, and they have testimony from everyone at Mar-a-Lago from the security guys to the pool boy, and they have surveillance video tapes and audio tapes of your client bragging about having a top-secret national security document concerning an enemy of the United States.

Now try to come up with something that’s going to convince career prosecutors who have been doing this kind of thing for years that they’ve got it all wrong, that your client just accidentally took thousands of pages of government-owned documents from the White House by mistake, that he wasn’t really trying to trip them up when he got some half-wit judge in Florida to order the special master thing, that his lawyers, his other lawyers, didn’t really mean all that stuff they told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals about illegal searches and all the rest of it.

We’re not those guys! We’re the good guys!

Look! We’ve got our hats in our hands to prove it!

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

'Christian' Child Abusers Are Organized And They Live Near You

'Christian' Child Abusers Are Organized And They Live Near You

I’m going to begin this story by asking you to imagine that you are a new parent. You and your wife or husband or significant other had a baby in the hospital and took the infant home with you. You’ve done all the right physical things – you’ve got a new-fangled crib that is certified safe for infants. Nothing your baby does in that crib can cause the baby to hurt himself or herself. You’ve got all the baby blankets, and colorful mobiles your friends recommended because they worked with their babies. You’ve got baby-safe washing powder to launder clothes with, so there won’t be any harsh chemical next to the baby’s skin.

You’ve got a shelf-full of products recommended by websites, friends and family members – lotion for the baby’s skin, some kind of white ointment to prevent diaper rash, shampoo that won’t make the baby cry if it gets in its eyes. And you have diapers – tiny ones for infants that are so small they look like they wouldn’t fit a baby doll you or your sister had when you were kids, and larger sizes, too, because you’ve been told they grow faster than you can possibly imagine. You have the latest Diaper Genie, complete with extra diaper bag refills and something called “Antimicrobial Odor Control” so the things won’t stink you out of house and home.

But once you’ve unstrapped your infant from the car seat and carried your baby inside your own home, a daunting thought occurs: there aren’t any more nurses you can call on with the press of a button for help with this baby of yours. Nobody will come if your baby begins crying, and you can’t get him or her to stop. In other words, it’s all up to you from now on.

One of you is carrying the infant, still swaddled in a pink and blue striped cotton blanket from the hospital. The front door closes…and now what do you do? Where do you put the baby down? In the crib? Oh, my goodness, it looks so alone in there! Maybe we should put it on the bed. No, somebody told you not to put babies on the bed, because they might roll off. Well, you think, how about this? We can put the baby between us lying on the bed, so maybe we can watch some TV, and the baby will be safe because nothing’s going to roll over me or you!

It's all new, having a new baby – every moment of it. At first, you live in a kind of icy fear that despite everything you’ve read, everything you’ve heard, all the preparations you’ve made, you’ll do something wrong. So, the two of you tip-toe through the first days and weeks of the baby’s life, being careful about everything, so nothing terrible befalls your new child.

Now imagine this: You’ve been successful! The baby is now several months old, and you can put him or her down on a soft blanket on the living room floor or in one of those portable mesh playpens in the kitchen, so you can watch the baby as you go about your normal chores, the way, more or less, that you lived your life before you brought the baby home with you from the hospital. So now your baby is beginning to be mobile, making its first moves to crawl across the blanket or around the playpen, and it’s acting curious – reaching for things and grabbing them in its hand and examining them and usually sticking them in its mouth. The baby is changing so rapidly! It’s so cute, the way it does something new every day.

So what do you do now that your baby is approaching toddlerhood? Well, now imagine this: You’ve read a book called To Train Up a Child by two conservative Christian authors who are very influential in the world of raising Christian children and home schooling. And what does this book written by Debi and Michael Pearl tell you to do?

According to an excellent article published this week in the Washington Post, the book written by the Pearls “advocates ‘training sessions’ in which infants, as soon as they are old enough to crawl, are placed near a desired object and repeatedly struck with a switch if they disobey commands not to touch it.”

Take a minute. Have you digested it so far?

That’s not all. The Post reports that “the Pearls advocate hitting children with tree branches, belts and other 'instruments of love’ to instill obedience and recommend that toddlers who take slowly to potty training be washed outdoors with cold water from a garden hose.”

Look at the page depicted above. It’s from a handout called “Gospel-Driven Parenting” distributed by a conservative Christian group run by a minister named Chris Peeler, who is part of a larger Christian home schooling network run by a man called Gary Cox, described by the Post as “an evangelical pastor and pioneer of Maryland’s home-schooling movement.” Here’s what the handout says about beating your child: “The use of the rod is for the purpose of breaking the child’s will. One way to tell if this has happened is to see if they can look you in the eyes after being disciplined and ask for forgiveness.”

The handout does not explain how an infant who has just begun to crawl is supposed to “ask for forgiveness” after they have been beaten with a switch for the crime of reaching for a toy in a playpen.

This isn’t raising a child or even “training up” a child. It is child abuse, pure and simple, and it is a crime in all 50 states and the territories of the United States. Yet it is going on every day in this country, because there is an entire network of Christian home schoolers who have organized to insure that once parents get their children inside their homes and behind closed doors, the states can do nothing to stop them from “using the rod” to discipline and “train” their children as they are being “educated” by home schoolers.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and its leader Michael Farris have built what the Post calls “the most influential homeschool organization in the world. Over decades, they have eroded state regulations, ensuring that parents who home-school face little oversight in much of the country.More recently, they have inflamed the nation’s culture wars, fueling attacks on public-school lessonsabout race and gender with the politically potent language of ‘parental rights.’”

Sound familiar? Those are the “we own our children” advocates supported by Moms For Liberty who have been running, and winning, school board races across the country. They advocate laws not just allowing but mandating that the Ten Commandments be posted in every school classroom. They advocate that Christian prayer be allowed in the schools like it was in the years before the Supreme Court struck down the practice in the 1960’s. In fact, they want to bring much of the agenda being pushed by the home schooling networks run by Michael Farris and Gary Cox and Debi and Michael Pearl into public school systems everywhere.

Now imagine this Bible verse being taught in a public school: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell.” This jewel of wisdom is from Proverbs 23: 13,14.

The Post describes the Christian home schooling movement as advocating an education teaching “Bible-based arithmetic necessary to calculate the age of a universe less than 8,000 years old…in which dinosaurs were herdedaboard Noah’s ark…believing Christians could out-populate atheists and Muslims by scorning birth control.”

“It’s specifically a system that is set up to hide the abuse, to make them invisible, to strip them of any capability of getting help. And not just in a physical way,” a woman who had been home-schooled but had left the movement told the Post. “At some point, you become so mentally imprisoned you don’t even realize you need help.”

The Post describes the Christian home schooling movement as “a conscious rejection of contemporary ideas about biology, history, gender equality and the role of religion in American government. Among conservative Christians, home schooling became a tool for binding children to fundamentalist beliefsthey felt were threatened by exposure to other points of view. Rightly educated, those children would grow into what HSLDA founder Michael Farris called a ‘Joshua Generation’ that would seek the political power and cultural influence to reshape America according to biblical principles.”

That’s what they’re doing out in public, standing up at a school board meeting near you and demanding that this book be banned because it’s about a child with two fathers, or that book should be banned because it teaches about evolution and Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which of course goes against the Bible’s story that God made the earth and all its creatures in six days and rested on the seventh, and presumably, a few thousand years ago little children played with baby dinosaurs in their front yards instead of with dolls and toy trucks. Michael Farris, who founded the HSLDA, now works for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the non-profit that has funded lawsuits around the country seeking to infect the public sphere with conservative Christian beliefs and even laws.

But once they get those kids behind closed doors, out comes what the Washington Post describes as “the rod — interpreted by different people as a wooden spoon, dowel, belt, rubber hose or other implement.” The Post describes one man they interviewed who had been home schooled as “being struck several times a week — sometimes more, sometimes less — with what he describes as a shortened broomstickfor disobeying commands or failing to pay attention to his schoolwork,” who underwent “‘killer bee’ spankings, when the rod was used against his bare skin.”

Now imagine this: According to the Washington Post, in the state of Virginia alone 57,000 children were being home schooled in 2022, a 28 percent increase over the figures for 2019.

Somewhere on your street, or on the street behind your house, or just across town, children are being home schooled. Some of them are being taught at home by reasonable parents who only want the best for their children. But, some of them are being brought home as infants from the hospital and within a few months, their parents are hitting them with switches because they reach out for a toy or a stuffed animal. The crime of child abuse is being committed behind closed doors probably in nearly every town or city in this country in the name of a Christianity that no sane person would recognize, and there is an entire movement dedicated to the proposition that the state should pass no laws against a parent’s right to do what he or she wishes to the child they believe they own.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

With Smoking Tape, An Obsessive Grudge Serves To Expose Trump's Misconduct

With Smoking Tape, An Obsessive Grudge Serves To Expose Trump's Misconduct

It wasn’t the first time Donald Trump whined about General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it may be the time that will cost him. There was some interesting reporting, at least to these ears, from the New York Times yesterday on the tape that Special Prosecutor Jack Smith presented to the grand jury looking into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents.

The Times reported that the tape was made during a meeting in July 2021 between Trump and two writers who were working with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on a memoir of his 10 month – wow, ten long months! – in the White House. The meeting occurred at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he spends his summers. Sources told the Times that Trump was said to refer to a classified document he had from his time in the White House that dealt with plans for an attack on Iran.

“On the recording, Mr. Trump began railing about his handpicked chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, who was described in media accounts at the time as having guarded against Mr. Trump’s striking Iran in the final days of the presidency, according to the people briefed on the matter,” the Times reported. “Mr. Trump then began referencing a document that he had with him, saying that it had been compiled by General Milley and was related to attacking Iran, the people briefed on the matter said.”

Wow, and wow, and double wow.

The Daily Mail printed photos of Trump boarding a private jet at the West Palm Beach Airport bound for his New Jersey golf club. Six boxes similar to those used to store Trump’s top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago were pictured being loaded onto the plane by aides. That trip happened on May 8, 2022.

On May 11, Trump was served with a subpoena for any and all classified documents he took with him from the White House and was holding at Mar-a-Lago.

On June 3, several FBI agents and two Department of Justice officials visited Mar-a-Lago, at the invitation of Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran, where they were given two things: an envelope containing 38 classified documents and an affidavit certifying that no more classified documents had been found at Mar-a-Lago after a “diligent search.”

On August 8, the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and discovered dozens of boxes of White House documents there, including more than 100 classified documents that had not been turned over to the DOJ in response to its subpoena at the June 3 meeting.

So, questions arise: Why was a search warrant not served on Trump’s Bedminster golf club in the summer of 2022, along with the one served on Mar-a-Lago? Could there be another trove of classified documents that Trump is still hanging onto that the DOJ has not found yet, that had been at his Bedminster golf club since the summer of 2021?

All of the reporting on the tape has referred to the fact that in discussing the classified document, Trump acknowledged that the document was classified and apparently lamented his inability to declassify it and reveal its contents to the world. The Washington Post pointed out that Trump “understood both the legal and security concerns around his possession of such restricted information.” This would undercut Trump’s claims that he had “automatically” declassified every document he had taken from the White House.

But there’s something else going on here: Why would Trump want to reveal the classified document about plans to attack Iran? Trump apparently told his interviewers that the plans had been drawn up by Gen. Milley and complained that he couldn’t reveal the document to shoot down a report that had appeared in The New Yorker that same month.

The New Yorker reported in its July 15 issue, “Milley had been engaged in an alarmed effort to insure that Trump did not embark on a military conflict with Iran as part of his quixotic campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power. The chairman secretly feared that Trump would insist on launching a strike on Iranian interests that could set off a full-blown war.” The magazine reported that “Milley had, since late in 2020, been having morning phone meetings, at 8 a.m. on most days, with the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the hopes of getting the country safely through to Joe Biden’s Inauguration.”

The New Yorker reported that “Milley referred to these meetings with his staff as the ‘land the plane’ calls—as in, ‘both engines are out, the landing gear are stuck, we’re in an emergency situation. Our job is to land this plane safely and to do a peaceful transfer of power the 20th of January.’”

It’s fairly easy to imagine how pissed Trump must have been at Milley in July 2021. Both the New Yorker and newspapers reporting on the New Yorker’s report compared the Milley story about Trump to the final days of the Nixon administration, when Henry Kissinger claimed to have worked to keep the beleaguered president from launching a nuclear strike to save his presidency.

But Trump’s grudge against Milley went back further than that. The New Yorker reminded readers that on June 1, 2020, Trump had “used the general as a prop in his infamous Lafayette Square photo op: Trump had marched through the plaza minutes after it had been violently cleared of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, and following him was Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a pack of his White House advisers, and Milley, who was dressed in combat fatigues, as if at war inside America.”

Realizing the purpose for which he was being used when he saw press photographers ready to take the infamous photo of Trump with the upside-down Bible outside a church parish house that had been damaged by fire during Black Lives Matter protests over the murder of George Floyd, Milley turned around and walked back to the White House by himself. Several days later, Milley apologized for the role he had played in what had turned out to be a political event to benefit the reelection of Trump.

“I shouldn’t have been there,” Milley said at a graduation ceremony for the National Defense University in Washington. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

Days after Milley’s speech, Trump had him into the Oval Office and reamed him out for the apology he had issued for his appearance in Lafayette Square with Trump. He demanded to know why Milley had apologized, because apologies are “a sign of weakness,” according to an account of the meeting in the New Yorker. “’Not where I come from,’” Milley replied, as he later told associates. Milley said he had to ask for forgiveness because he was a soldier in uniform who did not belong at a political event.

‘I don’t expect you to understand,’ Milley had said. ‘It’s an ethic for us, a duty.’”

I leave it to your imagination what Trump’s reaction to that must have been. During a trip to Europe, Trump infamously asked aides when he was scheduled to visit an American military cemetery in France, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” The Atlantic went on to report that “in a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

Trump has made repeated promises at his recent rallies that he will get “retribution” on his enemies if he is elected president in 2024. Clearly, Gen. Mark Milley, who has announced that he will retire as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later this year, will be a target of Trump’s retribution campaign.

There has already been reporting that Special Counsel Smith has heard testimony that Trump retained at least some classified documents so he could show them off to visitors at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. It isn’t much of a stretch to conclude that he retained other classified documents so he could eventually use them to retaliate against people he perceived had wronged him somehow, either while he was in office, or afterwards.

Trump has long had a penchant for holding grudges and an obsession with getting back at those he believes have been somehow disloyal to him. That those qualities have now apparently put him at serious risk of indictment for withholding classified documents from the government when he was asked to return them, and then issued a subpoena for them, is such a delicious form of poetic justice, I can taste it in the back of my mouth as I write this.


The Trump tape story was developing last night at quite a fast pace. Although it is not known how Special Prosecutor Jack Smith came into possession of the tape, it is beginning to appear that he may have subpoenaed it from the two writers working with Mark Meadows on his White House memoir. It could also have been subpoenaed from a Trump aide who was present in the room for the interview at Trump’s Bedminster golf resort in July 2021. A reporter for the Washington Post who interviewed Trump in the spring of 2021 for a book she and another Post reporter were writing said that Trump had aides in the room recording the interview at the same time the reporters were running their own recorders.

So we now know that reporters interviewing Trump are permitted to tape record their interviews with him, and that Trump himself keeps a tape of all interviews “for fact checking purposes,” as the Post reporter explained tonight.

A former prosecutor on MSNBC also speculated tonight that the appearance of the tape made at Bedminster may be an indication that Special Prosecutor Smith has opened another line of inquiry in the investigation into the possibility that Trump had additional classified documents he had removed from either the White House or subsequently from Mar-a-Lago and taken with him for the summer of 2021 to Bedminster.

It is known that in 2022 Trump had boxes of documents moved around within Mar-a-Lago on June 2, the day before Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran invited DOJ officials to fly to Palm Beach to receive the 38 classified documents they turned over on June 3.

It looks to me at this point that there is a possibility that the “rehearsal” movement of documents Trump is said to have held before he received the subpoena from the DOJ on May 11, 2022, may have been something else altogether: the actual movement of six document boxes out of Mar-a-Lago to Trump’s private plane on May 8 when he left Florida to spend the rest of the summer in Bedminster, New Jersey.

What if the workers at Mar a Lago who described the “rehearsal” in their grand jury testimony were describing the gathering and movement of the six document boxes before May 8? The people shown in the Daily Mail photos carrying the documents from big black SUV’s across the tarmac and loading them into Trump’s airplane were not Mar a Lago workers. They were Trump aides, male and female, wearing business attire. It could be possible that Trump ordered Mar-a-Lago workers to move the document boxes for “practice” in a “rehearsal” to a certain area of Mar --Lago before May 8, and then on that date, Trump had his own personal aides move the same document boxes into the SUV’s, and from there, into the plane in which he flew to Bedminster.

There is one last wrinkle to the tape story. Trump apparently told the interviewers working for Meadows in July 2021 that he had a classified document with a plan to attack Iran that had been prepared by Gen. Mark Milley, and thus it wasn’t him who wanted to attack Iran, as the New Yorker story implied, but Gen. Milley. This characterization of the classified document containing a plan by Milley to attack Iran is bogus on at least two levels.

One, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff doesn’t draw up plans of attack himself. Such memos are regularly drawn up by Pentagon officers as contingency plans, “what if” documents laying out a response if Iran explodes a nuclear weapon, for example, or attacks Israel. The Pentagon doesn’t like to be caught flat-footed if such disasters strike, so they always have a stack of responses to consider if such a thing happens.

Two, the president is periodically briefed about such contingency plans during daily intelligence briefings because as commander in chief, he would be the one to give the order to execute such a plan if and when the time came. So, what Trump probably took out of the White House in January 2021 was a top-secret document or documents containing contingency plans for Iran, Russia, China – you name it – with Milley’s name on it as the originating officer because as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Milley was the Pentagon official tasked as the president’s top military adviser. Of course, if Trump was briefed on a potential response to any kind of Iranian provocation or attack on an ally of the United States, the top-secret document would have Milley’s name on it. He’s the guy who provided the document to Trump as president.

Which just goes to show you that one of the things on Trump’s mind on the day he left the White House on January 20, 2021, was that he wanted ammunition to take with him to get back at those who had wronged him while he was president, Milley among them. Trump has always had an enemies list, or lists, and now we know that he had armed himself with top-secret documents to use as retribution against his enemies.

And Trump’s obsession with holding grudges has come back to bite him in the ass. What a surprise, huh?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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

On Every Memorial Day, We Remember Lucian K. Truscott Jr. And The Fallen

On Every Memorial Day, We Remember Lucian K. Truscott Jr. And The Fallen

This is the way CNN commemorated Memorial Day in 2015, with a story they called, “The General Who Apologized to the Dead Soldiers on Memorial Day.”

“At the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy, Memorial Day 1945 was an elegiac occasion. Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott Jr., who had led the U. S. Sixth Corps through some of the heaviest fighting in Italy and now commanded the Fifth Army, gave a speech that is particularly relevant for today when the trauma of our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to haunt so many vets.

"No recording or transcript of Truscott’s Memorial Day speech exists, even among his papers at the George C. Marshall Research Library in Virginia.

"In Stars and Stripes, the military’s newspaper, we have only excerpts of Truscott’s remarks. “All over the world our soldiers sleep beneath the crosses,” Stars and Stripes reported Truscott observing. 'It is a challenge to us – all allied nations– to ensure that they do not and have not died in vain.'

"Missing from the Stars and Stripes story is what Truscott did in delivering his speech. For that account we are indebted to Bill Mauldin, best known for his World War II cartoons featuring the unshaven infantrymen, Willie and Joe. Mauldin was in the audience when Truscott spoke at Nettuno, and he never forgot the day.

“There were about twenty thousand American graves. Families hadn’t started digging up the bodies and bringing them home,” Mauldin recalled years later in his 1971 memoir, The Brass Ring.

'Before the stand were spectator benches, with a number of camp chairs down front for VIPs, including several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. When Truscott spoke he turned away from the visitors and addressed himself to the corpses he had commanded here. It was the most moving gesture I ever saw. It came from a hard-boiled old man who was incapable of planned dramatics,' Mauldin wrote.

“The general’s remarks were brief and extemporaneous. He apologized to the dead men for their presence here. He said everybody tells leaders it is not their fault that men get killed in war, but that every leader knows in his heart this is not altogether true.

“He said he hoped anybody here through any mistake of his would forgive him, but he realized that was asking a hell of a lot under the circumstances. . . . he would not speak about the glorious dead because he didn’t see much glory in getting killed if you were in your late teens or early twenties. He promised that if in the future he ran into anybody, especially old men, who thought death in battle was glorious, he would straighten them out. He said he thought that was the least he could do.”

Grandpa was a hard man. He was born in Chatfield, Texas, in 1895 and never completed the 10th grade, and at age 16 took over the teaching duties in a one-room schoolhouse in Enid, Oklahoma when the teacher died, completing the instruction of the students two years later. He enlisted in the Army and joined the Cavalry, serving at several Cavalry outposts along the borders of Texas and Arizona. He became an officer, a second lieutenant, because of his skill at playing polo. One of his commanders wanted Grandpa on his polo team, and he sent him to Officer Candidate School because only officers played polo in the Army in those days. He rose quickly to the rank of captain at Fort Bliss, Texas, because the post commander wanted Grandpa to captain his polo team in a championship match against a rival general at Fort Riley, Kansas, and you had to have the rank of captain to lead an Army polo team.

Grandpa was hand-picked by the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall, to go to England before the U.S. became formally involved in the war. He also sent Grandpa there to get to know the British military commanders and report back to him about their personalities, competence as leaders, and anything else he could pick up in the way of intelligence on the allies Marshall knew the U.S. Army would soon be fighting alongside. While in Great Britain, Grandpa formed and was responsible for naming the Army Rangers, and arranged with Lord Louis Mountbatten, chief of combined operations for the British Commandos, to have the Rangers trained alongside British commandos at a base in Northern Ireland. Major William O. Darby, who became famous as the commander of “Darby’s Rangers,” was his deputy.

Marshall gave Grandpa his first combat command, of the Sixth Infantry Regiment, at the landing of U.S. forces on the continent of Africa at Port Lyautey, French Morocco. He went on from there to command the Third Infantry Division in the battles for Sicily and Southern Italy. He took over command of the Sixth Corps at Anzio, and was in command when the U.S. Army took Rome. He took command of the Seventh Army and led the invasion of Southwest France with the landing in Marseille and took that army all the way to Strasbourg before being sent back to Italy to command the Fifth Army. He took the surrender of the Nazi army commanded by Field Marshal Albert Kesselring on April 29, 1945, the first unconditional surrender of enemy forces in World War II.

At the end of war, after several antisemitic outbursts by General George S. Patton were reported in U.S. newspapers, General Dwight D. Eisenhower relieved Patton of command of the Third Army and turned that command over to Grandpa, appointing him Military Governor of Bavaria and putting him in charge of all the displaced person camps in southern Germany. Under Patton, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were being kept in camps in conditions not much better than they suffered in the Nazi concentration camps. Grandpa moved the Jewish survivors into housing at German army posts he seized, and arranged for a dozen Army rabbis to be sent to Bavaria to serve the survivors. Grandpa ordered that the first Passover seder in over a decade be held in Munich in April of 1946, and ordered that A Survivors Haggadah be printed by the Third Army for the occasion. This is its cover:

This is the first page of The Survivors Haggadah, another kind of memorial to the dead of another kind of war that was waged by the Nazis against Jews before and during World War II:

The Survivors Haggadah was illustrated by woodcuts made by a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich. As commander of the Third Army, Grandpa held the war crimes trails in Munich for the guards and commanders of Dachau and executed many of them.

I knew Grandpa growing up as a boy and spent several summers with him and Grandma, Sara Randolph Truscott, at their home in Northern Virginia. I don’t recall seeing Grandpa smile much when I was a boy. The war, and what he did as a commander of U.S. soldiers, and what he saw during and after the war, left him a broken man. The only time he ever said anything about the war was to my father on the night before he shipped out to serve in the Korean War. They were standing at night after supper along a fence behind a farmhouse Grandpa had bought for his retirement in Loudon County, Virginia. Dad asked Grandpa what advice he could give him before he went to war. Dad told me it was the only time in his life he ever saw his father cry. Dad said that Grandpa began sobbing so hard, he had to lean with his arms over the fence in order to remain standing. Every Memorial Day, I remember his words to my father that night: “The bodies, the bodies, all those dead boys, the bodies…”

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

The True Story Behind Ken Paxton's Historic Texas Impeachment

The True Story Behind Ken Paxton's Historic Texas Impeachment

Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, impeached by the Texas House yesterday and currently awaiting trial in the Senate, has been awaiting trial on another charge for felony securities fraud since 2015. Paxton, who was elected as Attorney General in 2014, was charged the following year with conning people into investing in a technology company called Severgy without telling them that he had an interest in the company and would profit from their investments.

The charges allege that while Paxton was serving in the Texas House of Representatives in 2011, he sold $840,000 worth of stock in the company to a Florida businessman and a fellow state representative with whom he roomed while the two men served in the House in Austin. In return, Paxton received 100,000 shares in the technology company. It wasn’t a small amount of money, and the complainants in the case were upstanding members of their communities.

So, it wasn’t a case like the hundreds that would doubtlessly churn through the justice system over the eight years Paxton has been able to keep his felony charges bouncing around from court to court, county to county. You know the kind of cases I’m talking about – kids charged with stealing beer from a 7-11, or adults charged with holding up a 7-11 with a firearm; or the thousands of multiple-offender felony DWI’s that would send the perpetrators to jail during the time Paxton was under indictment.

Of course, none of those charged in 7-11 robberies or with felony DWI’s who ended up in jail were former members of the Texas legislature or the state Attorney General like Paxton was. Which is the point. There were two systems of justice in operation in Texas between 2015 and 2023: one for the ordinary citizens of the state and one for Ken Paxton, and I’ll give you one guess which justice system produced trials and convictions and jail time.

The Texas Tribune has done an excellent job over the years explaining how the Ken Paxton system of justice worked. In a 2019 story, the Tribune spent more than 15 paragraphs describing the steps the Paxton felony case went through during just the first four years of the delays Paxton and his lawyers engineered to keep the Attorney General out of court as a defendant, and Paxton himself in office.

According to the Tribune, in August of 2015, Paxton was indicted by a grand jury in Collin County. Because the case involves the state Attorney General, special prosecutors are assigned to handle the charges.

In December of that year, a Paxton friend and campaign donor sued Collin County alleging that the special prosecutors were being overpaid. That case began to make its way through the courts.

In the early months of 2016, Paxton was barred by the Texas Ethics Commission – yes, they have one of those in the Lone Star State – from raising money out of state and from using campaign funds for his defense.

Also in 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission got involved, filing civil charges against Paxton in federal court charging him with misleading investors. Paxton immediately tried to get those charges dismissed, but by mid-summer, he lost the case in an appeals court.

Paxton also filed a motion to get the felony charges dismissed. He was unsuccessful. But he was successful in raising money for his defense, more than $300,000 from political donors and “family friends,” according to financial statements seen by the Tribune.

After SEC federal civil charges were dismissed in early 2017, somehow the Collin County Commissioners voted to stop paying the special prosecutors in the Paxton case. Withholding money from the prosecution became a refrain. Later that year, a Dallas appeals court upheld not paying the special prosecutors. By the fall of 2017, not one, not two, but three delays were granted in the Paxton case, the latest one because the special prosecutors told a judge they couldn’t go to court and work for free.

The state court case filed by the special prosecutors to get paid went to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, effectively speaking, the state’s supreme court, and the Paxton trial was put off until that court could decide the special prosecutor’s case on payments.

By then it was 2018, and with all the felony charges still standing, Paxton won reelection, because Texas.

Meanwhile, the state’s highest court had ruled against the special prosecutors, who had now not been paid for more than a year. The prosecutors asked the high court to reconsider. The court took nearly a year to make up their minds to deny the prosecutor’s motion.

In 2019 Paxton filed a motion in Dallas to have the case moved back to his home county, Collin, where the county commissioners first refused to pay the special prosecutors the county had appointed to oversee the Paxton prosecution. The special prosecutors had now gone two years without being paid.

By 2020, in a complicated bouncing-around of judges and counties, the Paxton case was first sent back to Collin County, then a Houston judge sent it back to Harris County, but the case got put on hold because the judge, a guy named Robert Johnson, had to recuse himself because Paxton’s own office of the Attorney General was representing him and twenty other Harris County judges in a case against the county’s bail policies.

Later in 2020, seven employees in the office of the Attorney General reported Paxton to the FBI for conspiring with his pal, Nate Paul, to use state funds and other materials to assist Paul in real estate deals. They became whistleblowers and were fired by Paxton, setting the stage for the charges that got Paxton impeached.

But…but…but…it was only 2020! It couldn’t be over yet! In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Attorney in West Texas where Paxton was charged and where the whistleblower charges were being investigated is an appointee of Donald Trump and William Barr, the former puppet-Attorney General. The Biden U.S. Attorney wasn’t confirmed until December of 2022, and then…wait for it…NBC News reported that the West Texas U.S. Attorney’s office recused itself, and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. took over the case.

So the case went from Paxton’s home county, to Houston, to Dallas, back to Paxton’s home county, to the feds in West Texas to the Justice Department in Washington D.C.

Did it end there? It’s Texas, right? Of course not. The very next month, Paxton attempted to “settle” with the whistleblowers from his own office, offering them $3 million to drop their case. Then Paxton tried to get the state of Texas to pick up the bill for the entire mess he had created. He wanted the Texas taxpayers to pay off the people accusing him of running a corrupt office with a hostile environment.

Suddenly, the Texas House committee on investigations convened itself and announced this past week that it had heard “stunning testimony” about “a years long pattern of misconduct” by Paxton and voted to recommend that Paxton be impeached.

On Saturday, the Texas House took up the recommendation and voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton.

And so eight years and many judges and several unpaid special prosecutors later, Paxton will stand in the dock of the Texas Senate and face trial for impeachment on no less than 20 charges, many of which he had been moving around the state like chips on a checkerboard, jumping over one legal hurdle after another until even his own party, the Texas Republican Party, got tired of getting beat.

Last week, Paxton is said to have personally called members of the Texas House and threatened them with political retribution if they voted against him, and his friend Donald Trump joined him, calling those who are attempting to oust his favorite state Attorney General “liberals.”

Paxton’s own wife Angela is a state Senator and will sit in judgement at the trial of her husband. Paxton may be having second thoughts about the day he convinced his pal Nate Paul to give his mistress a job while Paul did the renovations on the house Paxton and his state Senator wife lived in.

Or maybe not. It’s Texas, folks, where anything goes unless you hold up a 7-11. In that case, you will go to court where the prosecutors will be paid to prosecute you, and you will go to jail.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Why Trump May Be The First President Indicted Under The Espionage Act

Why Trump May Be The First President Indicted Under The Espionage Act

The Espionage Act, 18 U.S. Code § 793, is a law that was passed in 1917 just after the United States entered World War I to prevent secrets essential to the operations of the military from being transmitted to the enemy or to anyone not authorized to have them in their possession. The act, interestingly, defines secret material as “information relating to the national defense,” which in the opinion of most legal experts removes the necessity for the documents or plans or photographs or maps to have markings of “secret” or “top secret.”

Donald J. Trump, in his capacity as a citizen of the United States, is suspected of having taken such national defense information with him from the White House when he left office in 2021. The National Archives, the repository for all the papers of a president of the United States as well as gifts given to him while in office, noticed that certain documents were missing from materials turned over by the Trump administration when the Archives began to go through Trump’s papers in 2021. Among them was the so-called “perfect letter” written to Trump by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about which Trump had trumpeted endlessly as president. The letter was an official document of the Trump presidency because it was written to Trump as president during the time he served, thus it belonged to the United States and not to Trump.

Looking further through what we will call the Trump papers, the Archives noticed that certain other well known papers were missing, as well as certain gifts that had been given to Trump by leaders of foreign nations. The Archives asked for the return of all documents, gifts, and other materials Trump had taken from the White House. Thus began the long road to where we find ourselves today, contemplating charges being brought against a former president of the United States for violating a law that was written to punish spies.

The section of the law that pertains to Trump’s alleged crimes reads as if it could have been written with him specifically in mind. Here it is, section “d” of the Espionage Act:

Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;

Here is the operative sentence at the bottom of the six sections of the Espionage Act that applies to violations of all of them: Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

I have written previously at length about all the stages of this legal journey, from the subpoena sent to Trump in May of last year, to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, to the appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith to oversee all aspects of the several investigations of Trump that are underway, to the stories that have emerged about the various people who have been questioned by the grand jury sitting in Washington, D.C. hearing evidence in the case. So, we don’t need to rehash all that now.

What is relevant today are recent reports of two things that bear on the investigation of Trump for violating the act, as well as a concomitant investigation of his potential violations of laws against obstruction of justice, both of which apply to Trump’s apparent illegal theft of and retention of national security information when he left office.

The first is a report in the New York Times that the Justice Department has gathered “sufficient evidence to meet its burden of showing that the former president had retained the classified documents willfully.” One piece of that evidence recently revealed that Trump had ordered that boxes of materials, including classified documents, be moved from one place to another on the day before representatives of the Department of Justice were due to arrive at Mar-a-Lago to pick up an envelope containing 38 classified documents Trump was turning over in response to the subpoena that had been issued to him on May 11, 2022.

The date was June 2 when Trump ordered boxes to be moved within the Mar-a-Lago complex. Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, called the Department of Justice on that day and said the DOJ could come pick up the 38 documents, which FBI officers and two attorneys for the DOJ did on June 3. The DOJ officials on June 3 were shown the storage room to which boxes had been moved but were told they could not look into the boxes. Later, this fact would be used to obtain the FBI search warrant which was executed on August 8.

Corcoran has been questioned before the grand jury multiple times about these matters, including the certification he drew up that a “diligent search” had been carried out by him, and that the 38 classified documents he turned over on June 3, 2022 were all that had been found. Corcoran’s testimony, and that of a worker at Mar a Lago who was involved in moving the boxes, are apparently part of the evidence that shows Trump withheld the classified documents “willfully” in violation of the section against retaining national security information and failing to turn it over to “an officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.” That would be the DOJ officials who showed up at Mar a Lago on June 3 and were prevented from looking into the boxes they were shown in the storage room.

The other proverbial shoe to drop was testimony by another worker at Mar-a-Lago that revealed Trump had kept some of the classified documents in his office openly lying around on his desk where they could be seen by anyone who walked into the office. Special Counsel Smith also has testimony that Trump frequently showed classified documents to visitors in his office and bragged that the documents were “his.”

That piece of the prosecutorial puzzle relates to the section of the law against transmitting national security information to “any person not entitled to receive it.” Anyone Trump showed the classified documents to would fall into that category, as would any employee at Mar-a-Lago who entered Trump’s office and had access to the classified documents lying around in full view. That might be cleaners, the workers who moved the boxes of classified documents, or anyone else who walked into the office, including, for example, Mar-a-Lago visitors or Melania or Jared or Ivanka or any of Trump’s lawyers or other employees. None of them had top secret security clearances.

The point about this section of the law is that anyone to whom Trump revealed a top secret document could walk out of his office and tell someone else what he or she saw. Jared Kushner could have called his friends in the Saudi government and told them about the top secret documents Trump had about the president of France, enabling the Saudis to use that information in any oil deal they had with France, or a negotiation for France to supply the Saudis with weapons or naval vessels or military aircraft.

Trump himself could have used the top secret information in his own dealings with foreign governments and companies. The New York Times reported this week that the DOJ has issued a subpoena for information about Trump’s business dealings in seven countries: China, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Since leaving office, Trump is known to have had dealings with Saudi Arabia to use his name on a complex involving a golf course, offices, and apartments. He has also had dealings with the Saudi-owned LIV golf tour, which has signed contracts to hold its events at Trump-owned golf courses in the United States and overseas, including Great Britain.

The words hot water come to mind when describing where Trump finds himself today, and we haven’t even dipped our toe into the boiling cauldron surrounding an entirely separate investigation by the Special Prosecutor into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election of 2020, as well as an investigation into his fund raising surrounding those attempts, where he is suspected of raising funds for lawsuits filed after the election that were diverted to his own Super Pac and never used for the purpose they were advertised for in fund raising appeals. That might be a violation of laws against wire fraud, among other financial crimes.

Trump took a look at the Espionage Act while he was president and said to himself, hey, there’s a weapon I can use against my enemies in the press who keep reporting on leaks from my administration about scandals involving cabinet secretaries, among other things. Now the Espionage Act has come into play against him for its originally intended purpose.

Ironies abound. If Trump is charged with violating the Espionage Act, that will be a far cry from charges involving his Big Lie, which Republicans have fastened themselves to as if were a life preserver in the upcoming elections. Let’s see them try to call foul if Trump is, in effect, charged as a spy, especially if the charges involve him using top secret national security information to line his own grubby pockets.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Russian Mercenary Chief Predicts 'Revolution' If Putin Fails In Ukraine

Russian Mercenary Chief Predicts 'Revolution' If Putin Fails In Ukraine

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian mercenary army the Wagner Group, turned himself into Vladimir Putin’s Ron DeSantis in an online interview with a Russian military blogger that actually aired on time, unlike DeSantis’ campaign launch Wednesday night on Twitter. Prigozhin, sounding like he is at least thinking of challenging Putin’s leadership of Russia, used the interview to celebrate the Wagner Group’s extraordinarily costly victor in taking Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces last week. The portly loud-mouthed Russian billionaire even admitted that Wagner lost 20,000 of its soldiers in the nine-month campaign, although other estimates are five times that number.

Prigozhin’s interview with military blogger and pro-Kremlin political observer Konstantin Dolgov, was typically blunt, profane, and highly critical of Putin’s hand-picked military and defense leaders. He “accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Valery Gerasimov of unprofessionalism and corruption that led to troop losses in Ukraine,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Prigozhin has criticized Russia’s military brass before for living in the lap of luxury in Moscow and allowing their children to drive around in expensive Mercedes Benz automobiles and vacation in the Gulf while Russian soldiers, including Prigozhin’s own Wagner Group troops, die on the battlefield. “My advice to the Russian elites — get your lads, send them to war, and when you go to the funeral, when you start burying them, people will say that now everything is fair.”

Prigozhin said that Russia’s failing war in Ukraine could drive Russians into such despair that Russia could end up going through "what happened in 1917, with a revolution — when first the soldiers rise up, and then their loved ones follow.” Prigozhin appeared to be referring to the mass defections of Russian soldiers in World War I that led to the Russian Revolution. He has been salty in his criticism of the way Putin’s pet defense officials have led the war, but never to this extent: “We are at such a point that we could fucking lose Russia -- that is the main problem. We need to impose martial law,” Prigozhin practically shouted at his interviewer. “We unfortunately must announce new waves of mobilization and put everyone who is capable to work on increasing the production of ammunition. Russia needs to live like North Korea for a few years, so to say, close the borders and work hard.”

Prigozhin bragged about his Wagner Group’s defeat of Ukrainian forces in the taking of Bakhmut, but continued to lay on his criticism of Putin’s military commanders for failing to supply his soldiers with adequate quantities of ammunition and other supplies. Coming close to being critical of Putin himself – an offense punishable by death if he had stepped an inch or over the line – Prigozhin reminded Russian listeners that the invasion in February of 2022 had been promoted as a strike to “de-Nazify” Ukraine and “demilitarize” the country.

Instead, Russia has ended up with a situation where its neighbor’s army is “one of the most powerful in the world.” As a nation, Prigozhin lamented, Ukraine has been turned into “a nation known to the entire world.”

Putin had complained for years about NATO’s push to the east, enrolling most of Russia’s former Eastern Bloc in the alliance. In a two-hour rant justifying the war two days before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Putin claimed his seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the coming invasion would block NATO from coming any closer to Russia’s borders.

In the interview yesterday, Prigozhin seemed unconvinced. Referring to Ukraine’s army, he bellowed, “If they, figuratively speaking, had 500 tanks at the beginning of the special operation, now they have 5,000. If they had 20,000 fighters who knew how to fight, now they have 400,000. How did we ‘demilitarize’ it? Now it turns out that we militarized it — hell knows how.”

“Hell,” in Prigozhin’s crafty verbal construction, appears to be President Putin.

Near the end of the interview, Prigozhin seemed to throw down a challenge for Russia’s military leaders such as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He announced that his Wagner Group would be pulling out of Bakhmut to rest, replenish its severely diminished ranks with new recruits, and await the next phase of the war. His clear implication was that having taken Bakhmut for Russia, now it was the turn of Russia’s regular army to hold it.

Ukraine has vowed to take back Bakhmut, perhaps as the first move in its long-advertised spring offensive. If that happens, and Russian regular soldiers turn and run as they did last September when Ukraine re-took most of Kharkiv province, the door will be open for Prigozhin to accuse Putin’s army of “losing Bakhmut.” Prigozhin is well aware that won’t go over well in a country that has staked much of its reputation on not losing Stalingrad to the Nazis in World War II.

Prigozhin said he did not “have much faith in the optimistic scenario” that the West will tire of its support for Ukraine, setting the stage for some kind of peace deal that Putin could try to sell as a victory. He even went so far as to speculate that Ukraine’s coming offensive could succeed in driving Russian forces back to the sliver of eastern Ukraine they have held since 2014 when Putin seized Crimea and declared that Crimea and the parts of Ukraine close to the border were now Russian lands.

Hardly a master of understatement, Prigozhin was left to lament, “Most likely this scenario will not be good for us, so we need to prepare for a difficult war.”

Folks, Yevegeny Prigozhin’s interview amounts to his announcement that he’s running against Putin to become dictator-in-chief. Buckle up. The war has just spread politically from Ukraine into Russia itself.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

A Year Of Mourning Since Uvalde Massacre -- And What Have We Done?

A Year Of Mourning Since Uvalde Massacre -- And What Have We Done?

Today’s date, May 24, marks a year since an 18 year-old male, armed with an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle, walked into the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and shot to death 19 grade-school children and three teachers. He wounded 17 others who somehow managed to survive, even though most of them had been shot and lay bleeding for over an hour before police officers finally confronted the shooter and killed him.

The grim anniversaries pile up: There was a one-year anniversary after the mass killing of 12 people and wounding of 58 more at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The mass murder of 60 concertgoers in Las Vegas, and the wounding of 413 others, had a one-year anniversary, too. So did the murders of eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where six others were wounded. Several of the victims in that shooting were survivors of the Holocaust.

There was a one-year anniversary for the mass murders of 49 patrons at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, during which 53 other people were wounded. The killing of 26 churchgoers and wounding of 22 more in Sutherland Springs, Texas, had a one-year anniversary, and so did the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso that killed 23 people and wounded 23 more.

The weapons used by the killers in all of these mass murders were AR-15 style semiautomatic rifles. The killer in Las Vegas used fourteen AR-15 rifles, some of them outfitted with so-called bump stocks to make them fire automatically, and ten other firearms he had bought legally in the months leading up to the massacre.

There will be an anniversary next year for the killing just two months ago of nine children and three adults at a church school in Nashville Tennessee, and another anniversary for the murder of five people in a home in Cleveland, Texas last month, and yet another anniversary for the murder of nine people at a shopping mall in Allen, Texas, just a week later.

But the one-year anniversary of the murders of schoolchildren in Uvalde stands out, because of the horror of the deaths of the innocent children and because almost nothing happened afterwards. More than 400 law enforcement officers responded to the shooting at the school on May 24 of last year. The officers, many of them wearing full combat gear, including bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets and carrying thick bulletproof clear plastic shields, armed with fully-automatic AR-15 rifles, waited an hour and fourteen minutes before breaching the classroom and killing the shooter.

“Breaching” is an exaggeration of what actually happened. After waiting at least part of the time for a key to the schoolroom and a battering ram, the tactical force that entered the school room found that the door was unlocked and entered by turning the door handle.

Ninety of the officers responding to the shooting were from the Texas Department of Public Safety. One officer was fired. Another officer is still under investigation. A third officer resigned before a disciplinary hearing could be held. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Colonel Steve McGraw, has not been fired, nor has he resigned. The chief of the Uvalde School District police force was fired by the county board of trustees.

The city of Uvalde attempted to block the release of public information about the shooting because it was “highly embarrassing information" that had the potential of revealing “methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime,” despite the fact that none of those methods, techniques or strategies worked on May 24, 2022. There were also attempts to block the release of hallway video taken during the entire hour-and-fourteen-minute incident. Some of the video showed officers standing around chatting with one another, resting their protective shields on the ground, and fiddling with the tactical gear they were wearing. Part of one video showed an officer availing himself of hand sanitizer mounted on the wall of the school and two other officers giving each other a fist-bump before the shooter had been engaged and killed.

You would think that the state of Texas would take some steps to prevent another shooting like the one in Uvalde, but you would be wrong. A year before the killings in Uvalde, the Texas legislature passed and Gov. Greg Abbott signed a so-called “constitutional carry” bill that allows firearms to be carried without a license or training. Texas law permits the sale of AR-15 style semiautomatic rifles to persons over the age of 18. In August of 2022, just three months after the killings of the schoolchildren in Uvalde by an 18-year-old male, Gov. Abbott told the Dallas Morning News that raising the age to 21 to buy a so-called “long gun,” including the AR-15, would be “unconstitutional.”

According to the Texas Tribune, “Texas lawmakers have approved more than 100 bills that loosened regulations on firearms over the last two decades.” Some of those laws allow guns to be carried on college campuses and forbid hotels from banning handguns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has figures that show deaths by firearms in the state of Texas have risen steeply over the past 20 years. In 1999, there were 10 deaths from firearms per 100,000 citizens. By 2021, there were 15 gun deaths per 100,000 people in Texas “Over the same period, firearm-related homicides rose 66 percent and suicides involving firearms rose 40 percent” according to the Texas Tribune.

If you have people walking into grade schools and killing schoolchildren, and people going next door and killing their neighbors because they complained that the noise of shooting a gun in the front yard was keeping their baby awake, and people driving up to shopping malls and parking their cars and getting out and shooting at crowds of people that include toddlers and young children, and you do nothing to stop it, and in fact, you double-down on rhetoric surrounding gun “freedom,” then what you get is the madness of more dead people, and then more dead people, and close on the heels of those dead people, even more of them.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that an 18-year-old young man celebrated his freedom to walk into a gun store and buy a military-grade AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition, including 375 rounds of military-grade 5.56 mm NATO ammunition, by using that rifle and that storehouse of ammunition to kill 19 children and three teachers.

All anniversaries of deaths are sad for the family members and friends left behind. When the deaths are violent, they are doubly sad. When death comes from the barrel of a gun, the heartache is unknowable. When the deaths of innocents can be linked to laws allowing the easy purchase of weapons of war by young people who are not even old enough to buy a drink at a bar or a can of beer from a 7-11, the tragedy is ours, because the laws of this country, including its gun laws, and the legislators who make them and the governors and presidents who sign them and the Constitution which has been interpreted to allow them, belong to all of us.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Hi! I'm Donald And I'd Like To Apply For Membership In The Aryan Brotherhood!

Hi! I'm Donald And I'd Like To Apply For Membership In The Aryan Brotherhood!

The jaws of a legal vise started to tighten on Donald Trump over the weekend as his former lawyer, Ty Cobb, told CNN that “the feds are coming fast” after Trump, and his former client “will go to jail” on charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

CNN also reported last week that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had handed over 16 documents to Smith’s investigators that showed Trump and his advisors had specific knowledge of the correct declassification process if Trump had wanted to make public previously secret materials. Trump has insisted that he had declassified all the documents he took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office in January of 2021, a claim that has been proved false by Trump’s own statements and actions.

Trump claimed recently at the CNN so-called “town hall” in New Hampshire that the documents were declassified “automatically” when he took them from the White House because of the Presidential Records Act. The act has nothing to do with classification or declassification of documents, and rather than giving Trump permission to take documents from the White House, it sets forth the procedures for Trump or any other president must follow to turn over to the National Archives any and all records, gifts, or other materials that are in the White House at the end of a presidency.

Cobb told CNN that the NARA documents turned over to the Office of the Special Prosecutor would demolish any “legal hurdle” Trump might attempt to erect by claiming that he and his advisors didn’t know they couldn’t declassify documents with the wave of a wand, or as Trump previously claimed, “just by thinking about it.”

In other disappointing news for the former president, another of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, turned over 50 pages of notes he took of conversations with Trump last year before the FBI searched for classified documents at Mar a Lago. According to The Guardian, Corcoran warned Trump that he could not legally retain any classified documents after Trump was subpoenaed for those documents by the Department of Justice in early May of last year. Corcoran was the lawyer who handled the putative “diligent search” for documents at Trump’s residence/club in Palm Beach, Florida after the subpoena was served.

According to the Guardian, “prosecutors have fixated on Trump’s valet Walt Nauta, after he told the Justice Department that Trump told him to move boxes out of the storage room before and after the subpoena.” A source who described the notes Corcoran turned over to prosecutor Smith told the Guardian that “the notes revealed how Trump and Nauta had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search.”

Special Counsel Smith was able to obtain Corcoran’s notes when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the prosecutors could “pierce” the attorney-client privilege that existed between Trump and Corcoran because the lawyer's communications with Trump had been “in furtherance of a crime,” rather than normal attorney-client work product. Corcoran’s notes were seen by the grand jury sitting in Washington D.C. that is considering charges against Trump and others in the classified documents case.

In addition, Corcoran himself testified before the grand jury in March. According to the New York Times, Corcoran told the grand jury that he had been told that the storage room was the only place where documents taken from the White House were stored. Corcoran ended up spending several days going through more than 60 boxes of documents in the storage room as part of his “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. In June 2022, Corcoran drew up the affidavit given to the Department of Justice during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that certified the “diligent search” had turned up only 31 classified documents, which were turned over at that time in response to the subpoena. Corcoran arranged for another Trump lawyer, Christina Bobb, to sign the affidavit he had drawn up. Bobb signed it only after a disclaimer had been added that she had not been involved in the search and had only been told that the search was “diligent.”

The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago two months later turned up more than 100 additional classified documents that were discovered in the storage room as well as in Trump’s personal office. In Corcoran’s testimony to the grand jury, he said while Trump had not misled him about where classified documents might be stored at Mar-a-Lago, the only place he suggested Corcoran should search was the storage room. Corcoran’s notes indicate that there were times during the several days he searched the storage room that the room may have been left unattended.

The Department of Justice previously subpoenaed tapes from security cameras at Mar-a-Lago that show Trump’s valet Nauta carrying boxes from the storage room. Some of the tapes had gaps, according to the Guardian, so to look into whether the tapes were doctored, the grand jury subpoenaed Matthew Calamari Sr, the Trump Organization’s security chief, and his son Matthew Jr., who succeeded him as director of corporate security for the Trump Organization. Both Calamaris have testified before the grand jury. It was also reported last week that the grand jury has heard testimony about the classified documents from a “cooperating witness” who worked at Mar-a-Lago. It is unknown who the cooperating witness is, or where he or she worked at Mar-a-Lago or what their job might have been.

In order to charge and convict Trump of obstruction of justice, prosecutors would need to prove that Trump ordered Nauta or others to move boxes containing classified documents after he had received the subpoena from the DOJ on May 11, 2022. It was not until June 3 that the DOJ sent a team of lawyers to Mar-a-Lago to pick up the envelope of 31 classified documents Trump turned over in response to the subpoena, meaning that Trump had almost a month to find the classified documents, or as Smith’s prosecutors seem to believe, move them around Mar-a-Lago so they would not be found first by Corcoran during his “diligent search,” and then by the Department of Justice when they came to pick up the proffered envelope of documents in June.

Trump’s former lawyer Cobb has his own take about why Trump likely faces indictment and conviction in the classified documents case. He told CNN that from what he knew, Smith “has a tight case” that is ready for the grand jury to issue an indictment because Trump has “lied” about the documents with such frequency since the National Archives first asked him for return of the documents way back in 2021.

Referring to what charges the DOJ is likely to bring, Cobb told CNN, “I would not necessarily expand the case to try to prove the Espionage Act piece of it because there is so much evidence of guilty knowledge on the espionage piece that all they really have to do is show that Trump moved these documents at various times when DOJ was either demanding them or actually present.” He went on to explain, “[Trump] filed falsely with the Justice Department, had his lawyers file falsely with the Justice Department, an affidavit to the effect that none existed—which was shattered by the documents that they then discovered after the search—and the many other misrepresentations that he and others have made on his behalf with regard to his possession of classified documents."

And Cobb is not the only former Trump attorney with an opinion about the case. This time it’s Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr with bad news for the former president. In an interview on CBS News, Barr told reporter Catherine Herridge, "It's very clear that he [Trump] had no business having those documents. He was given a long time to send them back and he was— they were subpoenaed. And if there's any games being played there, he's going to be very exposed."

Violation of the federal obstruction of justice statute, which appears to be the charge Smith is pursuing with the grand jury, carries a sentence of 20 years in prison.

Donald Trump had better butter up former White House aide and rabid racist Steven Miller and his Nazi pal Nick Fuentes for endorsements of his own racism and antisemitism, because Trump is going to need them when he applies for membership in the notorious prison gang. He’ll be needing to pick a place for his Aryan Brotherhood tattoo as well. An example of a tattoo that might fit on Trump’s capacious backside is pictured here:

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Beyond Bakhmut's Ordeal, The News From Ukraine Is Mostly Good

Beyond Bakhmut's Ordeal, The News From Ukraine Is Mostly Good

Yevgeny Prighozin announced yesterday that his Wagner Group mercenaries had “taken” Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired right back from the meeting of the G-7 in Japan: “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words.” But he went on to compare the damage he saw in photos at the Hiroshima memorial to what has happened to Bakhmut, where nearly every structure inside the town limits has been either destroyed or severely damaged.

“For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts, and there is nothing on this place,” Zelensky told reporters, apparently indicating that there is virtually nothing left of the physical town of Bakhmut. He emphasized that there were “a lot of dead Russians” from the fighting in Bakhmut, according to the Washington Post, which reported that for every Ukrainian soldier killed in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian town, five Russians had been killed. Other estimates of the ratio have been as high as seven dead Russians for every Ukrainian killed.

It's hard to know what the truth is about Bakhmut, or even if there is a “truth” at this point. Maps of the fighting in Bakhmut published on May 14 by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) showed Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the western limits of the town, out near a reservoir and the Bakhmut Children’s Hospital, which the Ukrainian military has held onto despite a Russian offensive. The fighting appears to be street to street, house to house. The ISW map showed, for example, that Russian forces had moved as far west as General Chernyakhovsky Lane. Ukrainian forces took that Russian move, and counterattacked at the Berkhivka Reservoir, just a few blocks away.

There are other reports that Ukrainian forces have taken back land to the north and south of Bakhmut that Russia had held for months, and one report claimed that it was the first part of a Ukrainian pincer move that would end up with the Russian forces inside the Bakhmut city limits surrounded. It seems to be the case that the Ukrainian Army has managed to hold onto a smaller and smaller sliver of territory inside the Bakhmut city limits so Russia could not say that the town has fallen. But now that Prighozin has gone ahead and made that claim, it’s anybody’s guess what the Ukrainians will do next.

As Zelensky indicated in Japan at the G-7, what they are fighting over when it comes to Bakhmut is a town that has been completely destroyed. That Russia has been willing to spend the lives of so many of its troops – as many as 100,000 either killed or wounded since last December – is either proof of Putin’s hubris, Prigohzin’s hubris, or both. Sources inside Russia have indicated to Western reporters that the battle for Bakhmut is as much about a war going on between Putin and his erstwhile “friend” Prigohzin as it is about anything else. As with so much else in a war, only time will tell whatever truth can be discovered about what is really going on.

While the battle for Bakhmut rages, Putin has continued his campaign of trying to pound Ukraine into submission with another rocket attack on Kyiv last week. Last Tuesday, Russia launched a barrage of rockets on Ukraine’s capital city – three Iskander land-to-land missiles, nine Kalibr missiles launched from ships in the Black Sea, and six air-launched Kinzhal “hypersonic” missiles. Ukraine claimed the next day that all 18 Russian missiles aimed at Kyiv had been intercepted and destroyed by Patriot anti-missile batteries that are protecting the city.

Russia reacted typically to the Ukrainian claim, saying that the Kyiv government had gotten wrong both the number and the types of missiles Russia launched. Film footage on CNN seemed to show that some of the debris was from the Russian Kinzhal missiles. Reuters reported, “It was the first time Ukraine had claimed to have struck an entire volley of multiple Kinzhal missiles, and if confirmed, would be a demonstration of the effectiveness of its newly deployed Western air defenses.”

Two things are going on here. One, the Russian claim that the Kinzhal is a “hypersonic” missile is almost certainly hollow, even meaningless. Any air-to-air missile by definition travels at more than the speed of sound, perhaps even double the speed of sound, and thus would not be remarkable by itself. In other words, the word “hypersonic” is an oxymoron. Even ballistic missiles with a parabolic flight path descend at more than the speed of sound.

But the Ukrainian claim of having successfully defended Kyiv with American-supplied Patriot missile batteries is an extraordinary feat. The Patriot missile system is a complicated beast consisting of a truck carrying as many as 16 Patriot anti-missile missiles, an array of radar dishes and antennas, and an “Engagement Control Station,” also truck-mounted, where the launching and tracking of incoming enemy missiles is monitored as well as the tracking of out-going Patriot missiles. (There is also a generator truck to power everything.)

A Patriot battalion consists of four-to-six line batteries, which are made up of six individual Patriot launchers and control systems. Each battery consists of a launcher platoon, fire-control platoon, and a maintenance platoon. About 80 soldiers serve in each battery, and there are about 600 soldiers assigned to each Patriot battalion. So, if Kyiv is being protected by a Patriot battalion, there are at least 24 Patriot launchers, and perhaps as many as 36 launchers, each capable of carrying up to 16 individual Patriot missiles.

The way the system works is this: the radar arrays for each Patriot battery “acquire” incoming aircraft or missiles, and through computer-controlled identification mark them as hostile. The radars track each incoming missile’s trajectory, and when the missiles come within range, the Patriot missile or missiles are fired automatically. For one of the very rapid Kinzhal missiles, as many as three Patriot missiles might be fired against it, each aimed at hitting the incoming missile at a different point in its trajectory to make sure one of the hits is a “kill.”

It gets really complicated when an enemy launches multiple missiles at once. Each missile must be “acquired” by radar separately, and a Patriot missile aimed at it individually or in pairs or threes, depending on what kind of enemy missile it is. If the Russians fired six Kinzhal missiles at Kyiv at once, there was some real computer-controlled scrambling going on to track each of them and assign three Patriot missiles to knock them down. That would be 18 Patriots being fired nearly simultaneously to take down such a swarm of Kinzhal missiles.

At the same time, the slower Iskandr and Kalibr missiles were coming in from different directions, so other Patriot batteries had to “acquire” each of them and fire their own missiles to knock them down. If it is true that Ukraine was able to shoot down all 18 Russian missiles fired on Tuesday, it is both an accomplishment of the U.S. technology involved in the Patriot system, and the Ukrainians' skill at deploying the extremely complicated weapon against the enemy missiles.

Officers and sergeants and enlisted soldiers in the U.S. will typically undergo months and months of training to become competent to serve on Patriot batteries. The Ukrainian army has had far less time to acquire the same skills because the U.S. didn’t get around to sending Patriots to Ukraine until recently. The governments of Germany and the Netherlands are known to have sent Patriot systems to Ukraine, and there are probably other nations supplying Ukraine with missiles that can be fired from the launchers.

All of this is good news, and there is even more. The Sunday Times of London reported on Tuesday that Sweden is supplying Ukraine with an entire mechanized brigade of military hardware that will soon be able to be deployed. The weapons include Leopard II tanks, CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Archer 155 mm truck-mounted and automated howitzers that can be fired remotely by crews protected inside armored vehicles. A mechanized brigade has three to five thousand soldiers, so there will be a large number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and automated howitzers on their way to Ukraine.

The Sunday Times story did not say how the Ukrainian military will be trained on the various systems, but some training on the Leopard II is going on in Germany and Poland already, and the Swedish armored personnel carriers are similar to ones the Ukrainians already had in their army’s inventory.

All of which is good, even very good news for Ukraine. At the G-7, Biden announced that another $375 million in military hardware would be on its way soon, including “more ammunition, artillery, armored vehicles to bolster Ukraine’s battlefield abilities.” Meanwhile, the Pentagon recently said that a “bookkeeping error” had been discovered, freeing-up more than $3 billion already appropriated for supplying U.S. weapons to Ukraine. It was not announced when those weapons will be shipped, or what the aid package will include, but any additional arms and supplies the U.S. can send to Ukraine at this point will be welcome.

Navigating the news out of Ukraine is confusing and complicated because information about an ongoing war is always out of control, sometimes unreliable, and can be confoundingly difficult to track. But for right now, as mixed as the news is about Bakhmut, the rest of what we’re learning about Ukraine is generally pretty good.

Watch this space for more updates and explanations of what is going on over there.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Behind The Right-Wing Campaign To Control America's Judiciary

Behind The Right-Wing Campaign To Control America's Judiciary

Three words: demographics, issues and elections.

Let’s start with demographics, for which we may as well substitute the word, race: Everyone knows by now that white people are projected to be in a minority in this country within the next 25 years or so. Every time some expert does a study of demographic trends, they move the date back. They were saying “by 2050” even just a few years ago. Now the date is 2045 or even 2040 in some stories I’ve seen. What does this mean? The panic has set in on the right. That’s why Tucker Carlson pushed “the great replacement theory” so relentlessly on his show before Fox News fired him. Carlson’s audience was hugely white, rural, and old – the exact people who have been clutching their pearls about the Browning of America.

It used to be the case that if you lived in the Deep South, or in the rural areas of the Midwest, the only non-white people you might run into as you made your rounds would be Black. In the Deep South, they spent a century after the Civil War to Keep Them In Their Place. The civil rights and voting rights laws of the mid-60’s made it a lot more difficult for the white people who ran things in the Deep South, but they kept hammering at it, and finally they got a Supreme Court that gave them Shelby County v Holder, and we saw what they did then. Within days, Southern states followed by Midwestern states started to impose voting restrictions like photo ID requirements that had been illegal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It has gone downhill from there ever since.

But rural areas of the Deep South and Midwest were not able to wall themselves off from immigrants because there were too many shitty jobs white people didn’t want to do anymore, like working the floor in chicken factories and slaughterhouses. White people started wanting to earn more than serf-level-wages, so the big chicken and meatpacking companies went looking around and in some cases began importing immigrants from Mexico and Central America into the communities around the chicken and meat packing plants so they would have cheap labor they could rely on.

That meant brown people moved into areas that had populations consisting only of white and black people. You started to see Mexican restaurants in rural Mississippi and Missouri and Alabama, and Guatemalan restaurants in Iowa and the Dakotas. White people were not being replaced, of course, nor were Black people. But to the rednecks watching Fox News, it seemed that way.

School systems that had never had a foreign-language speaking kid were suddenly teaching in two, three, four languages, and in the cities, in more languages than that. It didn’t take long for The Fear to set in, stoked at first by far-right extremists and actual Nazis like Nick Fuentes, followed by the likes of Tucker Carlson and the rest of the Blonde Battalion on Fox News. The great replacement was happening. Something Had to Be Done.

Then there is the issue of hugely unpopular issues the right has backed itself into a corner by pushing for the last 50 years or so, the anti-abortion movement being the prime example. They beat the abortion drum to gin up votes for decades, and in Deep South states, it worked for them, and even in states like Missouri and Nebraska and elsewhere. They had the big issue of Roe v Wade to use as a cudgel: vote for us, and we’ll take down Roe and abortion will be a thing of the past.

Well, the issue of abortion did work for them for a long enough time that they were able to get some bought-and-paid for anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court, and low and behold, they finally struck Roe down. What happened next? Abortion became a winning issue not for the right, but for the other side. Even Kansas passed a referendum upholding the right to abortion, for crying out loud! Abortion was such a winning issue in the 2022 midterms that Democrats held onto the Senate and caused Republicans to have the worst out-of-power election results in history, hanging onto the House only by the slimmest of majorities.

Abortion isn’t the only unpopular issue the right has been relying on. Now they’re pushing religion in places like Texas and the Deep South. Because they control state legislatures, we can look for a spate of bills to put the Ten Commandments in classrooms and allow school prayer, already happening in Texas and soon to come in other conservative states. But forcing conservative Christianity down the throats of kids isn’t popular, not even with mainstream Christian churches, and certainly not with people who are not religious and the Jewish and Muslim communities, just to start with.

The gun issue isn’t popular either. Seventy percent of Americans think there should be more laws controlling the sale and use of firearms. The Republican Party is pushing gun rights because it appeals to their gun-owning base, but the issue doesn’t have much appeal beyond that. As more schoolchildren are killed in more classrooms, and more kids and moms and dads at shopping malls and Walmarts and grocery stores are shot down as they push their carts, the gun issue is going to lose more and more support.

These are loser issues for the right, long term. They’re stuck with them because they used them for so long to get votes, they can’t abandon them now. But even in gun-happy states like Tennessee, the site of yet another recent school massacre, the governor has called a special session of the legislature to do something about guns, even if the bills that are on the agenda are really weak tea, like a red flag law they already should have had in place. They won’t touch background checks or gun shows, not yet, anyway, and forget about banning the sale of mass-murder machines like the AR-15. That means the gun issue is going to bedevil them for the next decade at least and maybe longer as more and more Americans begin to call for some commonsense controls on these deadly weapons.

That brings up the thing that ties it all together: elections. The Republican Party is already losing elections on the abortion issue. It’s only a matter of time before they start losing elections because the far-right controls the party and won’t give any ground on guns. I won’t go down the list of elections they lost recently – I pointed out a few yesterday – but Republicans are going to have a hell of a time hanging onto the House and the Senate in 2024, and the way their candidates for president are behaving about abortion, including Trump, DeSantis, and even lily-livered Niki Haley, they’re going to have a hard time dislodging Biden from the White House. With time, this is going to get worse, not better, for Republicans.

Their issues are unpopular, the Browning of America proceeds apace and they’re losing elections. So, what has the right-wing decided the problems is? Elections themselves. We’ve seen it with Trump and Trumpism, that elections aren’t legitimate unless Republicans win them. But even that doctrine, if you can call it that, isn’t enough to protect them and their interests, because the other problem with elections is that they are temporary. Elect people to a legislature, and you’re just renting their votes as long as they serve in office.

But put someone in a lifetime appointment to a federal judgeship? That’s not renting, that’s buying. So that has become the far-right solution: Control the judiciary. The Federalist Society was formed to put right-wingers on the courts, and with the right-wing justices they’ve been able to put on the Supreme Court, well, they’ve taken care of that. Trump managed to put many judges on lower courts in the mold of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas, who practically wrote a New Ten Commandments in his decision against the use of the drug Mifepristone for abortions. The right-wing judges are expected to rule on cases seeking to overturn laws that are passed by Democratically controlled state legislatures and the Congress, if the Democrats take back the House, and hold onto the Senate and White House.

And now the likes of Leonard Leo and his billions are moving on to state judgeships, especially on state supreme courts, to kill liberal legislation and uphold right-wing free-for-all laws on guns and state bans on abortion. To further lock-in their control over abortion laws, Republican-controlled legislatures are now trying to pass laws around the country to restrict or eliminate altogether the referendum power of the citizenry to write their own laws or even pass amendments to state constitutions like Kansas did with abortion.

So, that’s what they’re reduced to: Put some droolers on the bench in courts, both federal and state, who will hang onto whatever is left of the right-wing agenda as doom of the demographic flood washes over them. I used to have some hope that the right-wing judge thing would begin to peter out because of the young age of many of the judges Trump and other Republican presidents put on the lower courts. These people are Republicans, remember. Like the rest of their ilk, they want to live in nice suburban mini-mcmansions and drive nice cars and belong to the country club so they can golf on weekends, and they want to send their brilliant off-spring to Ivy League schools some of them even went to. But federal judges don’t earn the kind of money that pays for that level of lifestyle, so Republicans ensured that at least some of their appointees to the bench had family money, guaranteeing they wouldn’t have to worry about sending little Jack or Jill to Harvard when the time came.

As the rest of the Republican young judges get older, however, the day will come when they’ll have to pony up the money for private school and college, so some of them will indeed quit and go into a big law firm or cushy corporate counsel job that will pay the bills and keep them out there on the Back Nine betting money on each hole.

I was convinced my theory about Republican judges quitting the bench for better lifestyles would work until recently, when we saw how a right-wing billionaire, Harlan Crow, has been greasing the luxo-skids for Clarence Thomas by slipping money to his wife Ginni through the Heritage Foundation and some alleged non-profit she founded. Leonard Leo jumped in there, too – remember, he slipped Ginni some cash laundered through Kelly Anne Conway with the admonition to “keep Ginni’s name out of it.”

We don’t yet know the total amount of money Leo and Crow slipped to Ginni Thomas to keep their pet justice Clarence happy and voting the right way, and we may never know how much it was. But we can now see what they’re up to. Leonard Leo will doubtlessly use some of his $1.6 billion nest egg to feather the nests of lower court judges as well, and there are probably other billionaires and other funding sources out there figuring ways to funnel money to lower court judges as we speak.

The Supreme Court has thrown open the door to the kind of corruption exercised by Crow and Leo with its decisions stripping anti-corruption laws of their power. Famously, in 2016, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted on several counts of corruption for secretly accepting gifts from a wealthy businessman in return for helping to promote a dietary supplement he owned. You’d think that would be pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you – hosting the businessman at a state luncheon in the governor’s mansion so he could meet with health officials from state universities, in return for some $175,000 in luxury gifts.

Not for the Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned the jury verdict because what McDonnell did for the dietary supplement guy didn’t amount to “official acts” on his behalf, a requirement of the bribery law.

Is any of this sounding familiar? Justice Thomas apparently believes that under previous Supreme Court decisions what Harlan Crow did with all the expensive gifts he gave and the Heritage Foundation cash he slipped to Ginni didn’t amount to bribery either, so it was peachy-keen okay to go on those trips on yachts and private jets and get Crow to pay for his grand-nephew’s education, buy his momma’s house, and let Ginni not show up for all her no-show jobs around Washington, too. Just his due as a humble Walmart-loving servant of the people, that’s all.

They’re going to try to hang onto whatever control they have over judges as long as they can, and they’ll figure out ways to get money, services, luxury vacations, and country club dues to them somehow. According to what we may as well call the Thomas Doctrine, it will be okay for wealthy businessmen to pay for the education of the children of federal judges as well.

Corrupting federal judges and even Supreme court justices is just a fact of life we’re going to have to learn to live with, even as we use everything we have at our disposal to hang onto the White House in 2024 and elect another Democrat in 2028 and on into the future.

What else can we expect from these thieves and fools? Well, be on the lookout for white Americans, beginning with the wealthier among them, to wall themselves off from the Encroaching Hordes in more and more gated communities with walls or fences around them. It’s already happening in wealthy areas. Developers are attempting to build gated communities in the Hamptons and on Martha’s Vineyard, believe it or not, and they are already legion in places like Beverly Hills and other monied enclaves.

It's going to trickle down to the middle class, you just wait. They’ll start putting all-white encampments in the exurbs and move out from there. It’s just a matter of time before there are enough non-white people in states like Mississippi and Alabama and Kansas and Missouri that you’ll start to see gated communities outside small towns in rural areas.

There have always been two Americas – white and non-white, wealthy and poor, urban and rural, and especially the Old Confederacy and practically everywhere else. The way the two Americas structure themselves is what’s going to be interesting. There was a trend story this week about how young college graduates are moving away from coastal cities, probably out of economic necessity, so trends like that will begin to even things out geographically and demographically.

But for the time being, we’re stuck with the Leonard Leo’s and the Harlan Crow’s of the world trying to buy judges and put them in their back pockets so they can hang onto what’s left of the America they think they remember – the one that was run by white males who had all the land and money, and to hell with everybody else, women included.

Get ready: We’re going to have to fight them every step of the way.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Leonard Leo

With $1.6 Billion, Leonard Leo Will Bury Republicans In A Very Deep Hole

Where were you when the news hit that right-wing Federalist Society prince of darkness Leonard Leo had been given $1.6 billion by a fellow anti-abortion nutcase nobody had ever heard of named Barry Seid? It was the single largest political donation ever recorded in this country, an unknowably large amount of money.

The man Seid picked to launder his money into a network of conservative non-profits is an arch-conservative Catholic (like certain members of the Supreme Court he had a hand in appointing and confirming) and proud Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Catholic religious order long-considered a sovereign entity in international law, somewhat like the Vatican, with its own ceremonial currency and stamps that are recognized by at least 58 countries for the purpose of mailing letters and packages. But first of all, and last of all when it comes to the political life and current ill-health of the United States of America, Leo is the man who led the right-wing takeover of the Supreme Court and is credited with practically singlehandedly supervising the legal campaign to overturn Roe v Wade.

Author and investigative reporter Nina Burleigh and The New Republic did us an enormous and incredible service this week by untangling the story behind the $1.6 billion – who it came from, where it went, and how it is likely to be used over the next generation of this country’s political life to influence everything from the Supreme Court to school board elections in states both red and blue. It’s worth getting subscriptions to The New Republic to read Burleigh’s masterpiece here and her Substack column, American Political Freakshow, here.

The story is reminiscent of journalism of days long past, when magazines gave muckraking reporters enough expense money, support, and time to get to the bottom of complicated stories that confounded the efforts of even mainstream outfits like the New York Times and Washington Post. Burleigh’s is such a story.

Burleigh reports in this way on just how enormous an amount of money $1.6 billion is: It’s enough money that invested moderately wisely, it will return between $136 million and $230 million a year, without ever dipping into the original amount of the donation. To illustrate how much that is, she points out that the huge and very wealthy Heritage Foundation and its outrigger outfits spent about $86 million in 2021. “Leo could create two Heritage Foundations and one more sizable organization on the side,” Burleigh explains, “without having to dip into the principal at all.”

Burleigh goes into great detail reporting on who Barry Seid is, how he made his money, and how far-right his politics are. He started out making the spinning red and blue lights mounted on top of police cars, appropriately enough. He went on to manufacture the kind of nuts-and-bolts accessories that helped make the digital revolution possible – power strips, surge suppressors, and the like. “He was the opposite of a disruptor. He was not looking to make something to change the world. If a product could be made for less and still work, that was more than good enough for him. His fortuitous timing and penny-wise approach made him very rich. Seid’s annual income exploded in the mid-2000s, hitting $157 million in 2018.”

Seid got into right-wing politics with the help of a Roger Stone wannabe by the name of Steven Baer. Like Leonard Leo, he is an anti-abortion fanatic driven for at least three decades to fight the evil of Roe v Wade. He met Seid and started pointing him to right-wing causes to fund. Seid became friendly with the Koch brothers, naturally, and began emulating their dark-money approach to politics. He set up 501(c)(4) “charities” and began moving large quantities of money into causes like term limits.

According to Burleigh, Seid was the money behind the right-wing takeover of the George Mason University Law School. It was renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School as a condition of a $20 million anonymous gift. Burleigh reports that anonymous donor was Barry Seid. It was probably the move that put Seid in the sights of Leonard Leo and his Federalist Society. Seid may have been the anonymous “donor” who paid off Brett Kavanaugh’s credit card debt.

“Kavanaugh was a very enthusiastic and energetic campaigner auditioning for the Supreme Court. He made 50 appearances at the Federalist Society, where Leo was executive vice president for many years,” Burleigh writes.

“Seid could have donated his fortune to any number of right-wing players. But he chose a Catholic fanatic whose main issue has been forcing women to give birth—never an issue Seid was really moved by, according to Baer. Why did he choose Leo? Precisely because of Leo’s control over the court system.”

Burleigh goes into great detail about the complex way Seid’s $1.6 billion found its way into coffers controlled by Leonard Leo. The money traveled all the way to Ireland and back through an exchange of shares in a company owned by Seid, in order to maintain the secrecy of where and from whom it came. The $1.6 billion ended up under the control of something called Marble Freedom Trust…and who runs Marble Freedom Trust? None other than our friend the uterus cop, Leonard Leo.

Leo pays himself $350,000 a year to handle the trust’s books and write checks. What was one of the first things sticky-fingers Leo did? According to an investigation by Politico, he moved $43 million into CRC Advisors, a for-profit political consultancy Leo formed around the time the $1.6 billion landed in the Marble Freedom Trust, run by, you will recall, Leonard Leo. Politico dated what they call Leo’s “lifestyle upgrade,” to when he started buying real estate and “other perks” in 2016, when he started managing Trump’s takeover of the judiciary for him.

The question now, although it’s not much of one, is what will Leonard Leo do with the $1.6 billion he’s got his grubby hands on? Burleigh reports that he’s moving some of it in conventional political ways, donating money to non-profits affiliated with the likes of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. But he’s using larger quantities of the money to fund right-wing legal groups like the Republican Attorney General’s Association, which regularly files legal briefs seeking to aid such sterling Americans as Michael Flynn, not to mention targeting campus diversity and so-called ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance investments by publicly traded companies.

Leo – and the $1.6 billion – are also funding the far-right legal organization The Judicial Crisis Network and other right-wing non-profits that are backing candidates around the country for state supreme court judgeships. State courts, and state supreme courts, have become much more important now that the Supreme Court is firmly in the hands of justices like Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito who appear dedicated to the proposition that the more unwanted pregnancies and unregistered guns there are in this country, the better.

The whole of the report by Burleigh in The New Republic is depressing enough that one politically astute friend of mine sent me a link to the TNR story with the comment: “Is there no way NOT to conclude: Game Over?”

It would seem that way except for one salient fact: Right-wing Republicans have lots and lots of money, but they don’t have something even more important: issues that are popular and which people care about enough to vote for. Republicans couldn’t win the battle over abortion at the ballot box because they don’t have the votes. Sixty-seven percent of voting age adults in this country think that abortion should be available to women in some form. That number, or a figure close to it, has been steady for decades. They couldn’t win the war over Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court until they stole one judgeship, forced through a second one in a lame duck session of Congress, and just went out and bought the vote of Clarence Thomas with luxury donations to his lifestyle and money-transfers into his wife Ginni’s bank account from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow.

Republicans were finally able to overturn Roe the old fashioned way: with rank, in your face graft and corruption. They didn’t do it by winning over the public with their arguments. They aren’t trying to win the battle over the abortion drug Mifepristone with their arguments, either. With Trump’s help, Leo put a drooling Christian Nationalist into a federal judgeship in a district with a single judge in Texas so right-wing groups could file lawsuits there and be guaranteed they’d get the drooler to hear their case.

That’s how they got Mifepristone into the courts. Now the case is being heard in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by two judges Leo got Trump to appoint there, and a third appointed by another Republican president. They’ll rule against the drug and the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court where Leonard Leo’s Sovereign Military Order of Malta holds the reigns of power, and I think we all know what will happen there to the safest form of abortion.

But look at the $1.6 billion and all the corruption Leo will try to buy with it this way: if they’re so bloody confident they’re right about everything from abortion to guns to children’s schoolbooks, why did they have to buy the victories they’ve scored so far? With Nina Burleigh’s excellent report in The New Republic, everyone can see that the Republican Party and its far-right money men have had to do everything corruptly. Everyone can also see what happened to their almighty “moral” arguments about abortion. They weren’t moral at all. They’re not concerned with what they call “unborn life.” What they want to do is control women’s bodies any way they can, and now they’ve accumulated $1.6 billion to help them hang onto that control.

How’s that working out for you so far, Leonard? Joe Biden won the presidency in 2020, and the Democrats re-took the Senate. Democrats held onto the Senate in the 2022 midterms and instead of rolling to a landslide victory as the party out of power usually does, Republicans only managed to hold onto the House by a fingernail by electing such wonders of modern morality as George Santos and Paul Gosar. In elections held this week, Democrats took control of the Pennsylvania House for the first time since 2010. Democrats or left-leaning independents won races for mayor in two unlikely and normally Republican strongholds, Jacksonville, Florida, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Around the country, Republicans are passing restrictive abortion bills in states like North Carolina and Georgia that Democrats are going to target in 2024 running against the authoritarian anti-abortion tide.

I’ve got a question for Leonard Leo and the $1.6 billion he’s sitting on: How much of that do you think you’ll have to spend to get the votes of young women and men who are turning against the Republican Party in droves because Leo’s judges overturned Roe? All the money in the world isn’t going to buy the votes of the thousands of high school students who demonstrated against Tennessee’s “trigger law” that went into effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year. Even more thousands of young people demonstrated at the Tennessee Capitol building this year after six children and three adults were gunned down in a private school in Nashville last month. Both demonstrations may as well have been against the conservative Supreme Court that Leonard Leo trumpets as the greatest accomplishment of his life.

The Republican Party and the right-wing Trump supporters who now control it are digging a political hole for themselves they’re going to have trouble climbing out of at the ballot boxes in every election following the sacking of Roe and the insane gun laws being upheld by Leonard Leo’s Supreme Court. From what we have been told by Nina Burleigh about Leo’s plans for the $1.6 billion he now controls, it looks like he’s going to take the money and dig the biggest political grave of them all.

How Clarence Thomas Guaranteed That Gun Violence Will Kill More Americans

How Clarence Thomas Guaranteed That Gun Violence Will Kill More Americans

The Supreme Court yesterday temporarily let stand an Illinois law banning the sale of assault weapons such as the AR-15 style semiautomatic rifles that have been used in dozens of mass murders, most recently in a shooting in Farmington, New Mexico, by an 18-year-old male, killing three people and wounding six, including two police officers. The Illinois law also bans the sale of high-capacity magazines frequently used with the AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. The killer in New Mexico expended at least 150 rounds of ammunition during his ten-minute killing spree through a middle-class neighborhood in the town of 45,000 people in the northwest corner of the state.

The decision by the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the law, but rather kept the law in force while an appeal is pending with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the law. The way things are going with this arch-conservative Supreme Court, the Illinois law’s chances of being upheld are slim to none.

The case is destined to end up before the Supreme Court because two district courts handed down differing rulings on the law. One court upheld the law, with Judge Virginia M. Kendall writing, “The text of the Second Amendment is limited to only certain arms, and history and tradition demonstrate that particularly ‘dangerous’ weapons are unprotected. Because assault weapons are particularly dangerous weapons and high-capacity magazines are particularly dangerous weapon accessories, their regulation accords with history and tradition.” Her decision refers directly to the standard set forth by Justice Clarence Thomas in his Bruen decision that any laws restricting the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment must comport with the “history and tradition” of the time the amendment was written.

A second court found just the opposite: Judge Stephen P. McGlynn, in a court in a different part of the state, ruled the other way, writing, “can [the Illinois law] be harmonized with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and with Bruen? ... The simple answer at this stage in the proceedings is ‘likely no.’ "

Plaintiffs in the case seeking to overturn the law cited a dissent filed by Justice Thomas in a 2015 case. Referring to the AR-15 semiautomatic as a “modern sporting rifle,” Thomas wrote, “Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles. The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.” In the eight years since that case, another 15 million AR-15 rifles have been sold and are in private hands in this country.

Neither district court in Illinois, nor the Supreme Court in its most recent decisions on the right to bear arms, District of Columbia v Heller and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, dealt with the fact that a right given to you in the Constitution, or created out of whole cloth by the Supreme Court, does not confer even a whit of judgement about how or even whether you should exercise that right.

By comparison, a ban is easy. Laws against homicide, be it first degree murder or lesser variations of the crime, say simply that it is illegal to kill someone. Beyond that prohibition, no more thought is really necessary. The law isn’t saying to citizens that murder is something you should give some thought to before you commit it. The law is saying in simple, direct terms, do not do it.

But a right is a whole different animal. Having the right to free speech, for example, does not mean that you should exercise your right in a malicious manner. Donald Trump learned that the hard way when he was found liable of defaming E. Jean Carroll last week and ordered to pay her five million dollars. But the right to free speech is not a burden. It is, more often than not, a freedom.

The right to bear arms, however, is fraught with all sorts of dangers. The fact that you have a right to walk into a store and buy a gun immediately presents you with a panoply of difficult questions. Should you buy a gun? If you buy a gun, what are you going to do with it? Where are you going to keep it? How will you protect yourself and your loved ones from the known dangers of having a firearm in the house? Will you keep it locked up? If so, where? What of the ammunition? Where will you keep it?

If you think you need the gun for self defense in your home, will you keep it loaded and easily available? If so, how will you ensure that it is not accessed by someone who is not you, such as your child or even a neighbor? If you decide you need to carry the gun in the car with you to defend against a carjacking, a real problem in certain cities, what will you do with the gun if you park the car? Will you leave it inside the car? How will you keep the gun from being stolen from your car, another common occurrence as gun-ownership has skyrocketed in this country?

But the biggest question of all faced by every single person who buys a gun is this: Will I use it to shoot someone if I am attacked at home, or on the street, or in my car? You can defend yourself from a robber or a burglar or a mugger with a baseball bat. If you use the baseball bat to hit someone, you might seriously injure them, but the likelihood of killing them is low. However, if you aim a gun at someone and pull the trigger, there is a strong likelihood that you might kill that person.

In other words, owning a gun for self-defense carries with it the question, are you a killer?

See, buying a gun is the easy part. What you do next is the hard part, and none of these court decisions by courts low and high provide any guidance on that dilemma.

The decision to buy an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle is particularly fraught because the weapon is so inherently dangerous. A bullet from an AR-15 is designed to tear through flesh and create a huge hole, taking out organs, bone, nerves, arteries, you name it as the bullet travels through the human body. You can carry a semiautomatic pistol like a Glock in your waistband, or you might be reloading it, and if it accidentally discharges, the bullet might go through your butt or your leg, and it might break a bone, or if it hits your foot, quite a few bones. If the bullet accidentally hits someone else standing or sitting near you, it might do similar damage, but it probably won’t kill you or the other person.

If an AR-15 accidentally discharges, it could take off your leg or your arm and open major arteries and you would die within moments unless treated by a trauma team. If an AR-15 bullet accidentally hits someone in the torso, the likelihood of killing them is very high. If it hits you or a person near you in the head, death will be instantaneous.

And Clarence Thomas calls the AR-15 a “modern sporting rifle,” as if it is an innocuous assemblage of metal and plastic. It’s innocuous the same way a semi-truck is a vehicle like your car. They both have engines and wheels, and you can drive both down the road, but a fully loaded semi-truck weighs 80,000 pounds and is eight feet wide and stands thirteen and a half feet tall. If you’re a pedestrian and you get hit by a car crossing an intersection, you will almost certainly end up in the hospital. If you’re hit by a semi-truck, they’ll carry you away from the scene of the accident in a body bag.

The fact of the matter is, there is no easy part when it comes to guns. They’re deadly weapons, every one of them. Even a .22 pistol or rifle can kill you just as dead as an AR-15. Because the AR-15 was designed to be a military firearm that functions as a highly efficient killing machine, a ban on its sale makes all the sense in the world.

But making sense is in the job description of neither the Supreme Court nor the justices who wear its robes. These days, it seems wreaking havoc on the law and our public life and even on our democracy is what the Supreme Court does in its august building just behind the Capitol. Making sense of what to do about that fact is an entirely different question. We should address it while we still have the democratic means to do so.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Russiagate Special Counsel's Report Is Just A Trumpazoid Squib

Russiagate Special Counsel's Report Is Just A Trumpazoid Squib

Former U.S. Attorney John Durham was appointed as Special Counsel by Donald Trump’s pet Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to investigate the investigators — that is, to look into how another Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, handled his investigation into the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

Almost four years to the day later, Durham has presented his report, which has failed to enlarge upon the findings of another investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General which looked into the same stuff and found no “documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct" by either the FBI or Mueller.

In other words, Durham’s report amounts to a Barr-and-Trump-infected rewrite of the Inspector General’s report which found no significant wrongdoing.

You want to talk about putting his thumb on the scale of justice? At the time Durham was appointed, Donald Trump predicted that he would turn up evidence of “the crime of the century.” Durham ended up finding just three people to indict. Federal juries returned not guilty verdicts in two cases after very brief deliberations. At least one juror gave an interview to the press saying essentially that the whole case was a waste of time.

The third person indicted by Durham was a former FBI lawyer. He pleaded guilty to the great big gigantic earthshaking crime of having changed a couple of lines in an email he wrote to help an FBI agent prepare an application for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a Trump aide who traveled back and forth to Russia several times while he worked on the Trump campaign. So we can look forward to mega-bleating from the flock of Trumpazoid sheep who have been holding candles outside Mar-a-Lago as they waited for Durham’s big expose to be handed down.

Well, pals, the wait is over. The Washington Post reported that Durham “argued that the FBI rushed to investigate Trump in a case known as Crossfire Hurricane, even as it proceeded cautiously on allegations related to then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” Whoopdedoo. The Post doesn’t mention it, but the big investigation of Hillary Clinton that the FBI carried out during her campaign for president found that she did exactly nothing wrong — other than have the temerity to run for president against Donald Trump.

Recall that former FBI Director James Comey made not one but two announcements that the FBI was investigating Clinton before announcing a few days before the election that they had come up with nothing. Meanwhile, Roger Stone was coordinating with Wikileaks and a Russian intelligence agent who called himself Guccifer II to release a stash of Democratic Party emails that had been stolen from a Democratic Party server by Russian intelligence agents. Donald Trump mentioned "Hillary’s emails” more than 200 times at his rallies during the campaign, and that was after he said this: “Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” referring to the Clinton emails he harped on at every campaign stop. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

So just sit back and think about this for a moment: Seven years after the 2016 election, six years after Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s interference with the election, and four years after John Durham was appointed to investigate the investigators, “Russia-Russia-Russia” isn’t over. Durham’s investigation has turned into the Warren Commission of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, and 20 years from now, some of those same Trumpazoid sheep will still be digging through the Durham report looking for something they can point to and say, “See! I told you there was gold in them thar hills!”

Something tells me this is going to be a very long century.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

What's Up With The Battle For Bakhmut? We'll Know When The Fog Clears

What's Up With The Battle For Bakhmut? We'll Know When The Fog Clears

News about Bakhmut has leaked out of both Ukraine and Russia over the last few days, and while neither the news nor the situation on the ground is definitive, it’s significant enough to take a look at. In fact, the reason we’re still watching the battle for Bakhmut so closely is perhaps the most significant thing of all.

As a city, Bakhmut is not terribly important. Before the war, the place had a population of about 70,000. There is a massive salt mine near the town that contains the largest underground space in the world -- it’s so big that Wikipedia tells us that a hot air balloon was once fired up and inflated inside the space.

Strategically, Bakhmut isn’t important either. The town sits on the road from Donetsk to Kyiv, but there are other ways to get to and from both places. It does stand between the Russian border and the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, which have served as key Ukrainian military regional headquarters and resupply centers, and if Bakhmut were to fall to Russian forces, the two strongholds to the west would become more vulnerable to Russian attack.

But Bakhmut’s major importance in both Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression and Russia’s war to take over Ukraine is symbolic. What it amounts to is this: The Russian military – read: Vladimir Putin – decided about six to eight months ago that it was important to take Bakhmut, and they’ve been at it ever since. Bakhmut was one of the towns taken back from Russian forces by Ukraine when its army executed its big offensive last September that took about 3,500 square miles of the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine that Russia had held since the beginning of the war in February/March of 2022.

The Ukrainians decided at the same time it was important for them to hang onto the town. There has been a bloody war going on for this small piece of the Ukrainian steppes ever since.

It has become clear to military analysts that Ukraine’s decision about Bakhmut was smarter than Russia’s, because Ukraine has managed to inflict about 100,000 casualties on Russian forces since the battle began – in fact, there are some estimates that Russia has lost that many troops since January of this year.

The battle lines in the war have been static along a 600-mile front since Ukraine took Kherson in November. There have been skirmishes and small battles all along the front for about eight months, but neither side has been able to strike forcefully enough to move the other from its defensive positions. Russia has dug defensive trenches everywhere. Satellite photos of the area to the east of Kherson show an elaborate network of Russian trenches defending its land bridge to Crimea and the cities to the east of Kherson, Melitopol and the port of Mariupol.

Russia spent the winter digging similar trench networks to defend the land it has taken in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In fact, the Russian strategy at this point, if it can be called one, is to defend the strip of eastern Ukraine it took last year and spend the rest of its time killing Ukrainian civilians in the major cities in Ukraine’s center and west, including Kyiv, Odessa and less often Lviv, near the border with Poland.

Some invasion, huh? It’s been established that Putin was under the misinformed delusion that he could use an invading force of about 140,000 and take Kyiv within a week, establish a puppet government and essentially turn Ukraine into a piece of Russia that would be rich with mineral and agricultural wealth, not to mention the fact that if the invasion had succeeded, he would have been able to station his military forces, including his army, air force, and navy, right on Europe’s doorstep.

Didn’t work. By some estimates, Russia has lost as many as 200,000 soldiers, either wounded or killed, since the war began. The interesting thing about those figures is this: when a Russian soldier is wounded, he’s off the battlefield for good, because Russia does not have the kind of military field hospitals and medical technology to patch people up and put them back in the fight.

So, there they are, stuck in relatively tiny Bakhmut, fighting because Putin told them to stay there and fight until they take the town. Somebody in the Ukrainian military is very, very smart, because the decision to defend Bakhmut has turned out to be brilliant. Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for a town that is theirs. They know the town and the surrounding region much, much better than the Russian soldiers sent there to fight. So, they’ve been sitting back for the last six months and picking when and where they will hit Russian units, be they squads, platoons, or companies. They have used drones they are producing themselves to target individual Russian soldiers or small groups of them, and then they have taken U.S. supplied 155 mm howitzers and HIMARS short-range missiles and hammered them to great effect.

There are estimates that the kill-ratio in the battle of Bakhmut has been 7 to 1, seven Russians killed for every Ukrainian. It could even be better than that, but even at those numbers, Russia has been spending a whole lot of soldiers in order to take a few blocks of Bakhmut here, a few blocks there, and by any realistic military measurement, they haven’t accomplished a thing.

Recently, there have been reports that Ukrainian forces have re-taken land to the north and south of Bakhmut and have pushed Russian forces out of some of the central areas of the town. This is very difficult to read from here in Milford, Pennsylvania, but any news of Ukrainian movement is good news. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that Russian forces have pulled back from positions they had held both within the town of Bakhmut and to its south and north.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian billionaire who runs his own private army called the Wagner Group, recently made a video on YouTube complaining that regular Russian forces consisting of new recruits were retreating and leaving his Wagner Group units to fight for Bakhmut alone. Prigozhin stood next to a pile of bodies of Wagner Group soldiers and excoriated Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, appointed a few months ago by Putin to run his war in Ukraine.

Complaining that his Wagner soldiers don’t have enough supplies of ammunition, Prigozhin, referring to Putin’s top military officials, shouted, “You animals are hanging out in expensive clubs. Your children are enjoying their lives, making videos for YouTube. Do you think that you are the masters of this life and that you have the right to control their lives?” Pointing to the bodies of dead soldiers, he ranted, “Here are the guys from PMC Wagner who died today. The blood is still fresh. We have a 70 percent ammo shortage! Shoigu! Gerasimov!"

Analysts are reading these explosions by Prigozhin in several ways. Putin may have commanded his friend Prigozhin to “take Bakhmut” for him months ago, and now that it is becoming evident that the Wagner Group has not only failed, but lost a good percentage of its fighters, Putin is abandoning him and positioning himself to blame an eventual loss of the battle of Bakhmut on Prigozhin. This may be because Putin sees Prigozhin as a political rival at this point, Prigozhin having turned his Wagner Group into what amounts to an armed political party.

Or the situation in Bakhmut could in fact be so desperate that there simply isn’t enough ammunition and regular Russian army forces to back up the Wagner Group. Prigozhin has accused regular Russian forces of “fleeing” the battle for Bakhmut, and this indeed may be the case. Russia has rushed fresh recruits into the battle in recent months, where they have been chewed up by Ukraine’s precision artillery and rocket strikes. The Wagner Group forces have been caught in the middle.

And there is the Ukrainian perspective. Ukraine has not made a secret of the fact that they are preparing for the long-anticipated spring offensive. Ukraine may have kept the battle for Bakhmut going this long by fighting for every inch of the town in order to force Russia not only to spend so many Russian bodies in the fight, but to center its defenses in advance of the Ukrainian offensive around Bakhmut, while the main Ukrainian push may end up being elsewhere. There is a report by ISW that over the last few days Ukraine hit Russian resupply and logistics targets around the city of Luhansk with British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles. It’s only about 60 miles from Bakhmut to Luhansk. Ukraine may be softening up the area directly to the east of Bakhmut because they are planning a massive strike directly through Bakhmut…

Or it may be a feint, attempting to cause Russia to move in more forces to defend east of Bakhmut, while Ukraine has plans to make its big offensive push as far away as Kherson. Nobody knows…or at least, only President Zelensky and his top military commanders know.

But that’s the nature of war. The famous phrase “the fog of war” came into being for a reason. War is a fog. That some of the fog is comprised of the mist of blood and bone left by exploded bodies is as tragic as it is real in a war. We will know more when the fog clears, but as of now, we don’t know when that will be.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

Trump's Hour On CNN Was A Profile In Cowardice

Trump's Hour On CNN Was A Profile In Cowardice

He said he would pardon the January 6 felons “if I get in.” Of course, he would. They’re his people, the mob of his supporters that attacked the Capitol and assaulted police officers, putting more than 140 of them in the hospital. They’re cowards, just like he is. Afraid to take a stand by themselves, they took the cowards’ route: they did it in a mob, where they thought they could disappear in the chaos and not be held accountable.

But they weren’t invisible. The crimes they committed were caught on camera, the beatings of police officers they surrounded with the mob and gassed with bear-spray, the $3 million in damage they did to the Capitol building, the threats they made against Vice President Pence. So, they were caught, and they were prosecuted, and many were sent to jail, where some of them remain today.

They had “love in their hearts,” and yet they are being “treated very badly,” Donald Trump told the largely Republican crowd at the CNN town hall held last night in New Hampshire. Not a word about what they did on January 6, 2021 at his behest. Not a word about the fact that they are given tablet computers at the jail in Washington D.C. where many of them are being held awaiting trial. Not a word about the injuries they inflicted on police officers and others.

They’re cowards, like he is, and they are his people, so he told the audience on Wednesday night that he would stand by the insurrectionists and pardon them, and the audience applauded him, because they are just like him. They identify with cowards and bullies like Donald Trump. They gave him their votes in two elections, and they are ready to do it again.

They’re Trump’s kind of people, and he’s their kind of “leader,” the kind that inflames a crowd and then walks away. Where did he go? To his dining room in the White House to watch his crowd of supporters attack the Capitol on TV and eat hamburgers and throw Cokes at the wall. He hasn’t taken responsibility for what his crowd of supporters did, because cowards don’t take responsibility for their actions. They run away and hide.

That’s what he did the day he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll in a Bergdorf’s dressing room, an act for which he was found liable on Tuesday by a Manhattan jury. He slammed her up against a wall of the dressing room and he groped her and he ripped off her underwear and he grabbed her genitals and he inserted, or attempted to insert, his penis in her vagina. And then like the coward and sexual abuser that he is, he walked away. Later, from a distance – never to her face – he defamed her by calling her a liar and a fantasist.

But he didn’t appear in court to look her in the eye and say it in person. No, he had walked away before, and he did it again. He didn’t want to face cross-examination, so he walked away and he stayed away, and last night in New Hampshire, he did it again. He defamed E. Jean Carroll, and he riled up the crowd and they rewarded him with laughter and cheers, and then he walked away. It’s what cowards do.

He did it with Ukraine last night. Having called Vladimir Putin a genius for the way he invaded Ukraine, he managed to walk away from Putin and Ukraine at once, refusing to say who he wanted to win the war, and refusing to support continuing to arm Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. And he did it with abortion, claiming credit for appointing the justices who cemented the majority that overturned Roe v Wade, but refusing to say if he would sign a federal ban on abortion. It’s another thing cowards do – they take both sides of an issue, thus taking no side at all.

The way he treats women was right there on the Access Hollywood tape for all to see. He said he just walks right up and kisses them without asking permission, he grabs them “by the pussy.” What he left out of his bragging in that interview was what happens next. He walks away. He grabbed the woman on the plane by her genitals, he groped her breasts, and when the fasten your seat belt light went off upon landing, he walked away.

He did it in 2016 when he learned that his sexual indiscretions with a Playboy playmate and an adult film star would be revealed. He didn’t stand up and say, okay, I made a mistake. I apologize to my family and to the women and I take responsibility for my actions. No, he took the coward’s way out. He wrote checks and covered it up, and when eventually the truth came out, he lied about it.

When in 2017, Trump instituted a policy on the border that separated hundreds of children, some of them toddlers and infants, from their parents, he walked away from it, denying he had anything to do with the policy. Last night, when asked if he would do the same thing again, he said yes, he would, because “we have to save our country.” From what? From little children who were taken across the border by their parents fleeing gang violence, political unrest, and poverty?

Well, sure he would do it again, because that’s what cowards do. They bully the powerless, they build walls to keep out “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and then they punish them and bully them for having the temerity to ask for asylum in the wealthiest country on earth. It took a lot of courage for them to travel thousands of miles through jungles and across deserts, avoiding being preyed on by bandits and using their life savings to pay coyotes to guide them. Trump would deny them succor and shelter because they’re not his people. They won’t laugh at his sick jokes and cheer on his promises to pardon felons. They’re not cowards like he is.

We’re going to be confronted by Trump and his bullying and braggadocio and preening and lies night after night in the coming year and a half. We need a way to put Trump and his behavior in perspective. With Trump, it’s all of a piece – inciting a crowd to riot and then walking away; assaulting a woman and then walking away; ripping innocent children from the arms of their parents and then walking away. We need to put a label on who he is and what he does, and that label is coward.

Donald Trump is what cowardice looks like. Remember it. Use the word. Share it with others. Courage isn’t complicated. Do what would make your mother proud of you. Vote.

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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

The Right Is Man-Spreading Myths To Defend Murderous AR-15 Rifle

The Right Is Man-Spreading Myths To Defend Murderous AR-15 Rifle

A viral video online after the mass killings on Saturday at the outlet mall in Allen, Texas, has caused a lot of consternation, most of it on the right, because it showed dead bodies piled next to a sidewalk. One of the bodies was that of a three-year-old child. His brain matter could be seen sprayed across the sidewalk. Another one of the dead was missing part of her face. It’s just terrible, many commenters said, that Twitter would allow the video on its platform. What happened to the standards Twitter used to have that would have prevented such a thing from being seen before being caught by an algorithm or human monitors?

Well, for one, Elon Musk happened. An expert on social media interviewed on MSNBC yesterday said that Twitter’s entire force of human content monitors had been reduced to two people. Musk himself, having taken over Twitter, announced that there would be far less “censorship” of content than there had been under the old management.

But conservatives weren’t complaining about algorithms or content monitoring. They were complaining that photographs had finally reached the public showing the damage an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle can do to the human body. A single bullet fired by an AR-15 can explode heads. It can remove faces. A single gunman armed with an AR-15 can kill eight human beings and put seven more in the hospital in a matter of minutes. The gunman who killed five people in a house in Cleveland, Texas, only days before the killings in Allen was also armed with an AR-15. No photographs emerged from that shooting, but police reported that all five victims were shot at close range in the head.

Gun rights advocates sprang into action soon after both shootings, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who blamed the alleged mental health problems of the shooters. In commenting on the two latest shootings, Abbott did not mention the seven other mass shootings that have taken place in Texas since the killing of 19 children and two schoolteachers in Uvalde, Texas, almost a year ago. His messages after the Uvalde massacre and the shootings in Allen on Saturday were nearly word for word.

“We’ve seen an increased number of shootings in states with easy gun laws as well as shootings in states with very strict gun laws,” Abbott said on Sunday, seemingly pointing to an imaginary map of the United States. He blamed the mass shootings on “a dramatic increase in the amount of anger” in the country. “The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue,” Abbott said.

Last year, Abbott cut about $200 million from state mental health funding and redirected the money to “Operation Lone Star,” a state-funded mission intended to stop illegal immigration. Defenders of Abbott say that he replaced the budget cuts to mental health with federal funding, but that happened after the budget cuts, not before.

Nobody on the right, not Abbott, not the NRA, not the Texas legislators who passed the so-called constitutional carry laws that allow anyone to carry firearms in public without a permit – none of them blame the gun that practically every mass-shooter in the last decade has used, the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Instead, supporters of the AR-15 are leaping to its defense as a normal sporting rifle that just happens to be the choice of 20 million Americans for self-defense.

A female friend of mine recently told me of a discussion she had with a male friend about the mass shootings taking place all over the U.S. She sent him a copy of my Substack column, “Semiautomatic terrorism,” which took on the AR-15 as the root of the problem with mass killings. Without that weapon of war, I contended, we wouldn’t have so many dead bodies, because its design to kill human beings is so deadly efficient.

Her friend responded with what can only be called verbal man-spreading, attempting to take up all the information space about the AR-15. It’s not a military weapon like the M-16, he explained. The AR-15, named after the company that first manufactured it, the ArmaLite company, was originally designed and produced for civilian use in the 1950’s, and became popular because of its upper and lower receivers and the barrels that could be switched out to handle different bullets to hunt different animals.

He is wrong. The AR-15 was not originally designed for civilian use, but on orders of the U.S. Army Continental Command as a replacement for the M-14. Before the AR-15, there was an AR-10, similar to the current weapon but designed to fire a larger bullet.

His unprompted description of upper and lower receivers could apply to many different rifles, referring to the top part of the gun that holds the bolt and firing pin and the mechanism that makes it fire semiautomatically or automatically, and the bottom part that holds the trigger assembly. But you don’t need to know the nomenclature of firearms to understand the AR-15.

My friend’s friend opined that what must happen for people to understand the issue of mass shootings is that everyone should become better informed about guns, and she should stop listening to politicians on either side of the issue who are just out for votes.

I’ll endorse the second of those ideas, but not the first. You don’t need to know the names of the parts for the AR-15, or the way its gas-operating system works, or what barrels it can be fitted with.

All you need to know is that the AR-15 was designed for the military, which bought tens of thousands of them in 1963 and designated the weapon the M-16 and began shipping them to Vietnam to be used to kill Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. That’s what it was designed for – killing people -- and what it’s been used for ever since, no matter which succeeding model of the rifle has come along.

Here's another thing you need to know about right-wing defense of the AR-15. The videos that originally spread on Twitter showing the pile of dead bodies in one video and the dead body of the killer lying next to his AR-15 with a puddle of blood around his head, have both been taken down. In their place is a blank screen with the words, “This Tweet violated the Twitter rules.”

You bet those tweets did, because they were evidence of the deadly effects of the AR-15 that people like Gregg Abbott and Elon Musk and legislators in every state who take money from the NRA don’t want you to see. They should replace that little Twitter notice with this: “Your ideas were taking up too much space. You have been man-spread.”

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 luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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