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

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

While Trump attorney Michael Cohen fights to block evidence seized during an FBI raid of his office, Trump’s chief spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is trying, absurdly, to downplay the attorney-client relationship.

During a press gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to Florida on Monday, the White House press secretary was asked if Cohen is still Trump’s personal lawyer.

“I believe they’ve still got some ongoing things, but the President has a large number of attorneys, as you know,” Sanders said.

Sanders was also asked if Trump wants his communications with Cohen kept secret, and she replied that Trump “would like to keep the communications he has with any attorney under attorney-client privilege.”

But Trump himself wasn’t equivocal when he was asked about Cohen aboard Air Force One earlier this month. Asked why Cohen made the $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, Trump said, “Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

And after the FBI raid on Cohen’s offices, an inflamed Trump went to bat for Cohen, calling him a “good man.”

Sanders’ comments distancing Trump from Cohen came just before the dramatic revelation thatFox host and Trump fan Sean Hannity was the mysterious third client of Cohen’s between 2017 and 2018, a relationship which Hannity is also trying to downplay.

Cohen’s other client was Elliott Broidy, an RNC finance chair for whom Cohen also arranged a hush-money payment, this one a $1.6 million in exchange for the silence of former Playboy model Shera Bechard, whom Broidy impregnated while having an affair.

Cohen’s status as a “fixer” who routinely handles such matters was a feature, not a downside, for Trump. But the FBI raid reportedly has Trump’s White House sweating bullets.

According to the Associated Press, Trump officials believe that the Cohen raid could be “more threatening than Mueller’s Russia probe,” and are “fearful of what skeletons may be in the lawyer’s closets.”

But this distancing strategy is both desperate and a proven failure. Trump’s shills tried to paint former campaign adviser and current cooperating witness George Papadopoulos as a “coffee boy,” and similarly downplayed contributions from figures like disgraced national security advisor Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

It should not be difficult for Sarah Sanders to keep track of Trump’s “many” lawyers, or at least not as difficult as keeping track of the lawyers who have turned Trump down. There are some problems that even a “fixer” can’t fix.

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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