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Vladimir Putin is the new darling of the GOP. As Tucker Carlson continues to claim that Russia is the victim of U.S. aggression, gullible Fox viewers are calling members of Congress to complain that the U.S. is not backing Russia in the stand-off over Ukraine. In their view, Vladimir Putin is a nice guy who is simply trying to ensure that Russia is not threatened by its peaceful neighbors. Vladimir Putin is not a nice guy. He annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 by force, installing a puppet government and holding a sham referendum on independence. Over the last decade, ten political opponents of Vladimir Putin have died under suspicious circumstances—including murder, poisoning, and alleged “suicides” that violated the laws of physics. The victims included journalists, lawyers, human rights advocates, and politicians. On Tuesday, the Kremlin added Putin’s most prominent political rival (and key supporters) to a list of “terrorists and extremists,” thereby freezing their financial assets within Russia. Putin seems to be silencing his critics in advance of a possible invasion of Ukraine.
Tucker Carlson is telling Fox viewers that Ukraine is irrelevant to the security of the United States. Carlson said that Ukraine is “strategically irrelevant to the United States. No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine. Nobody thinks a war like that would make America safer or stronger or more prosperous.” Such a view makes sense only if you believe the U.S. is an island-nation isolated from the rest of the world by two oceans.
In fact, the security of the U.S. depends on global peace and stability, which requires the U.S. to join international alliances. Russia is threatening the peace and security of our partners in Europe—and therefore is threatening the peace and security of the U.S. See op-ed by Fiona Hill in The New York Times, “For Russia’s President Putin, It’s Not Just About Ukraine.” Ms. Hill served on the National Security Council under Trump and testified in the impeachment hearing arising from Trump’s effort to extort Ukraine. Ms. Hill writes,
Mr. Putin’s aim is bigger than closing NATO’s “open door” to Ukraine and taking more territory — he wants to evict the United States from Europe. As he might put it: “Goodbye, America. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Even Tucker Carlson would admit that Europe is strategically important to the U.S. It is because Europe is important to the U.S. that Ukraine is important to the U.S. Ukraine is only the most recent target of Putin’s expansionism—and will not be the last. That is why the U.S. and NATO must resist Russia’s effort to subjugate Ukraine. While the appropriate path forward is subject to reasonable debate among people acting in good faith, promoting Putin’s view that Russia can subsume its neighbors to secure its borders is a recipe for disaster. As Fiona Hills writes,
Forging a united front with its European allies and rallying broader support should be America’s longer game. Otherwise, this saga could indeed mark the beginning of the end of America’s military presence in Europe.
Vladimir Putin is not a nice guy, and Russia’s intentions in Europe are not benign. Don’t let Tucker Carlson or the GOP tell you differently.
Federal Prosecutors are looking at fake elector certificates.
After a one-woman campaign by Rachel Maddow urging federal prosecutors to investigate the fake electoral certificates sent to Congress in 2020, the second-in-command at the DOJ acknowledged that it has received the referrals from state attorneys general asking the DOJ to investigate. See CNN, “Federal prosecutors looking at 2020 fake elector certifications, deputy attorney general says.” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco acted appropriately in acknowledging the existence of the investigation. She said, “We’ve received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those.” Good! It’s about time!
Trump lawyer John Eastman’s bad day in court.
Former Dean of Chapman University School of Law and erstwhile Trump lawyer John Eastman is the author of a memo that proposed a plan by states to overturn the 2020 election. The January 6th Committee subpoenaed Eastman and demanded that he produce documents related to the attempted coup. He refused and invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. The Committee then subpoenaed Eastman’s emails from Chapman University School of Law where—surprise!—Eastman had been using the law school’s email system in his legal representation of Trump. (That was a mistake of the highest order.) Eastman then filed a motion for a protective order in federal court in California to prevent Chapman University from turning over privileged communications with Trump. Eastman also sought a declaration that the Special Committee was illegally constituted and disbanded. That’s when things started to go very badly for Eastman.
Eastman’s motion was assigned to Judge David Carter—who has a reputation as a tough-as-nails but fair jurist. Judge Carter has already rejected the motion to declare that the Committee is illegally constituted and is now requiring Eastman to prove the elements of attorney-client privilege protection for 16,000 emails—on an email-by-email basis. After Eastman’s attorneys review the 16,000 emails (in a week), Judge Carter will order an independent party—possibly a retired judge or magistrate—to check the emails to determine whether Eastman is appropriately invoking the privilege. See CNN, “John Eastman: Trump lawyer ordered to respond to January 6 committee subpoena for his Chapman University emails.”
If Eastman was Trump’s attorney, it is possible that he nonetheless waived the attorney-client privilege by including non-lawyers in his email communications with Trump—for example, Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon. Or the privilege could have been waived by sending copies of the emails to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Clark—who was not Trump’s attorney and, therefore, not within the group of people who could share in confidential attorney-client communications between Trump and Eastman.
Here’s my point: Eastman was at the center of the plot to use fake electors to overturn the election. He appears to have been reckless in failing to protect confidential attorney-client communications. Storing them on Chapman University mail servers was a rookie mistake, so the chances are good that he waived the privileged nature of communications with Trump by including non-lawyers in those communications. Eastman’s emails may be a treasure trove for the Special Committee and the Department of Justice.
Another redistricting victory.
Republicans took maximum advantage of redistricting in 2012. That has forced them to use caution in 2022 by protecting GOP-safe districts. Where they have sought to create “new” Republican districts, they have been forced to engage in gerrymandering so outrageous that the racist intent is plain on the face of the district maps. The Republican Alabama legislature released a map that included only one district with a majority of Black voters—even though Black voters constitute 27% of Alabama’s voting-age population. On Monday, a three-judge panel ruled that
Black Alabamians are sufficiently numerous to constitute a voting-age majority in a second congressional district [and the] Black population in the challenged districts is sufficiently geographically compact to constitute a voting-age majority in a second reasonably configured district.
The three-judge panel has ordered the state legislature to submit reconfigured maps that include two Black majority congressional districts (instead of one, as proposed). See Talking Points Memo, “Federal Court Throws Out Alabama’s New District Map That Shrinks Black Voter Power.” It is important to note that the ruling is not based on discrepancies in party affiliation but racial disparities in the congressional districts. That will make it more difficult to reverse the three-judge panel’s findings on appeal. Good!
Upcoming podcast with Next Generation Politics.
On Saturday, January 29th, I will interview representatives of Next Generation Politics on Today’s Edition Podcast (11 AM Pacific / 2 PM Eastern). Next Generation Politics focuses on engaging young people, particularly those from historically marginalized communities, to ensure they have access to tools and resources to be change-makers invested in shaping a more just world.
The origin story of the organization is remarkable. Next Generation Politics was founded by a high school junior (Ryan Adell) as a youth-led organization in 2016. Today, it is a dynamic organization with dozens of programs and initiatives, including “Summer Civic Fellowships” for students. Check out the story of Next Generation’s rise from a single school to a national organization here: About Next Generation Politics.
Join the conversation on Saturday with three high school students who are involved in Next Generation Politics. It should be fun and inspiring! Download the Callin app to join the conversation and follow @roberthubbell and Today’s Edition Podcast to join the discussion.
A list of prior podcasts is included after the sign-off below. Check them out for opportunities to become involved—and for some needed inspiration!
Voter suppression is a blunt instrument. In 2020, Republican legislatures targeted mail ballots as a source of potential fraud and instituted onerous requirements for voting by mail. Democrats are outraged (understandable) and panicked (unnecessarily). Mail voting has long been a stronghold of Republican turnout. The pandemic year of 2020 was the exception. As GOP legislatures targeted mail voting, they disadvantaged everyone who sought to vote by mail.
In Texas, the state legislature passed SB-1, which introduced a new requirement that mail ballot applications include a government ID number that matches the government ID number used when the voter first registered. So, for example, if a voter first registered 40 years ago, that voter must remember what government ID they used at the time. If the voter cannot remember, the vote by mail application is rejected. This situation has resulted in extraordinarily high rejection rates for vote by mail applications—25%+ in some counties. But many—possibly most—of the ballots being rejected are for older voters who cannot remember the government ID number they used decades ago to register. As a representative of the League of Women Voters of Texas said,
“If they’re in their 70s, 80s, and they’re voting by mail, and they registered to vote 30, 40 years ago — the issue is, what number did they register to vote with?”
Older voters tend to vote Republican in Texas. See Talking Points Memo, “Officials Scramble To Contend With Texas’ New Restrictive Voting Law Ahead Of Primaries.” We should take no pleasure in the fact that the GOP legislature may have unintentionally disenfranchised a significant part of the GOP base that turn out at high rates.
Voting should be easy for everyone. And we should have confidence that when more people vote, Democrats do better. Texas is learning the hard way that voter suppression is a blunt instrument. The League of Women Voters of Texas has published a document titled “Tips for Voters - New Election Laws” that can help voters of every party navigate the chaos created by the Texas legislature. If you know someone in Texas who is experiencing difficulties, the Texas League of Women Voters is a good resource. In the meantime, we should not assume that the potential meltdown in Texas will disproportionately affect Democrats. But, as always, high turnout can overcome voter suppression. We can do that!
Talk to you tomorrow!
Past Episodes of Today’s Edition Podcast:
Chop Wood Carry Water with Jessica Craven
31st Street Swing Left with Lisa Herrick and Jim Shelton
Field Team 6, with Jason Berlin
The Civics Center with Laura Brill
The States Project with Melissa Walker