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The walls are closing in on Trump.
January 21, 2022
[Audio version here]
It feels as though the momentum is finally shifting against Trump in the efforts to hold him accountable for his attempted coup. In the last twenty-four hours, there has been a flurry of stories centered around the conspiracy to send “fake electors” to Congress to disrupt the count of electoral ballots and force the election to the House for determination. The details to these stories are in the links embedded below, but the emerging narrative can be summarized as follows:
It appears that Rudy Giuliani was among the group coordinating efforts to convince state legislators to send slates of “fake electors” to Congress. The Trump campaign assisted in the conspiracy, as evidenced by a voicemail from the Trump campaign to a legislator in Wisconsin that urged the legislator to create an alternative slate of electors [per Rachel Maddow Show 1/20/22]. Trump and Mike Pence were aware that the falsified electoral ballots had been transmitted to Congress. On the morning of January 6th, Trump spoke to Pence over the phone from the Oval Office. That conversation was overheard by two people, Ivanka Trump and General Keith Kellogg. The latter has been interviewed by the January 6th Committee and testified that Trump pressured Pence to recognize the falsified slate of electors, saying to Pence, “You can do this; I am counting on you to do it.”
If that scenario is correct, then (a) the Trump campaign was involved in the conspiracy to create false electoral ballots; (b) Trump was aware of the conspiracy; (c) Giuliani directed the conspiracy (with assistance from others), and (d) Trump engaged in overt acts to achieve the goals of the conspiracy by pressuring Mike Pence to recognize falsified electoral ballots.
The above outline sets forth a strong case against everyone involved in the conspiracy, including Trump, Giuliani, members of the Trump campaign, and the fake electors who sent falsified credentials to Congress. Almost all of this information has been publicly known for a year—except for the conversation between Trump and Pence on January 6th. To secure an indictment, the Department of Justice must have sufficient evidence to believe that it can obtain a conviction. It appears that threshold has been exceeded—perhaps months ago.
The January 6th Committee is doing an outstanding job of collecting evidence of the conspiracy. Indeed, it appears to be doing the job of the DOJ. Prosecutions should never be a race to the courthouse. Still, if a congressional committee can gather the evidence in a year, the DOJ should be able to do so as well—if not for the indictment of everyone involved, then at least of the fake electors. Their identities and actions have been known for a year. Several states have now requested that the DOJ investigate the potential crimes committed by the fake electors.
Separately, the District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, Fani Willis, has filed a petition for the appointment of a special grand jury to investigate “possible criminal disruptions” of the Georgia presidential election. Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” one more vote than he needed to win in Georgia.
Finally, as noted yesterday, the New York Attorney General has filed a document in court that reveals evidence of fraudulent conduct by the Trump Organization in New York. Trump and two of his children, Eric and Ivanka, have been subpoenaed in that action. Eric invoked his right against self-incrimination—a wise move given that the Manhattan District Attorney is conducting a criminal investigation into the same conduct. The document filed by the NY Attorney General also suggests possible federal tax fraud, which would fall under the jurisdiction of—wait for it—Merrick Garland’s Justice Department.
Reversing the damage of Citizen’s United.
January 21st is the twelfth anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that decision, the Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from prohibiting political expenditures by corporations or other organizations. Citizens United unleashed a flood of dark money into American politics and has allowed corporations to overtake the role of voters in deciding the course of their democracy. One way to undo the damage inflicted by Citizens United is to amend the Constitution. Common Cause is involved in an effort by
hundreds of organizations to support a campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn Citizens United. Since 2010, 19 states and nearly 800 local governments have called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and similar decisions.
If you can, support Common Cause and other organizations dedicated to overturning Citizens United so that the Constitution will state that the rights protected by the Constitution are the rights of individual human beings only and that Congress can regulate campaign donations and spending notwithstanding other provisions of the Constitution. Thanks to a reader with We the People Massachusetts for urging me to mention the anniversary of Citizens United and the need to reverse it.
Upcoming Interview with The States Project.
Reminder, on Saturday, January 22nd, I will interview Melissa Walker of The States Project. The link is here: Today’s Edition Podcast, “The States Project.” (2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST). Given the refusal of Senate Republicans to support voting protection legislation, taking control of state legislatures and governorships is more critical than ever. Melissa Walker will discuss how the power of strategic investments can have an outsized effect in flipping states from red to blue. If you can’t join us live, a link to the podcast will be in Monday’s newsletter. Download the Callin app to join us live and ask Melissa questions!
Democrats struggled for a year to pass comprehensive voting rights protection. On Wednesday, fifty Republicans stood united in their opposition to legislation that would have protected the voting rights of every American. Republicans used the filibuster to block a vote on legislation that they opposed. To any objective observer, the story was that the Republican Party was united in denying Americans equal access to the right to vote. But newspapers and media outlets across America did not focus on the depravity of the Republican Party but on the alleged “failure” of Democrats to break the filibuster. See, e.g., CBS News, “Senate Democrats fail to change rules on filibuster to pass voting rights.” If CBS had covered the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, it might have reported, “Edward Everett speaks for two hours, President Lincoln speaks for only two minutes at dedication of cemetery.”
In focusing on the trivial and ignoring the significant, the media reduced a constitutional struggle of enormous import to a partisan fight over a Senate rule. Shame on the media—and especially the headline writers—whose shallow and jaded view prevents them from reporting on the substance of current events. Democrats did not “fail” to do anything. Republicans abandoned the Constitution. If media outlets won’t report that story, then we must deluge their op-ed sections with letters and essays to correct their biased reporting. We must all be messengers of the truth. Complaining to one another does nothing. Correcting the record will make a difference.
As I was building up a full head of steam over the media’s negative reporting on the Democratic efforts to pass voting protection, I received a note from reader Stuart Floyd that reminded me to heed my own counsel. He noted that I had been urging readers to write “letters to the editor” and submit op-eds to newspapers and other media outlets. He did just that and had his “guest essay” published in the Gainesville Sun, “Stuart Floyd: Republicans need to stop the hypocrisy.” Stuart knocked the ball out of the park with his essay, which can serve as inspiration for others who are willing to be messengers of the truth. Stuart writes, in part,
[Republicans] oppose absolutely every positive measure he proposes designed to improve and overcome these obstacles. Not one Republican—not one—voted for the enormously popular American Rescue Plan, which supplied emergency funds to out-of-work families, due to COVID. This dramatically stimulated the economy. Unemployment is the lowest in decades. Yet, congressional Republicans still vote, in block, rejecting virtually every piece of legislation proposed by the president, including the original infrastructure bill . .
Stuart goes on to cover many other topics, but you get the picture. If we want people to know about Biden’s successes—and Republican obstructionism—we must be part of the solution. I know from the emails and comments I receive from readers that you are a talented group of writers. Next time you are moved to send me a rant about an article or a headline that provoked your ire, consider writing to the media source that published the offending material. Newspapers and media outlets pay attention to comments and criticisms from readers—and they are desperate for content. So, don’t be bashful. Let them know how you really feel. It may help Joe Biden—and Democrats up and down the ballot!
Talk to you on Monday!