Trump’s attacks on judges and prosecutors aren’t the worst part of his threat to the judicial system

This week alone, Donald Trump has attacked career prosecutors because they refused to go along with a political decision to interfere in the sentencing of one of Trump’s advisers. Trump has also taken multiple swings at the federal judge involved in the case, including demanding a do-over for his pal Roger Stone after Stone was convicted on seven out of seven counts. But as bad as those attacks on the justice system may be, there’s one other thrust from Trump that may be the most deadly to anything resembling impartial justice: Trump has been attacking jurors.

Leveraging a statement from the jury foreman that they thought the U.S. attorneys involved in the case were “honorable,” Trump has made multiple assertions that the jury was biased against Stone from the start. Not only that, but he has tweeted attacks against the jury foreman by name, destroying the concept that a private citizen serving on a jury out of civic duty deserves to be shielded from political pressure and threats.

Trump’s attack on the jurors isn’t just a head-on assault on the American system of jurisprudence; it’s also a slam at the attorneys. Not the U.S. attorneys—Stone’s attorneys. After all, every one of the jurors survived questioning and challenges from Stone’s legal team to be seated. The transcript of the jury selection even shows Stone’s team learning that a juror had previously been a Democratic candidate for office and declaring themselves fine with it. Trump is creating a standard by which there’s no trial in America that could hold up. Or at least, no trial that Trump wants to see hold up.

And it’s not just Trump. Naturally, Fox News is all-in on the idea of attacking the privacy and assumed independence of jurors. Judge Andrew Napolitano has been all over this topic, insisting that the juror had an obligation to reveal information that very much was revealed during the jury selection. In fact, Stone’s attorneys were absolutely aware that some of the jurors had political positions opposed to Trump, with the transcript showing an attorney questioning one potential juror’s previous response, repeating, “Your answer was supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. Deeply opposed to everything Donald Trump stands for,” and the juror responding, “Yes.”

Stone’s attorney accepted that juror, along with others who said they had political positions opposed to Trump. There is no basis here for any retrial unless Stone wants to file an appeal on the grounds that his counsel was inadequate, which is a tough play, considering the essentially unlimited funds he had available to surround himself with a multimember team.

In many ways, Trump’s attack on the jurors resembles another campaign that he and his Republican allies just waged: the one against the intelligence community whistleblower whose information spurred the investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment. In that case, the whistleblower’s role was simply to bring information to the attention of authorities—no different than someone who called in on a tip line, or sent police anonymous information about a potential crime. The identity and motivations of the whistleblower mattered not one whit as soon as that role was performed. Not one piece of evidence came from the whistleblower. Not one action taken was based on testimony by the whistleblower.

But the IG whistleblower and Stone trial juror both represent something that Trump, and Fox, cannot stand: ordinary people trying to do the right thing, even in the face of pressure from the powerful. When that happens, Republicans spring into action. To attack. To threaten. To demean.

Because until people learn that they should just shut up around their betters, the world just can’t be the way that Trump and his allies demand.

Trump’s pardons again make a mockery of Republican claims that he ever cared about corruption

Remember how Republicans spent months insisting that Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine not because he wanted to cheat on the 2020 elections but because he really, really cared about corruption? Even though he never mentioned corruption in his first phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky? Even though the Pentagon certified that Ukraine was fighting corruption and should get the money?

Ha ha ha, yeah, all those claims Republicans made, against all the evidence, that Trump cared about corruption, and what does he do? Well, first, during his own impeachment trial, Trump stood side by side with a world leader charged with corruption to unveil a major foreign policy plan. Now he’s handing out pardons and sentence commutations to a corrupt politician, a corrupt former law enforcement official, a corrupt lobbyist, and a couple corrupt rich guys. So let’s take a stroll down memory lane all the way back a month or two to hear from Republicans about how much Trump cares about corruption.

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“Corruption is not just prevalent in Ukraine. It’s the system. Our president said time out, time out, let’s check out this new guy,” according to Rep. Jim Jordan, during the impeachment inquiry.

”President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign and of widespread corruption in that country,” said Rep. Devin Nunes.

“When it comes to sending US taxpayer money overseas, the president is focused on burden sharing and corruption,” Trump’s impeachment defense insisted.

Had Trump expressed serious concern about corruption anywhere before he turned his eyes to Ukraine? From Sen. Ron Johnson, “If the subject was Ukraine, he’s expressed his concern about corruption in Ukraine, which everybody understood was endemic―including [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, who won. So I haven’t talked to the president about other countries where that might have come up.”

Again and again they told us that Trump cared so much about corruption that he held up nearly $400 million in aid that Congress had appropriated for Ukraine and that the Defense Department had signed off on because of Ukrainian anti-corruption efforts. And then Trump goes ahead and commutes the sentence former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got for trying to sell an open Senate seat to the highest bidder. He plans to pardon former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who committed perjury, tax fraud, and more. 

So it goes. Donald Trump cares about corruption like he cares about anyone not named Donald (or possibly Ivanka) Trump: only when it benefits him to claim he does.

John Bolton speaks in public at critical moment… to deliver a commercial for his unpublished book

For the first time since House managers asked that he be called as a witness in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a call that Senate Republicans immediately shut down, former national security adviser John Bolton has given a public interview. And the information produced in this appearance isn’t something that should be shocking to most Americans: John Bolton is a jackass.

Bolton’s appearance on Monday at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was technically to be a discussion of threats to national security. But, as might be expected, most of the questions he was asked concerned Bolton’s time in the Trump White House and the issues that led to Donald Trump’s impeachment. Bolton was given multiple opportunities to speak about Trump’s actions involving Ukraine, or what he knew about the scheme against Joe Biden, or how Trump’s political hit squads smeared and removed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. And through it all, Bolton had one mustache-twirling response: Buy my book.

That Bolton’s manuscript continues to be held by the White House on claims that it includes highly classified information is itself news. And it’s an issue of genuine concern. Of all the mistakes that Bolton might make, mishandling classified information seems highly unlikely. That the pages have been parked somewhere in a White House sub-basement for this long without even a suggestion as to the exact objections to releasing it is a pretty good indicator that the holdup has nothing to do with Bolton inadvertently revealing something critical to national defense, and everything to do with his being critical of Trump. On that point, what’s happening with Bolton demands not just sympathy, but also attention and demands for more information.

As CNN reports, Bolton talked repeatedly about the "censorship" being applied to his book, about his desire to get events and statements before the public, and about concerns that history be accurately recorded.

That’s all fine. But it’s the way Bolton responded to any factual questions that went instantly beyond off-putting and straight into infuriating. The response to any attempt to solicit information from Bolton or to get him to confirm any item that came up in the House hearings or Senate trial of Trump was never anything more than some variation on “Wait for the book.” The evening was far more a promotion for a book no one can buy than it was a musing on national security.

The highlight in a frustrating list of frustrations may have come when Bolton was asked whether he considered Trump’s July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “perfect,” as Trump has so often called it. "You'll love Chapter 14," said Bolton. It went that way throughout the evening.

Bolton did make broad statements on some topics, such as when he said that he saw from the beginning that Trump’s policies toward North Korea were going to fail. On his signature issue of Iran, Bolton predictably felt that Trump had not applied enough “pressure.” He didn’t quite shout, “Bomb, bomb, bomb” … he only implied it.

But much of the interview devolved into an ouroboros that went from how terrible it was that Bolton’s book was being held to how much he wanted everyone to have access to that sweet, sweet history that’s … in the book. Of course, that history was also in Bolton’s head, and he could have relayed the critical issues to the American public at any moment by just opening his mustache prop and explaining what he knew. Only then, who would buy the book?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has the ability not just to declassify anything he wants, but also to slap a top-secret classification on anything, up to and including the contents of his taco salad. Whether or not Bolton’s book ever appears, or appears only after adjustments to explain that Trump is the bestest, smartest, handsomest scratch-golfing genius ever, remains an open question. 

Bolton has another interview to give on his tour to promote a book that might never come out. Don’t count on it being any more informative.

Morning Digest: Daily Kos Elections presents our 2020 calendar of key elections across the country

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

2020 Elections: The presidential election and competitive races for the House and Senate may be generating most of the headlines, but there are many important contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year. From mayoral races to district attorney elections and contests for control of county boards of supervisors, 2020 will feature major battles in some of the country's largest cities and counties. Daily Kos Elections has compiled a calendar with all the key dates for this year's major local races, and there's a lot to keep track of.

Campaign Action

Wisconsin will be the site of the first big downballot election night of the year on Tuesday, when party primaries for the special election in the vacant 7th Congressional District will take place; the general election will follow on May 12. The main event, though, will be the primary for a seat on the state Supreme Court, while Milwaukee County and the city of Milwaukee will also be voting for county executive and mayor, respectively. Runoffs between the top two vote-getters in all three of these races will take place on April 7. You can find a preview of those races here.

It will be an interesting year on the mayoral front in particular. Of the 100 largest cities in the country, 29 will hold elections for mayor at some point during 2020. Yet even though Republicans hold less than a third of all big-city mayoralties, they're defending 15 seats this year, versus 12 for Democrats (two are held by independents).

The biggest city on the list is San Diego, California, where Democrats are hoping for a pickup, in part because Republican Kevin Faulconer is term-limited. The largest Democratic-held prizes are Portland, Oregon and Baltimore, Maryland, though Republicans have no shot at flipping either.

Further down the ballot, the three largest counties in California—Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange—will hold elections for their boards of supervisors, as will Maricopa County, Arizona. All except Los Angeles have a Republican majority, and control of each of those GOP-held bodies is on the line.

Meanwhile, the two largest counties in the entire country, Los Angeles and Cook County, Illinois (home of Chicago), will be selecting their district attorneys. Orleans Parish in Louisiana, which is coterminous with the city of New Orleans, will also vote for its top prosecutor; embattled incumbent Leon Cannizzaro is eligible for re-election.

2020 promises to be an active year and we may also see more contests come onto the radar as events develop. Bookmark our calendar to keep tabs on all the action. Also check out our separate calendar of congressional and state-level primaries for all 50 states.

Senate

KS-Sen: Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is out with a poll from the GOP firm McLaughlin & Associates that shows him leading Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier 47-38 in a hypothetical general election. Kobach released his survey from the less than reliable McLaughlin days after a poll from the Democratic firm DFM Research for the union SMART came out showing him tied with Bollier 43-43.

Despite this McLaughlin poll, national Republicans remain worried that Kobach, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial election to Democrat Laura Kelly, would put them in danger in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 1932. Senate Republicans made it clear before Kobach even announced his campaign that they'd take action to stop him from winning the August primary, and CNN reported over the weekend that they remained as opposed to him as ever.

However, one notable Republican isn't ready to strand Kris Kobach on the Isle of Misfit Senate Candidates. CNN writes that Donald Trump spoke to his old ally in person late last month, and that Jared Kushner is working with Kobach on a White House immigration plan. Trump's advisers reportedly "have gently pressed him" to back Rep. Roger Marshall, who is one of the many other Republican candidates here, but Trump doesn't seem to be in any hurry to decide.

Still, there is at least one indication that Trump may be listening. The Kansas City Star reports that Trump met with Marshall in the Oval Office in mid-January and tried to call Kobach up right then and there to convince him to drop out. Trump got Kobach's voicemail, though, and the two ended up speaking a few hours later after Marshall had left the White House. There's no word on what they said to one another, but Kobach remains in the race a month later.

TX-Sen: The University of Texas is out with a survey for the Texas Tribune of the March 3 Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. John Cornyn, and it's the first survey we've seen that shows a clear frontrunner. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who has the DSCC's endorsement, leads with 22%, which is still well below the majority she'd need to avoid a May runoff.

Nonprofit director Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez holds a 9-7 edge over former Rep. Chris Bell for second place, while former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards and state Sen. Royce West each are just behind with 6%. Two underfunded contenders, Annie "Mamá" Garcia and Sema Hernandez, each take 5%.

Gubernatorial

AK-Gov: The Alaska Supreme Court announced Friday that it would hear oral arguments on March 25 about the legality of the recall campaign against GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy. While the justices have not yet determined if Alaskans can vote whether to cut short Dunleavy's tenure, they also ruled last week that Recall Dunleavy is allowed to collect signatures to get a recall measure on the ballot.

As we've written before, an official in Alaska may only be recalled for "(1) lack of fitness, (2) incompetence, (3) neglect of duties, or (4) corruption." This provision, which recall expert Joshua Spivak calls a "malfeasance standard," differs from the practice in many other states, where only voters' signatures are needed for a recall to go forward.

Recall Dunleavy, the group that is seeking to fire the governor, is focusing on the first three grounds for recall. However, in an opinion for the state Division of Elections, Republican state Attorney General Kevin Clarkson argued that the stated allegations listed on the campaign's petitions "fail[ed] to meet any of the listed grounds for recall." Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth ruled in January, though, that the recall campaign could proceed because all but one of their stated grounds was valid.

However, in a confusing series of events, Aarseth soon issued a stay that prevented Recall Dunleavy from gathering signatures before the state Supreme Court heard the appeal, quickly said that the stay have been "inadvertently issued," then issued another stay a week later that once again halted the signature gathering. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled on Friday, though, that Aarseth "did not expressly consider the harm to Recall Dunleavy from a stay, and as a result it appears to have applied an incorrect analysis." This decision allows Recall Dunleavy to collect petitions even though its legal battle is far from over.

If Recall Dunleavy successfully convinces the justices that its campaign is valid under state law, organizers will need to collect another 71,000 signatures in order to place the recall on the ballot. There's no time limit for gathering petitions, and a recall election would take place 60 to 90 days after the Division of Elections verified that enough valid signatures have been turned in.

If the recall is successful, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who is also a Republican, would replace Dunleavy. No matter what, though, Alaska's regularly-scheduled gubernatorial election will take place in 2022.

MO-Gov: On Friday, former Gov. Eric Greitens declined to rule the idea that he’d challenge Gov. Mike Parson, who was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor in 2020 after Greitens resigned in disgrace, in the August GOP primary. People close to Greitens tell the Kansas City Star’s Jason Hancock that this comeback is unlikely to actually happen this year, but Parson’s allies are still taking the idea seriously. Missouri’s filing deadline is at the end of March.

Greitens has avoided the media since his departure from office, but he reemerged last week one day after he got some welcome news from the Missouri Ethics Commission. The body announced that it was fining Greitens $178,000 after it ruled that his 2016 campaign had not disclosed its coordination with a federal PAC and a nonprofit. However, the Commission said they had “found no evidence of any wrongdoing on part of Eric Greitens” and that most of the fine would be forgiven as long as he pays $38,000 and doesn’t incur any other violations over the next two years.

Greitens used the occasion to go on a conservative media tour and proclaim in Trump-like fashion that he had received a “total exoneration,” and he wasn’t just talking about the matters the Commission ruled on last week. Back in early 2018, his once promising political career began to unravel in the face of allegations that he'd sexually assaulted the woman he was having an affair with and blackmailed her.

Greitens ended up getting indicted by local prosecutors twice: Once on allegations of first-degree felony invasion of privacy related to this story, and once for unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity. The GOP-led state legislature, which had little love for Greitens after spending a year feuding with him, also began to move towards removing him from office.

Greitens eventually resigned in exchange for the tampering charges getting dropped. A short time later, the Jackson County Prosecutor's office also announced that it was dropping the charges in the sexual assault and blackmail case because it believed it was impossible to successfully prosecute Greitens.

Greitens declared on Friday that the GOP legislature’s old investigation was some “Joseph Stalin stuff,” but he wasn’t so vocal about his current plans. When host Jamie Allman asked him if he was considering a 2020 bid for his old office Greitens responded, “Anything is a possibility.” Greitens added that he’d be willing to reappear on Allman’s program later to talk about this contest, but he didn’t say anything else about it.

However, unnamed Greitens associates tell Hancock that the former governor is well aware that he’s still unpopular and that he’s not sure if he could raise enough money to compete. They didn’t dismiss the idea that he’d run against Parson, though, and neither did the incumbent’s allies. John Hancock, who runs the well-funded pro-Parson super PAC Uniting Missouri, said he didn’t expect Greitens to get in, “But we don’t take anything for granted in a political campaign.”

A Parson adviser put it more bluntly to the paper: “Will he run? I doubt it. Are we going to be haunted by his ghost until he declares or filing for the primary closes? Absolutely.”

House

AL-05: On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted out his endorsement for Rep. Mo Brooks ahead of the March 3 GOP primary. Brooks faces a challenge from retired Navy Cmdr. Chris Lewis, who earned the support of the Alabama Farmers Federation but has very little money.

NJ-03: Over the weekend, former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs received the recommendation of the Ocean County Republican Screening Committee, which puts her in a good position to win the county party’s backing at its March 4 convention.

As we’ve noted before, county party endorsements matter quite a bit in New Jersey, and Gibbs’ already has the support of the Burlington County GOP. Ocean County contains the somewhat larger share of Republican primary voters in this two-county district, though, which makes it a very important prize in the June GOP primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim.

TX-18: On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich dismissed a lawsuit brought against Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's office and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation by a former CBCF aide identified only as Jane Doe. Doe had alleged that she'd been fired by Jackson Lee in 2018 after she'd told the congresswoman's chief of staff, Glenn Rushing, that she would take legal action against the CBCF, which was led by Jackson Lee at the time.

Doe said in her suit that she had been raped by a CBCF supervisor in 2015 when she was interning there. She further said she'd told Rushing about the assault in 2018 after she learned that her alleged assailant was looking for a job in Jackson Lee's congressional office. The man was not hired, but Doe said she then told Rushing she planned to sue the foundation and wanted to speak to Jackson Lee about it. No meeting took place, and Doe said she was fired two weeks later, ostensibly for "budgetary issues."

Jackson Lee announced in January of last year that she was resigning as head of the CBCF and temporarily stepping aside from a House Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship as a result the lawsuit. Friedrich, though, ruled that Doe had not alleged any legally sufficient claims for which Jackson Lee's office or the CBCF could be held liable. Doe's attorney says that she's unsure if her client will appeal.

TX-28: Texas Forward, which is allied with EMILY's List, is out with a Spanish language TV spot ahead of the March 3 Democratic primary that argues that conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar has embraced Washington and is no longer “one of us.” Meanwhile, a large coalition of labor groups are spending $350,000 on radio and digital ads, as well as voter turnout operations, in support of immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros.

WA-05: Former Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase announced on Friday that he would challenge Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a fellow Republican, in the August top-two primary. Chase lost his 2018 bid for a seat on the county commission by a lopsided 61-39 margin to a fellow Republican, and he's unlikely to pose much of a threat to the well-funded incumbent.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Siena College announced on Friday that former GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, who represented a competitive seat in upstate New York from 2011 through 2017, would become its new president in July. Gibson is a Siena graduate, and he will be the first non-friar to lead the Franciscan college.

Gibson has been mentioned as a possible GOP statewide candidate in the past, though he surprised political observers when he decided to pass on a 2018 run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gibson's new gig probably means that he won't be running for office anytime soon, though he'll still have a connection to the world of politics: Siena has a prolific polling arm that conducted the New York Times' famous (or infamous) live polls in 2018.

For Republicans in Trump’s cover-up it wasn’t about ‘heads on pikes,’ it was all about the money

In the latest Daily Kos/Civiqs poll, fully 60% of Americans disapprove of how the U.S. Senate conducted Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The behavior of Senate Republicans following that trial probably won't get many cheers, either. The three most closely watched Republicans during the trial, those who pretended to be open-minded and committed to doing their jobs, have all popped up in the last few days with slathering praise for the Trump administration which let loose all the money once the trial was done. It turns out the issue wasn’t the threat of heads on pikes at all. It was all about the bribes.

Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats end McConnell's career as majority leader.

Retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander tweeted to thank Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Trump for the investment of "$9 million in Tennessee to provide and improve high-speed broadband infrastructure projects for 3,744 rural households, 31 businesses and 41 farms."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski had Transportation Secretary and Moscow Mitch spouse Elaine Chao to thank for "a $20M Port Infrastructure Development Program grant to the Port of Alaska to help offset the 1st phase costs of the Port’s desperately-needed modernization program, enabling safe, cost-effective, & reliable Port operations." That's a whole 1% of the estimated cost for the port. Was it worth a vote to keep the worst president ever to sit in the Oval Office?

You know, of course, who else is getting in on the action:

Great news! 19 Housing Authorities in Maine have been awarded more than $9.5 million to preserve & modernize affordable housing units that serve individuals with disabilities & low-income individuals and families.https://t.co/9FzNcL197P

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) February 13, 2020

Could they be more blatant? No. The answer is no. 

Trump brags that he’s all about getting revenge on those who failed to ‘kill the king’

Every day of the Senate trial, Adam Schiff made the cases that Donald Trump is not a king. He’s not free to use the weaponry of the state as his personal tool, and not exempt from the consequences of his actions. He’s a citizen, constrained by law like the rest of us.

But of course, Republicans disagreed. And on Saturday morning Donald Trump made it clear that not only does he consider himself a king, he intends to make the remainder of his rule all about “grievance, persecution and resentment.”

Trump based his morning tweets on a two-week old article from The New York Times which looked at Trump’s post-impeachment actions. Susan Collins may have claimed that Trump was going to be chastened by the hearings, impeachment,  and trial.

And Trump has made it clear that he did learn something from the whole process. He learned that he can get away with anything — absolutely anything — without being concerned that Republicans will hold him accountable.

Following the impeachment, Trump has fired those who testified against him like Lt. Col. Vindman and Gordon Sondland. He’s taken petty vengeance on people like Vindman’s twin bother for having the bad taste of being related to someone on Trump’s enemies list. He’s held a White House session of self-congratulation in which he pointedly left out even most of the Republicans who voted to acquit over their failure to be sufficiently loyal. He’s continued hollowing out agencies across the government. He made it clear that he did send Giuliani to Ukraine to mine for political turds, and he told Geraldo Rivera that the way he will deal with phone calls to foreign leaders in the future is by conducting them in secret with no one listening in.

In one sense Trump’s mentality post-impeachment is that of the bunker. He’s been even more suspicious, more dismissive of the idea that anyone else has an opinion worth listening to, more determined to surround himself with a handful of only the most loyal, most protective staff (Welcome back, Hope Hicks!).

But if Trump is suspicious and angry down there in the gold bunker, he’s also feeling like he now has the space to revenge himself on anyone and everyone. And, of course, he’s ramped up his use of the Justice Department—and primary tool William Barr—to protect his friends, punish his enemies, and defy the whole concept of rule of law.

Trump has not just drawn a hard connection between himself and the state, he used his morning tweets to select a quote from the Times article that was surely meant to be a criticism.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down. A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” 

Trump added a “witch hunt!” claim to this statement, making it clear that as he was reading this section, he was nodding along. King, yes, Persecution, certainly. Resentment, and how.

The series of revelations that spilled in the last three days showing that not only was Barr putting pillows in place to protect Trump’s associates from facing consequences of their crimes, but building a whole team designed to second-guess and undermine veteran prosecutors shows how far down the fascism path Trump is already gone. Trump has already embraced “jokes” about naming himself president for life. Now he’s putting out tweets in which he’s the king.

And his rabble is applauding.

Trump shows Collins a lesson he learned from impeachment: Don’t let anyone listen to your criming

Sen. Susan Collins has done her best to walk back her ridiculous statement that impeached president Donald Trump learned a lesson from the impeachment process, and to absolve herself of any responsibility for a now totally unfettered Trump. The thing is, though: She can't. Because Trump himself is yelling out the real lessons he learned every damn day. Like on Thursday, when he trashed another presidential norm meant to keep chief executives in check and to protect national security.

Collins' time is up. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

In a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, Trump talked about one of the lessons he’s learned: not to let officials listen in on his phone calls with world leaders. "Well, that's what they've done over the years," Trump said. "When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely." This came about in a discussion about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who Trump was bitching about in the interview, calling him "insubordinate" for raising his concerns about Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "I'm not a fan of Vindman," Trump added. Surprise.

Given his cavalier attitude toward classified intelligence, this latest lesson learned by Trump has the national security community freaking out. "Right now, President Trump is a nightmare to every intel and [national-security] officer, and this is all stuff he's done with their knowledge," a former senior National Security Agency official told Business Insider. "Allowing him to conduct these calls in private would be catastrophic for us."

A former National Security Council senior director under President Barack Obama, Edward Price, told Business Insider that allowing intelligence and national security people to listen to calls "is indispensable to the coordination and implementation of sound foreign policy and national-security practices,. […] No president—but especially not this one—can or should be relied upon to backbrief senior advisers on details that can often be extraordinarily nuanced." Of course it has happened with this impeached president. And it wasn't just a phone call, but also face-to-face meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin: On several occasions, Trump has talked with Putin without U.S. staff present.

So the lesson he did learn from Collins and the rest of the Republicans who let him off the hook is that that's the way he should always conduct foreign policy, with no one around him who can alert the rest of the government—including Congress—about the crime-doing.

Susan Collins is so concerned about Trump that she’s going to make a sternly worded phone call

The White House better be prepared. It’s going to get a sternly worded phone call from Sen. Susan Collins over the impeached president’s interference in the sentencing of Donald Trump’s buddy Roger Stone after his conviction in federal court. She told reporters that Wednesday, saying that Trump should "play no role whatsoever when it comes to sentencing recommendations" and that he "should not have commented" and that she wished he "would not tweet." No word on whether she's also going to talk about the tweeting on the phone call. But boy, that's sure going to strike terror in Trump's heart.

She also has questions for Attorney General William Barr, she says, but she's not sure if there should be any hearings yet over Trump and Barr turning the Department of Justice into Trump's defense counsel. She wouldn't want to be hasty. Still, a sternly worded phone call might be happening. I'm sure she really wishes it would help. But don't worry, she says, about Trump being "emboldened" by being let off the hook by her and her Republican pals.

Her time's up. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

He wasn't acting out because he knows now that there are no limits to his power, now that the Senate will let him do literally anything. It's just him acting like a toddler, she says. He "often acts in an impulsive manner," she explained in a USA Today interview. "I think the president was angered by impeachment and that is reflected in the personnel choices he made," she said. Because that makes it so much better, the fact that he's now a 4-year-old on speed, and it had absolutely nothing to do with her.

No, she's not responsible at all for his behavior now. She was doing her solemn duty and certainly, she told the Bangor Daily News, if the president had committed "treason or bribery," she would definitely have voted to impeach. The House, however, called Trump's treason and bribery in withholding aid to Ukraine in order to force that country to interfere in the presidential election on his behalf "maladministration." So they didn't meet her bar.

But boy, Trump, she better not catch you doing this again, or you'll be in big trouble.

Trump is abusing a judge, intimidating jurors, and attacking prosecutors to destroy justice

In defending his convicted co-conspirator Roger Stone, Donald Trump has attacked the investigators, the prosecutors, and the judge in Stone’s federal case. On Thursday morning, with encouragement from Fox News, he moved on to attacking members of the jury. Trump has continued to show that there is no line he will not cross, because there are no lines. In the wake of his acquittal in the impeachment trial against him by the Republican-dominated Senate, Trump is unbound. He’s not testing the limits of the law; he’s making it clear that he is the law.

At the same time, Attorney General William Barr has made it known that he is personally stepping in to manipulate how punishment is handed down in America: more for Trump’s enemies, less for Trump’s friends. 

Since 2016, there has been no article that has proven its worth more times than Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.” And one paragraph in particular clearly illuminates the last few days:

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed.

Trump didn’t have to take over American media. Fox News came prepackaged before he even stepped onto the golden escalator. All Trump had to do was scream, “Fake news!” at every fact that squeezed onto a screen. The Republican Senate just upheld Trump’s right to disassemble the electoral system at his leisure. So now it’s time for collapsing that judiciary—and Trump isn’t even trying to do it without notice.

As The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, Trump has gone directly after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the judge presiding over the case of Roger Stone. This isn’t the first time Trump has demonstrated his willingness to demean a federal judge: He hadn’t even been elected when he attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel by claiming that his “Mexican heritage” made him biased in the Trump University case; and in 2018, Trump was so blatant in his attacks on District Court Judge Jon Tigar that even United States Chief Justice John Roberts objected. But Trump is targeting Jackson as part of what is clearly a campaign to create right-wing outrage. Trump has repeatedly hinted, and did again on Wednesday, that he will simply pardon Stone and Flynn when it comes down to it.

But pardoning them is not enough, not when he can use these cases to assault not just charges against Trump advisers who were caught and convicted for 2016 campaign activities, but the whole concept of impartial justice. Donald Trump isn’t hammering a judge who is being tough on a pal. He’s hammering apart the whole justice system.

On Thursday morning, Trump attacked the foreperson of Stone’s jury, saying that she had “significant bias.” What was the evidence of this bias? It was that the jurist—whom right-wing media outlets have, of course, named—made a Facebook post defending the four prosecutors who resigned after Barr stepped in to overturn their sentencing guidelines. The juror said that the prosecutors “acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.” As with his demands that the intelligence community whistleblower in the Ukraine plot be outed and interrogated, Trump is putting the jury, judge, and prosecutors on trial for Stone’s conviction.

All of this is aside from the fact that, thanks to Mitch McConnell, Trump has appointed 192 federal judges. That includes 51 appeals court judges and 137 district court judges, in addition to two Supreme Court justices that put conservatives in the driver’s seat of national policy for untold years to come. What Trump is doing now isn’t destroying the judicial system, because that work is pretty much done. He’s now rubbing out faith in the judicial system.

That’s why it’s unlikely that Stone will get an immediate pardon. As long as Stone can cool his heels at home, Trump and company will use his case for those two all-important purposes: destroying the republic and fundraising. That’s why members of Trump’s campaign team have already set up a fund supposedly dedicated to paying for Stone’s appeal and are running ads to reach out to Trump supporters in Stone’s name. Stone will probably get his pardon … when Trump has milked his crimes for maximum damage. In the meantime, Trump will tell outright lies about Judge Jackson, such as the claim that she put Paul Manafort in solitary confinement. She didn’t.

But the level of assault that Trump and Barr are staging on the remainder of the judicial system at this point demonstrates vividly that this is an endgame for democracy. Republicans didn’t do anything about Trump’s extorting a U.S. ally to cheat in the 2020 election. They’re not doing anything now about his abusing a judge, intimidating a juror, and tilting the scale of justice to favor his friends. They’re not going to do anything.

Except, perhaps, think about how nice elections will be when only Trump-approved candidates are allowed on the ballot.

Senate Republicans are not bothered one bit as Trump’s abuses of power escalate

Donald Trump is going to war with the very idea of equal administration of justice in the United States of America, and the Senate Republicans who voted last week to acquit him of abuse of power are just nodding along, barely even pausing to furrow a brow. Trump has intervened in the sentencing of his old buddy Roger Stone and publicly thanked Attorney General William Barr for doing his bidding. He’s attacked the judge and a juror in the case. These are not trifling matters in a democracy, but Republicans just don’t care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed it with a simple, “I do not have an opinion on that.” To Sen. John Cornyn, it’s “kind of immaterial” if Trump intervened to reduce a sentencing recommendation for a friend. “It doesn’t bother me at all, as long as the judge has the final decision,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley—of the judge Trump has been working to publicly intimidate. In translation: Trump’s escalating assaults on the rule of law change nothing for Republicans.

The list of Republican senators who just don’t give a damn goes on and on. Sen. Lindsey Graham is “comfortable the system is working,” even though he gave lip service to the principle that Trump shouldn’t be speaking out about specific cases in the courts. Sen. Lamar Alexander said that “politics should never play a part in law enforcement,” without mentioning Trump by name.

Another series of Republicans pretended not to know what the issue was, falling back on the old Paul Ryan favorite, “I don’t know the facts of the case; I haven’t been following it” (this time, that one came from Sen. Ted Cruz). 

The other thing that goes on and on is Trump’s abuse of power. The Washington Post reports that, according to a former senior administration official, when aides try to persuade Trump that he should stay out of legal cases, he says, “I have a right to say whatever I want.” According to that official, “He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows that he has more power than anyone else in the government—and when he tweets, everyone has to listen to him.”

A Republican congressional aide told the Post, “It’s like bad weather. Nothing more, nothing less.” Yes, abuse of power and the destruction of democratic norms and institutions is just a little bad weather.

“We cannot give him a permanent license to turn the presidency and the executive branch into his own personal vengeance operation,” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said Wednesday, addressing his Republican colleagues in a committee meeting. “If we say nothing—and I include everyone in this committee, including myself—it will get worse. His behavior will get worse.” 

Republicans are on board with that, is the problem.

Every day that goes by and every new abuse that Trump commits shows why it's so important to retake the Senate. Please dig deep to defeat vulnerable Republicans in 2020.