Watch GOP congressman fail to explain bonkers Trump assassination claim

After lying that President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice conspired to assassinate Donald Trump during a 2022 raid of Mar-a-Lago, Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida is refusing to walk back his claims. 

During an interview on CNN Thursday night, Donalds repeatedly tried to change the subject when pressed by host Abby Phillip

Donalds wrote on social media, “Newly-released court documents reveal that Joe Biden's DOJ authorized the use of DEADLY FORCE in its raid of President Trump's home.” 

The FBI called this claim “patently false.” 

The language in the search warrant regarding the use of deadly force “is part of the standard operations plan for searches,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters during a press conference Thursday. “In fact, it was even used in the consensual search of President Biden's home.” 

When asked whether or not he will acknowledge the falsehood of his conspiracy claim, Donalds provided a series of nonanswers, including offensive remarks about Biden and claims that he’s using the DOJ as political ammunition against Trump.

“I’m telling you, we are witnessing a weaponization of the Department of Justice against a political rival,” he said. 

“It’s a simple question of whether the raid was carried out in a way that was standard operating procedure for the FBI,” Phillip said. “Why would you insinuate that that was some kind of attempt at former President Trump’s life?”

In response, Donalds calls back to a super timely GOP talking point: Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Like many Republicans, Donald Trump has tried to sidestep the issue of abortion and reproductive rights. But he stumbled during an interview with a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh this week, promising an “interesting” new policy that would let states restrict contraception..

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Donald Trump says he’d consider Ken Paxton for US attorney general

Trump told a reporter in Texas this weekend that Paxton is “a very talented guy.”

By Jasper Scherer, The Texas Tribune

Former President Donald Trump said he would consider tapping Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general if he wins a second term in the White House, calling his longtime ally “a very talented guy” and praising his tenure as Texas’ chief legal officer.

“I would, actually,” Trump said Saturday when asked by a KDFW-TV reporter if he would consider Paxton for the national post. “He’s very, very talented. I mean, we have a lot of people that want that one and will be very good at it. But he’s a very talented guy.”

Paxton has long been a close ally of Trump, famously waging an unsuccessful legal challenge to Trump’s 2020 election loss in four battleground states. He also spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

Paxton’s loyalty was rewarded with an endorsement from Trump in the 2022 primary, which helped the attorney general fend off three prominent GOP challengers.

Trump also came to Paxton’s defense when he was impeached last year for allegedly accepting bribes and abusing the power of his office to help a wealthy friend and campaign donor. After Paxton was acquitted in the Texas Senate, Trump claimed credit, citing his “intervention” on his Truth Social platform, where he denounced the proceedings and threatened political retribution for Republicans who backed the impeachment.

“I fought for him when he had the difficulty and we won,” he told KDFW. “He had some people really after him, and I thought it was really unfair.”

Trump’s latest comments, delivered at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, come after a series of recent polls have shown the presumptive Republican nominee leading President Joe Biden in a handful of key battleground states.

Paxton has also seen his political prospects rise in recent months, after prosecutors agreed in March to drop three felony counts of securities fraud that had loomed over Paxton for nearly his entire tenure as attorney general. The resolution of the nine-year-old case, along with Paxton’s impeachment acquittal in the Senate last fall, has brought him closer than ever to a political career devoid of legal drama.

Still, Paxton’s critics say he is far from vindicated. He remains under federal investigation for the same allegations that formed the basis of his impeachment, and he continues to face a whistleblower lawsuit from former deputies who said they were illegally fired for reporting Paxton to law enforcement. A separate lawsuit from the state bar seeks to penalize Paxton for his 2020 election challenge, which relied on discredited claims of election fraud.

If nominated, Paxton would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The chamber is narrowly divided along party lines, with Democrats holding a 51-49 majority. One of the most prominent Republican members, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has been an outspoken critic of Paxton, while Paxton has openly entertained the idea of challenging Cornyn in 2026.

Paxton is not the only Texan Trump has floated for a high-profile spot in his potential administration. In February, he said Gov. Greg Abbott is “absolutely” on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates. Abbott has since downplayed his interest in the job.

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Tracking URL: https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/20/donald-trump-ken-paxton-attorney-general/

House GOP targets attorney general after failing to dig up dirt on Biden

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are holding hearings Thursday to consider holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice has refused to provide recordings of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden and his ghostwriter in the classified documents probe, having already provided the transcripts of those interviews. 

The outcome of these meetings isn’t in question; committee chairs Jim Jordan and James Comer will push the contempt vote to the House floor. They remain intent on finding anything that they can use to impeach Biden and/or members of his administration, and they won’t let the fact that their efforts so far have been ridiculous stop them. 

It took them two tries to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, only for the Senate to swat it away. The star witness in their Biden impeachment case turned out to be a Russian mole. And they’ve already been down the road of trying to use Hur’s report to prove Biden unfit for office—a game that Hur refused to play in Jordan’s disastrous hearing. But no embarrassing defeat is going to stop them.

“These audio recordings are important to our investigation of President Biden’s willful retention of classified documents and his fitness to be President of the United States,” Comer said in a press release. 

The DOJ has in fact been providing information to Comer and Jordan. In February, it even gave them access to two of the classified documents Biden had from his time as vice president, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote in refusing the team’s subpoena for more information. 

Uriarte detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas in his initial letter to Jordan and Comer in April and concluded “we are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

In his second letter to the chairs, Uriarte reiterated that point.

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

The purpose, of course, is having audio and video that they can chop up to show Biden unfavorably in their televised hearings. They got the transcripts for their hearing with Hur, but they didn’t find anything, so of course they’re doubling down. It’s Jordan and Comer—what else are they going to do?

But this latest sham does at least give Democrats on the committees yet another opportunity to own Republicans in the hearings.

RELATED STORIES:

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House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

Ian Bassin is the former associate White House counsel and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on anti-authoritarianism, how to protect our democracy, and safeguarding our free and fair elections.

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House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

House Republicans’ attempt to impeach President Joe Biden has fizzled out. But the two members tasked with the job, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and Oversight Chair James Comer,  needing to atone for their failure, have picked another fight: threatening to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over the Department of Justice’s refusal to provide the audio recordings of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur in the classified documents probe. 

Garland is refusing to play their game. 

On Thursday, the DOJ refused for a second time to provide that audio, arguing that it has complied in full with the committees’ subpoenas for information. It provided both the transcription of the Biden interview as well as Hur’s interview with Biden’s ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer for Jordan’s big disaster of a hearing. Two months ago, it even gave Jordan and Comer access to two of the classified documents, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote.

In Uriarte’s first letter to Jordan and Comer earlier this month, he detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas. 

“The Committees’ reaction is difficult to explain in terms of any lack of information or frustration of any informational or investigative imperative, given the Department’s actual conduct,” Uriarte wrote. “We are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

Uriarte reiterated that point Thursday. 

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

Those purposes are clearly political. They need to keep up the fight against Biden and are scrambling for whatever they can get. They also probably believe that the audio of the interview could be damaging to Biden. Hur’s report included gratuitous hits about Biden’s age and mental acuity, so Jordan and Comer want to play it during their hearings, knowing that the media would eat that up

Uriarte outlined the DOJ’s concern about that, writing that it would impinge on Biden’s privacy and that “courts have recognized the privacy interest in one’s voice—including tone, pauses, emotional reactions, and cues—is distinct from the privacy interest in a written transcript of one’s conversation.”

He also implied that Comer and Jordan can’t be trusted with the audio, writing that it could be manipulated by “cutting, erasing, and splicing.” 

That’s a safe assumption on Uriarte’s part.

After basically crying “uncle” on impeaching Biden on influence peddling, being humiliated over their Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment stunt, and losing on Ukraine and government funding, Jordan and Comer are itching for revenge.

But the DOJ has called them on it

“The Committees have demanded information you know we have principled reasons to protect, and then accused us of obstruction for upholding those principles,” Uriarte wrote. “This deepens our concern that the Committees may be seeking conflict for conflict’s sake.”

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House GOP to launch critical investigation into just how old Biden is

The New York Times is determined to make 'but his age' the new 'but her emails'

Here's one way to avoid dealing with election results you don't like: just wipe them from the record books. It's not Orwell—it's Arizona, and we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." This fall, voters have the chance to deny new terms to two conservative Supreme Court justices, but a Republican amendment would retroactively declare those elections null and void—and all but eliminate the system Arizona has used to evaluate judges for 50 years. We're going to guess voters won't like this one bit … if it even makes it to the ballot in the first place.

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What to know in the Supreme Court case about immunity for Donald Trump

The Supreme Court has scheduled a special session to hear arguments over whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted over his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

The case, to be argued Thursday, stems from Trump's attempts to have charges against him dismissed. Lower courts have found he cannot claim for actions that, prosecutors say, illegally sought to interfere with the election results.

The Republican ex-president has been charged in federal court in Washington with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, one of four criminal cases he is facing. A trial has begun in New York over hush money payments to a porn star to cover up an alleged sexual encounter.

The Supreme Court is moving faster than usual in taking up the case, though not as quickly as special counsel Jack Smith wanted, raising questions about whether there will be time to hold a trial before the November election, if the justices agree with lower courts that Trump can be prosecuted.

The justices ruled earlier this term in another case that arose from Trump's actions following the election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The court unanimously held that states could not invoke a provision of the 14th Amendment known as the insurrection clause to prevent Trump from appearing on presidential ballots.

Here are some things to know:

WHAT'S THE ISSUE?

When the justices agreed on Feb. 28 to hear the case, they put the issue this way: “Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

That's a question the Supreme Court has never had to answer. Never before has a former president faced criminal charges so the court hasn't had occasion to take up the question of whether the president's unique role means he should be shielded from prosecution, even after he has left office.

Both sides point to the absence of previous prosecutions to undergird their arguments. Trump's lawyers told the court that presidents would lose their independence and be unable to function in office if they knew their actions in office could lead to criminal charges once their terms were over. Smith's team wrote that the lack of previous criminal charges “underscores the unprecedented nature” of what Trump is accused of.

NIXON'S GHOST

Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace nearly 50 years ago rather than face impeachment by the House of Representatives and removal from office by the Senate in the Watergate scandal.

Both Trump's lawyers and Smith's team are invoking Nixon at the Supreme Court.

Trump's team cites Nixon v. Fitzgerald, a 1982 case in which the Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that former presidents cannot be sued in civil cases for their actions while in office. The case grew out of the firing of a civilian Air Force analyst who testified before Congress about cost overruns in the production of the C-5A transport plane.

“In view of the special nature of the President's constitutional office and functions, we think it appropriate to recognize absolute Presidential immunity from damages liability for acts within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibility,” Justice Lewis Powell wrote for the court.

But that decision recognized a difference between civil lawsuits and “the far weightier" enforcement of federal criminal laws, Smith's team told the court. They also invoked the high court decision that forced Nixon to turn over incriminating White House tapes for use in the prosecutions of his top aides.

And prosecutors also pointed to President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon, and Nixon's acceptance of it, as resting “on the understanding that the former President faced potential criminal liability.”

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

The subtext of the immunity fight is about timing. Trump has sought to push back the trial until after the election, when, if he were to regain the presidency, he could order the Justice Department to drop the case. Prosecutors have been pressing for a quick decision from the Supreme Court so that the clock can restart on trial preparations. It could take three months once the court acts before a trial actually starts.

If the court hands down its decision in late June, which would be the typical timeframe for a case argued so late in the court's term, there might not be enough time to start the trial before the election.

WHO ARE THE LAWYERS?

Trump is represented by D. John Sauer, a former Rhodes Scholar and Supreme Court clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia. While serving as Missouri’s solicitor general, Sauer won the only Supreme Court case he has argued until now, a 5-4 decision in an execution case. Sauer also filed legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to repudiate Biden's victory in 2020.

In addition to working for Scalia early in his legal career, Sauer also served as a law clerk to Michael Luttig when he was a Republican-appointed judge on the Richmond, Virginia-based federal appeals court. Luttig joined with other former government officials on a brief urging the Supreme Court to allow the prosecution to proceed. Luttig also advised Vice President Mike Pence not to succumb to pressure from Trump to reject some electoral votes, part of Trump's last-ditch plan to remain in office.

The justices are quite familiar with Sauer’s opponent, Michael Dreeben. As a longtime Justice Department official, Dreeben argued more than 100 cases at the court, many of them related to criminal law. Dreeben was part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and joined Smith's team last year after a stint in private practice.

In Dreeben's very first Supreme Court case 35 years ago, he faced off against Chief Justice John Roberts, then a lawyer in private practice.

FULL BENCH

Of the nine justices hearing the case, three were nominated by Trump — Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. But it's the presence of a justice confirmed decades before Trump's presidency, Justice Clarence Thomas, that's generated the most controversy.

Thomas's wife, Ginni Thomas, urged the reversal of the 2020 election results and then attended the rally that preceded the Capitol riot. That has prompted calls for the justice to step aside from several court cases involving Trump and Jan. 6.

But Thomas has ignored the calls, taking part in the unanimous court decision that found states cannot kick Trump off the ballot as well as last week's arguments over whether prosecutors can use a particular obstruction charge against Capitol riot defendants. Trump faces the same charge in special counsel Jack Smith's prosecution in Washington.

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The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

After 15 months of trying to pull a Biden family crime spree out of thin air, lead impeachment zealot James Comer has watched his dreams of MAGA glory crumble into dust. Comer, the House Oversight Committee chair, told a Republican colleague that he’s ready to be “done with” the whole fiasco, according to CNN

“Comer is hoping Jesus comes so he can get out. He is fed up,” another GOP lawmaker said.

There’s just so much humiliation one man can take, I guess. The effort by Comer and co-zealot Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee, to find dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has ended up with the two coated in mud. It’s become so pathetic that even Sean Hannity has stopped propping it up.

But how did it come to this? 

Start with the fact that a full year ago, even Comer had to admit that there wasn’t any evidence of Biden crimes. But that didn’t stop him and Jordan from plowing on and making it all more ridiculous. They brought in IRS whistleblowers who produced nothing but hot air. The biggest news story to come out of that hearing was extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s porn stunt, displaying nude photos of Hunter Biden—not the usual C-SPAN fare.

Despite those early fiascos, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided he’d try to save his own bacon by making the impeachment effort official. (The extent to which that didn’t work is a whole other story.) The first official hearing proved to be another complete farce

“Through the course of the day, not only did Republicans showcase their lack of interest in facts, they also demonstrated that they are absolutely terrified of anything that looks like a fact witness,” Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote.

It didn’t get any better for Comer and Jordan. They were played by Hunter Biden when he showed up to testify on camera despite their efforts to do it in secret. Comer still plowed on with the hearings only to be embarrassed again in the infamous Russian mole and sawdust debacle. He then tried moving the goalposts, suggesting that impeachment wasn’t their goal after all. Rather, they were gathering evidence for future prosecutions in a would-be Trump administration, Comer claimed.

That was after they tried to pivot the story to a classified documents scandal, featuring a report on Biden’s old age, which was another total flop. They even tried to impeach a Cabinet secretary in another debasing disaster for Republicans.

All of which has served primarily to turn extremist Republicans against Comer for not working hard enough at impeaching Biden. 

“I feel like this was slow-rolled, and it’s been very frustrating for me as a new member because I feel like there’s way more that we could have done, and it just hasn’t been done in a timely fashion,” a frustrated GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna told CNN.

“I don’t even want to talk to you. … If you don’t think they were influence-peddling, there’s nothing to say. My God,” Comer responded to CNN. 

Officially, a House Oversight Committee spokesperson says that “the impeachment inquiry is ongoing, and impeachment is 100% still on the table.” Uh-huh.

All Comer has gotten out of this is the animosity of colleagues and showing himself to be a fool in front of a national audience. Oh, and the unearthing of a few of his own little scandals

The perfectly hilarious cherry on top of all of this? The Kentucky Republican’s dream of redemption.

“Comer, a five-term congressman, has another matter on his mind: ambitions to run for higher office one day,” CNN reports, “including potentially running for governor, according to lawmakers who have spoken to him.” 

Sure, dude. Sure.

RELATED STORIES:

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GOP House digs for new Biden dirt as sawdust 'cocaine' and Russian moles fail

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Biden wins on Ukraine as House GOP faces big decision about its future

President Joe Biden and Democrats won big in the House Saturday, when it voted resoundingly in support of Ukraine aid. This could mark a turning point for Republicans, leaving them with a choice: to admit defeat and start governing, or to keep fighting with each other.

For months, both former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and current Speaker Mike Johnson have catered to Donald Trump and the MAGA wing of the House GOP on Ukraine aid, insisting that it could not pass without a harsh immigration and border security bill. Once they got that, they turned it down at Trump’s request. Now there’s Ukraine aid and no border deal—a big loss for far-right Republicans and Trump.

This could signal that the fever has finally broken among the governing bloc of the GOP … or not. What it has done is unleash a torrent of anger against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and the extremist Freedom Caucus by some non-MAGA members.

Before the vote, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas slammed his colleagues, saying, “I guess their reasoning is they want Russia to win so badly that they want to oust the speaker over it, I mean that’s a strange position to take … I think they want to be in the minority too, I think that’s an obvious reality.”

Even Biden impeachment zealot Rep. James Comer denounced Greene’s efforts to oust Johnson in an interview on Fox News.

“Now Mike Johnson walked into a bad situation,” Comer said. “It’s gotten a lot worse since he’s been here. But changing speakers is not the right business model.”

Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas completely unleashed his anger toward his MAGA colleagues on Sunday, calling them “scumbags” who “used to walk around in white hoods at night. Now they’re walking around with white hoods in the daytime,” during an interview on CNN.

But Greene and her accomplices are showing no signs of backing down.

“There is more support,” for her efforts, Greene said Monday. “It's growing. I've said from the beginning, I'm going to be responsible with this ... I do not support Mike Johnson. He's already a lame duck. If we have the vote today in our conference he would not be speaker today.”

Greene’s cosponsor Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said Friday, "We want Mike Johnson to resign. We don't want to go speaker-less. So the goal is to show him, through co-sponsorship, how much support he's lost and hopefully he'll get the message and give us a notice so that we have time ... to replace him.”

That’s a tacit acknowledgement that they’d lose on the House floor if they tried to force Johnson out, since enough Democrats would vote to keep him now that he’s finally done the right thing. So it’s really up to the rest of the Republicans to decide. Will they squash Greene and her team once and for all? Will they accept that anything they accomplish in the remainder of this election year will have to involve Democrats and finally stop with the ridiculous messaging nonsense? (Fat chance.)

Meanwhile, most of Biden’s major priorities have been successful, including the securing of a debt limit deal with McCarthy. Despite the maniacs’ best effort, the government did not shut down and was funded at adequate levels. Now Ukraine will finally get the critical aid it needs to stave off Russia once the Senate passes the bill on Tuesday. 

On top of all that, the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas collapsed, and the Biden impeachment is dead in the water.

House Democrats hold Johnson’s fate in their hands, and everyone knows it—including the majority of Republicans. Has the fever broken in the GOP? Not as long as Trump is alive and kicking, though his political days might be numbered.

There are likely still big fights to come over next year’s budget, and it’s going to be up to the House GOP to figure out how to salvage something out of its tiny majority before the election.

Donate now to take the House back from Republicans! Chipping in $3 apiece to help flip these 16 vulnerable Republican seats scan help take back the House in 2024!

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Other democracies prosecute their ex-leaders. Trump should be no exception

Donald Trump believes he shouldn’t be held accountable for any crimes he’s been accused of before, during, or after his presidency. But on Monday, he found himself sitting in a courtroom as the first former U.S. president ever to go on trial for criminal charges. It’s the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accusing Trump of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.  

But while this might be unprecedented in U.S. history, other democracies, including France, South Korea, and Israel have charged, convicted, and even jailed former presidents and prime ministers. So why are we having such a hard time wrapping our head around this as a country?

RELATED STORY: Donald Trump's first criminal trial, Day One

Two previous U.S. presidents were in danger of facing criminal charges. President Warren G. Harding died in office in August 1923 and thus avoided being implicated in the notorious Teapot Dome oil lease bribery scandal and other corruption cases involving top administration officials.

Harding was also a notorious womanizer who had a child born out of wedlock. During the 1920 presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee gave Harding’s long-time mistress a monthly $2,000 stipend as hush money and paid $25,000 to send her on a cruise to Japan and China before the election. 

President Richard Nixon came very close to being indicted for his role in the Watergate scandal that led to his resignation in August 1974. Nixon could have faced charges of bribery, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and obstruction of a criminal investigation, CNN reported. But Nixon’s successor and vice president, Gerald Ford, granted Nixon a full pardon, justifying his decision by claiming that long drawn-out litigation would arouse “ugly passions” and “our people would again be polarized  in their opinions.”

As The Washington Post wrote last week:

In the half-century since Ford announced that pardon, other nations have charted a different path, prosecuting former presidents or prime minsters in France, Brazil, South Korea, Israel and elsewhere for numerous alleged crimes, among them embezzlement, corruption, election interference and bribery.

Some cases have illustrated the virtues of trying to hold the most powerful political officials accountable under the rule of law — as well as the formidable challenges that arise when prosecuting such figures. These former leaders can rely on ample bully pulpits to assail the process, maintain influence, shore up support and, in some cases, reclaim power.

Trump has certainly used his “bully” pulpit to assail the process by attacking judges, prosecutors, and witnesses and claiming that putting him on trial would be ruinous for the country. Here’s what Trump posted on his Truth Social platform on the eve of the start of his trial in which prosecutors claim Trump paid hush money to Daniels to avoid a scandal that could have hurt his 2016 campaign:

Tomorrow morning I’ll be in Criminal Court, before a totally conflicted Judge, a Corrupt Prosecutor, a Legal System in CHAOS, a State being overrun by violent crime and corruption, and Crooked Joe Biden’s henchmen “Rigging the System” against his Political Opponent, ME! I will be fighting for myself but, much more importantly, I will be fighting for our Country. Election Interference like this has never happened in the USA before and, hopefully, will never happen again. We are now a Nation in serious Decline, a Failing Nation, but we will soon be a Great Nation Again. November 5th will be the most important day in the History of the United States. MAGA2024! SEE YOU TOMORROW.

Republicans seem to be in a certain state of denial regarding the upcoming trial. The Daily Beast conducted interviews with more than 20 Republican lawmakers over the past week. They made clear that they were supporting Trump even if he is a convicted felon.

“I don’t think that it matters to the American people, because they don’t believe it to be a fair trial,” North Carolina Sen. Ted Budd, a strong MAGA acolyte, told the Daily Beast. “They believe that all these trials are completely unfair against him to drain him of his resources and it’s completely done the opposite thing, it’s rallied the American people behind him.”

And Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a more establishment Republican who recently became chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said he will continue to support Trump even if he’s convicted.

“First of all, I don't think that’s going to happen,” Cole said. “But second, I think some of these prosecutions are simply ridiculous on their face, and some of them are clearly harassment.”

Trump is also trying to rebrand himself as the victim of political persecution, even having the temerity to compare himself to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Trump somehow connected the anti-apartheid icon’s 27 years spent in prison to the possibility that he could be jailed by Judge Juan Merchan for violating a gag order in the hush money case.

“If this Partisan Hack wants to put me in the ‘clink’ for speaking the open and obvious TRUTH, I will gladly become a Modern Day Nelson Mandela—It will be my GREAT HONOR,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Mandela’s grandson told the Times of London that Trump is “definitely delusional.”

Trump probably wishes that he could be like Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2020, Putin signed legislation that grants former presidents immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed during their lifetime. Trump has argued for presidential immunity repeatedly without success.

RELATED STORY: Make America like Russia: Trump wants same presidential immunity as Putin

Trump also shares much in common with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has used a similar strategy of “delay, deny, deflect” after he was charged in 2019 with fraud, breach of trust, and bribery while still in office. Netanyahu has also accused prosecutors of waging a “witch hunt” against him.

Netanyahu left office in 2021 after losing a vote of confidence in the parliament, but returned to power in December 2022 as the head of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Netanyahu and his allies then tried to overhaul the judicial system to give ruling parties more power to override Supreme Court decisions and select judges. Under the proposed legislation, courts would no longer have been allowed to bar politicians convicted of crimes from holding top government posts. These proposals triggered mass protests, and may have helped distract the government from warning signs about Hamas’s plans for a major attack.

But two other Israeli leaders ended up serving prison sentences. Former President Moshe Katsav was sentenced in 2011 after being convicted of rape and other sexual offenses against subordinates, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted in 2015 of fraud, breach of trust, and tax evasion.

In France, two former presidents were convicted of criminal charges. Jacques Chirac was convicted in 2011 of influence peddling, breach of trust, and embezzlement during his time as the mayor of Paris and received a two-year suspended jail sentence. In 2021, former President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted of corruption and influence peddling. An appeals court spared him from serving any time in prison. In a separate case, Sarkozy is to go on trial in 2025 on charges or corruption and illegal financing related to alleged Libyan funding of his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

South Korea remains one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies even though four ex-presidents have  been jailed for corruption since the 1980s. Another ex-president committed suicide in 2009 while under investigation. Most recently, President Park Geun-hye was impeached in 2017, and convicted of abuse of power, bribery, and coercion the following year. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but received a presidential pardon in 2021 due to poor health.

South Koreans ousted a military dictatorship in the 1980s. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2023, South Korea is a top-tier democracy, ranked 22nd in the world—seven spots ahead of the United States, which was labeled a “flawed democracy.”

Trump has been charged with 88 criminal offenses in four criminal cases. But former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who died last year, also had quite the rap sheet. Berlusconi faced 35 criminal court cases since entering politics in 1994, but only one of his trials resulted in a conviction, Reuters reported. Berlusconi was convicted in 2013 for tax fraud, false accounting, and embezzlement related to his media empire, but what was originally a four-year prison sentence ended up being reduced to a year of community service.

And that brings us to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing populist known as the “Trump of the Tropics.” Bolsonaro cast doubts over the results of the 2022 presidential election which he narrowly lost to left-wing former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, claiming without evidence that the country’s electronic voting machines were prone to fraud.

Then on Jan. 8, 2023, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the Congress and other government buildings in the capital Brasilia in a scene mirroring that of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Security forces regained control and arrested several hundred people.

Bolsonaro has been charged by Brazilian authorities with forging a coronavirus vaccine card before he traveled to Florida in late 2022 after his election loss. Authorities are also investigating whether Bolsonaro was involved in plotting a coup to remove Lula from power.

But last July, judges on Brazil’s highest electoral court barred Bolsonaro from running for office again until 2030, making it unlikely that he will ever return to the presidency.

That’s something the U.S. Senate could have done by convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial. At the time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but it was more appropriate for the former president to be held accountable by the criminal justice system and civil litigation. Maybe some GOP senators thought Trump would just go away, but he’s now their presumptive presidential nominee, and McConnell and most other GOP senators have bent the knee and endorsed Trump.

So now as Trump’s first trial begins, our country is rated a “flawed democracy.” Trump and his MAGA cultists have tried to undermine our justice system, the rule of law, and the public’s faith in democracy. The Washington Post reports:

“The notion that not just charges would be brought, but that a former president and possibly future president might be convicted and sent to jail is truly extraordinary,” said William Howell, an American politics professor at the University of Chicago. “How the system and how the American public will respond is going to be really revealing about the nature of our democratic commitments.”
If other democracies can hold their leaders accountable, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same.

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A perfect break from your regularly scheduled outrage.

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These two have hit the big leagues of dirtbaggery.

Abandoned GOP minority outreach center gets a sexy makeover

Frankly, it seems a much better use of the space.

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GOP House digs for new Biden dirt as sawdust ‘cocaine’ and Russian moles fail

The Biden impeachment resolution the House GOP unanimously approved last December has hilariously collapsed (Russian moles, sawdust “cocaine”), but that’s not stopping the utterly inept Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, from throwing spaghetti at the wall to make something stick. The chair of the House Oversight Committee made it clear that his intention is to amass as much “evidence” of alleged wrongdoing as he can, with an eye toward setting up criminal prosecutions for a hypothetical Trump presidency.

“Since January 2023, we’ve launched investigations into President Biden’s border crisis, energy crisis, federal pandemic spending, federal agency telework policies, abuse of power at the FTC, the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes, the federal government’s efforts to combat CCP influence, and more,” Comer told Politico.

Those investigations, he promised, “will culminate in reports with our findings and recommended solutions to prevent government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” Expect that to be as solid as all the previous work from him and his fellow MAGA zealot Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee.

The “and more” Comer referred to includes such burning questions as the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic (which occurred under Trump) and the administration’s use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Comer has made it clear that this volley of attacks is designed to generate criminal referrals.

“I want to hold the Biden family accountable. I believe the best way to hold the Biden family accountable is through criminal referrals. We’ve proven many crimes have been committed,” Comer told Fox News’ Trey Gowdy. “If the Merrick Garland Department of Justice will not hold this family accountable, then maybe if Trump is president, a Trey Gowdy Department of Justice can hold this family accountable.”

The Comer oversight overreach extends to a threat to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt if he doesn’t turn over the audio tapes of the interview special counsel Robert Hur conducted with President Biden in his classified documents probe. That’s after the disastrous hearing Jordan and Comer held last month, intended to show that Biden is too old and doddery to be trusted as commander in chief.

That backfired when the Justice Department released the transcript of the Biden interview, which showed that Biden’s memory was not failing, and in fact Hur remarked on Biden’s “photographic understanding and, and recall of the house” in Delaware where documents were found. But Comer and Jordan—who have been given free rein by GOP leadership to continue to embarrass them all—are sure that they can find some nugget of a cover-up on the part of Garland in all of this.

Mostly, though, they want to help Trump in his revenge plots. So they’re just going to keep burrowing into the hole they’ve dug. They could quit while they’re behind, but the need to avenge Trump just won’t let them.

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