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Maggie Gallagher’s NOM Goes After Prop 8 Judges

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On Wednesday, December 1, coincidentally both World AIDS Day and the fifty-fifth anniversary of freedom fighter Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage (NOM) demanded that one of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges for next week’s upcoming Prop 8 trial give up his seat on the court. That’s right, after NOM’s successful assault on the Iowa Supreme Court judges who found Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional (NOM actually helped get them voted out of office,) Maggie Gallagher’s mysteriously-funded anti-gay anti-marriage equality organization is trying to get one of three federal judges appointed to hear the case — Judge Stephen Reinhardt — kicked off the Proposition 8 trial.

NOM’s reasoning? Judge Reinhardt’s wife is the Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California.

“Judge Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has been involved in this case on numerous accounts, and what we’ve learned from Ed Whelan’s highly informative Bench Memo yesterday, posted on National Review Online (and updated here) is that there is no way Judge Reinhardt can rightfully remain a member of this hearing without making a mockery of the federal judiciary,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM. “We are demanding that Judge Reinhardt to step down immediately and call Californians to write an official complaint to the Ninth Circuit demanding that Judge Reinhardt be disqualified.”

(Of course, we can all agree that Brian Brown’s primary concern in life is the federal judiciary not be made a mockery.)

Indeed, there are many ways to look at this situation. Is a federal judge capable of being objective, regardless of his wife’s (or, hypothetically, his husband’s) involvement in the case? Is there the possibility of the perception of a lack of impartiality? Can we judge a judge based on his or her spouse’s actions, political affiliations, or even sexual orientation?

NOM claims that “there are other circumstances that clearly call his impartiality into question,” and that “Ripston, Reinhardt’s wife, contributed money to the NO on Proposition 8 campaign. It is not known if these funds were joint or separate funds. Ripston publicly cheered the decision by the District Court to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In a media statement, she said, ‘We rejoice at today’s decision but there’s a long road ahead toward establishing true marriage equality for same-sex couples.’”

If this is true, why haven’t Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, and the rest of the NOM clan called into question the impartiality of another one of the three judges on the panel who will be hearing next week’s Prop 8 case, Norman Randy Smith? Many believe Judge Smith is a Mormon, and the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was one of the largest contributors to the “Yes On 8” Prop 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California. Judge Smith, who attended Brigham Young University and received both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from that Mormon university, was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush to the Ninth Circuit. Is that not a problem for the National Organization for Marriage too?

If not, why is religion — and participation in religion-based activities, like donating to a political campaign — not a disqualifier for the National Organization for Marriage? And why is sexual orientation? NOM heavily protested Judge Vaughn Walker, the judge on the Prop 8 federal trial, who found Prop 8 unconstitutional. Judge Walker, as it turns out, reportedly is gay.

At the time, Gallagher called Walker’s decision which found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, a “sin,” and “a slur against the American people.”

Given NOM’s “logic,” once Prop 8 (or the Defense of Marriage Act, or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,) gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas must automatically recuse himself. After all, Virginia Thomas, Judge Thomas’ wife (who recently made headlines by demanding an apology from her husband’s sexual-harassment accuser, Anita Hill,) is a board member of the anti-gay Heritage Foundation, and founded and was the president of the Tea Party group, Liberty Central. (Mrs. Thomas was recently forced to step down from the group, presumably due to the impropriety of having a sitting Supreme Court Justice’s wife making extremist headlines.)

As a result of Virginia Thomas’ stepping down from Liberty Central, the Tea Party group will now merge with the Patrick Henry Center. Adele M. Stan in Alternet writes, “Also on the Patrick Henry advisory board are two anti-gay activists: Beverly LaHaye, founder of the Concerned Women for America, and Alan Sears, head of the Alliance Defense Fund. Rounding out the advisory board is Howard Phillips, founder of the Constitution Party, which seeks to replace secular law with biblical law. Phillips is one of the founders of the religious right, and a close associate of John Birch Society President John McManus.”

Given the ideological incestuousness of the anti-gay right, is there any possibility that Justice Clarence Thomas — a known anti-gay jurist in his own right — could judge LGBT-related cases without at least the appearance of being partial?

For what it’s worth, I don’t know if Judge Reinhardt should recuse himself, or if Judge Norman Randy Smith should recuse himself, or even, as I’m not a lawyer, if Justice Clarence Thomas should when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act, or other LGBT-related cases come before him. But I do know that if Maggie Gallagher and NOM are to have any credibility with Americans and our sense of fairness, she must demand Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from any LGBT-related cases.

If there’s one thing you can count on with Maggie Gallagher, it’s that she’s rarely able to see what’s around the corner. In this game of judicial chess, which Gallagher has been all-too-keen on starting, it’s clear the end result is the that forces of equality will have taken down NOM’s queen, and are poised to capture the king. Thanks, in part, to Maggie.

Editorial note: This piece represents the first of what I hope are many that will be posted also at 365Gay.com. I am grateful to the fine folks there, especially my wonderful editor at 365Gay, Jennifer Vanasco, for inviting me and supporting me. You can read this piece there as well.

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) allegedly made a social media post appearing to praise Adolf Hitler while referring to “the Jews and Black” people, and frequently made pejorative “jokes” about being Jewish according to friends interviewed by Patch and screenshots of now-deleted social media posts.

In 2011, Santos “commented on a Facebook post with what appear to be intended-jokes about Hitler, a phrase that appears to salute Hitler and observations about ‘the Jews and black[s],’ exclusive screenshots obtained by Patch show.”

Patch, which published a screenshot of  what appear to be Santos’ comment, reports he had written this: “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black [sic] mostly lolllolol!!! Dum”

Sarah Fishkind, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a political organizer, posted video Thursday afternoon of her conversation with Rep. Santos.

“Do you have any comments about your most-recently-leaked Facebook comments about killing all Jews and Black people?” she asked, according to her post.

“I’m sorry?” Santos, appearing to be stunned, replied.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

“It’s on the news right. now,” she responded, “that you Facebook commented.”

Santos replied with a frustrated huff, then said: “That’s going to be hard to hold.” It’s unclear what he meant by that comment.

Santos ran and won his congressional seat claiming to be a gay Jewish Republican, only later to falsely claim he never said he was Jewish, but “Jew-ish.” He also lied about his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust.

Jewish groups have condemned his false claims of Jewish heritage, which include false claims that his grandparents were “Holocaust refugees.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

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John Eastman, the far-right attorney, disgraced former law professor, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ National Organization For Marriage (NOM) is facing eleven counts of alleged ethics violations, and disbarment, by California state bar regulators. Among the allegations, “intentional acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”

As The New York Times reported last fall, “after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.

So has the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which late last month referred Eastman – in the same breath as Donald Trump – to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution on criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.

READ MORE: Ginni Thomas Looking Like ‘Full Fledged Potential Co-Conspirator’ After Discovery of Emails With Eastman: Legal Expert

“The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable,” the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “Eastman has not been charged with any crimes to date.”

“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California’s statement adds.

Law & Crime’s Adam Klasfeld further explains that Cardona “intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment for alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6106, which punishes making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of ‘moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.'”

Last week The New York Times described Eastman as “a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss,” but it is his fellow Republican attorneys who delivered the judgment on his skills.

“Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world,” The Times reported. “Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.'”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

It wasn’t just Republican attorneys in the Trump White House.

During the January 6 insurrection, Eastman, certainly no silent architect, stood at the same podium Donald Trump would speak at, and delivered a fiery speech alongside Rudy Giuliani. Six days later his colleagues at Chapman University demanded his firing.

The disbarment may be the least of Eastman’s self-inflicted woes.

“He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments,” according to The Times, also adding that the “F.B.I. seized his iPhone.”

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This article was updated at 5:41 PM ET with details reported by Law & Crime, including references to “moral turpitude.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

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Special Counsel Robert Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.

“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.

The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”

But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.

It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.

In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”

READ MORE: ‘Failed Spectacularly’: Top Legal Experts Call for Ethics Probe Into Bill Barr’s Handpicked Special Counsel John Durham

In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”

The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.

“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”

Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.

“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”

BARR THREATENED NSA

The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”

According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”

The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”

DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED

“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.

Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”

The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.

So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.

The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”

So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.

“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

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