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Battle Begins: GOP Leaders Draw Line In Sand – Vow No SCOTUS Nominee Hearing

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Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Judiciary Chair All Promise Obstruction

Within minutes of President Barack Obama announcing his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, top Republican leaders in the House and Senate were ready with statements of obstruction vowing to refuse to hold any confirmation hearings.

EARLIER: Obama Chooses Moderate Judge Merrick Garland as Supreme Court Nominee

“This has never been about who the nominee is,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in a statement. “It is about a basic principle. Under our Constitution, the president has every right to make this nomination, and the Senate has every right not to confirm a nominee. I fully support Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley’s decision not to move forward with the confirmation process. We should let the American people decide the direction of the court.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in addition to a tweet storm, had strong words on his website:

“The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the Court’s direction,” Sen. McConnell said in his statement.

“It is a President’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a President and withhold its consent.

“As Chairman Grassley and I declared weeks ago, and reiterated personally to President Obama, the Senate will continue to observe the Biden Rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision.

“The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

There is, of course, no such thing as a “Biden Rule.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley issued a lengthy statement, both attacking the President’s decision-making process and insisting he will not hold any hearings, repeating the GOP meme, “give the people a voice.”

“Nowhere in the Constitution does it describe how the Senate should either provide its consent or withhold its consent,” Sen. Grassley said in his statement.

“Today the President has exercised his constitutional authority.  A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged contests.  As Vice President Biden previously said, it’s a political cauldron to avoid.  Judge Bork learned even after being unanimously confirmed for a circuit court judgeship, the confirmation process for the Supreme Court is unlike any other.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee:

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey got creative:

Arizona Sen. John McCain:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee:

 

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Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report

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The re-arrest of Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who allegedly may have provided House Republicans with Kremlin propaganda that was the basis for their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and attack his son Hunter, raised some eyebrows on Thursday.

Smirnov, once considered House Republicans’ Jim Comer and Jim Jordan’s star witness, was re-arrested even after a magistrate judge ordered him released, and at his attorneys’ offices, raising eyebrows from even national security experts, insisting there had better be a good reason for it.

Now, according to a noted legal expert, it appears there was.

“A California judge seems to be suggesting [Smirnov’s] lawyers are complicit in his efforts to flee, in a remarkable line ordering detention for the FBI source whose lies propelled Biden impeachment efforts,” writes professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney.

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II in his order wrote on Thursday: “It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

After detailing Smirnov’s arrest and release, Judge Wright ordered his re-arrest, adding: “The U.S. Marshal Service is advised there is to be no deviation from this Order.”

Just Security’s Adam Klasfeld calls Judge Wright’s order “wild,” and adds that Smirnoff’s lawyers released “a terse statement about the extraordinary order.”

“They did not respond to questions about the language in the judge’s order suggesting a ‘likely’ aim to ‘facilitate’ their client ‘absconding from the United States.'”

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Vaccine-Laced Lettuce and Tomatoes? Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Worried

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A Tennessee Republican state lawmaker says he’s worried Tennesseans might overdose on vaccines if they eat too many tomatoes.

State Rep. Scott Cepicky claims vaccines can already be added to foods like lettuce and tomatoes, and to tobacco products, so he has filed legislation to require grocery store items containing vaccines to be labeled.

“University of California Riverside has already perfected the ability to put human vaccines into our lettuce right now,” Rep. Cepicky told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday while discussing his legislation. “Also, tomatoes, has the ability to do that also per UC Berkeley. And then big tobacco, RJ Reynolds and stuff has perfected the ability to put a human vaccine in tobacco products.”

NCRM could find no evidence supporting his claims, although researchers starting in 2021 were studying if it is possible to do so.

Cepicky, who has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), warned, “there is no law, deeming those that when you go into a grocery store, you should know as a consumer, this head of lettuce is a head of lettuce. The head of lettuce right next week could contain a vaccine in it. All we’re saying is if it does have the vaccine in it, make sure it’s listed as a pharmaceutical so people can get the proper dosage.”

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

Facing some pushback from Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Cepicky went on to say, “This is more of a consumer protection bill right here, is to make sure that if you’re going in to buy tomatoes, and there’s a polio vaccine in there, that you are aware of what you’re buying has a polio vaccine. The problem you have is if it’s not treated as a pharmaceutical, being the size and difference between you and me, how many tomatoes do I have to eat to get the proper dosage versus how many tomatoes that you have to eat? And if you eat too many do you get a overdose?”

Asked if his legislation was necessity, Cepicky added, “Well, if you’d have a child that is allergic to a certain vaccine, and it’s not disclosed, when you go to buy that, that vegetable, whatever it is, and your child dies from that, I would think that having place is going to make sure that that is treated as a pharmaceutical so that the consumers know exactly what they’re buying.”

Anti-vaxers gained a foothold during the COVID pandemic, spreading false claims about vaccines. Last year the fact-checking website Snopes deemed it “false” that “mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines has entered the food supply via genetically modified plants bred to contain it or through the consumption of vaccinated livestock.”

“Claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines ‘in your salad‘ have persisted on the internet and recirculated due to misreadings or misinterpretations of several press releases or scientific research,” Snopes added, “Mike Flynn, during a September 2021 podcast appearance, referenced this research, describing it as ‘putting the vaccine in salad dressing.'”

READ MORE: Kremlin Infiltration of Congress Alleged by Ex-Trump Prosecutor: Republicans ‘Duped or in on It’

Flynn, the former Trump U.S. national security advisor, is a far-right Christian nationalist and Trump MAGA activist.

Tennessee lawmakers voted to move Rep. Capicky’s forward.

Watch Rep. Capicky’s remarks below or at this link.

 

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‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

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Lawyers for Donald Trump late Thursday night launched a multi-pronged effort to toss out of court Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of the ex-president in the classified documents case, which includes charges under the Espionage Act. Many legal experts were stunned, not only by the move, but by the shallowness of the arguments.

The motions will be decided by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by then-President Donald Trump during his last year in office.

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers made a barrage of legal arguments in seeking to circumvent a criminal case that many legal experts consider the most ironclad of the four against him,” The New York Times reported just past midnight, observing that some of the claims presented by attorneys for the indicted ex-president “tested the bounds of credulity or clashed with prior court rulings.”

“They attacked the law he is accused of violating, questioned the legality of the special counsel prosecuting him and argued that he is shielded from prosecution by presidential immunity,” the Times reported, adding that many of the arguments “appeared designed to delay the case from moving toward trial, a strategy that Mr. Trump has pursued in all of the criminal proceedings he is facing.”

READ MORE: ‘Reached His Limits’: Engoron ‘Brings the Hammer Down’ on Trump Attorney

Politico late Friday morning added the seven different motions filed were “a grab bag of arguments that the charges are legally faulty, that prosecutors have targeted him for political reasons and that the special counsel spearheading the case had no legal authority to bring it.”

Nearly two weeks ago Trump, citing his claim of “presidential immunity,” asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay proceedings in Special Counsel Smith’s other court case against him, the election interference trial. The Court agreed to take up the case but has not released its decision.

Now, citing the same or similar arguments, Trump is plowing forward.

“Trump claims that he designated the classified materials ‘personal’ and he took his ‘personal records’ to Mar-a-Lago with him,” MSNBC legal contributor Katie Phang reported Thursday night.

Phang points to this section, the opening of Trump’s motion:

“President Donald J. Trump respectfully submits this motion seeking dismissal of Counts 1 through 32 on the basis of presidential immunity, as these charges stem directly from official acts by President Trump while in office,” it reads. “Specifically, President Trump is immune from prosecution on Counts 1 through 32 because the charges turn on his alleged decision to designate records as personal under the Presidential Records Act (‘PRA’) and to cause the records to be moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, President Trump made this decision while he was still in office. The alleged decision was an official act, and as such is subject to presidential immunity.”

READ MORE: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Biden Campaign Blasts Trump Christian Nationalism Plans

After the FBI executed a legal search warrant of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort in 2022, agents retrieved “11 sets of classified documents, including some marked as top secret and meant to be only available in special government facilities,” The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

The federal government, in total, has recovered from Trump “more than 300 classified documents” with classified markings, totaling over 700 pages, The New York Times reported in August of 2022.

“Material about nuclear weapons is especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials, experts said,” The Washington Post also reported at the time. “Publicizing details about U.S. weapons could provide an intelligence road map to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems. And other countries might view exposing their nuclear secrets as a threat, experts said.”

Back in October, NBC News reported, Trump “allegedly shared sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with an Australian billionaire who is a member of his Mar-a-Lago club.”

Meanwhile, legal experts were stunned by Trump’s attorneys’ overnight motion to toss the case.

“This motion is insultingly stupid,” wrote national security attorney Brad Moss. “Trump is arguing he designated all these highly classified records as PERSONAL records, and that he therefore had the right to keep them. Even if that was a plausible argument, this is a motion to dismiss: he can’t introduce news facts.”

Former U.S. Ambassador and former Obama “Ethics Czar” Norm Eisen, an attorney and CNN legal analyst, Thursday night wrote, “I just finished reading Trump’s absolute immunity motion in the MAL [Mar-a-Lago] docs case.”

“If this were allowed, POTUS could declassify all of our most sensitive secrets when leaving office & sell them to Putin 5 minutes later,” he noted, adding: “As bad as Seal Team 6 hypo[thesis] in 1/6 case.”

In a more in-depth examination, Moss explained, “If Trump’s immunity arguments in the DC and FL cases actually succeed, Joe Biden can do the following: 1) declare Trump a threat to election integrity and have him imprisoned immediately, at a minimum, 2) declare the entire Trump Org a threat to national security and seize all of its assets.”

He continues: “3) cancel the election, 4) if, by some chance, he is forced out of office, he can walk out of the White House with 15 moving vans full of every classified secret he wants and sell them to the highest bidder. And no one could do anything to prosecute him for any of it. He can pardon anyone he wants while in office and who helped him commit any illegal act he could think of to do #1-#3, and he can then claim immunity for himself if he is later indicted.”

READ MORE: MAGA Is a ‘Russian Intel Op’: Experts Respond to Allegation GOP Using Kremlin Propaganda

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