Concerned About Qualifications, Senate Democrats to Delay, Stall Confirmation of Trump Cabinet Picks
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Top Senate Democrats concerned about the qualifications of Donald Trump’s picks for his cabinet and other administration jobs that require Senate confirmation are preparing to stall and delay hearings and votes as long as they can. Politico reports the upcoming roadblocks are also in part, payback for the Republicans’ refusal to even hold a single hearing on Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack ObamaÂ March 16, 2016, 265 days ago.
“Democrats to give Trump Cabinet picks the Garland treatment,” Politico reports. “Delay tactics could sap momentum from the president’s first 100 days.”
“Democrats could conceivably force up to 30 hours of debate for each Cabinet nominee, which would be highly disruptive for a GOP Senate that usually works limited hours but has big ambitions for next year,” Politico adds. “The minority could also stymie lower-level nominees and potentially keep the Senate focused on executive confirmations for weeks as Trump assumes the presidency and congressional Republicans try to capitalize on their political momentum.”
While the Senate could usher through soon-to-be President Donald Trump’s picks on just a voice vote, Senate Democrats are promising to require lengthy hearings and what are called recorded votes, where a record of how each Senator votes is kept.
â€œThere should be recorded votes, in my view, on every one of the presidentâ€™s Cabinet nominees,â€ Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told Politico. â€œHaving all of these hearings before the inaugural in a thorough and fair fashion seems very difficult to do.â€
â€œIâ€™ve heard no conversations about the kind of obstruction that Mitch McConnell specialized in,â€ said Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, who Politico calls “endangered.”Â â€œBut there may be some where there are real questions about their qualifications and some of the things in their backgrounds,â€ she noted.
â€œTheyâ€™ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. Weâ€™re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?â€ Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) asked rhetorically. â€œItâ€™s not obstruction, itâ€™s not partisan, itâ€™s just a duty to find out what theyâ€™d do in these jobs.â€
UPDATE:Â Twitter Explodes as Trump Officially Announces Ben Carson as Housing and Urban Development Nominee
“I donâ€™t want to needlessly prevent President Trump from being successful,â€ Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said. â€œBut accelerating the confirmation of unacceptable candidates who have views that are outside the mainstream is not constructive.â€
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who will be the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress, as Talking Points Memo notes, told Politico that â€œpast is present, and what goes around comes around.”
Images: Official Senate portraits, via WikimediaÂ
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Pence Presidential Launch Mocked for Suggesting Drag Queens Are Assaulting ‘American Values’ – With No Mention of Trump
Former Trump vice president Mike Pence on Wednesday officially launched his 2024 campaign for the White House, in a lengthy, polished video carefully constructed to position himself as the torch-bearer of American values, including Christian nationalism, while conveniently all but ignoring his four-plus years spent in service to Donald Trump, who recently was held liable by a jury for sexual abuse, is currently under a 34-count state felony indictment, and expected to soon be facing a slew of federal and state charges amid several other investigations.
“I believe in the American people, and I have faith God is not done with America yet,” Pence tweeted atop his campaign video. “Together, we can bring this Country back, and the best days for the Greatest Nation on Earth are yet to come!”
The well-known presidential historian Michael Beschloss, author of ten books, noted that it will “not be easy for a VP to separate himself from the President he served for four years.”
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And he made this critical observation: Pence’s “just-released announcement video cites ‘drag queens’ and Biden-Harris but not a single mention or image of You-Know-Who,” referring to Donald Trump.
In fact, in Pence’s video (below), he falsely claims, “President Joe Biden and the radical left have weakened America at home and abroad.”
“The American dream is being crushed under runaway inflation. Wages are dropping, recession is looming. Our southern border is under siege.”
“And the enemies of freedom are on the march around the world,” Pence continues.
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“And worse still, timeless American values are under assault as never before,” Pence cries.
As he says those words, the video shows three frames that appear to be clipped from TV news reports. One reads, “VA Parents Push Back Against Critical Race Theory,” one reads, “Controversy Over Female Trans Swimmer,” and the last one reads, “Drag Queens Storm Faith-Based Story Hour in AR.”
Journalist Grace Panetta offered a similar observation, tweeting, “Former VP Mike Pence’s presidential announcement video features faith imagery and headlines about trans athletes and drag queens, but no obvious references to abortion, to which he is staunchly opposed.”
Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former Obama cabinet secretary Julián Castro, went one step further.
“In his announcement,” Hackett writes, “Mike Pence says ‘timeless American values are under assault’ as headlines about drag shows and trans athletes play. But nothing about the armed Trump mob who tried to hang him at the Capitol.”
Watch Pence’s video below or at this link.
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Fox News’ Sean Hannity Whines Charging Trump With ‘Obscure’ Obstruction Is Unfair
Fox News host Sean Hannity suggested on Tuesday’s edition of his radio show that the possibility of former President Donald Trump getting charged with obstruction of justice is unfair because President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton never had their homes “raided” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“So you know, and here’s the other problem, you know, with top secret classified documents. So what they’re doing here is they’re not going to go after what they thought was the crime. Because they didn’t raid Hillary Clinton’s residences. They didn’t raid Joe Biden’s four places where he had top secret classified information. No,” Hannity complained.
Both Clinton and Biden cooperated with federal investigators. Refusing to do so, or impeding their work, is considered obstruction, which is a felony.
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“So they’ll look to something obscure,” Hannity continued. “‘Well, as a result of the investigation, it is alleged that Donald Trump obstructed justice’ — blah blah blah blah blah. Which, by the way, I would argue, legally, he doesn’t have any obligation to cooperate with, and nor can anyone give a real definition of whether or not, you know, exactly how one president is supposed to declassify the materials anyway.”
Trump has claimed that he declassified documents psychically and that they automatically had that status once he took them from the White House. Those statements are not just false — Trump was recorded acknowledging the limits to his power to declassify certain items, such as war plans for an attack on Iran.
Hannity then said that “it’s not going to have anything to do with the documents themselves, except it’ll be a process crime. That is my prediction.”
There are many indicators that Trump could facing an espionage charge (among a litant of others), as recently highlighted by experts.
READ MORE: ‘Nihilistic moron’ Trump heading for another indictment: George Conway
“They’re gonna go down the process crime route and they won’t apply the same standards to Joe, just like they didn’t apply the same standards to the Hillary, and whatever bone they throw you on Hunter is the low-hanging fruit that does not get to the heart of the family business with a multitude of countries that they were paid a fortune from,” Hannity added. “And we still haven’t gotten the final numbers, and clearly, Hunter Biden with no experience was leading up the effort and implicates his own father. They’re gonna stay as far away from the real crux of what legality would impact Joe Biden and just go after Donald Trump, to just continue their policies of politicizing or criminalizing political differences.”
Listen below via Media Matters for America or at this link.
READ MORE: Ex-DOJ official: Trump keeping ‘war plans’ makes it ‘inconceivable’ that he will escape indictment
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
Double Bombshell: Mark Meadows and Trump’s Secret Service Agents Have Testified, NYT Reports
The New York Times late Tuesday afternoon published two separate reports revealing previously unknown details from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s double-pronged investigation into Donald Trump’s likely unlawful actions, including that investigators have interviewed or subpoenaed approximately two dozen people who are among those who know the ex-president best: Mark Meadows, Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff, and “more than 20” of the ex-president’s Secret Service agents.
The Times, pointing to the “surprise revelation” that a federal grand jury has been convened in Florida, reports Meadows has testified before the grand jury, presumably in Washington, D.C. The 20 or more members of the ex-president’s Secret Service detail have either testified before the D.C. grand jury or been subpoenaed to do so.
Meadows is a “key witness” who allegedly was intimately aware or involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he is believed to also have knowledge of the ex-president’s likely unlawful handling of classified and top secret documents.
Suggesting there could be “unknown complexities” with the revelation of a Florida grand jury, The Times reports Special Counsel Jack Smith’s D.C. grand jury appears to have stopped hearing testimony recently from witnesses, while the one in the Sunshine State “began hearing evidence last month,” but has seen “only a handful of witnesses.”
READ MORE: Jim Jordan Demands Merrick Garland Hand Over Documents Authorizing Special Counsel’s Trump Investigation
Based on “people familiar with the matter,” The Times explains, “if both grand juries are in operation, it suggests that prosecutors are considering bringing charges in both Washington and Florida. It is possible that Mr. Trump could be charged in one jurisdiction while other people involved in the case are charged in the other.”
“But if only the Florida grand jury is currently hearing testimony, it suggests two possibilities,” The Times explains. “One is that the investigation in Washington is largely complete and that prosecutors are now poised to make a decision about bringing charges there while still weighing other potential indictments in Florida.”
Other possibilities are that the Special Counsel believes Florida is the proper venue to file charges against Trump, in the documents probe, or even that the Florida grand jury was convened to accommodate “local witnesses.”
But former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Harry Litman told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace Tuesday that if the Special Counsel files charges in the wrong venue, the entire case “can go away” and cannot be retried.
READ MORE: Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’
“I think Smith has made all his decisions,” Litman added. “The fact that there was this meeting yesterday, only happens when everything’s final. I think there’s a draft indictment and everything, but a very important strategic decision is venue, and I think that they’re pursuing something separate in the Southern District of Florida.”
Meanwhile, The Times notes that “Mr. Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.” Apparently, even Trump has “at times asked aides questions about how Mr. Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, played coy when asked about his client’s possible grand jury testimony. Terwilliger told The Times, “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”
In addition to his knowledge, if not participation in efforts to overturn the election, and his knowledge of Trump’s mishandling and possible attempts to obstruct the Dept. of Justice’s investigation into the classified documents, Meadows “tangentially” is involved in a meeting that Special Counsel Smith now has recorded audio of. Although he was not present, that meeting was about Meadows’ book. In the audio, Trump allegedly made clear he knew the highly-classified Pentagon document had not been declassified, shattering his stated defense, and he allegedly said he wanted to share it, which could lead to more legal troubles for him.
Andrew Weissmann, a former top DOJ official, tweeted in response to the Times’ story on Meadows, “Did he plead or was he given immunity?”
Professor of law at NYU Law, Ryan Goodman, a former Special Counsel for the Dept. of Defense, served up this equation:
“Put these 2 things together and what do you have? 1) Meadows ‘has testified before a federal grand jury…in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office’! 2) Meadow’s actions seem to be kept secret from Trump team! Answer: A cooperator?”
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