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ANALYSIS

Here’s How Republicans Accidentally Paved the Way for Mueller’s Findings to Be Released — and Even Dumped Online

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Republicans set the stage — in 2016 — for the eventual release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence.

When the FBI decided during the election campaign not to charge Hillary Clinton over her email handling, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) ordered investigators to turn over thousands of documents they had turned up during the probe, wrote watchdog lawyer Molly Claflin for The Daily Beast.

“It’s ‘trust, but verify’ is how it works,” Chaffetz told Claflin. “You don’t get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all.”

At the time, Chaffetz was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Claflin was counsel to senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The FBI did turn over the Clinton investigation findings, including classified records and emails found on her private server, and the FBI also turned over classified surveillance warrants related to the Trump-Russia probe last year — when congressional Republicans demanded them.

“Rather than trust law enforcement agencies to make apolitical investigative decisions, Republicans determined that Congress’ oversight role includes checking the law enforcement agencies’ work,” Claflin said. “Once the FBI agreed, and released the underlying evidence considered in its law enforcement investigation to the legislative branch, the FBI changed the rules for its dealings with Congress.”

“That genie will not go back in the bottle,” she added.

Claflin, who now serves as chief oversight counsel for the American Oversight government watchdog organization, said the FBI publicly posted online summaries of all interviews conducted in the Clinton email probe, so there’s no reason the same cannot be done in its investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.

“Anything less will send the signal that the FBI and the Justice Department will respond to document requests based on the party that makes them,” she said, “rather than based on any theory of consistency or serving the public interest.”

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ANALYSIS

Trump’s Latest Endorsement? A White Christian Nationalist Xenophobic Strongman

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Donald Trump recently has thrown the GOP into disarray, endorsing far right wing extremists who are opposed by Republican Party leadership, but his latest move is more an endorsement of his own political philosophy – and a statement about how he would govern if he becomes president again.

On Monday Trump, the one term, twice-impeached, insurrectionist former president who is under investigation by multiple legal authorities, endorsed authoritarian Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary.

Calling Orbán the “American right’s favorite strongman,” VOX in 2020 reported he “has given significant state support to Hungary’s churches, officially labeling his government a ‘Christian democracy.’ He provided generous subsidies to families in an effort to get Hungarian women to stay at home and have more babies. He launched a legal assault on progressive social ideals, prohibiting the teaching of gender studies in Hungarian universities and banning transgender people from legally identifying as anything other than their biological sex at birth.”

There’s more.

“After winning Hungary’s 2010 election, the prime minister systematically dismantled the country’s democracy — undermining the basic fairness of elections, packing the courts with cronies, and taking control of more than 90 percent of the country’s media outlets.”

And as NPR reported in 2019 when Trump hosted Orbán in the White House, the Hungarian authoritarian said: “We must state that we do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed: we do not want our own colour, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others. We do not want this. We do not want that at all. We do not want to be a diverse country.”

Last year Orbán was slammed for a “racist and xenophobic” speech, likening it to “fascist, Nazi, violent and genocidal ideologies that led to the Holocaust.”

Does all this sound familiar?

“Viktor Orbán of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people,” Trump said in a statement Monday, The Washington Post reports. “He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming Election. He is a strong leader and respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”

Ben Rhodes, the former Obama White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, responded to the Trump endorsement, saying “we aren’t headed for a Hungary model – we are almost there.”

 

 

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ANALYSIS

Jan 6. Committee Report on Mark Meadows Is a ‘Blueprint of a Coup’: WaPo Columnist

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Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent is serving up a damning look at former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows‘ refusal to give a deposition before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, saying it appears he is the one person who can testify to “how Trump responded to all these repeated demands that he call off the violent assault.”

Late Sunday night the Committee released its 51-page report that outlines its case against Meadows, including the bombshell that on Jan. 5 Meadows sent an email saying the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.” The House will vote on sending the report to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution of Meadows for criminal contempt of Congress. The vote is expected to be successful.

Sargent says the “committee’s report on Mark Meadows is extraordinary — it’s a detailed blueprint of a coup. Notably, it shows Meadows can testify to Trump’s reaction to the violence as it unfolded. This is a huge element of what he’s covering up.” He adds that it “blows a big hole in Meadows’s pleasing little propaganda piece.”

He calls Meadows’ book “almost comically sanitized,”

“In his telling,” Sargent adds, “the rioters attacked the Capitol with ‘absolutely no urging’ from Trump, and the notion that Trump sought to incite them to disrupt his loss is purely an invention of the ‘Fake News.'”

In a passage that would embarrass a North Korea disinformation specialist, Meadows writes that the mob assault left Trump “mortified.” But, Meadows piously insists, this didn’t distract Trump from focusing only on the welfare of the country in his final days as president, a noble and selfless impulse that “never wavered.”

Sargent says the “whole coup blueprint is right there in black and white. And so is the scope and reach of what Meadows and others stonewalling the Jan. 6 committee are so eager to cover up. But we’ve now learned the committee has extensive receipts, and soon enough, we’ll see all of them.”

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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ANALYSIS

Morning Joe: Trump ‘Absolutely Skewered’ by Appeals Court in ‘Detailed, Specific and Unanimous’ Ruling

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An appeals court rejected Donald Trump’s bid to keep his White House documents shielded from the House select committee, and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said the ruling was especially “harsh” to the twice-impeached one-term president’s efforts to undo his election loss.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld a lower court’s opinion that held President Joe Biden’s decision to allow the documents’ release, and the the “Morning Joe” host noted that the three-judge panel bluntly linked Trump to the Jan. 6 insurrection in their 68-page ruling.

“It’s a long document, also a very harsh document when you look at what the court says,” Scarborough said. “Donald Trump is absolutely skewered and this claim of executive privilege just tossed aside with utter contempt by, unanimously, by the three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit. Even though we know what the truth is, it’s so obvious to anyone who wasn’t in that bubble and who don’t believe the lies and the conspiracy theories and the gaslighting. It’s still quite striking when you read words like those written yesterday by the D.c. Circuit just calling this what it was.”

RELATED: Appeals court: ‘There is a direct linkage’ between Trump and Capitol riots

“Looking again a little closer at the D.C. Circuit’s decision, they say, ‘Lives were lost, blood was shed; portions of the Capitol building were badly damaged; and the lives of members of the House and Senate, as well as aides, staffers, and others who were working in the building, were endangered,'” he added. “‘There is directly linkage between the former president and the events on that day’ — a harsh condemnation.”

Trump may appeal that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but co-host Willie Geist said his case appears weak.

“It was, as you say, detailed, specific and unanimous from this panel,” Geist said. “We’ll see what happens next with a possible appeal, but for now Donald Trump has to turn over whatever documents he has.”

Image: DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro 4
 

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