The Republican-majority Senate this week is poised to confirm three Trump judicial nominees who refuse to say they support a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on which critical modern-day civil rights are based.
The case: 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, which essentially codified that “separate but equal” is not equal. Brown strengthened the 14th Amendment, allowing it to become a key tool for civil rights advocates.
Brown v. Board of Education led to the end of legal segregation, or, as the Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund writes in The Washington Post, “legal apartheid in this country.”
(Meanwhile, on Friday, Vox reported: “65 years after Brown v. Board of Education, school segregation is getting worse.)
Another landmark Supreme Court ruling, 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges, which found that same-sex couples have the same rights and responsibilities to marriage as different-sex couples, is based in part of the 14th Amendment, strengthened by Brown v Board of Education.
So are many other civil rights cases.
And yet, the Trump administration, and its partner in advancing an extremist conservative agenda, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are pushing through many judicial nominees who, as Ifill’s op-ed suggests, “don’t support the rule of law.”
“Since April 2018, more than two dozen executive and judicial nominees have declined to endorse the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education,” Ifill writes.
“This week — one that marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark ruling that struck down legal apartheid in this country — the Senate is poised to confirm three of those judicial nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench.” She adds, calling it “simply unacceptable.”
Ifill does not name the three nominees, but one appears to be Wendy Vitter, an anti-abortion and anti-contraception extremist who is currently serving as general counsel of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. She has never served as a judge, but is nominated to become a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Vitter is also the spouse to former GOP Senator David Vitter.
Here’s a critical portion of her testimony last month in which she refuses to support Brown v. Board of Education:
The other two nominees appear to be Michael Truncale, a nominee to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, and Kenneth Lee, a nominee to the Ninth Circuit.
In the GOP-majority Senate, there is little expectation any Republican will vote against Trump’s judicial nominees.
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Pelosi Attack Video Release Leads to Criticism of Musk, Right Wingers Who ‘Trafficked in Homophobic Conspiracy Nonsense’
News organizations won the release of police body cam video that shows the horrific moment when an intruder, “without warning or hesitation,” whacked Paul Pelosi, the 82-year old husband of the now-former Speaker of the House, with a hammer, knocking him unconscious and to the ground in a pool of blood, in what prosecutors called a “near-fatal” assault.
The alleged assailant is David DePape, a purveyor of far-right conspiracy theories, including QAnon and Pizzagate, COVID-19 disinformation, along with “Big Lie” videos from My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell. He is facing multiple state and federal charges.
Depape reportedly broke into the Pelosi home, screaming, “where’s Nancy?” which some including The Atlantic’s David A. Graham have noted eerily echoes insurrectionists hunting for Nancy Pelosi on January 6, 2021, screaming, “Nancy! Nancy Pelosi!” “Where you at, Nancy?” “Where’s Nancy?”
From the moment news broke of the October 28, 2022 attack on the husband of the Speaker of the House, who told police he was there to violently attack Nancy Pelosi, those on the right, including Elon Musk, ex-president Donald Trump, and other anti-Pelosi and pro-Trump activists, quickly suggested, implied, or even claimed Depape was Paul Pelosi’s boyfriend, or that it had somehow been an anonymous sexual tryst that went bad – despite no evidence.
In the video, which should be watched only with extreme caution, police can be seen approaching the front door of the Pelosi home, the door opening, DePape holding Paul Pelosi by the wrist with one hand, and a hammer in the other. Within seconds he attacks Pelosi, who falls to the ground. Police take DePape down to the ground, and moaning can be heard, although it’s unclear if it is from Pelosi or his alleged assailant.
DePape told police he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps and hold her hostage. Since she was across the country in D.C., he ended up fracturing her husband’s skull instead.
Despite the video, the far-right refuses to let go of its false claims about Paul Pelosi, which are hurtful not only to the Pelosi family, but to the LGBTQ community.
Just days after the almost deadly attack Donald Trump falsely claimed, “You know, probably, you and I are better off not talking about it. The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out and, you know, so, it wasn’t a break in, it was a break out.”
Kara Swisher, the well-known tech journalist and opinion writer, blasted those who are ignoring the clear video evidence (not to mention the massive reporting) of the attack.
“All those who trafficked in homophobic conspiracy nonsense about this,” she wrote Friday on Twitter, “such as the owner of this increasingly shitty platform, should be ashamed,” Swisher said, referring to Elon Musk.
“They won’t be, but they are heinous & utterly lost,” she added, linking to a Washington Post article titled, “Judge releases evidence, video footage in attack on Pelosi.”
Indeed, two days after the attack, Elon Musk tweeted then later deleted the claim that “there is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” The Independent reported Musk, “attached a screenshot of a bogus report accusing Mr Pelosi of getting into a drunken fight with a male prostitute.”
Politico’s Sam Stein also highlighted Musk pushing the apparent falsehood: “The release of the Paul Pelosi video is a useful reminder that the owner of this here platform pushed conspiracy theories around the attack.”
Entrepreneur and programmer William LeGate, who won a Thiel fellowship at the age of 18, on Friday tweeted: “Now that the Paul Pelosi surveillance footage & 911 call have been made public, it’s time homophobic bigots like Elon Musk, Tucker Carlon, & the like to issue a public apology for spreading the ‘lover’s quarrel’ conspiracy theory.”
MSNBC executive producer Kyle Griffin made remarks similar to Swisher’s: “A lot of conservatives spread disgusting, nonsensical conspiracies about the Paul Pelosi attack — including Elon Musk. Some are still spreading them. Those people should be ashamed.”
Republican former U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, linking to a Politico report on the release of the video, said, “Can we please dig up every persons tweet who made fun of this or cast doubt? This was a sick attack and politicians minimizing it suck.”
Salon’s Amanda Marcotte defended the release of the video with this explanation: “Seeing folks question why it was necessary to release the footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi, which is incredibly violent and disturbing. Well, a big reason is Republicans have treated the attempted murder as a joke.”
She linked to an article she wrote in early November titled, “After the Pelosi attack, Republicans have quit pretending they oppose political violence.”
Journalist and SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile also went after Republicans.
“The Paul Pelosi video — and the surveillance video — show the danger and brutality of the attacker,” he tweeted. “Every Republican who mocked this attack is filled with nothing but hate and bile.”
NCRM is embedding the video below, from The Associated Press. We caution watching the brutal video, which is longer than many others and includes the actual attack and the moments after. Again, we urge caution.
Body camera footage shows Paul Pelosi, former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, fighting his assailant during an attack in the couple's San Francisco home last year. pic.twitter.com/yVPnGDJtsC
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 27, 2023
‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment
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.
“We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings warrants a criminal referral of former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others…” — @RepRaskin #January6thCommitteeHearings pic.twitter.com/Baa1jxsx8k
— Defend Democracy Project (@DemocracyNowUS) December 19, 2022
On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.
“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.'”
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.”
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.”
Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted
Special Counsel John 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.”
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.
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.
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.
This report has been updated to correct the name of the special counsel. It is John Durham not Robert Durham.
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