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ANALYSIS

Watergate Prosecutor Explains Why It’s Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions Who Are Lying About Trump’s Spying

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Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks explained on MSNBC Sunday that there’s no way that Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions didn’t know about the warrants to spy on reporters, Democratic members of Congress, their staff and families, and of his own White House counsel.

Barr, Sessions and former Justice Department deputy Rod Rosenstein have all denied they knew of the subpoenas to spy, but Wine-Banks explained that’s impossible because something like this would go all the way to the top.

“It may be that the person that they were investigating, had a legitimate predication for the search warrants and that they had some reason to do this,” she told MSNBC. “It could have been that he got called by somebody that they were already investigating. It doesn’t mean this is normal. It is not normal, and I think the investigation is absolutely critical, holding someone accountable is important to stop this from ever happening again. We can’t have members of Congress, the press, and the White House counsel subjected to this. And the reason Don McGahn, of course, is of concern is because he was cooperating with Mueller which made him an enemy of Donald Trump. Donald Trump was calling out [Adam] Schiff, he was calling out [Eric] Swalwell, people who were subject to this search warrant, and he certainly must have felt uncomfortable with his own White House counsel who was cooperating and telling the truth to Mueller. So, that’s why it’s of concern.”

Sessions said that he was never briefed on this seizure of records. Barr played fast and loose with the language, saying that he never discussed the leak cases with Trump. That was similar language to Barr’s refusal to answer when then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questioned him about Trump or anybody else who “asked or suggested” that he open an investigation into his political foes. Barr pretended not to know what the word “suggested” meant and refused to answer.

Host Alicia Menendez asked Wine-Banks if it was possible they didn’t have any idea what was going on.

“In my opinion, no, and let me tell you why,” said Wine-Banks. “First of all, we had [Osmar] Benvenuto, who was brought in at the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey, who was put in by Barr to replace the New York attorney who he was pushing out. He recommended Benvenuto who came in, and Benvenuto has said — in a recording, that he briefed Barr at least every other week. So, it is not credible. And if Barr didn’t know about this, then Barr is the worst manager, the worst Attorney General ever, because that is his job. The Department of Justice policy requires that there be notice and approval from a higher source. So, it’s not something that you can just subpoena a member of Congress’ records or a reporter’s records without something much more. So, it doesn’t pass what I call the ‘red face test.’ It’s like, could I stand up before a jury and say this in front of them without blushing or giggling? The answer is, no, I couldn’t.”

Apple said in a statement that the DOJ request provided “no information on the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts.”

Presumably, the court documents would have detailed who appeared in court for the warrant and there should be enough of a paper trail that some of the Justice Department officials involved were named. Barr hasn’t actually denied that he played any role in renewing the requests or that he didn’t know of the investigation. He’s only said he didn’t discuss it with Trump. It’s unclear why he would have discussed it given he wasn’t there when the investigation was launched. The gag order against Apple was renewed over and over again, which would have also required a lot of paperwork.

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ANALYSIS

‘Something That’s Under Way’: Trump Aims to Use Russian Tactic to Be ‘Installed Without Winning’ in 2024 Says Yale Historian

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Former president Donald Trump and his GOP supporters are hoping to rely on a tactic that’s common in Russia to return him to the White House in 2024, according to one prominent expert on authoritarianism.

“As someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is the ‘administrative resource,'” author and Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder told MSNBC on Friday. “What the administrative resource means in Russian is that sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out. What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing, the administrative resource.”

Snyder then explained how this mechanism works and how Trump and Republicans might apply it during the next election.

“Historically speaking, what we know about a ‘big lie’ is that because of its very scale, it’s not about truth or not truth; it’s about living in a kind of alternative reality,” Snyder added. “What we’re looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this Big Lie, actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimizes their cheating. In other words, if you talk about the Big Lie now, you’re basically promising to cheat the next time around, and that’s very concerning.”

He concluded by saying that this is a clear and present danger, not merely a theoretical one.

“The scenario for 2024 for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election,” Snyder said. “I don’t think it’s something that could happen. I think it’s something that’s under way, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?”

Watch below.

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ANALYSIS

Legal Experts Explain DOJ’s Latest Emergency Move to Try to Get SCOTUS to Block Unconstitutional Texas Abortion Ban

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On Monday the Dept. of Justice moved one step further to try to get the U.S. Supreme Court to block Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s near-total ban on abortion, which legal experts and now the DOJ itself say is unconstitutional.

“For half a century, this Court has held that ‘a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,'” DOJ’s 39-page emergency filing signed by Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher reads.

DOJ is asking SCOTUS to “vacate” the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal’s stay on a lower court’s ruling injunction that effectively stopped the law, known as SB 8, from going into effect.

But perhaps the most important part, as Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman, and others point to, is that DOJ is asking the Supreme Court to consider taking up the Texas law “this Term,” rather than using the highly-criticized shadow docket to enact its will.

Reuters’ U.S. Supreme Court reporter Lawrence Hurley notes that the “appeals court decision that allowed the law to be enforced ‘enables Texas’s ongoing nullification of this Court’s precedents and its citizens’ constitutional rights,’ the Justice Department says.”

“The Texas law ‘defies’ the Supreme Court’s abortion precedents by ‘banning abortion long before viability — indeed, before many women even realize they are pregnant,’ the filing says,” Hurley adds.

He adds:

Rewire News Group’s Senior Editor of Law & Policy, Imani Gandy adds:

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ANALYSIS

MSNBC’s Morning Joe Sounds Alarm Over GOP’s ‘Clear Intent’ to Steal the 2024 Election for Trump

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sounded the alarm over Donald Trump’s continued election lies.

The twice-impeached one-term president falsely claimed during a Georgia rally that the Arizona “audit” showed he had won and called on other states to conduct similar partisan probes to justify his lies about fraud — and the “Morning Joe” host explained how Trump was setting the stage to steal the 2024 election.

“Why are they changing election laws in states where Donald Trump won?” Scarborough said. “They’re afraid in 2024 he may not do as well, it may get closer and they may need to steal the election. For those of you, again, when you hear about voting reforms, you hear about a lot of the challenges that this country and this democracy is facing, it’s so important to look at the two phases these Trump-friendly states are doing.”

“The first phase, of course, is putting up roadblocks to prevent [voting], especially for Black voters and other people of color, but even more frightening than that for all Americans is the fact that they’re trying to change the rules on the counting of the votes, changing one state legislature after another in Trump-friendly territory is trying to make it so state legislatures can throw out your vote,” Scarborough added. “If you don’t vote for Donald Trump, if they don’t like what your community does or your precinct does or what your state does, these Republican legislatures that are Trumpists are now passing legislation that takes the power away from election officials and takes the power away from secretaries of state and governors.”

Scarborough warned that Trump and his conspiracy theories posed a direct threat to democracy, and he called on Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster and pass legislation to save it over Republican objections.

“Democrats have the votes to actually pass legislation that will stop state legislators from stealing the election — from stealing the election — their intent, my good friend Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, their intent is to steal the election,” Scarborough said. “You can see the clear intent written on that legislation. If Mitch McConnell believes there should be an exemption for the filibuster for one of the most important things the Senate does, and that is confirming Supreme Court justices, there can’t be a filibuster for saving American democracy for voting rights laws for civil rights laws?”

“I guess the question in Washington has been for some time now, will the Democratic Party have the courage to count the 50 to stop these schemes for stealing elections and destroying American democracy?” he added. “Will they have the courage to count the 50 and do what Republicans would do in a New York second?”

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