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COMMENTARY

Republicans Just Filibustered a Critical Voting Rights Bill. Here’s Why Everyone Is Blaming Joe Manchin.

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Minutes ago Senate Republicans filibustered critical voting rights legislation – actually, filibustered debate on voting rights legislation. They refused to even allow debate on protecting the most important, most critical element of a democracy: the right and the ability to vote.

“If there is anything worthy of the Senate’s attention, if there’s any issue that merits debate on this floor, it is protecting our democracy from the forces that are trying to unravel it from the inside out,” Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after Republicans blocked debate on the bill.

While Republicans absolutely should be and are being held accountable, many on social media are blaming Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) for the failure to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Why?

Back in May Sen. Manchin insisted he could get Republicans to come to the table, to act in good faith, to do the right thing when it counted.

He insisted the filibuster had to be protected at all costs, and he’s steadfastly refused to budge on eliminating it. Even as Republicans in state after state after state enact anti-democratic legislation designed to make it harder and harder for people, especially minorities, to vote.

In short, he failed.

Not a single Republican crossed the aisle – much less ten to get the necessary 60 votes – not even to allow debate on protecting voting rights.

And now many are blaming Manchin.

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COMMENTARY

Trump’s Weaponization of DOJ Notice to Pick Up His Passports Negates Claim He Will ‘Do Whatever’ to Tamp Down Anger

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One week after the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago mansion Donald Trump on Monday made what appear to be false allegations against the FBI, claiming the Bureau “stole” his passports in “an assault on a political opponent.” That same day he gave an interview to Fox News repeatedly mentioning the “anger” he says stretches across the country over federal agents’ execution of a lawful search warrant and confiscation of 20 cartons of materials that include highly-classified documents, while wrapping that in an offer to “do whatever” to help.

Monday evening Politico reported that FBI agents had taken Trump’s passports – swept them up unintentionally. The passports were found by a “filter team” that goes through everything that was confiscated to ensure items like privileged attorney-client communications are not assessed or included as part of their investigation.

The FBI notified Trump’s attorneys they had the passports, telling them they could pick them up.

RELATED: Rumors Swirl as ‘Flight Risk’ Trump Claims FBI Took His ‘Three Passports’ – He Can Still ‘Ask for Asylum’

“So Trump team now publicizing this email,” from the Dept. of Justice, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, “which shows: 1) DOJ obtained three passports (two expired, not one, as Trump said) and alerted Trump lawyers 2) They were recovered by a filter team, which weeds out privileged info. 3) Trump publicized this after DOJ offered them back.”

“Wow!” Trump declared on his Truth Social social media platform, after DOJ notified his lawyers and told them to pick up the passports. “In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”

Meanwhile, on Monday in an exclusive Fox News interview, which appeared to be more a transcription of a statement into interview form with no questions asked and no pushback offered, Trump said he was willing to “do whatever” to help tamp down the anger across the country, anger he and his allies have been fueling.

The Dept. of Justice did not publicize the raid on Mar-a-Lago to the press, Trump did. FBI agents did not even wear the usual blue and yellow outerwear and shirts that say “FBI” when executing the search warrant, and we now know they called ahead to notify Secret Service they were coming.

READ MORE: Does Trump Still Have Classified Docs? DOJ May Think So After Asking Judge to Keep Affidavit Sealed Former Fed Says

“Former President Trump said he ‘will do whatever’ he can ‘to help the country,’” Fox News said in its interview Monday, “after the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago home last week, telling Fox News Digital that the ‘temperature has to be brought down,’ while stressing that the American people are ‘not going to stand for another scam.’”

“The country is in a very dangerous position,” Trump told Fox News. “There is tremendous anger, like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one—years of scams and witch hunts, and now this.”

“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country—at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Trump repeated. “It is a very dangerous time for our country.”

Fox News also reported that “Trump said he had his representatives reach out to the Justice Department to offer to help amid outrage over the FBI’s unprecedented raid on his private residence last week,” and he “told Fox News that his team ‘has not heard yet’ from the Justice Department on whether they will accept his offer for help.”

“People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump added again. “Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”

Peter Strzok, former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, notes: “And it all resolves in a nothingburger. Small interesting note, the DOJ email confirms an expected filter team: that filter agents – not the investigative team – seized the passports. More proof FBI/DOJ are taking extra care to avoid privileged material.”

If Trump were interested in doing “whatever” he can do “to help the country,” why falsely claim the FBI “stole my three Passports” and call it an “assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country”?

Civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill answers that question.

“So while saying that the ‘temperature needs to be lowered,’ Trump was elevating the temperature by accusing the DOJ on social media of ‘stealing’ his passports, when in fact DOJ lawyers are the ones who alerted Trump that they had the passports & had already returned them,” Ifill wrote on Twitter. “Awful,” she added.

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COMMENTARY

Garland’s ‘Beautiful Chess Move’ Praised as Judge Sets Expedited Schedule to Unseal Warrant

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A federal judge has given Donald Trump until Friday at 3 PM ET to oppose the Dept. of Justice’s request to unseal the search warrant FBI agents used to enter Mar-a-Lago and confiscate possibly thousands of items including classified documents.

Many are cheering the Attorney General Merrick Garland who frequently has been the target of frustration on the left for appearing to not be acting expeditiously against Trump.

In what some have called a “beautiful chess move,” Attorney General Garland announced Thursday afternoon he has asked a federal judge to unseal the search warrant after Trump and his allies expressed outrage over the FBI’s Monday raid, and have been spreading agents planted evidence, a conspiracy theory that first appeared on social media but quickly made it to Fox News’ airwaves.

READ MORE: Watch: Merrick Garland Calls Trump’s Bluff, Strikes Back at MAGA World’s False Claims in Mar-a-Lago Raid

Many on the right have demanded Garland have the warrant unsealed.

Should Trump not oppose the unsealing the American people will likely be able to see what laws DOJ believes the former president violated.

Noted attorney Ken White on Twitter wrote: “By the way Trump could file something TODAY saying he doesn’t oppose unsealing the warrant and it would be public probably by tomorrow. Or he could just release his copy.”

READ MORE: Nearly Half the Country Supports FBI Mar-a-Lago Search – Only Republicans Are Opposed, New Poll Shows

The fact that the former president has not released his copy of the search warrant, which “is his right” as Garland noted Thursday, makes it more likely he will oppose DOJ’s motion to unseal.

One important note for those expecting an avalanche of information should the federal judge unseal the warrant.

“DOJ has asked to unseal the warrant and ‘Attachments A & B.’ Best I can tell from examples of recent federal search warrants, these attachments will describe the ‘property to be searched’ and the ‘particular items to be seized’ but will NOT include the affidavit of probable cause,” writes Harvard Law professor of criminal law and procedure Andrew Crespo.

“The government is not yet seeking to release what is known as the affidavit in support of the warrant,” The New York Times confirms, “a document that lays out all sorts of telling details about the larger investigation of Mr. Trump — chief among them the reasons prosecutors believed there was probable cause that evidence of a crime could be found at Mar-a-Lago.”

Many online are cheering Attorney General Garland’s decision to go head to head with Trump.

The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo writes, “merrick garland is out here playing 5d chess while trump & his team play checkers.”

USA Today opinion columnist Michael J. Stern summed up Garland’s action today:

“Merrick Garland to Trump: I’m going to let the world see the gobs of evidence we have that led to the search warrant…unless you object…in which case you will be signaling to the world that you have gobs to hide.”

This article has been updated with reporting from The New York Times.

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COMMENTARY

‘It’s So Gross’: NY Times Blasted for Negative Reporting on Biden by ‘Blindered Horse-Race Analysts’

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After President Joe Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate were closing an exceptional week of success after success on Saturday, pulling into a Senate vote that would transform the U.S. response to climate change, combat inflation, lower Medicare prescription drug prices and the federal deficit, and increase the energy supply, The New York Times published an article attacking the American president, depicting him as weak and ineffective, while speaking primarily, almost entirely, only to Republican pollsters, strategists, and politicians.

Critics, journalists, and even some New York Times readers are calling out the paper of record, and its top reporters.

“In Senate Battle, Democrats Defy Biden’s Low Standing (for Now)” was the title of the Saturday article that essentially was a megaphone for the MAGA crowd, published in the Times’ politics section.

The article’s subhead made clear what readers could expect: “’The billion-dollar question,’ as one Republican pollster put it, is whether Democratic candidates in crucial Senate races can continue to outpace the president’s unpopularity.”

READ MORE: Fox News Mocked for ‘Desperately’ Trying to Spin ‘Blockbuster’ Jobs Report Into Attack on Biden

“In a Senate split 50-50,” wrote the Times’ Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, “Democrats on the campaign trail and in Congress have zero margin for error as the party tries to navigate a hostile political environment defined chiefly by President Biden’s albatross-like approval ratings,”

Rather than describe historic legislation as productive for the American people, and literally, a massive undertaking that will have positive global effects, the Times reporters opted to frame the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a partisan, political scheme.

“In Washington, Senate Democrats are racing to bolster their position, pressing for a vote as soon as Sunday on a sweeping legislative package that represents their last, best sales pitch before the midterms to stay in power.”

Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, latched onto the Times article and reporters.

READ MORE: ‘Ain’t No Recession’: Economists Praise ‘Huge’ Employment Numbers – ‘We’re Back, Baby’

“The only context that matters to these blindered horse-race analysts is Biden’s approval rating. The lies, the conspiracy theories, the threat to democracy,” he noted, presumably referring to Trump, “are irrelevant.”

Soledad O’Brien, the well-known former CNN anchor who now is chair of the Starfish Media Group, which she founded, and host of “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” and is a frequent critic of the media offered her thoughts:

“It’s so gross,” she responded.

“And it gets worse,” Froomkin added. “Look who they quote: Republican pollster, anonymous Republican strategists, dude who runs Republican Super PAC, Mitch McConnell, one Dem pollster, Republican strategist, Republican Senate candidate, Republican Senate candidate, Republican strategist…”

Indeed, Haberman and Goldmacher quote “Robert Blizzard, a Republican pollster,” “Republican strategists involved in Senate races, granted anonymity to speak candidly,” “Steven Law, who leads the main Senate Republican super PAC,” “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader,” “Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster,” “Corry Bliss, a veteran Republican strategist,” Joe O’Dea, a GOP candidate, GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters, “Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist advising a super PAC supporting Mr. Masters,” and “Christina Freundlich, a Democratic consultant.”

READ MORE: ‘Trump Was Taking Saudi Blood Money – Biden Was Killing Terrorists’: Experts Weigh in on Historic Counterterrorism News

That’s seven Republicans, an unknown number of unnamed anonymous GOP strategists, and two Democrats.

In a negative article about President Joe Biden, The New York Times didn’t include any quotes from President Joe Biden or the White House. Not even anonymous ones.

The Times almost entirely ignored Biden’s accomplishments from the past week chocked full of wins.

Here’s how Haberman and Goldmacher served up those facts:

“With a strong job report on Friday, long-stalled legislation moving and gas prices on the decline — albeit from record highs — it is possible that Mr. Biden’s support could tick upward.”

By contrast, on Sunday the Associated Press reported on Biden’s “legacy-defining wins,” including noting that a “summer lawmaking blitz has sent bipartisan bills addressing gun violence and boosting the nation’s high-tech manufacturing sector to Biden’s desk, and the president is now on the cusp of securing what he called the ‘final piece’ of his economic agenda with Senate passage of a Democrats-only climate and prescription drug deal once thought dead.”

That economic agenda is what the Times called “a sweeping legislative package that represents their last, best sales pitch before the midterms to stay in power.”

A CNN opinion piece Friday noted “Joe Biden sure is suddenly notching up an impressive string of victories. And they’re not minor. In fact, Biden is on a roll when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.”

Over a week ago, NBC News’ senior national political reporter Sahil Kapur noted, “If this deal passes,” referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which did pass on Sunday, “Biden will have inked wins on: Drug pricing, Climate/ACA $$, Higher taxes on corporations, $1.9T Covid rescue plan, $1.2T infrastructure law, New gun law, Chips/China bill, KBJ on SCOTUS, 73+ lower court judges, VAWA re-up, Postal reform.”

He adds: “This is not a trivial agenda.”

That list did not include all the wins Biden had last week before the IRA passed, including: 528,000 jobs added in July, unemployment at a 50-year low (3.5%), the killing of terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, CHIPS Act passage, PACT Act passage to help veterans affected by toxic burn pits, and gas prices dropping daily.

Meanwhile, others continued to blast the Times’ reporting.

“Hard to believe this kind of bad, ‘conventional wisdom’ reporting is still happening, where they’re saying Biden is ‘albatross’ around Dem candidates’ necks and it’s all…a mystery….” tweeted Michelangelo Signorile, a veteran journalist, SiriusXM Progress host, and writer of books and a Substack newsletter.

Some New York Times readers in the paper’s own comments section were equally critical.

“Times pundits fail to distinguish between ‘job approval’ polls versus the relative popularity of the two parties’ agendas,” wrote Baxter Jones. “Republican candidates have no agenda beyond tax cuts for their big contributors, banning all abortions, voter suppression, and abolishing Obamacare with no clue of how to replace it. Oh, and climate change denial.”

Another reader wrote: “Nothing about abortion or extremism? No Democrats to quote? I hope there will be a follow up from a Democratic perspective.”

“Wow!” wrote yet another reader. “I can’t believe the premise of this article is so simplistic. Nothing is happening in this election other than how popular Joe Biden is. No mention of the anti-choice crowd and the shellacking they took in Kansas. Or how voter registration has vastly increased across the country since the Dobbs decision. (And one of the authors is a woman, presumably of liberal bent.)”

“No mention of the fact that the recent legislation passed (and passing, as I write this on Saturday night) by the Democrats is wildly popular with wide swaths of the populace, and even more popular with narrow swaths such as veterans,” they continued.

“If all you have to do to control the congress is lambast the incumbent president, then we should start doing that the moment another Republican gets into the White House. Whence all this ‘hate Joe Biden,’ stuff. Populism, or right-wing radio with nothing else to sell? I hope most Americans are smarter than that.”

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