Heather Cox Richardson

August 4, 2022 (Thursday)

Congress established the Department of Justice in 1870, overseen by the attorney general, to protect civil rights in the southern states after state legislators and state law enforcement officers refused to treat their Black neighbors as equals. If the states would not honor the principle of equality before the law, the federal government would.

The importance of federal protections for equal rights is today’s central story.

Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced federal charges against four Louisville, Kentucky, police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor in 2020. Taylor was killed in a raid on March 13, 2020, in her apartment after law enforcement officers broke in looking for a drug suspect while she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, slept.

When the police broke in, Walker fired a single shot from his handgun—which he owned legally—hitting an officer in the thigh. Officers shot back, firing 32 times. Six shots hit Taylor.

This morning, the FBI arrested 40-year-old former Metro Police detective Joshua Jaynes, who lied on the search warrant for the raid and was subsequently fired. Sergeant Kyle Meany, 35; Officer Kelly Hanna Goodlett, 35; and former detective Brett Hankison, 46; were also charged with offenses including, variously, lying on the search warrant and obstructing investigators.

Jaynes, Meany, and Goodlett are charged with lying to get the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, thus violating Taylor’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure…

Hankison was charged with reckless gunfire that endangered Taylor’s neighbors and with using “unconstitutionally excessive force.” He, too, was fired from the department after bullets from his gun, shot randomly into Taylor’s apartment, went through the walls into the neighboring apartment. A Jefferson County jury acquitted him on state charges of wanton endangerment earlier this year. He was the only officer previously charged in Taylor’s death. State attorney general Daniel Cameron’s office did not recommend charges against any others, and Cameron said the grand jury chose not to indict other officers. Some jurors later said that was not true.

The Justice Department did not charge the officers whose shots hit Taylor because they did not know the search warrant was based on false statements.

The Department of Justice is also suing the state of Idaho to protect abortion rights. In 2020, state legislators passed a so-called trigger law to go into effect if—and now, when—the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision of June means the new law will go into effect later this month, creating an almost total ban on abortion. The Justice Department is suing on the grounds that a federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTLA), requires any hospital that takes Medicare money to “provide medical treatment necessary to stabilize that condition before transferring or discharging the patient," thus requiring doctors to treat patients with ectopic pregnancies or other emergency medical issues.

Idaho attorney general Lawrence Wasden said the lawsuit was “politically motivated,” but Garland pointed out that with the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court turned the issue of abortion over to the people’s elected representatives and that Congress, which passed the EMTLA, certainly qualified. Garland pointed to the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which directs that federal laws take precedence over state laws, as proof of the justice of the government’s position.

The supremacy clause reads: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

But as journalist Brian Tyler Cohen noted today, the people who killed Breonna Taylor “wouldn’t have been charged and arrested if Trump won in 2020. Voting has consequences.” He meant that presidents choose the attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice, and their appointees are not always dedicated to the law.

The truth of Cohen’s statement showed today when in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI director Christopher Wray told Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that the Trump White House oversaw the background investigation of then–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The more than 4500 tips about him sent to an FBI hotline were separated out and sent to the White House without investigation, and the FBI interviewed only the people the White House asked them to. They completed a supplemental background check in four days after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, and they did not interview either him or the woman who publicly accused him.

Wray insisted this sort of limitation is standard practice under both Republican and Democratic presidencies, but an examination last year suggests that the memorandum of understanding on which Wray apparently relied does not give the White House the power to limit such investigations.

The dangers of a justice system under the control of one man became clear today when a Russian court sentenced American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner to 9.5 years in a penal colony for drug smuggling after authorities allegedly found less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner was arrested on March 6, just ten days after Russia invaded Ukraine, and her arrest, conviction, and sentence appear to be a way to pressure the U.S. administration.

Biden’s Justice Department does, in fact, appear to be adhering to the idea that we must all be equal before the law. An exclusive story from CNN today said that Trump’s lawyers are in talks with the Department of Justice about a criminal probe of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But, as legal analyst Teri Kanefield points out, the leak of this information is almost certainly coming from the Trump camp, which seems to think an indictment might be coming and wants to get out in front of the story. Kanefield might well be right. Tonight, Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham, who was in contact with Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows during the January 6 crisis, ran a graphic suggesting the Department of Justice was playing politics rather than defending the law. It said: “If you can’t beat him, indict him.”

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Both Is Good The Road To El Dorado GIF

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:white_check_mark:

Already did, like a dusty rug.

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like a dusty rug

you never know what’s going to scurry out when you lift the thing, and oh the spare change. we could all use some change

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August 5, 2022 (Friday)

On this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a new tax law to help fund the United States government during the Civil War. Far more than writing a traditional revenue act to address the catastrophic war that had demonstrated its horrors just two weeks earlier at the Battle of Bull Run, Congress deliberately constructed the law to shift ownership of the American government away from the bankers who had previously provided Treasury funds, to the American people.

Over the next four years, the Republican Congress would put taxes on virtually every product in the country and then, to guarantee that “the burdens will be more equalized on all classes of the community, more especially on those who are able to bear them,” as Senate Finance Committee chair William Pitt Fessenden (R-ME) put it, they invented the nation’s first income tax.

In 1861, Congress levied a 3% tax on income over $800; in 1862, concerned that the level of taxation necessary to pay for the war would be too much for most Americans to bear, Congress placed a general tax at 3% and created a progressive income tax. It taxed income over $600 at 3% and income over $10,000 at 5%. “The weight must be distributed equally,” Representative Justin Smith Morrill (R-VT) said, “not upon each man an equal amount, but a tax proportionate to his ability to pay.” In 1864, Congress revised those numbers upward. They put general taxes at 5% and raised the income tax brackets to 5% for income from $600 to $5,000 and 7.5% for income from $5,000 to $10,000.

Morrill thought it was important for the federal government to collect the tax directly to illustrate that people were supporting the United States of America, not individual states, as they might think if states collected the taxes. The federal government had a right to “demand” 99% of a man’s property for an urgent necessity, he said. When the nation required it, “the property of the people…belongs to the Government.”

Indeed, the new taxes cemented loyalty to the United States. With their money behind the war effort, Americans became more and more committed to their cause. As the war costs mounted, far from objecting to taxes, Americans asked their congressmen to raise them, out of concern about the growing national debt. In 1864, Senator John P. Hale (R-NH) said: “The condition of the country is singular…I venture to say it is an anomaly in the history of the world. What do the people of the United States ask of this Congress? To take off taxes? No, sir, they ask you to put them on. The universal cry of this people is to be taxed.”

Enlisting more than 2 million soldiers and sailors into the war effort, moving them, equipping them, and arming them eventually cost the United States more than $5 billion. Taxes paid for about 21% of that cost.

This day in history seems relevant again in 2022 as today’s Republicans stand united against the Inflation Reduction Act.

This new bill, announced by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on July 27, will invest $386 billion into addressing climate change and new energy development, and $100 billion in new health care spending, including extending subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. The measure will raise about $790 billion in savings and revenue over a decade. It will save money by enabling Medicare to negotiate the prices for certain prescription drugs and by beefing up funding for the IRS to enforce existing tax laws. It also will raise revenue by requiring corporations to pay a minimum tax of 15%. The measure is projected to raise about $50 billion a year for 9 years, which will be used to reduce the federal deficit by $300 billion.

Last night, Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema, the last Democratic holdout on the bill, said she would support it if leaders added drought money for Arizona and removed the carried interest loophole that lowers taxation for certain wealthy hedge fund managers. The carried interest loophole would have raised $14 billion, but Democrats instead added a 1% tax on stock buybacks, which is expected to make up that money.

The measure is expected to pass the House but can make it through the Senate only because Democrats will pass it under the system known as reconciliation, which cannot be filibustered. Republicans are dead set against the measure, although all of its pieces are widely popular. Indeed, the Inflation Reduction Act seems to reflect the sort of government the Republicans constructed during the Civil War: one that answered to the American people, and one in which the government is making an effort to distribute the costs of that government among people according to their ability to pay.

Today’s Republicans reject the idea. Instead, echoing Republican rhetoric since the 1980s, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken the position that taxes do not build the country, but destroy it. He says that Democrats “want to pile on giant tax hikes that will hammer workers and kill many thousands of American jobs.”

And yet, in the Wall Street Journal, Princeton economics professor Alan S. Blinder, who served as vice chair of the Federal Reserve from 1994 to 1996, points out that the proposed tax changes “are tiny compared with the Trump tax cuts,” which “slashed the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed more items to be expensed.”

What is at stake in this contest is the same issue Republicans grappled with in the 1860s, guaranteeing that “the burdens [of taxation] will be more equalized on all classes of the community, more especially on those who are able to bear them.” Now, though, it is the Democrats taking up that cause.

The Senate will work on the bill this weekend.

The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act caps what has turned out to be a spectacular week for the Biden administration. Jobs numbers out today showed not the downturn that many expected, but instead the addition of 528,000 new jobs, restoring the U.S. job numbers to where they were before the pandemic and putting unemployment at 3.5%, the lowest rate in 50 years. The United States Chips and Science Act (CHIPS) and the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT) have both passed Congress. The president authorized and troops achieved the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. And gas prices have hit a 50-day low.

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August 6, 2022 (Saturday)

On this day in 1880, the Republican candidate for president, James A. Garfield, spoke to thousands of supporters from the balcony of the Republican headquarters in New York City. Ten years before, in 1870, Americans had added the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, making sure that Black men could vote by guaranteeing that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

As soon as the amendment was ratified, though, white southerners who were dead set against their Black neighbors participating in their government began to say that they had no problem with Black men voting on racial grounds. Their objection to Black voting, they claimed, was that poor, uneducated Black men just out of enslavement were voting for lawmakers who promised them public services, like roads and schools, that could be paid for only with taxes levied on people with the means to pay, which in the post–Civil War South usually meant white men.

Complaining that Black voters were socialists—they actually used that term in 1871—white southerners began to keep Black voters from the polls. In 1878, Democrats captured both the House and the Senate, and former Confederates took control of key congressional committees. From there, in the summer of 1879, they threatened to shut down the federal government altogether unless the president, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, agreed to end the federal protection of Black Americans in the South.

The congressional leader who eventually forced them to back down was James A. Garfield (R-OH). Impressed by his successful effort to save the country, in 1880, party leaders nominated him for president.

Garfield was a brilliant and well-educated man and had served in the Civil War himself. On August 6 in New York City, he singled out the veterans in the crowd to explain how he saw the nation’s future.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “ideas outlive men; ideas outlive all earthly things. You who fought in the war for the Union fought for immortal ideas, and by their might you crowned the war with victory. But victory was worth nothing except for the truths that were under it, in it, and above it. We meet tonight as comrades to stand guard around the sacred truths for which we fought.”

“[W]e will remember our allies who fought with us,” he told them. “Soon after the great struggle began, we looked beyond the army of white rebels, and saw 4,000,000 of [B]lack people condemned to toil as slaves for our enemies; and we found that the hearts of these 4,000,000 were God-inspired with the spirit of liberty, and that they were all our friends.” As the audience cheered, he continued: “We have seen white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin.” To great applause, he vowed, “[W]e will stand by these [B]lack allies. We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, [B]lack or white, throughout the Union.” As the audience cheered, he continued: “Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever.”

Garfield won the presidency that year, but just barely. The South voted for his Democratic opponent, and in the years to come, white northerners looked the other way as white southerners kept Black men from voting, first with terrorism and then with state election laws using grandfather clauses that cut out Black men without mentioning race by permitting a man to vote if his grandfather had voted, literacy tests in which white registrars got to decide who passed, poll taxes that were enforced arbitrarily, and so on. States also cut up districts unevenly to favor the Democrats, who ran an all-white, segregationist party. In 1880, the South became solidly Democratic, and with white men keeping Black people from the polls, it would remain so until 1964.

But then, exactly 85 years after Garfield’s speech, on August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The need for the law was explained in its full title: “An Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, and for other purposes.”

Black Americans had never accepted their exclusion from the vote, and after World War II, they and other people of color who had fought for the nation overseas brought home their determination to be treated equally. White reactionaries responded with violence, but Black Americans continued to stand up for their rights. In 1957 and 1960, under pressure from President Dwight Eisenhower, Congress passed civil rights acts designed to empower the federal government to enforce the laws protecting Black voting.

In 1961 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) began intensive efforts to register voters and to organize communities to support political change. Because only 6.7% of Black Mississippians were registered, Mississippi became a focal point, and in the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, volunteers set out to register voters. On June 21, Ku Klux Klan members, at least one of whom was a law enforcement officer, murdered organizers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner near Philadelphia, Mississippi, and, when discovered, laughed at the idea they would be punished for the murders.

That year, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which strengthened voting rights. On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, marchers led by John Lewis (who would go on to serve 17 terms in Congress) headed for Montgomery to demonstrate their desire to vote. Law enforcement officers stopped them on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and beat them bloody.

On March 15, President Johnson called for Congress to pass legislation defending Americans’ right to vote. “There is no constitutional issue here,” he told them. “The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.” Congress passed the measure. And on this day in 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

“Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield,” he told the country. “I pledge [to] you that we will not delay, or we will not hesitate, or we will not turn aside until Americans of every race and color and origin in this country have the same right as all others to share in the process of democracy.”

“[M]en cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it,” he said. “The central fact of American civilization…is that freedom and justice and the dignity of man are not just words to us. We believe in them. Under all the growth and the tumult and abundance, we believe. And so, as long as some among us are oppressed—and we are part of that oppression—it must blunt our faith and sap the strength of our high purpose.”

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August 7, 2022 (Sunday)

“The yeas are 50; the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative, and the bill, as amended, is passed.”

So spoke Vice President Kamala Harris this afternoon as, after an all-night session, her vote passed the Infrastructure Reduction Act of 2022 through the Senate. It will now go to the House, where it is expected to pass.

The measure devotes more than $300 billion to addressing climate change and energy reform, the largest federal investment in climate change in U.S. history. It will make it easier and cheaper to get electric cars and to heat and cool homes without fossil fuels—Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan says families will save an average of $500 a year on energy costs—while also creating new jobs in these fields.

It extends for three years the subsidies for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act that Congress originally passed during the pandemic.

It will invest about $300 billion toward reducing the deficit.

The money for these programs will come from several places. The bill will lower the cost of certain prescription drugs by enabling the government to negotiate the prices of expensive drugs for Medicare, a policy most nations already have. It also caps the cost of insulin at $35 a month for people on Medicare (Republicans stripped out of the bill a similar protection for those on private insurance).

It makes corporations making $1 billion or more in income pay a 15% minimum tax, and it will tax stock buybacks at 1%.

And it will invest more than $100 billion in enforcing the existing tax laws on the books, laws that are increasingly ignored as the IRS has too few agents to conduct audits of large accounts.

Senate Democrats passed the measure by using the process of budget reconciliation, which covers certain revenue measures and which cannot be filibustered. Although the pieces of the measure have bipartisan support in the country, every Republican voted against the bill; Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called it an “economic disaster” that will exacerbate inflation (the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office disagrees).

Republicans used reconciliation to pass their own signature measure in December 2017: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This law cut the corporate tax rate from about 35% to 21% with the now-traditional Republican expectation that such a cut would spur economic growth, although the Congressional Budget Office estimated the measure would add about $2 trillion to the national debt over ten years. The Tax and Jobs Act did not increase employment or wages as the Republicans expected; those actually dipped slightly as corporations used the tax cuts primarily to buy back their stock, making it more valuable. That measure was the signature piece of legislation during the Trump administration.

In contrast, in the past 18 months, Democrats have rebuilt the economy after the pandemic shattered it, invested in technology and science, expanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, pulled troops out of Afghanistan, passed the first gun safety law in almost 30 years, put a Black woman on the Supreme Court, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, addressed the needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, and invested in our roads, bridges, and manufacturing. And for much of this program, they have managed to attract Republican votes.

Now they are turning to lowering the cost of prescription drugs—long a priority—and tackling climate change, all while lowering the deficit.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. noted accurately today that what these measures do is far more than the sum of their parts. They show Americans that democracy is messy and slow but that it works, and it works for them. Since he took office, this has been President Joe Biden’s argument: he would head off the global drive toward authoritarianism by showing that democracy is still the best system of government out there.

At a time when authoritarians are trying to demonstrate that democracies cannot function nearly as effectively as the rule of an elite few, he is proving them wrong.

This is a very big deal indeed.

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Inflation Reduction Act, yesno?

HCR’s write-ups are great! Thanks for sharing them. When I see one, I need to make sure I have the attention and time it deserves.

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August 8, 2022 (Monday)

It’s been quite a day.

It began with Axios sharing photos of what purported to be White House toilets with torn up paper in them. The notes on that paper appear to have former president Trump’s distinctive handwriting on them. Axios got them from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has previously reported that Trump used to get rid of documents by flushing them. (By law, all presidential records must be retained.)

I am skeptical of these photos, myself—they seem a bit too perfect—but I do find the timing significant. If the photos are real, someone has had them for a long time but now feels that it is worth sharing them. If they are fake, they nonetheless demonstrate that Trump is a significantly diminished figure.

Next came news from the 2016 Trump campaign. Trump’s 2016 campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has written a book, and to sell it, he gave a long interview to Mattathias Schwartz of Insider. In the interview, Manafort admitted what the Senate Intelligence Committee said in their report about Russian interference in the 2016 election: he gave internal polling data from the Trump campaign to Konstantin Kilimnik, who, according to the Senate report, was a Russian intelligence agent. Manafort had previously denied this story.

Manafort told Schwartz that he was not trying to swing the election but hoped to convince pro-Russian oligarchs to do business deals with him by showing that he had access to Trump and that Trump could beat Democratic presidential candidate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Manafort says he didn’t know Kilimnick worked for Russian intelligence. Reached for the story, Kilimnick says he is a victim of people’s dislike of Russia.

Then, Trump’s presidency. In the New Yorker today, Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker revealed that Trump and the generals of the United States Army were fundamentally at odds about how they viewed the United States. Trump wanted the generals to be loyal to him, as he believed “the German generals in World War II” were loyal to Adolf Hitler. (In fact, they tried repeatedly to assassinate him.) Trump tried to pack the military with loyalists; military leaders insisted that the military must not be taken over by a single leader.

After June 1, 2020, when Trump had nonviolent protesters cleared from Lafayette Square with tear gas and batons, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley drafted a resignation letter in which he told Trump, “It is my belief that you were doing great and irreparable harm to my country” with his actions over the past weeks.

Milley explained that our Constitution means that “[a]ll men and women are created equal, no matter who you are, whether you are white or Black, Asian, Indian, no matter the color of your skin, no matter if you’re gay, straight or something in between. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, or choose not to believe. None of that matters. It doesn’t matter what country you came from, what your last name is—what matters is we’re Americans. We’re all Americans.”

But Trump, he said, was siding with “tyrannies and dictatorships,” “fascism,” “Nazism,” and “extremism” and “ruining the international order” that the Greatest Generation defended in World War II.

While Milley did not, in the end, resign, he did take a public stand against Trump’s use of the military against Americans.

The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was also in the news today: CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that two years of text messages to and from conspiracy theorist and January 5 rally speaker Alex Jones have been sent to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. Jones’s lawyer had inadvertently sent the messages to opposing counsel during his recent trial.

And then, although the Department of Justice (DOJ) didn’t tip off anyone about this, even after it had begun, Trump tonight released a statement saying that the FBI was raiding Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Florida, property. “They even broke into my safe!” he complained. He called it “an attack by Radical Left Democrats” and said it was a sign that America has become a third-world country. But Trump himself appointed the current director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, after firing former director James Comey for investigating the ties of his 2016 campaign to Russia. Wray is hardly a “Left Democrat”; he served in the George W. Bush administration and is a member of the Federalist Society.

Legal analyst Joyce White Vance reminded people on Twitter: “We don’t know yet what crimes the FBI had sufficient evidence of to convince a federal judge there was probable cause to search Trump’s residence, but the execution of a search warrant isn’t a raid. It’s a judicially overseen process.” It appears that the search was about Trump’s removal of classified documents from the White House. (I told you: no one with any brains at all ever messes with archivists.)

As legal analyst Asha Rangappa noted, “a search warrant has to demonstrate probable cause that evidence of a crime will be found in the places and things searched.” And legal analyst Renato Mariotti adds that the Department of Justice doesn’t usually prosecute cases unless the material was deliberately transferred to a third party, and that it is unlikely DOJ would have obtained a search warrant if it did not expect to pursue a case.

Tonight, chief White House correspondent for CNN Kaitlan Collins reported that in early June, investigators had gone to Mar-a-Lago to learn more about the materials Trump had taken when he left the White House. They asked to see where the documents were stored, and Trump’s lawyers took them to a basement room. The search warrant executed today included a safe in Trump’s office, and journalist Laura Rozen reported that agents suspected that Trump had taken and was holding other classified documents after he returned many of them.

Political commentators noted that the law disqualifies from “holding any office under the United States” anyone who “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys…any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk of officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States.”

Tonight, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is expressing outrage, the Fox News Channel is talking about Hunter Biden, and Trump’s base is calling for war, but Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is silent. For his part, Trump is fundraising off the executed search warrant.

One final story from today illustrates a central principle of democracy: the principle of accountability.

Today, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced the men who stalked and murdered Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020 as he was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia. She sentenced Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael to an additional life sentence in prison on federal hate crime charges. Unlike the other two, their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan did not bring a gun to the scene, a fact the judge noted when she sentenced him to 35 years. They will serve their sentences in state prison, although they asked for federal custody, saying they feared for their lives in state prison.

Accountability is not only about justice; it’s about deterrence.

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon announced that he would resign the office of the presidency the next day at noon. He did not admit wrongdoing in the Watergate scandal, although the House Judiciary Committee had voted to impeach him, the full House was sure to follow, and Republican senators warned him the Senate would vote to convict.

He never did admit wrongdoing, and he was never held accountable. Instead, the next president, Gerald R. Ford, pardoned him. And here we are, 48 years later, with a president and his followers outraged that he, like everyone else, must abide by the law.

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wtf!?

“You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.

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August 9, 2022 (Tuesday)

This afternoon, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) said the FBI has confiscated his phone after presenting him with a search warrant.

Perry was deeply involved in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He connected former president Trump with Jeffrey Clark, the environmental lawyer for the Department of Justice (DOJ) who supported Trump’s claims and who would have become acting attorney general if the leadership of the DOJ hadn’t threatened to resign as a group if Trump appointed him. Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol that Meadows burned papers after a meeting with Perry.

The DOJ searched Clark’s home in June. On the same day, it seized the phone of John Eastman, the author of the memo laying out a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to refuse to count presidential electors for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and thus throw the election to Trump.

Eastman sued to get his phone back and to force the government to destroy any information agents had taken from it; the Department of Justice says the phone was obtained legally and that purging it would be “unprecedented” and “would cause substantial detriment to the investigation, as well as seriously impede any grand jury’s use of the seized material in a future charging decision.” A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for early September.

Trump and his supporters have spent the day complaining bitterly about yesterday’s search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, painting it an illegal “witch hunt” and threatening to launch a “revolution” over it. A search warrant requires a judge to sign off on the idea that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that a search will provide evidence of that crime. While the FBI cannot release the search warrant, Trump has a copy of it and could release it if he wanted to.

Legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, who spent 20 years at the Department of Justice, pointed out on Twitter that the law requires the FBI to give Trump an inventory of what they found. If indeed he wants to claim the search was a witch hunt and he had no government property in his home, he should release the search inventory.

Kyle Cheney at Politico noted that on January 19, 2021, the day before he left office, Trump revoked the authority he had previously given and named seven new loyalists as his representatives to the National Archives with regard to his presidential records. They were Meadows; then–White House counsel Pat Cipollone; then–deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin; lawyer John Eisenberg, who as legal advisor to the National Security Council tried to keep the story about Trump’s call to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky under wraps; Scott Gast, also of the White House counsel’s office during Trump’s term; lawyer Michael Purpura; and lawyer Steven Engel, who argued that Congress could not subpoena White House advisors.

Meanwhile, Sadie Gurman, Alex Leary, and Aruna Viswanatha of the Wall Street Journal reported today that the Mar-a-Lago search came out of the concern of federal agents that Trump had not returned all the classified documents he took from the White House. In January of this year, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of material, including records that had been torn into pieces. Yesterday, federal officials retrieved about 10 more boxes.

Tonight, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) told Fox News Channel personality Laura Ingraham that 12 Republican members of the House of Representatives met with Trump tonight, told him they stand with him, and urged him to run for president in 2024. They want to see Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the house and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) as chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Three judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a ruling from a lower court that said the House Ways and Means Committee can see Trump’s tax returns. The committee began the journey to look at them back in 2019. Trump can appeal to the full bench or to the Supreme Court. The House Ways and Means Committee said it expects “to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”

Today, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law. The new measure will provide $52.7 billion in subsidies to semiconductor production in the U.S. and invest in science and technology. Biden noted that with signing of the bill into law, Micron would announce a $40 billion investment in new chip-manufacturing facilities in the United States through the end of the decade, and GlobalFoundries and Qualcomm “announced yesterday a $4 billion partnership to produce chips in the U.S. that would otherwise have gone overseas.”

“Fundamental change is taking place today—politically, economically, and technologically—change that can either strengthen our sense of control and security, of dignity and pride in our lives, in our nation; or—or change that weakens us so that people are left behind, causing them to question whether or not the very institutions—our economy, our democracy itself — can still deliver for them, for everybody,” Biden said.

Pleased to be signing the bill that invests in our technological future into law, Biden said: “[D]ecades from now, people are going to look back at this week, with all we’ve passed and all we’ve moved on, that we met the moment at this inflection point in history—a moment when we bet on ourselves, believed in ourselves, and recaptured the story, the spirit, and the soul of this nation. We are the United States of America, a singular place of possibilities…. I promise you, we’re leading the world again for the next decades.”

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August 10, 2022 (Wednesday)

Today, President Joe Biden signed into law the now-bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022. It will expand medical coverage for veterans exposed to burn pits during their service. This law is named for Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, an Ohio Army National Guardsman who was diagnosed with a rare cancer after his service, during which he was exposed to toxic substances in the burn pits. He died in 2020, leaving behind his wife and his 8-year-old daughter.

This law is personal for President Biden. His son Beau also came home from military service that had exposed him to toxic burn pits in Iraq, and he, too, died of cancer—brain cancer, in his case—at the age of 46.

Also today, the Department of Labor released a report showing that there was zero inflation last month (expectations were for an increase of 0.2%). That means that dropping prices, primarily for gasoline, canceled out the price of other things rising. In addition, core inflation, which excludes food and energy—always volatile—dropped significantly for the first time in months. Inflation for the year remains at a high 8.5%.

Biden was pleased enough about the new numbers that he talked about them before his remarks at the bill signing. Putting the lower inflation numbers together with last week’s booming report of 528,000 new jobs last month and 3.5% unemployment—the lowest in decades—“it underscores the kind of economy we’ve been building,” he said. “That’s what happens when you build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. The wealthy do very well, and everyone has a chance. It gives everyone a chance to make progress.”

Today, the Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of plotting to murder Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, likely in retaliation for the January 2020 killing of Qasem Soleimani. “The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said. Bolton issued a statement thanking the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Secret Service.

Federal investigators also delivered subpoenas today to several Republicans in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, not necessarily because they are targets of an investigation, but because they may have important information surrounding the efforts of Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) to gather fake electors to overturn the 2020 election. Perry announced yesterday that the FBI had taken his phone.

The fallout continues from the FBI search of former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. Trump and his supporters have begun to circle around the idea that the FBI agents “planted” evidence while they were there, which suggests they’re afraid of what’s going to turn up. While right-wing figures are saying Trump’s lawyers were not present during the search, two of them—Christina Bobb and Lindsey Halligan—confirmed to Politico that they were there. Remember, while the Department of Justice can’t say what was in the warrant or what they took, Trump could but is choosing not to.

Meanwhile, there are reports that a close associate flipped on Trump to tell the Department of Justice what was at Mar-a-Lago that they might want to see. It is crucial to remember that anything we hear is coming from Trump supporters; the Department of Justice is not talking. So rumors are just that—rumors—although this one has been reported in multiple places, so I am making a note of it.

What is not just a rumor is that Trump testified under oath today in the civil case being investigated by New York attorney general Letitia James regarding the widely different valuations of Trump’s properties for purposes of taxes versus security for loans. Trump answered a single question only about his name, then pleaded his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself. He said he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” Then, from about 9:30 to around 3:00, aside from breaks, he responded to questions with “Same answer.”

Like his father, Eric Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment during his October 2020 deposition in the same case, pleading the Fifth more than 500 times.

In civil cases, jurors can make negative inferences from an invocation of the Fifth Amendment. If James brings charges, today’s deposition will strengthen her case.

More than that, though, Trump made history today by becoming the first U.S. president to plead the Fifth. It is an astonishing thing to see that a former president, the person who was responsible for faithfully executing the laws of our nation, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

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This seems like a no-brainer, but it is worth pointing out the contrast. Under Trump’s cronies, they wouldn’t have charged this guy, they would have leaked the location of the US citizen the would-be assassin was targeting.

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August 11, 2022 (Thursday)

Since Monday’s search of former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property by the FBI, Trump, Trump supporters, and right-wing media have all been accusing the government of executing a political vendetta and speculating that FBI agents might have planted evidence on the property.

This afternoon, Attorney General Merrick Garland gave a brief press conference in which he announced that the unjustified attacks on the Department of Justice (DOJ) have led it to file a motion to unseal the search warrant the FBI used and a redacted version of the receipt for the things removed from the premises. He also confirmed that copies of the warrant and the property receipt were left with Trump, as regulations require. Had Trump wanted to release them, he could have…and he still can, at any time.

Contrary to right-wing reports, Trump’s lawyer was at Mar-a-Lago during the search, which a federal court authorized after finding probable cause. Garland said that he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant, and he also pointed out that the Department of Justice did not publicize the search; the former president did. Because of the public interest in the matter—and to clear up confusion over it—the department is asking a judge to unseal the documents.

Garland also defended FBI agents against attacks on them, saying, “The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants. Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves.”

Garland explained the principle at stake. “Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.”

He also reminded people that “the Department of Justice will speak through its court filings and its work.”

The DOJ motion to unseal the search warrant tells us a bit more. It was signed by U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and by Jay Bratt, the chief of the department’s counterintelligence section. The motion also throws the ball into Trump’s court, saying “the former President should have an opportunity to respond to this Motion and lodge objections….” This boxes Trump in. He and his supporters have been demanding the documents be released, although the DOJ cannot release them and Trump can. This motion means that the DOJ has made a strong case to get permission to release them…unless Trump objects. Essentially, the DOJ just called his bluff.

At the New York Times, Katie Benner reported that already “Trump allies are discussing the possibility of challenging the Justice Department’s motion to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. They have contacted outside lawyers about helping them.”

This should play out quickly: a judge this afternoon told the DOJ to discuss with Trump’s lawyer whether Trump objects to unsealing the documents and to let the judge know by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. Tonight, Trump said he would not oppose the document’s release, but he didn’t release them himself, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Another right-wing talking point about the search fell apart today as well. Fox News Channel personalities have argued that the Justice Department should simply have issued a subpoena for the material. “Get a subpoena, he will give it back,” Jesse Watters said. “It’s not like Trump won’t cooperate.” But in fact it turns out the DOJ did deliver a subpoena two months ago, and the former president did not comply.

For all the loud protests of Trump supporters over the search, other Republicans—even ones who were previously Team Trump—seem to be backing away. Today, Fox News Channel contributor and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush Ari Fleischer tweeted: “One thing I can’t wrap my arms around: If Trump had classified documents, why didn’t he give them back? Maybe he thought they were declassified. Maybe he thought it was government overreach. But if, for whatever reason, you have a classified document at home, you give it back.”

For his part, Trump tried to suggest his own retention of documents was not nearly as bad as that of former president Barack Obama, who, Trump alleged, took “33 Million pages of documents…to Chicago.” He is referring to the materials for the Obama presidential library, which have been moved from the National Archives and Records Administration with its permission and cooperation.

Tonight, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Perry Stein, and Shane Harris at the Washington Post broke the story that the FBI agents at Mar-a-Lago were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons, underscoring that the search was imperative. We don’t know any more than that, and heaven knows that’s bad enough.

But what springs to mind for me is the plan pushed by Trump’s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and fundraiser and campaign advisor Tom Barrack, to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. In 2019, whistleblowers from the National Security Council worried that their efforts might have broken the law and that the effort to make the transfer was ongoing. The plan was to enable Saudi leaders to build nuclear power plants, a plan that would have yielded billions of dollars to the investors but would have allowed Saudi Arabia to build nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Zachary Cohen, Jamie Gangel, Sara Murray, and Pamela Brown of CNN report that the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has interviewed the former secretary of transportation in the Trump administration, Elaine Chao, and is in discussions with former education secretary Betsy DeVos and former national security advisor Robert O’Brien. Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo met with the committee on Tuesday. At least nine Cabinet-level officials either have talked to the committee or are negotiating the terms of interviews. One of the topics has been the attempt to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment after the events of January 6.

The lies about the FBI and the January 6th attack on the Capitol came together today and took a life. Ricky Walter Shiffer, who appears to have been at the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, shot into the FBI field office in Cincinnati with a nail gun this morning while brandishing an AR-15-style weapon. After the attack, he took refuge in a cornfield, where law enforcement officers killed him this afternoon.

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August 12, 2022 (Friday)

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping bill that will invest more than $430 billion in climate change and extended subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. It will raise about $737 billion over the next ten years by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, adequately staffing the Internal Revenue Service after years of cuts so it can catch people cheating on their taxes, and raising the tax rate on rich corporations to require them to pay a minimum of 15%.

The vote was 220 to 207, along party lines, although the measures in the bill are widely popular. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) didn’t lose a vote, even among those Democrats concerned the measure doesn’t go far enough. For their part, Republicans have been misrepresenting the bill to justify their opposition: Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has called it a “war on seniors” because he says it cuts Medicare spending. That’s a misleading read on a provision that is expected to save $265 billion by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

This bill is a huge deal for the country and for the Biden administration, launching us into a new era in which we take serious steps to address climate change, start to rein in the costs of healthcare, and begin again to ask the very wealthy to pay their share of the costs of running our country, and yet it has been overshadowed by today’s other big story.

After days of attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department by former president Trump and his supporters for the Monday search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, today a federal judge unsealed the search warrant and the property receipt for that search. The warrant shows that agents were investigating whether Trump violated the Espionage Act.

The property receipt reveals that agents reclaimed for the United States more than 26 boxes of documents, including ones labeled “classified/TS/SCI,” which means “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” This is highly classified material that is available only to those necessary to the project, and must be discussed, used, and stored only in secure locations because its release to the public would cause “exceptionally grave” damage to our national security.

Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb, who is also an anchor for the right-wing One America News Network, signed the property receipt.

Even before the release of the warrant, Trump had offered a number of excuses for taking documents to Mar-a-Lago and then keeping them despite a subpoena for their return. First, he blamed FBI agents for planting them on the premises, riling up his base against the FBI. That effort continued today: before the judge unsealed the documents, it appears Trump leaked them to Breitbart, which published them without blacking out the names of the agents who executed the search warrant, evidently intended to menace them.

Then he claimed that while he had taken only a few documents, former president Barack Obama had taken 33 million. This afternoon, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) put out a statement clarifying that it took possession of all Obama’s presidential records when he left office in 2017 and that it moved about 30 million unclassified pages of them to a “NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the P[residential] R[ecords] A[ct], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his administration.”

Now he and his allies are saying that he declassified all the documents he took out of the Oval Office, so the recovered documents were no longer classified. The fact they were not marked declassified, as required, was simply because White House counsel didn’t get the paperwork done.

But there is a process for declassification; a president can’t just say something is declassified. Further, as legal analyst and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa clarified, a president cannot unilaterally declassify nuclear secrets.

Legal analyst Joyce White Vance said, “Even if this is true & it holds up (I’ve got significant doubts) what does it say that Trump declassified materials that put our national security in grave danger? And that the Republican Party continues to support him?”

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August 13, 2022 (Saturday)

Since it seems clear we will be deciding whether we want to preserve the Social Security Act by our choice of leaders in the next few elections, I thought it not unreasonable to reprint this piece from last year about why people in the 1930s thought the measure was imperative. There is more news about the classified material at Mar-a-Lago, but nothing that can’t wait another day so I can catch this anniversary.

By the time most of you will read this, it will be August 14, and on this day in 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. While FDR’s New Deal had put in place new measures to regulate business and banking and had provided temporary work relief to combat the Depression, this law permanently changed the nature of the American government.

The Social Security Act is known for its payments to older Americans, but it did far more than that. It established unemployment insurance; aid to homeless, dependent, and neglected children; funds to promote maternal and child welfare; and public health services. It was a sweeping reworking of the relationship between the government and its citizens, using the power of taxation to pool funds to provide a basic social safety net.

The driving force behind the law was FDR’s Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins. She was the first woman to hold a position in the U.S. Cabinet and still holds the record for having the longest tenure in that job: she lasted from 1933 to 1945.

She brought to the position a vision of government very different from that of the Republicans who had run it in the 1920s. While men like President Herbert Hoover had harped on the idea of a “rugged individualism” in which men worked their way up, providing for their families on their own, Perkins recognized that people in communities had always supported each other. The vision of a hardworking man supporting his wife and children was more myth than reality: her own husband suffered from bipolar disorder, making her the family’s primary support.

As a child, Perkins spent summers with her grandmother, with whom she was very close, in the small town of Newcastle, Maine, where the old-fashioned, close-knit community supported those in need. In college, at Mount Holyoke, she majored in chemistry and physics, but after a professor required students to tour a factory to observe working conditions, Perkins became committed to improving the lives of those trapped in industrial jobs. After college, Perkins became a social worker and, in 1910, earned a masters degree in economics and sociology from Columbia University. She became the head of the New York office of the National Consumers League, urging consumers to use their buying power to demand better conditions and wages for the workers who made the products they were buying.

The next year, in 1911, she witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in which 146 workers, mostly women and girls, died. They were trapped in the building when the fire broke out because the factory owner had ordered the doors to the stairwells and exits locked to make sure no one slipped outside for a break. Unable to escape the smoke and fire in the factory, the workers—some of them on fire—leaped from the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of the building, dying on the pavement.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire turned Perkins away from voluntary organizations to improve workers’ lives and toward using the government to adjust the harsh conditions of industrialization. She began to work with the Democratic politicians at Tammany Hall, who presided over communities in the city that mirrored rural towns and who exercised a form of social welfare for their voters, making sure they had jobs, food, and shelter and that wives and children had a support network if a husband and father died. In that system, the voices of women like Perkins were valuable, for their work in the immigrant wards of the city meant that they were the ones who knew what working families needed to survive.

The overwhelming unemployment, hunger, and suffering caused by the Great Depression made Perkins realize that state governments alone could not adjust the conditions of the modern world to create a safe, supportive community for ordinary people. She came to believe, as she said: “The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.”

Through her Tammany connections, Perkins met FDR, and when he asked her to be his Secretary of Labor, she told him that she wanted the federal government to provide unemployment insurance, health insurance, and old-age insurance. She later recalled: “I remember he looked so startled, and he said, ‘Well, do you think it can be done?’”

Creating federal unemployment insurance became her primary concern. Congressmen had little interest in passing such legislation. They said they worried that unemployment insurance and federal aid to dependent families would undermine a man’s willingness to work. But Perkins recognized that those displaced by the Depression had added new pressure to the idea of old-age insurance.

In Long Beach, California, Dr. Francis Townsend had looked out of his window one day to see elderly women rooting through garbage cans for food. Appalled, he came up with a plan to help the elderly and stimulate the economy at the same time. Townsend proposed that the government provide every retired person over 60 years old with $200 a month, on the condition that they spend it within 30 days, a condition designed to stimulate the economy.

Townsend’s plan was wildly popular. More than that, though, it sparked people across the country to start coming up with their own plans for protecting the elderly and the nation’s social fabric, and together, they began to change the public conversation about social welfare policies.

They spurred Congress to action. Perkins recalled that Townsend “startled the Congress of the United States because the aged have votes. The wandering boys didn’t have any votes; the evicted women and their children had very few votes. If the unemployed didn’t stay long enough in any one place, they didn’t have a vote. But the aged people lived in one place and they had votes, so every Congressman had heard from the Townsend Plan people.”

FDR put together a committee to come up with a plan to create a basic social safety net, but committee members could not make up their minds how to move forward. Perkins continued to hammer on the idea they must come up with a final plan, and finally locked the members of the committee in a room. As she recalled: “Well, we locked the door and we had a lot of talk. I laid out a couple of bottles of something or other to cheer their lagging spirits. Anyhow, we stayed in session until about 2 a.m. We then voted finally, having taken our solemn oath that this was the end; we were never going to review it again.”

By the time the bill came to a vote in Congress, it was hugely popular. The vote was 371 to 33 in the House and 77 to 6 in the Senate.

When asked to describe the origins of the Social Security Act, Perkins mused that its roots came from the very beginnings of the nation. When Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America in 1835, she noted, he thought Americans were uniquely “so generous, so kind, so charitably disposed.” “Well, I don’t know anything about the times in which De Tocqueville visited America,” she said, but “I do know that at the time I came into the field of social work, these feelings were real.”

With the Social Security Act, Perkins helped to write into our laws a longstanding political impulse in America that stood in dramatic contrast to the 1920s philosophy of rugged individualism. She recognized that the ideas of community values and pooling resources to keep the economic playing field level and take care of everyone are at least as deeply seated in our political philosophy as the idea of every man for himself.

When she recalled the origins of the Social Security Act, Perkins recalled: “Of course, the Act had to be amended, and has been amended, and amended, and amended, and amended, until it has now grown into a large and important project, for which, by the way, I think the people of the United States are deeply thankful. One thing I know: Social Security is so firmly embedded in the American psychology today that no politician, no political party, no political group could possibly destroy this Act and still maintain our democratic system. It is safe. It is safe forever, and for the everlasting benefit of the people of the United States.”

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it’s interesting to read how some things never seem to change.

i wonder if it’s that politicians are lazy by nature, or if it’s inherited wealth that makes them so?

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This is a question I’m confused more people aren’t asking. (Or perhaps they do on shouty-head TV.)

If all these documents are now “declassified,” does the GOP think it’s ok to post them all online?

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August 14, 2022 (Sunday)

A calm sunrise seems like a good omen these days… or at least a welcome respite.

Let’s take the night off and get back to work tomorrow.

[Photo by Buddy Poland.]

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August 15, 2022 (Monday)

Today, President Joe Biden congratulated the people of India on their 75th anniversary of independence, calling out the relationship between “our great democracies” and “our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.”

Yesterday, he lamented the recent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie, calling out Rushdie’s “insight into humanity,…his unmatched sense for story,…his refusal to be intimidated or silenced,” and his support “for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”

But the news today is full not of the defense of democracy, but of those trying to overthrow it.

Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, and Amy Gardner of the Washington Post broke the story that after the 2020 election, as part of the effort to overturn the results, Trump’s lawyers paid computer experts to copy data from election systems in Georgia. The breach was successful and significant, although authorities maintain the machines can be secured before the next election. Led by Trump ally Sidney Powell, the group also sought security data from Michigan and Nevada, although the extent of the breaches there is unclear. They also appear to have worked on getting information from Arizona.

Georgia prosecutors have told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the criminal investigation of the attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, letting him know it is possible he will be indicted.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has tried to quash a subpoena requiring his testimony before a Fulton County grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, but today a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, said he must testify. She said that “the District Attorney’s office has shown ‘extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2020 elections.’"

And yet, the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.

In the issue of Trump’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration when he left office, over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported in the New York Times that last June, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a statement saying that all classified documents that had made it to Mar-a-Lago had been given back to the National Archives and Records Administration. But, of course, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last Monday revealed that assertion to be incorrect.

The statement was made after Jay I. Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence officer, visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3. The House and Senate intelligence committees have asked Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines to provide the committees with a damage assessment of how badly Trump’s retention of top secret classified documents in an insecure location has damaged national security.

Today, the Department of Justice has asked a judge not to unseal the affidavit behind the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, saying that it “implicates highly classified materials,” and that disclosing the affidavit right now would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation.” CNN, the Washington Post, NBC News, and Scripps all asked the judge to unseal all documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. But, “[i]f disclosed,” the Justice Department wrote, “the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps.”

Legal analyst and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe commented: “This suggests [the Department of Justice] wasn’t just repatriating top secret doc[ument]s to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment.”

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