“Because while one secret of authoritarian defense is that capturing a judiciary gives you absolute power…not just above the law – but to be the law.”
— Umair Haque, What Happens When The Fascists Become The Law?
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/28/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
The Party of Trump is in a full-on race to both craft a revisionist story of 2016 election interference and find dirt on political opponents. The Trump-Barr-Giuliani story about the 2016 election is a completely unraveled conspiracy theory that it was not the Russians attacking US elections to benefit Trump as concluded by the two-year effort by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s 448-page report and subsequent testimony was a detailed analysis of Russian actions with the Trump campaign welcoming the help, even if not rising to a standard of conspiracy. Trump campaign staffers marched off to jail for their roles – for example, former Trump foreign advisor George Papadopoulos, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
Despite his constant bleating to the contrary, Trump was not exonerated. Trump was spared because of a Department of Justice guidance stating that a sitting president cannot be charged. Mueller delivered a convincing roadmap that if not for DoJ policy, Trump could be convicted of obstruction, if not some aspects of outright cooperation with Russians.
Trump has tried his best to offer his own narrative that Hillary Clinton was the one who conspired with Russia while never accepting the conclusions of his own intelligence and law enforcement organizations. Trump has settled on a debunked conspiracy theory to pressure Ukraine to investigate (find) dirt on a political opponent. That this puts Ukraine on the spot is also a ‘gift’ to his mentor Trump. Part of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine president Zelensky to follow his criminal script was to withhold $400 million in military aid needed by Ukraine to resist Russian annexation of eastern Ukraine.
This feels like a race to a finish line – Dems making progress with validation of Trump’s illegal quid pro quo to validate a political story against opposition while Trumpsters stump the globe to find wrong-doing by US intelligence services against Trump and bar the door against Dem investigation process.
Both Trumpster defensive and offensive initiatives have taken a dangerous turn.
The first sentence could also stand as the ‘neutral’ headline as reported by many news outlets: “The Attorney General announced that his “administrative review” into the Russia inquiry was now a “criminal investigation.” But the neutral versions fail to convey the seriousness of how our Department of Justice is operating as a Trump protective service to an extent of criminalizing oppositional voices. Trump and Barr are tipping us to an authoritarian government, should they succeed, Trump will truly be above the law.
“When the extremists capture the judiciary, my friends — that’s more often than not the final step in a true authoritarian collapse. The corrosion and capture of the judicial branch of government is one of the final steps in any true authoritarian collapse. And the AG investigating the investigators of a corrupt, unhinged President — as a criminal matter — that is the weaponization of the judicial branch. It is the use of the judicial branch as a political nuclear bomb. It crosses all the red lines of a democracy.”
The author further clarifies: “Because while one secret of authoritarian defense is that capturing a judiciary gives you absolute power…not just above the law – but to be the law.”
Salon offers a similar analysis and warning: “Bill Barr’s alternate universe “investigation” has a goal: Right-wing authoritarian rule”
While Barr tries to operate off the radar, Congressional Trumpsters vie for Fox headlines through bullying and belligerence. In the face of a constant stream of damaging testimony against Trump they are not defending Trump, but instead attacking ‘process’. A good summary is here.
Responding to Trump’s plea to “defend him more aggressively”, Trumpsters stormed and compromised a secure hearing facility delaying witness testimony by five hours.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to rally Senate Trumpsters by taking a loyalty vote declaring support for Trump but only 40 other Republicans backed his resolution. Maybe not a great sign for the eventual Senate role in the impeachment process.
Note – Trumpsters are attacking process rules put in place by former House Speaker John Boehner and a Republican led House.
Irony means nothing to Trumpsters. But humor?
Sometimes even being a cable news host has its rewards – you get to report on Trump clown-lawyer Giuliani butt-dialing a NBC reporter, not once, but twice. TWICE?
The reports are from the recorded messages and they included Giuliani/Trump-damning gems like this:
“They don’t want to investigate because he’s protected, so we gotta force them to do it,” Giuliani says, before apparently turning to the president’s now-infamous call with the Ukrainian president.
“And the Ukraine, they’re investigating him and they blocked it twice. So what the president was [unintelligible word], ‘You can’t keep doing this. You have to investigate this.’ And they say it will affect the 2020 election.”
Giuliani with Trump’s knowledge pressuring Ukraine to benefit Trump in the 2020 election. Reminiscent of “Russia if you’re listening” from Trump’s 2016 plea for Russian help.
Trump and Barr suffered another huge setback.
The court ruling “undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham”. This is a sweeping ruling against Trump noncooperation with an immediate consequence of ordering the release of grand jury testimony for House Dem investigations but also extends to Trumpsters ignoring subpoenas and giving legal cover to the appearance of willing witnesses to appear.
Lawfare offers a thorough legal analysis of the crumpling Trumpster defenses here:
There is always more, like the systematic White House effort to dismantle cybersecurity measures with Axios warning, “the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised again”.
I will end by noting that the House Dems are quickly racking up a collection of damning witness testimonies against Trump. While Republicans decry the closed hearings, I can only imagine how they’ll act when they get their apparent wish and the interviews are conducted in public.
The race is on – Trump, Trumpsters and Barr ripping out the foundation of Democracy to save Trump while Democrats race to build a convincing statement of Articles of Impeachment. We will see Articles of Impeachment and the House will vote to endorse, but as Barr showed with his personal spin on the Mueller Report while delaying the public release by weeks, there is advantage to first messaging.
And in the face of evidence of ongoing Russian election attacks there is this from Russia: