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Apparently the party’s quest for power overshadowed common sense and now the misstep returns to bite them. MA

Amanda Marcotte  17 hrs ago


Trump’s call for $2K checks puts squeeze on Georgia GOP senatorsThe One Place You Really Shouldn’t Go Now, Says Dr. FauciRepublicans enabled Trump for four years — of course he’s betraying them in the 11th hour

Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell are posing for a picture: Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell© Provided by Salon Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images

Let’s get one thing straight: Donald Trump does not care about the American people. Whatever Trump may say, he is not threatening to blow up the coronavirus stimulus bill Senate Republicans finally agreed to pass because the bill isn’t generous enough. Trump could not care less if all Americans starve to death, and he certainly isn’t breaking a sweat trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine out to the public. He was not defending working Americans when he released a video calling the GOP-endorsed coronavirus bill a “disgrace” and pushing for a Democrat-friendly plan to send out $2,000 checks instead of the $600 ones Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to. 

No, what’s likely going on is that Trump, the self-identified master negotiator, is turning to the only negotiation tactic he’s ever really known: Extortion.

Trump likely thinks he’s blackmailing McConnell into stealing the election for him. While we have no direct proof this is an extortion scheme, the circumstantial evidence is abundant and compelling. Here’s what we know: 

Trump really does believe that Republicans know some super secret method for nullifying the election he just lost, and that they’re just not revealing it to him for some reason. In reality, Republicans probably would help him steal the election if they could, but they can’t. But Trump refuses to accept this so he is constantly wheedling GOP officials to do more and whining publicly that they’re holding out on him. He’s even considering canceling a Mar-A-Lago trip and staying in D.C. for Christmas, probably because he’s talked himself into believing he can strike a “deal” to nullify the election. 

Trump is particularly incensed at McConnell right now for not doing more to make Trump’s failed coup successful. On Monday, Trump’s office sent out emails to congressional Republicans in which Trump took credit (falsely) for McConnell’s successful re-election, and implied that McConnell should show his gratitude by doing more to steal the presidential election for Trump. Trump believes that Congress will have an opportunity to overturn the election on January 6, by refusing to certify the Electoral College vote. We know he believes this, even though it’s false because he’s been scheming with House Republicans on how to do it. We also know — because Trump keeps tweeting about it — that Trump believes Senate Republicans are, for whatever reason, not doing enough to help him and need so more threats to get motivated to back his coup.

McConnell believes that this $900 billion coronavirus bill is needed to help Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Georgia Republicans trying to retain their Senate seats in the January 5 run-offs. McConnell told Senate Republicans last week that “Kelly and David are getting hammered” by their Democratic opponents for not passing a bill. This $900 billion package, which is only a fraction of the spending Democrats in the House passed months ago, is the smallest bill McConnell can get away with while still saving those two Senate seats he needs to keep his majority. Trump’s most ardent supporters have singled out the Republicans’ desire to win in Georgia as a leverage point, and keep threatening to tank that race if Republicans don’t do more to help Trump steal the election

To be clear, this isn’t 11th level chess. It’s actually Trump employing junior high school bully logic: McConnell wants a thing (this paltry coronavirus relief bill), and so Trump is threatening to take it away unless Trump gets what he wants (a successful coup). Trump, being very dumb, has not considered the possibility that McConnell couldn’t give in to the extortion if he tried because there’s actually no secret file in McConnell’s office labeled “How To Steal Any Election.” Nor has Trump apparently given much consideration to how Democrats might react to him threatening McConnell by pretending that he wants a more generous bill. 

Democrats have called Trump’s bluff.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1341557535732604935&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.salon.com%2F2020%2F12%2F23%2Frepublicans-enabled-trump-for-four-years–of-course-hes-betraying-them-in-the-11th-hour%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550pxhttps://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1341599067516907520&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.salon.com%2F2020%2F12%2F23%2Frepublicans-enabled-trump-for-four-years–of-course-hes-betraying-them-in-the-11th-hour%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis confirmed that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is planning the unanimous consent vote Christmas Eve, which will force Republicans to go on the record against mailing $2,000 checks to Americans. Considering that McConnell is hoping $600 checks will be enough to buy off Georgia voters on January 5, a vote against a more generous bill is clearly something Republican politicians likely hope to avoid. 

In no way does this theory require believing Trump is crafty, clever, or heaven forbid, intelligent. Trump is a moron who is employing what he thinks is a clever Roy Cohn-style scheme to blackmail McConnell. It is, however, an idiotic misfire, because he’s trying to extort something McConnell simply doesn’t have, that is some deeply buried secret method to steal the election. 

The best part about this is that Democrats handed Republicans a chance to get rid of Trump a year ago, when the Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump for, yep, another one of Trump’s many extortion schemes to keep himself in office. (As a refresher, Trump threatened to withdraw military aid from Ukraine if the Ukrainian president didn’t help him cheat in the 2020 election.) But rather than accept this golden opportunity to rid themselves of an erratic and disloyal narcissist in favor of a more easily controlled President Mike Pence, Senate Republicans chose to acquit Trump and keep him around. 

To thank them, Trump is now blowing up their spot on this coronavirus bill. Because Trump is loyal to no one and can only be failed. To him, you’re only as good as the last illegal or unethical thing you did to help him. 

And boy, it’s hard not to wonder if McConnell isn’t regretting his choice to acquit Trump. Because if he’d just taken the chance Democrats gave him back then, he’d have President Pence happily just doing what he’s told. But no, like so many discarded lawyers, staffers, and other Trump enablers, McConnell made the mistake of thinking he could somehow protect and enable Trump without Trump screwing him over. But Trump will always betray his allies in the end. It’s like the moral of the story Trump loved telling at campaign rallies: Republicans knew Trump was a snake when they picked him up. 

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Lou Dobbs Airs Segment Refuting Election Fraud Claims — Including His Own — In Wake Of Legal Threat

Ted Johnson  14 hrs ago


5 Warning Signs COVID is In Your Lungs, According to a DoctorWeekly Trump Report Card: Republican leaders, Electoral College say it’s overLou Dobbs Airs Segment Refuting Election Fraud Claims — Including His Own — In Wake Of Legal ThreatLou Dobbs wearing a suit and tie© (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Click here to read the full article.

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs aired a segment on Friday that amounted to a fact-checking refutation of claims that he and guests have made about an election tech company Smartmatic and its role in the 2020 presidential election, after the company threatened legal action.

Other similar segments will be shown on Justice with Judge Jeanine on Saturday and Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, a Fox News spokesperson said. Lisa Boothe will host Judge Jeanine, as Jeanine Pirro is off for the holidaysMore from Deadline

Earlier this week, Smartmatic announced that it had threatened legal action against Fox News, Newsmax and One America News Network “for publishing false and defamatory statements,” after talking heads on the outlets have pushed claims of election fraud, including unfounded conspiracy theories of rigged voting machine companies.

Smartmatic sent legal demand letters to the networks, arguing that “these organizations could have easily discovered the falsity of the statements and implications made about Smartmatic by investigating their statements before publishing them to millions of viewers and readers.” The company said that its role in the 2020 election was limited to working on Los Angeles County’s publicly owned voting system, even though anchors and guests have advanced claims that it had a much greater role.

On Friday, Dobbs opened a segment by saying that there were “lots of opinions about the integrity of the elections, the irregularities of mail-in voting, of election voting machines and software.” He then went to Eddie Perez, global director of technology development and open standard for the Open Source Election Technology Institute.

In the segment, an unidentified off-camera voice asks Perez, “Have you seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to flip votes anywhere in the U.S. in this election?”

Perez responded, “I have not seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to delete, change, alter anything related to vote tabulation.” He also said that he was not aware of them having any other direct customers with election officials beyond Los Angeles this cycle. He also said that Smartmatic and another company that has been targeted by President Donald Trump, Dominion Voting Systems, are “two completely separate companies.”

“The ballots that are cast in the United States are tabulated in the United States,” Perez said, refuting another claim about votes being tabulated overseas.

In its 20-page letter, Smartmatic’s attorney J. Erik Connolly cited statements made by Dobbs and Bartiromo, as well as guests who have appeared on their shows including two lawyers who have been claiming election fraud, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who have represented the Trump campaign.

Among other things, Connolly cited comments that Dobbs has made, including a Nov. 18 show in which he said, “I am alarmed because of what is occurring in plain sight during this 2020 election for president of the United States. The circumstances and events are eerily reminiscent of what happened with Smartmatic software electronically changing votes in the 2013 presidential election in Venezuela.”

In the letter, Connolly wrote that Smartmatic has no operations in Venezuela, but did election projects in the country from 2004 to 2017. It said that it stopped doing business in the country after the National Electoral Counsel announced results “that differed from results reflected in Smartmatic’s voting systems.” It then publicly condemned election authorities and ceased operations there.

Connolly wrote that the network “would have easily discovered the falsity of statements and implications being made about Smartmatic by performing even a modicum of investigation.”

Smartmatic demanded a retraction “with the same intensity and level of coverage that you used to defame the company in the first place,” including that it be published on multiple occasions and across network platforms.

“Beyond the financial harm you have done to Smartmatic, your disinformation campaign has created personal risk for the men and women who work at the company,” Connolly wrote. “Smartmatic and its employees and management have received countless threats in the wake of your reports.”

A Smartmatic spokesperson declined to comment “due to potential litigation.”

Dominion Voting Systems, meanwhile, has demanded that Powell retract her statements about their voting systems. “You reckless disinformation campaign is predicated on lies that have endangered Dominion’s business and the lives of its employees,” Thomas A. Clare and Megan L. Meier, two attorneys for the company, wrote in their letter.

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HISTORY.COM EDITOR

Updated : Dec. 2, 2020, Original: Feb. 28, 2018

CONTENTS

  1. Black Codes
  2. Ku Klux Klan
  3. Jim Crow Laws Expand
  4. Ida B. Wells
  5. Charlotte Hawkins Brown
  6. Isaiah Montgomery
  7. Jim Crow Laws in the 20th Century
  8. Jim Crow in the North
  9. When Did Jim Crow Laws End?
  10. Sources

Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Named after a Black minstrel show character, the laws—which existed for about 100 years, from the post-Civil War era until 1968—were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education or other opportunities. Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence and death.

Black Codes

The roots of Jim Crow laws began as early as 1865, immediately following the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States.

Black codes were strict local and state laws that detailed when, where and how formerly enslaved people could work, and for how much compensation. The codes appeared throughout the South as a legal way to put Black citizens into indentured servitude, to take voting rights away, to control where they lived and how they traveled and to seize children for labor purposes.

The legal system was stacked against Black citizens, with former Confederate soldiers working as police and judges, making it difficult for African Americans to win court cases and ensuring they were subject to Black codes.

These codes worked in conjunction with labor camps for the incarcerated, where prisoners were treated as enslaved people. Black offenders typically received longer sentences than their white equals, and because of the grueling work, often did not live out their entire sentence.

READ MORE: How the Black Codes Limited African American Progress

Ku Klux Klan

During the Reconstruction era, local governments, as well as the national Democratic Party and President Andrew Johnson, thwarted efforts to help Black Americans move forward.

Violence was on the rise, making danger a regular aspect of African American life. Black schools were vandalized and destroyed, and bands of violent white people attacked, tortured and lynched Black citizens in the night. Families were attacked and forced off their land all across the South.

The most ruthless organization of the Jim Crow era, the Ku Klux Klan, was born in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, as a private club for Confederate veterans.

The KKK grew into a secret society terrorizing Black communities and seeping through white Southern culture, with members at the highest levels of government and in the lowest echelons of criminal back alleys.

READ MORE: How Prohibition Fueled the Rise of the KKK

Jim Crow Laws Expand

At the start of the 1880s, big cities in the South were not wholly beholden to Jim Crow laws and Black Americans found more freedom in them.

This led to substantial Black populations moving to the cities and, as the decade progressed, white city dwellers demanded more laws to limit opportunities for African Americans.

Jim Crow laws soon spread around the country with even more force than previously. Public parks were forbidden for African Americans to enter, and theaters and restaurants were segregated.

Segregated waiting rooms in bus and train stations were required, as well as water fountains, restrooms, building entrances, elevators, cemeteries, even amusement-park cashier windows.

Laws forbade African Americans from living in white neighborhoods. Segregation was enforced for public pools, phone booths, hospitals, asylums, jails and residential homes for the elderly and handicapped.

Some states required separate textbooks for Black and white students. New Orleans mandated the segregation of prostitutes according to race. In Atlanta, African Americans in court were given a different Bible from white people to swear on. Marriage and cohabitation between white and Black people was strictly forbidden in most Southern states.

It was not uncommon to see signs posted at town and city limits warning African Americans that they were not welcome there.

READ MORE: How Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow Laws

Ida B. Wells

As oppressive as the Jim Crow era was, it was also a time when many African Americans around the country stepped forward into leadership roles to vigorously oppose the laws.

Memphis teacher Ida B. Wells became a prominent activist against Jim Crow laws after refusing to leave a first-class train car designated for white people only. A conductor forcibly removed her and she successfully sued the railroad, though that decision was later reversed by a higher court.

Angry at the injustice, Wells devoted herself to fighting Jim Crow laws. Her vehicle for dissent was newspaper writing: In 1889 she became co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and used her position to take on school segregation and sexual harassment.

Wells traveled throughout the South to publicize her work and advocated for the arming of Black citizens. Wells also investigated lynchings and wrote about her findings.

A mob destroyed her newspaper and threatened her with death, forcing her to move to the North, where she continued her efforts against Jim Crow laws and lynching.

READ MORE: When Ida B. Wells Took on Lynching

Charlotte Hawkins Brown

Charlotte Hawkins Brown was a North Carolina-born, Massachusetts-raised Black woman who returned to her birthplace at the age of 17, in 1901, to work as a teacher for the American Missionary Association.

After funding was withdrawn for that school, Brown began fundraising to start her own school, named the Palmer Memorial Institute.

Brown became the first Black woman to create a Black school in North Carolina and through her education work became a fierce and vocal opponent of Jim Crow laws.

Isaiah Montgomery

Not everyone battled for equal rights within white society—some chose a separatist approach.

Convinced by Jim Crow laws that Black and white people could not live peaceably together, formerly enslaved Isaiah Montgomery created the African American-only town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, in 1887.

Montgomery recruited other former enslaved people to settle in the wilderness with him, clearing the land and forging a settlement that included several schools, an Andrew Carnegie-funded library, a hospital, three cotton gins, a bank and a sawmill. Mound Bayou still exists today, and is still almost 100 percent Black.

Jim Crow Laws in the 20th Century

As the 20th century progressed, Jim Crow laws flourished within an oppressive society marked by violence.

Following World War I, the NAACP noted that lynchings had become so prevalent that it sent investigator Walter White to the South. White had lighter skin and could infiltrate white hate groups.

READ MORE: See America’s First Memorial to its 4,400 Lynching Victims

As lynchings increased, so did race riots, with at least 25 across the United States over several months in 1919, a period sometimes referred to as “Red Summer.” In retaliation, white authorities charged Black communities with conspiring to conquer white America.

With Jim Crow dominating the landscape, education increasingly under attack and few opportunities for Black college graduates, the Great Migration of the 1920s saw a significant migration of educated Black people out of the South, spurred on by publications like The Chicago Defender, which encouraged Black Americans to move north.

Read by millions of Southern Black people, white people attempted to ban the newspaper and threatened violence against any caught reading or distributing it.

The poverty of the Great Depression only deepened resentment, with a rise in lynchings, and after World War II, even Black veterans returning home met with segregation and violence.

READ MORE: Red Summer of 1919: How Black WWI Vets Fought Back Against Racist Mobs

Jim Crow in the North

The North was not immune to Jim Crow-like laws. Some states required Black people to own property before they could vote, schools and neighborhoods were segregated, and businesses displayed “Whites Only” signs.

READ MORE: The Green Book: The Black Travelers’ Guide to Jim Crow America

In Ohio, segregationist Allen Granbery Thurman ran for governor in 1867 promising to bar Black citizens from voting. After he narrowly lost that political race, Thurman was appointed to the U.S. Senate, where he fought to dissolve Reconstruction-era reforms benefiting African Americans.

After World War II, suburban developments in the North and South were created with legal covenants that did not allow Black families, and Black people often found it difficult or impossible to obtain mortgages for homes in certain “red-lined” neighborhoods.

When Did Jim Crow Laws End?

The post-World War II era saw an increase in civil rights activities in the African American community, with a focus on ensuring that Black citizens were able to vote. This ushered in the civil rights movement, resulting in the removal of Jim Crow laws.

In 1948 President Harry Truman ordered integration in the military, and in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that educational segregation was unconstitutional, bringing to an end the era of “separate-but-equal” education.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which legally ended the segregation that had been institutionalized by Jim Crow laws.

And in 1965, the Voting Rights Act halted efforts to keep minorities from voting. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which ended discrimination in renting and selling homes, followed.

Jim Crow laws were technically off the books, though that has not always guaranteed full integration or adherence to anti-racism laws throughout the United States.

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The New York Times

Is this the real reason TOTUS keeps his name in the headlines? MA.

Shane Goldmacher and Maggie HabermanFri, December 18, 2020, 1:51 PM CST

Election workers during the Fulton County ballot recount in Atlanta on Nov. 14, 2020. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)
Election workers during the Fulton County ballot recount in Atlanta on Nov. 14, 2020. (Nicole Craine/The New York Times)

Donald J. Trump will exit the White House as a private citizen next month perched atop a pile of campaign cash unheard-of for an outgoing president, and with few legal limits on how he can spend it.

Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters — often under dubious pretenses — raising roughly $250 million since Election Day along with the national party.

More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, according to people familiar with the matter, which Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds, which far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal, provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions: He could use the money to quell rebel factions within the party, reward loyalists, fund his travels and rallies, hire staff, pay legal bills and even lay the groundwork for a far-from-certain 2024 run.

The postelection blitz of fundraising has cemented Trump’s position as an unrivaled force and the preeminent fundraiser of the Republican Party, even in defeat. His largest single day for online donations actually came after Election Day — raising almost $750,000 per hour Nov. 6. So did his second-biggest day. And his third.

“Right now, he is the Republican Party,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who worked on Trump’s reelection campaign. “The party knows that virtually every dollar they’ve raised in the last four years, it’s because of Donald Trump.”

Trump has long acted with few inhibitions when it comes to spending other people’s money, and he has spent millions of campaign dollars on his own family businesses in the last five years. But new records show an even more intricate intermingling of Trump’s political and familial interests than was previously known.

Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign adviser, served on the board — and was named on drafts of the incorporation papers — of a limited liability company through which the Trump political operation spent more than $700 million since 2019, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The arrangement has never been disclosed. One of the other board members and signatories in the draft papers of the LLC, American Made Media Consultants, was John Pence, the nephew of Vice President Mike Pence and a senior Trump adviser. The LLC has been criticized for purposefully obscuring the ultimate destination of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending.

Lara Trump and John Pence were originally listed as president and vice president on the incorporation papers, documents reviewed by the Times showed. Sean Dollman, the campaign chief financial officer, was the AMMC treasurer.

“Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities; however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Trump. “John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members.” Murtaugh also said the two were not compensated for other positions they were listed as holding.

For Trump, the quarter-billion dollars he and the party raised over six weeks is enough to pay off all of his remaining campaign bills and to fund his fruitless legal challenges and still leave tens of millions of dollars.

Trump’s plans, however, remain extremely fluid. His refusal to accept Joe Biden’s victory has stunted internal political planning, aides say, with some advisers in his shrinking circle of confidants hesitant to even approach him about setting a course of action for 2021 and beyond.

Those who have spoken with Trump say he appears shrunken, and over his job; this detachment is reflected in a Twitter feed that remains stubbornly more focused on unfounded allegations of fraud than on the death toll from the raging pandemic.

Trump has talked about running again in 2024 — but he also may not. He has created this new PAC, but a different political entity could still be in the works, people involved in the discussions said. Talk of counterprogramming Biden’s inauguration with a splashy event or an announcement of his own is currently on hold.

Trump had been tentatively planning to go to Georgia on Saturday, according to a senior Republican official, to support the two Republicans in Senate runoff races there. But he is still angry at the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state for accepting the election result and simply doesn’t want to make the trip. There is some discussion about him going after the Christmas holiday, but it’s not clear he will be in a more magnanimous mood by then.

But even as he displays indifference toward the Georgia races, the Trump political apparatus has taken advantage of the grassroots energy and excitement over the two runoffs to juice its own fundraising. Email and text solicitations have pitched Trump supporters to give to a “Georgia Election Fund,” even though no funds go directly to either Republican senator on the ballot, irritating some Senate GOP strategists.

Instead, the fine print shows 75% of the donations to the Georgia fund go to Trump’s new PAC, called Save America, with 25% to the Republican National Committee.

After weeks of shouting “FRAUD” to supporters in emails and asking them to back an “Election Defense Fund” (which also sent 75% of donations to his new PAC), the Trump operation has subtly shifted its tone and focus, returning to more sustainable preelection themes, like hawking signed hats and opposing socialism.

Trump and the RNC did spend about $15 million combined in legal costs and other spending related to disputing the election between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, according to federal records.

Besides a $3 million payment to Wisconsin to fund a partial recount in the state, Trump’s largest recount-related payment did not go to attorney fees but to American Made Media Consultants, the Trump-linked LLC on which Lara Trump was listed an original signatory. The firm received $2.2 million Nov. 12 in two payments labeled “SMS advertising,” better known as text messaging.

American Made Media Consultants was the subject of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission earlier this year that accused it of “laundering” funds to obscure the ultimate beneficiary of Trump campaign spending. Federal records show the firm had more than $700 million in funds flow through it since 2019. The vast majority of funds were spent before Lara Trump resigned from the board.

For a sense of scale of just how much money Donald Trump will have at his disposal, the new Trump PAC’s $60 million-plus haul — and counting — is about as much money as he spent to win his party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Some campaign finance experts have speculated that Trump might try to use the excess of cash in his new PAC, formally known as a leadership PAC, to pay for his own personal future legal quagmires as he faces investigations once he leaves office. (A senior Trump adviser said they don’t expect the money to be used for personal legal needs.)

“A leadership PAC is a slush fund,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a group that supports increased political transparency. “There are very, very, very few limits on what he can’t spend money on.”

In the last five years, Trump has never shied from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from his contributors on his private businesses, a practice he could continue or expand while out of office.

Just since mid-October, the Trump Victory Committee, a joint account operated with the RNC, has paid more than $710,000 to the Trump Hotel Collection, while his reelection account has continued to pay more than $37,000 per month to rent space in Trump Tower.

It is not clear where his post-presidential operation will be based or who will run it, although several advisers expect it will be in Florida, where he is planning to move.

But as a former president, Trump will be allocated a certain amount of taxpayer money for staff and office space for life after leaving the White House, and he is beginning to have discussions about which aides from the West Wing will accompany him.

His senior political advisers — Bill Stepien, Justin Clark and Jason Miller, among others — are among those who may stay involved with him politically.

While Trump’s post-presidency remains largely shapeless, he has demonstrated his desire to exert his control on national politics, especially among Republicans.

He has already endorsed Ronna McDaniel, a close ally, to serve another term as chair of the RNC. He has floated primary challenges to Republicans, such as Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who have crossed him by rejecting his baseless theories of election fraud. He has even asked aides how he can retain control of the party if he isn’t a candidate.

One person close to Trump said that he has sounded less certain about declaring he’s running in 2024 than he had just two weeks ago. That uncertainty is causing anxiety for a number of advisers and aides to the president, some of whom might join other campaigns but are stuck in limbo until Trump makes up his mind. Announcing for president would trigger tighter rules on Trump’s political spending and added financial disclosures, including of Trump’s personal finances, that simply operating a PAC would not.

Trump’s future ambitions have also created a cloud over who exactly will control some of the most valuable assets from the 2020 campaign, including Trump’s lengthy list of supporters from whom he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Both the RNC and Trump are entitled to some of this valuable voter data, and efforts at “decoupling” the data are underway but expected to last months.

The RNC has typically stayed out of presidential primaries, but no former president in the modern era has seriously considered running again after losing reelection, putting the party apparatus in uncharted territory. His embrace of McDaniel as an ally in running the party could further complicate matters.

“There’s no bully pulpit as large as the presidency, but nevertheless, President Trump is likely to play a significant role in the future of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s very difficult to imagine him following the same pattern as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other presidents have followed in keeping their mouths shut and letting the new president try to govern.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Chris Britt Comic Strip for December 18, 2020
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No Matter what one wants to believe, Donald J. Trump has lost the election! The funding for the numerous failed lawsuits are the stock in trade for Donald. He has done this all of his adult (Business) life. His modus operandi is to use someone else’s money as he has none. This is still true as the lawsuits are paid for by his backers including his “base” many of them cannot afford to contribute but do it anyway possibly in lieu of food and personal comforts. The GOP members who have supported this madness up to and including signing onto a petition to overturn the election. The high court has rejected taking on this case and TOTUS is furious as in his uniformed mind he assumed he owned the court because of his appointments. The worst of this is not over, what will be left is a potentially un resolvable rift in the country between the right and left with the GOP sitting on the right with known extremists backing them (whether they want them or not). It should be noted that the left is no better in their own pursuits. The current Congress has shown their preference for taking care of their big money donors over their constituents whom they profess to work for. Hopefully the voters no matter their party preference will remember who their elected officials really work for. TOTUS will trash talk any and everyone after this is sorted out so why follow the head lemming?

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Ryan Cooper Sat, December 12, 2020, 5:30 AM CST

Let’s review two pieces of news from the last week. First, the American coronavirus pandemic is entering its worst stage yet, with cases and deaths skyrocketing across the country. Last Thursday saw over 3,000 deaths — more than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor — and with ICU beds at or near capacity in most of the country, absent serious change it is possible there will be double or even triple that number per day in a matter of weeks. We may yet top the deadliest day in American history, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed an estimated 8,000 people, very soon. President Trump is doing precisely nothing about this.

Second, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under investigation for bribery and abuse of office, filed a baldly seditious lawsuit calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and hand their electoral votes to Trump. It was flatly an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, end constitutional government, and install Trump in power. Before the Supreme Court threw the suit out Friday night, 17 other Republican state attorneys general had joined him, along with 126 members of the Republican caucus in the House, while Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has agreed to represent Trump. And this is just one of dozens of attempts that Republicans at all levels of government have concocted to overturn Trump’s loss.

In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren’t for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.

But it’s worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy.

The reasoning here is very simple. All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud. Indeed, several of the representatives who support the lawsuit were themselves just elected by the very votes they now say are fraudulent. The proposed remedy — having Republican-dominated legislatures in only the four states that gave Biden his margin of victory select Trump electors — would be straight-up election theft.

In other words, this lawsuit, even though it didn’t succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.

The Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]” How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It’s still insurrection even if it doesn’t work out.

Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey GrahamDavid Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.

This wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened, either. Immediately after the Civil War, the Radical Republican Congress refused to seat delegations from the former rebellious states until they were satisfied with the progress of Reconstruction. Southern states were forced to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments — which guaranteed due process and universal male suffrage — before their congressional delegations would be seated. (As a consequence, those delegations included numerous Black representatives, until Reconstruction was overthrown.)

It is virtually impossible to imagine the ancient, timid fossils that run the Democratic Party even considering this kind of thing (though remarkably, Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has) because it would require courage, vision, and honestly reckoning with the parlous state of the nation. It would not be illegal, but it would be a step beyond narrow legal proceduralism and into the uncharted waters of aggressive political innovation and raw will-to-power. It could conceivably touch off armed unrest in several states.

But it’s not hard to see where the current conservative trajectory is headed. While elected Republicans have tried to overturn the election using increasingly blatant methods, top conservative pundits are mulling the idea of secession, as their treasonous fire-eater forebears did 160 years ago. The lie that Biden stole the election is now official GOP dogma. By the same token, it is not a coincidence that the Republican Party is ignoring the deadly pandemic (if not actively spreading the virus) while they try to overturn the Constitution. They feel they can safely ignore the welfare of the American people, because they are not accountable to them.

Unless this escalating conservative extremism halts from the inside somehow — which is not remotely in sight anywhere — this can only end eventually in a violent confrontation, or (much more likely) Democrats will simply give up and let themselves be defeated. Still, this country was founded by people who thought it was worth putting their lives at hazard to throw off tyrannical rule. Perhaps some of that spirit can once again be found.

7 criminally funny cartoons about Trump’s potential pardon spree

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Europeans seem to be just as delighted that Biden-Harris won. MA

Melissa Rossi·ContributorFri, December 11, 2020, 5:35 PM CST

BARCELONA — Last month, when Sweden’s TV4, the largest broadcast network in Scandinavia, sent political correspondent Ann Tiberg to cover the U.S. election, her producers were so afraid of the possible mayhem awaiting her that they insisted she pack a bulletproof vest, helmet and gas mask. Understandably: The United States had often appeared out of control in previous months, and not just due to COVID-19. The president had urged his followers to vote twice and cryptically told the militia group the Proud Boys to “stand by”; peaceful protests sometimes turned ugly, devolving into looting and the occasional fatal shooting; showdowns between armed groups were widely predicted for Election Day.

Happily, Tiberg didn’t need the combat gear. “There was no violence, and not a lot of cheating — the system worked. And people showed up in numbers never seen before. I thought that was so impressive. That’s what I brought back to my viewers: The U.S. pulled it off.”

Citizens across the Atlantic cheered the election results. “Europeans were overwhelmingly happy that Trump lost and Biden won,” says Jon Henley, political reporter for the London-based Guardian. But now, “they’re looking on in shock, horror and disbelief — saying this is not right and this is dangerous.”

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., at Valdosta Regional Airport on Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Ga. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., at Valdosta Regional Airport on Dec. 5 in Valdosta, Ga. (Evan Vucci/AP)

After being cast aside by Trump as irrelevant and viewing the administration over the last four years from an icy distance — and preoccupied with the pandemic, Brexit, economic meltdowns, terror attacks and violence-ridden demonstrations against police brutality in France, among other crises — Europeans were bewildered at first by the chaos unleashed by Trump’s desperate efforts to stay in power.

But they are paying attention now. “People are deeply dismayed by what they’re seeing unfold,” says Dave Keating, a Connecticut-born politics reporter now working for French, German and British media from Brussels. “Particularly damaging is that the last few weeks have called into question the rule of law and political stability in the U.S.” And at least some political analysts are worried that the violence expected during election week may instead take place when the Electoral College votes are finalized in January and Trump’s fantasies of overturning the results have become moot.

American presidential elections are, naturally, always big news everywhere in the world, but media coverage in Europe is now awash with stories about Trump’s cries of stolen and illegal votes as well as his mad legal/political dash to overturn the election, competing with news of Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominations and his plans to return to the Paris climate agreement and his pledge to revive the transatlantic bond. Some European media outlets, as well as American, have even called Trump’s machinations an attempted coup, although Europeans who have lived through actual coups tend to have a high bar for use of the word. “We usually think of coups as armed, rapid and decisive,” Henley noted. “This, for the moment, is not armed, and it’s certainly not rapid or decisive. But if you look at its intent, and where it might end up, then we probably should consider this a coup attempt.”

A graffiti with the US President Donald Trump, located at the Grand Canal in Dublin's city centre on November 17, 2020, in Dublin, Ireland. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A graffiti with the President Trump, located at the Grand Canal in Dublin on Nov. 17. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Brussels-based political scientist Roland Freudenstein, director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, sees the glass of democracy half-full, as well as half-empty. “On the one hand, the U.S. democracy redeemed itself in the eyes of Europe because the madman was not reelected. On the other hand, there’s a huge discrediting of the U.S. democracy by the incumbent who is basically hollowing out the democratic process from the inside.” Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election is not just weakening American democracy, Freudenstein says, but also democratic governments all over the world. “We always expected he would cause trouble and mischief, but even moderate Republicans thought this would stop after 10 days or two weeks — but it’s not stopping.”

For Marius Dragomir, Director of the Center for Media, Data and Society in Budapest, who grew up in Romania where his family once huddled around the radio listening to Radio Free Europe with the volume low and the drapes closed, Trump’s recent attacks on the electoral process along with his actions over the past four years are heartbreaking. “America was the model and the dream for Eastern Europe, especially after 1990. But it’s not anymore,” he says, “especially after Trump.”

Seeing Trump place family and friends in positions of power while continuing to make money from official visits to his hotels and resorts was reminiscent to Dragomir of the kleptocracies that emerged after the breakup of the Soviet Union. His colleagues kept asking, “‘Is it really possible for the American president to do whatever he wants and to mix his business interests with the position he has, to do bad things with impunity?’ We are used to that in Eastern Europe — but to see it in America was strange,” he says. “People lost the appreciation they once had for America” — all the more over the past month when Trump went after anyone who failed to bend to his insistence that he’d won. The difference, says Dragomir, is that somewhere like Romania or Bulgaria, Trump probably would have prevailed.

Derek Leonard gestures, behind a poster supporting Joe Biden in the town of Ballina, Ireland on Nov. 7, 2020. (Peter Morrison/AP)
Derek Leonard gestures behind a poster supporting Joe Biden in the town of Ballina, Ireland, on Nov. 7, 2020. (Peter Morrison/AP)

“When people lose faith in the electoral process, they’re losing the most important part of democracy,” Dragomir says, and Trump’s defiance of the results sent a bad signal to fledgling democracies everywhere.

Trump’s latest actions have branded him “a saboteur” in France, says English-born historian and author Andrew Hussey, a professor now based in Paris. “He’s regarded as trying to subvert the democratic process” — a big deal in France, where the republic is rooted in that very ideal, which is regarded quite seriously.

“France is now looking at the United States with a mixture of glee and disgust,” he says — with even right-wing parties, like Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, now distancing themselves from the current White House occupant whom they once cheered. Then again, admits Hussey, France “always has a love-hate relationship with America. They love American pop culture. But they look at the arrogance of someone like Trump and wonder how a so-called republic could allow one individual to wreck it — and sabotage its foreign and domestic policies.” Recent editorials in French papers are quick to condemn Congress for not reining him in long ago — all the more given these past weeks of attacks on the American election results.

The GOP’s complicity and outright support of Trump’s attacks is perhaps what most galls European thinkers. “That over 200 Republicans haven’t stood up and said anything is absolutely ridiculous,” says political scientist Freudenstein. “It beggars belief that grown-up politicians can act like this.”

A supporter of President Donald Trump listens to him speak during a campaign rally at Valdosta Regional Airport on Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Ga. (Evan Vucci/AP)
A supporter of President Trump listens to him speak during a campaign rally at on Dec. 5 in Valdosta, Ga. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Worse than handing Biden a nation where tens of millions now apparently believe Trump’s false claims that the election was unfairly stolen from him, Europeans believe, are the increasing divisions in American society, some of which Trump helped to stoke. But the growing schism can’t be blamed on Trump alone. Noting that Republicans won more congressional seats than predicted, Freudenstein believes it’s because “Americans are genuinely scared of violence from the radical left.” He is worried about the rise of antifa and the looting that accompanied some Black Lives Matter protests. “I’m not repeating the rhetoric of Trump and his people. But I don’t think [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.] and radical slogans like ‘Defund the Police’ are helping Biden — quite the contrary.” He’s equally wary of the rise of armed militias — whether the Boogaloo Boys or the Proud Boys or the kinds of unorganized terrorists that allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October.

He believes that while they may persist for another five or 10 years, such divisions cannot last, and ultimately a new consensus will emerge from new movements “when people see that this polarization actually destroys the country.”

People identifying themselves as members of the Proud Boys join supporters of President Donald Trump as they march on Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
People identifying themselves as members of the Proud Boys join supporters of President Trump as they march on Nov. 14 in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Except for Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, where the pro-Trump leaders keep fanning the flames that the recent elections were rigged, the theme that echoes across the Continent is that even though it creaked and shuddered, the American system weathered these most recent attacks from the current White House occupant — thanks to its courts, where even Republican judges and Trump appointees have tossed flimsy lawsuits back in his face. “It’s heartening,” says Henley, “that the U.S. judicial system is holding up.”

For Berlin-based Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of the Strategic Europe blog, there are two fundamental takeaways from what’s been happening in the United States during this very rocky presidential transition. “First, you can’t take democracy and rule of law for granted; you have to protect it — especially the courts,” she says. “Secondly, we must find ways to keep the center ground and to maintain a dialogue” between disparate factions.

With 40 days to go, Europeans have joined the countdown to the Biden inauguration, when such issues as climate change, migration, trade and cohesive policies between Europe and the United States on how to approach countries like China and Iran are expected to come to the forefront. “European governments,” says Henley, “will be delighted to talk with somebody who makes sense again.”

The U.S. flag placed on a balcony of an apartment is hung upside-down, a sign of distress, in Madrid, Spain on Nov. 6, 2020. (Paul White/AP)
The U.S. flag placed on a balcony of an apartment is hung upside down, a sign of distress, in Madrid on Nov. 6. (Paul White/AP)

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Ken Catalino Comic Strip for December 11, 2020

Aunty Acid Comic Strip for December 12, 2020
Nick Anderson Comic Strip for December 11, 2020
Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for December 11, 2020
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When did we fall asleep at the switch? This past 4 years of Trumpism has clouded the eyes of many. This clouding has allowed the Conservative GOP and the right side of religion to ascend in ways that serve them selves, not the voters. This election kerfuffle has sucked all of rationality out of ordinary events and allowed “Botch” McConnel to jump on it with both feet. He and his miscreants are busily withholding the tax payers funds from the pandemic and economic relief. Their reasons for dragging their feet have ranged from the future financial burden on our grandchildren to people not wanting to go to work if they receive benefits from the government. If anyone could be accused of not going to work, it would be the Congress! I can assure you that not one of the 535 plus members of the Congress has lost a minutes pay, healthcare or a place to lay their heads during this pandemic yet they are creating a nation of indigents while continuing to lie about their actions. How many millions are they spending to fight a legal election because TOTUS wants it. Once Donald J. Trump is out of office, will they all of a sudden start doing their jobs? If you are paying attention please listen to what these neer do wells are saying and pay close attention to what they are doing. The wake up call is now as we have put too much trust in 500 plus people of whom a third of them are actually doing their jobs. A simple line I coined is: The two middle letters in politician is “LI” pronounced “lie”.

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Only in America can on have the right to speak out against injustice, government overreach (or under reach). The one right we should not have is the right to follow an inept leader into the jaws of death and despair. TOTUS has spent 4 valuable years (ours) promoting himself and his poor policies using “dog whistles” and racial slurs. It is unfortunate that too many citizens have fallen for the old “it’s them not us” theme. It would be wise to recall that as citizens we condoned slavery while relying on those enslaved to help us make progress. The current resident of the White House has no knowledge of government beyond what he “perceives” as wrong but no facts to back it up. He has taken the idea that he is smartest person in the room and isn’t. The reason for a cabinet and other agency heads is to inform the President of world affairs and what is happening in the country. This leader(?) has no patience for meetings that do not aggrandize his ideas and actions. His cadre of aides and assistants rarely go against his wishes or desires for fear of his tweeting about them and firing them via tweet. His appointments of agency heads are many times “acting” positions because he wants to be able to fire them at will. If we were able to “lay” the lies he has put forth end to end we could possible circle the globe. What we have is an entertainer seeking approbation on a daily basis rather than “attempting” to do the job and associated work of the Presidency. His loyalist followers fail to realize what affects one group of people affects us all. The end all (or it should be) is the farce of the recent election being “rigged” against him. His callous actions regarding the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn should be enough to replace him but his loyal voters fail to see that and follow him unmasked while potentially spreading a deadly infection. With the GOP firmly in hand TOTUS and his allies have brought the country to the lowest level since the “McCarthy Hearings”. The GOP has always been the party of fiscal restraint but this is not the time for restraint with Millions of voters suffering with death, illness, homelessness and economic stagnation. World War II showed us that we (America) can rise out these ashes but not by fiscal restraint. We all need to understand that many times our elected officials are lying to us in order to remain in office. There is no worse crime by elected officials than allowing their constituents to suffer while their paycheck and health care continues unabated. It is incumbent on voters to remember who had their backs in times like these and party affiliation should not be a factor. A persons integrity is more important than their party affiliation.

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