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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 17

The big story in the news over the past couple of days is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes to fly about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.

The story is still developing. Although DeSantis is the governor of Florida, the migrants appear to have come from Texas, and it currently appears that they were lured onto the planes—paid for with taxpayer money—with the false promise of work and housing in New York City or Boston. In addition, there are allegations from a lawyer working with the migrants that officials from the Department of Homeland Security falsified information about the migrants to set them up for automatic deportation. As I write this, it is not clear what their actual status is: have they applied for asylum and been processed, or are they undocumented immigrants?

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says, none of it adds up.

None of it, that is, except the politics. DeSantis apparently dispatched the migrants with a videographer to take images of them arriving, entirely unexpectedly, on the upscale island, presumably in an attempt to present the image that Democratic areas can’t handle immigrants (in fact, more than 12% of the island’s 17,000 full-time residents were born in foreign countries, and 22% of the residents are non-white). But the residents of the island greeted the migrants; found beds, food, and medical care; and worked with authorities to move them back to the mainland where there are support services and housing. In the meantime, there are questions about the legality of DeSantis chartering planes to move migrants from state to state.

There are two big stories behind DeSantis’s move.

First is that the Republicans are on the ropes over the Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision and the capture of the party by its MAGA wing. That slide into radical extremism means the party is contracting, but it is not clear at all that base voters will show up in the midterms without former president Trump on the ballot.

Rallying voters with threats of “aliens” swamping traditional society is a common tactic of right-wing politicians; it was the central argument that brought Hungary’s Viktor Orbán into his current authoritarian position. Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have been bussing migrants to Washington—about 10,000 of them—saying they would bring the immigrant issue to the doorsteps of Democrats. Now DeSantis is in on the trick.

Immigrants are nothing new to northern cities, of course. The U.S. is in a period of high immigration. Currently, 15% of the inhabitants of Washington, D.C., are foreign born, only slightly less than the 16.8% of the population of Texas that is foreign born. About 29% of the inhabitants of Boston come from outside U.S. borders, as do 36% of the inhabitants of New York City.

In the lead-up to the midterms, Republicans have tried to distract from their unpopular stands on abortion, contraception, marriage equality, and so on, by hammering on the idea that the Democrats have created “open borders”; that criminal immigrants are bringing in huge amounts of drugs, especially fentanyl; and that Biden is secretly flying undocumented immigrants into Republican states in the middle of the night. Beginning in July, they began to insist that the country is being “invaded.”

In fact, the border is not “open.” Fences, surveillance technology, and about 20,000 Border Patrol agents make the border more secure than it has ever been. That means apprehensions of undocumented migrants are up, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recording more than 3 million encounters at the border since January 2021. Those high numbers reflect people stopped from coming in and are artificially inflated because many who are stopped try again. CBP estimates that about 27% of those stopped at the border are repeat apprehensions.

Although much fentanyl is being stopped, some is indeed coming in, but through official ports of entry in large trucks or cars, not on individual migrants, who statistically are far less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes. And the federal government is not secretly flying anyone anywhere (although, ironically, DeSantis is); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sometimes moves migrants between detention centers, and CBP transfers unaccompanied children to the Department of Health and Human Services. These flights have been going on for years.

The second story is the history of American immigration, which is far more complicated and interesting than the current news stories suggest.

Mexican immigration is nothing new; our western agribusinesses were built on migrant labor of Mexicans, Japanese, and poor whites, among others, in the late 19th century. From the time the current border was set in 1848 until the 1930s, people moved back and forth across it without restrictions. But in 1965, Congress passed the Hart-Celler Act, putting a cap on Latin American immigration for the first time. The cap was low: just 20,000, although 50,000 workers were coming annually.

After 1965, workers continued to come as they always had, and to be employed, as always. But now their presence was illegal. In 1986, Congress tried to fix the problem by offering amnesty to 2.3 million Mexicans who were living in the U.S. and by cracking down on employers who hired undocumented workers. But rather than ending the problem of undocumented workers, the new law exacerbated it by beginning the process of militarizing the border. Until then, migrants into the United States had been offset by an equal number leaving at the end of the season. Once the border became heavily guarded, Mexican migrants refused to take the chance of leaving.

Then, in the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) flooded Mexico with U.S. corn and drove Mexican farmers to find work in the American Southeast. This immigration boom had passed by 2007, when the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States began to decline as more Mexicans left the U.S. than came.

In 2013 a large majority of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, backed a bill to fix the disconnect caused by the 1965 law. In 2013, with a bipartisan vote of 68–32, the Senate passed a bill giving a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, who would have to meet security requirements. It required employers to verify that they were hiring legal workers. It created a visa system for unskilled workers, and it got rid of preference for family migration in favor of skill-based migration. And it strengthened border security. It would have passed the House, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to bring it up for a vote, aware that the issue of immigration would rally Republican voters.

But most of the immigrants coming over the southern border now are not Mexican migrants.

Beginning around 2014, people began to flee “warlike levels of violence” in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, coming to the U.S. for asylum. This is legal, although most come illegally, taking their chances with smugglers who collect fees to protect migrants on the Mexican side of the border and to get them into the U.S.

The Obama administration tried to deter migrants by expanding the detention of families, and it made significant investments in Central America in an attempt to stabilize the region by expanding economic development and promoting security. The Trump administration emphasized deterrence. It cut off support to Central American countries, worked with authoritarians to try to stop regional gangs, drastically limited the number of refugees the U.S. would admit, and—infamously—deliberately separated children from their parents to deter would-be asylum seekers.

The number of migrants to the U.S. dropped throughout Trump’s years in office. The Trump administration gutted immigration staff and facilities and then cut off immigration during the pandemic under Title 42, a public health order.

The Biden administration coincided with the easing of the pandemic and catastrophic storms in Central America, leading migration to jump, but the administration continued to turn migrants back under Title 42 and resumed working with Central American countries to stem the violence that is sparking people to flee. (In nine months, the Trump administration expelled more than 400,000 people under Title 42; in Biden’s first 18 months, his administration expelled 1.7 million people.)

The Biden administration sought to end Title 42 last May, but a lawsuit by Republican states led a federal judge in Louisiana to keep the policy in place. People arriving at the U.S. border have the right to apply for asylum even under Title 42.

There are a lot of moving pieces in the immigration debate: migrants need safety, the U.S. needs workers, our immigrant-processing systems are understaffed, and our laws are outdated. They need real solutions, not political stunts.


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Confederates, socialists, Capitol attackers: A 14th Amendment history lesson


The Washington Post

Gillian Brockell – 32m ago

A New Mexico judge ruled this week that a county commissioner was disqualified from holding office because he participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In ordering Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin removed from office, the judge cited a section of the 14th Amendment disqualifying any elected official “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States,” has then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” The advocacy group that filed the lawsuit is also considering attempting to use it to disqualify former president Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential contest, according to the New York Times.

The disqualification clause, as it is sometimes called, was written in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, in the brief period when Radical Republicans — some of the most progressive lawmakers in American history — held a majority and were determined to stop high-ranking Confederate traitors from returning to public office.

The amendment doesn’t specify who’s supposed to be enforcing it, so the responsibility has fallen to different bodies. Griffin was disqualified in court, but historically, Congress itself has sometimes taken votes to prevent elected members from being seated.

Two of those instances highlight the inconsistency of the clause’s application: the last time it was used successfully, nearly a century ago against antiwar lawmaker Victor Berger (who was not, by any standard definition, an insurrectionist), and when it was applied against former Confederate Zebulon Vance — who, like Berger, was allowed to waltz back into office once the political winds had shifted in his favor.

Sen. Zebulon Vance circa 1875.© Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

Vance grew up in a well-connected family that struggled financially but still enslaved more than a dozen people. After law school, he rose in the political ranks, first in the state senate and eventually as the youngest member of the 36th Congress, representing Asheville and the surrounding areas.

(Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who currently represents Asheville and was also the youngest member of his Congress, faced a lawsuit trying to disqualify him from Congress under the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit was dismissed as moot after Cawthorn lost his primary in May.)

As the march toward the Civil War escalated, Vance initially opposed secession but eventually served in the Confederate Army. He also served as the Confederate governor of North Carolina.

After the war, in 1870, he was appointed senator from North Carolina, but the Senate refused to seat him, citing the 14th Amendment. After spending two years in Washington trying to get an amnesty, he gave up.

Capitol statue collection gets first Black American, replacing Confederate

But only a few years later, Washington was handing out amnesty like candy, defeating the whole purpose of the clause. Vance got his in 1875 and was elected to the Senate three years later. Not only did he serve until his death in 1894; in a sense, he is still there today: A statue of Vance stands in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, a 1916 gift from North Carolina that Congress cannot legally remove unless the state decides to replace it.

Berger had a very different story, though he ended up in the same pickle as Vance. Born into a Jewish family in the Austrian empire, he immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1878. He became a successful publisher in Milwaukee of both English- and German-language newspapers.

Berger was a leading voice of the “Sewer Socialists,” who believed socialist objectives could be achieved through elections and good governance, no violent revolution necessary. Today, we would call this a “roads and bridges” platform; back then, it was working sewers and clean, city-owned water.

Socialists were winning U.S. elections long before Bernie Sanders and AOC

Berger served one term in Congress — the first-ever Socialist Party member — from 1911 to 1913, the high point being when he introduced the first bill for an old-age pension. (Nowadays we call that Social Security.) He didn’t win reelection, but he stayed active in Wisconsin politics and in publishing.

Then World War I began, and with it came the First Red Scare. Berger was against the war and said so in his editorials, and in 1918 that was enough for him to be charged with “disloyal acts” under the Espionage Act. He was running for Congress again while under indictment, and soon after he won the election that November, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

The socialist who ran for president from prison — and won nearly a million votes

While out on appeal, Berger showed up in Washington to be sworn in. The House refused to seat him by a vote of 309-1, saying his words had “given aid or comfort” to enemies of the nation, and he was thus barred under the 14th Amendment.

In December 1919, he ran in the special election to replace himself, and incredibly, he won. The House refused him a second time. In 1921, Berger’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, and he returned unfettered to Congress in 1922, where he served three terms, pushing legislation to crack down on lynching and to end Prohibition.


Heather Cox RichardsonSep 10

Today, President Joe Biden’s administration released an  “economic blueprint” to show how the new laws and policies it has put in place “are rebuilding an economy that works for working families.”

The Biden-Harris Economic Blueprint notes that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office in the midst of unprecedented crises, including “an economy that for many decades had been failing to deliver for working families—with workers and middle-class families left behind, stagnating wages and accelerating costs, crumbling infrastructure, U.S. manufacturing in decline, and persistent racial disparities.” In the past year and a half, it says, the Democrats have set the nation “on a new course,” investing in a historic economic recovery based on a long-term strategy to make lasting changes to the economy that will carry the nation into the future, making sure that no one is left behind.

The blueprint calls for empowering workers through unionization and new jobs; restoring the country’s manufacturing base by investing in infrastructure and clean energy; helping families by lowering costs and expanding access to affordable and high-quality health care, child care, education, housing, and so on; promoting industrial competition to open the way for entrepreneurs and bring down costs; and “rewarding work, not wealth,” by reforming taxation so that taxes do not go up on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year, and that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.

This blueprint pulls together much of what Biden has been saying all along, and it is quite clear about what this means. What the blueprint calls “new architecture” must, it says, “replace the old regime.” The old system sent economic gains to the top while outsourcing industries, and the end of public investment hollowed out the middle class. The new system will drive “the economy from the bottom up and middle out” because that system “ensures that growth benefits everyone.” 

While Biden and Harris are focused on the economy and the future, the Department of Justice is still handling crises created by the former president.

Yesterday the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion to request a partial stay of Judge Aileen Cannon’s order last week, the one that said the DOJ couldn’t use the items the FBI seized when they searched the Trump property at Mar-a-Lago on August 8. 

In her Civil Discourse newsletter, law professor, host of the Sisters In Law podcast, and former U.S. attorney Joyce White Vance explained that the DOJ has asked for that order to be stayed as far as it concerns the classified records. That request is separate from an appeal of the order itself to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which the DOJ has indicated it will undertake. With the motion it filed yesterday, the DOJ wants the court to hold off on enforcing the judge’s order that the government can’t review and use the materials seized “for criminal investigative purposes,” and the part that says the government must turn the records over to a special master. 

The DOJ pointed out that the intelligence community’s assessment of the damage done to our national security is tied together with the ongoing criminal investigation. Because the FBI is central to both, the judge’s order has shut down the national security review, which is vitally important to the country.

“In plain English,” Vance writes, “DOJ is asking how the guy who took the classified nuclear secrets he wasn’t entitled to have is harmed if law enforcement gets to look at those materials to protect our national security.”

The judge has given Trump’s lawyers until Monday to respond. 

Meanwhile, at Just Security, Michael Stern points out that in Nixon v. GSA,  everyone—including President Richard M. Nixon—agreed that “the very specific privilege protecting against disclosure of state secrets and sensitive information concerning military or diplomatic matters…may be asserted only by an incumbent President,” suggesting that Trump has no grounds to assert executive privilege over the classified information seized. 

Also today, Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a lawsuit Trump launched in March 2022 against Hillary Clinton and a number of his favorite villains alleging that “the Defendants, blinded by political ambition, orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hopes of destroying his life, his political career and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton.” The people he was suing dismissed his lawsuit, saying, “[w]hatever the utilities of [the Amended Complaint] as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit.” The judge agreed and demolished the 193-page lawsuit as lacking evidence, legal justification, and good faith.  

The lawsuit rehashed the Russia investigation, which Trump used to great effect during his term to deflect investigations into his wrongdoing. Two investigations, one by an independent investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and another by the Republican-dominated Senate Intelligence Committee, revealed that Russia had attacked the U.S. presidential election in 2020 and that the Trump campaign had, at the very least, played along.

But by using the machinery of government, including by putting loyalists into key positions, Trump reversed reality to argue that he was an innocent victim and that the investigators were actually the ones who had broken the law. He and his allies saturated the media with accusations that government officials, including FBI agents—many of whom he named in this lawsuit—were members of the “Deep State,” out to get him. 

Trump is resurrecting this old trope at a time when he is in the midst of yet another investigation for which the evidence against him is monumental. Now out of power, though, he has had to turn to the courts and, interestingly, contrived to get this case in front of Judge Cannon, who was rushed onto the court with very little experience after Trump had already lost the 2020 election. 


Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance

DOJ’s Motion For A Stay Explained

DOJ filed a motion today that is a real doozie. It’s a class act offering of an off-ramp to a judge who is badly in need of one. First off, we need to understand what this motion is and what it isn’t. The motion is a request for a partial stay of the Judge’s order last week that prohibited DOJ from using seized items until a special master could review t…

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a day ago · 445 likes · 56 comments · Joyce Vance

Peter Strzok @petestrzokTrump’s lawsuit against me and many others just dismissed. The Court had some things to say. September 9th 20226,489 Retweets31,369 Likes


Heather Cox RichardsonSep 6

Today, on the federal holiday of Labor Day, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted former president Trump’s request for a special master to review the nearly 11,000 documents FBI agents seized in their search of the Trump Organization’s property at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.

The special master will examine the documents, some of which have the highest classification markings, to remove personal items or those covered by attorney-client privilege or those that might be covered by executive privilege (although President Joe Biden, who holds the presidency and thus should be able to determine that privilege, has waived it). The order temporarily stops the Department of Justice from reviewing or using the materials as part of their investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified information.

That is, a Trump-appointed judge, confirmed by the Senate on November 13, 2020, after Trump had lost the election, has stepped between the Department of Justice and the former president in the investigation of classified documents stolen from the government.

Legal analysts appear to be appalled by the poor quality of the opinion. Former U.S. acting solicitor general Neal Katyal called it “so bad it’s hard to know where to begin.” Law professor Stephen Vladeck told Charlie Savage of the New York Times that it was “an unprecedented intervention…into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation.” Paul Rosenzweig, a prosecutor in the independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton, told Savage it was “a genuinely unprecedented decision” and said stopping the criminal investigation was “simply untenable.” Duke University law professor Samuel Buell added: “To any lawyer with serious federal criminal court experience…, this ruling is laughably bad…. Trump is getting something no one else ever gets in federal court, he’s getting it for no good reason, and it will not in the slightest reduce the ongoing howls that he’s being persecuted, when he is being privileged.”

The judge justified her decision because she was “mindful of the need to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances presented.”

Energy and politics reporter David Roberts of Volts pointed out that this is a common pattern for MAGA Republicans. First, they spread lies and conspiracy theories, then they act based on the “appearance” that something is shady. “So this… judge says Trump deserves extraordinary, unprecedented latitude because of the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and the ‘swirling questions about bias.’ But her fellow reactionaries were the only ones raising questions of bias! It’s a perfectly sealed feedback loop,” and one the right wing has perfected over “voter fraud.”

As political scientist Brendan Nyhan points out, bad-faith attacks on our democratic processes open the door for changing those processes.

Something else jumps out about the judge’s construction, though: it makes MAGA Republicans the only ones whose sentiments matter. This is the same construction President Andrew Johnson used to justify his plan to end Reconstruction and remove troops from the South in December 1865. He told Congress that using the army to protect new governments there “would have divided the people into the vanquishers and the vanquished, and would have envenomed hatred rather than restored affection.” Missing from Johnson’s equation were the four million Black southerners who, in fact, welcomed the injection of the weight of the federal government into the former Confederate states.

The idea that Cannon felt obliged to reassure MAGA Republicans that Trump is being treated fairly, rather than the rest of us that the rule of law is being protected, redefines the American public and American principles.

The neutrality of the law is central to democracy. But it is increasingly under question as Republican-appointed judges make decisions that disregard settled law, and Cannon’s decision will not help. She actually singles out Trump as having a different relationship to the law than the rest of us in a number of ways, but especially when she expresses concern over how his reputation could be hurt by an indictment: “As a function of Plaintiff’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own. A future indictment, based to any degree on property that ought to be returned, would result in reputational harm of a decidedly different order of magnitude.”

This attack on the rule of law—the idea that the laws apply to everyone equally—has been underway since the administration of Ronald Reagan, when Attorney General Edwin Meese set out to, as he said, “institutionalize the Reagan revolution so it can’t be set aside no matter what happens in future presidential elections.” Contrary to established procedures at the Department of Justice, Reagan appointees began to quiz candidates for judgeships about their views on abortion and affirmative action, to tilt the direction in which the courts would rule.

The 1982 establishment of the Federalist Society, made up of lawyers determined to roll back the legal decisions of the post–World War II era, made it easier to tilt the courts. Those lawyers stood against what they called “judicial activism,” decisions that justified the expansion of a federal government that regulated business, provided a basic social safety net, protected civil rights, and promoted infrastructure.

As Republican policies grew less popular, party leaders focused not on adjusting their policies, but on filling judgeships with judges who would rule in their favor in lawsuits. This focus was so strong by the time of Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, that then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stalled confirmations for Obama’s nominees, banking on leaving vacancies for a new president to fill. Most dramatically, of course, he refused to permit a hearing for Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court seat in March 2016, inventing a new rule that that date was too close to the upcoming November election to allow the nomination to proceed.

This left the seat free for Trump to appoint Neil Gorsuch, who could not make it through the Senate until McConnell used the so-called “nuclear option” to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments, which enabled him to squeak through with just 51 votes.

Trump and McConnell—who was known for saying, “Leave no vacancy behind”—made reshaping the federal judiciary their top priority. McConnell approved the new judges with vigor, keeping the Senate confirming them during the pandemic, for example, even when all other business stopped. And he continued to push through appointments—like that of Judge Cannon—even after Trump lost the election.

Philosopher Jason Stanley of Yale University, best known for his 2018 book How Fascism Works, tweeted today: “Once you have the courts you can pretty much do whatever you want.”

Cannon’s decision addresses only the criminal investigation of the former president by the Department of Justice, and it is not clear how much of a delay it will create. While that is on hold, at least temporarily, the intelligence assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will proceed without check. It is still unclear what documents are missing, and who has had unauthorized access to the information Trump took.

This breach of our national security has the potential to be catastrophic.

Trump certainly appears to think the game is not yet over. Once again today, he attacked the FBI and the DOJ and demanded the results of the 2020 election be overturned.


David Roberts @drvoltsI’m not a legal analyst, but I hope everyone is taking note of a particular maneuver that this Trumpy judge pulled — a very, very familiar maneuver from reactionaries. It goes like this: first the RW propaganda networks spreads of bunch of lies & lunatic conspiracy theories.September 5th 2022474 Retweets1,336 Likes

Brendan Nyhan @BrendanNyhanImportant @drvolts on how what happened on voter fraud is now happening with the DOJ – see in particular quote from judge’s ruling below. Why the need for unprecedented concessions to address “the appearance of fairness and integrity”? Because of bad faith attacks on the process. September 5th 2022119 Retweets255 Likes

Bradley P. Moss @BradMossEsqThey still are NOT personal records then and would absolutely not be subject to return to Trump under Rule 41. 5) how on earth is the IC doing it’s damage assessment without the FBI being involved? That’s ludicrous. So these are EP-protected records for criminal purposesSeptember 5th 2022166 Retweets929 Likes

Harry Litman @harrylitman“Trump contacted FBI,” “Trump handed over documents;” but “the government CONTENDS” that response to the subpoena was incomplete.September 5th 2022120 Retweets685 Likes

Jason Stanley @jasonintratorOnce you have the courts you can pretty much do whatever you want.September 5th 20221,841 Retweets9,424 Likes

Neal Katyal @neal_katyalThis special master opinion is so bad it’s hard to know where to begin: 1. She says Biden hasn’t weighed in on whether docs protected by Exec Privilege. Nonsense. The archives letter (which DOJ submitted to the Judge) makes it clear current President thinks none of this …September 5th 202214,546 Retweets46,815 Likes

Brendan Nyhan @BrendanNyhanFormer acting Solicitor General: “any of my first year law students would have written a better opinion.” Read the whole thread. Neal Katyal @neal_katyalThis special master opinion is so bad it’s hard to know where to begin: 1. She says Biden hasn’t weighed in on whether docs protected by Exec Privilege. Nonsense. The archives letter (which DOJ submitted to the Judge) makes it clear current President thinks none of this …September 5th 2022101 Retweets257 Likes


Heather Cox RichardsonSep 3

Just a week ago, a judge ordered the release of the affidavit on which the FBI applied for a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. That document revealed that Trump had taken highly classified documents from the government and held them in insecure locations. That document was horrifying, but it referred only to documents the government had already recovered, not the ones for which it would go on to search for on August 8.

Today the unsealing of a court filing revealed that the August 8 search turned up more than 11,000 documents or photographs that were not classified, 31 documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, 54 marked SECRET, and 18 marked TOP SECRET. In addition, agents found 48 empty folders marked CLASSIFIED, and 42 empty folders marked to be returned to a military aide. Those documents were not filed with the envelopes.

This story is unprecedented and explosive. As Sue Gordon, who was principal deputy director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace yesterday, in addition to the potential for exposing national secrets, the exposure of the networks and techniques that were in those documents could unravel intelligence networks that took decades to build.

The implications for the destruction of our national security at Trump’s hands are enormous. 

And yet, after President Joe Biden’s speech last night saying that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Republicans have rushed to attack Biden as divisive, hateful, or disparaging of half the country, claiming far more support than they have. Biden offered them an off-ramp from this profound scandal, inviting them to stand on the side of defending democracy, and they refused it. 

They have tied themselves to what looks like it is on the way to becoming the biggest attack on our national security in our history, but it is not clear to me that even remaining Republican voters will be okay with the compromise of our national security. National security used to be very important to Republicans.

Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr seemed today to be trying to get whatever is left of the Republican establishment to abandon the former president. He told two different Fox News Channel programs: “I…think for them to have taken things to the current point, they probably have pretty good evidence…. I think the driver on this from the beginning was…loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented, well it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club.” 

“I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they…could be taken…away from the government if they’re classified.” He added that he was “skeptical” that Trump had declassified the documents. “I think it’s highly improbable, [and]…if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse and…shows such recklessness it’s almost worse than taking the documents.”

Among all the Republican backlash over Biden’s speech, today, veteran CNN White House reporter John Harwood said:

“The core point he made in that political speech about a threat to democracy is true. 

“Now, that’s something that’s not easy for us, as journalists, to say. We’re brought up to believe there’s two different political parties with different points of view and we don’t take sides in honest disagreements between them. But that’s not what we’re talking about. These are not honest disagreements. The Republican Party right now is led by a dishonest demagogue. 

“Many, many Republicans are rallying behind his lies about the 2020 election and other things as well. And a significant portion—or a sufficient portion—of the constituency that they’re leading attacked the Capitol on January 6th. Violently. 

“By offering pardons or suggesting pardons for those people who violently attacked the Capitol, which you’ve been pointing out numerous times this morning, Donald Trump made Joe Biden’s point for him.” 

Shortly afterward, Harwood announced he was no longer with CNN. 

A source told Dan Froomkin of Press Watch that Harwood had been told last month he was being let go, despite his long-term contract, and that he used his last broadcast to send a message.


Aaron Rupar @atruparhelpful breakdown from CNN September 2nd 2022542 Retweets2,189 Likes


Acyn @AcynBarr: I think for them to taken things to the current point they probably have pretty good evidence.. People say this was unprecedented, well it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a county club September 2nd 20225,642 Retweets25,001 Likes

The Republican Accountability Project @AccountableGOPBill Barr: “If in fact [Trump] sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them and said ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse and that shows such recklessness it’s almost worse than taking the documents.” September 2nd 20221,827 Retweets6,509 Likes



Collecting Facts


Heather Cox RichardsonAug 31

The big news until shortly before midnight tonight was that businesses do indeed seem to be coming home after the pandemic illustrated the dangers of stretched supply lines, the global minimum tax reduced the incentives to flee to other countries with lower taxes, and the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act spurred investment in technology.

Yesterday, Honda and LG Energy Solution announced they would spend $4.4 billion to construct a new battery plant in the U.S. to join the plants General Motors is building in Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee; the ones Ford is building in Kentucky and Tennessee; the one Toyota is building in North Carolina; and the one Stellantis is building in Indiana. The plants are part of the switch to electric vehicles.  According to auto industry reporter Neal E. Boudette of the New York Times, they represent “one of the most profound shifts the auto industry has experienced in its century-long history.”

Today, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear (D) announced that Kentucky has secured more than $8.5 billion for investment in the production of electric vehicle batteries, which should produce more than 8,000 jobs in the EV sector. “Kentuckians will literally be powering the future,” he said. 

Also today, First Solar, the largest solar panel maker in the U.S., announced that it would construct a new solar panel plant in the Southeast, investing up to $1 billion. It credited the Inflation Reduction Act with making solar construction attractive enough in the U.S. to build here rather than elsewhere. First Solar has also said it will upgrade and expand an existing plant in Ohio, spending $185 million.

Corning has announced a new manufacturing plant outside Phoenix, Arizona, to build fiber-optic cable to help supply the $42.5 billion high-speed internet infrastructure investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. AT&T will also build a new fiber internet network in Arizona.

The CHIPS and Science Act is spurring investment in the manufacturing of chips in the U.S. Earlier this month, Micron announced a $40 billion investment in the next eight years, producing up to 40,000 new jobs. Qualcomm has also committed to investing $4.2 billion in chips from the New York facility of GlobalFoundries. Qualcomm says it intends to increase chip production in the U.S. by 50% over the next five years. In January, Intel announced it would invest $20 billion, and possibly as much as $100 billion, in a chip plant in Ohio.

This investment is part of a larger trend in which U.S. companies are bringing their operations back to the U.S. Last week, a report by the Reshoring Initiative noted that nearly 350,000 U.S. jobs have come home this year. The coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and China’s instability were the push to bring jobs home, while the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act were the pull. Dion Rabouin notes in the Wall Street Journal that this reshoring will not necessarily translate to blue-collar jobs, as companies will likely increase automation to avoid higher labor costs. 

President Joe Biden’s record is unexpectedly strong going into the midterms, and he is directly challenging Republicans on the issues they formerly considered their own. Today, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he challenged the Republicans on their claim to be the party of law and order, calling out their recent demands to “defund” the FBI and saying he wants to increase funding for law enforcement to enable it to have more social workers, mental health care specialists, and so on. 

He noted that law enforcement officers want a ban on assault weapons and that he would work to pass one like that of 1994. When that law expired in 2004, mass shootings in the U.S. tripled.  

Then the president took on MAGA Republicans: “A safer America requires all of us to uphold the rule of law, not the rule of any one party or any one person.” He addressed Senator Lindsey Graham’s comment yesterday about how there would be violence if the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Trump. “Let’s be clear,” Biden said, “You hear some of my friends in the other team talking about political violence and how it’s necessary.” But violence is never appropriate, he said. “Never. Period. Never, never, never. No one should be encouraged to use political violence. None whatsoever.”

To audience applause, he called out those who supported the January 6 attack on the Capitol: “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th…. For God’s sake, whose side are you on?… You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection. You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attacked the police on January 6th ‘patriots.’ You can’t do it.”

While Biden is consolidating and pushing the Democrats’ worldview, the Republicans are in disarray. The revelation that former president Trump moved classified intelligence to the Trump Organization’s property at Mar-a-Lago has kept some of them sidelined, as they didn’t want to talk about the issue, and has forced others to try to justify an unprecedented breach of national security. Republican candidates for elected office who are not in deep red districts have been taking references to Trump (and to abortion restrictions) off their websites. 

The deadly seriousness of what he has done is clear in part from the former president’s own behavior over it. Yesterday, he demanded to be made president or to have a do-over of the 2020 election; today, after constant reposting of conspiracy theories and defenses on his ailing Truth Social, he wrote: “Why are people so mean?”

The reason for his fear turned up tonight in a Department of Justice filing in response to his demand for the appointment of a special master to review the documents, and for the return of several of them to him. His requests gave the DOJ an opening to correct the record that he and his allies have been muddying.

This document replaced the economic news as today’s big story. The DOJ laid out the timeline behind the attempt of the U.S. government to recover the materials Trump took. First, officials from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recognized that materials were missing and tried to get Trump to return them voluntarily. When he finally handed over 15 boxes, the officials recognized that some of the materials were “highly classified” and told the Department of Justice. 

Trump delayed the FBI examination of the boxes, but when officials got into them, they recognized their haphazard storage threatened national security. They got evidence of more records at Mar-a-Lago, for which they obtained a grand jury subpoena. Trump’s representatives handed over a few more documents, and a lawyer certified that that was it—they had done a diligent search and now could confirm that there were no more documents left. They said there were no materials stored anywhere but a storeroom, but they refused to let agents look inside the boxes there.

It was a lie both that there were no more documents, and that materials were contained in the storeroom. The FBI learned there were still more documents, got a search warrant, and on August 8 seized from at least two locations 33 more boxes with more than 100 classified records—twice as many classified documents as Trump and his representatives had handed over under the subpoena.

The U.S. government spelled out that “those records do not belong to him”; they belong to the United States. It said that Trump never asserted that the records had been declassified or asserted any claim of executive privilege, and Trump’s representatives indicated they thought the documents were classified. It made a strong case that the former president and his lawyer obstructed the search for the documents. 

Even more chilling than the words of the filing was the exhibit attached: a photo of SECRET, TOP SECRET, and SECRET/SCI files recovered from a container, spread out on a carpeted floor next to a banker’s box containing framed TIME magazine covers. 

Trump has added Chris Kise, the former solicitor general of Florida, to his legal team. Although the Republican National Committee has been paying the former president’s legal bills since he left office, it will not pay the legal fees he racks up over this issue.


Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyNEWS: DOJ’s new filing includes. photo of the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.…


August 31st 20226,360 Retweets18,752 Likes


Brian Tyler Cohen @briantylercohenSources: Corning:…LG/………Intel:Intel to invest up to $100 billion in Ohio chip plantsAn initial $20 billion investment – the largest in Ohio’s history – on a 1,000-acre site in New Albany will generate 3,000 jobs, Gelsinger said.cnbc.comAugust 30th 2022116 Retweets370 Likes

Governor Andy Beshear @GovAndyBeshearKentucky has secured the spot as the top electric vehicle battery producer in the United States. In the past few months, we’ve announced more than $8.5 billion in investment and more than 8,000 jobs in the EV sector. Kentuckians will literally be powering the future. August 30th 2022120 Retweets755 Likes





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Heather Cox RichardsonAug 28

In a speech Thursday night, President Joe Biden called out today’s MAGA Republicans for threatening “our personal rights and economic security…. They’re a threat to our very democracy.” When he referred to them as “semi-fascists,” he drew headlines, some of them disapproving.

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee called the comment “despicable,” although Republicans have called Democrats “socialists” now for so long it passes as normal discourse. Just this week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Democrats “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits.”

Biden’s calling out of today’s radical Republicans mirrors the moment on June 21, 1856, when Representative Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts, a member of the newly formed Republican Party, stood up in Congress to announce that northerners were willing to take to the battlefield to defend their way of life against the southerners who were trying to destroy it. Less than a month before, Burlingame’s Massachusetts colleague Senator Charles Sumner had been brutally beaten by a southern representative for disparaging slavery, and Burlingame was sick and tired of buying sectional peace by letting southerners abuse the North. Enough, he said, was enough. The North was superior to the South in its morality, loyalty to the government, fidelity to the Constitution, and economy, and northerners were willing to defend their system, if necessary, with guns.

Burlingame’s “Defense of Massachusetts” speech marked the first time a prominent northerner had offered to fight to defend the northern way of life. Previously, southerners had been the ones threatening war and demanding concessions from the North to preserve the peace. He was willing to accept a battle, Burlingame explained, because what was at stake was the future of the nation. His speech invited a challenge to a duel.

Southerners championed their region as the one that had correctly developed the society envisioned by the Founders. In the South, a few very wealthy men controlled government and society, enslaving their neighbors. This system, its apologists asserted, was the highest form of human civilization. They opposed any attempt to restrict its spread. The South was superior to the North, enslavers insisted; it alone was patriotic, honored the Constitution, and understood economic growth. In the interests of union, northerners repeatedly ceded ground to enslavers and left their claim to superiority unchallenged.

At long last, the attack on Sumner inspired Burlingame to speak up for the North. The southern system was not superior, he thundered; it had dragged the nation backward. Slavery kept workers ignorant and godless while the northern system of freedom lifted workers up with schools and churches. Slavery feared innovation; freedom encouraged workers to try new ideas. Slavery kept the South mired in the past; freedom welcomed the modern world and pushed Americans into a new, thriving economy. And finally, when Sumner had spoken up against the tyranny of slavery, a southerner had clubbed him almost to death on the floor of the Senate.

Was ignorance, economic stagnation, and violence the true American system?

For his part, Burlingame preferred to throw his lot with education, morality, economic growth, and respect for government.

Burlingame had deliberately provoked the lawmaker who had beaten Sumner, Preston Brooks of South Carolina, and unable to resist any provocation, Brooks had challenged Burlingame to a duel. Brooks assumed all Yankees were cowards and figured that Burlingame would decline in embarrassment. But instead, Burlingame accepted with enthusiasm, choosing rifles as the dueling weapons. Burlingame, it turned out, was an expert marksman.

Burlingame also chose to duel in Canada, giving Brooks the opportunity to back out on the grounds that he felt unsafe traveling through the North after his beating of Sumner made him a hated man. The negotiations for the duel went on for months, but the duel never took place. Instead, Brooks, known as “Bully” Brooks, lost face as a man who was unwilling to risk his safety to avenge his honor, while Burlingame showed that northerners were eager to fight.

Forgotten now, Burlingame’s speech was once widely considered one of the most important speeches in American history. It marked the moment when northerners shocked southerners by calling them out for what they were, and northerners rallied to Burlingame’s call.

President Biden’s Twitter account has recently been taken over by new White House’s Deputy Director of Platforms Megan Coyne, who garnered attention when she ran the official New Jersey Twitter account with attitude, and it seems as if the administration is taking the new saltiness out for a spin. “All the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh,” the account said tonight. “Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.”


The Recount @therecountSen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), lacking any party introspection, slams Democrats as “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits”: “I wish this country had two normal political parties … We debate crazy things, insanity.” August 24th 202265 Retweets255 Likes

President Biden @POTUSAll the talk about the deficit from the same folks that gave an unpaid-for $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations. It makes you laugh. Under my Administration, the deficit is on track to come down by more than $1 trillion this year.August 27th 202211,144 Retweets51,394 Likes;rgn=subject;size=100;view=image;q1=Slavery




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