Tweet of the Day

Laurence Tribe @tribelaw

“As the X-date approaches, the U.S. Treasury’s cash balance has dipped below $49.5 billion. That means ‘there are 24 individuals on the Bloomberg Billionaires list who have more money than the Treasury does right now,’ per Bloomberg’s Kailey Leinz.”

My thought: This is obscene


Texas Legislature averts $100 million consequences of 2021 law requiring nonexistent election technology

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas lawmakers have voted to reverse an expensive state law requiring election officials to replace all their current vote-counting equipment with technology that doesn’t exist.

An unprecedented mandate the Legislature passed in 2021, without fully realizing its consequences, would have decertified equipment that counties currently use to count votes, to be replaced by machines on which data “once written, cannot be modified,” at an estimated cost of more than $100 million.

The bill amending the requirement is now headed to the governor’s desk. It will allow counties to use the equipment they already have.

The initial measure, aimed at preventing the tampering of vote data, passed in 2021 on a voice vote without debate, largely unnoticed, tucked into the sweeping voting law Senate Bill 1.

The law prohibited counties from using reusable storage devices, such as the USB flash drives, which are certified by the secretary of state. The “once written, cannot be modified” requirement also prohibits the use of equipment such as ballot scanners and tabulating machines, all now used to count votes. The technology the law required, known as “write once, read many,” or WORM devices, generally refers to CD or DVD drives and the discs they burn data onto.

Votebeat reported that in order to fully comply, counties would have to buy entirely new voting systems for each election, since the whole point is that the equipment can’t be reused. The secretary of state’s office estimated that it would cost taxpayers more than $116 million to replace the eliminated equipment, plus an ongoing cost of more than $37 million every two years, since new equipment would have to be purchased for each election. And that’s only if counties could have found such equipment. Voting equipment that would match the requirements does not appear to have been invented by any election equipment company operating in the United States.


Four Messages in the Big Sentence for Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes

Eighteen years behind bars for seditious conspiracy.

From The Bulwark, by Dennis Aftergut:

A FEDERAL COURT IN WASHINGTON yesterday sent a message to the country: There is a serious price in prison time to be paid for taking the law into your own hands to achieve political ends.

District Court Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the Yale-educated leader of the militant Oath Keepers, to 18 years in prison for the rarely indicted crime of seditious conspiracy. Rhodes’s top lieutenant, Kelly Meggs, got 12 years behind bars.

As the court said, “A seditious conspiracy . . . is among the most serious crimes an American can commit.” It involves the use of force to overthrow the federal government or to interfere with the execution of its laws. The trial evidence showed that Rhodes had at his beck and call a “quick reaction force” of heavily armed Oath Keepers across the Potomac ready to enter Washington with firearms.

Rhodes’s and Meggs’s sentences were the longest meted out to date among the more than one thousand criminal defendants charged in the January 6th siege of the U.S. Capitol. The significance for Donald Trump and his allies—and for the nation—was impossible to miss.

1. A Message to Donald Trump

Speaking to the court, Phillip Linder, Rhodes’s lawyer, sought to shift the blame to former President Donald Trump: Prosecutors want to make Rhodes “the face of January 6th,” Linder said, but Rhodes was just “a participant”; if you want to “put a face on January 6th, put it on Trump.” Trump cannot have been pleased to have had the obvious—that he was responsible for the chaos and violence at the Capitol—said aloud in court.

Capitol police officer Harry Dunn, a defender of the Capitol that day, concurred with Rhodes’s lawyers: “[They] argued that Donald Trump is the root of the problem,” Dunn told CNN, “and I totally agree. Let’s get him next.”

As a general matter, judges typically reserve longer sentences for those higher up the ladder of culpability. Rhodes got six more years than Meggs; Rhodes was a leader of the Oath Keepers but not, as his lawyer and Harry Dunn both emphasized, of the whole insurrection.

We’re waiting for Special Counsel Jack Smith to indict the true leader. Nerves are fraying in Mar-a-Lago.

2. A Message to Marjorie Taylor Greene

Months ago, MTG began calling jailed participants in the January 6th violence “political prisoners.” Rhodes, in his personal statement to the Court, mimicked Greene: “I’m a political prisoner. . . . I believe every J6er is a political prisoner.”

Rhodes also spent 20 minutes defending himself by claiming that his “only crime [was] opposing those who are destroying our country.” Sounds a lot like Greene and her mentor, Trump.

The court’s response to Rhodes was a heavy-duty sentence, the language the law speaks to extract accountability for violence and the lies that motivate it. MTG has only hinted at violence in support of her lies, but the court, when it said to Rhodes that “You . . . present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country,” may as well have been speaking to her.

3. A Message to Militants

Deterring others is a primary purpose of criminal prosecutions and long sentences. Rhodes’s prosecutors signaled the point by emphasizing, as the New York Times put it, “that the acceptance of political violence was on the rise in the United States and that lengthy prison terms were needed to serve as a deterrent against future unrest.”

Indeed, on May 24, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning the country about domestic violent extremists: “The United States remains in a heightened threat environment. . . . In the coming months, factors that could mobilize individuals to commit violence include their perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle. . . . Likely targets of potential violence include US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions” and many others, including schools and law enforcement.

Juliette Kayyem, a national security analyst for CNN, put the importance of Rhodes’s and Meggs’s serious sentences succinctly. The sentencing, she said, should have a “chilling effect on [violent] groups,” making it “more difficult for them to recruit and—as important—for them to raise money.”

4. A Message to the Country

In urging a lengthy prison term for Rhodes, prosecutors stressed what was at stake for the nation:

The justice system’s reaction to January 6 bears the weighty responsibility of impacting whether January 6 becomes an outlier or a watershed moment. . . . Left unchecked, this impulse [for political violence] threatens our democracy.

Of course, there is no greater threat to American democracy than Trump himself. I am confident that Jack Smith will bring him to account for creating the conditions that led to January 6th.

But ultimately, Trump’s fate, and also that of the insurrectionists, will be in the hands of the voters in next year’s presidential election. Trump has promised to pardon “a large proportion” of January 6th participants. Yesterday, Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest competitor for the Republican presidential nomination, said he would consider pardoning “some.”

Such talk of pardons, says Michael Fanone, one of the police officers injured on January 6th, “should outrage all Americans.” He’s right. It’s up to all of us to remember these promises in the 18 months ahead. Voters will consider whether we want a lawful society or one where the political ends justify violent means. Yesterday’s sentences tell us where our system of justice stands. The rule of law and our freedom from violence will be on the ballot in November 2024.


Tweet of the Day

Rick Wilson @TheRickWilson

Well good morning Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea.

Today is the day Ron DeSantis emerges from his cocoon, blossoms into a beautiful butterfly, flutters around the forests of Elon, and then is eaten by a giant buzzard named Donald Trump.


One of Trump’s Lawyers In the Pool Shed Papers Imbroglio Has Come In From the Cold

The theory that Trump can declassify anything through his magical presidentialing powers is in shreds.

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

It is genuinely unfortunate for Camp Runamuck In Exile down in Florida that half its crack legal team is leaving while the other half is testifying. This is because, from my vantage point, anyway, the former president* is going to need someone to shut down the trash compactors on the detention level pretty quickly.

Two stories greeted us to start the week and, taken together, they seem to provide a rough outline of what special counsel Jack Smith has been about as regards the events surrounding the Pool Shed Papers which, contrary to what you might have heard earlier around this shebeen, seems now to be a lethal bit of business for the future of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago. First, there was this, from the Guardian:

Last June, Corcoran found roughly 40 classified documents in the storage room at Mar-a-Lago and told the justice department that no further materials remained at the property. That was later shown to be untrue, after the FBI later returned with a warrant and seized 101 additional classified documents. The federal investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith has recently focused on why the subpoena was not compiled with, notably whether Trump arranged for boxes of classified documents to be moved out of the storage room so he could illegally retain them.

And why is there all this recent focus in this particular area? Because Evan Corcoran, the lawyer who has come in from the cold, has presented his former client with some lovely parting gifts. Alas for them, he presented them to Jack Smith.

The warning was one of several key moments that Corcoran preserved in roughly 50 pages of dictated notes described to the Guardian over several weeks by three people with knowledge of their contents, which prosecutors have viewed in recent months as central to the criminal investigation. The notes revealed how Trump and Nauta had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search. Although ordinarily off limits to prosecutors, the notes ended up before the grand jury in Washington hearing evidence in the case after a US appeals court allowed attorney-client privilege to be pierced because judges believed Trump might have used Corcoran’s legal advice in furtherance of a crime.

Prosecutors love them some paper. Paper doesn’t plea bargain. Paper doesn’t flee the jurisdiction. Paper is not granted time on an alleged news network so it can entertain a hand-picked audience with its practiced bullshit alibis for possible criminal behavior. Paper just sits there, on the table or in a file cabinet, ticking.

If they are as presented by the Guardian, the notes Corcoran handed over to Smith’s team pretty much shred what was left of the theory that the former president* can declassify anything through his magical presidentialing powers, or that he simply was too ignorant to obey the law. Leaving us with the question of why he would do something as boneheaded risky as stash purloined classified material out back next to the grass seed. Enter The New York Times with a very plausible answer, especially in this context — namely, to turn a buck.

It remains unclear precisely what the prosecutors were hoping to find by sending the subpoena to Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, or when it was issued. But the subpoena suggests that investigators have cast a wider net than previously understood as they scrutinize whether he broke the law in taking sensitive government materials with him upon leaving the White House and then not fully complying with demands for their return.

The subpoena — drafted by the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith — sought details on the Trump Organization’s real estate licensing and development dealings in seven countries: China, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, according to the people familiar with the matter. The subpoena sought the records for deals reached since 2017, when Mr. Trump was sworn in as president.

Let us assume that Smith and his people didn’t arrive at those seven countries by tossing darts at a map. Suspended between these two stories is the awful possibility that the former president* spent months doing the dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge exercises as regards subpoenas for those classified documents because he found a way to include them in what the Times calls, politely, his “business dealings in foreign countries.” That would add not merely an extra coating of grift and slime to the memory of his administration*, but also several more years to his study of federal institutional dining. The barrel has no bottom to scrape.