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Trump fires US Attorney to halt investigations around himself.

Whether Berman keeps his post, loses his post to Clayton, or loses it to someone else, Trump is clearly trying to halt investigations into his and his buddies’ shady dealings by replacing a US Attorney with his friend.

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Not enough people paid attention to what happened in the Southern District of New York last night, so let me quickly summarize in the most basic of terms.

The Players:

Bill Barr, Attorney General of the United States

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Donald Trump, a bag of that toilet crust in nasty people’s apartments

The Setting:

The Southern District of New York, possibly the most important jurisdiction in the country because it covers Manhattan, where Wall Street crimes take place as well as most of Trump’s fraudulent activity.

The Issue:

Berman is investigating Trump.

Back in 2017 Trump, through then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, requested the resignations of 46 US Attorneys from across the country, and the media went a little crazy in reporting it because it was so abrupt and hadn’t happened in so long, but it was perfectly normal. Obama and Dubbya both replaced US Attorneys from various districts, but they did it gradually. It felt like the new norm because there hadn’t been an abrupt firing in almost 25 years, but it wasn’t unprecedented — Bill Clinton fired 93 (of 94!) US Attorneys after he took office in the early 90s.

Preet Bharara was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and in November 2016, Trump told Bharara that he’d be staying in his position because he’d been effective. Unfortunately for Bharara (and all of us), he was investigating two of Trump’s buddies: Tom Price, Trump’s Secretary of Health & Human Services (for writing legislation affecting certain health-related corporations while he was trading stocks for those same corporations), and Roger Ailes/Fox News (for covering up sexual assault and harassment allegations). Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, told Trump that Bharara wouldn’t hesitate to go after him, and Bharara was fired less than a day after he refused to take a call from Trump.

Trump fired Preet Bharara, and Geoffrey Berman was appointed to fill the vacancy by the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York on an interim basis until Trump appointed someone else. Berman had previously been an Assistant US Attorney in this district back in the 90s and he’s a strong prosecutor. Trump didn’t appoint a successor, and Berman was unanimously elected by all of the judges in this district to fill the position until someone else was appointed and approved by the Senate.

Berman isn’t afraid of Trump any more than Bharara was, so he’s investigating Trump and everyone around him, and Trump has wanted Barr to get rid of him for months. The only reason this didn’t happen sooner is those investigations. If Trump had fired Berman right after he sent Michael Cohen to jail or right after opening an investigation into Rudy Giuliani or Jeffrey Epstein, the uproar would have been deafening. Trump & Barr wanted to take advantage of the country’s shifting focus — we’re all talking about the pandemic and the marches for equality and nobody is really thinking about what the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York is doing. So at 9pm on a Friday night when nobody is supposedly paying attention, Bill Bar said Berman was being replaced by Jay Clayton, a lawyer with no experience as a prosecutor, who is the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton told his buddy Trump he was interested in the US Attorney Job and Trump would love to have a friend in that position so that’s that.

Can we just take a moment to reflect on how boldly this administration lies to us? They said, in print no less, that Geoffrey Berman is stepping down, and he hadn’t even been notified that he was being fired, let alone stepping down.

Berman released a statement saying he found out about his firing at the same time as everyone else and he has no intention to vacate his post before a nominee had been confirmed by the Senate. So now we have another mess of Trump’s making. Nobody knows if Berman can hold on to his post or if he has to vacate while an interim fills the position until a nominee is confirmed.

Also, here’s an interesting wrinkle for Trump: Matroness Lindsey Olin Graham Sugarbaker Deveraux is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so Trump probably thinks Clayton will sail through the Committee and onto the floor for a vote. Lady G doesn’t seem inclined to cooperate.

The fate of Clayton’s nomination is also uncertain. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said Saturday he had not heard from the Trump administration about its plans to replace Berman but praised Clayton as “a fine man and accomplished lawyer.”

However, Graham (R-S.C.) indicated he would defer to the Senate’s “blue slip” tradition, in which individual senators may effectively block the nomination of someone who hails from their home state. That would empower Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to stop Clayton from advancing through the Judiciary Committee — and Schumer has already indicated he thinks Clayton should withdraw from consideration.

(cont. Politico)

Whether Berman keeps his post, loses his post to Clayton, or loses it to someone else, Trump is clearly trying to halt investigations into his and his buddies’ shady dealings by replacing a US Attorney with his friend.

Checks and balances my ass.

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Politics

GOP lawmakers don’t want metal detectors at the Capitol.

People broke into your job with weapons, but you don’t want metal detectors?

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Republican lawmakers are upset they have to wait in line to go through metal detectors at the Capitol.
 
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): “You can’t stop me; I’m on my way to a vote.”
 
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ): “For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): It “impedes the ability of members to come and vote. This is our job.”
 
Non-Rep Rafi D’Angelo (D-Sitting On My Bed Right Now): “Are you fucking kidding me?”
 
I have to take my shoes off to get on an airplane because 20 years ago one guy on one plane tried to set off a shoe bomb.
 
Hundreds of terrorists were trying to beat y’all ass LAST WEEK at your job. What’s not clicking?
 
Where’s all this outrage over metal detectors when we want to get rid of guns so our CHILDREN don’t have to go through what you went through last week? Kids all over the country stand in line to go through a metal detector every single day just to get an education and y’all say that’s wonderful because you want zero restrictions on firearms.
 
Where’s all this outrage over standing in line to vote when people all over the country have to wait 7 or 8 hours to cast their ballot? Y’all put those obstacles there by design so you can win elections, but an “obstacle” that delays you 15 minutes and could save your life is a reach too far?
 
I hate them. Hate is such a strong word that I was taught not to use, but it’s really not strong enough at this point. I can’t muster up any other reaction toward people who consistently put this overinflated sense of faux-liberty above all else because it’s on brand for the message they’ve pumped into their followers. This is about their complete and total resistance to being told what to do by people they feel they have the right to boss around.  There’s a very clear thread between Karen yelling at Wal-Mart about being told to wear a mask and a Republican Representative yelling in the Capitol being told to go through a metal detector. Whether it’s because you make minimum wage at the register, you’re a security guard with a high school education, you’re a soyboy liberal whose unmasculine fear of dying makes you unpatriotic, or you’re a person of color asserting authority to enforce a rule, regulation, or mandate, Republicans think you are beneath them and refuse to be told what to do by someone they deem inferior for any reason.
Those metal detectors went up for their own protection, but they were put there by people inferior to them who did not ask their permission, and therefore, the metal detectors are evil and they will yell and stomp and walk around them and refuse to comply.
So…
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Crime

Cash bail is about privilege, not community safety.

Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and is walking around getting sponsorships.

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In 2010, Kalief Browder was arrested and eventually sent to Rikers Island for grand larceny. Robert Bautista called 911 and reported a robbery — two Black males had stolen his backpack that contained cash, a camera, and an iPod. Police said Browder fit the description and Bautista said Kalief was the robber, but police frisked Browder and he had nothing on him. Bautista said he was robbed two weeks ago (the date kept changing) and at one point said he wasn’t actually robbed, that it was just an attempted robbery. There were enough inconsistencies coupled with a lack of evidence that Browder most certainly would have been found not guilty at trial, but the police (in theory) can’t serve as judge and jury, so they arrested him, booked him, and threw him in jail.

The year before, Browder had pled guilty in a case where he was accused of stealing a bakery truck and crashing it into a vehicle. Browder said he was just a bystander, but took a plea deal to be sentenced as a minor as he had originally been charged as an adult. This charge meant Browder was on probation, so even though his family came up with the bail money to release him from Rikers while he awaited trial, the probation office blocked the request.

We have a kid who was afraid of going to trial as an adult and pled to a sentence as a minor for a non-violent crime he says he didn’t commit. Now he’s been accused of another non-violent crime he says he didn’t commit, and he’s being kept in jail, away from the public, because he’s a repeat offender who is a danger to society.

Kyle Rittenhouse murdered two people on video. He loaded up his gun and had his mom drive him across state lines so he could get in on the action during a protest and intimidate strangers with his illegal weapon. He ultimately shot three of those people after a confrontation and two of them died.

Which one of them is a danger to society? Someone who allegedly crashed a van and allegedly stole a backpack, or someone who is on video shooting three people as the result of a confrontation he initiated by not minding his business?

According to the justice system, Kalief Browder is the danger because Kyle Rittenhouse is walking around free as a bird.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged with killing two men during the Jacob Blake protests in Wisconsin this summer, made bail on Friday and walked out of jail, officials said.

MyPillow Inc. founder Mike Lindell and former “Silver Spoons” child actor Ricky Schroder played key roles in “putting us over the top” in coming up with $2 million for bail, according to Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Lin Wood.

(cont. NBC News)

Legally, bail is supposed to be determined by seriousness of the crime, ties to the community, the flight risk posed by the defendant, and the danger posed by the defendant to his or her community. Kyle Rittenhouse’s bail was $2 million as opposed to $10,000 because he murdered two people. However, in reality, the amount of bail set means nothing if it’s not pegged to the accused’s ability to raise that money. Bail for possession of a controlled substance is usually around $2,500 for a first offense. If you have no way to actually raise that money, it might as well be $2 million. There are no celebrities looking to donate to your cause when you’re in jail for carrying around cocaine you’d plan to take to a party. If you commit a murder for Amerikkka, people will raise money for you. If you get caught with cocaine on a night out, you may be stuck in jail for years.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog called “What I’ve Learned as a Black Man” about some of the ways being Black in America has altered my path from that of a white person in this country. I want to pull a little piece out for this.

—————————————————————

I was walking along 125th Street one night when four policemen came out of nowhere and told me to put my hands up because I fit the description of a robbery suspect in the area. This was around the time Kalief Browder had committed suicide after being released from Rikers because he had been locked up for three years for the crime of fitting a description. I thought that would be me. One of the cops slammed me up against a wall face first, which is what saved me. I had been wearing a baseball cap and a hoodie, like this.

When he pushed my face into the wall, the cap was knocked off and my hair came tumbling out. I have a lot of hair.

The frisking stopped and one cop put their hands in my head to see if it was a wig that could be taken off. They were looking for a bald Black man and clearly that wasn’t me.

—————————————————————

I’ve been stopped and frisked by the NYPD five times over the past decade living here, but that was the first time I feared for my safety because there was nothing I personally could do to avoid being arrested. I could plead my innocence, but it wasn’t up to the cops to decide. I would be sent to jail, and as an underemployed Black man without a family living paycheck to paycheck in those days, I would have no way to raise any amount of bail.

I knew I was innocent, so I knew I wasn’t a threat to the community. I had no money, so I knew I wasn’t a flight risk. I knew that I was more afraid of the consequences of not showing up for my trial date than I was afraid of potentially being found guilty of something I didn’t do. But the system didn’t know that. The system would assign an arbitrary number as the price of my freedom, a number that I wouldn’t have been able to meet. I would have been sitting in jail, waiting for my case to go to trial. I would have lost my job because I couldn’t show up. I would have lost my apartment because I couldn’t pay the rent. After hopefully being found not-guilty, I would be sent back into the world homeless with no possessions, trying to start over, because I didn’t have the money to get me out of jail for a crime I didn’t commit.

And that’s the best case scenario with no money. If I was arrested today, there’s a decent chance I could die in jail, awaiting trial, after contracting coronavirus. Texas has more incarcerated coronavirus deaths than anywhere else in the country, and in the county jails, 80% of those deaths were people who haven’t been convicted of anything.

Over 230 people have died from Covid-19 in Texas’s correctional facilities — and in county jails, nearly 80 percent of them were in pretrial detention and hadn’t even been convicted of a crime, according to a new report.

The 231 figure is likely to be a conservative count. As the researchers note, TDCJ and county jails update death reports after autopsies are conducted, sometimes months after the fact. Additionally, many people have “died without ever having been tested for COVID,” and others died due to a preexisting conditioned worsened by the virus and are not counted in this figure.

(cont. VOX)

After homelessness or death, there is a third outcome, another extended consequence of being denied bail and incarcerated based on an accusation.

Kalief Browder sat in jail for three years while the prosecution delayed his trial. He was bullied, abused, and beaten by inmates and guards, spending a cumulative two years in solitary confinement. He attempted suicide three times while he was locked up, and a few months after his release (because Bautista went back to Mexico and the prosecution no longer had a witness), his tried again and was sent to a psychiatric facility. After two more stints at the facility, Kalief succeeded in taking his own life because he couldn’t move past the injustice that had happened to him. The City of New York paid his family $3.3 million last year in a civil suit, but no one has been held individually responsible for delaying his trial for three years and keeping him behind bars where he was tortured and abused and broken.

We don’t actually know how many people are in jail because they’re too poor to bail themselves out because there’s no standardized method set up for reporting that. An oft-reported figure of 450,000 people sitting in jail without having been convicted of a crime also includes people the justice system has deemed unbailable, which would have applied to Kalief Browder because he was denied bail due to his probation. There is a study that says 9 out of 10 felony defendants are too poor to meet the bail that has been set for them, so even without a specific number, we know that thousands and thousands and thousands of people can’t make bail. We also know from prison records that almost half of our prison population is behind bars due to drug offenses, meaning these are non-violent criminals who aren’t a high risk threat to the community. If 90% of people awaiting trial can’t afford bail and half the people passing through our legal system have drug charges, then 200,000 non-violent criminals are sitting in jails across the country, losing their jobs and their homes, contracting illnesses, and watching their mental health deteriorate sometimes past the point of no return, because they simply don’t have enough money to buy their freedom.

I don’t know where I would be right now if I didn’t have any hair, if I had been arrested and charged and given a bail amount that I couldn’t make, but I do know I wouldn’t be walking the streets of my community with sponsorships from coffeebrands.

 

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Politics

Republicans don’t believe the election was “free and fair”

In that case, I hope they just stop voting.

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Three days after every major media outlet called the election for former Vice President Joe Biden, President Donald Trump has shown no signs of conceding as he continues to push baseless claims of widespread fraud. The campaign he is waging against the integrity of the election, which first took root months ago, has had a major impact on how Republicans perceive the results, according to new Morning Consult polling.

This latest survey, conducted Nov. 6-9, 2020 among 1,987 registered voters nationwide, is part of an ongoing research project to gauge the level of trust Americans have in their electoral system. Results will be updated on this page weekly.

(cont. Morning Consult)

This was absolutely the goal of the Trump administration from the start. The writing was on the wall — he was going to lose this election bigly and he needed to make his supporters doubt the results, so they all cast a shadow on mail-in votes. They knew the largest share of mail-in votes would be Democrats because Democrats have not rejected COVID science and are more likely to avoid crowds. Sending in your ballot from the safety of your home makes sense to someone who believes the coronavirus pandemic is a real thing. Then the GOP prevented those ballots from being counted until after all of the same day ballots in places like Pennsylvania, so Trump declared victory on the day, and his supporters watched it slip away as these sketchy mail-in ballots were counted.

That’s the one-two punch. Mail-in ballots have more fraud, and I won before the fraudulent ballots started being counted.

So now we have an entire political party undermining the foundation of our democracy, by following behind this orange baby man throwing a tantrum because he hates losing, and they’re all but ensuring lower turnout for the next election cycle among their base. If 7 out of 10 people on your side of the aisle believe the election is rigged, how many of them are going to sit out next time because their vote doesn’t matter anyway? If just 1 of every ten says “why waste the time?” the GOP loses by an even wider margin.

Fine with me! I especially hope Republicans in Georgia have lost faith in the voting process so they don’t turn out for the Senate runoffs in a few weeks. I know plenty of Lazy Liberals who’ve sat on the couch on election day because we keep seeing these races stolen from us due to gerrymandering and voter restrictions and polling site closures. A big chunk of us have said “why waste the time?” and it has cost us every time. A little pessimism on the other side is music to my ears.

Also, it’s important to note that whichever party loses the White House has less trust in the election. It happens every time. Strangely enough, the only recent election where faith in the election was about equal for Democrats and Republicans was Bush v. Gore back in 2000, where the election hinged on less than 600 votes in Florida (as opposed to tens of thousands of votes in multiple states for Biden this go ’round).

This is the share of voters who said the election was free and fair, going back to Bush vs. Clinton.

It’s interesting that the trust gap of the 90s doubled once Barack Obama was elected, and it has doubled again now that the sitting President has spent the past few days telling his base over and over that the results weren’t fair. The Republican Party is circling the drain and I would love for this distrust in the voting process to be the final nail in their coffin. They can’t win if they don’t even show up.

Donald Trump’s ego would love nothing more than to see his supporters rise up and fight for him, so he will fan the flames for as long as they will believe his lies. I can’t think of a bigger indictment of his fabrications than Fox News refusing to give them more airtime:

I guess Rusty and Carole will have to get all their conspiracy theories straight from the source now.

 

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