Since we live in a period of misdirection and high volume propaganda it is important to restate the things we may sort of know but which are pushed to the edges of our awareness. High, high on that list is this: virtually every argument President Trump has used to stymie lawsuits, congressional probes and criminal investigations is tied to his being the **current** President of the United States. As Josh Kovensky reports here, he’s sticking to these maximal claims of immunity even after being rejected on this front by his packed Supreme Court.
According to ABC News, Bill Barr personally briefed President Trump on its investigation into those ballots in PA before sending out that dodgy press release that our team has been reporting on. Here’s our latest update on the story from Kate Riga. It does not get more transparent than this: using the DOJ as an adjunct not only of the President’s reelection campaign but his attacks on the integrity of the election itself.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court knocked down the idea, advanced by President Trump’s lawyers, that their client was immune from criminal investigations. Today, that case came back before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, where lawyers for the President advanced new arguments for why Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance cannot subpoena Trump’s financial records.
Except, not really.
With yesterday’s DOJ stunt over ballots in Philadelphia and the latest revelations about the so-called “Durham investigation”, we can see again the sheer degree to which Bill Barr has prostituted the Department of Justice into an arm of the Trump campaign. The DOJ has never been and should never be entirely disconnected from the results of elections. There are basic policy decisions and law enforcement strategies that are properly made by the appointees of an elected President. The involvement of high level political appointees is in many case essential to accountability. But Barr is unique in his sustained and more or less open use of the DOJ as a tool to protect the President’s friends, persecute enemies and make the entire organization a tool of the President’s campaign. Yesterday’s stunt just confirms what we’ve suspected, that Barr will use these final weeks of the campaign to seed bogus “fraud” or voting irregularities stories to support the President’s attacks against the election itself. These will then be immediately picked up by the President and his surrogates as though they were dropped into a slipstream for just that purpose, because of course they were. In a democratic government there is really no greater level of corruption than this. The executive branch – and especially the Justice Department – needs an audit.
Like clockwork, President Trump on Wednesday sparked a new controversy centered on his shirking of democratic norms. This time, it was Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election.
Among the various ways the Trump administration is seeking to bend and rework the rules of government this year is a policy, announced by the President in July, to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count.
This has been a long-time goal for some on the political right. But what would the policy mean in practice?
Our design team has a snazzy new graphic explaining the Trump policy and its potential impact:
In the midst of the orchestrated mayhem of the moment it is important to step back from the chaos and take stock of what has happened in recent weeks. Yesterday the President again refused to commit to leaving office peacefully if he loses the election. It was credibly reported that the President’s advisors are laying the groundwork and lobbying state legislators to press friendly state legislatures to reject the vote counts in their states and declare President Trump the winner. President Trump meanwhile says a ninth Justice must be on the Court to decide the outcome of the election. In his threats to reject the results of the election at yesterday’s press conference President Trump said he might concede the results of the election if they “get rid of the ballots”, by which he seemed to me end voting by mail.
The notional justification for all these wild claims and threats, almost entirely unprecedented in American history, is the false claim of voter fraud and the more general specter of election chaos – delays, missing ballots, interminable legal disputes, insoluble legal questions that leave the decision in the hands of the Supreme Court or grants some spurious rationale for overruling a botched election.