This Is What I Come Back To

Don’t Participate in a Sham Process

President Trump has now, unsurprisingly, chosen to nominate the far right Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The only sensible approach is for Senate Democrats neither to meet with Barrett nor participate in the confirmation process. Even to do so in a critical posture is to add legitimacy to a process that is illegitimate.

As bad as she may be as a judge or for the future of equal justice in the United States she can never be as bad as the corruption of the process itself. It is that corruption – the court-packing scheme Republicans pushed into overdrive starting in early 2016 – that justifies, indeed requires Democrats to add seats to the Court in 2021. Distracting from that reality with a gauzy-lensed look at Barrett’s personal story and judicial merits is madness. Pure madness.

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The Law Is Coming
Prime Membership Required

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.

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And There It Is

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.

Where Things Stand: So Why Are We Here?
Prime Membership Required

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.

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Bill Barr’s Moment of Darkness in the Sun

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.

Buckle Up. It’s Getting Wild Already

Nothing at all reassuring here about the role Barr’s DOJ will play in the election. You gotta see this.

Where Things Stand: Trump Sows New Fears About Election
Prime Membership Required

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.

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INFOGRAPHIC: The Apportionment Power Grab

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:

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Sensory Overload and Annals of Lying

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.

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Week In Review
| News



Trump’s Strongman Threat


A Big Ol’ Mess In Pennsylvania

  • As TPM’s executive editor David Kurtz said Thursday: Buckle up, the election news is getting wild with less than 40 days to go.
  • This week we’ve been reporting on a bizarre story out of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a press release Thursday saying it was investigating “potential issues” regarding military ballots in the Pennsylvania county. The announcement of the ongoing investigation, along with the selective release of information about it, raised eyebrows among former DOJ officials, TPM’s Tierney Sneed reported.
  • The story got more confusing after U.S. Attorney David Freed sent a letter to a local election official. The letter seemed to acknowledge that the issue stemmed from a mistake, rather than a criminal conspiracy, but it left hanging the notion that there was some malicious intent.
  • On Friday, ABC News reported that Attorney General Bill Barr briefed Trump on the matter, which set off the chain reaction of events that led to the initial bizarre press release.
  • Finally, Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri explained the situation, saying a temporary seasonal contractor had “incorrectly discarded” the Uniformed Military and Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA) ballots into the trash.


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Ep. 138: An FDR Moment
Ep. 138: An FDR Moment
Josh, Kate and David are joined by Democratic candidate Ritchie Torres, the almost certain next U.S. congressman from New York’s 15th district, to discuss t...
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