Sunday, February 28, 2021

Trump is the GOP's Golden Calf

The Republicans are caught in a conundrum. They cannot worship the Christian God while also worshiping Donald Trump. The Golden Calf displayed at CPAC is a perfect illustration of that point.

Aldous J Pennyfarthing for Daily Kos Community Contributors Team reports on CPAC: Insurrectionist: Trump ‘groomed’ Chansley and millions of other Americans to believe conspiracies.

The Capitol insurrection was less than two months ago, and in that time, Jacob Chansley—who calls himself the “Q Shaman” and helped lead a violent takeover of the Capitol in a furry Viking hat and face paint—has come around to repudiating Donald Trump, even as Sen. Mitch McConnell has come around to embracing Trump.

It’s time to stop saying “I never thought I’d see this,” because everything is possible now …

… including Republicans erecting literal golden idols of their slovenly god-king.

Golden idol
The GOP Golden Calf
Golden idol
The GOP Golden Calf

Bible reference - Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Bible reference - Exodus 20:4–6: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Saturday, February 27, 2021

GOPocrites prefer to confirm unqualified nominees

Senate Republicans are OK with confirming candidates who are manifestly unfit for office. Said another way, for Republicans, experience and competence are negatives. Might we then think of the hypocrites in the GOP as GOPocrites?

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post explains: Republicans’ appalling confirmation record is symptomatic of their entire approach to politics

The White House on Wednesday issued a fierce defense of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, following the delay of committee votes on her confirmation:

For example, from Jen Psaki, press secretary:

She has a broad spectrum of support, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to labor unions, and has a strong record of working with both parties that we expect to grow in President Biden’s cabinet as the first South Asian woman to lead OMB.

The galling double standard that Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) apply to nominees — they approved of Richard Grenell, whose misogynistic tweets and hyperpartisanship were not barriers for his ambassadorship, but object to Neera Tanden’s partisan criticism of Republican hypocrisy — should not obscure an even bigger problem with Republicans’ selective outrage.

Republicans (and Manchin for that matter) routinely confirmed utterly unqualified, partisan and unfit nominees under the previous administration because these were the president’s choices. Consider former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who had zero public-sector experience and delivered one of the worst confirmation hearing performances in memory. All 52 Republicans voted for him, as did Manchin. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who inexplicably dubbed Tanden as inexperienced, voted to confirm him as well.

Or consider Mike Pompeo, who as a congressman conducted a partisan fishing expedition into Hillary Clinton’s actions based on false information. Nominated for CIA director — a position for which nonpartisanship is essential — every Republican but Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) voted to confirm him, as did Manchin. Try to find a theory by which Pompeo is considered temperamentally suited to be CIA chief and a long-time policy wonk such as Tanden should be excluded from OMB. You won’t find one — other than mean-spirited partisanship.

Take a rhetorical bomb thrower and right-wing radical such as Mick Mulvaney, also nominated for director of Office of Management and Budget. He gleefully championed the 2013 federal government shutdown (“good policy” he called it). Other than the late John McCain, not a single Republican (Collins included) opposed him. He was sufficiently bipartisan, but Tanden is not? Are we supposed to believe that senators who ignored a president who was banned from Twitter for four years was “offended” by Tanden or “concerned” about partisanship? Please.

Twenty Republicans opposed the confirmation of Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations, despite her being an African American woman with decades of experience in the Foreign Service. Not experienced enough? These were the Republicans that rubber-stamped, for example, John Ratcliffe, the prior president’s intemperate, unqualified pick for director of national intelligence.

It is long past time that we stop giving credence to Republicans (and Manchin, who seeks to camouflage himself in their midst) for their concocted rationales for indefensible, hyperpartisan conduct. The nub of the problem is not Tanden’s tweets or partisanship; it is the persistent Republican belief that a Democratic president is not entitled to the same deference the GOP extended to the disgraced, incompetent president even as he nominated cronies and ethically challenged and unqualified nominees beset by conflicts of interest.

Their attitude toward nominations is symptomatic of their entire approach to politics: It is about theater, about feeding right-wing media (which loves nothing better than to paint progressives as extreme radicals) and never about governance, let alone bipartisanship.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Mother Nature pounded Texas. She'll do it again - to more of us - if we don't learn her lesson.

Can You Believe This Is Happening in America? asks Thomas L. Friedman in the NY Times. We used to dream big. Now we’re increasingly thinking short term.

The Mars landing, with pinpoint accuracy, is an example of dreaming big. The Texas freeze is an example of thinking short term - indeed, if you want to call it “thinking” at all. Friedman focuses on the Texas debacle.

"People in Texas are burning their furniture for heat, boiling water to drink and melting snow to flush their toilets. Can you believe this is happening in America?”

In contrast:

… We just sent a high-tech buggy named Perseverance loaded with cameras and scientific gear 292 million miles into space and landed it on the exact dot we were aiming for on Mars! Only in America!

What’s going on? Well, in the case of Texas and Mars, the basic answers are simple. Texas is the poster child for what happens when you turn everything into politics — including science, Mother Nature and energy — and try to maximize short-term profits over long-term resilience in an era of extreme weather. The Mars landing is the poster child for letting science guide us and inspire audacious goals and the long-term investments to achieve them.

The Mars mind-set used to be more our norm. The Texas mind-set has replaced it in way too many cases. Going forward, if we want more Mars landings and fewer Texas collapses — what’s happening to people there is truly heartbreaking — we need to take a cold, hard look at what produced each.

The essence of Texas thinking was expressed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the first big interview he gave to explain why the state’s electricity grid failed during a record freeze. He told Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. … Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. … It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The combined dishonesty and boneheadedness of those few sentences was breathtaking. The truth? Texas radically deregulated its energy market in ways that encouraged every producer to generate the most energy at the least cost with the least resilience — and to ignore the long-term trend toward more extreme weather.

After a heavy snowstorm in February 2011 caused statewide rolling blackouts and left millions of Texans in the dark,” The Times reported Sunday, “federal authorities warned the state that its power infrastructure had inadequate ‘winterization’ protection. But 10 years later, pipelines remained inadequately insulated” and the heaters and de-icing equipment “that might have kept instruments from freezing were never installed” — because they would have added costs.

As a result, it wasn’t just Texas wind turbines that froze — but also gas plants, oil rigs and coal piles, and even one of Texas’ nuclear reactors had to shut down because the frigid temperatures caused a disruption in a water pump to the reactor.

That was a result of Abbott’s Green Old Deal — prioritize the short-term profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, which provide him political campaign contributions; deny climate change; and dare Mother Nature to prove you wrong, which she did. And now Texas needs federal emergency funds. That is what we capitalists call “privatizing the gains and socializing the losses.” I don’t know what they call it in Texas.

But to disguise all that, Abbott trashed his state’s trendsetting wind and solar power — power it pulls from the sky free, with zero emissions, making rural Texans prosperous — in order to protect the burning of fossil fuels that enrich his donor base.

Abbott’s move was the latest iteration of a really unhealthy trend in America: We turn everything into politics — masks, vaccines, the weather, your racial identity and even energy electrons. Donald Trump last year referred to oil, gas and coal as “our kind of energy.” When energy electrons become politics, the end is near. You can’t think straight about anything.

You don’t have to listen too carefully to hear it. Although it is still too early to say for sure, the Texas freeze fits a recent pattern of increasingly destructive “global weirding.” I much prefer that term over “climate change” or “global warming.” Because what happens as average global temperatures rise, ice melts, jet streams shift and the climate changes is that the weather gets weird. The hots get hotter, the colds get colder, the wets get wetter, the dries get drier and the most violent storms get more frequent. Those once-in–100-years floods, droughts, heat waves or deep freezes start to happen every few years. That’s how we will experience climate change.

According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “The U.S. has sustained 285 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including C.P.I. adjustment to 2020). The total cost of these 285 events exceeds $1.875 trillion. … The years with 10 or more separate billion-dollar disaster events include 1998, 2008, 2011–2012, and 2015–2020.” This year, after this Texas disaster alone, could set a record — and we’re only in February.

If global weirding is our new normal, we need a whole new level of buffers, redundancies and supply inventories to create resilience for our power grids — and many more distributed forms of energy, like solar, that can enable households to survive when the grid goes down. Looking to maximize profits around fossil fuels in an age of global weirding is just begging to get hammered.

And Mother Nature swings a mean hammer.

(Thanks to our roving Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

See also Megan McArdle’s column The looming disasters we don’t prepare for. Here are a few of her thoughts.

In hindsight, we are tempted to believe that a different cast of Texas pols would have behaved differently. But she says:

Political incentives being what they are, I’m skeptical that regulators would have done much differently. And before you say that is obviously wrong, ask yourself what other rare events we ought to be preparing for and how much you’re willing to spend to abate them. If you stop with the disaster you happen to know about, you’re no wiser than the people you think failed.

Yet that is where we usually stop. Texans will no doubt demand that their politicians spend the next few years hardening the state’s electrical grid against a recurrence of recent travails, much as the federal government will surely assemble a massive stockpile of N95 masks and hand sanitizer. And if the Yellowstone supervolcano ever explodes, the ash-strewn survivors will undoubtedly gather around their campfires and agree that America should have invested more in geothermal preparedness. But precious few of them will have been among the oddballs who want the United States to invest now in defusing supervolcanoes, diverting asteroids or otherwise guarding against the inevitable disasters that currently seem most unlikely.

We can do better than that, but only if we spend less time on recriminations, or refighting the last war, and more on the unknown future. We should be demanding a Rare Disaster Czar, instead of waiting for more 9/11 Commissions. It’s satisfying to blame others for failing to anticipate whatever we can now see clearly in the rearview mirror, but it’s far more important to worry about the road ahead and the dangers that haven’t yet come into view.

$15 minimum wage - What is wrong with Kyrsten Sinema ...

… and, for that matter, what is wrong with Joe Manchin?

It’s not just some procedural thing that cripples our Senate. They have taken a stand against a livable wage. Supporting $15 per hour is the right thing to do. Why can’t these Senators see that?

Following are some passages from Judd Legum’s popular information post “The Bare Minimum.”

BEGIN QUOTE

The economics of a $15 minimum wage

To pass a $15 minimum wage through reconciliation, Democrats can’t afford to lose any votes. Currently, there are two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who publicly oppose including a $15 minimum wage in the COVID relief package. And several other Democratic senators say they are worried about businesses cutting jobs to compensate for higher labor costs.

The CBO analysis of the proposal appeared to bolster those concerns. The CBO found if the minimum wage was increased to $15, “employment would be reduced by 1.4 million workers (or 0.9 percent) 2025.” The CBO also found that 27 million Americans would see increased wages. But is the CBO right?

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that job loss from a $15 minimum wage would be “very minimal, if anything.” Specifically, Yellen cited research into the impact of state and local minimum wages, including increases to $15, that found negligible employment impact as compared to neighboring states that didn’t change their wage.

A University of California at Berkeley study, for example, looked at six cities that raised their minimum wage to $10 or higher. The study specifically examined the impact on “the food services industry, a major employer of low-wage workers.” It found that while wages increased, there were no “significant negative employment effects.”

Economists believe the minimal impact of minimum wage increases could be due to the increasing monopsony power by employers in the United States labor market. Monopsony power allows employers to control employee wages, enabling them to pay much less than the value of the worker in a competitive market. A classic example is “a mining town—geographically remote so that workers cannot find mining employment elsewhere.” The mining company can pay its employees lousy wages and there is little workers can do about it.

There aren’t too many remote mining towns in the United States in 2021 but there is “increasing concentration in a number of sectors of the U.S. economy” which can allow firms to push down wages. Monopsony power may explain why pay for low-wage workers has stalled even as productivity has skyrocketed. Workers produce much more, on average, than they did 50 years ago, but are being paid less in real dollars.

The politics of a $15 minimum wage

It’s unlikely that Manchin or Sinema will change their position based on a discussion of monopsony power. But, as elected officials who face voters every six years, they might be convinced by the politics of increasing the minimum wage.

A 2019 poll found that 67% of Americans support increasing the minimum wage to $15, including 43% of Republicans. The broad support was reflected in recent state ballot initiatives for a $15 minimum wage. In Florida, for example, Trump prevailed over Biden with 51% of the vote. But a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 passed with 61% support.

Manchin says he supports increasing the minimum wage to $11 per hour because it’s “the right place” for “rural America.” But according to the MIT living wage calculator, a single person in West Virginia with no children needs to make at least $13.93 per hour to cover basic expenses like food, housing, and transportation. West Virginia’s minimum wage is currently $8.75. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage to $15 “would benefit approximately 255,000 West Virginia workers,” increasing pay for “35.5 percent of the West Virginia workforce.”

END QUOTE

That last bit is an example of incredible short-think. $11 an hour? Are there no restaurants in West VA? Are there no nursing facilities in West VA? Can Manchin ratchet up his thinking? So: what’s wrong with Manchin? What’s wrong with Sinema?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Three Senators prove themselves unfit for office

Heather Cox Richardson reports on the reprehensible antics of three Senators - and not one of them is fit for office.

The Senate committees on rules and homeland security today organized into a joint session to hear testimony about what happened on January 6, the day of the deadly insurrection in which rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes that would make Democrat Joe Biden president. …

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), who encouraged the rioters by their willingness to challenge the counting of the certified ballots, questioned the law enforcement officials about their actions during the insurrection. While Cruz drew criticism for scrolling through his phone during opening testimony, Hawley drew attention by appearing to refer to himself when he said that suggestions that Capitol Police leadership were “complicit” in the insurrection were “disrespectful” and “really quite shocking.”

The only firm information that came out of the hearing was that Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) used his time to read into the record an account of the January 6 insurrection that laid blame for the violence not on right-wing supporters of former president Trump, but on “provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters.” The account came from a far-right website. Johnson is trying to convince Americans that, contrary to what our eyes and the testimony of the rioters tell us, the attack on our government came not from Trump supporters but from the left. It is a lie, and it is worth questioning why Johnson feels that lie is important to read into the Congressional Record.

Down The Memory Hole reports Charlie Sykes in The Bulwark. Republicans want to rewrite Jan. 6

Spoiler alert: I honestly do not know what is going on in Ron Johnson’s head anymore.

We saw the attack with our own eyes. We’ve watched the images over and over. Dozens of criminal cases have been filed. we have heard hundreds of first-hand accounts.

And yet, we are already seeing the bizarre attempt to drop the insurrection down the memory hole. This is not mere historical revisionism — this is gaslighting on an audacious scale. So expect more of this sort of hackery …

But the low point of yesterday’s session was undoubtedly the performance of the senior senator of my home state of Wisconsin, who “spent most of his time planting seeds of doubt that the violence wasn’t actually the work of Trump supporters.”

Unfortunately, it was worse than that. Ron Johnson did not merely float bizarre counter-factual conspiracy theories about provocateurs and false flags, he did it in the most witless way imaginable.

Johnson didn’t bother to present actual evidence. Instead, he used much of his time reading into the record a sketchy article from (I kid you not) The Federalist, a journal distinguished by its chronic Trumpen obsequiousness, as well as its bad faith bad writing.

Well, then. Good enough for RonJon to put in the official Senate record.

Amy Klobuchar bluntly labelled Johnson’s theories “disinformation.”

As our hearing concludes, I want to make one thing clear: “provocateurs” did not storm the Capitol. They were not “fake Trump protestors.” The mood on January 6th was not “festive.” That is disinformation.

Adam Kinzinger was even more blunt.

It’s disgraceful for a sitting Senator to spread disinformation so blatantly. It’s a disservice to the people he serves to continue lying to them like this. It’s dangerous and it must stop.

ICYMI: the reaction back home to RonJon’s latest gambits has been less than enthusiastic. Last week, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorialized: “Ron Johnson’s whitewash of the U.S. Capitol riot shows why Wisconsin’s senior senator has to go”.

I add Cruz and Hawley to that list of senators who have got to go.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Daily Irony - TX Republicans want a bailout from the fed

This could have been in a Robin Williams Skit: Texas Republicans want a Federal Bailout to Pay for Their Incompetence reports David Gordon at Blog for Arizona.

Here are Gordon’s concluding observations.

Texas Republican incompetence and adherence to reactionary dogma caused the mess all Texans are in today.

That is not to say that the people in Texas should not be helped by the national government.

Of course, they should. The federal government has a responsibility to help all Americans victimized by a disaster.

So do other activist and philanthropic groups.

Many thanks should go to people like New York House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who journeyed to Texas to help people in need and raise millions to assist them further.

Ted I’m flying to Cancun to get out of the cold Cruz could take a lesson or two in public service from AOC.

People, especially those voters in Texas should not forget that it was their Republican leader’s world view favoring free enterprise in the energy sector over regulation and preparedness that helped created the hardships and fatalities in some cases that Texans have had to endure for the last week.

They should be held responsible at the ballot box when they run again for election in 2022 and 2024.

What Trump could teach journalists about political reporting

Nine Lessons I Learned About Political Reporting While Covering Trump reports 538’s Perry Bacon Jr.

In the fall of 2015, I was having drinks in Washington with a colleague at the time, now-MSNBC host Joy Reid. (I was working at NBC News.) Donald Trump was leading in the polls of the 2016 Republican presidential primary. But I was confident he would not win the nomination.

Very confident.

I told Joy, who is a friend, that Trump was experiencing a sugar high in the polls, not unlike Herman Cain did four years earlier. I predicted the Republican establishment would organize against Trump and embrace the obvious candidate for the party’s future, a kind of a Barack Obama for the right: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Joy was equally confident. Trump was speaking about racial issues in a way that would resonate with the GOP base, she said. She hinted that neither I nor the GOP party establishment really understood that base. And she laughed as I hyped Rubio. Joy had lived in Florida before moving to New York City to work at MSNBC. She had covered Rubio closely and was extremely confident that he did not have the skills to defeat Trump, particularly if Trump made race a central issue in the campaign.

I remember this conversation from more than five years ago so clearly because it encapsulates much of my experience as a political journalist in the Trump era. In June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, I had been covering national politics for 13 years, including three presidential campaigns. I had been savvy at times — describing Obama as the likely winner of the 2008 Democratic nomination in January 2007, before he even formally announced his candidacy. I assumed I knew a lot about how politics in America worked.

Then Trump came along.

Over the next five-plus years, I learned a lot about covering national politics. Some lessons came the hard way: By being really wrong. So now that we’re about a month into a new presidential administration, I’m trying to keep those lessons front and center. What are they? Here are nine:

I’ll list the titles. You will have to dig out the details.

  1. Listen more to Black people.
  2. Mix up my media diet.
  3. Don’t be too reliant on political insiders.
  4. Move on from both sides-ism.
  5. Read less access and insider journalism.
  6. Embrace uncertainty.
  7. Learn more about identity issues.
  8. Cover “government.”

Whew. So I learned a lot, but still have a lot to learn. And that’s OK. If nothing else, I am hoping this article itself is an illustration of the ninth, meta-lesson that I learned in covering Trump: Journalists covering elections and governments should be humble. Our sample size is tiny: There have been 117 Congresses, 59 presidential elections and 46 presidents in all of U.S. history. We live in a rapidly changing world. We as journalists have to adapt to these changes and still always assume that we aren’t getting the story completely right.

In my case, I’m already pretty nervous about bungling things. I just wrote a long essay about the lessons I learned covering Trump. But Joe Biden is president now. Some of those lessons might not apply — and surely there will be new lessons from the Biden years. But no matter what, you heard it here first, in 2024, Biden will … I have no idea. I will stay humble and you should stay tuned.

Why we don't need a better GOP

Among other writers, I have bemoaned the fate of what was once a legitimate Republican party. Those of us holding such a view have argued that we need a two-party system. Here is a counter view.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, argues that the Pundits are wrong. We don’t need a functional GOP.

You hear it all the time, especially from Democrats: We need a functioning two-party system. We need a better Republican Party. No, and no.

A two-party system serves two functions. First, it provides choice to voters and discipline to each party. Second, it aids in organizing legislative bodies. But could those functions be performed in some other manner?

Regarding the first function, many jurisdictions are effectively one-party locales. New York City is overwhelmingly dominated by Democrats. Mississippi is the province of Republicans. The political action in those jurisdictions comes in the primaries, where individuals with an array of policy views and personal attributes fight it out. Dozens of Democratic candidates are running for mayor of New York; no one seriously questions whether New Yorkers are deprived of the benefits of democracy.

With regard to organizing legislative bodies, most Western-style democracies have more than two parties. By the same token, it is conceivable, as the Founders envisioned, that something akin to “factions” rather than political parties provides the organizational structure for legislatures. We saw a moderate faction help end the government shutdown in 2018 and forge an agreement on a covid–19 relief package last December.

That faction of sane Senate Republicans, for example, could conceivably organize as its own caucus, wielding power that would install, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as majority leader. There is no magic, in other words, to two parties.

Moreover, the pining for a sane Republican Party — a “center right” party — makes sense only if one thinks such a party has a constituency and sufficient distance from the Democratic Party. Can you find a base for a party that, say, wants to spend a trillion dollars instead of $1.9 trillion on a covid–19 relief bill? Perhaps in a few states, but nationwide, it is unclear that there is a felt need for a Democratic-lite party, beyond rich donors. It is even harder to find a substantial base for a Barry Goldwater-style “small government” party. Neither side ran on such a platform in 2020.

It is no secret that modern conservatism, in large part a response to the Cold War, is ideologically spent. The Bulwark’s William Kristol got to the nub of it in a September post:

So perhaps we need to acknowledge that it has come to this: Real, existing conservatism as it exists in America in 2020 is an accomplice to, an apologist for, and an enabler of Trump’s nativist, populist, unconservative, and illiberal authoritarianism. …

[P]erhaps every political movement has a natural lifespan: Modern American conservatism was born in 1955, peaked in full flower in the 1980s, and then aged, mostly gracefully, for three decades. Until it could easily, if suddenly, be pushed aside in its dotage—forced, or induced, to surrender to its younger and stronger, if disreputable, distant relative.

If the Democratic Party were made up purely of devotees of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one could see space for a center-right party. But contrary to GOP propaganda, that is not the case. A center-left nominee won the presidency. The Senate includes many moderate Democrats, including Warner, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania.

All of that is to say that there is no particular reason to hope for a revived Republican Party insofar as we are looking for a vehicle for an exhausted ideology. If we need a second or a third party, the possibilities are endless. There are socially conservative but economically progressive parties in Western Europe that embrace a strong social contract. There could be a need for a centrist party if the Democrats go off the deep end.

However, as we think through this next era in politics, we should abide by one core principle: A right-wing, populist and authoritarian party should not be allowed to hold power. It has proved to be dangerous, racist and fundamentally un-American. Everything else should be up for debate.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

El Paso is an example preparing for the future - that is, what the rest of Texas did not do

In the [Bulwark/JVL][jvl], Tim Miller writes about the Texas SNAFU -and a counter example of good government.

I’ve been horrified hearing the anecdotes from Texas and if any of our readers are from there and suffering our hearts are with you and don’t hesitate to reach out.

But, as we learned last year from the response to COVID–19, death and suffering does not shake the cult of Conservatism, Inc. You will not be surprised to hear that while millions in his state are trying to survive freezing temperatures without heat or electricity, the governor of Texas Greg Abbott was on Sean Hannity’s show blaming the whole affair on the Green New Deal.

This is, of course, insulting and preposterous. But as I was wading through the BS of what really happened in Texas, my technocratic soul was soothed by this anecdote about why El Paso, which is not on the same grid as the rest of the state, avoided blackouts this time. Here’s why:

El Paso Electric said they always try to prepare for the future and after a winter storm in 2011, the utility company worked towards replacing and upgrading their equipment. Many generators now have antifreeze protection.

“We went from plus–10 degrees which was what the original equipment was designed for to a minus–10, so currently everything we install or upgrade is done to a minus–10 degree sustained temperature,” said Louie Guarderrama, director of operations for the utility company.

The company’s plant in far east El Paso is also another addition that has become a vital part of their operations

“Some of the new units really came to save the day. But it’s also all the hard working people that have worked behind the scenes to make this happen,” Gutierrez said.

What a refreshing throwback! A story about having competent leaders who fixed a public good rather than spending all day shitposting about California.

Those were the days.

[jvl]:JVL - The Bulwark thetriad@substack.com

Closing in on the 'Trump crime family'

Manhattan DA Is Closing In On The Trump Crime Family, Still Waiting On SCOTUS reports AZ BlueMeanie.

For some unexplained reason, the U.S. Supreme Court uncharacteristically has failed to take any action on Donald Trump’s lawyers’ emergency filings related to a Manhattan grand jury’s subpoena of Trump tax returns, effectively thwarting part of the investigation.

CNN reports, The Supreme Court is still sitting on Trump’s tax returns, and justices aren’t saying why:

The Supreme Court’s inaction marks an extraordinary departure from its usual practice of timely responses when the justices are asked to block a lower court decision on an emergency basis and has spurred questions about what is happening behind the scenes.

Chief Justice John Roberts, based on his past pattern, may be trying to appease dueling factions among the nine justices, to avoid an order that reinforces a look of partisan politics. Yet paradoxically, the unexplained delay smacks of politics and appears to ensnarl the justices even more in the controversies of Trump.

_ BIG SNIP_

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has also hired the “master” of the modern use of the federal RICO statute to take down criminal enterprises, Mark Pomerantz. If you’re unfamiliar with his name, this is the guy who took down New York’s mafia crime families. Now he is pursuing the Trump crime family.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has stepped up his investigation into former President Donald Trump with the addition of a former federal prosecutor who’s highly regarded for his expertise in untangling complex financial dealings and white-collar crimes, the New York Times reported Thursday.

A former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York where he spent three years as the head of the Criminal Division, Mark Pomerantz has formally agreed to assist Vance’s team in its investigation of Trump and his privately owned businesses for possible tax and bank fraud, people said to be familiar with the investigation told the Times.

ANOTHER SNIP

If the U.S. Supreme Court stops protecting Donald Trump, and prosecutors can get access to his tax records and financial documents, with Mark Pomerantz on the prosecution team the Trump crime family will finally be brought to justice.

Friday, February 19, 2021

In Texas it's not as bad as you think - it's far, far worse

Things are very very bad in Texas reports a TX resident, txjackalope at the Daily Kos.

Quote of the Day: like Beto said on MSNBC it’s not as bad as the news reports say. It’s worse.

BEGIN QUOTE

First off this isn’t localized or even limited to big or even medium sized cities. There are rural areas that don’t have power either. This is a classic cascade failure. It is worse than a hurricane.

  1. It started with ERCOT misprediction of energy demand by about 30%.

  2. Sunday demand spiked to new historic winter levels. A full 10 MW higher than the previous Winter peak. Texas runs on electric heat. Virtually no one has fuel oil heaters. Fireplaces are things you have for ambiance.

  3. Then it froze. The whole state in one night. That sounds not weird to most people but south of say San Antonio it hardly ever freezes. It barely ever snows. Like once every hundred years. But this was a deep freeze. Our normal once a decade freezes are it goes in the high twenties for a few hours overnight. This was a freeze that lasted two days. Lots of people just don’t have clothing to deal with this either.

  4. So the roads shut down because of wrecks. We have trucks that the highway department can lay salt with or sand. But we had enough to cover those overnight type events on major bridges. Nothing like the ground freezing. People got stuck where they were. Freezing rain quickly washed the little salt and sand we had away.

  5. Then the power went out. They said at first they would be rolling blackouts but when it went out it virtually never came back on. For my city the blackouts started around 2am Monday morning.

  6. Since we never had a ground freeze they hastily told everyone to keep our taps dripping overnight so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. But we don’t have insulated piping. So many pipes froze and many burst.

  7. Monday during the day the roads were still closed so you couldn’t get out. Heat was ok for many since houses could retain some heat.

  8. Tuesday is when the shit hit the fan. Without power all the water infrastructure was hobbled. Pumps are non operable since entire sections of the city are blacked out.

  9. With lines broken and pumps out and people dripping faucets water pressure has dropped to a trickle or none at all.

  10. City orders a boil water notice because of this but large segments of people have no power to boil water with.

  11. Meanwhile ERCOT tries to get everyone to start producing more power. Turns out energy production is as winterized as our houses. Gas power plants that had been told they wouldn’t be needed had gas lines freeze. Nuclear plants had instrumentation failures due to cold(a holy shit in it’s own right). Wind Turbines sited to provide surge power for Summer afternoons and built without heating elements had their gear casings freeze and lock up(they still outperformed ERCOT estimates). Even coal plants got knocked out with instrument failures. Roads being frozen means any maintenance response is limited.

  12. So by Tuesday it’s clear any power restoration is a cold restart, meaning for instance you have to count on any re-energized building pulling it’s maximum demand. That’s because you’ve gone from trying to keep a building at 68–72 degrees to trying to get it from 35 degrees to anywhere warmer than that(our electric heat kits aren’t designed to do that anyway).

  13. It did warm up enough Tuesday for people to drive. That meant firewood, water, propane, batteries of any kind, all gone instantly. Gas lines out in the street at gas stations. Dairy and meat shortages.

  14. And cell reception is abysmal even for texting. With so many houses with power out people are using their cars to charge cell phones or stay warm. With so much internet traffic switching to cell based the network is slammed. It’s worse than New York after 9–11 slammed(I was there). Voice calls are impossible most of the time. Texts take 20–30 minutes to get through if they do. I think the battery backups and fuel tanks on back up generators are out on lots of the towers.

  15. This afternoon was kind of the great migration when it became clear that ERCOTs promises that the blackouts would be getting rolled back got called out by the lines companies coming out publicly saying ERCOT was telling them to cut off more people. Think they got pissed people were rumor mongering that power was out because their lines were down. My fairly wealthy neighborhood is mostly abandoned as the neighbors stay with relatives with power or find hotel rooms. With cell coverage so bad it’s impossible to check up on everyone.

I’m only writing this because I have a natural gas backup generator in a brand new foam insulated house. I have heat, internet, and a working kitchen. I don’t have hot water because you have to make choices on what you can have hooked up and hot showers is not a priority when you have a Summer hurricane(It’s usually 100 outside after a storm).

I spent the day trying to get word to friends and neighbors they could come over and have a hot meal, charge devices, and warm up. Can’t get people to spend the night because they are worried about leaving pets and houses alone or are worried about COVID(We’ve had our first shots but not our second). I gave all my firewood to a neighbor who has a kid running a fever with a cough. I sent him home with hot coffee for his wife. I charged the phones and tablet of an ER nurse friend who hasn’t been home in two days because the road home is closed. Her partner is stuck there with her dog.

This has none of the hallmarks of a hurricane. In hurricanes you prep, the vulnerable evac, and it hits. It’s bad for a few hours and after that few hours everyone gets to work and things get incrementally better every hour. Help starts arriving from non impacted areas almost immediately. Lightly effected areas patch themselves up and send help to the epicenter in a day.

This shit just keeps getting worse. The closest “unaffected area” is 600 miles away.

So like Beto said on MSNBC it’s not as bad as the news reports say. It’s worse.

Update: Wow this had more reaction than I thought it would. People have had thoughts on how to help. Just a bit of a reminder. I’m fairly south and we still have the airport closed and streets closed intermittently(it froze again last night). So you understand most of the state has no functioning transportation infrastructure right now. Airports don’t have deicing equipment for runways and planes. Highway departments have absolutely minimal plowing and ice prevention equipment. People don’t know how to drive in it anyway.

One thing you can do is some advocacy on government competency from a rationalist perspective. Anything the feds could do to “save” us would be helpful. I’ve noticed only the hardcore Trumpers are still on the wind turbine are to blame thing. The moderate business people(who cannot operate) are fully aware ERCOT and bad state management is to blame. In Texas this is the group that could swing over and clinch future elections. The federal government actively helping in a visible way would help in this.

END QUOTE

Texas now a failed state

More Than Two Decades of Republican Rule In Texas Has Made It a ‘Failed State’ reports the AZ BlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona. You should read this one!

Increasing Presidential power results from do-nothing GOP lawmakers

In the February 18, 2021 edition of Letters from an American Heather Cox Richardson IDs enduring and critical questions.

There are two big questions the Biden administration is going to have to negotiate. One is the conflict between the constitutional role of Congress and the increasingly powerful presidency. In our system, it is Congress that is supposed to pass the nation’s laws. The president’s job is to make sure the laws are executed. But the presidency has taken on more and more power since at least the time of Richard Nixon’s administration, using the president’s direction of the executive branch to determine where the money Congress appropriates goes, for example, and sending troops to engage in military actions without a congressional declaration of war. …

You could be excused if you perceive nothing new here. Cox Richardson observes that “As the Senate under McConnell has increasingly refused to act, more and more power has flowed to the White House.”

Biden is an institutionalist who values the role of Congress—he was, after all, a senator for more than 35 years– and yet the refusal of Senate Republicans to agree to any Democratic legislation means that he has launched his presidency with a sweeping range of executive actions. This runs the risk of alienating not only Republicans, but also those of his supporters who worry about the concentration of power in the presidency. His apparent refusal to use an executive order to cancel student debt without a firm declaration of legality from the Department of Justice suggests he’s trying not to push this boundary too far.

And yet, how can he preserve the power of Congress to pass legislation if it refuses to? How can the Democrats pass popular legislation if the Republican senators refuse to budge? Observers note that Biden’s coronavirus plan is exceedingly popular: 64% of voters want to see it happen. But Republican lawmakers are all opposed to it. It’s a conundrum: how can the Democrats both preserve the power of Congress and, at the same time, actually pass popular legislation over the obstructionist Republicans who appear to be out of step with the American people?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Republicans now bound to Trump the Toxic

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin thinks that Republicans have tied themselves to an anvil. Here’s part of the why.

The decision should have been easy: Do you want to stick by an overwhelmingly unpopular former president who potentially has both civil and criminal liabilities, or do you want a fresh start for a party in need of new ideas? Republicans, remarkably, chose the former.

Quinnipiac’s most recent poll highlights the Republicans’ dilemma. By a 75 percent to 21 percent margin, Republicans “would like to see [former president Donald Trump] play a prominent role in the Republican Party.” However, overall, “Americans say 60–34 percent that they do not want Trump to play a prominent role in the Republican Party.” Even worse: “A majority of Americans, 55–43 percent, say Trump should not be allowed to hold elected office in the future. Republicans say 87–11 percent that Trump should be allowed to hold elected office in the future.”

Further, a majority of Americans (54 percent) think Trump was responsible for the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. An even higher percentage (55 percent) think the assault would not have happened without him. An astounding 68 percent think the former commander in chief did not do enough to stop the siege.

Republicans are bound to a figure who is toxic and utterly unacceptable to a significant majority of the country. …

SNIP

Beyond that, the White House and congressional Democrats have an easy argument to make whenever Republicans holler about bipartisanship or “extreme” nominees: Republicans have no moral authority when it comes to extremism, nor is there any evidence that they put the country’s interests above their own. The people who could not manage to convict someone as obviously guilty (according to McConnell) as the former president live in a make-believe world in which they are at war with reality.

Acquittal was a stunningly self-destructive move for a party that cannot now move beyond a villainous figure. Republicans might want to root for investigations into the former president, since they obviously lack the nerve to get him out of their party on their own.

Message to 1-6 insurrectionists - we're gonna get your money

Heather Cox Richardson alerts us to three developments in the February 16, 2021 edition of Letters from an American.

I’m reordering them for reasons that you will see in a moment or two.

First up is the deep freeze in Texas, which overwhelmed the power grid and knocked out electricity for more than 3.5 million people, leaving them without heat. It has taken the lives of at least 23 people. Most of Texas is on its own power grid, a decision made in the 1930s to keep it clear of federal regulation. This means both that it avoids federal regulation and that it cannot import more electricity during periods of high demand.

Third, President Joe Biden held a televised town hall tonight to sell the idea of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. He answered in detail questions about domestic insurrection, the minimum wage, white supremacy, coronavirus, and vaccines. But what stood out was an exchange between the president and the mother of a young man with health issues who cannot get on a list in Wisconsin to get the coronavirus vaccine. Biden told the woman that he could make recommendations to the states, but the order in which they chose to administer the vaccine was up to them. “But here’s what I’d like to do,” he continued. ”If you’re willing, I’ll stay around after this is over and maybe we can talk a few minutes and see if I can get you some help.”

But most interesting, to me this morning, is the second development (that might be part of a powerful trend). The message to those January 6 insurrectionists is this: we’re coming after your money.

Second, there was an interesting development today with regard to the January 6 insurrection. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), in his personal capacity, not as a member of Congress, sued Donald Trump—in his personal capacity—Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Proud Boys International, LLC; and Oath Keepers. The lawsuit is backed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and argues that these four people or entities each “intended to prevent, and ultimately delayed, members of Congress from discharging their duty commanded by the United States Constitution to approve the results of the Electoral College in order to elect the next President and Vice President of the United States.”

That language is significant. While the lawsuit lays out in detail the actions of the former president and Giuliani and the domestic terrorists in the lead-up to January 6, as well as the events of that day (making its 32 pages an excellent synopsis of the material the House impeachment managers laid out in the Senate trial), Thompson is making a very specific claim.

Thompson accuses the four defendants of “conspiring to prevent him and other Members of Congress from discharging… official duties.” This puts them afoul of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, designed to break that deadly organization in the years after the Civil War when its members were intimidating and assaulting Black and white Republicans in the South. The law makes anyone who has “conspire[d] to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from… discharging any duties [of an officer of the United States]” “liable to the party injured.”

Thompson points out that he is 72, within the age group hardest hit by the coronavirus, and the lockdown precautions put his health at risk. This speaks to the part of the law that calls out perpetrators who “injure [an officer] in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof… so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties.”

The law allows a successful plaintiff to claim money not only to make up for the damages the perpetrators caused, but also to punish the perpetrators and to try to warn others against trying anything similar. And that is what Thompson has asked for.

Thompson appears to be trying to defang the insurrectionists by going after their bank accounts. Bleeding white supremacist gangs dry through lawsuits has proved surprisingly effective in the past. In 1999, a lawsuit bankrupted the Idaho Aryan Nations white supremacists; in 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued a Ku Klux Klan group in Kentucky and won a $2.5 million settlement. Going after Trump, Giuliani, and the organizations central to the January 6 insurrection by taking their money would likely make insurrectionists think twice before they tried such a thing again.

Here is another example of not just following, but taking, the money. Dominion Says It Will Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Over Election Fraud Claims. Dominion sent letters to Lindell in December and January demanding that he retract false claims about their machines. Instead, the MyPillow CEO doubled down.

MAGA diehard and pillow magnate Mike Lindell is the next target of a Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit over his wild claims about nonexistent election-fraud conspiracy, with the lead attorney representing Dominion telling The Daily Beast he expects to file the suit “imminently.”

Lindell, a staunch Donald Trump ally and founder of the MyPillow company, became a prominent voice and financial backer in attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and, alongside Trumpist attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, made a series of false allegations that China and others somehow hacked voting machines and swung the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

“He has doubled down and tripled down. He has made himself a higher public profile with his documentary,” Tom Clare, an attorney representing Dominion, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday afternoon. Clare confirmed in a brief phone call that Dominion would be filing suit against Lindell “imminently.”

The suit would make Lindell the third pro-Trump figure sued by Dominion after the company filed $1.3 billion suits against attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.

When reached for comment on Tuesday, Lindell was, characteristically, defiant. “That would so make my day because then they would have to go into discovery, and that would make my job a lot easier,” he said in a phone interview. “It’ll be faster for me to get to the evidence, and to show the people in the public record the evidence we have about these machines… I will not stop until every single person on the planet knows, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, what these machines did to us.”

”These machines need to be removed, and [these people] brought to justice for what they did to our country in these attacks,” he continued. “If they sue me, I would be so happy.”

Dominion sent letters to Lindell in December and January demanding that he retract false claims that the company’s software stole "millions of votes from” then-President Donald Trump and inaccurately tallied votes in the key battleground states of Georgia and Arizona.

Despite the legal threats, Lindell has continued undaunted in his pursuit of election conspiracy theories. …

Oh, please. Bring it on. Sung to the tune of the movie theater ditty: Let’s all go to deposing, deposing, deposing …

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

What the hell was wrong with that Trump guy

Is This the End of Obsessively Hating Donald Trump? Loathing him has been a passion, an addiction, a compulsion. Let impeachment be the last hurrah.

So writes Keith Olberman in a New York Times op-ed.

Mr. Olbermann was, among other things, the national sports correspondent for CNN from 1981 to 1984, and host and managing editor of MSNBC’s “The White House in Crisis” in 1998 and “Countdown” from 2003 to 2011

Here are the opening excerpts.

(Thanks to our roving Editor-at-Large Sherry.)

I hated Donald Trump when hating Donald Trump wasn’t cool.

My credentials date back to Dec. 15, 1983, when CNN sent me to cover a public forum featuring the moguls of four New York sports teams. One of them, the newly minted proprietor of the long-forgotten New Jersey Generals, got up and spoke interminable nonsense for what felt like 20 minutes.

He promised the signing of superstar players he would never sign. He announced the hiring of immortal coaches he would never hire. He scheduled a news conference the next day to confirm all of it, and the next day never came.

As I finished recording one-on-one interviews with the three other owners, George Steinbrenner, Sonny Werblin and Fred Wilpon, he emerged from the darkness and began answering questions into my microphone before I asked any. He repeated his boasts of future glory, but this time he mentioned an entirely different set of coaches and players than he had from the podium. As we helped the crew pack up to head back to our newsroom, I said to my equally flummoxed producer, “What the hell was wrong with that Trump guy?”

I have some seniority on this topic.

I was there nearly at the beginning of the Great Hate, I have twice quit lucrative sinecures in sports to create pro bono video series warning against Mr. Trump, and now I am here with everybody else watching “Impeachment in Absentia” and wondering if we will ever get the opportunity to exorcise the enmity.

As obscenely insufficient as it sounds, the only real consequence of this second trial might be the unofficial termination of Mr. Trump’s political life. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s tepid Wednesday guess — “I don’t see how Donald Trump could be re-elected to the presidency again” — might be the closest thing to a tangible result.

Far more than the outcome of the trial was predetermined: Anybody on either side could have mapped the play-by-play with precision. Whomever you support, it has gone exactly as you expected it would.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who seemingly rotate as frequently and stumblingly as those imaginary football stars and coaches he told me he would steal 38 years ago, have fabricated the useful phantasm of “unconstitutionality.” It has provided Republican senators with an excuse to watch video of themselves and their colleagues nearly being captured and killed by a mob, and yet still say that was truly horrible but it’s just a shame we don’t have jurisdiction against an ex-president and oh by the way didn’t those impeachment managers do a great and solemn job and see I said something nice about Democrats therefore I’m for unity unlike that Biden guy.

If that’s all we get, what happens to the hate?

For the answer, see Olberman’s essay.

The awesome awfulness of Trump's defense

The 10 Worst Moments from Trump’s “Defense”. Benjamin Parker, a senior editor at The Bulwark, explains: The former president got the impeachment defense he deserved.

Donald Trump’s lawyers took only about three and a half hours to make their case in defense of the “45th president”—aka the former president. (More on that in a moment.) They used less than a quarter of the 16 hours the Senate procedural agreement had afforded them. And the truth is, they could have used even less time if not for the fact that Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen spoke … very … slowly. It was the equivalent of a high school student filing a 20 page paper in 14-point, double-spaced Courier.

But the padded-out length of the defense was just one unspoken acknowledgment by Trump’s lawyers of how weak their case was. There were, by my count, at least 10 others.

(1) The Trump team couldn’t agree on exactly what the status of their client was. Bruce Castor, who was the team leader, insisted on referring to Trump as the “45th president,” a convenient way of eliding the question of whether or not Trump should be rightfully considered the loser of the 2020 election. (The Trump team first adopted this appellation in its brief earlier this week.)

At the same time, Trump’s team also argued that for the Senate to disqualify Trump from office based on incitement to insurrection would be an unconstitutional infringement of the free speech rights of a “private citizen.”

Trump can’t have it both ways.

(2) By refusing to acknowledge that their client is the former president, the defense team actually furthered Trump’s Big Lie about the election not being free, fair, trustworthy, and conclusive. Their client still claims to have won the 2020 election—which he lost by 7 million votes—by a landslide. The defense team said nothing to contradict this claim and debunk Trump’s lie.

But not only did Trump’s lawyers not debunk his lie, they actually furthered it in the course of making their defense!

In their brief discussion of Trump’s infamous phone call with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, Castor implied that there was a reason to believe the election results in Georgia were suspect. “Based on an analysis of publicly available voter data,” Castor said, “the ballot rejection rate in Georgia in 2016 was approximately 6.42 percent. And even though a tremendous amount of new, first-time-mail in ballots were included in the 2020 count, the Georgia rejection rate in 2020 was a mere 0.4 percent.”

Which is incorrect.

Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling explains why these numbers are so much bunkum.

OK…piecing this together. The initial absentee rejection rate for signature issue was about double in 2020 as 2018. There is a cure period now and the final rate was 0.15% in both years. So…shockingly, the disinformation continues…

(3) Multiple members of “the 45th president’s” legal team decried “hatred” in politics.

By which they meant the hatred Democrats have for Trump, which they claim was the motivation for this second impeachment.

Trump’s lawyers did not see “hatred” as the motivation that led people to destroy public property, disrupt congressional proceedings, erect gallows, and attack and murder police officers on January 6.

This insane view didn’t even rise to the level of false equivalence.

(4) At one point, van der Veen looked directly toward the House impeachment managers and claimed, “Either words matter or they don’t.” He should take his own advice.

Van der Veen also suggested to the Senate that convicting Trump because of his speech would be a violation of the former—sorry, 45th president’s free speech rights. He even read the First Amendment aloud: “Congress shall make no law…”

But of course impeachment isn’t a law. Either words matter or they don’t.

(5) Van der Veen went on to suggest that to violate Trump’s rights in such a brazen manner (bear with me here) would somehow be a violation of the senators’ oaths.

Yes, you read that right.

A lawyer defending Donald Trump thought it was a good idea to bring up violation of oaths of office as a reason to acquit the former president who incited an insurrection against the U.S. government.

(6)Trump’s lawyers compiled a video of Democrats suggesting that various electoral results were illegitimate —Stacey Abrams refusing to concede her race for Georgia governor, Hillary Clinton suggesting that Trump knew Russian interference tipped the scales in his favor, etc. If raising doubts about the outcome of an election is tantamount to insurrection, they asked, why hadn’t Abrams and Clinton been brought up on charges?

One reason is that the trial in question is an impeachment trial, not a criminal trial. Another reason is that, even in a criminal trial, “She started it” is not a valid defense.

But the most obvious reason is this: No one argued that Trump’s incitement was just because he refused to concede the election. Instead, the House impeachment managers spent about 12 hours explaining how the incitement was a months-long process that began before the election, continued after the election, and culminated with Trump summoning a mob on January 6 and then literally directing them to march on the Capitol with the goal of preventing the counting of the Electoral College votes.

(7)Throughout the entire proceeding, the defense invoked principles, rules, and standards that apply in courtrooms. They inveighed against the lower standards for evidence in the Senate trial compared to a courtroom. They cited case law about criminalized speech and prior restraint as if they were controlling precedents. Van der Veen even told the Senate that their job was to interpret the law and apply it to the facts at hand.

All of which is wrong. That’s what courts do. These lawyers were talking to the U.S. Senate. To suggest that the two bodies have the same job—or that the rules made by courts should restrict the Senate—isn’t just constitutionally illiterate. It’s inviting a violation of the separation of powers. The Senate, not the Supreme Court, is given the sole power to try impeachments.

(8)Upon miraculously rediscovering that they were addressing the Senate, and not a court, the defense team indulged in some good ol’-fashioned stump speechifying. They inveighed against the naked, unapologetic, shameless quest by the House managers to get the Senate to disqualify Trump from running for office again.

As if that wasn’t exactly what the Constitution allows in the black letter of the law.

(9)The most substantive contention from Trump’s defense was that he called for “peace” repeatedly on January 6. He called for peace in his speech that morning! He called for peace in some tweets later that day! Words matter!

During the question and answer phase after Trump’s defense rested, lead House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin delivered a fitting rejoinder: “If you rob a bank, and on the way out the door you yell, ‘Respect private property!’ that’s not a defense to robbing the bank.”

(10)As the hours dragged on, van der Veen didn’t continue his plodding pace. He became more and more agitated, growing red in the face, and during the question and answer period, began gesticulating with his arms and hopping in front of the microphone. Before the eyes of 100 senators, the lawyer took on the affect of his client.

The transformation was complete when van der Veen addressed the letter signed by 144 constitutional lawyers refuting his arguments. It was, he intoned, not just a disagreement over law, but a personal attack on him, an effort to intimidate him and silence him.

He, Michael van der Veen, was the real victim of the January 6 assault and the impeachment that followed.

It was the most Trumpian moment of the entire trial. A late-middle-aged, white lawyer, who, despite specializing in dog-bite cases, accepted this high-profile (and probably remunerative) job, was given the honor of addressing the United States Senate—and used his time to complain to America that he was a victim.

It was a fitting final act for the Trump era.

Mike Pence - The Silence of a Lamb

Amanda Carpenter (in The Bulwark.com) examines The Strategic Silence of Mike Pence Complicity, cowardice, or nihilism?

On January 6, a horde of pro-Trump rioters breached the United States Capitol with one bloodthirsty mission in mind: to stop Vice President Mike Pence from carrying out his constitutional obligation to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

Even if it meant killing him.

Makeshift gallows were erected on the West side of the complex. Members of the mob shouted “Hang Mike Pence!” as they stormed the halls of Congress, hunting for the vice president, as well as any other officials they could get their hands on. Well over 100 police officers were injured and maimed by the mob; Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed. Two Capitol Hill Police officers later committed suicide.

And to this day, the former vice president hasn’t had a word to say about his experience.

Throughout Trump’s impeachment, Pence remained mute. As someone who could provide both important facts—what did Trump know about the situation, when, and what was his reaction—and bear witness to Trump’s state of mind in the days and hours leading up to the attack, Pence was in a rare, possibly even unique, position. Over the course of the weeks following the election, Pence had been a perpetrator of Trump’s big election lie and at the final hour became a target of it. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote for impeachment and who came forward with her blockbuster testimony during the Senate trial, begged Pence to share what he knew.

He refused.

Pence’s silence could easily be chalked up to all manner of causes: submissiveness, cowardice, fear, or naked political calculation.

Or maybe it’s something worse.

Ask yourself: Why would Mike Pence bother lifting his voice in defense of his own life if no one else in his party cares to do so?

Over the coming months, the former vice president is going to spend lots of time speaking to and for the same movement that built up, supported, and defended the president who put a target on his back on January 6.

Aside from morbid curiosity, it’s unclear why anyone would listen to what he has to say. Pence’s strategic silence shows us that he’s either unable or unwilling to stand up for his own health and safety. Why would anyone trust him to stand up for America?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Trump's blood lust - Political vampires have no honor

No honor among political thieves

There are only seven honorable Republican senators and Jennifer Rubin (WaPo) tags them.

In a masterly job of lawyering, public education and civic performance, House impeachment managers got every available Republican vote to convict former president Donald Trump on Saturday. Alas, there were only seven available — the other 43 Republicans apparently made up their minds before the trial had even started. The Republican honor roll: Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.). It was the most bipartisan impeachment verdict in American history.

Earlier in the day, House managers were compelled by Senate Democrats to accept the stipulated testimony of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) rather than her live testimony. Many Americans, including the House managers, learned plenty in the development of the case against the disgraced former president. There was far more evidence of guilt than we had imagined. The White House intervened to allow the mob to gather on the Ellipse. Scores of his MAGA followers believed they were acting on Trump’s command. We got even more evidence of his guilt and of the total irresponsibility of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) when we heard Herrera Beutler’s testimony read into the record: Trump knew the Capitol and his vice president were imperiled. He seemed perfectly pleased and indeed scolded McCarthy for not being as committed to him as the violent insurrectionists were.

… Nothing could be more hypocritical or symptomatic of spinelessness than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Having delayed the trial beyond Joe Biden’s inauguration, McConnell voted to acquit on Saturday, arguing that a president couldn’t be tried once out of office. And then he proclaimed, “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. … He didn’t get away with anything yet.” If that is not an admission of McConnell’s own failure to uphold his oath, then nothing is. Given that seven Republicans found the courage to do what he could not is an indictment of his moral feebleness thorough partisanship.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared at the House managers’ post-verdict news conference and tore into McConnell. She excoriated him for the grounds on which he claimed to acquit, since he was the one who delayed the trial. She mocked McConnell: "So for him to get up there and make this indictment against the President and then say but ‘I can’t, I can’t vote for it because it’s after the fact.’ The fact that he established! The fact that he established that it could not be delivered before the inauguration.” Calling Republicans “cowardly,” she pointed out that McConnell affirmed that the managers had proved the case. She rightly concluded McConnell and Republicans were bent on acquitting the former president no matter the facts.

The House managers conducted themselves with grace and honor. We saw the intellectual and emotional strength of Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), who had just lost his son (named after Thomas Paine, whom Raskin quoted frequently). Newcomers Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a non-voting Democratic delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) proved themselves to be rising stars. …

We are reminded that the country has one functioning, pro-democracy party and another under the sway of the MAGA mob and the instigator of a violent insurrection. Never has the gap between the parties been so great, nor the need for one side to prevail so essential to the survival of the republic.

Political vampirism

From Wiki: “A vampire is a creature from folklore that subsists by feeding on the vital essence (generally in the form of blood) of the living. In European folklore, vampires are undead creatures that often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighborhoods they inhabited while they were alive.” …

Trump’s Taste for Blood is the target of Maureen Dowd’s NYT opinion piece. If Republicans won’t convict, bring on the handcuffs.

(Thanks to Scriber’s Editor-at-Large Sherry)

… The first time I realized that Donald Trump took pleasure in violence was back in March 2016. In an interview, I asked him about the brutish rhetoric and violence at his rallies and the way he goaded supporters to hate on journalists and rough up protesters. Even then Mitch McConnell was urging Trump to ratchet down the ferocity.

I told Trump that I had not seen this side of him before and that he was going down a very dark path. With his denigrating mockery of rivals and critics, he had already taken politics to a vulgar place, and now it was getting more dangerous.

Shouldn’t parents be able to bring children to rallies without worrying about obscenities, sucker punches, brawls and bullying, I wondered?

He brushed off the questions and blithely assessed the savage mood at his rallies: “Frankly, it adds a little excitement.”

A couple of weeks later, I pressed him again on his belligerence and divisiveness, and, with utter candor, he explained why he was turning up the heat.

“I guess because of the fact that I immediately went to No. 1 and I said, why don’t I just keep the same thing going?” he said. “I’ve come this far in life. I’ve had great success. I’ve done it my way.” He added, “You know, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Don’t change.’”

Dear reader, he didn’t change.

And everything bloodcurdling that happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 flowed from his bloodthirsty behavior. He had always been cruel and selfish, blowing things up and reveling in the chaos, gloating in the wreckage. But it was only during his campaign that he realized he had a nasty mob at his disposal. He had moved into a world that allowed him to exercise his malice in an extraordinary way, and he loved it.

Trump never cared about law and order or the cops. He was thrilled that he could unleash his mob on the Capitol and its guardians, with rioters smearing blood and feces and yelling Trump’s words and going after his targets — Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence.

It was Manson family-chilling to watch the House impeachment managers’ video with a rioter hunting for the House speaker, calling out: “Where are you, Nancy? We’re looking for you, Na-a-ncy. Oh, Na-a-ncy.”

It was like watching his vicious Twitter feed come alive. Others were chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” even as a gallows, complete with noose, was erected on the lawn. Watching those shivery videos, it hit home how Pelosi and Pence could have been killed and the melee could have turned into a far worse blood bath.

Had that happened, Trump would have found otherwise forbidden pleasure in feasting on their remains.

The Democrats put on an excellent case, and they were right to impeach Trump. But if the Republicans won’t convict him, then bring on the criminal charges. Republicans say that’s how it should be done when someone is out of office, so let’s hope someone follows through on their suggestion.

A few days ago, prosecutors in Georgia opened an investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election there. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance could drag Trump into court on tax and fraud charges. Karl Racine, the attorney general for D.C., has said that Trump could be charged for his role in inciting the riot.

Maybe a man who gloated as his crowds screamed “Lock her up!” will find that jurors reach a similar conclusion about him.

So the question remains: How do you (politically) dispose of, or at least (politically) constrain, a king of the political vampires?

Perhaps you can find an answer in the writings of Bram Stoker and Ann Rice.

Despite evidence, GOP minority blocks conviction. US Senate politics 'deeply broken'.

How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial writes Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker. The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Following are excerpts.

In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 p.m., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

Trump throws Pence under the bus

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 p.m. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 p.m., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution … USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 p.m., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

GOP minority blocks conviction

Ari Berman @AriBerman tweeted:
Insane stat via @atausanovitch: 34 GOP senators representing just 14.5% of population can block conviction of president who tried to violently overthrow American democracy. US Senate & American politics deeply broken.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

More on what the president knew and what he did not do about it

In the February 12, 2021 edition of Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson highlights evidence on two matters:

  • What the president knew and when he knew it, and
  • What the president did and when he did not do it.

That’s not a typo.

She also provides evidence, to my thinking, that Trump’s attorneys are a bunch of dishonest clowns.

BEGIN QUOTE

Today was the the fourth day of former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. The president’s legal team attempted to answer the arguments of the House impeachment managers, who outlined the horrific events of January 6, 2021, when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol while a joint session of Congress was counting the certified electoral votes to make Democrat Joe Biden president and blamed the former president for inciting the insurrectionists.

The House impeachment managers had put together a damning presentation over the past two days, leaving Trump’s lawyers with the goal simply of providing enough cover for Republican senators to vote to acquit. They had 16 hours to present their case.

They took less than four.

Led by a new spokesman, Michael van der Veen, a former personal injury lawyer from Philadelphia, Trump’s lawyers brought to the floor of the Senate the same tactics the former president used for his four years in office. Rather than engaging in substantive discussion of the merits of the case—which, in fairness, ran pretty heavily against them—they delivered sound bites for right-wing media. They lied about facts, insisted that Trump’s language leading to the riot was the same sort of rhetoric all politicians use, insulted and talked back to the senators, and claimed Trump was the victim of years of witch hunts by Democrats who hate him.

This approach had been enough to make one of his lawyers, David Schoen, quit briefly, but Trump allegedly “loved” it. He had been angry at his lawyers’ meandering defense earlier in the week, but this was more his style. “His base will be pleased,” a former aide told Meridith McGraw and Gabby Orr of Politico. “[H]e had four hours of free television to pitch [to the public].” Defending the former president, his team even reached back to defend his embrace of the white supremacist rioters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. “Charlottesville was shown because it gave free airtime to explain it. Previously nobody in media would run with the excuse. Now it’s out there,” said the former aide.

After the presentation, though, the senators questioned the former president’s lawyers, and revealed two key pieces of information.

First, Trump’s lawyers refused to say that he lost the election. Trump’s big lie, the lie that has driven his attack on our democracy, is that the outcome of the 2020 election was rigged and that, in reality, he won it in a landslide. There is no merit to this argument. It has been dismissed by state election boards across the country and by our courts, including the Supreme Court. But he continues to refuse to concede the election, fueling a movement that threatens to create a long-term domestic insurgency. His lawyers today endorsed that position.

The other key information centered on what Trump did during the attack on the Capitol.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked: “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol? And what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them? Please be as detailed as possible.”

Van der Veen responded by blaming the House managers for not answering that question although, of course, it is his client who knows the answer and who refused to testify.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) then joined Collins in asking whether Trump knew Pence was in danger when he sent a tweet saying: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

Van der Veen said definitively, “The answer is no, at no point was the President informed the vice president was in any danger.” He then turned back to blaming the House managers for the lack of information.

But Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) noted that, according to Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Trump had been on the phone with him just before he sent the tweet, and Tuberville had told Trump that Pence had been evacuated. “The tweet and lack of response suggest that President Trump did not care that Vice President Pence was endangered, or that law enforcement was overwhelmed,” Cassidy noted. “Does this show that President Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Vice President Pence?”

Van der Veen disagreed with Tuberville’s statement, and pivoted again to the House managers’ lack of an investigation.

At the end of the day, it was clear a number of Republican senators were troubled by the lawyers’ refusal to engage with the facts of the case or with the House managers’ argument, but it seemed as if Trump’s lawyers had provided enough cover for them to be able to vote to acquit.

And then someone threw a spanner in the works.

Just after the Senate adjourned for the day, CNN broke the story that gave details about a phone call between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump as the rioters were breaching the Capitol. As McCarthy begged the then-president to call off his supporters, who were at that point breaking into his office, Trump allegedly said, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” The two men began to shout at each other, with McCarthy demanding: “Who the f*ck do you think you are talking to?”

Trump did not call off the rioters for several more hours.

The story is explosive, showing that Trump did indeed know of the lawmakers’ danger and that he refused to help them.

Also interesting, though, is that this story came from “multiple” Republican lawmakers, who provided detailed information to the journalists at this crucial moment. They said that Trump had no intention of stopping the riot. “He is not a blameless observer,” one said, “he was rooting for them.” One of the sources named in the story, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), said, “That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry.”

Another source, Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) said, “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country."

Herrera Beutler had shared the details of the story before, but it had not gotten traction. Now, apparently, a number of Republicans are so concerned that the Senate will vote to acquit the former president they have gone to the press.

And then someone from Pence’s team told reporters that van der Veen was lying when he said the president did not know about Pence’s danger.

So, as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote tonight, “Tomorrow just got a lot more interesting.”

END QUOTE

Pence at risk - What Trump knew and and when he knew it

Here are a couple of takes on the friction between Kevin McCarthy and Trump. And, BTW, evidence presented at the impeachment trial indicates that Trump knew that VP Pence was at risk and was being moved out of the Senate chamber.

What kind of leader is Kevin McCarthy? Turns out he is a Really Pitiful One opines David Gordon at Blog for Arizona. New details have emerged on the phone call House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had with Donald Trump during the Trumpist Domestic Terrorist Attack on the Nation’s Capitol.

In new reporting by CNN and other media sources, Mr. Trump refused to call off the rioters and send aid to the Capitol, telling McCarthy:

Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

To which McCarthy reportedly replied:

“Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?”

This is yet more evidence, on the eve of the end of Trump’s record second impeachment trial, of the twice David Duke endorsed twice Popular Vote Loser’s, sociopathic behavior before and during the January 6, 2021, attempted coup at the Nation’s Capitol.

It will make good material for the House Impeachment Managers when they present their closing arguments tomorrow along with reminding the Senators that Trump did not care about the mob wanting to lynch his Vice President.

It is also evidence of how weak and pathetic a leader Kevin McCarthy is.

Within hours of this phone call with Trump, McCarthy was supporting efforts to overturn the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Days later, after saying on the floor of the House that Trump bore the blame for some of the events on January 6, 2021, McCarthy led the opposing effort against Trump’s second impeachment.

A week after Joe Biden’s inauguration, it was McCarthy flying to Mara Largo kissing Trump’s tuchas and begging for his help in electing Republicans to the House in 2022 in helping to make him speaker.

How pitiful.

McCarthy should have told Trump to go to hell and helped lead the effort to impeach him.

Instead, he groveled and cowered to the worst person ever to reside in the Oval Office in a Faustian bargain to win power in the House of Representatives.

For most decent people, that is not a deal worth selling your soul for.

Kevin McCarthy, with the revelation of the details of this phone call, showed he is not worthy of holding the speaker’s gavel or any other public policy leadership position.

He needs to retire.

New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters By Jamie Gangel, Kevin Liptak, Michael Warren and Marshall Cohen, CNN Updated 8:40 PM ET, Fri February 12, 2021

BEGIN QUOTE

In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.

McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off. Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details have been previously reported and discussed publicly by McCarthy.

The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,“ a Republican member of Congress said. ”On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does."

Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd. Trump’s comment about the would-be insurrectionists caring more about the election results than McCarthy did was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, in a town hall earlier this week, and was confirmed to CNN by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.

“You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at,” Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, told CNN. “That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry.” “We should never stand for that, for any reason, under any party flag,” she added, voicing her extreme frustration: “I’m trying really hard not to say the F-word.”

“I think it speaks to the former President’s mindset,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who also voted to impeach Trump last month. “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country.”

As senators prepare to determine Trump’s fate, multiple Republicans thought the details of the call were important to the proceedings because they believe it paints a damning portrait of Trump’s lack of action during the attack. At least one of the sources who spoke to CNN took detailed notes of McCarthy’s recounting of the call.

Trump and McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.

It took Trump several hours after the attack began to eventually encourage his supporters to “go home in peace” – a tweet that came at the urging of his top aides.

At Trump’s impeachment trial Friday, his lawyers argued that Trump did in fact try to calm the rioters with a series of tweets while the attack unfolded. But his lawyers cherry-picked his tweets, focusing on his request for supporters to “remain peaceful” without mentioning that he also attacked then-Vice President Mike Pence and waited hours to explicitly urge rioters to leave the Capitol.

A source close to Pence said Trump’s legal team was not telling the truth when attorney Michael van der Veen said at the trial that “at no point” did the then-President know his vice president was in danger. Asked whether van der Veen was lying, the source said, “Yes.” Former Pence aides are still fuming over Trump’s actions on January 6, insisting he never checked on the vice president as Pence was being rushed from danger by his US Secret Service detail.

It’s unclear to what extent these new details were known by the House Democratic impeachment managers or whether the team considered calling McCarthy as a witness. The managers have preserved the option to call witnesses in the ongoing impeachment trial, although that option remains unlikely as the trial winds down.

The House Republican leader had been forthcoming with his conference about details of his conversations with Trump on and after January 6.

Trump himself has not taken any responsibility in public.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’S Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

END QUOTE