It’s already mid-week. Here’s what you need to know.
1) Trump granted clemency and/or pardoned 11 people yesterday, most of them well-known public figures, some of them former government officials. The central theme of their misdeeds was corruption, and several of them had direct ties to Trump. Nothing says “corruption fighter” like pardoning politicians and public officials who have been convicted of corruption. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Trump pretends that he cares about corruption to hurt a political enemy (Biden, Ukraine) when in fact Trump promotes and fosters corruption within his own ranks. And by pardoning prominent white-collars criminals, he’s sending four signals. One, that his minions can continue to cheat the election and play dirty tricks without consequence, and Two, that those already convicted (Stone, Flynn, Manafort) can expect pardons soon, and Three, that anyone considering blowing the whistle should think twice because nothing will come of it, and Four, that anyone under legal scrutiny who is considering cutting a deal should shut up and sit tight. Again, Trump makes a mockery of the rule of law and of the clemency process, using it for his own political signalling rather than addressing true injustice–as it was meant to be used.
2) In discussing AG Barr’s violations of DOJ protocol and tradition yesterday in this blog I asked these related questions:
We have to keep asking why the investigation into money laundering at Deutsche Bank seems to have stalled, and why the investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine influence campaign seems to have stalled, and why investigation into hush money payments by Trump seems to have stalled.
In a deep dive last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked the same questions, and the answers that have only just emerged are predictable. It seems that William Barr’s first act as head of the DOJ was to fly to NYC and meet with the Southern District of New York Federal Criminal Division and review all of the cases that in any way touched the Trump crime family–and he put the brakes on ALL of them. This, in itself, should be a massive scandal as an obvious betrayal of the bedrock principle of “blind justice,” but instead it’s just Trump Scandal #5945 in our slide toward authoritarian rule. It’s a bad thing when the head of the EPA changes the rules to allow more pollution, or when the Ag Secretary loosens pork inspection standards. But it’s an entirely more dire threat to the foundation of our republic when the pinnacle of law enforcement can be used as a weapon by a corrupt president. Trump’s next impulse will be to launch investigations into the Democratic contenders. And if they get put in jail, we have become every second-rate banana republic that we’ve spent 200 years fighting to convert to Democracy. After that, it’s only a short distance to citizens with rifles standing next to freshly dug pits. This isn’t hyperbole. It’s exactly how Hitler and Pol Pot and Mao started. They attacked and demonized the intellectuals (“elites”) and spread fear and division. And this is why I will hold my nose and vote for WHOEVER wins the Democratic nomination. None of them aspire to turn America into Russia or North Korea. But Trump does.
3) On the local front, the contest for our NY-19 congressional district is picking up. Several contenders have announced their intention to run against Rep Delgado on the Republican ticket. They are all woefully behind in fundraising, which is good for us. And they will be challenging one of the hardest working Congressional Reps in the country. Delgado is about to hold his 35th Town Hall this Saturday in Hudson (which is the second most Town Halls by a member of Congress and 35 more than Rep Faso ever held). Rep Delgado recently spoke to the Cooperstown Rotary and received wonderful press from the event, which you can read here:
Rep Delgado has done an incredible job of listening to his constituents and turning their concerns into legislation. Some of it has passed, and some of it is stuck in Moscow Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard, but Delgado has clearly been hard at work and his district seems to appreciate him more every day.
4) The Democrats are holding their latest debate tonight on NBC and it will be the first to include Michael Bloomberg. It is probably worth watching now that the field is narrowing and actual primaries are taking place–and especially if you haven’t made up your mind about who you want to support.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”