Between plague, disruptive invasions, economic consternation and the ceaseless bilge tide of right-wing social warfare, it’s been hard of late for an attempted coup by the former president of the United States against the government of the United States to make a dent in the 24-hour news cycle. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it may have something to do with the fact that the last major investigation into presidential malfeasance that actually changed anything was first gaveled to order when I was three years old.
The Watergate hearings were the gold standard by and against which all subsequent hearings have been judged. The Church Committee hearings The FBI, NSA, and CIA are more powerful and ubiquitous than William Colby could have imagined.
Iran/Contra? Iran/Contra? Fox NewsRonald Reagan is still a living saint in the hearts of many Republicans.
What is the September 11 Commission? Don’t make me laugh. George W. Bush tried to name Henry Kissinger as chair, and that’s all you need to know about the chance that non-event stood of accomplishing anything of merit.
Mueller? Mueller? Mueller? Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! I am done with my case.
Four decades worth of whitewash has been splashed over the doings of the worst people in government, said washings coming by way of “committees” which always seem to declare in the end that — in the words of Hunter S. Thompson — everyone is guilty, so no one is to blame. Either that, or they’ve been overturned tubs for blowhards to stand on and crow about the onerous burdens borne by white Christian capitalists in this strange and shabby place.
My faith in the government’s investigative powers, when confronted with various centralized money powers, has been reduced to almost zero. You will forgive me if my salivation over the efforts of the January 6 select congressional panel, the New York attorney General, and the Manhattan district attorney is not causing me to shiver. Only one of the three — New York Attorney General Letitia James — appears to be making palpable progress, likely because she does not have Merrick Garland flopped across her path like a heat-stroking bison.
Ah, U.S. Attorney general Garland, that inert decorative object, perfectly named. His name was once a conjuring term that encapsulated the serial misdeeds committed by Mitch McConnell. Garland is now the most irritating person in the District of Columbia, having been denied a seat at the high court.
The January 6 committee has been accumulating damning evidence outside his doors for months now, but with very little to back it up. Except for catching COVIDGarland’s only newsworthy act to date was to stop a different congressional committee fully investigating the boxes classified material that somehow escaped from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. when Donald Trump finally left office:
House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is alleging that the Department of Justice is “obstructing” the panel’s investigation into former President Donald Trump by blocking the National Archives from handing over relevant documents.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday, Maloney said the DOJ is “preventing” the National Archives from cooperating with the committee’s request for documents and information, “including an inventory of 15 boxes of documents recovered from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.”
The committee is conducting the investigation, Maloney said, because it has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act and is trying to determine the full scope of Trump’s potential violations of that law.
Late yesterday, it was announced by the Department of Justice that it would (finally!) open its own investigation into the missing boxes of classified materials. “The investigation into the handling of the presidential documents,” reports Truthout’s Chris Walker, “is still in its early stages.” Of course it is.
The virus is making people mad, including United States District Judge David O. Carter. Trump attorney John Eastman — he of the now-infamous how-to-overthrow-the-election memo — has been laboring mightily to keep a cache of emails exchanged from January 4 to January 7, 2021 between the core planners of the Capitol assault out of the 1/6 committee’s hands. Judge Carter continued to emphasize the obvious crimes in this case after granting access to the documents to the committee. In between the lines of his decision, Judge Carter asked: Why is Main Justice taking so long?
“This may have been the first time members of President Trump’s team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action,” wroteCarter in his decision. “In another email thread, Dr. Eastman’s colleagues discuss whether to publish a piece supporting his plan, and they touch on state lawsuits only to criticize how they are being handled by the Trump campaign. In another email thread, Dr. Eastman discusses with a colleague how to use a ruling from a state court to justify Vice President Pence’s implementation of the plan. In another email, a colleague focuses on the ‘plan of action’ after the January 6 attacks.”
Marjorie Cohn is a member of Truthout’sFor a detailed explanation of the Carter ruling, click here.
Such a lugubrious case of the slows on the part of Garland’s office is apparently having a trickle-down effect on the Manhattan district attorney. A few weeks back, Alvin Bragg Jr., District Attorney, made some ink when two of his top attorneys investigated possible illegal activities by Trump and his organisation. abruptly resigned. After Bragg had allegedly informed them that he was not ready to proceed with criminal charges, Mark Pomerantz (attorney) and Carey Dunne (attorney) walked away.
The Pomerantz resignation letter pulls no punches in this regard: “I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations of the Penal Law in connection with the preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition. His financial statements were false. Trump has a history of lying to banks, national media, counterparties and other parties about his assets, as well his personal finances. The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did.”
Bragg promisedHe does not intend to downplay the Trump investigation and says he will continue his investigation until all avenues have been explored. Pomerantz and his team of prosecutors aren’t so optimistic. “I and others believe that your decision not to authorize prosecution now will doom any future prospects that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted for the criminal conduct we have been investigating,” he wrote in his resignation letter. This is not exactly a strong endorsement of future endeavors.
Only AG James seems to be able to keep the efforts of Trump investigators moving forward in the ever-expanding universe of Trump investigations. This is probably due to the fact that her focus is civil law and not criminal — nowhere near Garland’s sphere of influence — but hitting Trump in the wallet is no small thing, especially to Trump.
“New York’s attorney general asked a state judge Thursday to issue an order of contempt against former President Donald Trump,” reports CBS News, “claiming he has failed to comply with a previous ruling requiring him to turn over documents by March 31 as part of an investigation into his company’s financial practices. The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James also requested that Trump be fined $10,000 a day until he complies with the ruling.”
Merrick Garland is getting more screaming evidence with each day. The latest — a true doozy of a Watergate flashback — deals with a nearly eight-hour hole in Trump’s official call log on the day of the insurrection. Because he was allegedly grabbing phones from friends and aides to keep his conversations private, he was often seen on the telephone throughout this period.
“Trump did not grab phones at random,” contendsDavid Frum, The Atlantic. “He thought tactically about which phone to use.” Why? Perhaps the attorney general could help someone ask Trump et. al. Record.
Trump and his team are still unable, more than one year after the attack to offer any plausible explanation. “I thought it was a shame,” Trump told The Washington Post on Wednesday, “and I kept asking why isn’t she doing something about it? Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi doing something about it? And the mayor of D.C. The mayor of D.C. and Nancy Pelosi are in charge.”
Yes, the dreaded “Nancy’s Fault” explanation, bane of justice-seekers everywhere. There’s no way a prosecutor armed with the full might of the Justice Department can overcome such an all-encompassing defense.
There is a big, ticking clock here. Except for AG James’s investigation, most of this goes up in smoke next January if the Democrats lose control of the House.
Then again, that may be the point of the exercise, as it seems to have been for all those committee “investigations” of yore. Remember Washington? Everyone is guilty, so there is no one to blame. Turn off the lights when you are done.