until proven guilty

I’m afraid I’ve pissed off a friend. Well, it would be more accurate that I’ve further pissed off a friend who was already pissed off. They were already pissed off because former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin–who, of course, is charged with the murder of George Floyd–has asked the court to 1) delay the trial and 2) reconsider an earlier change-of-venue motion. I further pissed them off by saying both requests were reasonable.

I was asked How can you defend the cop who murdered George Floyd? My friend either forgot or was unaware that I’d once made a living helping to defend people accused of all manner of awful crimes. For seven years or so, I was a private investigator specializing in criminal defense. Murder, rape, arson, child abuse, animal abuse, pick an awful crime and there’s a good chance I’ve helped defend somebody accused of it. Almost all of them were factually guilty; almost all of them had actually committed the crimes of which they were accused.

I could truthfully argue that I wasn’t actually defending the accused criminals; I was defending the US Constitution, which guarantees everybody the right to a fair trial. I could truthfully argue I was actually defending civil liberties. Because the ONLY way to insure the innocent get the full protection of the law is by forcing the State to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt within the strictures of the law–and forcing them to prove it every single time. That means defending the guilty as vigorously as the innocent.

Derek Chauvin, police officer

But here’s the thing: it’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–for Derek Chauvin to get a fair trial. It’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–to find 14 jurors (twelve jurors plus two alternates) who will be willing and able to put aside everything they ‘know’ about the case and decide on a verdict based solely on the evidence and the law.

Most of the people I know are dead certain Chauvin is guilty–that he murdered George Floyd. There are other folks who are certain he caused Floyd’s death, but aren’t certain about Chauvin’s intent (which matters in a murder case)–maybe Chauvin was reckless, maybe he was indifferent, maybe he was just negligent. There are folks who think Floyd was somehow complicit in his own death–that he wouldn’t have died if he’d made better decisions. And there are folks who think Floyd’s life just doesn’t matter–that Black lives don’t matter. Very few folks are capable of putting their thoughts and beliefs aside long enough to focus purely on the evidence.

That pool of potentially impartial jurors HAD to decrease when the city of Minneapolis announced it had reached a US$27 million civil settlement with the Floyd family. I suspect a lot of potentially impartial jurors heard that and thought, There’s no way the city would cough up that much cash unless they knew they were responsible for killing that man.

Derek Chauvin, criminal defendant

So yes, I think there are legit reasons for delaying the trial. And yes, I think there are legit reasons to hold the trial in a different jurisdiction–one that hadn’t gone through weeks or months of protests, demonstrations, and riots as a result of Floyd’s death. I think the requests are legit because–and this will also piss off some/most folks–right now Derek Chauvin is innocent. Every defendant walks into a criminal court as an innocent person; the State has to prove they’re guilty. That’s the core principle of our justice system. Innocent until proven guilty. It has to apply to Chauvin, just like it applies to any accused criminal.

That said, I hope the State does its job; I hope they’ve followed the law and legally obtained enough forensic evidence to convince a jury to convict. I hope the defense team does their job; I hope they hold the State to the letter of the law and force them to prove their case. And I hope the court does its job; I hope the court abides by the letter and spirit of the law to insure Chauvin gets a fair trial.

Years ago, when I was doing criminal defense work, there was a bailiff at the Strafford County Courthouse–a former Sheriff’s Deputy who’d been injured in the line of duty and had a bum leg. While I was waiting to testify in some trial, he told me this: “I’m a great believer in mercy; but justice just keeps happening.” I agree with him about mercy; I’m not convinced justice happens as often he believed. But I hold out hope that it will.

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of the problems with being involved in the criminal justice system, even from a defense perspective, is the tendency to focus on specific issues rather than the broad system itself. I was asked a question about delaying and moving Chauvin’s trial, and I addressed that question–and only that question.

I wasn’t addressing the criminal justice system itself, but yes lawdy, it is wildly fucked up. And I didn’t address the obvious irony that the legal protections that are–and should be–afforded to Derek Chauvin were denied BY Derek Chauvin to George Floyd. Almost every criminal trial is about protecting the rights of people who refused to recognize the rights of their victims.

the looming repeachment

Comrade Trump has a new legal team. Another new legal team. A new new legal team. His original impeachment team declined to represent him in his repeachment, so he had to find a new legal team. Over the weekend, his new legal team walked away from him, which makes them his old new legal team. His new new legal team will probably defend him in his repeachment trial. I say ‘probably’ because this is Trump and who the hell knows?

The new new team revolves around two lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor. These guys are taking a metric ton of shit about their previous clients and legal decisions. Castor, for example, was the prosecutor who initially chose NOT to prosecute Bill Cosby for drugging women and raping them. And Schoen? He represented Jeffrey Epstein, among others. He’s been quoted as saying the following:

“I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures: alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well a guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world.”

Me, I don’t have a problem with that. In the US every accused criminal has the right to defend themselves, and every defense lawyer has an obligation to defend their client to best of their ability. The fact that Trump’s new lawyers worked with some other nasty folks doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the least interesting aspect of the looming repeachment.

I like the sound of that. The looming impeachment. [Okay, tangent: loom as a verb is entirely unrelated to loom as a noun. A loom, of course, is a weaving machine, and the term originates from the Old English geloma, meaning a utensil or tool. An heirloom is a crafted thing bequeathed to one’s heirs. Nobody is quite certain how loom as a verb meaning ‘to be imminent, especially in some menacing or threatening way’ came into being. Some folks think it’s from the East Frisian lomen, which meant “to move slowly” and was probably related to the way ships move in a harbor. Which is appropriate, since Trump’s repeachment is slowly coming to the dock — and lawdy, there’s another etymological rabbit hole.]

Comrade Trump, did you order the Code Red?

Anyway, what I find interesting about the repeachment is how Trump’s defense is being framed. Trump, it seems, wants his lawyers to focus on the same thing the rioters and insurrectionists focused on — the ridiculous claim that the election was stolen from him by fraud. That would require Trump’s lawyers to present a case based on lies, which would get them soundly spanked by the American Bar Association. Instead, Trump’s lawyers apparently want to challenge the constitutionality of the repeachment, claiming that it’s unconstitutional to impeach a president who’s no longer president. Most constitutional scholars describe that strategy as “a load of stinking bullshit.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s recently-pardoned former adviser, has been suggesting Trump should lead the defense team himself. It’ll never happen, but lawdy, there’s part of me that would love to see that, because there’d be a really good chance of a Colonel Jessup / A Few Good Men moment. “You can’t handle the truth! We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns!”

But no, that’s not going to happen. Still, what’s interesting is that neither defense approach really addresses the crime with which Trump is charged: incitement of insurrection. The sole article of impeachment accuses Trump of engaging “in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” Claiming “the election was stolen from me” may speak to Trump’s motives, but it isn’t a defense against inciting violence against the government. Claiming it’s unconstitutional to impeach a former president isn’t a defense against inciting violence against the government either; it’s just an argument saying the Senate isn’t legally authorized to rule on Trump’s behavior since he’s no longer in government.

On February 9th Democrats are going to say, “Trump incited a riot.” Trump wants his defense team to argue, “The election was stolen from him; he was just trying to get it back.” His lawyers want to argue, “Y’all aren’t authorized to decide whether or not he incited a riot.” It appears nobody will be arguing, “No, Trump didn’t incite no riot.”

“Yeah, I incited a riot. And I grabbed women by the pussy, cheated on my taxes, and gave intel to Russia. What’re you gonna do about it?”

That’s because Trump did, in fact, incite a riot. To be clear, he hasn’t actually been charged with the federal crime of inciting a riot. I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect you could make a case that Trump violated 18 U.S. Code § 2101 in that he 1) traveled interstate, 2) told his supporters the election had been ‘stolen’ from him…and from them, 3) encouraged them to travel to DC, 4) on a specific date, where 5) he told them they had to “fight like hell” to stop Congress from ratifying the Electoral College results, and then 6) told them to walk to the Capitol building.

He may not have specifically told them to riot, or to break into the Capitol building, or to harm anybody, but he created the conditions that inflamed the crowd, then he pointed them in the direction of the Capitol, and told them to fight like hell. Which they did.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Republicans in the Senate will vote to find Trump guilty. They’ll probably never find him guilty of anything. Republicans have proven themselves to be invulnerable to evidence.

nashville police and the christmas day bombing

I’m hearing/seeing a lot of variations on this theme:

Unbelievable. Anthony Warner’s girlfriend reported he was making bombs in an RV eighteen months ago and the Nashville Police Department did nothing. If he’d been black or brown, they’d have found a reason to arrest him.

It sounds bad, doesn’t it. Really bad. I mean, Nashville police officers could have prevented the Christmas morning bombing if only they’d done what the police are supposed to do. Right?

Well, no. Here’s the problem with that. Folks are evaluating this case through a lens of known guilt. We KNOW Anthony Warner made a bomb in his RV, drove it into the city, blew it (and himself) up. We’re criticizing the police for not knowing in August of 2019 what we know right now. It’s like complaining that somebody bought the wrong Lotto ticket after seeing what the winning Lotto number is. Okay, that’s an unfortunate analogy; I’m not suggesting detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is anything like winning the Lotto. What I’m saying is the odds of knowing the winning Lotto number before the drawing is 1 in 292,201,338, but the odds of knowing the winning number after the drawing 1 in 1. We’re basing our understanding of an extremely improbable event after learning the probability was 100%.

Let’s look at what actually happened and evaluate the behavior of the police based on what they knew at the time. On August 21, 2019 MNPD received a report that Pamela Perry was suicidal and sitting on her porch with two handguns. Police arrived and found her with two unloaded pistols. She told the officers the firearms belonged to her boyfriend, Tony Warner. She didn’t want the guns in her house. She also told them Warner was making bombs in an RV parked behind his house, which was located about a mile and a half away. The officers called for an ambulance which took Ms. Perry to a mental health facility for an evaluation.

Based on what they knew at the time, the incident could have ended there. The officers could easily have dismissed Perry’s bomb-making claim as the delusions of a suicidal person. I mean, the police have a long history of ignoring the complaints of folks with mental health issues. Or they could have dismissed her allegation as baseless accusations made by an angry, unstable woman in an unhappy relationship. Again, the police have a long history of not listening to women and dismissing their concerns. I’m not saying that would have been appropriate; I’m just saying knowing only what they knew then nobody would have been surprised if, after the ambulance drove off with Perry, the officers had just continued with their routine patrol.

But they didn’t; they actually followed up on the claim. They spoke to the attorney (who was also the person who reported Perry was suicidal). He told them Warner had spoken about bomb-making and military stuff. So they went to Warner’s home and saw that there was, in fact, an RV parked in back yard behind a fence. There was no answer at the door, and they lacked any exigent circumstance to climb the fence and invade the privacy of a citizen. They didn’t even have enough information to ask a judge to issue a search warrant. All they had was the accusation of a suicidal person who was undergoing a psych evaluation at that very moment. So they informed their supervisors of the incident and sent a report to MNPD’s Hazardous Devices Unit.

The next day the Hazardous Devices Unit checked Warner’s police record — nothing but an old marijuana case (for which he’d been placed on probation). That could have been the end of the matter too. Knowing only what they knew then, nobody would have been surprised if the report was filed away and treated as a low priority. But they didn’t. They got in touch with the FBI, who had no record of Warner.

At that point, knowing only what they knew then, they let it go. All they had was 1) a claim by a possibly mentally ill person that her boyfriend, who had no serious criminal record, who had no known ties to violent groups, who was gainfully employed and owned a home in a decent suburb was making a bomb in an RV, and 2) he actually owned an RV. That’s it. That’s all they knew. There wasn’t any reasonable legal grounds to expend policing resources on any further investigation. So they let it go.

Had he been innocent, that would have been the end of it. And remember, in the US we’re all operating under the presumption of innocence. We don’t have to prove we’re innocent. Totalitarian regimes operate on an assumption of guilt.

But as we know now, Warner wasn’t innocent. He was doing exactly what his former girlfriend said he was doing.

The folks who say, “If he’d been black or brown, they’d have found a reason to investigate and/or arrest him” are correct. If he hadn’t been a suburban white guy with a job, the police might have leaned on him, pressured him, intimidated him. They might have cobbled together some excuse to barge into his home and search his property. But we’ve spent much of this year demonstrating against the casual, routine violation of the civil liberties of people of color. Are folks really suggesting the police should treat everybody as badly as they treat POC?

No, not really. What they’re saying is police should have violated Anthony Warner’s civil rights. Not everybody, just him. Why? Because we know he’s guilty. It’s easy to deny the rights of guilty people.

But here’s a horrible-wonderful thing about civil liberties: they apply to everybody, the guilty as well as the innocent. They have to apply to the guilty in order to protect the innocent, because we don’t always know who is guilty or innocent.

If we want to stop future Anthony Warners, the answer isn’t to give the police more power or to encourage them to ignore civil liberties. If we want to stop bomb-makers, we should make it more difficult to buy and sell (and re-sell) the common ingredients necessary for making bombs. It’s fairly easy to buy the ingredients to make a triacetone triperoxide explosive (I haven’t bothered to check, but I won’t be surprised to learn Warner had purchased significant amounts of hydrogen peroxide and acetone — the primary ingredients of TATP). If we can limit the monthly amount of Sudafed (“Provides Powerful Sinus or Cold Relief!”) an individual can purchase, we can do the same with bomb-making ingredients.

DISCLAIMER: I spent seven years as a criminal defense investigator. I’m not accustomed to defending the police. But I try to be consistent. The Nashville police followed the law. They didn’t let us down. We were let down by legislators and regulators who are in the pockets of pharma-chemical lobbies.

3 things about the texas lawsuit

To the horror and astonishment of many, Ken Paxton is the actual Attorney General of the State of Texas. Our boy Ken has filed a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court of the United States to basically shitcan the election results in the States of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. None of those states, you may have noticed, is Texas.

You already KNOW that Comrade Trump and his squad of Orc lawyers have had their asses handed to them in around forty courtrooms where they’ve had the audacity to present their arguments. They’ve been claiming they have gigantic mounds of real honest no-shit evidence of fraud and they’re going to produce it any minute now — but they never get around to showing it. So if you’re a semi-normal functioning adult, you’re probably wondering what’s different about Ken Paxton’s suit.

“Who farted?” Trump’s elite legal team.

Three things are different. First thing: Kenny is straight up admitting they don’t have any evidence of actual voter fraud. Because it’s invisible.

“[T[he media has consistently proclaimed that no widespread voter fraud has been proven. But this observation misses the point. The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable.”

Kenny is basically saying voter fraud is like a fart at a tea party — you can’t see it, but you know it happened. And it happened because Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin were just too fucking stupid to stop it. So he wants SCOTUS to light a match and burn a Republican-scented candle.

“Who farted?” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Second thing: Ken Paxton is pimping for a pardon. His own staff in the Texas Attorney General’s office snitched on him, accusing him of corruption, bribery and abuse of office. The FBI is investigating, and things look a wee bit grim for Kenny. But lo, what corrupt light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Comrade Trump is the sun. Trump has been offering pardons to his family, friends, and staff like a fishmonger trying to get rid of day-old tuna. Nobody is saying it very loudly, but our boy Kenny has his hand out.

Third thing: didn’t nobody in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, or Wisconsin ask Texas to come fart at their tea party. In fact, Pennsylvania filed a response with the Supreme Court calling Kenny’s suit a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.” (Sedition, by the say, refers to the act of inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it. It’s one step below treason; the difference between sedition and treason is treason requires an overt act — the difference between farting at a tea party and dropping a turd in the punch bowl.)

Is SCOTUS likely to take this seriously? Almost certainly not (and yeah, it should be ‘certainly not’ but Trump has winkled all the integrity out of the judiciary, so who the hell knows?). But at the heel of the hunt, the Texas lawsuit seems to be nothing more than a corrupt attorney general hoping to please a corrupt president enough to get a pardon.

MAGA, bitches. Smell the Republican roses.

i really don’t know anymore

For several years I made a habit of checking in on what I like to call ‘Right-Wing Absurdist Nut-Case’ blogs (I call them that because they’re right-wing blogs that attract nut-cases who seem to be engaged in performative absurdist theater). I usually did it once or twice a week, just in order to see what the crazy fringe believed it.

I haven’t done it very often in recent months, mainly because there was no need. What used to be right-wing absurdist nut-cases have now become mainstream Republicans in Congress. But now that Comrade Trump is being pried out of office, I thought I’d revisit the fetid swamplands of RWANC blogs.

Make America Confederate Again!

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Former President Barack Hussein Obama was arrested by federal agents in Hawaii and charged with Espionage. He was apparently working for the People’s Republic of China to overthrow the US government and establish a New World Order.
  2. President-elect Uncle Joe Biden was detained and fitted with an ankle bracelet. Biden was also working with Chinese communists on that New World Order business, in addition to doing massive voter fraud in his spare time.
  3. CIA Director Gina Haspel was arrested and detained — perhaps at Gitmo — on unspecified charges. But unlike Obama and Biden, she’s cooperating with authorities and dishing the dirt on her co-conspirators.
  4. These arrests and detentions apparently mean a) the China coronavirus is a hoax so we don’t have to wear commie masks, and b) the edict issued by Pope Boniface in 1302 was now revoked, so banks can no longer foreclose on people’s homes.

I confess, I was a wee bit shocked by all this. I figured Obama was still a secret Muslim and was trying to overthrow the US government to establish a New Caliphate. I feel like such an idiot now that he’s been arrested for conspiring with China. And Biden? It’s not clear to me why Uncle Joe was detained instead of his son Hunter, but I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for that. However, it never occurred to me that he’d need an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements. I’d assumed the contingent of US Secret Service agents guarding him would be a fairly reliable source of intel on that. Who knew? And Gina Haspell? I’d no idea she was even a suspect in that China voter fraud business. It seems obvious now. And of course, she’d be a snitch. I mean, she’s a girl, right?

Marching to revoke the swelling knob of the Papal Edict of 1302.

I totally understand how these arrests reveal how China sent us a hoax virus that killed (allegedly!) a few hundred thousand crisis actors, but I’m still a tad confused about Pope Boniface’s ‘1302 edict.’ I thought that was your basic papal bull (okay, slight tangent here — a ‘bull’ is an authoritative document issued by the Pope; it’s called a ‘bull’ because the term comes from the Latin bulla, meaning — and I am NOT making this up — “a round swelling, knob”, which is the description given to the physical seal used to stamp the edict in order to make it official. Got that? Okay, good) stating that a person can only be sure of salvation if they belong to the Church AND in order to belong to the Church you have to submit to the Pope. (Yes, there are LOTS of round, swelling knob jokes to be made here, but c’mon this IS SERIOUS BUSINESS here.) But apparently, unknown to me (and, as far as I can tell, unknown to the Church), the Pope also claimed ‘dominion’ (that name — coincidence or conspiracy?) over the air and all the birds within it, plus the sea and all its creatures, and the land including all the living things and structures on it. So by revoking that edict (which was done by arresting Obama, I guess) it became illegal for banks to foreclose on somebody’s home because they defaulted on a home loan? I don’t know, but I’m sure it makes sense.

I think the Supreme Court is supposed (or maybe legally obligated) to take the 1302 Papal bull into account when they decide whether or not to agree to hear the argument made by Texas that the 2020 election should be given to Comrade Trump because Texas doesn’t like the manner in which the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin held their elections.

Yeah, okay, well, there it is. If the old school right-wing absurdist nut-cases have become mainstream Republicans, then the new right-wing absurdist nut-cases were forced to become more right-wing, more absurdist, and more nut-casier than they were before. And to my horror, they’ve succeeded.

use your words

You’ve probably seen the video. If not, I’ve included it below. A young man dressed in black, wearing a helmet, is seized by a pair of anonymous armed men dressed in camouflaged tactical gear, loaded into a civilian rental van, and driven away. On the surface, it looks like some sort of paramilitary abduction.

According to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (and here’s another thing (with Comrade Trump in office, there’s always another thing) we’ve had an ‘acting’ DHS secretary since April 10, 2019; in his three and a half years as POTUS, Trump has had two confirmed DHS secretaries and three ‘acting’ secretaries) those uniformed men were federal officers employed by US Border Patrol. The official explanation for the events in the video is that the young man “was in a crowd in an area in which an individual was aiming a laser at the eyes of officers.”

Got that? They admit this kid wasn’t actually pointing a laser at anybody; he was just in the area in which somebody was pointing a laser at officers. That’s NOT probable cause to detain somebody. The law is pretty clear about this; you can’t arrest/detain somebody without probable cause.

The official explanation for putting this kid in a van and driving him away is that it was done for safety reasons. “[A]s they approached him they noticed that coming in their direction were other demonstrators who were coming to see what was going on and they wanted to go help so they asked the individual to please get in the van.” That’s a lie. Watch the video again. You’ll notice there are no other ‘demonstrators’ in the vicinity. And as far as I can tell, the officers don’t speak to the kid at all, let alone politely ask him to get in the van.

Wall of Moms. What are you doing? Use your words. “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.”

We do, though, hear the person making the video ask the officers who they are and what they’re doing. And she tells them, “Use your words. What are you doing? Use your words.” That’s a phrase made popular by parenting magazines a few years ago. It’s used to get children who are acting out to clearly express what they’re trying to do. It’s used to make them explain their behavior, and to see if they understand whether or not that behavior will be effective in achieving their goal.

What are you doing? Use your words. What are these federal officers really trying to do? Do they understand if their actions are effective in achieving their goal? The goal of detaining this kid, clearly, wasn’t to protect federal buildings. The goal appears to be intimidation. The goal appears to be to allow Trump, to use his phrase, “to dominate the streets.” The goal appears to be to produce content for Trump 2020 presidential adverts. Is the behavior effective in achieving Trump’s goal? Maybe. Just last month, he stated:

“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

This isn’t the US military, but they look like it. And the appearance of toughness is what Trump wants for his presidential campaign.

What are you doing? Use your words. The amazing Wall of Moms sing, “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.” What are these moms really trying to do? Do they understand if their behavior is effective to achieving their goal? The goal appears to be discouraging police violence. Is their behavior effective? Yes, I think so. Even if they fail in the short run, they’re showing the sincerity of their resistance.

Sometimes all we’ve got to resist with is our words and our bodies. One sign carried by a woman in the Wall of Moms read, “I am so disappointed in you.” The maternal tone is perfect. We are so very disappointed.

I’m going to go all literary for a moment, so I’ll apologize in advance. Sorry. But as I was looking at photos and videos of the Wall of Moms, I kept think of some lines T.S. Eliot wrote in an unfinished verse drama.

I gotta use words when I talk to you
But if you understand or if you dont
That’s nothing to me and nothing to you
We all gotta do what we gotta do
We’re gona sit here and drink this booze
We’re gona sit here and have a tune
We’re gona stay and we’re gona go
And somebody’s gotta pay the rent.

What are you doing? Use your words. I gotta use words when I talk to you. Somebody’s always got to pay the rent. Right now, that rent is being paid by the young folks in Portland, with makeshift shields and umbrellas. It’s being paid by young dads, using leaf blowers to disperse tear gas. It’s being paid by the women wearing bicycle helmets, standing bravely in the Wall of Moms.

post-SCOTUS campaign adverts

That swirling sound you heard earlier today? That was Comrade Trump’s argument (that as POTUS he has the absolute authority to do — or not do — pretty much anything he wants) getting flushed down the porcelain facility by the Supreme Court. Although the final rulings weren’t unanimous, there was unanimous agreement by all of the Justices that “we cannot conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under Article II or the Supremacy Clause.”

Democrats rejoiced, of course, because this is good news for representative democracy. It doesn’t mean everybody — or anybody, for that matter — will get to see those records in the very near future, but it does mean that at some point Trump’s (allegedly) corrupt business practices will almost certainly be publicly exposed.

Democrats today.

Republicans (at least those who are complicit with Trump) did not rejoice. They saw their leader suffer an apparent mortal wound. It’s not an immediately fatal wound, but they know he’s bleeding badly and is going to fail — and when he starts to fail, he’ll fail quickly. It’ll be interesting to see how many of his Congressional supporters remain loyal as the end approaches.

So you’re probably wondering Given the spanking SCOTUS just delivered to Trump, what are the good patriots and constitutional scholars of FreeRepublic saying about it? Well, folks, I’m here to tell you. They are sad. Or angry. Or confused. Or something.

Republicans today.

Some Freepers are completely certain there’s nothing damning in Trump’s tax and financial records. Or if there were something damning, he’d have covered it up by now, so there’s nothing to be found. Or even if there’s something to be found, Trump will escape:

What do they expect to find? And Trump hires others to do his taxes…would they commit fraud for him?? — Fawn

I run a business (no where near the size of Trumps!), and taxes would only give Democrats talking points, such as amount of taxes paid (maybe low), or large deductions taken, or special programs or tax exemptions requested. to attempt to prove any kind of fraud, they would need to find discrepancies within company records, actual invoices, emails, etc…. And that’s a whole different investigation. I assume Trump is smart and destroys those after 7 years anyway. — PGR88

There is an excellent chance DJT’s lawyers can run out the clock before the election. — CurlyDave

Trump 2020: Running Out the Clock Like It’s Never Been Run Out Before. A great campaign motto. Other Freepers seem to lack a solid grasp on how criminal investigations work:

if the state has a CRIMINAL case against the president in which his records are subpoenaed, he should comply, right? What CRIME is POTUS Trump being CHARGED with? Or is this just another fishing expedition without justification because that’s what leftists do? — normbal

How can they rule for prosecutors, when all prosecutors have is, “We think he’s committed fraud?” — Jonty30

They can subpoena him and his documents all night long. Doesn’t mean anything will be turned over. Appeal, appeal, appeal. Butt, knowing the commies/socialists they’ll simply, once again, claim he’s hiding something and the lame stream will be right there with them. If there’s no evidence of criminal activity, the should not see the light of day. NO FISHING! — rktman

Trump 2020: Subpoena Him All Night Long! Another great campaign slogan. A few Freepers demonstrated a vague and rather questionable understanding of how the Supreme Court — or law in general — works:

The august Supreme Court is dead wrong on immunity. The justices fell for the fictitious argument application to the presidency that no one is above the law. The Constitution provided for the removal of a rouge president committing illegal acts by implementing the impeachment process. — odawg

So if Congress gets Trumps tax returns, the Manhattan district attorney will have committed a felony by sharing them with congress. — blackdog

Now, with this decision, any jerk who can get a local corrupt DA to start an investigation can ruin you. — RicocheT

Since the 5th amendment means nothing, how does edicts from the rulers in black mean anything anymore? Their power is enumerated in the very Constitution they nullify. — American in Israel

Does this mean that anyone can accuse anyone, even an ordinary citizen of something, then the accused can have his/her tax returns made public? — Doche2X2

Trump 2020: NOPE, Not a Rouge President! An absolute gem of a campaign advertisement. In the end, there were some Freepers whose opinions were…well, they might have been almost sort of tangentially related to…I don’t know, you decide:

another day..another wait to find out if John Roberts is THAT John Roberts And whether Maxwell is the person in the Jon Benet Ramsey photo. — RummyChick

How bout throwing in zeros birth certificate while we’re at it. — lilypad

The Democrats are very very desperate that are really trying to do anything and everything to prevent are great and wonderful president from getting a second term. They’re desperate asked to try to keep the Blackford from slipping away are quite obvious -the kente cloth thing was laughable The BLM and antifa riots in the streets are obviously all of their supporters that they unleash to try to create chaos and scare people and then somehow blame that on our great president which is not gonna fly. — truthoverpower

The whole ‘virus’ sham is another money-making ‘business’ for Liberals They can’t think of enough ways to stuff their pockets — SMARTY

Trump 2020: Just Say No to Kente Cloth! A campaign ad as good as the candidate, right there. The SCOTUS ruling will hurt Trump, no matter how the subpoenas are eventually resolved. Trump being Trump, his reaction to the SCOTUS ruling will likely hurt him as much or more than the ruling itself.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t read a lot of Shakespeare (which makes it sound like might just dip into his work casually and occasionally, which is definitely NOT true) but I recently happened across a line from King Lear that made me think of Comrade Trump. It’s Kent’s opinion of Oswald, and it seems appropriate here:

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking whoreson, glass-gazing, & super-servicable, finical rogue; onetrunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.

Now THAT is a campaign ad.

more than a little odd

First thing this morning, a text: Greg, old sock, this Berman thing, it’s a little odd, don’t you think? I think you should stop calling me ‘old sock’. But yes, it’s a little odd. Well, it’s odder than that. It’s really seriously odd.

Late on Friday Attorney General William Barr announced, “Geoffrey Berman is stepping down as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.” Later on Friday, Berman announced, “Nope.”

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York ain’t going nowhere, thank you very much.

That just begins to touch the surface of how odd this is. Normally (and c’mon, nothing has been normal since Trump slithered into the Oval Office) a US Attorney is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. That pretty much gives POTUS the ability to fire a US Attorney if he wants to. And that’s exactly what Trump did to the prior US Attorney for SDNY, Preet Bharara (which is a whole nother scandal). Trump being Trump, after he fired Bharara, he wanted to put his own guy in the SDNY slot. He made an interim appointment of a guy who’d done some part-time volunteer work for the Trump transition team. Geoffrey fuckin’ Berman. That’s right, the guy Trump is now trying to fire.

But here’s the thing (in case you were wondering what the thing is): Trump being Trump, he got distracted by some shiny object and never bothered to actually nominate somebody to fill the SDNY position. That meant the Senate never had anybody to confirm. So after about four months, the Chief Judge of SDNY “entered an order on behalf of a unanimous court appointing Berman U.S. Attorney pursuant to its authority under 28 U.S.C Section 546(d).”

This probably means Berman has the appointment indefinitely, until the Senate confirms someone nominated by the president. Since he was appointed to the gig by the federal court, he can probably only be fired by that court. (I keep saying ‘probably’ because I don’t think this has ever been tested; no other administration has been this incompetent.) The only other way for Trump to get rid of Berman is to formally nominate somebody to be the US Attorney of SDNY, and for the Senate to confirm them.

Attorney General William Barr after meeting with President Trump checks to make sure he still has his wallet.

So there’s that. Now the real question is this: why does Trump (through Barr) want to get rid of Berman five months before the presidential election? We can only speculate, of course, but the speculation can be based on what we know Berman has been investigating. For example:

  • campaign finance violations that grew out of the indictment against Michael Cohen
  • the Jeffrey Epstein case and any allegations that Trump may have been involved
  • Rudy Giuiliani’s potentially illegal campaign contributions as well as his shenanigans in Ukraine.

That suggests Berman may be on the verge of announcing some legal action against one of Trump’s associates. Or one of Trump’s children. Or Trump, though that seems the least likely possibility. In any event, firing–or attempting to fire–Berman at this point in time seems like the act of a desperate administration.

Just as important — no, wait. More important is that the attack on Berman is just the latest of AG Bill Barr’s blatant attempts to interfere with the course of justice to benefit Comrade Trump. In the 16 months since he was appointed, Barr 1) misrepresented (okay, lied about) the Mueller Report, claiming it found no evidence of obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, 2) interfered in the sentencing of Roger Stone (also regarding the Russia investigation), 3) is attempting to dismiss the case against confessed felon Michael Flynn in regard to the Russia investigation and related corruption, 4) is dropping the case against the Russian individuals and agencies known to have interfered with the 2016 election, 5) authorized a political appointee to conduct a second investigation into the investigation of Russian interference apparently because he didn’t like the result of the DOJ Inspector General’s earlier investigation of the investigation, 6) issued a DOJ opinion that extorting a foreign nation to investigate a political opponent was NOT a violation of the law, 7) lied about the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square AND 8) deployed armed DOJ personnel from various agencies (with their affiliation deliberately masked) to clear those protesters from Lafayette Square in order for Comrade Trump to hold a three minute photo op.

So yes, this situation is a little odd. Everything about William Barr is odd. Everything about the entire Trump universe is so fucking odd that the scale and scope of the oddness is impossible to understand without a spreadsheet the size of Utah.

The good news, though, is that Berman doesn’t appear willing to go quietly. Or at all. The bad news is, just like everything else related to the Trump administration, this ugly situation is going to get even uglier before it’s resolved.

Note: Just learned that Jay Clayton, who Trump and Barr wanted to replace Berman, has absolutely NO prosecutorial experience. Worse, Clayton used to represent Deutsche Bank, the only western bank that would lend Trump money after his numerous bankruptcies. Deutsche Bank has been in trouble for laundering money from Russian organized crime.

Odder and odder by the minute.