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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

House Elections: Advantage R

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections

In most states, the state legislature is in charge of redrawing congressional districts every decade. So in 2020, when the GOP gained full control of the legislature in 30 states, they won line-drawing power. According to FiveThirtyEight’s count, Republicans will control the redrawing in 187 districts in 2021, bipartisan and independent commissions 167, and Democrats only 75....

Early estimates from the Cook Political Report suggest that Republicans could gain three to four seats from redistricting alone.

And, as FiveThirtyEight analyst Geoffrey Skelley has argued, Republicans might use their line-drawing power to pressure once-reliable Democratic candidates out of the House. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is mounting a Senate campaign, possibly in part because state-level Republicans seem poised to redraw his Youngstown-area district. Similarly, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), once the state’s Republican governor, is seeking his old job, now as a Democrat, perhaps to avoid reelection in a newly drawn, increasingly competitive St. Petersburg seat. Rep. Filemon Vela — a Democrat who would have faced reelection in heavily Latino, red-trending Texas — announced his retirement before even seeing how Republicans would redraw his district.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Insurrection Update, Mid-June

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection

Colin Woodward at the Portland [ME] Press-Herald:

Dana Rohrabacher, the former California representative who earned the moniker “Putin’s favorite congressman” for his coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin and moved to Maine after losing re-election, confirmed Monday that he participated in the Jan. 6 march on the U.S. Capitol.

Rohrabacher, who lives in York, told the Press Herald that he participated in what he says started as a peaceful march but said he did not enter the building. He confirmed he was there in an interview Monday afternoon after internet sleuths identified him in footage of the crowd that gathered on the west side of the Capitol.

“I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand,” Rohrabacher told the Press Herald. “But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do.”

Rohrabacher’s attendance was exposed on Twitter Saturday by a group of anonymous open-source intelligence sleuths using the account @capitolhunters. They found him – wearing a knit hat and overcoat – in four videos that establish he was standing in the crowd at the edge of the Lower West Plaza from at least 1:58 to 3:20 p.m. on Jan. 6. He was nearly 500 feet beyond the police barriers and inside the restricted zone, but there is no indication he attempted to climb the West Plaza steps or enter the building.

From the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis

We assess that some DVE [domestic violent extremist] adherents of QAnon likely will begin to believe they can no longer “trust the plan” referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as “digital soldiers” towards engaging in real world violence—including harming perceived members of the “cabal” such as Democrats and other political opposition—instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred. Other QAnon adherents likely will disengage from the movement or reduce their involvement in the wake of the administration change. This disengagement may be spurred by the large mainstream social media deplatforming of QAnon content based on social media companies’ own determinations that users have violated terms of service, and the failure of long-promised QAnon-linked events to materialize. Some DVEs have discussed how to radicalize new users to niche social media platforms following QAnon adherents’ migration to these platforms after large scale removals of QAnon content from mainstream sites. Adherence to QAnon by some DVEs likely will be affected by factors such as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of societal polarization in the United States, social media companies’ willingness to host QAnon-related content on their sites, and the frequency and content of pro-QAnon statements by public individuals who feature prominently in core QAnon narratives. (U) 

From the House Oversight Committee:

Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released new documents showing President Trump’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election. At 2:00 p.m., the Committee will hold its second hearing on the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count Electoral College votes.
...
On May 21, 2021, the Committee sent a letter to DOJ requesting documents relating to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election prior to the January 6 attack.

Documents obtained by the Committee in response to this letter show that in December 2020 and early January 2021, President Trump, his Chief of Staff, and outside allies repeatedly put pressure on senior DOJ officials to challenge the results of the presidential election and advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, with the apparent goal of keeping President Trump in power despite losing the 2020 election.

...

Click here to read the documents released today.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Nationalized Election, Trumpified Party

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections. 

At Presidential Studies Quarterly, Gary Jacobson has an article titled "Driven to Extremes: Donald Trump’s Extraordinary Impact on the 2020 Elections." The abstract:

Reactions to the divisive person and presidency of Donald Trump dominated voting decisions in the 2020 elections, which consequently set new records for electoral continuity, party loyalty, nationalization, polarization, and presidential influence on the down-ballot vote choices, to the point where local factors such as incumbency, candidate quality, and campaign spending barely registered in the congressional election results. Evaluations of Trump’s leadership in the national crises besetting the United States in 2020 were assimilated almost entirely into existing attitudes toward the president, limiting the impact of these events. The Democrats achieved unified control of the government, but by the narrowest of margins, and the political configuration that had emerged from Trump’s election in 2016 remained largely intact. Republicans’ responses to Trump’s seditious efforts to nullify Biden’s victory promise to extend his influence through the 2022 elections and beyond.


e 2022 elections and beyond.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Accelerating the California Recall


CA Democrats reckon that Gavin Newsom would benefit from holding the recall election sooner rather than later. Emily Hoeven at CalMatters:
Thursday morning, the state Department of Finance released estimates showing it would cost California’s 58 counties at least $215 million to hold the recall election. A few hours later, the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate announced they would include the money in the state budget they’re required to pass by Tuesday — and would waive the 30-day period the law gives them to review election costs. That helps pave the way for the election to be as soon as September instead of the traditional November.
  • Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: “This funding will allow for an earlier recall election.”
Ironically, Democratic lawmakers are waiving the very rules they wrote in 2017, when they added more steps to California’s recall process in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the recall of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton. In that case, they were trying to delay the election. Now, they’re trying to accelerate it — though the jury’s still out on whether the legislators’ maneuvers will help Newsom any more than they helped Newman.

The rapid-fire changes illustrate the power the Legislature’s supermajority of Democrats wields over state law. They also underscore the fact that although election dates may seem set in stone, some can be shaped by the party in charge. That’s one reason why you’ll likely vote twice for the same California U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lafayette Square

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses how Trump weaponized the federal government for his political benefit.

A year ago, officials forcibly cleared Layfette Square shortly befoe Trump's Bible photo op.  Many interpret a recent report as suggesting that the photo op did not motivate the clearance. Ryan Cooper at The Week:

The inspector general (IG) of the U.S. Park Police recently published a report taking issue with this history. The "evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park," wrote IG Mark Lee Greenblatt, who instead found that the park was cleared so that some fencing could be put up.
...
Now, the report does say that the clearance had been planned for days to install some fencing, and that happened long before Trump decided to visit. But it also says that the specific time of the clearance had not been settled, and that at about 6:10 on that day, Attorney General Barr came out of the White House and asked the USPP commander: "Are these people still going to be here when [President Trump] comes out?" to which the commander responded, "Are you freaking kidding me?" and hung his head.

USPP personnel insisted to the IG that Barr's request did not affect their plans (a highly dubious assertion), but it was actually the Secret Service who initiated the park clearance. "At approximately 6:16 p.m., contrary to the operational plan and before the USPP gave the first dispersal warning, the Secret Service entered H Street from Madison Place … the Secret Service lieutenant later apologized for the early entry onto H Street during the operation but did not explain why it occurred." About seven minutes later the clearance began in earnest.

A very obvious question would be whether Barr, or someone else from the White House, ordered the Secret Service to start attacking the protesters. The IG did not even try to figure this out: "[We] did not seek to interview Attorney General William Barr, White House personnel, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officers, MPD personnel, or Secret Service personnel," it reads. The presence of the BOP is another giant question mark: "The USPP acting chief of police and the USPP incident commander told us they did not request the BOP's assistance and did not know who dispatched them to Lafayette Park on June 1." One wonders why they bothered even writing this report at all.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Tump DOJ Investigated House Dems

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses how Trump weaponized the federal government for his political benefit.

Katie Benner and colleagues at NYT:
As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had been subpoenaed.

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.


 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Trump Lied About the Mueller Investigation

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection

 From the House Judiciary Committee:

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a transcript of the Committee’s June 4 interview with Donald F. McGahn, former White House Counsel.

Chairman Nadler issued the following statement on the release of the transcript:

“Mr. McGahn provided the Committee with substantial new information—including firsthand accounts of President Trump’s increasingly out of control behavior, and insight into concerns that the former President’s conduct could expose both Trump and McGahn to criminal liability. Mr. McGahn also confirmed that President Trump lied when he denied the accuracy of the Mueller report, and admitted that he was the source for a Washington Post report that confirmed Trump’s direction to McGahn to remove the Special Counsel.

“All told, Mr. McGahn’s testimony gives us a fresh look at how dangerously close President Trump brought us to, in Mr. McGahn’s words, the ‘point of no return.’”

The full transcript is available here. Key quotes from Mr. McGahn’s testimony can be found below.

McGahn described President Trump’s conduct over the course of the Mueller investigation as increasingly erratic. The President’s directions to McGahn were “crazy shit” that threatened to “spiral out of control” and to a “point of no return.”
  • “[W]hat I was not going to do is cause any sort of chain reaction that would cause this to spiral out of control in a way that wasn’t in the best interests . . . of my client, which was the President.” (40)
  • “This was sort of my Irish Blarney way of explaining what I tried to explain earlier, that if I, as counsel to the President, called the Acting Attorney General and conveyed an urgent message about the need for the Special Counsel to not be permitted to serve because of conflicts, that could cause Rosenstein to think he was being ordered to do something that he would find contrary to his oath of office. And there’s a historical example of that happening. And when that happens, you have had a succession of resignations at the Department of Justice.” (46)
  • “‘Inflection point,’ with that I meant a point of no return. If the Acting Attorney General received what he thought was a direction from the counsel to the President to remove a special counsel, he would either have to remove the special counsel or resign. We are still talking about the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ decades and decades later.” (46)
  • “After I got off the phone with the President, how did I feel? Oof. Frustrated, perturbed, trapped. Many emotions.” (122)
  • [After reading testimony from former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who said that the President had asked McGahn to “do crazy shit.”]
Q. So, even if you don’t recall saying those specific words, is that a fair characterization of how you viewed the President’s request?

A. Well, the President probably thinks this is an unfair characterization, but I …

Q. I'm asking for your opinion.

A. … I think it’s fair. (103)
[After being asked about the President’s request to Priebus to force Sessions to resign]

Q. So there could potentially have been legal implications for removing the Attorney General.

A. Sure. Just because the initial act is legal doesn't mean it couldn’t cause other issues that raise legal problems. Happens all the time. (234)

McGahn repeatedly warned President Trump that “knocking out Mueller” might constitute obstruction of justice and both McGahn and the President worried about their own liability if they played any part in the obstruction.

  • Q. Was it your understanding that the President was concerned that him asking you to have the special counsel removed could be harmful to him in the special counsel's investigation?
A. Certainly, yeah. (158)
  • Q. Well, you had previously advised the President that [] quote, “knocking out Mueller,” end quote, would be, quote, “another fact used to claim obstruction of justice.” … Were you concerned that, if you had any part in removing Mueller, that could be a fact to use to claim obstruction of justice?
A. My own concern? Sure, yeah. (93-94)

President Trump directed McGahn to write a false statement—knowing that the statement was false, and knowing that carrying out this order might expose McGahn to criminal liability, including prosecution by the Special Counsel.
  • Q. If you had put out the statement the President was requesting, disputing that the President ever asked you to have the special counsel removed by Rosenstein, would that have been accurate?
A. That statement would not have been accurate. (152)
  • Q. So by February of 2018, the President was very aware that it was a Federal crime to lie to the special counsel and you could be indicted for doing so, correct?
A. Suppose so, yeah. (164)
  • “Given his track record of prosecuting people for violations of [18 U.S.C.] 1001, I would have probably been next. He had already publicly made clear he was going after various people for that, and that certainly is one that would weigh on anybody’s mind.” (113)
Although President Trump has since called McGahn a “lying bastard,” McGahn stands by his testimony to the Special Counsel.
  • Q. According to [former White House Staff Secretary Rob] Porter’s statements, the President also told him during that conversation that the article was, quote, “BS,” and claimed—it uses the full word—and claimed that he had not sought to terminate the special counsel, referring to you as a “lying bastard.” Did Porter convey that to you when you spoke to him?
A. Not that I recall, no. I think I learned [] I learned about that one once the Mueller report was released.
  • Q. And was your reaction when you learned that?
A. Disappointing.
  • Q. Why?
A. Well, because it’s not true. (126)

President Trump clearly lied when he told the press that he “never suggested firing Mueller.”
  • “Well, you know, he certainly entertained the idea. Certainly seemed to ask a number of people about it. Certainly had a number of conversations with me about something along those lines. And, you know, I’ve learned other things in the report; apparently, that he had a conversation with Chris Christie on the same topic. So, you know, it was disappointing that he’d come out and say, oh, it was never on the table when, certainly, at least the conflict of interest issue and whether that would preclude Mueller from being special counsel, certainly was discussed.” (166)
McGahn acknowledged that he was the source for a Washington Post report that President Trump had ordered him to remove the Special Counsel.

“I did talk to The Washington Post. I was a source for that second story over whether or not . . . because the press shop did not seem to be knowing how to get out that I never told the President directly I was going to resign….” (124)