Yesterday, after a one-day delay, the 1/6 Committee held the third installment in its current series of public hearings. If you didn't see it, and you want to, you can watch here:
Beware, it's a long'n (almost 3 hours). And now, as is our custom, here are the 10 things that stood out most to us:
That's our assessment. Next week, two more hearings are on tap, for Tuesday and Thursday, both at 1:00 p.m. ET. (Z)
Maybe the 1/6 Committee will make a formal, criminal referral to the Department of Justice and maybe it won't. Yesterday's hearing served pretty much the same purpose; if the Department of Justice doesn't go after John Eastman, in particular, then they might as well close up shop and shut the department down.
By all indications, Eastman will end up in the DoJ's crosshairs, if he's not there already. AG Merrick Garland & Co. had been focused on the foot soldiers while 1/6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) & Co. have been focused on the ringleaders. But the Justice investigation and the 1/6 Committee investigation are now overlapping in significant ways, as Justice is turning its attention to the ringleaders.
In view of this, the DoJ would really like to have access to the nice, tidy pile of evidence the Committee has put together. The Committee is not eager to share, at least at the moment, presumably because their work is not yet done and because they don't want to be deprived of future eye-opening revelations. So, U.S. Attorney Matt Graves and assistant AGs Kenneth Polite and Matt Olson sent the committee a snippy letter yesterday (scroll to the end of the PDF). It reads, in part:
It is now readily apparent that the interviews the Select Committee conducted are not just potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations, but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced... Given this overlap, it is critical that the Select Committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all its witness interviews...
The Select Committee's failure to grant the Department access to these transcripts complicates the Department's ability to investigate and prosecute those who engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
In response, Thompson said the DoJ will get the information they want, eventually, but that it's just going to have to wait until the Committee is ready. There isn't much the DoJ can do, given the separation of powers between branches and the fact that any sort of legal action would take a long time to unfold, whereas the 1/6 Committee is just weeks or months from complying with the request.
Ultimately, the tensions between the DoJ and the Committee won't matter. There is zero chance the DoJ decides to drop the matter just to spite the Committee. Indeed, the eagerness of Garland & Co. to get the evidence suggests that the 1/6 Committee has already achieved one of its main goals, namely convincing the DoJ that there's a lot of smoke and a lot of fire worthy of their attention. Nevertheless, it is hard to understand what Thompson is up to. He claims the Committee is too busy to help the DoJ, but undoubtedly all their material is on a hard disk somewhere. Surely Thompson could ask one of his secretaries to make a copy of the disk for the DoJ. That wouldn't interfere with the members' work at all. It is very odd. (Z)
Sorry, it's a day heavy on Donald Trump and his enablers. Meanwhile, the name of the current president barely appears in today's posting. That's the way it runs sometimes.
In any event, Newsmax is in a heap of legal trouble. Joining in on the "stop the steal" mania, the channel broadcast all sorts of propaganda after the 2020 election claiming that Donald Trump was the real winner and that he'd been cheated by the Democrats, the deep state, Hillary Clinton, the globalists, the makers of vote-counting machines, the Loch Ness Monster, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and the 2022 world champion Golden State Warriors (it was a heckuva good guess).
Watching this coverage, it was clear that the people who work for Newsmax are not real journalists. Real journalists would not only avoid becoming propagandists but, even if they were so inclined, would know how to say things without running afoul of defamation law. You can get very close to that line without crossing it, if you know what you're doing. Anyhow, the Newsmax folks crossed right over the line and kept on going, making all sorts of specific statements about Dominion Voting Systems (DVS), and that country's evil machinations.
These statements were clearly actionable and, with its business in ruins, DVS took action. Newsmax tried to get the suit dismissed, and yesterday Judge Eric M. Davis of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware said "Nope." In fact, not only did he decline to dismiss the suit, he opined that "Newsmax knew the allegations were probably false." That's a critical finding in a defamation case—that the defamer knew, or should have known, that their statements were false. In fact, it's almost certainly the hardest portion of a defamation claim to prove.
The bottom line is that Newsmax is in deep trouble. The network is exposed six ways to Sunday and the courts aren't buying their legal arguments at all. They're already a minor operation with pockets that are deep, but not Fox deep. One bad verdict could put Newsmax out of business, and the DVS suit isn't the only one that Newsmax is facing. If that channel is still around in 5 years, it will be a miracle. Well, unless they get backing from the Russians (RT-Newsmax?) or the Saudis (LIV-Newsmax?). Which, actually, is totally plausible. (Z)
Anyone who is surprised by this item hasn't been paying attention for oh, say, the last 30 years. If the Senate was going to accomplish anything in terms of gun control, even something pretty anemic, speed was of the essence. Every day that passes allows the emotions triggered by Uvalde to fade a bit, while also affording the Second Amendment zealots the chance to marshal their forces.
And, indeed, the marshaling is well underway. Constituents and lobbyists have been working over the senators that they know to be... friendly to their interests, including Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Rick Scott (R-FL). And so, those fellows have been making life very hard for lead Republican negotiator, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). In particular, they want to put the kibosh on any talks of red flag laws, as they claim such laws could too easily deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights. Readers will recall that red flag laws were once held out as the likeliest area of agreement, as 19 states (including some red ones) and D.C. already have such laws.
On Thursday, Cornyn began to back away from the whole discussion, asserting that "we've about run out of our rope here, and we got to make some final decisions today if we're going to be able to get this on the floor next week." Later in the day, the Senator declared he was "through talking" and that he was heading home to Texas for the weekend. If there are no negotiations this weekend, then the odds of a bill coming together before the July 4 recess are not great. And if the bill waits until after the recess, then the odds of something coming together at all grow perilously thin.
Assuming that talks collapse, there will be two lessons. The first is that the modern Republican Party simply will not and cannot agree to any changes to gun laws whatsoever, no matter how small (unless they expand gun rights rather than restrict them). And the second—this is the inside baseball lesson—is that Cornyn may not have the right stuff to lead his conference, and that he might not be up to the job of replacing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The Texan had made no secret of his interest in doing so when and if the Kentuckian retires. Of course, turtles can live to be 150 years old, so maybe Cornyn shouldn't have gotten his hopes up in the first place. (Z)
On Wednesday, we noted that Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R), who has repeatedly wagged his finger at absentee Black fathers was outed as... an absentee Black father. In addition to the child that is a part of his household, he has a second son whose existence went previously unmentioned, and whose interactions with Walker are limited to the occasional birthday and Christmas gift. Confronted with the evidence, Walker admitted his parentage on Wednesday afternoon.
But it does not stop there, as it turns out. Again, wagging one's finger like that is a tantamount to daring dirt-diggers to dig up dirt, especially when one appears to live one's life according to... an alternative moral compass, let's say. And so, it took a mere 24 hours for The Daily Beast to find two more children; a third son and a daughter.
Walker has already acknowledged the additional two children. One wonders if he has any more out there; at this pace he'll be able to field a complete football team by Friday of next week. He has insisted that he wasn't trying to "hide" his past, and that "I just chose not to use them as props to win a political campaign. What parent would want their child involved in garbage, gutter politics like this?" Yeah, right.
There have been no polls of the race since these skeletons emerged from Walker's closet. Our guess is that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to be bothered by the hypocrisy of casting stones at other Black men's glass houses. Democrats are not Walker's voters, of course. If the Republicans he needs are upset, it is more likely to be due to his somewhat-less-than-Biblical lifestyle. That said, Walker is the candidate of Donald Trump, for whom "somewhat less than Biblical" is a mantra, and who also has kids with many different women, so one has to presume that being a little reckless with one's seed is not exactly a dealbreaker here. (Z)
We also had a second item about candidate dirt on Wednesday, addressing some pretty outlandish allegations made by American Muckrakers PAC against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). Our assessment was that the evidence—ostensibly showing that the Representative was once an escort, and that she had multiple abortions—was not compelling enough, and that it wouldn't affect her if the PAC couldn't come up with something stronger. Indeed, the escort bit has already been debunked; the pictures were actually from a site for aspiring actors and singers.
It would seem that Boebert is unfamiliar with the Streisand Effect, because on Thursday she announced plans to sue American Muckrakers PAC. Perhaps someone in her inner circle will persuade her that threatening to sue makes enough of a statement, and that she should not actually follow through. But if she does, it will mean three things: (1) the allegations will get vastly more oxygen than would otherwise be the case, (2) she'll be subject to discovery, and (3) it will encourage those who dislike her to look anywhere and everywhere for dirt.
There is, perhaps, a useful comparison to be drawn here between Boebert and Dominion Voting Systems (see above). In the case of Dominion, they really have no option but to sue, since their core business has been badly damaged, and their only real hope of recovery is an unequivocal legal win they can present to future clients. And even then, it might not be enough. Plus, Newsmax (and the other defendants) have deep enough pockets that Dominion might just get something out of them. By contrast, Boebert's political career will be fine whether or not she sues American Muckrakers, and even if she wins, it will be a moral victory at best, since it's not like they have any money. Of course, if the Representative was in the habit of thinking things through, she might have concluded that leading tours of the Capitol in early January 2020 was maybe not the best idea. (Z)
We had a choice between two dopey Trump enablers today, and we couldn't choose, so we're just going to go with both. Up first is everyone's favorite pillow salesman, Mike Lindell. He continues to peddle his seditious lies about the 2020 election, despite the fact that we're not all that far from the halfway point of Joe Biden's first term. Lindell also continues to promise that the evidence for his claims is coming, and yet somehow it never does.
Lindell has been so over the top, and for so long, that he ended up on the radar of Walmart. That says something; Walmart is headquartered in ruby red Arkansas and is one of America's most right-wing corporations. On the other hand, Democrats buy cheap crap, too. So, Walmart told Lindell he needed to tone it down. Lindell declined, and so now Walmart has yanked his cheap crap pillows from their shelves. This will cost Lindell's business $10 million per year. He spent much of the day yesterday whining to anyone who would listen about how Walmart is "canceling" him.
And then there is Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), the fellow who likes to get his weapon out during Congressional hearings and wave it around for all to see. He's a decorated veteran of the culture wars, and never misses a chance to get some attention or to kiss up to Donald Trump. So, during yesterday's hearing, he sent this tweet:
Steube is right that, per Capitol lore, Abraham Lincoln's desk was in Statuary Hall, back when it was used for office space. But beyond that, is he really that stupid? Not only is CNN "broadcasting" from the Capitol, but it's also managed to put up a giant banner? And somehow, over the course of two hours, not a single person walked past?
Obviously, CNN wasn't actually at the Capitol, they were using a green screen that was digitally removed during the broadcast. Since roughly 90% of Zoom users do something similar (without the green screen) Steube must be aware of the technology, right? Like, when he talks to someone and they are sitting at their computer in front of Niagara Falls, he doesn't actually think they're at Niagara Falls, does he?
Steube was absolutely roasted on social media, such that he deleted the tweet after half an hour. We might even be willing to believe that he knew it was a screen and that he was pandering to constituents who didn't. But to delete the tweet suggests he was embarrassed, and that he therefore didn't grasp what was going on. And if so, well, this man is a duly-elected U.S. Representative; one of 535 people charged with deciding whether or not the U.S. goes to war. Fantastic.
When two dopey Trump enablers, folks who would be happy to see democracy fail, get burned a bit for their behavior? Certainly occasion for some schadenfreude. (Z)