Thursday, March 28, 2024

Something to Know - 28 March

Holding people accountable for what they do or say is always a thing about who you know, and your wealth.   Follow HCR as she lays out a few examples:

Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American 

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The news that NBC News reconsidered its invitation to former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel to become a paid contributor has buried the recent news about some of the other participants in Trump's attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Yesterday a judge in Minnesota ruled in favor of a warehouse owner who sought to evict MyPillow after it failed to pay more than $200,000 in rent. MyPillow chief executive officer Mike Lindell has complained that his company has been "decimated" by his support for Trump. His insistence—without evidence—that the 2020 presidential election was stolen has entangled him in expensive defamation lawsuits filed by voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. 

Lindell cannot pay his lawyers and claims to have "lost hundreds of millions of dollars," but insists he is being persecuted "because you want me to shut up about [the] security of our elections."

Also yesterday, Trump loyalist Kari Lake, who has pushed the idea that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, ran for Arizona governor in 2022, and is now running for the U.S. Senate, admitted she defamed Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer and that she acted with actual malice when she claimed he "sabotaged" the 2022 election. The request to admit to defamation came on the day that discovery, the process of sharing information about a case with each side, was to begin, suggesting that she preferred to admit wrongdoing rather than let anyone see what might be in her emails, texts, and recordings.

Arizona journalist Howard Fischer reported in the Arizona Daily Star that in a video statement, Lake said her admission did not mean she agreed she did anything wrong, although that is expressly stipulated in the court papers. She said she conceded because Richer's lawsuit was keeping her off the campaign trail. "It's called lawfare: weaponizing the legal system to punish, impoverish and destroy political opponents,'' Lake said. "We've all seen how they're doing it to President Trump. And here in Arizona, they're doing the exact same thing to me.''

One of Lake's senior advisors said: "Kari Lake maintains she has always been truthful." 

Also yesterday, a three-member panel of the D.C. Bar's Board of Professional Responsibility began a disciplinary hearing for former Department of Justice environmental lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was so key to Trump's plan to get state legislatures to overturn the results of the 2020 election that Trump tried to make him attorney general.  

Clark joins Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who led the media blitz to argue—falsely—that the election had been stolen. Giuliani's New York and Washington, D.C., law licenses were suspended in June 2021 after a court found that he made "demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large." He is now facing disbarment. 

Earlier this month, he said on his podcast that he expected to be disbarred because "[t]he Bar Association is going to crucify me no matter what. I will be disbarred in New York. I will be disbarred in Washington. It will have nothing to do with anything I did wrong."

Today, after a long trial, attorney discipline judge Yvette Roland recommended that John Eastman, the lawyer who came up with the justification for using fake electors to overturn the 2020 presidential election, be disbarred. Eastman will immediately lose his license to practice law. The California Supreme Court will decide whether to disbar Eastman. 

Eastman's lawyer said it was unfair to take Eastman's law license because he needs to make money to fight the criminal charges against him in Georgia, where he has been indicted for his part in the effort to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election there. For his part, Eastman maintains he did nothing wrong.

In her recommendation, Judge Roland compared Eastman's case to that of Donald Segretti, the lawyer whose efforts to guarantee President Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection included, as Roland's recommendation noted, distributing letters that made false accusations against Nixon's rivals (including a forged letter attributing a slur against French-Canadians to Maine senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Edmund Muskie). At the time, the court noted that Segretti was only 30, thought he was acting for Nixon, and did not act in his capacity as a lawyer. The court also emphasized that Segretti "recognized the wrongfulness of his acts, expressed regret, and cooperated with the investigating agencies." 

In contrast, Roland wrote, "[t]he scale and egregiousness of Eastman's unethical actions far surpasses" Segretti's misconduct. Segretti acted outside his role as an attorney, while "Eastman's wrongdoing was committed directly in the course and scope of his representation of President Trump and the Trump campaign." Roland also noted that while Segretti expressed remorse and recognized his wrongdoing, Eastman has shown "an apparent inability to accept responsibility. This lack of remorse and accountability presents a significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public."  

One by one, those who worked with Trump to overturn the election are being held to account by our legal system. But still, they refuse to admit any wrongdoing. 

In that, they are following Trump.  

Despite Judge Juan Merchan's gag order, Trump continued today to attack both Merchan and his daughter. On his social media site, Trump posted that Merchan was trying to deprive him of his "First Amendment right to speak out against the Weaponization of Law Enforcement, including the fact that Crooked Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, and their Hacks and Thugs are tracking and following me all across the Country, obsessively trying to persecute me, while everyone knows I have done nothing wrong!" Trump posted in great detail about the judge's daughter, accusing her of making money by "working to 'Get Trump,'" based on images shared by an old social media account of hers that had been hacked. 

It was President Nixon who perfected the refusal to admit wrongdoing in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even after tapes recorded in the Oval Office revealed that he had plotted with an aide to block investigations of the break-in at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel by invoking national security and Republican Party leaders told him he needed to resign, he refused to admit wrongdoing. Instead, he told the American people he was stepping down because he no longer had enough support in Congress to advance the national interest. He blamed his fall on the press, saying its "leaks and accusations and innuendo" were designed to destroy him.

Gerald R. Ford, the president who replaced Nixon, inadvertently put a rubber stamp on Nixon's refusal to accept responsibility. Believing it was better for the country to move past the divisions of the Watergate era, Ford issued a preemptive pardon for any crimes the former president might have committed against the United States while in office. Ford maintained that the acceptance of a pardon was an admission of guilt. 

But Ford's pardon meant Nixon never faced legal accountability for his actions. That escape allowed him to argue that a president is above the law. In a 1977 interview with British journalist David Frost, Nixon told Frost that "when the president does it…that means that it is not illegal," by definition. 

As Nixon did, Trump has watched those who participated in his schemes pay dearly for their support, but he appears angry and confused at the idea that he himself could be held legally accountable for his behavior.

But without accountability, as Judge Roland noted, there is no incentive to stop dangerous behavior. Josh Dawsey reported last night in the Washington Post that since Trump has taken over the Republican National Committee and purged it of former employees, those interviewing for jobs are being asked if they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Other questions, Dawsey reported, include "what applicants believe should be done on 'election integrity' in 2024." 


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― The Lincoln Project

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