August 3, 2023

DONNY REB (profanity alert):

August 2, 2023 (HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, AUG 3, 2023, Letters from an American)

Observers today called out the part of the indictment that describes how Trump and Co-Conspirator 4, who appears to be Jeffrey Clark, the man Trump wanted to make attorney general, intended to use the military to quell any protests against Trump's overturning of the election results. When warned that staying in power would lead to "riots in every major city in the United States," Co-Conspirator 4 replied, "Well...that's why there's an Insurrection Act."

The Insurrection Act of 1807 permits the president to use the military to enforce domestic laws, invoking martial law. Trump's allies urged him to do just that to stay in power. Fears that Trump might do such a thing were strong enough that on January 3, 2021, all 10 living former defense secretaries signed a Washington Post op-ed warning that "[e]fforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory." 

They put their colleagues on notice: "Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic." Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo recalled today that military leaders told Congress they were reluctant to respond to the violence at the Capitol out of concern about how Trump might use the military under the Insurrection Act. [...]

Today, Trump's former attorney general William Barr dismissed the idea that the indictment is an attack on Trump's First Amendment rights. Barr told CNN's Kaitlan Collins: "As the indictment says, they're not attacking his First Amendment right. He can say whatever he wants. He can even lie. He can even tell people that the election was stolen when he knew better. But that does not protect you from entering into a conspiracy. All conspiracies involve speech. And all fraud involves speech. Free speech doesn't give you the right to engage in a fraudulent conspiracy." 

Indictment Mystery: Did Someone Spill About the Trump-McCarthy Jan. 6 Call? (Daily Beast, August 2, 2023)

By choosing to speak as an omniscient narrator for that paragraph, federal prosecutors have left it entirely unclear how they know what was said on that phone call. And that's fueling speculation about a number of possibilities: Is there a recording of the call? Did Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows--who is speculated to have been in the room with Trump at the time--provide an account to investigators? Did McCarthy?

Meadows has remained silent about the matter. (He did not answer a request for comment.) And if McCarthy has been helping out Smith, he's doing his damndest to not make it seem that way. (McCarthy's office also didn't respond to questions.)

Shortly after the indictment was unsealed, McCarthy posted a statement about the Hunter Biden saga and called the indictment "DOJ's attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump."

While McCarthy knows what was said on that phone call--and said a week after Jan. 6 that Trump "bears responsibility" for the attack on the Capitol--McCarthy quickly mended his relationship with Trump and has stood in the way of any sort of accountability for the former president and his actions surrounding the insurrection.

But according to Herrera Beutler, McCarthy immediately blamed Trump for Jan. 6. She recalled the briefing on a podcast in February 2021.

"He called the president and said, 'Hey, you basically need to get on TV, you need to call these people off,'" she said on the podcast. "And the president's response to him was, 'These aren't my people, these are Antifa.'"

"Kevin, to his credit, responded, 'No, they just came through my window, my staff are running, these are your people, they have MAGA hats on,'" Herrera Beutler continued.

"And the president's response to him was, 'Well, Kevin, I guess they are just more concerned about this election than you are,'" she said.

That closely tracks with the call's description in the indictment. (Beutler, who has since become a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, did not reply to an interview request.)

But that was not the last that the public heard of the phone call. The House Jan. 6 Committee extensively explored the call and the events of that day. They described the phone conversation this way:

"Multiple witnesses told the Select Committee that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy contacted the President and others around him, desperately trying to get him to act. McCarthy's entreaties led nowhere. 'I guess they're just more upset about the election theft than you are,' President Trump told McCarthy."

But as time went on, McCarthy adopted a different version of the events that day.

Posted by at August 3, 2023 6:03 AM