It was quite a week in our World. On the US Political Scene, the January 6 hearings continued and former President Trump used his TruthSocial Platform to launch attacks and to use a speech in Nashville to undermine the credibility of the committee.
Fears rise that illegal logging will meet demand as protections are loosened and sanctions curb Russian exports
JUNE 19, 2022 by Madeleine Speed in London
Mike Pence looking at a Trump tweet on January 6, 2021. (Via January 6 Committee)
“That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe would’ve been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America, which in my view, and I am only one man, would’ve been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic.” — Judge Michael Luttig
Take a moment consider this. This is not the hair-on-fire, over-wrought, frantic hyperbole of Resistance Twitter.
The warning about “a revolution within a constitutional crisis,” didn’t come from Rachel Maddow, the guys who run Pod Save America, the NYT’s editorial page, or the usual prophets of Armageddon.
This was Michael Luttig, a conservative’s conservative; a former federal appeals court judge, who was on George Bush’s short-list for the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, because we are all doomed to spend eternity in middle school, much of the buzz yesterday focused on how slowly Luttig spoke. But, my colleague Will Saletan provided a sober counterpoint:
Try this mental exercise: Imagine that we were learning all of this now for the first time.
Here is Liz Cheney:
On the morning of January 6, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain President of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power. Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.
Instead of having the story come out in dribs and drabs and disconnected details over the last year and half, imagine that this was fresh — and that it was bursting onto the front pages just now:
The depth and scope of the president’s attempts to overturn the election; the bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories; the threats and violence used to intimidate Congress and the vice president; the plot involving fake electors; the danger of extremist groups like the Oath Keepers who mobilized to keep the president in power; the plot to use the electoral count to erase the results of the 2020 election and keep the president in power.
Try to imagine if we were just now hearing secret tapes for the first time exposing the campaign to pressure state elections officials to “find” votes, and state legislators to overturn the popular vote, while the wife of a Supreme Court justice pressured state legislators and others to reject the peaceful transfer of power.
Imagine: What if we were just now seeing videos of the president’s own aides telling him that he was detached from reality; and that his plot was illegal and unconstitutional. What if we just now realized that the Commander in Chief thought about using the military to seize voting machines, and came within inches of subverting the Department of Justice to push fraudulent election claims.
And try to imagine if we were just learning that all of this was launched by a drunken demagogue on election night and a president who surrounded himself with demented loons, grifters, and seditionists.
What if we just now were learning of the criminal conspiracy by a president who had sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." What if the testimony of his closest aides made it clear that the man in the Oval Office was either lying or delusional in his desperate bid to hang onto power?
And bear with me for a moment here:
What if we woke up this morning to the news that he had “specifically targeted his vice president with tweeted words of condemnation,” and turned a violent mob against him. What if we were just learning that confidential informants had told the feds that Trump-supporting members of the Proud Boys “would have killed” Pence during the Insurrection “if given a chance.”
And what if we were just learning today that when the mob began chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” the president said that he “deserved it.”
(1) If we had learned all of this at once, it would have been — and this is not hyperbole— a political cataclysm, beyond the powers of even most determined turd-polishers to ignore. There would not be the slightest doubt about the gravity of the crisis or the desperate need for accountability.
(2) Millions of Americans are, in fact, learning all of this for the first time.
(3) I have no idea whether this will make a difference.
(1) TNB last night was very good. I was in the chat dropping bombs and you can’t recreate that magic. But you can watch the rewind here or listen to the podcast version here. You’ll probably want to watch, because Tim looked like a damn movie star last night.
(2) I’m going to be AWOL for the next week. Big Life Change stuff so no newsletters or podcasts from me. And I won’t be responding to emails. Catch you on the flip side from Dirty Jersey.
1. Collateral Damage
Lost in the January 6 Committee news yesterday was a ruling in a Delaware court that the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against Newsmax could proceed.
Dominion is seeking $1.6 billion in damages and Newsmax’s first line of defense was something like How could we have possibly known that the stuff we said about Dominion was false!
The judge wasn’t buying it. You can read the whole decision here if you want. It is hot fire.
But it’s also 64 pages long and I don’t expect you to read the whole thing. So I did it for you.
Defamation cases are very hard to prove. But this Dominion suit looks strong.
The first leg of the stool is Dominion proving that Newsmax was peddling false claims. That’s the easy part:
The next step is proving that Newsmax knew (or should have known) that the claims it was making were false:
There is a lot more on this score.
The former Trump vice-president is viewed as harbouring aspirations for a presidential run in 2024
JUNE 18, 2022 by James Politi and Kiran Stacey in Washington
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Former President Donald Trump used his microphone at a top conservative conference to bash the House Jan. 6 select committee repeatedly — and noted how even CNN has stopped using the term the "big lie."