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THE BIG NEWS
Trump, Under Pressure, Casually Threatens Entire Country
Donald Trump's associates are reportedly "angry and a bit shaken" lately because it seems like every day brings new problems for them. Of course, those problems are the consequences of their own actions and pathetic fealty to a criminal cult leader who remains determined to establish himself as a dictator. So, to be clear, these people deserve no sympathy whatsoever, but they are correct in the respect that the news has been unrelentingly bad for them lately. Here's my best attempt to sum up yesterday's Trumpworld developments as quickly as possible.
- The Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election "has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed," "believes some individuals may see jail time," and expects to wrap up interviews by the end of year. (Which means no charges will be filed before the November election in this inquiry, just as with the federal investigation into Trump's theft of classified documents upon leaving office.)
- The New York Attorney General refused Trump's offer to settle her fraud inquiry and may file a lawsuit that could shut down his business in the state.
- Jeffrey Clark, the flunky Trump considered naming Attorney General in the midst of his Jan. 2021 coup attempt, had his phone seized by the Justice Department this summer in an investigation that we now know concerns "false statements, criminal conspiracy, and obstruction of justice."
- Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also reportedly complied with a DOJ subpoena related to Jan. 6.
- Douglas Frank, an Ohio science teacher who cooked up election conspiracy theories with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell and other leading election deniers, says he turned his phone over to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who served him a warrant as he exited an airplane. Check out the clips below if you missed how they seized Lindell's phone, too.
- A new book by New York Times reporters says Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, wondered, "What does Putin have on him"? He found it hard to otherwise explain Trump's actions.
- With his reputation for refusing to pay bills, Trump was forced to pay $3 million up front -- from a campaign fund that's also under investigation by a grand jury -- to the lawyer representing him in the Jan. 6 inquiry and the stolen documents case.
- Finally, Trump went on right-wing talk radio and warned of "big problems" for the country -- "the likes of which perhaps we've never seen before" -- if he's criminally indicted. They'd better get on that, then.
Whew! It's no wonder the Trump crew feels like the walls are closing in around them, because it sure looks like they are surrounded. The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is seeking "vast amounts of information" and interviewing more than 100 people in its probe into Trump's coup plot. But there was one major bright spot for Trump and it came late in the day:
- The barely qualified judge Trump appointed and who now has his fate in her hands, Aileen Cannon, ruled again against the Justice Department in the stolen documents case. Judge Aileen Cannon appointed the special master Trump's lawyers wanted, a retired federal judge named Raymond Dearie, and reaffirmed her prior order that the Justice Department refrain from investigations related to the trove of classified documents Trump stole from the White House and hoarded haphazardly in desk drawers and storage rooms at his private resort and residence, Mar-a-Lago. Cannon apparently accepts Trump's nonsense pseudo-legal arguments about his magic wand declassification powers enough to write that "whether the documents marked classified were actually classified is a matter of dispute."
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
GOP Governors' Human Trafficking Stunt Probably Illegal
It's abundantly clear that Republicans have nothing to run on this year -- they're comically afraid of running on their own policies, like banning abortion -- so they're doing the usual xenophobic fearmongering, but now with a twist: state-sponsored human trafficking. It started with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey sending busloads of migrants to sanctuary cities including Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago, which we covered recently here. This week Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got in on the act, sending 50 migrants via plane to Martha's Vineyard, where high school Spanish students were enlisted to help translate. Several migrants from Venezuela told reporters that after Border Patrol in Texas released them, a woman named "Perla" approached them and offered them food and expedited work permits if they boarded a plane to Massachusetts; DeSantis also apparently sent a videographer to document the trip. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday formally requested the Justice Department investigate whether the "morally reprehensible" political stunt by the Republican governors constitutes a criminal conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the migrants. It's hard to see how it doesn't.
Homeland Security Hoovers Up Data from Travelers' Devices
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is building a massive database of people's personal and business contacts, call logs, private messages, photos, and other data, "much of which is captured from people not suspected of any crime," the Washington Post reports. Border agents are gathering the data from phones, tablets, and computers searched at travel checkpoints -- as many as 10,000 times per year -- where courts have held no search warrants are required. Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden revealed what few details are known about the database, called the Automated Targeting System, yesterday in a letter to CPB Commissioner Chris Magnus. Wyden's letter criticized the agency for "allowing indiscriminate rifling through Americans' private records" and asked Magnus to come up with a plan by the end of next month to improve privacy protections.
- Rail Workers Win Paid Time Off in New Tentative Deal with Freight Companies President Joe Biden announced the deal, which workers still need to vote on, calling it proof of his belief "that unions and management can work together." via the Associated Press.
- Woman Charged Over Threats to Boston Children's Hospital Catherine Leavy's arrest by the FBI came after the online transphobes who initially targeted the hospital denied threats were ever made. via NBC News.
- Uber Hacked By Precocious Teen It sounds fairly serious actually. via the New York Times.
- Putin Acknowledges Chinese "Concerns" Over Ukraine Invasion The Aspiring Tsar didn't elaborate, but made the comment following a meeting with President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan yesterday. via the Guardian.
- Argentina Intel Agency Blames Far-Right Group for Assassination Attempt on Vice President Recordings from social media suggest the plot was carried out somewhat in the open. via the Guardian.
- Sen. Jeff Merkley Accused of Slow-Walking Congressional Stock Trading Ban The Oregon Democrat says he wants the bill to pass but "it's not going to happen before the election." via Insider.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Heads to Armenia This Weekend No cease-fire violations were reported yesterday following two days of fighting with Azerbaijan. via Politico and the Associated Press.
That's how much is being spent on political ads on streaming services in the current election cycle, representing about 15 percent of the total, according to a new report. The fast growth of streaming political ads is leading "lawmakers and researchers to warn that the ads are outstripping federal regulation and oversight."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
9/16: It's Casual Friday! Sam and Emma host Heather Digby Parton, contributing writer at Salon.com and proprietor of the blog Hullabaloo, to round up the week in news. Then they are joined by David Feldman of The David Feldman Show!
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Bigots think it's "rational" to regard other people as "demonic," hm...
I've never eaten at a Hardee's, but I just looked at their menu online and of the available options, I think I'd go for the hand-breaded chicken biscuit.
"I'm pretty radical. I think the roads depicted in Mad Max -- unpatrolled with wreckage lining the sides -- would be just fine. (In reality any wreckage would likely be cleaned up by volunteer recyclers, and private road groups would emerge to keep roads safe.) I will work to abolish all driver license and car registration requirements. Government has no right to know who owns or drives every car. ONLY GOVERNMENT CARS SHOULD HAVE LICENSE PLATES."
-- Roger Roots, a lawyer and perennial libertarian candidate for office in Montana, outlining his stance on traffic safety on his most recent campaign website. Politico reports that Roots, who has a hardcore white supremacist background and two felony convictions, is a "hidden hand" assisting the legal defense of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on seditious conspiracy charges related to Jan. 6.
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