I'm hearing there's a lot of weather going on. Might have to pivot this newsletter to weather talk. -Jacob
THE BIG NEWS
Roger Stone Pondered Political Assassinations
It sure seems like Roger Stone said that he wanted to have two members of Congress killed. That, at least, is the story according to Mediate, which reported on the existence of an audio recording – without sharing the recording – that allegedly features Roger Stone telling a member of his security team, an off-duty NYPD cop, that he wanted Reps. Jerry Nadler and Eric Swalwell murdered.
Stone's words, as presented by Mediate, are pretty clear:
“It’s time to do it. Let’s go find Swalwell. It’s time to do it. Then we’ll see how brave the rest of them are. It’s time to do it. It’s either Nadler or Swalwell has to die before the election. They need to get the message. Let’s go find Swalwell and get this over with. I’m just not putting up with this shit anymore.”
At the time, Stone was being investigated by the House Judiciary Committee, which both Nadler and Swalwell sat on. They were looking into former President Donald Trump's decision to commute Stone's 40-month sentence for seven felony crimes uncovered during the Mueller investigation.
Roger Stone worked closely with the Proud Boys, the chauvinist, pro-Trump gang whose leaders were sentenced to prison terms in connection with the January 6 riot. Stepping up from ambient thuggery to political murder doesn't seem beyond Stone, but it's unclear if the plots ever passed beyond the chitchat stage. In the same conversation, he also apparently suggested kidnapping and torturing a Justice Department official.
For his part, Stone denied the recording was real, claiming it must have been an AI fabrication. (Another win for big tech!) But Stone's conversation partner, when questioned by Mediate, didn't deny the exchange took place. "I don’t think your reader is interested in ancient political fodder," he reportedly said. Sure we are.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
SecDef Lloyd Austin Has Prostate Cancer
Last week's mysterious hospitalization of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin can now be explained. The country's top military official has prostate cancer. He had a "minimally invasive" surgery on Dec. 22, indicating that it's treatable. On Jan. 1, Austin, who's 70 years old, developed symptoms of a urinary tract infection and was admitted for treatment at Walter Reed Hospital and now is recovering and back at work.
Simple! Except almost no one else in government knew. It's not clear if anyone's job is in jeopardy. The imbroglio will just have to recede into recent history as another example of how the US military machine runs practically on autopilot. Its top manager is basically superfluous.
Trump Finding New Ways to Promise Violence
Former President Donald Trump and his legal team have lately been trying to argue that he should be immune from criminal prosecution for acts committed while he was president. In a back-and-forth in court, a Trump lawyer gave a "qualified yes" to the question of whether a president would be prosecuted for ordering Navy SEALs to assassinate a political rival. The distinction, he noted, rested on whether the president was impeached. Then the "political process" could play out and a murderous president would be charged with a crime.
These finer points of jurisprudence haven't reassured a three-judge panel considering the issue of Trump's immunity, and it's sat uneasily with some commentators. Trump has dialed his violent rhetoric up to 11, promising "bedlam" if the indictment stands. "I feel that as a president you have to have immunity — very simple," he said.
As with Nixon, Trump believes that presidential impunity comes with the office. Axios called it Trump's "Fifth Avenue worldview," a reference to his bragging, before the 2016 Republican Iowa Caucus, that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and wouldn't lose any voters. Violence has become a core part of Trump's worldview and rhetorical toolkit – stoking it, refusing to denounce it, luridly enjoying the possibility. Even the normally staid centrists at Axios can see it.
- More Labor Action Expected in 2024 With union contracts expiring and last year's gains freshly in mind, 2024 is likely to be another year of militant labor activism. Some public-sector unions are limited in their ability to strike, but tens of thousands of teachers, engineers, and service workers may be hitting picket lines. via Bloomberg Law, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Nevada Independent.
- Gunman Storm Ecuador TV Station Ecuador is falling into political crisis as a major drug lord escaped prison, gangs kidnapped police officers, and armed men took over a TV studio while a newscaster was on air. The country's president declared a state of emergency as the country struggles to deal with corruption, crime, and drug trafficking. via New York Times.
- 2023 Was the Hottest Year, Like, Ever Last year was the warmest year on record. We are still cooking our planet. Someone should really do something about this. via CNN.
- Economic Growth Slows Worldwide Can you feel the economic vibes? Kind of mid. Blame Covid, higher interest rates, war, consumer spending, and the cost of food. via BBC News.
That's how much money Mike Roman, the CEO of industrial conglomerate 3M, has in his company pension account. 3M recently announced that it's freezing pension contributions for nonunion workers, but not its CEO. The company has lavished Roman with $65 million in other forms of compensation (cash, stock, etc), despite losing billions in revenue, a $6 billion fine over faulty military earplugs, and tepid stock performance.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
1/10: It's Hump Day! Sam and Emma speak with Alex Press, staff writer at Jacobin, to discuss her recent piece entitled "In 2023, the US Working Class Fought Back." Then, they speak with Bill McKibben, contributing writer at The New Yorker and founder of ThirdAct.org, to discuss how 2023 was the hottest year on record.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Trumpist Republicans are now referring to January 6 insurrectionists as "hostages."
Drowning out calls for a ceasefire with "four more years" says an awful lot about today's Democratic Party.
"He said one time that [Bill] Clinton likes them young, referring to girls"
-- From a deposition by a Jeffrey Epstein accuser, part of a tranche of newly unsealed court documents from a lawsuit by one of Epstein's victims against his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell. The documents were inaccurately hyped as containing a "client list" and other Epstein secrets. They don't. But they have put some proper names to previously anonymous complaints and, along with recent reporting in the Wall Street Journal, help fill out a map of Epstein's elite network. They are also yet another reminder of how many people have escaped accountability for these crimes.