Archives for category: Justice

Memorial Day is a day to remember and pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives to defend our democracy. Because of their sacrifice, we enjoy our freedoms. We are called upon not only to respect them and their sacrifices, but to be alert to today’s threats to the freedoms and rights we treasure. Voting rights are under attack. Censorship and book banning are on the rise. Red state legislatures are trying to control the blue cities in their midst. Red state legislatures are passing cookie-cutter laws to fund private and religious schools despite the opposition of the public. A woman’s right to control her body has been eliminated by red states. In a sad irony, the U.S. Supreme Court—which has long been the ultimate defender of our rights—is eroding democracy, under the control of rightwing ideologues, three of whom were appointed by Trump after being chosen by the extremist Federalist Society.

In that spirit, I post a comment by the polymath Bob Shepherd, who contributes his wisdom to us as a reader of the blog..

Pardon me, but this is so important that I want to make sure that I say the whole properly. So, some repetition here:

The Extreme Court decisions that just wiped out much of the power of the EPA to regulate air pollution (West Virginia v. EPA) and water pollution (Sackett v. EPA) in the United States are PART of an overall effort, begun in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, to ERASE much of the authority of the United States federal government on the basis of a NOVEL reinterpretation of the Constitution that ELIMINATES THE ABILITY OF THE EXECUTIVE TO EXERCISE UNENUMERATED POWERS–powers not SPECIFICALLY given it by the Constitution. This would reduce the federal government to a SHADOW of its former reach. Ron DeSantis just gave a speech in which he discussed precisely this, which he described as the necessity of “Reconstitutionalizing” our government:

“There’s a lot that the executive branch can do, and all I will say when it comes to these agencies… [is] buckle up when I get in there because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we reconstitutionalize this government, and these agencies are totally out of control. There’s no accountability, and we are going to bring that in a very big way.”

In connection with this envisioned vast overhaul of U.S. governance, DeSantis made this chilling promise:

“Even my worst critics in Florida will acknowledge when I tell people I’m going to do something, I don’t make promises or say I’m going to do something lightly.”

Here’s what I think is happening: Repugnican leaders have recognized that if Jabba the Trump wins the nomination, they will lose again. So, the current plan is to remove Trump by standing aside and letting the judicial process do that for them via the various cases now pending against the Orange Idiot. That way, they can take him out of the picture while not alienating the Trumpanzees from themselves–they can blame the fall of the Glorious Leader on some Deep State conspiracy led by Biden. Then, DeSantis will assume the Orange mantle and carry forward, in the Executive branch, the agenda that the Reich-wing cabal at the head of the Judicial branch has set for itself. (NB: the Orange Idiot Trump was extremely useful to The Federalist Society because he, knowing nothing himself, simply rubber stamped putting those people in place–the ones now reenvisioning U.S. government entirely).

It is worth remembering in this regard that the revolution in Germany that scuttled democratic government there and put the Fascists under Hitler in power took place BY LEGAL MEANS. And so the history we haven’t learned from repeats itself. Couple this legal implementation of the no unenumerated powers theory with the independent state legislature theory also being endorsed by the Extreme Court (a theory that holds that state legislatures, which are predominately Repugnican, can hold do-overs if they don’t like election results) and you get the recipe for the end of democracy and the onset of Fascist governance in the United States.

This is how these traitors overthrow democratic government. In the background, not via some sort of January 6th event.

Jennifer Rubin is a columnist for the Washington Post. Originally, she was hired to express conservative views. Her column was called “Right Turn.” But when Trump was elected, she flipped. She realized that the Republican Party had lost its principles and stood for nothing other than slavishly obeying Trump’s whims and passing tax cuts for the 1%.

In this column, she calls out Senator Dick Durbin for acquiescing to the obsolete tradition of allowing one home-state Senator to block the President’s nomination to a federal judgeship. Democrats play by the unwritten rules, but Republicans ignore them. Democrats allowed Trump to nominate totally unqualified federal judges and joined in confirming them (e.g., the zealous anti-abortion extremist in Amarillo, Texas, who recently slapped a national ban on the main abortion pill because he disapproved of the Federal Drug Administration’s rigorous approval process).

But Republicans withhold their approval of well-qualified judicial nominees. And now, with Senator Dianne Feinstein home on sick leave, the Judiciary Committee is not approving any of President Biden’s nominees and will not give their approval to Senator Feinstein’s request to be removed temporarily from the committee.

Rubin wrote recently:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) seems spectacularly ill-suited for an era when democracy is at risk, when Republicans observe no rules of decorum and when the federal judiciary’s credibility is crumbling.

Far too restrained and deferential, Durbin has refused to alter practices such as the “blue slip,” which allows home-state senators to nix the president’s judicial nominees, although he has beseeched Republicans not to abuse the practice. Durbin also hasn’t yet conducted hearings on the disastrous effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and related abortion bans, nor has he held hearings on a mandatory ethics code for judges — although he has promised hearings on revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas’s failure to disclose luxurious travel gifts and real estate sales. Then again, Senate Democrats as a whole haven’t pushed Durbin, so one cannot blame him alone for his timidity.

Caroline Fredrickson and Alan Neff recently wrote about blue slips for Just Security:

“The blue slip is an opaque — and inherently obstructionist — Senate tradition that allows a single Senator in any State to block a presidential nominee to the District Courts in their electoral patch merely by withholding their consent to consideration of the nominee in Committee. Like the filibuster, the blue slip allows Senators to halt Senate action without ever having to explain themselves to their Senate colleagues, their constituents, or the public, even if it means more criminal and civil cases languish unresolved on federal trial-court dockets for longer periods.”

Durbin could end this practice at any time, removing another abuse of minority-party power in the Senate. It’s one that has been spectacularly abused by Republicans, who have pushed through grossly unqualified, unfit nominees nominated by Republican presidents and yet nixed perfectly acceptable judges nominated by Democratic presidents…

Last week, Carl Hulse wrote for the New York Times:

“Then last week, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican of Mississippi, served notice to the Judiciary Committee that she would not allow the nomination of Scott Colom, a candidate for a court vacancy in the state, to move forward, citing his past political support from the left, among other reasons. Her stance endangered the confirmation of Mr. Colom, a popular Black Democratic state prosecutor who had the backing of Roger Wicker, the other Republican senator from the state, as well as leading Mississippi Republicans including two former governors, Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant.”

Durbin had previously promised he would respect blue slips unless the decision to withhold the blue slip was based not on the nominee’s qualifications but on race, gender or sexual orientation.

Apparently, this didn’t qualify in his eyes.

Durbin’s appeals to shameless Republicans have accomplished nothing. Instead, he has allowed Republicans to run amok. Is it any surprise that when they were asked to approve the request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to be removed from the committee, they balked? Plainly, they know they have nothing to fear from Durbin.

Committee Democrats can, if they choose, push Durbin to end the blue slip practice. They also could demand a hearing on Supreme Court ethics, on book banning, and on the effects of Dobbs and abortion bans. They might even hold hearings on corruption in the prior administration or on domestic terrorism. They could hold hearings on nationwide injunctions and single judge divisions, which allowed for Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s abysmal ruling on the abortion drug mifepristone.

All these would be appropriate uses of oversight power — unlike House Republicans’ stunts. They’ve done none of that.

Voters, court reformers, progressive advocacy groups, donors and even Vice President Harris — a former committee member who is strenuously working to keep the plight of women denied abortions in the news — could all apply pressure. Democrats cannot attend to the threats to democracy if they play by Marquess of Queensberry rules and apply to Republicans’ nonexistent good faith.

The voters elected a Democratic Senate and Democratic president; they have a right to expect swift confirmation of qualified nominees when democracy remains vulnerable. Voters have a right to expect Senate investigations into questionable actions at the Supreme Court and elsewhere.

Durbin and his fellow Democrats need to learn to play hardball.

Helen Gym is a brilliant, eloquent progressive candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia. She is an activist and a member of the City Council. I enthusiastically endorse her candidacy. I have known her for a dozen years and am repeatedly impressed by her values, her energy, and her passion for justice. Philadelphia schools have suffered grievously due to budget cuts imposed by the state. A decade ago, two young children died because their schools had no nurse. Helen thinks that every school should have a nurse and counselors. In the suburbs, such services are taken for granted. But not in Philadelphia, where public schools and their students have been shortchanged for years.

Will Bunch is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who has followed the mayoral race closely. He sums up the reasons why she is the right person at the right time. Her election would bring hope to Philadelphia. This election could be a turning point for this great but neglected city.

He writes:

Philly needs a bullhorn mayor to slice through decades of status quo baloney

In a crowded Philly mayoral race, Helen Gym is fighting for the city’s poor and neglected. No wonder status quo elites are so desperate to stop her.

Philadelphia City Councilmembers Helen Gym, Jamie Gauthier, and Kendra Brooks walk with protesters following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Steven M. Falk / MCT

It was one of those raw late April afternoons in Philadelphia where the weather in the far corner of Love Park — unrelentingly grey, windy, occasional drizzle — seemed to match the grim civic mood looming over the City Hall tower in the background. At the supposed 12:45 p.m. start time for this Helen-Gym-for-mayor campaign rally, just a few folks milled around and chatted with the candidate in her bright red coat, carrying a reusable Target shopping bag, and you briefly wonder if you got the time or place wrong.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a blue-clad army of about 50 supporters — young and old, Black, brown and white, including members of the teachers’ union that has endorsed Gym, carrying signs that read “The Wealth To Fix Our City Exists!” — crossed JFK Boulevard all at once, and it was showtime. Over the next half-hour, speakers from the various Jenga blocks of Philly’s shaky civil society reimagined the city as it could be. A librarian from South Philly spoke about the dream of reopening on the weekends as a community refuge. An instructor and union leader from the Community College of Philadelphia imagined the benefits of free tuition.

“When I say, “Moral!,” chanted emcee Elisa King, a minister and counselor at CCP, “you say, “Budget!’” — driving home the rally’s theme that City Hall needs to focus on restoring vital services, not more incremental tax cuts.

When the 55-year-old former city council member finally got the microphone, the spring sun had seared through the layer of clouds. Gym declared her idea of a moral budget “is not defined by the corporate-backed interests, the developers and the status-quo electeds, bureaucrats and wealthy individuals who have long tried to buy this campaign with their tired ideas and their technocratic solutions.” The crowd whooped. “Those candidates have played it safe all their lives.”

The only remaining progressive in a May 16 primary field whittled down to five or six major candidates defined her rivals’ ideas as “just too small for this moment. They’re talking about safety that’s only defined by policing. They’re talking about development only in terms defined by the tax cuts and those people who get to benefit. They manage crisis — we’re here to end them!” Almost on cue, a passing dump truck on the boulevard tooted its horn loudly in support.

It’s fitting that the race to pick the 100th mayor of America’s founding city is also arguably its most consequential in decades, perhaps since the divisive Frank Rizzo era. That’s because the coronavirus also attacked the civic immune system that had allowed the city’s leaders to ignore the warning symptoms of the nation’s highest rate of deep poverty and unacceptable schools housed in unsafe buildings while touting the surface glitz of Philadelphia’s comeback … for tourists, and handful of gentrifying neighborhoods. Now, a spike in gun violence and related dysfunction has put the nation’s sixth-biggest city at a crossroads.

I might be The Inquirer’s national columnist but I’ve watched this local election closely — not just because I work and pay taxes and ride the troubled subways here (or because my two adult offspring live here) but also because what Philadelphia voters decide in little more than two weeks will say a lot about how America is going to solve its urban problems, especially persistent poverty. In this (sort of) post-pandemic era, comparable cities such as Boston, Chicago, and L.A. have rejected old-school police-union fearmongering for young, progressive mayors who see how issues like attacking climate change or youth unemployment can bring real change.

It’s not at all clear yet whether Philadelphia has the courage or boldness to follow its sister cities down that fresh pathway. I’ve watched both televised debates and have been somewhat taken aback with how most of the major candidates have crafted a message around not new ideas but “leadership.” What they are really offering, in essence, is a pledge to restore some presence and personality to City Hall that’s been missing during the shockingly absent Jim Kenney administration, but with little evidence they’d change the status quo policies of minor tax cuts or FOP-endorsed policing that coincided with decline.

In the debates and on the campaign trail, Gym has set herself apart as the only candidate who fully grasps the root problems in the most desperate neighborhoods — and who wants to go big to actually address them. How many times can we hire more cops or return to “stop-and-frisk” policing with the same tired results? That’s why Gym is the leader in pushing for trained responders to replace cops on mental-health calls — hugely successful where it’s been tried — and is the only candidate who agrees with the majority of Philadelphians who twice elected Larry Krasner as DA, that some criminal-justice reforms were long overdue.

Elite critics of some of Gym’s bigger and bolder ideas — going all-out in fixing unsafe school buildings, or guaranteed employment for adults under 30 — call them unrealistic pie in the sky. Most everyday voters know what matters most about a political leaders is less about the budgetary small print and more about who and what they are willing to fight for. And in her seven years as an at-large city council member, Gym has fought for what cynics had written off as lost causes, and won a strikingly high percentage of the time.

A ”fair workweek” ordinance that mandates essential workers have predictable schedules. Long-overdue eviction protections for the city’s beleaguered tenants. A return to local control of the Philadelphia School District while fighting to restore school nurses and counselors. A push to get lead out of school drinking water. No wonder that after her first term on council, The Inquirer Editorial Board hailed her as “a savvy, passionate and progressive leader.”

Things are a lot different now that Gym is running for mayor. While she’s been endorsed by the influential Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and a panoply of other unions and progressive groups, many of the city’s elites — even some who’ve been somewhat supportive of her council work — seem dead-set on preventing her from running Philly. Some of that is with a budgetary magnifying glass, but much of it centers on attacking her personality and blocking her ideas. Yes, she changed her mind on charter schools after founding one — but who wouldn’t after watching them become a negative drain on public education? Of course it was a mistake to protest the Union League and go there just days later, but is that a big-enough reason to punish Gym — and the city — by voting for someone who doesn’t share your values?

“I think it’s about making things about individuals and reducing it to isolated incidences rather than looking at a track record that holds steady over time,” Gym told me Wednesday after her rally. “The way to marginalize real movements for change is to hyper-individualize faults within imperfect people. I mean, I’m not perfect — I make mistakes and all of that — but I think the difference with me is I have a 20-year-plus track record of standing alongside communities.”

One truism about politics is that a lot of times you can gauge a candidate by the enemies they make. The Chamber of Commerce crowd and their handmaidens aren’t fighting Gym because of her mistakes but because of the things that she gets right. There’s a reason that many of Philadelphia’s most essential yet underheard folks — the teachers and librarians and social workers — don’t just think that Gym is the best among a large field of candidates, but truly believe that her election in 2023 is a matter of civic life-or-death.

“She is rising to the moment, which is a moment of crisis for our city,” Stan Shapiro, vice-chair of Philly Neighborhood Networksand a former City Council staffer, told me before the rally. “It’s not a time for the status quo, for business as usual, for just keeping the lights on. There aren’t enough lights. There aren’t enough rec centers. There aren’t enough health centers.”

One of the other straw-man arguments from Gym’s critics centers on how she’s carried a bullhorn to protest in the streets on behalf of Philly’s kids, or its underserved people, or the moment when — the horror! — she was willing to get detained in Harrisburg to dramatize how state Republicans won’t invest in education. We’ve had decades of “conveners” and glad-handers on the second floor of City Hall with too little to show for it. It’s time to try a bullhorn mayor, a real fighter. In a race with many candidates, there is only one that truly matters.

The following was posted by Anand Giridhadaras on his blog The Ink. He is the author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.

In 2017, a political eternity ago, I gave a talk at the Obama Summit in Chicago. One section of it dealt with the question of so-called wokeness, which has in the years since between a national tinderbox, with more heat than light. I wanted to share that part of the speech today. The bottom line: Wokeness is good, actually. But we need a plan for the still-waking……

As our society fractures, some change-makers are drawn to visions of progress that don’t bother with suasion. I’m thinking especially of those of us who live in what we regard as the America of the future and who think of ourselves as “woke” — aware of injustice, committed to pluralism, willing to fight for it.

As wokeness has percolated from Black resistance into the cultural mainstream, it seems at times to have become a test you must pass to engage with the enlightened, not a gospel the enlightened aspire to spread. Either you buy our whole program, use all the right terms, and expertly check your privilege, or you’re irredeemable.

Is there space among the woke for the still-waking?

Today, there are millions who are ambivalent between the politics of inclusion and the politics of exclusion — not quite woke, not quite hateful.

Men unprepared by their upbringing to know their place in an equal world. White people unready for a new day in which Americanness no longer means whiteness. People anxious about change’s pace, about the death of certainties.

The woke have a choice about how to deal with the ambivalent. Do you focus on building a fortress to protect yourselves from them? Or a road to help them cross the mountain?

A common answer to this question is that the people angry at losing status don’t deserve any help. They’ve been helped.

I understand this response. It is hardly the fault of the rest of us that those wielding unearned privilege bristle at surrendering it. But it is our problem. The burden of citizenship is committing to your fellow citizens and accepting that what is not your fault may be your problem. And that, amid great change, it is in all of our interest to help people see who they will be on the other side of the mountaintop.

When we accept these duties, we may begin to notice the ways in which our very different pains rhyme. The African-American retiree in Brooklyn who fears gentrification is whitening her borough beyond recognition probably votes differently from the white foreman in Arizona who fears immigration is browning his state. Yet their worries echo.

When we learn to detect such resonances, we gain the understanding of other people that is required to win them over, and not simply to resist them.

It isn’t enough to be right about the world you want to live in. You gotta sell it, even to those you fear.

I find this rhetoric very appealing. Of course, we should try to persuade those who don’t agree with us, as they try to persuade us we are wrong.

But I think the appeal to reason is doomed. It would be like trying to persuade a devout follower of Trump that he is a con man. I have tried but never succeeded, just as they have tried to persuade me that Biden is demented, with no success.

The leaders of the anti-WOKE frenzy, like DeSantis and Rufo, are riding this crusade for power and money. They are not open to suasion.

Their followers tend not to be able to define what WOKE is. They just know they are against it. They assume that WOKE means grievance politics, and they want nothing to do with it.

I’ll see if Anand has some useful ideas about how to remove the stigma that rightwing rabble rousers have attached to the word WOKE. I certainly see nothing attractive in their antonyms: “I’m sleeping.” “I’m not awake.” “I have no interest in making the world a better place.” “I don’t care about social justice.” Who would espouse such views?

In 2009, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution scrutinized test score gains in the city’s public schools and discovered a number of schools where the gains seemed improbable. The story triggered intense scrutiny by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Eventually nearly three dozed educators were charged with changing answers on the standardized tests from wrong to right in hopes of winning a bonus and pleasing their superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall, who put pressure on all teachers to raise scores or be humiliated.

During Beverly Hall’s tenure, the Atlanta district was celebrated for its miraculous test score gains, and she won recognition as Superintendent of the Year. She was the poster educator supposedly proving the “success” of No Child Left Behind. What she actually proved was that NCLB created perverse incentives and ruined education.

The facade of success came tumbling down with the cheating scandal.

After the investigation, Beverly Hall was indicted, along with 34 teachers, principals, and others. All but one of those charged is black. Many pleaded guilty. Ultimately, 12 went to trial. One was declared innocent, and the other 11 were convicted of racketeering and other charges. Beverly Hall died before her case went to trial.

The case was promoted by then-Governor Sonny Perdue. Ironically, the rise in Atlanta’s test scores was used by the state of Georgia to win a $400 million Race to the Top award.

One of those who was punished for maintaining her innocence was Shani Robinson, who was a first-grade teacher. She is the co-author with journalist Anna Simonton of None of The Above: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal, Corporate Greed, and the Criminalization of Educators.

I reviewed their book on the blog. While reading her book, I became convinced that Shani was innocent. As a first-grade teacher, she was not eligible for a bonus. Her students took practice tests, and their scores did not affect the school’s rating. Yet she was convicted under the federal racketeering statute for corrupt activities intended to produce financial gain. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), was written to prosecute gangsters, not school teachers. Her conviction was a travesty.

Investigators offered Shani and other educators a deal: Plead guilty and you can go free. Or, accuse another teacher and you can go free. She refused to do either. She maintained that she was innocent and refused to accuse anyone else. Shani was accused by a teacher who won immunity. Despite the lack of any evidence that she changed scores, she was convicted.

Two Atlanta lawyers wrote a blog post in 2020 describing the Atlanta cheating trial as a legal outage:

The Atlanta Public Schools (APS) “cheating” scandal is a textbook example of overcriminalization and prosecutorial discretion gone amok, compounded by an unjust sentence of first-time offenders to serve years in prison. It is a glaring illustration of a scorched-earth prosecutorial mindset that has sparked a movement of reform-minded prosecutors nationwide — one which has yet to be embraced in Atlanta.

Just this past week, the six remaining educators who have insisted on their innocence went before the same judge who found them guilty. Their public defender asked to be excused from the case because he thought it was a conflict of interest to represent all six defendants. The original prosecutor, Fani Willis, continues to believe the six educators should be imprisoned. Willis is now prosecuting the case of whether former President Trump interfered in Georgia’s election in 2020.

The six educators who insist they are innocent have lived in a state of suspended animation for more than a decade. They have not gone to prison, yet. They have lost their reputations, their jobs, their teaching licenses.

They hoped that Judge Baxter might use the hearing to dismiss their case. Shani asked me to write a letter supporting her. I did.

It didn’t matter. Judge Baxter decided that the defendants should get a new public defender and return for another hearing. The case has already cost millions of dollars and is the longest-running trial in the history of the state.

The judge ordered them to return to court with their new lawyers or public defenders on March 16. At that time, the entire appeals process might start again and take years to conclude.

I contacted my friend Edward Johnson in Atlanta to ask him what he thought. Ed is a systems thinker and a sharp critic of the Atlanta Public Schools‘ leadership, which is controlled by corporate reformers who make the same mistakes again and again instead of learning from them.

Ed wrote me:

Prosecuting teachers and administers was morally wrong to begin with. Continuing to prosecute any of them is doubly morally wrong. Teachers and administers were the real victims of Beverly Hall. So prosecuting them means being willfully blind to ever wanting to learn truths about anything that would help Atlanta avoid doing a Beverly Hall all over again.

I agree.

A Florida judge threw out a lawsuit that Donald Trump filed against Hillary Clinton and fined Trump’s lawyers nearly $1 million.

A federal judge in South Florida who threw out Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats over the 2016 election campaign slammed the former president’s attorneys with legal fees and costs totaling nearly $1 million for filing a “completely frivolous” complaint against them.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks on Thursday ruled in his sanctions order that lawyer Alina Habba and her law firm Habba Madaio & Associates must pay $937,989.39 in attorneys’ fees and costs to the lawyers for Clinton and 30 other plaintiffs in the case. Middlebrooks had dismissed Trump’s lawsuit last year.

Middlebrooks concluded the suit was a bad-faith use of the federal court system, in which Trump’s lawyers echoed his allegations that Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and others orchestrated a “Russia Hoax” that falsely portrayed Trump in a conspiracy with the Russians to meddle in the 2016 election campaign. Clinton lost the election to Trump, who was investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller but was not charged with a crime after Mueller found that the Russian government meddled in the U.S. presidential campaign.

In the lawsuit filed in South Florida, Trump’s lawyers claimed that Clinton and other major Democrats had “orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hope of destroying his life, his political career, and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton.”

Middlebrooks, responding to the defense lawyers’ motion for sanctions, found that “this case should never have been brought.”

“Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start,” Middlebrooks wrote in a scathing 46-page sanctions order. “No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.” The judge alluded to the “telltale signs” of Trump’s “playbook”: “Provocative and boastful rhetoric; a political narrative carried over from rallies; attacks on political opponents and the news media; disregard for legal principles and precedent; and fundraising and payments to lawyers from political action committees.”

“Thirty-one individuals and entities were needlessly harmed in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative,” Middlebrooks concluded. “A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm.”

Trump’s lawyers will appeal. However, after the Florida ruling, Trump dropped his $250 million lawsuit against New York State Attorney General Letitia James. His lawyers must have persuaded him that they did not want to risk their own firm’s assets.

Read more at:

In other Florida news, another federal judge ruled against Governor DeSantis for firing the elected state attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. DeSantis has already named a replacement for Warren. So Warren wins the case but does not get his job back. DeSantis fired Warren because he signed a statement saying that he would not prosecution for “abortion crimes.” DeSantis accused Warren of being “woke,” which he cannot tolerate.

Despite concluding that Gov. Ron DeSantis violated the Florida Constitution and the First Amendment when he suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren last year, a federal judge ruled Friday that he didn’t have the power to restore Warren to office.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found that DeSantis suspended Warren based on the allegation that the state attorney had blanket policies not to prosecute certain kinds of cases. ”The allegation was false,” Hinkle wrote in a ruling issued Friday morning.

“Mr. Warren’s well-established policy, followed in every case by every prosecutor in the office, was to exercise prosecutorial discretion at every stage of every case. Any reasonable investigation would have confirmed this.” Yet Hinkle concluded that the U.S. Constitution prohibits a federal court from awarding the kind of relief Warren seeks, namely to be restored to office.

Read more at:

Historian Heather Cox Richardson reflects on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. We now look on him as a hero, but during his lifetime, he was treated shamefully by many whites, and militant African-Americans scorned him as well, preferring the angry approach of Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X. Dr. King was principled and fearless. He faced death daily, and he never back down. It is usually forgotten that he was assassinated in Memphis while there to support striking sanitation workers, who were trying to organize a union. He knew that unions offered the best protection for working people. White conservatives who fraudulently praise him now, claiming that racism is a thing of the past and should not be taught or discussed (so that everyone can be judged by “the content of their character, not the color of their skin”), oppose everything he fought and died for.

You hear sometimes that, now that we know the sordid details of the lives of some of our leading figures, America has no heroes left.

When I was writing a book about the Wounded Knee Massacre, where heroism was pretty thin on the ground, I gave that a lot of thought. And I came to believe that heroism is neither being perfect, nor doing something spectacular. In fact, it’s just the opposite: it’s regular, flawed human beings, choosing to put others before themselves, even at great cost, even if no one will ever know, even as they realize the walls might be closing in around them.

It means sitting down the night before D-Day and writing a letter praising the troops and taking all the blame for the next day’s failure upon yourself, in case things went wrong, as General Dwight D. Eisenhower did.

It means writing in your diary that you “still believe that people are really good at heart,” even while you are hiding in an attic from the men who are soon going to kill you, as Anne Frank did.

It means signing your name to the bottom of the Declaration of Independence in bold print, even though you know you are signing your own death warrant should the British capture you, as John Hancock did.

It means defending your people’s right to practice a religion you don’t share, even though you know you are becoming a dangerously visible target, as Sitting Bull did.

Sometimes it just means sitting down, even when you are told to stand up, as Rosa Parks did.

None of those people woke up one morning and said to themselves that they were about to do something heroic. It’s just that, when they had to, they did what was right.

On April 3, 1968, the night before the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a white supremacist, he gave a speech in support of sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. Since 1966, King had tried to broaden the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality into a larger movement for economic justice. He joined the sanitation workers in Memphis, who were on strike after years of bad pay and such dangerous conditions that two men had been crushed to death in garbage compactors.

After his friend Ralph Abernathy introduced him to the crowd, King had something to say about heroes: “As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about.”

Dr. King told the audience that, if God had let him choose any era in which to live, he would have chosen the one in which he had landed. “Now, that’s a strange statement to make,” King went on, “because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around…. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” Dr. King said that he felt blessed to live in an era when people had finally woken up and were working together for freedom and economic justice.

He knew he was in danger as he worked for a racially and economically just America. “I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter…because I’ve been to the mountaintop…. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

People are wrong to say that we have no heroes left.

Just as they have always been, they are all around us, choosing to do the right thing, no matter what.

Wishing you all a day of peace for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2023.


Dr. King’s final speech:

Ellie Honig and friends have a podcast called Cafe Insider. It offers insights into current politics. In this free edition, the question is why Attorney General Merrick Garland is moving so slowly to prosecute the planners of the 1/6 insurrection, one of the biggest federal crimes in U.S. history.

Note From Elie: DOJ and The Cost of Getting There Second


Featured Image

Cassidy Hutchinson is sworn in by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol on June 28, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

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Dear Reader,

Cassidy Hutchinson is the perfect witness for a potential prosecution of Donald Trump. She had insider access as an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; she was inside the West Wing during the frantic days leading up to January 6, and then as the Capitol attack went down that fateful afternoon, two years ago today. Her testimony is damning to Trump and others, and is corroborated in key respects by independent evidence. She is a compelling figure, at once likable, sympathetic, and believable. She is a prosecutor’s dream.

Also: Cassidy Hutchinson lied to federal investigators, under penalty of perjury.

This is not a matter of opinion or debate. It is a fact, openly admitted now by Hutchinson herself. And it’s not even Hutchinson’s fault, not entirely. I place much of the blame on Justice Department prosecutors who twiddled their thumbs for far too long and let themselves get beaten to the punch by the January 6 Committee. This is the cost of DOJ’s dilatory, meandering, hand-wringing approach to its investigation of the real power sources behind the coup attempt. This is the cost of getting there second.

During the first year-and-a-half or so after January 6, the Justice Department focused its prosecutorial efforts on the people who physically stormed the Capitol. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed at his February 2021 confirmation hearing to “begin with the people on the ground and we work our way up.”

Of course, DOJ had to prosecute those who breached the Capitol and, for the most part, the feds have done an admirable job on these 900-plus cases.

The problem, however, was with Garland’s bureaucratic, bottom-up approach. Yes, prosecutors sometimes do start at ground level and work up the chain of command – but aggressive prosecutors know you don’t have to do it that way. In fact, circumstances sometimes give prosecutors a direct shot at the upper echelons of power, and there’s no reason to refrain from going after the bosses until after you’re done with the riff-raff. To put it in concrete terms: DOJ absolutely could have identified and talked to Hutchinson, Pat Cipollone, Marc Short, and other key White House insiders back in, say, mid-2021. The Justice Department has now spoken with all these folks, and other well-situated witnesses, but it didn’t get around to them until mid- to late-2022.

In the meantime, while DOJ was focused exclusively on the guys in face paint and rhino horns, the January 6 Committee – armed with less powerful investigative tools and resources– got to Hutchinson first. In February 2022 – before she gave her blockbuster, nationally broadcast testimony in June 2022 – she testified behind closed doors. The Committee asked Hutchinson whether she knew anything about a dispute on January 6 between Trump and Secret Service agents, who refused his command to take him to the Capitol. Hutchinson testified that she had heard of no such thing. At this point, Hutchinson was represented by a lawyer named Stefan Passantino, a former Trump White House ethics lawyer (yes: ethics) who was being paid by Trump’s “Save America” political action committee. (Put a pin in this; we’ll get back to Passantino in a bit).

This testimony by Hutchinson, given under penalty of perjury, was false. Months later, in June 2022, she testified publicly that she had heard that Trump had lashed out physically and verbally at Secret Service agents, at one point physically lunging for the steering wheel of the presidential SUV. In a subsequent deposition in September 2022, Hutchinson admitted that she had lied to the Committee the first time around. After her original false testimony, Hutchinson was racked with worry; she said to Passantino, “Stefan, I’m f****d. I just lied… I lied. I lied, I lied, I lied.” (That’s four “I lieds,” for those keeping count.)

There are perfectly understandable and defensible reasons why Hutchinson lied in her first deposition. As she later explained to the Committee, she was under enormous personal and financial pressure to hew to the party line and avoid testifying in any way that might harm Trump. According to Hutchinson, Passantino reinforced that perception, telling her that, “We just want to focus on protecting the President.” Worse, Hutchinson testified that when she told Passantino during prep sessions about the incident between Trump and the Secret Service, Passantino told her, “No, no, no, no, no… We don’t want to go there. We don’t want to talk about that.” (That’s five “nos,” for those keeping count.) Passantino said she could simply claim she did not recall, and there’s no way the Committee could know what she did or did not remember. Passantino contests Hutchinson’s account and starkly denies any wrongdoing.

While this was all going down, Garland was asleep at the wheel. When Hutchinson testified publicly in June 2022, federal prosecutors reportedly were “astonished” as they sat on their couches, watching on television along with the rest of us in the general public.

So here’s the problem now for DOJ (and the Fulton County DA). Hutchinson, as vital a witness as she is, is also damaged goods. She’s probably not fatally undermined but, make no mistake, defense lawyers will have a field day cross-examining her:

You lied to the Committee, didn’t you? (Yes)

You knew you were testifying to the United States House of Representatives, right? (I knew that)

And you knew you were testifying under penalty of perjury, right? (That’s right)

Just like you’re under penalty of perjury now at this trial? (Yes).

But you lied. (Correct)

You knew you could get prosecuted and go to federal prison if you lied, didn’t you? (I did)

Yet you lied, anyway. (Yes)

“I lied, I lied, I lied, I lied.” Those were your words. (Right)

By the way: you haven’t been prosecuted for perjury, have you? Even though you lied? (No, I haven’t)

These prosecutors did you a favor. They could have thrown you in prison, but they gave you a free pass, didn’t they? (Well, I guess I haven’t been charged with anything)

But you did commit perjury. (I suppose so)

Again: I find Hutchinson, on the whole, to be remarkably credible. I believe the substance of her testimony, and I believe that she lied only because of pressure applied by Passantino and others in Trumpworld. But there’s no denying it: this line of cross-examination will hurt.

Yes, Hutchinson has a plausible explanation why she originally lied to the Committee. I’ve seen plenty of witnesses in her situation, and it’s common and understandable for a person who feels financial or political or personal pressure to shade the truth. Prosecutors will surely make this argument if they ever call Hutchinson as a witness and need to rehabilitate her. But it’s an unforced error by DOJ. The Justice Department got beat to the punch, and now they needlessly have to fight a battle over Hutchinson’s credibility. By their inaction, Justice Department prosecutors have handed defense lawyers a gift.

Garland boosters sometimes argue: oh, but he is the humble tortoise, the slow but steady technician who lacks flash but wins the race in the end. Sounds reassuring, but this is apologist pablum. Speed absolutely matters. There’s a reason why prosecutors fight like mad to get to key witnesses first, and then protect them against having to testify in other settings: to prevent a Hutchinson-like scenario where, through no real fault of the witness herself, she winds up giving testimony that undermines her credibility down the line.

As I’ve noted many times in this space, prosecutors may still indict Trump, someday. But Garland’s own delay will make the ultimate job – securing a conviction – even more difficult than it needed to be.

Stay Informed,


It gets tiresome to read about the cheats, liars, grifters, and dishonorable people who rise to wealth and power. Thus it is a relief to read about a young woman who had neither wealth nor power, but something far more powerful: a moral core. A sure sense of right and wrong. Principles. Others could boldly lie or feign ignorance when testifying under oath. She couldn’t do it. She wanted to be able to look herself in the mirror every day without grimacing.

Ruth Marcus, the deputy editor of The Washington Post, wrote about her, a woman with more wealth and power than those she served because she has a clear conscience.

After I read the column below, I read the transcript of Cassidy’s interview with the January 6 Committee. She goes through the details of how she changed from a loyal partisan of Trump world to a renegade, more concerned with telling the truth than pleasing her handlers. She was without a job for a year, and she relied on a Trump world lawyer. He advised her to say as little as possible in answer to the Committee’s questions and to answer whenever possible, “I don’t recall.” He and others in Trump’s entourage promised to get her a good job, to take care of her, as long as she protects the team. They flattered her and told her that she’s doing a good job, she’s a member of the family, and they will always have her back. So much of it sounds like something out of The Sopranos. She wants to please them, but she also wants to tell the truth. At one point, as she is doing her best to please them, she admits that she is “disgusted” with herself.

A cynic might wonder why she had so many qualms about lying for a president who lied repeatedly every day. But then you remind yourself that she’s a young kid, not long out of college, working in a dream job. Of course she wanted to please her superiors in Trump world. Of course she was afraid that they would destroy her if she defected. But somewhere inside her was a moral core that required her to tell the truth.

Marcus wrote:

Cassidy Hutchinson knew better than to put herself in debt to what she called “Trump world.” As she would later testify, “Once you are looped in, especially financially with them, there is no turning back.”

But Hutchinson, who witnessed the final days of the Trump White House from her all-access perch as an aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee. The deadline for turning over documents was looming, and Hutchinson was, she said, “starting to freak out.” One lawyer she consulted said he could assist — then demanded a $150,000 retainer.

So, the young aide, out of work since Donald Trump had left office a full year earlier, initially decided to turn to Trump world for help. Which is how she came to receive a phone call from Stefan Passantino, previously a lawyer in the Trump White House counsel’s office.

“We have you taken care of,” he told Hutchinson. When she asked who would be paying the bills, Passantino demurred — this despite legal ethics rules that let attorneys accept payment from third parties but only with the “informed consent” of their client.

“If you want to know at the end, we’ll let you know, but we’re not telling people where funding is coming from right now,” Hutchinson, in her deposition, recalled him saying. “Like, you’re never going to get a bill for this, so if that’s what you’re worried about.”

If Hutchinson’s live testimony before the select committee was riveting, her deposition testimony, taken several months later and released Thursday, is a page-turner: The Godfather meets John Grisham meets “All the President’s Men.” Before, we could only imagine how frightening the situation must have been for the 20-something Trump staffer. Now, we can read of her frantic search for help, and her terror as she contemplated telling the truth.

It is a tale, at least in Hutchinson’s telling, of Trump allies dangling financial support in exchange for unyielding loyalty. “We’re gonna get you a really good job in Trump world. You don’t need to apply other places,” Passantino assured Hutchinson. “We’re gonna get you taken care of. We’re going to keep you in the family.” The goal, as he set it out, was clear: “We just want to focus on protecting the President.”

It’s a story of meek compliance enforced by fear of consequences — and menacing admonitions to remain on board. “They will ruin my life, Mom, if I do anything they don’t want me to do,” Hutchinson told her mother when she offered congratulations about finally securing a lawyer.

The night before her second interview with the committee, an aide to Meadows called Hutchinson about her former boss: “Mark wants me to let you know that he knows you’re loyal and he knows you’ll do the right thing tomorrow and that you’re going to protect him and the boss. You know, he knows that we’re all on the same team and we’re all a family.”

Most vividly, it is a chilling account of questionable legal ethics practiced by Passantino who, in a plot twist worthy of a Hollywood scriptwriter, was the Trump White House’s chief ethics officer. Passantino is depicted repeatedly advising Hutchinson to fall back on an asserted failure to remember anything. “The less you remember, the better.”

Except Hutchinson did remember — and quite a lot. Such as the incident in the presidential limousine, as related to Hutchinson by deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, in which an enraged Trump allegedly lunged at his lead Secret Service agent when he refused to take the president to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

When Hutchinson mentioned this episode to Passantino shortly before her first interview with the committee, “he’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. We don’t want to go there. We don’t want to talk about that.’” The committee, he said, “have no way of knowing that. … But just because he told you doesn’t mean that you need to share it with them.”

Deposition prep with Passantino seemed confined less to reviewing the facts than to instructing the witness in the art of declining to disclose them. “He was like, ‘Well, if you had just overheard conversations that happened, you don’t need to testify to that,’” Hutchinson said.

“Stefan never told me to lie,” she told the committee. “He specifically told me, ‘I don’t want you to perjure yourself, but “I don’t recall” isn’t perjury. They don’t know what you can and can’t recall.’” Hutchinson pressed him on this matter. “I said, ‘But, if I do recall something but not every little detail, Stefan, can I still say I don’t recall?’ And he had said, ‘Yes.’”

A week later, appearing before the panel, Hutchinson found herself peppered with questions about the Trump limousine incident. She kept saying she hadn’t heard anything like that — and Passantino sat silently by as his client offered testimony he knew to be false.

“I just lied,” a rattled Hutchinson told Passantino during a break. “And he said, ‘They don’t know what you know, Cassidy. They don’t know that you can recall some of these things. So you saying “I don’t recall” is an entirely acceptable response to this.’”

No, no, no. Lawyers advise their clients not to volunteer information — that’s appropriate. They instruct them to give limited answers, confined to the precise scope of the question — that’s appropriate, too.

But lawyers — at least lawyers who want to keep their law license — do not provide the kind of counsel that Hutchinson describes. There is no “overheard” or “I don’t recall” loophole if, in fact, you did hear something and you do remember it. Ominously for Passantino, the deposition transcript reveals that Hutchinson provided the same information to the Justice Department.

Passantino, who has taken a leave of absence from his law firm to “deal with the distraction of this matter,” said in a statement that he represented Hutchinson “honorably, ethically, and fully consistent with her sole interests as she communicated them to me” and believed she “was being truthful and cooperative with the Committee throughout the several interview sessions in which I represented her.”

In the end, Hutchinson decided she could not accept such advice and still look at herself in the mirror. So, she dumped Passantino and decided to spill what she knew to congressional investigators.

“To be blunt, I was kind of disgusted with myself,” Hutchinson said. “I became somebody I never thought that I would become.”

To read her deposition is to wonder: What do the others in the Trump crowd see when they look in the mirror?

Like Robert Hubbell, I have been perplexed about the statements on news stories that police are trying to identify the motive of the man who broke into the Pelosi home, shouting “Where’s Nancy?” and attacked her husband.

Rightwing media and prominent figures such as Don Trump Jr. have spread lies (amplified by Elon Musk), but the law authorities know what happened and they are charging the assailant with a long list of felonies.

I’m not putting the quote into italics so that you can see Hubbell’s use of italics.

Hubbell writes:

The attempted assassination of Speaker Nancy Pelosi has struck at the heart of America’s political dysfunction and mass delusion. Major media outlets are going out of their way to caution that “the assailant’s motives are unknown” and limiting their description of what occurred to “an attack on Paul Pelosi” without acknowledging that the intended target was the person third-in-line for the presidency of the US. Right-wing media is in full conspiracy mode, trafficking in wild and baseless claims that are insulting, defamatory, and offensive to a grieving family and a severely wounded victim. Elon Musk inflamed the situation by tweeting and deleting a bogus “opinion” article from a media outlet known for peddling bizarre conspiracy theories, e.g., that Hillary Clinton died before the 2016 election and her “body double” debated Trump.

          At a time when the focus should be on the recovery of the victim, the safety of Speaker Pelosi, and the hate speech that provoked the attack, the media seems to be talking about nearly everything and anything else. It is maddening and sickening.

          First, as to the attack on Paul Pelosi: The assailant illegally entered the Pelosi home armed with a hammer, zip ties, duct tape, and a “list of people he wanted to target.” The assailant, David Depape, found Paul Pelosi asleep in an upstairs bedroom and confronted him, demanding to know “Where’s Nancy?”  Paul Pelosi engaged the unknown intruder in conversation and managed to surreptitiously dial 9-1-1. Pelosi kept the line open so an operator could hear the exchange in which Paul Pelosi signaled that the was in peril without saying those words—to avoid provoking Depape. Pelosi’s strategy worked, giving police enough time to arrive and capture Depape as he and Pelosi were struggling to gain control over Depape’s hammer.  

          Second, erroneous reporting by a local Fox News affiliate in San Francisco included details that were later retracted—but not before the falsehoods spread like wildfire on Twitter. A right-wing website in Santa Monica that frequently publishes falsehoods ran an “opinion” piece on Saturday that was clearly labeled as opinion (using the abbreviation IMHO—”in my humble opinion”). The author “opined” a wild scenario that I won’t describe (although Washington Post and New York Timesrepeated it in detail). Key details of the “opinion” piece were later explicitly refuted by prosecutors in San Francisco. For clarity, Depape illegally entered the Pelosi home with a list of “targets” and a hammer, duct tape, and zip ties. Depape was not previously known to Paul Pelosi, who was asleep in an upstairs room when Depape broke into the house. And reporting by the Fox affiliate about the state of dress of the assailant was later retracted.

          Third, many right-wing disinformation specialists immediately began claiming that the attack was a “false flag” operation designed to affect the midterms.

          Finally, Elon Musk then tweeted a link to the baseless “opinion” piece that speculated about what “might” have happened preceding the break-in. Musk deleted the tweet shortly thereafter, but not before it was exposed to his 120 million followers. The damage was done. No amount of truth-telling or retractions by reckless Fox affiliates will overcome the momentum created by Musk’s tweet. See NYTimesElon Musk, in a Tweet, Shares Link From Site Known to Publish False News and WaPoPaul Pelosi attack prompts Elon Musk and political right to spread misinformation.

          In short order, Elon Musk and a reckless Fox affiliate converted a near-miss national tragedy into a cesspool of disinformation and delusion. In the process, the Pelosi family is being subjected to a second trauma that may be greater than the original assassination attempt and injuries suffered by Paul Pelosi.

           It is vital that we speak the truth about the cause and nature of the attack.

          As to the cause, there is a direct line between the hate speech and coded incitement to violence that has become accepted in the Republican Party. Marjorie Taylor Greene said that Speaker Pelosi had committed a crime “punishable by death”—a tweet greeted by a collective yawn by GOP leadership in the House. But the dog whistle attacks on Speaker Pelosi have been occurring for decades. See VoxRepublicans demonized Nancy Pelosi long before the attack on her husband.

          Max Boot has it right in this essay in WaPoDon’t blame ‘both sides.’ The right is driving political violence. Boot writes,

There is little doubt about what is driving political violence: the ascendance of Trump. The former president and his followers use violent rhetoric of extremes: Trump calls President Biden an “enemy of the state,” attacks the FBI as “monsters,” refers to the “now Communist USA” and even wrote that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a “DEATH WISH” for disagreeing with him. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has expressed support for executing Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats.

          As to the nature of the attack, major media outlets are missing the point. In the main, the incident is being described as “an assault on Paul Pelosi.” That description is true, but misleading. Depape was not looking for Paul Pelosi, but for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The fact that Nancy Pelosi was not home at the time does not change the essential nature of the attack or its intended victim, which makes it an attempted assassination. Why major media outlets seem to be minimizing the true nature of the crime is puzzling. Indeed, as many readers noted, the NYTimes reported the incident “below the fold” in its Saturday edition. Would the same low-key coverage have been given if the intended victim was a former president whose spouse was savagely beaten when the assailant could not find the former president after breaking into their home?

Also puzzling is the extraordinary caution of media outlets that make the point that Depape’s “motives are unknown.” Really? Journalists spend all day every day speculating about the outcome of the 2022 election, but they are unable to make a reasonable inference that Depape was looking to assassinate Nancy Pelosi given that he broke into her home, was calling “Where’s Nancy?”, and was armed with a hammer, duct tape, and zip ties? Oh, and there’s the fact that he posted conspiracy theories about 2020 election and the January 6thattack.