Archives for category: Trump

Dana Milbank knows that the Republican Party is morphing into an authoritarian stance, but they prefer not to called fascists. No, he says, their brand of authoritarianism goes back about two thousand years.

He writes:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: They have come to resurrect Caesar.

MAGA Republican leaders take umbrage at being accused of “semi-fascism,” which is understandable: Twentieth-century dictators such as Mussolini and the German guy with the mustache gave fascism a bad name. But the MAGA crowd isn’t disavowing totalitarianism, per se. It’s just their taste in authoritarian figures skews toward the classics. They’re old-school — 1st century B.C. old. “Hail, Caesar” goes down so much easier than “Heil Hitler.”

J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, is one resident of this newly platted Caesarian section, as a recent profile in the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed. It referred to a year-old interview Vance gave on a far-right podcast in which he spoke approvingly of Curtis Yarvin, a self-proclaimed monarchist who argues for an American Julius Caesar to take power.

“We are in a late republican period,” Vance said, referencing the era preceding Caesar’s dictatorship. “If we’re going to push back against it, we’re going to have to get pretty wild, and pretty far out there, and go in directions that a lot of conservatives right now are uncomfortable with.”
The podcast’s host, Jack Murphy, endorsed this sentiment, discussing possible “extra-constitutional” remedies to be taken “if we want to re-found the country.” (He told Vance he thought voting an “ineffectual” way to “rip out this leadership class.”)

Vance, who said he had been “radicalized” by the actions of “malevolent and evil” political opponents, described what “wild” actions he had in mind at another point in the podcast. He wants to “seize the institutions of the left” and purge political opponents with “de-Nazification, de-Ba’athification.”

Vance suggested that former president Donald Trump, once elected in 2024, should fire all civil servants and replace them with “our people,” defy court orders blocking such an illegal action, and then “do what Viktor Orban has done,” referring to the Hungarian dictator’s bans on certain topics from school curricula. Vance justified such “outside-the-box” authoritarian actions by reasoning that the United States is “far gone” and not “a real constitutional republic” anymore.
Hail, Caesar!

Vance is far from the only emperor-curious MAGA leader. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro called Mike Pence a “traitor to the American Caesar of Trump” because the former vice president refused to help overturn the 2020 election. Another former Trump adviser, Michael Anton, hosted a Claremont Institute podcast with Yarvin about the desirability of an “American Caesar.”

Meanwhile, various tactics that would qualify as “extra-constitutional” have been proliferating on the MAGA right.

This week, Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee confirmed during the lame-duck Republican Congress after the 2020 election, turned the bedrock American principle of equal justice on its head. Cannon, granting Trump’s request for a “special master” to shield the government documents hoarded at his residence, said Trump’s need for protection from “stigma” was “in a league of its own” because of his “former position as president.” A judge granting extraordinary legal powers to the man who appointed her to spare him “reputational harm”? Hail, Caesar!

Last week, the House Jan. 6 committee wrote to Trump ally Newt Gingrich, outlining how the former House speaker encouraged Trump TV ads promoting false election-fraud claims, and how he suggested a “call-to-action” to intimidate election officials. “The goal is to arouse the country’s anger,” Gingrich wrote to Trump advisers, at a time when election officials desperately feared violence. Hail, Caesar!

Some MAGA Republicans have a novel solution to resolve pesky constitutional restraints: Rewrite the Constitution. As Carl Hulse reports in the New York Times, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) introduced legislation seeking to compel Congress to call a constitutional convention — the first since the framers wrote it — to overhaul the United States’ founding document. The effort likely isn’t going anywhere, but it shows the contempt MAGA Republicans have for the constitutional order. Hail, Caesar!

Others in the MAGA movement simply reinterpret the Constitution to their own liking. County law-enforcement officials self-styling as “constitutional sheriffs” have assigned themselves power to decide what the law is, according to their own politics. One such sheriff in Michigan sought warrants in July to seize vote-counting machines to try to validate Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, Reuters reported last week. Armed lawmen going rogue to undermine elections? Hail, Caesar!

A few weeks from now, the Supreme Court will open its new term, in which it will decide whether to use a North Carolina case to allow state legislatures to redraw election maps — and potentially to overturn the outcome of elections and to disregard state constitutions — without any review by state courts. The high court blessing a radical legal theory that mocks the will of the voters? For MAGA Republicans, all roads lead to Roman imperialism.

Hail, Caesar!

You no doubt heard or saw or read that a three-judge federal appeals court threw out part of the ruling that barred federal investigators from using classified documents in Trump’s home. Two of the three judges were Trump appointees.

Blogger Ryan Grim explains what a setback this ruling was for District Judge Aileen Cannon, whose decision to appoint a special master to review thousands of documents and to bar federal investigators the power to use highly classified documents was puzzling to many legal experts.

There was no reason to believe that highly classified documents were Trump’s personal property or covered by executive privilege.

Grim writes:

You’ve probably seen by now that a federal appeals court has sided against former President Trump and allowed the government to start looking at its own classified information again. News reports have described the ruling as “strongly worded,” but I don’t think that really gets at it effectively. Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg used to write “strongly worded” opinions. This reads more like disappointed professors correcting a student who clearly hadn’t been doing the reading or paying attention in class.

Rather than engage in any sophisticated legal reasoning or deep exploration of precedent, the judges here – two appointed by Trump and one appointed by Obama – simply laid out how and why Judge Cannon wasn’t even remotely close to being right in appointing a “special master” to review these documents.

I won’t run through the full 29-page ruling, but here’s a fairly representative moment from it. In order to seize the power needed to appoint a special master, Cannon had to explain how Trump would be irreparably harmed if she didn’t intervene. What she came up with is head-scratching even to non-lawyers like me. The harm to Trump, she argued, is that he might be prosecuted.

On a law school test, you can imagine a professor reading an answer like that and shaking their head.

That’s just plain silly, writes Grim.

Nobody wants to be prosecuted, but the harm of prosecution doesn’t give you extraordinary rights like access to a special master. Can you imagine a defendant telling a judge they can’t show up for a court date because doing so could lead to irreparable harm, namely their own prosecution?

We recently learned that Josh Shapiro, Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennnsylvania, has endorsed vouchers.

One of our readers supplied an email for this “Democrat” who has embraced the Republican agenda for education. Josh Shapiro is a hypocrite. Real Democrats support public goods. Real Democrats care about the common good. Real Democrats fight privatization of what belongs to the public.

Here’s his email:, As a union public school teacher and a member of the democratic party I am absolutely outraged by your decision to endorse charter schools.

If you don’t know why you should not be supporting the same education policies as Donald Trump and Betsy Devos, then you have no business holding public office for the democratic party.

One of our readers who assumes the sobriquet “Democracy” posted the following comment. Like most people, I did not read the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Report on the 2016 election.

He/she writes:

From the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the 2016 election, volume five:

“the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election…Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign. Taken as a whole, Manafort’s highlevel access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat…Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president. Moscow’s intent was to harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process…While the GRU and WikiLeaks were releasing hacked documents, the Trump Campaign sought to maximize the impact of those leaks to aid Trump’s electoral prospects. Staff on the Trump Campaign sought advance notice about WikiLeaks releases, created messaging strategies to promote and share the materials in anticipation of and following their release, and encouraged further leaks. The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort.”

Click to access report_volume5.pdf

From The Washington Post, two days ago:

“Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them…Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location.”

“… the FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents unearthed in a court-approved search on Aug. 8…Among the 100-plus classified documents taken in August, some were marked ‘HCS,’ a category of highly classified government information that refers to ‘HUMINT Control Systems,’ which are systems used to protect intelligence gathered from secret human sources, according to a court filing.”

Trump is a traitor to the Constitution and the rule of law and he is a clear and present danger to the American democratic republic.

The Washington Post reported a new development in the media world. The influential and respected news site Politico was bought by a German billionaire who claims to be nonpartisan. But…

BERLIN — Months after his company bought Politico, Mathias Döpfner stood atop Axel Springer’s 19-story headquarters, gazing out at the double row of cobblestones that mark the outline of the demolished Berlin Wall, and explained his global ambitions. “We want to be the leading digital publisher in democracies around the world,” he said.

A newcomer to the community of billionaire media moguls, Döpfner is given to bold pronouncements and visionary prescriptions. He’s concerned that the American press has become too polarized — legacy brands like the New York Times and The Washington Post drifting to the left, in his view, while conservative media falls under the sway of Trumpian “alternative facts.” So in Politico, the fast-growing Beltway political journal, he sees a grand opportunity.

“We want to prove that being nonpartisan is actually the more successful positioning,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. He called it his “biggest and most contrarian bet.”

How exactly Döpfner, Axel Springer’s CEO, hopes to define nonpartisan journalism at an especially fragmented time for American politics is a question of intense interest as he aims to leave his mark on American media. His own politics have remained something of a mystery, too. But weeks before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, he sent a surprising message to his closest executives, obtained by The Washington Post:
“Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?”

Donald Trump may be the most litigious person in the United States. On March 24, 2022, Trump filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and various Democratic Party leaders for engaging in a conspiracy against him in 2016. The federal judge tossed the case out yesterday.

Believe me, this is a fun read. The judge is frankly mystified by the legal reasoning and the lack of evidence.

Here is the beginning:

Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on March 24, 2022, alleging that “the Defendants, blinded by political ambition, orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hopes of destroying his life, his political career and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton.” (DE 177, Am. Compl. ¶ 9). On this general premise, Plaintiff brings a claim for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), predicated on the theft of trade secrets,

Case 2:22-cv-14102-DMM Document 267 Entered on FLSD Docket 09/08/2022 Page 2 of 65
obstruction of justice, and wire fraud (Count I). He additionally brings claims for: injurious falsehood (Count III); malicious prosecution (Count V); violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) (Count VII); theft of trade secrets under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) (Count VIII); and violations of the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) (Count IX). The Amended Complaint also contains counts for various conspiracy charges and theories of agency and vicarious liability. (Counts II, IV, VI, and X–XVI).
Plaintiff’s theory of this case, set forth over 527 paragraphs in the first 118 pages of the Amended Complaint, is difficult to summarize in a concise and cohesive manner. It was certainly not presented that way. Nevertheless, I will attempt to distill it here.
The short version: Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants “[a]cting in concert . . . maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 1). The Defendants effectuated this alleged conspiracy through two core efforts. “[O]n one front, Perkins Coie partner Mark Elias led an effort to produce spurious ‘opposition research’ claiming to reveal illicit ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.” (Id. ¶ 3). To that end, Defendant Hillary Clinton and her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and lawyers for the Campaign and the Committee allegedly hired Defendant Fusion GPS to fabricate the Steele Dossier. (Id. ¶ 4). “[O]n a separate front, Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussman headed a campaign to develop misleading evidence of a bogus ‘back channel’ connection between e-mail servers at Trump Tower and a Russian- owned bank.” (Id.). Clinton and her operatives allegedly hired Defendant Rodney Joffe to exploit his access to Domain Name Systems (“DNS”) data, via Defendant Neustar, to investigate and ultimately manufacture a suspicious pattern of activity between Trump-related servers and a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin, Alfa Bank. (Id. ¶ 3). As a result of this “fraudulent

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evidence,” the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”) commenced “several large-scale investigations,” which were “prolonged and exacerbated by the presence of a small faction of Clinton loyalists who were well-positioned within the Department of Justice”—Defendants James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Kevin Clinesmith, and Bruce Ohr. (Id. ¶ 7). And while this was ongoing, the Defendants allegedly “seized on the opportunity to publicly malign Donald J. Trump by instigating a full-blown media frenzy.” (Id. ¶ 6). As a result of this “multi-pronged attack,” Plaintiff claims to have amassed $24 million in damages.1 (Id. ¶ 527).
Defendants now move to dismiss the Amended Complaint as “a series of disconnected political disputes that Plaintiff has alchemized into a sweeping conspiracy among the many individuals Plaintiff believes to have aggrieved him.” (DE 226 at 1). They argue that dismissal is warranted because Plaintiff’s claims are both “hopelessly stale”—that is, foreclosed by the applicable statutes of limitations—and because they fail on the merits “in multiple independent respects.” (Id. at 2). As they view it, “[w]hatever the utilities of [the Amended Complaint] as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit.” (Id.). I agree. In the discussion that follows, I first address the Amended Complaint’s structural deficiencies. I then turn to subject matter jurisdiction and the personal jurisdiction arguments raised by certain Defendants. Finally, I assess the sufficiency of the allegations as to each of the substantive counts.

In the latest retrieval of government documents, the FBI found a lode of material marked “top secret” and highly classified, according to this article byinvestigative reporters Devlin Barrett and Carol D. Leonnig. The Office of National Intelligence is currently reviewing the documents to determine to what extent the nation’s security was damaged by the removal of these documents from their properly guarded locations.

A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property.

Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.

Documents about such highly classified operations require special clearances on a need-to-know basis, not just top-secret clearance. Some special-access programs can have as few as a couple dozen government personnel authorized to know of an operation’s existence. Records that deal with such programs are kept under lock and key, almost always in a secure compartmented information facility, with a designated control officer to keep careful tabs on their location.

But such documents were stored at Mar-a-Lago, with uncertain security, more than 18 months after Trump left the White House.

After months of trying, according to government court filings, the FBI has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago this year: 184 in a set of 15 boxes sent to the National Archives and Records Administration in January, 38 more handed over by a Trump lawyer to investigators in June, and more than 100 additional documents unearthed in a court-approved search on Aug. 8.

We may never know the real answer to this question unless someone very close to Trump spills the beans. I have read many times or seen on TV interviews with Trump White House staff who said that Trump was not interested in intelligence briefings, that he seldom read the reports or the daily briefings, that he frequently ripped up important documents. Yet he took many boxes of documents with him when he left.

Some of the documents in the boxes that were retrieved in January and in August were classified as top secret. Some were marked HCS, meaning “Human Intelligence Control System.” Such documents identify sources who are our agents in other countries. Some folders marked”Classified” or “Top secret” were empty. Where were the contents?

The New York Times reported:


Mr. Trump and his defenders have claimed he declassified the material he took to Mar-a-Lago. But documents retrieved from him in January included some marked “HCS,” for Human Intelligence Control System. Such documents have material that could possibly identify C.I.A. informants, meaning a general, sweeping declassification of them would have been, at best, misguided.

“HCS information is tightly controlled because disclosure could jeopardize the life of the human source,” said John B. Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. “It would be reckless to declassify an HCS document without checking with the agency that collected the information to ensure that there would be no damage if the information were disclosed.”

In October 2021, the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials sent a cable to all of its overseas agencies warning that an unusually high number of CIA undercover agents had been captured and/or killed in recent years.

Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.

And Trump took home with him a huge number of highly sensitive documents that included some identifying human sources of information in other countries. Some of the top secret files were empty.

Hmmm. Does 2+2=4?

Why would he want those names? How valuable would they be to his friends in other countries? What were they worth? To whom?

One consistent feature in Trump’s life: it’s always about money.

Trump spoke in Philadelphia, supposedly to promote the candidacies of insurrectionist Douglas Mastriano for governor and snake-oil salesman Dr. Oz, Trump’s choice for Senate.

But he devoted most of his speech to his grievances about the past, his lie that he won the 2020 election, the FBI raid on his country club to recover top secret documents.. He even criticized Philadelphia. He almost forgot about the candidates.

David Frum writes in The Atlantic:

In 2016, Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump was a fool who could be baited with a tweet. This past Thursday night, in Philadelphia, Joe Biden upped the ante by asking, in effect: What idiot thing might the former president do if baited with a whole speech? On Saturday night, the world got its answer.

For the 2022 election cycle, smart Republicans had a clear and simple plan: Don’t let the election be about Trump. Make it about gas prices, or crime, or the border, or race, or sex education, or anything—anything but Trump. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016. He lost control of the House in 2018. He lost the presidency in 2020. He lost both Senate seats in Georgia in 2021. Republicans had good reason to dread the havoc he’d create if he joined the fight in 2022.

So they pleaded with Trump to keep out of the 2022 race. A Republican lawmaker in a close contest told CNN on August 19, “I don’t say his name, ever.”

Maybe the pleas were always doomed to fail. Show Trump a spotlight, and he’s going to step into it. But Republicans pinned their hopes on the chance that Trump might muster some self-discipline this one time, some regard for the interests and wishes of his partners and allies.

One of the purposes of Biden’s Philadelphia attack on Trump’s faction within the Republican Party was surely to goad Trump. It worked.

Yesterday, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump addressed a rally supposedly in support of Republican candidates in the state: Mehmet Oz for the Senate; the January 6 apologist Doug Mastriano for governor. This was not Trump’s first 2022 rally speech. He spoke in Arizona in July. But this one was different: so extreme, strident, and ugly—and so obviously provoked by Biden’s speech that this was whatled local news: “Donald Trump Blasts Philadelphia, President Biden During Rally for Doug Mastriano, Dr. Oz in Wilkes-Barre.”

The Miami Herald wrote about the numerous security breaches at Trump’s resort home, Mar-a-Lago, where he decided to store hundreds of classified and top-secret documents.

The club was the site of numerous trespassing incidents while Trump was in office. In 2017, a woman named Kelly Ann Weidman crept through the bushes on the northern side of the luxurious resort smeared banana on the windows of cars in the employee parking lot, typed “F**kUTrumpB” on a computer in the club’s Cloister Bar, and snatched balloons from the Grand Ballroom. She was loose on the property for roughly an hour.

The following year, a college kid visiting his grandparents in Palm Beach over Thanksgiving snuck through a tunnel that connects Mar-a-Lago’s beach club with the main property. “I wanted to see how far I could get,” he told a judge.

In March 2019, Mike Tyson wandered onto Mar-a-Lago through the same beachfront tunnel as a guest of billionaire Jeff Greene. Tyson entered the president’s estate without even presenting an ID, according to The Grifter’s Club, a book by Miami Herald reporters about Mar-a-Lago.

On the same day as Tyson, a Chinese businesswoman named Yujing Zhang entered Mar-a-Lago from the front, saying she was there for a charity event that she knew had been canceled. She was convicted of trespassing, although no espionage charges were brought against her, despite speculation that she was a foreign agent.

It was only after the Zhang incident that the Secret Service held mandatory sessions for club employees on counterintelligence.

In late 2019, a Chinese tourist named Lu Jing wandered onto Mar-a-Lago to take pictures. She was arrested for trespassing — but was acquitted on that charge after her lawyers pointed out that the club did not have “no trespassing” signs and that the entrance she accessed wasn’t guarded. Her trial revealed various details about security at Mar-a-Lago, including the location of several security cameras, the total size of the club’s security staff (13 guards), its apparent lack of a secure perimeter and the fact that staffers maintain daily lists of members and approved guests on digital tablet devices.

In 2020, opera singer Hannah Roemhild had a psychiatric episode and drove her rented SUV through security barriers outside Mar-a-Lago (she did not enter the property), leading Secret Service agents and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies to open fire. She was charged but found not guilty by reason of insanity. Beyond physical security, the club’s cyber security raised concerns during Trump’s presidency.

In 2018, anti-Trump activist Claude Taylor chartered a boat to take him and a giant, inflatable rat off the shores of Mar-a-Lago. They got close enough that Taylor said he could log onto the Palm Beach club’s unsecured WiFi network. That followed reporting in 2017 by ProPublica and Gizmodo that the club’s lightly secured WiFi networks could be easily penetrated by a hacker….

Trump was hosting Shinzo Abe for dinner at Mar-a-Lago in February 2017 — with members and guests present — when word broke that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. A singer performing for Trump near his table seemed to get the sense something was wrong. “Mr. President, I shouldn’t know this,” someone heard the performer say. Trump shrugged. “It’s just nukes,” the president said. “Sing us a song.”

At that same dinner, member Richard DeAgazio posted a photo to Facebook identifying the Trump aide carrying the so-called “nuclear football,” the briefcase that serves as a mobile command center from which the president can launch a nu­clear attack.

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