Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney and newly minted MSNBC contributor, said something cool just now on TRMS.
She described something called a Klein Conspiracy, and defined it as:
A conspiracy to impede the functioning of any department of government.
And my immediate next thought was, well, doesn’t that describe the entire Republicon Party?
McQuade suggested that that would include the administration of fair elections. Look how much proof we have for that. The interference with the HRC campaign in 2016 is not the only example:
didn’t work for Romney; Rs had to wait four years to get what they wanted
Look at all the proudly and openly admitted voter suppression that Rcon governors and secretaries of state and other functionaries have supported in Indiana, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington state: Greg Palast: The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters, August 2016 issue of Rolling Stone, and Wiki: Voter suppression in the United States. Why isn’t ALL of that actionable as an interference with the administration of free and fair elections?
Let’s also throw into this mix the refusal to vote on President Obama’s judicial nominees and the outright theft of the nomination process with respect to replacing Scalia.
Why isn’t that an open conspiracy to impede the functioning of the judicial branch of government, including the highest Court in the land?
Hell, let’s go all the way back to inauguration day 2009 when Rcon Senators met and decided they would deliberately obstruct every single piece of legislation proposed by Barack Obama.
Wasn’t that a deliberate conspiracy to impede the functioning of the entire executive branch?
And remember Republicons’ unprecedented use of the filibuster to shut down legislation during the Obama years? It was just winked at and tolerated by the press. Rcons laughed all the way to the bank while apparently there was no action that could be taken against them for deliberately impeding the functioning of the legislative branch?
So when Barbara McQuade taught me what a Klein conspiracy is, I had a wonderful flight of fancy, imagining every single obstructionist member of the Republicon party being indicted and tried and convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 371. Build new jails to hold them. They believe in private prisons, don’t they?
The courts have been kind of hazy on their definition of the Klein Conspiracy, limiting it pretty much to people who interfere with the tax collecting function of the Internal Revenue Service:
...[C]ourts took a broad interpretation of the phrase; it has been interpreted to prohibit one’s conspiracy to “impair or impede” the lawful functions of the federal government—so called “Klein Conspiracies.” Usually, the phrase has been used to litigate one’s acts of impairing the IRS’s ability to collect tax.
As mentioned, the courts took a broad interpretation. They captured conduct within this definition that is not a crime under other federal statutes. Is it true that making the IRS’s job harder is criminal?
Still, when I read this part my imagination started to run wild:
There are three elements to a Klein conspiracy: (1) the existence of an agreement to defraud or impede by dishonest means the IRS in its assessment or collection of tax; (2) the taxpayer knew of the agreement and voluntarily partook in the conspiracy; and (3) the conspirators committed an overt act to further a conspiracy.
I am not a lawyer, and I know this is crazy, but in this Rcon-remix imagining of a different kind of Klein Conspiracy, we know there was (1) an agreement to impede by dishonest means the ability of hundreds of thousands of people to vote, and impede the functioning of the executive branch while Barack Obama was president; and (2) the Senators and other Republicon operatives knew of the agreement and voluntarily (proudly! smugly!) partook in the conspiracy, and (3) the overt acts they committed in furtherance of this conspiracy are easily documented because they are all over the print and video news of those years.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just arrest them all for making Barack Obama’s job harder? Making the judiciary branch’s job harder? Making the Senate’s job harder? Wouldn’t it be cool if there were an actual illegality to charge them with for all their obstructionism? What a sweet fantasy! A glorious vision of expanding the idea of a Klein Conspiracy past the narrow IRS context and applying it to what Rcons have been doing as the Party of No. Just close your eyes... think of all the beautiful perp walks! Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock them up!
Unfortunately we are the reality-based party and as a result can’t create our own reality. Bummer.
And it’s not very likely that there would *ever* be a political environment in Congress or on the Courts liberal enough to hold accountable any of the usual suspects among Republicon leadership and make them pay some legal price for their participation in this political Klein Conspiracy.
Sigh. Back down to earth. Of course we can’t arrest them all. Of course we can’t lock them all up. We dream of a brand new start but we dream in the dark for most part. There’s nothing that can be done, and the Klein Conspiracy Party is just going to get away with it.
For a moment.
It was a lovely dream...
Link to the TBR archive: featuring 100 diaries in the first 100 days of the DJT administration
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