We still don't know what criminal charges Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg might be preparing against the seditionist Donald Trump, after a long-running investigation of Trump's hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. Current speculation ranges from campaign finance violations to witness tampering, but Trump himself appears to be convinced there's something there he's going to be indicted over and both Trump and top Republicans have been focusing their preemptive defense on issuing threats against Bragg while using antisemitic white nationalist tropes to rile the same violence-minded supporters Trump used in his attempted coup against the U.S. government.
Now House Republicans are scurrying to obstruct Bragg's probe at the last possible moment. Trump-allied Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer, and Bryan Steil are demanding Bragg turn over all information about his investigation and that he testify before Congress posthaste. They don't know what charges Bragg may or may not bring any more than we do, but that didn't stop them from weighing in with a four-page letter speculating on how whatever Trump's crime was, he didn't do it, and it's too late to do anything about it, and How Dare You Sir.
There's a whole lot to say about this letter, and that's without even getting into Jim Jordan's long history of covering up other people's sex crimes or his recent refusal to abide by a House subpoena asking him to explain his own actions in support of Trump's attempted coup. Jordan has spent his career covering up other people's crimes, most of them Donald Trump's, and isn't going to stop now.
A sizable chunk of Jordan's argument was cribbed, per footnotes, from the Trump-defending ultra-hack Jonathan Turley, a clownish and Giuliani-ish figure known for Lionel Hutzing his way through arguments that insist Trump cannot be held accountable for anything but each of Trump's proclaimed enemies ought to be indicted for everything. Anyone quoting Jonathan Turley for any reason other than to dunk on him is, by definition, not a serious person.
Jordan and the others are vaguely premising their "scrutiny" on "how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies." Not that it matters, but Bragg's office doesn't appear to have gotten any federal funds here.
What stands out most, however, is that House Republicans don't even pretend to know what charges Bragg is considering against Trump, so the whole letter is filled with their important-sounding outrage over Bragg possibly indicting Trump for the things Jonathan effing Turley thinks Trump shouldn't be charged for. Jordan and his fellow House committee chair-creatures threw four pages of spaghetti against the wall, and by God, at least some of it has to stick, right?
Nope. That part is all clearly performative. What Jim Jordan is really after is what former Rep. Devin Nunes excelled at; House Republicans are demanding Bragg turn over every last document in the case against Trump so that:
1) They can comb through the documents looking for possible Trump defenses without having to worry about whether those defenses would stand up in an actual courtroom.
2) They can determine how best to publicly target witnesses, prosecutors, and others involved with the case, as Jordan and the others publicly targeted named FBI agents and others during Trump's impeachment probe.
3) They can leak documents to Trump that outline as much of the prosecution's case and evidence as possible, allowing Trump's latest teams of mall lawyers an early map of the case.
Ol' Jim Jordan and his fellow sedition-backing Republicans are acting as Trump's moles on this one. Again. Still.
This time, it's not a House impeachment probe that Jim Jordan and other House Republicans are attempting to thwart. It's an active criminal investigation, with a grand jury and everything, and House Republicans are attempting obstruction of justice from a perch in which, at least in theory, they can claim legal immunity while doing the obstruction. It's not likely House Republicans can intimidate Bragg's office into reversing itself, when it comes to indicting Donald Trump for even one of his many seemingly criminal acts. But they can, and will, turn prosecutors into the newest public targets for their fascist-minded base.
To repeat, Republicanism is a fascist movement. Whatever it might have been at some past point is beside the point; at the moment, Jordan and the others are firmly of the stance that laws do not apply to in-movement figures but must be enforced with brutality against out-movement enemies. Now they're willing to dip down into individual courthouses to sabotage cases brought against their allies—while claiming it's their own movement that government is being "weaponized" against.
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Everyone is beyond tired of sucky fundraising emails foretelling DOOM, but there's a better way. Joshua Karp and Jane Hughes join us on this week's episode of The Downballot to tell us how their new firm, Liftoff Campaigns, is breaking down the traditional silo between communications and digital outreach so that donors are treated like people, not piggybanks. Our guests explain why it's important for every candidate to establish their brand and earn the trust of their supporters rather than pummel them straight away with requests for money, and how best to do so.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss a new effort in Ohio to qualify an amendment for the November ballot that would guarantee abortion rights; the astonishing spending ratio between the two candidates running in Wisconsin's April 4 election for state Supreme Court; why GOP donors in Louisiana are desperately trying to boost an alternative candidate for governor to nutbar Attorney General Jeff Landry; and a brand-new data set from Daily Kos Elections that lets you see how every congressional and legislative district overlaps with one another and with every county in the country.