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Chief Justice Roberts refused to preside over Trump's second impeachment, Schumer reveals

January 26, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

When it became clear that the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump would take place after he was out of office, it raised a curious constitutional question that few had ever previously considered: Should Chief Justice John Roberts preside over the trial, as he did during the previous impeachment?

We recently got the answer: No. President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, will preside instead.

And in an interview on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow on Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed why for the first time.

“It was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside,” Schumer said, “and he doesn’t want to do it.”

Many had assumed that, as he was during Trump’s first impeachment trial, the chief justice would be obligated to preside. But a close reading of the U.S. Constitution suggests he is not.

“When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside,” the Constitution reads. The word “the” before “President” is crucial. Because while Trump is in some sense still “a president,” he is definitively not “the president.” Joe Biden is. Therefore, we can conclude there’s no obligation on the part of the chief justice to preside in Trump’s trial.

Schumer did seem to suggest that the chief justice may have presided over the trial, if he had so chosen. And nothing in the Constitution would appear to forbid that. But it’s not surprising that Roberts, believing he had an option under the constitution, would opt to sit the trial out. He is known for having a strong desire to keep the Supreme Court as apolitical as possible. During Trump’s first impeachment trial, he frequently looked uncomfortable and displeased with his obligation to preside.

There still remains a question of why the Leahy had undertaken the obligation to preside over the trial. The duty could have fallen to Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the president of the Senate. Leahy, the president pro tempore, only presides in her absence. And Harris may be required during the trial if she needs to cast any tie-splitting votes on procedural matters.

Trump and other critics of the impeachment process may point to the chief justice’s absence as a reason to discredit and dismiss the trial. But the constitutional analysis about his presence being unnecessary is clear-cut.

On Tuesday, 45 Senate Republicans voted to dismiss the trial entirely, arguing that former officials can no …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Fox News is now defending QAnon

January 26, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Supporters of the far-right QAnon conspiracy cult were among the extremists who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, inspiring national security experts to voice concerns about QAnon possibly making inroads in the military and law enforcement. But some pundits at Fox News, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, don’t view QAnon as a threat and are now defending the movement by equating criticism of QAnon with attacks on free speech.

Carlson, during one of his angry rants on Tuesday night, mocked the idea that QAnon is dangerous.

“The real threat is a forbidden idea,” Carlson said mockingly. “It’s something called QAnon.”

Carlson went on to show a collage of cable news clips describing QAnon’s extremism before suggesting that those attacking QAnon are promoting “tyranny.”

“No democratic government can ever tell you what to think,” Carlson told viewers. “Your mind belongs to you. It is yours and yours alone.”

This was a non-sequitur. The clips he had showed included media figures sharing fears and concerns about the belief system, not a call for the government to “tell you what to think.”

Carlson went on to denounce QAnon critics as a “mob of censors, hysterics and Jacobin destroyers, all working on behalf of entrenched power to take total control of everything.”

In a rant of her own, Ingraham showed a clip of Jen Psaki — the new White House press secretary under President Joe Biden — telling reporters that the National Security Council will try to determine “how the government can share information” on efforts to “prevent radicalization” and “disrupt violent extremist networks.” And Ingraham tried to spin Psaki’s announcement not as an effort to prevent domestic terrorism, but as a crackdown on conservatives in general.

“Republicans need to step up in unison and demand that the Defense Department and the Biden administration clearly define what they think constitutes extremism,” Ingraham declared. “Now, if a member of the military voted for Trump, does that make him an extremist? Now, what if someone complains on Facebook that the federal government wastes a lot of money? Is she an extremist? What if they say that Roe v. Wade should be overturned? Or what if they participate in the March for Life?”

Ingraham continued, “What if they’re conservative Baptists — they believe that sex outside of marriage is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Disgusting sense of entitlement': Report reveals a scheme to get vaccines meant for an Indigenous community

January 26, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

A wealthy couple has come under fire for traveling to Canada’s remote community of Yukon to take COVID-19 vaccines designated for indigenous seniors.

According to The Washington Post, the couple has been identified as Rodney Baker, a 55-year-old casino executive and president, and his wife, Ekaterina Baker, a 32-year-old actress. It has been reported that the couple, residents of Vancouver, Canada, are now facing charges for violating Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).

The two are accused of “breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek,” reports Yukon News. The couple is said to have traveled from Vancouver to Whitehorse, Canada before chartering a private jet to Beaver Creek, home to a very small population of mostly the White River First Nation.

The couple’s actions have led to stark scrutiny from local officials. On Monday, Jan. 25, Mike Farnworth, the British Columbia solicitor general, released a brief statement to the Vancouver Sun as he shared his reaction to the news. “I can’t believe I’ve ever seen or heard of such a despicable, disgusting sense of entitlement and lack of a moral compass.”

In a statement released to The Post, the White River First Nation also condemned the couple’s behavior as they demand stricter consequences for their actions. Given the couple’s financial status, the nation believes that the fine they are currently facing is “essentially meaningless.” It has been reported that investors have revealed Baker earned “more than $10.6 million in 2019″ as the executive of Great Canadian Gaming, Corp.

Chief Angela Demit said, “It’s clear to me that because we are a predominantly Indigenous community, that they assumed we were naive.”

Janet Vander Meer, who serves as the director of the White River First Nation’s coronavirus response team also argues a similar stance insisting the couple should face greater consequences for their actions.

“Our oldest resident of Beaver Creek, who is 88 years old, was in the same room as this couple. My mom, who’s palliative, was in the same room as this couple,” Vander Meer told Globalnews.ca during a discussion on Monday. “That’s got to be jail time. I can’t see anything less. For what our community has been through the last few days. The exhaustion. It’s just mind-boggling.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Evil was in my house': New audio exposes pro-Trump attorney’s disturbing arguments with ex-associates

January 26, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Known for his lawsuits with fellow conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, Atlanta-based Lin Wood is among the far-right attorneys who tried to help former President Donald Trump overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election — and he even proposed, in a December 1 tweet, that Trump “declare martial law.” Law & Crime has been reporting on Wood’s legal battle with three former law partners, and the website has posted some older audio that sheds light on that case.

Law & Crime reporter Adam Klasfeld explains, “Long before becoming the face of former President Donald Trump’s post-election conspiracy theories, lawyer Lin Wood had been embroiled in an acrimonious spat with his former lawyers, who claimed to have caught his ‘erratic, hostile, abusive, and threatening’ behavior on tape. Several of those recordings became public for the first time on Tuesday with the release of Law &Crime’s new podcast, ‘Objections.’”

The three former law partners that Klasfeld is referring to are Nicole Wade, Jonathan Grunberg and Taylor Wilson, who left the firm L. Lin Wood, P.C. and started their own firm, Wade, Grunberg & Wilson, LLC. In a legal brief, the attorneys allege that Wood physically attacked Grunberg and Wilson.

Klasfeld notes, “Wood’s former law partners claimed they had him caught on tape confessing to assaulting them, threatening them in profane rants, and asserting that he may be ‘Christ coming back for a second time in the form of an imperfect man.’”

In one of the recordings Law & Crime has posted, Wood is hard saying, “I have apologized to Taylor when I pushed him. It was like evil was in my house.”

In other audio, Wood is heard mentioning Wilson and saying, “Taylor Wilson, your former partner, who you have abused and treated like a dog, repeatedly for weeks, if not months.”

Grunberg, Klasfeld notes, has alleged that Wood made anti-Semitic remarks about him, describing the attorney as a “Chilean Jewish fucking crook.”

Wood’s clients have included Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia congresswoman known for supporting QAnon, Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and the late Herman Cain, who ran for president in 2012. The attorney’s Twitter account was suspended following the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building by far-right insurrectionists.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Chuck Schumer sent McConnell a 'calculated reminder' — and proved he has the upper hand

January 26, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

Some liberals said after the 2016 election that Nancy Pelosi was the worst person to lead the resistance to Donald Trump’s authoritarian reign. Turns out, they were wrong. Pelosi was exactly the leader America needed. She handed his ass to him every time they negotiated. She led two historic impeachments against him. She held her caucus together through thick and thin. The doubters were once loud. Now, they’re quiet.

The same thing can’t yet be said of Chuck Schumer. I suspect liberals doubt the new Senate majority leader more than they ever did the House speaker. Monday, for instance, saw an intense debate over how to organize the Senate that rose to a feverish pitch until it broke all of a sudden. The outcome suggests Schumer is on the same trajectory as Pelosi once was. The doubters are loud, but they may soon be quieted.

The outcome of last night’s stand-off suggests Schumer is on the same trajectory as Nancy Pelosi once was.

With twin victories in Georgia, the Democrats control the Senate. Control depends, however, on the Senate president breaking ties. Kamala Harris, as the vice president, has other duties. (She can’t be running from the White House to the Senate to settle every dispute.) So Schumer and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, have to establish rules and procedures to determine who does what, etc. Until last night, the Senate was at a stand-still. The leaders could not agree. Meanwhile, the old rules still applied. Despite everything, the Senate Republicans remained functionally in charge.

That pissed off a lot of liberals. Some said Stacey Abrams had not moved heaven and earth to turn Georgia blue and flip the United States Senate just so Schumer could act squishy. But he wasn’t. His first priority, naturally, is getting his caucus members set up with their respective committees. That couldn’t happen until McConnell agreed to proceed. McConnell refused until Schumer guaranteed the Democrats would not kill the filibuster, the rule giving the minority veto power. Schumer said no dice. Killing it is totally on the table. That’s where things stood until McConnell caved last night.

Why did he cave? It’s hard to say for sure. It might be because two conservative Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, said they opposed killing the filibuster. (McConnell cited their remarks Monday in claiming a “win.”) But it might be as Amee Vanderpool <a target=_blank …read more

Source: ALTERNET