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Did DeSantis Really Think This Through?
Plus: Trump's "special master" buyer's remorse
Three thoughts to consider this morning:
You really wouldn’t want to be the guy around Mar-a-Lago who came up with the idea for a “special master”.
Maybe Ron DeSantis didn’t really think through this whole flying-migrants-around-the-country thing.
Trump’s weekend rally was worse than you thought.
Let’s start with Team Trump’s apparent buyer’s remorse over the special master they wanted and chose. Judge Raymond Dearie asked Trump to “disclose details about any materials he claims to have declassified before calling them his property.”
Trump is balking, complaining:
“[T]he Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order,” the attorneys wrote.
There’s more. Trump is worried that Dearie is moving too fast, arguing that his draft plan for review “compresses the entirety of the inspection and labeling process to be completed by October 7, 2022.”
Trump’s team also raised concerns about Dearie’s request for information about whether any subsequent Fourth Amendment litigation filed by Trump to reclaim the documents should be filed with the magistrate judge who authorized the search in the first place: Bruce Reinhart, who Trump has assailed without basis as biased against him.
The back and forth comes a day before Trump will make his first bid to convince an appeals court panel to grant him the same deference that Cannon did when she blocked the Justice Department’s criminal review of the national security secrets stashed at his Mar-a-Lago home.
The DeSantis Investigation
It’s still early days, but this could get messy: “Texas sheriff opens criminal investigation into Martha's Vineyard migrant trips.”
[Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar] said … that 48 migrants appeared to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel for a couple of days before they were flown to Florida and Martha’s Vineyard.
“They were promised work,” he said. “They were promised the solution to several of their problems.”
He said a recruiter was paid a "bird dog fee" to gather roughly 50 people around a San Antonio migrant resource center.
The asylum-seekers, most of them Venezuelan, were then taken to the posh Massachusetts island “for little more than a photo op or a video op, and they were unceremoniously stranded in Martha’s Vineyard,” Salazar said.
Salazar said his office's organized crime investigators would handle the investigation.
Maybe the feds should get involved, as well?
Speaking of the DeSantis stunt, read Linda Chavez in today’s Bulwark: “The Cruelty and Dishonesty of the DeSantis Immigration Stunt.”
None of the migrants were in the U.S. illegally. They were claiming asylum from the regime in Venezuela that DeSantis himself says “is responsible for countless atrocities.”
DeSantis and his agents lied to the asylum seekers in order to get them aboard the planes. They told the Venezuelan refugees that they were going to Boston in order to get expedited work papers.
DeSantis and officials in his administration then lied to the public, insisting that they did not mislead the refugees.
Legum has a copy of the brochure that the refugees were given:
Popular Information, however, has obtained a brochure that was provided to the migrants who ultimately agreed to the flights. It was provided to Popular Information by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR), a Boston-based legal organization that represents 30 of the migrants.
The brochure says that migrants who arrive in Massachusetts will be eligible for numerous benefits, including "8 months cash assistance," "assistance with housing," "food," "clothing," "transportation to job interviews," "job training," "job placement," "registering children for school," "assistance applying for Social Security cards," and many other benefits.
None of this, however, is true.
Over at the Dispatch, Nick Catoggio (the pundit formerly known as Allahpundit) takes a deep-dive into the complicated Trump-DeSantis dynamic.
At some point an impatient narcissist will no longer be able to ignore his rival’s effrontery, especially if it’s cutting into his camera time. It’s one thing for DeSantis to steal Trump’s hand gestures, it’s another for him to steal the policy issue on which Trump has made his bones as a “fighter.” The day Trump loses his distinction as “King of the Jerks” to DeSantis is the day we have a bona fide fight on our hands for the 2024 nomination.
Which is one reason I think his patience with DeSantis—his willingness to hold his tongue about the younger man—is about to run out.
Trump’s New Recruits
Must-read from Tom Nichols in the Atlantic:
Saturday night’s Ohio rally was not a typical Trump carnival, and it was not just ridiculous—it was dangerous. His embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theorists represents a new expansion not only of Trump’s cult of personality, but of his threats to sow violence.
Despite his seeming inability to remember anything from one thought to the next, Trump has a kind of lizard-brain awareness of danger—only to himself, of course—that guides him when he’s faced with threats. His reflex in such situations is to do whatever it takes to survive, including bullying, lying, threatening, and allegedly breaking the law.
He is in political and legal jeopardy now, and he has decided to escalate his war against the rule of law, the American system of government, and the American people by embracing and potentially weaponizing QAnon.
1. How the Second Civil War Could Start
Grim, but important, read from Major Garrett and David Becker, excerpted from their new book, “The Big Truth: Upholding Democracy in the Age of ‘The Big Lie’” — which is out today.
America’s second civil war could start with a bang or with a whimper. It could begin with a skirmish or sneak up on us through a series of small compromises and acts of political cowardice. Civil war could announce itself loudly and bloodily, leaving no doubt as to its awful entrance. Or it could creep in through the back door, only to be recognized in hindsight as a series of seemingly disconnected events that could have and should have been stopped. We may be midstream in such a flow of events already. We now examine this possible future as if we have just emerged from its aftermath.
2. The Chaotic Politics of Lindsey Graham’s Abortion Bill
Republicans had a strategy for downplaying the issue through the midterms, writes Will Saletan. So much for that.
If you’re devoutly pro-life, it can be exhilarating to watch a politician flaunt his resolve to prohibit all abortions in every state. But if you’re pro-choice, it’s alarming. And if you’re McConnell, it’s a headache. McConnell just wants to make things easy on Republican senators and Senate candidates. He doesn’t want Ron Johnson, Mehmet Oz, Adam Laxalt, and other purple-state GOP nominees to be put on the spot about a federal ban.
Apparently, Graham does. In the interview, he exhorted pro-lifers to hold Republican lawmakers’ feet to the fire. Without using McConnell’s name, he called for a direct assault on McConnell’s position. “Here’s the question for the pro-life movement: Are you going to accept the Republican party who tells you Washington is out of business?” Graham asked. “I don’t think you will. I don’t think you should.”
3. Why Bill Barr Turned on Trump
Donald Ayer writes that no one should think Barr is having second thoughts about the awful things he did in office.
Credit for moving the public discussion closer to reality is one thing, but no one should think that Barr is having second thoughts about the awful things he did in office. To the contrary, Barr’s recent trashing of Trump in a manner likely to greatly impair his presidential prospects makes perfect sense when one understands the driving convictions and objectives that have guided him throughout his adult life.
4. The Power of Words and the Need to Protect Free Speech
In today’s Bulwark, Cathy Young writes about a recent PEN symposium:
Obviously, most writers working in liberal democracies in 2022 are not in danger of being sentenced to death in absentia for their writings, or of being confronted by a fanatical and armed would-be enforcer of that sentence. (A Twitter death threat is not quite the same thing.) And yet the theme of free expression in jeopardy, not just in dictatorships but here in the United States, dominated the discussion. In her introductory remarks, Nossel noted that PEN America was committed to resisting encroachments on speech from both right and left, be they attempts to remove unwelcome books (particularly ones with LGBT themes) from school libraries or pressure to restrict free speech on college campuses.
This political evenhandedness was evident through the evening. The so-called library wars, which sometimes include actual and disturbing harassment from the right as well as illiberal legislative action, were repeatedly and duly noted; Ayad Akhtar even asserted that we are “in the midst of the most significant repression of free speech by American legislatures” in his lifetime. And yet all in all, perhaps more attention was paid—at an unquestionably left-of-center gathering before a liberal New York audience—to the dangers of zealotry on the social justice- and identity-focused left.
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Sounds reasonable and not at all batshit crazy.
Meanwhile, in Georgia: