Recently at The Bulwark:
SONNY BUNCH: How Is Chinese Soft Power Reshaping Entertainment?
CHARLIE SYKES: The Deplorable Mr. Hawley 🔐
TNL: Rudy vs. The Kraken 🔐
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CHRIS TRUAX wonders: lock him up?
As many as a thousand Republicans were invited to attend the August 27, 2020 event. There was a stage, large screens and a backdrop of hundreds of flags, all set up on the White House South Lawn. It was a substantial undertaking. Putting aside whether President Trump coerced the federal government to make an in-kind donation to his campaign by making free use of the White House, are we really expected to believe that not a single federal employee was involved in supporting this event?
Who issued the security passes? Who checked those passes and screened the thousand people through security? Who set up all of the equipment? Who took it down? Who repaired the lawn afterwards? Were any of these people federal employees? Because if they were, unless these people spontaneously volunteered to work late on a Thursday night, then somebody—let’s call him Individual-1—ordered people to participate in President Trump’s presidential campaign. This is exactly the kind of thing that 18 U.S.C. § 610 was designed to prevent. Somebody ought to look into this, if only to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Perhaps the best thing about all these investigations is that they don’t necessarily need to involve the Department of Justice. Since these are all potential crimes that occurred in the executive branch itself, they can all be investigated, at least initially, by the appropriate Inspectors General.
And investigated they should be. In America, laws aren’t just for little people. They’re for everyone, including the president. In fact, they apply particularly to the president.
See you at 8:00 p.m. ET for the Thursday, February 3 edition of The Bulwark livestream. Will Saletan will make his TNB debut alongside Tim Miller, JVL and Ben Park.
Congressional committee hearings can be a hot mess. But the Jan. 6 committee is moving with strategic steps and a unified message — it fits the moment. CBS News' Scott MacFarlane joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.
TIM MILLER argues: It Might Be Time for the Democrats to Move On From Chuck Schumer.
All of these fuckups could be mendable if Schumer altered course, worked on a pared-down reconciliation deal with Manchinema (plus maybe Murkowski/Collins—has he even tried that?), and found a bipartisan deal on elections to—at minimum—Kraken-proof 2024.
But at this point there isn’t a lot of evidence that Schumer is up for such a pivot. In the CNN story about how he kept the Manchin agreement secret he went full NO RAGRETS on the strategy that has crashed and burned.
PAUL ALEXANDER writes about the Politics of the New Trust-Busting.
The fate of the merger remained uncertain primarily because it was unclear how all the FTC commissioners would vote on the matter. Khan and one other commissioner appointed by Biden were clearly in favor of using regulation to promote competition, but two other commissioners were named by Donald Trump. (A fifth FTC seat remains unoccupied because Biden’s nominee has not been approved by the Senate.) As a result, Lockheed announced last fall that the merger was delayed, with CEO Jim Taiclet reassuring investors the deal “continues moving through the regulatory approval process.”
But any hope of the deal being approved ended last week when the FTC voted 4-0 to file a complaint in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to block the merger. Apparently, Khan convinced both Trump-appointed commissioners to join the Biden-appointed commissioners to kill the deal. (How ironic that two Democratic senators are blocking Biden’s legislative aspirations while two Trump-appointed FTC commissioners are allowing Biden to advance his pro-competition agenda.) The FTC challenge was so rare that, should the case end up being litigated, it would mark the first time a defense merger has been contested in decades.
SHAY KHATIRI asks: What Does Putin Want?
The mind of an autocrat is always difficult to read, especially one who matured as a KGB officer and who has been isolated from dissenting views for two decades. The best prescription in such a situation is often to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. More often than not, doing the former will result in the latter.
Happy Thursday! My Billikens pulled out a squeaker in double OT last night. It was a fantastic game (and you can see me in the first row behind the Billiken bench) where #TeamBlue went end to end for a layup to win as the clock expired.
I haven’t attended many sporting events since the pandemic, but this was a fun one to see. Not a lot of people were there, but midway through the first half, I got a DM on Twitter from a Jesuit priest, Fr. Mike Rozier, S.J. Rozier was president of the SGA at SLU when I was a freshman, and it was good to see him.
We got a laugh out of this award, which I treasure, and hangs in my home office.
Lincoln’s second Inaugural… Diana Schaub joins Bill Kristol on Conversations.
High Steaks… Matt Labash on the Great Golden Corral Brawl of 2022.
Don King comes home. To Youngstown.
Two Roads Diverged… How do you lose a governor?
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