Memo to Merrick Garland. Keep an eye on your inbox.
ICYMI: The House Jan. 6th Committee dropped this bomb last night:
All the usual caveats are in order. There is no guarantee that Congress will make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice; no guarantee that the DOJ would empanel a grand jury or that the jury would indict the former president.
And we are very far from an actual trial of United States v. Donald J. Trump, et al.
But I do think that it is reasonable to consider this a BFD, because it confirms that the committee has been moving relentlessly toward developing a case that Donald J. Trump committed criminal offenses as he conspired to overturn the presidential election.
Via today’s NYT:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol said on Wednesday that there was enough evidence to conclude that former President Donald J. Trump and some of his allies might have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction by misleading Americans about the outcome of the 2020 election and attempting to overturn the result.
In a court filing in a civil case in California, the committee’s lawyers for the first time laid out their theory of a potential criminal case against the former president. They said they had accumulated evidence demonstrating that Mr. Trump, the conservative lawyer John Eastman and other allies could potentially be charged with criminal violations including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the American people.
“The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said in a statement.
Here’s Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general:
Neal Katyal @neal_katyalThis is big. 1/6 committee just said they have a good-faith belief that Trump committed crimes. "The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President & members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the US in violation of § 371" https://t.co/i6RngpZ0Nt
The committee also released new evidence showing how officials tried desperately to tell Trump that his allegations of fraud were false:
Also: new, dramatic emails from January 6. “And thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.”
Meanwhile: The feds got their first guilty plea in a case of seditious conspiracy.
Joshua James, one of the 11 Oath Keepers militia affiliates indicted earlier this year on a charge of seditious conspiracy alongside the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, on Wednesday became the first person to plead guilty to the sedition-related charge in connection with the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Under a plea deal revealed at a hearing on Wednesday evening, James has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, who appear to view him as an important witness against Rhodes.
Exit take: Try not to indulge in any irrational exuberance, but it’s is now remotely possible that DJT will discover that in our country, no one is actually above the law.
David Frum joins Mona, Bill and Tim for this week’s edition of Thursday Night Bulwark. They’ll discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and President Biden’s SOTU speech starting at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday night (March 3).
The Next Phase of Putin’s War on Ukraine
A thread from Garry Kasparov (unrolled):
The free world's denial of this war and decades of appeasement allowed Putin to threaten and conquer abroad while turning Russia into a police state. The price to stop him has gone up every time he has advanced unchallenged. Ukrainians are paying that price in blood.
If Putin is not stopped now, not prevented from destroying Ukraine and committing genocide against its people, there will be a next time and it will be in NATO, with an unprecedented nuclear threat. Do not let Putin escalate again in a time and place of his choosing.
Everyone is quoting my 2015 book Winter Is Coming and saying I was right & "listen to Kasparov". But will you still listen when I say this will take sacrifice and risk? Not just wheat and gas prices, not just empty chalets and unemployed lobbyists. Easy is over.
Or will you say that I am irrational, blinded by hate, as I heard in 2015? I hope not. Putin must be stopped because the unthinkable is now the possible. The world has awoken, at long last, and many steps I recommended last week are happening. It's not enough.
1 I cannot demand NATO attack Russian forces directly, but I can speak from history & knowledge of Putin. A dictator who has already crossed every line cannot be prevented from escalating with restraint. If he destroys Ukraine, he won't stop.
2 We are not trying to appeal to the murderer in his bunker in the Urals. The message is to those who carry out his orders. Will they? Do they all wish to die? Putin will escalate anyway if he is not stopped now. He will, as he always has before, & the price will be higher. 7/13
3 Send Russia to the technological stone age. No support, no parts, no services. Oil boycotts aren't necessary if oil tech is unavailable. The industry will grind to a halt. This means a war footing in sacrificing, retooling & increasing production to substitute. It's war.
4 It's always tragic that ordinary people suffer, but they are not being bombed in their homes like Ukrainians. Every element of Russian society that can pressure Putin must know they have to choose between him & everything else. Some will cling to him, but for how long?
5 Clear message to Russian generals that they will suffer annihilation if one inch of NATO is touched. Send UKR every weapon, including the jets that have been blocked, as if Putin cares about the difference. Stop guessing about his thoughts and do what is needed. 10/13
6 Every day Ukraine endures gives opportunity to communicate this catastrophe to the only people who can really stop Putin, the Russian people, from oligarchs to commanders to protestors. Let all in the power vertical know they will be treated as war criminals. They are.
7 Leave nothing in reserve. Speed is of the essence to stop payments and catch them and their assets before they hide. Threats like "he doesn't know what's coming" don't work if Putin doesn't believe you. Show him. And show Russians there is no way back with Putin. Never.
8 Root out the corrupt politicians, businessmen & dark money that corrupted a generation to turn a blind eye or serve authoritarian regimes. Follow the donations, payments, gifts, influence. Hold them accountable. Down with Putin & his appeasers, glory to Ukraine.
DeSantis’s Performative Jerkitude
And because he was having a normal one:
The Recount @therecountGov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) poses a very helpful hypothetical showing tremendous brainpower: “Can you imagine if [Putin] went into France? Would they do anything to put up a fight? Probably not.” https://t.co/LJVLVlg8bt
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin…
RonJon’s approval rating is minus-12…. and dropping.
1. Putin’s Bogus Blame-NATO Excuse
While the United States and the other democracies certainly made their share of mistakes, the main reasons this beautiful friendship went south lay within Russia itself. Among them were the corruption, incompetence, and robber-baron mentality that bedeviled the transition to a market economy; the failure to grapple with, and fully confront, the horrors of the country’s Soviet legacy; the profound ambivalence on whether integration into the West should be seen as liberation or occupation; and the widespread sense that the loss of empire was a humiliation and not being feared was a cause for regret. All these trends began early on, when elections for the Russian State Duma in 1993 and 1995 resulted in a parliament dominated by ultranationalist populists and Communists. Putin harnessed and used that energy in a way that, for a while, made many people in Russia and in the West praise him as a guarantor of moderation and stability. Now, the imperial chickens have come home to roost. NATO had nothing to do with it. If anything, the threat of aggression from Russia was the cause of NATO enlargement, not the other way round.
2. Taiwan and China Keep Eyes on Ukraine
A robust and effective U.S.-led response to the invasion of Ukraine could instill greater caution in Xi, who must already be wondering if the democratic world would punish China for using force against Taiwan in the way it has thus far punished Russia. Moreover, if Xi’s embrace of Putin comes to be seen internally as a misstep, the Chinese leader might opt for a more restrained approach to international affairs as he heads into this fall’s 20th Party Congress, in which he aims to secure a third term as Communist Party general-secretary.
Department of Awful Metaphors.