AMERICANS SHOCKED TO LEARN THAT GIULIANI HAD LAW LICENSE ~ The New Yorker

By Andy BorowitzJune 24, 2021

Rudy Giuliani.
Photograph by Stefani Reynolds / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock
  • NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—After the state of New York banned Rudy Giuliani from practicing law, Americans expressed utter shock and disbelief that he had a law license.

“I did not know that he was an actual lawyer,” Carol Foyler, who lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said. “I just thought he was some skeezy guy Trump met at a wedding or something.”

“The fact that Rudy Giuliani had a law license shows that the system for granting law licenses is broken,” Harland Dorrinson, a resident of Toledo, Ohio, said. “There need to be background checks to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.”

Tracy Klugian, a spokesman for the New York State Supreme Court’s appellate division, said that their offices have been deluged with requests for law licenses ever since the Giuliani news broke. “People now think we’ll give a law license to anyone,” he said

Heather Cox Richardson ~ Letters From An American

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June 10, 2021 

Heather Cox RichardsonJun 11

You might have noticed that I wrote through the weekend rather than posting a photo on Saturday, thinking that I was sort of banking time and I would take a break during the week. Well, today was my day. Lots of ongoing stories but nothing big. Went to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law (going to be their 40th this year!) and thought to call it an early night.

You know where this is going, right?

Came home and opened Twitter.

Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Adam Goldman of the New York Times broke a major story tonight: 

Under former president Trump, the Department of Justice secretly investigated key Democratic lawmakers.

In February 2018, the House Intelligence Committee was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the president became obsessed with figuring out who was apparently leaking information to the press about contacts between his people and Russia. 

Under then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice subpoenaed from Apple the records of the communications of California Democrats Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, and—we learned at about 11:00 tonight—Eric Swalwell, both of whom were key critics of Trump. The department also investigated members of their families, including one child. The government seized the records of at least a dozen people.

“[G]ood God,” journalist Jennifer Rubin tweeted. “They were running a police state.” For the Department of Justice to subpoena records from congressional lawmakers is extraordinary. For it to investigate their families, as well, is mind boggling.

Department officials did not find anything, and the investigations slowed down.

Remember back in May 2019, when the Senate was interviewing William Barr, who replaced Sessions as attorney general, after his delayed release of the Mueller Report, and then-Senator Kamala Harris asked him if then-president Trump or anyone else in the White House had ever asked him to open an investigation into anyone? Barr danced around the question and then refused to answer it.

It turns out that when Barr became attorney general in February 2019, he revived the languishing investigations, moving personnel around to ramp up the inquiry. Even after the Trump administration itself declassified some of the information that had been leaked, undercutting the argument for continuing an investigation, Barr insisted on keeping it going. 

The Justice Department did not find that the Democrats they were investigating were connected with the leaks. 

The DOJ also subpoenaed the records of journalists from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and CNN to try to find leakers, a serious threat to freedom of the press.

Meanwhile, of course, as journalist Chris Hayes pointed out on Twitter, at the same time the White House and its operatives at the Department of Justice were secretly subpoenaing the records of members of Congress, they were refusing to answer congressional subpoenas of White House personnel.

In a statement tonight, Schiff said: “The politicization of the department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former president.” On CNN, he said: “While I can’t go into who received these subpoenas … I can say that this was extraordinarily broad – people having nothing to do with the intelligence matters that are at least being reported on. It just shows what a broad fishing expedition it was.” Schiff has called for the department’s inspector general to “investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.” 

Swalwell’s statement was less restrained: “Like many of the world’s most despicable dictators, former President Trump showed an utter disdain for our democracy and the rule of law.”

While there are many layers to this story, it increases the political tension in the country. When Republican leaders tied themselves to Trump after he lost the 2020 election, they tied themselves to whatever came out about his actions. They have tried to explain away the January 6 insurrection and recently refused to investigate what happened on and around that day. Will they now say that it is okay for a president to use the Department of Justice secretly to investigate members of Congress who belong to the opposing party?

OPINION: A FRANTIC WARNING FROM 100 LEADING EXPERTS: OUR DEMOCRACY IS IN GRAVE DANGER ~ The Washington Post

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Opinion by  Greg Sargent

Columnist

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

June 1, 2021

Democrats can’t say they weren’t warned.

With yet another GOP effort to restrict voting underway in Texas, President Biden is now calling on Congress to act in the face of the Republican “assault on democracy.” Importantly, Biden cast that attack as aimed at “Black and Brown Americans,” meriting federal legislation in response.

That is a welcome escalation. But it remains unclear whether 50 Senate Democrats will ever prove willing to reform or end the filibuster, and more to the point, whether Biden will put real muscle behind that cause. If not, such protections will never, ever pass.

Now, in a striking intervention, more than 100 scholars of democracy have signed a new public statement of principles that seeks to make the stakes unambiguously, jarringly clear: On the line is nothing less than the future of our democracy itself.

“Our entire democracy is now at risk,” the scholars write in the statement, which I obtained before its release. “History will judge what we do at this moment.”

And these scholars underscore the crucial point: Our democracy’s long-term viability might depend on whether Democrats reform or kill the filibuster to pass sweeping voting rights protections.

“We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary — including suspending the filibuster — in order to pass national voting and election administration standards,” the scholars write, in a reference to the voting rights protections enshrined in the For the People Act, which passed the House and is before the Senate.

What’s striking is that the statement is signed by scholars who specialize in democratic breakdown, such as Pippa Norris, Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky. Other well-known names include Francis Fukuyama and Jacob Hacker.

“We wanted to create a strong statement from a wide range of scholars, including many who have studied democratic backsliding, to make it clear that democracy in America is genuinely under threat,” Lee Drutman, senior fellow at New America and a leading organizer of the letter, told me.

“The playbook that the Republican Party is executing at the state and national levels is very much consistent with actions taken by illiberal, anti-democratic, anti-pluralist parties in other democracies that have slipped away from free and fair elections,” Drutman continued.

Among these, the scholars note, are efforts by GOP-controlled state legislatures everywhere to restrict access to voting in ways reminiscent of tactics employed before the United States became a real multiracial democracy in the mid-1960s:Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

The scholars also sound the alarm about GOP efforts to deepen control of electoral machinery in numerous states, casting them as a live threat to overturn future elections, and a redoubling of emphasis on extreme gerrymanders and other anti-majoritarian tactics:In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome.

After noting that all these Republican efforts are threatening those fundamental principles, the scholars warn: “These actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy.”

Crucially, the scholars note that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — which would restore some protections gutted by the Supreme Court — would be insufficient, and they call for federal protections such as those in the For the People Act, or S.1.

“Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South” in the 1960s, the scholars write, so must federal law step in again:True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking.

That is the rub. An acceptance that protecting democracy will never, ever, ever be bipartisan, and will happen only on a partisan basis, is fundamental to accepting the reality of the situation that Democrats face.

We can go back and forth about specific misgivings that some Democrats have about S.1 — see this good Andrew Prokop report for an overview — but the core question is whether Democrats will cross that Rubicon. So doing would lead inevitably to the need to reform or end the filibuster.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is the most visible obstacle here. But an unknown number of other moderate Democrats are also reluctant to cross that Rubicon, and it’s unclear how much effort Biden will put into making that happen.

And so, when these scholars warn that history is watching, those Democrats are the ones who should take heed