Trump’s top backer in Texas joined ‘Stop the Steal.’ It’s ending badly for him.
It’s become an ironclad law of this political moment: If you fall in with Donald Trump’s sordid schemes, it’s probably only a matter of time until his vortex of corruption claims you entirely.
The pull of that vortex is now being illustrated by a remarkable breaking story out of Texas. It concerns one Ken Paxton, the Republican Attorney General of Texas and one of the most devoted servants of Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election in the land.
Paxton is coming under fire at home for refusing to turn over texts and emails related to his trip to the Capitol to join the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. His association with Trump’s schemes is now coming to a head: The Travis County district attorney has just announced that Paxton may be running afoul of the state’s open records law.
Sedition Charges Demolish a Right-Wing Talking Point
Steve Bannon and other Trump defenders had bizarrely contended that Jan. 6th was no big deal because there were no indictments for sedition.
The impression here, dear readers, is that because no sedition charges had been brought, there was simply no reason anyone should be worked up about Jan. 6th.
Again, Bannon, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News all promoted this notion just last week.
But those talking points expired yesterday, when the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the breach of the Capitol. This is the first time seditious conspiracy has been charged in connection to Jan. 6th cases.
Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer:
What fake 2020 Electoral College certificates tell us about America’s fragile democracy
Voters in 7 states won by Biden in 2020 met and cast electoral votes for Donald Trump. Where does this fit into the January 6 conspiracy?
Now, a revelation that Republicans in five other states — Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia — took the Dec. 14 gambit a step further is placing the entire operation in a new light. By sending paperwork to Congress and the National Archives that falsely claims, without qualification, that they were the “duly elected” members of the Electoral College in states where Biden got the most votes, the entire operation looks more sinister. A recent report in Politico found the House Select Committee on January 6 — which is weighing whether the actions of Trump and his aides were part of a conspiracy to obstruct Congress — is looking at some of this paperwork.
Jonathan Chait/New York:
RIP ‘No January 6 Sedition Charges,’ the Right’s Favorite Trump Defense
As the anniversary of the insurr — er, militia-led crowd attempting to forcibly effect regime change arrived, conservatives have leaned harder and harder on the “no insurrection charges” talking point.
At 10:30 this morning, Brit Hume became probably the last major conservative pundit to get this opinion in under the wire, writing, “Here’s a thought. Let’s base our view on whether 1/6 was an ‘insurrection’ on whether those arrested are charged with insurrection. So far, none has been.”
A few hours later, the Justice Department charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing paramilitary group, with seditious conspiracy under, yes, 18 U.S. Code §2384.
Voting Rights, Seditious Conspiracy & the Big Lie
While Congress takes a step backwards in securing elections and democracy, Justice takes a step forward with new indictments against the crimes of January 6
And what is the criminal violation contained within this charge, employed yesterday for the first time in the case of January 6 and I hope far from the last time as the DOJ confronts the culpability of the plotters, funders and organizers? Seditious conspiracy involves two or more persons who:
“conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof….”
This—along with the tandem announcement of the January 6 committee to subpoena records of social media giants Meta (Facebook), Alphabet (Google and YouTube), Reddit and Twitter—represents real progress, an effort to not just focus on those who breached the Capitol on that horrific day, but on the efforts that preceded it and that happened subsequently.
Katherine J Wu/Atlantic:
Calling Omicron ‘Mild’ Is Wishful Thinking
We are far past the point of hoping that this variant will spare us.
It’s fair, then, to say that the average Omicron case is indeed “less severe.” And there are plenty of people for whom the math will work out well. They’re hosts who are young, healthy, and up to date on their vaccines, squaring off with a pathogen that packs an oh-so-slightly weaker punch, at least compared with Delta. Keep in mind, though, that Delta is probably nastier than its already-awful ancestors, so to simply call the virus “mild” massively undersells the danger it still poses, especially when it finds its way into unvaccinated or vaccinated-but-still-vulnerable hosts. Even people who are thrice-vaccinated can’t exempt themselves from Omicron’s risk, especially not while cases are rising at such high rates, and exposures are so frequent and heavy.
Yes, it’s intentional satire.
Novak Djokovic is a profile in selfishness, and sports leaders are failing us all
While the past 10 years will be remembered for the return of the political athlete, the COVID-19 era has produced a less heroic professional citizen-athlete. Athletes lauded for using their voices to benefit the conditions of others have been replaced by the pandemic-era player beholden completely unto himself — unburdened by community or responsibility to others, using vaunted platforms to disseminate pseudoscience, to elevate and separate themselves.
These superathlete voices now send a different message — that they owe nothing because they create so much: revenue and legacy for the suits; pleasure for the watchers; security for their families. They are the value. They are why we watch. In turn, they carry themselves as though they are exempt from our common struggle. While Australians and citizens around the world sacrifice to resume their lifestyles by suffering through the difficult steps of vaccine mandates ostensibly for the long-term greater good, several high-profile athletes have decided the only name that matters is the one on the back of their jerseys.
The Atlases have shrugged. Everyone is on their own.
With Voting Bills Dead, Democrats Face Costly Fight to Overcome G.O.P. Curbs
Party officials now say they are resigned to spending and organizing their way around the new voting restrictions passed in Republican-controlled states.
Now, Democrats’ best chance for counteracting the new state laws is gone after Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, declared her opposition on Thursday to President Biden’s push to lift the filibuster to pass the party’s two voting access bills.
That failure infuriated Democrats and left them contemplating a long and arduous year of organizing for the midterm elections, where they already face headwinds from Mr. Biden’s low approval ratings, inflation, congressional redistricting and the persistent pandemic.
Don’t mourn, organize. Every local election matters. While you’re voting local, vote national.