Monday, February 06, 2023

They Can't Possibly Believe This.


The answer is "of course, he can" On January 29, during his regular stint as a panelist on This Week with or without George Stephanopoulos, Chris Christie argued

Donald Trump "can't win a general election" — as evidenced by his failure in 2020.

"And that's not speculation," Christie, a former Trump supporter, said in an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday. "That's based upon the polling that I was privy to pre-the 2020 election and what we saw actually happen in the 2020 election. And it's only gotten worse since then."

Christie said that the failure of Trump-endorsed candidates in the 2022 midterm elections is further proof that support for the former president is eroding.

"We could go through the entire list — loser, loser, loser, loser — and I think Republicans are recognizing that," Christie said of Republicans like Blake Masters, Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano — all of whom lost their races in 2022.

Calling them "bad candidates," Christie noted those Republicans were both endorsed by Trump and echoed his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him.

One week later

“Joe Biden is not an exciting candidate. He’s old. He’s boring. And the American people are not relating to him,” Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week. “That was the same in 2020 but he was running against someone who was so toxic that he won anyway.”

Asked if Trump could beat Biden in a rematch next year, Christie responded: “I don’t think so.”

Christie’s views on Trump’s chances were echoed by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who said on ABC that the results of the 2022 midterms showed that the former GOP president could not win another term in the White House.

“Trump is going to be seen as a very extreme candidate,” Sununu said. “The country is going to push back against it. If we just look at the results of three months ago, and that shows you where extreme candidates are going to end up falling. It can’t get done.”

So two prominent Republicans, both of whom are considered possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, agree that Donald Trump would likely lose if nominated.

Even less likely is that they have a clue or, if they do, that they're being straight with the public (and any GOP presidential nominee must be straight).  The day before their Sunday appearances, we learned of an ABC News/Washington Post poll which found that Republicans don't want Trump nominated and Democrats don't want Biden re-nominated.

Things have been looking up for the incumbent lately, particularly with strikingly good economic news, and Biden received his highest approval mark in that survey since April, 2022. However, approval was only 42%. And matched against Trump in a rematch, Biden was preferred by only 45% of respondents to 48% for the ex-President.

That's a very bad number for the incumbent- and a good number for Donald Trump. Nonetheless, it is of greater importance that

In a hypothetical rematch, Trump held a 48 percent to 45 percent advantage over Biden, an outcome that is within the new poll’s margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Biden also garnered a 42 percent approval rating in the poll of 1,003 people, his highest mark in the ABC-Washington Post poll since April.

Just the day before, an MSNBC blogger noted of the New Hampshire governor

during last year’s Gridiron Club dinner for Washington insiders, he quipped that Trump was “crazy” (using some colorful language).

“I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution,” he said, according to Politico. “But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”

Sununu soon said he had just been joking, and he has repeated that caveat several times since. But on Thursday, he took the backpedaling into overdrive.

During a CNN interview, Sununu vowed to support Trump should he win the Republican nomination for president next year. Sununu said whoever the Republican nominee is will be “better than any of the Democrats that would likely sit in that presidential seat.”

Asked about his having called Trump crazy, Sununu replied: “Yeah, that was funny. It was a roast! It was a funny joke!”



Weak-kneed politicians such as Chris Sununu, who has pledged to support Trump if nominated, and Chris Christie, who won't say, want the media to know that they really, really don't like Donald Trump. But at the very least, they admire him.  If it becomes clear sometime in the first half of 2024 that Trump will become the GOP nominee, the Chrises and virtually every single Republican will line up to support him. A choice between country and party is no choice at all for most of them which, more than any poll 21 months out from the election, is the reason Donald Trump could be re-elected.




Saturday, February 04, 2023

Respect



Give New York Times columnist Bret Stephens his due. Back before black lives matter was a thing, and criticism of that thing would get a person banished from every place left of Fox News, Stephens recognized Black Lives Matter had "some really thuggish elements in it.".

In June of 2020, the Times disavowed an op-ed it had published in which Republican senator Tom Cotton had suggested that federal troops be used to break up violent George Floyd protests. In his column, Stephens argued that Cotton's op-ed "doesn't lie in its goodness or rightness" but in the Senator "being a leading spokesman for a major current of public opinion."

In the spring following the protests, Stephens had noted "anti-racism is a great simplifier- good and evil, black and white" and "effective policing requires that cops gain the trust of the communities they serve while recognizing that those communities are ill served when cops are afraid to do their jobs."

So Stephens is no johnnie-come-lately. Alas, his truth-telling became mangled when he appeared on Friday evening's Real Time. Prompted by Bill Maher's interview a moment earlier with former Minneapolis police chief Medario Arrondo, at 16:57 of the video below, the columnist can be seen contending "We also have to bear in mind particularly at moments like this that 99.5 per cent of police officers do their job honorably and courageously." Fortunately, Maher responded "first of all, let's just say you're pulling that number out of your ass."

Not content with being rebuked in the show itself, Stephen (at 9'45 below gave it another shot in the Overtime segment (B.S. as Stephens, B.M. as Maher, M.A. as "Rondo" Arradondo):

B.S.:  Can I have one question?

B.M.: Very briefly.

B.S.:  Rondo, what percentage of cops are good cops?

M.A.: Oh, the vast majority of the men and women who put on that uniform and serve their communities.

B.M.: O.K., but he said 99.5 on the show. It's just a number we don't have.

B.S.   It's a figure of speech.

B.M.: It's not a figure of speech. That's a number.

B.S.:  It was intended that way.

 


Of course, it's a number, however Stephens may have intended it. If it were only a figure of speech, did Stephens mean 99%? 90%? How about 65%? The latter number would have still represent a greater percentage of employees being "good" than in a lot of workplaces. There was no need to exaggerate. "Most police officers are dedicated" alone would have been a bold statement in mainstream media if made during the period when Tom Cotton wrote his op-ed.

More substantive was the assertion made by Stephens at 18:24 of the show itself, when he said

Every week a cop in America is shot and killed- every single week and this is a conversation we're not having but every police officer is very well aware that he's going on on a squad car and he's getting out taking a risk, and he's putting his life on the line and they deserve a lot more respect than they get.

Maher responded "they, first of all, get a lot of respect. A lot of people in this country are always bowing and scraping to them."

That's objectively accurate. At the time of the G.F. protests, far fewer people (especially in polite company) responded with the obvious "all the lives matter" but with "blue lives matter"- which is true. bit not a logical retort. Apples and oranges.

That's difficult to quantify, with facts and figures unavailable actually to prove who is right. Fortunately, that's not the case with the claim(s) that "every week, a cop in America is shot and killed- every single week."

In 2022, 231 law enforcement officers were killed in the "line of duty," 64 of them by gunfire. In 2021, 73 officers were "feloniously killed," an increase of 27 from the 48 killed in 2020. In 2017, there had been 46 "feloniously killed" and in 2012, 48.

Over the years, on average approximately one police officer a week is shot and killed, although it's undoubtedly not "every single week" because in some weeks there would be more than one fatality, in other weeks, none. It's difficult to determine if the greater number recently represents a pattern in the 22nd most dangerous job in the country. Even if it does, however, that alone does not indicate little, or declining, respect for police in a country of over 350 million people. 

In some quarters, there is unjustified hostility toward the police. It was evident in the summer and early autumn of 2020, when virtually no one dared admit to it. (The field of skepticism should not have been left to the overwrought and bigoted Tucker Carlson.)  There is still hostility, an anger which goes far beyond the 40, 50, 60, or even 70 law enforcement officers who will be killed by firearm this year.  But it does no good to exaggerate wildly the number of "good" cops, nor to imagine that the public as a whole afford them no respect.



 



Thursday, February 02, 2023

Right-Wing Russia Diversion


Last May, Yahoo News reported

The ballooning billions in money and munitions the United States is sending to Ukraine is motivated by a Democrat revenge fantasy aimed at taking out Vladimir Putin – as payback for stealing the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton, Tucker Carlson said Monday night.

The Fox News host laid out the case in his opening monologue, peppered with clips of Democratic leaders saying that “total victory” is the only outcome they seek in the bloody conflict. Carlson set out to define what they mean by that, even as the U.S. has already sent around $30 billion to uphold Ukraine’s so-far successful defense....

“That is why they are taking us to war with Russia,” he said. “There are a lot of things going on here, but at some level, the core motivation is just that simple. It’s not about ‘saving democracy,’ please. We know it’s not about protecting the sacred borders of a sovereign country; we know the Biden Administration doesn’t are about those principles because they run our country and we see how they act.”

Of course, this is nonsense. Assisting Ukraine with military hardware without sacrificing the lives of our own citizens. is essential to a democratic nation's effort at staving off conquest from a totalitarian state and helping blunt Vladimir Putin's further designs on eastern Europe.

We know also because if Democratic officials wanted to punish anyone for upending Hillary Clinton's presidential bid in favor of Donald Trump, they wouldn't have to go abroad and spend billions of dollars to do so. They could more cheaply target a party more responsible than Russia for putting Mr. Trump into the White House. In an article ripping The New York Times for its devastatingly misleading coverage late in that campaign, in which the Times inaccurately claimed that Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Will Bunch reminds us

It was arguably the most consequential “October Surprise” in the history of American presidential elections. In the waning days of the 2016 race, with polls showing Hillary Clinton clinging to a lead over Donald Trump, two last-minute stories broke that rekindled on-the-fence voters’ ethical doubts about Democrat Clinton and quashed a budding scandal around her GOP rival.

Except the “October Surprise” was no surprise to one key player: Rudolph Giuliani, the ex-New York City mayor and Trump insider who later became the 45th president’s attorney. Late that month, Giuliani told Fox News that the trailing Republican nominee had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises.”

Just two days later, then-FBI director James Comey revealed the bureau had reopened its probe into Clinton’s emails, based on the possible discovery of new communications on a laptop belonging to disgraced New York politico Anthony Weiner. The news jolted the campaign with a particularly strong boost from the New York Times, which devoted two-thirds of its front page to the story — and the notion it was a major blow to Clinton’s prospects.

It was later reported that Comey was motivated to make the unusual announcement about the laptop because he feared leaks from the FBI’s New York field office, which, according to Reuters, had “a faction of investigators based in the office known to be hostile to Hillary Clinton.” Indeed, Giuliani bragged immediately after that he had sources in the FBI, including current agents.

The supposed bombshell — it turned out there was nothing incriminating or particularly new on the laptop — wasn’t the only FBI-related story that boosted Trump in the homestretch of the 2016 campaign. On Oct. 31, citing unnamed “intelligence sources,” the Times reported, “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.” That article defused a budding scandal about the GOP White House hopeful — at least until after Trump’s shock election on Nov. 8, 2016. In the coming days and weeks, the basis of that Times article would melt, but by then the most unlikely POTUS in U.S. history was ensconced in the Oval Office.

There are many reasons for Trump’s victory, but experts have argued the FBI disclosures were decisive. In 2017, polling guru Nate Silver argued that the Comey probe disclosure cost Clinton as many as 3-4 percentage points and at least 1 percentage point, which would have flipped Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin and handed her the Electoral College.

If Democrats wanted to seek and destroy anyone for turning the election around, they probably would have focused on the FBI.  They could have turned on it but instead have consistently supported the bureau- while Republicans have been on the attack- for the past several years.  Bunch adds

This week’s stunning corruption charges against a top FBI spymaster who assumed a key role in the bureau’s New York office just weeks before 2016′s “October surprise” — an agent who by 2018 was known to be working for a Vladimir Putin-tied Russian oligarch — should cause America to rethink everything we think we know about the Trump-Russia scandal and how it really happened that Trump won that election.

The government allegations against the former G-man Charles McGonigal (also accused of taking a large foreign payment while still on the FBI payroll) and the outsized American influence of the sanctioned-and-later-indicted Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska — also tied to U.S. pols from Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell — should make us also look again at what was really up with the FBI in 2016.

Recognizing that The Times should apologize for its role in "this fiasco," Bunch argues that The Times should apologize for its "flawed coverage" in this "fiasco," which can be attributed to "its near certainty that Clinton would win and a desire to show its aggressiveness toward a future president seemed to have skewed its coverage."

There were some individuals, probably Rudy Giuliani and Charles McGonigal among them, who did not harbor that certainty that Hillary Clinton would win the election.  Giuliani, a former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and McGonigal, a high-ranking FBI official in the New York office, had in common one thing- the New York field office of the FBI.

The decision of director James Comey to publicize widely an investigation of Hillary Clinton while hiding one of Donald Trump is the major reason the former Senator and Secretary of State lost the presidential race to a corrupt businessman and accomplished actor.  Besides whitewashing history, the failure of the news media to acknowledge the connection between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the election outcome has given dishonest individuals such as Tucker Carlson license to undermine support given by the USA, and especially the Democratic Party. to the people of Ukraine.



 

 

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Calculated Omission


At the beginning of the "Overtime" segment of Friday evening's Real Time, a viewer asked one of Bill Maher's guests, whistleblower Frances Haugen "why did Congress fail to hold social media companies accountable for their role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol?" Haugen, the data engineer who exposed Facebook documents in 2021, blamed Facebook for its slow response in turning on safety measures on 1/6/21, noted she testified extensively before the Committee. She stated also

I believe none of that was included- the final write-up report, like it wasn't one of the attributable things. I think part of it was cut. The January 5 committee felt it needed to educate the public on a very broad set of issues and that I think they had to pick and choose on, like, how many things are we going to walk people down that road.

The proper answer is "Liz Cheney." However, while Haugen's reply was mildly disappointing, Bill Maher's response was really bad. The host responded

Which was smart. That committee was smart. I mean, it didn't do anything. No, I've seen interviews with the Republicans and nothing changes anybody's mind about anything. But you can't blame the committee. They put on a show and it was a good show. That was a smart decision-  I'm sorry but they had a lot of fish to fry and that one, O.K.



A good show or, when the media was less interested in performance, what would have been called a "cover-up." The National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex was directed to "investigate the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol" to include "activities of intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the Armed Forces, including with respect to intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination and information sharing" within the government. The committee, as led by the de jure chairperson and de facto chairperson, wanted no part of examining these "branches and other instrumentalities of government."

In a PBS report shortly before release of the final report of the committee, correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez seemingly made the case for a September 11- style commission to study the Capitol attack. Having held no person or agency ultimately responsible for the nation being unprepared for the attack on the World Trade Center, that committee itself has been overrated ever since.

Barron-Lopez spoke to two individuals familiar with the nation's intelligence apparatus. Former Secret Service agent Evy Pompouras remarked "you should see this information was passed to this person at this rank, and what did that person do with that information? You do really need to see names and ranks."  Former FBI agent Tracy Walder explained

I think, in the final report, what I would really like to see is accountability.  I think that's the bottom line, whether it's the Secret Service or the FBI or local police, for not taking some of these threats seriously. And they need- either need to have new training in place, in terms of how to understand some of these threats, or we need to look at creating a federal domestic terrorism statute.

There may have been merely a breakdown in communications, as the 9/11 commission found in the period preceding 9/11/01.  However, January 6 committee member Adam Schiff noted "The Secret Service had advance information more than 10 days beforehand regarding the Proud Boys' planning for January 6. We know now, of course, that the Proud Boys and others did lead the assault on our Capitol building."

Donell Harvin, who oversaw the Fusion Security Intelligence Center for the District of Columbia on 1/6/21 and testified thrice before the committee, noted

The committee report surmises that going forward, “the best defense against [the danger to the Capitol] will not come from law enforcement, but from an informed and active citizenry.” This is poetic at best, misleading at worst. The thoughts and actions of those who want to incite or commit violence can’t be controlled, especially when they use the First Amendment as a shield. The “best defense” against that danger is a physical defense posture informed by the intelligence and directed by competent leaders.

Actually, misleading and reprehensible at worst. Harvin concludes

Two years after a deadly assault on our democracy, we are no closer to correcting the system processes and cultures that turned an obscure and mundane day on the electoral calendar into a massive failure of government o be immortalized in the history books.

Liz Cheney is a conservative Republican and institutionalist with a fierce, justified hatred of Donald J. Trump. She did not want the committee to dilute its single-minded focus on the 45th President with an inquiry into the failure of the defense apparatus or of law enforcement, and de jure Chairman Bennie Thompson, no bold progressive he, gladly obliged.  Analysis of financing of the attempted coup was left on the cutting room while Republicans Mike Pence and Bill Barr (the latter a Maher favorite) were favorably treated by the committee. It is its legacy to have exposed the danger posed by one insurrectionist President- and nothing else. Bill Maher and other people of wealth and influence, especially those with friends in high places, must be pleased and satisfied.



Saturday, January 28, 2023

Another Reason to Ask "Why Kamala"?


There must be a nationwide shortage of Kamala Harris flavored Kool-Aid because this guy is hoarding and drinking it all.

WGBH in Boston on January 27 reported that upon being asked, Senator Warren stated that President Joe Biden should run for re-election. However

Her response to a follow-up question of whether Harris should be his running mate was less concrete.

 “I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team,” she said. “I’ve known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was an attorney general and I was still teaching and we worked on the housing crisis together, so we go way back. But they need — they have to be a team, and my sense is they are — I don’t mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems. I think they are.”

Whatever Warren's reasoning, that was not only a defensible answer, it was the only answer that would make any sense. Speaking in the Florida capital of Tallahassee on January 22 to honor the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Vice President had remarked (at 2:28 of the video below)

So we are here together because we collectively believe and know America is a promise.  America is a promise.  It is a promise of freedom and liberty — not for some, but for all.  

A promise we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Be clear.  These rights were not bestowed upon us.  They belong to us as Americans.


  


Harris is correct that the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness- however they exist at varying times and in varying contexts- were not bestowed upon us but belong to us specifically as Americans. In most nations they do not exist or do so only in limited measure.

Nevertheless, Harris' statement was an unforced error and politically tone-deaf. It enabled the right wing to jump on her for leaving out a portion of the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Of course, opposition to abortion rights is not grounded in a pro-life sensibility but in a preference for forced-birth. Nevertheless, conservatives label themselves "pro-life" or "for life" and the media gladly obliges them this myth. 

As transcribed above, the Vice-President's first and the third paragraphs were good while the second should have been promptly flagged as seriously problematic. With her periodic gaffes and mediocre record before becoming Vice President, an obvious question is "why, Kamala?" or as Elizabeth Warren may be- and should be- thinking "why Kamala?" 


Friday, January 27, 2023

Daily Brutality


As virtually everyone across the nation and- if center/left cable news media has had anything to do with it- across the world knows by now

Five former Memphis police officers were indicted Thursday on murder charges in the death of Tyre Nichols, whose beating after a traffic stop was captured on video that “sickened” a top Tennessee law enforcement official.

Police had said that Nichols was supposedly stopped for reckless driving, but Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said early Friday morning an investigation and review of available camera footage had found "no proof" of that.

The officers involved — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired after, Davis said, they violated department policies during the Jan. 7 stop that led to Nichols' death.

All five former officers were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault, prosecutors announced.


But it shouldn't stop there, George.

All those disposed toward prayer should pray for the comfort of the family and the victim's loved ones, though the individuals calling for "prayers" after murders and tragedies typically are individuals who wouldn't pray if their lives depended on it.

It appears Harry Dunn is calling for guilty verdicts for the five officers, now ex-officers, charged with murdering Tyre Nichols. However, justice should be the highest priority and there have been few details thus far revealed, let alone a trial (or plea) or a guilty verdict.  If Dunn is suggesting that we can assume that the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County prosecutors have it right and there has been no overcharging, there is at least one lesson we haven't learned from the black lives movement of two-and-a-half years ago.  A need for vengeance should apply in some capital cases, though I'm sure that's not what Dunn/Conway are referring to, especially being this is not a first degree murder case.

Certainly, police brutality can never be acceptable and it is safe to assume from what little we know that considerable brutality was applied by police to the victim. This, and this sort of thing, also should not be acceptable:

A barber who had just became a father for the second time was shot dead while cutting hair last weekend, according to police in Tennessee.

Darwin Hill, 29, was on a house call in southeast Memphis when he was shot at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 21.

Detectives said Hill and a woman had been hit when a gunman fired into the home. The woman, who has not been named, was critically wounded, according to CBS affiliate WREG.

The Gun Violence Archive, which collects information about shootings all over the country, states that 17 people have been shot dead in Memphis since January 1. There have been 53 fatal shootings in Tennessee since the start of the year.

Seventeen fatal shootings occurred in the first 26 days of the year in Memphis. In that city alone, seventeen people now are dead who should not be. The circumstances of each were unique  However, a killing such as that of Darwin Hill- minding his own business and struck down while working in a house pierced by a bullet-  is especially tragic. As the attention of the nation and to a lesser extent, the world, turns toward the evidently horrific killing of Tyre Nichols, we should remember, mourn, and address the victimization endured, and largely tolerated, every day of innocent Americans.






Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Responding Passively



Dana Bash interviewed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on Sunday's edition of CNN's State of the Union.  Conceding "the White House response to this nothingburger has been slow-footed and dull," Charlie Pierce remarks

Into this manufactured melee have come some of the president's fellow Democrats. From the AP:

Biden should be “embarrassed by the situation,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, adding that the president had ceded the moral high ground on an issue that has already entangled former President Donald Trump. Special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland are investigating both cases. “Well, of course. Let’s be honest about it. When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it because it’s not supposed to happen. ... The elected official bears ultimate responsibility,” Durbin said.

"Ceded the moral high ground" implies that El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago now occupies a piece of that "moral high ground." The former president* hasn't been within an area code of any "moral high ground" since he took his first breath of air. Lord, why did you make Democrats so dim?

Truth be told, the Senator never stated (full transcript of segment below) that President Biden has "ceded the moral high ground." Bash asked him asked him whether the President "has kind of lost the high ground" and Durbin responded

Well, of course. Let's be honest about it. When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it, because it's not supposed to happen. Whether it was the fault of a staffer or attorney, it makes no difference. The elected official bears ultimate responsibility. And we have to worry, since this new group that has taken over control of the House of Representatives has promised us endless investigations, confrontations, impeachments and chaos, what is going to happen.

Still, Durbin did generally agree with the thrust of Bash's question and maintained "it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it." Durbin did get around to contrasting the responses of Donald Trump and of Joe Biden to discovery of documents, noting 

what happened and followed from it is significantly different. Donald Trump defied those who knew the documents were in place and ultimately led to, involuntarily, a court order and a search of his Mar-a-Lago hotel resort to find out how many documents were there.

Contrast that with Joe Biden. Embarrassed by the situation, as he should have been, he invited the government agencies in to carefully look through all the boxes he had accumulated. It's a much different approach.



That's not good enough. American voters aren't going to be impressed with Joe Biden cooperating with a Department of Justice and an FBI it no longer holds up in such high respect (in part due to Trumpy attacks).  It's a mere legal matter- except insofar as there was a motive for the former President to obstruct an investigation in contrast to the cooperation thus far demonstrated by the current President and former Vice President Pence, who has now reported the existence of documents in his Indianapolis home.

Since the Biden difficulties emerged, there has been no discussion and virtually no speculation about the reasons either possessed classified documents in insecure locations. That is the major distinction between Biden and Trump. No one suspects that Joe Biden squirreled away documents to barter with the Saudis, the Russians, or the North Koreans. But Donald Trump may have done so. No one suspects that Joe Biden is possessing them so that if he is indicted, he has collateral in negotiations with the Justice Department, state or city authorities. But Donald Trump may have done so.

Nonetheless, now the American people think that the only difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden played nice with the federal government. They believe this because Durbin and other Democrats have encouraged them to believe that. Democrats refuse to suggest nefarious motives on the part of Donald Trump, which virtually every Democrat and most independents believe characterize the former President.

And another thing- please stop with this "embarrassed" thing. In a fair and just world, this would account for something. Americans would appreciate their leaders recognizing their wrongdoing and feeling guilty about it. However, not only do people realize this is not a fair and just world, most voters of the left or the right, whatever their reasons, no longer believe this even of the USA. Not only does an admission of embarrassment come off as weak, it is a virtual   admission of guilt.

We have here a classic example of Democrats believing the press is their friend. Dana Bash plays a video clip of Durbin labeling the hoarding of documents at Mar-a-Lago "an outrage, a literal outrage," asks if Biden's behavior "was also an outrage," and the Senate's second leading Democrat replies "and its heart, the issue is the same. Those documents should not have been in the personal possession of either Joe Biden or Donald Trump."  If media personalities suggest Joe Biden=Donald Trump, the question should be turned back on them.

The response of the two men been dramatically different, but the track record and  motives very likely are, also.  Some Democrats such as Dick Durbin much prefer to play defense rather than offense, to admit guilt, error, or embarrassment rather than focusing on their opponents. It's a defeatist media strategy and losing one.

 

 

 

And, Senator, I just should say sorry in advance if I have to interrupt you to go to that press conference. But we will go back.

And, while we are waiting, I want to turn to the new classified documents that the FBI found at the president's house in Delaware. It was a 13-hour search. That happened on Friday. It's just the latest revelation of the president having classified items that he shouldn't have.

You have been in Congress for 40 years. You have handled classified material for a lot of those years, probably most of them. How concerned are you about this?

DURBIN: Well, I'm concerned.

There's a standard that we follow when it comes to members of Congress and classified information. The door to my office is closed. The person who presents the document to me takes it out of a locked briefcase, hands it to me and watches as I read it, when I finish reading it, and he takes it back and puts it in the briefcase and leaves the scene.

I mean, that's how carefully we review these documents. To think that any of them ended up in boxes in storage one place or the other is just unacceptable.

But, having said that, let me make this point clear. Joe Biden has said from the start: We are going to be totally transparent about this. Let the chips fall where they may. I'm going to open my home voluntarily to a search, not the first search, I'm sure, of his offices and home.

He has shown total cooperation in this effort. That is a sharp contrast to President Trump.

BASH: Well, I want to -- speaking of former President Trump, I want to play something that you said last year about the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DURBIN: It's an outrage. It's a literal outrage. For the president to take this important information down to his home in Florida, and then store it in a closet with traffic, people back and forth in his resort and golf course, is an outrage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Is it also an outrage for the current president to have what appears to be multiple classified documents in multiple locations?

DURBIN: At its heart, the issue is the same. Those documents should not have been in the personal possession of either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

But what happened and followed from it is significantly different. Donald Trump defied those who knew the documents were in place and ultimately led to, involuntarily, a court order and a search of his Mar-a-Lago hotel resort to find out how many documents were there.

Contrast that with Joe Biden. Embarrassed by the situation, as he should have been, he invited the government agencies in to carefully look through all the boxes he had accumulated. It's a much different approach.

It is outrageous that either occurred. But the reaction by the former president and the current president could not be in sharper contrast.

BASH: They are. They're very different, no question about that.

Having said that, you are a politician. You have been around for a while, and you understand how these things play out. Do you fear that, because of that, the current president has kind of lost the high ground on this notion of classified information being where it shouldn't be?

DURBIN: Well, of course. Let's be honest about it.

When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it, because it's not supposed to happen. Whether it was the fault of a staffer or attorney, it makes no difference.

The elected official bears ultimate responsibility. And we have to worry, since this new group that has taken over control of the House of Representatives has promised us endless investigations, confrontations, impeachments and chaos, what is going to happen.

[09:15:00]

I only have one word for those who are dubious as to whether that will happen, and the word is Benghazi. How long did we spend going through Benghazi hearings in the Republican-controlled House in the past? Now imagine the MAGA Republicans and what they're setting out to do. I'm sure that they are going to have investigations to our heart's delight.

BASH: I want to turn to the debt ceiling, sir.

The White House insists they are not going to negotiate with Republicans who are demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit, so America doesn't default on its debt. Do you think the president should negotiate?

DURBIN: No, absolutely not.

Let's get to the bottom line here. Those who are posing for holy pictures as budget balances, the MAGA Republicans, should note one important fact. Almost 25 percent of all of the national debt accumulated over the history of the United States, 230 years, was accumulated during the four years of Donald Trump.

So, the notion that there is some partisan holy position that they're taking and that they're going to fight this battle of the matter of principle, when they enacted tax cuts for the wealthiest people of America during the Trump administration, they added dramatically to the national debt which we are now facing.

Having done that, they need to face the responsibility of paying for it. That is what the debt limit is about. And if we play games with this, if we delay this, if we have short-term extensions of the national debt, we run the very risk of a recession in this economy, millions of Americans out of work and interest rates going even higher, denying people an opportunity to buy a home or a car. And this economy will be stalled.

We shouldn't play games with the national debt.

BASH: When Joe Biden was vice president, I'm sure you remember, back in 2011, he was the lead negotiator on negotiations for spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

But you think -- you're saying you think it's different because of what happened during the Trump years?

DURBIN: I think it's different, not just because of the Trump years being the origin of much of this debt, but by the new House of Representatives, 15 ballots, Dana. You were there. You saw it, or at least witnessed it on television, 15 ballots to choose the speaker.

And he gave the authority to each member of the House to initiate a vote of no confidence on a daily basis. I mean, this is a House of Representatives which is under control of the MAGA Republicans at this point. And I'm fearful that very few constructive things will emerge.

BASH: Before I let you go. I have to ask about the Supreme Court. You are, of course, Senate Judiciary chairman.

You saw what happened at the court. They announced this week that they were unable to determine who leaked the draft decision overturning Roe vs. Wade last year. Clerks had -- and employees had to sign a sworn affidavit saying that they didn't leak the draft opinion.

The justices -- neither the justices nor their spouses actually had to sign affidavits. So, do you believe that that was a mistake? Should they have to do so to figure out where the leak comes -- came from?

DURBIN: Listen, the universe of people who are suspects in this leak of an opinion of the Supreme Court is really a small universe.

It includes the justices and their families, if they had access to this opinion, which I assume some of them did. They should have gone into the -- at least a position of assertions by each one of the justices as to what they did or did not do when it came to these opinions.

But I find it hard to imagine, with the small group of people who had access to this opinion, they couldn't come up with more information.

BASH: Are you going to try, in your capacity as Judiciary chair?

DURBIN: No, I don't think this is an area where we can go in with any kind of force and make for a changed result at this point.

BASH: OK. OK.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, thank you so much, and, I should say, the Senate whip. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Appreciate it.

DURBIN: Thanks, Dana.




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