Monday, January 10, 2022

 -Anti-vaxxer Christopher Key hawking the next golden COVID cure 

Republicans have overwhelmingly accepted twice-impeached former president Donald Trump as their tyrannical, sludge-brained king-for-life. Trump’s lawyers just hope the courts will feel the same way. 

  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a lengthy, grievance-packed letter to the January 6 committee indicating that he won’t cooperate with the investigation voluntarily, without explicitly declaring so. Jordan, who texted berserk legal strategies for overturning the election to Trump’s team in the leadup to the attack and spoke to Trump on the phone at least once as the violence unfolded, wrote that he had “no relevant information that would assist the Select Committee in advancing any legitimate legislative purpose.”
  • A January 6 committee spokesperson said Sunday that the panel considers Jordan a material witness and will consider “appropriate next steps.” The spokesperson also suggested that Trump had left a horse head in Jordan’s ugly-yellow-tie drawer: “Jordan has previously said that he would cooperate with the committee's investigation, but it now appears that the Trump team has persuaded him to try to hide the facts and circumstances of January 6th.”
  • It’s hard to imagine how Trump has the time to strong-arm Republicans behind the scenes when he’s so busy doing it out in public. After Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) strayed from the GOP script on Sunday by saying that the 2020 election was “as fair as we have seen,” Trump released a statement in which he repeated voter-fraud lies, called Rounds a RINO, and vowed that “even though his election will not be coming up for 5 years, I will never endorse this jerk again.” (A missed opportunity to simply fire off “what goes a-Rounds comes a-Rounds,” but that’s what happens when your tweeting muscles atrophy over the course of a year.)

Meanwhile, it’s time for a federal judge to weigh in on whether a dangerous former president can ever be held liable for anything he did in office, or nah.

  • U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta held a Monday hearing on three civil lawsuits Trump faces for inciting the January 6 attack in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, to decide whether the suits can move forward. Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall, arguing for dismissal, claimed that Trump was legally immune for everything he said or did while in office, including his phone call to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger urging him to “find” more votes. When Mehta pressed him for an example of something a president could say in office that would make him liable in a civil suit, Binnall replied, “I cannot think of an example.”
  • Despite finely honed arguments like, “the president may do literally whatever, Your Honor,” the hearing did not go well for the Trump team. Mehta’s questioning suggested he thought that Trump’s inaction during the January 6 attack could plausibly be interpreted as agreement with the rioters’ actions. “If my words had been misconstrued…and they led to violence, wouldn’t somebody, the reasonable person, just come out and say, wait a second, stop?” Mehta asked, citing evidence that Trump’s own children had urged him to do just that.

The GOP has reconfigured itself around the positions that no election is fair unless Trump (or a down-ballot Republican) wins it, and that nothing is a crime or an abuse of power if Trump was behind it. The fate of Trump’s civil lawsuits—and the Justice Department’s determination about whether to prosecute him at all—will bear on whether that warped doctrine becomes the de facto law of the land.

This week on Offline, Jon talks to Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former Chief Security Officer, about his first-hand look at Facebook’s internal politics, his insight on Russian hackers and the Haugen papers, and makes the case that it’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to step down. New episodes of Offline drop every Sunday in the Pod Save America feed. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions rose by 6.2 percent last year, as diesel-fueled trucks got back on the road and utilities fired up their coal plants amid high natural-gas prices. On the one hand, the uptick wasn’t entirely unexpected: Emissions fell by more than 10 percent in 2020 when the pandemic brought the world to a halt, the largest one-year drop on record. On the other hand, it’s a big flashing red light warning that the U.S. is still too dependent on fossil fuels, and that urgent action is needed to meet President Biden’s goal of slashing emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Unless Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) fracks his head out of his ass and agrees to vote for the major climate policies in the Build Back Better Act, that goal is almost certainly unattainable. West Virginia coal mining unions have ratcheted up the pressure on Manchin to support the bill and help workers transition to renewable-energy jobs, even as mine owners urge him to continue opposing it.

American and Russian diplomats held talks on Monday in Geneva but made no real progress towards de-escalating Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border. That met the low expectations set by State Department officials, who cautioned that a major breakthrough was unlikely. The talks hit a wall over Moscow’s demand that NATO never admit Ukraine and other former Soviet states as members, a big ol’ nonstarter for the U.S. Russian officials claimed to have no plans to invade Ukraine, and were met with open skepticism from the American side. Monday’s session was just the start of a week of discussions; NATO will sit down with Russia on Wednesday, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold a third round of talks on Thursday.

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A 57-year-old Maryland man has received the first successful transplant of a heart from a genetically modified pig.

The Biden administration has announced it will take steps to reverse a Trump-era plan that opened up more of the Arctic for drilling.

Michelle Obama and When We All Vote have announced a coalition of 30 voting rights organizations aimed at registering more than a million new voters ahead of the midterms. 

A second Starbucks store in upstate New York has successfully unionized.

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