Thursday, December 9, 2021

 -Tucker Carlson, on the true cost of catching COVID-19 (the way Donald Trump did)

New York prosecutors have cranked up the difficulty on the high-stakes game of Subpoena Whack-A-Mole that defines Donald Trump’s post-presidency, as House investigators do their best to confiscate his giant mallet.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James will seek to depose Donald Trump as part of her civil tax-fraud investigation of the Trump Organization, which could ultimately lead to a lawsuit against the company. James has requested that Trump stop by on January 7 to answer questions under oath about his company’s suspicious property valuations.
  • In what may or may not be a sign that James has something juicy, she abruptly suspended her campaign for governor on Thursday, and will instead seek another term in her current office. “I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.” (It’s also true that James never quite launched a full campaign, which makes slamming on the brakes a little less dramatic.)
  • Trump’s lawyer said on Thursday that he will ask a judge to block the subpoena, likely on the grounds that his testimony could be used against him in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s parallel criminal investigation (in which James’s office is also participating). If a judge declines, he could still plead the Fifth and refuse to answer questions, but that might strengthen the civil case against him.

On the January 6 side of the Whack-A-Mole board, the courts continue to deem Donald Trump’s executive-privilege claim ludicrous, while generously helping him waste a bunch of time with it anyway.

  • A three-judge panel on the DC Circuit voted unanimously to reject Trump’s request to block the January 6 committee from accessing his archived White House records, writing, “former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the Political Branches over these documents.” Instead of denying Trump administrative relief, which would have freed the documents up right away, though, the court gave Trump 14 days to run to the Supreme Court for help, where he unfortunately might find a more sympathetic, can-kicking audience. 
  • The full House will vote Tuesday on holding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt for violating his subpoena, as the January 6 panel seeks to find out what he has that could possibly be more damning than the utterly bonkers shit he’s already turned over. Meanwhile, the committee met with former Pentagon official Kash Patel and Stop The Steal organizer Ali Alexander on Thursday. While former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide has agreed to cooperate, Pence has declined to commit to cooperating with the investigation himself. 

The investigations into Donald Trump’s corporate tax fraud and attempted overthrow of the government are both escalating despite his best efforts, but it’s up to the courts to enforce the principle that Trump and his allies aren’t above the law. We’re about to find out whether the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority feels like it. 

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The White House’s first-ever virtual Summit for Democracy kicked off on Thursday, with President Biden calling on more than 100 world leaders to help end the “backward slide” of democracy around the globe. Biden acknowledged that the U.S. is one of the biggest backsliders in the game—“Here in the United States we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,”—and announced an initiative to spend up to $424 million on programs around the world to support independent media, target corruption networks, and more. Chinese and Russian officials, who were not invited, have put out a flood of propaganda attacking the summit and describing their own countries’ systems as democratic.

University of Florida researchers felt pressured to destroy COVID-19 data and avoid criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), according to a new report by a faculty senate committee. The six-person panel was convened three weeks ago after the university barred three professors from testifying in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s new voter-suppression law, but it received a flood of input about other allegations. University researchers who were working on a COVID-19 study for a state entity felt “external pressure to destroy” data and “barriers to accessing and analyzing” data in a timely manner. The report stated that university employees were told “not to criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to COVID-19 in media interactions.” Faculty also said that they were required to change websites and course syllabi, and ensure that the words “critical” and “race” didn’t appear in the same sentence or document. Just some chill authoritarian demands from the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, if Trump doesn’t run.

Tell the Biden Administration to Cancel Student Debt

The cost of higher education has grown exponentially in our country, placing it out of reach for most students and families unless they agree to take on huge amounts of debt. Over 44 million Americans carry more than $1.7 trillion of student debt. This crushing burden is preventing millions from buying homes, starting businesses, saving for retirement, or even starting families: And that reality falls heaviest on communities of color – particularly Black people and especially Black women – as a direct result of systemic racism.

That's why we’re urging the Biden Administration to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower by the end of 2021 – and we need as many people with us as possible. Add your name to our petition to join us in action today.

Centuries of structural inequities and racism have created large barriers in access to education for Black communities. For instance, Black families have far less generational wealth to draw on to pay for college than white families – and as a result, are more likely to take on student loans and struggle with repayment, which is exacerbated by job discrimination and pay disparities. Two decades after taking out student loans, the median Black borrower still owes 95 percent of debt, whereas the median white borrower has paid off 94 percent of debt.

But canceling student debt can help close the racial wealth gap by over 20 percent – securing financial stability and economic mobility for Black, Latinx, and other people of color who are disproportionately burdened by loans, while addressing the debt crisis for millions.

It’s a common-sense solution and there is no reason to wait: Sign our petition telling the Biden administration to cancel $50,000 of student loan debt per eligible borrower now.

Thanks for taking action, 
The ACLU Team

Weekly unemployment claims hit a new 52-year low last week.

A Buffalo, NY, Starbucks has voted to become the first unionized Starbucks location in the country. 

New York City has approved a measure to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has rid its walls of the Sackler family name. 

. . . . . .

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