Elon Musk Would Reverse Twitter’s Ban on Trump – The New York Times

“Elon Musk said on Tuesday that he would “reverse the permanent ban” of former President Donald J. Trump on Twitter and let him back on the social network, in one of the first specific comments by Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, of how he would change the social media service.

Mr. Musk, who struck a deal last month to buy Twitter for $44 billion, said at a Financial Times conference that the company’s decision to bar Mr. Trump last year for tweets about the riots at the U.S. Capitol was “a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.” He added that it was “morally wrong and flat-out stupid” and that “permanent bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Elon Musk does not understand the damage that unregulated social media has on democracy, through the promotion of fake news and fake facts and conspiracy theories. My partner and I have been saving our money to buy a Tesla, probably in the next year or two. If Musk undoes the small progress that Twitter has made to be socially and politically responsible, including the banning of Trump, we will not be buying that Tesla, but one of its competitors, which are now coming out every month. We owe a great debt to Elon Musk for creating or accelerating the electric car market, but that does not mean we can look past his repulsive insensitivity to the threats, including Donald Trump, that endanger democracies here and abroad.
David writes about the climate crises here in comments, and at his blog, InconvenientNews.net

Trump Is Guilty of ‘Numerous’ Felonies, Prosecutor Who Resigned Says – The New York Times

One of the senior Manhattan prosecutors who investigated Donald J. Trump believed that the former president was “guilty of numerous felony violations” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable, according to a copy of his resignation letter.

The prosecutor, Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted his resignation last month after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, abruptly stopped pursuing an indictment of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pomerantz, 70, a prominent former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer who came out of retirement to work on the Trump investigation, resigned on the same day as Carey R. Dunne, another senior prosecutor leading the inquiry.

Mr. Pomerantz’s Feb. 23 letter, obtained by The New York Times, offers a personal account of his decision to resign and for the first time states explicitly his belief that the office could have convicted the former president. Mr. Bragg’s decision was “contrary to the public interest,” he wrote.

Mark Pomerantz, one of two lawyers who were leading a criminal inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s business practices, said in his resignation letter that he believed Mr. Trump had committed felonies. 

Credit…David Karp/Associated Press

“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did,” Mr. Pomerantz wrote.

Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne planned to charge Mr. Trump with falsifying business records, specifically his annual financial statements — a felony in New York State.

Mr. Bragg’s decision not to pursue charges then — and the resignations that followed — threw the fate of the long-running investigation into serious doubt. If the prosecutors had secured an indictment of Mr. Trump, it would have been the highest-profile case ever brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and would have made Mr. Trump the first American president to face criminal charges.”

David LIndsay: Trump walks, because not enough cronies talk, or new DA is chickenshit.

Here are the two most popular comments which I endorsed:fus Collins

Brooklyn2h ago

President Trump was not charged with obstruction of justice because the DOJ will not indict a sitting president. Citizen Trump walks because the DA is afraid to lose the case. Conclusion: someone is above the law.

1 Reply499 Recommended

Expat
France 2h ago

I understand Alvin Bragg being cautious and not wanting to lose what would be the highest profile case his office has ever brought, but the case has to go forward. As Pomerantz said, no case is a sure thing. Without the benefit of knowing all the details of the case and the evidence, it seems clear that Trump has broken the law, many times over. At the very least, a jury should be empaneled to hear the case. Bragg seems more worried about his reputation than what is vastly more important: Letting Trump possibly/probably get away with criminal conduct. At the very least, it once again looks like there is a two-tier system of justice in the United States — one for the rich and one for everyone else. That undermines the rule of law and people’s faith in it. Trump must be prosecuted.

6 Replies489 Recommend

David Brooks | Defeat Trump, Now More Than Ever – The New York Times

“The democratic nations of the world are in a global struggle against authoritarianism. That struggle has international fronts — starting with the need to confront, repel and weaken Vladimir Putin.

But that struggle also has domestic fronts — the need to defeat the mini-Putins now found across the Western democracies. These are the demagogues who lie with Putinesque brazenness, who shred democratic institutions with Putinesque bravado, who strut the world’s stage with Putin’s amoral schoolboy machismo while pretending to represent all that is traditional and holy.

In the United States that, of course, is Donald Trump. This moment of heightened danger and crisis makes it even clearer that the No. 1 domestic priority for all Americans who care about democracy is to make sure Trump never sees the inside of the Oval Office ever again. As democracy is threatened from abroad, it can’t also be cannibalized from within.

Thinking has to be crystal clear. What are the crucial battlegrounds in the struggle against Trump? He won the White House by winning Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with strong support from white voters without a college degree. Joe Biden ousted Trump by winning back those states and carrying the new swing states, Arizona and Georgia.

So for the next three years Democrats need to wake up with one overriding political thought: What are we doing to appeal to all working-class voters in those five states? Are we doing anything today that might alienate these voters?

Are the Democrats winning the contest for these voters right now? No.”

“. . . What do Democrats need to do now? Well, one thing they are really good at. Over the past few years a wide range of thinkers — across the political spectrum — have congregated around a neo-Hamiltonian agenda that stands for the idea that we need to build more things — roads, houses, colleges, green technologies and ports. Democrats need to hammer home this Builders agenda, which would provide good-paying jobs and renew American dynamism.

But Democrats also have to do something they’re really bad at: Craft a cultural narrative around the theme of social order. The Democrats have been blamed for fringe ideas like “defund the police” and a zeal for “critical race theory” because the party doesn’t have its own mainstream social and cultural narrative.”

Bravo David Brooks.

Here are the three top comments.

DL
Palo AltoFeb. 24

And maybe the Republicans should also do what they can to keep Trump out of office. Oh, wait, they had their chance (twice) and didn’t.

16 Replies2140 Recommended

Phocion commented February 24

Phocion
United StatesFeb. 24

Thanks for this, but I would remind David that the Republican Party has a role to play in this too—by forbidding Donald Trump to be their nominee.

12 Replies1894 Recommended

Paul Wortman commented February 25

Paul Wortman
ProvidenceFeb. 25
Times Pick

Vladimir Putin has always counted on Donald Trump to be a force to divide the nation and weaken our resolve to defend democracy against authoritarian rule. You are absolutely right in the need to “defeat Trump” and his Republican Party that are now an insurrectionist, fifth column seeking to undermine the renewed Western alliance that President Biden has worked so hard and so effectively to restore. The old Biblical saying echoed by Lincoln that “a house divided cannot stand” remains true in the current crisis in confronting Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, and Putin is counting on Trump to weaken us and the West. The Democrats must unite around a simple, but effective narrative that embraces the principles of democracy and human dignity which includes strong support for blue collar workers to have a living wage and an easy right to unionize. Moreover, they must finally go on offense against the sedition of Trump and his allies in Congress and the media who support a Putin-style racist, authoritarian kleptocracy in America, and mobilize voter registration on a massive scale.

11 Replies1804 Recommended

Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6 – justsecurity.org – NYU Law School

I learned about this disturbing article from Shermandigest.wordpress.com.

“One of the most vexing questions about Jan. 6 is why the National Guard took more than three hours to arrive at the Capitol after D.C. authorities and Capitol Police called for immediate assistance. The Pentagon’s restraint in allowing the Guard to get to the Capitol was not simply a reflection of officials’ misgivings about the deployment of military force during the summer 2020 protests, nor was it simply a concern about “optics” of having military personnel at the Capitol. Instead, evidence is mounting that the most senior defense officials did not want to send troops to the Capitol because they harbored concerns that President Donald Trump might utilize the forces’ presence in an attempt to hold onto power.

According to a report released last month, Christopher Miller, who served as acting Secretary of the Defense on Jan. 6, told the Department’s inspector general that he feared “if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest Constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War.” In congressional testimony, he said he was also cognizant of “fears that the President would invoke the Insurrection Act to politicize the military in an anti-democratic manner” and that “factored into my decisions regarding the appropriate and limited use of our Armed Forces to support civilian law enforcement during the Electoral College certification.”

Miller does not specify who held the fears that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act, and he wasn’t asked by Congress. However, it’s now clear that such concerns were shared by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as former CIA Director and at the time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Before Nov. 3, Milley and Pompeo confided in one another that they had a persistent worry Trump would try to use the military in an attempt to hold onto power if he lost the election, the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reported. “This military’s not going to be used,” Milley assured Pompeo.”

Source: Crisis of Command: The Pentagon, The President, and January 6

Thomas Friedman | How to Stop Trump and Prevent Another Jan. 6 – The New York Times

“. . . .  I love that phrase — unexpected truths. We have launched a space telescope that can peer far into the universe to discover — with joy — unexpected truths.

Alas, though, my joy is tempered by those two other stories, by the fact that here on Earth, in America, one of our two national parties and its media allies have chosen instead to celebrate and propagate alternative facts.

This struggle between those seeking unexpected truths — which is what made us great as a nation — and those worshiping alternative facts — which will destroy us as a nation — is THE story on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurgency, and for the coming year. Many people, particularly in the American business community, are vastly underestimating the danger to our constitutional order if this struggle ends badly.

If the majority of G.O.P. lawmakers continue to bow to the most politically pernicious “alternative fact” — that the 2020 election was a fraud that justifies empowering Republican legislatures to override the will of voters and remove Republican and Democratic election supervisors who helped save our democracy last time by calling the election fairly — then America isn’t just in trouble. It is headed for what scientists call “an extinction-level event.”

Only it won’t be a comet hurtling past the Webb telescope from deep space that destroys our democracy, as in the new movie “Don’t Look Up.”

No, no — it will be an unraveling from the ground up, as our country, for the first time, is unable to carry out a peaceful transfer of power to a legitimately elected president. Because if Donald Trump and his flock are able in 2024 to execute a procedural coup like they attempted on Jan. 6, 2021, Democrats will not just say, “Ah shucks, we’ll try harder next time.” They will take to the streets.

Right now, though, too many Republicans are telling themselves and the rest of us: “Don’t look up! Don’t pay attention to what is unfolding in plain sight with Trump & Company. Trump won’t be the G.O.P.’s candidate in 2024.”

Who will save us?

God bless Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republican House members participating on the Jan. 6 investigation committee. But they are not enough. Kinzinger is retiring and the G.O.P. leadership, on Trump’s orders, is trying to launch Cheney into deep space.

I think our last best hope is the leadership of the U.S. business community, specifically the Business Roundtable, led by General Motors C.E.O. Mary Barra, and the Business Council, led by Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella. Together those two groups represent the roughly 200 most powerful companies in America, with 20 million employees. Although formally nonpartisan, they lean center-right — but the old center-right, the one that believed in the rule of law, free markets, majority rule, science and the sanctity of our elections and constitutional processes.

Collectively, they are the only responsible force left with real leverage on Trump and the Republican lawmakers doing his bidding. They need to persuade their members — now — not to donate a penny more to any local, state or national candidate who has voted to dismantle the police or dismantle the Constitution.”

David Lindsay Jr: Great column, Thomas Friedman, thank you. While there are a few good comments, most criticize Friedman, since all rich business people are evil and authoritarian.  I’m sure that Friedman is right, and they are wrong. My father was a wall street lawyer, who worked for major multinationals like Mobil Oil, but his passion was to study Abraham Lincoln and the civil war. The Lindsay brothers were committed to the civil rights movement, and a democracy of law as well as order. My father once explained to me that big corporations were not all evil, especially in a democracy, because if the government were to turn bad, and become authoritarian, the only force in the country strong enough to stand up to the government, are the big corporations. They are like a ballast, in my own words, that keep this ship from tilting too far to the left or the right. I hope he was right.

Rebecca Solnit | Why Republicans Keep Falling for Trump’s Lies – The New York Times

Ms. Solnit is a political essayist.

“When called upon to believe that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya, millions got in line. When encouraged to believe that the 2012 Sandy Hook murder of twenty children and six adults was a hoax, too many stepped up. When urged to believe that Hillary Clinton was trafficking children in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor with no basement, they bought it, and one of them showed up in the pizza place with a rifle to protect the kids. The fictions fed the frenzies, and the frenzies shaped the crises of 2020 and 2021. The delusions are legion: Secret Democratic cabals of child abusers, millions of undocumented voters, falsehoods about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine.

While much has been said about the moral and political stance of people who support right-wing conspiracy theories, their gullibility is itself alarming. Gullibility means malleability and manipulability. We don’t know if the people who believed the prevailing 2012 conspiracy theories believed the 2016 or 2020 versions, but we do know that a swath of the conservative population is available for the next delusion and the one after that. And on Jan. 6, 2021, we saw that a lot of them were willing to act on those beliefs.

The adjective gullible comes from the verb to gull, which used to mean to cram yourself with something as well as to cheat or dupe, to cram someone else full of fictions. “Not doubting I could gull the Government,” wrote Daniel Defoe in 1701, and Hannah Arendt used the word gullible repeatedly in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” published in 1951. “A mixture of gullibility and cynicism is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements, and the higher the rank the more cynicism weighs down gullibility,” she wrote. That is, among those gulling the public, cynicism is a stronger force; among those being gulled, gullibility is, but the two are not so separate as they might seem.”

Prosecutors Move Quickly on Jan. 6 Cases, but Big Questions Remain – The New York Times

“By almost any measure, the criminal investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is a prosecutorial effort of unparalleled complexity and scope.

For an entire year, federal agents in almost every state have been poring over mounting stacks of tipster reports, interviews with witnesses, public social media posts and private messages obtained by warrants. They have also collected nearly 14,000 hours of video — from media outlets, surveillance cameras and police-worn body cameras — enough raw footage that it would take a year and a half of around-the-clock viewing to get through it.

While the Justice Department has called the inquiry one of the largest in its history, traditional law enforcement officials have not been acting alone. Working with information from online sleuths who style themselves as “Sedition Hunters,” the authorities have made more than 700 arrests — with little sign of slowing down.

The government estimates that as many as 2,500 people who took part in the events of Jan. 6 could be charged with federal crimes. That includes more than 1,000 incidents that prosecutors believe could be assaults.”

David Lindsay: Excellent article, thank you. I found one of many good comments, which informed on subject I am deeply curious about. If this is true, wonderful.

Aurora
Vermont5h ago

Merrick Garland knows that if he is ever to indict former president Donald Trump he can never give the slightest indication that such an investigation is on. Donald Trump would label it a witch hunt and make sure the whole world knows it. Avoiding a circus atmosphere is critical to prosecuting such a case, if ever prosecuted. If a criminal trial were to occur Trump’s defense team would use the same tried-and-true strategy that has served Trump so well these past 6 years: people are attacking Donald Trump for political reasons; it’s Democrats against Republicans. Garland has one other bullet to dodge in his investigation: at trial he’ll need 12 guilty votes in a country where 40% of Americans fully support the former president. For this reason Garland must have an ironclad, squeaky clean case. The good news, for those of us who put reality above crazy conspiracy theories and political histrionics, Merrick Garland is the perfect choice to build an ironclad, squeaky clean case. But it will probably take another year.

4 Replies185 Recommended

Mike Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty. – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

Laurence H. Tribe, et al | Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? – The New York Times

Laurence H. Tribe, Donald Ayer and 

Mr. Tribe taught constitutional law at Harvard for 50 years. Merrick Garland was one of his students. Mr. Ayer oversaw criminal prosecutions and investigations as Ronald Reagan’s U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California. He later served as deputy attorney general. Mr. Aftergut handled a number of complex investigations and prosecutions as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco.

“In his nine months in office, Attorney General Merrick Garland has done a great deal to restore integrity and evenhanded enforcement of the law to an agency that was badly misused for political reasons under his predecessor. But his place in history will be assessed against the challenges that confronted him. And the overriding test that he and the rest of the government face is the threat to our democracy from people bent on destroying it.

Mr. Garland’s success depends on ensuring that the rule of law endures. That means dissuading future coup plotters by holding the leaders of the insurrection fully accountable for their attempt to overthrow the government. But he cannot do so without a robust criminal investigation of those at the top, from the people who planned, assisted or funded the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote to those who organized or encouraged the mob attack on the Capitol. To begin with, he might focus on Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and even Donald Trump — all of whom were involved, in one way or another, in the events leading up to the attack.

Almost a year after the insurrection, we have yet to see any clear indicators that such an investigation is underway, raising the alarming possibility that this administration may never bring charges against those ultimately responsible for the attack.

Meadows and the Band of Loyalists: How They Fought to Keep Trump in Power – The Newu York Times

WASHINGTON — Two days after Christmas last year, Richard P. Donoghue, a top Justice Department official in the waning days of the Trump administration, saw an unknown number appear on his phone.

Mr. Donoghue had spent weeks fielding calls, emails and in-person requests from President Donald J. Trump and his allies, all of whom asked the Justice Department to declare, falsely, that the election was corrupt. The lame-duck president had surrounded himself with a crew of unscrupulous lawyers, conspiracy theorists, even the chief executive of MyPillow — and they were stoking his election lies.

Mr. Trump had been handing out Mr. Donoghue’s cellphone number so that people could pass on rumors of election fraud. Who could be calling him now?

It turned out to be a member of Congress: Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who began pressing the president’s case. Mr. Perry said he had compiled a dossier of voter fraud allegations that the department needed to vet. Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who had found favor with Mr. Trump, could “do something” about the president’s claims, Mr. Perry said, even if others in the department would not.

The message was delivered by an obscure lawmaker who was doing Mr. Trump’s bidding. Justice Department officials viewed it as outrageous political pressure from a White House that had become consumed by conspiracy theories.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Where is the Justice Department on these apparent crimes? Where is Merrick Garland, the Attorney General? I’d like a report to explain what appears to be their silence. Do they have to wait till this congressional investigation is completed, or is Trump essentially immune? Could the NYT help explain all these questions?