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May 26 2021

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Neal K. Katyal: The Public Deserves to See This Legal Memo About Donald Trump

Did the former Attorney General William P. Barr use his mighty powers to protect his boss?

The Biden Justice Department appears to be making a serious mistake by trying to keep secret a Trump-era document about former Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to clear his boss, former President Donald Trump, of obstructing justice.

The American people have a right to see the memo. Then they can decide whether Mr. Barr used his power as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer as a shield to protect the president.

This month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered it released. Were this an ordinary criminal case, her order would represent a remarkable intrusion into prosecutorial secrecy, and I would have appealed when I was acting solicitor general.

But the document is anything but ordinary. It concerns attempts at the highest levels of government to shield the attorney general’s boss from criminal liability. It is, in essence, the people’s memo, and with its appeal, the Justice Department is attempting to hide it from public scrutiny.

Karen Tumulty: Kevin McCarthy, meet Dr. Frankenstein

Recent events have shown is that Republicans must do more than simply denounce Greene.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein would understand what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is feeling as he watches his party’s own creation careen across the political landscape, leaving wreckage and mayhem at every turn.

When a trove of lunatic social media postings that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) made before she was elected to Congress came to light in January, McCarthy invited her to his office for what his spokesman described as “a conversation.” [..]

In a closed Republican caucus held shortly after her talking-to by McCarthy, Greene apologized, claimed she no longer believed in conspiracy theories and got an ovation from her colleagues.

The minority leader expressed confidence that she had learned her lesson and predicted that Greene would hold herself to a “higher standard” now that she was a lawmaker and not a private citizen. Nonetheless, the full House, which has a narrow Democratic majority, voted to strip her of her committee assignments.

Greene, however, continues her bottom-feeding ways, apparently feeling even less constrained now that she has no actual policymaking responsibilities. [..]

What all of this has shown is that Republicans must do more than simply denounce Greene. It is time for them to, at a minimum, rally behind censuring her. A resolution to do so is being drafted by Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.). They should also kick her out of their caucus, as Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has proposed.

Anything less makes hollow Republican leaders’ efforts to portray Greene as merely a fringe player among their ranks. They created her, and they continue to elevate her.

Amanda Marcotte: Ignore GOP condemnations of Marjorie Taylor Greene — it’s all a part of the troll

GOP leaders have a symbiotic relationship with the Republican Troll Queen

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, like a cat peeing on your bed, has found the most surefire way to get that sweet, sweet attention she craves: Holocaust comparisons.

It started last week when the QAnon congresswoman from Georgia made a glib and risible comparison between an ongoing mask mandate in the House of Representatives — necessary only because GOP congressional members refuse to get COVID-19 vaccines (or admit they did, anyway) — to literal genocide. [..]

Her comments drew exactly the reaction Greene clearly desired: Anger and outrage from liberals — and just the right Republicans. Having gotten exactly what she wanted, Greene took another bite at the apple on Tuesday, tweeting some more garbage about how vaccination requirements are also the Holocaust.

Finally, Republican leadership went ahead and condemned her remarks, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling them “appalling” and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling them “outrageous.” Notably, however, no one in GOP leadership called for any actual consequences for Greene, even of the most toothless sort, like a congressional censure.

Republican leaders actually benefit from Greene’s trollish antics and have no reason to get in her way. They have a symbiotic relationship with Greene. Everyone reaps rewards from this little game, where she acts like a brat and they pretend to disapprove. So there’s no reason for anyone in leadership to actually take action to stop her trolling.

So Greene is now Queen of the Right-Wing Trolls.

Jennifer Rubin: This is what justice looks like

The rule of law might just be making a comeback.

One could almost hear the walls closing in on the former president on Tuesday, albeit not for any alleged crimes having to do with his time in office (e.g., pressuring election officials in Georgia, inciting a riot at the Capitol, obstructing justice).

The Post reports: “Manhattan’s district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development.” The former president, like any American, enjoys the presumption of innocence in a criminal court. That said, “the move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance thinks he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump, by someone potentially close to him or by his company.”

Now consider what we did not see or hear:

Any call from the White House to “lock him up”
Any effort to taint the jury pool by leaks of incriminating evidence or accusations
Any rush to judgment designed to influence the 2024 election
Any misleading argument or preposterous legal theory advanced by the government in court as we saw in federal courts over the past four years

This is how criminal prosecutions are supposed to be conducted: out of the limelight, following facts, applying law and showing no political favoritism nor animus based on the identity of the defendant. Whatever decision the grand jury reaches on the former president or his associates, we can have confidence it will be a legal, not political, finding. (If anything, the Biden administration would like to get its predecessor off the national stage and out of the news.)