It is time for another post about news that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five, this time with a cartoon-worthy villain who has featured in previous posts.
Roger Stone Found Guilty on All Count – Longtime Trump adviser convicted of lying to Congress under oath about WikiLeaks. Who would have guessed that the man who got Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back, and has for years lied about being a member of Nixon’s Presidential Campaign (last year the Nixon Foundation issues an offical refutation of the claim because all of the headlines that were referring to him as a campaign aide or a Nixon aide).
In case you don’t recall this criminal, Stone is a longtime Trump associate who, during the 2016 campaign, communicated (through intermediaries) with Wikileaks people to find out what was in those hacked Clinton campaign emails and similar bits of information. When we was subpoenaed by Congress a couple years ago, he denied all of it. He also communicated (often by text and email, the idiot) to others who had been subpoened and told them to lie, threatening them if they didn’t. This week, prosecutors laid that all out to a jury. Stone’s lawyers countered mostly by saying that laying under oath isn’t really a crime (which it is), and even if is it, so what? Fortunately, Assistant US Attorney Michael Marando had an answer:
“So what? So what?” Marando asked, with what seemed like real indignation. “If that’s the state of affairs that we’re in, I’m pretty shocked. Truth matters. Truth still matters, okay.” “…in our institutions of self governance, courts of law or committee hearings, where people have to testify under oath, truth still matters.”
“Mr. Stone came in and he lied to Congress,” Marando thundered at jurors. “He obstructed their investigation and he tampered with a witness, and that matters. And you don’t look at that and you don’t say: ‘So what?’ For those reasons we ask you to find him guilty of the charged offenses.”
—as quoted by Dan Friedman writing for Mother Jones, Prosecutors Just Rested Their Case Over Roger Stone’s Lies: “Truth Matters”.
Of course, this isn’t completely over:
Roger Stone was found guilty. Now all eyes turn to Trump – The president will face pressure to pardon Stone after the GOP operative was found guilty of charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. Donald took a few minutes out of his unhinged rage tweet-storm yesterday smearing and threatening the former Ambassador to Ukraine while she was testifying in the impeachment hearing, to tweet out typical what-about-ism nonsense. Basically, if Stone has to go to jail for lying, why aren’t other people who Trump claims have lied going to jail.
Stone got his pal, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to broadcast a plea to President Trump to pardon him. That fact came up in court on Friday, as prosecutors argued that it was a violation of the judge’s gag order on Stone about talking to the media. In a twist that I can’t say I complete disapprove of, the judge decided that Jones isn’t a journalist, merely a media figure. I’m glad that someone is starting to realize that just because someone posts video lies and distortions doesn’t mean they’re a journalist.
Because, you know, the truth matters.
I know that we’re soon going to be flooded with stories trying to generate sympathy for Stone. After all, earlier this year Stone and his wife were forced to move out of the 9-bedroom mansion they had been renting for nearly $10,000 a month into a one bedroom apartment! Not only that, they had to do the move themselves! His poor wife had to actually rent a U-Haul truck!? On the indignity!
I mention that specifically because one of the claims Trump and his allies have made is that Stone wasn’t even working for Trump when he was talking with Wikileaks and asking for dirt on the Clinton campaign and giving that dirt to members of the Trump campaign. That’s a pretty hard notion to swallow just on it’s own. But Stone’s careers has consisted mostly of getting hired as a consultant or advisor by wealthy men with little or no political experience who are considering running for office, or at least like to threaten to run for office. He’s always made his money by working as a so-called political consultant, and it is well known that he never does anything that he isn’t getting paid for.Someone was paying him enough to continue to afford to rent that big mansion in Florida, to keep buying his ostentatious wardrobe, to keep wining and dining people and jetsetting around while he was spending all that time finding information that would benefit the Trump campaign. If it wasn’t some part of the Trump organization, who was it?
Of course, even if he wasn’t being paid by Trump to do it, it was still illegal. Just as lying under oath to a government entity investigating a possible crime later was illegal. And it doesn’t become legal just because you think some people who disagree with have said things you disagree with and have decided to label as “lies.”
I don’t know if Trump is going to pardon Roger. Roger is, afterall, the sixth person so far to get convicted for crimes on the Trump campaign’s behalf, and he hasn’t pardoned any of the previous five. In Trump’s mind, loyalty only goes one way. You must be loyal to him. He will never to loyal to you. So I don’t think he will.
And, hey, Stone doesn’t get sentenced until February. By then, maybe Trump won’t be the person holding the power of pardoning.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
Time for another post about news that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five (or didn’t come to my attention until afterward). And as usual I have some opinions that I wish to expound upon.
First up, if ever a headline deserved the word finally: GOP Rep. Amash becomes first Republican to say Trump ‘engaged in impeachable conduct’. Representative Amash has always described himself as a Libertarian, so he’s never been lock-step with the more overtly evangelical or authoritarian wings of the Republican party. So it makes sense that he would be one of the people who would look past partisan loyalty and talk about defending liberty. The sad part is that so far none of the other self-described Libertarians have been willing to do the same thing.
If you’re wondering why so far no other single Republican has been willing to do their duty and uphold the Constitution in the face of the blatant unfitness and corruption of the Trump administration, this provides a nice explanation: Why Justin Amash stands alone. The short version: Congressional Republicans fall into roughly three camps: 1) they know he’s corrupt and unfit, but they’ll get the judges and tax laws they want until things come crashing down around him, at which point they’ll all say they were always secretly opposed to him, 2) those who recognize that they’re financial futures are tied to being about to stay in the Conservative Bubble Racket, so if they oppose Trump, they won’t get those lucrative Fox News or Think Tank jobs when they retire, 3) and then a lot of them are genuinely racist, homophobic, and otherwise hateful and actually believe in everything he’s doing.
I’m not ready to label Amash a hero, because Trump’s violation of the Emoluments Clause at the very beginning of his administration should have brought some protests from Congressional Republicans. And in various tweets and statements while trying to attack his perceived enemies, Trump admitted to the obstruction of justice about two years ago, long before the blatant refusal to respond to Congressional subpoenas now. Amash should have been making these kind of critical statements then. He was probably in Camp 1 above, though not very enthusiastically. I see Amash as more of a glimmer of hope that maybe his decision was driven by those polls showing a larger and larger number of Americans who believe Trump is guilty, and so we may be reaching the stage where the rest of Camp 1 will start peeling off.
I said was a glimmer, but a big one.
While we’re on the topic of why it matters that the Republicans in Camp 1 and Camp 2 have been derelict in their Constitutional duties for three years: Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan — SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened. The Alabama abortion bill is awful, and it isn’t just about abortion: it effectively outlaws a lot of medical treatments that people need. It makes the penalty for getting an abortion, even in the case of rape, more severe than the most severe penalty given to rapists! It’s just horrible. It’s also taking aim at the legal basis for the ruling that overturned sodomy laws, making it legal for gay people to have consentual sex in the privacy of their own homes.
And despite what the headline says, I don’t believe for a moment that the Supreme Court will go ahead and uphold it when it gets to them. Roberts may have hoped to destroy abortion rights in a continuing series of small steps where he could pretend that he was just allowing reasonable restrictions, but he was clearly on board with the goal. So I’m not holding out much hope.
And as I have tried to point out many times to some gay men I know who keep insisting that abortion has nothing to do with them: the exact same reasoning–a person has the right to decide what to do with their own body–that underlies the landmark abortion rights case, was also used by the justices who overturned sodomy laws, and it is part of the reasoning for the ruling the legalized marriage equality. This is just another domino in a long line of ways that some people want to take away rights from a whole lot of us.
And that’s depressing, so I’m going to switch gears and share this story about a situation that almost turned into yet another school shooting, but was stopped, not by a good man with a gun, but by an unarmed good man: Former Oregon Ducks wide receiver hailed as hero at Parkrose High School.
In case you’ve already read more about it than you like, I’ll put it behind a cut tag. So don’t click if you don’t want to see… Read More…