Friday, January 29, 2021

Remember Kyrsten Sinema, the radical socialist?

 Do you remember Kyrsten Sinema, the socialist and radical? I stress the socialist and radical part because that is not the Kyrsten Sinema that we see today. In fact, Sinema has become somewhat popular in conservative and libertarian circles.

To remember the socialist Sinema, you’ll have to get into the Way Back Machine and travel back to the Arizona Senate campaign of 2018. Sinema was squaring off against Republican Martha McSally in a race that pitted the two congresswomen against each other in a battle for Jeff Flake’s Senate seat.

Kyrsten Sinema (US House/Public Domain)

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I remember this race well because there was a lot of angst about Sinema. Looking back, some of the biggest issues in the campaign seem to be the fact that Sinema was once photographed wearing a “pink tutu” at a protest and the allegation that she was “a Prada socialist.” The charges were not without merit. Sinema was once a Ralph Nader supporter in the Green Party. McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot, framed the race as “patriot against protester.

A funny thing happened on the way to the election though. In a race where McSally was once heavily favored, Sinema started gaining ground. By October, McSally was acknowledging on the Sean Hannity Show, “I’m getting my ass kicked.” Sinema went on to win the election by about 2.5 points.

But, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

Despite Republican claims that she was a “radical socialist,” Sinema has emerged as one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. Granted, “conservative Democrat” sounds like an oxymoron, but “conservative” can be a relative term.

GovTrack’s ideology score ranks Sinema as the 47th most conservative senator. This puts her ahead of Republicans Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sinema even has a 50 percent career Trump score from FiveThirtyEight.

Not bad for a radical Prada Socialist!

What really made me think about Kyrsten Sinema this week was the filibuster. After taking the Senate, there was a lot of pressure from progressive groups for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to nuke the filibuster.

Do you know who stepped up to save the filibuster? Kyrsten Sinema.

Yes, it’s true. This radical pink tutu-wearing socialist went to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and told him that she opposed eliminating the filibuster. In the newly 50-50 Senate, her vote alone would kill the attempts to invoke the nuclear option, but Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), ranked 53 on the GovTrack scale, joined her as well.

I think it’s fair to say that Republicans were wrong about Sinema. Granted, she’s not a conservative unless you use the term as an adjective to modify the word “Democrat,” but she is legitimately a moderate.

And how about the rest of Martha McSally’s story? After losing to Sinema, McSally was appointed to Arizona’s other Senate seat when Jon Kyl resigned. The two women ended up going to Washington together.

But McSally’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. In a special election in 2020, she once again lost, this time to former astronaut Mark Kelly.

The saga of Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally has lessons for both parties as we shift gears from 2020 to 2022. The biggest and most important lesson is that Republicans can’t win simply by using the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” strategy of pointing at their opponent and screaming “Socialism!”

Playing the socialist card may have worked in the past, but, like crying wolf, it has lost its effectiveness. This is especially true when the Democrats nominate a moderate. If there is any doubt of this, one need look no further than the 2020 losses of Donald Trump, David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler where “socialism” attack ads were prominent in all three races.

And that’s the biggest lesson for Democrats: Don’t nominate far-left candidates in red and purple states. Nominate moderates.

Far-left candidates may occasionally win in conservative states if the stars align and Donald Trump campaigns for their opponent, but it would be far easier for Democrats to pick up Republican seats if they could nominate a few pro-life, pro-gun candidates. This is especially true in the South and Midwest. Such candidates might have more staying power than Doug Jones of Alabama who, in McSally fashion, won a special election in 2018 but was given walking papers in 2020.

The question is whether Democrats would rather stick to pro-abortion and pro-gun principles and lose or have a moderate who can actually win. In a version of the Buckley Rule, Democrats would do well to nominate the most liberal candidate who can win rather than the most liberal candidate period. Democratic voters should remember that they won’t always have Donald Trump campaigning for their Republican opponents.

The other lesson for Republicans will be more difficult for them to learn and that is that general election voters do not like Donald Trump. As I wrote for the First in November 2020, what we saw in the election was a country that rejected both extremes. Voters told President Trump, “You’re fired,” but also gave Republicans a larger caucus in the House.

To pick on Martha McSally again, she was a rather mainstream Republican who embraced Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Trump’s support enabled McSally to best “Chemtrail Kelli” Ward in the Republican primary, but Trump’s antics were toxic in the general election where he dissed McSally at a rally a few days before the 2020 election, saying, “You got one minute! One minute, Martha! They don’t want to hear this, Martha.”

Unfortunately, the Republicans did not take this lesson to heart. The party went all-in on Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and tried to disenfranchise several entire states that had voted for Biden. This turned the easily winnable Georgia Senate races into tossups. When President Trump rallied for Perdue, who nearly won the November election outright, and Loeffler just before Election Day and persuaded them to endorse throwing out Georgia’s Electoral College votes, it persuaded many fence-sitters, myself included, to vote Democrat.

It also didn’t help that the president, in what will be remembered as one of the biggest strategic errors in the history of American politics, spent two months telling his base that Georgia’s elections were rigged. As a result, many of Trump’s supporters answered his call to be in Washington on January 6 instead of at the polls in Georgia on January 5.

To return to Arizona as a microcosm for the country, Martha McSally lost two winnable Senate races in two years by running close to Trump, but instead of breaking with the failed president, the Arizona GOP is now in the hands of “Chemtrail Kelli” and is tweeting about being willing to die for Trump.

In 2021, both parties find themselves at a crossroads. Do Democrats shift gears toward progressivism or do they stick with the moderate, center-left Biden politics that won the White House? Will Republicans continue to swear allegiance to the man who lost not only the White House but the House of Representatives and Senate as well? Whichever party learns best the lesson that their partisan fringe is not representative of general election voters will probably carry the day.

As the saying goes, all either party has to do is not be crazy, but it’s doubtful that either side will be able to new that low bar.

From the Racket

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Should Biden pardon Trump?

 

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Interestingly, however, there is an important limitation on Biden’s ability to pardon Donald Trump. The new president cannot pardon the former president in his impeachment trial. One of the few limitations that the Constitution places on the presidential pardon power is that it cannot be used for impeachments.

The only other limitation that Biden would face is that he can only pardon “offenses against the United States.” Therefore, even with a pardon in hand, Donald Trump might still face state charges if Georgia prosecutors decide to indict him or if Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s investigation into Trump’s taxes bears fruit. Recall that Vance’s investigation led to the Supreme Court, which delayed action on a subpoena presented to Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. With no presidential immunity, Vance is now likely to have access to Trump’s taxes. A pardon would also not apply to civil suits.

There is precedent for the pardon of a former president. In 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon for crimes that he may have committed while in office. Nixon had resigned a month earlier due to fallout from the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s infamous tapes had implicated the president in ordering a coverup of White House connections to the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Ford’s pardon was widely unpopular at the time and may have cost him the election in 1976 but today is generally considered to have been the right thing to do. The pardon allowed the county to heal and move forward more quickly by avoiding the divisive trial of a disgraced former president.

(In another bit of historical trivia, Ford was the only vice president never elected to that office. He was appointed by Nixon after Vice President Spiro Agnew was caught up in a corruption scandal and resigned after pleading no contest to felony tax evasion. Ford, who had been the House Minority Leader before being appointed vice president, was never elected to the office of either president or vice president.)

There are compelling arguments on both sides of the pardon question. At the top of the arguments for a pardon is Biden’s professed desire to bring healing and unity to the country. President Trump was a popular figure within the Republican Party, at least until recent weeks, and still has many strong supporters. Many people would see a Trump indictment as partisan retribution, but even many people who are not Trump supporters don’t want to see the country go through a trial or series of trials in which federal prosecutors go after the former chief executive.

On the other hand, I’ve always believed that it was not the Founders’ intention that presidents and other government officials should be above the law or given a pass when they commit crimes. Some contrition or admitting that his claims that the election was stolen were false would help the case for a pardon. Nixon resigned his office, showing that he knew what he did was wrong (or at least that his political position was untenable), but Trump has shown no remorse for any of his actions and has never recanted his unsupported allegations of widespread election fraud that provoked the riot. The closest the former president came to expressing remorse was to condemn the violence at the Capitol a week after it occurred.

I did agree with my fellow Racketeers that a pardon in exchange for Trump’s resignation after the riot would be fair and good for the country, but since Trump completed his term, the argument for a pardon is not as strong now. This is especially true since there are so far no federal indictments against the president and there might never be any.

As with Ford, a pardon now might hurt Biden more than it would help Trump and the country. Biden has expressed support for moving on past the Trump controversies, but a sizable portion of the Democratic base wants Trump’s head mounted on the wall. While moderates and independents would likely appreciate a Trump pardon (and Republicans certainly would), it would anger a progressive base that is already not thrilled with Biden. Any hopes of a second term will also enter Biden’s pardon calculus.

Biden could avoid investigations by issuing a pre-emptive pardon mirroring Ford’s order granting “a full, free, and absolute pardon… for all offenses against the United States which he… has committed or may have committed or taken part in during” his term in office. A downside to this strategy is that it would pre-empt investigations which may discover more wrongdoing and that would lead to more indictments. Any criminal activity could extend beyond President Trump to staffers or his family. For instance, several Republican elected officials had requested pardons from Trump for their roles in the Capitol insurrection but did not receive them.

A pardon would also not end speculation about whether Trump committed crimes in office. The former president might benefit from investigations if they fail to show that he broke the law.

In my opinion, President Biden should hold off on any pardon of Donald Trump for the time being. Biden’s pardon would not affect the impeachment proceedings in the Senate or the possible New York state charges against the former president, which are the two biggest legal threats for Trump at the moment. Therefore, it would be of little value in bringing the country together at the present time.

I also believe that the nation deserves to know the truth about Trump’s activities while he was president. That includes whatever involvement he may have had in the insurrection as well as any other crimes that he might have committed through abuse of his presidential powers. The best way to learn the truth is to let any investigations that arise proceed for the time being. Biden will always have the option to pardon Trump later.

Do you think that President Biden should pardon Donald Trump? Let us know what you think.

From the Racket


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Trump's legacy: The good, the bad, and the ugly

 Today is Donald Trump’s last full day as President of the United States. Although I’m of the opinion that we can’t appreciate the full impact of a presidency until we look back years later, it is an appropriate time to take an objective look back at the past four years of the Trump Administration on this momentous day in an already turbulent year.

As everyone knows, I’m a Trump critic, but I’ve tried to look at the president with a balanced perspective. I’ve never been a Trump supporter, but I have supported his policies when they were good for the country. Even the worst presidents have had some good ideas. As they say, a stopped clock is still right twice a day.

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On the positive side of the ledger, the obvious wins of the Trump era include tax reform, judges, deregulation, and pro-life rules. There was also the movement of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the negotiation of new peace treaties in the Middle East. Many of these accomplishments come with caveats, however.

For instance, much of what Trump accomplished was through Executive Orders. In four years, the president did not sign a single major piece of pro-life legislation. That means that his moves to restrict abortion can be easily reversed by a future president. The same is true for deregulation. What one president changes in bureaucratic rulemaking, another can change back. Trump’s inability to work with Congress to build the bipartisan coalitions needed to pass legislation was a major weakness.

Similarly, President Trump was given credit for a strong economy, but much of that credit is misplaced. If we look at the big picture, the Trump economy, at least until the pandemic, was a continuation of the recovery that started in 2009. Business Insider provides a handy source for comparing economic indicators during the Trump Administration to previous presidents. Looking back, the increases in job growth, wages, and the stock market of Trump’s first three years were actually part of a trend that began during the Obama Administration. GDP growth during the Trump Administration was not exceptional and was in line with both Obama and George W. Bush.

The 2017 tax reform did help to stimulate the economy, but there was a hefty price tag in terms of increasing the deficit. Back in 2019, when I was writing for Resurgent, I wrote that the Trump Administration had increased the deficit on both sides of the equation. Even before the pandemic, President Trump had submitted a record-high federal budget request of $4.7 trillion. At the same time, tax revenues were also at a record high but were lower than they would have been without tax reform. Tax revenues did not decline after tax reform, but they did flatten. The result was that spending and deficits increased in Trump’s first three years and then exploded after the pandemic hit in 2020.

The flip side is that Trump’s trade wars slowed important portions of the economy. The Trump tariffs amounted to a huge tax increase that offset much of the benefit of tax reform. American farms required massive subsidies after the trade wars cost farmers their export markets, damage which may outlast Trump’s tenure in office, and American manufacturing spent much of 2019 in a recession. The economy as a whole was entering a recession in February 2020 just as the pandemic hit.

The Trump Administration’s peace deals were unequivocally good, but their importance may be overstated. While any peace deal in the Middle East is a good thing, Trump’s agreements were between nations that had never been at war. Further, it may be that the deals were less an embrace of Israel by Arab and Muslim nations than a response to growing Iranian influence in the region. Even moderate Arab countries fear a powerful Iran.

That brings us to Trump’s handling of the budding nuclear powers. In 2017, Trump decided to withdraw from President Obama’s executive deal with Iran. This is one of those decisions that will have to be judged by future historians. Obama’s deal was flawed, but Iran seemed to be abiding by its terms. In January 2020, Iran announced that it would no longer follow the terms of the agreement and by early 2021 the breaches had accelerated. The issue of Iranian nuclear ambitions is far from resolved and may yet lead to war.

Speaking of unresolved issues, North Korea is once again threatening to bring its “arch-enemy,” the US, “to its knees” with an expanded nuclear arsenal. It was hoped that Trump’s charm offensive would lead to a d├ętente with North Korea, but it now seems that the halt in the North’s nuclear testing may have been due to the accidental destruction of their nuclear test site rather than a desire for peace.

“We squandered the best opportunity we had on North Korea,” Rex Tillerson, Trump’s first Secretary of State, said recently, adding, “We’re in a worse place today than we were before he came in, and I didn’t think that was possible.”

With all that being said, there are two glaring negatives for President Trump’s legacy. The first is his two impeachments. Whatever you think of the impeachments, and I thought both were justified, the fact is that Donald Trump has secured his place in history as the answer to the trivia question, “Who is the only president to be impeached twice?”

The second is his response to the Coronavirus pandemic. History will show that Donald Trump was the wrong man at the wrong time for this emergency.

A full discussion of Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic is too large for this article. Entire books can and will be written on his flawed approach to the crisis, but there are several aspects that seem to stand out. Among these are the initial White House plan for “15 days to slow the spread” that proved woefully inadequate but that fueled resentment against continued mitigations, pushing the country back to normal far too early, undermining and attacking White House medical experts, refusing to set a good example by wearing a mask, holding superpreader events, touting unproven and disproven treatments, and, yes, the infamous suggestion for using disinfectants for “injection inside” the body. On balance, Trump probably put out as much disinformation about the virus as he did accurate information. The US death toll would have been horrific no matter who was president, but Trump’s poor leadership and denial of the pandemic’s danger definitely led to unnecessary loss of life.

Now, as Trump prepares to leave office, a final failure is becoming known. In June, the government announced plans to stockpile doses of COVID vaccines even before they were certified. It seems that was never done. In December, we learned that the government had passed up the chance to lock in additional shipments of the Pfizer vaccine. Now, a few days ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the national vaccine stockpile does not exist. The Trump Administration has also come in for criticism for its vaccination distribution plan.

Finally, the most damaging aspect of Trump’s presidential legacy may be one that is not readily apparent. We have become inured to the president’s attacks on government customs and norms. Trump was a one-man wrecking ball who destroyed many of the checks and balances on executive power. Among his abuses were using national emergency declarations bypass Congress, firing inspectors general who tried to hold him accountable, urging his party’s congressmen to overturn the election, and provoking a partisan mob to attack Congress itself. These abuses are dangerous and many of them are unprecedented. Even though many of them ultimately failed, a future despotic president could learn from Trump’s example just as Trump learned some of his tricks from Barack Obama.

My fear is that this ugly side of Trump’s legacy will be the most enduring part of his administration. This is especially likely if he faces no consequences for his abuses of power. And so far, there has been little in the way of punishment for his excesses. Republican partisans have criticized him but failed to vote to rein him when the chips were down. In the past, that was because Republicans feared political retribution by Trump’s base. Now, the situation has escalated and it seems that their fears are of a more physical nature, namely violence against themselves and their families.

Donald Trump is leaving a dangerous legacy, but in a few weeks, Senate Republicans will have a chance to redeem themselves for enabling the president’s worst instincts for the past four years. Voting to disqualify Trump from ever holding federal office again is small punishment for a man who will be 78 years-old in 2024, but it will send a message to future Americans and presidents that character does matter. Even when the president is a Republican.

From the Racket

Monday, January 18, 2021

Confessions of a white guy

 When I think of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Era, I think of Wichita, Kansas.

Most of you know that my full-time job is as a pilot. That has given me a great opportunity to travel around the country and see things that I never would have seen otherwise because I would have had no idea to even look for them. That was the case when I was walking in downtown Wichita one day and saw a small lot between two buildings that had a lunch counter populated with statues.

Photo credit: David Thornton

Naturally, I was intrigued so I checked it out. The statues commemorate the lunch counter sit-in at the Dockum Drugstore in 1958. For those who might not know, many restaurants were “whites only” at that point. A popular and peaceful civil disobedience tactic was for black patrons to come in and sit down even though the business would refuse to serve them, often because it was against the law to serve blacks at a whites-only counter. Occupying the space kept paying customers away and put economic leverage on the owners. You can read the full story about the Dockum sit-in here.

Seeing the lunch counter replica was one of the things that made the struggles of the Civil Rights Era come alive for me. Another was visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham where Klansmen planted a bomb that killed four little girls attending Sunday School in 1963.

Looking back on the race relations of the 1950s and 1960s, it’s easy to see that we’ve come a long way. It has been tempting to say that the race problem is resolved, but after the past few years, racial tensions seem to once again be raising their ugly head. From a white guy’s perspective, we sometimes look at affirmative action and equal opportunity laws and say that we’ve done everything that we can to combat racism and that it’s up to them now.

I think that misses the point. I favor a colorblind society and have always liked the U2 lyric, “I believe in the kingdom come when all the colors will bleed into one,” but what we have to realize is that being colorblind doesn’t mean that colors are not there. We may not see them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

People of different races often have different experiences in life and those perspectives are something that I, as a white guy, struggle to understand. For example, I typically don’t worry about interacting with police (unless they are driving behind me), but if even someone like Senator Tim Scott (D-S.C.) says that they have problems with latent racism in 21st century America, I have to listen and take that seriously.

As with many things, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s pretty clear that we have not totally achieved the colorblind society, but neither are we the blatantly racist nation that we were just a few decades ago. Some people do cry wolf about racism, but that does not mean that racism doesn’t exist.

If you don’t think that racism exists, just take a look around some of the internet chat groups. One thing that I’ve noticed is that there is a default reaction to racial issues that includes bringing up the black crime rate, poverty rate, and problems with family structure.

For example, whenever a black person is killed, the typical response is usually to first look at the person’s criminal record and assume that he or she was up to no good and therefore “had it coming.” That is typically followed by an assertion that more black men are killed by other black men than by whites. Finally, the questions of upbringing and intact families are raised. What this really boils down to is an attempt to absolve the killers. Even people who know and like members of other races can fall victim to this stereotypical thinking.

One of the most egregious cases was Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was killed a little less than a year ago in Glynn County, Georgia. Arbery was jogging when a group of white residents chased him down and shot him in the street. Originally the shooting was considered justified, but subsequent videos showed that the residents lied to police about what happened and that they had attempted to unlawfully detain Arbery. Their attempt to detain him for questioning was illegal under Georgia’s law regulating citizens’ arrests.

Arbery had past run-ins with the law, but there is no evidence that he had committed a crime that day. A security video purportedly shows Arbery entering a home under construction, but this would not have been illegal under Georgia law since Arbery did not force entry, damage the property, or steal anything from the site. Nevertheless, he was tried and convicted by many in the court of social media, partly on the basis of false claims that the video of the shooting showed that he was wearing work boots and carrying a hammer.

Arbery’s murder is one crime that we can say definitely would not have happened if he had been white. The people who killed Arbery may not have thought of themselves as racists, but the notion that a black man jogging through the neighborhood (in broad daylight) must be a burglar is unequivocally bigoted. Any doubt as to that fact should be removed by Arbery’s killers using a racial slur (you know which one I mean) after the shooting.

What is most disturbing about Arbery’s murder is that they almost got away with it. Arbery died on February 23, 2020, and police and the DA quickly shelved the case. The viral video did not go public until mid-May when it was leaked by one of the killers, who mistakenly thought that it would corroborate his story.

Think about that. If the killer had not leaked his cellphone video of the murder, the legal record would still show that Ahmaud Arbery was a burglar who was shot while resisting a lawful citizens’ arrest. This should bother anyone with an ounce of compassion or a sense of justice.

The incident also makes me wonder how many more cases of justifiable shootings are dramatically different from how they were presented to police. Not every shooting has a video to debunk the perpetrator’s claims. What does that say about racial crime statistics overall?

I’m skeptical that the incident was an isolated occurrence because a similar situation (without the shooting) became public shortly after the Arbery video went viral. A white woman in Central Park falsely claimed to police in a 911 call that a black man was threatening her. Again, without the video, the story would have had a much different ending.

Most of my political beliefs haven’t changed a lot over the past few decades, but there are exceptions to that rule. If you don’t allow new information to be reflected in your beliefs, you aren’t really thinking or being intellectually honest. So, as I’ve watched the news and the behavior of people on the internet, I’ve come to the conclusion that this racial thing isn’t as settled as I once thought it was.

Martin Luther King Day is a good time to resolve to change that. King’s example of nonviolent change is one that we should continue to follow. It is a powerful testimony to look back on the dogs and water cannons that were turned against peaceful civil rights marchers and know that King still resisted the temptation to return violence for violence and hate for hate.

In the end, King’s nonviolence and love won out. Today, where it still exists racism has been driven underground. Those attitudes are not socially acceptable anymore even if they occasionally bubble to the surface.

I think that King would have known that racism is a human flaw that will never be totally eradicated. Human hearts are inherently flawed and sinful. We have moved in the right direction, however, and we should keep doing so.

I think the best way to do that is for both sides to put ourselves in the other’s shoes. Rather than thinking of what “they should do,” let’s resolve to try to understand how and why those different from us think and react the way they do. When there are incidents, we need to objectively look at the facts and not confuse the forest of statistical big pictures with the trees of each particular case.

The bottom line is to follow the Biblical commandment to love your neighbor, an admonition that applies on the internet as well. If we do that, everything else will fall into place.

From the Racket

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New details make the riot look worse. That's bad for Trump's chances in the Senate.

 A federal court filing against Jacob Anthony Chansley, better known as the “QAnon Shaman” or Jake Angeli, hints that Capitol rioters had more in mind than just protesting or cheering on members of Congress who were raising objections.

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The brief in support of detention describes Chansley as “one of the insurrectionists who entered the Capitol building.” The document is worth reading just for its description of Chansley:

Chansley wore horns, a furry coyote tail headdress, red, white and blue face paint, and tan pants. He was shirtless and carried a bullhorn and a six-foot-long spear with an American flag tied just below the blade.

A previously unknown fact relating to the riot was that Chansley left a note on Vice President Pence’s desk while he was in the Senate chamber. The note read, “It's only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

In a January 7 phone call to the FBI, Chansley denied that the note was a threat but expressed no remorse for his actions. He called the rioters “patriots” and said that he would like to return to Washington for the inauguration.

“I’ll still go, you better believe it,” Chansley told FBI agents. “For sure I’d want to be there, as a protestor, as a protestor, fuckin’ a.”

In a television interview, Chansley said that he responded to President Trump’s call for “patriots” to come to Washington, adding, “The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win.”

His lawyer also seems to be using the claim of incitement by Donald Trump as a defense, saying, “He took seriously the countless messages of President Trump. He believed in President Trump. Like tens of millions of other Americans, Chansley felt — for the first time in his life — as though his voice was being heard.”

At this point, Chansley is charged with two felonies and four misdemeanors. The felonies are obstructing law enforcement officers and corruptly obstructing an official proceeding of Congress.

Another insurrectionist, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas, was among those who carried zip-ties into the Capitol. Prosecutors note that Brock seemed to have more sinister plans than just protesting that day.

“He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer per KTLA.

Court documents also show that Brock was planning for a civil war and favored secession.

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Further charges may be added against Chansley, Brock, and the other insurrectionists. Politico reported that the Justice Department is considering sedition and conspiracy charges against those arrested for breaking into the Capitol. Such charges could carry a 20-year prison term.

The more information that comes out about the riot, the worse it looks. What seemed like a spontaneous riot looks more and more like a coordinated attack that used the demonstration as cover. And the worse the riot looks, the worse things look for President Trump in his Senate trial.

As we have discussed before, Majority Leader McConnell has said that he has no plans to bring up impeachment before the inauguration. While some view this as slow-walking the impeachment to keep Trump in office, the strategy really does not do the president any favors.

The best scenario for the president would be a quick up-or-down vote similar to the one that acquitted him a year ago. As we saw in the House this week, most Republicans are still sticking by Mr. Trump at this point and another acquittal would be likely.

However, if the trial is put off for a month or two, the situation is a lot less certain. With all that we know after only a week, there is no telling what details will have emerged after several months of discovery. President Trump won’t have the benefit of friendly cabinet officials to stonewall the coming congressional investigation either, which means that Trump’s second trial will be a completely different ballgame.

Another factor is that Trump may not have as strong of a grip on Republican senators after he leaves office. Granted, Trump’s base will still largely overlap the Republican congressional base, but there are signs that the two groups are already moving apart.

While Trump’s loyal base will probably never desert him, traditional Republicans might be nearing the end of their ropes now that Trump is no longer useful to them. Nate Cohn of the Upshot noted that Trump’s approval is already seeing a sharp decline. The president’s average approval among Republicans is now at 60 percent.

FiveThirtyEight has unveiled a new impeachment poll tracker that shows majority support for impeachment among all Americans. The average of polls currently stands at 52.8 percent in favor of impeachment, which, it should be noted, is already about three points higher than the plurality that favored impeachment on the president’s first time around. Different polls phrase the question differently but many ask the question to include both impeachment and removal.

The one thing that politicians can be trusted to do is to plan for re-election. If public opinion on impeachment becomes a groundswell that threatens their next term, senators may find themselves growing more willing to split with Trump. This is especially true in purple states or those with large suburban voting blocs. The fate of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler is fresh in every Republican senator’s mind.

With the continual dribble of salacious and seditious details emerging for the next few months, Donald Trump’s approval is sure to drop further, and the popularity of impeachment is likely to rise. It may turn out that Joe Biden, who wants to focus on his political agenda and not be distracted by impeachment, becomes Donald Trump’s new best friend.

From the Racket