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Right Wingers Are Attacking The FBI To Neutralize It For Future Criming
INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Kevin McCarthy ... Rosalynn Carter
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
The Big Picture
The ongoing attacks from the far right against federal law enforcement have been so unrelenting and manifested in so many different ways that I’m afraid even astute observers are beginning to lose the forest for the trees. So a quick reality check.
It’s one of the most reliable truisms of the Trump era and its fits neatly into the scholarship on authoritarianism: Any power center outside of Trump and the right wing is a threat that needs to be neutralized. Media. Universities. Corporations. Law enforcement.
You’ve seen the script run over and over. Discredit external power centers, draw them into ridiculous fights over their credibility and legitimacy to turn them into political actors that are no better than Trump, sow distrust and suspicion so that any actions they take are de facto illegitimate.
Trump attacks on the FBI are not new. He corruptly fired FBI Director James Comey way back in 2017, prompting the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. He savaged deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. We’re many years into this now.
What distinguishes the latest round of wholesale attacks on the FBI is that eliminating it has become a tenet of GOP politics, not just Trump, not just the far-right fringe. These are just a few examples from the past 24 hours:
If Trump Wins, A Purge Is Coming
Rolling Stone: The former president wants to “immediately” purge the Justice Department’s ranks of the officials and agents who’ve led the criminal probes into his actions.
Heritage Wants To Eliminate The FBI
Comer Is The Tip Of Trump’s Anti-FBI Sword
I haven’t troubled you with the bizarro claim that the FBI is sitting on evidence of a massive bribery scandal involving Joe Biden when he was vice president, but House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) has been touting this nonsense for weeks as evidence of the lefty FBI being in the tank for Biden:
Politico: House Oversight Chair James Comer is vowing to move forward with holding FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress.
Philip Bump: How Oversight Committee Republicans are keeping their conspiracy alive
New Angles In Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 Probe
The NYT has a story out this morning on two new angles in the Jan. 6 investigation by Special Counsel Jack Smith, but both angles seem to run through the White House Personnel Office, which you’ll recall was being run by the uber-Trump loyalist John McEntee, a 30-something neophyte who was allowed to run amok:
Within the past two weeks, Smith has issued subpoenas to Trump White House officials about the firing of Christopher Krebs, who was at the time the administrations’s top cybersecurity official.
Smith is also seeking information about interactions between the White House Personnel Office and the Justice Department around and after the 2020 election.
The firing of Krebs was always deeply corrupt and fit logically into the Trump-led conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election, so I’m glad to see it getting renewed scrutiny.
Another Curious Account From MAL Probe
We have another in the long and sometimes confusing series of stories about what Special Counsel Jack Smith has found in his Mar-a-Lago investigation.
The latest iteration from the WaPo is about investigators’ focus on what happened at Mar-a-Lago after a federal grand jury subpoenaed the resort’s surveillance video:
Authorities have also examined events in mid-July surrounding a different subpoena,which sought footage from security cameras on the property. Around that time, the employee allegedly had a conversation with an IT worker at the site about how the security cameras worked and how long images remained stored in the system, the person familiar with that aspect of the investigation said.
The employee later told investigators that the conversation was innocent and was not about trying to hide anything from authorities, saying that he didn’t know at the time about the investigation or subpoena, according to another person familiar with the probe.
But those answers were met with skepticism, people familiar with the situation said.
Like a few other recent stories, this one is focused on and seems derived from what one lowly Mar-a-Lago employee has told investigators. Given that, I’m not sure how much these stories give us the full picture of the scope and nature of the investigation. Just be cautious.
Debt Limit Disaster Averted
At this point it looks like we’re over the hump on raising the debt limit. Never say never, etc, but there’s no obvious impediment to this getting done.
The debt ceiling budget deal made it through the House Rules Committee last evening.
It is expected to pass the House this evening.
Then it heads to the Senate, where it’s looking like a long weekend of procedural maneuvering to get it passed before the federal government runs out of borrowing authority around June 5.
Some additional reading if you’re a hardcore debt limit junkie:
Aaron Blake: McCarthy’s secret speaker deal takes a bizarre turn
NYT: 14th Amendment Questions Linger Despite Debt Limit Deal
McCarthy’s Majority May Shrink Even More
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) is expected to announce his resignation from Congress as soon as today due to his wife’s undisclosed health issues. It’s a safe GOP seat, but Stewart’s resignation would temporarily shrink the already slim GOP majority in the House until a special election is held in Utah.
Arizona Big Lie Charlatan Sanctioned
In case you missed it, losing GOP nominee for Secretary of State Mark Finchem of Arizona was ordered to pay his winning Democratic opponent $40,000 in legal fees for his baseless challenge of the election results. Finchem’s lawyer was also sanctioned with a $7,434 penalty for his role in the lawsuit.
Rosalynn Carter Has Dementia
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, an advocate for mental health care for decades, is suffering from dementia, the Carter Center announced. She is still at home with former President Jimmy Carter, who remains in hospice care.