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Updates on a document retrieval and old Sleepy Joe
The online crowd of actual and wannabe insurrectionists has drawn a response from the FBI director Trump appointed.
Christopher Wray, who was appointed as the agency’s director in 2017 by Trump, called threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department “deplorable and dangerous.”
“I’m always concerned about threats to law enforcement,” Wray said. “Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.”
And in Cincinnatti around 9 a.m. this morning, a man wearing body armor tried to breach the FBI building, fired a nail gun at FBI personnel, then displayed an AR-15 rifle. That was followed by a vehicle chase with shots fired by the attacker and a long armed standoff ensued in a cornfield. He eventually was killed by officers in a shootout. Ricky Shiffer, 42, was previously at the January 6th insurrection.
US AG Merrick Garland weighed in today to defend the agency and the FBI and - among other things - disclosed that the DOJ is seeking to unseal the search warrant due to the ‘substantial public interest’ in the matter. The ex-president has always had the option of revealing the details of the search warrant but has chosen not to, perhaps to bolster his
rube shakedown fundraising operation.
Both in January and June, investigators had removed documents cooperatively with Trump’s lawyers and this week’s search and retrieval included an hour’s advance notice to Trump’s lawyers and one was present during the search. As the law requires, a receipt was provided for the materials taken away.
The reason this one was done faster was they received a credible tip that more sensitive classified documents were still at Mar-A-Lago that risked our national security. It seems apparent that the tip came from an insider as someone else in his inner circle indicated that Trump was questioning them to find out if any were wearing a wire and were ‘rats’. (That’s not, btw, locker room talk. That’s criminal gangspeak).
Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have maintained that they were trying all along to cooperate with federal officials and had kept an open line of communication.
But others familiar with federal officials’ efforts to recover the documents have said that Mr. Trump resisted returning property that belonged to the government, despite being told that he needed to.
Some of Mr. Trump’s informal advisers outside his direct employ have insisted to him that he can claim the documents are personal items and keep them.
And from two days ago:
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg was asked, "Do you expect that we'll hear something from the Justice Department or from the FBI today or in the near future?"
"I think that that really depends on what violations they are actually investigating," he replied. "You know, I think it is important to remember that, because these involve classified documents, this is a national security investigation. I think the kind of classified information that would be in the White House, that Trump would have access to, these aren't going to be low-level, diplomatic cables. These are high-level, national security documents."
"I think part of the urgency here is that Trump has very poor counterintelligence hygiene," he continued. "He blabs secrets all the time. He is not careful about this kind of information. We also know Mar-a-Lago has been a target for foreign governments trying to get access to information. There was a trespasser several years ago who was arrested there, who was believed to be linked to the Chinese intelligence service. So I think that they want to make sure that they get these out of an unsecure location and out of potential hands that shouldn't have it."
So if the Southern Florida court decides to unseal the warrant, we should have more details today or tomorrow.
I predict by the end of today, the judge who granted the warrant will be cast by Trump supporters as a liberal anti-Trump Nazi pedophile.
From a longtime respected media analysis outlet comes important critique of how the media has handled the document removal story:
All the attacks made on Joe Biden for his mental acuity began from his Republican opponents and have also been amplified from people more liberal than him within the Democratic party. Looking over his long career in elective offices, there’s been plenty of examples of mistakes he’s made in policy prescriptions. Which can be said about anyone in any party who’s served for many decades.
I try to remind people of two things:
1) People are imperfect, they make mistakes and politicians are people. Also:
2) Good governance does not require that we elect saints as that would mean good governance is impossible since saints don’t exist except in mythology.
In politics and any other profession, it’s better to look for evidence that the person is curious, willing to listen, actively studies and is capable of changing their mind based on new knowledge.
Biden is often attacked for being too old, too tired and the chief evidence of that is his speech gaffes like stuttering or losing track of a train of thought mid-sentence. Even though both presidents Bush and Donald Trump displayed far more word struggles. President Ford was prone to slips and falls that physical comedians like Chevy Chase lampooned.
I used to live in a small city in Florida in a county that demographically was the oldest in the US. I’ve observed lots of seniors, especially between the ages of 65 and 90 and my impression is that most - not all - mental decline starts appearing between roughly 85 and 90, though some remain pretty lucid 10 years beyond that.
Biden doesn’t display any of that at 78. He’s pretty fit, actively exercises and if you view his policy prescriptions over his career, there’s plenty of evidence of the type of change more associated with acquired wisdom and greater political acumen than any failing.
Signs of Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimers were appearing at age 73 and 74 but that’s pretty rare and even ex-presidents who lived into their 80s haven’t displayed symptoms like that going back 90 years or more in our history.
So it’s good to see that Biden, like some others, embraces getting out of the DC bubble ruled by one think tank and inner circle political operatives.
President Biden paused last week, during one of the busiest stretches of his presidency, for a nearly two-hour private history lesson from a group of academics who raised alarms about the dire condition of democracy at home and abroad.
The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.
Comparisons were made to the years before the 1860 election when Abraham Lincoln warned that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and the lead-up to the 1940 election, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled rising domestic sympathy for European fascism and resistance to the United States joining World War II.
The diversion was, for Biden, part of a regular effort to use outside experts, in private White House meetings, to help him work through his approach to multiple crises facing his presidency.
Those outside experts include retired officials from both parties, academics, journalists, police officers and others.
McFaul was among a socially distanced group that met to discuss Ukraine in the East Room earlier this year, along with former diplomat Richard Haass, journalist Fareed Zakaria, analyst Ian Bremmer, former National Security Council adviser Fiona Hill and retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
Biden sat at the center of a dining table with the experts gathered at either end to keep the president a covid-safe six feet from the group. As some participants, including McFaul and Stavridis, appeared remotely on a screen, Biden began with brief comments and then spent about two hours asking questions. (bolding mine)
“They really wanted outside-the-box thinking of, is there any way that this war, which will be horrible for everyone involved, can be stopped? Can we stop it? How can we stop it?” Bremmer said. “All of my interactions [with the White House] in the last few years have been uniformly open, constructive and really wanting to get my best sense of where they’re getting it right and where they’re not.”
He’s not the first president to do this but his active pursuit of and engagement with these feedback groups certainly doesn’t suggest a president with a mind in decline. Should he decide to run for re-election, his mental health shouldn’t be at issue unless something new appears.
And on that note, this addition:
From a political standpoint, yes, there’s too many older seniors in key government positions that should bow out or they can lose even larger swaths of young voters:
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will be 91 when up for re-election in 2024. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is 88 and will retire at the end of the year. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) will also be retiring at year’s end at 88. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will also retire at year’s end at 82, but he’s shown signs of reduced capabilities already.
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be 83 when up for re-election in 2024. If he runs and succeeds, he’ll be 89 by the end of his term. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will be 84 in 2026, though some reports indicate he intends to retire before that re-election year. Jim Risch (R-ID) will also be up for re-election in 2026 and like Sanders, will be 83 then considering a term that would end at 89.
Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be 81 in 2024 but his re-election would have him at 87 when that term ends. Angus King (I-ME), if re-elected in 2024, would complete his term at 86.
Those are the oldest 10 Senators and I think none should run for re-election as I think 85 oughta be the cutoff of public service - even though some may be quite healthy still.
In the House, where terms are only 2 years, Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30th), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32nd), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-9th), Hal Rogers (R-KY-5th) and Maxine Waters (D-CA-43rd) are the 5 senior representatives whose ages will range from 86 to 84 at a November 2022 re-election so if re-elected they’d serve past 85. (And Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5th), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12th), Jim Clyburn (D-SC-6th) and David Price (D-NC-4th) are on the cusp.
Both parties should pursue younger leaders or risk getting an alienated young voter group completely turned off to voting.
The oldest SCOTUS justice is Clarence Thomas, at 74, and he’s just completing his 31st year in that position. I think those should not be lifetime appointments. 30 years should suffice.