231 Comments

With the terrible example being set by some of the Supreme Court Justices about reporting travel and conference fees (and other more questionable items) it's no wonder that some other judges are lax in their reporting requirements.

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It's trickle-down entitlement, evidently a major career enticement for too many justices and judges.

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If I'm not mistaken, I believe that Clarence Thomas also got comped at that Geo. Mason "judicial conference" a few years ago, and never disclosed until a couple of reporters got wind of this "oversight". It happened before the ProPublica Thomas revelations, so Thomas has a history of accepting back-handers - surprise, surprise.

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Thomas should not have bern approved for the SCOTUS bench. And besides his unethical behavior the fact that he has not recused himself from any cases involving Trump and the insurrection should have resulted in his impeachment. Changes are overdue regarding SCOTUS.

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Completely agree -- years ago I had the 'good fortune' to be sick and at home during the Thomas hearings and saw all of Anita Hill's testimony on tv -- the fact that he still got through shocked me. But then, so did Kavanaugh's appointment.

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It sickened me. I was at the barn, very distressed, when the kavenaugh hearing was going on. The owner had a radio in the barn playing the un-changeable Christian bs radio station, which I turned off every chance I got. She was exuberant about his nomination, and I asked her how she felt about the rape charges. She told me women lie about rape all the time.

With her adopted Chinese daughters standing there.

I asked her if she knew of any women who had been raped and said nothing. When she said "no of course not", I replied "yes you do". Another woman friend standing there said the owner actually knew two of us.

She didn't have a thing to say.

I turned off the radio.

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Good for you Jen!! Spouting agreement with something - lacking the thought process to think it thru? Sure is familiar lately!

What Anita Hill was put thru by the mainly old white guys (not as old as they are now) in order to seemingly not offend Thomas sure did make clear exactly the "mind?set" in how much women - black or white - mattered at that time. We have come a ways - but not ALL the way yet.

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I think the historic stereotype of carnally driven black males was a thing the white guys beating up Anita Hill were worried about. They were worried about appearing racist (when Thomas was exactly that and so are *most* men). It never occurred to them that black women were treated as property even worse than a black dude with his law degree, whereas a black woman with a law degree was still chattel.

That I had to confront a woman...ugh.

No question who she voted for.

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I too saw the Anita Hill testimony and was amazed and upset that Thomas got approved for the bench. I always felt it to be a huge mistake and now it's looking to be so.

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I remember that. It's just proves it even more so how corrupt he is. He is doing all this now to save his wife Ginni Thomas from being exposed officially. I mean it's just so corrupt

Iam SO FED UP with these traitorous people who continue to betray all of us right in our faces while our very existence of our freedoms are threatened and are being taken away by them!

they ALL are need to be removed now!

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George Mason University and its law school has had long and deep ties to Charles Koch and other extremist billionaires. The Koch Foundation is reported to have donated at least $50 million, and that figure dates to 2016. At one point GMU came in for heavy criticism when it came to light that the Koch Foundation (read: Charles Koch) had its hands firmly on the university's steering wheel and was strongly influencing the hiring and firing of faculty.

Further, GMU was economist James M. Buchanan's platform from 1983 on. Buchanan was the loudest and most popular advocate of the public-choice theory of economics -- at bottom an anti-democratic design of capitalism -- and the intellectual guru for the libertarian movement. Nancy MacLean, in her brilliant book _Democracy in Chains_, explores how Buchanan's research and Koch's money worked hand in hand to establish and legitimize an extremist-right influence in American society.

And the Scalia Law School, so named in 2016 thanks to a $10 million donation from Charles Koch and a $20 million donation from a still-anonymous source, a few years later received another $50 million to "promote the conservative principles of governance ...".

Have no illusions about why GMU and its law school exist and what they are aiming to do.

https://apnews.com/general-news-0c87e4318bcc4eb9b8e69f9f54c7b889

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/05/01/koch-agreements-george-mason-gave-foundation-role-faculty-hiring-and-oversight

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-architect-of-the-radical-right/528672/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/05/us/koch-donors-george-mason.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_in_Chains

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Yes. Just more examples of the vast Right wing conspiracy that Thom Hartmann and many others have been writing about for years. Makes me sick. Least we are finally finding out about it. Just pray we are not too late.

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Yup. Hillary was right about that, too.

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Even worse is their assumption of righteousness. No matter what they do, they are always God's little soldiers.

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Jane Meyers "Dark Money" is a go to source for that vast Right sing conspiracy.

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I will check it put WJB. Thank you.

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Do a search. Many magazine articles. Writes for the New Yorker.

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It was initially names the Antonin Scalia School of Law, but that was changed as soon as people realized it formed an all too fitting acronym: ASSLaw.

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Too bad they changed it! Thank you for giving me a good laugh.

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😂😂😂 Now that's funny Jack!!

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🙀😁

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Thank you for this. Why is it that billionaires are as mentally ill as Charles Koch?

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Reading this just makes me want to breakdown and cry

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Me, too. And to throw up (which I usually hate to do).

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I so get it. It's just traumatizing over and over again

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He received training on corpus linguistics, with Koch footing the bill ,via the Judicial Education Institute. I'm not sure if he was at George Mason, Deer Valley, or Greenbriar. But we know he used corpus linguistics in two cases.

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The judges are (thus far) conservative, going to Koch funded events on how to use corpus linguistics (AI) to write briefs. They beef up their briefs with a large volume of archaic words to try to support the opinion they are constructing, to back up their originalism: "See, all these words were used hundreds of years ago so they are legitimate to use today." It demeans the appointment to the judgeship so far as the public perception that a justice appointed to SCOTUS or a federal court has a high mental ceiling, and is able to write brilliantly from having analytical skills. But suddenly a software program with words fed into it is spewing forth a stream of consciousness that the judge or justice then molds into a brief. How do you get a theoretical construct out of that? Or doesn't it matter? Are 'words enough' and is it a case of 'more is more'? Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett and Alito have used the AI program. Thomas and Alito have gone to the seminars.

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It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the judges attending these seminars were encouraged to avoid disclosure.

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Bravo NPR for reporting on this important issue. When I read that justices had listened to a far right German speaker I was scared again for our democracy.

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Giving it the 'everybody does it' taint. Erode, corrode and destroy norms...check.

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Or, as we used to say in the Food & Beverage business, "a fish rots from the head down". The CJ could, if he wanted to, put a quick end to this whole conversation by publicly instructing Mr. Thomas to recuse himself from Trump related cases and to stand down from all cases until his disclosures are up to date and validated. I'm not holding my breath.

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'...over 275,000 subscribers to Civil Discourse, and on average, each newsletter gets around 300,000 views.' Those are terrific numbers and indicate the high value of reading Joyce's comprehensive

reports, analysis and questions, along with encouraging us to be informed, share our knowledge and

communicate with fellow Americans - learn, spread the word and listen.

Joyce, every now and then, out of nowhere, I say to myself how diligent, humane, down-to-earth, warm spirited and devoted to the rule of law and democracy you are. Thank you, Joyce Vance.

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Agree 💯💯💯. Joyce, your calm reasoned commentary is invaluable. 🙏 To you, your family, Good Girl Bella and your chickens 💕.

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Are there some kitties, too, or did I imagine that?

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Oh yes! Tofu the Maine coon cat!

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Not forgetting that Joyce is also a knitter!!

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Thanks! I forgot its name. We once had a kitty named "Pudding." When she passed, we adopted "Laverne" and "Shirley" from our local gas station.

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I've noticed that Bella is getting a little white around her snoot. What a good girl she is!

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Mobilize those readers: Register Democrats -- save the world.

https://www.fieldteam6.org/

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Or end the practice of having to register to vote. In Canada, you receive your voting card in the mail. No need to register.

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founding

I'll second that!

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💯❤️💯❤️💯❤️

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Thank you Joyce. Yes those people in congress who participated in the J6 coup attempt should be charged appropriately. It has been so disappointing to see such a lack of action by Mr. Garland and the DOJ in this regard. We are inviting more lawlessness and violence if the many perpetrators continue to be immune from prosecution.

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Let's pray that Garland is on top of it but because they work in secret & only announce through court filings they're just crossing T's, they've already dotted the I's.

We really are in a no win situation. Rush it & lose the case on some technicality. Take too long & every wanna be AG calls him a feckless loser!

I'd rather be called a loser than be one!

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I don’t believe in rushing things but I do believe in the statute of limitations. I can give the AG the benefit of a doubt but not much longer. My perception is that her is treading softly and slowly, when he should be marching forward before time runs out.

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It was January 6, 2021 - 3 years and 4 months ago - and it was witnessed by thousands of us. There are videos and photos, there are hundreds of people already charged and convicted, but somehow the members of Congress seem to be immune, as does the wife of a Supreme Court Justice. This is not a good look for justice. Ironically, this inaction by DOJ feeds into MAGA's gripes that the system is rigged.

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Exactly right, there is a two tier justice system that boils down to one department of injustice.

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I think afte rBarr the extreme politicization of the DOJ was so repulsive that garland has bent over backward to avoid the mere appearance of bias. I'm growing very tired of the human pretzel thing.

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I take issue with the comment/ sentiment that Trump wanted to "protect" Melania from the knowledge of the encounter with Ms Clifford. Let's try he didn't want Melania walking out and filing for divorce before the election. That makes more sense. The man doesn't give two figs about his "family" and I believe they return the favor.

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May 6·edited May 6

Ditto.

Yep, he's shown ever since Day One that she's way, way down on his priority list. He'd never get Husband of the Year (I cringe at the thought) or Father of the Year.

Speaking of fathers, I'd love to know:

Does Daddy Dearest even know what school he goes to?

Does he know his birthday?

How many times have they gone fishing together?

Did he and Barron ever play --- together --- at one of his golf courses?

Have they ever watched a TV program while being in the same room?

Does he know the names of his friends, or his favorite musical groups?

Does he know his favorite foods and snacks?

Did he ever attend any of Barron's events at school, like most parents do?

Did he ever read him a story book when it was Barron's bedtime?

If Trump DARES to use Barron's graduation as a great big opportunity to campaign and/or criticize the so-called "witch hunt," OR upstage Barron in any way, I hope and pray that Barron can find a way to forgive him some day.

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Never mind about Barron. I can pretty much guarantee that the Yam never attended any of his other kids’ high school graduations. And now Judge Merchan has cleared the way for him to attend Barron’s, he pretty much has to go. Or be shown up for the liar he is.

What shall it be? The Lady? Or the Tiger?

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Does Trump remember who Tiffany is??

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Excellent questions about Daddy Donald and his relationship with Barron. I’m just about certain he never read a book to Barron - Trump is functionally illiterate and doesn’t read for pleasure or otherwise.

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You're right! More than likely, he would found "Cat in a Hat" a huge challenge.

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Except for Mein Kampf…

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It trump attends his son’s graduation it will be the first time he’s done so for any of his kids🤷‍♀️

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May 6·edited May 6

True. Knowing him, the REAL reason he wants to leave town is so he won't have to endure the torture of hearing all those mean people saying things that hurt his feelings. In any case, he'll have time for a long weekend for some hiking --- along the campaign trail

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His attitude toward his offspring is like that of many rich parents who devote most of their attention to their businesses and social climbing, leaving little time to nurture their own children. This leads to generation after generation of cold hearted individuals who place wealth and power above family values.

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You're right! Trump's family would be the official "poster family" for that kind of attitude. Glad I grew up in a middle-class family, in a middle-class neighborhood, with parents whose priorities weren't all screwed up.

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I wouldn't shed a tear for poor Melania.She knew what she was bargaining for and chose the $.

She's as much of a liar as he is. I remember her on Joy Behar's old show on HLN in 2011-12. She spouted the hateful racist birther lie, just like her husband.

She has always disgusted me.

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Melanoma destroyed Stephanie Winston Wolkoff"s life. After seeing her being interviewed, I read her book.

"I used to think she was different from her husband..........I was wrong. A Trump is a Trump is a Trump. All along I thought she was one of us. But at her core, She's one of them."

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Melanoma. lol!

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I'm sure you're probably right. But, from a legal point of view it doesn't matter. The prosecution has to prove that election interference was a motive. They don't have to prove that Trump didn't have multiple motives. He very well could have cared about how Melania would react; just not enough to not sleep with a porn star in the first place.

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Yes. It would be interesting to know if infidelity impacts their prenup. It was re-negotiated after these events.

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Wasn't he cheating on wife 2 whose name I can't remember with Melanie? She knows what he is. It just astounds me what money will buy from people.

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Wife #2 was Marla Maples - the one who looks exactly like E Jean Carroll.

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That's two Democratic legislators indicted for criminal activities Cuellar and Menendez. Guilty or not at l;east they are under indictment and trial dates set. The entire Court System needs to speed up both indictments and trials. If anyone in public office any branch, any government, Federal, State, or Local breaks the law they need to be held accountable. I taught school full time for 15 years, worked for a County for 14 years and every year during those 29 years I had to fill out financial forms an sign them regarding any investments I had and how much those investments paid. Failure to file and sign could have resulted in immediate firing. Even when I worked for IBM I had to file similar forms agreeing never to take or offer any form of bribery,

So how do justices, legislators and others feel they have a right to get away with with crimes? And why does the4 system allow it?

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I had to do the same thing in a document for my federal court employment attesting that I had no conflicts and accepted no gifts.

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Yep all the workers, just not the people who really need to be monitored

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The Judicial Conference comes down hard on such conduct.

https://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/judiciary-financial-disclosure-reports

SCOTUS justices were not covered until last December. The conference has investigators and has the capacity to issue penalties. If the violations are serious, DOJ has jurisdiction.

The parties in cases have the info, and can use it in motions to recuse and for disqualification.

I got to the point that I did not hold any common stock, to avoid confrontations. I was asked to give advance notice when I gave speeches or CLE/CJE.

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Thank you, Daniel. The thing is, you are an attorney, you obey the law AND you understand and uphold the Constitution. In my opinion, the Supreme Court Justices should be held to an even higher standard than us peons. The Constitution as written is not that difficult to understand, I am not an attorney, and I understand it as written. How can Alito and Thomas claim they know the Constitution is not intended to mean what it says? It was written in 1787, not a single one of the men who wrote it is still alive. I do not believe in seances or ouija boards and I sincerely doubt that you do. Yet here they are, claiming they know the Constitution would not hold Donald J Trump accountable or responsible for his attempts to overthrow the legitimate election results. And several of them feel it's perfectly okay to accept large gift amounts from people with whom the court holds hearings. And no one gives a damn.

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Not Ouija boards.

I was aware of Scalia's malcontent long ago. He was the first director of ACUS, was a chair of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association and I was involved with both. After he was appointed, we were members of the Prettyman Levanthal Inn of Court. We were served dinner alphabetically so he, Thomas and I ate at the same table. The last time I saw him was at the 50th reunion of ACUS, held at the SCOTUS library. He was big on religion. one of his kids is a priest. I think his dad was a Fascist. I'm pretty sure that he knew that "natural law" has nothing to do with interpreting the Constitution. As we say in the law, with malice aforethought.

Thomas and Alito, who I do not know, openly admit that they apply church doctrine in the guise of natural law before reading the text, although they claim to be textualists. I hold out to the public that they are actually "pretexturalists." I want credit for that word.

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I give you full credit for that great word "pretextualists"! Okay I'll leave out Ouija boards, but i refuse to accept seances either. Nor do I care that Scalia (or the other Catholics) was religious, if it only affected his personal and not his business life. Although I am personally an atheist, it is a personal choice, for me, I expect no one to agree with me. I respect everyone's right to their own belief. BUT - The Constitution of the United States is off limits to any religion or "natural law" My education is science (biology/chemistry and masters in physiology) So for me "Natural Law" is synonymous with law of the jungle every animal takes care of itself. Which only works for lone hunters like the Cats. (my cat is trying to teach me how to be a cat, but I'm a slow learner in that field)

As you and I both know, while the original Constitution was written in the 18th Century English of the time, it might appear archaic to some, but it is not a foreign language. My copy is printed in 20th century English, And truly the only difference was in the spelling and pronunciation of some words.

Today's anti-Constitutional justices treat it as though it were written in hieroglyphs. No, it does not support authoritarianism (why do the anti-Constitutionalists think they fought the Revolutionary War? boredom?) Nor does it advocate a 'unitary Executive Branch' They were meant to be co-equal checks and balances for each other.

If you have any influence with the Bar, Daniel, could you remind them that we were founded as a democratic representative Republic - Not a monarchy for would be Kings Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump. Thanks

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Don't you find it interesting that 2 congressional democrats have been indicted (appropriately), but no Republicans? It appears that the 2-tier judicial system is being applied in such a way that Republicans as well as the rich are not held accountable the way the rest of us are.

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I worked in private industry, for the likes of Hewlett Packard and Varian, and the only thing that would guarantee to get you fired was falsifying an expense report. When I called on government labs, if we went to lunch the lab guys were scrupulous about never letting me buy. But I could bring donuts to a seminar.

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Right. I remember being shocked when a Washington public servant would not let me pay for lunch and was quite anxious about my asking. This meant she had to pay to have a lunch with someone asking for help in building a similar program to the one she was responsible for. It seemed unfair to her.

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And out here on the Left Coast, reliably blue Washington state’s GOP had their election year circus of a convention; as per usual they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating an unelectable jailbird (Simi Bird by name) as their choice for Governor. No matter that also in the running was former U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (and former Sheriff of the King County police and member of the Green River Task Force that arrested Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer of probably over 50 women). Reichert was not in the MAGA cult and was ideologically impure.

After spurning the one guy with statewide name recognition, legislative competence and more importantly, not insane, they wrote the GOP platform for 2024. They want jump in the WayBack machine and return to the days when national Senators were appointed by the state legislature. And this gem: “…we are devolving into a democracy. We do not want to be a democracy.” 1800 MAGA delegates to the convention, speaking for all Republicans in WA state? But not a peep from mainstream WA Republicans if there is any such thing any more.

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I saw a woman stating “We don’t want a democracy” in front of a microphone in some Washington city hall. My jaw dropped!

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Yeah, that was real interesting coverage of the platform proposals. Looked like a convention where everyone was off their meds.

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Rachel Maddox recently reported on Wash St candidates who are openly anti-democratic. WTAF?

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East of the Cascade Mountains in WA state is far more conservative than west of the mountains. The west side is held in disdain, if not actual hatred, by conservative voters. The population west of the mountains has many more voters than the east side. The east side outnumbers the west side in acreage owned but dirt doesn’t get to vote.

From time to time, some politician who flunked Econ 101 pushes the idea of East of the Mountains seceding from the west side and forming their own state. A tiny problem: the west side has Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson cancer center, all the subcontractors doing piece work for Boeing. The east side has farms and dirt. They have no economic base with which to support themselves. They’d be just one more red welfare state, holding their hand out for their financially privileged enemies on the west side to support them.

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Sounds like the same blueprint for the extreme north east part of California where I see "State of Jefferson" flags.

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Did I understand correctly that after all the convention chaos, the WA GOP decided not to endorse any candidate for governor ?

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They did endorse Misipati Semi Bird...it was a typical republican shit show...Reichert is running against him, without endorsement.

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They might have endorsed the fringe candidate Simi Bird; former Congressman Dave Reichert withdrew his name from consideration for endorsement, not wanting to be associated with the MAGA inmates running the asylum.

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This example of the widespread reporting on the issue at the time of the GOP convention was my last understanding. Must have realized how ridiculous it made the party look and changed its mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX9AepxN2ac

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Doubtful that WA’s Republicans care about looking ridiculous … they haven’t nominated an electable candidate for Governor in about 30 years or more. They always choose the

least qualified fringe candidate possible.

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Thank you for being here with us!

Now I’m going to read everything; I just wanted to say thank you 1st.

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I hope Democratic leaders will force Cuellar to step down. It seems Cuellar is about to have a lot on his plate.

Hats off to NPR. Federal judges must think they shouldn’t have had to disclose luxury items if SCOTUS doesn’t. It will be interesting to see who is paying for these luxury items and travel. Seems like it might be I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. There excuses so far seem kind of lame.

Cannon will probably pull out some new delay tactic out of her robe. I hope someone can takeover for Chris Kise. I would think there would be more than a couple of attorneys on the case.

Thank goodness Eastman’ license is still revoked since court refused his request. There has not been much news about Rudy. Perhaps he is listening to his attorney.

Let’s keep building this case against Trump.

Thanks, Joyce for keeping us well informed.

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Chris Kise was paid $3 Million in advance to take Trump's case. He is one of several attorneys on the case. Corpus linguistics (teaching the justices to write briefs with AI) is paid for by Koch and the classes are conducted through the Judicial Education Institute. I'm not sure if that group is part of the Heritage Foundation coalition, but the speakers and people running it are members of the Federalist Society: the person who created the AI software for corpus linguistics is Thomas Lee, former Utah supreme court justice, Utah Senator Mike Lee's brother. He runs the Judicial Education Institute with money from Koch.

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Thanks, Valere, for this information!

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Great information. Thanks, Valerie

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Wow

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I can say with confidence that the federal judges I worked with closely in my career took that disclosure form seriously and filed it on time with truthful information. They are not all sloppy that way.

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Some judges need to file monthly reports re investments. Are asked to justify some of the disclosures.

And are aware of stuff like this: https://www.propublica.org/article/judicial-conference-scotus-federal-judges-ethics-rules

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-judges-misconduct/

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Thank you for the information. Good to know and gives me hope.

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What about the 122 congresspersons that voted not to certify? They are just as complicit and guilty as well..they need to forfeit something as well

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Yep! The election deniers in Congress burn my ass!

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Can almost guarantee there will be none of the dithering and political game playing we saw with George Santos (or whoever he was...) when it comes to Cuellar's party reckoning. You may recall Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was forced to resign a mere three weeks after a sexting scandal, not an indictment as in Cuellar's case. Nancy wasn't having it then and I'm betting neither will Hakeem now.

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More evidence if you are rich and priviledged you can get away with it (whatever it is).

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The mantra for May from Joyce: "And it's about time." For accountability, justice, responsibility, respect, decency, etc. It's also about time for DOJ to hold accountable the members of Congress who declined to certify the election, assisted w/ the attempted coup, and aided the January 6 plotters.

It's also reassuring - and very surprising actually - to know NPR is still capable of good reporting, since its news coverage over the last few years has too often included incomplete and therefore inaccurate stories and silly features that remind me of the Weekly Reader, the newspaper for elementary school students decades ago.

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I continue to be appalled by our current Supreme Court - members of which can seemingly be held accountable for nothing, including consorting with donors and some flat-out lying at Congressional approval hearings. It's difficult for members of the public to contact the Supreme Court - and these individuals now clearly considering themselves god-like arbiters of American life, regardless of public opinion. While in the past we've had many admirable Supreme Court justices, it's clear we can't count on it. At the very least, we need term limits. And why - WHY? - is Clarence Thomas still weighing in on issues on which he (and his wife) clearly have a conflict of interest?

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May 6·edited May 6

Joyce,

First of all, I hope you had a good weekend, and were able to have some well-deserved REST. (Mother's Day is next Sunday, so you still have a few more days left to hint!)

Thanks as always for your making sure we stay well-informed, because a lot of this would never be mentioned in the news or online. Even if by some miracle the information was made available, I'd venture to guess that a lot of the hundreds of thousands --- very impressive, BTW --- who subscribe to Civil Discourse might not understand what we're reading!

Regarding the failure of all these judges, especially the Supremes, to disclose their "bennies" (that's what military personnel used to call benefits) does not surprise me at all. I was always cynical, but ever since Trump stepped down HIS escalator, that character flaw is one that my late mother would never recognize now. Forgive me for saying this, but I wish he had stumbled down, tumbling like a great big orange bowling pin.

The fact that Judge Cannon is handling her buddy's case in very slow motion doesn't surprise me, either. By now, I'd expect nothing less. Meanwhile, poor Mr. Eastman must be beside himself with grief. He can blame no one but himself.

Hope I didn't bum you - and your readers - with all this negativity, but my disdain and frustration with the GOP/MAGAts is overwhelming, plus my back is worse.

Before I go, I hope your new additions to the chicken coop are doing well. In my next life, I think I'd like to be a member of your "brood."

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No apologies needed, Dianne. You said what we all have thought about Trump and his ride down the escalator!

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May 6·edited May 6

Marlene, I feel better knowing that! It wouldn't be the fault of the guy two steps behind him happened to be carrying a bowling ball and it slipped out of his hands, would it?

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What a glorious thought!

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The only bad thing about the bowling ball would be if it should hurt innocent people further down the steps. He's like a cat with nine lives. I was extremely disappointed when he recovered from COVID.

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Thank you again, as always, for clarity and understandable dialogue.

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Certainly the defense in the records falsification/election interference trial will try to make much of an assertion that Michael Cohen, looking for another star on his Trump Org. record or perhaps a top level appointment should Trump get elected, hatched and carried out the convoluted scheme to pay off Stormy Daniels all by his lonesome. But then there is the inconvenient language of the falsification statute (PEN § 175.10) which says what would ordinarily be a plain vanilla misdemeanor is elevated to a misdemeanor in the first degree (making it a Class E felony) when the defendant's intent to defraud through the falsification includes, "...an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof." And while the defense need only confuse one juror, say over the interpretation of the applicable laws, prosecutors get convictions all the time on unavoidable inference. Here this would be that there is no reasonable conclusion other than Trump intended to commit that other crime or to aid or conceal its commission. Sometimes circumstantial evidence can actually be stronger for a jury than direct evidence. And that's exactly what the prosecution is doing in building to what it hopes will be that inescapable conclusion, witness by witness and document by document.

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May 6·edited May 6

But if the defense tries to portray that Michael gave Trump such a 'gift' or some such thing with the Stormy Daniels payment, isn't that to be reported to the agency that keeps track of campaign donations? If he admitted to Hope Hicks that he knew about the payment being made, isn't that the same as saying "I knew this money was somehow passed along on my behalf"? Even if his excuse was that he was hiding the pay-off from Melania, he still knew the transaction went on with money paid to Stormy - so he cannot claim he was unaware. Not reporting the money thing bothers me. Is that the charge? That he was concealing receipt of money? I heard that Michael tape-recorded a conversation with Trump on the Stormy pay-off. That on its face doesn't sound like he did anything from the 'kindness of his heart.' It kind of takes the shine off the 'gift.'

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Yes, failure to report is one possibility, as is excess contribution --- both of which Michael Cohen plead to (having been directed by Individual 1 per his sentencing document). An internal Federal Election Commission (FEC) report by its general counsel recommended that Trump be investigated on that basis (https://www.fec.gov/files/legal/murs/7313/7313_19.pdf) but an investigation never went forward because of a deadlock along partisan lines. There are also state election law violations as well as violations of tax law on the table. All of which Merchan has ruled are allowable predicate crimes or categories. As for the tax law violation --- however the payment is characterized by the defense, both personal expenses and campaign contributions are not legally deductible, whereas actual "legal expense" would be a legitimate one. There is also the uncomfortable fact for the defense that in order to really make any case for the "protect the family" assertion, Trump himself would have to testify. But there remains the other uncomfortable fact that while the purpose of the payment could be twofold, the election interference attempt still legally sticks out like a sore thumb.

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Thank you for the wealth of background information. Unless one spends a lot of time, pulling up the documents, we do not know the background. And even should we read them at least in my case I don’t know what the law means so I appreciate this enormously. I just think the fact that he is sitting there acting as the CEO of his business and signing checks makes him culpable, if that’s the right word. And that’s some thing I know about from having small businesses and also working in some quite large institutions. If it’s the light bill, the bookkeeper just brings the utilities all together in the stack so you can see the check matches the bill and you know you’ve had power, so paying it is regular. But if it’s anything else they bring the invoice and the background file so you can look at it. The CEO is responsible. He can’t be just signing these checks without knowing what the invoices are for. I’ve had a lot of Attorney expenses and they don’t just come in a single line. There are lots and lots of lines of what the job is for - even all the phone calls and filings are broken down (somewhat). So appears the defense doesn’t have much recourse. If I were the prosecutor, I think I would bring in comparable attorney bills for the jury. And show them examples of what real attorney bills look like. I think it’s quite possible that some folks on the jury have never had large attorney bills. If you have several hundred thousand dollars to pay every year, they never come evenly not in my world. They are never tallied up at the end and then divided evenly. Every month it’s different. And in my case, it’s amazing that when you have a phone conversation, even the part of the hour is listed. Maybe that’s because I’m a smaller client, but those bill and fees add up to different amounts every month. And when it is up in the $30,000 range, we want to know what it’s for. That is what is so weird to me about that defense, that he just kept signing those checks month after month with no questions about ‘why am I charged this now?’ Also, think of sparing one’s feelings by not letting Melania see the newspapers.In truth, he may have been sparing his own hide from her anger: but that is a side note, compared to the fact that he knew the money was given to Stormy. I don’t know if this is the case of the wife can testify. I don’t think if I were the prosecutor I would have her testify because that is when it would turn into a complete circus.

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What's important in all of this is to understand the lengths to which Trump (and his minions) who continue to say the 2020 election was "rigged," went to influence the 2016 election --- won only by about 80,000 votes across three states. He almost certainly would have lost had the Daniels business come out. As for somehow being an innocent bystander to the payment and reimbursement, his former controller Jeffrey McConney (on the stand as I write this) has testified that at least some of the reimbursement funds came out of Trump's personal account and there was never the usual invoice for legal fees presented. So, another nail.. No doubt the defense will try the "Yeah, but..." counter or explanation which tends to get lost on a jury once the dots have been clearly connected by the prosecution. By the way, you raise an interesting question about the (slim to none) possibility of Melania being subpoenaed to testify about her knowledge of the Stormy Daniels situation. NY law makes a distinction between an action involving alleged adultery (a spouse allowed to testify against the other only under very limited circumstances) and any other (except a confidential communication without consent), where it would be allowed.

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Whether her testimony meant anything or not going forward, she would be so blistered, it would ruin him in his campaign. She would not be at his side, ever.

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....and did anyone involved report it as an expense to the IRS? On state tax forms?

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Maybe one of us should call the 800 IRS number. How does one expense that? ‘My fixer influenced polls.’

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And most if not all states’ jury instructions specifically say that there is no difference between direct and circumstantial evidence and each is respected for such convincing force each has.

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They have Trump on tape. Nothing like the power of an admission. Within the realm of possibilities that Bragg doesn't need Cohen -- could force Trump to call him if he wants that defense.

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