#031 | Trump & 18 Associates Indicted - Justified or Election Interference?
All of the top stories 📰 of the week in small bites.
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It’s FRIDAY, August 18! YAY
This week’s stories:
Trump and 18 Allies Indicted in Georgia under Georgia RICO Act: Is this justified or election interference?
David Weiss: The Special Counsel's Unexpected Appointment & Its Implications
The Lahaina Inferno: A Comprehensive Insight into the Deadliest U.S. Wildfire
Affirmative Action Revived? Biden Administration's Controversial Guidelines
Montana's Ruling: Symbolic Gesture or Overreach in Addressing Global Climate?
Rich Men North of Richmond': A Song that Strikes a Chord with Real America
Trump and 18 Allies Indicted in Georgia under Georgia RICO Act: Is this justified or election interference?
In a significant development, former President Donald Trump and 18 associates, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, were indicted late Monday night by a Fulton County, Georgia grand jury for their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Under Georgia's RICO Act, DA Fani Willis has charged the defendants, claiming they were part of a "criminal enterprise" that attempted to undermine the electoral process. The charges include various alleged criminal activities, from making false claims of election fraud to harassment and intimidation of election workers. Mind you the majority of the acts listed in the indictment are attorney phone calls and tweets.
Meadows, facing charges for soliciting an official to violate their oath of office under the RICO statute, is taking legal action of his own. In a Tuesday filing, his attorneys asserted that the charges should be moved to federal court, arguing that Meadows' actions aligned with his White House Chief of Staff role. They insist that his assistance to Trump's election challenge was a natural part of his duties and that he has done no wrong. It remains to be seen if the attorneys indicted will make similar filings.
Trump has also responded furiously to the indictment, vowing to publish proof that election fraud swayed the outcome of the election, which he contends will constitute a "complete exoneration." He has announced a plan to present the evidence during a press conference on Monday although his attorneys have advised him to cancel the press conference. He has further accused DA Willis's case and three prior indictments against him of being part of a broader political witch hunt intended to derail his 2024 presidential campaign.
The charges under the RICO Act could lead to lengthy prison sentences and may encourage co-defendants to seek plea deals. In this case, the governor of Georgia doesn't have the power to pardon convicts, and even the U.S. president wouldn't be able to pardon Trump. The entire case can also be broadcast on television. Nothing better than making a spectacle for the election, am I right?
But the battle is not one way. Georgia State Senator Colton Moore is moving to impeach Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis accusing her of carrying out a political agenda against Trump, Moore has called for an emergency session to review her actions. He's also sent a letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, backed by 3/5 of the Georgia House and Senate, to demand a special session. While CNN's legal analyst doubts that a trial will occur soon, Willis hopes for it to happen within six months.
As the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges, Trump's indictment brings forth complex legal and political questions that will continue to unfold in the coming months. The Meadows legal challenge, along with Trump's aggressive response and the possibility of a trial in early 2024, as well as potential trials in other cases, is having far-reaching implications. These implications are not limited to Trump and his associates but extend to the entire political landscape, particularly as GOP presidential primaries are starting.
→ Trump offers limited aid to Giuliani for legal bills, surprising allies amid ongoing legal challenges. Rudy Giuliani recently appealed to former President Donald Trump for help with his seven-figure legal bills. Meeting in Mar-a-Lago, Giuliani and his attorney explained why assisting with the fees was in Trump's best interest. Trump verbally agreed to some support but has not committed to a specific amount or timeline, providing only a limited payment through his Save America PAC. The reluctance to aid Giuliani more substantially has surprised those close to Trump, especially given Giuliani's significant legal challenges, including a recent indictment in Georgia.
→ Jenna Ellis raises legal defense funds amid reports of Trump's withholding support over DeSantis affiliation. Jenna Ellis, formerly part of President Trump's legal team, is facing legal charges and has raised over $48,000 through an online crowdfunding campaign for her defense. Reports are circulating that Trump may withhold financial assistance because Ellis supports his rival, Ron DeSantis, though these claims have not been confirmed. Some conservative commentators criticize Trump's lack of support, claiming it demonstrates a lack of loyalty. Ellis herself is publicly leaning on her faith and continues to express gratitude for her friends' encouragement.
News of the Week
The appointment of David Weiss as special counsel in the Hunter Biden Case raises legal questions and political concerns. In a move that's already drawing scrutiny and criticism, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss as special counsel in the investigation into Hunter Biden. The decision was announced in an impromptu statement last Friday, catching many off guard. But the selection of Weiss is causing concern and making headlines.
Why the concern? For starters, Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware, is not an outsider to the U.S. government. Legal scholars like Alan Dershowitz argue this goes against federal law's requirements, aiming to ensure that special counsel operates independently from government influences. Plus, Weiss's history with the Hunter Biden case is filled with red flags. Remember that "sweetheart deal" that got shot down by US District Judge Maryellen Noreika? Yeah, Weiss was part of that.
US District Judge Maryellen Noreika called out one of Weiss's prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Leo Wise, over an unprecedented plea deal that would have allowed Hunter Biden to serve just two years of probation for tax misdemeanors. This plea deal had also included blanket immunity as part of a diversion agreement for past crimes, including charges over lying on a federal gun purchase form about drug use.
Judge Noreika questioned the broad nature of the deal, asking, “Have you ever seen a diversion agreement that is so broad that it encompasses crimes in another case?” This inquiry forced the U.S. attorney to admit in open court that such an agreement was unprecedented. Wise later added that further charges, such as failure to register as a foreign agent, were possible as part of an “ongoing” investigation. This is what led Hunter Biden’s attorneys to reject the plea deal. These past actions have made many question Weiss's impartiality and suitability for this critical role.
But here's where things get interesting. Some believe Weiss was appointed as special counsel to inhibit congressional investigations into the Bidens and avoid testifying before Congress. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., didn't hold back, tweeting, “This action by Biden’s DOJ cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption.” And Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chair of the Oversight Committee investigating the Bidens, sees this development as an attempt at a “Biden family coverup.”
Comer's not backing down, either. He vowed that the Oversight panel’s probe would continue concurrently with the special counsel’s work and even hinted at subpoenas for members of the Biden family, including possibly the president himself.
Federal prosecutors recently asked for the Delaware case dismissed, intending to bring charges in another district, likely Washington DC or Southern California. This maneuver has led Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to tweet: “Biden’s DOJ wants to dismiss the charges against Hunter, supposedly to refile them elsewhere, no doubt before some liberal judge who will rubber-stamp a sweetheart deal. Remember, when Biden’s DOJ and Hunter’s lawyers meet, they’re not negotiating. They’re conspiring.”
Additionally, the scope of Weiss's appointment is more limited than what was initially envisioned, focusing only on the case brought before him. Republicans are worried that this narrow scope may exclude potentially critical felony charges where the statute of limitations has expired.
So, what's the deal here? Appointing a special counsel should be a step toward transparency and trust, but not surprisingly, Garland's choice seems anything but. Weiss's involvement in previous controversies and concerns over his appointment's real purpose begs the question: Is this move in the public's interest, or is it tangled in legal controversy, political games, and, as some might say, good old CYA?
Lahaina, Maui, is the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century. The cause of the fires is still under investigation; however, video footage captured by residents on Maui suggests that downed utility lines may have sparked the wildfires. Over the weekend, a class-action lawsuit was filed by a couple from Hawaii against the state's electric company. The lawsuit accuses Hawaiian Electric of not turning off power to their lines during high-wind advisories, which allegedly contributed to the wildfires.
The catastrophe unfolded in a relentless series of events, each one exacerbating the next, from hurricane-force winds fueling the inferno to a total collapse of the water system. The aftermath has left not only charred ruins and a rising death toll but also the emergence of predatory land investors, decisions regarding emergency sirens, and bureaucratic delays tied to a man named Kaleo Manuel.
The Wildfire's Deadly Dance with the Wind
On that fateful Tuesday, the wind became an accomplice to destruction. Gusts exceeding 70 mph fanned the flames, rendering helicopters useless and creating an aggressive wildfire that would eventually claim at least 111 lives, tragically that death toll is expected it rise. Buildings worth $5.6 billion were lost, and the heart of Lahaina was reduced to ashes.
Focus on Green Energy Overlooks Critical Grid Failures Causing Wildfires
Hawaiian Electric faces scrutiny following the state's worst wildfire, amid reports that the company knowingly prioritized renewable energy projects over urgently needed upgrades to its electric grid, prone to sparking. The focus on green energy was in response to Hawaii's 2015 mandate to derive all energy from renewable sources by 2045. Even after a 2019 wildfire in Maui that exposed vulnerabilities in the grid, the company invested less than $250,000 on wildfire-related projects. Critics argue that pursuing environmentally friendly initiatives distracted the company from addressing well-known issues within its system. The incident underscores the potential risks of prioritizing renewable energy development without adequately addressing existing infrastructure weaknesses.
A Failed Water System and the Chaos Ensuing
As if scripted for tragedy, the water system collapsed. Firefighters' desperation turned into chaos as hydrants ran dry. Firefighter Keahi Ho's heart-wrenching revelation of finding no water encapsulates the hopelessness faced by those trying to battle the blaze. The water system's failure, stemming from melting pipes and power outages, marked a critical turning point in this devastating saga.
The Toll: Losses Beyond Measure
The human toll is staggering, with over 100 confirmed dead and more expected, thousands displaced, and the community devastated. Survivors moving into hotel rooms and shelters, DNA samples requested from families with missing relatives, and a mobile morgue unit being deployed paint a grim picture. Even as the search for bodies continues, the community rallies together, providing support and housing for those in need.
Sirens Silent and a Bitter Debate
The decision not to activate the island's emergency sirens, usually linked to tsunami warnings, has ignited a debate. During a press conference on Thursday, Maui’s Emergency Management Agency chief Herman Andaya argued that the sirens would have driven people toward the fire, while survivors counter that they might have saved lives. A "comprehensive review" has been promised.
By Thursday evening, it was announced that Chief Andaya had resigned, citing health reasons. "Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible, and I look forward to making that announcement soon,” Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said.
A Warning Against Predatory Land Investors
Governor Josh Green's issued a stern warning against opportunistic developers eyeing the devastated land in Lahaina. He has committed to safeguarding the land for residents. Although the warning to developers is appreciated he has expressed the possibility of the state acquiring the land and this has made residents wary of his intentions. Governor Green claims it will be to protect the historical and cultural essence of the place from those seeking to exploit the tragedy.
Kaleo Manuel: A Controversial Figure Amid Crisis
M. Kaleo Manuel's name has surfaced amid the chaos, linked to delays in diverting streams to fill reservoirs for firefighters. A letter from West Maui Land Company to the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) calls for immediate assistance in future emergencies, criticizing the five-hour delay. Manuel's reassignment within the department and public outrage further underscore the complexity of water management in emergencies.
Biden administration's guidance on race in admissions. A veiled attempt to revive affirmative action despite the Supreme Court ruling. In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling on race in college admissions, the Biden administration has issued detailed guidance in what appears as an attempt to circumvent the court's ruling, leaving many wondering if this isn't just affirmative action by another name.
Here's the crux of the issue: the court said schools can't consider race a standalone factor in admissions. But the Biden administration's guidance still lets schools ponder how race influences a person's life. So, if you're the first black violinist in your city’s youth orchestra, that can still be part of the conversation.
The guidelines suggest that schools can pursue diverse student bodies by targeting outreach and recruiting based on geography, financial resources, or parental education level.
They've even thrown in a suggestion to reconsider legacy admissions, something that many support, but then there are other elements, like application fees or standardized testing requirements.
These are guidelines, not laws, and colleges can interpret them as they wish. But when the administration goes out of its way to offer such specific examples and guidelines, can we call it guidance? It seems more like a playbook to keep the spirit of affirmative action alive, despite what the highest court in the land has ruled.
UNC has taken a firm stance, banning the consideration of race in admissions. That is a straightforward way to honor the court's ruling and keep the admissions process fair and unbiased.
Ultimately, the Biden administration's so-called guidance on this issue feels like a veiled attempt to keep affirmative action alive and well, no matter what the Supreme Court says. The Biden administration will claim that the goal is equality and fairness in education. Still, if we are honest, it’s just a continuation of policies that divide us along racial lines.
Young environmentalists won a climate change ruling in Montana. In a ruling that has left many conservatives and proponents of state autonomy dumbfounded, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley in Montana decided to side with 16 young climate activists, proclaiming that Montana's approval process for fossil fuel permits violates the state's constitution that says “the state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”
Judge Seeley's ruling obligates Montana to consider the effects of carbon emissions in decisions about fossil fuel projects, implying that the state can single-handedly take on global climate change. It's as if Montana's emissions were the one thread unraveling the entire global climate tapestry.
Montana has long been dependent on coal and gas for electricity and exports. It boasts about 30% of the nation's total coal reserves. I support individual climate responsibility, but the idea that a state with around 1% of the U.S. population can make a dent in a global issue seems like wishful thinking.
The Republican Attorney General of Montana, Austin Knudsen, expressed his intentions to appeal the ruling. I agree with Emily Flower, the spokeswoman for the attorney general, that the ruling is absurd. It's not that Montanans shouldn't do their part for the environment, but putting the weight of global climate change on their shoulders is an overreach.
And let's talk about those young activists for a moment. The ruling turns climate policy into an emotional play rather than a well-thought-out strategy, as it focuses mainly on the emotional distress of the young activists. Rikki Held, one of the lead plaintiffs, links climate change directly to extreme weather affecting her family's ranch. Should this drive legal decisions about an entire state's energy policy?
The case could mark a significant turning point in climate litigation. Will this ruling pave the way for meaningful change, or is it merely a symbolic gesture that oversteps the bounds of state authority and disregards the complexities of a global issue?
Young people in other states have also sued over what they say are the negative effects of climate change. Although similar lawsuits have been brought in the past, the Montana case was the first to go to trial.
In short, Montana's ruling, hailed as a victory by environmental activists, seems more like an unrealistic burden placed upon a state that can hardly make a meaningful impact on a worldwide problem and will create more financial burdens on the people of Montana.
Have you heard Oliver Anthony's song "Rich Men North of Richmond"? If not, you need to check it out ASAP. It's more than just a song; it's an anthem for the American working man, and it's struck a chord with me and many others in a big way. The song's title, “Rich Men North of Richmond,” is about the politicians in D.C. and how their policies have negatively affected the working man.
Oliver's not just a musician but a storyteller, painting a vivid picture of life for those who work hard every day and still find life "a little more difficult than it should be." Inspired by his experiences working in factories and living off the grid, his songs like "Rich Man's Gold" and "Hell On Earth" are raw, real, and passionate.
Progressive music fans have been crying into their oat milk lattes at the meteoric rise of Oliver Anthony. Racking up 12 million views in six days, Anthony has become a suspected boogeyman to the left.
Could it be talent? Nah, that's too straightforward. According to them, there must be a conspiracy afoot! Supported by high-profile conservative figures and daring to sing about the failure of the D.C. elite is clearly, grounds for suspicion. While Anthony himself tries to spoil the fun by categorizing himself as “dead center,” the progressives think it’s all sus.
Some suspect he might be an "industry plant" or a well-engineered invention. Evidence to support this? Who needs that when you have gut feelings and righteous indignation? Poor Oliver, caught in the crosshairs of the progressive, fun police, all for having a tune that people enjoy.
And let's talk about Oliver the man - living on 90 acres of land in Farmville, dedicating his music to his roots in Appalachia, has brushed off offers of $8 million because he doesn't want the fame. He's been through a lot, from fractured skulls to struggles with mental health, but his music is an outlet and a gift to those who hear it.
I admire his authenticity and the courage he shows in his songs. His lyrics reach deep into the soul and express what so many feel. It's music that's more than just a melody; it's a voice for the unheard and a comfort for the weary.
If you haven't already, give his music a listen. Oliver Anthony is a testament to real, honest music-making, and I can't wait to hear more from him.
→ Representative Steube of the Florida GOP has submitted articles of impeachment against Biden, citing "high crimes and misdemeanors" related to the House Oversight Committee's investigation into Hunter Biden's questionable international business dealings. Some Democrats have criticized this move as dangerous political theater in response to Trump's previous indictments.
→ Donald Trump has declared that he will not be signing the RNC pledge, which requires candidates to back the eventual nominee of the party's primary and refrain from participating in unsanctioned debates. Trump has expressed his disapproval of Fox News' embargo on debate footage and feels that the RNC's debate regulations are hindering his ability to communicate with the American public effectively.
→ Target's sales hit a six-year low, falling 5.4% in Q2, thanks to the backlash over their Pride Month collection. Controversial items sparked boycotts, forcing Target to rethink its retail strategy. The retail giant's learning is that not every splash of "pride" leads to a rainbow of success.