August 15, 2022
Today, President Joe Biden congratulated the people of India on their 75th anniversary of independence, calling out the relationship between “our great democracies” and “our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.”
Yesterday, he lamented the recent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie, calling out Rushdie’s “insight into humanity,…his unmatched sense for story,…his refusal to be intimidated or silenced,” and his support “for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”
But the news today is full not of the defense of democracy, but of those trying to overthrow it.
Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, and Amy Gardner of the Washington Post broke the story that after the 2020 election, as part of the effort to overturn the results, Trump’s lawyers paid computer experts to copy data from election systems in Georgia. The breach was successful and significant, although authorities maintain the machines can be secured before the next election. Led by Trump ally Sidney Powell, the group also sought security data from Michigan and Nevada, although the extent of the breaches there is unclear. They also appear to have worked on getting information from Arizona.
Georgia prosecutors have told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the criminal investigation of the attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, letting him know it is possible he will be indicted.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has tried to quash a subpoena requiring his testimony before a Fulton County grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, but today a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, said he must testify. She said that “the District Attorney’s office has shown ‘extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia's 2020 elections.’”
And yet, the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.
In the issue of Trump’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration when he left office, over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported in the New York Times that last June, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a statement saying that all classified documents that had made it to Mar-a-Lago had been given back to the National Archives and Records Administration. But, of course, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last Monday revealed that assertion to be incorrect.
The statement was made after Jay I. Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence officer, visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3. The House and Senate intelligence committees have asked Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines to provide the committees with a damage assessment of how badly Trump’s retention of top secret classified documents in an insecure location has damaged national security.
Today, the Department of Justice has asked a judge not to unseal the affidavit behind the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, saying that it “implicates highly classified materials,” and that disclosing the affidavit right now would "cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation." CNN, the Washington Post, NBC News, and Scripps all asked the judge to unseal all documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. But, “[i]f disclosed,” the Justice Department wrote, “the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps.”
Legal analyst and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe commented: “This suggests [the Department of Justice] wasn’t just repatriating top secret doc[ument]s to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment.”