Trump Privilege Case Straight to the SCOTUS? Doubt It; Trump Rips GOP Further; Friday Pick Six
TRUMP PRIVILEGE CASE HEADS TO THE SUPREME COURT: NO, NOT SO FAST
Liz Harrington, Trump’s spokesperson, put out a hilarious tweet yesterday. One can feel an embarrassing element, either complete naivety/unawareness as to the process, arrogance, or - more likely, total desperation. With respect to Trump’s claim of privilege to the January 6th documents and the Select Committee’s subpoena:
Not so fast. This newsletter, the one that has had almost as bad a week as Mark Meadows (almost), is going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say, “No, the SCOTUS is not going to take this case and this case was never destined for the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court doesn’t have to take any case except those cases in which one state sues another. See Arizona v. California about water rights to the Colorado River (all handled by appointed special masters, not the justices). Any other case? Nope, the Supreme Court isn’t under any obligation to take a case, even one involving a former president. It takes four justices to vote to grant “certioriari” (“grant cert” in legalese) for the Court to take up a case, and the vast majority get tossed in the trash can.
There are several reasons that I don’t believe the Court will take this case. First and foremost is that the issue is fairly obvious under the Court’s former ruling in the Nixon case of 1976. Both the district court and the appellate court had no problem at all batting away the issues and the opinions stressed that this wasn’t even that close a call. Each court wrote strong opinions meant to severely rebuke the argument and as a testament to the court above it. The Supreme Court may be entirely satisfied that the law is so straightforward, and the two opinions below so solid, that it’s really not worth its time.
Speaking of time, some might say, “Yes, but there could be four pro-Trump votes on the Supreme court that only seek to grant Trump time, not necessarily even rule against him. There may be four Trump advocates who merely seek to give Trump enough time to run out the clock on the committee, delay the ruling as much as possible, and hope the House goes to the Republicans next January.” If it only takes four, he can surely get there, right?
To which, I say, no - don’t think so.
It is very safe to say that there are certainly two votes to “grant cert.” Justice Thomas, whose wife Ginny was up to her highlights in the Trump administration, including organizing January 6th, will most certainly want to give Trump (And especially Ginny) time and also the privilege. Additionally, Justice Alito can also be counted upon to rule in any manner that pisses Democrats off. Based upon a purely philosophical view, Alito is right next to Thomas as the most “conservative” and predictable justice on the court. Liberals should want to get rid of Alito even before Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett were it possible. So, Thomas and Alito, that’s two votes to hear the case.
The other two primary candidates would be Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett.
Kavanaugh’s appointment was awfully strange, was it not? Someone, we don’t know who - even though we damn well should know who - paid off just about all Kavanaugh’s debts right as he was nominated. His debt was staggering for an appellate court judge, never mind a justice. Did that “deal” come with some instructions? If those debts were paid off by anyone but Kavanaugh’s wealthy family, then the payments almost certainly came with instructions. (And, if they were paid off with family money, wouldn’t he want everyone to know there wasn’t something weird going on?
But we don’t know if the instructions would include a matter like this and we don’t know who paid off his debts. It’s possible that instructions would cover this matter. We say Kavanaugh is 50-50 and certainly no guarantee, especially if he sees it’s not getting to four anyway.
But let’s just pretend Kavanaugh is three. I still think they would come up one vote short.
The three liberals aren’t voting to protect Trump and they sure as hell don’t see a complex legal issue to wrangle with. I am not saying that they see this purely as a political matter. I am saying they will be entirely satisfied with the four judges that have already ruled - easily - on it.
Much more importantly, Chief Justice John Roberts has been slowly sliding left, for good reason. Roberts is the only one whose name will go down in history associated with this court, a court many see as entirely illegitimate, entirely political, to the point that some want Biden to pack the court with more justices. Do not think for a second that this doesn’t weigh on Roberts’ powerful mind. We may not like his rulings but the man is an absolute genius.
The single last thing Roberts wants is to invite even more media attention to the politicized nature of the court. Given the ease with which the prior courts dealt with the issue, Roberts won’t feel any need to “clear things up” and will see a big opportunity to prove that the Court is not as politicized as some say. I don’t think there’s any chance Roberts will vote to hear this case.
Which brings us to Justice Amy Coney-Barrett. Unlike Kavanaugh, we can safely say that Coney-Barrett doesn’t owe anyone anything. Amy Coney-Barrett is extremely well-qualified (setting aside her conservatism), and her job is to be a conservative woman to rule against abortion, that’s it. In fact, she’s already disappointed some conservatives with her rulings in other cases, a subject too far afield for this column.
Coney-Barrett knows damned well she doesn’t owe Trump a thing. And even though she likely prefers Republican rule in the White House and Congress, Coney-Barrett’s religious beliefs are all too real and sincere, even if some find them strange. Given her faith, she is surely repulsed by Trump as a human being. To the extent Trump had anything to do with January 6th, that - too, would likely reinforce her disgust with the man. Last, Amy Coney-Barrett is also very aware of the political nature of her appointment, just how unforgivably it was granted and what that means going forward. She has almost as much reason as Roberts to wash the political stain off her black robe as fast as possible. There could not possibly be a better case for her to prove it than this one.
Did you notice we didn’t get to four? Let’s look at this one more time:
Looks a little more desperate after a thorough review, doesn’t it? We will not know until next week, at the earliest, whether the SCOTUS takes up this case. But as for me - and perhaps you, I’d be shocked if the SCOTUS took up the case.
There. I made my call. Screenshot this article because if it comes out 9-0 to hear the case, this f***ing article will be deleted so fast…
Fairhope Alabama (Home) Pier:
THE RIP IN GOP WIDENS AS McCONNELL BATTLES TRUMP OVER PARTY’S FUTURE
There has always been tension between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Of course, both are ruthless political animals and - much of the time, they are pulling in the same direction. They showed how they could work in synch during Trump’s first impeachment when McConnell, the “jury foreman,” said there was no division between his position and the White House’s, and the foreman would not allow evidence to be introduced.
(*By the way, I’ll never forgive the Democrats for not finding one among them to stand up and present an objection on which Chief Justice Roberts had to rule. The Democrat could have said, “the Constitution says that there should be a trial, and the Chief Justice should preside over the trial. My objection is that a proceeding without the presentation of evidence is not a trial and thus unconstitutional. I ask the presiding judge to rule on my objection.” It would have at least made Roberts squirm, which would have made it worth it.)
McConnell did Trump’s duty on nearly every occasion. But that doesn’t in any way mean that they were ever on the same “team” or shared much interest in anything beyond getting this or that done. It is not that McConnell is less committed to minority rule, or doesn’t want to preserve Republican rule as far into the future as possible - just like Trump - it is that McConnell thinks strategically, while Trump thinks transactional. (McConnell also probably has table manners and doesn’t eat steak well done with ketchup). There is a big difference. Trump is always about “what can you do for me today to show loyalty,” McConnell is always about “what can I do today to ensure I’m majority leader again in the future?” McConnell is willing to take one right on the chin if he thinks it’ll help him in the next election.
The two clashed during this week’s vote on a deal with the Democrats to not have the United States government default. McConnell was thinking ahead to next year’s election and how awful it would look if the Republican senators threw the country into even greater financial chaos. Trump would just assume the country burn to the ground, so long as it is pinned on Biden. Trump couldn’t care less if the country entered another Great Depression.
And thus the war is out in the open. From just today (Friday), again from Trump’s spokesperson, Liz Harrington:
Coming from anyone else, a presidential call to step down as leader would be pretty meaningful, just not this one, because - as we said, Trump thinks transactional. What could you do for me today? McConnell had an opportunity to upend the country under Biden and wouldn’t do it. It infuriates Trump, and the gulf between them widens.
That puts every other senator on notice, you will eventually have to pick a side. Most of them are still terrified of Trump. McConnell found 10 by using the usual, Romney, Collins, Murkowski, the retiring Portman, and a ragtag of others, while Lindsey Graham - whose life must depend upon Trump, ripped into McConnell behind closed doors.
And Ron Johnson (R-Moscow) said:
"I have repeatedly said I will not support raising the debt ceiling for the Democrats' radical agenda that is causing inflation and driving up our national debt.”
Bullshit. If Trump had been president, he’d have voted all 100 votes in an empty chamber at 2:00 a.m. and sent it over to the White House.
But where the clash will really matter is when it comes to endorsements for the Senate. Trump wants the most loyal, which is how one finds Marjorie Taylor Greenes, Lauren Boeberts, and Madison Cawthorns. McConnell wants John Cornyns. People who keep their mouths mostly shut and can be relied upon to think and get the job done.
One can easily see a scenario where, in a primary in a purple state, Trump endorses a duck shit insane candidate who promises undying loyalty to the MAGA movement, versus someone just “regular GOP insane.” (e.g. John Cornyn). And just like we saw in Georgia in 2020 (technically 2021), Trump can - on his very own - ensure that the Senate remains in the Democrats’ hands, and don’t think that McConnell doesn’t know it.
Everything Trump touches dies. It is taking longer than we thought, but it’s still happening, little tear by little tear, with the GOP.
Before we hit the Pick Six, This week missed an issue, and these are the types of things that will have to get worked out before there will ever be a charge for this newsletter. I have no plans on charging for at least three months. So, let’s all sit back from a tough week and hopefully be able to enjoy a weekend.
And now to the bane of my email correspondence, for not getting it just right:
FRIDAY PICK SIX
Best Football Game of the Weekend: Buffalo v. Tampa Bay, 3:25 p.m. Sunday
Quote of the Week: “Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often, and for the same reasons.” Mark Twain
Best Science Video of the Week:
MUCH ADO YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO: U2 “Elevation” Live from Glastonbury
Best Funny Dog Video of the Week: Guy who dresses as Dog’s favorite toy:
Bob Dole represented a different country than the one we have now.
I need less randomness.
The. U.S. Senate Chaplain is one of the greatest public speakers I have ever seen and heard.
What was life like before texts? Before smart phones? Did we know how stupid we looked? Just driving off without phones?
Sunday’s deep dive should be about all the changes the Democrats currently have an opportunity to make, voting rights, women’s rights to choose, build back better… and two people, stuffed with cash from corporate interests are pissing it all away. I don’t know if I have the heart.
I answer all contacts, even this week, I managed: email@example.com and on Twitter @JasonMiciak