ChrisWeigant.com

Questions The January 6th Committee Has Left Unanswered

[ Posted Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 – 15:01 UTC ]

Right before I sat down to write this, the January 6th House Select Committee announced it was postponing tomorrow's publicly-televised hearing, due to Hurricane Ian being scheduled to hit Florida. Nevertheless, I was going to write about the committee today anyway, so these comments will eventually be valid, whenever they do reschedule their hearing. And although it might be seen as an extension of what I say here, I cannot fault the committee for taking into account a natural disaster and being respectful of the people of Florida who will be in danger. Postponing was the right decision, in other words, as far as I am concerned.

Overall, two big things have struck me about the committee's public presentations: how tightly organized they are, providing "good television" (which is not just rare but unheard-of for congressional committees); and how disorganized the scheduling has always been. Most of the hearings have not been announced with much lead time (one was thrown together in a single day), and confusion reigns over what each hearing will consist of.

Perhaps this is all meant to tease the public -- "Tune in, or you might miss a big surprise!" That could be. Or perhaps it is just the committee's internal wrangling -- they reportedly have a hard problem reaching consensus on this stuff, so you get conflicting reports ahead of time as to what to expect next. That could be, too.

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From The Archives -- R.I.P., R.G.B.

[ Posted Monday, September 26th, 2022 – 17:40 UTC ]

Program Note: Sorry for the lack of a new column today, but I had family visiting and therefore was away from politics for the day. I went looking for a column to run again today and came across this, from a little more than two years ago today. Thankfully the worst of my predictions didn't happen, but things sure turned out a lot worse than the rosiest of my projections. In any case, it's already been a long two years and we're going to have to put up with this situation for a long time to come as well, so here's a look at what started it all.

 

Originally published September 21, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg now rests in peace.

For the rest of us, there will be no rest and very little peace for the next few months -- of that much we can be certain. Because while the phrase is occasionally overused, it is no hyperbole to say that Ginsburg's death has now left America in what can only be called a true constitutional crisis.

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Friday Talking Points -- Trump's "Secret Telepathic Unilateral Preemptive Irreversible Declassification" Defense

[ Posted Friday, September 23rd, 2022 – 17:26 UTC ]

We do try to avoid it in general, but this week it is impossible not to lead our news wrap-up with the ongoing Donald Trump Follies. Spoiler alert: it wasn't a very good week in Trumpland.

Here's how one Washington Post writer summed things up:

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Nice Try Donny, But No Dice

[ Posted Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 – 14:59 UTC ]

All of Donald Trump's legal defenses (if you can even call them that) for having hundreds of stolen classified U.S. government files in his possession just crashed into the brick-wall reality of a panel of three actual law-abiding appellate judges (as opposed to whatever you want to call Trump's pet district judge who issued the ruling on the special master that Trump was seeking). It wasn't pretty, to put it mildly. The three judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- two of them nominated by Trump himself -- all unanimously agreed that the lower court's ruling was hogwash, as well as all the various legal excuses he's been deploying being complete bunk too, just for good measure. It was truly an epic legal smackdown.

The three judges took 28 pages (plus cover page) to eviscerate the initial ruling on the special master as well as Trump's public defense of: "I magically declassified them all just by thinking about it, so there!" The appellate court properly responded (paraphrased a bit): "Who cares? That's not even what's at issue here!"

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Which Hunt?

[ Posted Wednesday, September 21st, 2022 – 15:44 UTC ]

Today Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, announced a civil case against Donald Trump, three of his children, and the Trump Organization. This stems from a long investigation into fraud committed by the company, mainly tax fraud and bank fraud. It is the first actual legal case against Trump that has been announced, and his reaction was entirely predictable -- calling the whole thing a "witch hunt." But this isn't the only legal problem Trump faces, even if it was the first out of the gate. Trump could soon be looking at criminal charges in more than one jurisdiction and for more than one crime. So the real question is which hunt has the best chance of succeeding?

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To Be Over

[ Posted Tuesday, September 20th, 2022 – 15:13 UTC ]

Joe Biden gave an interview to 60 Minutes last week, and in doing so he made some news. He reiterated his previously-held position on Taiwan (which his aides tried to walk back afterwards), he did not unequivocally say that he was running to get re-elected president in 2024, and he declared: "The pandemic is over." Which, of course, set off a frenzy of: "See? He said it's over!" versus: "It is most definitely not over!" from all sides. But what Biden actually said was a little more subtle than anyone is really giving him credit for.

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The Lame Duck Will Be Busy

[ Posted Monday, September 19th, 2022 – 14:34 UTC ]

The lame-duck Congress, which will take place from just after the midterm election to the end of the calendar year, is shaping up to be a rather busy one. This isn't too unusual, since punting things to the lame-duck period is always a tempting option for politicians worried about their re-election. But this year's lame duck might be more significant than most, because of what is being teed up for it. They'll only have two months to act on all of it, minus all the breaks they'll take for the November and December holidays. And it looks like they'll have a lot to get done.

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Friday Talking Points -- Ukraine, Trains, And Lindsey Graham

[ Posted Friday, September 16th, 2022 – 17:13 UTC ]

We fully admit that headline isn't really close enough to the original to trip off the tongue very well. But we're in an optimistically cheerful mood, so we're not going to change it.

These were really the three big political stories of the week. Last weekend saw the culmination of an incredible performance by the Ukrainian military. Within a week, they had retaken over 2,000 square miles of their country, as the Russian invading forces mostly just fled. That is beyond impressive, and may prove to be a real turning point in the whole war.

Or maybe not. They've still got an enormous amount of territory to reclaim, and the Russians are still fighting hard to hold the city of Kherson, in the south. So we'll see whether this astoundingly successful counteroffensive is a real harbinger of more such victories or merely an aberration. But whatever it turns out to be, the Ukrainian fighting forces had one heck of a good week.

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Crisis Averted As Biden Shows Leadership

[ Posted Thursday, September 15th, 2022 – 15:00 UTC ]

President Joe Biden has averted a major crisis by getting the freight rail carriers to agree to a compromise with their Union workers. Details of the compromise are still slowly trickling out, but the big achievement was getting the railroad companies to allow workers to schedule doctors' visits without being penalized for taking time off (unpaid time, mind you). Biden was reported to have been angry that the rail companies hadn't budged an inch on the time-off policy, so this is a clear victory not just for the workers but also for Biden and his team.

A rail strike would have been devastating, if it had lasted for more than a few days. Supply chains would have completely broken -- there just aren't enough trucks to carry all that freight on the roadways. Store shelves would have been bare. Fuel and water supplies would have been in danger (although emergency contingency plans were already in place to ensure clean water was still delivered to where it needed to go). Prices would likely go up. It would have been a big hit on the American economy and would have had all sorts of ripple effects which lasted far beyond the actual duration of the strike. It would have been a disaster, plain and simple.

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Making The Trains Run On Time

[ Posted Wednesday, September 14th, 2022 – 15:30 UTC ]

President Biden is facing a crisis. The nation's freight railways might shut down in the wee hours of Friday morning, due to a strike. This puts Biden in an incredible bind for a number of reasons, but the one most important politically will be one of optics. You can almost feel the headline-writers of America salivating as they test out their clever variations on: "He Couldn't Make The Trains Run On Time." This is a throwback to the old political joke that "Benito Mussolini may have been a fascist dictator and all of that, but at least he made the trains run on time." This claim was actually false -- it was little more than fascist propaganda -- but the saying lives on in the political lexicon. And Joe Biden loves trains. A railroad strike on his watch would be devastating for his image.

Of course, a railroad strike would be a lot more devastating to a lot more people for much bigger reasons. The agricultural sector would essentially shut down. Something like one-third of the country's freight moves by rail. It would destroy all the progress made to improve the country's supply chains, and it could spill over into halting commuter rail as well. It'd be a major blow to the economy. These are all real-world effects (as opposed to political optics) and if it went on for more than a few days, there will be bare shelves in stores across America -- which will impact just about everybody. It'd be an enormously big deal, in other words.

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