Patterico's Pontifications


Team Trump Jumps On Biden Opening In New Campaign Ad

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:16 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Well, of course they did. It’s a solid opening and Team Trump would be foolish to not use it to their advantage. With Biden captured on one side of the screen and prominent female Biden supporters on the other side of the screen declaring that all women should be believed, it makes for a strong ad that showcases the undeniable hypocrisy of the Democrats:

The chickens have come home to roost for Democrats. #Believe All Women was the war cry at the heart of the Kavanaugh debacle. But the deafening silence by the same crowd toward Tara Reade only serves to expose the shallow virtue-signaling of the #Believe All Women campaign.

But aside from the hypocrisy of key Democrats, there is a risk of Trump undoing the messaging of the ad by inserting himself into the conversation. Given that he has faced far more accusations of sexual misconduct than Joe Biden, it would be prudent for Trump not to do anything that might draw attention to himself. But you know he will somehow make himself part of the story, and it will be to his detriment. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany didn’t help matters today when she was asked whether Trump took Biden at his word with regard to denying the allegations of sexual assault, and she replied:

Well, what I would say is that we are pleased that the former vice-president has decided to go on the record. It took him, what, less than 16 hours to follow the advice of the President of the United States and come out an publicly address those claims, so we’re glad to see he’s on the record on this.

This has Trump’s fingerprints all over it. Team Trump needs to put a lid on this gloating tone. Move over, shut-up, and let the ad speak for itself.

Anyway, the ad is sure to be a hit with his base, but will it help move the needle with wobbly Biden voters, Independents, or help expand his base? Overall, I don’t think it will. The “anyone but Trump” rallying cry is in full swing. If Tara Reade can solidly close the gaps and inconsistencies in her story, and a copy of the complaint is unearthed, Biden might actually be compelled to step down. And that will leave Democrats with Bernie, or any number of other anyone but Trump possibilities from which to choose.


Mitt Romney Introduces “Patriot Pay” For Some Frontline Workers

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Sen. Mitt Romney has introduced Patriot Pay to provide bonuses to frontline workers earning less that $90,000 for doing essential jobs:

Despite risks to their own health, America’s frontline workers have provided health care, transportation, food, and more essential services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As unemployment lines grow longer, these patriots continue to return to work the next day, some even making less money than they could on unemployment insurance. Congress should allow critical employers to provide Patriot Pay bonuses to frontline workers who earn under $90,000 in essential jobs through a refundable payroll tax credit. This form of hazard pay would complement, not replace, an employer’s responsibility to pay their workers—it is designed to quadruple any bonuses an employer gives to essential workers.

Here is how Patriot Pay would work:

For essential employees that make less than $50,000 annualized, employers would receive a 75% refundable payroll tax credit for a bonus up to $12 an hour.
• For essential employees making over $50,000 annualized, the tax credit phases out by $24 for every additional $500 in income until annualized incomes hit $90,000.
• The maximum tax credit is $1,440 per month, per employee, meaning a full-time worker would receive up to a $1,920 monthly bonus.

Qualifying for the plan:

Congress and the Department of Labor would designate critical industries including, but not limited to, hospitals, food distributors and processors, and health manufacturers.
• Eligible employers will certify that an employee worked in conditions that increased their potential COVID-19 exposure.
• Eligible employers would qualify for tax credits for employee bonuses provided between May 1 and July 31, 2020. Employees must work at least 100 hours each month they receive the bonus for their wages to be eligible for the tax credit.

Romney explained the goal of the plan:

Health care professionals, grocery store workers, food processors, and many others—the unsung patriots on the frontline of this pandemic—every day risk their safety for the health and well-being of our country, and they deserve our unwavering support. Patriot Pay is a way for us to reward our essential workers as they continue to keep Americans safe, healthy, and fed.

In March, Romney had pushed for a one-time $1,000 payment to every American as a way to help struggling families meet short-term financial obligations during the pandemic.

Why Flynn Is Not Vindicated, Part One: There Is No Evidence of a Side Deal Not to Prosecute His Son

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

In this post I’m going to begin to explain why I am not impressed by the case for the vindication of Michael Flynn. I emphasize at the outset that we don’t really know much about the pieces of evidence, many of which are heavily redacted, and we have not heard the government’s response. However, I think we know enough to say that Flynn is going to have to wait for his inevitable pardon. Based on what I have seen, nothing that happens in court is likely to result in dismissal of his case — unless, of course, the partisan troll who runs the Justice Department presses his thumb harder on the scale than he already has.

I am going to discuss two documents about which we know very little, and offer an educated guess as to what kinds of conversations could have been going on behind the scenes that would result in the generation of such documents. This explanation takes long enough that it will have to span two posts.

In this post, we’ll start with the claim that there was a side deal not to prosecute Flynn’s son. Allow me to summarize the so-called “evidence” of that proposition. First, we have Flynn averring in writing, under oath, that he was guilty. He denies in writing that there was any side deal whatsoever, and affirms that he was pleading guilty because he was guilty. I know, I know: he would say that to protect his son. What else do we have? Basically this: months after his plea, we have Flynn’s lawyers saying “we had a side deal that you would not prosecute Flynn’s son” and the government saying in response “the hell we did.”

That’s the evidence! For real.

Look for yourself. First we have Flynn’s signed plea agreement filed December 1, 2017. Here is his signature affirming that there are no side deals:

Plea Deal Signature

And here is the Statement of Offense, and Flynn’s signature affirming under penalty of perjury that it is true.

Statement of Offense Signature

Now, the Shocking New Evidence. Here are two emails. Note that these emails were sent months later, in March 2018. Here is the recent court filing they are attached to, and here are the screenshots. First, one Covington lawyer to another:

Unofficial Understanding

And here is the Assistant U.S. Attorney denying it:

AUSA Denial

“The only exception is the reference to Michael Jr. The government took pains not to give a promise to MTF [Gen. Flynn] regarding Michael Jr., so as to limit how much of a ‘benefit’ it would have to disclose as part of its Giglio disclosures to any defendant against whom MTF may one day testify.” (Giglio disclosures, in the federal system, are disclosures of promises, benefits, deals given to a witness — basically any incentive to testify — given to lawyers of defendants against whom the witness might testify.)

It has been sad to watch what has happened to Andy McCarthy, who these days routinely adopts absurd Trumpist positions and gives a thin and easily pierced intellectual cover for them. He says: “These passages cited in Powell’s exhibits tend to corroborate the claim of an agreement not to prosecute Flynn’s son. It is fair, then, to infer that the threat of such a prosecution was indeed used to pressure him.” I think that is a stretch, to put it kindly. The documents indicate nothing of the sort, and can easily picture a conversation that went something like the following.

First, let’s set the positions of the parties. We don’t know this to be the case; again, it’s a hypothetical exercise but an educated guess. Flynn doesn’t want his son to be prosecuted. It’s a genuine sentiment, plus, it’s a common thing for people placed in difficult positions (not wanting to plead, not wanting to testify) to make reference to their family in their decisionmaking. (“I’m not scared to testify, but these people are going to kill my family” is something I have heard literally dozens of times in my career.) So Flynn tells his lawyers at Covington and Burling: “make it part of the deal that they won’t prosecute my son.” Meanwhile, let’s assume the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) has no current intention of prosecuting Flynn’s son for involvement with a company that failed to register as a foreign agent. The issue has been investigated and the AUSA doesn’t think there’s a case there. And although you never know what evidence will develop in the future, and so he doesn’t want to commit to the notion that there will be no prosecution, he currently sees it as unlikely that a prosecution will happen. But, critically, he does not want non-prosecution of Flynn’s son to be part of the deal, because if Flynn ever testifies, that will crush his credibility. All any defense lawyer has to ask him is: “Didn’t the government promise not to prosecute your son for you to testify?” The AUSA wants to avoid giving any defense attorney the chance to ask such a question, so he unequivocally does not want non-prosecution of Flynn’s son to be part of any deal. But he has a Covington lawyer freaking out about it in front of him. Here’s the hypothetical conversation:

FLYNN LAWYER: My client wants an assurance that his son won’t be prosecuted.

AUSA: I can tell you that it doesn’t look like there’s a case against his son, but that’s not part of the deal.

FLYNN LAWYER: He wants it to be part of the deal.

AUSA: I understand why he would, but it’s not part of the deal.

FLYNN LAWYER: All he cares about is his son. Look, are you prosecuting his son or not?

AUSA: That’s an internal decision, and as you know new facts can emerge and situations can change, but if it makes you feel better I will tell you that as things stand right at this moment, it does not look like we will be prosecuting the son.

FLYNN LAWYER: So we have a deal.

AUSA: No, I have already said twice, this is not part of any deal. If I include non-prosecution in the deal, I will have to disclose that if he testifies, and any competent defense attorney will rip him to shreds. So no.

FLYNN LAWYER: OK, I understand why you don’t want to disclose it. We’ll just call it a gentleman’s agreement.

AUSA: There is no agreement on that point. Not formally or informally. It’s not part of the deal.

FLYNN LAWYER: You just told me you’re not prosecuting his son. I’m telling him we have a deal.

AUSA: I told you as things stand right now, it does not look like there will be a prosecution of his son, but that could change and we are not making it part of any deal.

FLYNN LAWYER: I’m telling him we have a gentleman’s agreement.

AUSA: You should tell him the truth, which is that we don’t.

And so on. I can easily see a conversation very much like that taking place, the Covington guy wanting to look to his client like he secured agreement on his client’s highest priority, and telling Flynn something like: “Hey, the government says it’s not part of the official deal, but they’re not prosecuting your son.” And Flynn might reasonably even think it was part of a side deal, although he did aver under oath that there was no side deal.

Resulting in emails of the sort we see attached to the latest court filing.

So I’m not impressed by that evidence. Part Two, coming later (tonight or tomorrow), will address the next piece of evidence: the alleged set-up to get Flynn fired and get him to lie. TL;DR: I do not accept the premise that the government was discussing such a set-up, based on the evidence I have seen. I’ll flesh it out later.

Joe Biden Denies Sexual Assault Allegations Made By Former Staffer

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:01 am

[guets post by Dana]

Here is the full statement Joe Biden released before his appearance on the Morning Joe show. Relevant portion:

I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago.

They aren’t true. This never happened.

While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.

Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.

But this much bears emphasizing.

She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one – not one – who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have.

There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills.

There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.

You can read the full transcript of the interview here.

Robby Soave points to a problem with Biden’s claims:

But the most important exchange occurred when Brzezinski asked Biden to square his current defense with his previous claims that women should be believed when they come forward as sexual assault victims.

Biden then denied that he had previously advocated such a standard.

“From the very beginning, I’ve said believing the woman means taking the claim seriously, and then it’s vetted, looked into,” said Biden. “Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end the truth is what matters. And these claims are false.”

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate is misrepresenting his past statements. He absolutely did not take the position that “believing women means taking the claim seriously.” (And if that’s what believe-all-victims means, why not just say that instead?)

Brzezinski… repeatedly reminded Biden that he had advocated believing Christine Blasey Ford, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. She even read his own words back to him: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.” Brzezinski also called out several of Biden’s high profile supports—Stacy Abrams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY)—for participating in the Kavanaugh double standard.

Caught in an obvious contradiction, Biden then tried to say that victims should be believed until contrary evidence emerges.

“Women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt,” said Biden. “If they come forward and say something happened to them, they should start with the presumption they are telling the truth. Then you have to look at the facts.

“What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was she had a right to be heard,” Biden continued. “And she came forward, the presumption would be she’s telling the truth unless it’s proved she wasn’t telling the truth, or unless it’s clear from the facts surrounding it that it isn’t the truth.”

But under this standard, Biden would be presumed guilty. If the former vice president is taking the position that women should be believed unless their accusations are disproven, then the burden of evidence is on the accused. No evidence has emerged that explicitly contradicts Reade’s story. Does that mean the public should default to believing her?

Biden seems to think the lack of evidence confirming Reade’s story is the same thing as evidence disproving it.

Reade is reportedly in talks to sit for an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News. Before Biden’s appearance on Morning Joe, Wallace talked about Biden waiting until today to address Reade’s allegations:

“Now, here’s a woman, and they don’t want to believe her,” Wallace added. “And if Biden had denied it two weeks ago, when we were in this furor of the coronavirus, I think it would have been largely ignored. The story hadn’t gotten as big and people weren’t paying as much attention to Joe Biden.

“Now, the story has built. The story of him failing to come forward and refute it and kind of hiding behind women has grown.”

…Wallace said he expected Biden to categorically deny the claims…”But when he does, I think he’s going to have lost … much of the benefit for coming forward and confronting the allegations.”

Yesterday, Ben Smith questioned the inequity in reporting sexual asault allegations against popular politicians:

Ms. Reade told me Wednesday that the only offers she’s had to appear on television have come from Fox News, including a call from the prime time host Sean Hannity. She has so far turned them down.

“I’ve been trying to just kind of wait to get someone in the middle,” she said in a phone interview. “I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a progressive, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a Trump supporter.”

CNN, NBC and MSNBC, whose DNA — even in a pandemic — is politics, have covered her on their websites and on air but haven’t put her on camera.

“They’re not offering to put me on TV — they’re just doing stories,” Ms. Reade told me. “No anchors, no nothing like that.” She’d most like to tell her story to a network television anchor she admires — CBS’s Gayle King is one, she said — but they haven’t called.

There’s still no clear explanation, however, for why Ms. Reade hasn’t been on mainstream TV. Representatives for CNN and MSNBC declined to explain why they haven’t booked a woman who is, whether you believe her or not, one of the few newsmakers right now who could cut through the pandemic.

Journalists cannot predict how viewers might react to television interviews with Ms. Reade, or where their reporting on her claims will lead. They don’t have to. They should just make sure their audience knows they’re reporting hard, and doing the work with an open mind.

Stay tuned…


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