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|Georgia lawmakers pass bill requiring voter ID for mail-in ballots|
|[Conservative Institute] November’s election has left many Americans worried about the potential of voter fraud — particularly related to mail-in ballots — in future races.|
In Georgia, where concerns have been especially pronounced, state lawmakers voted this week to pass a bill implementing tighter security measures on absentee voting.
"NOT ABOUT DISENFRANCHISING VOTERS"
As recent reports explain, the legislation mandates that voters provide either a photocopy of a state-issued identification or its associated number when casting a vote by mail.
The bill passed primarily along party lines by a 35—18 margin, and Georgia Republicans are touting it as a step toward safeguarding the integrity of future elections. Democrats, on the other hand, largely contend that it represents an effort to discourage minorities from voting.
State Sen. Larry Walker, the Republican who sponsored the bill, defended it in a statement declaring that it is "not about disenfranchising voters" or "overly burdening the electorate."
Instead, he argued that the bill was aimed at "efficiency, integrity, allowing the Georgia public to have confidence in the vote."
For his part, Democratic state Sen. David Lucas issued his party’s prevailing view that this and other election-reform bills are actually about turning people away from the polls.
"NO QUESTION ABOUT WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN"
"The election didn’t turn out the way you want and you want to perpetuate the lie that Trump told," Lucas said, adding that Democrats are "going to fight" against the new legislation.
He went on to tell GOP lawmakers that "there’s no question about it what’s going to happen, and you’re going to spend taxpayer money trying to defend it."
State senators also passed a Republican-friendly bill requiring polling officials to count the total number of votes that had been cast, breaking the results down by method before any tallies could be publicly released. That legislation’s sponsor, GOP state Sen. Bill Cowsert, declared: "Give people the totals. Let people have the piece [sic] of mind that nothing’s been done in the dark of night."
Democrats denounced the effort over concerns that delays would undermine public confidence, including Sen. Elena Parent, who predicted that the measure "would just cause more angst."
Another bill passed along more bipartisan lines that would allow the state’s counties to start processing mail-in vote totals more than a week before Election Day.
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says|
|[Real Clear Politics] After four years of railing against "deep state" actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.|
Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials "continuously impeded" their release — usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump's CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents.
Patel, who has seen the Russia probe's underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI's work.
"I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn't look good on the agency itself," Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump's term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).
Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.
Although a Department of Justice inspector general's report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.
Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed — especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin's orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.
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|Biden revokes Trump order to cut funding from New York City, Portland and Seattle 'anarchist' havens after BLM protests|
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|Our Supreme Court Goes Full Nicaragua in PA Election Case|
|[American Thinker] For a couple of years, my wife and I escaped Obama’s America by owning a Pacific Ocean hotel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The irony was that in supposedly socialist Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega's government left us alone far more than government did in the supposedly free country of the United States of Obama. |
Still, while Ortega 2.0 might have shed most of his socialism, he had not shed his lust for power, and the job of making sure he never lost again was that of the Chief Justice Roberto Rivas Reyes of what is in effect the Nicaraguan Supreme Court. I’m not sure who was actually more powerful or corrupt -- President Ortega or Justice Rivas -- but Rivas’s was bigger. His motorcade, that is, and he owned the two biggest homes on the two most elevated lots in San Juan del Sur, the nation’s top coastal town, a few hundred yards from our hotel.
Today I’m not sure whose court is more corrupt vis-a-vis election law: Nicaragua’s court or our Supreme Court. It appears that Donald Trump has remade the U.S. Supreme Court -- in Mitt Romney’s image! (I am not blaming Trump, just stating the obvious.)
While I think the United States Supreme Court stumbled badly in its 7-2 rejection of the Texas case on standing last year, the refusal to "grant cert" (i.e., to take the case) yesterday in a Pennsylvania case is horrifying beyond words. I could say that our election laws are now full-on banana republic, but I’d hate to insult bananas that badly.
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|Woodward appraises DOJ inspector general uncovering FBI's FISA 'glorious mistake'|
|[Washington Examiner] From one investigator to another, Bob Woodward told Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz he was impressed with his "amazing discovery" of the FBI's missteps in its use of surveillance powers during the inquiry into ties between former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.|
Although they hail from completely different spheres, the pair offered a window into how journalism can be quite similar to the work of an independent government watchdog during a virtual discussion hosted by Harvard Law School earlier this month.
Multiple times during the hourlong conversation, moderated by professor Jack Goldsmith, the two looked back at Horowitz's high-profile review completed in December 2019 that criticized the FBI for relying on British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to monitor onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and became a road map for special counsel John Durham's criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation.
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|Mitch McConnell Supports Merrick Garland for Attorney General|
|[Breitbart] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will back Merrick Garland’s nomination to run President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.|
“I do,” McConnell replied when asked by Politico whether he supports Garland for attorney general.
McConnell opted against considering Garland’s 2016 nomination by then-President Barack Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court following the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
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|Dissent by Justice Thomas in election case draws fire for revisiting baseless Trump fraud claims|
|[USA Today] WASHINGTON — A blistering dissent in a high-profile election case written by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas prompted blowback Monday from Democrats who accused one of the court's most conservative members of embracing baseless claims of voter fraud promoted by President Donald Trump after the November election.|
In an 11-page dissent from the court's decision not to take up a challenge to the expanded use of mail ballots in Pennsylvania, Thomas acknowledged that the outcome of the election was not changed by the way votes were cast in the battleground state. But he raised questions about the reliability of mail-in voting that echoed many of the same arguments Trump raised in the weeks before and after the election.
The dissent followed the court's decision Monday to turn away a challenge to accommodations the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court made for mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The state, one of a handful of tossups that ultimately led to the election of President Joe Biden, allowed absentee ballots to be received up to three days after Election Day, even in cases where those ballots did not have a clear Nov. 3 postmark.
In the end, despite the partisan rancor over the issue and a bevy of lawsuits, there were too few ballots at issue to make a difference in the outcome in the Keystone State. But Thomas and two other conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said the legal questions should have been taken up by the high court to guide future elections.
"That decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome," Thomas wrote. "But that may well not be the case in the future."
|San Francisco School Board President: On Second Thought, We'll Focus On Opening Schools Before Renaming Them|
|[Hot Air] That this was not the San Francisco Unified School District’s priority in the first place speaks volumes about where students rank in its focus. This reversal from Gabriela López does little to change that, either. It only comes after the SFUSD board made itself into a national laughingstock — and after the city sued to get them to do their jobs:|
Six weeks ago, I became president of the school board. Since day one, my priority has been to reopen our city’s public schools safely. As soon as possible.
There have been many distracting public debates as we’ve been working to reopen our schools. School renaming has been one of them. It was a process begun in 2018 with a timeline that didn’t anticipate a pandemic. I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process.
"Mistakes were made"? No kidding. Note the use of passive voice, as well as the buck-passing in these two paragraphs. López might only have become board president six weeks ago — which actually preceded the renaming vote — but she’s been on the SFUSD school board since January 2019. Furthermore, as her bio notes, "López is a core organizer at Teachers 4 Social Justice," which likely means that she didn’t put up too much resistance to this renaming push.
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|'Horrendous': Merrick Garland says Epstein should have been 'vigorously prosecuted' much sooner|
|[Washington Examiner] Merrick Garland testified Monday that it was "horrendous" that deceased child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had not been "vigorously prosecuted" much earlier than he was, though President Biden’s pick for attorney general said he does not know why the Justice Department had failed so badly.|
The Justice Department concluded in November that former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta and other federal prosecutors exercised "poor judgment" in their handling of 2008’s sweetheart deal with the jet-setting financier and accused sex trafficker but did not conclude there had been professional misconduct. Epstein was arrested more than a decade later and was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in the summer of 2019.
During Garland’s confirmation hearing Monday, Sen. Ben Sasse brought up the Epstein case, saying: "Obviously, he evaded justice for years, and when the department did ultimately partner with local authorities, it allowed charges to be brought that didn’t befit the seriousness of his crimes. Infuriatingly, he was allowed to die by apparent suicide in federal custody, despite the fact that everybody knew he was a suicide risk and many people would benefit from that outcome."
The Nebraska Republican said Epstein’s estate was also failing to compensate the victims properly and asked Garland what he believed had gone wrong with the DOJ investigation.
Garland said all he knew about the case was what he’d read in the news and seen on TV, and Sasse asked if Garland would agree about how "disgustingly embarrassing ... the department’s pursuit" of Epstein was.
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|'Inexplicable': Alito and Thomas Dissent as Supreme Court Strikes Down Pennsylvania Election Lawsuit|
|[PJMedia] On Monday, the Supreme Court threw out several of the remaining challenges to the 2020 presidential election as moot, considering that former President Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the Supreme Court should have taken the opportunity to clarify election law, especially in the case of Pennsylvania.conceded to , who has now become president. Yet|
|-Land of the Free|
|Feds Tracking Parts that Make Glocks Full Auto|
|[Dallas News] At least three North Texans are among multiple people nationwide who are accused of possessing a small and inexpensive device — typically available online from China — that can turn an ordinary pistol into a dangerous and illegal machine gun, according to federal court records.|
China? China helping criminals make illegal guns?
When Karo Khudanyan,
24, was pulled over in Arlington for speeding in May, police found that his Glock 19 handgun had been altered to become fully automatic, allowing for continuous fire with a single pull of the trigger, according to a federal complaint. The pistol also had a high-capacity magazine with 22 rounds, the complaint says. Khudanyan has previous convictions in state court for reckless discharge of a firearm and marijuana possession, court records show.
A sterling member of society. A criminal with an illegal firearm.
Khudanyan, of Grand Prairie, said he had bought the "converter switch," which attaches to the rear of the pistol, from a Chinese website, court records show. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Fort Worth to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm and is awaiting sentencing.
Police in various states say they are increasingly finding the converter switches on handguns. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives thinks thousands of the devices have been imported into the U.S. from China and in many cases are winding up in the hands of criminals.
An ATF spokesman told CNN in 2019 that getting them off the streets was a "high priority." The devices, which are not manufactured by Glock, typically cost under $100 each and are often mislabeled as something else when they are shipped from China.
From China, you say? Did Hunter get his rake?
The switches do for pistols much the same thing "bump stocks" do for rifles.
Making more efficient use of waste gases.
Another case involved a Las Vegas man who federal authorities say used a 3-D printer to make the Glock conversion switches.
Justin Pham, 30, made his first appearance in a Nevada federal court in September on one count of illegal possession of a machine gun and two counts of possession of an unregistered firearm. The indictment said he possessed three Glock semiautomatics that he had modified to fire as fully automatic weapons.
Police had received an anonymous tip that Pham was planning to use the converted guns in a mass shooting, court records say. Authorities told a judge in October that Pham had died in custody. No details were provided.30 years old? Must have been COVID-19.
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|Biden Fires Chicago U.S. Attorney Hot on the Trail of Democratic Corruption|
|[PJ Media] You’ve probably never heard of Chicago’s U.S. attorney John Lausch. For the last two years, he has been going after some of the biggest, most powerful Democrats in the state of Illinois.|
His office indicted a Chicago alderman who had been serving since 1969. Edward Burke had been in the crosshairs of prosecutors for four decades but it wasn’t until Lausch came into office that he was indicted.
Then there’s the case of the most powerful state politician in the United States, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. His aides and cronies have been indicted for various crimes of influence over the years and Lausch has now set his sights on Madigan himself.
In fact, it’s believed Lausch has targeted some other high-profile Democratic politicians in other investigations. It’s a target-rich environment and Democrats in Illinois have gotten extremely nervous about who Lausch will go after next.
Now it appears, that bringing down corrupt Democratic politicians will be the job of the next U.S. attorney. Along with 56 other U.S. attorneys named by former president Trump, Lausch will lose his job — fired by Joe Biden. "It’s tradition," said Biden supporters. This is true. But it’s also "tradition" to keep prosecutors in place who were pursuing high-profile cases. Lausch certainly qualified under that criteria.
Biden’s firing hasn’t gone down well in Illinois.