MAGAWorld's No Good, Very Bad Week
And the media is vindicated in the Hunter Biden story.
Happy Friday everyone, or as I like to call it, Adult Thursday. Cue my intro music, because we are about to go off before the weekend.
So, I know no one actually wants to talk about Donald Trump. In fact, I don’t even want to write about him anymore, because he is becoming more and more irrelevant with each passing day.
But we have to talk about Donald Trump this week, because things are just too cray cray, and I’ll show you how: On Tuesday, Trump literally asked Vladimir Putin to release information that would damage President Joe Biden:
It’s kind of redundant at this point, since Trump has made it pretty clear over and over again that he is a treasonous jackass, but this is a traitorous comment. It’s not shown in the clip, but Trump says at the beginning that Putin might be agreeable to the request, since he is “not a fan of our country.” In other words, Trump concedes that Putin is an enemy of the United States, but asks him for help anyway, in order to undermine the President of our country.
It is truly wild that that actually happened and it wasn’t even the biggest story that happened this week. On Monday, Federal judge David Carter said the quiet part out loud: Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony by trying to overturn the 2020 election, as he was engaging in a “coup in search of a legal theory.” From Carter’s decision:
That is a pretty hefty shot across the bow. Carter called out Trump’s actions for what they were:
“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” wrote Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the vice president to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”
Then, on Tuesday, Trump got bad news from the other side of the country: The civil investigation of the Trump Organization in New York is revealing potentially criminal activity:
The New York attorney general’s office has “uncovered significant evidence” suggesting that financial statements by the Trump Organization relied on misleading valuations of its real estate assets for more than a decade, the office said in a court filing Tuesday.
Those potentially misleading valuations “and other misrepresentations” were used by the company owned by ex-President Donald Trump “to secure economic benefits — including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions — on terms more favorable than the true facts warranted,” the filing alleged.
Some of this is just really obvious corruption:
That document said that from 2012 through 2016, the company’s financial statements said that Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan “exceeded 30,000 square feet and valued the apartment at up to $327 million based on those dimensions,” the filing noted.
But in 2017, the company’s statement “slashed the apartment’s value by two-thirds, sizing the residence at just under 11,000 square feet,” which is the figure specified in the offering plan for the building, the filing said.
2017 was also Trump’s first year as president of the United States.
The thing is, when these stories break, there are lots of complaints from people on the Left, who basically say, “OK, if his criminality is so obvious, why isn’t law enforcement doing anything?” Merrick Garland - the attorney general - has come under fire recently for being seemingly inactive when it comes to prosecuting Trump or his inner circle. Then, a bomb dropped on Wednesday: A grand jury is empaneled in D.C., and is sending out subpoenas to people close to Trump. Not only was this big news on its own, but the grand jury has been active for over two months, meaning that it has been working in secret without leaking.
That story served as a rebuttal to complaints that Trump was “getting away” with what he did on January 6th. Marcy Wheeler has been on this soapbox for a while:
I am certain, and have been since well before August, that DOJ is investigating the ways that Donald Trump played a central role in getting bodies to the Capitol that had the effect of threatening the life of his Vice President (and Nancy Pelosi and even Mitch McConnell) and temporarily obstructing the vote certification. The overt signs of that investigation are not, as [Ben Wittes] has been looking for, subpoenas to witnesses in the Willard (in part because Roger Stone would never be subpoenaed). Rather, it is in getting sworn testimony that after Donald Trump sent out tweets about the riot in December, people took that as an order from Trump, and set themselves to buying plane tickets and buying body armor. It is in getting cooperating witnesses about the ways that militias that gave structure to the mob were working in tandem with Trump’s rat-fucker. It is in developing evidence that Trump’s false claim that he would join them at the Capitol — repeated by his Pied Piper Alex Jones — convinced people who otherwise would never have gone to the Capitol to do so. It is in getting sworn testimony that after Trump attacked Pence in his speech, people responded by decrying Pence while still at the rally and then continued to threaten Pence once they had moved to the Capitol.
Personally, I am optimistic that Marcy is right but also simultaneously skeptical, for reasons I have outlined about a hundred times. A relevant cite here, I think, is the recent decision by Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, to hold off on prosecuting Trump in New York. That decision has been heavily criticized, most obviously by the actual prosecutors working on the case, who said they were 100% ready to indict Trump.
Bragg’s decision is a great example of how federal prosecutors have changed their tactics over the past few decades. You see, the Manhattan DA selected two former prosecutors, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, to investigate Trump. Both of them resigned earlier this year after Bragg basically said he didn’t see enough evidence to indict Trump.
Pomerantz and Dunne are, indeed, both former prosecutors. But Pomerantz left that role in 1982, and Dunne not shortly after that. Since then, federal prosecutions have become much more risk-averse; in his resignation letter, Pomerantz openly conceded that a conviction was not “guaranteed” in his case against Trump, but that one should be brought anyway. For someone like Bragg - who joined the Southern District of New York in 2009 - that is a red flag. Nowadays, federal prosecutors rarely bring cases that they don’t know they can win. Factor in that Michael Cohen - not exactly a person of high character - would have to be a witness in the case, and you can see why Bragg punted on the case. And I’m not saying that Bragg’s decision should be endorsed, but it is just a reality about how federal prosecutions have changed since Pomerantz and Dunne were cutting their teeth.
All of that said, it really does look like the walls are closing in on Trump. Many will say it’s been too long, but federal investigations take a really long time and January 6th was only 15 months ago.
Hunter Biden is Q.
The Washington Post dropped a wild story this week, where we finally learn that they have had Hunter Biden’s laptop for almost a year. They did a thorough analysis of its contents and were even able to verify some of the emails on it (which did, in fact, come from Hunter). Conservatives took that as a huge victory, since they have been saying since day one that the laptop is authentic. What they ignored is just about everything else in the story, which shows that the media’s original skepticism of the laptop was justified.
The Washington Post sent the copied hard drive of the laptop to two cybersecurity experts, who found material that was not from Hunter Biden on the laptop:
So, third-party actors had written files to the laptop before the New York Post had gotten a hold of it. Some of the files on the laptop are actually hilarious:
Pretty wild. I’ll say one thing very clearly: The New York Post should be absolutely ashamed of itself. There is no reason for them to have written a story about what was obviously a political hit-job organized by the President’s personal attorney (at the time), Rudy Giuliani. They took a narrative that was organized by the President and his cronies and tried to make a news story out of it. If you want to see what an American Pravda looks like, this is it.
On the other hand, I think news organizations like The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, NBC, and (yes) Fox News, all deserve a lot of credit. They were shopped this story by Giuliani, asked him for access to the laptop to verify its contents, and when he refused to give it to them, they didn’t take the bait.
Last year I wrote a long post about how the laptop narrative was hard to believe, and I think it has largely proven to be true. And I am sure we will learn more about how the third-party files got on Hunter’s laptop once we get definitive info on the investigation into Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine.
There was a jobs report today and, spoiler, it was great. It’s no secret that the economy is on fire, but the real problem is that it might be burning too hot. There is a great conversation between Ezra Klein and Larry Summers (the guy I linked to a lot last year who was warning us about inflation) about this and other issues we are potentially facing down the road.
Elizabeth Bruenig has an amazing piece on the death penalty.
Jonathan Chait goes deep on Ron DeSantis’s anti-vaccine moves.
Even if conservative media got the Hunter Biden laptop story wrong, it does look like he is in trouble for failing to register as a Foreign Agent, amongst other issues. Should be obvious, but if he broke the law, we should send him to jail! The Jackal is a pro-jail Substack.
Jen Psaki is stepping down as White House Press Secretary to join MSNBC.
This album came out today, and I am super into it. Finally, there will be no Jackal on Good Friday, which is in two weeks. We are Christians up in this piece, so even though I will be around on the 8th to wish you a happy Holy Week, I am giving you fair warning right now.