Friday, September 04, 2020


We're living through a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a racial justice crisis, not to mention a climate crisis and an inequality crisis, but -- in addition to "HairStyleGhazi" -- this is what Republicans want you to focus on:
Two House GOP leaders have officially called on Attorney General William Barr to determine whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke federal law when she ripped up President Trump's State of the Union speech earlier this year.

Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer, R-Ala., and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La., wrote a letter to Barr on Tuesday asking he deliver a definitive answer on whether "Pelosi committed a criminal act by destroying an official copy of the State of the Union speech delivered to her" by Trump....

The GOP lawmakers believe Pelosi could have violated 18 U.S.C. § 2071 which deals with the mutilation of official federal records and sets a criminal penalty of destroying documents of up to three years in prison.
We know the answer: She didn't break the law, as PolitiFact explained immediately after the speech, in response to professional troll Charlie Kirk's assertion that this was a criminal act.
... when we asked a number of legal experts about what Kirk said, we found that their answer was unanimous: Kirk’s claim is wrong....

The statute in question ... sets a penalty for anyone who "conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys" any government record "filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States."

The statute also says that any person with "custody" of a government record cannot "willfully and unlawfully" conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate, falsify or destroy it.

"The point of the statute is to prevent people from destroying records in official repositories like the National Archives or in courts," said Georgetown Law professor Victoria Nourse.

Pelosi is in the clear, experts said, because her copy of Trump’s speech wasn’t a government record.

The State of the Union text was never "filed or deposited" with her, nor did she have "custody" of it in the legal sense....

"Her copy of the State of the Union address is not a government record or government property at all," said Douglas Cox, professor of law at the City of New York University School of Law and an expert in the laws governing the preservation of government records. "It is personal property."

... presidential records ... have been considered government property since the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and are supposed to be stored with the National Archives for safekeeping.

"The State of the Union is a presidential record, which must go to the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act," Nourse said "(Pelosi) did not mutilate the record that is filed with the Archives."
And President Trump actually does violate the Presidential Records Act -- or at least he tries to, as Politico reported in 2018.
Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.

But White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice. Instead, they chose to clean it up for him, in order to make sure that the president wasn’t violating the law.

Staffers had the fragments of paper collected from the Oval Office as well as the private residence and send it over to records management across the street from the White House for [records management analyst Solomon] Lartey and his colleagues to reassemble.

“We got Scotch tape, the clear kind,” Lartey recalled in an interview. “You found pieces and taped them back together and then you gave it back to the supervisor.” The restored papers would then be sent to the National Archives to be properly filed away....

“I had a letter from [Senator Chuck] Schumer — he tore it up,” he said. “It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”

Lartey did not work alone. He said his entire department was dedicated to the task of taping paper back together in the opening months of the Trump administration.
Which might explain this, also from 2018:
The former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman claims in her forthcoming memoir that she once saw President Donald Trump eating a piece of paper in the Oval Office....

In the book, "Unhinged," Manigault Newman said she saw Trump chewing up a piece of paper given to him by his former lawyer Michael Cohen, The Post said.

"I saw him put a note in his mouth," Manigault Newman wrote, according to the newspaper. "Since Trump was ever the germaphobe, I was shocked he appeared to be chewing and swallowing the paper. It must have been something very, very sensitive."
The Pelosi accusation is preposterous, but I worry that this or something similar will be taken very seriously by the Trump/Barr Justice Department if Trump gets a second term. Apart from getting his face on Mount Rushmore and finding a way to become president for life, I expect Trump to devote his non-golfing, non-tweeting, non-TV-watching hours to vengeance against his enemies. I fully expect him to try to put Barack Obama in jail, as well as many of the people who worked on the Russia investigation. Why not Pelosi as well?

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