Trump’s Own DOJ Finds No Link to Antifa In Protests

The Justice Department has issued a report showing no link to Antifa, an organization that doesn’t exist, at protests following the killing of George Floyd.

After NPR reviewed court documents for 51 individuals who are facing federal charges related to the demonstrations, they found none with any connections to the Antifa––or antifascist––movement. Of those 51 cases, 20 involve allegations relating to arson, 16 involve allegations relating to illegal possession of a firearm, and eight involve inciting a riot. read more

Opinion: American Democracy and Covid-19 Penetrate Trump’s Walls of Privilege

Despite Trump’s best efforts to assume privilege from laws and icky peasant illnesses like COVID-19, the pesky features of democracy penetrate his walls.

In two days, three people within Trump’s inner circle tested positive for COVID-19. News broke late Friday night that his daughter Ivanka’s personal assistant  tested positive. Also testing positive is Trump’s valet, but maybe Trump can just get someone else to serve him Diet Coke and Chicken McNuggets. read more

Pelosi Blasts Justice Department for Dropping Flynn Case: A “Cover Up for the President”

Nancy Pelosi has accused the Department of Justice of covering up for President Donald Trump. She was responding to the decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn.

The Speaker of the House issued a statement criticizing the DOJ’s move on Flynn. The retired Lieutenant General had plead guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017.

She took particular aim at Attorney General William Barr.

“Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds,” Pelosi said.

“Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in the face of overwhelming evidence – but now, Attorney General Barr’s Justice Department is dropping the case to continue to cover up for the President,” she said.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that Flynn had lied about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential transition. But Barr’s decision cuts against this.

“Overruling the Special Counsel is without precedent and without respect for the rule of law,” Pelosi said.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, also strongly criticized the DOJ’s decision.

“This is outrageous!” Nadler tweeted.

“Flynn PLEADED GUILTY to lying to investigators. The evidence against him is overwhelming. Now, a politicized DOJ is dropping the case.”

“The decision to overrule the special counsel is without precedent and warrants an immediate explanation.”

Many critics see Barr’s actions toward Flynn as part of a long-term strategy to undermine the Special Counsel’s findings for political purposes.

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter

Coronavirus Restrictions Are “Draconian,” Says AG William Barr

Attorney General William Barr criticized measures taken to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, calling them “draconian” and recommending they should be reevaluated by May.

In an interview with Fox News, Barr said the United States should ascertain whether measures being “adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people” as the pandemic tears its way through the country.

“I think, you know, when this — when this period of time is — at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways – social distancing and other means – to protect themselves,” he said.

“I’m very concerned about the slippery slope in terms of continuing encroachments on personal liberty,” he said of methods being used to track the spread of the virus. “I do think during the emergency, appropriate, reasonable steps are fine.”

Of President Donald Trump’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines until April 30, Barr said, “I think the president has made the right decisions for the right reasons.”

Current guidelines recommend that people not gather in groups of 10 or more, go to restaurants or bars, and to spend as much time indoors as possible.

Barr’s comments come as the Trump administration makes plans to reopen the economy incrementally, staring in small towns and cities not ravaged by the virus, while “hot spots” like New York and Detroit remain shuttered.

“We’re looking at the concept where we open sections of the country and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything,” President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night.

Nearly 15,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus since the first death was reported on February 29.

Opinion: 2020 Campaigns Need to Challenge Trump on Civil Rights

Arguing to center LGBTQ people in contemporary discussions about, and activism for, civil rights, certainly risks igniting an inflammatory comparative oppressions debate about which groups are most marginalized and under assault in U.S. society.

Racism is alive and well in America. Voter suppression efforts, particularly against African Americans, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to disenfranchising African Americans.  White nationalism and more pervasive and often less dramatic and thoroughgoing institutionalized white supremacy, endorsed and encouraged by the highest office in the land, validate a reign of terror and more general de-valuing of the lives of people of color, particularly African Americans, in the U.S.  Immigrants of color are being caged and criminalized. And one could go on—unfortunately, on and on.

When it comes to equal rights, and hence civil rights, for women, well, Virginia just recently became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and the ERA still faces substantial obstacles—and heated defiance—in making its way into the Constitution.

Our nation still trembles, indeed inflames, when it comes to validating this simple statement statement in the ERA :

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

And, of course, the all-out assault on abortion rights underscores the ongoing assault on women’s civil rights.

And yet, while it is indisputable that women and people of color have been denied civil rights, their personhood has nonetheless been acknowledged in civil rights legislation. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This language does not include, apparently, LGBTQ people.  The Supreme Court is currently deliberating a case brought heard last October arguing that the word “sex” should include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the verdict is not in, a good portion of the justices’ discussion and questions seemed less than promising for the case’s success. For example, Justice Samuel Alito at one point responded to attorney Pamela Karlan, representing two of the plaintiffs, “You’re trying to change the meaning of what Congress understood sex to mean in 1964.”

But beyond the question of whether or not LGBTQ people will find their collective personhood recognized and protected in U.S. law, active efforts are alive and well across the nation and in the Trump administration to exclude LGBTQ from already existing legal protections, rolling back rights already granted.

The Iowa GOP, for example, recently filed a bill to remove transgender people from the state’s civil rights protections. These rights were written into law for LGBTQ people in 2007 when the state added sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination law. According to Alex Bollinger, reporting for LGBTQ Nation, passage of the bill would “make it the first state to give civil rights protections to transgender people – or any class at all – and then take them away.”

Passage of the bill would mean one could be fired, denied housing, and more, simply for being transgender, for being who you are.

In fact, transgender people in America are already enduring—and have persistently endured– the consequences of this lack of protection.

Last December Lola Fadulu, in The New York Times, wrote an extensive piece chronicling the Trump administration’s myriad rollbacks of Obama-era executive orders. The piece begins with the story of Nicolas Talbott, a transgender graduate student at Kent State University who is also enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps program.  Because of Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, Talbott was informed that he could stay in the program but would not be eligible to actually become an officer and would also no longer be eligible for the health insurance and student loan forgiveness he had been promised and which others in the program received.

Fadulu provides a laundry list of such rollbacks and consequences individuals have suffered.

The onslaught on LBGTQ people, and transgender people in particular, is intensifying and widespread, and they are being written out of the law.

Or else negatively written into it.  The Governor of Tennessee recently signed legislation enabling foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents.

Back in 2017, Education Secretary

Betsy DeVos began rolling back Obama-era read more