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AMY BERMAN JACKSON


The FEC wants Congress to ban a fundraising tactic used by the Trump campaign: 'It's almost like theft'

The Federal Election Commission in a rare unanimous vote has urged Congress to ban a campaign donation tactic reportedly used by former President Donald Trump's team last year. The FEC on Thursday unanimously voted to recommend Congress ban political campaigns from using prechecked boxes to steer supporters toward making recurring contributions by default, The New York Times reports. "It's important that donors be able to exercise their choices freely," FEC Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub told the Times."If their money is being taken from them because of some reverse checkoff option they didn't notice, then they are not giving their money freely. It's almost like theft. I don't want to see donors tricked." The Times previously reported that Trump's campaign in 2020 "deployed prechecked boxes to enroll every donor in weekly withdrawals — unless they unchecked the box," describing this as an "intentional scheme." The Trump operation also reportedly prechecked an additional box that doubled an individual's contribution unless it was unchecked, and they ended up having to refund over $122 million to supporters, according to the Times. This tactic has also been used by Democrats, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, The Hill notes. The FEC said in its recommendation that "many contributors are unaware of the 'pre-checked' boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements." Adav Noti, who formerly served in the FEC's general counsel's office, told the Times that for the FEC's Republican and Democratic commissioners to come to a unanimous agreement on a "substantive campaign finance law" recommendation like this is "pretty rare." More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseThe Republican plot to steal the 2024 electionMitch McConnell, asked about the Liz Cheney purge, says '100 percent of my focus is on stopping' Biden

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Ron DeSantis signs Florida's restrictive new voting law exclusively on Fox News

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) just signed the state's restrictive new voting bill into law, but local reporters who wanted to see him do so evidently had to tune into Fox News. The Florida governor signed the controversial new law on Thursday morning that implements new restrictions on drop boxes and requires voters to sign up for mail-in ballots more often, among other measures, Axios reports. But DeSantis received additional criticism after signing it not in front of a whole group of reporters from various outlets, but live on Fox & Friends as an exclusive to the network. "Local media outlets told CNN that they were not allowed to go inside the morning signing event and that it was a Fox News exclusive," CNN writes. This, according to The Washington Post, "came as a surprise to local journalists, who had arrived to cover the event." NEW: News media is barred from entry at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of controversial elections bill, SB 90. DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske says bill signing is a “Fox exclusive” pic.twitter.com/NAos6kmtQS — Steve Bousquet (@stevebousquet) May 6, 2021 DeSantis' decision to make this bill signing a Fox exclusive drew criticism from reporters, with CBS News' Kathryn Watson writing, "If I worked at Fox, I would refuse to cover the bill signing unless all my colleagues at other outlets could. It's the right thing to do." The New York Times' Maggie Haberman also wrote, "Can't say I've ever heard of an act like a bill signing being treated like a commodity to trade with Fox." The Society of Professional Journalists' Florida chapter also slammed the move, with its president saying, "Actions like this openly defy against a free press. We condemn DeSantis' office barring journalists from doing their job for the sake of good TV." A Fox News spokesperson in a statement said that Fox & Friends "did not request or mandate" that the governor's event or interview "be exclusive to Fox News Media entities." More stories from theweek.comHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseMitch McConnell, asked about the Liz Cheney purge, says '100 percent of my focus is on stopping' BidenAmerica's nervous breakdown is right on schedule

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A Federal Judge Finds That Bill Barr Was a Fixer and Corrupter of Justice

Drew AngererWhat remains of Bill Barr’s sullied reputation was blown up when federal district Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the government must turn over the memorandum, which the public has yet to fully see and that the Justice Department relied upon in declining to prosecute the 45th president.Not only was Barr being personally “disingenuous” by announcing his decision before the Mueller report was released and pretending he used the report to reach a conclusion instead of simply announcing the one he’d come to before the special counsel’s work had even finished his work, she wrote, “but DOJ has been disingenuous to this Court.”“The fact that (Trump) would not be prosecuted was a given,” the judge wrote. In reality, it was a given from the moment Barr was appointed by Trump, as the past inevitably became prelude given his first stint as attorney general under George H.W. Bush. Back then, DOJ resisted efforts to get to the bottom of U.S. government-backed financing of Iraq in the run-up to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.Mueller Report Has a Hidden Message for BarrPressed by House Democrats to appoint an independent counsel, Barr refused, while insisting it was “not a crime,” “simply not criminal in any way,” “nothing illegal.” What he meant was that oversight was for Democratic presidents only.In 2019, Barr stonewalled then Sen. Kamala Harris when she asked him whether Donald Trump or anyone at the White House had inquired or urged that he open an investigation into anyone. Think of Barr as an updated version of Roy Cohn, an earlier Trump lawyer. Both men attended Horace Mann, the swank private school in the Riverdale section of New York City, and Columbia University. As with Cohn, things are not ending well for Barr. For the record, Judge Jackson’s recent opinion was not written on a blank slate. Judge Reggie Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, had already blasted Barr’s allergy to the truth. In a March 2020 decision in a related case, the judge “seriously” questioned Barr’s integrity and credibility, and deployed words like “distorted” and “misleading” to make his point.He also observed that it appeared that Barr had “made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”DOJ is not a public relations shop. Likewise, the department’s client is the U.S., not the occupant of the Oval Office. The imperial presidency is supposed to have limits.Barr’s reputation also stands to be tarnished by his efforts to put his thumb on the scale in connection with the sentencing of a since-pardoned Roger Stone and the Mike Flynn debacle. Like Stone, Flynn too received a Trump pardon. But along the way, Barr’s handling of Flynn’s case raised eyebrows from the bench.Specifically, Judge Emmet Sullivan hammered Barr while dismissing, at the DOJ’s request, its own case against Flynn after he had pleaded guilty. Sullivan observed, “In view of the government’s previous argument in this case that Mr. Flynn’s false statements were ‘absolutely material’ because his false statements ‘went to the heart’ of the FBI’s investigation, the government’s about-face, without explanation, raises concerns about the regularity of its decision-making process.”“Raises concerns”? Talk about understatement.By the end of Trump’s term, Flynn would call for the imposition of martial law. Meanwhile, Flynn’s brother, Charles Flynn, another general, was on duty during the insurrection. To top it all off, Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, would emerge as a grim punchline in attempting to “release the Kraken” to try and push through Trump’s Big Lie.As for the Flynn pardon, it happened on Barr’s watch, on November 25, 2020, more than two weeks before Barr quit. And here too, Barr’s past is relevant.After Bush 41 lost to Bill Clinton, Barr successfully pushed for pardons for Caspar Weinberger, Ronald Reagan’s defense secretary, and others in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal. “I favored the broadest pardon authority,” Barr explained. There were some people just arguing just for Weinberger. I said, ‘No–in for a penny, in for a pound.’”To his credit, Barr resisted Trump’s entreaties to find fraud with the election where none existed and, when he finally quit, the outgoing AG took a swipe at Trump and his efforts to undo the election results, and tried to suggest there was still some regularity to DOJ’s decision-making process by declaring that “it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”Much too little, too late. Meanwhile, AG Merrick Garland has until May 17 to appeal Judge Jackson’s ruling. If he does not, the full memo that Barr used when he was the attorney general to justify the fix that was already in will immediately become public—and the fixer’s reputation will take one more hard hit as his successor begins the hard work of restoring integrity and public confidence in a battered Justice Department.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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