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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, October 30, 2020

‘It doesn’t have to be this way’: Chris shares his thoughts before Election Day

‘It doesn’t have to be this way’: Chris shares his thoughts before Election Day

Opinion | Trump Has Made the Whole World Darker - The New York Times

"There is no escaping it: America is on the ballot on Tuesday — the stability and quality of our governing institutions, our alliances, how we treat one another, our basic commitment to scientific principles and the minimum decency that we expect from our leaders. The whole ball of wax is on the ballot.

The good news is that we’ve survived four years of Donald Trump’s abusive presidency with most of our core values still intact. To be sure, the damage has been profound, but, I’d argue, the cancer has not yet metastasized into the bones and lymph nodes of our nation. The harm is still reversible.

The bad news is that if we have to endure four more years of Donald Trump, with him unrestrained by the need to be re-elected, our country will not be the America we grew up with, whose values, norms and institutions we had come to take for granted.

Four more years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, and the cancer will be in the bones of every institution that has made America America.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

And then, who will we be? We can explain away, and the world can explain away, taking a one-time flier on a fast-talking, huckster-populist like Trump. It’s happened to many countries in history. But if we re-elect him, knowing what a norm-destroying, divisive, corrupt liar he is, then the world will not treat the last four years as an aberration. It will treat them as an affirmation that we’ve changed.

The world will not just look at America differently, but at Americans differently. And with good reason.

Re-electing Trump would mean that a significant number of Americans don’t cherish the norms that give our Constitution meaning, don’t appreciate the need for an independent, professional Civil Service, don’t respect scientists, don’t hunger for national unity, don’t care if a president tells 20,000 lies — in short, don’t care about what has actually made America great and different from any other great power in history.

If that happens, what America has lost these past four years will become permanent.

And the effects will be felt all over the world. Foreigners love to make fun of America, of our naïveté, or our silly notion that every problem has a solution and that the future can bury the past — that the past doesn’t always have to bury the future. But deep down, they often envy Americans’ optimism.

If America goes dark, if the message broadcast by the Statue of Liberty shifts from “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to “get the hell off my lawn”; if America becomes just as cynically transactional in all its foreign dealings as Russia and China; if foreigners stop believing that there is somewhere over the rainbow where truth is still held sacred in news reporting and where justice is the norm in most of the courts, then the whole world will get darker. Those who have looked to us for inspiration will have no widely respected reference point against which to critique their own governments.

Authoritarian leaders all over the world — in Turkey, China, Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and elsewhere — already smell this. They have been emboldened by the Trump years. They know they’re freer to assassinate, poison, jail, torture and censor whomever they want, without reproach from America, as long as they flatter Trump or buy our arms.

I asked Nader Mousavizadeh, a former senior U.N. official who now runs the London-based consultancy Macro Advisory Partners, what he thought was at stake in this election. He said: “It’s the sense that ever since F.D.R., despite all kinds of failures and flaws, America was a country that wanted a better future — not just for itself but for other people.”

While that may seem like a banality, he added, “it is actually unique in history. No other great power in history has behaved that way. And it provided America with an intangible asset of immense value: the benefit of the doubt. People across the world were willing to give America a second, third and fourth chance because they believed that, unlike any other great power that had come to impact their lives, our purpose was different.”

Of course, America has at times behaved in cruel, nakedly self-interested, reckless and harmful ways toward other nations and peoples. Vietnam was real. Anti-democratic coups in Iran and Chile were real. Abu Ghraib was real. Separating children from their parents at our southern border was real.

But they remain exceptions, not our modus operandi, which is precisely why people all over the world, not to mention Americans, are so enraged by them — while shrugging off Russia’s or China’s abuses.

It’s because they know, added Mousavizadeh, that historically “America’s intent, if not always its practice, has been to exhort not extort other nations; to export not exploit; to collaborate not dominate; and to strengthen a global system of rules and norms, not overturn it in order to focus exclusively on its own enrichment.

“Four more years of Trump’s America, and no one will have cause to give us the benefit of any doubt. The disillusionment will be shattering to our standing and influence — and only when we are received around the world as Russians or Chinese will we know what we have lost, for good.”

Was everything Trump did wrong or unnecessary? No. He provided a valuable corrective to U.S.-China trade relations. A useful counterpunch to Iranian excesses in the Middle East. And he sent the needed message, albeit crudely, that if you want to come into this country, you can’t just walk in, you have to at least ring the doorbell.

But these initiatives were nowhere near as impactful as Trump pretends they are, precisely because he did them alone — without allies abroad or bipartisan support at home. We could have had a much bigger and sustainable impact on China and Iran if we had acted with our allies; we could have had a grand bargain on immigration if Trump had been willing to move to the center. But he wouldn’t.

I fear that this inability of Americans to do big, hard things together anymore — which predated Trump and the pandemic, but was exacerbated by them both — has led to another loss. It’s a loss of confidence in democratic systems generally, and versus China’s autocratic system in particular.

Over the last pandemic year, the legendary investor Ray Dalio wrote in The Financial Times last week, China’s “economy grew at almost 5 percent, without monetizing debt, while all major economies contracted. China produces more than it consumes and runs a balance of payments surplus, unlike the U.S. and many Western nations.” Even Tesla’s best-selling Model 3 car, he wrote, “may soon be made entirely in China.”

Makes you wonder if the Trump presidency will be remembered not for making America great but for China’s great leap past America. If you’re not worried about that, you haven’t been paying attention these last four years."

Opinion | Trump Has Made the Whole World Darker - The New York Times

Kavanaugh Fixes Error in Election Opinion After Vermont Complaint - The New York Times

"Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh made a correction to a concurring opinion after Vermont officials pointed out that he mistakenly said the state had not changed its election rules.

After Vermont officials complained, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh corrected an error in the opinion he wrote in a Wisconsin election case.
After Vermont officials complained, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh corrected an error in the opinion he wrote in a Wisconsin election case. 

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on Wednesday corrected an error in an opinion issued as part of a Supreme Court ruling that barred Wisconsin from counting mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day.

Though not unheard-of, such revisions are rare, experts said, adding that Justice Kavanaugh’s change highlighted the court’s fast pace in handling recent challenges to voting rules.

In the opinion, which was issued on Monday and alarmed Democrats worried about mail ballots being counted, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that while some states had changed their rules around voting in response to the pandemic, others had not.

“States such as Vermont, by contrast, have decided not to make changes to their ordinary election rules, including to the election-day deadline for receipt of absentee ballots,” he wrote in his original concurring opinion, which was attached to the 5-to-3 ruling against the deadline extension in Wisconsin.

The decision, issued just over a week before the presidential election, immediately drew intense scrutiny, and Justice Kavanaugh’s opinion prompted a complaint from Vermont’s secretary of state, Jim Condos. He pointed out that the state had, in fact, changed its rules to accommodate voters worried about showing up to polling stations during the pandemic.

On Wednesday, two days after the ruling, he wrote to Scott S. Harris, the clerk of the court, and said Vermont had made two key changes this year: All active, registered voters had received a ballot and a prepaid envelope, and election officials were authorized to start processing the ballots in the 30 days leading up to Election Day.

By contrast, Wisconsin had done neither, Mr. Condos noted.

“Vermont is not an accurate comparison for the assertion Justice Kavanaugh has made,” he wrote in the letter.

Mr. Condos also posted a copy of the letter to Twitter saying, “When it comes to issuing decisions on the voting rights of American citizens, facts matter.”

By Wednesday evening, the opinion had been changed to read that Vermont and other states had not changed their “election-deadline” rules in response to the pandemic.

The Supreme Court began noting corrections and changes in opinions following a 2014 study that showed how, for years and without public notice, it had been altering its decisions long after they were issued, said Richard Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard University and the study’s author.

During the 2019-20 session, the court noted it had changed errors or typos in written decisions about half a dozen times, he said. The court typically issues several dozen decisions each term.

In this case, Professor Lazarus said, Justice Kavanaugh’s error was troubling because it revealed the rapid-fire pace with which the court, days before a presidential election, is making decisions that have enormous implications for the country.

“The mistake he made is not of an earth-shattering, catastrophic nature but it does underscore the risk of writing quickly, not writing more deliberately and not taking time,” he said.

Latest Updates

In a statement, Mr. Condos, the Vermont secretary of state, said he was glad Justice Kavanaugh corrected the error.

But, he said, “a one-word addition doesn’t go far enough.”

“The larger problem with the justice’s concurring opinion, and the majority opinion largely, is not the absence of the word ‘deadline,’” Mr. Condos said. “It is the total lack of regard for the voting rights of American citizens.”

The Wisconsin ruling was one of a series of decisions made in response to emergency applications and motions related to the election.

Democrats, civil rights groups and some legal scholars were unnerved by Justice Kavanaugh’s opinion that Election Day mail-in deadlines were devised “to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flip the results of an election.”

Justice Elena Kagan responded in her dissent that “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”

Mr. Condos said the opinion by Justice Kavanaugh and the decision itself “repeats the misinformation we, as chief elections officials, have been fighting against all election season: that votes cast on Election Day and arriving afterward are somehow not valid or are lesser than votes cast in person.” He added, “that is simply not true.”

The court’s recent decisions have been issued quickly, without full briefings or oral arguments, in a process known as the “shadow docket.”

When the justices do not have time to send opinions back and forth to one another and deliberate together, “they’re more likely to make mistakes,” Professor Lazarus said.

Justice Kavanaugh appeared to be trying to take on a leadership role by issuing his own opinion and explaining his decision making, he said.

“Whether you like his principle or not, he actually tried to explain it and he also corrected it,” Professor Lazarus said.

During an ordinary court schedule, the justices and their clerks have more time to discuss cases and pore over the words in each opinion to prevent errors, said Allison Orr Larsen, a professor of law at William & Mary Law School.

Mistakes are “rare,” she said, “but it happens.”

The current pace “is not the way that they’re designed to function,” Professor Larsen said. “It’s not the way that any of them prefer to function. It’s high stakes and limited time and that’s never good for decision making.”

Kavanaugh Fixes Error in Election Opinion After Vermont Complaint - The New York Times

In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others

In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others

"As Floridians rush to vote in the presidential election, mail ballots from Black, Hispanic and younger voters are being flagged for problems at a higher rate than they are for other voters, potentially jeopardizing their participation in the race for the country’s largest battleground state.

The deficient ballots — which have been tagged for issues such as a missing signature — could be rejected if voters do not remedy the problems by 5 p.m. Nov. 5.

As of Thursday, election officials had set aside twice as many ballots from Black and Hispanic voters as those from White voters, according to an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. For people younger than 24, the rate was more than four times what it was for those 65 and older.

While the number of deficient mail ballots in Florida was relatively low one week before the election, at roughly 15,000 out of more than 4.3 million cast, that figure could rise sharply: Roughly 1.6 million Floridians still have outstanding mail ballots.

With President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden locked in a tight race for the state’s 29 electoral votes, the number of rejected ballots could make a difference in who wins Florida — and potentially the White House.

“The margins in Florida could definitely come down to the vote-by-mail ballots,” Smith said. “It’s obviously an area where there will be litigation if there is a close election.”

Florida has a history of problematic ballots triggering high-stakes fights with tight electoral margins on the line. The 2000 presidential contest in the state, upended by the battle over “hanging chads” in the South Florida counties that used punch-card ballots, was decided by 537 votes.

In 2018, then-Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) lost his reelection bid by just 10,033 votes after more than 32,000 mail ballots were rejected by election officials. That race led to a slew of lawsuits over the state’s signature-matching rules. In one case, a federal judge gave voters more time to fix mismatched signatures, but it did not provide Nelson with enough additional votes to beat Republican Rick Scott.

The massive shift to voting by mail this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic has increased the possibility that problems with mail ballots could be a factor in races across the country.

For the first time in recent history, voters in every major swing state are eligible to cast ballots by mail without a traditional excuse. Many who have never voted this way may not be familiar with the extra steps required, such as signing the envelope or placing the ballot inside a secrecy sleeve in some states.

More than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states, including nearly a quarter in key presidential battlegrounds, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Notably, election officials tossed out more than 60,480 ballots during primaries in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — states Trump won by roughly 80,000 votes in 2016.

As of Tuesday, roughly 30,000 mail ballots had been flagged for possible rejection or cure in eight battleground states, accounting for a tiny fraction of the roughly 11.5 million mail ballots returned, an analysis by The Post found. Florida accounted for about half of the total number, which was compiled from data provided by Smith, secretaries of state and University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald’s U.S. Elections Project.

The number of deficient ballots nationally is expected to rise quickly. Only a handful of battleground states publicly report the number of ballots that have been tagged for possible rejection, and some provide only partial data.

“The problem is, if you’ve got millions of ballots, you’re trying to notify a large number of voters that there’s a question about their signature, you have untrained staff looking at signatures, people may have a 30-year-old signature,” Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group that has sued over signature-match rules, told reporters this week.

“This is going to be an issue if it’s a close election in a number of states because there will be battles over whether absentee ballots will be counted or not,” he added.

Votes up in the air

Studies have shown that ballots from voters of color and younger voters have been disproportionately rejected in past elections, a trend that appears to be continuing this year based on the figures available.

In Georgia, 1,385 ballots had been flagged for problems as of Friday, including 729 from Black voters and 416 from White voters, according to state data. The vast majority had missing or invalid signatures.

Atlanta resident Victoria Benedict, a 51-year-old small-business owner, said she has been voting by mail for years and was shocked when she was notified that her ballot was rejected for an “invalid signature.”

When she called the Fulton County elections office, she said a staffer told her to make an appointment to come into the office or bring the ballot to the polls on Election Day. She later learned from the state Democratic Party that she could successfully fix her ballot by emailing an affidavit to the elections office.

“It’s terrifying to me that the office is disseminating incorrect information that could have a chilling effect on voters curing their ballot,” said Benedict, who was reached through ProPublica’s Electionland voter tip line. “I’m worried that people won’t know what to do or have the time to research it like I did.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) predicted this week that the state’s total ballot rejection rate will be consistent with the last election, in the range of 1 percent.

“Every eligible voter — their vote will count,” he said at a news conference.

In Florida, the most commonly flagged problem with mail ballots has been a missing voter signature on the back of the ballot envelope, Smith said.

The total rate of pending rejections was 0.35 percent, a rate he predicted will rise to the 2016 election-year level of about 1 percent after late-arriving ballots are factored in.

Deficient ballots were slightly more likely to come from Democratic mail voters, at 0.33 percent, than Republican voters, at 0.29 percent — and both were lower than unaffiliated voters, whose ballots were flagged at a rate of 0.47 percent.

Experience also matters in whether a voter’s ballot gets tossed, the data shows. Floridians who did not vote by mail in 2016 but did so this year had a rejection rate three times that of other voters, Smith found.

Election officials are required to notify voters “as soon as practicable” that their ballots are deficient and send affidavits to correct them. A Florida election law retooled last year gives voters extra time to fix their ballots, allowing them to return affidavits by mail, by email, by fax or in person by 5 p.m. on the second day after the election.

In Miami-Dade County, where about 2,600 ballots have been flagged, 52-year-old Democratic volunteer Andrea Askowitz recently spent two days driving around and knocking on the doors of voters whose ballots have been flagged for rejection.

Askowitz said assisting even a small number of Democratic voters felt more worthwhile than her previous efforts handing out Democratic slate cards at an early-voting site and holding a Biden sign on a street corner.

“I think helping people with their absentee ballots is the one thing I can do that’s meaningful,” she said. “It’s grueling, but I know those are three Biden votes for sure.”

Such efforts could make a difference. Seven statewide elections between 2010 and 2018 were decided by less than 1.2 percent, including three that were decided by 0.4 percent or less, according to Democratic consultant Steve Schale. Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in Florida was about 113,000 votes.

Reasons for rejection

Mismatched signatures on mail ballots were central to legal disputes in Florida after the 2018 election, with multiple courts agreeing that state rules for validating and curing ballots were not fair or enforced consistently.

In a 2019 retuning of state election law, legislators required the secretary of state to offer signature-match training to election supervisors and other members of local canvassing boards.

More than 30 states this year are using signature matching to validate mail ballots, a process that involves comparing the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope to one on file with the government.

Voting rights advocates and Democrats have challenged this approach in some places, arguing that rules must be standardized to protect voters against false mismatches.

And in about 20 states, there is no guarantee that voters will be notified and offered a chance to fix, or “cure,” problems with their ballots this year, another source of concern.

Virginia Kase, chief executive of the League of Women Voters, said the problem of rejected ballots has been “amplified this year” by the shift toward mail voting in a hotly contested presidential cycle.

“We are constantly fighting and battling to ensure that there are notification and cure processes for rejected ballots,” she told reporters this week, noting that her group is prepared to file lawsuits if it observes problems with ballot processing or counting.

In addition to signature problems, late arrival tends to be one of the top reasons mail ballots are rejected, studies have found. More than 36 million requested mail ballots had not been returned throughout the country as of Friday morning, according to McDonald, leading election officials and activists to push voters to return them quickly in person or to change their plans and vote on Election Day.

“The most important issue is for voters to know as quickly as possible if there is an error, if there is a mistake, so they can correct it,” Democrat Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and founder of Fair Fight Action, said during an online panel discussion this week. “Fixing your ballot is just as important as sending it in, and the longer we take to send in those ballots, the less time we have to correct any mistakes.”

This year, more than 20 states plan to count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received within a certain period after that, some despite lawsuits from Republicans seeking to toss ballots that arrive after Nov. 3.

This week, the Supreme Court upheld extended ballot return deadlines in North Carolina and Pennsylvania while invalidating an extension in Wisconsin. On Thursday night, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit rolled back an extended deadline in Minnesota; the state is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Postal delays could further complicate voters’ efforts to return their ballots on time. The U.S. Postal Service has said it cannot guarantee delivery for ballots mailed past Oct. 27, and rates of on-time mail delivery are lagging in critical battleground states.

Wave of lawsuits

Signature-match and curing rules have dominated court fights related to voting ahead of the election, prompting at least nine states to make their systems more voter-friendly.

This month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision allowing Arizona voters who forget to sign their mail ballots up to five days after the election to fix the problem. Voters with mismatched signatures already had that amount of time to prove their identities and have their ballots counted.

In Pennsylvania last week, the state Supreme Court said state law does not authorize election officials to reject mail ballots based on mismatched signatures.

In North Carolina, mail voters are required to include a witness signature as proof their ballot was voted properly. Litigation over how to address ballots missing those signatures left at least 6,800 votes — including more than 3,300 from people of color — in limbo at one point earlier this month.

Rosalee Rockafellow, a 76-year-old resident of Sunset Beach near the state’s southern border, sprang into action last month after she was notified her absentee ballot was deficient because of an error on her ballot envelope. She personally delivered an affidavit to the Brunswick County elections office. But online, her ballot was still marked as not accepted. A staffer told her that absentee ballots were the subject of a court case and that her ballot remained in limbo.

Rockafellow, who was reached through ProPublica’s Electionland voter tip line, said she finally confirmed last week that her ballot had been counted.

“I really feel that had I not called and called and called and been so tenacious that my vote would still be sitting in a pile of unaccepted ballots somewhere,” she said."

In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Trump Won't Let Covid Stop His Campaign, Keeps Mike Pence On The Trail A...

Jared Kushner Faces Backlash Over Comments Considered Racist | Morning J...

Opinion | The Trump administration’s covid-19 message: You’re on your own. Try not to die. - The Washington Post

President Trump at a rally in Lititz, Pa., on Monday.

There are many, many reasons Americans should vote Trump out of the White House, but perhaps the most urgent is his refusal — or perhaps his inability — to face the reality of covid-19. This election is literally a choice between life and death.

Why have we lost approximately 225,000 lives to covid-19, more than any other nation on Earth? Because the Trump administration never even considered taking the basic but difficult measures that could have strangled transmission of the virus during its infancy.

European nations such as Italy, France and Spain saw big initial spikes in infections and deaths but instituted comprehensive shutdowns that reduced transmission of the virus to levels low enough to allow reopening of businesses and schools. They are now responding to new infection spikes with targeted shutdowns. Germany, which has done much better than other Western countries, relied on tried-and-true public health strategies of testing, contact tracing and mask-wearing. I don't buy the argument that cultural differences would have made such measures impossible here. I don't believe most Americans are too stupid to understand the need to work together against a common threat.

Trump, however, is not most Americans.

One of the worst mistakes any leader can make during a crisis is to engage in magical thinking. But that is the only kind of thinking Trump has done about covid-19 — and the only kind he continues to do. From the beginning, he has looked for excuses not to believe what the nation's leading experts on infectious diseases have been telling him.

We know from Bob Woodward's book "Rage" that the president understood in early February that covid-19 was deadlier than even the most "strenuous" flu strains — yet he publicly cited yearly influenza death tolls to suggest the opposite. He touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a miracle cure — even after studies proved it worthless and potentially harmful. He refused to regularly wear a mask, and he went out of his way to ridicule those, including Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who did.

Even worse, Trump sabotaged efforts by governors and mayors to control the virus with shutdowns and mask mandates. He made covid-19 denial an article of faith for his political base, encouraging the Republican governors of states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas to reopen their economies prematurely. The one thing Trump does brilliantly in politics is drive wedges, and he has hammered a massive one into the deadliest possible crack: between public health on one side and "freedom" on the other.

Trump's bombastically ignorant leadership on covid-19 has endangered the Americans his government ought to be protecting. Think about the big, reckless campaign rally he held last week at The Villages, a sprawling Florida retirement community, where most in the crowd did not wear masks. Given the high rate of infection in that state, it is flabbergasting that Trump would encourage his supporters to expose themselves in this way.

Many covid-19 survivors are chastened by the experience. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, for example, is now an advocate for mask-wearing, social distancing and general prudence. Trump's experience with the disease, by contrast, seems to have made him even more detached, touting"therapeutics and, frankly, cures" as he looks ahead to the possibility of a humiliating defeat next week.

And such a defeat is what he must be made to suffer. Our health and welfare depend on it.

Doctors know more about how to treat covid-19 patients now, so the death rate has come down somewhat. But the current rise in cases is so steep, and so widespread, that medical systems in the Upper Midwest are already under severe strain. Vaccines will not arrive in time to prevent the "dark winter" that Biden — and public health experts — see coming.

If Biden wins, his policies will aim to ensure that more of our friends, neighbors and family members survive to see the spring. We need, and must elect, a president who is genuinely pro-life."

Opinion | The Trump administration’s covid-19 message: You’re on your own. Try not to die. - The Washington Post

GOP former prosecutors blast Trump, endorse Biden - The Washington Post

"President Trump is joined at a White House news conference by Attorney General William P. Barr.

Twenty former U.S. attorneys — all of them Republicans — on Tuesday publicly called President Trump “a threat to the rule of law in our country,” and urged that he be replaced in November with his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

“The President has clearly conveyed that he expects his Justice Department appointees and prosecutors to serve his personal and political interests,” said the former prosecutors in an open letter. They accused Trump of taking “action against those who have stood up for the interests of justice.”

The letter, signed by prosecutors appointed by every GOP president from Eisenhower to Trump, is the latest instance of Republicans backing Biden. In August, dozens of GOP national security experts signed a full-page newspaper ad endorsing Biden over Trump.

“He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making,” their letter says.

The effort was organized initially by Ken Wainstein, a former U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., who later served during the George W. Bush administration as assistant attorney general for national security.

Read the letter from Republican former U.S. attorneys

A spokesman for the Trump campaign dismissed the letter from the former prosecutors as arrogant and offensive, noting that it is Trump who has the support of police officers and their unions.

“No one should be surprised establishment elitists are supporting Joe Biden,” Hogan Gidley said. In an emailed statement, he noted that the signers did not speak out “when Joe Biden promised to redirect funds away from police. I noticed their worry for politics wasn’t voiced when Joe Biden’s DOJ claimed to be a ‘wingman’ for the Administration, and I must have missed their unease for disunity when Biden refused to condemn his supporters for burning down churches, destroying businesses, and physically assaulting innocent Americans in the streets.”

The letter is signed by former U.S. attorneys from Florida, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other states. One of the signers, Gregory Brower, a former U.S. attorney for Nevada, also served during the first years of the Trump administration as the FBI’s assistant director for congressional affairs.

“I had an up-close view of how the President and the White House dealt with the Justice Department in recent years,” he said in an interview. “It’s clear that President Trump views the Justice Department and the FBI as his own personal law firm and investigative agency,” Brower said. “He made that clear privately — and publicly.”

Brower and Wainstein said Trump has soiled the department’s prized attributes: independence and a commitment to equal justice under the law.

In criticizing the Trump Justice Department publicly, the signers effectively joined half a dozen or so career prosecutors who publicly protested what they have decried as politicized decision-making, including reducing a recommended prison sentence for Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and seeking to dismiss the case against Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

“Although we were political appointees, it was expected that politics would play no role in the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion and that we would make decisions according to the facts and law and without regard to their political implications,” the letter says, adding that: “as the chief federal law enforcement officials in our districts, we were expected to work closely with state and local officials of all political affiliations.”

Trump, on the other hand, has “undermined the Department’s ability to unify and lead our nation’s law enforcement by picking political fights with state and local officials in a naked effort to demonize and blame them for the disturbances in our cities over the past several months,” the letter says.

A former two-time U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Tom Heffelfinger, a Republican fixture in the state, said that a series of actions led him to sign the letter, including the president’s treatment of women, his personal and political demands of the Justice Department, and his handling of the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

“He bad-mouthed the mayor, the governor, leaders who were trying to get things under control,” Heffelfinger said. “Trump was interfering, demoralizing local officials and dividing the country.”

This fall, the accumulated weight of the president’s conduct led Heffelfinger to decide to sign the letter circulated by Wainstein and speak out publicly.

“I can’t look at myself in the mirror, I can’t look my daughters in the face if I can’t do what I can to get rid of him,” said Heffelfinger.

If Biden wins, Brower said the Justice Department could see a quick recovery in morale and sense of purpose, but it will take longer to recover confidence from American citizens and U.S. allies overseas.

Wainstein said U.S. allies are unnerved by the administration’s decision to release previously classified information to Republican lawmakers about sources who provided information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“It has caught the attention of foreign partners in a way that makes them ask whether they can trust us going forward,” Wainstein said. Restoring confidence in those relationships, he said, may be Biden’s greatest early test if he is elected."

GOP former prosecutors blast Trump, endorse Biden - The Washington Post

Opinion | Amy Coney Barrett and the Republican Party's Supreme Court - The New York Times

"The quest to entrench political conservatism in the country’s highest court comes with a steep cost.
By The Editorial Board Oct. 26, 2020
What happened in the Senate chamber on Monday evening was, on its face, the playing out of a normal, well-established process of the American constitutional order: the confirmation of a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
But Senate Republicans, who represent a minority of the American people, are straining the legitimacy of the court by installing a deeply conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, to a lifetime seat just days before an election that polls suggest could deal their party a major defeat.
As with President Trump’s two earlier nominees to the court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the details of Judge Barrett’s jurisprudence were less important than the fact that she had been anointed by the conservative activists at the Federalist Society. Along with hundreds of new lower-court judges installed in vacancies that Republicans refused to fill when Barack Obama was president, these three Supreme Court choices were part of the project to turn the courts from a counter-majoritarian shield that protects the rights of minorities to an anti-democratic sword to wield against popular progressive legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
The process also smacked of unseemly hypocrisy. Republicans raced to install Judge Barrett barely one week before a national election, in defiance of a principle they loudly insisted upon four years ago.
The elevation of Judge Barrett to be the nation’s 115th justice was preordained almost from the moment that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last month. When she takes her seat on the bench at One First Street, it will represent the culmination of a four-decade crusade by conservatives to fill the federal courts with reliably Republican judges who will serve for decades as a barricade against an ever more progressive nation.
This is not a wild conspiracy theory. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader and one of the main architects of this crusade, gloated about it openly on Sunday, following a bare-majority vote to move Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Senate floor. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” Mr. McConnell said. “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
That’s the perfect distillation of what this has been all about. It also reveals what it was never about.
It was never about letting the American people have a voice in the makeup of the Supreme Court. That’s what Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republicans claimed in 2016, when they blocked President Obama from filling a vacancy with nearly a year left in his term. As of Monday, more than 62 million Americans had already voted in the 2020 election. Forget the polls; the best indicator that Mr. McConnell believes these voters are in the process of handing both the White House and the Senate to Democrats was his relentless charge to fill the Ginsburg vacancy.
It was never about fighting “judicial activism.” For decades, Republicans accused some judges of being legislators in robes. Yet today’s conservative majority is among the most activist in the court’s history, striking down long-established precedents and concocting new judicial theories on the fly, virtually all of which align with Republican policy preferences.
It was never about the supposed mistreatment that Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee, suffered at the hands of Senate Democrats in 1987. That nomination played out exactly as it should have. Senate Democrats gave Judge Bork a full hearing, during which millions of Americans got to experience firsthand his extremist views on the Constitution and federal law. He received an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, where his nomination was defeated by Democrats and Republicans together. President Ronald Reagan came back with a more mainstream choice, Anthony Kennedy, and Democrats voted to confirm him nine months before the election. Compare that with Republicans’ 2016 blockade of Judge Merrick Garland, whom they refused even to consider, much less to vote on: One was an exercise in a divided but functioning government, the other an exercise in partisan brute force.
How will a Justice Barrett rule? The mad dash of her confirmation process tells you all you need to know. Republicans pretended that she was not the anti-abortion hard-liner they have all been pining for, but they betrayed themselves with the sheer aggressiveness of their drive to get her seated on the nation’s highest court. Even before Monday’s vote, Republican presidents had appointed 14 of the previous 18 justices. The court has had a majority of Republican-appointed justices for half a century. But it is now as conservative as it has been since the 1930s.
Of all the threats posed by the Roberts Court, its open scorn for voting rights may be the biggest. In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the lead opinion in the most destructive anti-voter case in decades, Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the central provision of the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to rampant voter suppression, most of it targeted at Democratic voters. Yet this month, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the court’s remaining three liberals to allow a fuller count of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. The four other conservatives voted against that count. In other words, with Justice Barrett’s confirmation the court now has five justices who are more conservative on voting rights than the man who nearly obliterated the Voting Rights Act less than a decade ago.
In 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia angrily dissented. “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote.
The American people, who have preferred the Democratic nominee in six of the last seven presidential elections, are now subordinate to a solid 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Republicans accuse those who are trying to salvage the integrity and legitimacy of the Supreme Court with trying to change the rules or rig the game. Having just changed the rules in an attempt to rig the game, that’s particularly galling for them to say.
The courts must not be in the position of resolving all of America’s biggest political debates. But if Americans can agree on that, then they should be able to agree on mechanisms to reduce the Supreme Court’s power and influence in American life.
As Justice Scalia would put it, a democracy in which the people’s will is repeatedly thwarted by a committee of unelected lawyers is not a democracy at all."

Opinion | Amy Coney Barrett and the Republican Party's Supreme Court - The New York Times