Supporters of Roy Moore tried to pay someone to make a false claim, and Breitbart was there? We are shocked, shocked.
Funny how these things happen!
While most of our weekend was eaten up by 1) America's incredible teens marching to take all the guns away so America can become Cuba, and 2) Unwelcome thoughts of Donald Trump's peener, the Washington Post dropped a great big investigative bombshell Friday afternoon that we'd be remiss to miss. Just a few days after WaPo published its story last November in which three women recalled Roy Moore trying to date them when they were teens -- and one, Leigh Corfman, said Moore had taken her to his house and taken off her top and pants off like a gross old sex perv -- a couple of Moore supporters made a very generous offer to the lawyer who'd agreed to represent Corfman. All he had to do was drop his client, sign a statement saying he'd decided Corfman wasn't credible, and he'd get $10,000. Just another story of how Hillary Clinton has corrupted American politics, obviously.
The attorney, Eddie Sexton, of Hoover, Alabama, agreed to help Corfman handle the media after the story broke because the two had been friends in childhood back in Gadsden. He was approached by Gary Lantrip and Bert Davi, partners in a construction company and supporters of Moore, who told him they could get the statement disavowing Corfman to Breitbart News, and that in addition to the money, they'd arrange for Sexton to meet Steve Bannon himself, which sounds to us more like a stick than a carrot. Parts of the story were backed up by recordings of phone calls between the two and Sexton -- Rachel Maddow had no end of fun with the recordings Friday night, since during one of the calls Sexton was also pounding up big old pills with a hammer to slip them into an ailing horse's food.
Sexton told WaPo that he had been reluctant to go on the record with his story, because at the time, he'd been representing Lantrip and Davi in an unrelated matter, and because Lantrip was a longtime friend. The Post says he only spoke publicly "after repeated requests over months from Post reporters, who contacted him after obtaining one of the recordings." Nope, we never find out where/who that copy of the phone call came from. Probably "John Barron."
After the Post ran its big expose last November 9, Sexton's law firm was deluged with calls from the media, and one of the partners at the firm told Sexton he wasn't comfortable being connected to such a high-profile story. Sexton says that he and Corfman agreed he would no longer represent her, although they didn't make a public announcement. Two days later, after Moore's campaign had gone into full denial mode, Steve Bannon accused the Post of doing a "weaponized hit" on Moore, and Breitbart horcrux Matthew Boyle made the perfectly sane accusation that the story resulted from "collusion between the Democrat establishment, the Republican establishment and the media," because don't those three just work together all the time?
Lantrip contacted Sexton the same day, texting, "Hey buddy call me if you can. It’s important." He and Davi later met Sexton at his law office and Davi said Steve Bannon himself would just love it if Sexton would publicly disavow Corfman and say he didn't believe her (because really, hadn't the whole thing been set up by the Democrats AND the Republicans together?). Sexton wasn't too keen on the idea, since he'd just been making supportive comments about Corfman on Facebook and to the media, and so why would anyone believe he'd changed his mind? After the meeting, Lantrip called him again and said Bannon et al. were still interested; Sexton doesn't recall whether the $10,000 offer was made during that call or the earlier face to face. He definitely could have used the money because he had been working on a drawn-out class action lawsuit over some defective drywall, and drywall litigation is not one of your bigger money-makers.
Sexton agreed to meet with Lantrip and Davi again, this time in a conference room at their construction office. Sexton said Lantrip told him the money was ready to go, and shortly after they sat down they were joined by two of Breitbart's Top Men, the always oleaginous Matthew Boyle, and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein, an obvious choice since Roy Moore is such a Leviticus-driven fundamentalist that he's practically a resident of the Holy Land himself. Sexton told WaPo that he'd been planning to record that meeting on his phone, but was too nervous to actually do it.
On the table was a notebook, he said, opened to a page that contained a handwritten statement he was expected to sign. There was little small talk, Sexton said. He said they began discussing the possibility of issuing a statement about Corfman’s credibility.
Sexton said he told them he didn’t see any way he could make a statement disparaging his client — that he would lose his law license if he did — and besides that, he hadn’t even asked Corfman about the details of her allegations against Moore.
Sexton says he told them he doubted anyone would believe him anyway, but Boyle and Klein reassured him, "Well, that’s not really the point of whether or not anybody believes you. It’s just, you know, getting other information out there." Hey, sounds like those "alternative facts" we keep hearing about!
Sexton got cold feet and left the meeting, but he took the handwritten statement with him, saying he'd have to think more about whether he could do anything at all to help. He said he didn't know who wrote it, but he let WaPo see it:
After reviewing the allegations, after taking Leigh Corfman as my client, I believe there is not sufficient evidence to back them up and that the case strains credulity. I decided that since I would have difficulty represent a client that don't believe I have to recuse myself from this case. I hope Leigh the best.
Lantrip called Sexton after the meeting; Sexton recorded the call, in which Lantrip appeared to mention the money, only all careful-like, as befits the whole Spy-Vs-Spy looniness of the caper:
“I mean, have y’all — have they already paid y’all money?” Sexton asked.
“No, just what I’m about to give you,” Lantrip replied.
“We got the 10,” Lantrip said, pausing briefly, “dollars. We got that, but it, it don’t matter.”
Davi and Lantrip also texted Sexton several more times, trying to get him to play along, but Sexton mostly stopped replying, and after one more meeting with the two Moore supporters the whole thing sort of petered out. Sexton went back and forth over whether he should go public or stay quiet; he says Corfman told him she'd prefer he wait until after the election so it wouldn't appear he was politically motivated. Sexton did call a US Attorney to report the incident, but the federal prosecutor replied there didn't appear to have been any violation of election law.
The whole weird saga is worth a read; Moore denied any involvement with the scheme and a campaign spokesperson said Lantrip and Davi didn't have "any special access" to Moore. Lantrip and Davi both acknowledge the meetings happened, but got awfully coy about the offer of money; Davi even suggested Sexton had asked them for payment, which Sexton denied. Davi added that he does know Bannon, but Bannon wasn't told about any payment offer, if there was one, you know? Besides, it was all very noble:
“Our effort was really to let the truth come out,” Davi said.
A Breitbart spokesperson said in a statement the two reporters only attended the meeting because they'd been told Corfman's lawyer was going to say he'd dropped her, and denied any knowledge of the money or of any involvement in writing the statement. The Breitbart website doesn't appear to have even mentioned the story, but it does inform us that Saturday's March for Our Lives only got half the expected turnout, and those stupid kids can't even define "assault rifle," even though they want to ban them, so there.
The WaPo story closes by noting Davi also said that while he and Lantrip didn't believe Leigh Corfman's claims about Moore at first, now that Moore will never (?) be in the Senate, their thinking has changed some:
“At the end of the day we came to believe the allegations,” Davi said. “We stepped away from Roy Moore.”
That's nice! Sadly, WaPo never tells us whether Sexton's horse got better.
Let's end our day by recognizing Nancy Pelosi as the badass she is.
OK fine, we know there are some elements of the Democratic Party having a very important conversation about when certain people in leadership are going to pass the torch to the younger generation, but this post is not about that conversation, because it is Nancy Pelosi's 78th birthday, and Nancy Pelosi is a badass. Happy birthday, Nancy Pelosi!
Regardless of however Democratic leadership changes and evolves in the coming years, those WHIPPERSNAPPERS better be ready to recognize that, when Democrats take back ALL THE POWER, they will have Pelosi to thank, firstly because she raises shitloads of money, but also because Pelosi is REALLY REALLY REALLY GOOD at what she does. Sure, the GOP attacks her constantly, but that's just because she's a strong, brilliant woman, and the GOP hates strong, brilliant women. Take Pelosi out of the equation and they'll just transfer their attacks to whomever assumes the leadership position next, if it is a woman, because that is kind of how they have been doing things since time immemorial. (And no, that is not a good reason to say, "Therefore we should give it to a young white guy who's never done this before!") If it isn't a woman, take it to the bank that all the GOP commercials will be about how all elected Democratic officials are required to at all times obey Maxine Waters and Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren, regardless of who is speaker of the House or the fact that Warren, as a senator from Massachusetts, in fact controls very little in the House of Representatives.
In short, we are #TeamPelosi, because the woman is a boss. She knows how to keep a caucus in line, and the number of times Chuck 'n' Nancy have rolled Donald Trump in the past year alone is proof enough we still very much need her leadership. Can you imagine what the Trump presidency will be like after the midterms if those two walk into the White House as the two people with the KEYS TO CONGRESS?
Months back, we wrote a very important blog post called "Guys? Shut The Fuck Up About Nancy Pelosi." Poor Jon Ossoff had just lost his special House race in the Georgia Republican district that used to belong to Tom Price, and Democratic congress-people whom we are sure are VERY NICE, but actually aren't as progressive as Pelosi, were saying "our brand is toxic" (Tim Ryan) and "I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top" (Philemon Vela) and OH THE WOUNDS that were being licked! Fast forward to now, and we've just flipped a hard right district in Pennsylvania, a Senate seat in Alabama, and about a million other state legislative seats, and we are just getting started.
So of course, everybody is fighting about Nancy Pelosi a whole bunch again, because 'tis the season.
And yes, you are right, Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania did run and win saying he wouldn't support Pelosi for leader. Maybe for his particular district that is the right message, but it was hardly the center of his platform. But not every Democrat who wins in the coming blue tsunami in November will be running on that, because we're gonna flip the fuck out of ALL KINDS of districts. Also, young adorable Conor (whom we like very much!) will get to learn a hell of a lot from Nancy Pelosi over the next few months, regardless of whether he personally supports her, and whether he likes it or not.
We predict that, regardless of the Pelosi-hatin' arguments that happen every two months like clockwork, and based on current trends -- hell, even DEVIN NUNES'S SEAT is in danger and oh my god we will run naked through the streets if that shithead loses -- Democrats will retake the House handily and Nancy Pelosi will be elected speaker again. And when she is, we're certain she'll make a path upward for some of these youngin's, so that the newer generation of Democrats can go forward and kick all kinds of ass, having been trained for the job by one of the best political leaders of the last century, a woman who inspires such vicious feelings in Republicans precisely because SHE WINS. (And also because she is a woman.)
Also she is having a birthday today, did we mention it is her birthday?
Oh look, Nancy Pelosi, here is your present, and it is a gavel! Some dumbass is holding onto it at the moment, but don't worry, he will be obligated to give it to you after the midterm elections.
OK, now you may open thread, as long as you promise not to do Democratic intra-party squabbles in the comments, those are DUMB.
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But what has Pennsylvania done to deserve this?!?
Let's talk about MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
Good morning! Who wants to start the week off huffing the fumes from Trump's Toxic Waste Dump in Pennsylvania? Well, here you go! Watch the whole thing -- it's a delight for all five senses.
The kids are more than all right. They're getting the adults' butts in gear.
Kids these days... are organizing.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened yesterday for the first time since the February 14 shooting in which 17 people died. Just for a half day, and no real academics yet, just a chance for students and teachers to spend some time and tears together. The last couple weeks -- yes, it's just been two weeks -- have been a time of incredibly raw, possibly culture-changing activism by the kids who lost teachers and friends, and that continued this week, as a group of students from nearby Pompano Beach walked 16 miles Monday to meet with kids at Stoneman Douglas and to say Never Again:
Today WE, Pompano Beach High School, walked 16 miles, left at 9:15am and arrived at 3:43 almost 6 hours walk to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to speak for the 17 lost lives. ❤️ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND WE NEED CHANGE pic.twitter.com/tzlOy2M3g4— Tris ? (@fwaytris) February 26, 2018
The kids aren't content to just hope adults will fix things, and they've been pretty insistent that they're not about to let us get away with vague thoughts and prayers. So it should be no surprise that other teens have been watching and working on bringing a similar sense of young-people urgency to another existential threat: climate change. A network of young climate rabble-rousers had already been planning a day of youth climate activism for July 21, anchored by a march in Washington DC, with affiliated marches in other cities.
The ringleader for the "Zero Hour" march is a Seattle 16-year-old, Jamie Margolin, who started planning and networking last summer when the Trump administration announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
She recruited Mrinalini Chakraborty, head of strategy for the national Women’s March, to help the students file for permits and plan logistics. Now, the organizing committee includes dozens of youth from Connecticut to California. The official website for the march launched last week.
The march isn't Margolin's only foray into climate activism, though. She's also one of 13 kids who earlier in February filed a lawsuit against Washington's state government and Gov. Jay Inslee, claiming that the state isn't taking aggressive enough action to limit greenhouse emissions and promote clean energy. That's her in the pic up top, at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia.
And before Twitter idiots ask, no, her parents didn't put her up to any of this, as she explained -- rather patiently, we think -- to KUOW Radio:
"If anything, I'm the one dragging them to things," she said. "They’re supportive, so I don't want to make it sound like they don't do anything, but none of this is my parents. It’s really all my idea. It just feels urgent to me."
And then there's Therese Etoka, a 17-year-old senior at Boise High in Idaho, who testified before the Boise City Council in December to support more energy-efficient codes, and wrote about it in a guest column for the local paper. She and a group of other teens calling themselves the "Climate Justice League" went to the Idaho statehouse last month to lobby both houses of the legislature to restore a climate change component to the state's standards for science education. Yes, the wise leaders of Idaho last year actually stripped out any discussion of climate from the state's official curriculum. Although Boise schools have kept teaching about climate anyway, the teens wanted to ensure students in the rest of the state are getting real science education, too.
Their efforts didn't go over too well in the state House, where a Republican committee chair, Rep. Julie VanOrden, chastised anyone who used the words "climate change" in their testimony. Etoka, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is president of Boise High's Humanitarian Club, and works with the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club on climate issues, was dumbfounded: "When she cut me off, I was talking about how climate change and biodiversity had been included in the new standards. So, I was taken aback when I was interrupted." She made a point of returning the next day, to make it clear she wouldn't let science be censored.
While the House Education Committee voted to continue with bowdlerized science standards, the Senate Education Committee, where the teens also testified -- the day of the shootings in Florida, coincidentally -- finally voted to restore climate science to the statewide standards. To get any standards passed at all for the next school year, the House panel was goaded into going along. The kids weren't the only ones standing up for science; virtually all the public testimony had been in favor of restoring the full standards. Etoka told Grist she sees the fossil fuel industry's pushback against serious work on climate change as similar to the NRA's efforts to kill any meaningful regulation of firarms: "This cannot be normal. We’ve had it."
Margolin said she's also inspired by the kids from Parkland and the way they've shifted the debate on guns:
“The Parkland youth are asking for their right to live without the fear of gun violence, and we’re asking to live without climate chaos, and without that fear,” Margolin says. “We’re both just asking to live.”
So hooray kids, keep pushing, get out on the streets and -- more importantly -- into the committee hearings and courtrooms, and we'll be sure to march with you this summer. And vote with lots of you in November.
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