There is a fascinating lawsuit playing out in New York and, as far as I can tell, the only outlet that fully realizes its importance is Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, which has put reporter Tierney Sneed on the case.
In brief, Matt Dunlap, Maine's Democratic Secretary of State, is suing the president*'s phony, and now defunct, "voter-security" commission in order to obtain internal commission documents that Dunlap claims were withheld from him, even though he also was a member of the commission. His primary targets are emails exchanged between Kris Kobach, J. Christian Adams, and Hans von Spakovsky.
To those of us who follow voter suppression efforts around the country, that poxy trio is the Legion of Super Villains. Their very involvement in the commission belied the good-faith basis for its existence anyway, but Dunlap's lawsuit has proven to be a gold mine of information as to what a thoroughgoing bag-job—to say nothing of what a waste of time and money—the commission was.
Apparently, the primary concern of these guys was that the White House wasn't putting together a big enough bag-job. As Sneed reports, the judge in the case is being as careful as she can. She's paused her order mandating the release of the documents to Dunlap because there is some question as to whether some of the emails he's seeking were exchanged before Adams and the rest of them had been appointed formally to the commission. Nevertheless, what we already have learned from Dunlap's lawsuit is proof enough that the commission was an important weapon in the Republican Party's war against free and fair elections in this country.
It is all of a piece. The commission. Mitch McConnell's resolute opposition to doing anything to safeguard elections in the Senate, which on Thursday was manifested by Tennessee's Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, that twit, who rose to deny unanimous consent on a bill that would have mandated that any approach to a candidate from foreign actors be reported to the FBI. The staggering number of voter-suppression tactics and laws out in the states—and the equally staggering tangle of lawsuits that have been filed against them. And, of course, the president*'s blithe admission that, sure, he'd take some help from Russian ratfcking in 2020.
The only person making sense of the matter is Ellen Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission, who responded with both barrels to the president*'s astonishing assertions.
"Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation. Our Founding Fathers sounded the alarm about 'foreign Interference, Intrigue, and Influence.' They knew that when foreign governments seek to influence American politics, it is always to advance their own interests, not America's. Anyone who solicits or accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation. Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that offer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
In a functioning democracy not run by idiots, bunco artists, and fools, you wouldn't. If the elections are a sham, what the hell does all the rest of it matter?
Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, mostly recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.