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LISTEN: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg burns DOJ’s solicitor general during landmark Trump tax return case

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg burned the Justice Department’s solicitor general during a hearing on President Donald Trump’s tax records.

The court heard arguments Tuesday in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, where solicitor general Jeffrey Wall argued that Congress should not be able to subpoena the president’s personal tax records without a clear legislative purpose — and Ginsburg fired back.

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“The purpose of investigation is to frame the legislation,” Ginsburg said. “You don’t have the legislation in mind. You want to explore what is the problem, what legislative change and reduce or eliminate the problem. For example, the Ethics in Government Act, Congress may decide that it needs to beef up that legislation. It may also decide that, for financial disclosure purposes, there should be disclosure of tax returns, so those are legislative purposes, investigate to see if you need legislation of that sort.”

The justice then called out the solicitor general for holding Congress to a lower standard than the court typically held a police officer working a beat for argument’s sake.

“To impugn Congress’s motive, and even the policeman on the beat, if he stops a car and gives a reason that the car went through a stop sign, you don’t allow an investigation into what the subjective motive really was,” she said. “Here you are distrusting Congress more than the cop on the beat.”

Wall insisted he agreed that Congress had the authority to carry out investigations to determine whether legislation was necessary, but he said the standard should be higher when it involved a president’s conduct.

“When the inquiry involves the president, that you need a somewhat higher standard with respect to purpose because the room for regulating the president is so much narrower with respect to private parties,” Wall argued. “Because of the dangers of harassing and distracting and undermining the president, and that is a common theme that runs through the court cases, that the president has some measure of protection because you cannot proceed against the president as against an ordinary litigant. I’m saying Congress is not met that standard here.”

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Ginsburg got in one last jab before her time ran out.

“How did that work out in the Paula Jones case?” she said.

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‘It’s always Republicans’: Conservative bashes his own party’s hostility to democracy

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Conservative David Frum blamed the Republican Party for undermining U.S. democratic institutions.

The former speechwriter for George W. Bush told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that President Donald Trump's hardcore base was hostile to democracy, and both they and the president pose a real threat to constitutional law even if he loses in November.

"I think he'll issue a spate of pardons to his intimates, relatives and to himself," Frum warned, if Trump loses the election. "We've never had to test the question, whether a president can pardon himself. I imagine, I expect that we will be testing that question."

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These psychological motives have shaped right-wing conservatism in America ever since the Civil War

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Many people who see little rational basis for supporting Donald Trump ask themselves: Why is he so popular?  Relatedly, why did so many people support Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler, and other avatars of popular right-wing conservatism?  There are, of course, many different reasons for each situation.  But there also key commonalities that have been identified in meta-analyses of the topic written by the psychologist John T. Jost and colleagues.  In relation to Jost’s work, I have examined aspects of the antebellum South in order to better understand its political culture, especially aspects of that culture that prompted many Southerners to become more emotionally receptive to the appeals of “fire-eater” secessionist conservatives.  More broadly, this historical lens can help illuminate the mass appeal of conservatism in general, focusing particularly on the psychological factors that tend to underlie this appeal.

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Big Pharma ignored EU’s plea in 2017 to fast-track virus vaccines prior to pandemics: report

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According to a report from The Guardian, major pharmaceutical companies threw up roadblocks to a plan by the European Union to push forward with a major vaccine research effort well before pandemics hit.

The report notes that back in 2017, the EU's executive branch pushed a proposal to put the development of vaccines on the fast-track only to have major drugmakers reject the suggestion.

"The commission’s argument had been that the research could 'facilitate the development and regulatory approval of vaccines against priority pathogens, to the extent possible before an actual outbreak occurs'. The pharmaceutical companies on the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), however, did not take up the idea," the report states.

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