THE MEIDAS MINUTE | WEEK IN REVIEW (4/26 - 4/30)
Written by Jacob Weaver & Patrick Hamilton (Meidas University)
Biden Speaks to Congress for the First Time as President “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President,” Joe Biden started with a glance at the two women behind him, “no president has ever said those words from this podium.” In his first de facto State of the Union address since being sworn into office, the President started off with a bang, and would not stop there. He continued, delivering on the pandemic, his American Jobs Plan, the recently passed American Rescue Act, and added that “America is ready to take off.” He topped this ever-hopeful speech with a message to the LGBTQ citizens of America stating, “I want you to know, your president has your back.” It is safe to say this may have been one of the most invigorating addresses the country has ever received, and it came at a time of great need. A CBS Poll found that 85% of viewers came away in approval of the speech.
Feds Execute Search Warrant on Home of Former Trump Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani On Wednesday, the FBI raided the homes of Rudy Giuliani, former personal attorney to Donald Trump and former Trump advisors Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. Investigators seized computers and cellphones from Giuliani’s home. Giuliani is under several criminal investigations for his various business dealings in Ukraine, operating as a foreign agent, his role in the ousting of the American Ambassador to Ukraine: Marie Yovanovitch, and conspiring with former Trump advisors, Joe diGenova Victoria Toensing to gather dirt on then-Presidential candidate Joe Biden. Joe diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing joined Trump’s legal team that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Later, diGenova called for the murder of the US Cybersecurity Chief after he had been fired by Trump for calling the 2020 election ‘the most secure in our nations history.’ Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing were also visited by the FBI early Wednesday morning and Ms. Toensing’s phone was seized, however the law firm of diGenova & Toensing stated they are not the focus of the investigation. Previously, former Attorney General Barr at the advice of the Trump administration obstructed investigators from executing search warrants against Rudy Giuliani and his co-conspirators. Giuliani had diGenova and Toensing visit Ukraine to meet with a corrupt oligarch and Russian asset: Dmytro Firtash. Firtash faces extradition to the US on bribery related crimes, Firtash supposedly paid the couple $1.2 million dollars upfront to get rid of his criminal charges and promised additional information on the Biden’s, however Rudy Giuliani denies this.
DOJ Ramping Up Civil Rights Investigations Attorney General Merrick Garland continues to return the Department of Justice to the business of upholding justice. On Tuesday, the DOJ announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of another black man killed by police: Andrew Brown Jr. The shooting happened only a day after the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin. Brown was shot in the back of the head by police while his hands were on the steering wheel, a judge has ruled that the bodycam footage will not be released to the public in an effort to protect the officers’ personal safety and their right to a fair trial. On Wednesday, the DOJ announced that a grand jury has indicted the three men who chased and murdered Ahmaud Arbery last year, with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping charges. Arbery, a young black man, had gone out for a jog in his neighborhood when three men had approached Arbery in their vehicles, verbally harassing him and pointing their firearms at him, before killing Arbery. Last week, the DOJ announced separate investigations into the Louisville Police Department and Minneapolis Police Department in relation to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd as well as potential pattern or practices of unlawful or unconstitutional behavior.
Arizona GOP Suspicious Re-Count Cyber Ninjas – a company headed by conspiracy theorist quack – is set to “audit” the Presidential Election results in Arizona after Joe Biden won the state in November. This supposed recount would include things like reviewing each ballot with a UV light, something that not even the company could explain in their own legal documents. Additionally, even more doubt to the validity of this company has come about as they also were seen using pens with incorrect ink color to ‘review’ these ballots. The CEO of this company reportedly shared multiple, now-deleted posts with election conspiracies regarding the Trump-led misinformation campaign “Stop the Steal.” Regardless of what this company says or does, Joe Biden is the President of the United States, and while this potentially fraudulent ‘recount’ will have zero affect on the results of the election, it will continue to drive a wedge between voters and could have a lasting effect on the country as a whole.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett Hears Case in Direct Conflict of Interest, Ignoring Calls for Recusal Last week, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was asked by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to recuse herself from a high-profile First Amendment case as the petitioner had spent upwards of a million dollars lobbying and campaigning for her appointment, while the case was still pending. Barett ignored demands to recuse herself and heard the case on Monday. The case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta (Attorney General Bonta representing the State of California) focuses on a nonprofit's ability to keep their donor lists confidential from the state, which would require the state to find other methods when investigating or auditing a nonprofit for fraud. Barrett’s appointment to the bench was backed by an extraordinary force of ‘dark money’: millions of dollars were spent lobbying Trump administration officials, building Barett’s name recognition, and a variety of other campaigns to bolster popular support for her confirmation. One major concern with the massive political spending and campaigning targeted at the federal judiciary is the installment of sympathetic judges, which would corrupt judicial neutrality and undermine the legitimacy of the legal system. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a charity established by Republican billionaire mega-donor, David Koch, also supported, lobbied, and campaigned for Justice’s Kavanaugh and Gorsuch’s appointments and confirmations.
Andrew Brown Jr. Fatally Shot Five Times by North Carolina Officers The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting death of 42-year-old, Andrew Brown Jr., of North Carolina. Pasquotank County deputies were reportedly carrying out an arrest warrant on felony drug charges when they shot Brown five times, including one in the back of his head. While details are still limited, the release of the body-cam footage has been delayed by a judge for 30 days. With so little information available, it is hard to state exactly what happened, but some have concluded that if Brown had his back turned to the officer that fired the killing headshot, it would be hard to justify in a legal sense.