July 5, 2022, Letters from an American

I subscribe to this Substack and found Professor Heather Cox Richardson take on America to be interesting. From time to time, I contribute. What I found most interesting is people knew of the coming attack on January 6. They knew the dates it would happen. And they said nothing. How is this ok?

I spent a lot of time in Highland Park before it was known. My friend who died from a drunk driver hitting a van he was in with 5 – others died. He and I wandered the area exploring in the sixties before we each enlisted. It was a quiet community just north of Fort Sheridan.

I look at this kid who shot 30 people. I do not see a killer. I see a misshaped kid who got missed along the way. He was always there and we never noticed.

Letters from an American, July 5, 2022, Professor Heather Cox Richardson

Traditionally, Americans have celebrated the Fourth of July with barbecues, picnics, celebrations, and parades as people come together to celebrate our democracy without regard to political party. In Highland Park, Illinois, yesterday morning, a gunman opened fire on a Fourth of July parade with a high-powered rifle, killing 7, physically wounding at least 47 others, and traumatizing countless more. There were more than a dozen other mass shootings over the holiday weekend, as well. All told, mass shootings this weekend caused at least 15 deaths and injured at least 91.

Police arrested the alleged Highland Park shooter, a white 21-year-old, without incident, inspiring comparisons to the police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker of Akron, Ohio, last week after a stop for a minor traffic violation. Walker fled from the scene in his car and then fled from the car. Officers shot him, saying now they believed he was reaching for a gun. A medical examiner found 60 bullet wounds (not a typo) in Walker’s body, which a medical examiner said was handcuffed when it arrived at the coroner’s office. Walker was unarmed. He was Black.

Today, prosecutors charged the suspect in the Highland Park shooting with 7 counts of murder and said more charges will be forthcoming.

Last month, in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and 2 teachers, Congress passed the first gun safety law in almost 30 years. The law provides incentives to encourage states to expand background checks before people aged 18 to 21 can buy a gun. It prohibits those who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun, although it clears their record after 5 years without incident. It sets aside money for mental health resources and incentivizes states to create red flag laws. It also clarifies who requires a federal license to sell firearms.

Republicans rejected the reinstatement of an assault weapon ban such as we had between 1994 and 2004, federal background checks, and and end to the law shielding gun manufacturers from being sued when their guns cause deaths. But enough Republicans joined the Democrats to break a filibuster, and the bill passed, 65 to 33, with all Republicans in the minority.

President Biden signed the law on June 25, saying, “While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives.”

Meanwhile, New York legislators responded to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc., v. Bruen, which struck down the state’s 100-year-old law for concealed-carry permits and newly asserted that individuals have a constitutional right to carry a gun in public, by tightening gun safety laws. A new New York law prohibits concealed carry on private property unless property owners explicitly say it’s okay. It also makes it a crime to carry a concealed weapon in “sensitive locations,” which include schools, hospitals, demonstrations, bars, and Times Square, among other places. It requires background checks, training, and good moral character, and it provides an appeals process for applicants whose requests for a concealed carry license are denied.

The Supreme Court said the old New York law was not sufficiently uniform; the new one is designed to work within the court’s parameters. New York governor Kathy Hochul signed the law on Friday. It will go into effect on September 1, 2022.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy today signed a package of more stringent gun laws for his state, too. Seven new laws, passed largely along party lines, regulate and track the sale of ammunition, require those moving to New Jersey to register their guns within 60 days, permit the attorney general to sue gun industry participants, and so on.

Today, a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, issued a stack of subpoenas as part of the investigation into whether Trump and his allies illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in that state. Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation after a recording of Trump pressing Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger came to light in early 2021.

The grand jury subpoenaed Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, Jacki Pick Deason, and Jenna Ellis, who is now working for Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. In 2021, Ellis declared she was leaving the Republican Party because it was no longer “conservative” enough for her.

The grand jury is looking at the creation of the fake electors from Georgia and at the various fake claims Trump allies put forward about the election being “stolen.” Eastman’s subpoena refers to his December 3, 2020, appearance before the Georgia State Senate, where he told lawmakers “that they had both the lawful authority and a ‘duty’ to replace the Democratic Party’s slate of presidential electors, who had been certified as the duly appointed electors for the State of Georgia after the November 2020 election, due to unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud within the state. There is evidence that the Witness’s appearance and testimony at the hearing was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

At least two phone calls Graham made to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger or his staff in which Graham apparently asked about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” are at the heart of the subpoena to Graham.

Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Liz Cheney (R-WY) of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol said this weekend that more witnesses have come forward since Cassidy Hutchinson testified last week. The aide to Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows offered explosive testimony directly tying Trump and Meadows to planned violence on January 6.

Sarah Matthews, deputy press secretary in the Trump administration, will testify at a future hearing. Matthews jumped to Hutchinson’s defense after her testimony last week, tweeting, “Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump (White House) worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is.” Matthews resigned on January 6, saying in a statement, “I was honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted. As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today. I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”

After Hutchinson’s testimony, we learned that the Trump organization and his allies have been paying for lawyers to represent those called by the January 6 committee as witnesses. Hutchinson offered much more information to the committee when she got rid of the lawyer Trump’s team provided and engaged her own lawyer. Immediately, Trump complained that “[h]er story totally changed!” suggesting that the Trump team might be pressuring witnesses not to cooperate with the committee.

“What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in the good graces in Trump world,” one witness told the committee. “And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just keep that in mind as I proceed through my depositions and interviews with the committee.”

The committee has planned the next public hearing for July 12 at 10:00 am.