Discussion with Rico Rants

Thumbnail for discussion

Earlier this Friday, March 4th, I had the pleasure of talking with a YouTuber, podcaster, and veteran Di’Rico Baker, aka Rico Rants. On his podcast, Rendezvous with Rico, he holds a variety of guests to talk about any number of issues. Recently, Rico and I were frustrated with Candice Owens’s statements on Black Democrats, and one could argue that it was the main reason I wanted to talk to Rico in the first place.

As someone who has studied the Black Freedom Movement, albeit as a bachelor’s student, I couldn’t help but feel incensed against this idea that Black voters and activists are servile to anyone. As you will see in this show, I firmly disagree with the idea that Black voters are in any way subservient to Democratic leadership. Quite the opposite. Black voters saved Biden’s candidacy for the presidency, and though I did not want Biden to win the primary, the political power of Black voters, meaning those who showed up, can’t be denied. If anything, the power of Black mobilization on the long march towards justice is one of the most inspiring things I have ever had the pleasure of studying.

My mirror of Rico’s video, taken with permission.

If there is to be an honest conversation about the role of the Black electorate in America and in party politics, there must first be an acknowledgment of Black people as a political force in their own right. As always, I don’t speak for Black people. Nor do I represent their experiences.

My sole goal here is to preserve the historically accurate perspective on Black voting patterns and the rights of African Americans to decide their own path forward, with or without the Democratic party.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Endorses Nick Fuentes, Then Runs From the Consequences

Screenshot of Nick Fuentes’ speech taken from Steven Dennis

In perhaps an amazing display of cowardice and unmitigated gall, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green has been caught speaking at a white supremacist rally in Orlando. The rally, known as America First PAC III or AFPAC III, is a white supremacist organization that was founded and is supported by neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes. Fuentes had previously been banned from Twitter after months of spreading violent, pro-Hitler propaganda. Though some objected to his banning, his consistent support of white nationalists was justified.

Video uploaded by Conor Kelly, 2021.

AFPAC has previously highlighted and promoted other white nationalists, including Jared Taylor, Vincent James and Tim Gionet. Anti-immigrant activists such as Michelle Malkin have also attended as speakers at previous rallies.

Rep. Greene was not only attended the rally but was a highlighted speaker. During her time at the rally, Greene readily defended the rally attendees, calling them “canceled Americans” and praised them, saying “You’ve been handed the responsibility to fight for our Constitution and stand for our freedoms, and stop the Democrats who are the communist party of the United States of America.”

Screenshot of livestream taken by Huffington Post Reporter Christopher Matthias

While some have called out the fact that she was at the rally, the fact that she was joined by other Republicans such as a Joe Arpaio shows how close GOP operatives are with the far-right.

Despite her speech and her being diretly highlighted at the event through their livestreams, Rep. Greene would later downplay her connection to the event, claiming that she didn’t know the significance of the event. Of course, that is nonsensical as Fuentes, whom she was caught posing for pictures with, defended Putin and endorsed the idea that Hitler was good right before she was brought up on stage. If she didn’t know what was going on, her incompetence should be grounds for her removal from Congress.

Whether or not Rep. Greene knew what she was doing, the facts remains unchanged. Republicans are failing to cut out fascist influence from within their party, and it continues to seep in every step of the way. No matter what Republican leadership claims, they remain in league with this kind of commentary thanks their unwillingness to do what needs to be done. Unless they expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from their party and compel serious change within their party, they should be ready to face the disdain they rightfully deserve.

Russia Invades Ukraine: An Unjustifiable Act

Vladimir Putin, Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It is finally here; the war that many dreaded for nearly a month has come. After a build-up of 190,000 troops at the border of Ukraine and weeks of failed negotiations, the Russian government has authorized a full-fledged invasion into Ukraine. Across multiple flanks, the Russians have begun attacking various points in Ukraine, including the infamous Chernobyl nuclear facility.

The invasion is not only taking place in Donetsk and Luhansk–which Russia now occupies–but they have also begun bombing sites near Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Airports and other civilian infrastructure have been bombed, suggesting that Russia may be attempting to cut off the people’s means to leave the country. However, that is not confirmed yet.

Russian forces are still deploying throughout the region and even were found in the outskirts of Kyiv, thanks to their three-pronged attack across the nation. In a fiery speech, Putin made the ridiculous and false claim that Ukraine didn’t have a right to exist, saying, “Modern-day Ukraine was in full and in whole created by Russia….”

While it is unclear what will come of these invasion attempts, sanctions are almost certain to follow. In a speech, Biden announced that the U.S. would continue to unveil more sanctions against the belligerent Russian state. “Putin chose this war,” he said, warning that Russia will pay for its incursion in Ukraine.

That said, it is far from certain that these sanctions will have the desired effect. Russia has worked, to some success, to decrease its dependence on foreign goods. That said, Russia saw its stock market plummet after the announcement of its invasion. The elimination of the Nordstream 2 pipeline will also likely have serious economic consequences for Russia, but the extent of those consequences remains unknown.

Far from acting on behalf of the Russian people, Russian officials have begun arresting anti-war protesters in Moscow, with many being taken kicking and screaming.

While the situation is ongoing, it is important to remember that Ukraine and its people are still standing. They are fighting as best they can, and that fight will require assistance. Food, weapons, and public support. But even more than that, it needs a unified, global effort to make Russia pay for its crimes. That means seizing assets of Russian officials, knocking Russia out of SWIFT, and isolating it to the point that it can no longer function. And above all else, if Ukraine does fall, the leaders of the free world must endeavor to help Ukrainian refugees with the dignity that Russia is trying to take from them. Russia must pay for its attacks, and those who support this must be treated like the authoritarians they are.

No, Hillary Clinton Didn’t Spy on Trump

Hillary Clinton via Wiki Commons

One can’t go a few minutes discussing politics without getting into some misinformation and outright falsehood. Whether it was the infamous Uranium One conspiracy, pizza gate, or any other lie, the rise of misinformation and faux conspiracies are a centerpiece of the right-wing media echo chamber. And nothing is more evident of that conspiracism than the recent Fox News claim that Hillary Clinton’s campaign spied on Trump and his allies. This claim, as crude as it is, is not surprising. But this lie must be handled.

Background To the Propaganda

The claim in question comes from an article by Fox’s Brooke Singman, who claims that a  recent court filing by Special Counsel John Durham sent to the court on Friday, proves that the Clinton campaign was paying Sussman to “infiltrate” the Trump campaign. In her, article Singman claims that “Lawyers for the Clinton campaign paid a technology company to “infiltrate” servers belonging to Trump Tower, and later the White House, in order to establish an “inference” and “narrative” to bring to government agencies linking Donald Trump to Russia….” However, those claims are far from supported by the filing by Durham and his team. Right off the bat, the filing does not ever mention the word ‘inflitrate’ or even suggest any evidence of spying by Clinton’s campaign or its leadership. Instead, it notes connections and payment data that suggest, at best, that Sussman was dishonest about his motivations.

The filing pertains to Michael Sussman, a former federal prosecutor and legal partner of Perkins Coie, a law firm based in Seattle. In an indictment, prosecutors argue that Sussman claimed to be handing over information related to potential Russian involvement in the Trump campaign based on his goodwill and not on behalf of a client, something that prosecutors say is demonstrably false. Though Sussman has pleaded not guilty, and the case is ongoing. But what is of particular importance is that throughout the new filing, all of the claims presented by the prosecution are connected to the actions of a tech executive with whom Sussman worked and Sussman himself.

In his filing, Durham wrote, “The defendant’s billing records reflect that the defendant repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations. In compiling and disseminating these allegations, the defendant and Tech Executive-1 also had met and communicated with another law partner at Law Firm-1, who was then serving as General Counsel to the Clinton Campaign (“Campaign Lawyer-1”). Additionally, the filing argues that the tech executive in question, Rodney Joffe, exploited his connections to mine DNS data from the White House. It is important to note two things: Firstly, these are allegations and are not proven in a court of law yet. Sussman remains innocent until proven guilty. Additionally, the filing asserts that Sussman billed the Clinton campaign for his work, but it does not provide evidence that the campaign paid him or was aware of the methods used Sussman allegedly employed.

Adding Context to a Conspiracy

Then there is the issue of what data was examined in the first place and what Sussman was trying to do. Sussman was one of the cybersecurity lawyers who learned of the attack on the DNC’s servers in 2016 after being informed by then DNC CEO Amy Dacy. As such, Sussman and other cybersecurity experts were concerned about the potential for further Russian malware in American infrastructure, including the White House and private institutions. Indeed, Sussman’s meetings with the FBI in 2016 and later in 2017 were based on that very concern. Military researchers went so far as to reach out to Georgia Tech about Russian malware and asked them to help scrutinize various pieces of data provided by Neustar, including data that corresponded to the White House.

In other words, Sussman and his colleagues were using data that was almost certainly public and were looking to determine where certain data was coming from. Nowhere in any of Durham’s filings did the prosecution say that DNS data was hacked, read, or in anyway stolen. If that constitutes spying, then the definition has expanded significantly. To put this in simpler terms, Sussman and his colleagues were effectively watching how the mail was delivered to the White House, found something they thought was suspicious, reported it to authorities, and possibly hid their reasons for watching the mail in the first place.

Complicated Explanation, Lazy Reporting

While explaining the issue at hand takes time and effort, getting it wrong is easy, especially when one intends to sell a narrative to an already primed audience. Ever since Trump became the center of the Republican Party, his ridiculous claims have been treated as gospel. Claims that the election was stolen, Hillary sold uranium to Russia, and many more are all part of the Republican media sphere. They are key components of the Republican and Trumpist identity. To deny them is to assert that the GOP and Trump are deceptive to their audience­. Claims get recycled and repeated ad nauseum until they become true to those willing to listen. And this story is no different. It is nothing more than the recycled idea that Obama was spying on Trump, an idea that the former president peddled in 2017. Instead of contextualizing a complicated and somewhat narrow case, Fox has given credence to yet another conspiracy theory that will further polarize America when it should have been treated as the nothingburger it is.

The Canadian Truck Fight Continues

Justin Trudeau via Wiki Commons

Earlier this week, I examined the evolving situation known as the Trucker Convoy. Throughout that article, I pointed to the continued presence of far-right activists in the organization of the convoy as a threat. Since then, things have escalated, and the ground situation has changed.

With a new court order requiring the convoy to disperse, some protestors have decided to go home, but some have remained. They blocked roads along the United States border and several points, exacerbating supply shortages. In Ontario, the premier, Doug Ford, has instituted a state of emergency and has promised a maximum of $100,000 and a year in prison if the protesters don’t comply with orders to disperse. And with the occupation of Ottawa continuing, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergency Act to deal with the violence and public disturbances.

What is the Trucker Convoy?

The Trucker convoy, aka the Freedom Convoy, is a blockade and protest movement of supposed truckers that began in late January of this year. Initially motivated by a rule that required truckers entering the country to be vaccinated or test negative, the convoy gradually devolved into a much more complicated and violent event that prompted international attention. Though based on a general opposition to the mandates, organizers appear unaware that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has mandated similar measures and that any trucks would be subject to those same restrictions should they cross the U.S. border.

While much of the discussion around the convoy has been focused on the large vehicles and the people who drive them, many of the organizers are not truckers at all. Nor were they affiliated with the industry at large. Activists such as Tamara Lich and B.J. Dichter created one of the largest GoFundMe’s for the convoy are heavily associated with the Canadian far-right. Dichter is infamous for warning Canadians to oppose the dangers of “political Islamists” and has referred to the Liberal Party as being “infested with Islamists.” Dichter’s dehumanizing language does not end there. He has argued that the media and so-called establishment has lied to the people about the threat of Muslims in Canada, saying, “Despite what our corporate media and political leaders want to admit, Islamist entryism and the adaptation of political Islam is rotting away at our society like syphilis….”

Dichter is not alone in his racist inclinations. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has repeatedly warned about the rising far-right element that exists within the heart of the Trucker Convoy. Reporters have routinely warned about the Diaglon Network, a fascist conspiracy network of reactionaries that have endorsed violence and Holocaust denial. Supporters of this movement imagine a state called Diaglon, which would theoretically stretch from Alaska to the Southeast portion of North America. Members of this movement have repeatedly used threats against counterprotests, with one streamer and supporter of the movement telling counter-protesters, “your followers would be wise to stay home and save lives that day.”

Violence at the rally has not solely been restricted to the realm of theoretical considerations. In one instance, unidentified arsonists attempted to set fire to an apartment building in the red zone of the protests, seemingly in retaliation for the residents’ opposition. However, that is far from certain. Other incidents included the arrest of 11 people who had begun stockpiling weapons, body armor, and a “large quantity of ammunition” per police and press reporting.

After several weeks of consistent honking, violence, and no solution in sight, some locals took matters into their own hands and fought back. One Ottawa resident, Zexi Li, filed a nearly $10 million lawsuit against the protesters for emotional damages due to the consistent honking of their horns. Others began to confront copycat truckers, with a collection of cyclists blocking and stopping a convoy of trucks in the hopes of preventing further disruptions. However, they were eventually forced to disperse by the police. Even with the residential backlash, Canadians aren’t the only ones interested in the fight in the north.

Here Come the Americans

Though the first weeks of protests were largely restricted to Canada, Americans have also influenced the protests. Former Trump advisor and right-wing activist Paul Alexander was seen at the protest. Canadian officials have also had to warn against outside Republican influence on the protests, thanks in part to the comments of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. After GoFundMe shut down the convoy’s donation page, the Texas attorney general opened an investigation into the business, alleging political motives, though he failed to mention the criminal activity by the convoy or how that motivated the page’s deletion.

Others, however, have taken a different and more dangerous approach. Organizers such as Leigh Dundas, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology and a supporter of the January 6th attack, have also begun organizing around the idea of replicating the convoy in the United States. According to Talking Points Memo, Dundas was in contact with the convoy organizers in Canada, although which organizers remains unclear. Through her non-profit, Freedom Fighter Nation, Dundas and her allies hope to organize a convoy and several others to reach Washington. The convoy is expected to take place on March 4th. It is also worth noting that Dundas has made claims that Republicans and Trump supporters would be well within their rights to hang or shoot any American they believe is acting in a turncoat fashion in supporting the supposed fraud that took place in the 2020 election.

Other right-wing figures have also weighed in, with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul encouraging Canadians to “clog things up.” Fox host Sean Hannity has gone further, arguing that the emergency act instituted by Justin Trudeau could justify protesters using force against the police.

The influence of Americans on the protests can’t be overstated. Nearly half of the donations sent to the convoy came from the United States, after all. And while the protests started as largely a Canadian phenomenon and will stay under the control of those Canadians who organized it, the event has taken on an international presence. Convoys have sprung up in France, and some have already begun in America. In cities such as Buffalo, hundreds gathered in reaction to the convoy with some vehicles intended to create similar goals to the protests in Canada. One of the main organizing groups, the Convoy to Save America, has praised the Canadian convoy, referring to it as a “… stand for the freedom to choose….” Another organization has planned a similar rally in Los Angeles with them arriving in D.C.

Ultimately, the influence of the protests is difficult to ascertain. The protests in Canada are far from finished, and there are already more consequences being thrown onto the protestors if they don’t disperse, and there is no guarantee that the protests will remain a symbol of the right’s resistance, although it would be a naïve mistake to assume they would let such a political symbol fade away. Likely, the convoys will become a useful experiment for the right in Canada and the United States to consult to organize their resources against policies that they deem intrusive. No matter the harm to the public, they will use this chaotic display to their ends. It should not surprise anyone if we began to hear our own cacophony of horns on the horizon.

Voting Rights Die in The Senate: Thank Sinema and Manchin

Kyrsten Sinema via Wiki Commons

The Senate has once again killed voting rights legislation. An amended voting bill was killed last month thanks to the work of Kirsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote. Instead, the vote failed along party lines as Democrats were unable to reach the ⅔ majority ceiling for the bill to go for an official vote.

Then Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to change the Senate rules to allow for a simple majority to pass the bill, but Senators Manchin and Sinema voted with Republicans against the rule change, effectively preventing the bill from going forward. In response, President Biden acknowledged the defeat but argued that there could be more done, saying: “I’ve been engaged in a long time in public policy, and I don’t know many things that have been done in one fell swoop…” Biden then went on to argue that there may be another path for the bill to pass but did not specify what path that may be.

The decision by Sinema and Manchin to vote against the change is yet another example of their consistent obstructionism under the false pretense of protecting bi-partisanship. It is not surprising that they continue to maintain this facade. Sinema and Manchin have received a massive boost in fundraising thanks to their opposition to basic democratic reforms. And that fidelity to their financial position is destroying the right to vote. It is unlikely that Manchin will be unseated during his next election, which is in 2024. But Sinema, who is up for reelection during that same time, is almost certainly going to be removed by her voters. 

A Data for Progress poll showed that Sinema is facing significant blowback for her work, with 76 percent of likely Democratic primary voters firmly disapproving of her performance. Still, that is several years away and unless Democrats can somehow persuade Manchin and Sinema to change their mind and bring the vote back for a vote, Republican attempts to reset the electorate to their liking will remain the law and Americans will not have their voice heard. 

That said, I hope we get to see Sinema pay the price for her continued obstruction and that Democrats in Arizona can elect a more suitable Representative to replace her because if Sinema stays, the dysfunction of the Senate will only get worse.

Matt Gaetz is in Trouble

Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Matt Gaetz is not having a good time. Since the New York Times first reported that the FBI was investigating Matt Gaetz for alleged sex trafficking in 2021, the investigation has gotten closer and closer to the Florida Congressman, and his problems have only gotten worse. Under the current investigation, Gaetz is suspected of having sex with a 17-year-old and paying women to travel across state lines to have sex. If true, Gaetz would not only be guilty of having relations with a minor, but he would also be guilty of transporting women across state lines, which violates anti-trafficking laws.

Gaetz categorically denies the allegations and argues that it is part of an extortion scheme by his father, a former politician in Florida. Ironically enough, the investigation into Gaetz started thanks to a false allegation of sexual impropriety made by Gaetz’s friend and now cooperating witness, Joel Greenberg. Greenberg smeared a Florida teacher named Brian Beute, and when the Justice Department discovered his actions, they arrested Greenberg. However, they discovered many other alleged crimes in their arrest, including possible sex trafficking involving Gaetz. Greenberg and Gaetz were close friends, and with Greenberg testifying, Gaetz could be in for serious legal problems. But Greenberg is not the only one testifying against Gaetz. 

With a grand jury organized, Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend has now testified against him, although what she said remains sealed by the Grand Jury. On Thursday, another potential witness and Greenberg ally, Joe Ellicott, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and drug charges. Ellicot, like Greenberg, is now cooperating with Justice Department in their investigation against Gaetz. Ellicot was alleged to be with Greenberg when he called Gaetz and told him that the woman he slept with was underage. In other words, he would be the direct evidence showing that Gaetz was aware of the age of the woman he had been with.

Additionally, Gaetz’s ex, whose name is still private to protect her from retaliation, is working with the Justice Department in exchange for immunity. In other words, we have not one, not two, but three potential witnesses that could out Gaetz for his behavior, all of whom had some element of direct connection to the congressman. The Justice Department’s investigation is not the only reason to believe that Gaetz was involved with all kinds of malfeasance. 

In April of 2021, The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz Venmo’d Greenberg $900 for an unknown reason with the label “test.” The next day, Greenberg Venmo’d three different women varying levels of money. Put together. The payments amount to $900. With the new witness and the documented Venmo account, it is increasingly likely that this investigation will keep ongoing.

Gaetz is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but it is worth noting that in 2017 there was a key anti-sex trafficking bill on the floor of the House. It was passed with bipartisan approval, and nobody voted against it except for one Congressman, Matt Gaetz. 

On Robert F. Kennedy Jr Comparing Vaccine Mandates to the Holocaust {Reupload}

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. via Wiki Commons

In yet another example of conspiracy theorists hurting the political system, Anti-vaxxers gathered in the capital, with figures such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. leading the charge towards the Lincoln Memorial. The rally was called “Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming.” In his speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. went out of his way to compare the attempts to get rid of misinformation and to support vaccination to the hunting and killing of Anne Frank. 

In response, the Auschwitz Memorial warned that Kennedy’s comments were “a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay.” Other speakers such as Del Bigtree, who was at the rally, have also made similar comparisons in the past, putting on the Star of David to portray themselves as victims of fascism. 

When there is a massive rise in the attacks on Jewish Americans and antisemitism is on the rise globally, it should go without saying that this kind of rhetoric is unacceptable. That is on the fringe of society, but people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of Congress, has done this as well, and she is one of the largest recipients of donations within the Republican party. Both Greene and Kennedy have apologized for this, but let’s not pretend that they actually mean it.

If anything, they are upset it didn’t have the desired effect on more people because, at their core, they are demagogues. They want to scare people endlessly while their fellow Americans pay the price with covid and gullible people donate to their noxious work. They are notoriously unethical and corrupt, guided only by their desire for money and the power they get from their enraged crowds. They must be stopped.

There needs to be an effort to mobilize a pro-vaccination movement that rejects the conspiracy theories that these anti-vaccine figures promote. So long as this movement continues to go unopposed, it will continue to spread.

The Fight Within The GOP

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

The Republican party is struggling to deal with the legacy of January 6, as its Senate leadership and the RNC are fighting over a resolution released earlier last Friday. The resolution censured Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney over their support for their January 6th Commission and referred to the January 6th attack as a form of “legitimate political discourse.” Though the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel has tried to make it seem as though they were referring to the peaceful members of the protest, they made no such statement in the resolution they published. 

 In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that January 6 was a “violent insurrection” and that the RNC was mistaken to censure the two representatives. Senator Ted Cruz broke with leadership and argued that Republicans were mistaken to call it an insurrection.

In his interview with CNN, Cruz went so far as to call the terminology “Democratic propaganda.” Even after the attack, Cruz had previously called the attack an act of terrorism. 

The fact that there is a fight over whether or not the attack on the capitol constitutes an act of violence that should be condemned in and of itself. It is an example of GOP fascism and shows how far the Republicans are willing to go. They are willing to censure their own to achieve a rewrite of history no matter the consequences to public discourse or the stability of the United States.

Chances are McConnell is going to lose this fight, and the GOP’s voters will accept the idea that they have to protect these violent and fascistic elements of our political system because they are conservative. It just goes to show that Grand Old Party is nothing but a skeleton of its values.

Trump Caught Tearing Up Government Records

Image by Gage Skidmore via Wiki Commons

Donald Trump has come under fire for his tendency to rip up government documents in direct violation of the law. The former president reportedly enjoyed ripping up reports, especially ones he didn’t like, despite statutes explicitly prohibiting the destruction of presidential records. Under the Presidential Records Act, all documents handled by the president are a matter of public ownership. It requires that the president and his staff preserve important government documents from the White House and, upon their exit, hand them over to the National Archives. It does, however, allow certain records to be destroyed or disposed of once the president determines they are of no administrative, political or historical significance. But there’s a catch. The president must receive written considerations from the archivist of the United States for said documents, and Trump had no such written approval. 

The initial reporting came after the January 6th Commission received documents from the White House, some of which were ripped and taped back together by White House Staff. In a statement to CNN, the National Archives, which received the documents from the White House and eventually turned them over to the Commission, explained that the former president was the likely culprit for the ripping, saying “some of the Trump presidential records received by the National Archives and Records Administration included paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump.” While it was not initially clear how they knew Trump was doing the ripping, later reporting showed that Trump’s habit of destroying government property was not a secret among his staffers. 

According to The Washington Post, Trump reportedly made a habit of ripping paper, including briefings,  schedules, articles, and letters, among other documents. The sensitivity of those documents appears not to have been a concern for the Trump White House. Nor was it the first time that reporters heard of this tendency.

In 2018, Politico reported that experienced staffers, many of whom had decades of experience working in government, were tasked with taking piles of ripped-up records and taping them back together. One of them, Solomon Lartey, a records management analyst, was tasked with repairing these illegally damaged records for the first five months of Trump’s presidency. James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, also expressed his outrage while also explaining that our current laws are too lenient “It is against the law, but the problem is that the Presidential Records Act, as written, does not have any real enforcement mechanism….”

Staffers repeatedly tried to ease Trump off his habit of ripping government documents, but he kept doing it. According to the Post, aides from the Office of the Staff Secretary and the Oval Office Operations team would have to go over to the White House to retrieve documents before they were ripped or pick the pieces up after he had finished ripping them and put them back together. The problem got so bad that Reince Priebus and John Kelly told Trump directly that he needed to stop ripping the documents. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, went so far as to describe the process of ripping as being “cathartic” to Trump.

In a similar vein, Trump administration officials had a series of documents Trump took with him to Mara Lago, which national archives officials had to retrieve and take from Trump’s residence. Some of the documents include letters to Kim Jong Un, a letter from Former President Obama, and much more.

Considering all of this, some may argue that it doesn’t matter. The records are at the behest of the president to do with these documents as he likes. That position is blatantly false. None of those papers was Trump’s property. Nor were they property of the Republican Party or their affiliates. They were the property of the American government and its people. They also belong to history. Laws like the Presidential Records Act help preserve these records for people to use and help ensure that American historical artifacts, including presidential documents, are available for public curation and criticism. Trump wasn’t just destroying property he didn’t own; he was destroying pieces of the historical record. Quite literally, he was destroying American history before it could even be written.

Had there been more attention on this problem several years ago, then maybe some sort of injunction could’ve been imposed against Trump and his allies. But now, all we can do is hope that Congress sees fit to reform the presidential records act because clearly, it is insufficient. Americans not only have to start demanding greater protections for our property, and it is our property, but also should demand that the Trump aides should be investigated and forced to testify.