Joshua A. Geltzer Profile picture
Former White House, DOJ. Now @GeorgetownICAP, @NewAmerica, @Just_Security, @ProtegoPress. Proud to call it as I see it. Prouder to be dad & husband. RT≠endorse.
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17 Oct

How to ensure accountability for the Trump era is a hard, important, & hopefully urgent question.

@PostOutlook just published a great set of essays diving deep into the topic.

Here’s a quick look: /1
Historian Sam Tanenhaus explains why post-Trump accountability is essential for the country to move forward. /2…
Historian Jill Lepore urges forgoing a truth commission in favor of leaving the judgment to future historians. /3…
Read 6 tweets
12 Oct

This 👇 was 3 years ago today.

My @GeorgetownICAP colleagues & I, alongside @MikeSigner & more, sued the unlawful militias that had contributed to violence in Charlottesville exactly 2 months earlier.

And it began a journey that continues. /1…
A few months after filing our Charlottesville suit, we at @GeorgetownICAP published a catalogue of state laws that prevent unlawful, unsanctioned private armies.

Here's the current version of that report, updated to reflect today's state laws: /2…
We've continued to sue unlawful militias that endanger public safety & chill the exercise of 1st Amendment free expression.

For example, we at @GeorgetownICAP teamed up with @BerncoDa to prevent the unlawful activity of the "New Mexico Civil Guard": /3…
Read 7 tweets
30 Sep

There's a very short law that's causing a lot of angst right now.

With @bartongellman @FareedZakaria & more talking about 3 USC 2, let's take a look at why an attempt to use it simply to override voters' will would be unlawful. /1
Here's the whole law:

"Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct." /2
The worry is that "Trump can pressure Republican-controlled legislatures to ignore the popular vote in their Democratic-leaning swing state & instead select an Electoral College slate that supports him," as @tribelaw @jentaub & I said in @TheAtlantic. /3…
Read 7 tweets
25 Sep

Friday marks exactly 1 year since Americans read the 5 words that will forever define the Trump presidency:

"Do us a favor though."

Here's a quick look at how Trump's quid-pro-quo presidency remains alive & (un)well today. /1…
"A president who abused the public trust for his personal benefit" defined what got Trump impeached, as @neal_katyal & I said.

"For a president to exploit for private political gain the tools of national power placed in his or her hands" was appalling. /2…
But Trump didn't stop there.

Faced with a deadly pandemic, Trump played "states off 1 another for his affection, rewarding the generally Republican (or swing) states whose governors grovel at Trump’s feet."

Trump's quid-pro-quo presidency cost lives. /3…
Read 5 tweets
24 Sep

There's a lot of concern right now about Trump & how he might handle an election loss after @bartongellman's article & the terrible answer Trump gave to @BrianKarem.

But we're not powerless to ensure a peaceful transfer if Trump loses.

Here's what can be done now. /1
1st, Electoral College reps, Members of Congress, governors, & Defense Department leadership can pledge to abide by election results regardless of any single candidate's claims otherwise.

I called for this in Feb. 2019 via @CNNOpinion. /2…
2nd, Trump can't resist an election loss alone--he'd need enablers.

And there are laws that stop others from using executive branch authorities for anyone but the legitimate president.

@tribelaw, Chris Fonzone & I explained via @PostEverything. /3…
Read 6 tweets
8 Sep

Wednesday marks 1 year since 9/9/19, when the Intelligence Community's Inspector General notified Congress he'd received an "urgent concern" from a whistleblower & deemed it credible.

That set in motion Trump's impeachment.

Would it today? /1…
The Intelligence Community's Inspector General who took seriously the whistleblower's complaint, persevered when Trump's White House & Justice Department tried to bury it, & ensured Congress learned of it has been forced out by Trump. /2…
The Acting Director of National Intelligence who initially blocked his Inspector General from sharing with Congress the whistleblower complaint but then allowed it to be shared also has been forced out by Trump--replaced by a Trump loyalist. /3…
Read 6 tweets
28 Aug

There are steps that state & local officials can take, right now, relying on laws already on the books, to protect Americans from the threat posed by unlawful private militias.

Here's a quick guide based on work led by Mary McCord & our @GeorgetownICAP colleagues. /1
1st, there's litigation: faced with unlawful private militia activity, officials can file civil suits seeking court orders preventing such activity from reoccurring.

That's what @GeorgetownICAP did in Charlottesville alongside @MikeSigner & more. /2…
Litigation is also the approach @GeorgetownICAP is using now alongside @BerncoDa to address the threat posed by the New Mexico Civil Guard.

Here's recent coverage by @joshscampbell: /3…
Read 6 tweets
16 Aug

Why is Trump talking about pardoning Snowden?

It’s important to understand what Trump’s up to if we’re going to react responsibly.

So here goes. /1
First, Trump simply wants to distract by changing the subject, as he so often does.

COVID deaths, voter suppression—there’s so much bad for Trump that he wants a topic change to Snowden.

We shouldn’t let him. But we should understand that his motivation goes deeper. /2
Second, Snowden’s narrative is Trump’s in a sense: it’s all about distrusting US intelligence & law enforcement & portraying them as the enemy.

This is Trump’s whole obsession with 2016 counterintelligence work, Flynn, etc.

Snowden’s story thus aligns with Trump’s. /3
Read 6 tweets
3 Aug
Today, 1 year after the terrible shooting in El Paso, I’m holding in my heart the victims & their families.

I’m also frustrated by Trump’s failure to address—& active worsening of—the white supremacist threat.

We need leadership that addresses rather than aggravates the threat.
Trump on white supremacist terrorism is Trump’s presidency in a nutshell: dedicated civil servants who continue to try to do right, undercut by a POTUS who does the opposite.

DHS put out a strategy v. domestic terrorism—only to see the Acting Sec. ousted.…
DOJ & FBI developed new collaboration between counterterrorism & hate crimes experts, yielding federal charges for a plot v. a synagogue—a step needed partly because the Trump White House isn’t working to fill statutory gaps.…
Read 5 tweets
25 Jul

Keep a close eye on Capitol Hill this week.

Congress will be focused on America's civil rights legacy, AG Barr's politicization of the Justice Department, Trump's distortion of the census, & DHS actions in Portland.

Here's a preview: /1
On Monday, the body of civil rights icon John Lewis will lie in state at the US Capitol.

The arrival ceremony will be private, but then there will be a public viewing.

For background, a great @EJDionne tribute: /2…
On Tuesday at 10 am, the House Judiciary Committee will--finally--question Attorney General Barr.

So much to cover: Flynn, Stone, Berman & more.

For background, here are questions for Barr from @rgoodlaw @AshaRangappa_ & me via @just_security: /3…
Read 7 tweets
19 Jul
Wrong answer, @realDonaldTrump. Wrong, terrible, dangerous answer.
If you’re interested in what we can do NOW to address Trump’s anti-democratic refusal to commit to honoring the election results, please read this:…
Read 4 tweets
19 Jun
Trump: “I acted very early. I closed our country to China. By the way, Bolton disagreed. He thought we shouldn’t do it, okay?”

@MichaelCBender: “Did you consult with Bolton on coronavirus?”

Trump: “No.”…
Trump: “I think testing is overrated.”

@MichaelCBender: “Why is that?”

Trump: “Look, if we didn’t test all the cases that we’re reporting, you wouldn’t know about any of those cases. In many ways it makes us look bad. The fact that we’re so good at something makes us look bad.”
Trump: “After the 1st month, I asked [Bolton] 1 question. I said, ‘So, do you think you did the right thing by going into Iraq?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And that’s when I lost him.”

@MichaelCBender: “You didn’t ask him about Iraq before you brought him into the White House?

Trump: “No”
Read 5 tweets
17 Jun
"The idea that this whole book is being held up after an extensive process feels like an abuse of power."

I spoke with @ThePlumLineGS for his great new @PostOpinions piece on the Trump administration's effort to silence John Bolton:…
"The claim by the government that the process was still ongoing does not feel in good faith. The official with genuine expertise had already weighed in. Bolton seemed to be getting the runaround with the goal of simply delay."
"We know Trump doesn’t want this book to see the light of day. It seems natural to infer that O’Brien wanted to ensure the president got his way.”
Read 4 tweets
12 Jun
The argument being made by Flynn's lawyer to the DC Circuit boils down to this:

- Don't let the facts come out about why DOJ flipped.

- Don't let the trial judge ask questions.

- Don't even let him think about it.

- Just--quickly, quietly--make this all go away. NOW.
DOJ says the Flynn case threatens to harm "the integrity of" not just law enforcement but also the judiciary.

But it's not the unprecedented dropping of criminal charges, after 2 guilty pleas, for a crony of the President's.

It's...the district court's appointment of an amicus!
DOJ says it didn't even have to explain itself to the trial court--it could've simply told the court, after DOJ charged & obtained 2 guilty pleas, it now wanted the case to disappear, & the court would've HAD to obey.

Core DOJ argument: we don't even have to explain ourselves.
Read 4 tweets
12 Jun

On Friday at 9:30 am, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral argument in the Michael Flynn case.

I'll be tuning in to hear argument plus commentary from the dynamic duo & legal odd couple @neal_katyal & @gtconway3d.

Join us!

To prepare, here's essential reading. /1
In @nytopinion, @neal_katyal & I explain why the Barr Justice Department's abrupt move to drop Flynn's prosecution "embeds into official US policy an extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people." /2…
In @washingtonpost, @hsu_spencer & @amarimow discuss the legal debate the Flynn case has sparked, including the brief filed in the district court by legal scholars including @tribelaw @gtconway3d @RWPUSA @thetrevorpotter @oonahathaway me & many more. /3…
Read 6 tweets
11 Jun

Here 👇 we have Trump again doing what @Dahlialithwick & I warned about yesterday: denying reality, & conjuring his own unreality.

It's an escalation in the nature & danger of Trump's lies.

Some key points below from our @Slate piece. /1
"Almost every Trumpian fictionalized tour de force starts with a false claim—also known as a lie—that is readily disproven or even obviously wrong to the naked eye, & then subverts it." /2…
"Casual lies alone are for amateurs; the real authoritarian move is to construct an entire false reality—an unreality—around those lies. That’s what we’re now seeing from Trump & his loyalists." /3…
Read 6 tweets
4 Jun

Proud to write with @neal_katyal @jentaub & @tribelaw about Trump’s authoritarianism both in the streets & in the courts.

Key points here from our new @PostOpinions op-ed. /1…
“The Trump administration’s authoritarian behavior on the streets is being matched by its authoritarian positions in the federal courts.” /2…
“It’s revealing, in the midst of a pandemic and a national criminal-justice crisis, what the Trump administration sees as an emergency: a federal court hearing legal arguments and discovering the facts.” /3…
Read 6 tweets
7 May
Folks, this 👇 is a bright red blinking WARNING sign.

Brandon has as much integrity as anyone I know.

If he can’t take whatever drug deal is about to go down, we’re all about to see something rotten to its core.

Remember: next DOJ filing due Monday. What will Barr’s DOJ say?
Please understand why this is so dangerous.

It’s not about whatever sentence Flynn would’ve received.

It’s about Trump & Barr turning an extreme view of American law enforcement as an untrustworthy enemy of the people into official US Government policy.

THAT’S what’s scary.
Read 4 tweets
1 May

For Law Day (today!), I urged on @just_security "a vision of law that’s about not just skill but also virtue," & I shared concerns about what's missing in the Trump era.

Here are key points. /1…
"Kennedy knew it all was fundamentally wrong. Still, he chose to go along, hoping someone else would do the right thing. He made that choice despite knowing he’d soon be stepping down from the court, with this his last chance to do the right thing." /2…
"There were lawyers inside the White House who tried to bury the smoking gun record of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president on a server typically reserved for the most highly classified documents." /3…
Read 7 tweets
29 Apr

Reports like this 👇 suggesting a Flynn pardon may be imminent should set off alarms.

The notion that there’s “stunning” new evidence of a “set up” is getting peddled as the basis for a pardon.

But it’s not credible. Here’s why. /1…
In August, Flynn asked a federal judge to order prosecutors to hand over additional materials he claimed would help to exonerate him.

Prosecutors then explained to the judge why what they’d already given Flynn was sufficient.

The judge agreed. /2…
That’s what made it so strange when, unprompted, DOJ provided new docs to Flynn last week allegedly uncovered in a review personally ordered by AG Barr.

It’s a review widely seen as a politically charged effort to “investigate the investigators.” /3…
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr

“What happens now that everyone agrees nothing the president says should be believed?”

That’s the question Dahlia Lithwick & I grapple with in a new @Slate piece.

A few highlights ... /1…
“In part because he lies so fluently and easily, some people will vote based on what Trump says he’s done, & others will vote based on what he’s actually done—& the gap between the two is perilously wide.” /2…
“And when great swaths of the country have made peace with the fact that in all likelihood the president is lying anytime he says anything, it raises questions, come November, about how one is to judge Trump at the ballot box.” /3…
Read 6 tweets