Trump insurrection evidence, Hill death total, impeachment anger grow

 

Shocking revelations and allegations about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob along with details about a policeman killed in a mob attack fueled bipartisan efforts to impeach President Trump, who is increasingly suspected of facilitating the riot in order to reverse November election results.

nancy pelosi msnbc screengrabThe impeachment on Jan. 13 by the House of Representatives was with ten Republican votes, the largest number in U.S. history from an impeached president's own party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), right, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed — as they sought safety in the Capitol on Jan. 6 — on the dire need for Trump's immediate removal via impeachment unless he resigned or his cabinet removed him under the 25th Amendment by formally declaring Trump unfit so that Vice President Mike Pence could finish the remainder of Trump's term.

The one article of impeachment focused heavily on Trump's actions regarding the deadly Jan. 6 riot by the pro-Trump mob. Congress had been scheduled to certify in a ceremonial act the nationwide vote totals in its formal proceeding on Jan. 6 that was disrupted by the mob.

This column began as an overview of those events, but has been updated with an appendix providing a wide selection of news reports and commentary covering the mob action, arrests and impeachment covering the period up to Jan. 24, the first Sunday after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Note: An additional update was published on March 1, with an editor's note below indicating several changes in the original story published on Jan. 10.

Regarding the Jan. 6 Trump-inspired riot, public dismay resulting in impeachment has doubtless been bolstered by such other factors as the slow rollout of vaccine and relief aid during the coronavirus pandemic. The ten living former U.S. secretaries of defense had issued a joint letter urging the Department of Defense not to intervene in the election, a clear signal that they feared a coup.

But a major new factor was increasingly recognition of the brutality and scope of the pro-Trump mob's action. It resulted in the killing of a Capitol Hill policeman, the wounding of an estimated 50 others, plus the deaths of four participants the protest-turned-riot that ostensibly began with a Trump speech to a capitol tiescrowd assembled on the south side of the White House. The crowd then marched east on Pennsylvania Avenue a little over a mile to reach the historic Capitol building.

Most shocking to many has been new evidence of the brutality of some protesters — including discovery of pipe bombs, explosives and plastic "ties" (as shown by the white ones in the adjoining photo of a Hill intruder) that terrorists would use to take hostages.

There exists also significant but still-evolving evidence that parts of the mob action have long been planned by Trump, top aides and allies scattered through government, quasi-government and private organizations, including Republican office-holders funded by major corporations that are now facing heat for how their political donations were being used.

Some key Trump loyalists remaining in the administration during the current wave of their colleagues' resignations deny or deflect the most serious allegations and evidence that a plot existed beyond what they call the legitimate outrage of Trump supporters that they have heard suspicions of election fraud. Trump has for months claimed fraud.

But none of the more than 60 courts that were hearing cases have found any significant evidence of it, and pressure has been growing to disbar or sue Trump's leading attorneys making such claims. Dominion Voting, one election software provider, filed a $1.3 billion defamation suit against Trump attorney Sydney Powell, and sought also her disbarment.

A few Trump supporters, including several in Congress or on Trump-supporting media like Brit Hume at Fox News, have hinted darkly (without providing evidence) that the biggest outrages in the Capitol riot were committed by leftists pretending to be Trump supporters. But that claim faces the obstacle, as seen below, that many of the rioters were captured on film bragging about their exploits and are familiar faces in right-wing and white nationalist activism.

This column provides an appendix of links to more than two dozen major news stories and commentaries on this topic published by mainstream and alternative ali alexander resized greg palastnews outlets. This editor, whose office is located within two blocks of the protest march route in the District of Columbia, has reported for years on the topic of election fraud and several of the leading figures suspected of corrupting elections. These tactics include propaganda via blogs, broadcast and social media, plus courtroom efforts necessary to steal elections.      

As one of many examples, we helped investigate in 2012 a Republican operative named Ali Akbar, a convicted felon who helped found with the help of Republican patrons the National Bloggers Club. That "club" helped orchestrate a right-wing propaganda army when useful for the patrons' election or other political interests, with the website Crooks and Liars providing an in-depth report excerpted below.

Akbar, now using the name Ali Alexander, was a speaker at last week's pro-Trump rally at the White House.

Via his association with the affiliated Proud Boys gang of white nationalists, Alexander played a significant role in organizing sinister activities in both the Georgia and Washington political events last week, according to an expose published on Jan. 9 by investigative reporter Greg Palast, a pioneering investigator of election fraud, including illegal vote suppression of racial minorities.

The Palast story Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator? is illustrated by the Palast team's graphic above, with Alexander shown in the upper right. This cutting-edge column by the former BBC investigative reporter and author of multiple books on election fraud is one of reports excerpted below with links to the original.

Another is the NBC News investigative report, Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging march to the Capitol by Laura Strickler and Lisa Cavazuti. It is another of the pieces suggesting that the march, mob action and failure of federal authorities to protect Congress with adequate security stemmed from a high-level plot to overthrow the elected government and certified November elections, not just the enthusiasm of ordinary Trump supporters recruited for diversion.

But many in the public have not needed investigative reports, detailed though they must be, to feel outrage at what happened, including the threats on Jan. 6 against elected leaders and staff posed by a mob that overwhelmed security and committed countless acts of mayhem and vandalism.

brian sicknickThus, excerpted below also is He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob, the New York Times profile of Brian Sicknick, left, the heroic the slain police officer, who was reported initially as bludgeoned in the head by a fire extinguisher wielder by a rioter. Authorities later cast doubt on the fire extinguisher element of the report while maintaining that he had been under attack by the mob in some fashion that continues to be investigated.

We have collected also photos and profiles of the four others initially reported as dead, all Trump supporters who died advancing their cause. They include Ashli Babbitt, right, ashli babbitta woman shot while trying to crawl through a broken door  that the mob had smashed to reach members of Congress who had been huddled for safety in the House Chamber moments before.

Highly relevant also are the accounts of how top social media platforms have suspended Trump's use of their platforms.

Trump and his supporters are crying foul or even "censorship," even though the First Amendment does not forbid private companies from setting rules for content.

Big picture? Only a comprehensive look at evidence of a high-level plot using the platforms and military as two necessary tools can illustrate that the media giants' actions need to be assessed as potential national security safeguards, not simply as subjective disagreement with Trump's politics by Twitter, Facebook, twitter bird CustomAmazon, Google and other high-tech executives. 

The track record suggests that Trump supporters will disagree with that and other interpretations. So, their point of view is reflected also in a sample of the clips below. For this rapidly evolving story, the excerpts will be updated frequently for the next few days.

 

Justice Integrity Project Selected Appendix of 'Election Fraud' aud 'Stop the Steal' Riot News and Commentary

 

djt impeachment graphic

Note to Readers: Nearly all of the column above was published here on Jan. 10, with some updates published below as excerpts from news coverage until Jan. 24. Our primary locale for updates has been the "News" sections published at the left of this column. Overview updates from the New York Times and Washington Post, as of March 1, are excerped immediately below.

News reports suggest that authorities have arrested more than 300 alleged rioters since that date under varying charges, with some defendants disputing allegations against them. Our coverage does not attempt to cover all of those cases and disputes. But we shall highlight here a few major disputes, including those prompting several clarifications or corrections in the report above.

Perhaps most notable is that authorities have backed away from an initial report in the New York Times that Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed after being hit by a fire extinguisher. More recent reporting is that he died from unknown causes after battling rioters for an extended period of time. For such reasons, our report has been modified. One was to report that he was "killed" instead of "murdered." 

Trump advocates have raised several claims to deflect attention or guilt from what was clearly a pro-Trump mob organized in advance and undertaking ritious and threatening behavior inside the Capitol. Among those claims is that some rioters were left-wingers or that pro-Trump intruders were invited inside the Capitol, in effect, by Trump and/or other authorities. Authorities and independent reporters for the most part have virorously disputed such claims, which can be expected to be revolved in court.

Links are provided below in all cases to the original news reports, with credit to the authors and with an effort to omit at least some information for all but the shortest excerpts in order to encourage readership of the original, along with the context provided by the original outlet.

Content producers are encouraged, however, to request a shorter excerpt if desired and all readers, particularly subjects of the stories are encouraged to provide rebuttals, including corrections, plus important additional clips (in the format below), plus news tips for our further reporting. 

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool was just one example of the racist and anti-Semitic imagery on display at the riot. The noose is a racist symbol of the lynching of Black Americans. (Photo by Shay Horse  via NurPhoto / Getty).

 

May 2001 Updates

Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part III), Seth Abramson, left, May 23, 2021. Introduction to Part III: The most chilling sentence seth abramson graphicin katie hobbsAli Alexander’s chilling January 13 interview with the chillingly named Church Militant of Michigan is this one: “We [Stop the Steal] own all of [the government of] Arizona except for the Secretary of State [Katie Hobbs, right].

”In the interview, Alexander credits one man with ensuring that Stop the Steal could take over Arizona’s government: Arizona state representative and Oath Keeper Mark Finchem, the man Trump praised in Georgia on January 4 as a “great political leader.”

As Oath Keepers like Finchem get arrested by the dozens, and Finchem’s presence at the Capitol in a golf cart becomes national news, and Finchem faces the possibility of a state ethics investigation and there is a steady drumbeat of calls for his resignation or expulsion from not just Arizona Democrats but even journalists, it is becoming harder and harder for Finchem to find reliable allies in Phoenix.

seth abramson proof logoA notable exception is a fellow Arizona Republican state representative who is, like Finchem, a self-described Oath Keeper: Wendy Rogers. Rogers, who spent January 6 at a massive Stop the Steal rally in Phoenix, watched with glee on January 4 as the President of the United States name-checked her friend Mark Finchem.

This is Part III of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. 

 

March 2021 Updates

March 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Rewriting January 6th: Republicans push false accounts of Capitol riot, Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr, March 1, 2021. Instead of an attempt to overturn the election by radicalized Donald Trump supporters, it was a choreographed attack staged by antifa provocateurs. Rather than an armed insurrection, it was a good-natured protest spoiled by a few troublemakers.

And instead of a deadly event that put the lives of hundreds of lawmakers, police officers and others at risk, the riot was no big deal at all.

A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged from video and photo evidence, law enforcement officials, journalistic accounts and the testimonials of the rioters themselves: that a pro-Trump mob, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, stormed the seat of American government to keep Trump in power through violent means.

Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light. The effort comes as federal authorities begin prosecuting scores of alleged marauders, congressional committees seek to plug obvious security failures, and lawmakers consider establishing an outside commission to examine the matter.

On his top-rated Fox News Channel program last week, commentator Tucker Carlson told his audience that the attack did not constitute an “armed insurrection” and accused Democrats of a “relentless and coordinated” campaign to misrepresent the riot.

The next day, during the first public appearance of top Capitol security officials in charge during the riot at a Tuesday hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) spent much of his allotted time reading a firsthand account from Jan. 6 suggesting the violence was perpetrated by a small cadre — including left-wing extremists — who were out of character in an otherwise jovial crowd.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot, Michael M. Grynbaum, Davey Alba and Reid J. Epstein, March 1, 2021. On social media, on cable networks and even in the halls of Congress, supporters of Donald J. Trump tried to rewrite history in real time, pushing the fiction that left-wing agitators were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6.

Nearly two months after the attack, the claim that antifa was involved has been repeatedly debunked by federal authorities, but it has hardened into gospel among hard-line Trump supporters, by voters and sanctified by elected officials in the party. More than half of Trump voters in a Suffolk University/USA Today poll said that the riot was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack.” At Senate hearings last week focused on the security breakdown at the Capitol, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence.

For those who hoped Mr. Trump’s don’t-believe-your-eyes tactics might fade after his defeat, the mainstreaming of the antifa conspiracy is a sign that truth remains a fungible concept among his most ardent followers. Buoyed by a powerful right-wing media network that had just spent eight weeks advancing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, pro-Trump Republicans have succeeded in warping their voters’ realities, exhibiting sheer gall as they seek to minimize a violent riot perpetrated by their own supporters.

If anyone was responsible for desecrating the Capitol, Mr. Johnson said in a radio interview as the violence was unfolding that day, “I would really question whether that’s a true Trump supporter or a true conservative.”

In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Johnson delivered a handful of unsubstantiated or false statements that dovetail with much of the right-wing disinformation about the riot circulating online and on conservative radio and television programs. The senator said that while most of the people arrested at the Capitol were right-wing Trump supporters, he had not reached any conclusions about the political affiliations of those responsible for planning it.

On Jan. 6, supporters of former President Trump tried to rewrite history in real time on social media, on cable networks and in the halls of Congress.

In the first 12 hours after a false tweet, a disinformation machine seized on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth.

djt cpac 2021 cspan

 Donald Trump at CPAC on Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Courtesy of C-SPAN.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rules out third party as he moves to firm up control of GOP, David Weigel and Michael Scherer, March 1, 2021 (print ed.). Making his first speech since leaving the White House, former president Donald Trump hinted he was contemplating another run in 2024.

Former president Donald Trump declared Sunday that he is considering a presidential run in 2024, has ruled out forming a third party and will devote himself to building up Republican efforts to take on Democrats and others he claimed have targeted his movement.

The address before an ebullient crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference marked Trump’s first political speech since leaving the White House. It was staged as a public declaration of Trump’s intention to play a dominant political role in controlling the GOP through the 2022 election — and to potentially set himself up for a third campaign for the White House.

“We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over,” Trump said of the political journey launched by his 2016 campaign. “Let there be no doubt we will be victorious, and America will be stronger and greater than ever before.”

republican elephant logoTrump’s speech came as he has been putting the finishing touches on a new political structure that he intends to use to cement his dominance over the GOP.

“We are not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It is going to unite and be stronger than ever before.”

Trump also launched an expected attack on President Biden, echoing many of the themes of the Republican’s winning 2016 presidential campaign and its losing sequel in 2020. He alleged that Biden had “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” before attacking the president for his position on border security policy, his erasure of Trump executive orders and his energy policies.

He predicted withering Democratic losses in the 2022 midterms and a Democratic loss of the White House four years from now, prompting a standing ovation and chants of “USA!” and “Four more years!”

He repeated his false claims about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, which Biden won.

January

Jan. 24

Top Stories

 
Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

 

U.S. Media, Education News

 

World News

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

Top Stories

joe biden 2 transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Fight over the rules grinds the Senate to a halt, imperiling Biden’s agenda, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.).  The two parties have yet to agree how to operate the 50-50 chamber days after Democrats took control.

When President Biden took office last week, he promised sweeping, bipartisan legislation to solve the coronavirus pandemic, fix the economy and overhaul immigration.

Just days later, the Senate ground to a halt, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on even basic rules for how the evenly divided body should operate.

Meanwhile, key Republicans have quickly signaled discomfort with — or outright dismissal of — the cornerstone of Biden’s early legislative agenda, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes measures including $1,400 stimulus checks, vaccine distribution funding and a $15 minimum wage.

On top of that, senators are preparing for a wrenching second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump, set to begin Feb. 9, which could mire all other Senate business and further obliterate any hopes of cross-party cooperation.

Taken together, this gridlock could imperil Biden’s entire early presidency, making it impossible for him to deliver on key promises as he contends with dueling crises.

capitol ties

A heavily disguised rioter invades the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers and terrorists to bind the wrists of suspects or, in the case of terrorists, hostages.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Pennsylvania Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner and Catie Edmondson, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.).  The congressman’s involvement underlined how far the former president was willing to go to overturn the election, and Democratic lawmakers are beginning to call for investigations into those efforts.

When Representative Scott Perry joined his colleagues in a monthslong campaign to undermine the results of the presidential election, promoting “Stop the Steal” events and supporting an attempt to overturn millions of legally cast votes, he often took a back seat to higher-profile loyalists in President Donald J. scott perryTrump’s orbit.

But Mr. Perry, left, an outspoken Pennsylvania Republican, played a significant role in the crisis that played out at the top of the Justice Department this month, when Mr. Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and backed down only after top department officials threatened to resign en masse.

It was Mr. Perry, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, who first made Mr. Trump aware that a relatively obscure Justice Department official, Jeffrey jeffrey clark oClark, right, the acting chief of the civil division, was sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s view that the election had been stolen, according to former administration officials who spoke with Mr. Clark and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Perry introduced the president to Mr. Clark, whose openness to conspiracy theories about election fraud presented Mr. Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who stood by the results of the election and had repeatedly resisted the president’s efforts to undo them.

republican elephant logoMr. Perry’s previously unreported role, and the quiet discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark that followed, underlined how much the former president was willing to use the government to subvert the election, turning to more junior and relatively unknown figures for help as ranking Republicans and cabinet members rebuffed him.

Mr. Perry’s involvement is also likely to heighten scrutiny of House Republicans who continue to advance Mr. Trump’s false and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud, even after President Biden’s inauguration this week and as Congress prepares for an impeachment trial that will examine whether such talk incited the Capitol riot.

Background:

 Justice Department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Trying to find another avenue to push his baseless election claims, Donald Trump considered installing a loyalist, and had the men make their cases to him.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. jeffrey rosenTrump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen, right, as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Scott Perry in deep trouble for role in Trump’s DOJ election criminal scandal: Report, Bill Palmer,  Jan. 23, 2021. The thing about criminal conspiracies is that once they’re finally caught onto, they have a way of continuing to unravel.

Last night we all learned that prior to January 6th, Donald Trump had criminally conspired with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark to try to overthrow the election. Now it turns out that plot included a certain House Republican. bill palmer report logo headerIt was House Republican Scott Perry who played matchmaker between Trump and Clark, letting Trump know that Clark was potentially open to conspiring with him, according to an expose tonight from the New York Times.

 

garret miller with flag us court photo1

A man identified by federal authorities as Garret Miller is shown in the photos filed the photo above and below right in U.S. District Court as part of an indictment alleging that he threated to assassinate a member of Congress and a Capitol Hill policeman. 

ny times logoNew York Times, A Texas man who stormed the Capitol threatened to assassinate Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michael Levenson, Jan. 24, garret miller photo facebook us district court2021 (print ed.). Garret Miller, right, who was among those who stormed the Capitol, also threatened the officer who fatally shot a Trump supporter, saying he would “hug his neck with a nice rope,” prosecutors said.

A Trump supporter who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 threatened on social media to assassinate Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (shown below in a file photo) that day and also threatened the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a woman as she tried to enter the Speaker’s Lobby, federal prosecutors alexandria ocasio cortez resized yoho speech july 23 2020 house tv via apsaid.

The man, Garret Miller, 34, of Richardson, Texas, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with, among other things, threats, knowingly entering a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint.

Surveillance video from inside the Capitol, a selfie and a video posted by Mr. Miller and comments he made on social media showed that he had been part of a crowd that had pushed past the police to enter the Capitol, disrupting Congress as it was certifying President Donald J. Trump’s loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the complaint states.

 

capitol guns drawn

Police with guns drawn watch as rioters and vandals break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite) (Source: J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

brian sicknickA California woman was warned and then fatally shot as she and others in the mob shattered glass and tried to crawl up and through the hole in the door to enter the chamber where congressional members and staff had huddled for safety during the rampage. Dying also were four others, including Brian D. Sicknick, above, a Capitol Hill police officer murdered while trying to protect government workers during the pro-Trump insurrection. President Trump failed to order federal flags flown at half-mast in his honor, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did so over the flags she controls at the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Lunge, Then a Gunshot: Inside the Deadly Capitol Shooting, Adam Goldman and Shaila Dewan, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.).  At a crucial moment in the Jan. 6 riot, as the mob closed in on lawmakers, a Capitol Police lieutenant fatally shot a woman vaulting through a window. Videos taken of the episode, legal documents and witness accounts point to a dire set of circumstances and an officer left to confront a mob.

During the four-and-a-half-hour attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, one of the moments when the mob came closest to the lawmakers they were pursuing took place just after 2:30 p.m.

On one side of a set of antique wood and glass doors were dozens of lawmakers and their aides trying to evacuate the House chamber.

On the other were rioters yelling “Stop the steal” as they hammered the panes with a flagpole, a helmet and even a bare fist.

ashli babbittIn between was a Capitol Police lieutenant, scrambling to pile tables and chairs into a makeshift barricade. He had 31 rounds for his service weapon, and he has told others that he feared he might need them all.

At the height of the standoff, a woman named Ashli Babbitt, right, tried to vault through a window. The lieutenant, his weapon already extended, pulled the trigger once, killing her in a confrontation that was captured on video and widely viewed around the world. (Excerpt continued below in section "Capitol Riot Followups.")

ny times logoNew York Times, How Democrats Planned for Doomsday Scenarios, Alexander Burns, Jan. 24, 2021. The organized left anticipated former President Donald Trump’s postelection schemes, including his attempt to claim a win he had not achieved.

The video call was announced on short notice, but more than 900 people quickly joined: a coalition of union officials and racial justice organizers, civil rights lawyers and campaign strategists, pulled together in a matter of hours after the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

They convened to craft a plan for answering the onslaught on American democracy, and they soon reached a few key decisions. They would stay off the streets for the moment and hold back from mass demonstrations that could be exposed to an armed mob goaded on by President Donald J. Trump.

They would use careful language. In a presentation, Anat Shenker-Osorio, a liberal messaging guru, urged against calling the attack a “coup,” warning that the word could make Mr. Trump sound far stronger than he was — or even imply that a pro-Trump militia had seized power.

And they would demand stern punishment for Mr. Trump and his party: Republicans at every level of government who incited the mob “must be removed or resign,” read one version of the group’s intended message, contained in Ms. Shenker-Osorio’s presentation and reviewed by The New York Times.

The meeting was no lucky feat of emergency organizing, nor was the highly disciplined and united front that emerged from it.

Instead, it was a climactic event in a long season of planning and coordination by progressives, aimed largely at a challenge with no American precedent: defending the outcome of a free election from a president bent on overturning it.

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

Interviews with nearly two dozen leaders involved in the effort, and a review of several hundred pages of planning documents, polling presentations and legal memorandums, revealed an uncommon — and previously unreported — degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities.

For the organizers of the effort, it represents both a good-news story — Mr. Trump was thwarted — and an ominous sign that such exhaustive efforts were required to protect election results that were not all that close.

For the most part, the organized left anticipated Mr. Trump’s postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence, strategy documents show.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, New Pandemic Plight: Hospitals Are Running Out of Vaccines, Simon Romero and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). U.S. health officials are frustrated that available doses are going unused while the virus is killing thousands of people each day. Thousands of vaccine appointments have been canceled and local officials are often uncertain about what supplies they will have in hand.

As the coronavirus tears across much of Texas, Dr. Esmaeil Porsa is grappling with one of the most formidable challenges he has faced: The Houston hospital system he operates is running out of vaccines.

texas mapDr. Porsa, the chief executive of Harris Health System, which treats thousands of mostly uninsured patients, warned on Friday that its entire vaccine supply could be depleted by midday Saturday. The problem is not one of capability — the vaccination centers Dr. Porsa oversees have easily been administering as many as 2,000 vaccines a day — but of availability.

“All of a sudden the distribution of vaccines stopped,” Dr. Porsa said. “It’s perplexing and frustrating because I keep hearing that there are high percentages of vaccines that have been distributed but not administered.”

In the midst of one of the deadliest phases of the pandemic in the United States, health officials in Texas and around the country are growing desperate, unable to get clear answers as to why the long-anticipated vaccines are suddenly in short supply. Inoculation sites are canceling thousands of appointments in one state after another as the nation’s vaccines roll out through a bewildering patchwork of distribution networks, with local officials uncertain about what supplies they will have in hand.

In South Carolina, one hospital in the city of Beaufort had to cancel 6,000 vaccine appointments after it received only 450 of the doses it expected. In Hawaii, a Maui hospital canceled 5,000 first-dose appointments and put 15,000 additional requests for appointments on hold.

The situation is especially dire in Texas, which is averaging about 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day, fueling concerns over whether officials will be able to curb the spread when they cannot get their hands on the vaccines they desperately need to do so.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 24, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 99,416,374, Deaths: 2,132,164
U.S. Cases:   25,569,883, Deaths:    427,637

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, based on current scenario 459,324 by Feb. 1; 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

New York Times, Live: Variants Threaten to Undo Progress as World Nears 100 Million Cases, Staff reports, Jan. 24, 2021. Altered versions of the coronavirus raise questions about how effective the current vaccines will be against them.

Other news: For some, vaccinations have come to be seen as a status symbol. The University of Michigan is forced to shut down its athletic programs over a virus variant. A year after the Wuhan outbreak, Beijing’s control is near total over what people in China see, hear and think about the pandemic. Here’s the latest on Covid-19.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This most disgraceful inheritance, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 24, 2021. “To cannon,” Napoleon once said, “all men are equal.” It is even truer robert harringtnn portraitfor coronavirus, because one cannot aim a coronavirus. Coronavirus proved to be no respecter of blue or red. But it is a respecter of social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. So it’s no coincidence that because more Democrats than Republicans do those things, more Republicans and fewer Democrats get sick. Such was the consequence of politicizing the pandemic. It may be the case that that’s all the last administration did about it.

bill palmer report logo headerIt turns out that we really did need an unimpeachable source (if you’ll pardon the expression) to tell us the truth about what the last administration was doing about coronavirus. It also turns out they lied to us. The outgoing gaggle of cretins were doing even less than we dared to suspect. When the Chief Cretin said “We’ve done a tremendous job, tremendous,” they had in fact been doing almost nothing. Only fools are surprised.

“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” said President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients in a call with reporters. Another official said: “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch.”

Mike Pence was put in charge of the previous coronavirus task force and, for bad measure, Jared Kushner, right, was (bafflingly) put in charge of a separate uncoordinated coronavirus task force. Turns out neither man did much of anything. This criminal negligence that has caused (as I write this) 427,635 American deaths, may not merely spell the end of both their political careers, it might see them both safely in prison.

It is within the remit of every district attorney in the United States to file criminal charges against the ex-vice president and the ex-president’s son-in-law for criminal negligence if any of their constituents died of coronavirus. They can also charge the disgraced ex-president as a co-conspirator. I don’t doubt that a lot of other criminal charges are looming for a lot of other members of the pirate ship known as the Trump administration.

The seven day average death rate for COVID-19 remains over 3,000 per day. This is the mess we inherited. Real President Biden has implemented a wartime strategy — in lieu of the last administration’s fake wartime strategy — in order to combat this daily 9/11-sized catastrophe.

It is a juggernaut with so much momentum that, by the end of February, half a million Americans will have died. There is little or nothing that the Real President can do about that. Death is what you might call the ultimate trailing indicator of coronavirus. Those deaths were foreordained long before the cretin who previously infested the White House was whipped from office by a disgusted constituency.

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump jumps into a divisive battle over the Republican Party — with a threat to start a ‘MAGA Party,’ Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump threw himself back into politics this weekend by publicly endorsing a devoted and divisive acolyte in Arizona who has embraced his false election conspiracy theories and entertained the creation of a new "MAGA Party."

In a recorded phone call, Trump offered his “complete and total endorsement” for another term for Arizona state party chairwoman Kelli Ward, a lightning rod who has sparred with the state’s Republican governor, been condemned by the business community and overseen a recent flight in party registrations. She narrowly won reelection, by a margin of 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent, marking Trump’s first victory in a promised battle to maintain political relevance and influence after losing the 2020 election.

 

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is shown below at left in a screenshot.

Kansas City Star, 'Bamboozled’: Hawley mentors stunned by conduct, but early warning signs were there, Bryan Lowry, Jonathan Shorman, and Eric Adler, Jan. 24, 2021. Josh Hawley’s rise included warning signs of radicalism; After violence at Capitol, Hawley still calls for Biden's votes to be blocked.

Josh Hawley was a precocious 15-year-old in 1995, writing a regular column for his hometown paper, The Lexington News, when he was still in high school.

He used the early platform to opine on politics, culture and those he believed had been unfairly maligned by the media — among them anti-government militias and Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman.

Hawley warned against depicting all militia members as domestic terrorists after the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who carried out the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, had ties to the Michigan Militia.

“Many of the people populating these movements are not radical, right-wing, pro-assault weapons freaks as they were originally stereotyped,” Hawley wrote two months after the bombing.

He argued that middle class Americans had gravitated to anti-government organizations out of genuine concerns about federal overreach and a disillusionment with mainstream politics.

“Dismissed by the media and treated with disdain by their elected leaders, these citizens come together and form groups that often draw more media fire as anti-government hate gatherings,” Hawley said.

“Feeling alienated from their government and the rest of society, they often become disenchanted and slip into talks of ‘conspiracy theories’ about how the federal government is out to get them.”

Twenty-six years later, the junior senator from Missouri is the face of the failed effort to overturn the 2020 election, captured in a photograph that shows him raising a fist in solidarity with a crowd of former President Donald Trump’s supporters shortly before they laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

The insurrection left five people dead, including a police officer, after a mob made up of militia members and racists with Confederate flags and neo-Nazi paraphernalia stormed the Capitol. Their deadly rage was fueled by the election of President Joe Biden, whose victory was due in large part to Black voters.

Prior to Jan. 6, Hawley had enjoyed an uninterrupted trajectory from Rockhurst High School valedictorian to the U.S. Senate — by way of Stanford University, Yale Law School, a clerkship for Chief Justice John Roberts and a brief tenure as Missouri attorney general.

Hawley, an evangelical Christian, has long championed the view that political leaders should be guided by their religious faith and that secularism runs counter to the country’s founding principles.

Hawley’s classmates at Yale Law School remember him as politically ambitious and a deeply religious conservative. But they say they witnessed a startling transformation when he railed against elites as a Senate candidate.

“Josh came across as decent and kind and thoughtful at Yale. Today he seems like a steaming mass of grievance,” said Ian Bassin, who attended Yale with Hawley before going on to work in the Obama White House and found the group Protect Democracy.

Bassin was one of 12 Yale Law alumni to sign a letter in 2018 warning that the Hawley they saw campaigning in Missouri was unrecognizable compared to the person they knew in school. josh hawley ladders commercial

When Josh Hawley was campaigning for attorney general in Missouri, he said he wouldn’t be using the office as a ladder to higher office. YouTube/GPSIMPACT

washington post logoWashington Post, Anarchists and extremists divide the left as Biden term begins, Marissa J. Lang and Kimberly Kindy, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Extreme-left demonstrators destroyed the Democratic headquarters in Portland, Ore., hours after President Biden took the oath of office.

marco rubio official.jpgPalmer Report, Opinion: Marco Rubio just found a whole new way to embarrass himself, Bill Palmer, Jan. 24, 2021. Marco Rubio always comes off as being distinctly in over his head. The only trick in his bag is to never take a stand on anything, generically criticize both sides, and try to spin the middle ground as somehow being the high ground.

bill palmer report logo headerNow Rubio, right, is finally being forced to pick a side when it comes to Trump’s domestic terrorism, and it’s not going well for him. Rubio appeared on the Chris Wallace show on Fox News this morning and acknowledged that Trump bears “responsibility” for the U.S. Capitol attack, but thinks Trump shouldn’t be put on impeachment trial in the Senate because it might “stir up” the people who carried out the attack.

This is pathetic, even for Marco Rubio. When has the United States ever made a decision about whether to put a criminal on trial and based it on whether that criminal’s violent acolytes might carry out more violence in retaliation? If this is Rubio’s position, then he doesn’t belong anywhere in the United States government, and he should resign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Tests of Biden’s leadership, and GOP’s willingness to cooperate, come quickly, Dan Balz, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). The opening days of President Biden’s administration produced a stack of executive actions and a $1.9 trillion legislative proposal focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the weakened economy. With those initiatives come two early tests. Can Biden make the executive branch function effectively and will his appeals for unity bear fruit?

joe biden twitterThe executive actions collectively were designed to show a change in course after the presidency of Donald Trump, but the principal focus of the first days is on job one: dealing with the pandemic. Biden’s challenge is to replace Trump’s mismanagement of the health crisis with a national strategy to suppress the virus and deliver hundreds of millions of vaccinations.

As the president said Thursday, the pandemic will get worse before things get better. The covid-19 death toll could reach 500,000 next month, after topping 400,000 last Tuesday. Mutations of the virus that are more transmissible could accelerate the number of new cases contracted, which inevitably would lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths.

washington post logoWashington Post, Civil rights leaders say they won’t let up on Biden — or Harris, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Civil rights activists say the White House cannot use the vice president's presence to justify delaying action on racial justice.

pamela brown madison cawthorn

Palmer Report, Opinion: CNN’s Pamela Brown just bulldozed House Republican Madison Cawthorn, Trisha Delaney, Jan. 24, 2021. Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), above right, made the typical rookie mistake.

bill palmer report logo headerVying for the spotlight he shot his mouth off about election fraud, served as a contributing factor to the incitement of insurrection at the Capitol, and then he made the serious miscalculation of going on air tonight with Pamela Brown of CNN, above left, instead of appearing on one of the propaganda ‘no-questions-asked, no utterance challenged’ “alternative facts” networks.

Brown confronted Cawthorn with a docket full of “facts,” primary among them was that amid all of his election irregularity allegations he never once saw fit to have an issue with his own state of North Carolina. You can watch it below:

Brown recited the many ways in which North Carolina also changed its voting procedures due to the pandemic including, extending the time for mail-in ballots to be received (for up to a week), and even making changes after the voting began. Near her wrap up she made the point that these issues not only existed in his home state but, unlike the states he complained of (primarily Wisconsin), North Carolina actually had confirmed voter fraud in 2018. Thanks, Pamela Brown. We needed this.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden is firing some top Trump holdovers, but in some cases, his hands may be tied, Lisa Rein and Anne Gearan, Jan. 24, 2021. The practice of shifting workers from appointee to career status occurs at the end of every presidency.

President Biden is trying to shake a Trump hangover in the federal government by acting to remove some holdovers and install his own appointees, but a quiet push to salt federal agencies with Trump loyalists is complicating the new president’s effort to turn the page.

The Biden team, showing a willingness to cut tenures short, moved quickly last week to dump several high-profile, Senate-confirmed Trump appointees whose terms extended beyond Inauguration Day — in some cases by several years.

They include the surgeon general, the National Labor Relations Board’s powerful general counsel, and the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

But other, lower-profile Trump loyalists, some of whom helped carry out his administration’s most controversial policies, are scattered throughout Biden’s government in permanent, senior positions. And identifying them, let alone dislodging them, could be difficult for the new leadership.

The Jan. 16 appointment of Michael Ellis, a former GOP operative who served in the Trump White House, as the National Security Agency’s top lawyer caused such a furor that he was placed on paid leave within hours of taking office.

And in the former president’s final months and weeks, dozens of other political appointees had their status similarly converted to permanent civil service roles that will allow them to stay in government for years to come. These new career officials are protected from partisan removal unless the new administration discovers that they got their jobs illegally — without competition and because of their political affiliation.

As Biden tries to reset the government to match his priorities, Democrats fear the Trump holdovers, who served in partisan roles, could undermine the new administration as they move into the civil service, which is supposed to operate free of partisanship.

The practice of shifting employees from appointee to career status, informally called burrowing, occurs at the end of every presidency — and it is controversial. Trump aides and their GOP allies in Congress, for example, threatened at the start of Trump’s term to remove any Obama-era political appointees who had been replanted in the civil service, and dozens were, records show.

But the just-departed president is on track to exceed the number of Democrats the Obama administration rewarded with permanent roles. In his final year, President Barack Obama moved 29 political appointees into career jobs. As of November, Trump had installed almost that many, 26, in the first 10 months of 2020, according to data provided to Congress by the Office of Personnel Management.

Nine more requests await review by personnel officials. More are expected. Congress has not received data covering December and the first 20 days of January, when outgoing administrations tend to move quickly to reward appointees who want to stay in government.

“There’s a great irony here,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), who leads a House oversight panel on federal government operations, referring to Trump’s efforts to place his appointees in government. “The crowd that didn’t believe in government and called its agencies the deep state now wants to work for them.”

Connolly has asked the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s research arm, to tally all of Trump’s conversions over four years.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia moves toward banning capital punishment, in a shift for prolific death penalty state, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Virginia, which carried out its first execution in 1608 and put colonists to death for such infractions as stealing grapes and killing chickens, has been the nation’s most prolific death penalty state over the past four centuries.

Virginia, a state that has executed more prisoners than any other in the country, appears poised to eliminate the death penalty — a seismic shift for the state legislature, which just five years ago looked to the electric chair and secret pharmaceutical deals to keep the ultimate punishment alive.

ralph northam file headshotThe former capital of the Confederacy would become the first Southern state to abolish capital punishment if a bill on track to pass the Senate gets out of the House and over to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), right, who has promised to sign it.

A ban in Virginia could help sweep in change across the South, according to experts who say racial disparities in the death penalty’s application have roots in the region’s history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

“Just as Confederate monuments are being dismantled, this vestige of Confederate law is also facing dismantling,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “That historical context is a central part of the repeal. And repeal offers a real opportunity for racial healing.”

As recently as last year, as Democrats took full control in Richmond for the first time in a generation and ushered in vast changes on many fronts, efforts to ban or restrict the death penalty sputtered.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept., FBI debate not charging some Capitol rioters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Law enforcement officials are considering forgoing charges against those who went into the building but are not linked to violence, threats or destruction.

Federal law enforcement officials are privately debating whether they should decline to charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol this month — a politically loaded proposition but one alert to the practical concern that hundreds of such cases could swamp the local courthouse.

The internal discussions are in their early stages, and no decisions have been reached about whether to forgo charging some of those who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Justice Department officials have promised a relentless effort to identify and arrest those who stormed the Capitol that day, but internally there is robust back-and-forth about whether charging them all is the best course of action. That debate comes at a time when officials are keenly sensitive that the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI are at stake in such decisions, given the apparent security and intelligence failures that preceded the riot, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss legal deliberations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Union chief says 38 Capitol Police employees have tested positive for coronavirus since Jan. 6 riot, Tom Jackman, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, 38 U.S. Capitol Police employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the head of the officers’ union said Saturday. Cases are also climbing among members of the D.C. National Guard stationed around the Capitol.

Meantime, the Justice Department said five more people have been arrested in the Capitol riot, including a county jail guard from New Jersey who took an “emergency holiday” from work to travel to Washington and a Federal Aviation Administration employee from California who is a QAnon follower, court records stated.

In another development, two police officers from rural Virginia who had admitted their participation in the Capitol siege were suspended without pay by their department after a search warrant affidavit disclosed that one told a friend on Jan. 10: “I’m going to war . . . DC on the 20th for sure.”

The head of the labor committee for the Capitol Police officers’ Fraternal Order of Police chapter, Gus Papathanasiou, said he had been told by the police chief’s office that 38 employees tested positive for the virus. He said there was no breakdown on how many were officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but he noted that most civilian employees in the department telework and would not have been there during the riot.

 

U.S. Media, Education News

rudy giuliani amazon prime borat

ny times logoNew York Times, Rudolph Giuliani and Bill O’Reilly Still Have a Major N.Y. Platform, Azi Paybarah, Jan. 24, 2021. A popular radio station in Manhattan has become a haven where conservative hosts can defend Donald Trump. Rudolph W. Giuliani, above, still has a voice, amplified by a 50,000-watt radio station nestled in Midtown Manhattan. And there, Mr. Giuliani is his usual, unrestrained self.

Think Mr. Trump lost the election? Mr. Giuliani vehemently disagrees.

“He won that election,” Mr. Giuliani said last week on his radio show on WABC-AM (770). “You give me one hour. I will prove it to you with pictures, documents, votes and people we can call on the phone in five states.”

And the people who want him disbarred?

“Idiots,” “malicious left-wingers” and “irresponsible political hacks,” he said on his show on Thursday. “You want to disbar me? I think I’m going to move to disbar you.”

In the heart of New York City, long a Democratic stronghold, WABC has become an established beacon for right-wing views.

bill oreilly 2010Wonder what happened to Bill O’Reilly, right, after he was ousted from Fox News? He hosts a one-hour show for WABC, after Mark Levin, the syndicated conservative commentator who has a three-hour show at night.

The Fox News host Brian Kilmeade has a two-hour show in the mornings. Bernard Kerik, the former police commissioner, and Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host, have one-hour weekend shows.

WABC’s identity as a conservative guidepost may come as a surprise to those more familiar with its history as a pioneering Top 40 station: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, WABC had more than six million listeners, the most in the history of American radio at that time.

But in 1982, when most music stations had moved to the FM dial, WABC dropped music from its programming and went to an all-talk format on May 10, a date that some longtime fans and radio industry veterans refer to as the day the music died.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Fox News is a hazard to our democracy. It’s time to take the fight to the Murdochs. Here’s how, Margaret Sullivan, right, Jan. 24, 2021 margaret sullivan 2015 photo(print ed.). The company has forfeited its responsibilities to society. It’s time to push back, speaking the only language the owners understand.

In recent days, Fox has taken a sharp turn toward a more extreme approach as it confronts a post-Trump ratings dip — the result of some of its farthest-right viewers moving to outlets such as Newsmax and One America News and some middle-of-the-roaders apparently finding CNN or MSNBC more to their liking.

With profit as the one true religion at Fox, something had to change. Ninety-year-old Rupert Murdoch, according to a number of reports, has stepped in to call the shots directly. Most notably, the network has decided to add an hour of opinion programming to its prime-time offerings. The 7 p.m. hour will no fox news logo Smalllonger be nominally news but straight-up outrage production.

Why? Because that’s where the ratings are.

The pro-Trump media world peddled the lies that fueled the Capitol mob. Fox News led the way.

And in a move that should be shocking but isn’t, one of those who will rotate through the tryouts for that coveted spot will be Maria Bartiromo, whose Trump sycophancy during the campaign may well have been unparalleled. She was among those (including Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro) recently forced under threat of a lawsuit to air a video that debunked repeated false claims on her show that corrupt voting software had given millions of Trump votes to Biden.

Corporations that advertise on Fox News should walk away, and citizens who care about the truth should demand that they do so (in addition to trying to steer their friends and relatives away from the network).

washington post logoWashington Post, Universities face pressure to vet ex-Trump officials before hiring them, Marisa Iati and Lauren Lumpkin, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). A petition circulating at Harvard demands the school check “for their role in undermining” democracy before they are invited to teach or speak on campus.

There is a long tradition of political appointees moving into academia — former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice returned to Stanford University as a robert gatesprofessor, ex-CIA director Robert Gates, right, was a dean and then president at Texas A&M University, and former secretary of health and human services Sylvia Mathews Burwell is president of American University.

But in recent months, some students and faculty have argued colleges should apply more scrutiny to former Trump officials looking to make similar transitions.

The backlash was swift at Carnegie Mellon University in June when the school announced former Trump official Richard Grenell was hired for a one-year fellowship. In an open letter to university administrators, critics said Grenell, left, who served as acting director of national intelligence richard grenell oand ambassador to Germany, “has a well-documented record of sexism and support for racist political movements.” Criticism grew in November when Grenell falsely claimed that voter fraud had cost Donald Trump a second term.

Carnegie Mellon officials defended the hire but formed committees to study both Grenell’s appointment and the university’s hiring procedures. In one letter to the community, campus leaders acknowledged tension between the institution’s embrace of free expression and “diversity as a core value.”

harvard logoSimilar disputes are playing out at other universities. A petition circulating at Harvard University demands that the school vet Trump administration officials “for their role in undermining” democracy before they are invited to teach or speak on campus. In the District, an open letter from Georgetown University faculty asked the administration to develop standards for Trump appointees before extending invitations to campus. A George Washington University student argued in a column that the school should reject job applications from Trump officials.

But others say efforts to keep Trump officials from campuses undermine universities and their responsibility to foster diverse perspectives, including viewpoints that make some students uncomfortable.

Hollywood PoliTrivia, Pop Culture Review: Politics at the Oscars, Wayne Madsen, below at left, Jan. 24, 2021. Often, to both cheers and boos, the Academy Awards -- the Oscars -- have seen awardees, including top film stars, launch into political statements.

Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences often weighed in beforehand against such commentary, political statements became as expected as the envelope openings, the Oscar acceptance speeches, the song and dance routines, and the annual homages to recently deceased stars.

 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Riot Puts Spotlight on ‘Apocalyptically Minded’ Global Far Right, Katrin Bennhold and Michael Schwirtz, Jan. 24, 2021. United by racist ideology, extremists have built a web of real and online connections that worry officials on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Many adherents saw the Capitol riot as a teaching moment — about how to pursue their goal of overturning democratic governments in more concrete ways.When insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in Washington this month, far-right extremists across the Atlantic cheered. Jürgen Elsässer, the editor of german flagGermany’s most prominent far-right magazine, was watching live from his couch.

“We were following it like a soccer match,” he said.

Four months earlier, Mr. Elsässer had attended a march in Berlin, where a breakaway mob of far-right protesters tried — and failed — to force their way into the building that houses Germany’s Parliament. The parallel was not lost on him.

“The fact that they actually made it inside raised hopes that there is a plan,” he said. “It was clear that this was something bigger.”

And it is. Adherents of racist far-right movements around the world share more than a common cause. German extremists have traveled to the United States for sniper competitions. American neo-Nazis have visited counterparts in Europe. Militants from different countries bond in training camps from Russia and Ukraine to South Africa.

For years far-right extremists traded ideology and inspiration on societies’ fringes and in the deepest realms of the internet. Now, the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol have laid bare their violent potential.

washington post logoWashington Post, Protesters across Russia hold marches for jailed opposition leader Navalny, Robyn Dixon and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Riot police detained hundreds of supporters of Alexei Navalny as they protested for his freedom across the country. Prosecutors have threatened rioting charges against participants if any violence takes place.

alexey navalny 2017More than 1,000 people were arrested Saturday as protesters took the streets across Russia calling for the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, right — a broad show of defiance against President Vladimir Putin and his widening crackdowns against critics. Navalny's wife Yulia was among those detained.

The rallies — amid biting cold from Russia's Far East to milder temperatures in central Moscow — came less than a week after Navalny returned from Germany, where he recovered from a nerve agent poisoning in August during a trip to Siberia. Navalny, declared an enemy of the state, was arrested shortly after stepping off the plane.


Capitol Riot Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Lunge, Then a Gunshot: Inside the Deadly Capitol Shooting, Adam Goldman and Shaila Dewan, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.).   (Continued from above). At the height of the standoff, a woman named Ashli Babbitt, right, tried to vault through a window. The lieutenant, his weapon already extended, pulled ashli babbittthe trigger once, killing her in a confrontation that was captured on video and widely viewed around the world. (Excerpt continued below in section "Capitol Riot Followups.")

At least three investigations into the security response on Jan. 6 are underway, and officials have not provided the full details of Ms. Babbitt’s death.

But videos taken of the episode, legal documents and witness accounts point to a dire set of circumstances and an officer left to confront a mob. The officer, a lieutenant who has not been publicly named, has been placed on administrative leave while his actions are reviewed by federal authorities.

The use of deadly force by officers is considered legally justified if they have an “objectively reasonable” fear of serious, imminent harm to themselves or others. Several policing experts said that video of the encounter was not enough for them to offer an opinion on the shooting. But interviews with two people with direct knowledge of the officer’s account suggest he will make the case that he acted to protect lawmakers from harm.

“I could look them in the eyes,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, who had been presiding in the speaker’s chair and was one of the last to leave as the mob attempted to break through the doors. “I mean, that’s how close they were.”

He added: “I don’t even know what would have happened had they breached that area.”

Ms. Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, told a Fox affiliate on the day of the riot that he had seen his wife die on the news.

“She didn’t have any weapons on her, I don’t know why she had to die in the People’s House,” he said, adding, “She was voicing her opinion and she got killed for it.”

He did not respond to an email requesting comment. One of Ms. Babbitt’s brothers, reached by phone, declined to comment.

Ms. Babbitt was one of five people who lost their lives at the Capitol that day. A Capitol Police officer was overpowered and beaten by rioters. A Georgia woman appeared to have been killed in a crush of fellow rioters. One man had a stroke, and another a heart attack.

The lieutenant had heard on the news that Trump supporters like Ms. Babbitt would be converging on Washington, according to his account. But the first time the protests were discussed at work came only when he arrived early that morning; according to his account, he had been given no advance planning to counter a violent riot or an invasion of the building.

That afternoon both the House and the Senate were in session, with hundreds of lawmakers debating challenges to the certification of the Electoral College vote when the mob fought its way past lines of Capitol Police officers outside and forced their way into the building. Some said they merely wanted to halt the proceedings while others carried weapons, climbing gear and zip ties that could be used as restraints.

The crowd was peppered with far-right nationalists, military veterans and militia members, and adherents of a dangerous conspiracy. Rioters hurled invectives at police officers and called them traitors while threatening to kill former Vice President Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House.

The lieutenant, a veteran officer, was regularly assigned to the Speaker’s Lobby, an enclosed hallway and waiting area in the inner sanctum of the Capitol where access is highly restricted. The lobby runs directly behind the House chamber and is lined with portraits of the House’s past leaders. It is bound by two sets of old wooden doors with windows, one on the Democratic side and one on the Republican side.

 

Jan. 23

Top Stories


Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Politics, Governing

 

U.S. Media, Education News

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

Top Stories

Justice Department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Trying to find another avenue to push his baseless election claims, Donald Trump considered installing a loyalist, and had the men make their cases to him.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. jeffrey rosenTrump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen, right, as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, left, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to jeffrey clark ocarry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

georgia mapThe previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

dominion voting systemsThis account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

Mr. Clark said that this account contained inaccuracies but did not specify, adding that he could not discuss any conversations with Mr. Trump or Justice Department lawyers. “Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” he said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

 washington post logoWashington Post, Senate reaches deal to start Trump’s trial Feb. 9, Mike DeBonis, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). The majority leader said the wait would allow the Senate to make further progress on President Biden’s nominations and his $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal.

The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will begin Feb. 9 under a deal reached Friday by top Senate leaders — delaying by two weeks the us senate logohigh-stakes proceedings over whether Trump incited the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The agreement was made by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), above left, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, following a standoff over the timing of the trial, which could permanently bar Trump from holding public office.

mitch mcconnellThe House on Jan. 13 passed a sole impeachment article, alleging “incitement of insurrection.” House leaders could have forced the Senate to begin the trial immediately by transmitting the papers across the Capitol. But a delay serves the former and current presidents: Trump has struggled to assemble a legal team and muster a defense, and President Biden needs the Senate to confirm most of his Cabinet appointees.

McConnell pushed Thursday for a three-week delay, but Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above right, on Friday morning announced their intention to deliver the impeachment papers Monday — setting up a trial as soon as Tuesday. Later in the day, Biden publicly called for a delay, saying, “the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.”

Announcing the two-week timetable Friday, Schumer said the wait would allow the Senate to make further progress on Biden’s nominations and his $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal — the centerpiece of his early legislative agenda — before shifting to Trump.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us, but healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide,” he said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Scott Perry in deep trouble for role in Trump’s DOJ election criminal scandal: Report, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 23, 2021. The bill palmerthing about criminal conspiracies is that once they’re finally caught onto, they have a way of continuing to unravel. Last night we all learned that prior to January 6th, Donald Trump had criminally conspired with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark to try to overthrow the election. Now it turns out that plot included a certain House Republican.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was House Republican Scott Perry who played matchmaker between Trump and Clark, letting Trump know that Clark was potentially open to conspiring with him, according to an expose tonight from the New York Times. We’ve seen various House Republicans play various roles in Trump’s election overthrow plot with various degrees of criminal culpability, but this takes the cake.

scott perryScott Perry, right, knowingly entered into a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud with Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark. Perry and Clark republican elephant logoare both looking at federal prison time over this, and because Trump has already left office, it’s too late for him to pardon them.

Our guess is that either Perry or Clark can get a generous plea deal by flipping on everyone else involved. We’ll see which of the two of them has the sense to cut a deal first. In any case, Perry’s career in the U.S. House of Representatives surely won’t last long after this.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Orders Assessment on Violent Extremism in the U.S., Julian E. Barnes and Hailey Fuchs, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden on Friday ordered the director of national intelligence to work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism, a sign of how seriously the new administration is taking the issue in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The request comes only days after Avril D. Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, pledged to members of Congress during her confirmation hearing that she would help with just such an assessment.

FBI logoThe new intelligence work began as people charged in the mob attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump continued to appear in court. On Friday, a federal magistrate judge in Dayton, Ohio ordered Donovan Crowl, an accused rioter linked to the far-right group the Oath Keepers, detained until his trial, citing the safety of the community.

Domestic terrorism and violent groups are a thorny issue for intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., which are limited to tracking attempts by foreign governments or organizations to influence extremist groups in America. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security have more leeway to investigate domestic groups and homegrown terrorism.

But Friday’s order will have practical as well as symbolic import. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the assessment would help Mr. Biden hone his policies aimed at curbing violent extremism in the United States.

“This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, nongovernmental organizations,” Ms. Psaki said. “The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy.”

In recent years, some parts of the intelligence community have been working to increase their focus on the threat of domestic terrorism, particularly by doing more to track growing foreign influence operations on domestic groups. The C.I.A. also has officers in its counterterrorism section who specialize in tracking racially-motivated violent extremists overseas.

The order for the evaluation from the intelligence community comes as judges continue to deny bail for suspects in the Capitol riot.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP opposition to stimulus relief intensifies, Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Stein, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden may find he can get a big plan or a bipartisan plan — but not both.

President Biden’s pitch for bipartisan unity to defeat the coronavirus and resurrect the economy is crashing into a partisan buzz saw on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on ground rules for running the Senate — let alone pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

Biden’s relief package is being declared dead on arrival by senior Senate Republicans, some of whom say there has been little, if any, outreach from the Biden team to get their support. Liberals are demanding the president abandon attempts to make a bipartisan deal altogether and instead ram the massive legislation through without GOP votes. And outside groups are turning up the pressure for Biden and the Democrats who control Congress to enact economic relief quickly, even if it means cutting Republicans out of the deal.

In the face of these competing pressures, Biden may discover he can get a big covid-19 stimulus bill or a bipartisan deal — but not both. The path Biden chooses with his first major piece of legislation could set the tone for the remainder of his first term in office, revealing whether he can make good on his promise to unify Congress and the country.

elizabeth warren o purple“It’s important that Democrats deliver for America. If the best path to that is to do it in a way that can bring Republicans along, I’m all in favor of that,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, said. “But if Republicans want to cut back to the point that we’re not delivering what needs to be done, then we need to be prepared to fight them. Our job is to deliver for the American people.”

Publicly, top aides insist Biden is serious about wanting a bipartisan deal on the relief bill. They say this should be achievable given the magnitude of the economic and health-care crisis besetting the nation a year after the pandemic began, with more than 412,000 dead and the economy newly shedding jobs. Some Democrats have expressed optimism that GOP frustration with how the Trump administration ended could convince some Republicans to be more open to a fresh start with a Democratic president, especially since longtime lawmakers know Biden from his decades in the Senate and as vice president.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 23, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 98,841,727, Deaths: 2,118,556
U.S. Cases:   25,392,642, Deaths:   424,187

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, based on current scenario 459,324 by Feb. 1; 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Criticized by science community and Trump, Birx said she ‘always’ considered quitting, Meryl Kornfield, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Facing criticism from the administration she worked for and some in the scientific community, Deborah Birx, coordinator of the Trump White House’s coronavirus response, “always” considered quitting her job, she said in an interview set to air Sunday.

“I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day?” Birx said in a clip of her conversation with Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ “Face The Nation.”

deborah birx palmerBirx, right, at one point called “pathetic” by former president Donald Trump on Twitter, told Brennan that her job and the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 412,000 people in the United States were politicized under the Trump administration. Birx told CBS that she was “censored” by the White House, but she denied that she ever purposefully withheld information.

She said she will retire “within the next four to six weeks.” She had announced in late December that she planned to leave her post at cdc logo Customthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following an Associated Press report that she’d visited Fenwick Island in Delaware with her family the day after Thanksgiving, at a time when the CDC cautioned against traveling for the holiday. Birx said she would assist with the Biden administration’s transition before leaving.

Birx, a world-renowned AIDS researcher, was tapped by Vice President Mike Pence to be his “right hand” leading the administration’s turbulent coronavirus response. During her four-decade career in public service, Birx was an Army physician, director of the United States Military HIV Research Program and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator under President Barack Obama.

 

U.S. Politics, Governing

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration weighs turning over Trump tax returns to House Democrats, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.).  House Democrats have renewed their long-stalled demand for Donald Trump’s federal tax records, but the Biden administration has not decided whether it will drop its predecessor’s objections and release the Treasury Department records to investigators, Justice Department attorneys told a federal judge Friday.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden declined Friday to lift a stay on a pending House lawsuit. Instead, the judge agreed to give Treasury and Justice Department officials two weeks to report back to him, acknowledging that President Biden’s team was just settling in after the inauguration this week.

trevor mcFadden CustomMcFadden, left, also kept in place an order requiring the government to give the former president’s lawyers 72 hours’ notice before releasing his tax return information to allow them to file a request to block the release.

Separation-of-powers issues that have slowed the case “may fall out” now that Trump is no longer in office, the judge noted.

“It would be a former president trying to stop a political branch, rather than one branch suing another. At least that’s my instinct,” said McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee to the federal bench in Washington.

House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter agreed, saying, “We’re not dealing with a president anymore. We’re dealing with a former president.”

 

Jan. 22

Top Stories

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Signs Executive Orders for Covid Response, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). Biden rolls out ‘full-scale, wartime’ coronavirus strategy, including requiring masks on some planes, trains and buses.

joe biden kamala harrisPresident Biden, pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives on Thursday aimed at combating the worst public health crisis in a century, including new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses and for international travelers to quarantine after arriving in the United States.

“History is going to measure whether we are up to the task,” Mr. Biden declared in an appearance in the State Dining Room of the White House, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, his chief Covid-19 medical adviser, by his side.

With thousands of Americans dying every day from Covid-19, a national death toll that exceeds 400,000 and a new, more infectious variant of the virus spreading quickly, the pandemic poses the most pressing challenge of Mr. Biden’s early days in office. How he handles it will set the tone for how Americans view his administration going forward, as Mr. Biden himself acknowledged.

In a 200-page document released earlier Thursday called “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” the new administration outlines the kind of centralized federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that President Donald J. Trump refused.

Calls for unity were already fraying a day into the new administration. On Capitol Hill, Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, accused the Biden team of offering “old Washington spin.” And the new president took a shot at his predecessor, saying, “For the past year we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination that we needed, and we have seen the tragic cost of that failure.”

washington post logoWashington Post, In first full day in office, Biden faces multiple crises, Ashley Parker and Matt Viser, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The president spoke in somber tones as he unveiled a covid-19 plan, comparing the situation to a war and warned that deaths could top 500,000 next month.

President Biden raced Thursday to show he was addressing the array of crises awaiting him on his first day in office, issuing executive orders aimed at combating the coronavirus and preparing measures to take on the struggling economy and other problems.

Biden and his team found themselves immediately on what the president called a “wartime” footing, describing fighting the coronavirus as “a national emergency.” Against an already calamitous backdrop of a pandemic that has left more than 408,000 Americans dead, an additional 900,000 people filed new unemployment claims last week, underlining a devastated job market.

In remarks in the White House State Dining Room, Biden outlined a new national strategy for combating the virus, signing 10 executive orders and other documents to streamline the federal government response, move toward reopening schools and businesses, ensure safer travel, and increase vaccinations, among other goals.

He called on Americans to “mask up” for the next 100 days, saying that doing so could save more than 50,000 lives. Biden’s tone was notably sober, contrasting not only with former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which was often full of superlatives and grand promises, but also with the tone of other presidents on many occasions.

“Let me be very clear: Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” Biden said, adding that the death toll would probably top 500,000 next month. “And let me be equally clear: We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Senate Strikes Deal to Delay Trump’s Impeachment Trial for 2 Weeks, Staff reports, Jan. 22, 2021. The House still plans to deliver the charge against former President Trump on Monday, but the Senate would then pause until the week of Feb. 8.

Bloomberg, Organizers of Trump Rally Had Been on Campaign’s Payroll, Bill Allison, Jan. 22, 2021. Former President Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million over two years to individuals and firms that organized the Jan. 6 rally that led to rioters storming the U.S. Capitol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The payments, which span Trump’s re-election campaign, show an ongoing financial relationship between the rally’s organizers and Trump’s political operation. They were all made through Nov. 23, the most recent date covered by Federal Election Commission filings, which is before the rally was publicly announced.

Eight paid Trump campaign officials were named on the permit issued on by the National Park Service for the rally, including Maggie Mulvaney, the niece of Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff who resigned his position as special envoy to Northern Ireland after the riot. Maggie Mulvaney was paid $138,000 by the campaign through Nov. 23.

After the rally, in which the president encouraged them to march on the Capitol, Trump supporters stormed the building, disrupting the count of Electoral College votes in an event that ultimately killed five people. Lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over what is normally a ceremonial event, were forced to flee.

President Joe Biden was blamed for firing the White House chief usher on his first day on the job, but his predecessor actually did the deed -- apparently to spite the incoming first family.

Donald and Melania Trump sent White House ushers home early on Inauguration Day in one of their last acts in a tense presidential transition, a well-placed official not associated with the Biden team told the National Journal.

"The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived," the official said. "So petty."
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Other knowledgable sources confirmed to the Journal that chief usher Timothy Harleth, a former executive of Trump Hotels hired by Melania Trump, was summarily fired by the outgoing president and first lady -- and not by the Bidens, as was widely reported afterward.

Harleth was already gone by the time Joe and Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, leaving no one in place to open the doors for their inaugural entry and leading to an awkward pause.

"It's a big protocol breach for the president to ever stand in front of a closed door at the White House," said a veteran White House social expert. "That may be why there was nobody to open the doors to the Bidens. You couldn't expect the Biden staff to know to do that. Doors are opened and closed by ushers. There are rules about all these things and everyone has their job."

The rest of the usher staff was back on the job Thursday, but Harleth -- considered to be a Trump loyalist -- was not expected to be retained by the Bidens for long.

A Trump campaign adviser said the campaign had no role in organizing, operating or paying for the rally. No campaign staff worked on it, said the adviser, who asked not to be named. He added that any employees or contractors who worked on the event did not do so at the campaign’s direction.

Megan Powers, listed as one of two operations managers on the permit, was paid $290,000 by the Trump campaign from February 2019 through the most recent filing period. She served as director of operations for Trump’s campaign.

Caroline Wren, a top GOP fundraiser who was listed on the permit as an adviser to the rally and Ronald Holden, the backstage manager, were also paid by the campaign.

The biggest recipient of campaign funds according to the report, was Event Strategies Inc., which was paid more than $1.7 million by Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee. The firm’s owners, Justin Caporale and Tim Unes, served as rally production manager and stage manager, respectively.

Women for America First, the nonprofit organization that requested the permit on Nov. 24, originally for an event to be held on Jan. 23, had a financial relationship with America First Policies, the pro-Trump nonprofit formed to advance his agenda shortly after he took office, according to the report. America First Policies made a $25,000 grant to Women for America First in 2019, its most recent tax return shows.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Orders Assessment on Violent Extremism in the U.S., Julian E. Barnes and Hailey Fuchs, Jan. 22, 2021. President Biden on Friday ordered the director of national intelligence to work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism, a sign of how seriously the new administration is taking the issue in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The request comes only days after Avril D. Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, pledged to members of Congress during her confirmation hearing that she would help with just such an assessment.

The new intelligence work began as people charged in the mob attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump continued to appear in court. On Friday, a federal magistrate judge in Dayton, Ohio ordered Donovan Crowl, an accused rioter linked to the far-right group the Oath Keepers, detained until his trial, citing the safety of the community.

Domestic terrorism and violent groups are a thorny issue for intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., which are limited to tracking attempts by foreign governments or organizations to influence extremist groups in America. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security have more leeway to investigate domestic groups and homegrown terrorism.

But Friday’s order will have practical as well as symbolic import. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the assessment would help Mr. Biden hone his policies aimed at curbing violent extremism in the United States.

“This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, nongovernmental organizations,” Ms. Psaki said. “The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy.”

In recent years, some parts of the intelligence community have been working to increase their focus on the threat of domestic terrorism, particularly by doing more to track growing foreign influence operations on domestic groups. The C.I.A. also has officers in its counterterrorism section who specialize in tracking racially-motivated violent extremists overseas.

The order for the evaluation from the intelligence community comes as judges continue to deny bail for suspects in the Capitol riot.

washington post logoWashington Post, To fight impeachment, Trump turns to ‘Butch’ Bowers, a S.C. lawyer at a small firm who has defended state Republicans, Michael Kranish and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 22, 2021. When Republican politicians in South Carolina have faced possible impeachment, ethics charges or other serious accusations, they have often turned to Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr., a lawyer with a military background, taciturn demeanor and a small office near the State House in Columbia.

Now Bowers is taking on his biggest case yet: defending former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, this time against a charge that he incited a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.

The longtime GOP attorney is little known outside of South Carolina and has no powerhouse law firm behind him. Colleagues say he is better known for behind-the-scenes negotiations than courtroom oratory.

In Bowers, Trump is getting a seasoned lawyer at a time when prominent Washington litigators have little interest in working for the former president — and a measured figure who offers a sharp contrast to attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who spent the past several months unspooling wild conspiracy theories that the election was rigged.

“When I was threatened with the specter of impeachment, he was able and professional,” said former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, recalling how Bowers successfully fought off efforts to remove him from office. “From his vantage point, it is a good business decision. It substantially raises your profile on a national and international basis.”

In addition to his work for Sanford, Bowers defended then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during an ethics investigation, and he played a key role in the campaigns of some of the state’s most prominent Republican politicians. His law office is in a small white building that also houses the firm of current Gov. Henry McMaster.

“He is the first call that every Republican campaign makes for a legal team,” said South Carolina political consultant Tim Pearson, who has worked alongside Bowers on gubernatorial campaigns and shares office space with him. “It doesn’t surprise me he is willing to do the work. He is a lawyer’s lawyer in the sense that I think he believes that everybody deserves representation.”

Bowers did not respond to a request for comment.

Bowers, 55, a graduate of Tulane Law School, was recommended to Trump by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who said that he expects that Trump might bring on other lawyers.

 

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP pushes for delay in impeachment trial to give Trump time to craft defense, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). Senate Republicans on Thursday pushed to delay the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump for at least three weeks because he is struggling to recruit a legal team and assemble a defense against the accusation that he incited the deadly Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated postponing the start of the trial until mid-February, telling colleagues that Trump deserved more time to prepare his case and file briefs with the Senate. A conviction could bar Trump from public office in the future.

The proposal came as a key Trump ally, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), disclosed that the former president had secured a lead defense counsel for the trial: Butch Bowers, a Columbia, S.C., attorney known for his prominent role in litigating political and election matters for North and South Carolina Republicans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: To the victor belong the spoils, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 22, 2021. We will be dissecting the ironies of this election for years. I, for one, robert harringtnn portraitplan to put my own scalpel to good use. Beginning in any old random place, how about the irony that the former toxic president (Trump) employed another former toxic president (Andrew Jackson) as his mascot? The slogan that ushered in the Jacksonian era, “to the victor belong the spoils,” is now being used against Trump with the same scorched earth relentlessness of one ancient Egyptian pharaoh erasing another.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump’s own use of the presidency was exclusively twofold, his self glorification and as the ultimate tool of revenge. As he set about to erase the legacy of President Barack Obama with a little man’s zeal he soon realized it was easier said than done. Trump’s goal was to exact vengeance on a man (a black man, no less) who frustrated and ultimately humiliated his efforts to prove Obama wasn’t born in the United States. (That racist lie became so toxic to Trump that it was even largely abandoned by all but his most zealous followers.)

On his first day in office Joe Biden signed 15 executive orders — a new record. The orders range from rescinding Trump’s Muslim ban to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement to dismantling the declaration of a national emergency used to justify funding for of a wall on the US-Mexico border. In rapid succession much of the Trump legacy was wiped out in a single day. Such was the impermanent sand upon which it was built.

The Republican response was predictable. Sean Hannity claims it’s hypocrisy to call for unity then to turn around and make such a “disunifying” assault on the legacy of Donald Trump. In other words, Hannity is inventing rules to keep our President from doing the job the American people elected him to do. Sorry, Sean, but it doesn’t work that way.

Besides, “to the victor belong the spoils.” That’s straight from Andy Jackson. By the way, Jackson’s portrait was removed from the Oval Office. The victor also gets that power, too.

 

Trump Watch

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump steps out of the White House and into a company in crisis, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Jan. 22, 2012 (print ed.). New financial disclosures show the depth of his financial problems, compounded by his role in the Capitol riot. Donald Trump returns to his company this week as it faces a deepening crisis, with key properties bleeding revenue and its bankers, lawyers and customers fleeing the company.

djt march 2020 CustomFinancial disclosure forms, filed by the former president as he left office, revealed that his hotels, resorts and other properties had lost more than $120 million in revenue last year, as the pandemic forced long-term closures and kept customers home.

Those losses were worst in the places where Trump could least afford it: His Washington hotel, which has a $170 million loan outstanding, saw revenue drop more than 60 percent. His Doral resort in Miami — also carrying a huge debt load — saw a 44 percent drop.

On Thursday, the company’s troubles grew: One of its banks and one of its law firms said they would cut their ties with the Trump Organization. They are the latest in a string of vendors and customers who severed their relationships with the company after Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol directly after he addressed them at a rally.

New York Times, Can Someone Please Open the Door? Annie Karni and Katie Rogers, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The Bidens waited for an awkward moment in front of a closed door when they arrived at their new residence, a protocol breach that turned out to be a small but curious bit of disarray.

It was the culminating moment of a transfer of power: President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, walked up the driveway to their new home on Wednesday, ascended the steps to the North Portico, waved to the crowd as a military band played “Hail to the Chief,” turned to head inside — and came face-to-face with a closed door.

As the world watched and a small crowd of Biden family members came up behind them, the first couple waited.

Was the president supposed to open the pair of big wooden doors himself? Had former President Donald J. Trump, who had left eight hours earlier, locked him out?

Soon enough the doors were swung open, and the Bidens entered. The awkward moment had lasted only a handful of seconds — about 10, if you time it — but it did not go unnoticed in Washington.

“There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open for the first family as they arrived at the North Portico,” said Lea Berman, who served as a White House social secretary for President George W. Bush.

The breach turned out to be a small but curious bit of disarray in the chaotic two-and-a-half months between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Nothing was normal in the transition from the Trump to the Biden administration, and turni

Jan. 21

joseph biden inauguration resized nbc news 2021 inauguration day empty mall

 Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Biden Transition / Inaugural

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Top Stories

joseph biden kamala harris cspan inauguation

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden ushers in sweeping change, Amy Goldstein, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Laura Meckler, Jan. 21, 2021. President’s pandemic plan aims to expand access to testing and vaccines, reopen schools. Aspects of the plan are intended to steer more money to states and make travel safe.

President Biden plans Thursday to issue a new national strategy to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to take executive actions intended to make tests and vaccines more abundant, schools and travel safer, and states better able to afford their role in the long road back to normal life.

On his second day in office, aides said, Biden will sign an additional 10 executive orders, plus presidential memorandums, dealing with many aspects of the public health crisis the new president has defined as his top priority.

They include the creation of a Pandemic Testing Board that can spur a “surge” in the capacity for coronavirus tests. Other orders will foster research into new treatments for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus; strengthen the collection and analysis of data to shape the government’s response to the crisis; and direct the federal occupational safety agency to release and enforce guidelines to protect workers from getting infected.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Biden pledges to defeat extremism and culture of lies as he confronts Trump’s legacy, Dan Balz, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.).  The inauguration of President Biden marked the traditional transfer of power that has taken place every four years through two centuries of the nation’s history. This year the day was far more than that, a moment both somber and hopeful in a country reeling from a pandemic and economic distress in a capital city locked down by threats of violence from far-right extremists.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosFor Biden, Wednesday’s ceremonies represented the fulfillment of decades of personal ambition to serve as president. But if it was a day for him to celebrate that achievement, it was also a day to reckon with what the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency have done to the country and the monumental task of repair and restoration that is now the new president’s responsibility.

Biden ran for president with a pledge to rebuild a sense of normalcy after the chaos and divisiveness of the Trump presidency. But the shocking attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 underscored that a return to normalcy will require presidential resolve in the face of white supremacist threats to democracy as much as or more than customary calls for unity and bipartisan cooperation that long have been central to Biden’s makeup.

washington post logoWashington Post, 46th president faces pandemic, economic crisis, national division, Toluse Olorunnipa and Annie Linskey, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, pledging to confront an array of convulsing challenges and bring healing and unity to a deeply fractured nation.With his hand on his thick family Bible and with his wife, Jill Biden, by his side, Biden recited the oath administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. The moment marked the pinnacle of a career in public leadership that began a half-century ago.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden Confronts a Confluence of Crises, Staff Reports, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden moved quickly to undo the Trump administration’s legacy and push his own agenda, including a $1.9 trillion pandemic package. The new White House Covid-19 coordinator was stunned by the vaccination plan the Trump administration left behind: “What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined.”President Biden prepared to spend his first full day in the White House addressing a confluence of crises, with the pandemic at the top of that list.

The Biden team said it had identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” in the Trump administration’s pandemic response plans, which Mr. Biden is expected to address later on Thursday when he speaks about his approach to confronting the crisis.

Some of Mr. Biden’s advisers said they were stunned by the vaccination plan — or the lack of one — that it inherited from the Trump administration, and said jeffrey zients o obama national economic councilthe Trump team failed to share crucial information about supplies and vaccine availability.

“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, right, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said.

Mr. Biden will participate Thursday morning in the Virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Because of the pandemic, he and Vice President Kamala Harris will watch the service from the White House Blue Room, officials said. After that, they are scheduled to receive the daily intelligence briefing prepared for the president, and then they will quickly turn to the virus, with Mr. Biden speaking about the pandemic and signing about a dozen related executive orders in the afternoon, including on mask wearing and more.

Local officials have expressed a hope that the Biden administration would step up vaccine production to make second doses available for the expanded pool of eligible people. Production of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines authorized in the United States are running flat out, and it is not clear whether the administration could significantly expand the overall supply any time soon.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs several directives, including mask mandate on federal property and rejoining Paris accord, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden signed a ­blizzard of executive orders Wednesday on the coronavirus, immigration and climate change — launching a 10-day cascade of directives reversing policies of his GOP predecessor as Democrats pushed for even more-sweeping and prompt legislative action.

The most pressing of his priorities are measures to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Biden signed executive actions to require masks on all federal grounds and asked agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and on federal student loan payments.

He urged Americans to don face coverings for 100 days, while reviving a global health unit in the National Security Council — allowed to go dormant during the Trump administration — to oversee pandemic preparedness and response. Biden also began to reverse several steps taken by President Donald Trump by embracing the World Health Organization, revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, 13,000 School Districts, 13,000 Approaches to Teaching During Covid, Kate Taylor, Jan. 21, 2021. To assess how public schools have navigated the pandemic and the impact on students, The Times examined seven representative districts. The answers were strikingly different.

What does it mean to go to public school in the United States during the pandemic?

The answer looks so different in different parts of the country, it is hard to tell that we are one nation.

In some rural and suburban areas, especially in the South, Midwest and Great Plains, almost all students began the 2020-21 academic year attending school in person, and they have continued to do so, except for temporary closures during outbreaks.

In many cities, the bulk of students haven’t been in a classroom since March. And in some districts, like New York City, only younger students have the option of going to school in person, with many attending only part-time.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 20, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 97,423,166, Deaths: 2,086,174
U.S. Cases:   25,001,446, Deaths:    415,926

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, based on current scenario 459,324 by Feb. 1; 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Fauci praises WHO leadership in coronavirus pandemic, signaling break from Trump era, Paul Schemm, Jan. 21, 2021. Anthony S. Fauci, shown above, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, praised the leadership of the World Health Organization on Thursday in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic departure from the attitude of the previous U.S. administration.

world health organization logo CustomHours after taking office, Biden signed directives to reengage with the WHO and join its effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines around the world, reversing the position of the Trump administration, which repeatedly criticized the U.N. agency.

Fauci, who is also the United States’ top infectious-disease expert, led the U.S. delegation to the group’s executive board meeting and confirmed Biden’s decision, which includes honoring financial obligations to the cash-strapped health body.

“I join my fellow representatives in thanking the World Health Organization for its role in leading the global response to this pandemic,” he said via videoconference. “Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics.”

washington post logoWashington Post, 900,000 filed for jobless claims last week, a historically high level as Biden inherits worst job market of any modern president, Eli Rosenberg, Jan. 21, 2021. Another 900,000 people filed new unemployment claims last week, former President Donald Trump’s last in office, a snapshot of the significant labor market challenges facing President Biden.

us labor department logoAn additional 423,000 people in 47 states filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program created to help gig and self-employed workers.

All told, nearly 16 million people were claiming benefits as of January 2nd, the last week available for that measurement.

The number of new unemployment claims filed each week has remained above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 since coronavirus cases starting rising last March. And jobless claims have risen in recent weeks.

President Biden inherits one of the worst job markets of any president, with the country’s unemployment rate at 6.7 percent and nearly 10 million less people with jobs than at the beginning of last year, as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on industries like tourism, hospitality and food service.

ny times logoNew York Times, Conceived in Another Era, the U.S. Unemployment System Failed, Eduardo Porter / Graphics by Karl Russell, Jan. 21, 2021. A decline in funding and changes in the workplace — and how long people are out of work — have left a program unequal to the 21st-century economy. The nation’s unemployment insurance program, conceived during the Great Depression, was meant to keep jobless workers and their families from suffering drops in income that could tip them into poverty or force them to liquidate their assets to afford food, rent and other necessities.

Its goals included allowing the unemployed to wait for a productive job to materialize, rather than take the first one that appeared, and providing stability to the economy in recessions, mitigating the expected drop in consumption when millions of workers lost their jobs.

In 2019, only 27 percent of unemployed workers received any benefits, a share that has been declining over the last 20 years. The benefits have eroded as well, to less than one-third of prior wages, on average, about eight percentage points less than in the 1940s.

The immediate reason is money. But the problem is complicated by the program’s architecture: Reluctant to raise taxes from employers, many states have resorted to cutting benefits.

The tussle in Congress last month over whether to extend emergency unemployment payments that were on the cusp of expiring — potentially pushing 12 million people into some form of destitution, according to the Century Foundation, a liberal policy research group — was a reminder that the system as designed has not been up to its task.

Unemployment insurance is controlled and funded by the states, within loose federal guidelines. But Washington has been repeatedly called on to provide additional relief, including emergency patches to unemployment insurance after the Great Recession hit in 2008. Indeed, it has intervened in response to every recession since the 1950s.

 

Biden Transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A president replaced. A nation redeemed, Dana Milbank, right, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). The inauguration of President Biden on dana milbank CustomWednesday was more than a transfer of power. In ways symbolic and substantive, it was the redemption of a nation.

Inauguration Day in the capital city dawned to fierce winds, as if Nature herself were sweeping away the pestilence, financial misery, political violence and lies. The winds carried departing President Donald Trump away on Air Force One three hours before Biden took the oath of office — the first time an outgoing president refused to attend his successor’s inauguration since the disgraced Andrew Johnson demurred 152 years ago.

The defeated president departed in typically vulgar fashion: He granted late-night pardons to scores of crooks and cronies after some clemency-seeking felons paid Trump allies lavishly; and ordered a last-minute cancellation of his “drain-the-swamp” ban on former aides becoming lobbyists or foreign agents.

On Wednesday morning, Trump staged a campaign-style rally with a couple hundred supporters at Joint Base Andrews, where family and aides shunned face masks and a sound system played “Macho Man.” Trump treated the crowd to his usual self-congratulation (“amazing by any standard,” “91 percent approval”), repeated oft-told falsehoods about his achievements, made a jingoistic reference to the “China virus” and spoke in the past tense of the still-raging pandemic that kills thousands of Americans daily.

Reportedly plotting to form his own political party, Trump said on his way out that “hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye,” and “we will be back in some form.”

Air Force One taxied away to the strains of Frank Sinatra (“And now, the end is near …”). Arriving over Florida, Trump took the presidential aircraft on a joyride — flying low over his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Former vice president Mike Pence, a target of the Trump-incited mob on Jan. 6, declined to participate in this last stroking of a narcissist. Breaking with Trump, he attended the inauguration. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) also snubbed Trump, instead accepting Biden’s invitation to join him for pre-inaugural prayer.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s 17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail, Aishvarya Kavi Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). The moves aim to strengthen protections for young immigrants, end construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall, end a travel ban and prioritize racial equity.

In 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations signed hours after his inauguration, President Biden moved swiftly on Wednesday to dismantle Trump administration policies his aides said have caused the “greatest damage” to the nation.

Despite an inaugural address that called for unity and compromise, Mr. Biden’s first actions as president are sharply aimed at sweeping aside former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reversing his environmental agenda, tearing down his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the teetering economic recovery and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.

Here’s a look at what the measures aim to accomplish.

 Amanda Gorman (Associated Press pool photo by Patrick Semansky, Jan. 20, 2021).

Amanda Gorman (Associated Press pool photo by Patrick Semansky, Jan. 20, 2021).

ny times logoNew York Times, Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment, in Verse, Alexandra Alter, Updated Jan. 21, 2021. The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history read “The Hill We Climb,” which she finished after the riot at the Capitol.

Two weeks ago, the poet Amanda Gorman was struggling to finish a new work titled “The Hill We Climb.” She was feeling exhausted, and she worried she wasn’t up to the monumental task she faced: composing a poem about national unity to recite at President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.

“I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career,” she said in an interview. “It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.”

Gorman managed to write a few lines a day and was about halfway through the poem on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed into the halls of Congress, some bearing weapons and Confederate flags. She stayed awake late into the night and finished the poem, adding verses about the apocalyptic scene that unfolded at the Capitol that day.

At 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States. She joins a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco.

But none of her predecessors faced the challenge that Gorman did. She set out to write a poem that would inspire hope and foster a sense of collective purpose, at a moment when Americans are reeling from a deadly pandemic, political violence and partisan division.

ap logoAssociated Press, Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman: ‘Even as we grieved, we grew,’ Hillel Italie, Jan. 20, 2021. The country has a new president and a new literary star. In one of the inauguration’s most talked about moments, poet Amanda Gorman summoned images dire and triumphant Wednesday as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew.”

The 22-year-old Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture to “Hamilton,” and at times echoed the oratory of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. With urgency and assertion she began by asking “Where can we find light/In this never-ending shade?” and used her own poetry and life story as an answer. The poem’s very title, “The Hill We Climb,” suggested both labor and transcendence.

It was an extraordinary task for Gorman, who soon after finishing her poem helped inspire — along with Vice President Kamala Harris — the Twitter hashtag ”#BlackGirlMagic and was being praised by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama among others.

Mindful of the past, Gorman wore earrings and a caged bird ring — a tribute to Angelou’s classic memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — given to her by Oprah Winfrey, a close friend of the late writer. “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” Winfrey tweeted.

White nationalists march in a Charlottesville torchlight parade chanting

White nationalists march in a Charlottesville torchlight parade chanting "Jews will not replace us" on Aug. 12, 2017.

ny times logoNew York Times, Charlottesville Inspired Biden to Run. It Has a Message for Him, Astead W. Herndon, Jan. 21, 2021. The white supremacist rally in 2017 prefigured the rise of right-wing violence. Now, as President Biden calls for unity, residents want accountability first. Susan Bro recognized the palpable anger and open bigotry on display in the mob that attacked the United States Capitol this month. It reminded her of the outpouring of hate that killed her daughter, Heather Heyer.

That was in 2017, when white supremacists, self-avowed neo-Nazis and right-wing militias marched on Charlottesville in the name of intolerance — and former President Donald J. Trump — and one of them drove a car into a crowd, fatally injuring Ms. Heyer. More than three years later, Ms. Bro and other Charlottesville residents say they have a message for the nation after the latest episode of white violence in Washington, and for President Biden, who is emphasizing themes of healing and unity in the face of right-wing extremism.

Healing requires holding perpetrators accountable, Ms. Bro said. Unity follows justice.

“Look at the lessons learned from Charlottesville,” she said. “The rush to hug each other and sing ‘Kumbaya’ is not an effective strategy.”

The Capitol attack and Mr. Trump’s handling of it felt eerily familiar to many residents of Charlottesville, where the 2017 Unite the Right rally not only forever tied the former president to violence committed by white extremists, but also inspired Mr. Biden to run for president and undertake “a battle for the soul of this nation.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A look inside President Biden’s Oval Office, Annie Linskey, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden has filled the Oval Office with images of American leaders and icons, focusing the room around a massive portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt that hangs across from the Resolute Desk. It is a clear nod to a president who helped the country through significant crises, a challenge Biden now also faces.

The Oval Office is synonymous with the power and majesty of the American presidency. All incoming presidents change the decor of the largely symbolic room to offer a sense of their personality and the type of presidency they hope to have. Biden’s is notable for the sheer number of portraits and busts of well-known American historical figures.

President Biden's new Oval Office, with bust (at center) of the late migrant farm worker labor organizer Cesar Chavez at rear of photos.

President Biden's new Oval Office, with bust (at center) of the late migrant farm worker labor organizer Cesar Chavez at rear of photos.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s Cesar Chavez bust in the Oval Office signals a new era for Latinos, activists hope: ‘It shows that he’s authentic,’ Andrea Salcedo, Jan. 21, 2021. Paul Chavez was watching TV coverage of President Biden’s first address from the Oval Office on Wednesday when he suddenly recognized the sculpture right behind him.

It was his father. The 22-inch-tall bronze bust of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez stood just behind the Resolute Desk, surrounded by portraits of the president and his family.

“We were just as surprised and thrilled as everybody else to see its placement, it was so prominent,” Paul Chavez, 63, told The Washington Post late Wednesday. “We were excited not just because it was a bust of my father, but what it represented. To us, it was an affirmation of the importance and the contributions of our community, immigrants and Latinos.”

For many Latino leaders like Chavez’s son, it spoke volumes that Biden decided to make the community organizer’s bust a central piece of Oval Office decor. They say it symbolizes his commitment to the Latino community and marks the beginning of a new relationship with a president they hope is far less adversarial than his predecessor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden fires labor board’s top lawyer, a Trump appointee who refused to resign, Eli Rosenberg and Reis Thebault, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). The fracas began when the Biden administration asked now-former general counsel Peter Robb to resign, a White House official said, a precedent-breaking us labor department logomove.

Labor groups celebrated Robb’s dismissal and hailed it as a welcome departure from Trump administration policies they deemed hostile toward workers and unions.

Biden, who pledged on the eve of the election to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” has sought to appeal to working-class Americans and received several key endorsements from organized labor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden’s speech was a commitment to a new democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). At his inauguration, the ej dionne w open neckpresident directs the country toward reviving our democratic spirit.

From his very first words, he underscored why this was no normal Inauguration Day and why the 2020 election was anything but a routine exercise. Democracy itself had been challenged for four years, and violently so during the spasm of disrespect at the nation’s Capitol only two weeks ago.

“This is democracy’s day,” Biden declared. “Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. . . . We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s inaugural special: 10 things you missed, from Bruce Springsteen to many, many fireworks, Emily Yahr, Jan. 21, 2021. President Biden's inaugural prime-time special featured celebrities including Katy Perry, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen performing in D.C. and around the country. The coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to hold a true inaugural concert on Wednesday, but that wasn’t going to stop the celebrities from showing up, in Washington and remote locations.

During “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute prime-time special that aired on most broadcast and cable news networks, A-list musicians appeared to sing some of their most famous songs (and cover some even more famous songs) — and President Biden and Vice President Harris arrived to address the nation. Here are 10 thing you missed from the telecast.

Bruce Springsteen kicked things off with the Lincoln Memorial in the background: “I’m proud to be here in cold Washington, D.C., tonight,” the musician said — an accurate statement, since the temperatures were in the low 30s. “I want to offer this small prayer for our country.” He then launched into “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” and a half-hour later, his Twitter account posted the most hopeful lyrics.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Biden addressed the world, an unknown man in uniform stood watch over his son Beau’s grave, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jan. 21, 2021. As the world tuned in to watch President Biden deliver his inaugural address at the Capitol on Wednesday, a lone man in uniform carried out a silent vigil more than 110 miles away.

Kneeling on the chilly ground as winds whipped through the Delaware cemetery, the man clasped his hands and bowed his head before the grave of Biden’s late son, Beau, for the duration of the speech. His identity remains unknown, as do his reasons for visiting St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.

But the poignant scene, which would have gone unnoticed if a reporter from the Delaware News Journal hadn’t stopped by the graveyard to pay her own respects, struck a chord with thousands on Twitter.

“This broke me,” wrote the actress and activist Alyssa Milano.

Patricia Talorico, an award-winning features writer and food columnist for the News Journal, was also thinking about Beau Biden as the inauguration festivities began in Washington this week. So when she set out on Wednesday to see how people were celebrating Biden’s inauguration in his home state, Talorico decided that she would stop by Beau Biden’s grave and say a short prayer.

Talorico posted a photograph of the scene on Twitter, and reactions flooded in from hundreds of thousands of people.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration to pause deportations, curtail arrests, Maria Sacchetti, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden administration has ordered U.S. immigration agencies to focus their energies on threats to national security, public safety and recent border crossers, ending a four-year stretch during the Trump administration that exposed anyone in the United States illegally to deportation.

joe biden oActing Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske issued a memo hours after President Biden’s inaugural Wednesday setting strict limits for arresting and deporting immigrants while the department reviews its policies and practices. He also imposed an “immediate” 100-day pause on the deportations of certain noncitizens, to take effect no later than Friday. Pekoske is in charge as the Senate considers the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas, the former deputy DHS secretary during the Obama administration.

The memo is the first step in a broader plan to find a different solution for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom have lived here for years and have U.S.-citizen children. Many are essential workers — delivery workers, caregivers, even physicians — but Congress has not passed a major citizenship bill since 1986.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Kushner's contribution to Trump's final pardon list, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 21, 2021. Donald Trump's final pardon list more resembled Jared Kushner's wish list than anything nearing a legitimate granting of clemency. In fact, counting the number of rabbis mentioned on the list as individuals putting in a good word for convicted criminals it is clear that Kushner's close connections to the right-wing Chabad organization played a big part in the formulation of the final pardon list.

Let's take a look at Trump's and Kushner's rogues gallery of those receiving pardons:

rudy giuliani recentKen Kurson was the deputy director of communications of Giuliani Partners from 2002 to 2006 and co-authored a book with Giuliani titled "Leadership." Kurson was the chief of operations for Giuliani's ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign.

In 2013, Kushner, the owner of the neo-conservative New York Observer, named Kurson as the paper's editor. The paper fed into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign's propaganda machine.

steven calabresi c span

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Problem With Trump’s Odious Pardon of Steve Bannon, Steven G. Calabresi, shown above, and Norman L. Eisen, right, Jan. 21, norman eisen Small2021 (print ed.). Donald Trump is exiting office with a final outburst of constitutional contempt. Like a Borgia pope trading indulgences as quid pro quos with his corrupt cardinals, Mr. Trump on Wednesday used one of the most sweeping powers of the presidency to dole out dozens of odious pardons to a roster of corrupt politicians and business executives as well as cronies and loyalists like Steve Bannon.

The pardon of Mr. Bannon, below left, his former chief strategist, encapsulates the most repugnant aspects of Mr. Trump’s misuse of the pardon power: cronyism, criminality and cultivation of his far-right base. One of us is an originalist Republican and the other a living-Constitution Democrat, but we both think pardons like that of Mr. Bannon may be unconstitutional.

steve bannon trumpAnd as with previous actions for Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, the new pardon of Mr. Bannon is both corrupt and a possible obstruction of justice, as he might otherwise have turned against the former president in a potential criminal, civil or impeachment proceeding. Mr. Bannon has been a witness to Mr. Trump’s activities for years, and the two were reportedly in communication in the run-up to Mr. Trump’s incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Mr. Trump did not have the constitutional power to obstruct justice by failing to faithfully execute the law through pardons of associates like Mr. Bannon, who could potentially testify against him. The Constitution and its amendments work like a giant power of attorney by which the founding generation, and their successors, We the People, have delegated certain limited and enumerated powers to the president, Congress, the federal courts and the states. The president is empowered to take care that the laws be faithfully executed and not to break them.

The pardon power is a relic of the royal English prerogative, which, if un-cabined, could be used as a wrecking ball of both our democracy and the rule of law. We believe that Mr. Trump’s midnight pardons of Mr. Bannon and his ilk are unconstitutional and, if reviewed by courts, should be set aside.

Mr. Calabresi, a Republican, is a professor at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. Mr. Eisen, a Democrat, is a senior fellow at Brookings and outside counsel for the nonpartisan Voter Protection Program.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s self-serving pardons should renew calls for a reckoning with the presidential power, Margaret Colgate Love, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Margaret Colgate Love, right, served as U.S. pardon attorney between 1990 and 1997, and currently represents applicants for presidential pardon.

margaret colgate loveFormer president Donald Trump’s irregular and self-serving pardons confirm both his defiance of norms and taste for drama. But for this student of the pardon power, they have been a long time coming, the product of 40 years of neglect and misunderstanding by successive presidents and Justice Department officials.

Happily, the widespread outrage over Trump’s pardoning practices presents an opportunity to consider what role this extraordinary constitutional power should play in the modern federal justice system, as well as how it should be managed going forward.

Most proposals for reforming pardon focus on the process by which the president receives recommendations. They include stripping the Justice Department of the advisory role it has historically played and establishing the sort of independent clemency commission that exists in many states.

The law makes the president exclusively responsible — through his pardon power — for shortening most federal prison sentences and relieving the collateral consequences of conviction — functions that in most states are now routinely performed by judges and agencies under statutory schemes.

But a modern justice system cannot run efficiently or fairly on such antique and unreliable remedies, of which pardon is indisputably one.

I do not advocate curtailing the president’s pardon power, and the Biden administration can decide how it wishes to administer that power. I hope it will restore at least the appearance of fairness and regularity to the way applications from ordinary people are considered (even if the process will continue to function, as it always has, more or less like a lottery).

But I also hope reform will not include creation of a new bureaucracy. The incoming administration should urge Congress to offload many of pardon’s exclusive functions onto the legal system by enacting robust statutory relief mechanisms, for those in prison and for those who have fully served their sentences, as a majority of states have done in recent years.

washington post logoWashington Post, An incomplete Supreme Court witnessed Biden’s oath. There’s history there, Robert Barnes, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Only six of the nine members of the Supreme Court attended President Biden’s swearing-in Wednesday, the first time in more than 20 years that not all of the justices witnessed the ceremony.

clarence thomas HRJustices Clarence Thomas, right, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr., the court’s three oldest, were the no-shows. “Several of the justices elected not to attend the inauguration ceremony in light of the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said in a statement.

The justices have not conducted business in person since March — holding private conferences and oral arguments via teleconference — although they gathered at a memorial service for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., for the fourth time, administered the oath of office to the president-elect. But he has yet to see a supporter on the other side of the Bible.

 

U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama, Bush and Clinton release video praising peaceful transfers of power, as Trump skips inauguration, Tim Elfrink, Jan. 21, 2021.  Standing in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery alongside his two predecessors in the White House, former president Barack Obama noted that inaugurations are central to American democracy.

“Inaugurations signal a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old,” Obama said in a joint video released late Wednesday with former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president, pleads for unity in inaugural address to a divided nation

Although former president Donald Trump’s name was never uttered in the nearly three-minute clip, it served as an unsubtle rebuke to the latest member of the ex-presidents club, who has torpedoed the norms surrounding the peaceful transfer of power. Trump spent weeks falsely claiming he lost the November election because of voter fraud. Two weeks before the inauguration, a mob provoked by Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempted insurrection.

In the video, Obama recalled that one of his “fondest memories” of his inauguration was Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, welcoming him and his wife, Michelle Obama, to the White House — a courtesy that Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, didn’t afford the Bidens on Wednesday.

“It was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us,” Obama said.

joe biggs lindsey graham

Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs, left, with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina (file photo). The Florida-based 37-year-old Biggs is a former staff member at the infamous conspiracy theorist TV show InfoWars hosted by Alex Jones and is one of the Proud Boys' most prominent leaders, acting as a registered agent for a corporation set up by the allegedly neo-facist organization.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Poud Boys leader arrested, Spencer S. Hsu and Justin Jouvenal, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Proud Boys organizer Joseph Randall Biggs was arrested in Florida on Wednesday after the FBI alleged that members of the far-right nationalist group appeared equipped with walkie-talkie-style communication devices and earpieces that could enable “real-time communication” during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

joe biggs justice departmentBiggs, 37, of Florida, “did aid, abet, counsel, command, induce, or procure others” to storm the Capitol, the FBI alleged in new charging papers. Biggs and others were among the first rioters to storm into the building, the FBI said.

Biggs, shown at right in a photo circulated by the Justice Department, made an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court, where he did not enter a plea. U.S. Magistrate Judge Embry Kidd of Orlando released him to home confinement after prosecutors did not request his detention. He denied having any knowledge of preplanning of the event in an interview with the FBI, court documents said.

According to charging papers, Biggs was among the first to enter the Capitol during the riot, about 2:13 p.m., part of a mob that delayed the electoral vote certification of President Biden’s victory and forced the evacuation of Congress.

Biggs was seen on video 20 seconds after someone who appears to be Dominic Pezzola — a Proud Boys member who has already been charged — led the smashing of a window on the Senate side of the building with a police riot shield, an FBI affidavit alleged.

Daily MailOnline, 'This is awesome!' Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs pulls down his mask to reveal his face after entering the Capitol building during riots, but now claims he only entered to use the john and meant to say events were 'awful,' Josh Boswell, Jan. 21, 2021.  But in an interview with DailyMail.com, Biggs claimed the only reason he went inside the building was because he 'wanted to take a piss'. When asked why he told other rioters in the video that being inside the Capitol was 'awesome', Biggs said he meant 'awe-inspiring', but also 'awful.'

Biggs is a former staff member at the infamous conspiracy theorist TV show InfoWars and is one of the Proud Boys' most prominent leaders. The 37-year-old can be seen in a video shared on right-wing social media site Parler striding inside the Capitol building with other rioters. He is called out by his name then pulls down his face mask and declares: 'This is awesome.'

In a post accompanied by a video shared on Parler, Biggs wrote: 'We will not be attending DC in colors. We will be blending in as one of you. You won't see us.' Despite his attendance, Biggs does not appear on the FBI's wanted list for alleged insurrectionists.

In the days before January 6, Biggs posted on Parler, a social media site popular among Trump supporters, about 'blending in', adding: 'We will not be attending DC in colors... You won't see us'

Palmer Report, Opinion: Karl Rove sounds the alarm as Republican Party circles the drain, James Sullivan, Jan. 21, 2021. After seeing the GOP go from almost total government control with sizable locks on the House, Senate and even a majority of state legislatures to losing Congress and the White House in just four short years, longtime Republican strategist Karl Rove is sounding the alarm, calling on the GOP to renounce Proud Boys, militias and QAnon – or, just about everything they’ve been associated with in the Trump era, if they want to have any chance of success in the 2022 midterms.

bill palmer report logo headerThe fact that Rove wasn’t saying this before the 2020 election took place basically tells you that everything you ever thought about him in the past was accurate – he’s all about the optics and salvaging any chance of them winning elections in the future, while hoping that his own toxic legacy in Republican politics and its role of getting us where we are today will be overlooked.

He might have a whole other problem too – that his warning is coming far too late, after the GOP has found a new and unlikely coalition of voters, particularly people who feel like the party of Mitch McConnell et al cheated them out of another term of Donald Trump. Looking at Rand Paul’s most recent tirade about President Biden’s inaugural address, and it seems like not only are there still a number of fringe voters the GOP needs to win elections, there are still politicians desperately looking to win them over.

The only thing Rove’s new Wall St. Journal op-ed is good for is proof that if Democrats continue to force Republicans to take a stand on QAnon and white supremacists, it’ll be that much harder for them to win elections going forward.

ny times logoNew York Times, Members of the Proud Boys, who were among Donald Trump’s staunchest fans, are calling him “a total failure,” Sheera Frenkel and Alan Feuer, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Members of the far-right group, who were among Donald Trump’s staunchest fans, are calling him “weak” as more of them were charged for storming the U.S. Capitol.After the presidential election last year, the Proud Boys, a far-right group, declared its undying loyalty to President Trump.

In a Nov. 8 post in a private channel of the messaging app Telegram, the group urged its followers to attend protests against an election that it said had been fraudulently stolen from Mr. Trump. “Hail Emperor Trump,” the Proud Boys wrote.

But by this week, the group’s attitude toward Mr. Trump had changed. “Trump will go down as a total failure,” the Proud Boys said in the same Telegram channel on Monday.

As Mr. Trump departed the White House on Wednesday, the Proud Boys, once among his staunchest supporters, have also started leaving his side. In dozens of conversations on social media sites like Gab and Telegram, members of the group have begun calling Mr. Trump a “shill” and “extraordinarily weak,” according to messages reviewed by The New York Times. They have also urged supporters to stop attending rallies and protests held for Mr. Trump or the Republican Party.

The comments are a startling turn for the Proud Boys, which for years had backed Mr. Trump and promoted political violence. Led by Enrique Tarrio, many of its thousands of members were such die-hard fans of Mr. Trump that they offered to serve as his private militia and celebrated after he told them in a presidential debate last year to “stand back and stand by.” On Jan. 6, some Proud Boys members stormed the U.S. Capitol.

But since then, discontent with Mr. Trump, who later condemned the violence, has boiled over. On social media, Proud Boys participants have complained about his willingness to leave office and said his disavowal of the Capitol rampage was an act of betrayal. And Mr. Trump, cut off on Facebook and Twitter, has been unable to talk directly to them to soothe their concerns or issue new rallying cries.

The Proud Boys’ anger toward Mr. Trump has heightened after he did nothing to help those in the group who face legal action for the Capitol violence. On Wednesday, a Proud Boy leader, Joseph Biggs, 37, was arrested in Florida and charged with unlawful entry and corruptly obstructing an official proceeding in the riot. At least four other members of the group also face charges stemming from the attack.

“When Trump told them that if he left office, America would fall into an abyss, they believed him,” Arieh Kovler, a political consultant and independent researcher in Israel who studies the far right, said of the Proud Boys. “Now that he has left office, they believe he has both surrendered and failed to do his patriotic duty.”

The shift raises questions about the strength of the support for Mr. Trump and suggests that pockets of his fan base are fracturing. Many of Mr. Trump’s fans still falsely believe he was deprived of office, but other far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers, America First and the Three Percenters have also started criticizing him in private Telegram channels, according to a review of messages.

On Wednesday, the Proud Boys Telegram group welcomed President Biden to office. “At least the incoming administration is honest about their intentions,” the group wrote.

The Proud Boys were founded in 2016 as a club for men by Gavin McInnes, who also was a founder of the online publication Vice. Describing themselves as “Western chauvinists,” the group attracted people who appeared eager to engage in violence and who frequently espoused anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic views. The group had supported Mr. Trump since he assumed office.

“They wanted to arm themselves and start a second civil war and take down the government on Trump’s behalf,” said Marc-André Argentino, a researcher who studies the far right and a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University. “But ultimately, he couldn’t be the authoritarian they wanted him to be.”

ny times logoNew York Times, From Commander in Chief to Interloper in Palm Beach, Patricia Mazzei and Julia Echikson, Jan. 21, 2021. If former President Donald Trump intends to live in South Florida full time, he is likely to encounter some friction. (Though his fans are thrilled.) On Wednesday, Donald J. Trump did what many older New Yorkers do: He retired to Florida.

His presidential career, filled with the bombast and showmanship he displayed while announcing his candidacy after a golden escalator ride in New York, ended quietly and in private, behind the groomed hedges of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

The wealthy have long sought to retreat from public life on this chichi barrier island. High society knows a thing or two about discretion, and one could hardly pick a better place for seclusion than a luxurious oceanfront mansion during the glorious South Florida winter.

But in seeking refuge in Florida, as so many have done before him, Mr. Trump may find that some in Palm Beach are not exactly eager to embrace the former president as a full-time neighbor, not after he incited a mob of his supporters two weeks ago to storm the U.S. Capitol.

“Nobody that I’ve spoken to is looking forward to him coming back to Palm Beach,” said Richard J. Steinberg, a real estate broker who works in Palm Beach and New York. “Quite honestly, I think that whether you’re a Trump supporter or not, I don’t think that there are many people that in good conscience can justify what happened on Jan. 6, and I think that most — most — people hold him at least partially responsible.”

Throngs of Mr. Trump’s supporters greeted his motorcade on Wednesday as it made one last trip along Southern Boulevard from Palm Beach International Airport to Mar-a-Lago, with many screaming in delight to catch a glimpse of him in his final moments as president.

“He gave us freedom,” said Valéry Barto of West Palm Beach, who sported a Make America Great Again hat and waited nearly three hours before Mr. Trump rolled by. “He was for us. Now it’s going to be all messed up.”

No local leaders met Mr. Trump at the airport, as they might have on an official visit. Only a small group of supporters, many of them former campaign volunteers, waved silently when he walked off the plane. CNN did not carry Air Force One’s landing live.

joe biden resized 2 transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden takes over POTUS Twitter account, inheriting a blank slate from Trump, Rachel Lerman, Jan. 21, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden’s administration takes over the official White House social media accounts Wednesday. But Twitter won’t transfer followers, unlike with the previous administration.

President Biden (shown in a campaign photo) became @POTUS on Twitter slightly before noon on Wednesday. But unlike four years ago, when President Donald Trump took over the handle, Biden hasn’t kept the account’s current followers.

The account he took over Wednesday midday started with more than 955,000 followers, those who had followed his transition account @PresElectBiden in the last week. Trump’s POTUS account became @POTUS45 at the same time. The previous followers of the POTUS account will get a notification about the transfer with the option to follow Biden’s POTUS account if they wish.

Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty called Twitter’s transition plan “profoundly insufficient” in a tweet last week.

“They’re bending themselves over backwards to break with the 2017 protocol they set on the transfer of accounts, and also breaking with every other social platform in providing the new administration a follower base,” he added.

The move of accounts between administrations is just one of a broader digital transition among social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube taking place as Biden became the 46th president Wednesday.

 

Jan. 20

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses


U.S. Transfer of Power

 

U.S. 2021 Politics, Governing

 

U.S. Trump Pardons

 

U.S. Capitol Riots, Impeachment

 

U.S. Media, Communications News

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, BIDEN IS SWORN IN AS 46TH PRESIDENT, Staff reports, Jan. 20, 2021. ‘Democracy Has Prevailed,’ He Says in Inaugural Address; Harris Is First Woman and First Woman of Color to Be Vice President.

  • joe biden kamala harris campaign shotPresident Biden is taking office at a moment of profound crises, promising to seek unity after a tumultuous four years.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris has become the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States.
  • Former President Donald Trump did not attend the inauguration ceremony.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, taking office at a moment of profound economic, health and political crises with a promise to seek unity after a tumultuous four years that tore at the fabric of American society.

With his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Mr. Biden recited the 35-word oath of office swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” in a ceremony administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., completing the process at 11:49 a.m., 11 minutes before the authority of the presidency formally changes hands.

The ritual transfer of power came shortly after Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, her hand on a Bible that once belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and Supreme Court justice. Ms. Harris’s ascension made her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States and the first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation’s second highest office.

“This is America’s day,” Mr. Biden said as he began his Inaugural Address. “This is democracy’s day.”

After a deeply tumultuous transition, including the storming of the Capitol by supporters of now-former President Donald J. Trump, “democracy has prevailed,” Mr. Biden said, in a speech that immediately laid out the contrast between himself and his predecessor.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” Mr. Biden said, before explicitly acknowledging the devastating toll of the coronavirus in a way Mr. Trump never did.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Harris sworn in as vice president, shattering gender and racial barriers, Chelsea Janes and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Jan. 20, 2021. Harris makes history. What will she do with it?

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePresident Trump departed Washington for the final time Wednesday morning with a melancholy farewell — and a vow to return to the political arena — although he still did not directly acknowledge that voters had turned him out.

Trump had imagined a showy military send-off that more resembled authoritarian pageantry than the placid rituals of American electoral democracy, but those dreams were dashed as only a modest crowd of a few hundred aides and other loyalists showed up at Joint Base Andrews to see him off.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump grants clemency to 143 in late-night flurry, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Beth Reinhard, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.).
In his last full day in office, President Trump pardoned former adviser Stephen K. Bannon, GOP donor Elliott Broidy and a raft of well-connected celebrities, politicians and nonviolent drug offenders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden issues a blizzard of executive orders to reverse Trump’s policies, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden signed a blizzard of executive orders as soon as he is inaugurated Wednesday that will lay out his coronavirus, immigration and climate policies — launching a 10-day cascade of administrative actions aimed at reversing the policies of his Republican predecessor.

The most pressing of his priorities will be measures to combat the ongoing deadly coronavirus pandemic. Once he is sworn in at noon, Biden plans to sign executive actions that will require masks on all federal grounds and ask agencies to extend moratoriums on evictions and on federal student loan payments.

He will urge Americans to don face coverings for 100 days while reviving a global health unit in the National Security Council — allowed to go dormant during the Trump administration — to oversee pandemic preparedness and response. Biden will also begin to reverse steps taken by President Trump to withdraw from the World Health Organization by dispatching Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, to speak at the international group’s executive board meeting on Thursday.

ny times logoNew York Times, On Day 1, Biden Moves to Undo Trump’s Legacy, Michael D. Shear, Jan. 20, 2021. President Biden signed a series of executive orders on issues including immigration and criminal justice. And he moved to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. President Biden unleashed a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after taking the oath of office to sweep aside President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, tear down his anti-immigration policies, bolster the sluggish economic recovery and restore federal efforts aimed at promoting diversity.

Moving with an urgency not seen from any other modern president, Mr. Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon. Among the steps the president took were orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord and end Mr. Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim and African countries.

Individually, the actions are targeted at what the president views as specific, egregious abuses by Mr. Trump during four tumultuous years. Collectively, Mr. Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was intended to be a hefty and visible down payment on one of his primary goals: to, as his top advisers described it, “reverse the gravest damages” done to the country by Mr. Trump.

“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities,” Mr. Biden said during his Inaugural Address at the Capitol, delivered to a crowd shrunken by coronavirus risks and threats of violence. “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build, and much to gain.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden opens inaugural proceedings by memorializing 400,000 Americans lost to covid, Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden opened his inaugural commemorations Tuesday evening by honoring the 400,000 Americans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic, marking the final hours before his swearing-in with a somber reminder of the struggles facing the nation he will lead Wednesday.

Biden, returning to Washington for the first time since winning the election, presided over the first national mourning event amid the pandemic, and it set the tone for an inauguration that will be marked with more solemnity than jubilation.

Lanterns surrounding the Reflecting Pool next to the Lincoln Memorial shone to represent the dead, and buildings across the nation lit in a united effort to honor those lost. As the sun set with vibrant tangerine hues over a largely desolate, security-conscious downtown, Biden explicitly called on Americans to remember the victims and implicitly signaled the swift changes he would try to bring to the presidency.

Four years after President Trump entered office talking about "American carnage" and insisting that "I alone can fix it," Biden sought to project an optimism rooted in the possibilities of a country united and working together.

"Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness," Biden said in brief remarks that left the images to speak louder than his words. "To heal, we must remember. It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation. That's why we're here today."

Earlier, a Michigan nurse, Lori Marie Key, sang "Amazing Grace," and after Biden spoke, gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang "Hallelujah."

joe jill bidenAs she did, Biden; his wife, Jill, right; Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris; and her husband, Doug Emhoff, turned to gaze across the darkened pool. In a space that is usually crowded with people for a pre-inaugural concert, the dominant image instead was one of a void framed by light.

The ceremony was meant as a demarcation between Biden's presidency and the tenure of Trump, who has mostly ignored the swiftly rising coronavirus caseloads and death toll for months, after insisting during the campaign that the virus would soon disappear.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump exits Washington, he tells modest crowd, ‘We will be back in some form,’ Anne Gearan and Philip Rucker, Jan. 20, 2021.
The outgoing president, skipping Biden’s inauguration, planned a grand military send-off, but only a few hundred people showed up to see him depart.  

 

andy biggs paul gosar composite gage skidmore via flickr

Arizona Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs, left, and Paul Gosar (Photos by Gage Skidmore via Flickr /CC BY-SA 2.0.)

Arizona Mirror, Biggs and Gosar sought pardons for Capitol riot, but didn’t get them, Jim Small, Updated Jan. 20, 2021. Arizona Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar have asked President Donald Trump to preemptively pardon them for their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but the president has no plans to do so, CNN reported Tuesday.

Trump retains sweeping clemency and pardon powers until Joe Biden takes the oath of office at 10 a.m. Arizona time Wednesday, and CNN noted that the mercurial president could change his mind. However, facing an impeachment trial in the Senate and growing prospects that Republican senators — including longtime GOP leader Mitch McConnell — will vote to convict Trump for his role in encouraging the rioters, Trump has decided not to proactively pardon the congressmen. Per CNN:

Huddled for a lengthy meeting with his legal advisers, Trump was warned the pardons he once hoped to bestow upon his family and even himself would place him in a legally perilous position, convey the appearance of guilt and potentially make him more vulnerable to reprisals.

So, too, was Trump warned that pardons for Republican lawmakers who had sought them for their role in the Capitol insurrection would anger the very Senate Republicans who will determine his fate in an upcoming impeachment trial. …

Several Republican lawmakers who are alleged to have been involved in the rally that preceded the deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol have sought clemency from Trump before he leaves office, but after meeting with his legal advisers for several hours on Saturday, the President decided he would not grant them, according to two people familiar with his plans.

The fear of legal exposure is not limited to Republicans who promoted or spoke at the rally, including Reps. Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar. Those who participated, organized and fundraised for it are also concerned, sources told CNN, including his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, who both spoke at the rally.

Ali Alexander, a conservative activist who helped organize the “Stop the Steal” protest on Jan. 6 claimed in several now-deleted videos in the days and weeks before the event that he, Biggs, Gosar and Alabama Congressman Brooks “schemed up” the plan to put “max pressure on Congress while they were voting” on whether to certify the results of the Electoral College. Trump and many of supporters hoped that Congress or Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the results during the certification vote.

It was while the House of Representatives and Senate were debating Arizona’s 11 electoral votes that a violent mob pushed its way into the Capitol, forcing members of Congress and their staffs to hide and sparking a disturbance that ultimately killed five people.

Early Wednesday morning, Trump issued dozens of pardons and commutations. The list did not include Biggs, Gosar or anyone else involved in the Jan. 6 failed coup attempt that sought to block Biden’s certification as president.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Exactly one year after ‘Patient One’ came to U.S. hospital, Biden inherits chaotic vaccine rollout, Joel Achenbach, Lena H. Sun and Fenit Nirappil, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Day One executive order aimed at shifting pandemic strategy; Surgeon General Adams will be asked to resign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden expected to re-engage with World Health Organization, join global vaccine effort, Emily Rauhala, Jan. 20, 2021.  The Biden administration is expected to re-engage with the World Health Organization and opt into a multilateral effort to distribute vaccines around the world, reversing two decisions by the Trump administration that ripped the country away from public health diplomacy in the middle of a pandemic.

world health organization logo CustomThe Covid-19 plan published on the White House website vows to “immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.”

Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the U.S. will participate in Covax, an international effort to source and distribute vaccines, particularly in low and middle-income countries.

By moving quickly on both issues, the incoming administration is signaling a return to a more cooperative approach to global health amid a crisis that has already claimed more than 2 million lives. But after months of WHO-bashing, threats and domestic chaos, America’s future role and influence remain an open question.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 20, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 96,625,755, Deaths: 2,065,698
U.S. Cases:   24,806,964, Deaths:    411,486

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington. Projected total U.S. deaths, based on current scenario 459,324 by Feb. 1; 529,000 by March 1; 567,195 by April 1, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 16,000 vaccine doses potentially spoiled in Maine and Michigan, Andrea Salcedo, Jan. 20, 2021. More than 16,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine shipped to Maine and Michigan were damaged because of improper temperature storage.

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Long Road to the Presidency, Tanner Curtis, Antonio de Luca, Thomas Kaplan and Umi Syam, Jan. 20, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden’s journey from local government to the White House spanned half a century.

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, it will be a moment of political triumph that has been decades in the making. His long career in public office spanned eight presidents, from Richard M. Nixon to Barack Obama, but the nation’s highest office always eluded him. Now, Mr. Biden, 78, will finally join their ranks.

The story begins with an Irish Catholic family in northeastern Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden was born in 1942, the eldest son of Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. and Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden. He was also a son of Scranton, Pa., which would become central to his political identity. The Biden family moved to Delaware when he was 10 years old.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Kamala Harris, an Influential Voice and a Decisive Vote, Michael Crowley and Katie Glueck, Jan. 20, 2021. With a tiebreaking vote in the Senate, Ms. Harris may be returning to the Capitol frequently. But her role is likely to include more responsibilities.

Hours after she is sworn in as America’s 49th vice president, becoming the first woman and first woman of color in the job, Kamala Harris will return to the U.S. Capitol for what is likely to be her first official act, the swearing-in of three newly-elected Democratic senators.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileMs. Harris will be acting in her constitutional role as president of the Senate when she gives the oath of office to two Democrats elected in a Georgia special election this month, and to her own successor to the California seat she resigned on Monday. But the ceremony will also illustrate how important the Senate will be to the start of her tenure as vice president in the Biden administration.

With the Senate divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and Joseph R. Biden Jr. hoping to pass ambitious legislation on the coronavirus, the economy, climate change and other policy matters, Ms. Harris — who as vice president will break any tiebreaking votes — may find herself returning often to the Capitol.

“There’s definitely going to be a demand, I think, in a 50-50 Senate, like I’ve never seen in the Senate before,” said Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey.

“For the Biden-Harris agenda, she will be in Congress very, very often or reaching out to senators very often, to try to push that agenda through,” Mr. Booker said. An aide to Ms. Harris said that she had already begun reaching out to other senators about White House nominations, including that of retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to be secretary of defense.

Biden-Harris, Transition, Nominees, Appointees, Agency Review Teams, Motto: "The Biden-Harris White House Senior Staff will be composed of diverse, joe biden kamala harris campaign shotexperienced, and talented individuals who demonstrate President-elect Biden’s commitment to building an administration that not only looks like America, but is also ready to deliver results for working families on Day One."

washington post logoWashington Post, Who Joe Biden picked to fill his Cabinet, Staff Reports, Biden’s incoming Cabinet so far. President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for his incoming Cabinet and top White House positions. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will require Senate approval, which may face significant delays.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Reports: Biden, Harris take oath in ceremony unlike any other, Staff Reports, Jan. 20, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president on Wednesday at an inauguration like no other, amid a raging pandemic, in a city that has become a fortress of fences, concrete barriers and security checkpoints. Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris’s swearing-in, just before Biden takes the oath of office, will shatter gender and racial barriers.

President Trump, who refused to concede and never congratulated Biden on his win, departed the White House for the final time on Marine One and will soon leave for Florida — making him the first president to skip his successor‘s swearing-in since 1869. Vice President Pence will attend the inauguration instead of Trump’s departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.

Biden and Harris attended a church service before arriving at the Capitol. Inauguration events will begin shortly after 11 a.m. They will be sworn in at noon, with Biden’s inaugural address to follow.

Once at the White House, Biden is expected to sign a blizzard of executive orders that will lay out his coronavirus, immigration and climate policies.

On his final full day in office, Trump granted clemency to 143 people, including former adviser Stephen K. Bannon, GOP mega-donor Elliott Broidy and former Republican members of Congress; but he did not preemptively pardon himself or his family.

After touting his record in a farewell address, Trump undid one of the only measures he had taken to “drain the swamp,” rescinding an executive order that limited former administration officials from lobbying the government or working for foreign countries.

A dozen members of the National Guard have been removed from inauguration duty as the federal government screens troops for possible insider threats­.

Senate confirmation hearings were held Tuesday for five of Biden’s Cabinet picks, including his national security team and Janet L. Yellen, the treasury secretary nominee. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is attempting to block swift confirmation for homeland security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s final day: A diminished and aggrieved president stays out of public view before exit, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump spent his final full day in office Tuesday the same way he spent many of his 1,460 prior days as president: brooding over imagined injustices, plotting retribution against perceived enemies and seeking ways to maximize his power.

But the same pathologies that abetted Trump’s political rise, animated his followers and became hallmarks of his turbulent single term have now, in the twilight of his presidency, left him a man diminished.

In an indication of his wounded state, the president who took office determined to be omnipresent in American life, with daily and at times hourly appearances before the press corps, was almost entirely absent from public view as he prepared to vacate the White House on Wednesday morning.

Trump has spent the past seven days effectively in hiding, apart from delivering a scripted farewell address that his staff recorded and released Tuesday afternoon. In the 19-minute speech, he acknowledged that his term as the 45th president is concluding and declared, “We did what we came here to do and so much more.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Assumes Presidency as Trump Leaves White House, Staff reports, Jan. 20, 2021. Defying Convention Once More, Trump Opts to Skip Inauguration. President Trump departed the White House on Wednesday morning for the last time as the commander in chief after four tumultuous years that shook the nation, choosing to leave town rather than face the reality that he lost re-election to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Have a good life, we will see you soon,” Mr. Trump said at the end of off-the-cuff remarks delivered to supporters at Joint Base Andrews, discarding a prepared statement and ignoring advisers who thought he should have thanked Mr. Biden by name.

“We were not a regular administration,” Mr. Trump said, delivering a truncated version of his self-aggrandizing campaign rally speech, and imploring those gathered — most without masks — to “remember” all of his accomplishments.

“We will be back in some form,” he added, before walking away from his last appearance as the nation’s commander in chief to the strains of “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People. His vice president, Mike Pence, did not attend his farewell event.

Despite flouting most of the conventions associated with the peaceful transfer of power, Mr. Trump did abide by one presidential norm — leaving the traditional note to Mr. Biden in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Hawley moves to block swift confirmation for Biden’s homeland security pick, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, Jan. 20, 2021 (print alejandro mayorkased.). Homeland security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas told senators he would carry out President-elect Joe Biden’s immigration overhaul while intensifying efforts to combat domestic extremism, during a hearing Tuesday that highlighted Republican opposition to his confirmation.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mayorkas, right, wore a blue mask and listened impassively to questions about his management style and involvement in a visa program for wealthy investors.

Mayorkas, 61, is expected to win confirmation since the Democrats picked up two additional Senate seats this month in Georgia. But legislative aides from both parties said it is unclear how quickly that will occur.

Democrats are pushing for Mayorkas’s rapid confirmation, saying it is crucial to have top national security officials in place given the recent siege on the U.S. Capitol, cyberattacks on federal agencies, and the coronavirus pandemic.

josh hawley missouri

But Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), right, the focus of deep resentment for challenging Biden’s election and, critics say, helping to incite the violent mob who attacked the Capitol, moved later Tuesday to block the fast-track confirmation process, saying he was dissatisfied with Mayorkas’s responses to questions about the Biden immigration agenda. Hawley is a member of the homeland security committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Vice President Pence handles tasks declined by Trump in final days, Ashley Parker, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). On Thursday, Vice President Pence visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a briefing on inauguration security. On Sunday, he flew to Fort Drum, N.Y., where he thanked the troops for “the privilege of serving with you as vice president.”

Mike PenceAnd on Wednesday, he will attend the swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden — taking the place of President Trump, who is refusing to participate in the transition of power and will instead be en route to his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Pence, right, in many ways, has long been the historic picture of a Republican president in the Trump era — conservative, seemingly imperturbable and, perhaps most important, distinctly not Trump.

And now, in the waning days of the Trump administration, Pence is occupying the role of pretend president, executing the tasks and responsibilities of the presidency — some ceremonial and historic, others urgent and practical — that Trump appears unwilling to do.

 

U.S. Politics, Governing

jon ossoff raphael warnock

Incoming Democratic U.S. Senators from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, left, and Raphael Warnock.

Roll Call, Padilla, Ossoff and Warnock sworn in, sealing Democrats’ Senate majority, Stephanie Akin and Paul V. Fontelo, Jan. 20, 2021. Democrats sealed their control of Washington on Wednesday by swearing in three new senators to take the chamber’s majority hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president.

alex padilla oThe subdued ceremony in the Senate chambers showcased the diversity that the Democratic Party promises to usher into the Capitol in the Biden era.

Upon taking his oath, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock became the 11th Black senator to serve in the office, the first from Georgia and the third serving currently. Jon Ossoff, also of Georgia, became the first senator born in the 1980s, the youngest since Biden began his first Senate term in 1973 and the Peach State’s first Jewish senator.

And Alex Padilla became the first Latino senator from California.

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Washington Post, Opinion: Joe Biden delivers one of the best inaugural addresses in memory, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 20, 2021.From the somber, elegant jennifer rubin new headshotmemorial service Tuesday night at the Lincoln Memorial to the swearing-in of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the 46th president and Kamala D. Harris as the first female, first African American and first Asian American vice president on Wednesday, we could feel not simply the beginning of a new presidency but also a new national ethos. The nation has not experienced in recent memory such a dramatic shift in presidential tone, rhetoric and symbolism.

Fleeing Washington in disgrace, the classless former president departed Wednesday morning as he governed — self-absorbed, sullen and unable to fill the role of president for the entire country. Good riddance.

We then pivoted to the new presidency. Ahead of the inauguration, Biden, a genuinely religious man, joined first lady Jill Biden, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff to attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Biden was prayerful, serious and sincere. Religion for the faithful and not for photo ops? Well, this was new — and at the same time a reminder of how things used to be.

From the get-go, the Capitol looked new and different. The brightly colored clothing and the diverse crowd and presenters signaled that we are done with the gloomy, monochromatic era.

In contrast to the dark, creepy speech about “American carnage" that we heard four years ago, Biden delivered an impressive, forward-looking and optimistic vision of America. He did not shy away from the riot unleashed on the Capitol this month. “From now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries,” Biden said. “As we look ahead in our uniquely American way: restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.”

ny times logoNew York Times, How Gerrymandering Will Protect Republicans Who Challenged the Election, Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to object to the election result, 85 come from states where Republicans will control the redistricting process this year.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio comes from a duck-shaped district that stretches across parts of 14 counties and five media markets and would take nearly three hours to drive end to end.

jim jordan shirtsleevesDesigned after the 2010 census by Ohio Republicans intent on keeping Mr. Jordan, right, then a three-term congressman, safely in office, the district has produced the desired result. He has won each of his last five elections by at least 22 percentage points.

The outlines of Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District have left Mr. Jordan, like scores of other congressional and state lawmakers, accountable only to his party’s electorate in Republican primaries. That phenomenon encouraged the Republican Party’s fealty to President Trump as he pushed his baseless claims of election fraud.

That unwavering loyalty was evident on Jan. 6, when Mr. Jordan and 138 other House Republicans voted against certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of the presidential election. Their decision, just hours after a violent mob had stormed the Capitol, has repelled many of the party’s corporate benefactors, exposed a fissure with the Senate Republican leadership and tarred an element of the party as insurrectionists.

But while Mr. Trump faces an impeachment trial and potential criminal charges for his role in inciting the rioting, it is unlikely that Mr. Jordan and his compatriots will face any reckoning at the ballot box.

Almost all of them are guaranteed to win re-election.

Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to object to Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory, 85 come from states in which Republicans will control all levers of the redistricting process this year. An additional 28 represent districts drawn by Republicans in 2011 without Democratic input in states where the G.O.P. still holds majorities in state legislative chambers.

Taking a position as inflammatory as refusing to certify a free and fair election would be much riskier for lawmakers in Congress and in statehouses if they needed to appeal to electorates beyond their next sets of primary voters — a group that itself remains loyal to the outgoing president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump commission’s ‘1776 Report’ outrages historians, Gillian Brockell, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The 45-page report, released on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, is largely an attack on decades of historical scholarship, particularly when it comes to the nation's 400-year-old legacy of slavery. Most of those listed as authors lack credentials as historians.

Historians responded with dismay and anger Monday after the White House’s “1776 Commission” released a report that it said would help Americans better understand the nation’s history by “restoring patriotic education.”

“It’s a hack job. It’s not a work of history,” American Historical Association executive director James Grossman told The Washington Post. “It’s a work of contentious politics designed to stoke culture wars.”

The commission was created in September with a confusing news conference featuring Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. The 45-page report is largely an attack on decades of historical scholarship, particularly when it comes to the nation’s 400-year-old legacy of slavery, and most of those listed as authors lack any credentials as historians. While claiming to present a nonpartisan history, it compares progressivism to fascism and claims the civil rights movement devolved into “preferential” identity politics “not unlike those advanced by [slavery defender John C.] Calhoun and his followers.”

“I don’t know where to begin,” said public historian Alexis Coe. “This ‘report’ lacks citations or any indication books were consulted, which explains why it’s riddled in errors, distortions, and outright lies.”

Kali Nicole Gross, a history professor at Rutgers and Emory universities and the co-author of “A Black Women’s History of the United States,” said it was “dusty, dated” and “the usual dodge on the long-lasting, harmful impacts of settler-colonialism, enslavement, Jim Crow, the oppression of women, the plight of queer people ... as the true threat to democracy.”

Boston University historian Ibram X. Kendi tweeted: “This report makes it seems as if slaveholding founding fathers were abolitionists; that Americans were the early beacon of the global abolitionist movement; that the demise of slavery in the United States was inevitable.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Army secretary departs amid questions about National Guard and Capitol riot, Alex Horton, Jan. 20, 2021. Ryan D. McCarthy’s resignation capped a tumultuous term that saw the largest mobilization of the National Guard since World War II. Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy resigned Wednesday, he said in a letter to the military’s largest branch, capping a term of tumultuous moments that ended with the unprecedented use of the National Guard at home.

His departure also comes amid questions about his role in readying National Guard troops to respond to the U.S. Capitol riot in Washington on Jan. 6, and about whether delays contributed to the disastrous outcome. His responsibilities included overseeing the use of Guard members in D.C.

McCarthy’s resignation ends speculation about whether the Biden administration may have retained him for further service. McCarthy, a former Army Ranger who served in combat, was one of a handful of early Trump appointees to reach the end of the administration.

“When I was a young officer, I bought into an oath that I would never fail my comrades and continue to believe in that same oath today,” he wrote in the letter.

The military’s role and responsibility during the Capitol protest, and if delays of soldiers worsened the deadly incident, has come under intense scrutiny.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. will not pursue charges against Sen. Burr, who came under scrutiny for stock sales at outset of pandemic, Matt Zapotosky and Felicia Sonmez, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The Justice Department has ended its investigation into Sen. Richard Burr and will not pursue charges against the North Carolina Republican, who was being probed for stock sales he made before the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets.

richard burr o SmallIn a statement Tuesday, Burr, right, said, “Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year. The case is now closed.”

Burr’s lawyer, Alice Fisher, said the senator was pleased that the department had closed the case without further action.

“As the country continues to concentrate efforts on battling the challenges presented by covid-19, Senator Burr’s focus will remain on the safety and security of North Carolinians and the United States as a whole,” Fisher said.

A Justice Department spokesman confirmed the matter is closed but declined to comment further.

News of the decision was first reported by the New York Times.

Burr was one of a number of senators to come under investigation last year for stock sales they made before the pandemic’s effect on the markets.

washington post logoWashington Post, Celebrities avoided Trump and D.C. for years. Here are the stars returning for Biden’s inauguration, Emily Yahr, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.).  Much of D.C. closed off as never before; Howling winds could top 35 mph during Biden’s inauguration.

As a reality-TV-star president leaves the White House, celebrities are headed back to Washington.

Hollywood A-listers, who made no secret of their disdain for President Trump, have been largely absent from the city and its cultural scene over the past four years. Now, they are returning in droves: Superstars Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks will perform at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, while a host of other stars — Tom Hanks, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, Lin-Manuel Miranda among them — will appear on a prime-time inaugural special, “Celebrating America,” to air that night.

But even after this week’s events are over, the stage is set for a return to the pre-Trump era, as artists from all areas are far more likely to resume events and White House visits, as well as advocate for various causes.

While a few stars did make the attempt (Kim Kardashian West, notably, lobbied for prison reform), most stayed away — and it was a two-way street. Trump skipped events such as the White House correspondents’ dinner and Kennedy Center Honors. Before Trump had a chance to decline his invitation to the latter, multiple honorees said they would skip any events with the president.

 

U.S. Trump Pardons

steve bannon audrey strauss statement

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Pardons Bannon Hours Before Leaving Office, Maggie Haberman, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). steve bannon filePresident Trump has granted clemency to Stephen K. Bannon, right, the former White House chief strategist who was charged with defrauding people who supported building a border wall that Mr. Trump supported, White House officials said.

The president made the decision after a day of frantic efforts to sway his thinking, including from Mr. Bannon, who spoke to him by phone earlier on Tuesday.

The pardon was described as a pre-emptive move that would effectively wipe away the charges against Mr. Bannon, should he be convicted. A prosector's statement of the charges is shown above center.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump ends it all with one final scam — and it bodes badly for Trumpism’s future, Greg Sargent, Jan. 20, 2021. For a presidency that’s been awash in grift and deception from the start, you could not have scripted a more fitting end.

In his final moments as president, Donald Trump hailed his massive tax cut for the rich and corporations as one of his leading accomplishments — just after pardoning the chief architect of his “economic populism,” all to protect him from facing charges that he literally stole money from Trump supporters with a two-bit scam promising to help build his border wall.

As Trump prepared to depart from Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning, he hailed his presidency as “amazing, by any standard.”

“We also got the largest tax cut reform in the history of our country by far,” Trump told the crowd of die-hards who had collected to watch his departure. After telling that lie, Trump suggested Democrats would hike taxes on ordinary Americans. In fact, President-elect Joe Biden’s plan only targets income over $400,000.

If we want to take stock of the Trump era, and how far removed that final moment was from the initial promise of this presidency, a good place to start is with an interview that Stephen K. Bannon gave just after helping engineer Trump’s 2016 victory.

In it, Bannon declared that Trump would offer a “populist” agenda of massive spending to rebuild the U.S. manufacturing base, producing an “entirely new” movement for the “American working class.”

Bannon promised a new “economic nationalism” that would rival the New Deal’s success in recasting the political alignment of working-class Americans of all races, but this time toward Trump’s GOP. Bannon declared: “It will be as exciting as the 1930s.”

Now, as the country remains mired in terrible crises that rival those of the 1930s — ones largely created by Trump himself — he just closed out his term with a raft of deeply corrupt pardons, one of which went to Bannon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s final wave of pardons includes names pushed by criminal justice reform advocates, Annie Karni, Updated Jan. 20, 2021. The group includes nonviolent offenders whose names have been percolating for years among advocates who believe their punishments never fit their crimes.

President Trump, during his one term in office, has used clemency power on behalf of convicted liars and crooked politicians, some of whom have been his friends. But the long list of pardons his team has prepared for him to sign on his final full day in office includes the names of people who have been serving life sentences for drug or fraud charges and who for years have been seeking clemency.

In the past, the administration has emphasized clemency for low-level offenders in order to blunt criticism that Mr. Trump was inappropriately offering pardons to people to whom he had personal connections. Tuesday’s group includes nonviolent offenders whose names have been percolating for years among advocates who believe their punishments never fit their crimes and whose cases underscore the broken nature of the country’s criminal justice system.

The names were recommended by a group that included Alice Johnson, who has been working with #Cut50, a prisoner advocacy group, and Mark Holden, a former executive at Koch Industries. Ms. Johnson herself was granted a full pardon after speaking on Mr. Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention and has continued to personally press Mr. Trump and his family members about their cases. The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney was cut out of the process, as has been typical in the Trump White House.

Among those being pardoned Tuesday, according to people directly involved in the process, are Darrell Frazier, who has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy charges. During his incarceration, Mr. Frazier founded the Joe Johnson Tennis Foundation, a nonprofit supporting children in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Craig Cesal has been serving a life sentence without parole on a marijuana charge. “My crime was that my truck repair business in Chicago fixed trucks operated by a Florida long-haul trucking company whose drivers trafficked marijuana in the south,” he told The Washington Post in 2016.

Lavonne Roach, a nonviolent drug offender, has been serving a 30-year sentence after she was charged with conspiracy to distribute meth. Ms. Roach, a Lakota Sioux woman, has been in prison since 1994.

cnn logoCNN, Trump's last-minute pardons include Bannon, Lil Wayne and scores of others, Pamela Brown, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, Jan. 20, 2021. President Donald Trump issued a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations early Wednesday that included his onetime political strategist (shown above), a former top fundraiser and two well-known rappers but not himself or his family.

The batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued in the final hours of his presidency was expected, and is in keeping with a long-standing presidential tradition of exercising clemency powers at the last minute.

The list reflected a President keen on awarding pardons to his stalwart allies, an unusual number of whom have been swept up in corruption or lying charges.

The vast majority of the pardons and commutations on Trump's list were doled out to individuals whose cases have been championed by criminal justice reform advocates, including people serving lengthy sentences for low-level offenses.

But several controversial names do appear, including Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he defrauded donors in a "We Build the Wall" online fundraising campaign. Trump had spent the past days deliberating over a pardon for the man who helped him win the presidency in 2016 and followed him to the White House. During his final hours in office there was a frantic debate underway behind the scenes on whether to grant Bannon a pardon.

One concern was Bannon's possible connection to the January 6 riot of Trump supporters at the US Capitol, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Over the course of Tuesday, Trump continued to contemplate pardons that aides believed were settled, including for his former strategist. The President continued to go back and forth on it into Tuesday night, sources told CNN.

Other names included Tuesday were Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump's campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy relating to a secret lobbying campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of a foreign billionaire in exchange for millions of dollars.

The rapper Lil Wayne received a pardon after pleading guilty to a gun possession charge in Miami. Another rapper, Kodak Black, received a commutation after he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge.

Trump also offered clemency to Paul Erickson, the conservative political operative and ex-boyfiend of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges; Robin Hayes, a North Carolina political donor convicted of trying to bribe officials; Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, convinced of federal charges including racketeering, extortion and the filing of false tax returns; William Walters, a professional sports gambler convicted of insider trading; and Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force officer who the US accused of being a spy.

Bob Zangrillo, the Miami developer and venture capitalist charged in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal, also received a pardon. None of the other parents caught up in the probe were pardoned.

Though neither Trump or members of his family were included on his list, Trump has until noon on Wednesday to issue any final pardons before leaving office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: With his last pardons, Trump makes clear his position on political corruption, Philip Bump, Jan. 20, 2021. Trump grants clemency to 143 people, including Bannon, in late-night pardon blast The first pardon President Trump issued was to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio had been convicted of a criminal contempt charge after refusing to adhere to a judge’s order curtailing his targeting of suspected undocumented immigrants.

That pardon set a tone. Arpaio had been a strong supporter of Trump and his politics echoed Trump’s, from his approach to immigration to his attacks on Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. That Trump was essentially rewarding an elected official’s refusal to be held in check by part of the government clearly resonated for a president who, at that time, was battling a federal investigation of members of his own presidential campaign.

Over the months that followed, Trump repeatedly sided with corrupt politicians over the authorities who uprooted them. He pardoned former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had admitted to fraud and lying to White House officials. He pardoned Michael T. Flynn, his own former national security adviser, who had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators digging into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. He pardoned former congressmen Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), both of whom had endorsed his 2016 candidacy and who had pleaded guilty to insider trading and misusing campaign money, respectively. He commuted the sentences of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D), who was convicted on corruption charges, and former congressman Steve Stockman (R-Tex.), who had been convicted of money laundering and misusing campaign contributions.

Even as his time in office came to a close, Trump wasn’t done. Early Wednesday morning, the day Trump will leave his office, the White House announced a number of new pardons. Among them was one for former congressman Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), who was convicted on charges of corruption, as was former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.), who was convicted on various fraud and bribery-related charges. Trump also pardoned former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D), who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.

 

U.S. Capitol Riots, Impeachment

capitol national guard dome scene cnbc

National Guardsman arrive on their first evening of deployment to protect the Capitol against pro-Trump mobs.

ny times logoNew York Times, McConnell, Weighing Impeachment, Says Capitol Mob Was ‘Provoked’ by Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Senator Mitch McConnell said the mob that stormed the Capitol “was fed lies,” referring to attempts by President Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. The president is expected to issue dozens of pardons.

mitch mcconnellSenator Mitch McConnell, right, the Republican leader, said on Tuesday that the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 had been “provoked by the president and other powerful people,” stating publicly for the first time that he holds President Trump at least partly responsible for the assault.

“The mob was fed lies,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to attempts by Mr. Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Mr. McConnell made the remarks on his last full day as majority leader, speaking on the eve of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration and as the Senate was bracing to receive a single article of impeachment from the House charging Mr. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

The Kentucky Republican has indicated privately that he believes that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, but he has said he has yet to decide whether to vote to convict the president, and many senators in his party are awaiting a sign from Mr. McConnell before making their own judgments. It would take 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to find the president guilty, which would allow the Senate to hold a second vote to disqualify Mr. Trump from public office in the future.

Mr. McConnell’s remarks came hours before he was set to meet face to face with his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, to work out a set of rules for the trial and the coming Senate session, when the chamber will be split 50-50 between the parties. Democrats will hold control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the power to break Senate ties, but Mr. Schumer will need at least some cooperation from Mr. McConnell to run the chamber and get things done.

washington post logoWashington Post, He gave an interview right after storming the U.S. Capitol. It led the FBI straight to him, Marisa Iati and Paulina Firozi, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The same day he stormed the U.S. Capitol, pushing past rows of police officers and congregating with hundreds of other people on the Senate floor, Leo Christopher Kelly sat for an interview and talked about what he did.

Kelly described how he listened to President Trump rile up thousands of his supporters outside the White House on Jan. 6 before the crowd streamed down Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues toward the Capitol. By the time Kelly arrived, he said, barricades had been pushed aside, rioters were scaling the building’s scaffolding, and others were racing up the stairs.

Intrigued by what was happening, he said, he began to follow.

“This is a moment in U.S. history,” Kelly, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told antiabortion news site LifeSiteNews. “It’s not unlike the days of the beginning of the country. At some point, there’s enough illegal behavior and there’s enough crimes against the Constitution being committed by the elected officials that, you know, what are you supposed to do?”

Kelly’s sense of valor came crashing down Monday, when FBI agents in Omaha arrested him on charges of knowingly entering a restricted building without authority, violent entry with intent to disrupt the orderly conduct of official business and disorderly conduct. Court documents traced how his conversation with LifeSiteNews and a later interview with the Cedar Rapids Gazette led law enforcement straight to him.

It’s one example of many: alleged Capitol attackers being shockingly open on social media and in interviews about what transpired that day. Rioters posted selfies from inside the congressional chambers, uploaded videos with footage of the riot or spoke to reporters shortly after the events. In many instances, that documentation has become evidence in their criminal cases.

Of 92 federal arrests related to the Capitol attack examined by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, 76 contained evidence from social media. Charging documents in about half of those 76 instances present the accused person’s own social media posts.

washington post logosecret service logoWashington Post, Trump extended Secret Service protection for 14 members of his family as he left office, Carol D. Leonnig, Jan. 20, 2021. In the days before he left office, then-President Donald Trump instructed that his extended family get the best security available in the world for the next six months, at no cost — the protection of the U.S. Secret Service.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol Police officer who faced down pro-Trump mob escorts Harris, Derek Hawkins and Paulina Firozi, Jan. 20, 2021. Eugene Goodman accompanied Harris in his role as the new acting deputy sergeant-at-arms. Eugene Goodman, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who faced down a mob of pro-Trump rioters during the attack on the U.S. Capitol building this month, escorted Vice President Harris at the inauguration.

Goodman accompanied Harris in his role as the new acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms.

A Black officer faced down a mostly White mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman.

After walking Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, from their motorcade, Goodman descended the steps of the Capitol and wheeled back to watch the entrance. Huge cheers erupted as he was announced to the crowd. He wore a beige overcoat, a lavender scarf and a black mask.

“The man who saved the Senate,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) tweeted. “Standing ovation and cheers for a true hero, Officer Eugene Goodman.”

Selecting Goodman as Harris’s escort was a powerful acknowledgment of his actions on Jan 6. Footage of a lone Goodman, who is Black, facing down a group of mostly White rioters was widely shared after the attempted insurrection. In the clip, Goodman is shown trying to hold back dozens of rioters, moving swiftly up a flight of stairs as he appeared to lure the group away from the Senate chambers, where lawmakers and staff had taken shelter.

Goodman’s quick thinking probably prevented a violent confrontation and may have saved lives, experts who reviewed the footage told The Washington Post.

He is being considered by lawmakers for the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest awards a civilian can receive in the United States, for his bravery during the assault.

President Biden made multiple references to the riot in his inaugural address Wednesday morning, saying the mob “sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is shown below at left in a screenshot.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers who objected to election results have been cut off from 20 of their 30 biggest corporate PAC donors, Douglas MacMillan and
Jena McGregor, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). U.S. executives continue to grapple with political bloodshed and its ripple effects on the corporate landscape.

ted cruz abc resize horizontalThe 147 Republican lawmakers who opposed certification of the presidential election this month have lost the support of many of their largest corporate backers — but not all of them.

The Washington Post contacted the 30 companies that gave the most money to election-objecting lawmakers’ campaigns through political action committees. Two-thirds, or 20 of the firms, said they have pledged to suspend some or all payments from their PACs.

Meanwhile, nine companies said only that they would review their political giving or did not commit to take any action as a result of this month’s events. One djt biden resized smilesother top donor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

American FlagThe split between company responses shows how U.S. executives are still grappling with the recent political bloodshed and its ripple effects across the corporate landscape. The attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 led to calls for companies and wealthy donors to disavow support for lawmakers who continue to propagate dangerous myths about the election and has prompted a broader rethinking of the role of PAC giving among the nation’s top companies.

The 30 corporate PACs that donated the most money to the 147 election objectors gave them a total of $36 million from 2015 to 2020, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance and lobbying records. Of that amount, nearly att logo$26 million came from companies that now say they have suspended donations. About $10 million came from companies that have not committed to any changes to PAC contributions.

comcast logoSome of the strongest repudiations of the Republican lawmakers came from AT&T, Comcast, Honeywell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, KPMG and Verizon. These firms all said they would suspend donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Self-styled militia members made plans to storm Capitol before attack, charges say, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman and Devlin Barrett, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Unsealed court documents allege some who attacked the Capitol communicated as they breached opposite sides of the building and talked about hunting for lawmakers to make “citizen’s arrests.”

Self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of the Jan. 6 attack, communicating in real time as they breached the building on opposite sides and leading dozens in a hunt for lawmakers to make “citizen’s arrests,” according to new court documents filed Tuesday.

U.S. authorities charged an apparent Oath Keeper leader, Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Clarke County, Va., in the attack, alleging that the U.S. Navy veteran helped organize a ring of what became 30 or 40 people who “stormed the castle” to disrupt the electoral vote confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” co-defendant Jessica Watkins, 38, a U.S. Army veteran, said while the breach was underway, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

 capitol peter stager

In one scene from the Capitol riot, an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), was arrested last week on charges of beating a Capitol Hill policeman being stomped by the mob.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: ‘Traitors get shot,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Two days after Guy Reffitt joined the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, federal officials said, he returned home to Wylie, Tex., and proudly told his family of his escapade. But by Jan. 11, when Reffitt learned the FBI was on to him, he changed his tune, according to an affidavit.

“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Reffitt, 48, said to his son and daughter, according to his wife, who recounted the conversation to the FBI, which did not name the relatives.

FBI logoOn Saturday, the FBI caught up to him. Reffitt, an oil worker with ties to self-styled militia and right-wing extremist groups, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening his family and unlawful entry into the Capitol.

Reffitt is one of more than 100 individuals who have been charged with breaching the Capitol earlier this month. In recent days, the FBI has arrested several with alleged connections to extremist groups, signaling the investigation into the violence at the Capitol is homing in on people who were more prepared, organized and encouraged violence, The Washington Post reported.

Robert Gieswein, a 24-year-old charged on Saturday with assaulting police, civil disorder and obstruction of police and government, is allegedly linked to three extremist groups: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old bartender and Army veteran who was arrested on Saturday, founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a unit of the Oath Keepers, the FBI said.

Reffitt’s wife told federal agents that her husband is also a member of the Three Percenters, a right-wing movement founded on the false belief that only 3 percent of colonists fought the British during the Revolutionary War.

 

U.S. Media, Communications News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Controversial head of Voice of America resigns hours after Biden sworn in, Paul Farhi, Jan. 20, 2021. Michael Pack, a Trump appointee, who left a trail of criticism during his short term as head of agency that supervises government-funded news networks, said his resignation had been requested by President Biden.

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America and other government-funded overseas news agencies, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure.

voice of america logoPack quit a few hours after President Biden took office and less than eight months into his three-year term as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The government agency oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and other networks that produce and distribute news to millions of people in countries whose governments suppress independent reporting.

He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. During the president campaign, Biden’s staff had signaled that he would replace Pack if Biden won election.

Biden is expected to name a replacement from within USAGM, although no successor was announced on Wednesday.

Pack, a former documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump adviser Steve K. Bannon, left a trail of controversies, lawsuits and general criticism inside and around the agencies he oversaw.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voice of America overseer spent $2 million investigating employees, complaint alleges, Paul Farhi, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The head of Voice of America’s parent agency hired a law firm at a rate of about $500 an hour and spent $2 million in taxpayer funds to compile personnel dossiers on managers he had targeted for removal, according to a complaint filed Tuesday.

The accusation, contained in a whistleblower complaint, is the latest claim of impropriety against Michael Pack, a conservative Trump appointee who has sought to reshape VOA and four other government-funded international news networks since becoming their overseer in June.

voice of america logoDuring his short tenure, Pack has generated controversy by removing veteran managers, accusing VOA of harboring foreign spies and seeking to influence VOA’s news coverage, despite regulations barring political appointees from doing so. A federal judge in November prohibited him from violating the editorial “firewall” and interfering in editorial decisions.

In addition, the District of Columbia’s attorney general sued Pack earlier this month, alleging that he had enriched himself by funneling more than $4 million to the private filmmaking company he formerly ran through a nonprofit entity that he also controlled.

The latest allegation comes from the Government Accountability Project, a law firm that represents government whistleblowers, including those at the federal government’s U.S. Agency for Global Media, which is run by Pack. USAGM manages VOA, Radio Free Asia and three other entities that report news for international audiences.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Fox News managers depart amid Murdoch’s concerns over controversial Arizona election night projection, Sarah Ellison, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). Fox News co-founder Rupert Murdoch, shown in 2017, is said to have been concerned about audience reaction to Fox News’s early election night call of Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona.

fox news logo SmallThe Fox News executive who oversaw its election night “decision desk” is retiring at the end of the month, a move due in part to what Rupert Murdoch, right, and other top network leaders viewed as a mishandling of the network’s early and controversial Arizona projection for Joe Biden.

Bill Sammon, 62, Fox News Channel’s senior vice president and managing editor in Washington, told staffers Monday morning about his rupert murdoch newplanned retirement. His role will be absorbed by existing editorial staff members. A spokesperson declined to comment on the reason for his retirement.

Sammon previously worked as a White House correspondent for the Washington Times before joining Fox in 2009.

His announcement came as Fox laid off nearly 20 staffers Tuesday, including Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, who worked on the decision desk with Sammon. Fox declined to comment specifically on Stirewalt, citing employee confidentiality. His departure shocked many inside the building who bemoaned the loss of a respected Washington voice at a time when the conservative-leaning network is navigating its future without President Trump in office.

Stirewalt, a regular on-air presence, defended Fox’s election night projections after they came under question. “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do, and we remain serene and pristine,” he said after the network made its call — the first strong indicator that Trump’s reelection hopes were imperiled after an evening of otherwise encouraging early results for the GOP. The Fox call enraged the Trump campaign and altered the narrative of election night media coverage.

washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon believers grapple with doubt, spin new theories as Trump era ends: ‘We all got played,' Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg, Jan. 20, 2021. While some QAnon disciples gave way to doubt as Trump's term ended, others doubled down on blind belief or strained to see new coded messages in the Inauguration Day’s events.

Followers of the extremist ideology QAnon saw their hopes once again dashed Wednesday as President Trump left Washington on the final day of his presidency, without any of the climactic scenes of violence and salvation that the sprawling set of conspiracy theories had preached for years would come.

As Trump boarded Air Force One for his last presidential flight to Florida, many QAnon adherents — some of whose fellow believers had earlier this month stormed the Capitol in a siege that left at least two QAnon devotees dead and others in jail — began to wonder whether they’d been duped all along.

When one QAnon channel on the chat app Telegram posted a new theory that suggested Biden himself was “part of the plan,” a number of followers shifted into open rebellion: “This will never happen.” “Just stfu already!” “It’s over. It is sadly, sadly over.” “What a fraud!”

But while some QAnon disciples gave way to doubt, others doubled down on blind belief or strained to see new coded messages in the Inauguration Day’s events. Some followers noted that 17 flags — Q being the 17th letter of the alphabet — flew on the stage as Trump delivered a farewell address.

“17 flags! come on now this is getting insane,” said one post on a QAnon forum devoted to the “Great Awakening,” the quasi-biblical name for QAnon’s utopian end times. “I don’t know how many signs has to be given to us before we ‘trust the plan,’” one commenter said.

@POTUS Twitter account transferred from Trump to Biden

Over thousands of cryptic posts since 2017, Q, QAnon’s unidentified online prophet, had promised that Trump was secretly spearheading a spiritual war against an elite cabal of child-eating Satanists who controlled Washington, Hollywood and the world. Believers in these false, rambling theories had counted down the hours waiting for Trump to corral his enemies for military tribunals and mass executions in a show of force they called “the Storm.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden takes over POTUS Twitter account, inheriting a blank slate from Trump, Rachel Lerman, Jan. 20, 2021. President Biden’s administration takes over the official White House social media accounts Wednesday. But Twitter won’t transfer followers, unlike with the previous administration.

Joe Biden became @POTUS on Twitter slightly before noon on Wednesday. But unlike four years ago, when President Trump took over the handle, Biden hasn’t kept the account’s current followers.

The account he took over Wednesday midday started with more than 955,000 followers, those who had followed his transition account @PresElectBiden in the last week. Trump’s POTUS account became @POTUS45 at the same time. The previous followers of the POTUS account will get a notification about the transfer with the option to follow Biden’s POTUS account if they wish.

Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty called Twitter’s transition plan “profoundly insufficient” in a tweet last week.

“They’re bending themselves over backwards to break with the 2017 protocol they set on the transfer of accounts, and also breaking with every other social platform in providing the new administration a follower base,” he added.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exiled from social media mainstream, Trump and his followers will find life different at the extreme corners of the Web, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Jan. 20, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump will leave the White House on Wednesday as a man shorn of a key instrument of his power — his Twitter account — amid a broad reckoning over whether even the world’s leading politicians have a right to incite violence and spread hate speech on social media.

parler logoThere will always be ways for Trump, and everyone else, to keep making their views known on the Internet. Parler is scrambling its way back online after its unceremonious purging last week, and an ever-growing list of alternatives are offering similar opportunities for online conversation that is moderated lightly or not at all.

But those purged from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will find their alternatives comparatively obscure, and while their freedom to speak will be intact, their reach will be diminished and their audiences fractured.

twitter bird CustomEven the most extreme voices — QAnon enthusiasts, Proud Boys, “boogaloo bois,” white supremacists, anti-Semites — have found ways to facebook logokeep talking to each other online after mainstream platforms expelled them — or, to use an increasingly popular term, “de-platformed” them. What got dramatically curbed was their ability to talk to everyone else.

“I’m hearing some conversations that seem to suggest that de-platforming is a cure-all for radicalization, and that is not at all what the evidence suggests,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, an extremism researcher at Queen’s University in Ontario. “What de-platforming does is disrupt networks, makes it harder for individuals to find each other again, shatters the trust that existed between them [and] takes the megaphone away.”

 

Jan. 19

Top Headlines

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

 

Top Stories

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers who objected to election results have been cut off from 20 of their 30 biggest corporate PAC donors, Douglas MacMillan and
Jena McGregor, Jan. 19, 2021. U.S. executives continue to grapple with political bloodshed and its ripple effects on the corporate landscape.

djt biden resized smilesThe 147 Republican lawmakers who opposed certification of the presidential election this month have lost the support of many of their largest corporate backers — but not all of them.

The Washington Post contacted the 30 companies that gave the most money to election-objecting lawmakers’ campaigns through political action committees. Two-thirds, or 20 of the firms, said they have pledged to suspend some or all payments from their PACs.

Meanwhile, nine companies said only that they would review their political giving or did not commit to take any action as a result of this month’s events. One other top donor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

American FlagThe split between company responses shows how U.S. executives are still grappling with the recent political bloodshed and its ripple effects across the corporate landscape. The attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 led to calls for companies and wealthy donors to disavow support for lawmakers who continue to propagate dangerous myths about the election and has prompted a broader rethinking of the role of PAC giving among the nation’s top companies.

The 30 corporate PACs that donated the most money to the 147 election objectors gave them a total of $36 million from 2015 to 2020, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance and lobbying records. Of that amount, nearly $26 million came from companies that now say they have suspended donations. About $10 million came from companies that have not committed to any changes to PAC contributions.

Some of the strongest repudiations of the Republican lawmakers came from AT&T, Comcast, Honeywell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, KPMG and Verizon. These firms all said they would suspend donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president.

 pentagon dc skyline dod photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon Accelerates Efforts to Root Out Far-Right Extremism in the Ranks, Eric Schmitt, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). The examination is a change of direction for the Pentagon after the F.B.I. identified at least six suspects with military links involved in the Capitol siege. Federal officials are also vetting thousands of National Guard troops arriving in Washington to help secure the inauguration.

The Pentagon is intensifying efforts to identify and combat white supremacy and other far-right extremism in its ranks as federal investigators seek to determine how many military personnel and veterans joined the violent assault on the Capitol.

Department of Defense SealIn the days since a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, senior leaders of the 2.1 million active-duty and reserve troops have been grappling with fears that former or current service members will be found among the horde.

The F.B.I. investigation into the Capitol siege, still in its very early stages, has identified at least six suspects with military links out of the more than 100 people who have been taken into federal custody or the larger number still under investigation. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Texas, an Army officer from North Carolina and an Army reservist from New Jersey. Another person with military service was shot and killed in the assault.

The military’s examination of its ranks marks a new urgency for the Pentagon, which has a history of downplaying the rise of white nationalism and right-wing activism, even as Germany and other countries are finding a deep strain embedded in their armed forces.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump administration bailed out prominent anti-vaccine groups during a pandemic, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Aaron Gregg, Jan. 18, 2021. Five groups got more than $850,000 in PPP loans to help small businesses through the pandemic.

Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations that have been known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money to groups actively opposing its agenda and seeking to undermine public health during a critical period.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The groups that received the loans are The National Vaccine Information Center, Mercola Com Health Resources LLC, Informed Consent Action Network, Children’s Health Defense Co., and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a U.K.-based advocacy group that fights misinformation, which conducted the research using public documents. The group relied on data released in early December by the Small Business Administration in response to a lawsuit from The Washington Post and other news organizations.

Several of the Facebook pages of these organizations have by penalized by the social network, including being prohibited from buying advertising, for pushing misinformation about covid-19.

Vaccines are largely considered safe and effective, and clinical trials for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not raise serious safety concerns. But many Americans hold skeptical attitudes about vaccination, attitudes public health experts have said are attributable in part to misinformation. Nearly 40% of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine, according to a December survey by Pew Research Center. Certain groups, including Republicans and Black Americans, are even more skeptical, Pew found.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

In one scene from the Capitol riot, an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), was arrested last week on charges of beating a Capitol Hill policeman being stomped by the mob.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: ‘Traitors get shot,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Jan. 19, 2021.  Two days after Guy Reffitt joined the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, federal officials said, he returned home to Wylie, Tex., and proudly told his family of his escapade. But by Jan. 11, when Reffitt learned the FBI was on to him, he changed his tune, according to an affidavit.

“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Reffitt, 48, said to his son and daughter, according to his wife, who recounted the conversation to the FBI, which did not name the relatives.

FBI logoOn Saturday, the FBI caught up to him. Reffitt, an oil worker with ties to self-styled militia and right-wing extremist groups, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening his family and unlawful entry into the Capitol.

Reffitt is one of more than 100 individuals who have been charged with breaching the Capitol earlier this month. In recent days, the FBI has arrested several with alleged connections to extremist groups, signaling the investigation into the violence at the Capitol is homing in on people who were more prepared, organized and encouraged violence, The Washington Post reported.

Robert Gieswein, a 24-year-old charged on Saturday with assaulting police, civil disorder and obstruction of police and government, is allegedly linked to three extremist groups: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old bartender and Army veteran who was arrested on Saturday, founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a unit of the Oath Keepers, the FBI said.

Reffitt’s wife told federal agents that her husband is also a member of the Three Percenters, a right-wing movement founded on the false belief that only 3 percent of colonists fought the British during the Revolutionary War.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. files conspiracy charge against Oath Keeper leader in alleged plot against the Capitol, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Jan. 19, 2021. U.S. authorities have leveled the first conspiracy charge against an apparent leader of an extremist group in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, arresting an alleged Oath Keeper who is accused of plotting to disrupt the electoral vote confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and proposing further assaults on state capitols.

Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, of Clarke County, Va., was taken into custody before 7 a.m. on four federal counts, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States in the attack on the Capitol. The conspiracy charge is reserved for offenses interfering with or obstructing the lawful operation of government.

A charging affidavit says he helped organize a group of eight to 10 individuals, including self-styled Ohio militia members apprehended Sunday, who wore helmets and military-style gear and were seen moving purposefully toward the top of the Capitol steps and leading the move against police lines.

Caldwell sent the message, the affidavit said, to Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old U.S. Army veteran who was arrested late Sunday. Federal authorities accused her of breaching the Capitol with other members of the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a group she founded in 2019.

Caldwell’s arrest comes as the Justice Department has charged more than 100 people in the two weeks following the riot. This weekend the FBI arrested several people with alleged ties to the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters, which charging documents suggest were among the more prepared, organized and determined groups in the larger mass of rioters.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Trump supporter arrested near Capitol for carrying gun; woman charged with impersonating police.

A heavy-metal guitarist, the alleged leader of a Colorado paramilitary training group and two self-styled militia members from Ohio have been charged with taking part in the riot at the Capitol last week, as the FBI ratchets up its investigation into the role extremist groups played in storming the building.

FBI logoJon Schaffer, an Indiana musician, turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday afternoon, officials said. On Jan. 6, Schaffer was photographed inside the Capitol, wearing a hat that said “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.” Schaffer founded Iced Earth, a heavy-metal band, and music fans quickly recognized him as the FBI circulated wanted posters with his face on them.

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.

Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”

Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and a patch for that group was visible on a tactical vest he wore during the attack on Congress, an FBI affidavit said.

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Libertarian terrorism, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 19, 2021. The temporary seizure of the U.S. Capitol by far-right supporters of Donald Trump should serve as the political death knell for the libertarian ideological base of "Trumpism."

Libertarians have never achieved serious political rule mainly because they and their philosophy cannot exist in the real world of governance.

The Libertarian Party represents nothing more than parlor room discourse by political party rejects. Libertarians have only achieved political power by nesting themselves inside established political parties having a record of electoral success and governance. This has been the case with Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, and Paul's father, Ron Paul, the latter running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988 before becoming a Republican and being elected to the U.S. House.

Political lunatics like Grover Norquist, who wants to shrink the size of government to where it can be drowned in a bathtub, and Steve Bannon, who advocates beheading government officials and putting their heads on pikes at the White House gates, have no place in serious matters of governance and legislating.

klete keller fbi photo

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Let You Down’: Klete Keller’s Path From Olympics to Capitol Riot, Karen Crouse, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Jan. 6 wasn’t Keller’s first election protest in Washington. But as he makes tearful apologies and faces federal charges, even his closest confidants aren’t sure why he was there at all.

Of the dozens of people now facing charges and possible prison sentences for invading the Capitol, only a handful have drawn more attention than Klete Keller (shown above, center), a three-time Olympian who won two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps.

Yet within days after he was spotted in videos of the pro-Trump crowds that assaulted the Capitol, friends and former teammates of Keller, 38, turned him in to the F.B.I. Strangers demanded that he go to prison. And prominent voices called for him to be stripped of his Olympic medals.

To those who know Keller best, it was nothing less than bizarre to see a man who had once stood atop an Olympic medals podium with his hand over his heart during the national anthem — the personification, in that moment, of American greatness and success — acting as a part of a mob bent on disrupting the United States’ democracy. But they could not say they were surprised.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pennsylvania woman accused of taking Nancy Pelosi’s laptop turns herself in to the police, Katie Benner, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Riley June Williams, a Pennsylvania woman accused by federal law enforcement of taking a laptop from the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the assault on the Capitol this month, turned herself in to the local police on Monday.

riley june williamsMs. Williams, 22, right, was seen on video taking “a laptop computer or hard drive” from the office of Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, according to a complaint filed by the Justice Department on Sunday. The authorities accused her of unlawful entry, disrupting the conduct of government business and disorderly conduct.

A former boyfriend of Ms. Williams contacted the F.B.I. to identify her in videos recorded during the attack. According to the court filing, he told the F.B.I. that she had intended to sell the laptop to a friend in Russia, who hoped to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. He also told the F.B.I. that the sale had fallen through.

Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, has said that the break-in posed a national security risk because rioters had stolen computers, hard drives and files from the offices of lawmakers.

Ms. Williams can also be seen on video directing crowds up a staircase inside the Capitol, yelling, “Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs,” according to the court filing.

Local law enforcement agents in Harrisburg, Pa., told the F.B.I. that Ms. Williams’s father had told them he drove with her to Washington to protest the election results, and that they returned to Pennsylvania together after splitting up during the day.

Her mother told local law enforcement officers that she had since fled, and the police discovered that after the attack she had changed her telephone number and deleted what seemed to be her social media accounts, the F.B.I. said in the court filing.

 

 

Jan. 18

Top Headlinescapitol national guard dome scene cnbc

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

 

Trump Pardon Market

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

U.S. Civil Rights, Capitol Threats

 

U.S. 2021 Politics, Governing

 

Media News

 

Top Stories

martin luther king resized white house photo

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shown above, with quotation from his 1963 book, Strength to Love

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Cutting off the head of the fascist snake, Wayne Madsen (left, columnist, author of 18 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Jan. 18, 2021. As the nation celebrates the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalllife of Dr. Martin Luther King (above), his words given in a 1966 speech in Raleigh, North Carolina included a warning about the resurrection of fascist and racist groups in the United States. Some 1,800 hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan were present in Raleigh as Dr. King gave his speech at Reynolds College in the city.

Today, thanks to the prodding of Donald Trump, not only the Klan, but Nazis — let us not refer to them as "neo-Nazis," because there is capitol confederate flag capitolnothing new or unique about their right-wing venom — Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, Groyper Army, Three Percenters, and a host of other far-right slime continue to celebrate the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The FBI has rounded up many of the dangerous, as well as comically pathetic, U.S. Capitol marauders and terrorists, but the real leadership of the far-right has remained unscathed.

There can be no defeat of these forces until their sources of income and ideological leaders are arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for long periods.

ali akbar alexander via dissident"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander (from Dissident-mag.com)

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Dissident-mag portrays Ali Alexander's life as "a grifter's dream come true," but now he's in hiding because of his role in organizing U.S. Capitol riots, Roger Shuler, right, Jan. 18, 2021. Not only does Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander have a sketchy personal background, his roger shuler and murphyorganizations present a flimsy appearance, too. Dissident-mag.com examines both in a post titled “Stop The Steal”: A GOP Grifter’s Dream Come True."

Alexander remains in hiding, apparently wanted by federal authorities for his role in spearheading a protest that turned into a deadly assault at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. James Allsup, of Dissident-Mag provides enough background on Alexander, including his ties to Alabama, to remove any surprise that might linger about the Capitol riots. Writes Allsup:

The organizer of “Stop The Steal,” and operator of StopTheSteal.us, is a Twitter personality known as Ali Alexander (real name: Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar). The website lists rallies across several states in which voter fraud has been alleged and encourages Trump supporters to attend. . . .

An IRS organization search finds no tax-exempt organizations named “Stop The Steal,” and a WHOIS record lookup reveals the site was registered by “Vice And Victory,” an Akbar-owned private company. . .

Clicking the link redirects users to founders.alialexander.org, Akbar’s personal website. There, users have the choice to donate to Akbar’s personal crypto wallets, or via his personal PayPal and CashApp links. This site is archived here.

Users also have the option to buy him things from his Amazon wishlist, including weight benches, mass gainer supplements, and soap.

On November 7, Akbar tweeted that he “[doesn’t get paid to do this],” a statement contradicted by the hamfistedness of his self-enrichment scheme. . . .

With donations headed to Akbar’s personal bank account, and not the accounts of any legally registered nonprofit bound by disclosure requirements, it is unlikely donors will ever be able to see where their funds were actually used.

Allsup asks, "Who is Alexander?" -- and the answer isn't pretty:

Before reinventing himself as “Ali Alexander,” he was Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar- a convicted felon and conman with multiple arrests for burglary and credit card fraud.

Ali’s crime spree began as early as 2006. According to police reports, he stole “Five MP3 Players, Twenty CD’s, Three Camcorders, Two DVD Players, One Back Massager One Clock, Four Shirts, Two Belts and a Piece of Luggage” from someone he knew beginning on or around November 1 until approximately November 26.

An arrest warrant was issued and he was arrested on January 1, 2007.

Seven months later, on August 18, he was arrested again, this time for credit card fraud and burglarizing a vehicle.

Akbar’s campaign against voter fraud is ironic, considering he was once credibly accused of planning to perpetrate voter fraud on behalf of John McCain. As LibertarianRepublican.net reported at the time, Akbar- then a John McCain campaign staffer- was caught planning voter fraud strategies to use against the Ron Paul campaign in the upcoming Nevada caucuses.

One witness, Joey Dauben, Akbar’s boss at the Ellis County Observer, recalled the events:

I sat in on a meeting in my downtown Dallas office and heard an e-campaign staffer with the John McCain campaign – Ali A. Akbar – openly discuss ways to manipulate, rig and otherwise “take” an election.

At the time, Akbar was the “E-Campaign Coordinator” for the McCain campaign, and served as a McCain campaign spokesman in Texas.

Allsup suggests that Akbar was "groomed to grift" and mentions Alabamians he has targeted -- including yours truly and Siegelman-case whistle blower Jill Simpson.

Akbar’s arrests for fraud, burglary, and theft did not seem to hamper his rise as a low-level GOP fixer. In fact, they may have served to pad his resume.

At the time of his Fort Worth arrests, Akbar’s day job was with the Ellis County Observer, a local news site. According to journalist Roger Shuler, “Akbar’s work apparently involved covering up the misdeeds of a former police chief named Michael Meissner, who was charged with posing as a woman and soliciting photos of underaged boys.”

Akbar, who served as the Observer’s executive editor and webmaster, allegedly worked with Meissner to suppress online records of his crimes.

How did Akbar rise from a small-time fraudster to president of the National Bloggers Club by 2012? By making the right (sleazy) connections.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year of Coronavirus Devastation: How the U.S. Ensured Its Own Failure, Sarah Mervosh, Mike Baker, Patricia Mazzei and Mark Walker, Jan. 18, 2021. The Trump administration largely delegated responsibility for controlling the virus and reopening the economy to governors, fracturing the U.S. response. As the country hurtles toward 400,000 deaths, interviews with more than 100 health, political and community leaders offer a picture of what went wrong.

The path to beating the coronavirus was clear, but Kelley Vollmar had never felt so helpless.

As the top health official in Missouri’s Jefferson County, Ms. Vollmar knew a mandate requiring people to wear masks could help save lives. She pressed the governor’s office to issue a statewide order, and hospital leaders were making a similar push. Even the White House, at a time when President Trump was sometimes mocking people who wore masks, was privately urging the Republican governor to impose a mandate.

mike parsonStill, Gov. Mike Parson, right, resisted, and in the suburbs of St. Louis, Ms. Vollmar found herself under attack. A member of the county health board called her a liar. The sheriff announced that he would not enforce a local mandate. After anti-mask activists posted her address online, Ms. Vollmar installed a security system at her home.

“This past year, everything that we’ve done has been questioned,” said Ms. Vollmar, whose own mother, 77, died from complications of the coronavirus in December. “It feels like the Lorax from the old Dr. Seuss story: I’m here to save the trees, and nobody is listening.”

For nearly the entire pandemic, political polarization and a rejection of science have stymied the United States’ ability to control the coronavirus. That has been clearest and most damaging at the federal level, where Mr. Trump claimed that the virus would “disappear,” clashed with his top scientists and, in a pivotal failure, abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that required a national effort to defeat it, handing key decisions over to states under the assumption that they would take on the fight and get the country back to business.

But governors and local officials who were left in charge of the crisis squandered the little momentum the country had as they sidelined health experts, ignored warnings from their own advisers and, in some cases, stocked their advisory committees with more business representatives than doctors.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Official Warns U.S. Virus Deaths Will Pass 500,000 Within Weeks, Chris Cameron, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). States are reeling after the Trump administration’s vaccine promises unravel. The world is bracing for a surge of virus variants that are more contagious. Phil Spector, the imprisoned music legend, spent his last days suffering with Covid.

Follow our live news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccine and variants here.

  • States are scrambling after the Trump administration’s vaccine promise falls apart.
  • The Dutch police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in Amsterdam.
  • Chinese officials trace a growing new outbreak to a salesman hawking health products.

Officials in the incoming Biden administration braced the country for continued hardship in the days after the inauguration, with the president-elect assuming control of a struggling economy and surging coronavirus outbreak in less than three days.

ron klain headshotRon Klain, right, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s incoming White House chief of staff, had a dire forecast for the course of the coronavirus outbreak in the new administration’s first weeks, predicting that half a million Americans will have died from the coronavirus by the end of February. The current toll is nearing 400,000.

“The virus is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Klain said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March, so it’s going to take a while to turn this around.”

Average daily U.S. deaths from the virus have risen to well past 3,000, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sounded the alarm about a fast-spreading, far more contagious variant of the coronavirus that officials project will become the dominant source of cdc logo Custominfection in the country by March, potentially fueling another wrenching surge of cases and deaths.

Mr. Klain, in comments directed at states’ disappointment that a reserve of additional vaccines that the Trump administration had promised to release did not exist, said that his team was “inheriting a huge mess” in terms of vaccine production and distribution.

“But we have a plan to fix it,” Mr. Klain said, alluding to a federal vaccination campaign that Mr. Biden announced on Friday. “We think there are things we can do to speed up the delivery of that vaccine.”

He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, having served as the “Ebola czar” under Mr. Obama during an outbreak of the deadly disease in his second term. A video of Mr. Klain lecturing Mr. Trump about the pandemic was widely seen during the campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious, Ezra Klein, Jan. 18, 2021. You can’t help but wonder why the Trump administration left so many of these things undone.

I wish I could tell you that the incoming Biden administration had a genius plan for combating Covid-19, thick with ideas no one else had thought of and strategies no one else had tried. But it doesn’t.

What it does have is the obvious plan for combating Covid-19, full of ideas many others have thought of and strategies it is appalling we haven’t yet tried. That it is possible for Joe Biden and his team to release a plan this straightforward is the most damning indictment of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response imaginable.

The Trump administration seemed to believe a vaccine would solve the coronavirus problem, freeing President Trump and his advisers of the pesky work of governance. But vaccines don’t save people; vaccinations do. And vaccinating more than 300 million people, at breakneck speed, is a challenge that only the federal government has the resources to meet. The Trump administration, in other words, had it backward. The development of the vaccines meant merely that the most logistically daunting phase of the crisis, in terms of the federal government’s role, could finally begin.

In the absence of a coordinated federal campaign, the job has fallen to overstretched, underresourced state and local governments, with predictably wan results. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the roughly 31 million doses that have been sent out, about 12 million have been used.

The good news is that the incoming Biden administration sees the situation clearly. “This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country,” Biden said on Friday. “You have my word that we will manage the hell out of this operation.”

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump administration bailed out prominent anti-vaccine groups during a pandemic, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Aaron Gregg, Jan. 18, 2021. Five groups got more than $850,000 in PPP loans to help small businesses through the pandemic.

Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations that have been known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money to groups actively opposing its agenda and seeking to undermine public health during a critical period.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The groups that received the loans are The National Vaccine Information Center, Mercola Com Health Resources LLC, Informed Consent Action Network, Children’s Health Defense Co., and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a U.K.-based advocacy group that fights misinformation, which conducted the research using public documents. The group relied on data released in early December by the Small Business Administration in response to a lawsuit from The Washington Post and other news organizations.

Several of the Facebook pages of these organizations have by penalized by the social network, including being prohibited from buying advertising, for pushing misinformation about covid-19.

Vaccines are largely considered safe and effective, and clinical trials for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not raise serious safety concerns. But many Americans hold skeptical attitudes about vaccination, attitudes public health experts have said are attributable in part to misinformation. Nearly 40% of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine, according to a December survey by Pew Research Center. Certain groups, including Republicans and Black Americans, are even more skeptical, Pew found.

washington post logoWashington Post, State capitols, D.C. brace for potentially violent protests, Paulina Firozi and Griff Witte, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). As troop levels swell in D.C., National Guard commander says he believes he has city officials’ trust; Trump has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement, experts warn; Balance sought between First Amendment protests and securing the Mall.

Numerous state capitols nationwide were locked down Sunday, with windows boarded up, National Guard troops deployed and states of emergency preemptively declared as authorities braced for a day of potential violence mimicking the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington by a mob of pro-Trump rioters.

The extraordinary show of security in capital cities — and in D.C., where an unprecedented safety cordon continues to tighten — reflected the anxious state of the nation just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Axios Sneak Peek, Off the rails: Descent into madness, Axios investigative series by Jonathan Swanjonathan swan twitter, right, and Zachary Basu, Episode 3, Jan. 17, 2021. Beginning on election night and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software. President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in fom lawyer Sidney Powell.

republican elephant logo"Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up."She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.

"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it.

"She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

It was clear that Trump recognized how unhinged his outside legal advisers were. But he was becoming increasingly desperate about losing to Joe Biden, and Powell and her crew were willing to keep feeding the grand lie that the election could be overturned.

capitol national guard dome scene cnbc

washington post logoWashington Post, Rallies ahead of Capitol riot were planned by established Washington insiders, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). ‘Trump said to do so’: Accounts of rioters who rushed Capitol could be pivotal testimony; Chronology: How law enforcement and government officials failed to head off the Capitol attack. 

The fiery rallies that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were organized and promoted by an array of established conservative insiders and activists, documents and videos show.

djt maga hatThe Republican Attorneys General Association was involved, as were the activist groups Turning Point Action and Tea Party Patriots. At least six current or former members of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an influential group that for decades has served as a hub for conservative and Christian activists, also played roles in promoting the rallies.

The two days of rallies were staged not by white nationalists and other extremists, but by well-funded nonprofit groups and individuals that figure prominently in the machinery of conservative activism in Washington.

In recent days, as federal authorities rounded up those involved in the Capitol riot, promoters and participants of the rallies have denounced the violence and sought to distance their events from the events that followed.

christopher carr“I support the right of Americans to peacefully protest,” wrote Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, right, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), “but the violence and destruction we are seeing at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable and un-American.”

Organizing warm-up events is not the same thing as plotting to invade the Capitol. But before the rallies, some used extreme rhetoric, including references to the American Revolution, and made false claims about the election to rouse supporters to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory

Unless Congress responds to the protests, “everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” tweeted Ali Alexander, a former CNP fellow who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement. “1776 is *always* an option.”

On Jan. 5, at Freedom Plaza in D.C., Alexander led protesters in a chant of “Victory or death.”

ali akbar alexander stop the stealAlexander, right, did not respond to a request for comment for this story. He previously told The Washington Post that he had “remained peaceful” during the riot and said his earlier speeches “mentioned peace” and were being misrepresented.

In the days and hours before the riots, Alexander and his allies attracted tens of thousands of protesters from around the country — a crowd that included white supremacists, Christian activists and even local police officers.

Events included a “Patriot Caravan” of buses to Washington, a “Save the Republic” rally on Jan. 5 and a “Freedom Rally” on the morning of Jan. 6. A little-known nonprofit called Women for America First, a group run by Trump supporters and former tea party activists, got approval to use space on the Ellipse for what they called a “March for Trump,” according to the “public gathering permit” issued on Jan. 5.

Nearly a dozen political activists — including former White House, congressional and Trump campaign staffers — served as on-site rally coordinators and stage managers, the permit said. A spokesperson for Women for America First did not respond to requests for comment.

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

jim jordan shirtsleeves

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans call for unity but won’t attest Biden won fairly, Amy B Wang, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Many Congressional Republicans have refused to acknowledge the election was not stolen, the baseless claim that drove thousands to take part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The call for unity came from one of President Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, nearly a week after a pro-Trump mob rampaged the U.S. Capitol in a riot that left five people dead.

capitol camp auschwitz“What happened at the Capitol on January 6 was as wrong as wrong can be,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), shown above, told colleagues during a virtual committee meeting about Democrats’ demands that Trump be removed from office. Now was the time for “healing,” and in Jordan’s opinion, that meant allowing the president to finish out his term.

The committee chairman, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), pressed him on one point. Hadn’t Jordan and more than 140 other Republicans given oxygen to the false conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that motivated the Capitol rioters — that the election had somehow been stolen — when they had voted to object to certifying the electoral college results?

“We all want healing. But in order to get to healing, we need truth, and we need accountability,” McGovern said. “So my question for you is: Will you admit that Joe Biden won fair and square, and the election was not rigged or stolen?”

McGovern’s question was met with 17 seconds of silence before Jordan said Biden would indeed be inaugurated president — a clear dodge of the question about the nature of Biden’s victory.

mike lindell screengrab

washington post logoWashington Post, Dominion Voting threatens MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell with lawsuit over ‘false and conspiratorial’ claims, Hannah Knowles and Emma Brown, Jan. 18, 2021. The election technology company has warned Lindell, a major Republican donor who promoted baseless claims of a rigged vote, of “imminent” litigation.

Lawyers for election technology company Dominion Voting Systems have warned prominent Trump ally and MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell of “imminent” litigation over “false and conspiratorial” claims that the firm somehow rigged the 2020 election against President Trump, demanding in letters late last year and this month that Lindell make a public apology.

dominion voting systemsMore than 150 people — including Kelli Ward, the staunchly pro-Trump chair of the Arizona GOP — were sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents in a recent wave of letters to those who provided affidavits in election lawsuits, according to Hamilton Place Strategies, a communications firm representing Dominion that shared copies of letters and a list of recipients Monday. Dominion also sent a follow-up retraction demand to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Trump lawyer at the forefront of the president’s fruitless efforts to overturn the election in court.

Lindell, a major Republican donor who has touted his relationship with the president, has made frequent appearances on right-wing media to promote baseless claims — rejected by court after court — of a rigged election. Last week, The Washington Post’s Jabin Botsford photographed parts of notes Lindell carried as he went to meet with Trump, capturing phrases such as “election issues” and “martial law if necessary.” He told The Post that the notes were written by a lawyer that he refused to identify.

Lindell said on Monday that he welcomes a lawsuit. “Could they do it tomorrow? Could they do it today?” he told a reporter. Almost shouting over the phone, he suggested a lawsuit would help him show “the American people” the evidence supporting his claims, but shared only a copy of a post alleging foreign hacking that appears to no longer be online.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, filling out his government, to name five women as deputy secretaries, Lisa Rein, Jan. 18, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday plans to nominate five women to serve in the No. 2 spots at key Cabinet agencies, moving to fill out vital day-to-day operations roles in the government he will take over on Wednesday.

The moves, which will install deputies with hands-on experience in critical departments, reflect Biden’s push to elevate women and his desire to quickly tackle the nation’s crises and repair agencies suffering from morale and other problems.

The nominees, who must be confirmed by the Senate, include Jewel H. Bronaugh at Agriculture, Polly Trottenberg at Transportation, Andrea Palm at Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Klein at Interior and Cindy Marten at Education.

American FlagFour of the women — Bronaugh, Trottenberg, Palm and Klein — held roles in the same departments during the Obama administration, part of Biden’s strategy of turning to a familiar team so his administration will face less of a learning curve.

Deputies at large federal departments often have crucial responsibility for managing day-to-day operations in their sprawling organizations. The deputy has traditionally functioned as the leader who holds things together while the secretary travels or acts as the agency’s better-known figurehead.

That may be particularly true when the secretary is a political figure, like Pete Buttigieg at Transportation or Xavier Becerra at HHS, who has not devoted his career to mastering the policy details that are the department’s focus.

Bronaugh, Biden’s choice for deputy agriculture secretary, is commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She could help blunt criticism of Tom Vilsack’s nomination to lead the agency, especially from Black farmers who said Vilsack was inattentive to their needs during his first stint as secretary.

Vilsack was at the center of a storm in 2010 when he fired Shirley Sherrod, a Black department official, after a conservative blogger released a misleading video clip that appeared to show Sherrod admitting animosity toward a White farmer. Vilsack later apologized and tried to rehire her.

Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve as the agency’s deputy secretary. She served as Virginia executive director for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) during the Vilsack era.

Vilsack said in a statement that he hoped to work with Bronaugh to build the “most talented, most diverse USDA leadership team in history” to address climate crisis, end the coronavirus pandemic, improve access to nutritious food and rebuild rural America.

At the Transportation Department, Trottenberg would bring federal, state and municipal experience that could add significant expertise to Buttigieg’s team.

Trottenberg for the past seven years has led New York City’s transportation department, a 5,800-person operation that oversees the city’s roads, bridges, traffic and parking systems, as well as the Staten Island Ferry and extensive bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. She was under consideration as transportation secretary before Biden turned to Buttigieg.

Axios Sneak Peek, Congress holding back Biden Cabinet, Staff report, Jan. 17, 2021. Just five of Biden's Cabinet nominees are slated to have Senate confirmation hearings before Inauguration Day — far fewer than most recent presidents-elect, according to data from the U.S. Senate analyzed by Stef.
George H. W. Bush had only two nominees receive hearings before his inauguration in 1989.

The five hearings scheduled Tuesday for Biden — for State, Defense, Homeland Security, National Intelligence and Treasury — point to the importance of maintaining national security and economic confidence.

Biden-Harris, Transition, Nominees, Appointees, Agency Review Teams, Motto: "The Biden-Harris White House Senior Staff will be composed of diverse, joe biden kamala harris campaign shotexperienced, and talented individuals who demonstrate President-elect Biden’s commitment to building an administration that not only looks like America, but is also ready to deliver results for working families on Day One."

washington post logoWashington Post, Who Joe Biden picked to fill his Cabinet, Staff Reports, Biden’s incoming Cabinet so far. President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for his incoming Cabinet and top White House positions. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will require Senate approval, which may face significant delays.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Jamaican connection: Kamala Harris’s father, a proud islander, made sure his daughters know their heritage, Robert Samuels, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Donald Harris deemed teaching his children lessons about his homeland to be both a patriotic and a paternal duty.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileOn a summer evening in 1978, Donald Harris took his two young daughters to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif., to their first concert.

Kamala, right, the girl who would become vice president, was the eldest at 13. As she watched Bob Marley and the Wailers sing and sway at the outdoor arena on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, she found herself mesmerized.

“We sat up top in the back of the theater and, as I watched the performance, I was in complete awe,” Harris said in an email to The Washington Post. “To this day, I know the lyrics to nearly every Bob Marley song.”

The experience was meant to be more than musical. Her father, a prominent Jamaican economics professor teaching at Stanford, was trying to imbue his two American-born girls with a sense of pride in their roots. Like the Harrises, Marley was from a parish on the north coast of the island called St. Ann.

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll: Biden wins wide approval for transition, but GOP skepticism on issues persists, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Two-thirds of Americans approve of President-elect Joe Biden’s handling of the transition ahead of his inauguration Wednesday, but mixed confidence in his leadership on major issues along with President Trump’s hold on the Republican Party present sizable challenges for the early days of the new administration, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotBiden enters office with 49 percent of Americans confident that he will make the right decisions for the country’s future, compared with 50 percent who take the opposite view. The 49 percent represents much greater trust than Trump’s 38 percent mark four years ago but much lower than the 61 percent who expressed trust in Barack Obama’s decisions on the eve of his inauguration in 2009.

The equally divided result on the broad question about confidence in Biden’s leadership and decision-making is mainly the result of strong distrust among Republicans about the incoming president, a finding that persists throughout the poll and underscores the degree to which the deeply polarizing presidential campaign — along with Trump’s baseless claims about a stolen election — have shaped Republican attitudes.

Overall, more than 6 in 10 Americans say Biden was legitimately elected as the 46th president, including more than 9 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents. But 7 in 10 Republicans say he was not legitimately elected. That suggests that Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, propagated by many other Republicans, have taken root within the party despite the absence of credible evidence, dozens of failed legal challenges and multiple recounts affirming Biden’s victories in Georgia and Wisconsin.

 

Trump Pardon Market

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Prepares Pardon Wave for Final Hours, Maggie Haberman, Kenneth P. Vogel and Dana Rubinstein, Jan. 18, 2021. Among those under consideration for grants of clemency are the former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and the rapper Lil Wayne.

Those under consideration include such disparate figures as Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York Assembly speaker, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty last month to a gun charge. Rudolph W. Giuliani says he does not expect one, and Stephen K. Bannon’s chances seem to have dimmed. Mixed in among the big names, low-level drug offenders are under consideration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Prospect of Pardons in Final Days Fuels Market to Buy Access to Trump, Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump’s allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars — and potentially much more — from people seeking pardons. The brisk market reflects the access peddling that has defined his presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked clemency powers.

As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers.

The brisk market for pardons reflects the access peddling that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked presidential clemency powers. Pardons and commutations are intended to show mercy to deserving recipients, but Mr. Trump has used many of them to reward personal or political allies.

The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say.

john kiriakouA onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, right, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement.

And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization.

After Mr. Trump’s impeachment for inciting his supporters before the deadly riot at the Capitol, and with Republican leaders turning on him, the pardon power remains one of the last and most likely outlets for quick unilateral action by an increasingly isolated, erratic president. He has suggested to aides he wants to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of pardoning himself, though it was not clear whether he had broached the topic since the rampage.

Legal scholars and some pardon lawyers shudder at the prospect of such moves, as well as the specter of Mr. Trump’s friends and allies offering to pursue pardons for others in exchange for cash.

“This kind of off-books influence peddling, special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by Justice Department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair,” said Margaret Love, who ran the Justice Department’s clemency process from 1990 until 1997 as the United States pardon attorney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump prepares to offer clemency to more than 100 people in his final hours in office, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, Jan. 18, 2021. The president has been consumed with the question of whether to issued preemptive pardons to his children, top aides and himself, but it remains unclear whether he will do so.

President Trump is preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office, decisions that are expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans.

Trump met Sunday with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and other aides for a significant amount of the day to review a long list of pardon requests and discuss lingering questions about their appeals, according to the multiple people briefed on the meeting. The president was personally engaged with the details of specific cases, one person said.

In the past week, Trump has been particularly consumed with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides and himself, said the people familiar with discussions.

Neither Trump nor his children have been charged with crimes, and they are not known to be under federal investigation.

But the question of a presidential self-pardon has become more urgent and controversial since the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters. Some aides think Trump could face criminal liability for inciting the crowd.

Others think a self-pardon, never before attempted by a president, would be of dubious constitutionality but could anger Senate Republicans preparing to serve as key jurors at Trump’s impeachment trial, and would amount to an admission of guilt that could be used against Trump in potential civil litigation related to the Capitol attack.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

In one scene from the Capitol riot, an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), was arrested last week on charges of beating a Capitol Hill policeman being stomped by the mob.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chronology: How law enforcement and government officials failed to head off the Capitol attack, Aaron C. Davis, Jan. 17, 2021. Off-duty police were part of the mob. Now police are turning in their own. As troop levels swell in D.C., National Guard commander says he believes he has city officials’ trust. 

In the 17 days after President Trump began to encourage his supporters to descend on D.C. until the siege that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, law enforcement and city officials braced for potential violence in the nation’s capital.

secret service logoBut despite numerous internal briefings, intelligence warnings and planning meetings, officials failed to take sufficient action to fend off the attacks — with deadly consequences. Once rioters began to move en masse to the Capitol, it was too late.

Too few Capitol Police officers stood in their way, and there was no chance to summon enough backup quickly enough to keep out the violent mob. The riot unleashed hours of unchecked aggression and close calls as marauders came within 60 seconds of encountering Vice President Pence, nearly trapped lawmakers, and looted and vandalized the seat of U.S. democracy for the first time since British forces burned the Capitol on Aug. 24, 1814. Five people died in the violence and dozens of police officers were injured.

Scores of federal criminal investigations have been opened. The inspectors general at four federal agencies and the Capitol Police Board have launched investigations into the preparedness and response to the attack, and numerous congressional inquiries are expected.

This reconstruction of the key moments leading up the Capitol siege and the law enforcement response that day is based on video footage, public documents and the accounts of members of Congress, congressional aides and officials with the Capitol Police, D.C. government, D.C. police, Defense Department, FBI and D.C. government. It will update with new information.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 18, 2021.  Trump supporter arrested near Capitol for carrying gun; woman charged with impersonating police.

A heavy-metal guitarist, the alleged leader of a Colorado paramilitary training group and two self-styled militia members from Ohio have been charged with taking part in the riot at the Capitol last week, as the FBI ratchets up its investigation into the role extremist groups played in storming the building.

Jon Schaffer, an Indiana musician, turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday afternoon, officials said. On Jan. 6, Schaffer was photographed inside the Capitol, wearing a hat that said “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.” Schaffer founded Iced Earth, a heavy-metal band, and music fans quickly recognized him as the FBI circulated wanted posters with his face on them.

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.

Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”

Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and a patch for that group was visible on a tactical vest he wore during the attack on Congress, an FBI affidavit said.

klete keller fbi photo

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Let You Down’: Klete Keller’s Path From Olympics to Capitol Riot, Karen Crouse, Jan. 18, 2021. Jan. 6 wasn’t Keller’s first election protest in Washington. But as he makes tearful apologies and faces federal charges, even his closest confidants aren’t sure why he was there at all.

Of the dozens of people now facing charges and possible prison sentences for invading the Capitol, only a handful have drawn more attention than Klete Keller (shown above, center), a three-time Olympian who won two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps.

Yet within days after he was spotted in videos of the pro-Trump crowds that assaulted the Capitol, friends and former teammates of Keller, 38, turned him in to the F.B.I. Strangers demanded that he go to prison. And prominent voices called for him to be stripped of his Olympic medals.

To those who know Keller best, it was nothing less than bizarre to see a man who had once stood atop an Olympic medals podium with his hand over his heart during the national anthem — the personification, in that moment, of American greatness and success — acting as a part of a mob bent on disrupting the United States’ democracy. But they could not say they were surprised.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI screens U.S. troops for possible insider threats, Paul Sonne, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.).
U.S. defense officials say the federal government is conducting insider-threat screening on the 25,000 National Guard troops who have begun flowing into the nation’s capital to secure the inauguration, as concerns intensify about extremism in the ranks.

The extra precaution comes after a number of pro-Trump rioters involved in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 turned out to have military ties, raising questions about extremist sentiment within the armed forces. Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington as the deadly riot unfolded.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive preparations, said the Army is working with the FBI to vet all service members supporting the inauguration. The Army maintains awareness of threats but does not collect domestic intelligence itself, the official said. It was not immediately clear how extensive the FBI vetting of the military personnel would be.

washington post logoWashington Post, Undeterred, Biden will push unity in a capital locked down after an insurrection, Michael Scherer, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Joe Biden will assume the presidency at the peak of a deadly pandemic in a city on lockdown, its streets cleared and many subway stations closed, with about 20,000 National Guard troops patrolling against domestic terrorism and in front of a U.S. Capitol still under repair after a violent insurrection.

But rather than pivot his plans after the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol, advisers say he has scripted inaugural events built around the same unifying themes of post-partisanship and governmental competence that undergirded his campaign. Biden’s answer to the roughly 1 in 3 Americans who doubt his legitimacy and a departing president who refuses to formally hand off power will be a program of nationally televised inaugural broadcasts anchored around the country’s potential to unite in the face of crisis.

Aides say little was changed in the programming after the U. S. Capitol riot, with most curbs — like the absence of guests on the Mall — dictated by the pandemic. The decision to focus beyond the circumstance is aimed broadly at what Democrats widely see as a moment of political opportunity, as the Republican Party struggles with an internal crisis of identity brought about by President Trump’s rejection of the 2020 election results and his repeated incitement of his supporters.

Biden’s target audience is not the minority of the country that has rejected his election but the much larger group of Americans, including Trump voters, who are open to changing the channel on the dystopian present.

“The inaugural gives us a fresh start, an ability to begin closing a very dark chapter in our history and start a new journey,” said Stephanie Cutter, a co-executive producer of the inauguration. “Given recent events, there is more willingness on the other side of the aisle to reset and protect our democratic norms than there has been for more than four years.”

 

U.S. Civil Rights, Capitol Threats

mlk quote cannot walk alone

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: After MLK’s home was bombed, he refused to back down: ‘This movement will not stop,’ DeNeen L. Brown, Jan. 18, 2021. Minutes after 9 p.m., on the night of Jan. 30, 1956, a segregationist parked his car in front of the modest white clapboard parsonage home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Ala. In the shadows, the man walked up five steps leading to the front door and planted a stick of dynamite on the porch.

King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, and a fellow Dexter Avenue Baptist Church member, Mary Lucy Williams, had been in the living room when they heard noise on the porch, according to a Jan. 31, 1956, report in the Montgomery Advertiser. The two women ran to a backroom of the house, where the Kings’ newborn baby daughter, Yolanda, was asleep.

Seconds later, the dynamite exploded, blasting out windows, tearing a hole in the porch, shredding floor boards and ripping through a porch pillar holding up the house that sat on a quiet Alabama street.

At the time of the bombing, King had just celebrated his 27th birthday. He’d been the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery for 19 months. And he’d started leading the Montgomery bus boycott, a movement organized after the Dec. 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to vacate her bus seat to a White man.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Words of Martin Luther King Jr. Reverberate in a Tumultuous Time, Audra D. S. Burch, John Eligon and Michael Wines, Jan. 18, 2021. The 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory.

He lived and died in a time of tumult and a racial awakening, so perhaps it is no surprise that the 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory: A raging pandemic. Protest and civil unrest after the killing of Black people by the police. A momentous election. And an insurrection.

Even the title of his final book — “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” — seems ripped from today’s headline.

“I think it’s still an unanswered question,” said Clayborne Carson, a history professor at Stanford University, referring to the title of Dr. King’s book.

“I think the most important word in that question is ‘we’ — who are we, and until you figure that out, it’s very hard to tell where we are going,” said Dr. Carson, who is also the founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which is publishing a collection of Dr. King’s papers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In a civil war, accountability must precede healing, Melody Barnes and Caroline E. Janney, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Long before the Trump presidency spiraled completely out of control, many Americans comforted themselves by asserting we were not in a civil war. As we sift through the debris left by the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and anticipate what is likely to come — we ignore at our peril the cautionary tale of the last Civil War and what followed it.

Today’s reunification efforts, led by Republicans who call for healing just days after the riot, mask challenges much as similar calls did in 1865. Then, as now, we were a country divided by different values, including a contingent willing to use violence and anti-democratic means to accomplish its goals. Healing isn’t possible until those challenges are placed squarely on the table and addressed. Nor is it possible when those who seek to thwart the Constitution aren’t held accountable.

History reminds us that avoiding this difficult work only pushes division and violence into the future. With no consequences for their acts of rebellion, the months after Appomattox saw former Confederates regain local and state control and bend it to their purposes. They passed Black Codes, which limited the freedom of 4 million newly emancipated men and women. They escalated violence against both African Americans and White Southern Unionists. While White Southerners acknowledged that their quest for Confederate independence failed, they refused to concede that their cause had been unconstitutional or their actions treasonous.

Melody Barnes is co-director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Has America finally heard Martin Luther King Jr.? Editorial Board, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). When President Ronald Reagan signed the bill creating a federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he warned that “traces of bigotry still mar” the country. This may seem the understatement of the 20th century; it would be an understatement today.

King spoke in his “I Have a Dream” speech of the “sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent.” This would not pass, he explained, “until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” He said this on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial — not far from where armed insurrectionists this month tried to overturn an election decided, in part, by Black voters in Southern states who surmounted all manner of racist restrictions. He said it not far from the White House, where on the first day of June the president of the United States ordered the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters to clear his way for a photo op.

President Trump held up the same Bible from which King preached to send the opposite of his righteous message: exhorting governors to “dominate the streets” with troops to silence Black Americans, who, in their own summer of discontent, were crying out precisely against being dominated. The killing of innocent men such as George Floyd by police, the incarceration of so many more for minor offenses, the systemic neglect and disenfranchisement of communities of color even in an age when redlining and voter suppression are supposed to be illegal. These are the so-called traces of bigotry that continue to disfigure our country.

King exhorted nonviolence until his violent death, but still he declared the year of his assassination that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” He asked: “What is it America has failed to hear? . . . It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of White society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

Has America finally heard? Hindsight brings convenient moral clarity, so an admiration for King has become practically a matter of public curriculum. Yet what looks unimpeachable now was unpopular then, whether his full-throated opposition to the Vietnam War or his insistence that there were two versions of this nation — one full with the “sunlight of opportunity” and the other with a “daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.” The reality that the invigorating autumn of which King dreamed has not yet arrived is met with resistance today, too. It is easier to think about how far we’ve come than how far we’ve yet to go.

But without thinking about the great distance to our destination, we will never get there. The anger of a rent country, King said, turned his dream into a nightmare — yet still he would ask the Almighty to deliver him to “a few years in the second half of the 20th century” if he had his choice of all the ages: “I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working . . . that men, in some strange way, are responding.

Abraham Lincoln (Alexander Gardner Photo via Library of Congress and Getty Images).

Abraham Lincoln (Alexander Gardner Photo via Library of Congress and Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis: Lincoln’s first inauguration met with threats of kidnapping, killing and militias, Michael E. Ruane, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The 1861 ceremony was held on the East Front of the Capitol, where last week mobs terrorized Congress and breached the building.

Abraham Lincoln rose from his chair and walked to the speaker’s table on the East Portico of the Capitol. He pulled his cut-and-paste address from the breast pocket of his coat, and slowly put on his metal-rimmed glasses.

As he stood bareheaded, a throng of 30,000 people spread before him — the largest inauguration crowd the city had ever seen, and one that included many African Americans, who were legally banned from the grounds unless on “menial” duty.

But below the platform the Army had deployed artillery. Snipers watched from rooftops and windows, and Lincoln had been guarded by infantry and cavalry on his carriage ride through the streets to the Capitol.

Many people wanted him dead.

“There goes that Illinois ape, the cursed Abolitionist,” a woman in crowd was heard to say. “But he will never come back alive.”

As a tense Washington approaches President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday amid apocalyptic right-wing threats and a massive military lockdown, historians say it was Lincoln’s first inaugural that was really the most hazardous in the life of the country.

“By far,” said Lincoln historian Harold Holzer.

Since his election in November 1860, there had been endless reports of plots to kidnap or kill him, or march on Washington and seize the government, according to accounts by Holzer and fellow historian Ted Widmer.

One alleged plot called for the seizure of the city and the public archives, and for the insurrectionists to be acknowledged abroad as “The United States of America.”

“Government of the people hung by a slender thread,” Widmer wrote.

As for Lincoln, someone had planted a bomb on one of his railroad cars. He had been offered a pistol and a knife for his protection. (He declined.) And he had to be sneaked to Washington through hostile Baltimore as the “package” on a secret train under the code name “Nuts.”

The country was seething over the issue of enslavement, which Lincoln and many in the North would seek to end, and most in the South vowed to maintain at all costs.

Seven states had already seceded from the Union to set up an “alternate” government, as Holzer put it in an interview.

 

U.S. Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone, Margaret Sullivan, right, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It’s not margaret sullivan 2015 photoenough to simply present truthful information to the public. We need it to sink in.

His administration is down to its last hours, but you can bet that the false belief held by millions of Americans that the election was rigged is not going away when President Trump does.

Journalists, if they take their core mission seriously, should think hard about how they’re going to confront this Big Lie, as it’s become known.

Our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted — “to create a public square with a common set of facts,” as Tom Rosenstiel, an author and the executive director of the Virginia-based American Press Institute, put it.

But how? Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox Settled a Lawsuit Over Its Lies. But It Insisted on One Unusual Condition, Ben Smith, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The network wanted a settlement with the family of a murdered young man to remain undisclosed until after the election. Ben Smith looks at why.

On Oct. 12, 2020, Fox News agreed to pay millions of dollars to the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member, implicitly acknowledging what saner minds knew long ago: that the network had repeatedly hyped a false claim that the young staff member, Seth Rich, was involved in leaking D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Russian intelligence officers, in fact, had hacked and leaked the emails.)

Fox’s decision to settle with the Rich family came just before its marquee hosts, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, were set to be questioned under oath in the case, a potentially embarrassing moment. And Fox paid so much that the network didn’t have to apologize for the May 2017 story on FoxNews.com.

But there was one curious provision that Fox insisted on: The settlement had to be kept secret for a month — until after the Nov. 3 election. The exhausted plaintiffs agreed.

Why did Fox care about keeping the Rich settlement secret for the final month of the Trump re-election campaign? Why was it important to the company, which calls itself a news organization, that one of the biggest lies of the Trump era remain unresolved for that period? Was Fox afraid that admitting it was wrong would incite the president’s wrath? Did network executives fear backlash from their increasingly radicalized audience, which has been gravitating to other conservative outlets?

Fox News and its lawyer, Joe Terry, declined to answer that question when I asked last week. And two people close to the case, who shared details of the settlement with me, were puzzled by that provision, too.

The unusual arrangement underscores how deeply entwined Fox has become in the Trump camp’s disinformation efforts and the dangerous paranoia they set off, culminating in the fatal attack on the Capitol 11 days ago. The network parroted lies from Trump and his more sinister allies for years, ultimately amplifying the president’s enormous deceptions about the election’s outcome, further radicalizing many of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Mediaite, Sen. Josh Hawley’s Book Picked Up By Regnery After Getting Canned By Simon & Shuster, Leia Idliby, Jan. 18, 2021. Regnery Publishing announced Monday that it would publish Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) upcoming book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, after Simon & Schuster dropped it.

“It’s discouraging to see them cower before the ‘woke mob,’ as Senator Hawley correctly calls it,” Regnery president and publisher Thomas Spence said in a statement obtained by Mediaite. “Regnery is proud to stand in the breach with him. And the warning in his book about censorship obviously couldn’t be more urgent.”

The book, which was originally scheduled for release on June 22, will detail Hawley’s time investigating Google while working as Missouri’s attorney general. The Senator also aims to continue challenging big tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter — detailing how their market power works to silence their competition.

Simon & Schuster revoked their deal with Hawley as a result of backlash the senator received after a violent pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Republican from Missouri was accused of encouraging the insurrection, and drew even more heat after he continued to lead objections in the Senate to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory — even after the violent attack.

“After witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Simon & Schuster has decided to cancel publication of Hawley’s forthcoming book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, Simon & Schuster said in a statement obtained by Mediaite. “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”

 

Jan. 17

Top Headlines

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

 U.S. Politics

 

Trump Watch

 

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Top Stories

    President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Seeks Quick Start With Executive Actions and Aggressive Legislation, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden plans to roll out dozens of executive orders in his first 10 days on top of a stimulus plan and an immigration bill. The blitz of orders signify a clean break from the Trump era as Mr. Biden inherits a collection of crises unlike any in generations.

On his first day in office alone, Mr. Biden intends a flurry of executive orders that will be partly substantive and partly symbolic. They include rescinding the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries, rejoining the Paris climate change accord, extending pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments, issuing a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from families after crossing the border, according to a memo circulated on Saturday by Ron Klain, his incoming White House chief of staff, and obtained by The New York Times.

The blueprint of executive action comes after Mr. Biden announced that he will push Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package of economic stimulus and pandemic relief, signaling a willingness to be aggressive on policy issues and confronting Republicans from the start to take their lead from him.

He also plans to send sweeping immigration legislation on his first day in office providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally. Along with his promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans for the coronavirus in his first 100 days, it is an expansive set of priorities for a new president that could be a defining test of his deal-making abilities and command of the federal government.

djt apprentice

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Twitter’s Decision to Cut Off Trump, Kate Conger and Mike Isaac, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, was working remotely on a private island in French Polynesia frequented by celebrities escaping the paparazzi when a phone call interrupted him on Jan. 6.

jack dorsey resized 2018On the line was Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer and safety expert, with an update from the real world. She said she and other company executives had decided to lock President Trump’s account, temporarily, to prevent him from posting statements that might provoke more violence after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol that day.

Mr. Dorsey, shown in a 2018 file photo, was concerned about the move, said two people with knowledge of the call. For four years, he had resisted demands by liberals and others that Twitter terminate Mr. Trump’s account, arguing that the platform was a place where world leaders could speak, even if their views were heinous. But he had delegated moderation decisions to Ms. Gadde, 46, and usually deferred to her — and he did so again.

twitter bird CustomMr. Dorsey, 44, did not make his misgivings public. The next day, he liked and shared several tweets urging caution against a permanent ban of Mr. Trump. Then, over the next 36 hours, Twitter veered from lifting Mr. Trump’s suspension to shutting down his account permanently, cutting off the president from a platform he had used to communicate, unfiltered, with not just his 88 million followers but the world.

Jack Dorsey had reservations about locking President Trump’s account. But the calls for violence that his tweets provoked were too overwhelming.

The decision was a punctuation mark on the Trump presidency that immediately drew accusations of political bias and fresh scrutiny of the tech industry’s power over public discourse. Interviews with a dozen current and former Twitter insiders over the past week opened a window into how it was made — driven by a group of Mr. Dorsey’s lieutenants who overcame their boss’s reservations, but only after a deadly rampage at the Capitol.

Axios Sneak Peek, Off the rails: Descent into madness, Axios investigative series by Jonathan Swanjonathan swan twitter, right, and Zachary Basu, Episode 3, Jan. 17, 2021. Beginning on election night and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software. President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in fom lawyer Sidney Powell.

republican elephant logo"Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up."She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.

"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it.

"She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

It was clear that Trump recognized how unhinged his outside legal advisers were. But he was becoming increasingly desperate about losing to Joe Biden, and Powell and her crew were willing to keep feeding the grand lie that the election could be overturned.

 

djt handwave file 

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Trump said to do so’: Accounts of rioters who rushed Capitol could be pivotal testimony, Rosalind S. Helderman, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). The accounts of people who said they were inspired by the president to take part in the melee inside the Capitol vividly show the impact of Trump’s months-long attack on the integrity of the 2020 election and his exhortations to supporters to “fight” the results.

Some have said they felt called to Washington by Trump and his false message that the election had been stolen, as well as by his efforts to pressure Congress and Vice President Pence to overturn the result.

But others drew an even more direct link — telling the FBI or news organizations that they headed to the Capitol on what they believed were direct orders from the president issued at a rally that day.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

Daily Beast, NJ Army Reservist With Security Clearance Busted for Capitol Riots, Justin Rohrlich, Updated Jan. 17, 2021. A confidential source told the feds that daily beast logoNavy contractor Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli is “an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer,” court documents show.

A U.S. Army reservist with a secret-level security clearance and “access to a variety of munitions” — described in court papers as a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer — has been charged with taking part in the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli of Colts Neck, New Jersey, works as a contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle, which is also in Colts Neck, according to an FBI affidavit filed last week.

He now faces five federal counts: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority; disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; disrupting the orderly conduct of government business; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; and obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Naval Weapons Station Earle is the operational support base for four Military Sealift Command combat logistics ships: USNS Arctic, USNS Robert E. Peary, USNS William McLean, and USNS Medgar Evers.

At least 22 present or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have now been accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, according to the Associated Press. The first U.S. military member to be arrested for their participation in the deadly riot was Jacob Fracker, a Virginia police officer and current Army National Guardsman.

Hale-Cusanelli, who does not have a lawyer listed in court records and could not be reached for comment, was outed by a confidential source to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Jan. 12, six days after the deadly siege. A charging document filed by prosecutors says Hale-Cusanelli showed the source videos on his cell phone of himself “making harassing and derogatory statements toward Capitol Police officers both inside and outside the Capitol building.”

“During our meeting on January 12, 2021, the [source] reported to me that Hale-Cusanelli is an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts video opinion statements on YouTube proffering extreme political opinions and viewpoints under the title the ‘Based Hermes Show,’” NCIS Special Agent Daniel J. Meyers wrote in an affidavit.

“Prior to traveling to the rally and protest on January 6, 2021, Hale-Cusanelli wrote ‘Trust the plan, it’s the final countdown, stay tuned next episode,’ and ‘Trust the plan, major announcement soon.’”

Two days later, the source secretly recorded a conversation with Hale-Cusanelli, who “admitted to entering the Capitol and encouraging other members of the mob to ‘advance’ — giving directions via both voice and hand signals,” the affidavit explains.

“Hale-Cusanelli told the [source] that if they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building. Hale-Cusanelli also admitted to taking a flag and flagpole that he observed another rioter throw ‘like a javelin’ at a Capitol Police officer, which Hale-Cusanelli described as a ‘murder weapon.’”

Many of Hale-Cusanelli’s “Based Hermes” content has been removed from the internet, but some of it remains available. In one April 2020 video, Hale-Cusanelli, as Based Hermes, rails against Jews and references the “Boogaloo,” a slang term used by white supremacists for the second civil war they claim to be fomenting.

The Jan. 6 sacking of the Capitol “was a failed attempt to overthrow a duly elected branch of government and undermine our democracy,” Reps. Ruben Gallego and Sara Jacobs, Democrats from Arizona and California, wrote in a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller last weekend. “Congressman Gallego and I agree that the Department of Defense must actively and aggressively investigate any potential active duty or retired service members who took part in the violence. Any service member who violated their oath to the Constitution should face the fullest extent of military justice.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A small town seethes after learning one of its own says he joined Capitol’s mob, John Woodrow Cox, Hannah Natanson and Julie Tate, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). In Aberdeen, Md., the police chief’s son declared he had “stormed the Capitol,” prompting the same reckoning underway in communities across the country.

“Yeah, I stormed the Capitol. Yeah, I took my country back,” Christian Trabert, dressed in a red, white and blue snow cap, wrote above a photo of himself and five friends standing outside, his finger pointed toward the building’s Corinthian columns. “And no, I don’t feel bad. I feel great!”

In Aberdeen, 70 miles northeast of Washington, word of Trabert’s Facebook post quickly spread among the town’s 16,000 residents, and what followed there was the same thing happening all over America, including in the halls of the desecrated Capitol: fear and fury, silence and obfuscation, lies and conspiracy theories, allegations of a coverup and, before long, a threat of more violence.

But in the beginning, Iser and the rest of the activists just wanted answers.

Palmer Report, Analysis: FBI probes whether Trump’s U.S. Capitol attack was funded by overseas operative who died by suicide, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2021. Each new arrest proves that the people who invaded the U.S Capitol were disorganized and bumbling stooges who had no idea what they were even trying to do. They clearly had some kind of help, or they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did.

bill palmer report logo headerNow the FBI says it’s investigating whether the operation was funded by overseas entities. It’s traced huge bitcoin payments from an operative in France to various right wing entities, some of whom were leading the charge in pushing the phony election claims that were FBI logorepeated by the Capitol attackers.

Even more suspicious: NBC News says that the operative who made these payments then died by suicide shortly thereafter. This obviously raises all kinds of red flags.

The Feds haven’t determined whether this might have originated in Russia or in some other nation. But the whole thing keeps getting more and more suspicious. American right-wing propaganda outlets have spent the Trump era parroting the same false information that Russian state owned propaganda outlets have promoted, so it wouldn’t be shocking to find a financial connection and/or propaganda coordination. With Trump, all roads seem to inevitably lead to Russia.

Daily Beast, Karl Rove: ‘Strong Likelihood’ Trump Will Be Convicted if Giuliani Leads Impeachment Defense, Justin Baragona, Jan. 17, 2021. The longtime GOP daily beast logoconsultant warned that if the president’s personal lawyer leads the defense against incitement charges, it’s likely that enough Republicans would vote to convict.

Fox News contributor Karl Rove, right, lamented on Sunday that if Rudy Giuliani leads President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense in the Senate, there is a karl rove h  s“strong likelihood” the president will be convicted.

Over the weekend, Giuliani — who infamously called for “trial by combat” hours before the Capitol riot—told ABC News that he’s on the president’s second impeachment defense team and that he will argue Trump couldn’t have incited a riotous mob to attack the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election.

The impeachment team’s defense of the president, according to Giuliani, will be to prove that Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud — which have been rejected by dozens of courts — are actually true.

“They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud — or I do, or anybody else — we’re inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it’s totally untrue,” Giuliani said. “Well, if you can prove that it’s true, or at least true enough so it’s a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words.”

During Sunday’s broadcast of Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Rove — a longtime Republican strategist who has criticized Trump’s “stolen” election rhetoric — if he felt there was a chance 17 Republicans could join Senate Democrats to convict Trump and potentially keep him from running for office again.

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly open to the idea of convicting the president for incitement, Rove said Giuliani’s defense strategy would cause a lot of GOP lawmakers to jump on board the impeachment train.

“Rudy Giuliani charted a very bad course for the president in the morning papers when he suggested that the argument was going to be, ‘Well, there couldn’t have been incitement because all the charges of widespread voter fraud are true,’” Rove sighed. “Well, those charges and the so-called experts that the campaign has mustered to advocate them have been rejected by over 50 courts, with judges appointed by President Trump, President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, and I think even one Reagan justice.”

“If it’s the Rudy Giuliani defense, there’s a strong likelihood that more than 17 Republicans will, because essentially that argument is: ‘This was justified, the attack on the Capitol and the attempt to end the congressional hearing on certifying the election was justified because all these charges are true.’ And frankly, they aren’t,” he added.

Rove went on to say that Trump and his allies have had every opportunity to prove their baseless allegations in court and failed to do so over and over, reiterating that if Giuliani goes down this road “it raises the likelihood of more than 17 Republicans voting for conviction.”

While Giuliani has insisted that he has been tapped to lead Trump’s defense and was seen visiting the White House this weekend, Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley appeared to contradict the former New York City mayor’s claims.

“President Trump has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the ‘impeachment hoax,’” the spokesman tweeted Saturday night. “We will keep you informed.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Undeterred, Biden will push unity in a capital locked down after an insurrection, Michael Scherer, Jan. 17, 2021. Joe Biden will assume the presidency at the peak of a deadly pandemic in a city on lockdown, its streets cleared and many subway stations closed, with about 20,000 National Guard troops patrolling against domestic terrorism and in front of a U.S. Capitol still under repair after a violent insurrection.

But rather than pivot his plans after the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol, advisers say he has scripted inaugural events built around the same unifying themes of post-partisanship and governmental competence that undergirded his campaign. Biden’s answer to the roughly 1 in 3 Americans who doubt his legitimacy and a departing president who refuses to formally hand off power will be a program of nationally televised inaugural broadcasts anchored around the country’s potential to unite in the face of crisis.

Aides say little was changed in the programming after the U. S. Capitol riot, with most curbs — like the absence of guests on the Mall — dictated by the pandemic. The decision to focus beyond the circumstance is aimed broadly at what Democrats widely see as a moment of political opportunity, as the Republican Party struggles with an internal crisis of identity brought about by President Trump’s rejection of the 2020 election results and his repeated incitement of his supporters.

Biden’s target audience is not the minority of the country that has rejected his election but the much larger group of Americans, including Trump voters, who are open to changing the channel on the dystopian present.

“The inaugural gives us a fresh start, an ability to begin closing a very dark chapter in our history and start a new journey,” said Stephanie Cutter, a co-executive producer of the inauguration. “Given recent events, there is more willingness on the other side of the aisle to reset and protect our democratic norms than there has been for more than four years.”

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, 2020 Hindsight: Civil War Interrupted in Former Capital of the Confederacy, Allan Dodds Frank, Jan. 17, 2021. The FBI, ATF, and state police stopped a planned attack by white supremacists in Virginia in 2020; what did they do to stop the Capitol insurrection in 2021?

To avert bloodshed last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the state capital of Virginia, the FBI swooped into a Delaware apartment on January 16, 2020, to arrest three neo-Nazi white supremacists bent on provoking a race war.

The arrests — based in part on information the FBI obtained by bugging the apartment — stopped the men four days before they had an opportunity to kill people, including police, at a massive pro-gun rally in Richmond. Their ultimate aim, according to a federal indictment, was to overthrow the government.

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Capitol Riot, Calls for Cash and Talk of Revolution, David D. Kirkpatrick, Mike McIntire and Christiaan Triebert, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A network of far-right agitators spent weeks organizing and raising money for a mass action to overturn President Trump’s election loss.

Keith Lee, an Air Force veteran and former police detective, spent the morning of Jan. 6 casing the entrances to the Capitol.

In online videos, the 41-year-old Texan pointed out the flimsiness of the fencing. He cheered the arrival, long before President Trump’s rally at the other end of the mall, of far-right militiamen encircling the building. Then, armed with a bullhorn, Mr. Lee called out for the mob to rush in, until his voice echoed from the dome of the Rotunda.

Yet even in the heat of the event, Mr. Lee paused for some impromptu fund-raising. “If you couldn’t make the trip, give five to 10 bucks,” he told his viewers, seeking donations for the legal costs of two jailed “patriots,” a leader of the far-right Proud Boys and an ally who had clashed with the police during an armed incursion at Oregon’s statehouse.

Much is still unknown about the planning and financing of the storming of the Capitol, aiming to challenge Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat. What is clear is that it was driven, in part, by a largely ad hoc network of low-budget agitators, including far-right militants, Christian conservatives and ardent adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mr. Lee is all three. And the sheer breadth of the movement he joined suggests it may be far more difficult to confront than a single organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amtrak to suspend some service south of D.C. ahead of inauguration, Luz Lazo, Jan. 17, 2021. Amtrak is suspending some service south of Washington because of security concerns related to Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Northeast Regional trains will end their trips at Union Station on Tuesday and Wednesday, skipping the stations in Virginia.

 

Trump Watch

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, When Trump leaves Washington, he’ll seek rehabilitation in a MAGA oasis: Florida, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump will leave Washington this week politically wounded, silenced on social media and essentially unwelcome in his lifelong hometown of New York.

djt golf in shape customBy migrating instead to Palm Beach, Fla., Trump plans to inhabit an alternative reality of adoration and affirmation. The defeated president will take up residence at his gilded Mar-a-Lago Club (shown above), where dues-paying members applaud him whenever he eats meals or mingles on the deck. He is sure to take in the same celebratory fervor whenever he plays golf at one of the two Trump-branded courses nearby.

In Florida — one of only two top battleground states Trump won in November — Trump will be living in a veritable MAGA oasis, to use the acronym for his “Make American Great Again” campaign slogan. South Florida has fast become a hub of right-wing power brokers and media characters, and some of Trump’s adult children are making plans to move to the area.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The rot from within, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 17, 2021. One of the two Congressional mandates of the US Secret Service is the protection robert harringtnn portraitof high ranking officials of government, including and especially the president of the United States. This includes tactical protection, such as the immediate protection of the president’s person at public events, and strategic protection, such as anticipating potential threats to the physical well-being of the president and, accordingly, securing the president to a safe and remote location.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the many disturbing reports coming out of the insurrectionist assault on the American government by violent hoodlums on January 6th, is that no effort was made to remove the president to a remote location. This fact has alarming implications and raises disturbing questions, not least is the question of who is in charge and whose side are they on? That the Capitol was being sacked and overrun by a murderous mob and no effort was made to remove the president to a different secure location is a disturbing departure from protocol.

One unavoidable implication of this departure could be that Donald Trump was recognized by the Secret Service and himself as the ex officio leader of the insurrection. No further action was required.

Meanwhile, on an “Instagram Live,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, left, explained that, during the violent insurrection, she was fearful for her own life, alexandria ocasio cortez officialnot only from the insurrectionists, but also from her very own colleagues. “I can only tell you I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die.”

She went on to explain that while lawmakers were told to take refuge at a specific extraction point in the Capitol building, she declined to go, explaining, “there were Q-anon and white-supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point who I know and who I felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera. So I didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress.”

ayanna pressley twitterCongresswoman Ayanna Pressley, right, had a similar experience. She tweeted: “The second I realized our ‘safe room’ from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker Members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited. Furious that more of my colleagues by the day are testing positive.”

It is now clear that some members of Congress led people on a reconnaissance tour through the Capitol building on January fifth, and the very next day those same people were back as part of the mob of insurrectionists. The implications are broad and troubling.

When Donald Trump departs forever at noon on January 20th, much of the rot and corruption that he created will remain behind. Because of this we will be cleaning up the filth that is the now moribund Trump administration for a very long time to come. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Hollywood PoliTrivia, Film Criticism: Cheering the Demise of the Antagonists, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 17, 2021. Throughout the history of the movies, audiences have cheered the final demise of its antagonists, fictional and real life.

As real-life arch-villain Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House and the U.S. presidency, we are reminded how Hollywood has treated the final curtain on its most loathsome bad guys.

 

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: A QAnon ‘Digital Soldier’ Marches On, Undeterred by Theory’s Unraveling, Kevin Roose, Jan. 17, 2021. Valerie Gilbert posts dozens of times a day in support of an unhinged conspiracy theory. The story of this “meme queen” hints at how hard it will be to bring people like her back to reality.

Every morning, Valerie Gilbert, a Harvard-educated writer and actress, wakes up in her Upper East Side apartment; feeds her dog, Milo, and her cats, Marlena and Celeste; brews a cup of coffee; and sits down at her oval dining room table.

Then, she opens her laptop and begins fighting the global cabal.

Ms. Gilbert, 57, is a believer in QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Like all QAnon faithful, she is convinced that the world is run by a Satanic group of pedophiles that includes top Democrats and Hollywood elites, and that President Trump has spent years leading a top-secret mission to bring these evildoers to justice.

She unspools this web of falsehoods on her Facebook page, where she posts dozens of times a day, often sharing links from right-wing sites like Breitbart and The Epoch Times or QAnon memes she has pulled off Twitter. On a recent day, her feed included a rant against Covid-19 lockdowns, a grainy meme accusing Congress of “high treason,” a post calling Lady Gaga a Satanist and a claim that “covfefe,” a typo that Mr. Trump accidentally tweeted three years ago, was a coded intelligence message.

“I’m the meme queen,” Ms. Gilbert told me. “I won’t produce them, but I share a mean meme, and I’m kind of raw.”

These are confusing times for followers of QAnon, a deranged conspiracy theory birthed in the bowels of the internet. They were told that Mr. Trump would be re-elected in a landslide, and that a coming “storm” would expose the global pedophile ring and bring its leaders to justice. These setbacks have left QAnon believers like Ms. Gilbert hoping for a last-minute miracle. Her current theory is that Mr. Trump will not actually leave office on Wednesday, but will instead declare martial law, declassify damning information about the “deep state” and arrest thousands of cabal members, including President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

marjorie greene campaign

Palmer Report, Opinion: Marjorie Taylor Greene has been temporarily suspended from Twitter, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2021. Last night Palmer Report pointed out that brand New House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene had gone completely off the deep end with a semi-coherent Twitter rant. Now it turns out she’s been temporarily suspended.

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter has suspended Greene for twelve hours due to her recent false tweets. In response she’s released a completely unhinged statement, ranting about a “Silicon Valley Cartel.” This is notable because her pattern of recent tweets suggests that she’ll continue making a point of breaking the rules and getting repeatedly suspended, raising the question of whether Twitter will end up permanently twitter bird Custombanning her. Twitter banned Donald Trump for life, but that was at a point where he was a few weeks away from being out of office anyway. Greene is set to be in the House for two more years, unless she resigns in scandal first.

To be clear, while Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter account is still visible to the public, she is in fact suspended. Twitter leaves accounts still visible while they’re temporarily suspended, but the individual can’t use the account. Twitter only takes accounts offline if they’re suspended permanently, as in the case of Donald Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump, having lost Kayleigh McEnany, is now relying on… Hogan Gidley? Bill Palmer, Jan 17, 2021. Over the weekend the news leaked that Donald Trump was blaming Kayleigh McEnany of all people for his ongoing downfall. This was followed by the news that McEnany, below right, has simply stopped kayleigh mcenany djtshowing up for work. So, without a press secretary for his final few days, Trump is now relying on someone named Hogan Gidley.

bill palmer report logo headerHogan Gidley appeared on Fox News this morning and insisted that the only reason Donald Trump hasn’t done more to denounce the U.S. Capitol domestic terrorist attack is “because the platforms have removed him.” No really, he said this.

The mere fact that Trump was able to send Gidley on national television to deliver his message is proof that Trump could have simply gone on television himself; if Fox was willing to book Gidley, they’d certainly rather have had Trump. Instead Trump is hiding behind whatever PR flack is left in his White House, and blaming it all on Twitter. Three more days and Trump will no longer be our problem.

 

Jan. 16

Top Headlines

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

U.S. Politics

 

U.S. Media News 

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Pledges Federal Vaccine Campaign to Beat a Surging Coronavirus, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Katie Thomas, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., racing against a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant that could worsen the crisis, is planning a vaccination offensive that calls for greatly expanding access to the vaccine while using a wartime law to increase production.

In a speech on Friday in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden told Americans that “we remain in a very dark winter,” allowing, “the honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better.”

“I told you,” he said, “I’ll always level with you.” But he also tried to offer hope for an end to a pandemic that has taken nearly 390,000 American lives and frayed the country’s economic and social fabric.

“Our plan is as clear as it is bold: get more people vaccinated for free, create more places for them to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms, increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible,” he said, calling it “one of the most challenging operation efforts ever undertaken by our country.”

He pledged to ramp up vaccination availability in pharmacies, build mobile clinics to get vaccines to underserved rural and urban communities and encourage states to expand vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older. Mr. Biden also vowed to make racial equity a priority in fighting a virus that has disproportionately infected and killed people of color.

“You have my word,” he declared, “we will manage the hell out of this operation.”

But the president-elect’s expansive vision is colliding with a sobering reality: With only two federally authorized vaccines, supplies will be scarce for the next several months, frustrating some state and local health officials who had hoped that the release of a federal stockpile of vaccine doses announced this week could alleviate that shortage.

Mr. Biden is clearly prepared to assert a role for the federal government that President Trump refused to embrace, using the crisis to rebuild the nation’s public health services and Washington’s money to hire a new health work force and deploy the National Guard. But many of his bold promises will be difficult to realize.

Even if Mr. Biden invokes the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, it may take some time to alleviate vaccine shortages. The law has been invoked already, to important but limited effect. His promises to build federally supported mass vaccination sites and develop new programs to serve high-risk people, including the developmentally disabled and those in jail, will work only if there are vaccines to administer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Vaccine reserve already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena H. Sun, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). States were anticipating a windfall after federal officials said they would stop holding back second doses. But the approach had already changed, and no stockpile exists.

When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses that had been held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available, starting at the end of December, taking second doses for the two-dose regimen directly off the manufacturing line.

Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others were still in the dark Friday.

Because both of the vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States are two-dose regimens, the Trump administration’s initial policy was to hold back second doses to protect against manufacturing disruptions. But that approach shifted in recent weeks, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Attack Could Fuel Extremist Recruitment For Years, Experts Warn, Neil MacFarquhar, Jack Healy, Mike Baker and Serge F. Kovaleski, Jan. 16, 2021. An ideological jumble of far-right extremists and hate groups flourished under President Trump and claimed new energy after the attack.

washington post logoWashington Post, Before he stormed the Capitol, ex-W.Va. lawmaker harassed women at an abortion clinic, Samantha Schmidt and Caroline Kitchener, Jan. 16, 2021. Derrick Evans walked with his phone out in front of him, camera facing forward, as he advanced on the patient in the abortion clinic parking lot. Surrounding the car, clinic volunteers tried to shield the patient with umbrellas and their own bodies. It was no use: On this February morning in 2019, Evans captured the patient on Facebook live, streaming to tens of thousands of followers.

derrick evans“You will not do this in secret in West Virginia,” Evans said. He wore a “Make America Great Again” hat, as he did every week when he protested outside the Women’s Health Center, the only abortion clinic left in the state.

Evans was a fixture at the clinic for much of 2019, with a reputation for harassment so severe that the clinic erected a 10-foot fence to deter him. A volunteer escort obtained a restraining order against him, accusing him of stalking her. When Evans was around — often accompanied by dozens of supporters — women would cry in the waiting room, said clinic patient Hunter Crites, afraid they’d be identified and screamed at as soon as they stepped outside.

By the time Evans stepped foot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he had amassed over 32,000 followers on Facebook — and enough votes in the 2020 election to win him a seat in the West Virginia legislature. Everywhere he went — the abortion clinic, Black Lives Matter protests, drag brunches — Evans brought along his phone, and his following, doing what he could to shame and agitate the people around him.

rosanne boyland

ny times logoNew York Times, Visual Investigations: Videos Show How Rioter Was Trampled in Stampede at Capitol, Evan Hill, Arielle Ray and Dahlia Kozlowsky, Updated Jan. 16, 2021. Rosanne Boyland, shown above, died after losing consciousness in the crush of a pro-Trump mob as it surged against the police. Here’s how it happened.

Rosanne Boyland, a 34-year-old Trump supporter from Georgia who died during the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, appears to have been killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line, according to videos reviewed by The Times.

Though the videos have circulated widely, Ms. Boyland’s presence in them had gone unnoticed until now, and the manner of her death had previously been unclear. The videos show her body on the ground just outside a door on the Capitol’s west side that was the scene of some of the day’s worst violence.

Her clothes and backpack strap in the videos match those she was seen wearing in a picture of her taken earlier that day, and two witnesses, one of whom tried to help her, gave similar accounts of her death.
ImageA picture of Ms. Boyland from earlier on Jan. 6 showing her clothes and backpack helped The Times identify her in the crush of the mob.
A picture of Ms. Boyland from earlier on Jan. 6 showing her clothes and backpack helped The Times identify her in the crush of the mob.Credit...Justin Winchell

Here is how the fatal rush unfolded.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, paramedics who responded to a call regarding a medical emergency at the Capitol arrived to find two Capitol Police officers in the Rotunda performing CPR on Ms. Boyland, who the officers said had collapsed in the protest.

The day after Ms. Boyland’s death, her brother-in-law told reporters that he held President Trump responsible.

“Rosanne was really passionate about her beliefs, like a lot of people are,” he said. “I’ve never tried to be a political person, but it’s my own personal belief that the president’s words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans last night.”

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

In one scene from the Capitol riot, an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), was arrested last week on charges of beating a Capitol Hill policeman being stomped by the mob.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This just keeps getting stranger, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2021. Donald Trump has four days left in his presidency – perhaps less than that if bill palmerhe tries to follow through on any of his latest potential antics. Trump has now apparently hitched himself to a last ditch plan from the My Pillow guy, which the My Pillow guy was dumb enough to place within camera lens range of a newspaper photographer, because these people really are just that stupid.

bill palmer report logo headerBut that’s only the half of it. Even amid disturbing new mainstream media reports about just how close Trump came to getting Mike Pence killed during the Capitol attack, Pence still sees fit to allow Trump to finish out the rest of his term. The only thing that could get even stranger about all of this is if Trump’s My Pillow stunt ends up being the thing that prompts Pence to change his mind about removing him.

Trump is still losing cabinet members who mistakenly think that resigning in protest at the last minute is somehow going to save their reputations and future employability. Trump is surely going to pardon some more people before he leaves office, and the only thing we know for sure is that they’ll all be terrible people. This stuff is just par for the course, at least for another four days.

Meanwhile there’s a worsening pandemic still going on, and President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to fix the vaccine rollout is every bit as solid as Trump’s ongoing mishandling of it. Of course we haven’t had a President for four years, so what’s another four days? We’re about to find out.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Police Investigating Whether Lawmakers Gave Tours Before Riot, Staff reports, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The police are looking into whether members of Congress inappropriately gave visitors access. The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in a police officer’s death.Vice President Mike Pence, occupying a leadership void, called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations and assistance. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House managers were preparing to take their impeachment charge to trial in the Senate, but offered no timeline. 

  • Josh Hawley, who led Senate efforts to overturn the election results, is being targeted by a super PAC.
  • Pence, occupying a leadership void, calls Harris to offer assistance — as Trump plans his Inauguration Day getaway.
  • The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in the killing of a Capitol Police officer by a pro-Trump mob.
  • Pelosi says impeachment managers are preparing for Senate trial, but declines to offer timeline.
  • Federal watchdogs open a far-reaching investigation into failures in the lead-up to the Capitol riot.
  • As Washington and several states brace for unrest, Biden reveals his vaccine and economic plans.
  • A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for seeking to disenfranchise them.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Need to Stabilize’: Big Business Breaks With Republicans, David Gelles, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Low taxes and light regulation made the party popular with corporate America for decades. President Trump and his supporters have frayed those bonds.

republican elephant logoThe longstanding alliance between big business and the Republican Party is being tested as never before. As President Trump and his allies sought to overturn the election results in recent months, chief executives condemned their efforts and called on Republicans to stop meddling with the peaceful transfer of power.

Now, in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol rampage by Mr. Trump’s supporters, corporate America is turning its back on many senior Republicans, and flexing its political muscle. One major trade group called on Mr. Trump’s cabinet to consider removing him from office. Dozens of companies, from AT&T to Walmart, have said they will no longer donate to members of Congress who opposed the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rioters storming Capitol came dangerously close to Pence, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Paul Kane and Emma Brown, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). About one minute after the vice president was hustled out of the Senate chamber and into a nearby room, members of the pro-Trump mob arrived at the top of a nearby landing.

mike pence leftThe violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, left, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day.

Secret Service officers eventually spirited Pence to a room off the Senate floor with his wife and daughter after rioters began to pour into the Capitol, many loudly denouncing the vice president as a traitor as they marched through the first floor below the Senate chamber.

About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate

Palmer Report, Opinion: So much for Blue Lives Matter, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 16, 2021. If you’re wondering how “Christians” can worship a murdering, raping, hate-tweeting, raging criminal who they robert harringtnn portraitmistakenly think of as “rich,” how “patriots” can support a man who tries to shortcut the rule of law and subvert the sacred peaceful transition of power, then I have another puzzle for you. How do “Blue Lives Matter,” flag-waving Republicans murder one police officer and rough up 50 others, putting fifteen of them in the hospital?

bill palmer report logo headerJust ask DC Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone. After being torn from a small phalanx of cops protecting the Capitol building on January 6, officer Fanone reports that rioters were screaming out, “Kill him with his own gun!”

“At that point it was like, self-preservation,” Fanone explains, “how do I survive this situation?” After being nearly torn apart, his gear and badge ripped from him, Fanone finally figured out a formula that did the trick. ”I just remember yelling out that I have kids, and that seemed to work.” At that point some members of the mob helped him get out of what was very nearly a life-ending situation.

Fanone summarizes it this way: “People have asked me my thoughts on the individuals in the crowd that helped me or tried to offer some assistance. I think the conclusion I’ve come to is, ‘Thank you, but f*ck you for being there.”

So there you have the Blue Lives Matter crowd. Officer Fanone got lucky that day. He had a fortunate inspiration and remembered that these were also supposed to be the people who were the “Pro-life Anti-abortion” crowd, so maybe mentioning that he had kids might penetrate their dim-witted, insane bloodlust for murder.

They were also part of the same violent mob who beat another police officer, Brian Sicknick, to death with a fire extinguisher. Maybe Sicknick didn’t have kids, or maybe he did and he didn’t have the presence of mind to tell the bloodthirsty scum who robbed him of his life that he had kids. Or maybe he told them and they just didn’t give a crap. When you’re dealing with the Kool-aid drinking mob of glassy-eyed Trump idolaters, anything goes.

So if you’re looking for another “apparent contradiction” (read: screaming hypocrisy) of the Trump claque, here’s another one. So the next time a contemptible, Trump-loving moron shrieks “Blue Lives Matter” as a supposed refutation of Black Lives Matter, remind them of officers Fanone, Sicknick and the fifty others they roughed up, hospitalized, murdered or nearly murdered.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Three days before attack, Capitol Police report warned Congress could be targeted, Carol D. Leonnig, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Three days before thousands of rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol, an internal Capitol Police intelligence report warned of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry supporters of President Trump on Jan. 6, laying out a stark alert that deepens questions about the security failures that day.

In a 12-page report on Jan. 3, the intelligence unit of the congressional police force described how thousands of enraged protesters, egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups, were likely to stream into Washington armed for battle.

This time, the focus of their ire would be members of Congress, the report said.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the memo, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Post. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

The internal report — which does not appear to have been shared widely with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI — was among a number of flags that security experts say should have alerted officials to the high security risks on Jan. 6.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats wrestle with length of Trump trial, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats are eager to punish President Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but wary of a Senate trial dragging on too long and slowing President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.

Few if any Senate Democrats want a lengthy impeachment proceeding, senators and aides said Friday — particularly as Biden faces a raft of crises with potentially no Cabinet secretary in place on the first day of his presidency, a break from past practice. Some have suggested the trial be put on pause to first tackle confirmations and pandemic relief.

But Senate leaders have not yet found a way to move ahead simultaneously on the impeachment trial and the chamber’s normal activities, such as confirming nominees, despite Biden urging them to do so.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could delay the starting date by withholding the article of impeachment until a later time. At a news conference Friday, Pelosi declined to specify when she would send the article to the Senate.

 

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Palmer Report, Opinion: Josh Hawley’s big event just got evicted from Loews Hotels, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2021. In the days since he helped incite a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republican Senator Josh Hawley has ceased tweeting, and seems to be trying to keep himself out of the mainstream media – perhaps in the hope that the public will forget what he did.

bill palmer report logo headerBut Hawley isn’t letting the attack get in the way of his desire to fundraise. He had a big fundraiser scheduled for next month at a Loews Hotel property. Not anymore. Loews (no relation to hardware store Lowe’s) just released this statement:

“We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions. In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.”

They didn’t mention Josh Hawley by name, but they didn’t have to. It’s his fundraiser. He might try to host it somewhere else, but he may have trouble finding a suitable venue who wants the controversy. This comes even as numerous major corporations have cut off PAC donations to Hawley and the other House and Senate Republicans who refused to certify the Electoral College results. If Hawley keeps getting hit in the fundraising wallet, he may not be a viable candidate for reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. ends Pa. election investigation, having found ‘insufficient evidence’ of criminal intent, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The top federal prosecutor in Harrisburg, Pa., announced Friday that his office has closed an investigation into nine discarded ballots found in the northeastern part of the state that President Trump had touted to support his unfounded claims of election rigging, saying in a statement that the probe had found “insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent on the part of the person who discarded the ballots.”

Justice Department log circularThe investigation had been controversial from the start, as election law experts said the department seemed to be violating department policy and tradition in revealing an ongoing probe in such a way that could affect the election.

Though just nine ballots in a dumpster were at issue, then-U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, who oversaw prosecutors in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced the probe in a public statement in September soon after Trump alluded to what happened on Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show.” Freed also first claimed that all nine ballots were cast for Trump, though he later clarified seven of the ballots had been cast for the president and two were found sealed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Capitol Riot, Calls for Cash and Talk of Revolution, David D. Kirkpatrick, Mike McIntire and Christiaan Triebert, Jan. 16, 2021. A network of far-right agitators spent weeks organizing and raising money for a mass action to overturn President Trump’s election loss.

Keith Lee, an Air Force veteran and former police detective, spent the morning of Jan. 6 casing the entrances to the Capitol.

In online videos, the 41-year-old Texan pointed out the flimsiness of the fencing. He cheered the arrival, long before President Trump’s rally at the other end of the mall, of far-right militiamen encircling the building. Then, armed with a bullhorn, Mr. Lee called out for the mob to rush in, until his voice echoed from the dome of the Rotunda.

Yet even in the heat of the event, Mr. Lee paused for some impromptu fund-raising. “If you couldn’t make the trip, give five to 10 bucks,” he told his viewers, seeking donations for the legal costs of two jailed “patriots,” a leader of the far-right Proud Boys and an ally who had clashed with the police during an armed incursion at Oregon’s statehouse.

Much is still unknown about the planning and financing of the storming of the Capitol, aiming to challenge Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat. What is clear is that it was driven, in part, by a largely ad hoc network of low-budget agitators, including far-right militants, Christian conservatives and ardent adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mr. Lee is all three. And the sheer breadth of the movement he joined suggests it may be far more difficult to confront than a single organization.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Attack Could Fuel Extremist Recruitment For Years, Experts Warn, Neil MacFarquhar, Jack Healy, Mike Baker and Serge F. Kovaleski, Jan. 16, 2021. An ideological jumble of far-right extremists and hate groups flourished under President Trump and claimed new energy after the attack.

New York Post, GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert and husband racked up arrests in home district, Jon Levine, Jan. 16, 2021. Rep. Lauren Boebert, the gun-toting freshman Republican Colorado congresswoman who ran on a law-and-order platform, has had several dust-ups with police, starting as a teenager.

The 34-year-old lawmaker, who beat her district’s very conservative Rep. Scott Tipton in a primary upset last June, has a rap sheet unusually long for a member of Congress.

lauren boebert mugshot 2017And her track record of thumbing her nose at law continued this week after she tussled with Capitol Police officers over her refusal to walk through newly installed House metal detectors.

“I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, DC, and within the Capitol complex,” she tweeted in defiance, while calling the detectors “another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.”

While the lawmaker, shown in a 2017 mugshot, was eventually allowed to enter the House chambers, she is facing growing questions about her role in assisting the deadly riot on Capitol Hill Jan. 6. Just hours before the violence, she tweeted, “today is 1776.” In the days leading up to the unrest, Boebert made a spectacle of her intention to remain armed in the Capitol, earning another rebuke from local law enforcement.

Back in June 2015, Boebert was cuffed for disorderly conduct at a Country Music festival near Grand Junction, Colo., after police said she attempted to interfere in the arrest of minors busted for underage drinking and encouraged the accused to run off. Boebert said the revelers had not been read their Miranda Rights and that the arrest was illegal.

Boebert subsequently missed two court appearances and was arrested again in December 2015. The charge was dismissed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lauren Boebert’s top staffer resigns as everything falls apart for her, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2021. Last night Palmer Report pointed to Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s lauren boebertworsening meltdowns on Twitter and asked how much longer she was going to last before she melted down completely. Now she’s received some news that’s not exactly going to help her keep it together.

bill palmer report logo headerBoebert’s Communications Director has resigned today, according to Axios. This is a big deal because Boebert, right, is brand new in the House, and so is her staff. Her Communications Director thought he’d be taking the job for at least two years, and he barely lasted a week before he’d seen enough.

Notably, Lauren Boebert’s Communications Director was okay with Boebert being a gun addicted QAnon freak when he signed on to work for her – but what’s transpired over the past ten days has apparently sent him running for the exits. Boebert openly incited insurrection on the House floor on January 6th, and then she repeatedly tweeted Speaker Pelosi’s location while the Capitol was under siege. We won’t be shocked if this ends with Boebert’s resignation. This is all falling apart for her rather quickly now.

capitol richard barnett jim lo scalzo epa efe rex shutterstock

New York Post, Federal judge reverses bail for accused Capitol rioter Richard Barnett, Jon Levine, Jan. 6, 2021. The alleged stun gun-carrying Capitol Hill rioter photographed with his boot up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been ordered to remain in jail and brought immediately to Washington, DC, so his case can proceed, according to a new report.

Arkansas-native Richard Barnett, 60, above, was initially scheduled to be sprung Saturday on $5,000 bail, to house arrest, pending the resolution of charges against him that could send him to prison for over a decade.

“If (Barnett) will travel across the country and engage in this level of criminal behavior because he believes that he is right and it is the Electoral College that is wrong, what would deter him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Harris said in arguing against the original decision to grant bail, the Associated Press reported.

The decision from Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell stayed a ruling from federal magistrate judge Erin Weidemann, who said Barnett’s house arrest would be under “very, very restrictive conditions.”

“He appears to be a law-abiding citizen, for the most part, although there have been incidents that do cause the court concern with him being armed at rallies,” Weidemann said at the time.

Associated Press, Far-right personality ‘Baked Alaska’ arrested in riot probe, Michael Balsamo, Jan. 16, 2021. Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been ap logoarrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Gionet, right, was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity.

capitol tim gionet baked alaskaThousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem.

Gionet faces charges of violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller said in an affidavit filed in the case that Gionet streamed live for about 27 minutes from inside the Capitol and could be heard encouraging other protesters not to leave, cursing and saying “I’m staying,” “1776 baby,” and “I won’t leave guys, don’t worry.”

She wrote that Gionet entered various offices and when told by law enforcement officers to move, identified himself as a member of the media. Miller wrote that Gionet then asked officers where to go before cursing a law officer while alleging the officer shoved him, then leaving the building.

Gionet also posted video that showed Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” and “God Bless Trump” hats milling around inside the Capitol and taking selfies with officers who calmly asked them to leave the premises. The Trump supporters talked among themselves, laughed, and told the officers and each other, “This is only the beginning.”

Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes. So far, they have brought nearly 100 cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court.

In a 2017 interview with “Business Insider,” Gionet said he was given the nickname “Baked Alaska” because he is from Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: How Trump’s Mantra of ‘Law and Order’ Collapsed, Elaina Plott, Jan. 16, 2021. The president’s response to the riot at the Capitol underscored the ways he has twisted the phrase over the past four years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. man arrested at inauguration checkpoint says he was lost; didn’t mean to bring gun, ammunition to the District, Jessica Contrera, Carol D. Leonnig and Katie Mettler, Jan. 16, 2021. A Virginia man was arrested after law enforcement found at least one firearm and ammunition in his truck as he tried to enter an inauguration security checkpoint near the Capitol on Friday evening with a credential that was not authorized, according to court documents.

Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, drove his Ford F-150 up to a checkpoint on E Street Northeast of the Capitol, where he was met by Capitol Police officers, according to the court documents.

Beeler was arrested on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition, a Capitol Police spokesperson said. A judge ordered him released on personal recognizance and issued a stay-away order from the District.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler explained after being released. In a tear-filled interview, he said he has spent the last week working as hired security in downtown Washington ahead of the inauguration. He was running late to work and forgot that his firearm was in his truck when he left his home in Virginia, where he said he has a license to carry. He denied that he had more than 500 rounds of ammunition listed in his arrest report.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

Beeler said he was given a credential by his employer, MVP Protective Services. A man who answered a phone number connected with MVP protective services said, “Unfortunately, at this time I am not authorized to speak,” when reached by a reporter Saturday evening.

The officers asked Beeler if he had weapons in the car, and he volunteered that he had a Glock in his center armrest, charging papers said.

After removing Beeler from the truck, officers found the firearm, a 9mm handgun, was loaded with a high-capacity magazine and 17 rounds of ammunition and the pistol was chambered and ready to fire, court document said.

Police said they also found more than 500 rounds of pistol ammunition, including hollow-point bullets. Nearly two dozen shotgun shells were “located in plain sight in the rear cargo area of the vehicle,” the court documents said.

mike lindell screengrabRawStory, MyPillow guy Mike Lindell prays for military coup after meeting with Trump: report, Bob Brigham, Jan. 16, 2021. When controversial MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell visited the White House on Friday, a Washington Post reporter captured a photo of "martial law" appearing on the notes he brought with him.

Lindell, above, said he was there to brief Trump on what he was missing out on after his lifetime suspension from Twitter.

"Following his meeting with President Trump on Friday, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said in a Facebook interview with Right Side Broadcasting News today that he's praying that the military presence in Washington is part of Trump's plan to retain power," Tim Miller of The Bulwark reported Saturday. "In Lindell's interview—which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook in just a few hours—he recounts the details of his meeting with the president and rattles off a series of unintelligible conspiracies in a Minnesota lilt."

Lindell believes he has "proof" of election fraud, pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that incited the fatal January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"You know I've been looking down every hole for election fraud since November 4th and about eight or nine days ago this proof came out. One-hundred percent footprints from the machines of the machine fraud," Lindell said. "I wanted to get it to the president. This is it. This shows that Joe Biden lost: 79 million for Donald Trump and 68 million for Joe Biden."

"I said I talked to the guy. This is real. I said it's got the IP address of the computer that it came out of. It also has the latitude and longitude like over in China this went over there came back and it shows the number of votes flipped," Lindell argued.

 

U.S. Politics

CNN, Fact Check: Analysis: The 15 most notable lies of Donald Trump's presidency, Daniel Dale, Jan. 16, 2021. The lies that could define Trump's legacy. cnn logoTrying to pick the most notable lies from Donald Trump's presidency is like trying to pick the most notable pieces of junk from the town dump. There's just so much ugly garbage to sift through before you can make a decision.

But I'm qualified for the dirty job. I fact checked every word uttered by this President from his inauguration day in January 2017 until September 2020 -- when the daily number of lies got so unmanageably high that I had to start taking a pass on some of his remarks to preserve my health.

Trump got even worse after November 3. Since then, he has spent the final months of what has been a wildly dishonest presidency on a relentless and djt smiling filedangerous lying spree about the election he lost.

As the country grapples with the deadly consequences of this deception, I've selected the 15 Trump lies that stand out to me from his four years in power -- for their importance, for their egregiousness, for their absurdity, or for what they say about the man.

  • The most telling lie: It didn't rain on his inauguration
  • The most dangerous lie: The coronavirus was under control
  • The most alarming lie saga: Sharpiegate
  • The most ridiculous subject of a lie: The Boy Scouts
  • The ugliest smear lie: Rep. Ilhan Omar supports al Qaeda
  • The most boring serial lie: The trade deficit with China used to be $500 billion
  • The most entertaining lie shtick: The burly crying men who had never cried before
  • The most traditional big lie: Trump didn't know about the payment to Stormy Daniels
  • The biggest lie by omission: Trump ended family separation
  • The lie he fled: He got Veterans Choice
  • My personal favorite lie: Trump was once named Michigan's Man of the Year
  • The most depressing lie: Trump won the election

 

U.S. Media News

 

kayleigh mceneny collage

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kayleigh McEnany runs and hides, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2021. Over the weekend it was reported that Donald Trump is now pissed off at bill palmerKayleigh McEnany because even though she was willing to lie for him throughout his attempt at overthrowing the election she hasn’t been willing to defend him in the wake of his Capitol terrorist attack. Now it turns out Kayleigh is running for the hills.

Now Kayleigh McEnany is “finished” at the White House as of yesterday, according to the New York Times. She hasn’t resigned or anything, she’s just not planning to show up for work this upcoming week. No reason has been given, but we suspect it has something to do with the bill palmer report logo headerfact that Trump is now blaming her for his downfall.

And so yet another of Donald Trump’s henchmen is facing a disastrous end. Kayleigh McEnany destroyed her future employability by leading the charge in pushing Trump’s deranged lies about the election result. Now she’s on the outs with him anyway. She’s getting the worst ending possible, and she deserves it.

 

Trump Attorneys Rudolph Giuliani, flanked by Sidney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis (Nov. 19, 2020).

Trump Attorneys Rudolph Giuliani, flanked by Sidney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis (Nov. 19, 2020).

washington post logofox news logo SmallWashington Post, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell have disappeared from Fox airwaves, Jeremy Barr, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). They’ve not been on Fox cable news shows since a legal pushback from the voting-technology companies they maligned. At one point, it was hard for Fox viewers to avoid Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.

For several weeks starting in November, the Trump-associated lawyers were an almost-daily presence on Fox shows, arguing that the president had been robbed of a second term by a fraudulent process that they claimed they would soon have the evidence to reveal.

But Giuliani and Powell have not appeared on any Fox cable news show in more than a month, according to a review by The Washington Post. Giuliani’s last appearance was Dec. 12 and Powell’s was Dec. 10 on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” a show that was once a regular vehicle for both her and Giuliani. Ellis has appeared only once on the networks since early December.

In November and December, all three were frequent guests on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows, sometimes doing double duty, as Powell did in appearing on shows hosted by Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity on the same night — even though she had already been booted from the Trump campaign’s efforts. Ellis appeared on three Fox News Media shows on Nov. 20.

The network would not comment on the trio’s absence. But the timing of their disappearance aligns with the first legal pushback from a pair of voting-technology companies that say they’ve been falsely smeared by baseless conspiratorial claims of election fraud by Trump allies.

 

Jan. 15

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

Top Stories

 

capitol mob

washington post logoWashington Post, Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. Note left by ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence, Teo Armus, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As federal law enforcement officers sift through evidence tied to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, they have tried to determine what compelled rioters to force their way into the building. Namely, did any of them plan to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers?

Officials now say they have found clues to that question from one of the mob’s most distinctive figures: Jacob Anthony Chansley, shown in the Capitol at center above, the shirtless, tattooed man often referred to as “QAnon Shaman,” who stood out in a headdress made of coyote skin and buffalo horns.

FBI logoIn a court filing late on Thursday, federal prosecutors in Phoenix wrote that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”

The 18-page memo, which asked a judge to keep Chansley detained before his trial, said the 33-year-old Arizona man left an ominous note for Vice President Pence at his desk in the Senate chamber: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right groups make plans for protests and assaults before and after Inauguration Day, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Razzan Nakhlawi, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump’s incitement of his supporters before their attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement and fueled those determined to disrupt the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and violently challenge the legitimacy of the election for months — and possibly years, according to U.S. officials and independent experts.

U.S. officials have warned authorities nationwide to be on alert for potential acts of violence at state capitols, as well as a possible second attack on the Capitol or on the White House. Law enforcement authorities have said extremists might use firearms and explosives and are monitoring online calls to rally in cities nationwide beginning Sunday. Security at the inaugural ceremony in Washington on Wednesday probably will be the most intense ever.

At the center of the amorphous but increasingly motivated extremist movement sits the current president, now twice impeached, deprived of his social media megaphones but still exerting a powerful influence over his followers who take his baseless claims of election fraud as an article of faith.

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll finds clear opposition to riot, support to bar Trump from serving again, Scott Clement, Emily Guskin and Dan Balz, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The vast majority of Americans say they oppose the actions of the rioters who stormed and ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, while smaller majorities say President Trump bears responsibility for the attack and that he should be removed from office and disqualified from serving again, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

djt hands up mouth open CustomEven as the findings are sharply partisan, over half of Americans — and 1 in 8 Republicans — say Trump should be criminally charged for his role in the attacks.

The president also comes in for broad criticism over his repeated and baseless assertions that the November election was rigged and tainted by widespread fraud. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, Americans say the president has acted irresponsibly in his statements and actions since the election.

Nonetheless, the president continues to enjoy strong support from Republicans, among whom a clear majority agree with his false claims about what happened in November, oppose his removal from office and believe Republican elected officials should continue to follow his lead in the future.

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

steve bannon trump

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Foreign involvement in U.S. coup attempt a certainty, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 15, 2021. Foreign involvement in the January 6 coup attempt by pro-Trump insurrectionists who stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol assuredly had foreign involvement and financial support based on Donald Trump's pre-coup dealings with his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, shown above left.

In the weeks prior to the failed putsch, Bannon returned to his role as Trump's adviser, according to various news reports. Bannon, who was federally-indicted last year for fraud involving a charitable organization, may have been fishing for a Trump pardon, but it is Bannon's close connections with several foreign fascist political parties and leaders, including exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, that should be raising eyebrows at the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

 

capitol peter stager

The New Yorker, The Storm: Rioters at the Capitol, Luke Mogelson, Jan. 15, 2021 (Jan. 25 print issue). The attack on the Capitol was a predictable culmination of a months-long ferment. Throughout the pandemic, right-wing protesters had been gathering at statehouses, demanding entry and shouting things like “Treason!” and “Let us in!”Photograph by Balazs Gardi for The New Yorker

new yorker logoBy the end of President Donald Trump’s crusade against American democracy — after a relentless deployment of propaganda, demagoguery, intimidation, and fearmongering aimed at persuading as many Americans as possible to repudiate their country’s foundational principles — a single word sufficed to nudge his most fanatical supporters into open insurrection. Thousands of them had assembled on the Mall, in Washington, D.C., on the morning of January 6th, to hear Trump address them from a stage outside the White House. From where I stood, at the foot of the Washington Monument, you had to strain to see his image on a jumbotron that had been set up on Constitution Avenue. His voice, however, projected clearly through powerful speakers as he rehashed the debunked allegations of massive fraud which he’d been propagating for months. Then he summarized the supposed crimes, simply, as “bullshit.”

“Bullshit! Bullshit!” the crowd chanted. It was a peculiar mixture of emotion that had become familiar at pro-Trump rallies since he lost the election: half mutinous rage, half gleeful excitement at being licensed to act on it. The profanity signalled a final jettisoning of whatever residual deference to political norms had survived the past four years. In front of me, a middle-aged man wearing a Trump flag as a cape told a young man standing beside him, “There’s gonna be a war.” His tone was resigned, as if he were at last embracing a truth that he had long resisted. “I’m ready to fight,” he said. The young man nodded. He had a thin mustache and hugged a life-size mannequin with duct tape over its eyes, “traitor” scrawled on its chest, and a noose around its neck.

“We want to be so nice,” Trump said. “We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. We’re going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.”

About a mile and a half away, at the east end of the Mall, Vice-President Pence and both houses of Congress had convened to certify the Electoral College votes that had made Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the next President and Vice-President of the United States. In December, a hundred and forty Republican representatives—two-thirds of the caucus—had said that they would formally object to the certification of several swing states. Fourteen Republican senators, led by Josh Hawley, of Missouri, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, had joined the effort. The lawmakers lacked the authority to overturn the election, but Trump and his allies had concocted a fantastical alternative: Pence, as the presiding officer of the Senate, could single-handedly nullify votes from states that Biden had won. Pence, though, had advised Congress that the Constitution constrained him from taking such action.

“After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” Trump told the crowd. The people around me exchanged looks of astonishment and delight. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them—because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.”

“No weakness!” a woman cried.

Before Trump had even finished his speech, approximately eight thousand people started moving up the Mall. “We’re storming the Capitol!” some yelled.

There was an eerie sense of inexorability, the throngs of Trump supporters advancing up the long lawn as if pulled by a current. Everyone seemed to understand what was about to happen. The past nine weeks had been steadily building toward this moment. On November 7th, mere hours after Biden’s win was projected, I attended a protest at the Pennsylvania state capitol, in Harrisburg. Hundreds of Trump supporters, including heavily armed militia members, vowed to revolt. When I asked a man with an assault rifle—a “combat-skills instructor” for a militia called the Pennsylvania Three Percent—how likely he considered the prospect of civil conflict, he told me, “It’s coming.” Since then, Trump and his allies had done everything they could to spread and intensify this bitter aggrievement. On December 5th, Trump acknowledged, “I’ve probably worked harder in the last three weeks than I ever have in my life.” (He was not talking about managing the pandemic, which since the election has claimed a hundred and fifty thousand American lives.) Militant pro-Trump outfits like the Proud Boys—a national organization dedicated to “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism” in America—had been openly gearing up for major violence. In early January, on Parler, an unfiltered social-media site favored by conservatives, Joe Biggs, a top Proud Boys leader, had written, “Every law makers who breaks their own stupid Fucking laws should be dragged out of office and hung.”

On the Mall, a makeshift wooden gallows, with stairs and a rope, had been constructed near a statue of Ulysses S. Grant. Some of the marchers nearby carried Confederate flags. Up ahead, the dull thud of stun grenades could be heard, accompanied by bright flashes. “They need help!” a man shouted. “It’s us versus the cops!” Someone let out a rebel yell. Scattered groups wavered, debating whether to join the confrontation. “We lost the Senate—we need to make a stand now,” a bookish-looking woman in a down coat and glasses appealed to the person next to her. The previous day, a runoff in Georgia had flipped two Republican Senate seats to the Democrats, giving them majority control.

Greg Palast, Insider: White House was Warned March was Illegal, Greg Palast, Jan. 15, 2021. Trump’s Call to March Broke Organizer's Promise to DC Police. Before Donald Trump exhorted the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, the White House had been warned by the rally sponsor that there was no permit for a march, that DC Metro Police were promised there would be no march, and that such an unplanned march was dangerous. (Continued below.)

mike lindell anderson cooper aug 18 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is reportedly plotting something deranged with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021. There are just five days to go until Donald Trump is out of office and no longer our problem. He’s already announced his plans to leave office on the morning of January 20th, so he knows it’s over. And while Mike Pence has thus far been unwilling to do the right thing and remove Trump, he still has the 25th Amendment in his back pocket as a way of keeping Trump in line.

bill palmer report logo headerAll that said, Donald Trump met in the Oval Office today with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell (shown above in a CNN screenshot with host Anderson Cooper), and Lindell was apparently careless enough with his notes that the Washington Post was able to photograph them:

Lindell’s notes include ideas about invoking “martial law” and “emergency powers” while installing lunatics like Sidney Powell in unspecified positions, and reshuffling the CIA. To be clear, none of these things are realistically possible. This list is the kind of things Trump wishes he pull off, when in reality he’s reduced to urging random clueless idiots to storm buildings.

But this list in Lindell’s hand, and the fact that he took it to Donald Trump, means that Lindell apparently has gone full insurrectionist. At this point the Feds need to detain and question Lindell immediately. And Mike Pence should take this Trump-Lindell meeting as a sign that he needs to invoke the 25th Amendment after all.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A pillow salesman apparently has some ideas about declaring martial law, Philip Bump, Jan. 15, 2021. The galaxy of individuals who have orbited President Trump over the past five years is not lacking for unusual characters. Few, though, have had quite the same trajectory as businessman Michael Lindell.

Lindell is the CEO of the company My Pillow, which, as you might expect, makes pillows. His company advertises heavily on Fox News, often with spots featuring Lindell himself. A major Republican donor, he participated in an event centered on manufacturing early in Trump’s administration. Since then, he’s returned to the White House regularly and has touted his close relationship with the president. That includes an effort last August to get Trump to endorse a supposed coronavirus treatment in which Lindell had a financial stake. (Trump did not do so.)

Since Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, Lindell has been a fervent champion of the utterly baseless claim that the election was somehow stolen from Trump.

At about 3 p.m., he was escorted into the West Wing. The subject of his visit? If notes Lindell was holding while he waited to enter were any indication, he wanted to discuss his thoughts on how Trump might finagle those “4 more years” Lindell had promised his Facebook followers.

The Washington Post’s Jabin Botsford captured an image of the notes Lindell was carrying with him as he went to meet with Trump. Only half of the page can be seen, but even that tells a lot.

The CEO of MyPillow has a strategy for shuffling around administration staffers to gather up the evidence of electoral fraud he thinks exists — and to use military resources in an effort to keep Trump in power, or, as he apparently puts it, to protect the Constitution.

It’s hard to characterize how bizarre and outrageous this is. From Lindell having a platform in any media to hype his allegations to his being invited into the inner sanctum of American power to apparently argue to the president or his team that there’s a path to rejecting the legitimate election of President-elect Joe Biden? There aren’t sufficient adjectives to explore how far from normal — or reality — this is.djt michael cohen disloyal

ap logoAssociated Press, NY prosecutors interview Michael Cohen about Trump finances, Jim Mustian and Michael R. Sisak, Jan. 15, 2021. New York prosecutors conducted an hourslong interview Thursday of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney (shown above with his best-selling memoir, Disloyal), asking a range of questions about Trump’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

The interview focused in part on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his biggest and longest standing creditor, according to the three people, who weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The interview, at least the second of Cohen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, comes amid a long-running grand jury investigation into Trump’s business dealings. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has been waging a protracted legal battle to get access to the president’s tax records.

The New York investigation is one of several legal entanglements that are likely to intensify as Trump loses power — and any immunity from prosecution he might have as a sitting president — as he departs the White House.

The Manhattan-based grand jury has been continuing its work despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has curtailed many court operations.

The Republican president also faces a civil investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James into whether Trump’s company lied about the value of its assets to get loans or tax benefits. Cohen also is cooperating with that inquiry., including $125 million to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012, according to previous disclosures.

ny times logoNew York Times, Atlanta Prosecutor Appears to Move Closer to Trump Inquiry, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Jan. 15, 2021. The Fulton County district attorney is weighing an inquiry into possible election interference and is said to be considering hiring an outside counsel.

georgia map 2Prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, an inquiry into offenses that would be beyond his federal pardon power.

The new Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, is already weighing whether to proceed, and among the options she is considering is the hiring of a special assistant from outside to oversee the investigation, according to people familiar with her office’s deliberations.

At the same time, David Worley, the lone Democrat on Georgia’s five-member election board, said this week that he would ask the board to make a referral to the Fulton County district attorney by next month. Among the matters he will ask prosecutors to investigate is a phone call Mr. Trump made in which he pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the state’s election results.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Inevitable End, Michelle Goldberg, right, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Finally the world agrees that Trump is exactly the man his michelle goldberg thumbfiercest critics said he was. But has the reckoning come too late?

The House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report quotes, at length, the speech that Donald Trump gave to his devotees on Jan. 6 before many of them stormed the Capitol, baying for execution.

“We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them,” said President Trump. He urged his minions to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the place where Congress was meeting to certify the election he lost: “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

liz cheney resizedA week later, Representative Cheney, right, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, would vote to get rid of him, joining nine of her fellow Republicans in backing impeachment. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement, adding, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Half of all presidential impeachments since the Republic began have been impeachments of Trump. This latest impeachment is different than the first, and not just because it was bipartisan. It culminates a week in which Trump has finally faced the broad social pariahdom he’s always deserved.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘It looked like a medieval battle scene’: How battered D.C. police made a stand against the Capitol mob, Peter Hermann, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). D.C. officers describe being battered by flagpoles, beaten with their own clubs and choked by bear spray as they defended the U.S. Capitol.

Blinded by smoke and choking on gas and bear spray, stripped of his radio and badge, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone and his battered colleagues fought to push back rioters trying to force their way into an entrance to the U.S. Capitol.

The officers had been at it for hours, unaware that others in the mob had already breached the building through different entrances. For them, the West Terrace doors — which open into a tunnel-like hallway allowing access to an area under the Rotunda — represented the last stand before the Capitol fell.

“Dig in!” Fanone yelled, his voice cracking, as he and others were being struck with their own clubs and shields, ripped from their hands by rioters. “We got to get these doors shut.”

An officer since 9/11, the 40-year-old Fanone, who has four daughters, had been working a crime-suppression detail in another part of the District on Jan. 6. He and his partner sped to the Capitol when dispatchers broadcast an urgent citywide emergency call.

“They were overthrowing the Capitol, the seat of democracy, and I f---ing went,” Fanone said.

ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in the killing of a Capitol Police officer by a pro-Trump mob, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Jan. 15, 2021.  The F.B.I. is investigating 37 people related to the killing of Officer Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died after being injured during the pro-Trump riot on Jan. 6, according to an F.B.I. memo sent to the private sector and others on Friday. The Times obtained a copy of the report.

brian sicknickFBI logoMr. Sicknick, shown at right, was struck with a fire extinguisher as a violent mob flooded the halls of Congress, according to two law enforcement officials. Lawmakers hid under their desks from violent protesters after President Trump encouraged them during a rally to head to the Capitol. Mr. Sicknick died in the hospital where he was getting treatment for his injuries.

Fourteen other Capitol Police officers were injured in the mob last week, the memo said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump threatens the President of the United States, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 15, 2021. With such an embarrassment of riches from which to robert harringtnn portraitchoose, if you still want yet another insight into how broken and delusional Donald Trump is, try this latest on for size: he threatened the President of the United States. Here’s what he said: “The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.”

Let me see if I have this right. Donald Trump, who colluded with the Russians to get elected, obstructed justice at least ten times (in reality more like a hundred), violated dozens of emoluments clauses, withheld military aid to Ukraine because the President of Ukraine refused to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, recently incited a vicious, destructive riot on the nation’s Capitol in which five people died, has nothing to fear from the 25th Amendment. But watch out Joseph “Wild Joe” Biden!

bill palmer report logo headerI don’t know about you, but I’m reasonably convinced that we don’t need to worry about Joe Biden doing anything sufficiently shocking or illegal to cause his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. But if I wanted an opinion about it, the last person I’d ask would be a twice-impeached, one-term loser like Donald Trump. Let’s just say I’m not worried that Joe Biden will try to whip his supporters into a frenzy and get them to attack a federal government building, or something.

The good news is with this second impeachment we have an actual shot at convicting this criminal monster. Such a conviction (which, if it happens at all, will almost certainly occur after he’s left office), will have many dividends. For one he could be barred from ever holding public office again. He could also lose his pension and his Secret Service detail, and, best of all, any evidence adduced during the impeachment can and will be used in a court of law. So Trump’s impeachment certainly won’t help him stay out of prison, and if ever anyone ever deserved to go to prison, it’s Donald J. Trump.

Incidentally, in case you noticed, I referred above to Joe Biden as “President of the United States.” I am not tempting fate, I’m just making an observation. Trump may be president de jure, but Biden is President de facto. Biden has begun the work — on coronavirus, on fashioning his cabinet, on unifying Americans and making policy moving forward — and for that reason Biden is the true leader of the country. Trump doesn’t come close and he never has, and even some of the Republican mollusks in the Congress and the Senate are finally coming round to that point of view. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence is now the de facto President of the United States (and that’s a problem), Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021.  On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence held a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and other law enforcement and security leaders. The meeting, which was televised, was clearly aimed at making the American people feel more confident with the nation’s ability to protect itself from domestic terrorism.

bill palmer report logo headerYep, it was Mike Pence leading this meeting, saying the right things, asking the right questions, looking vaguely presidential. And that’s a problem. It’s becoming more clear that Mike Pence is serving as the de facto President of the United States. He led this meeting, with Donald Trump nowhere to be found. By all accounts it was Pence who ordered the National Guard to the Capitol on January 6th after Trump refused to do so. The odds are that, behind the scenes, Pence is handling every aspect of the presidency that’s getting done at all, and Trump is handling none of it. Again, that’s a problem.

Mike PenceDonald Trump is still the President of the United States. Mike Pence, right, is just the Vice President. Even if Trump has mentally checked out and Pence is the one doing the job now, Trump could theoretically overrule him at any time. Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment at that point. But if something goes wrong, is that the battle we really want going on at a time when we need the President to take decisive action?

Mike Pence is being unbelievably reckless by refusing to remove Donald Trump from office. Pence is hiding behind the legally empty claim that he doesn’t have the ability to invoke the 25th Amendment under these circumstances. That’s because he’s a coward. He’s leaving the rest of us in a jam. At this point Pence is the de facto President but not the actual President, and that’s not okay.

Greg Palast, Insider: White House was Warned March was Illegal, Greg Palast, Jan. 15, 2021. Trump’s Call to March Broke Organizer's Promise to DC Police.  (Continued from above.)

Before Donald Trump exhorted the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, the White House had been warned by the rally sponsor that there was no permit for a march, that DC Metro Police were promised there would be no march, and that such an unplanned march was dangerous.

As a result, the Metro police were stunned, undermanned and unprepared for Trump’s surprise launch of thousands of his enraged Trump supporters, some armed, on the Capitol.

“I mean, it was shocking. It’s something we advocated against doing for exactly the reasons that ended up playing themselves out,” said a high-level source inside Women for America First, the organization that held the permit for the rally. They spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity.
Even more damning, the march Trump set in motion was led and promoted by ultra-right, violence-threatening extremist Ali Alexander, head of Stop the Steal. The Palast Investigative Team filmed Alexander, only weeks before the riot, exhorting a crowd:

“Either they take Trump …[or] we’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

The White House had been warned about Alexander and his dangerous plan to move on the Capitol. The leaders of Woman for America First sent several frantic, angry text messages to the White House warning that such a march was both illegal and dangerous. “When Ali was putting up things about the Capitol on the sixth, [we were] screen-shotting that, sending it to people both at Parks and at the White House, a couple of times, like ‘WTF’!,” an organizer source said.

One series of texts between the sponsors apparently sent two days before the rally reads, “Did you see that Ali’s website says we are marching at 1.” The reply: “We’ve just had to up our numbers with the NPS [National Park Service] and we can’t say anyone is marching.”

Women for America First founders Amy and Kylie Jane Kremer, who have had a well-reported feud with Alexander and Alex Jones, the far-right radio host with whom Alexander had teamed to lead the march. It is credible that the Kremers would have tried to prevent their sworn enemy from using their rally to launch a march which would leave the group on the hook for violation of their permit.

The Kremers have been feted by the president, and so has Alexander. That gave Alexander access to the front of the rally where Trump would speak. “Ali was running amok in the VIP section–it was disgusting–saying we’re going to go to the Capitol. What the f***! We’re not doing a march to the Capitol! What a terrible idea to try to move that number of people all the way to the Capitol,” the source said.

The insider claims that Woman for America First was quite worried that they had no marshals to keep the crowd in line. “We did advocate against [the march] for all kinds of reasons. So, excuse me, it’s not a big stretch to say when you have a bunch of people heading that way, it’s going to be a problem.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Plans Trial for Trump as G.O.P. Weighs Risks of Convicting, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Senators expect to try President republican elephant logoTrump at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of his successor, an exercise never attempted.

A day after the House impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were developing plans on Thursday to try the departing president at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of the incoming one.

ny times logoNew York Times, Abandon Trump? Deep in the Party Ranks, the MAGA Mind-Set Prevails, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As President Trump prepares to exit the White House, his ideas continue to exert a gravitational pull among grass-roots Republican officials.

As Mr. Trump prepares to exit the White House and face a second impeachment trial in the Senate, his ideas continue to exert a gravitational pull in Republican circles across the country. The falsehoods, white nationalism and baseless conspiracy theories he peddled for four years have become ingrained at the grass-roots level of the party, embraced by activists, local leaders and elected officials even as a handful of Republicans in Congress break with the president in the final hour.

Interviews with more than 40 Republican state and local leaders conducted after the siege at the Capitol show that a vocal wing of the party maintains an almost-religious devotion to the president, and that these supporters don’t hold him responsible for the mob violence last week. The opposition to him emerging among some Republicans has only bolstered their support of him.

marjorie greene campaign

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is just as hollow as it sounds, James Sullivan, Jan. 15, 2021. Donald Trump was formally impeached for the second time on Wednesday, making him the first president to have this specific dishonor.

bill palmer report logo headerWhatever happens from here on out, Trump and the GOP can’t erase this – it’ll be the most permanent legacy he leaves behind.

No wonder they’re urging unity and healing while not acknowledging the venomous rhetoric that’s been coming from right-wing media long before Donald Trump announced his presidential run.

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing on their own part, the Republicans opposing impeachment like to claim that going after Trump in this way would only cause further division.

The argument is just as hollow as it sounds – and not even the Republicans believe it. If they truly did believe it, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wouldn’t be announcing her latest plan to invoke an article of impeachment against Joe Biden on the day after he’s inaugurated, but that’s her latest buffoonish plan. Citing an abuse of power that she never really gets around to defining, Greene is trying to figure out a way to blame the Capitol siege on the same guy who’s made healing the country a part of his platform.

This nonsense is guaranteed to go nowhere, aside from rightfully embarrassing Greene in Congress if she actually does keep to her word – but it’s a sign of what we can expect from Trumpers in the future if they’re trusted with power: Using constitutionally prescribed norms as partisan weapons until they become useless. Reps like her are the reason we can’t afford to get complacent in 2022.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Pelosi Expected to Speak About Timing of Impeachment Trial, Staff Report, Jan. 15, 2021. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to address reporters at 11:30 a.m., the first time she will field questions since the House impeached President Trump. Senator Mitch McConnell has privately said he approves of the impeachment drive, but refused to begin the proceedings this week. Federal watchdogs open broad investigation into possible failures before Capitol riot. Here’s the latest.

  • A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for seeking to disenfranchise them.
  • Biden names more administration picks, including a FEMA head and deputy director of the C.I.A.

Capitol Records, Opinion: Our republic was attacked on January 6. Where do we go from here? Greg Olear, Jan. 15, 2021. The Civil War is the only precedent in our nation’s history to what’s happening right now. “Stupid Watergate,” we jokingly called it, but Trump has gone far beyond the wildest excesses of Richard Nixon.

The republic is under attack — present tense. The peaceful transition of power, which took place even in 1860, is in jeopardy. Troops are bivouacked in the Capitol. The lame-duck president, an inveterate criminal, wants to remain in office, mostly to avoid prosecution.

Whether motivated by cynical political calculation, rank delusion, authoritarian radicalism, coercion, or fear for their family’s lives, the lion’s share of a once-proud political party — ironically, the Party of Lincoln —has thrown in with him. Republicans failed to remove Trump a year ago; 400,000 Americans are dead because of their failure. Granted a second chance to do the right thing, most of the GOP balked.

Last Wednesday, a coup attempt came a hair’s breadth away from succeeding. The collaborators sought to, first, stop the electoral votes from being counted, because Trump had been told, wrongly, that this would prevent Joe Biden from taking office (by the same lousy low-rent lawyer who wrote the Kamala Harris birther attack in Newsweek!); and second, hunt down and execute Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and possibly Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, so that Trump could resign and be pardoned by unctuous lapdog Mike Pompeo, who as Secretary of State is fourth in line to the presidency.

If the second part sounds conspiratorial, I ask: Why else had Q whisperer Lin Wood called for the VP’s execution? Why else were there gallows erected outside? Why else would the Secret Service have whisked Pence away? The besiegers were seeking out Mike Pence, and they were seeking out Nancy Pelosi — and they made it into the latter’s offices, terrorizing her young staffers, smashing her mirror, and making off with her fucking laptop. What do we think these berserkers would have done if they had found her there? Shared a pot of tea? Binged Downton Abbey? Quilted?

Again: January 6 was an attempt to do harm to leaders in the presidential line of succession. This is no small thing. It’s not something we can gloss over because of “unity.”

It’s the worst attack by secessionists since Lee surrendered. And only by the grace of God, and the heroic acts of police like Eugene Goodman, were we spared a bloodbath.

 

U.S. Media News 

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Twitter ban shows that tech companies held keys to Trump’s power all along, Craig Timberg, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). It may take historians years to grasp the full implications of the social media hurricane that President Trump conjured. But it took just a single week to hear what happened when that storm headed out to sea.

twitter bird CustomDuring President Trump’s first impeachment, in December 2019, he tweeted more than 600 times — an average of 58 times a day. One of the last said, “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!”

During President Trump’s second impeachment, this week, he tweeted not once.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Barring Trump, Facebook and Twitter Face Scrutiny About Inaction Abroad, Adam Satariano, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Human rights groups and activists have spent years urging the companies to do more to remove content that encouraged violence.

In Sri Lanka and Myanmar, Facebook kept up posts that it had been warned contributed to violence. In India, activists have urged the company to combat facebook logoposts by political figures targeting Muslims. And in Ethiopia, groups pleaded for the social network to block hate speech after hundreds were killed in ethnic violence inflamed by social media.

“The offline troubles that rocked the country are fully visible on the online space,” activists, civil society groups and journalists in Ethiopia wrote in an open letter last year.

For years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed calls to remove hate speech or other comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups and activists said risked inciting violence. The companies stuck to policies, driven by American ideals of free speech, that give such figures more leeway to use their platforms to communicate.

But last week, Facebook and Twitter cut off President Trump from their platforms for inciting a crowd that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Those decisions have angered human rights groups and activists, who are now urging the companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in smaller countries where the platforms dominate communications.

 

Jan.14

Top Headlines

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

capitol confederate flag capitol

 

 Trump Watch

 

Media, Court News

 

Top Stories

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over second Trump impeachment action on Jan. 13, 2021 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over second Trump impeachment action on Jan. 13, 2021 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Impeached Twice, Now Faces Another Senate Trial, Nicholas Fandos, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A Conviction Could Mean He Would Never Hold Office Again. Donald J. Trump on Wednesday became the first American president to be impeached twice, as 10 members of his party joined with Democrats in the House to charge him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in egging on a violent mob that stormed the Capitol last week.

Reconvening in a building now heavily militarized against threats from pro-Trump activists and adorned with bunting for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., lawmakers voted 232 to 197 to approve a single impeachment article. It accused Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results, and called for him to be removed and disqualified from ever holding public office again.

djt march 2020 CustomThe vote left another indelible stain on Mr. Trump’s presidency just a week before he is slated to leave office and laid bare the cracks running through the Republican Party. More members of his party voted to charge the president than in any other impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, declaring the past week one of the darkest chapters in American history, implored colleagues to embrace “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”

A little more than a year after she led a painstaking, three-month process to impeach Mr. Trump the first time for a pressure campaign on Ukraine to incriminate Mr. Biden — a case rejected by the president’s unfailingly loyal Republican supporters — Ms. Pelosi had moved this time with little fanfare to do the same job in only seven days.

“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” the speaker said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”

The top House Republican, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, conceded in a pained speech on the floor that Mr. Trump had been to blame for the deadly assault at the Capitol. It had forced the vice president and lawmakers who had gathered there to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory to flee for their lives.

lisa murkowski 2 blue dressd oMurkowski Signals Possible Support for Convicting Trump, The Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, shown at right in a file photo, said the House had acted “appropriately” in impeaching President Trump. Here’s the latest in politics.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” said Mr. McCarthy, one of the 138 Republicans who returned to the House floor after the mayhem and voted to reject certified electoral votes for Mr. Biden. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

washington post logoWashington Post,10 Republicans support the unprecedented indictment, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, Jan. 14, 2021. The House broke new ground by impeaching a president for a second time, a week before he leaves office, indicting President Trump for inciting a riot with false claims of a stolen election that led to the storming of the Capitol and five deaths.

The House made history Wednesday by impeaching a president for a second time, indicting President Trump a week before he leaves office for inciting a riot with false claims of a stolen election that led to the storming of the Capitol and five deaths.

Unlike Trump’s first impeachment, which proceeded with almost no GOP support, Wednesday’s effort attracted 10 Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 party leader in the House. The Senate now appears likely to hold a trial after Trump’s departure, an unprecedented scenario that could end with lawmakers barring him from holding the presidency again.

The final vote was 232 to 197.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Sophistication of fascist coup attempt coming to light, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 14, 2021. America is just starting to wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalldiscover that it came within a hair's breadth of witnessing its Constitution upended and a fascist dictatorship declared by Donald Trump as a result of the January 6 insurrection targeting the U.S. Capitol.

With the historical and ideological basis for the January 6 coup attempt established, we can now look at the planning for the operation, which involved at the very least two freshman Republican members of the House of Representatives, both Qanon cultists: Lauren Boebert lauren boebertof Colorado, right, and Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia.

Both are currently under a criminal investigation by the US Capitol Police and FBI for permitting January 6 terrorists to reconnoiter the U.S. Capitol complex on January 5, the day prior to the attack. Boebert and Taylor-Greene face expulsion from the House if they are found to have provided coup participants with inside information regarding the location of offices of the House Speaker, the Senate Parliamentarian, offices of individual senators and representatives, and Capitol security systems.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Suspicious’ Visits to Capitol Eyed as Dragnet Snares 2 Police Officers, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.).  Democratic lawmakers demanded answers about visitors to the Capitol a day before the riot.

One week after an angry mob stormed the Capitol, Congress struggled on Wednesday to make sense of the most serious incursion on its home in more than two centuries as lawmakers called for new investigations and federal authorities fanned out across the country, taking into custody several more suspects, including two police officers from Virginia and a firefighter from Florida.

The flurry of arrests and appeals for inquiry came as the House brought a historic second impeachment charge against President Trump and federal law enforcement officials continued to examine whether the assault on the Capitol included coordinated efforts by small groups of extremists and was not merely a mass protest that spiraled out of control. All of this took place as official Washington remained in a defensive crouch, with much of the city surrounded by mikie sherrillprotective fencing and armed troops camped inside the Capitol complex.

Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, right, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers called on Wednesday for an investigation into visitors’ access to the Capitol on the day before the riot.

In a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the U.S. Capitol Police, the lawmakers, many of whom served in the military and said they were trained to “recognize suspicious activity,” demanded answers about what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the Capitol on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Separately, the inspector general’s office of the Capitol Police said it was opening a potentially wide-ranging inquiry into security breaches connected to the siege. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, signaled that it would look into what role, if any, members of Congress may have played in inciting the mob of Trump supporters who breached metal barricades and shattered windows on Jan. 6, seeking to overturn the results of the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dozens of people on FBI terrorist watch list came to D.C. the day of Capitol riot, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Marissa J. Lang, Jan. 14, 2021. Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6, a day that ended in a chaotic crime rampage when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, according to people familiar with evidence gathered in the FBI’s investigation.

The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their names had been previously entered into the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, a massive set of names flagged as potential security risks, these people said. The watch list is larger and separate from the “no-fly” list the government maintains to prevent terrorism suspects from boarding airplanes, and those listed are not automatically barred from any public or commercial spaces, current and former officials said.

The presence of so many watch-listed individuals in one place — without more robust security measures to protect the public — is another example of the intelligence failures preceding last week’s fatal assault that sent lawmakers running for their lives, some current and former law enforcement officials argued. The revelation follows a Washington Post report earlier this week detailing the FBI’s failure to act aggressively on an internal intelligence report of Internet discussions about plans to attack Congress, smash windows, break down doors and “get violent ... go there ready for war.”

Other current and former officials said the presence of those individuals is an unsurprising consequence of having thousands of fervent Trump supporters gathered for what was billed as a final chance to voice opposition to Joe Biden’s certification as the next president. Still, the revelation underscores the limitations of such watch lists. Although they are meant to improve information gathering and sharing among investigative agencies, they are far from a foolproof means of detecting threats ahead of time.

Since its creation, the terrorist watch list, which is maintained by the FBI, has grown to include hundreds of thousands of names. Placing someone’s name on the watch list does not mean they will be watched all of the time, or even much of the time, for reasons of both practicality and fairness, but it can alert different parts of the government, such as border agents or state police, to look more closely at certain individuals they encounter.

 washington post logoWashington Post, State, federal officials turn focus to security, Holly Bailey and Tim Craig, Governors warn of long-term dangers to their state capitols
Officials say the riots in Washington and state capitals last week signal a dark and dangerous period of extended upheaval.

The nation's governors, facing increasing threats to their capitols and little support or information from the federal government, said Wednesday that they are bracing for long-term danger from extremist groups who already have breached government buildings, damaged property and been linked to threats against state leaders and their families.

“It’s going to take quite a while to turn back what’s been started here,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), who has participated in joint calls in recent days with other Midwestern governors about the possibility of fresh violence in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol and an FBI warning about armed far-right extremists gathering across the country this weekend.

The weekly calls began last spring between the governors — mostly Democrats, but some Republicans — as a way to informally coordinate and trade ideas about how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic amid a perceived leadership vacuum by the Trump administration.

But in recent days, the calls — which have included the governors of Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — have taken on a new urgency as state officials have shared information and advice about how to confront what many believe could be a dark and dangerous period of extended insurgency against state and even local governments.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

capitol confederate flag capitol

ny times logoNew York Times, A man who carried a Confederate flag into the Capitol has been arrested, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Jan. 14, 2021. A man who was photographed holding a Confederate battle flag inside the U.S. Capitol last week during the riot was arrested Thursday in Delaware, two law enforcement officials said. The man, Kevin Seefried, was wanted by the F.B.I., which had sought help from the public to identify him and had widely circulated a dispatch plastered with images of him.

FBI logoIn a bulletin, the agency said that it was looking for assistance to identify individuals “who made unlawful entry” into the Capitol, including the man with the Confederate flag, now identified by the New York Times as Mr. Seefried.

The F.B.I. had received more than 126,000 photographic and video tips as of earlier this week, as agents also scrubbed airline passenger manifests and video of air travelers to and from Washington to find potential suspects. The top federal prosecutor in Washington said this week that he expected the number of people charged with crimes tied to the Capitol riot to rise into the hundreds.

On Wednesday, federal agents made more arrests in New York, Maryland, Texas and Florida, among them a firefighter from the town of Sanford, near Orlando.

ali alexander djt

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Legal expert notes that Ali Alexander admits Stop the Steal was designed to intimidate Congress, meaning the protest organizer likely will face federal charges, Roger Shuler, Jan. 14, 2021. A Legal Schnauzer lawyer source, having reviewed recent reports about last week's Capitol riot, says Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander almost certainly is headed for time behind bars. Our source particularly focuses on a report at Yahoo! by Alex Montrose. Says our source:

Ali Alexander (shown above in a collage with Donald Trump) admits that the purpose of the Stop The Steal was to make congressional members so afraid of the mob that the House would not want to be on the wrong side of the mob (i.e., to intimidate Congress to stop the Electoral College state certification process; send certification back to states; and allow states to recertify in favor of Trump so Trump wins the election instead of Biden).

On CNN today, Ali Alexander said essentially the same thing, which guarantees he will be convicted of federal crimes for organizing a mob and encouraging the mob to lay siege to the Capitol; intimidate congressional members to stop and delay the Elec. College certification process; help Trump buy time to get certifications sent back to states for re-certification in Trump's favor. In other words, a complicated coup that is doomed to fail and Trump shall never recover.

From the Yahoo! report:

The lead organizer of last week's "Stop the Steal" rally that morphed into an attack against the U.S. Capitol claims that GOP congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama all participated in planning of the Jan. 6 catastrophe.

As CNN points out, Arizona resident and pro-Trump activist Ali Alexander implicated the three members of the House of Representatives during a December livestream on Periscope, where he told followers the four of them had been "planning something big."

“I’m the guy who came up with the idea of January 6 when I was talking with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Andy Biggs, and Congressman Mo Brooks. So we’re the four guys who came up with a January 6 event — #DoNotCertify — and it was to build momentum and pressure, and then on the day change hearts and minds of congresspeoples who weren’t yet decided, or saw everyone outside and said, ‘I can’t be on the other side of that mob,’” Alexander said in a livestream on Dec. 29.

Alexander's alleged conspirators deny involvement in the plot: Biggs, who is chair of the House Freedom Caucus, denied associating with Alexander.

"Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point -- let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest," his spokesperson told CNN. "He did not have any contact with protestors or rioters, nor did he ever encourage or foster the rally or protests. He was focused on his research and arguments to work within the confines of the law and established precedent to restore integrity to our elections, and to ensure that all Americans -- regardless of party affiliation -- can again have complete trust in our elections systems."

The Arizona Republican Party, which Gosar and Biggs belong to, faced backlash last month after promoting one of Alexander's tweets and asking Republicans if they were willing to die to overturn the legitimate outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

nancy pelosi erin schaff new york times

ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Urges Police Chiefs Across U.S. to Be On High Alert for Threats, John Eligon, Frances Robles, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Helene CFBI logoooper, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A joint intelligence bulletin warned that the deadly breach at the Capitol will be a “significant driver of violence” ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amid Riot Chaos, Some National Security Leaders Are Absent From View, Katie Benner, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Adam Goldman, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). The Trump administration’s response to the attack, incited by the president, has lacked broad reassurances to a country on edge.

Amid the sea of troubling facts, arrests and iconic images that have emerged in the days since the assault on the Capitol, one element remains largely absent: reassurances from some of the nation’s top national security officials.

Neither the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, nor the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, has appeared at the type of high-profile news conference that typically marks a major criminal investigation, instead issuing news releases. Mr. Rosen also called for calm and vowed to fully investigate the violence, but the comments came in a video posted by the Justice Department on YouTube around midnight.

us dhs big eagle logo4Chad F. Wolf, the departing acting secretary of homeland security, was in the Middle East during the siege and did not return until later in the week. He also issued a news release that week calling the riot “tragic and sickening.”

For the most part, officials have not addressed that President Trump himself incited the attack by his supporters on Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results. Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the election or to acknowledge his role in goading his supporters has forced administration officials to choose between remaining relatively silent or speaking out in a public setting where they could be pushed to directly contradict him, according to two current government officials and two former national security officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is circling the drain as we speak, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 14, 2021. Jim Jordan, right, has a lot of nerve. He is the last person who should have the word “unity” in his mouth. He is one of the very Republicans CNN mentioned when they discussed the Republican failure to stand up to Trump from the beginning. Had they done so, we likely would not be here. His argument against impeachment fell on deaf ears. In fact, the arguments of all Republicans against impeachment were rightfully ignored. They spent much of their time trying to deflect by bringing up violence involved jim jordan headshot Customin the BLM protests, violence that was not perpetrated by the protestors. Continuing to compare what happened on January 6 to anything else was an effort in futility, and it was wrong.

The talk on Twitter was that Republicans are afraid of being violently attacked by Trump’s base. That fear is no excuse for the cowardice the Republicans displayed in impeachment debates. After months of listening to Donald Trump cry “fraud” about the election—even after losing over 60 cases in court—and hearing him continue to say the same thing, those people came to the Capitol to destroy. They came armed, and bill palmer report logo headerthey came prepared to stop anyone in their way. Trump set this up as soon as he began claiming fraud in the election. He exacerbated the problem and riled up these thugs by continuing the lie. He was joined in his lie by others whom these people saw as trustworthy when they were nothing of the sort. They refused to see wrong in Trump’s threatening call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger or in his attempts to interfere in the very signature check he requested.

Because they were now all in, the speeches given that afternoon — not only by Donald Trump but by Donald Trump Jr, Mo Brooks, and Rudy Giuliani — spurred them to action.

The sad part of the entire “movement,” for lack of a better word, is that these people have been taken in by two grifter conmen: Donald Trump and Ali Alexander, who started the “stop the steal” campaign. Ali Alexander is nothing more than a convicted felon who changed his name from Ali Akbar to attempt to hide from those convictions. He is at the center of this thing, and he now claims that three congressmen helped plan the rally: Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, paul gosarand Paul Gosar, right. Gosar previously tagged Alexander in a post prior to the January 6 event, so one must wonder whether they were indeed in this together.

Donald Trump, in concert with others, ran the greatest con of all time on the American people, both while in office and after he was defeated. Some chose to fall for that con and now find themselves facing federal time, which, by the way, has no parole. They may well choose to see impeachment as punitive, but it was necessary. At no time in U.S. history has there been a president like Trump, and a second impeachment can ensure that he can never run for office again.

capitol riot robert sanford

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Man Who Allegedly Threw Fire Extinguisher at Police Arrested on Federal Charges, Aruna Viswanatha and Erin Ailworth, Jan. 14, 2021. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers at the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol as captured on video, U.S. officials said.

Robert Sanford of Chester, Pa., faces three federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer after he was allegedly identified as the person who lobbed a fire extinguisher on the west side of the Capitol, at around 2:30 pm, as the mob crashed past a thin line of Capitol police officers and stormed towards the building on Jan. 6.

In an affidavit filed in connection with Mr. Sanford’s arrest, an FBI special agent described the mob as “insurrectionists.” “The video was shot from an elevated position and showed an area of the Capitol with a large group of police officers surrounded on at least three sides by a group of insurrectionists,” the statement of facts said. It also described the object hitting all three officers in the head, including one who was not wearing a helmet.

Around the same time, a radio dispatch captured by OpenMHZ, a platform that records radio chatter from law enforcement and life- safety services agencies, relayed an emergency code: “There is a 10-33 at the Capitol building. It has been breached.” The 10-33 code signifies an emergency in which an officer needs assistance.

The extinguisher that Mr. Sanford allegedly threw is separate from the one that killed Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the unrest and died from his wounds, officials said.

One of the officers who was hit, William Young, was evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty, the charging document said. A friend of Mr. Sanford’s tipped off the FBI to his involvement, the document said, adding that he was around 55-years old and had recently retired from the Chester Fire Department.

The tipster relayed to the FBI in an interview that Mr. Sanford had told his friend that he had traveled to Washington, D.C., with a group of people on a bus, that the group had gone to the White House and listened to President Trump’s speech “and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol,” the statement said.

Law-enforcement officers on Capitol grounds were targeted by the crowd with a variety of makeshift weapons, including extinguishers and flags. Dispatches captured by OpenMHZ caught several instances of officers injured in the melee.

“Multiple officers injured at the Capitol, west side,” one dispatch says around 1:20 p.m. Another at about 2:05 p.m. relays: “Saying that they have an officer down, hit in the head.” Related story:

Daily Beast, Retired Firefighter Arrested for Allegedly Hurling Fire Extinguisher at Cops During Capitol Riots, Pilar Melendez, Jan. 14, 2021. A retired Pennsylvania daily beast logofirefighter accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers and a man photographed holding a Confederate flag inside the Capitol have been arrested for their roles in the MAGA insurrection.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Trump Can Be Convicted Even as an Ex-President, Stephen I. Vladeck (professor at the University of Texas School of Law), stephen vladeck resizedJan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). He is the poster child for why such accountability is not just constitutionally permissible but necessary.

Yesterday’s vote by the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump (again) came notwithstanding objections from Republicans that such a move is unnecessary. Because Mr. Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20, the argument goes, there is little point in expending energy to reinforce what is already, despite Mr. Trump’s best efforts, a legal inevitability.

But some commentators have gone further — arguing not only that Congress should not impeach and remove Mr. Trump but also that come Jan. 20, it cannot do so, because the Constitution doesn’t allow for the impeachment and removal of “former” officers. This argument is wrong as a matter of text, structure, historical practice and common sense. And Mr. Trump is the poster child for why, even after he leaves office, such accountability is not just constitutionally permissible but necessary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are still conspiring, Bill Palmer, Jan. 14, 2021. After Steve Bannon was arrested for fraud, Donald Trump more or less publicly disowned him. But Trump has a habit of always circling back to whichever of his henchmen are still willing to help him, and so it’s not surprising to learn that Trump and Bannon have continued to conspire since his arrest.

Bloomberg is reporting that Steve Bannon has been advising Trump on his antics to try to overthrow the election result. That’s gone absolutely terribly for Trump, so it’s another reminder that Bannon is a garden variety bumbler, and not the evil genius that he was once widely painted as being.

But it’s nonetheless a big deal that Trump and Bannon are still conspiring. It makes clear that Bannon is still angling for a pardon. We’ll see if he gets it or not. But because Bannon has been a co-conspirator in Trump’s latest crime spree, for all we know it could make Bannon’s pardon easier to beat in court. Our guess is Bannon still ends up in prison one way or the other.

john eastman rudy giuliani

washington post logoWashington Post, Law professor John Eastman spoke at rally before Capitol riots. Facing outrage, he won’t return to his university, Andrea Salcedo, Jan. 14, 2021. Hours before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, John Eastman, a conservative attorney and professor who challenged election results on President Trump’s behalf, took the stage to rally the president’s supporters outside the White House.

“We know there was fraud,” the Chapman University professor, shown above at left in a Los Angeles Times photo, said to loud cheers, echoing the president’s baseless claims of mass wrongdoing in the election. “We know that dead people voted.”

His remarks at the rally sparked outrage from his colleagues at the Orange County, Calif., school, with scores of faculty demanding the university remove him from his role and the school president denouncing his speech.

On Wednesday, Chapman announced Eastman would retire immediately. In exchange, the school and professor agreed not to sue each other, although Eastman had accused the institution of defamation over the blowback.

“Dr. Eastman’s departure closes this challenging chapter for Chapman and provides the most immediate and certain path forward for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman,” President Daniele Struppa said in a statement.

In a statement, Eastman confirmed his retirement “with mixed feeling,” while continuing to echo Trump’s unfounded fraud claims and defending his appearance at the rally.

“I participated in a peaceful rally of nearly [half a] million people, two miles away from the violence that occurred at the capital and which began even before the speeches were finished,” Eastman said.

Eastman, who had taught at Chapman since 1999 and previously served as dean of the law school, drew national attention in August with an op-ed in Newsweek that falsely cast doubt on Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris’s citizenship and eligibility for the White House. President Trump and his allies seized on the argument, which Newsweek later apologized for.

More recently, Eastman represented the president in a failed lawsuit requesting the Supreme Court to block four states from certifying Biden’s victory. A day before the Capitol riots, the New York Times reported, Eastman met with Trump and Vice President Pence in the Oval Office, where he argued Pence had the power to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

At the Jan. 6 rally outside the White House, Eastman was joined onstage by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat.” Eastman then repeated unfounded claims about voting machines causing election fraud.

The blowback from Eastman’s colleagues was swift.

The University of Colorado Boulder, where Eastman is a visiting professor, called his claims “baseless and unfounded” and noted he wasn’t representing the school at the rally. The university chancellor described Eastman’s allegations as “repugnant” but added he would not fire the professor, the Daily Camera reported. More than 700 students, faculty and staff signed a letter demanding his dismissal.

At Chapman, more than 160 faculty members and members of the Board of Trustees also signed a letter demanding Eastman’s removal. Struppa denounced his rally speech, adding his “actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” but argued he didn’t have the power to fire him.

 

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Under Heavy Pressure, Trump Releases Video Condemning Capitol Siege, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A week ago, only hours after the rampage, President Trump told his supporters who had rioted: “We love you. You’re very special.”

Under heavy pressure from his advisers, President Trump on Wednesday released a five-minute video recorded in the Oval Office condemning last week’s mob violence at the Capitol and urging his supporters to stand down from further rioting next week.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The video was made public hours after Mr. Trump was impeached a second time and was the result, advisers said, of his realization of the catastrophic fallout from the deadly siege, which also left lawmakers fearing for their lives in the seat of American democracy.

The video was released on a White House Twitter account.

The president offered no note of humility, regret or self-reflection about his two months of false claims that the election was stolen from him. But it was also a broader condemnation of the violence than he has offered so far.

A week ago, hours after the rampage began, Mr. Trump told his supporters who had stormed the Capitol: “We love you. You’re very special.”

The president’s aides have warned him that he faces potential legal exposure for the riot, which was committed by his supporters immediately after a speech in which he urged them to “fight” the results of the election. The House impeached him on a single article, accusing him of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

harold bornstein cropped

ny times logoNew York Times, Harold N. Bornstein, Trump’s Former Personal Physician, Dies at 73, Katharine Q. Seelye, Jan. 14, 2021. He attested that President Trump would be the “healthiest president ever” but was later expelled from his circle.

Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, shown above, who for a time was President Donald J. Trump’s personal physician and who had attested that Mr. Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” died on Friday. He was 73.

His death was announced on Thursday in a paid notice in The New York Times. The notice did not give a cause or say where he died.

Loquacious, hirsute and eccentric, Dr. Bornstein, a gastroenterologist, was Mr. Trump’s personal physician from 1980 to 2017. He had inherited Mr. Trump as a patient from his father, Dr. Jacob Bornstein, with whom he shared a medical practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at Park Avenue and 78th Street.

When Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016, Dr. Bornstein had hoped to be named White House physician and suggested as much to a longtime Trump assistant. But he was expelled from the Trump orbit after he disclosed to The Times that the president was taking medication to make his hair grow.

Dr. Bornstein came to public attention in December 2015, during his famous patient’s campaign for president.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, had been insinuating that Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent, did not have the stamina to serve as president. In response to questions about his own health, he ordered Dr. Bornstein to issue “a full medical report.” Mr. Trump predicted that although he would be 70 when he took office, the oldest president ever to be inaugurated for the first time, the report would show that the state of his health was “perfection.”

In a series of interviews with The Times in 2017, he said that President Trump was taking a prostate-related drug, Propecia, to promote hair growth — the same drug that Dr. Bornstein himself was taking to maintain his own shoulder-length locks.

Dr. Bornstein later told NBC News that two days after The Times article appeared, three representatives of Mr. Trump had “raided” his office and taken all of Mr. Trump’s medical records. They also told him to remove a picture he had on the wall of him with Mr. Trump.

“I feel raped,” Dr. Bornstein told NBC.

washington post logoWashington Post, The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail, Peter Jamison, Carol D. Leonnig and Paul Schwartzman, Jan. 14, 2021. Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to Cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (shown at right in a file photo), they had a new worry: finding a toilet.

images/jared-ivanka-kushner-may-20-2017-9-day-djt-trip-Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.

secret service logoBut it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

A White House spokesperson denied that Trump and Kushner restricted agents from their 5,000-square-foot home, with its six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, and asserted that it was the Secret Service’s decision not to allow the protective detail inside. That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.

 

Media, Legal News

ny times logoNew York Times, Millions Flee to Chat Apps Behind Walls of Encryption, Jack Nicas, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Encrypted messaging services like Telegram and Signal have become the world’s hottest apps, driven by anxiety over big tech companies and privacy concerns. Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesman for a cryptocurrency think tank, has typically used the encrypted messaging app Signal to chat with privacy-minded colleagues and peers. So he was surprised on Monday when the app alerted him to two new users: Mom and Dad.

“Signal still had a subversive shine to it,” said Mr. Agrawal, 32. “Now my parents are on it.”

Over the past week, tens of millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram, making them the two hottest apps in the world. Signal allows messages to be sent with “end-to-end encryption,” meaning no one but the sender and receiver can read its contents. Telegram offers some encrypted messaging options, but is largely popular for its group-based chat rooms where people can discuss a variety of subjects.

Their sudden jump in popularity was spurred by a series of events last week that stoked growing anxiety over some of the big tech companies and their communication apps, like WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. Tech companies including Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of far-right accounts — including President Trump’s — after the storming of the Capitol. Amazon, Apple and Google also cut off support for Parler, a social network popular with Mr. Trump’s fans. In response, conservatives sought out new apps where they could communicate.

ny times logoNew York Times, New York Post to Staff: Stay Away From CNN, MSNBC, New York Times and Washington Post, Katie Robertson, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). As the Murdoch tabloid navigates a fraught political moment, high-level editors instructed reporters not to base articles on reporting by four news outlets that President Trump has falsely labeled “fake news.”

CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times are among the news organizations that President Trump has falsely labeled “fake news.” And now articles based on reporting from the four outlets are no longer welcome at Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, according to three journalists who work there.

High-level editors at The New York Post instructed staff members this week not to use reporting from CNN, MSNBC, The Times and The Washington Post as the sole basis for any Post article, the three journalists said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. A Post spokeswoman declined to comment.

It is common practice at The New York Post and its website, nypost.com, to publish articles based entirely on other news outlets’ reporting, without independent confirmation by a Post journalist. The Post is not alone in following this widespread practice, and many news sites have had success by repackaging material from other news organizations. The directive at the Murdoch tabloid was unusual in that it deemed material from certain outlets off limits.

The order was handed down by Michelle Gotthelf, the editor in chief of nypost.com, and section editors, the three Post journalists said. Post journalists who now spot a report on the four forbidden outlets that they think is worth writing up must now do some reporting before they go to the keyboard.

Why did The Post single out these four outlets and not, say, Variety or CBS News? The three journalists said no explanation had been given, but they added that the reason did not have to be detailed. CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The Times are seen as liberal within the Murdoch empire, which is home to Fox News and Fox Business, cable networks that were instrumental to the rise of President Trump. To publish articles based on the work of those organizations would not fit The Post’s right-leaning identity, the journalists said.

kyle rittenhouse

washington post logoWashington Post, Kyle Rittenhouse flashed hate symbols, posed with Proud Boys in a Wisconsin bar, prosecutors say, Katie Shepherd, Jan. 14, 2021. The excursion while out of jail on a $2 million bond raised red flags for prosecutors handling the state’s case against Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during an August protest following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.

kyle rittenhouse resized cropped mugShortly after pleading not guilty to murder and weapons charges earlier this month, Kyle Rittenhouse, shown above center and at right in a mug shot, showed up at a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wis., clad in a T-shirt that said “Free as F---,” prosecutors said. Then the 18-year-old allegedly drank three beers, posed for photos with members of Proud Boys and flashed a “white power” hand sign.

The excursion raised red flags for prosecutors handling the state’s case against Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during an August protest following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.

On Wednesday, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office asked a judge to forbid Rittenhouse from drinking alcohol, using “white supremacist” signs and spending time with members of the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist group with ties to white nationalism.

“The defendant’s continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm,” prosecutors said in a motion.

 

Jan. 13

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Capitol Riot Follow-Ups, Politics

 

Looking Ahead

 

Buildup To Impeachment

 

Biden Transition

 

U.S. Law, Courts

 

Top Stories

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, TRUMP IMPEACHED AGAIN, Staff report, Jan. 13, 2021. Charge Is ‘Incitement of Insurrection’; 10 Republicans Break With President. The House on Wednesday impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection against the United States government, as 10 members of the president’s party joined Democrats to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors for an unprecedented second time.

Reconvening under the threat of continued violence and the protection of thousands of National Guard troops, the House was determined to hold Mr. Trump to account just one week before he was to leave office. At issue was his role in encouraging a mob that attacked the Capitol one week ago while Congress met to affirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, forcing lawmakers to flee for their lives in a deadly rampage.

The House adopted a single article of impeachment, voting 232 to 197 to charge Mr. Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” and requesting his immediate removal from office and disqualification from ever holding one again.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach: Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California and Tom Rice of South Carolina.

The defections were a remarkable break from the head of the party by Republicans, who voted unanimously against impeaching Mr. Trump just over a year ago.

The vote set the stage for the second Senate trial of Mr. Trump in a year, though senators appeared unlikely to convene to sit in judgment before Jan. 20, when Mr. Biden will take the oath of office. The last proceeding, over Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to smear Mr. Biden, was a partisan affair.

Mr. Trump showed no contrition for his actions. But in the run-up to the vote on Wednesday, he issued a statement urging his supporters to remain peaceful as federal authorities warned of a nationwide wave of violence surrounding Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

“There must be no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind,” the president said in a statement that was read by Republicans from the House floor. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on all Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.”

The House’s vote was historic. Only two other presidents have been impeached; none has been impeached twice, by such a large bipartisan margin, or so close to leaving office.

Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger)

Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are weighing sedition and conspiracy charges and expect to arrest ‘hundreds’ tied to Capitol riot, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). The top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said on Tuesday that more than 70 people tied to the Capitol riot had been charged with crimes and that he expected that number to rise into the hundreds, with prosecutors looking at charging some rioters with sedition and conspiracy.

Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said at a news conference that the federal investigation was unprecedented in its scope, with the entire Capitol grounds being “essentially, a crime scene.” He cautioned that the investigations would take months or longer.

Mr. Sherwin said investigators had identified at least 170 people who they believe committed a wide range of crimes on the Capitol grounds, with brian sicknickprosecutors looking at charges ranging from trespassing to felony murder. At least four people died during the riots — some of medical emergencies — and a fifth, Brian D. Sicknick, right, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died the next day from injuries he sustained during the mayhem.

“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Mr. Sherwin said, adding that he had assembled a team of national security and public corruption prosecutors specifically to pursue sedition charges against people who had committed “the most heinous acts” on the Capitol grounds last week.

Justice Department log circularSteven D’Antuono, the head of the F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, defended the agency at the news conference after reports that F.B.I. officials in Virginia had warned about a threat of violence the day before the riots. The Washington Post had reported that the warning had mentioned people sharing a map of tunnels and an online thread in which people said people should be “ready for war.”

Mr. D’Antuono indicated that the information had quickly been shared with other law enforcement agencies and he said other intelligence had led the authorities to disrupt the travel of several people who had planned to attend the rally. He also noted that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys group known for brawling at protests, had been arrested shortly after arriving in Washington for the event.

The F.B.I. is working around the clock on the investigation, and the agency has already received 100,000 pieces of digital media, Mr. D’Antuono said. He added that agents would identify and pursue anyone who had committed a crime at the Capitol that day, even if they had left Washington.

“Agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door,” he said.

In addition to pursuing possible charges of seditious conspiracy, which is defined as an effort by two or more people to overthrow the government or use force to hinder its operations, investigators are also prioritizing investigations into attacks against police officers, theft of confidential information from the Capitol and attacks against reporters. Related developments:

  • F.B.I. report is said to have warned of plans for violence at the Capitol.
  • House Democrats have been briefed on active security threats.
  • Chicago man charged with threatening President-elect Biden.
  • ‘The Michigan Capitol is not safe,’ the state’s attorney general warns.
  • New York City weighs ending contracts with the Trump Organization.
  • In first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the mob.
  • Three lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the days since the riot.
  • Schumer calls for those involved in Capitol riots to be placed on no-fly lists.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell breaks with Trump, says he’ll consider convicting him in Senate trial, Seung Min Kim and Paul Kane, Jan. 13, 2021. The majority leader’s statement marked a dramatic shift from his position during President Trump’s first impeachment, when he stressed that he was “not an impartial juror.”

mitch mcconnellThe bipartisan impeachment vote in the House against President Trump on Wednesday set up a politically explosive reckoning for Senate Republicans, who spent four years enabling Trump’s behavior but in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot are grappling with how — or whether — to punish him with just seven days left in office.

The most striking position came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said Wednesday that he will consider convicting Trump on inciting the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a remarkable break between the two men who worked in lockstep for four years, even as the majority leader continually deflected questions about Trump’s untoward conduct and rhetoric.

It was also a dramatic shift from his position during Trump’s first impeachment a year ago, when he publicly stressed that he was “not an impartial juror” and privately worked in concert with White House officials to map out the president’s eventual acquittal in the Senate.

Read: Article of impeachment against President Trump

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said in a message to his colleagues, an excerpt of which was released by his office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: McConnell Privately Backs Impeachment as House Moves to Charge Trump, Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. The House formally called on Vice President Mike Pence to move to wrest power from the president, as Republican support built for impeaching him of inciting violence against the nation.

mitch mcConnell o portraitSenator Mitch McConnell, right, has concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Mr. Trump from the party, according to people familiar with Mr. McConnell’s thinking.

The private assessment of Mr. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol while lawmakers met to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

In a sign that the dam could be breaking against Mr. Trump in a party that has long been unfailingly loyal to him, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, announced her intention to support the single charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, as other party leaders declined to formally lobby rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose it.

republican elephant logo“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Even before Mr. McConnell’s position was known and Ms. Cheney had announced her plans, advisers to the Senate Republican leader had already privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Mr. Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House. Seventeen Republicans would most likely be needed to join Democrats in finding him guilty. After that, it would take a simple majority to disqualify Mr. Trump from ever again holding public office.

In the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he ought to call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the Capitol, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations. While he has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders did not mount an official effort to defeat the push, and Mr. McCarthy was working on Tuesday to build support for a censure resolution to rebuke the president for his actions.

washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon reshaped Trump’s party and radicalized believers. The Capitol siege may just be the start, Drew Harwell, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Razzan Nakhlawi and Craig Timberg, Jan. 13, 2021. The failed insurrection marked a grim milestone in how the paranoid conspiracy theory QAnon has radicalized Americans, changed the Republican Party and gained a forceful grip on right-wing belief.

washington post logoWashington Post, National Guard plan for inauguration expands to at least 20,000 troops in D.C., acting police chief says, Missy Ryan, Alex Horton, Matt Zapotosky and Dan Lamothe, Jan. 13, 2021. National Guard forces from a growing list of states moved into positions across Washington on Wednesday as authorities scrambled to understand the extent of threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and prevent a repeat of last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

City and federal officials conducted tabletop exercises to rehearse inauguration security and strengthen coordination among a massive patchwork of police, National Guard troops and federal personnel that is expected to fan out ahead of protests this weekend and the Jan. 20 transfer of power.

By next week, the D.C. police chief said, upward of 20,000 guardsmen were expected to be in place to guard against violence, days after supporters of President Trump smashed their way into the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s electoral win.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nation’s governors gird for worst, warn of long-term dangers to their capitols, Holly Bailey and Tim Craig, Jan. 13, 2021. The nation's governors, facing increasing threats to their capitols and little support or information from the federal government, said Wednesday they are bracing for long-term danger from extremist groups who already have breached government buildings, damaged property and been linked to threats against state leaders and their families.

“It’s going to take quite a while to turn back what’s been started here,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), who has participated in joint calls in recent days with other Midwestern governors about the possibility of fresh violence in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol and an FBI warning about armed far-right extremists gathering across the country this weekend.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: January 6 was a full-blown insurrection, whether the "loony left" believes it or not, Wayne Madsen, left (progressive syndicated columnist, author of 18 books, and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyist), Jan. 13, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. There has been a faction of the "progressive left" that has always held accommodating views of Donald Trump.

They point out that Trump avoided news wars, tried to extricate the U.S. military from Iraq and Afghanistan, and purged the neo-cons from the government.

They conveniently forget that Trump made every attempt to goad Iran into a major war with the United States, backed Saudi Arabia's war of genocide in Yemen, sold out the Palestinians to the Israelis at the risk of a new Intifada, assisted in a mercenary invasion of Venezuela to oust President Nicolas Maduro and backed a coup in Bolivia that tossed out the democratically-elected President Evo Morales.

Now, the progressive left, or, as they should be known, the "loony left," is advancing a revisionist view of Trump's attempted January 6 coup d'état against the U.S. Congress and the Vice President. They claim that what occurred on January 6 was merely an extreme protest and nothing on the scale of the 1973 military coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende and the OTPOR-led rebellion in Serbia in 2000. They also feel that Trump was justified in raising concerns about postal voting forgetting that such measures were taken during a lethal pandemic.

The practitioners of "both-siderism" are claiming that the armed protesters who planned to execute Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, take hostages, and make terrorist demands were merely legitimately upset protesters. Bullshit.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes 223-205 to Call on Pence to Strip Trump of Powers Rejection All but Ensures Impeachment Vote, Staff and wire reports, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats proceeded with the resolution even after Vice President Mike Pence ruled out the option, and they warned of an impeachment vote on Wednesday. Five House Republicans said they would vote for impeachment. There had “never been a greater betrayal,” Liz Cheney said. Catch up on political news.

Lawmakers adopted a resolution that would compel Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after President Trump incited a mob attack on the Capitol last week. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the evening, Mr. Pence rejected the effort.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Distracted by Political Crisis, U.S. Sets Record for Virus Deaths, Mike Ives and staff reports, Jan. 13, 2021. More than 4,400 people in the country died of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the day before lawmakers were set to charge President Trump with inciting last week’s violence at the Capitol.

As America slogs through this grimmest of winters, there is no relief in the daily tabulations of coronavirus-related deaths: More than 4,400 were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database, a number once unimaginable.

Yet even as Covid-19 touches thousands of families, the nation is distracted by the political crisis gripping Washington in the last days of the Trump administration.

Tuesday’s death count, which set another daily record, represented at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The U.S. death toll, already the world’s highest by a wide margin, is now about 20,000 shy of 400,000 — only a month after the country crossed the 300,000 threshold, a figure greater than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II.

But much of the nation’s attention is focused on the fallout from the Capitol siege, prompted in part by President Trump’s efforts to prevent Congress from certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the November election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden team briefs Congress on emerging stimulus plan, aims for bipartisan deal, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden is finalizing his coronavirus relief plan, with aides briefing congressional staffers Tuesday and indicating that the measure will be tailored to get bipartisan support.

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotThe proposal, which Biden intends to unveil on Thursday, is expected to include $2,000 stimulus payments, an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance, money for vaccine distribution and delivery, funding for cities, states, schools, child care and more.

Transition officials indicated in meetings with Democratic staffers that Biden will try to get bipartisan support for the measure, instead of using a special budgetary tool that could allow him to push legislation through Congress with only Democratic votes, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were private.

That’s led to speculation that the price tag of the package could be below $2 trillion — although Biden said last week that it could cost in the multiple trillions of dollars. Republicans are likely to balk at spending too much more after Congress has already devoted around $4 trillion to fighting the ravaging coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 13, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2World Cases: 92,014,026, Deaths: 1,970,117
U.S. Cases:   23,369,732, Deaths:   389,621

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump won’t quit the presidency, Trump won’t leave the country, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 13, 2021. In the 24 hours since I last robert harringtnn portraitwrote to you, brothers and sisters, 4,350 Americans have died from coronavirus. That’s almost one and one half times the number of deaths from the attack of September 11, 2001. That’s almost 2,000 more Americans than died at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. There is more shocking difference than similarity here, of course. Those are just the deaths for today. There will be a similar number tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s try never to become numb to the grim reality that these are real people with real lives cut short — by months, years and even decades — by that toxic, murdering, raping monster still defiling the People’s House. These coronavirus deaths were real people who were loved and will be mourned. Their deaths left holes in families and communities.

It’s a grim statistic that will never be acknowledged by Donald Trump. Trump will never feel an ounce of remorse or pity for their deaths. If confronted, Trump would blame Barack Obama for their deaths before he blamed himself, even though Obama hasn’t been President for four years.

Welcome to the world of the malignant narcissist. If you’ve managed to live your lives thus far unpoisoned by a narcissist, particularly a malignant one, I congratulate you. You don’t know what you’re missing. It is one of the few instances where ignorance is a good thing.

 

U.S. Capitol Riot Follow-Ups, Politics

capitol confederate flag capitol

Politico, Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led ‘reconnaissance’ tours ahead of Capitol attack, Kyle Cheney and Sarah Ferris, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. 
Rep. Mikie Sherrill said Tuesday that she witnessed colleagues escorting people through the Capitol on Jan. 5 for what she described as "reconnaissance" ahead of the next day's violent insurrection that left five dead.

In a 13-minute Facebook video billed as an address to her constituents about the House's efforts to hold President Donald Trump accountable for inciting the mikie sherrillriot, Sherrill (D-N.J.), right, included the allegation as part of a call to hold Trump's allies in Congress accountable as well.

"I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him — those members of Congress who had groups coming through the capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day — those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I'm going see that they're held accountable," Sherrill said.

Sherrill did not identify the lawmakers she was referring to, how she was able to describe their activities as "reconnaissance" and how she knew they were connected to the riots that consumed the Capitol the following day. She told POLITICO on Wednesday that she's referred her information to authorities.

"We're requesting an investigation right now with certain agencies," she said.

tim ryan o 2010Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), right, said he's aware of "a couple" names of colleagues who are being eyed as potentially giving tours to the would-be insurrectionists. But he said he wouldn't name them yet.

"I'm going to wait to make sure we get verification," Ryan told a reporter at the Capitol Wednesday.

Ryan said the information was passed to authorities as early as last Wednesday night. He said it involved "handfuls" of people who were escorted through the Capitol. Enough to know that these weren't "one-on-one" tours or "a small family."

"You look back on certain things and you look at it differently," he added.

The startling allegation comes as lawmakers are still seeking answers about the extent of planning and coordination behind the Jan. 6 Trump rally that became the violent assault on the Capitol. Federal investigators say they're pouring enormous resources into unearthing details of a potential "seditious conspiracy" and that some of the undisclosed evidence about what happened inside the Capitol will be "shocking."

Some Democrats, like Sherrill, are also calling for punishment for the Republicans who — like Trump — delivered incendiary remarks that preceded the violence at the Capitol, as well as others who joined Trump's effort to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.

 ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his story: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?

washington post logoWashington Post, A ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally, Teo Armus, Jan. 13, 2021. Weeks before a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, right-wing activist Ali Alexander told his followers he was planning something big for Jan. 6.

Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight, an investigative nonprofit. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

After riots inside the Capitol left five people dead — and Alexander and his group were banned from Twitter this week — those three GOP lawmakers are now under increasing scrutiny over their role in aiding the right-wing activist.

In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesman for Biggs said the congressman had never been in contact with Alexander or other protesters and denied he had helped organize a rally on Jan. 6.

“Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” the statement said.

Neither Brooks nor Gosar responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post. But in a lengthy, defiant statement on Wednesday, the Alabama lawmaker insisted he also bore no responsibility for the riot. Brooks added he would not have promoted any action that could undermine GOP efforts to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.

“I take great offense at anyone who suggests I am so politically inexperienced as to want to torpedo my honest and accurate election system effort I spent months fighting on,” Brooks wrote.

Videos and posts on social media suggest links between all three Republicans and the right-wing activist.

Alexander, a felon who has also been identified in media reports as Ali Akbar, gained a large following by live-streaming monologues in which he professed his conservative views and support for Trump. Speaking to Politico Magazine in 2018, he called himself an “interpreter of energy for this period.”

Lawmakers gave groups ‘reconnaissance’ tours of the Capitol one day before riots, Democratic congresswoman says

Palmer Report, Opinion: The U.S. Capitol attack just keeps getting uglier, Ron Leshnower, Jan. 13, 2021. When Congressional representatives fled to safety after Trump-incited insurrectionists breached the House Chamber last Wednesday, they faced a different type of danger of their own making. As Palmer Report told you, several House Republicans shunned Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester when she offered them masks as they sat close together. A week later, we are now seeing the scary and wholly predictable consequences of their pigheadedness unfold.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressional Attending Physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan issued a warning over the weekend that lawmakers and staff “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection” as they sequestered during the Capitol attack. Sure enough, three Democratic representatives—Pramila Jayapal, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Brad Schneider—have announced within a 24-hour period that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

This disturbing development prompted Dr. Anthony Fauci to predict that more lawmakers will get infected. “Of course, when you have people in close indoor settings without social distancing or masks there are likely going to be some infections,” he told The Daily Beast yesterday. Dr. Fauci compared the crowded room to a “subway car during rush hour,” and stressed that it “[d]oesn’t matter who you are.”

All three representatives who have so far tested positive had already received the first dosage of the vaccine and are now in quarantine. Having recently undergone chemotherapy for lung cancer and in her mid-seventies, Rep. Coleman told the Washington Post she was “nervous about spending a week among so many people who regularly flout social distancing and mask guidelines.”

Rep. Schneider released a statement slamming the “selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff.” He then called for sanctions against colleagues who refuse to wear masks and ejection by the Sergeant at Arms. In her own statement, Rep. Jayapal also called for “serious fines” after “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”

Fortunately, the House last night adopted, 222-204, a rule that threatens lawmakers with fines—$500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second offense—for mask refusal. The fines get deducted from pay, which means lawmakers won’t be able to use campaign funds to shirk responsibility for their own reckless assault on public health. The GOP is running out of ways to pose a danger to society. Thankfully, they are also running out of time clinging to power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). There still will be a place for tom friedman twitterprincipled Republicans.

When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”

That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind him being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump republican elephant logocultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.

If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Several House Republicans go berserk in metal detector showdown, Bill Palmer, Jan, 13, 2021. Earlier, we brought you the story of how lauren boebertRepublican Congresswoman and depraved gun toting maniac Lauren Boebert, right, got into what CNN called a “standoff” with Capitol Police after her bag set off a metal detector on her way into the House chamber. It turns out she’s not the only one.

bill palmer report logo headerNBC News is now reporting that Steve Stivers, Van Taylor, Debbie Lesko, Larry Bucshon, and domestic terrorism official mascot Louie Gohmert also threw tantrums about the metal detectors or tried to sneak around the checkpoints. Boebert responded by calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “communist” on Twitter. Lesko also had a berserk Twitter meltdown.

Even as law enforcement works to determine which if any House Republicans conspired with the domestic terrorists who invaded the Capitol building, let’s just say that the people on the above list aren’t doing much to make themselves look innocent.

Congresswoman Cori Bush posted this in response: "To my colleagues who won’t go through the metal detectors: Have you ever had a job before? If you work at McDonald’s and you don’t wear the uniform, you don’t work that day. If you won’t abide by the rules of this job, go find another one.”

We have a feeling that some of these House Republicans won’t last long before they’re forced to find a new line of work.

aaron mostofsky capitol afp getty

Aaron Mostofsky is shown in the Capitol at right with a stick and a pastic shield apparently of the kindused by Capitol Hill federal police overrun by insurrectionists on Jan. 6. 

Daily Mail Online, Cry baby! Son of Supreme Court Judge who stormed the Capitol armed with a stick ditches his fur pelts and dons Baby Yoda pants as he weeps in court facing federal charges and is released on $100,000 bond, Valerie Edwards, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. The son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge left court wearing Baby Yoda pajamas after he was released on a $100,000 bond having been arrested by the FBI on four federal charges in connection with the riot at the US Capitol last week.

FBI agents arrested Aaron Mostofsky, 34, who is the son of Judge Shlomo Mostofsky, in New York Tuesday morning. He cried when he appeared in court and now faces up to 10 years behind bars.

The younger Mostofsky, who dubbed himself a 'caveman', has been hit with multiple charges, including theft of government property for allegedly stealing a police riot shield and bulletproof vest, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mostofsky made an appearance before US Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara on Tuesday. Bulsara, who called the charges 'quite grave', approved Mostofsky's release on a $100,000 bond along with other restrictions that include GPS monitoring. Mostofsky also must surrender his passport.

The government asked for the travel restrictions to ensure Mostofsky doesn't flee the jurisdiction or participate in any other political protests, especially ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week. He was also ordered not to have contact with co-defendants or co-conspirators involved in the riot on the Capitol.

His attorney, Jeffrey Schwartz, told the court: 'I believe evidence will show that he was not part of the mob, he was not rampaging, he got caught up in it.'

Mostofsky's arrest comes nearly a week after he was pictured walking down the stairs outside the Senate Chamber dressed in fur pelts and a bullet proof vest and carrying a wooden walking stick. Mostofsky was seen walking just ahead of a man carrying the confederate flag during the riot. He told the New York Post at the time: 'The election was stolen.'

During the riot, protesters attacked police with pipes, sprayed irritants and even planted live bombs found in the area.

New York Post, Ex-Texas mayoral candidate arrested for rioting at US Capitol, Natalie O'Neill, Jan. 13, 2021. Texas mayoral candidate who stormed Capitol brags about how MAGA mob 'broke down Pelosi's office door.

An ex-mayoral candidate from Texas who broke into the US Capitol building, then bragged about tearing down Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office door has been arrested.

Jenny Cudd, of Midland, Texas, was taken into custody Wednesday by the FBI, CBS 7 reported.

After the deadly siege last Wednesday, Cudd posted a video on Facebook laughing about her involvement and boasting that she and other “patriots” stormed the Capitol, “[broke] down Nancy Pelosi’s office door” and “stole her gavel.”

She described the mob of pro-President Trump rioters as a “bunch of red-blooded American patriots that actually give a s–t about our country and keeping it.”

Cudd — whose Facebook page has since been shut down — previously told CBS 7 she had no regrets about breaking into the building.

Jenny Cudd broke into the US Capitol building, then bragged about tearing down Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office door. Cudd ran for mayor of Midland in 2019 and lost to Patrick Payton, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Palmer Report, Opinion: In the end, Donald Trump was too clever by half, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 13, 2021. The horrible events that occurred at the Capitol last week continue to reveal the sheer depths of a dark movement that violently attempted to overtake certification efforts and to, in fact, quash democracy. This dark movement was created by conspiracy theorists who have led people to believe ludicrous lies, but prior to January 6, it was just that — a bunch of conspiracy theorists who lived in their own heads.

bill palmer report logo headerOn January 6, however, they were invited outside of their heads into the real world, and as anyone could have predicted, it resulted in a disaster — five deaths, multiple injuries, and threats to national security.

While many bear responsibility, the blame rests solely at the feet of the man who was supposed to be our president, Donald Trump. Trump has never been “our” president. He repeatedly talked of “blue” and “red” states, evil immigrants coming to take over our country, and socialism that would destroy life as we know it. Trump has always been a part of those conspiracists, and he knew how to push their buttons. He took full advantage of that knowledge, unleashing an angry, deranged crowd on the Capitol.

Trump began espousing rigged election conspiracies long before the vote ever took place. He saw the proverbial writing on the wall, and he was not going down easily. Always erroneously thinking himself smart, Trump outsmarted himself in inciting this riot. He likely had no idea it would go this far, and he is paying the consequences of his narcissism and false sense of self-worth. While he reportedly “enjoyed” watching terrorists overrun the Capitol on his behalf, he had no idea just how far things would go. He had to set in place a “Plan B.” That plan has now come back to bite him in the ass.

Congress has introduced an article of impeachment against “president” Donald Trump for “inciting an insurrection,” which is exactly what he did. The focus is now on Donald Trump, though others may soon regret their own involvement. No matter how much Trump tries to call this impeachment “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in history,” this impeachment is different — it may become a bipartisan effort, apparently with the blessing of Mitch McConnell. According to the New York Times, McConnell is “pleased” with the impeachment effort. McConnell believes that a second impeachment will make it easier to “purge the GOP of Trump,” according to those close to him.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Someone removed the panic button from Ayanna Pressley’s office before the Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 13, 2021. The details coming out of last week’s U.S. Capitol domestic terrorist attack continue to grow more disturbing. And the uglier this gets, the more it’s beginning to look like the terrorists had some sort of inside help from people in the building.

bill palmer report logo headerSarah Groh, Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, now says that when she attempted to use the “panic button” in Pressley’s office, the entire unit had been ripped out of the wall, rendering it unusable. This comes after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, hinted during a live stream last night that she had a very close call with regard to her safety during the attack. It all suggests that the “Squad” was being targeted specifically by Trump’s invaders.

Last night Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill announced that she saw unnamed House Republicans giving “reconnaissance tours” to the Capitol invaders the day before their attack, suggesting that some House Republicans weren’t just inciters, but domestic terrorism co-conspirators.

 

Looking Ahead

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: McConnell leaves open the possibility of voting to convict, Colby Itkowitz, Amy B Wang, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Jan. 13, 2021. Pelosi signs article of impeachment, speaks from lectern that was taken from chamber during Capitol siege; Trump: ‘I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week;’ In Senate impeachment trial for Trump, question is whether chief justice or vice president would preside; McConnell says there is ‘simply no chance’ that Senate could finish an impeachment trial before Trump is out of office.

The House voted 232 to 197 on Wednesday to impeach President Trump an unprecedented second time, on a charge of “inciting violence” against the U.S. government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left open the possibility of voting to convict at a trial, which would occur after Trump leaves office next week.

During debate on the House floor, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Trump “bears responsibility” for last week’s violent takeover of the Capitol but argued against impeachment so close to the end of his term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump “a clear and present danger” and said “he must go.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone feels ‘betrayed’ by Trump over riots, Noah Manskar, Jan. 13, 2021. Ken Langone — the billionaire Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor — said he feels “betrayed” by President Trump after last week’s siege on the Capitol.

Langone blasted Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and pledged to help President-elect Joe Biden “be the best president we ever had.”

“I feel betrayed,” Langone told CNBC in a Wednesday interview. “… Last Wednesday was a disgrace, it should never have happened in this country, and if it doesn’t break every American’s heart, something’s wrong. It breaks my heart for sure. I didn’t sign up for that.”

Langone is a prolific donor to GOP candidates — he and his wife, Elaine, made nearly $517,000 in political contributions over the last two years, $496,500 of which went to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The 85-year-old financier has reportedly supported some of Trump’s economic policies, such as his tariffs on China, and made a $2,700 donation to the president’s 2016 campaign, federal records show.

But he suggested that the Capitol rioters were wrong to try to stop Biden from taking office by disrupting Congress’ counting of electoral votes last week.

“Going through the court system to try and get some results — he exhausted everything, it was over,” Langone told CNBC.

“I feel those people who sought to stop the process were ill-advised,” he added.

Asked whether Trump should be impeached — a step the House was moving toward Wednesday — Langone responded bluntly: “I don’t care.”

“All I care about is one thing: Jan. 20, Joe Biden’s going to be sworn in as president and I’m going to work my ass off any way I can because I win — if he’s a great successful president, we all win,” he said.

ivanka jared country club

Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump are portrayed on the New York Post's Page Six in photos via Instagram and Getty Images.

New York Post Page Six, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner ‘need not apply’ to snooty Florida country club, Emily Smith, Jan. 13, 2021. Following her “American patriots” tweet, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner “need not apply” to the upscale Indian Creek Country Club near their $30 million plot of land on the exclusive Florida island nicknamed “The Billionaire’s Bunker.”

The island community — one of the wealthiest in the US — has just 29 residences, and residents include Julio Iglesias, Carl Icahn, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen — but owning a home there doesn’t mean you get automatic membership in the country club.

A local source sniped, “You have to be nominated and make a formal application. But it only takes one member to object against any new member, and many members are objecting, particularly after the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Jared and Ivanka can lunch with their fellow ‘patriots’ at Mar-a-Lago.

“The Indian Creek Country Club members are very picky and the word is that Javanka need not apply.”

Ivanka — who was at the side of her father, President Trump, in DC as he made his incendiary speech to protesters before they descended on the Capitol — was heavily criticized for calling the mob “American Patriots” in a tweet that she deleted, even though she also called for an end to the illegal behavior.

And as the president prepares to leave office, Ivanka and husband Jared have been planning their post-administration life.

Page Six exclusively revealed the couple bought the $30 million-plus parcel of land on Miami’s uber-swanky and high-security Indian Creek Island. At the center of the island is the Indian Creek Country Club, once referred to as “Miami-Dade County’s most exclusive, and controversial, private society.”

The 300-member club, built in 1930, has an 18-hole golf course, a restaurant and initiation fees exceeding $150,000. It is run as a separate entity from the wealthy residents of the island.

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City terminates its contracts with Trump’s company, David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 13, 2021. New York City is terminating its contracts with President Trump’s company to run a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Wednesday — calling it a reaction to Trump’s encouragement of a mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form.”

That decision — which will cut off the Trump Organization from businesses that bring in $17 million per year in revenue — makes New York the latest business partner to cut ties with Trump’s company. Trump still owns his company from the White House, and his actions as president now seem to have made it a pariah, cut off by even longtime partners.

Since Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, the company has lost two of its banks, its e-commerce vendor and two of its real-estate brokers. The company also lost its chance to host the prestigious PGA Championship golf tournament in 2022, and lost its hopes of hosting another major golf tournament in Scotland.

 

Buildup To Impeachment

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Disagree on a Lot. But We Both Think Trump Should Be Impeached, Steven G. Calabresi and Norman Eisen, Jan. 13, 2021. It’s not a complex case. There’s no real reason for the Senate not to try him immediately.

One of us is a Republican who proudly served in the Reagan administration and voted for Donald Trump in 2016; the other is a Democrat who worked for President Barack Obama and served as a special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment and trial.

We have considerable political differences. But we firmly share a view that should transcend partisan politics: President Trump must be impeached again and tried as soon as possible in the Senate, either before or after Inauguration Day on Jan 20.

Mr. Trump’s most egregious impeachable offenses are inciting a violent insurrection against his own vice president, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes for him to overturn the legitimate election result there.

Mr. Calabresi, a Republican, is a professor at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. Mr. Eisen, a Democrat, is a senior fellow at Brookings and outside counsel for the nonpartisan Voter Protection Program.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon to Arm National Guard Troops for Inauguration, Helene Cooper and Adam Goldman, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). About 15,000 members are expected to be deployed in Washington, D.C. Those stationed around the Capitol will carry weapons, officials said.

National Guard troops who are flooding into Washington to secure the Capitol for Inauguration Day will be armed, the Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, has decided, Defense Department officials said Tuesday.

The armed troops will be responsible for security around the Capitol building complex, the officials said.

As up to 15,000 troops continued to arrive in Washington from all over the country, Defense Department officials had been weighing whether to deploy them with arms. Mr. McCarthy has decided that at the very least those around the Capitol building will carry weapons, said the officials, who confirmed the decision on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. McCarthy’s decision came after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Ms. Pelosi, according to congressional staff members, demanded that the Pentagon take a more muscular posture after a mob, egged on by President Trump last week, breached the Capitol.

Pentagon officials say they are deeply worried about protests that are planned for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. next week. About 16 groups — some of them saying they will be armed and most of them made up of hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, officials said.

One Defense Department official said law enforcement agencies are planning for a range of outcomes, including a worse-case scenario in which people with firearms try to attack dignitaries, “suicide-type aircraft” try to fly into the capital’s restricted airspace and even remote-controlled drones that could be used to attack the crowd.

Roll Call, House’s second impeachment of Trump will be different from first, Lindsey McPherson, Jan. 13, 2021. This time, vote will be bipartisan and unify all Democrats. House Democrats in their second impeachment of President Donald Trump are poised to accomplish what they couldn’t in their first: Keep their party unified and bring some Republicans on board.

The House on Wednesday will vote on a single article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for encouraging his supporters who attacked the Capitol last week.

The impeachment resolution is certain to be approved, with a majority of the House having announced support for it ahead of the vote.

The article outlines Trump’s impeachable conduct, describing how for months leading up to the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College votes, he “repeatedly issued false statements” alleging widespread fraud and saying state and federal officials should not certify the results.

Trump reiterated those false claims in a Jan. 6 speech outside the White House where he also “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,’” the resolution says.

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the resolution reads.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). After four years of tongue-biting silence, Vice President Mike Pence would not yield to President Trump’s intense pressure to overturn the election.

For Vice President Mike Pence, left, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay mike pence leftin his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

ny times logoNew York Times, These are the Republicans who said they support impeaching President Trump, John Eligon, Jan. 13, 2021. As the House prepared to move forward with an impeachment proceeding, a small number of Republicans said they support the effort. The vote is set to come exactly one week after the United States Capitol was breached by an angry mob of Trump loyalists.

republican elephant logoIn 2019, not a single Republican voted in favor of impeachment. House Republican leaders have said they would not formally lobby members of the party against voting to impeach the president this time, and these are the Republicans who have said that they intend to vote for impeachment.

Representative John Katko. Representative John Katko of New York was the first Republican to publicly announce that he would back the impeachment proceedings. A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Katko said he looked at the facts of the siege, which began as lawmakers were working to certify the presidential election results.

“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection — both on social media ahead of Jan. 6, and in his speech that day,” Mr. Katko said in a statement. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Double trouble, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 13, 2021. Of all the presidential impeachments in the past 250 years, half of them have been against bill palmerDonald Trump. That alone tells you how bizarre things have gotten here at the end of the most calamitously treasonous presidency in American history.

bill palmer report logo headerEven Trump’s most crucial allies like Mitch McConnell and his most stupidly loyal of friends like Geraldo Rivera are now in favor of impeachment. As the number of Republicans in favor of impeachment continues to grow, it looks like there just might be enough votes to convict and remove Trump. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “seven days or less.”

Trump has now been cut off by three banks in the past three days. He’s lost his Twitter account, which was going to be worth a lot of money to him once he left office and needed to raise legal defense funds. He’s lost a prestigious golf tournament. He’s even somehow lost Bill Belichick.

Donald Trump is being dismantled right in front of us. The first impeachment didn’t work, but the second one just might stick. It’s double trouble for him. And if he insists on sticking it out for the entire seven days instead of resigning, the bad news for him will just keep coming.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House poised to impeach Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection,’ John Wagner, Jan. 13, 2021. Democratic effort to impeach Trump a second time takes dramatic turn. A lone Black officer faced down a mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman; Analysis: How experts define the deadly mob attack at the U.S. Capitol; Pelosi calls for Trump’s immediate removal, promotes Cheney’s support for impeachment

U.S. House logoThe House is poised to impeach President Trump for a second time as it meets Wednesday to consider an article charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s takeover of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob. At least several Republicans plan to support the resolution.

liz cheney resizedAn hour before the House was scheduled to convene, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went on Twitter to call for Trump’s immediate removal and to promote the position of Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), right, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, who supports impeachment.

“Donald Trump’s incitement of a deadly insurrection against the U.S. Capitol is without precedent in our nation’s history and an egregious violation of his oath of office," Pelosi tweeted. “Fulfilling our oath to defend our Constitution requires that we act to remove him from office immediately.”

She attached a statement made by Cheney on Tuesday saying, “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of attack.”

ny times logoNew York Times, In Georgia, Trump’s Attacks on Election Still Haunt Republicans, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). State officials face harassment and threats, and a district attorney is weighing an inquiry into President Trump’s actions.

The impeachment charge that House Democrats have filed against President Trump stems from his role in inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol last week. But included in the resolution is another element of Mr. Trump’s behavior that is also drawing condemnation as an abuse of presidential power: His pressure campaign to persuade Georgia officials to overturn his electoral loss in the state.

georgia mapBefore inspiring a throng of supporters to attack the Capitol, Mr. Trump had previously sought to “subvert and obstruct” the results of his failed re-election effort, a draft article of impeachment released Monday reads, citing in particular the president’s extraordinary intervention in Georgia.

Even if Democrats’ second effort to remove the president from office fails or fades, Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the will of Georgia’s voters will continue to resonate, both for the president and for politicians in Georgia. State elections officials continue to face harassment and death threats. A number of Georgia Republicans are now blaming Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations of election fraud for the losses by the state’s two Republican senators this month.

And in Atlanta, the Fulton County district attorney is weighing whether to start a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump for a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president exhorted him to “find” the votes that would deliver Mr. Trump victory.

That call was part of a much broader push by Mr. Trump and his allies to subvert Georgia’s election results. The effort played out over two months and in the end was based on allegations of fraud that were consistently debunked by his fellow Republicans charged with overseeing the state’s election.

Gabriel Sterling, one of the most outspoken of those officials, said in an interview this week that the president’s effort was both inappropriate and crude.

“There was never an overarching strategy,” Mr. Sterling said, adding: “It was a series of tactical moves in an attempt to get a different outcome here. The president shouldn’t be trying to do things to put his thumb on the scale. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat, no president should do that.”

 

Biden Transition

OpEdNews, Opinion: Biden's Nominee for CIA Director, John Kiriakou (human rights whistleblower, author and former CIA officer, right), Jan. 13, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden has finally named a new CIA director, one of the john kiriakoufinal senior-level appointees for his new administration. Much to the surprise of many of us who follow these things, he named senior diplomat William Burns to the position.

williams burns 2005Burns, left, is one of the most highly-respected senior U.S. diplomats of the past three decades. He has ably served presidents of both parties and is known as both a reformer and as a supporter of human rights.

Burns is currently the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an important Washington-based international affairs think tank. He served as deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama and was ambassador to Russia under President George W. Bush and ambassador to Jordan under President Bill Clinton. He was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal and spent much of his career focused on the Middle East Peace Process. Burns joined the Foreign Service in 1982.

When he made the announcement of Burns' appointment, Biden said,

"Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the word stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure. He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect. The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director."

The message from Biden is clear: The CIA will not be led by a political hack like Mike Pompeo, a CIA insider like John Brennan, or someone associated with the CIA's crimes of torture, secret prisons, or international renditions like Gina Haspel. Instead, the organization will be led by someone with experience engaging across a negotiating table with America's enemies, someone experienced in solving problems, rather than creating new ones, someone who has dedicated much of his career to promoting peace, rather than to creating war.

Rank & File Response

The question, though, is what will be the response from the CIA's rank-and-file to Burns' appointment? I can tell you from my 15 years of experience at the CIA that there will be two reactions. At the working level, analysts, operators, and others will continue their same level of work no matter who the director is. Most working level officers don't even care who the director is. It doesn't matter to them. They never encounter the director and policies made at that top level generally don't impact them on a day-to-day basis.

CIA LogoAt the senior levels, the leadership levels, CIA officers will be of two minds.

Some will welcome Burns and his professionalism. They'll welcome a director who doesn't attract adverse press because of a past history of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. (Even if they supported those crimes when they were being committed, press attention is always unwelcome.) They'll welcome a director who didn't head secret prisons overseas. They'll welcome a director who wasn't in charge of Guantanamo. They'll welcome a director who wasn't in charge of maintaining a secret "kill list."

Others will resent Burns, though, as they resented an earlier outsider, Admiral Stansfield Turner. Turner had been appointed by President Jimmy Carter to "clean up" the CIA. Turner then fired fully a third of the CIA's operations officers, some just months away from qualifying for retirement. He was universally reviled after that, and he never regained the trust of agency personnel.

That's not Burns' style. He's not a military officer who demands fealty. He's a diplomat, a negotiator. The CIA has to be cleaned up. Its policies have to be reformed. If there must be a CIA, I feel better with Bill Burns being in charge of it. At the very least, we should give him enough time to at least get started.

 

U.S. Law, Courts

Associated Press via New York Post, ‘Womb raider’ Lisa Montgomery is first woman executed in US since 1953, Staff report, Jan. 13, 2021. “The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

It came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to move forward. Montgomery was the first of the final three federal inmates scheduled to die before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to discontinue federal executions.

But a federal judge for the District of Columbia halted the scheduled executions later this week of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs in a ruling Tuesday. Johnson, convicted of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia, and Higgs, convicted of ordering the murders of three women in Maryland, both tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Montgomery killed 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

An appeals court granted Montgomery a stay of execution Tuesday, shortly after another appeals court lifted an Indiana judge’s ruling that found she was likely mentally ill and couldn’t comprehend she would be put to death. But both appeals were lifted, allowing the execution of the only female on federal death row to go forward.

One of Montgomery’s lawyers, Kelley Henry, told the Associated Press Tuesday morning that her client arrived at the Terre Haute facility late Monday from a Texas prison and that, because there are no facilities for female inmates, she was being kept in a cell in the execution chamber building itself.

“I don’t believe she has any rational comprehension of what’s going on at all,” Henry said.

Montgomery has done needlepoint in prison, making gloves, hats and other knitted items as gifts for her lawyers and others, Henry said. She hasn’t been able to continue that hobby or read since her glasses were taken away from her out of concern she could commit suicide.

— A Kansas woman was executed Tuesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the US government has put to death a female inmate.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. Wednesday after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.

 

Jan. 12

Top Headlines

 

Capitol Riot Responses

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

  

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no sign of looming violence, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The internal FBI warning, reviewed by The Washington Post, is the starkest evidence yet of the sizable intelligence failure that preceded the mayhem caused by President Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6.

A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.

FBI logoA situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.

“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

BLM is likely a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice. Pantifa is a derogatory term for antifa, a far-left anti-fascist movement whose adherents sometimes engage in violent clashes with right-wing extremists.

Yet even with that information in hand, the report’s unidentified author expressed concern that the FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: On Eve of House Vote, McConnell Is Said to Be Pleased About Effort to Impeach Trump, Staff Reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Senator Mitch McConnell is said to believe that the impeachment effort will make it easier to purge President Trump from the party. And Representative Kevin McCarthy has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell just threw Donald Trump all the way under the bus, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. Mitch McConnell is still trying to force mitch mcconnellDonald Trump’s impeachment trial to take place after January 20th, so it ends up being the Democrats’ problem instead of being his problem. But now McConnell is basically coming out in favor of impeaching Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerMcConnell, right, is leaking to the New York Times today that he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses, and that he’s “pleased” Trump is being impeached, because it’ll help rid the Republican Party of Trump going forward. This is remarkable, because it means McConnell is basically telling Republican Senators to go ahead and convict Trump once the impeachment trial happens, so that Trump can’t run again in 2024.

Now we’ll see if Mitch McConnell relents and allows Trump’s Senate impeachment trial to take place before January 20th. But either way, McConnell has clearly decided to throw Trump all the way under the bus, in the selfish hope of salvaging what’s left of his Republican Party. McConnell can never be trusted to do the right thing, but he can always be trusted to do whatever he thinks is personally best for himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Joint Chiefs of Staff issue military-wide memo condemning Capitol riot, confirming Biden will be commander in chief;; Rep. Liz Cheney, No. 3 House Republican leader, says she will vote to impeach Trump, Felicia Sonmez, liz cheney resizedJohn Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Kim Bellware, Jan. 12, 2021. Rep. Liz Cheney, No. 3 House Republican leader, says she will vote to impeach Trump; Senate panel will hold hearing for Biden’s Homeland Security nominee on Jan. 19.

President Trump called the effort by House Democrats to impeach him for a second time a “witch hunt” and offered no regrets for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol last week as he emerged from seclusion Tuesday to travel to Alamo, Tex., to tour a section of the border wall.

In an unusual move, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon body composed of the military’s top leaders, issued a memo to the entire U.S. military condemning the Capitol riot and confirming Joe Biden will become the 46th commander in chief of the armed forces on Jan. 20.

The House was poised to vote Tuesday on formally calling on Vice President Pence to declare Trump unfit for office and remove him by invoking the 25th Amendment. If Pence doesn’t act, the House was on track to vote on impeachment as soon as Wednesday.

capitol ties

Eric Gavelek Munchel, right, the Tennessee man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy shown above, was later arrested by the F.B.I. (Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn./AP). The rioter, above at center, heavily disguised, invaded the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest eric munchelcarrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trumpist masculinity reaches its high water mark with Zip Tie Guy suspect, Monica Hesse, Jan. 12, 2021. In one of the more terrifying images of last week, a man believed to be Eric Munchel, wearing dark fatigues and a face-obscuring black gaiter, climbed over a railing in the Senate Gallery.

He wore a Taser holstered to his hip and gripped a bunch of zip-tie handcuffs in one hand. While his fellow raiders were busy “scratching their balls” in Nancy Pelosi’s office or literally pooping on the Capitol’s floors, Zip Tie Guy had the mien of someone who had breached the complex with an actual nefarious plan involving hostages or worse.

The man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy was unmasked over the weekend by the Internet, then arrested by the FBI: Munchel, 30, has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. On Sunday, the FBI released more images, allegedly of Munchel, that had been captured throughout the day of Jan. 6.

In several, he was accompanied by a graying 57-year-old woman. And this is the point at which the portrait of Munchel became fuller, because this is the point at which it became a working theory that Zip Tie Guy had brought his mom to the revolution.

In a security camera image from earlier that afternoon, a pair of tourists, believed to be Munchel and mom, left their Hyatt hotel with matching cups of coffee in hand as if setting off for a long day at the Smithsonian. In a cellphone clip a few hours later, he ushers her up the stairs inside the Capitol, one hand steering her shoulder as they went about their illegal siege.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: House Plans Vote to Demand That Pence Seize Power From Trump, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. The House is poised to vote this evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of power by invoking the 25th Amendment. If Mr. Pence refuses to act, an impeachment vote is expected Wednesday.

U.S. House logoHere’s the latest from Washington. The House is poised to vote Tuesday evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of his duties by invoking the 25th Amendment. The vote comes a day after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment charging the president for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, where rioters ransacked the seat of American government and killed a Capitol Police officer.

djt march 2020 CustomThe motion on Monday set off a high-stakes standoff between two branches of government, as House Democrats pressured Mr. Pence to intervene.

Republicans on Monday objected to unanimously passing the resolution, which asked the vice president to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

Mr. Trump also met with Mr. Pence on Monday for the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault, which had put the vice president in danger. The two talked for an hour or more in the Oval Office in what amounted to a fraught peace summit meeting with the remainder of the Trump presidency at stake.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Riot Live Updates: Fallout Continues as Trump Finds Himself Increasingly Besieged, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Businesses, institutions and cabinet members are cutting ties with the president as Washington and state capitols are bracing for renewed threats leading up to Inauguration Day.

  • In the wake of the Capitol attack, the president is spurned and abandoned.
  • Did mixing a riot with a pandemic yield a superspreader event?
  • Enhanced security measures for the inauguration are starting earlier than planned.
  • Trump Organization faces an urgent reckoning as businesses break away.
  • Trump loyalists in Congress fanned flames before Capitol riot.

A president who famously demands loyalty has found himself increasingly cut off. Even New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who publicly supported Mr. Trump when he ran for office, has spurned him, turning down the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, because of the “tragic events of last week” a reference to the deadly riot.

Schools have stripped Mr. Trump of honorary degrees. The P.G.A. of America announced it would no longer hold a major tournament at Mr. Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Mr. Trump’s primary lender for two decades, Deutsche Bank, said it has decided not to do business with Mr. Trump or his company in the future, according to a person familiar with the bank’s thinking. Twitter has permanently suspended Mr. Trump’s account, while Facebook barred him at least through the end of his term on Jan. 20.

chad wolfChad F. Wolf, right, the acting secretary for the Homeland Security Department, stepped down from his position on Monday. The department includes the Secret Service, which is leading inauguration security.

Mr. Wolf told employees of the Department of Homeland Security he would be stepping down in part because of court rulings that invalidated some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing the likelihood that Mr. Wolf was unlawfully appointed to lead the agency. He did not address the Capitol riot in his letter.

White House officials, including several members of the cabinet, have resigned, saying they were deeply troubled by the deadly siege. Prominent Republicans have threatened to leave the party or called on Mr. Trump to resign.

Scores of the president’s supporters who participated in the Capitol riot are the subject of a nationwide manhunt, according to law enforcement officials. The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, a number that is almost certain to grow, an official said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chuck Schumer pushes no-fly list for Trump insurrectionists, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 12, 2021. Over the weekend a number of viral videos bill palmershowed Trump insurrectionists being blocked from air travel, which some observers mistakenly interpreted as some kind of no fly list. But in reality it appeared those individuals were simply blocked from air travel due to refusing to wear a mask.

bill palmer report logo headerNow incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is indeed calling for all the insurrectionists who breached or entered the Capitol to be placed on the no fly list. This would prevent them from being able to travel back to Washington DC to participate in more such attacks. It would also help facilitate the arrests of those insurrectionists who are still at large and haven’t yet been tracked down by law enforcement.

Now it’s up to the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to decide whether they’re willing to go along with what Leader Schumer is calling for. There are longstanding questions about whether we should have a no fly list. But if we’re going to have one, these Capitol insurrectionists are the very first people who should be on it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at social media sites as Democrats plan to ramp up scrutiny, Tony Romm, Jan. 12, 2021. House Democrats are planning to look into social media’s role in Capitol riot as part of a broad disinformation inquiry.

President Trump lashed out at Silicon Valley on Tuesday in his first public comments since Twitter banned him from the site, stressing the industry had done a “horrible thing for our country and to our country.”

The president told reporters that the social media sites had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a politically “divisive” manner after punishing him for comments the companies said threatened to incite violence. And Trump defended his speech in front of a mob last week that later stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent, failed insurrection that left lawmakers on lockdown, stressing even its controversial parts were “totally appropriate.”

Trump’s renewed attacks come as House Democrats plan to ramp up their scrutiny of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Party lawmakers in recent days have faulted tech giants for acting too slowly to stop Trump’s online rhetoric from precipitating real-world chaos.

washington post logoWashington Post, The remarkable rift between Trump and Pence, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 12, 2021. The rupture is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience.

Mike PenceVice President Pence, right, was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m.

republican elephant logoTrump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited.

The remarkable break between the two men — played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president — is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience. The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him — even to his own closest advisers — now seems to be largely estranged from him.

Pence has committed to attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, even though Trump is not going. The vice president has begun telling staff goodbye, posing for pictures and having sentimental moments with key aides in his Executive Office suite.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: An Epiphany Moment’ for Corporate Political Donors May Have Arrived, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jan. 12, 2021. As companies put donations to candidates on hold, they should reassess political giving entirely, making the halt permanent.

As companies from Coca-Cola to Amazon to Citigroup appear to be tripping over each other to declare that they are “pausing” or “reassessing” donations to citigroup logoRepublicans who sought to overturn the election — and, in some cases, suspending giving to both parties — they might want to look at a company that didn’t say anything.

That company is IBM. It didn’t need to issue a mea culpa for a simple reason. It doesn’t donate to candidates on either side of the aisle — at all, ever.

IBM is one of only a handful of large companies in the United States that is not involved in direct political giving to candidates. It has no political action committee, or PAC. Even when it gives money to trade groups, it restricts its money from being funneled to candidates.

It was a policy put in place more than a century ago by Thomas J. Watson, the founding father of the modern IBM.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The width and depthness of Trump's coup, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 12, 2021. We are just now learning that the storming of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallthe Capitol may have involved Republican members of the House of Representatives, who were in cahoots with twenty or more U.S. Capitol Police officers, including one who committed suicide, two who have been suspended, and one who has been arrested.

Investigations of police involvement have spread to the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Police Department, the North Miami Beach Police Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, Arkansas State Police, and the Chicago Police Department.

wayne madesen report logoNewly-elected 25-year old North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn told the Trump rally at the Ellipse, "Call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say, you know what, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you, everybody’s coming after you.”

There are calls in North Carolina for Cawthorn's resignation. Cawthorn has an affectation for Nazis and Adolf Hitler. In a 2017 Instagram posting, Cawthorn had his photograph taken at Hitler's Alpine lair, the Eagle’s Nest, in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Cawthorn also referred to Hitler as "the Führer" in his posting. Cawthorn denies he is a Nazi, but his affiliation with neo-Nazi organizations is common knowledge.

It is increasingly appearing that the January 6 storming of the Capitol was a re-enactment of the 1933 burning by the Nazis of the Reichstag.

ny times logoNew York Times, State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence, Neil MacFarquhar and Mike Baker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Officials are bracing for any spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. State legislatures already have become targets. It was opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage gear, most of them carrying tactical rifles.

On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. Facing them in the pouring rain was a small group of demonstrators, some also wearing military fatigues and carrying weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!”

And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, showed up outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.”

Gone is a large measure of the bonhomie that usually accompanies the annual start of the legislative season, replaced by marked unease over the possibility of armed attacks and gaps in security around statehouses that have long prided themselves on being open to constituents.

georgia map 2“Between Covid and the idea that there are people who are armed and making threats and are serious, it was definitely not your normal beginning of session,” said Senator Jennifer A. Jordan, a Democratic legislator in Georgia who watched the police officers assembled outside the State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday from her office window. “Usually folks are happy, talking to each other, and it did not have that feel.”

Dozens of state capitols will be on alert in the coming days, following calls among a mix of antigovernment organizations for actions in all 50 states on Jan. 17. Some of them come from far-right organizations that harbor a broad antigovernment agenda and have already been protesting state Covid-19 lockdowns since last spring. The F.B.I. this week sent a warning to local law enforcement agencies about the potential for armed protests in all 50 states.

In a video news conference on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that “everybody is on high alert” for protests in Sacramento in the days ahead.

 

Capitol Riot Responses

ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his story: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Mo Brooks implicates Trump White House after he’s accused of inciting Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021.  Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the January 6th pro-Trump rally that turned into a domestic terrorist attack, claimed yesterday that he worked in advance with three House Republicans including Mo Brooks to plot the entire thing. This comes even as the House is moving to censure Brooks for his overall role in the day’s events, and after the Washington DC Attorney General announced that Brooks is under investigation for inciting violence.

bill palmer report logo headerIn response, Mo Brooks is pushing back and insisting that it was the Trump White House who plotted the rally. In a statement, Brooks cites his own phone records and says that “on Tuesday morning, January 5, I had a telephone call with Brian Jack, White House Political Director. He asked me to speak at the Trump rally the next day.”

mo brooks oIn effect, Congressman Mo Brooks, right, is trying to reduce his own criminal culpability in the attack by implicating the Trump White House in the debacle. He’s not quite yelling “Trump made me do it” but he’s coming close. At this point it sounds like Brooks is just trying to figure out how to avoid prison time over this.

Answering questions from reporters for the first time since the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Trump sidestepped questions about his culpability in the deadly riot that shook the nation’s long tradition of peaceful transfers of power.

“People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to visit the wall along the Mexican border. Instead, Mr. Trump claimed that protests against racial injustice over the summer were “the real problem.”

“If you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s defiance came despite near universal condemnation of his role in stoking the assault on the Capitol, including from within his own administration and some of his closest allies on Capitol Hill.

 

ali akbar alexander stop the steal

Legal Schnauzer, Investigation: As Parler data leak spews forth files about planning of deadly Trump rally, organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander goes into hiding, with legal problems likely looming, Roger Shuler, Jan. 12, 2021. Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander, he of the Alabama ties via Montgomery lawyer and talk-show host Baron Coleman, has gone into hiding, according to a report at the Daily Beast.

Is Alexander's disappearing act driven, in part, by reports that security researchers have cracked all the files at Parler, the site reportedly used by right wingers to plan last week's protest-turned-riot at the U.S. Capitol? Does Alexander (shown above in a file photo) know the security pros plan to provide Parler files to law enforcement, perhaps posing serious legal implications for planners from the Trump fringe who launched the rally that turned into a deadly assault on Congress?

It's too early to have definitive answers to those question, but it appears likely Alexander knows he's gone too far and might need to lawyer up shortly. Under the headline, "Stop the Steal’ Organizer in Hiding After Denying Blame for Riot," the DailyBeast's Will Sommer writes:

Two weeks before thousands of Trump rioters breached Congress, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander said his group wasn’t violent—“yet.”

“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks,’” Alexander told a crowd at a Dec. 19 rally at Arizona’s state capitol. “I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!”

Alexander, who has described himself as one of the “official originators” of the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, went on to use “yet” as a code word for violence. Then Alexander told the Phoenix crowd about his plans for Washington.

“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” Alexander said. “And if we have to explore options after that…‘yet.’ Yet!”

Alexander apparently is not quite so glib these days. Writes Sommer:

Alexander led a host of activists in ratcheting up the rhetoric ahead of Congress’ certification of the electoral votes, threatening to “1776” opponents of Trump’s re-election. Now that five people, including a Capitol Police officer, are dead, however, Alexander has gone into hiding, and the website promoting his Jan. 6 rally has been wiped from the internet.

Alexander is defiant, saying he won’t “take an iota of blame that does not belong to me.”

“I didn’t incite anything,” Alexander said in a video posted Friday to Twitter. “I didn’t do anything.”

That last statement suggests Alexander already is thinking of a defense to federal incitement charges that could be coming. Does Alexander's claim that he "didn't incite anything" mesh with reality? Not exactly. Writes Sommer:

Alexander’s voice grew more menacing in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 rally. He tweeted that he would “give my life for this fight,” a call that was promoted by the Arizona Republican Party.

Alexander also began tweeting frequently about “1776,” a reference to the start of the American Revolution. Alexander wrote in one post that the choice was “45”—Trump’s re-election—“or 1776.” In another message, he wrote that “1776 is always an option for free men and women.”

Most pointedly, Alexander responded to a tweet from QAnon-supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claiming that top congressional leaders were working to block objections to the electoral vote. If that happened, Alexander said, he and hundreds of thousands of other protesters would “1776” the Capitol.

“If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” Alexander tweeted on Dec. 30. “1776 is *always* an option”

The night before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander riled up Trump supporters in Washington with a “victory or death” chant and once again brought up “1776.”

“1776 is always an option,” Alexander told the crowd. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want, or we are going to shut this country down.”

For now, Alexander is out of sight and begging his followers for money:

Alexander claims to be in hiding, alleging in a video posted Friday that he needs $2,000 a day to fund his security detail and other expenses and hitting his fans up for donations. In a bizarre moment in his fundraising pitch, Alexander claimed that he was being targeted by the supernatural: “Witches and wiccans are putting hexes and curses on us.”

It’s not clear how, however, if Alexander’s supporters can send him money at all. On Saturday, he posted on Parler that he had been banned from Venmo and PayPal.

In his Friday video, Alexander claimed that his “rally never turned violent.” But Alexander also read a quote from talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that positively compared the rioters to the heroes of the American Revolution, and said rioters who entered the Capitol should suffer light consequences, if any.

“I think people should be rowdy, I think people should be messy,” Alexander said. “I do believe that we own that U.S. Capitol. So I’m not apologizing for nothing.”

As for Parler, the story of its downfall -- and the resulting data leak -- broke early yesterday, and that could prove to be a gift from heaven for federal investigators. Writes Dell Cameron at Gizmodo:

parler logoIn the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher [from Austria] began an effort to catalogue the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by her Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence. According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, among other sources, Parler is one of a several apps used by the insurrections to coordinate their breach of the Capitol, in a plan to overturn the 2020 election results and keep Donald Trump in power.

Operating on little sleep, @donk_enby began the work of archiving all of Parler’s posts, ultimately capturing around 99 percent of its content. In a tweet early Sunday, @donk_enby said she was crawling some 1.1 million Parler video URLs. “These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” she said. Included in this data tranche, now more than 56 terabytes in size, @donk_enby confirmed that the raw video files include GPS metadata pointing to exact locations of where the videos were taken.

@donk_enby later shared a screenshot showing the GPS position of a particular video, with coordinates in latitude and longitude.

The privacy implications are obvious, but the copious data may also serve as a fertile hunting ground for law enforcement. Federal and local authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in recent days accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, where a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, was fatally wounded after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lauren Boebert just got called to the carpet, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. House Republican Lauren Boebert has only been in Congress for a few days, and she’s already causing demonstrable harm to the country. Even as Donald Trump’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol was playing lauren boebertout, and the terrorists were roaming the halls looking for high value targets, Boebert, right, was busy tweeting changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location.

bill palmer report logo headerSenator Brian Schatz is now calling out Boebert for this, tweeting that “We were specifically instructed by those protecting us not to tell anyone, including our family, where exactly we were, for reasons that remain obvious.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell took things even further, tweeting this: “So were we in the House. Lauren Boebert was told by the Sergeant of Arms in the chamber to not make any social media posts. It was said repeatedly. She defied it because she is more closely aligned with the terrorists than the patriots.”

It’s difficult to imagine that this will play out well for Lauren Boebert. She had already painted herself as a deranged QAnon conspiracy theorist before the attack, which now makes her a pariah. Now corporate donations to insurrectionists like Boebert are being withdrawn. We imagine she’ll face a much better financed Republican primary challenger in 2022. Boebert has been in Congress a week and she already has no political future, and now she could face criminal liability. She’d do well to resign now and just go home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). As senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery television images of the crisis.

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”

Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive.

“It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” Graham said in an interview. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”

Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally and riot, Aaron C. Davis, Rebecca Tan and Beth Reinhard, Jan. 12, 2021. Several U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the demonstration last week that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to members of Congress, police officials and staff members briefed on the developments.

Eight separate investigations have been launched into the actions of Capitol officers, according to one congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the status of the internal review.

In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol Police investigators found to be messages showing support for the rally on Wednesday that preceded the attack on the complex, including touting President Trump’s baseless contention that the election had been stolen through voter fraud, the aide said.

Investigators in another instance found that a Capitol officer had posted “inappropriate” images of President-elect Joe Biden on a social media account. The steve sund recroppedaide declined to describe the photographs.

The scrutiny of the Capitol Police comes amid intensifying recriminations over why the complex was insufficiently protected when thousands of Trump supporters converged on Washington to protest the congressional action to certify Biden’s win.

On Sunday, former Capitol police chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, told The Washington Post in an interview that congressional security officials rebuffed his efforts to put the D.C. National Guard on standby before the joint session.

washington post logoWashington Post, State capitals face threat of armed protests, FBI warns, Tim Craig, Holly Bailey and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The FBI warned Monday that armed far-right extremist groups are planning to march on state capitals this weekend, triggering a rush to fortify government buildings amid concerns that the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol last week could spread throughout the country.

The memo is something of a raw intelligence product, compiling information gathered by the bureau and several other government agencies, an official said. Some of it is unverified, and the threat is likely to differ significantly from place to place, though the memo said there were plans in all 50 state capitals, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bulletin is considered a law enforcement document not authorized for wide public release.

But the data points it highlights for law enforcement are nonetheless troubling — including that there was information suggesting people might storm government offices, or stage an uprising were President Trump to be removed from office, the official said.

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

ny times logoNew York Times, How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism, Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, Jan. 12, 2021. A mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom see themselves as participants in a holy war.

Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.

djt as chosen oneThe group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.

Then they rose. Their leader declared into a bullhorn that the media must “get the hell out of my way.” And then they moved toward the Capitol.

The presence of Christian rituals, symbols and language was unmistakable on Wednesday in Washington. There was a mock campaign banner, “Jesus 2020,” in blue and red; an “Armor of God” patch on a man’s fatigues; a white cross declaring “Trump won” in all capitals. All of this was interspersed with allusions to QAnon conspiracy theories, Confederate flags and anti-Semitic T-shirts.

The blend of cultural references, and the people who brought them, made clear a phenomenon that has been brewing for years now: that the most extreme corners of support for Mr. Trump have become inextricable from some parts of white evangelical power in America. Rather than completely separate strands of support, these groups have become increasingly blended together.

This potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among a wide swath of Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war, according to interviews. And many, who are swimming in falsehoods about the presidential election and now the riot itself, said the aftermath of Wednesday’s event has only fueled a deeper sense of victimhood and being misunderstood.

Like many Republicans in Congress, some evangelical leaders who have been most supportive of Mr. Trump distanced themselves and their faith from the rioters. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, called the violence “anarchy.” The siege on the Capitol “has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity,” he said. “Our support of President Trump was based on his policies.”

But critics said it was too late to try to separate the white conservative Christian culture that helped push Mr. Trump to power from last week’s violence in Washington.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Putsch Was Decades in the Making, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). G.O.P. cynics have been coddling crazies for a long paul krugmantime. One striking aspect of the Capitol Hill putsch was that none of the rioters’ grievances had any basis in reality.

No, the election wasn’t stolen — there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud. No, Democrats aren’t part of a satanic pedophile conspiracy. No, they aren’t radical Marxists — even the party’s progressive wing would be considered only moderately left of center in any other Western democracy.

So all the rage is based on lies. But what’s almost as striking as the fantasies of the rioters is how few leading Republicans have been willing, despite the violence and desecration, to tell the MAGA mob that their conspiracy theories are false.

kevin mccarthyBear in mind that Kevin McCarthy, left, the House minority leader, and two-thirds of his colleagues voted against accepting the Electoral College results even after the riot. (McCarthy then shamelessly decried “division,” saying that “we must call on our better angels.”)

Or consider the behavior of leading Republicans who aren’t usually considered extremists. On Sunday Senator Rob Portman declared that we need to “restore confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.” Portman isn’t stupid; he has to know that the only reason so many people doubt the election results is that members of his party deliberately fomented that doubt. But he’s still keeping up the pretense.

For a long time Republican elites imagined that they could exploit racism and conspiracy theorizing while remaining focused on a plutocratic agenda. But with the rise first of the Tea Party, then of Donald Trump, the cynics found that the crazies were actually in control, and that they wanted to destroy democracy, not cut tax rates on capital gains.

The G.O.P. has reached the culmination of its long journey away from democracy, and it’s hard to see how it can ever be redeemed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Grieving Son’s Death, Maryland Lawmaker Fights to Impeach Trump, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 12, 2021. Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve. Then he survived the mob attack on the Capitol. Now, he leads the impeachment effort.

jamin raskin american university Custom 2On the last awful day of the brutal year 2020, Tommy Raskin, a 25-year-old Harvard University law student, social justice activist, animal lover and poet, concluded that the pain of the world was too deep for him to be in it anymore. He left his parents an apology, with instructions: “Please look after each other, the animals and the global poor for me.”

Tommy Raskin was buried last week in a simple Jewish graveside service. The next day, his father, Representative Jamie Raskin, shown in a years-old file photo from his teaching days, found himself hiding with his House colleagues from a violent mob incited by President Trump, and fearing for the safety of a surviving daughter, who had accompanied him to the Capitol to witness the counting of electoral votes to seal Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment won’t keep Trump from running again. Here’s a better way, Bruce Ackerman and Gerard Magliocca, Jan. 12, 2021. House Democrats’ plans to rush through an impeachment of President Trump won’t work, for a simple reason: The Constitution envisions impeachment only as a tool for proceeding against a president while he remains in office. Impeachment is meant to protect the country, not punish the offender.

But that needn’t be the end of efforts to prevent Trump from again holding federal office. There is another, little-known constitutional provision that can achieve precisely that without distorting the Constitution’s meaning.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, bars Trump from holding another federal office if he is found to have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution of the United States.

The finding could be accomplished by a simple majority vote of both houses, in contrast to the requirement in impeachment proceedings that the Senate vote to convict by a two-thirds majority. Congress would simply need to declare that Trump engaged in an act of “insurrection or rebellion” by encouraging the attack on the Capitol. Under the 14th Amendment, Trump could run for the White House again only if he were able to persuade a future Congress to, “by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Section 3 was enacted to bar any “civil or military” officer who had served the United States before the Civil War from regaining a position of authority if he betrayed his country by supporting the Confederacy. During the height of Reconstruction, a number of former Confederates were, in fact, barred from holding office. It was only in 1872 that Congress once again allowed these men to serve the United States by passing an Amnesty Act with the requisite two-thirds majorities.

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling professor of law and political science at Yale Law School and author of a multivolume series, "We the People," dealing with the dynamics of American constitutional development over the past two centuries. Gerard Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen professor at Indiana University’s law school in Indianapolis and the author of a forthcoming article dealing with the amnesty provisions of the 14th Amendment.

 

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats want to fine colleagues $1,000 a day if they refuse to wear a mask on Capitol grounds, Paulina Firozi, Jan. 12, 2021. After numerous lawmakers refused to wear masks while hunkered down with their colleagues during last week’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) have introduced a bill that could penalize lawmakers for making the same choice again.

The legislation introduced Tuesday would impose a $1,000 fine on members who refuse to wear masks while in the Capitol complex. The legislation would amend House rules to add that lawmakers are required to wear masks while in the Capitol.

If the Ethics Committee “determines that any Member, Delegate or Resident Commissioner” is in violation, the committee “shall fine such individual $1,000 for each day that such violation occurs,” according to the text of the bill.

It is a move that comes as at least three Democratic House members — Reps. Brad Schneider (Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.) — revealed within 24 hours that they had tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering with dozens others in a committee room on Wednesday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. Several Republicans in the room refused to wear a mask.

 

Rudoph Giuliani, speaking with two other Trump campaign lawyers on Nov. 19, 2020.

Rudoph Giuliani, speaking with two other Trump campaign lawyers on Nov. 19, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani hit with disbarment complaint, faces possible expulsion from New York lawyers association, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 12, 2021. The New York State Bar Association will consider expelling President Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and a state lawmaker is seeking his disbarment after inflammatory comments during a rally preceding last week's deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol.

Hours before the pro-Trump mob breached security and stormed the building, Giuliani encouraged the president’s loyalists to fight the election results “by combat.” Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the attempted insurrection.

In a statement Monday, the bar association said it has received “hundreds of complaints in recent months” about the former New York mayor and his failed bid to help Trump overturn his loss to Joe Biden. “Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands,” a spokeswoman for the group, Susan DeSantis, said in the statement. “Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power.”

New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, filed a formal complaint to an appellate court related to “rampant and egregious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct” and Giuliani’s “complicity” in inciting last week’s violence, he said in a statement.

Hoylman, who chairs the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee, argued that Giuliani’s advancement of election-related conspiracy theories “appears to have contributed to bloodshed in furtherance of the overthrow of our federal government.” Appellate courts in New York field and review complaints against lawyers that can lead to punitive action.

It’s unclear when the court may consider Hoylman’s complaint.

Speaking to a charged crowd of thousands near the White House on Wednesday, Giuliani said: “If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat!”

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I do regret being there’: Simone Gold, noted hydroxychloroquine advocate, was inside the Capitol during the riot, Neena Satija, Jan. 12, 2021. A doctor and outspoken critic of the coronavirus vaccine was among those who entered the Capitol building last week during the siege that disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Simone Gold gained national attention in July when she and other physicians appeared in front of the Supreme Court for a sparsely attended news conference to decry pandemic lockdowns and criticize government efforts to stop the spread of the disease. Video of the event, organized by conservative activists, was retweeted by the president and viewed by millions before social media platforms took it down.

Gold confirmed to The Washington Post that she is the person pictured carrying a bullhorn on the Capitol grounds Wednesday in FBI and D.C. police bulletins seeking more information about individuals who were present.

Although dozens of Capitol Police officers were injured when they were overrun by pro-Trump protesters and one later died as a result, Gold said she did not witness any violence.

After Trump supporters gathered on the Capitol grounds, tensions soon boiled over and an angry mob assaulted the building, breaking through doors and windows. Vice President Pence was moved to a secure location in the complex. Police sought to evacuate lawmakers and their staffers, but some locked down in rooms behind makeshift barricades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Son of Brooklyn Judge Is Arrested Over Role in Riot at Capitol, Nicole Hong, Jan. 12, 2021. The son of a Brooklyn judge was arrested Tuesday morning over his role in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Aaron Mostofsky was taken into custody at his brother’s home in Brooklyn, according to a person briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Mr. Mostofsky is among the dozens of people who have been investigated by federal and local authorities in the days since the riot in Washington. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, sifting through tens of thousands of tips after asking for the public’s help in identifying those who forced their way into the Capitol.

Mr. Mostofsky’s father is Kings County Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Mostofsky. In a video from inside the Capitol on Wednesday, Aaron Mostofsky told the New York Post: “We were cheated. I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump — I think it was close to 85 million. I think certain states that have been red for a long time turned blue and were stolen, like New York.”

The video showed Mr. Mostofsky wearing fur pelts and what appeared to be a bulletproof vest while holding a protective shield belonging to the Capitol Police. He faces four federal charges, including illegal entry into a restricted area, disorderly conduct and theft of government property.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Talk Radio Giant Tells Hosts to Stop ‘Stolen Elections’ Rhetoric: Live Updates, Tiffany Hsu, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). The talk radio network that airs Dan Bongino and Mark Levin warned staff to stop ‘dog-whistle talk.’

  • Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services.
  • Government watchdog warns of $3.6 billion in potentially fraudulent P.P.P. loans.
  • Ford, citing the pandemic, will stop making cars in Brazil and shut three factories.
  • The government settled with a company accused of using stored photos to create facial recognition databases.

cumulus media logoCumulus Media, a talk radio company with a roster of popular right-wing personalities including Dan Bongino, Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, has warned its hosts to steer clear of misinformation about election fraud.

Brian Philips, an executive vice president of Cumulus, sent the stern memo on Wednesday, the same day that a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the halls of Congress. Addressed to employees working in the company’s programming and talent divisions, including those at its syndication arm, Westwood One, the memo’s first section appeared in bold typeface, with many words capitalized for emphasis.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” the memo began.

“Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” it continued. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.”

Twestwood one cumulushe memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media, underlined a statement at the end of the paragraph: “Through all of our communication channels, including social, we will work to urge restoration of PEACE AND ORDER.”

Cumulus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Levin, right, who has attacked Democrats and many Republicans who have not supported Mr. Trump, has tweeted about a “massive fraud perpetrated against the president” and promoted the Jan. 6 demonstration in the days leading up to it. On the Wednesday episode of his radio show, Mr. Levin, who also hosts a Fox News program on Sunday nights, criticized those who mark levin resized cpacstormed the Capitol, but defended “people who are peacefully protesting” against “a stolen election” — a characterization that has been repeatedly debunked as false.

Mr. Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and a current Fox News contributor, is also an investor in Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Bongino fulminated against the suspension of Parler by major technology companies, referring to “tech tyrants,” “tech totalitarians” and “the communists at Apple and Amazon and Google.”

Mr. Bongino, who hosts a podcast and has a popular Facebook page, has raised questions about “irregularities” in the 2020 election. On an episode of his podcast in November, he said, referring to the election, “Ladies and gentlemen, these claims that there are no evidence of fraud are utterly absurd.”

Cumulus owns and operates 416 stations across 86 markets, including WMAL in Washington, WNBM in New York and KABC in Los Angeles.

 

Jan. 11

Top Headlinescapitol confederate flag capitol

 

Reactions To Insurrection

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media News

 

capitol guns drawn

Police with guns drawn watch as rioters and vandals break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite) (Source: J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

brian sicknickA California woman was warned and then fatally shot as she and others in the mob shattered glass and tried to crawl up and through the hole in the door to enter the chamber where congressional members and staff had huddled for safety during the rampage. Dying also were four others, including Brian D. Sicknick, above, a Capitol Hill police officer murdered while trying to protect government workers during the pro-Trump insurrection. President Trump has failed to order federal flags flown at half-mast in his honor, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did so over the flags she controls at the Capitol.

 

Top Stories

 nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who will become Senate Majority leader when Georgia officials certify the results of the Jan. 5 special election, which is expected by the date of Jan. 22 at the latest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats introduce article of impeachment as GOP blocks measure to invoke 25th Amendment, John Wagner and Paulina Firozi, Jan. 11, 2021. House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol last week by a violent pro-Trump mob. The House could vote as early as Wednesday. Other headlines:

  • Bowser tells Americans to stay home for inauguration
  • Republican former lawmakers urge Trump’s impeachment
  • Timothy Blodgett sworn in to serve as House sergeant-at-arms

U.S. House logoIn a brief session Monday, House Republicans blocked a measure calling on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, a move that ensures a vote in the full House.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), below left, had a stark message to Americans on Monday: Do not attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in Washington.

muriel bowser CustomWith the combined threats both of spreading the coronavirus in a city that reached its highest average daily new case rate ever on Monday, and of violence from those who reject the election result, Bowser said, Americans who would ordinarily flock to Washington should stay home.

The right-wing groups threatening to mass before and during the inauguration are different from the protesters the city normally welcomes, Bowser said. “People coming to demonstrate peacefully are very different from the people who stormed the Capitol,” she said.

When a reporter asked if she was scared of what might happen Jan. 20, Bowser said: “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy. Because we have … factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”

In an effort to make the city inhospitable to guests, Bowser said she would also “likely” extend the mandated closure of indoor dining through Jan. 24 in the interest of public safety around the inauguration. The ban was implemented in December to address rising coronavirus cases and was set to end Jan. 15.

Bowser said she would decide Tuesday. She said she will be briefed by the FBI daily on threats to the city.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are weighing sedition and conspiracy charges and expect to arrest ‘hundreds’ tied to Capitol riot, Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater, Jan. 11, 2021. Before Capitol Riot, Republican Lawmakers Fanned the Flames A “1776 moment”: Several of the president’s closest allies in Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to attend the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a deadly riot.

Several of the president’s closest allies in Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to attend the rally that turned into a deadly riot. Standing before a crowd of thousands of MAGA-clad protesters on the National Mall on Wednesday, Representative Mo Brooks roared out a message that he said members of Congress who dared to accept President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory needed to hear.

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Mr. Brooks, Republican of Alabama. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”

mike pence leftHours later, urged on by President Trump at the same rally, rioters stormed the Capitol, where Congress was meeting to formalize Mr. Biden’s election, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” threatening to shoot Speaker Nancy Pelosi and forcing lawmakers to evacuate the building in a scene of violence and mayhem. Afterward, police officers recovered long guns, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zip ties. At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the protests and the siege and in the immediate aftermath.

Even after the tear gas cleared and the Capitol was secured, more than 135 House Republicans, including the party’s two top leaders, ultimately voted to throw out millions of lawfully cast votes, fulfilling the rioters’ demands and answering Mr. Trump’s call for Congress to subvert the election results in his favor.

But a handful of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in the House had gone even further in the days and weeks before the riot, urging their supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to make a defiant last stand to keep him in power. They linked arms with the organizers of the protest and used inflammatory, bellicose language to describe the stakes.

Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, first-term lawmakers who ran as outspoken defenders of Mr. Trump, referred to the day as Republicans’ “1776 moment.”

The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, who have resigned, are facing scrutiny after the siege.capitol camp auschwitz

washington post logoWashington Post, Video shows mob dragging a police officer down stairs. One rioter beat the officer with an American flag pole, Katie Shepherd, Jan. 11, 2021. As a mob of pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol on Wednesday, one man in a white hat and backpack grabbed a police officer by the helmet, dragging the officer down the stairs. Soon, other rioters kicked and punched the officer, and one man even bashed the prone figure repeatedly with a pole flying an American flag.

The shocking violence against an outnumbered officer is shown in a video first aired by CNN on Sunday. It swiftly went viral, garnering more than 1.6 million views on Twitter by early Monday.

The Capitol mob: A raging collection of grievances and disillusionment

The officer seen in the video, as well as in other photos and videos of the moment that later surfaced on social media, has not been officially identified. The extent of the injuries the officer suffered in the attack is not clear. D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the video late Sunday.

The video adds a new layer of evidence documenting the violence that pro-Trump rioters unleashed during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, where overrun police tried to protect the federal building. One U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered injures in the incident and later died, and more than 50 other police officers were hurt. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three other people died following medical emergencies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why We Are Introducing an Article of Impeachment, David N. Cicilline (D-RI, shown below at right, a U.S. representative and a member of the House Judiciary Committee), Jan. 11, 2021. One of the authors of the impeachment article against President Trump makes his case.

Since his resounding defeat in the presidential election in November, Donald Trump has done everything but concede to the democratic will of the American people.

He unleashed an avalanche of lies and baseless claimsdavid cicilline of fraud — conspiracy theories that filled his supporters with a delusional belief that the election had been stolen from him. He filed a bevy of absurd lawsuits. He attempted to cajole and intimidate officials at all levels of government into subverting the election and keeping him in office. And then, running out of recourse, legitimate and illegitimate, he incited an insurrection against the government and the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

The attempted coup at the United States Capitol last Wednesday, which took place as lawmakers inside counted the electoral votes that would formalize Joe Biden’s overwhelming election by the American people, marks one of the lowest points in our country’s 245-year experiment in democracy.

What happened last Wednesday was an abomination. There is no question about that. There is also no question that Mr. Trump becomes more of a threat to public safety by the moment.

The only question now is what Congress will do about it.

djt march 2020 Custom

Associated Press via KTLA, Hundreds of historians call for Trump’s removal from office after Capitol riot, Eric Spillman, Jan. 11, 2021. Pulitzer-Prize winners ap logoGarry Wills, Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham and Stacy Schiff are among hundreds of historians who have signed an open letter calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office after last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

“By fomenting violence against the Congress and seeking to subvert constitutional democracy, which resulted in the killing of a Capitol police officer and the deaths of several rioters, Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the letter, released online Monday, reads in part. “He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States.”

The letter’s principal drafters were Sean Wilentz, Sidney Blumenthal and David Greenberg. Others endorsing it include Douglas Brinkley, David Blight, Mary Beth Norton, Rick Atkinson, Diane McWhorter and Rick Perlstein.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Law enforcement individual arrested in relation to U.S. Capitol attack, multiple others suspended, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. Over the past week it’s become increasingly clear that the bumbling idiots who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building must have had some kind of inside help from law enforcement. Sure enough, that’s now playing out.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressman Tim Ryan, right, has announced that two Capitol Police officers have been suspended, one for giving directions to the tim ryan o 2010domestic terrorist invaders, the other for taking selfies with them. Another ten or more Capitol Police officers are under investigation. Most importantly, as relayed by CNN, one unidentified “law enforcement individual” has been arrested.

It’s not yet been revealed whether this law enforcement individual is a member of the Capitol Police. It could also theoretically have been an off duty police officer who traveled to DC and participated in the attack. In any case, it’s becoming more clear by the minute that Trump’s idiot terrorists had help from law enforcement – and that those law enforcement personnel are going to pay for it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing chief says security officials impeded efforts to call in National Guard, Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 11, 2021. Even as rioters violently overran his forces, outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in an exclusive interview, the sergeants at arms for the House and Senate took more than an hour to approve his request.

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest.

steve sund recroppedTo be on the safe side, Sund, left, asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down.

In his first interview since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Sund, who has since resigned his post, said his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd President Trump had invited to Washington to protest his defeat probably would be much larger than earlier demonstrations.

House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.

Stenger declined Sunday to comment when a reporter visited his Virginia home. “I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

It was the first of six times Sund’s request for help was rejected or delayed, he said. Two days later on Wednesday afternoon, his forces already in the midst of crisis, Sund said he pleaded for help five more times as a scene far more dire than he had ever imagined unfolded on the historic Capitol grounds.

An army of 8,000 pro-Trump demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue after hearing Trump speak near the White House. Sund’s outer perimeter on the Capitol’s west side was breached within 15 minutes. With 1,400 Capitol Police officers on duty, his forces were quickly overrun.

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Coup attempt dissection yields police and military involvement, Wayne Madsen (Political commentator, left, author of 18 books, former Navy intelligence officer and Department of Defense National Security Agency analyst), Jan. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small11, 2021.

It is becoming painfully clear that the January 6 coup attempt against the Congress involved on- and off-duty police from Washington and around the country, as well as active duty and reserve military personnel going up the chain of command to the acting Secretary of christopher miller official.jpgDefense, retired Army General Christopher Miller, right.

As for the Department of Defense, it is becoming increasingly clear that the acting Defense Secretary Miller and a group of Trump loyalists installed in the Pentagon and at the National Security Agency (NSA) willfully turned a blind eye to well-advertised planning for the events of January 6 on social media. Not only were requests for National Guard security assistance rebuffed, but some Pentagon players may have been actively involved in the coup attempt.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden looks at whether Senate can tackle impeachment and his agenda simultaneously, Annie Linskey, Jan. 11, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he is consulting with Senate leaders and the chamber’s parliamentarian about whether the Senate can “bifurcate” its schedule, so it can move forward simultaneously with impeaching President Trump and enacting Biden’s agenda, including a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus relief plan.

joe biden oBiden’s comments, made Monday just after he received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a Delaware hospital, revealed his most detailed thinking to date about the threat that congressional Democrats’ impeachment efforts could overshadow the early days of his us senate logopresidency.

The remarks also affirmed that the president-elect wants Congress to focus on improving the response to the virus and bolstering the struggling economy ahead of rebuking Trump for his role in inciting a deadly mob that briefly took control of the U.S. Capitol building last week.

“My priority, first and foremost, is the stimulus bill,” Biden said Monday, “and secondly to begin to rebuild the economy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in D.C. during inauguration, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 11, 2021. Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in Washington during the presidential inauguration, senior defense officials said Monday, part of a rapidly expanding response following a deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week.

Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a call with reporters that about 6,000 guardsmen from six states already are in the nation’s capital, and that the military response will expand to about 10,000 by the weekend.

Hokanson said the numbers will be determined by the requirements that federal agencies have for support. The National Guard will bring their weapons to Washington and carry them based on discussions with the FBI, police and other agencies.

“Obviously, we’re very concerned that we want our individuals to have the right to self-defense," the general said. “And so, that will be an ongoing conversation, and if the senior leadership determines that that’s the right posture to be in, then that is something that we will do.”

The shift comes after the Defense Department carved out a narrow role ahead of a protest against President Trump’s election loss on Wednesday. Trump directed thousands of people to the Capitol afterward, some of whom began storming the building and attacking Capitol Police officers, including one who later died.

Just 340 D.C. National Guard members had been activated ahead of the riot, and none were posted outside the Capitol. Instead, they were assigned to traffic duty in other parts of the city, because the Capitol Police and the Pentagon had not worked out a plan in the event of a crisis at the home of Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Acting homeland security secretary Wolf to step down, nine days ahead of Biden inauguration, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, Paulina Firozi, Felicia Sonmez and Nick Miroff, Jan. 11, 2021. What we know about Trump’s possible second impeachment; Some House Democrats hope to impeach President Trump for a second time for high crimes and misdemeanors. Here is what that accelerated process might entail.

chad wolfActing homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, right, is stepping down, nine days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and amid widespread fears about security in the aftermath of the mob attack on the Capitol last week.

us dhs big eagle logo4In Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that the House will move forward with impeaching President Trump for a second time if Vice President Pence does not seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment by Wednesday.

Her threat came shortly after House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob on Wednesday. Democrats say that measure already has 218 co-sponsors, enough to guarantee passage.

The Intercept, Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs Helped Plan January 6 Event, Lead Organizer Says, Ryan Grim, right, and Aída Chávez, Jan. 11, 2021.  In ryan grim CustomDecember, Ali Alexander claimed he and three House Republicans were organizing the rally that led to a storming of the Capitol on January 6.

The head of the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, helped plan the January 6 event that culminated in a storming of the Capitol, according to Ali Alexander, a lead organizer of the gathering. Alexander, a pro-Trump personality, was an early founder of the “Stop the Steal” movement and helped bring together various right-wing factions around a mass event on January 6, aimed to coincide with objections to the counting of Electoral College votes.

Alexander made his claim in three separate livestreams in late December, adding that Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama were also involved. “We’re the four guys who came up with a January 6 event,” Alexander said. On December 8, the Arizona Republican Party boosted Alexander, asking supporters if they were willing to give their lives in the fight over the results of the presidential election.

His claim is also buttressed by a fourth video from a December 19 rally at the Arizona State Capitol, at which Alexander played a video that Biggs had supplied. In the video, Biggs mentions Brooks as his ally in the fight. Gosar spoke in person at the event.

Biggs’s connection to Alexander was reported on Sunday by the Arizona Republic, which quoted his spokesperson, Daniel Stefanski, denying any connection to Alexander. “Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” Stefanski said. “He did not have any contact with protestors or rioters, nor did he ever encourage or foster the rally or protests.”

Gosar did not respond to inquiries from The Intercept. Alexander did not respond to a text or phone call; his voicemail was full. Alexander, who adopted a new name after pleading guilty to felony property theft in 2007 and felony credit card abuse in 2008, has been suspended from Twitter and other platforms for his role in organizing the January 6 event. As the Daily Beast reported, he has said he has been unfairly blamed for the violence on January 6, and has gone underground.

Brooks, after the event, sought to legitimize political violence in a radio interview.In a statement to The Intercept following publication, Brooks’s office denied the congressman incited violence, writing in part: “Congressman Brooks has no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is. Congressman Brooks has not in any way, shape or form coordinated with Ali Alexander on the January 6th ‘Save America’ rally. Congressman Brooks spoke at the ‘Save America’ rally at the invitation of the White House (the invitation was extended the day before), not anyone else.”

Alexander’s contemporaneous claims have taken on new relevance as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has floated the possibility of expelling members of Congress who are found to have been involved in the riot. “Your views on the 25th Amendment, 14th Amendment Section 3 and impeachment are valued as we continue,” she wrote to her colleagues over the weekend.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, reads:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any pogo logo squareState legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Alexander made his comments in a livestream posted December 28. Jason Paladino, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight, archived the video from Alexander’s now-suspended account and provided it to The Intercept. “I was the person who came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and then Congressman Andy Biggs. We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside,” Alexander said in the livestream.

 

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Impeachment Live: House Vows to Move Swiftly on Impeachment if Pence Refuses to Act, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. The House plans to introduce a resolution today calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of power.

Leading Democrats have suggested impeachment could move forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek. Here’s the latest.

U.S. House logoThe House on Monday plans to introduce a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of the powers of his office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated the pressure on Mr. Pence in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, calling on him to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Democrats planned to try to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but it is expected to fail.

capitol mobNext, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor. Though she did not specify how quickly it would move, leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote in the letter. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Ms. Pelosi’s actions in effect gave Mr. Pence, who is said to be opposed to the idea, an ultimatum: use his power under the Constitution to force Mr. Trump Mike Penceout by declaring him unable to discharge his duties, or make him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

With few Democrats hopeful Mr. Pence would act, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the party’s No. 3, said the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump by Wednesday, one week before Inauguration Day. Lawmakers were put on notice to return to Washington, and their leaders consulted with the Federal Air Marshal Service and law enforcement on how to safely move them back into a Capitol that was ransacked in a shocking security failure less than a week ago.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler, a Chosen App of Trump Fans, Has Become a Test of Free Speech, Jack Nicas and Davey Alba, Updated Jan. 11, 2021. The app has renewed a debate about who holds power over online speech after tech giants yanked their support for it. Parler went dark early on Monday.

From the start, John Matze had positioned Parler as a “free speech” social network where people could mostly say whatever they wanted. It was a bet that had recently paid off big as millions of President Trump’s supporters, fed up with what they deemed censorship on Facebook and Twitter, flocked to Parler parler logoinstead.

On the app, which had become a top download on Apple’s App Store, discussions over politics had ramped up. But so had conspiracy theories that falsely said the election had been stolen from Mr. Trump, with users urging aggressive demonstrations last week when Congress met to certify the election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Those calls for violence soon came back to haunt Mr. Matze, 27, a software engineer from Las Vegas and Parler’s chief executive. By Saturday night, Apple and Google had removed Parler from their app stores and Amazon said it would no longer host the site on its computing services, saying it had not sufficiently policed posts that incited violence and crime.

amazon logo smallEarly on Monday morning, just after midnight on the West Coast, Parler appeared to have gone offline.

Those moves had set off a furious effort to keep Parler up. Mr. Matze said on Sunday that he was racing to save the data of Parler’s roughly 15 million users from Amazon’s computers. He was also calling company after company to find one willing to support Parler with google logo customhundreds of computer servers.

“I believe Amazon, Google, Apple worked together to try and ensure they don’t have competition,” Mr. Matze said on Parler late Saturday. “They will NOT win! We are the worlds last hope for free speech and free information.” He said the app would probably shut down “for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”

 

Reactions To Insurrections

ny times logoNew York Times, Beyond Impeachment, a Push for Ethics Laws That Do Not Depend on Shame, Elizabeth Williamson, Jan. 11, 2021. Congressional Democrats and a slew of groups are preparing to press ahead with the kinds of changes not seen since the post-Watergate era.

As House Democrats move toward punishing President Trump with a history-making second impeachment, they are also pressing ahead with a parallel effort to try to ensure that Mr. Trump’s four-year record of violating democratic and constitutional norms cannot be repeated.

Mr. Trump’s term has revealed enormous gaps between the ideals of American democracy and the reality. Even before he incited a mob to attack the Capitol and the legislative branch of government, he ignored watchdog rulings and constitutional safeguards, pressed to overturn the outcome of an election, and pardoned those who covered for him, all while funneling taxpayer dollars to his family business.

In response, lawmakers and pressure groups are pushing for a wide-ranging overhaul of ethics laws, the likes of which have not been seen since the post-Watergate era, hoping to reconstruct and strengthen the guardrails that Mr. Trump plowed through.

Among the changes embraced by House Democratic leaders are limits on the president’s pardon powers, mandated release of a president’s tax returns, new enforcement powers for independent agencies and Congress, and firmer prohibitions against financial conflicts of interest in the White House.

“We kept on having to add to it as the administration engaged in new abuses,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s a long list.”

Two major pieces of legislation, the Protecting Our Democracy Act and H.R. 1, will be the main vehicles to address the sweep of questionable practices in the Trump era, which culminated in the president’s efforts to reverse the election outcome and provoke a riot to thwart the final electoral vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Last Tuesday, a provision in the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would shield independent inspectors general from retaliation and help ensure that vacant watchdog slots are filled promptly, was pulled out and passed by the House by a bipartisan voice vote.

As keen as Republicans may be to put limits on Mr. Biden’s presidency, they may not be so acquiescent to the Democrats’ broader bills if they are seen as a rebuke to Mr. Trump. But Democrats say they will press hard, especially in the wake of the Capitol’s desecration.

“This president has exploited people’s fears in a way that is reckless and hugely damaging to our democracy and our society,” said Representative John P. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the legislative effort. Congress, he added, must seek “ways of hardening our democracy against attacks from within and without.”

The bigger question may be whether Democrats will “remain as interested in reining in executive branch overreach when it’s their guy in the White House,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that investigates governmental abuses.

Bob Bauer, an author of the book “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency” and a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, suggested that any administration’s support would have its limits.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Donald Trump needs to go to prison, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s what the Times of India is calling the Coup Klux Klan. robert harringtnn portraitViolent white supremacists, some intent on kidnapping or physically harming members of Congress, took over the Capitol building in Washington DC while lawmakers shivered in the gallery in terror.

bill palmer report logo headerProtesters carried dozens of flex cuffs — handcuffs made of zip ties — intent on arresting members of Congress and holding them hostage. Protesters were even heard to speak of hanging some of them. Many in the DC Police and the National Guard virtually stepped aside and let them in.

This was nothing less than an attempted coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacist cretins known as his base. This is why Donald Trump must go to prison for the rest of his life. At least, that’s what I think. And I present that case to you in the form of a victim impact statement.

djt prison palmer reportI hasten to add, I don’t mean to claim any special victim significance for myself. I am simply an average American claiming my share of the evil that Donald Trump has visited on every average American. To be sure, some Americans have had a greater share of Donald Trump’s evil than others. They deserve their day of justice even more than I. I’ve taken it upon myself to speak for some of them because some of them cannot speak at all. Because some of them are dead.

But I am outraged by what Donald Trump has done to the land of my birth, how he has dragged its reputation through the mud of racism and cheapened its message of freedom, how hundreds of thousands of Americans have died because of him. For example, by the time he leaves office, more than 400,000 Americans will lie dead of coronavirus thanks to Donald Trump. They are dead because Donald Trump refused to take any serious steps against the global pandemic.

But as if that were not enough, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, five people died and the sanctity of the nation’s Capitol building was violated thanks to Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Politics Live: Wall Street Banks Halt Political Donations After Capitol Riot, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees. Here’s the latest on business.

Big businesses often donate to both political parties and say that their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That became increasingly fraught last week, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and some Republican lawmakers tried to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win in the presidential election.

A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees, according to the DealBook newsletter.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations:

    • Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period,” a spokesman, Jake Siewert, told DealBook.
    • JPMorgan Chase is halting donations through its PAC for six months. “There will be plenty of time for campaigning later,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
    • citigroup logoCitigroup is postponing all campaign contributions for a quarter. “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, the bank’s head of government affairs, wrote in an internal memo.

Other banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, said they would review their corporate contribution strategy.

Some companies are pausing donations to specific politicians. Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. She did not say how long the break would last or how the hotel operator would decide when to resume.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, More Companies Halt Political Donations, Brody Mullins and Drew FitzGerald, Jan. 11, 2021. Some of country’s biggest businesses, including AT&T, Facebook and UPS, said they are rethinking their giving to candidates after Trump supporters breached the Capitol and GOP lawmakers contested the election. 

A growing wave of big businesses are deciding to suspend or review their campaign donations in the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol, with many saying they would stop donating to Republicans who objected to the election’s certification.

att logoAT&T Inc., ConocoPhillips, Dow Inc., Facebook Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. were among companies announcing Monday that they are halting or reviewing campaign donations from their political-action committees to lawmakers and political candidates.

Those announcements follow JPMorgan Chase Inc. and Citigroup Inc., which said over the weekend they were halting their PAC donations. Some, including Amazon.com Inc., Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co., pledged to stop donations to the Republican lawmakers who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

“Last week’s attempts by some congressional members to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power do not align” with company values, said American Express Co. Chief Executive Stephen Squeri in a memo sent to employees Monday, announcing the company’s decision to suspend PAC donations to more than 100 congressional Republicans who voted to challenge the election results.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Bill Belichick Says He Won’t Accept Medal of Freedom From Trump After Capitol Riot, Andrew Beaton and Louise Radnofsky, Jan. 11, 2021. The New England Patriots coach said ‘the decision has been made not to move forward’ on him receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor in the aftermath of the attack on Congress

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he will not receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump in the wake of the riots last week at the U.S. Capitol.

nfl logoBelichick, who has previously spoken publicly about his friendship with the president, was set to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor after Trump offered it over a week ago. That was before a mob of the president’s supporters laid siege to the Capitol, leaving five people dead.

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”

News of the offer to Belichick only emerged Sunday, prompting questions over whether the most accomplished coach in football history would stand by his friend amid the controversy.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Facebook Removes All ‘Stop the Steal’ Content, Sarah Needleman,Jan. 11, 2021. Citing use of the phrase among members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol, the tech giant said its move is aimed at stemming incitements to violence ahead of Inauguration Day. Breaking: Twitter Says It’s Purged More Than 70,000 QAnon-Associated Accounts; Twitter Cites ‘Potential to Lead to Offline Harm’ as Reason for Purge.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Republican Attorney General Official Resigns Over Group’s Role in Capitol March, Deanna Paul and Jess Bravin, Jan. 11, 2021. The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned after the group was criticized for soliciting thousands of Trump supporters to march on the Capitol last week and fight to support President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

The Republican Attorneys General Association’s policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, authorized robocall messages urging “patriots” to join last Wednesday’s march to “fight to protect the integrity of our elections.” Marchers eventually stormed the Capitol building, disrupting Congress’s ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump and leaving five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

More than a dozen Republican attorneys general, including the association’s chairman and vice chairman, quickly condemned the violence. The group’s executive director, Adam Piper, resigned over the fallout of the association’s role emerging publicly, earlier reported by Documented, a watchdog group that is critical of corporate influence on public policy.

Adam Piper was executive director of Republican Attorneys General Association, which sent robocalls asking people to join rally that turned into deadly riot.

The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned after the group was criticized for soliciting thousands of Trump supporters to march on the Capitol last week.

Vice, Parler Is Gone, But Hackers Say They Downloaded Everything First, David Gilbert, Jan. 11, 2021. Including posts made during last week's insurrection at the Capitol, which could now be used to expose and arrest pro-Trump rioters.

Right-wing social network Parler was taken offline in the early hours of Monday morning, but not before a hacker found a way to download all data posted by users — including messages, images, videos, and users’ location data — shared during last week’s attack on the Capitol.

The data taken from Parler is still being processed, but Trump supporters are already voicing their concerns about what the data dump could expose about them and their activity in Washington, D.C. last week.

Twitter’s decision on Friday to ban President Donald Trump from its platform permanently — together with a raft of major QAnon accounts — should have a boon for Parler, the right-wing Twitter alternative that positioned itself as a “free-speech social network” but was in effect home to hate speech, anti-Semitism, and wild conspiracies.

But before CEO John Matze could even begin to dream of Trump moving his 80 million followers from Twitter to Parler, the roof fell in.

First, within minutes of Trump’s Twitter ban, Google announced it was banning the Parler app from its app store because of lax moderation policies.

A day later, Apple followed suit, and on Sunday, Amazon Web Services, where Parler hosts its platform, announced that it would be pulling the plug. And so, just after 3 a.m. ET Monday morning, Parler went dark. But that’s not even the worst of it.

A hacker who goes by the name Crash Override on Twitter claims she found a web address that Parler used internally to retrieve data. That allowed the hacker to make a list of all posts, videos, and images uploaded to Parler — including posts that users had deleted, such as those referring to the Capitol attack last Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City to consider ending contracts with Trump that bring his company $17 million a year, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Jan. 11, 2021. The city of New York said Monday that it was “reviewing whether legal grounds exist” to terminate its business relationships with President Trump, whose company has contracts to run a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said that review was spurred by Trump’s actions on Wednesday — when, after encouragement from the president, a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

“The attacks on our Capitol killed a police officer, left four rioters dead, exposed lawmakers to COVID-19 and threatened the constitutional transfer of power. They were a national abomination,” said spokeswoman Laura Feyer.

“We’re reviewing whether legal grounds exist in light of these new circumstances to terminate concessions with the Trump Organization,” Feyer said. Feyer did not say when the city expected to announce a decision.

The statement from New York was another sign that the fallout from Wednesday’s events has spread to Trump’s private business — already hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic, and struggling with backlash to Trump’s divisive career in politics.

On Monday, one of Trump’s banks said it was closing his personal bank accounts, which had about $5.3 million in them. Signature Bank, based in New York, issued a statement saying that this was a reaction to the “displeasure and shock” of bank executives after Wednesday’s events.

“To witness a rioter sitting in the presiding chair of the U.S. Senate and our elected representatives being told to seek cover under their seats is appalling and an insult to the Republic,” the bank said in a statement, first reported by the New York Times. “We witnessed the President of the United States encouraging the rioters and refraining from calling in the National Guard to protect the Congress in its performance of duty.”

Signature Bank also called on Trump to resign. Trump has done business with Signature Bank since at least 2011, according to documents released by the bank, and at one point Ivanka Trump was on the bank’s board.

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York is taking a golf course away from Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s bad enough for Donald Trump that the PGA just announced it’s taken the 2022 PGA Championship away from Trump’s golf course in New Jersey, in response to Trump’s domestic terrorist attack against the U.S. Capitol Building. Now, New York is looking to one-up New Jersey by taking one of Trump’s golf courses away entirely.

bill palmer report logo headerEven though New York City hates Trump, and Trump hates New York City, he still has a longstanding contract to manage a handful of city properties, including a golf course and multiple ice skating rinks. Now the city is looking to void that contract and take the properties out of Trump’s hands, according to the Washington Post.

This will cost Donald Trump about $17 million per year in revenue. It might not be a crushing financial blow to Trump on its own. But this week we keep seeing one chain reaction of consequences after another, so we expect that Trump will continue to lose these kinds of contracts. For that matter, we expect Trump to lose more golf courses. This is all before the inevitable asset forfeitures as Trump’s financial crimes are prosecuted.

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services, Jan. 11, 2021. Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media start-up Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services.

parler logoAmazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because “a steady increase in violent content” on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler’s data was preserved so that it could migrate to a new hosting provider.

Before Parler went dark, technologists also raced to scrape publicly available data from the app, as part of a broader effort to identify those who helped organize and participated in the riot at the Capitol last week.

Millions of people have turned to Parler since the November election and after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump after the Capitol riot. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores last week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on amazon logo smallAmazon’s cloud computing technology to work.

Parler’s complaint was dated Sunday, before Amazon suspended Parler. But the suit was not filed with the court until Monday.

In the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler accused Amazon of terminating, not just suspending, its account — and said it should have received 30 days’ notice. It also argued that Amazon violated antitrust law by conspiring with Twitter, a major Amazon customer, to boot Parler just as it was gaining broader appeal. It said it had 12 million users, and “expects to add millions more this week given its growth the last few days.”

Parler did not provide direct evidence showing that Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter’s own challenges policing its content.

Parler said losing Amazon’s services would be a “death knell,” though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have recovered after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Wash., filed the suit for Parler. Amazon did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: If Trump did not get his way with electoral contest, GOP operative and Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander threatened to "light the whole sh*t on fire," Roger Shuler, Jan. 11, 2021.  Mounting evidence suggests last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol was more brutal -- and had darker intentions -- than many originally had imagined, according to a report from Andrew Kreig at the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project (JIP). Kreig notes that Ali (Akbar) Alexander, with ties to Alabama and Montgomery attorney/talk-show host Baron Coleman, was front and center in organizing the protest that turned into a riot.

Writes Kreig:

This editor, whose office is located within two blocks of the protest march route in the District of Columbia, has reported for years on the topic of election fraud and several of the leading figures suspected of corrupting elections.These tactics include propaganda via blogs, broadcast and social media, plus courtroom efforts necessary to steal elections.

As one of many examples, we helped investigate in 2012 a Republican operative named Ali Akbar, a convicted felon who helped found with the help of Republican patrons the National Bloggers Club. That "club" helped orchestrate a right-wing propaganda army when useful for the patrons' election or other political interests, with the website Crooks and Liars providing an in-depth report.

Akbar, now using the name Ali Alexander was a speaker at last week's pro-Trump rally at the White House. Via his association with the affiliated Proud Boys gang of white nationalists, Alexander played a significant role in organizing sinister activities in both the Georgia and Washington political events last week, according to an expose published on Jan. 9 by investigative reporter Greg Palast, a pioneering investigator of election fraud, including illegal vote suppression of racial minorities.

The Palast story "Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?" is a cutting-edge column by the former BBC investigative reporter and author of multiple books on election fraud.

Another is the NBC News investigative report, Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging march to the Capitol by Laura Strickler and Lisa Cavazuti. It is another of the pieces suggesting that the march, mob action and failure of federal authorities to protect Congress with adequate security stemmed from a high-level plot to overthrow the elected government and certified November elections, not just the enthusiasm of ordinary Trump supporters recruited for diversion.

The robocalls story has strong ties to Alabama and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) -- and its affiliate, the ironically named Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF.) Alabama AG Steve Marshall is head of the RLDF and claims he had no knowledge of the group's efforts to promote the Jan. 6 protest. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time campaign manager and alleged mistress (per former State Sen. Lowell Barron) to former AG Luther Strange -- and once an of counsel attorney at scandal-plagued Balch and Bingham -- is a former executive director of RAGA.

As for the Palast story, it unmasks Ali Alexander with surgical precision--and notes his incendiary role in working with the GOP on the Georgia Senate run-off. Palast writes under the headline "Why did the Georgia GOP team up with a Riot Instigator? “WE’LL LIGHT THE WHOLE SH*T ON FIRE!”

The star of the GOP’s get-out-the-vote door-knocking program in the Georgia Senate run-off, standing next to Alex Jones, was blasting his threat through a megaphone in front of the Governor’s home. “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

Ali Alexander’s threat in December would become all too real when he repeated his performance on January 6 in Washington, DC.

In the US Capitol that day, looking over the scene of screams, teargas, and mayhem, Alexander said, “I warned you this would happen.”

Yes, he did. Nevertheless, the Georgia Republican Party’s Metro Atlanta Field Director Kevin Mason was more than happy to team up with Alexander. With his huge reach within the Alt-Right, Alexander could bring in a swarm of volunteers for the door-knocking campaign they desperately needed to hold back the looming Democratic victory in the US Senate run-offs.

As ugly as the Capitol riot became, it could have been much worse, Kreig reports:

A major new factor over the weekend was increasing recognition of the brutality and scope of the pro-Trump mob's action. It resulted in the murder of a Capitol Hill policeman, the wounding of an estimated 50 others, plus the deaths of four participants the protest-turned-riot that ostensibly began with a Trump speech to a crowd assembled on the south side of the White House. The crowd then marched east on Pennsylvania Avenue a little over a mile to reach the historic Capitol building.

Most shocking to many has been new evidence of the brutality of some protesters — including discovery of pipe bombs, explosives and plastic "ties" that terrorists would use to take hostages.

There exists also significant but still-evolving evidence that parts of the mob action have long been planned by Trump, top aides and allies scattered through government, quasi-government and private organizations, including Republican office-holder funded by major corporations that are now facing heat for how their political donations were being used.

American System Network, House Democrats Introduce Resolution for Second Impeachment of Trump, Webster G. Tarpley, Jan. 11, 2021. Biden Suggests webster tarpley 2007Two-Tiered Bifurcated Schedule to Handle Confirmations, Emergency Legislation, and Trump Senate Trial; Republicans Block Ultimatum to Pence to Activate XXV Amendment Immediately, which Will Be Approved on Tuesday;

Memo from FBI, DEA, ATF, Defense Department, US Park Police, and US Marshals Warns of Armed Fascist Attacks on Public Buildings in All 50 State Capitals from January 16 to January 20; This is in Addition to Previous Warning of Armed Putsch Attempts in Nation’s Capital Expected between January 17 and January 20; DC Mayor Bowser Demands and Gets Declaration of State of Emergency from White House; Beware of Fascist Networks Infiltrated into Law Enforcement, and of Foreign Intelligence Services at Work for Subversion!

Former AG Barr and Current White House Counsel Cipollone Warn Trump not to Attempt Self-Pardon; Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is Third Cabinet Office to Quit Since January 6 Putsch Attempt; Does Cabinet Still Have Quorum Needed to Oust Trump?; Ongoing Probe of January 6 Coup Attempt Points to Attempted Violent Overthrow of US Government;

Across Entire Society, Proliferating Signs of Traditional American Revulsion Against Fascism: Array of Social Media Banish Don and His Lies; Business CEOs and Trade Associations Cutting Campaign Contributions to GOP Fanatics; Professional Golfers’ Association Boycotts Trump Country Club in New Jersey; Calls for New York Bar to Ban Giuliani; Broadcasters Admonish Reactionary Talkers to Stop Raving About Trump Victory and Stolen Election or Be Fired; Cutoff of Cash from Big Money Donors is Threat to GOP Supply Line, Bringing Extinction into View;

About 100 Perpetrators Arrested So Far, with Many More to Come; Sentiment Growing in Congress for Expulsion of Cruz, Hawley, and Brooks;”
Waiting for Certification of Georgia Results, which Will Deprive McConnell of Senate Control and Empower New Majority Leader Schumer to Determine the Legislative Calendar;

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans who aren’t willing to act against sedition are complicit, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 11, 2021. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) jennifer rubin new headshotand NBC’s Chuck Todd had this exchange on “Meet the Press” on Sunday about the consequences Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) should face for fomenting the deadly mob that breached the Capitol last week:

TOOMEY: "Look, I think the — they’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do. And the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen. They compounded that with this notion that, somehow, this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time."

pat toomeyThis is President Trump’s first impeachment all over again. “Yes, bad things were done,” Republicans such as Toomey acknowledged. “But let voters decide.”

No. Toomey, left, was elected. He has the constitutional obligations to try to remove a president who subverts democracy. He has an obligation under the Constitution to, in appropriate circumstances, expel members by a two-thirds vote. He cannot shirk his duties as he did in acquitting Trump the first time.

Why have impeachment and expulsion in the Constitution if the answer is: “Let the voters decide"? For goodness’ sake, he is not even running for reelection in 2022. I find it unfathomable that he remains so timid.

It is this sort of weakness — the failure to repudiate Trump years ago; the refusal to dump him in 2020; the silence, if not active support to overthrow the election — that defines the “good” Republicans. Not good enough. Inaction is complicity. Inaction allows Trump and lawmakers to escape accountability for their heinous actions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stripped of Twitter, Trump Faces a New Challenge: How to Get Attention, Maggie Haberman, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump became a celebrity through television, but Twitter had given him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the presidency.

His public persona was a product of television for decades.

twitter bird CustomThrough “The Apprentice,” he built a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire. His wrestling match-style rallies helped him dominate television during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ever attuned to how he was playing and the power of ratings, he personally chose which anchors he wanted to interview him, and persuaded hosts to allow him to simply phone into their Sunday shows.

But as his campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the small screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, whose itchy Twitter finger became many things at once: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Now, his Twitter account yanked away from him permanently, President Trump faces the challenge, for both his remaining days in the White House and in a post-presidency, of how to thrust himself into the conversation on his own terms.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has assured the worst possible outcome for himself, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. This is like Watergate, if Richard Nixon bill palmertried to have Gerald Ford killed in an attempt at remaining in power. Unlike Trump, Nixon had enough of a small fraction of decency in the end – or maybe just enough pragmatism – to pack up and leave when it was over.

bill palmer report logo headerNixon got to carve out a life outside of politics after he left office, specifically because he left office peacefully. By leaving peacefully, Nixon was able to finagle a federal pardon, and move on with his life. Of course Nixon wasn’t facing state level charges that were going to send him to prison anyway, like Trump is.

But still, even Nixon didn’t incite a terrorist attack on the Capitol building with Ford in it, in one last ridiculous attempt at somehow magically remaining in power. Trump has assured an absolutely horrible outcome for himself, and no semblance of a life after this.

It’s no longer simply a matter of whether Trump can beat the financial fraud charges during his criminal trial in New York. Even if Trump were to somehow pull that off, what does his life look like? He’s lost Twitter, meaning he can’t reach his base. Society is turning against his supporters by the minute. He’s even forced a number of prominent Republicans to cut him off, when they were hoping not to have to. Trump even lost a major golf tournament today, just to rub it in.

Donald Trump has ensured that the rest of his life will consist of criminal trials, financial destruction, ostracizing, and prison. He’s already miserable, impotent, lost, cut off, hobbled. He’ll likely never have another enjoyable day in his life. He spent four years trying to destroy America, and when he learned he wouldn’t get to do it for another four years, he opted to destroy himself. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage, Katherine Stewart (author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism), Jan.11, 2021. Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?

In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines.

In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

Mr. Hawley has built his political career among people who believe that Shariah is just around the corner even as they attempt to secure privileges for their preferred religious groups to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove. Before he won election as a senator, he worked for Becket, a legal advocacy group that often coordinates with the right-wing legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom. He is a familiar presence on the Christian right media circuit.

Yet Mr. Hawley isn’t against elites per se. He is all for an elite, provided that it is a religiously righteous elite. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School and he clerked for John Roberts, the chief justice. Mr. Hawley, in other words, is a successful meritocrat of the Federalist Society variety. His greatest rival in that department is the Princeton debater Ted Cruz. They are résumé jockeys in a system that rewards those who do the best job of mobilizing fear and irrationalism. They are what happens when callow ambition meets the grotesque inequalities and injustices of our age.

Make no mistake: Mr. Hawley is a symptom, not a cause. He is a product of the same underlying forces that brought us President Trump and the present crisis of American democracy. Unless we find a way to address these forces and the fundamental pathologies that drive them, then next month or next year we will be forced to contend with a new and perhaps more successful version of Mr. Hawley.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the remarkable rift between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 11, 2021. Vice President Pence was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m.

Mike PenceTrump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited.

The remarkable break between the two men — played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president — is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience. The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him, even to his own closest advisers, now may be largely estranged from him.

Pence has committed to attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, even though Trump is not going. The vice president has begun telling staff goodbye, posing for pictures and having sentimental moments with key aides in his Executive Office suite.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: We Worked Together on the Internet. Last Week, He Stormed the Capitol, Ben Smith, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). At BuzzFeed, we followed the signals of social media. A young employee followed them all the way to Charlottesville and Capitol Hill.

He fit in as well as anyone did at our Los Angeles studio, a place full of ambitious misfits with an unusual gift. They knew how to make web videos people wanted to watch.

His real name was Anthime Joseph Gionet, though he preferred others. His value to BuzzFeed was clear: He’d do anything for the Vine, the short video platform that had a brief cultural moment before being crushed by Instagram and Snapchat in 2017.

He was, in that way, a natural for BuzzFeed when he arrived in the spring of 2015, where I was editor in chief, overseeing the website. Mr. Gionet was hired to run the Vine account for our video operation, and his job mostly consisted of editing down to six seconds the silly, fun videos his colleagues produced. Within months, he took over a BuzzFeed Twitter account, too, drawing on his same intuition for what kind of video people would share.

And so the language I heard from Mr. Gionet, now 33, on his livestream last Wednesday was familiar. “We’ve got over 10,000 people live, watching, let’s go!” he said excitedly. “Hit that follow button — I appreciate you guys.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ivanka Trump is reportedly selling out Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. Once Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his kids were never going to have a future in politics. They were always going to be too busy fighting criminal charges and financial ruin to have time to run for office. But the media played up the fantasy for the sake of ratings anyway, and it appears Ivanka Trump bought into it.

bill palmer report logo headerBritish newspaper the Daily Mail is now reporting that Ivanka intends to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration in the hope of salvaging what she thinks is a “promising political career.” This is utterly laughable. But it’s notable that she’s reportedly begun feuding with Donald, because he doesn’t want her to do it.

If this reporting is accurate, then it means that Ivanka Trump is selling out Donald Trump in a hilariously stupid attempt at propping up a political career that she’ll never have. But this isn’t surprising. In addition to being garbage, the Trumps have always been tone-deaf when it comes to just how widely they’re despised by most Americans. And they were always going to selfishly turn on each other once things got ugly enough for them.


U.S. Law, Courts, Media News

New York Magazine, White House Forced Out U.S. Attorney Amid Effort to Overturn Election in Georgia, Chas Danner, Jan. 9, 2021. Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor was apparently forced by the White House to resign earlier this week, ahead of the Georgia runoffs, because he didn’t do enough to help President Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak, who had cited “unforeseen circumstances” for his sudden resignation on Monday, had been told by a senior Justice Department official that he needed to step down because Trump was not satisfied with his efforts to investigate alleged voter fraud. Pak, who had originally planned to resign on January 20, was the top federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Georgia. He has refused opportunities to comment about the circumstances of his resignation from both the Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump had complained about Pak during the recorded call he made to Georgia election officials on January 2, writing the prosecutor off as a “Never Trumper.” This was the same call in which the president attempted to pressure Georgia’s secretary of State to “find” him enough votes to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the state. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump had also made an earlier call to Georgia’s top elections investigator to pressure them to “find the fraud” in late December. It’s possible, if not likely, that these were not the only direct efforts the president and his allies made in the state. The Journal additionally reports that “an official at the Georgia secretary of State’s office on Saturday said the White House called officials and staff at the office for weeks demanding proof of election fraud — long before the call to Mr. Raffensperger”:

“They were desperately trying to find evidence for lawsuits that were about to be thrown out of court,” the Georgia official said. “They kept telling us that, ‘You need to give us the evidence’ and the truth is there isn’t any evidence to give.”

The forced resignation of Pak is the first reported instance of Trump and White House apparently retaliating against someone over a failure to substantiate the president’s baseless conspiracy theories regarding Georgia’s returns. It also suggests that Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn his loss to Biden there may not have been limited to state election officials. As the Journal-Constitution pointed out on Saturday, Pak’s resignation wasn’t the only suspicious development regarding the Northern District of Georgia this week:

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice reported that Trump replaced Pak on an acting basis with Bobby Christine, the [Savannah-based] U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The move was unusual, bypassing the next-highest ranking prosecutor in the Atlanta office for a Trump-appointed top prosecutor in another district.

Not surprisingly, the move has also prompted concerns that Trump and the White House may have been attempting to interfere in law-enforcement investigations for political gain. On Saturday night, the Washington Post reported that Christine “has brought to his new assignment two assistants previously tasked with monitoring possible election fraud, raising fears that he might be taking steps to lend credibility to Trump’s baseless claims of electoral malfeasance, people familiar with the matter said.”:

Christine tapped two assistant U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of Georgia — Joshua S. Bearden and Jason Blanchard — for some type of work in the Northern District, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s political sensitivity. Their task is unclear, but Christine had recently assigned both to serve as district election officers reviewing complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses …

The move, legal observers say, is unusual on multiple levels. Atlanta already has more prosecutors than Savannah, including those with experience in election cases, so it is unclear why Christine would want additional personnel there. It would be atypical for an acting U.S. attorney to initiate an investigation or special assignment so close to the end of a presidential administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Scary Power of the Companies That Finally Shut Trump Up, Michelle Goldberg, Jan. 11, 2021. Tech giants were right to ban the president. We still need to break them up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee improperly paid a $49,000 bill incurred by his company, D.C. attorney general alleges, David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 11, 2021. President Trump’s private business failed to pay a $49,000 hotel bill incurred during Trump’s 2017 inaugural — and then, after the bill went to a collections agency, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee agreed to pay the charge instead, according to a new filing from the D.C. attorney general.

karl racineD.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), right, had already sued Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, alleging it had wasted donors’ money on an overpriced, barely used ballroom at Trump’s own D.C. hotel.

On Monday, Racine added an allegation to that suit. He said the president’s inaugural committee — a tax-exempt charity — had improperly paid a bill it did not owe, using nonprofit funds to pay a bill owed by a for-profit business.

“The Trump Organization was liable for the invoiced charges,” Racine’s office said in the filing. “The [Inaugural Committee’s] payment of the invoice was unfair, unreasonable and unjustified and ultimately conferred improper private benefit to the Trump Organization.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Fox News overhauls daily schedule, moving news anchor Martha MacCallum to make way for opinion expansion, Jeremy Barr, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s the top-rated cable channel’s most dramatic programming shift in years. Rival news network CNN also unveiled a slate of programming changes fox news logo Smallthat includes an expansion of news anchor Jake Tapper’s show and a shrinking of veteran anchor Wolf Blitzer’s.

Her move means that Fox’s daily news programming will end after anchor Bret Baier’s 6 p.m. show concludes and not pick up again until anchor Shannon Bream’s show begins at 11 p.m.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Parler is over, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. And then one day, like a miracle, Parler disappeared. The far right lunatic social network was parler logoevicted by its web hosting service last night, meaning parler.com now points nowhere, and the pro-Trump site simply no longer exists.

bill palmer report logo headerThis doesn’t mean Parler won’t be back, as it’s reportedly searching for a new web host. But there are only a small number of web hosting services that can handle a website of its size, and thus far none of them are willing to take on the liability of hosting a site that’s full of violent rhetoric. Even if Parler does come back online in a week or a month, momentum is everything when it comes to building and maintaining a social network, and by that time most of Parler’s momentum (and thus user headcount) will have evaporated.

Here’s the thing. These lunatics all quit (or got banned from) Twitter and went to Parler, only for it to be shut down. Now they’re presumably reduced to standing in their back yard and yelling their conspiracy theories at squirrels.

 

Jan. 10

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Politics Updates: Momentum Grows in Push to Impeach Trump a Second Time, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Ted Lieu said that a draft of an article of impeachment against President Trump had drawn over 190 co-sponsors. Here’s the latest in politics.

U.S. House logoThe House could vote as soon as Tuesday on charging President Trump with inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol. But top leaders want to avoid hamstringing the first days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate trial. Patrick Toomey becomes the second Republican senator to call for Trump’s resignation.

The No. 3 House Democrat said on Sunday that the chamber could vote as soon as Tuesday on an article of impeachment charging President Trump with inciting a violent mob that attacked the Capitol — but then delay sending it to the Senate for trial.

james clyburnRepresentative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, left, the Democratic whip, said that the vast majority of House Democrats believed the president must be impeached for his conduct but that top leaders were still trying to determine how to punish Mr. Trump without hamstringing the first days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate trial. They recognized it would be impossible to impeach and hold a trial before Mr. Trump leaves office in 10 days, he said.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Clyburn suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was considering impeaching now but not sending the article to the Senate for trial for weeks — possibly until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office. The Senate must immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles, but it cannot begin one without them.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” said Mr. Clyburn, an influential ally to the incoming president. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

The comments came after senior Democrats had met late into the night on Saturday discussing possible options for the week ahead, as support for impeachment grew to encompass nearly their entire caucus. House leaders were giving extra attention to security concerns that could affect the timing after last weeks events, working with the U.S. Air Marshals and the Capitol Police to ensure lawmakers could travel safely back to Washington for a vote.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for Donald Trump to face criminal prosecution, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2021. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is moving forward with fast track impeachment proceedings, even as she continues to ramp up the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Pelosi appeared on 60 Minutes tonight to discuss things.

bill palmer report logo headerPelosi gave 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl a tour of her damaged office in the Capitol building. Pelosi squarely blamed Donald Trump for inciting the terrorist attack, and she called for Trump to face criminal prosecution for it.

Various Democrats have called for the criminal prosecution of Trump for inciting the Capitol building attack. Republican Senator Pat Toomey also stated earlier today that he believes Trump has criminal liability for this. Pelosi is the highest ranking elected official to call for Trump’s prosecution to date.

Donald Trump is already on track to end up in prison in New York State, where a widely documented grand jury is in the process of criminally indicting him for various financial crimes. In fact Pelosi pointed out during her interview tonight that Trump can’t pardon himself for charges brought against him in New York State. But it’s rapidly becoming more clear that Trump is going to end up facing federal criminal charges as well.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Our President Wants Us Here’: The Mob That Stormed the Capitol, Dan Barry, Mike McIntire and Matthew Rosenberg, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). From QAnon and the Proud Boys to elected officials and Trump-supporting Americans, the protesters came from around the country with one allegiance. The mayhem was the culmination of a sustained assault by President Trump and his enablers on fact-based reality, one that began long before the election.

It was the table setter for what would come, with nearly 2,000 people gathering in Washington on Tuesday evening for a “Rally to Save America.” Speaker after angry speaker stoked stolen-election conspiracy theories and name-checked sworn enemies: Democrats and weak Republicans, Communists and Satanists.

djt hands up mouth open CustomStill, the crowd seemed a bit giddy at the prospect of helping President Trump reverse the result of the election — though at times the language evoked a call to arms. “It is time for war,” one speaker declared.

As the audience thinned, groups of young men emerged in Kevlar vests and helmets, a number of them holding clubs and knives. Some were aligned with the neofascist Proud Boys; others with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group.

“We’re not backing down anymore,” said a man with fresh stitches on his head. “This is our country.”

That night reflected a disconcerting mix of free speech and certain menace; of everyday Americans supporting their president and extremists prepared to commit violence for him. All had assembled in answer to Mr. Trump’s repeated appeals to attend a march to the Capitol the next day that he promised would be “wild.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

Sen. Josh Hawley, a first-term Missouri Republican, gives a fist salute to the pro-Trump mob outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo by Francis Chung).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: For some Republicans, it’s time to head for the exits, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 10, 2021. Readers know that for a couple of years, I jennifer rubin new headshothave argued that the Republican Party failed the test of character and decency when it embraced President Trump and, therefore, should be leveled. The insurrection this past week highlights how essential it is to leave a party that is now thoroughly infested with neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic and lawless elements.

It is no surprise that several Republican state elected officials have been identified as having participated in Wednesday’s riot. The involvement of so many elected Republicans not simply in perpetuating the lie of a stolen election but in participating in a deadly event in which anti-Semitic, pro-Confederate thugs roamed the halls of Congress is horrifying, but predictable. The rioters on Capitol Hill — even before committing a slew of crimes — were decked in neo-Nazi/ and racist regalia. They refused to allow democracy to take its course. This was the band elected officials joined or republican elephant logosupported.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) raised his fist in solidarity with this crowd. Fox News and right-wing radio catered to this crowd, filling its participants with conspiracies and outright lies. The notion that the Republican Party can be separated from the mob is nonsensical. The mob is the party’s base.

Republicans, including House and Senate members, have a choice: Associate and co-exist with this Republican Party, or leave. When 147 House members object to electoral college votes, it is impossible to excise the threat. The threat is the majority of the House Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump leaves office weakened, Republicans wonder if his wounds are fatal, Philip Rucker, Jan. 10, 2021.  In the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol that he incited, President Trump is now destined to slink out of the White House diminished and isolated.

Trump had planned to retreat from Washington to plot a comeback, but now he will have to contend with a possible second impeachment or perhaps even criminal charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: For Trump, the end is coming swiftly and with stin