Deep Reporting, Analysis: 2020-24

justice integrity project new logo

Editor's Choice: 2020-23 News & Views

This archive of assassination, regime change and propaganda news and commentary excerpts significant news stories and commentaries john_f_kennedy_smilingregarding alleged work by those involved with sinister efforts to subvert normal democratic procedures.

The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order backwards in time. They focus heavily on current news arising from the 1960s murders of President John F. Kennedy (shown in a file photo), his brother Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). Although conventional wisdom is that the deaths were solved long ago and hence of little but historical importance our contention is that close study reveals a Rosetta Stone of lost history that makes current events far more understandable.

Much of that research probes what are known as Deep State activities, which are covert and often illegal activities by powerful private figures working with allies in government, often connected to security bodies, in ways unaccountable in the ostensible leaders. This section (originally using the term "Deep State" before the term was co-opted by the ultra-right to create public confusion) includes materials on such other covert activities as government-connected regime change, false flag attacks, propaganda, spy rings, blackmail, smuggling, election-rigging and other major "crimes against democracy" (in the description of historian Lance deHaven Smith). 

The top section shows excerpts since the beginning of the calendar year.  Below at far bottom also are links to the Justice Integrity Project's multi-part and separate "Readers Guides" to the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations containing notable books, films, archives and commentary. Included also are several reports regarding other alleged political murders of prominent international leaders, or attempts. Correspondence should be sent to this site's editor, Andrew Kreig.

Editor's Note: Excerpts below are from the authors' own words except for subheads and "Editor's notes" such as this.

Index: Deep State News, Revelations, Commentary

 2020-21-22-23-24

 

April

April 7

 

Don Hankey, above, Chair of Knight Insurance Group, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Everything We Were Told About the $175 Million Bond Donald Trump Got Was a Lie, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, April 7, 2024. Here’s the truth—which breaking news reports revealed to America over just the last 72 hours.

Introduction: Across nine sprawling reports—see the Bibliography below in this Introduction—Proof has provided comprehensive coverage of the Trump Bond Crisis in the United States, on several occasions breaking news on this national security-implicating topic that subsequently appeared in major media. We’re now at a stage of the scandal Proof has seth abramson proof logodenominated the Trump Bond War, as law enforcement in the State of New York is contesting Donald Trump’s irregular bonding practices, and the consequences for the 2024 Republican Party presidential nominee could be both financial and political.arthur engoran horizontal

If Trump’s bond from Knight Specialty Insurance Company (under the guidance of CEO Don Hankey) is found to be legally or financially insufficient at a “show cause hearing” to be held before Judge Arthur Engoron (above) on April 22, it’s likely that Trump will have no choice but to stand and watch as New York Attorney General Letitia James, right, (who Trump regularly leticia james todd heisler nytcompares to an animal and smears with racist monikers) starts dismantling his real estate empire almost immediately—perhaps even within 24 hours of such a judgment.

Don Hankey’s ring of lending operations has been called the Trump Family’s “lender of last resort” by Rolling Stone, so if Hankey and the so-called “Knight Bond” are ruled ineligible in the Trump Family/Trump Organization civil fraud case it could mean both the end of Trump’s appeal in the case and the beginning of a stage in his decades-long history of corporate graft with which he has almost no experience: accountability.

Each day, more details are revealed not only about the myriad ways in which the Knight Bond is insufficient or potentially corrupt—even as it’s undoubtedly irregular (see the nine reports in the Bibliography below)—but also about the history don hankey headshotbetween Hankey, left, and his lending institutions and the Trump Family, including Jared Kushner.

For instance, almost no American news consumers will yet have seen this [as cited] 2016 report on Seeking Alpha about BOFI (AxosBank), whose largest investor is Trump’s newest lender (Hankey), which bank has repeatedly lent money to the Trump Family to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade.

Proof has previously expressed its concern, in reaction to the aforementioned Axos Whistleblower Case, that Trump’s new lender has a long history, via his involvement with Axos as its largest investor, with a digital operation that not only is the “lender of last resort” for the Trumps but also one that specifically does business with (a) foreign criminals, and (b) former leaders or public figures in three nations that Trump has attempted to collude with during his brief time as a politician in the United States: Russia, China, and Venezuela (as well as Kremlin assets in Ukraine, as discussed at great length in the 2020 national bestseller from the Proof Trilogy, Proof of Corruption).

The Seeking Alpha Report confirms Axos’s connections to all these countries in deals that look problematic on their face and consistent with the Axos Whistleblower Case.

Worse still, the Seeking Alpha Report limited itself almost entirely to deals done by Axos in one particular state: Florida, which has been Donald Trump’s home for years.

This nexus of a Don Hankey-funded operation, the Trump Family’s borrowing history, the State of Florida, and possible deals with criminals in Russia, Venezuela and China is genuinely terrifying in light of all the ways the Knight Bond is irregular and in view of all of the secrecy that still surrounds it.

With this in mind, Proof here itemizes, for free for the general public, the ways we’ve learned in just the last 72 hours that everything we were told about the Knight Bond was apparently a lie. [Extensive examples described but omitted from this Justice Integrity Project excerpt.]

djt kiddie desk nov 30 2020

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Is Corporate America in Denial About Trump? Jonathan Mahler, April 7, 2024. Despite his populist promises, many bigwigs are keeping the faith that it couldn’t really happen here.

There was anxiety in the thin mountain air when the planet’s economic leaders gathered in January at Davos for the 54th meeting of the World Economic Forum. Donald Trump (shown above in a file photo at the White House on Nov. 30, 2020) had just trounced Nikki Haley in the Iowa caucuses, all but securing the Republican nomination for president. Haley was reliable, a known quantity. A resurgent Trump, on the other hand, was more worrying.

The Davos attendees needed reassurance, and Jamie Dimon, right, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, had jamie dimonsome to offer. In an interview with CNBC that made headlines around the world, Dimon praised Trump’s economic policies as president. “Be honest,” Dimon said, sitting against a backdrop of snow-dusted evergreens, dressed casually in a dark blazer and polo shirt. “He was kind of right about NATO, kind of right on immigration. He grew the economy quite well. Trade. Tax reform worked. He was right about some of China.” Asked which of the likely presidential candidates would be better for business, he opted not to pick a side.

“I will be prepared for both,” he said. “We will deal with both.”

Dimon presides over the largest and most profitable bank in the United States and has done so for nearly 20 years. Maybe more than any single individual, he stands in for the Wall Street establishment and, by extension, corporate America. With his comments at Davos, he seemed to be sending a message of good will to Trump on their behalf. But he also appeared to be trying to put his fellow globalists at ease, reassuring them that America, long a haven for investors fleeing risk in less-stable democracies, would remain a safe destination for their money in a second Trump administration.

But would it? As Dimon noted, for all Trump’s extreme rhetoric in the 2016 campaign — his threats to rip up America’s international trade agreements and his attacks on “globalization” and the “financial elite” — his presidency, like most presidencies, proved to be business-friendly.

But Trump and those around him are signaling that a second Trump administration would be very different.

Scholars who have spent their careers studying populist movements are not confused about what to expect. They have seen this sequence of events play out before, to disastrous effect not just on democracies but on businesses — and business leaders. If history offers any guide, they say, it’s that the Davos crowd should be a lot more concerned about a second Trump term.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Fund-Raiser Rakes In More Than $50.5 Million, Campaign Says, Michael Gold, April 7, 2024 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s campaign held the event at the home of the billionaire John Paulson, after a concerted effort to close the money gap with Democrats.

The event, hosted at the Palm Beach home of the hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson, follows a concerted effort by the Trump campaign to close the money gap with Democrats.

The reported total, which cannot be independently verified ahead of campaign finance filings in the coming months, is nearly double the $26 million that President Biden’s campaign said it raised last month at a celebrity-studded event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The money raised, according to the invitation, will be directed to the Trump 47 Committee, a shared fund-raising agreement among the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and roughly 40 state parties. Such joint accounts can take in checks of as much as $814,600.

Around 100 people were expected to attend the dinner, with a number of billionaires on the guest list.

Among the event’s co-chairs were familiar megadonors and Trump allies, including Rebekah Mercer, a major donor to Mr. Trump in 2016; Linda McMahon, a former Trump cabinet official; and Robert Bigelow, who backed Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida in the Republican primary but in February donated $5 million to Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

Under the shared fund-raising agreement, the first $6,600 of any contribution will go to Mr. Trump’s campaign. The next $5,000 will go to his Save America PAC, the political account he has used to pay his legal bills. (That amount is the maximum contribution allowed to Save America under federal rules.) The R.N.C. will get the next $413,000, and then will come dozens of state parties.

The Biden campaign said earlier on Saturday that it, the Democratic Party and affiliated committees had raised more than $90 million in March, and that together they had $192 million on hand going into April. The Trump campaign said it and the Republican National Committee had raised $65.6 million in March, the former president’s best fund-raising month so far, and that they, along with their shared accounts, had $93.1 million on hand.

Adverse Comments

  • Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, said in a statement that the Democratic fund-raising numbers stood in “stark contrast to Trump’s cash-strapped operation.” Mr. Biden’s totals were helped in part by the glamorous event in front of 5,000 donors at the storied Radio City Music Hall. Mr. Biden and two of his Democratic predecessors, former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, were interviewed by the late-night host and comedian Stephen Colbert.
  • adam kinzinger twitterAdam Kinzinger, right (Slava Ukraini) 🇺🇸🇺🇦🇮🇱 (Former Republican Congressman from Illinois and Jan. 6 Committee member). @AdamKinzinger: "Insiders know this trick. Money is double counted… they include months back, and combining tons of accts including super pac etc. They will have struggling numbers after this, because they front and back loaded everything (and knowing trump, just plain lied). Don’t fret."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How No Labels was thwarted — and a disaster for democracy was avoided, Jennifer Rubin, right, April jennifer rubin new headshot7, 2024. After months of attempting to recruit a third-party candidate for 2024 — and months of Democrats’ denunciations — the group No Labels announced it would have no ticket for this year’s presidential race.

President Biden’s campaign, the larger anti-MAGA coalition, and democracy defenders in the United States and around the world could not be more overjoyed. A significant threat to the campaign to defeat four-time indicted former president Donald Trump has been eliminated.

The Post reported on Thursday that No Labels was throwing in the towel because no candidate “emerged” with a “credible path to winning the White House.” The failure of any candidate to “emerge” was not for lack of trying on No Labels’ part. A slew of household names turned down the invitation to run, including Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), former Republican South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former Republican North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and former Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Perhaps no single person played as great a role in discouraging a No Labels ticket than Matt Bennett, the co-founder and executive vice president for public affairs at the moderate Democratic think tank Third Way. I talked to Bennett over email about No Labels, and why it was so important to stop them. This conversation has been edited.

Was No Labels based on a false premise that voters needed some other choice?

They were not just saying they would be a place to park a protest vote, the way Jill Stein does. They were saying they were “in it to win it” — that they would defy history, polling and political physics to actually win as a third party. That was preposterous, as we pointed out many times, analyzing their polling, electoral map, etc. The question of whether voters would like another choice is quite different than whether they would actually choose a third party in November.

Then why was it a threat to Biden and therefore an aid to Trump and anti-democracy forces?

Trump can’t get above about 47 percent of the vote, so he can win only with the help of third parties, as he did in 2016. In 2020, when third parties were gone, he lost. This cycle, third parties help Trump the same way. He’s got a low ceiling but a solid floor — his voters don’t leave him.

Biden has a higher ceiling — plenty of folks who aren’t excited about him would choose him in a two-way race with Trump. But his floor is softer, and a small but meaningful group of voters who pollsters call the “double haters” might choose a third party if available.

What did Third Way do to get the word out?

Everything we did was in service to one goal: convincing credible candidates to decline the No Labels nomination if offered. We were the first to ring the alarm about this threat after they went public in September 2022. We assembled a broad coalition, from the far left to the center right. We issued dozens of analyses of their plans and claims. We convinced many of their allies to come out against their 2024 plan.

And as each potential candidate became public, we ran sustained campaigns of private persuasion from people in their personal and professional circles to convince them to decline. That started with Manchin and Larry Hogan, the first to emerge as No Labels prospects. But we continued this work with almost two dozen others as names emerged. And while we used mainstream and social media and even paid digital ads in this effort, we never directed it broadly at voters. Rather, our message was always aimed at the political classes and those around the candidates.

What would you say to No Labels supporters about voting for Biden?

Remember the election is a choice between a calm, rational moderate and a deeply malign, unstable would-be autocrat. Moreover, Biden’s character and policy choices track very closely to those No Labels claims to support. But whatever your view of Biden, this is not a referendum on his first term. Even if you are disappointed or worry about his age, you simply must vote for him if you care about responsible, centrist governing. Failing to vote — or throwing away your vote on another third party (Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Stein, etc.) — would be tantamount to voting for Trump. Pressure Biden to move to the center all you like, but do not be party to endangering our democracy by returning a madman to power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump relies on a doctor who is a member of his golf club to vouch for his health, Michael Kranish
April 6, 2024. Former president has declined to release details about his own condition beyond a short letter from his physician, contrasting with Biden’s detailed report

As former president Donald Trump escalated his attacks on President Biden’s health and mental fitness last fall, Trump released the first updated report on his own condition in more than three years.

This assessment, however, stood in stark contrast to the relatively detailed reports released by the White House during his term. Instead of specifics like blood pressure and medications, the letter had just three paragraphs without specific numbers proclaiming that Trump was in “excellent health” and had “exceptional” cognitive ability. It did not disclose Trump’s weight.

And after relying on a longtime personal doctor and then two White House physicians who had attested to his well-being in office, Trump turned to an unknown on the national stage to provide this report: Bruce A. Aronwald, a 64-year-old osteopathic physician from New Jersey — and a longtime member of Trump’s Bedminster golf club.

April 1

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What we have learned about the Supreme Court’s right-wingers, Jennifer Rubin, right, April 1, 2024.jennifer rubin new headshot Supreme Court observers frequently refer to its right-wing majority of six as a single bloc. However, differences among those six have become more apparent over time. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s and Clarence Thomas’s extreme judicial activism, partisan screeds and ethics controversies put them in a category unto themselves. Meanwhile, Justice Amy Coney Barrett has demonstrated surprising independence.

Not all Republican-appointed judges are the same. In Trump v. Anderson (concerning disqualification under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of four-times-indicted former president Donald Trump), for example, Barrett, along with Justices Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor, criticized the maximalist majority opinion, which held that not only could state courts not determine disqualification but that Congress had to act before any candidate could be disqualified from federal office.

Like the so-called liberal justices, Barrett was disinclined to address “the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced.” The court decided too much, she agreed. Her complaint with the so-called liberal justices was primarily tonal. (“This is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency.”)

Beyond her opinions in high-profile cases, Barrett also sought to repair the court’s reputation damaged by right-wing partisanship. She has started appearing alongside Sotomayor publicly to insist that the court’s ideological combatants are sandra day oconnor omore collegial than they might appear. Perhaps she is.

Barrett is no Sandra Day O’Connor (a true swing justice), left. Barrett was just as extreme on Roe v. Wade as the other right-wingers. Nevertheless, her efforts to carve an independent niche on the court should not be ignored.

On the other hand, there is no limit to what Justices Alito and Thomas will do.

samuel alito frowing uncredited

In contrast to Barrett, no right-wing theory or activist invitation is too wacky for Alito, above, and Thomas to entertain.

 

March 2024

March 24

 

 

rfk jr mouth open

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, son of the slain U.S. senator from New York, is shown at center in a 2020 ad rfk jr mouth openpromoting a political conference at the Trump Doral Hotel in Miami featuring also such right-wing Trump allies as Roger Stone, DineshD'Souza and Matt Gaetz. Below, Russ Baker, founder of the investigative site WhoWhatWhy and a best-selling author focused on presidential politics and assassinations, provides an open letter to Kennedy, left, urging him to drop his candidacy to protect the nation from Trump and his brand of insurrection and other democracy-destroying carnarge.

Going Deep with Russ B: Open Letter: 'Bobby, Think It Over: Your Candidacy May Doom Democracy' Russ Baker, 'Do the right thing; russ baker cropped david welkermake your family and forebears proud.'
________________________________________

Dear Bobby,

According to your publicist, this Tuesday, March 26, you will announce your vice presidential pick.

I have a suggestion. Do something different instead: Announce you’re dropping your White House bid.

If you don’t, you may well deliver the country and the world to Donald Trump — that even more wild-eyed, exponentially more dangerous version of the disaster we saw with Trump, Act One.

“Drill, Drill, Drill,” “bloodbath,” and “dictator on day one.” Indeed, friend and fan of dictators everywhere. Divider of Americans, provoker of hate. Pathological narcissist.

Everyone, including you, knows without equivocation that it is totally impossible for you to win this presidential election, and honestly no one is sure what your end goal is.

Your chaotic “platform” appears to be a random selection of unrelated issues from across the entire political spectrum. That incoherence is evidenced even by the people you’re supposedly considering for roles in this fantasy cosplay operation that you are attempting to pass off as a presidential bid.

dennis kucinichI mean, the depth and scope of this fiction is kind of amazing. I suppose you can claim that you are a uniter, since you’re the only person who could possibly have had both the leftist Dennis Kucinich, left, as your campaign manager — though he departed for some reason — and the nasty, hard-line rightist “Libertarian” Rand Paul, right, in your retinue. Exactly what color is the sky in your world that includes both Kucinich and Paul? I rand paul hs ocannot imagine.

Voting for you would not even represent a comprehensible, conscientious protest vote.

***

I’ve spoken to folks who know you personally, and they tell me some of the things that matter to you.

Like ego. You love the attention. And money — apparently, that’s always been an issue, and this high-profile situation helps.

But now, it’s serious.

Besides tainting the important, ongoing investigative research into what really happened to your uncle and father — by tying into the general kookiness of your lunatic hodgepodge of issues — you’ve harmed science, and brought together a disparate basket of the aggrieved, misguided, and often plain crackpot. Now you’re poised, perhaps, to wreak havoc on your own country’s future.

You’re polling nationally around 10 percent of the vote (yes, yes, supposedly a plurality of independent voters, young voters, etc.), and in a key swing state or two, that’s enough — not for you to win, but for you to deliver the country to the demagogue, criminal, pathological narcissist, and instigator of violence, even lethal violence, Mr. Trump.

Of course, with your shocking rightward tack, you undoubtedly are pulling some folks who might otherwise vote for Trump, but the Trump campaign will paint you as a radical leftist and, unlike some of your detractors, I do not dismiss you as a non-factor.

I’ve seen the recent polling that shows your strength among young voters in particular — the very voters Trump is counting on you to siphon from Joe Biden. Not strong enough for you to win even a single state, but strong enough to hand Trump an Electoral College victory.

***

Most of us, like you, have problems with the “system.” We loathe the corporate monsters that have long had a stranglehold on the American state and society. Everyone knows there are deep problems with Big Pharma. But you’ve ruined any legitimate critique by trafficking recklessly in nonsense and fear in the same way the Holocaust-deniers, moon-landing deniers, and other ignorant fanatics ruin whatever cause they join.

What you’ve done has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the deaths of untold masses that could have been prevented by vaccination.

***

.

President Biden, first row center, hosts more than three dozen members of the Kennedy family, including U.S. Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Development, Joseph Kennedy III, a Biden appointee at center, at the White House on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2024).

President Biden, first row center, hosts more than three dozen members of the Kennedy family, including U.S. Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Development, Joseph Kennedy III, a Biden appointee and former member of Congress at center, at the White House on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2024).


To your supporters, I say: Protest votes in the right circumstances can help advance a good cause. But not now. Not with what is at stake.
To you, I say: Enough is enough. Your own family has renounced you. They’re so worried — and, frankly, disgusted — that they traveled to the Biden White House on St. Patrick’s Day to make clear who they think ought to be president.
And for once in the history of this famously family-loyal clan, their preferred candidate in the race is not their own kinsman.
And with that, I beg you: Stand down.

 

 Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Imagesand TNS).

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Images and TNS).

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Major Legal Threats to Donald Trump Coincide on Monday, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess, March 24, 2024. Mr. Trump could receive a trial date for his criminal hush-money case on the same day that he must provide a half-billion bond for a civil fraud judgment.

ICE logoDonald J. Trump is expected to spend his Monday morning in the courtroom of a New York judge who might soon preside over his criminal trial and, ultimately, throw him behind bars. And that’s not even the legal predicament that worries Mr. Trump most that day.

The hearing in his Manhattan criminal prosecution — in which he is accused of covering up a sex scandal to pave his way to the presidency — comes as he races to fend off a financial crisis arising from a $454 million judgment in another case. The New York attorney general, Letitia James, who brought that civil fraud suit against the former president and his family business, might begin to collect as soon as Monday.

To avoid a mortal threat to the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump must persuade another company to post a bond on his behalf, promising that it will cover the judgment if he loses a pending appeal and fails to pay. Yet Mr. Trump’s lawyers in court papers said that securing the bond would be a “practical impossibility,” because he would need to pledge some $550 million in cash and liquid investments as collateral to the bond company — an admission that laid bare the former president’s cash crunch.

Unless Mr. Trump strikes an 11th-hour deal, Ms. James could freeze his bank accounts, and begin the long and complicated process of seizing some of his properties. And barring Mr. Trump’s lawyers achieving an improbable legal triumph, the judge in his criminal case could set a trial date for as soon as next month.

The twin threats — on the same day, in the same town — crystallize two of Mr. Trump’s greatest and longest-held fears: a criminal conviction and a public perception that he does not have as much cash as he claims.

For decades, Mr. Trump employed a broad array of tactics to keep those fears at bay, learning from his well-connected father and his own ruthless lawyer and fixer, Roy M. Cohn. After fending off local and federal investigations, not to mention financial ruin, Mr. Trump came to believe that any problems could be solved by personal connections — and a whole lot of money.

“If Trump uses one thing to score the game, it has always been money,” said Jack O’Donnell, a former casino executive who worked for Mr. Trump in the early 1990s and wrote a tell-all book about him. “If he has more money than someone, he is winning and the other person is losing. And if someone has more money than Trump, he has the fear that someone will say he is losing to that person.”

Mr. Trump himself has also described the shame of becoming a criminal defendant four times over. Even as his advisers used the indictments to great effect in fund-raising and galvanizing his Republican base, the former president has conceded that the charges pained him.

“Nobody wants to be indicted,” Mr. Trump told reporters aboard his airplane in June. “I don’t care that my poll numbers went up by a lot. I don’t want to be indicted. I’ve never been indicted. I went through my whole life, now I get indicted every two months.”

It was a major shock for a man who, until then, had navigated a wary path around law enforcement scrutiny throughout his long public life.

New York Times, Big Republican Donor Jeff Yass Owned Shares in Trump Media Merger Partner, Matthew Goldstein, March 24, 2024.  The billionaire Wall Street financier is also a major investor in ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, which faces a possible ban in the United States.

Jeff Yass, the billionaire Wall Street financier and Republican megadonor who is a major investor in the parent company of TikTok, was also the biggest institutional shareholder of the shell company that recently merged with former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company.

A December regulatory filing showed that Mr. Yass’s trading firm, Susquehanna International Group, owned about 2 percent of Digital World Acquisition Corp., which merged with Trump Media & Technology Group on Friday. That stake, of about 605,000 shares, was worth about $22 million based on Digital World’s last closing share price.

It’s unclear if Susquehanna still owns those shares, because big investors disclose their holdings to regulators only periodically. But if it did retain its stake, Mr. Yass’s firm would become one of Trump Media’s larger institutional shareholders when it begins trading this week following the merger.

Shares of Digital World have surged about 140 percent this year as the merger with the parent company of Truth Social, Mr. Trump’s social media platform, drew closer and Mr. Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“Susquehanna is a market maker and has zero economic interest in Trump Media,” said the company in a statement. “The firm’s long position is offset by short positions of the same size.”

Regulatory filings show the firm used offsetting securities to try to minimize its gains or losses in the stock.

The company statement did not comment on whether the firm still owned a stake in Digital World, or on the relationship between Mr. Yass and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Yass has been in the news recently for multiple reasons. A big contributor to Republican candidates and political action committees that support libertarian and conservative causes, including the Club for Growth, Mr. Yass’s firm is also a big shareholder in ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company. The U.S. investment firms Susquehanna, BlackRock and General Atlantic and others own 60 percent of ByteDance.

This month, the House passed a bill to force ByteDance to sell TikTok, the Chinese-controlled social media company.

The Club for Growth has sought to lobby Republicans in Congress to oppose any attempt to ban TikTok if it was still controlled by China, and Mr. Yass has helped the conservative organization fund that effort. (The Club for Growth had opposed Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, but appears to have reconciled with him.)

Mr. Trump had supported banning TikTok in the United States, but he recently reversed his stance. A few weeks ago, he acknowledged having a brief meeting with Mr. Yass — identified in a 2022 Wall Street Journal column as a “never Trumper” — but said the two men never discussed TikTok.

A person close to Mr. Trump’s campaign said that Mr. Yass was expected to give a large donation to a group supporting the former president’s political campaign. Mr. Yass said through a spokesman that he had never given to Mr. Trump and had no plans to do so.

Susquehanna, which facilitates trades in thousands of stocks using mathematical models, isn’t the only firm that stands to make money on Digital World. In February, Digital World disclosed that it raised $50 million from a group of institutional investors to cover expenses related to the merger. The investors lent the company money that can be converted into shares. The investors in the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Overall, hedge funds and trading firms owned around 5 percent of Digital World’s 30 million shares outstanding at the end of last year. The vast majority of Digital World’s roughly 400,000 shareholders are individual investors, many of them supporters of Mr. Trump.

The surge in the price of Digital World shares this year has boosted the value of Mr. Trump’s 79-million-share stake in Trump Media by billions of dollars. Mr. Trump is also being issued a class of shares that will give him at least 55 percent voting power over all shareholder measures.

The merger was finalized just before Mr. Trump’s Monday deadline to secure a bond to cover a $454 million penalty imposed by a judge in a civil fraud case.

The former president’s Trump Media shares could provide him with a financial lifeline to raise the cash needed to get a bond. But to do that, he needs Trump Media’s seven-member board to remove a restriction that prevents him from selling shares or using shares as collateral for a bond for the next six months.

The board includes Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., and three former members of his administration: Kash Patel, who was the chief of staff to Mr. Trump’s acting secretary of defense; the former U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer; and Linda McMahon, a former administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Ms. McMahon is a chair of a big fund-raiser for Mr. Trump scheduled for April 6 in Palm Beach, Fla., according to a copy of the invitation. The event is co-hosted by John Paulson, the billionaire investor, and includes a number of Wall Street financiers as chairs. Mr. Yass is not mentioned as one of them.

March 18

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Ten Stunning Revelations From the Hour-Plus Interview Between Elon Musk and Don Lemon, Seth Abramson, left, March 18-19, 2024. The interview confirms that Elon Musk should not be a federal contractor, should not be CEO of any publicly traded company, and seth abramson graphicshould not be controlling satellites and social media platforms in 2024. The Introduction to this report is free to the public; its remainder is for full Proof subscribers. To access this report and all 250+ reports at Proof for free for a week, click the button below.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Proof is aware that most Americans aren’t going to be willing to listen to Elon Musk speak for an hour, whether it’s with ex-CNN anchor Don Lemon or anyone else.

Nor should they.

Musk is—this Musk biographer has found, in hundreds of hours of listening to and reading him—inarticulate, ill-informed, and irritable in a way that is hard to watch.

So Proof has summarized the key takeaways from the lengthy Lemon-Musk Interview.

Why read such a summary here on Proof? Well, for a few reasons: (1) I’m writing a book on Musk and have thus become a Musk biographer, which gives me a unique perspective on the man; (2) Musk himself reads my work (often with evident anger, as he calls he an “unreadable nonsense machine”) so this analysis is one he’ll almost certainly be reviewing and taking seriously if not, in any sense, accepting as factual; (3) I’m an attorney and was for many years a working trial attorney, which means I review and summarize both depositions and interviews professionally; (4) I’m a former federal criminal investigator as well, which again underscores how seriously I take reviewing depositions and interviews for their most important revelations; (5) I’m a journalist with thirty years of experience working in the field and more than half a decade spent as a journalism professor, so my ethoi with respect to a journalism are well-established; and (6) perhaps the only thing both Proof readers and Proof critics agree on is that I’m an obsessive researcher, so there can be nothing casual about me writing a report like this one.

With that in mind, this Proof report focuses on what is new—and newsworthy—in this new interview, not what’s redundant to statements previously made by Elon Musk.

March 15

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

 

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary and Opinion: Trump nominated a mobbed-up judge, Aileen Cannon; she's now slow-walking secrets theft case, wayne madesen report logowayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author of 24 books and editor of the Wayne Madsen Report, is a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, March 15, 2024.

Judge Aileen "Loose" Cannon is mobbed up.

aileen cannonU.S. Judge Aileen Cannon, right, the right-wing Federalist Society member who Donald Trump nominated for the federal bench for the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Florida after he lost the 2020 election, is married to Josh Lorence, a former executive employee of the upscale burger restaurant BurgerFi. BurgerFi is owned by reputed Colombo crime family boss John Rosatti....

Among Trump's failed enterprises from his casino days in Atlantic City were Trump Golden Series and Trump Executive Series limousines. Twenty Trump luxury Cadillac limousines were provided from Dillinger Coach Works by Long Island Atlantic Auto Group dealer John Staluppi, an associate of Colombo crime boss Carmine "The Snake" Persico and a close friend of John Rosatti.

john rosattiBesides owning BurgerFi, Rosatti, left, who is worth an estimated $400 million, also owns Plaza Auto Mall in Brooklyn, New York, which has been accused of laundering contributions to a number of New York politicians. Rosatti and Staluppi own waterfront mansions in Palm Beach Gardens. It is not known whether Rosatti is a member of Trump's club in nearby Palm Beach, however Staluppi and his wife have been photographed together at the club.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Rosatti had been identified as an associate of the Colombo syndicate in 1980. Rosatti had pledged allegiance to the Colombo faction led by Victor “Little Vic” Orena. In 1993, Rosatti declined to provide Orena with cars from his Brooklyn car dealership to carry out mob hits. Later, Rosatti and Staluppi switched their allegiance from Oreno to the late longtime family boss Persico, who is shown in a 1986 photo below. Persico died in prison in 2019.

 

carmine the snake persico 1986With her family connections to Cuban expat terrorist groups, Mafia chieftains, mob hits, and possibly, Iran-Contra drug smuggling operations, Aileen Cannon is definitely not suited to be presiding over a trial in which Trump stands accused of violating the Espionage Act by stealing and then tossing around Mar-a-Lago some of America's top secrets on nuclear weapons, nuclear submarines, CIA sources, and U.S. intelligence's sophisticated methods for gathering intelligence.

March 11

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Did Trump commit the same crime for which the Rosenbergs were executed? Wayne Madsen, March 11, 2024. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallIn at least three filings in the case United States of America v. Donald J. Trump submitted by Special Counsel Jack Smith to Judge Aileen Cannon in the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida there has been special mention made of Trump unlawfully possessing at least one classified document dealing with U.S. nuclear weapons.

wayne madesen report logoAlthough Trump has been charged with violating the Espionage Act by illegally retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago beach club, convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electrocution in 1953 for not only violating the Espionage Act but also the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 for improperly disclosing classified information on the U.S. atomic bomb. The Espionage Act, coupled with the Atomic Energy Act, resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the execution of the Rosenbergs. Only Justices William O. Douglas and Hugo Black dissented.

Ironically, the Justice Department's prosecution of the Rosenbergs for handing American atomic secrets to Russia was led by Trump's one-time lawyer, consigliere, and mentor in the art of being a bully, Roy Cohn. In her 2020 documentary for HBO, "Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn," filmmaker Ivy Meeropol highlighted the mentor-protege relationship between Cohn and Trump. In an another irony, Ivy's description of the evil metamorphosis of Cohn-ism to Trumpism in the American body politic is a personal one for she is the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

There is another interesting postscript to the nuclear espionage connections of the Rosenbergs and Trump. In 1977, Time magazine reported that a former Czechoslovak intelligence agent for the Státní bezpečnost (StB), State Security, smuggled to Munich, West Germany, a 14,000‐page cache that included classified photocopies and microfilms of StB files. In them was a reference to Julius Rosenberg having had been an agent for the StB. It was already established that he spied for the Soviet KGB but the StB file had shown that the convicted spy had also been working for the Czechoslovaks. A year before the defection of the StB spy to the West, Donald Trump first met his future Czechoslovak wife, Ivana Zelnicekova, at a reception in Montreal. Ivana's father, Miloš Zelníček, was an informer agent for the StB. From his daughter's marriage to Trump in 1977 to the fall of the Czechoslovak communist government in 1989, Zelníček provided regular reports on the activities of Trump to the StB, which then transmitted them to the KGB.

Former StB official Vlastimil Daněk confirmed that Trump was a high-priority asset for the StB. He refused to confirm or deny that the StB transmitted all the reports it received about Trump to the KGB, which, in intelligence jargon is a tacit confirmation.

Since Trump's violation of the Espionage and Atomic Energy Acts could very well be as serious as those of the Rosenbergs, it is intriguing to substitute Donald Trump's name for the Rosenbergs in a June 20, 1953 Manchester Guardian newspaper account of their execution. Trump's alleged crimes appear to be on par with those of the Rosenbergs, at least as far as giving away American nuclear secrets to Russia are concerned.

March 10

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won civil suits against him in New York City on claims of sexual battery and defamation.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Politics Experts Said for Weeks That Trump Might Get Bonded By Kremlin Allies. Now It’s Happening—Causing a seth abramson graphicNational Security Crisis, Seth Abramson, left, March 10, 2024. seth abramson proof logoSo Why Is Media So Silent About the Greenberg Family? Former Russian bank co-owner Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, below right, is the father and former boss of new Trump financial patron Evan Greenberg, below left, whose Chubb Limited now hopes to back the nearly bankrupt criminal defendant to the tune of over $91 million dollars.

The biggest national security crisis since the Trump administration is being ignored by media—which instead hails a historically evan greenbergsuspicious, still-unapproved bond proposal by Trump as a legal victory.

maurice greenberg 2019As a journalist, you know a story is time-sensitive when there’s a deadline associated with it—for instance, a deadline of 11AM ET on the morning of Monday, March 11 for E. Jean Carroll and her attorney Roberta Kaplan to challenge a bond proposal issued by defendant Donald Trump on the last day he could have done so in one of the New York civil cases stemming from his rape of Carroll in the latter half of the 1990s.

As a journalist, you also know a story has national security implications when an implied question it provokes is whether the presumptive 2024 Republican Party nominee for President of the United States has been bought off—lock, stock, and barrel—by the Kremlin, a hostile foreign government that is at present invading Europe, threatening nuclear war, and engaging in a hot cyberwar with America.

Though not required, it does help—in assessing the urgency of a breaking news story—if journalists also receive direct warnings about the importance of a story by experts in relevant fields, which is why it’s so significant that this is exactly what happened (see below) with respect to the $91.63 million bond proposal Trump just issued in his New York City Defamation case.

And of course any capable journalist is also capable of seeing when a story is having an immediate impact. For instance, Donald Trump’s securing (if not yet posting) of the aforementioned bond caused him to immediately do something in public that he had not done for weeks: publicly defame his rape victim in exactly the way that had led to him losing the First Carroll Case in New York (a Sexual Abuse and Defamation case that led to a $5 million judgment against Trump) and the Second Carroll Case (this would be the one he’s now trying to get a supersedeas [appellate] bond approved for).

While Trump did also defame Carroll after the second civil judgment against him for defaming a woman he’d raped—this time a judgment for $83.3 Russian Flagmillion—in a February speech in Waterford Township in Michigan, that new act of Defamation, which could easily lead to a third suit against Trump by Carroll, was brief in comparison to the one his new bond proposal apparently prompted him to launch (reporting below by CNN): Should Donald Trump using a surety bond of questionable provenance as a jumping-off point to again defame a woman he raped have been foreseeable to major media?

ICE logoYes, absolutely. Warnings related to the national security implications of such a bond implicitly acknowledged, too, the awesome power and license and audacity gifted to Mr. Trump by any entity (such as, now, the insurance carrier Chubb) that underwrites his in-court or out-of-court conduct. Some of the warnings major media received about this bond—warnings major media is at this very moment ignoring to the detriment of not just E. Jean Carroll but all of the United States—are itemized below.

Proof thereafter does an exclusive “deep dive” into everything that’s wrong with Trump’s bond proposal. It’s a story that will shock you, as the entwined story of the Greenberg Family and the Trump Family is truly an astonishing one that at seemingly every stop points directly at Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

March 9

 

maria butina gun over shoulders ap pavel ptsitsin

Convicted Kremlin spy Maria Butina, above, was a onetime associate of former Russian bank co-owner Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, belowright — the father and maurice greenberg 2019former boss of new Trump financial patron Evan Greenberg, whose Chubb Limited now hopes to back the nearly bankrupt criminal defendant to the tune of over $91 million dollars.

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won civil suits against him in New York City on claims of sexual battery and defamation.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The New Questions Federal Investigators Must Ask on An Emergency Basis About Trump’s Eleventh-Hour — Whose seth abramson graphicApparent Kremlin Connections Increase By the Hour, Seth Abramson, left, March 9, 2024. Authored by a former federal criminal investigator, this list gives the NYC federal court overseeing E. Jean Carroll case’s against Trump details on what’s gravely wrong about his proposed bond.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Most major-media reporting on Donald Trump’s proposed $91.6 million supersedeas bond from Chubb, a large insurance carrier, emphasizes that Chubb’s CEO is a former Trump adviser, Evan Greenberg—and that Greenberg, left, who spent four years (2018 to 2022) working on the President Trump-created Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, almost evan greenbergcertainly signed off on the massive financial risk for Chubb that it stands on the cusp of assuming and objectively makes no business sense for the firm.

See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for examples of such coverage.

ICE logoPerhaps because Trump has so many other major professional milestones coming up—he’s likely to clinch the Republican Party presidential nomination this week; he goes to trial on 34 felonies in New York City in 16 days; and he faces a deadline to pay $454 million in yet another civil suit related to his tortious conduct in New York state on the very same day his criminal trial begins, March 25—or perhaps because Greenberg did the Russian Flagbare minimum we would expect of any American after the January 6 armed rebellion (as the Washington Post approvingly notes, but without the italics mindfully added by this author, Trump’s new lender “condemned efforts to keep Trump in power after the January 6 insurrection”), it seems that many in major media are ready to move on from Trump’s bizarre, eleventh-hour procuring of what indisputably is one of the strangest bond proposals in the history of civil litigation in the United States.

So before we address the additional major breaking news about this bond proposal in exhaustive detail—including revealing harrowing new details about its relationship to key past events involving Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin—some added background on what U.S. major media inexplicably isn’t telling its readers is required.

Trump’s Dodgy Bond Proposal Has Not Been Accepted By the Court

Nearly every major-media report this author could find on Trump’s bond falsely said that the bond had been “posted”—suggesting that it’s a done deal about which there is no purpose in media continuing to report. But in fact accepting the bond as already conclusively posted is exactly whatU.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan didn’t do.

In a strange juxtaposition, the New York Times simultaneously reports that Trump has “posted” bond and that Trump’s legal team has in fact merely “asked Judge Kaplan to approve the bond.” As an attorney as well as a journalist and a longtime journalism professor, this author can report that only the latter framing is accurate: while Trump has indeed secured a bond with an insurance carrier, he has not actually posted a bond.

This distinction is due, however, to a quirk of this particular case that the Times (again without any obvious explanation) somehow both reports on and fails to account for in its reporting. That is, the Times is correct to imply that an uncontested bond is usually reported on as “posted” as soon as it’s “secured”—which is the practice the Times has adopted here—but the problem is that Trump isn’t the conventional litigant, and as a result his second civil-suit loss to journalist E. Jean Carroll isn’t a typical legal defeat.

Trump has a long and well-documented history of lying to courts, lenders, and party opponents in civil cases—and for that reason Judge Kaplan, as the Times does correctly note, on Friday (yesterday) “gave [E. Jean] Carroll until 11AM [on] Monday to file any response to the proposed bond, and said that if she had any opposition to its form or amount, the judge would hold a hearing that afternoon [March 11] on the matter.”

This is an astounding development that could easily have led major-media coverage of Trump’s bond situation rather than, as was the case with the Times, getting relegated to the thirteenth paragraph of the relevant reporting. Why? Well, for several reasons:

As noted, it means Trump hasn’t “posted bond” in this historic case, and every headline claiming otherwise—which, sadly, is nearly all of them—is incorrect.

In fact, Trump has “proposed a bond” in his case, which means it is the duty of every major media outlet to report on whether his proposal is legally sound. By not accurately reporting on the major national news story in this way, some in media have abandoned their duty to professionally analyze Trump’s new bond proposal via research, legal analysis, and historic contextualization of the bond proposal within Trump’s astonishingly checkered legal and financial history.

The biggest open question in the United States this weekend is therefore whether E. Jean Carroll and her attorney Roberta Kaplan will challenge Trump’s proposal as they have been invited to do by Judge Kaplan (no relation). Because U.S. major media has fewer journalistic resources to bring to bear on weekends—for the obvious reason that employees are entitled to a weekend break—it’s convenient for media to pretend that this major weekend news story with significant national security implications isn’t happening at all. I can confirm, having been a working journalist for thirty years and having worked also as a journalism professor for many years (during which period the study of corporate media was one of my academic foci), the hope within American corporate media is likely that (a) Carroll won’t challenge the Trump bond proposal, making any work it could and should be doing this weekend seemingly moot, or (b) if she does challenge the proposal, most readers of major media won’t notice or care that major media launched its coverage of that stunningly significant story several days after it actually began.

lewis kaplanJudge Kaplan, left, almost certainly doesn’t regularly issue orders like the one he did yesterday, which makes the order itself worthy of discrete reporting rather than it being buried amongst a story that inaccurately claims Trump already “posted” bond (adding then, in the fine print, that Trump lawyer Alina Habba has merely “proposed” a bond). In my years of experience as a trial attorney, judges do not see a need to invite parties to object to bonds through written orders because that invitation is always tacit. Parties can always object via motion to any action taken by the party opposite if they believe it was for some reason legally infirm. The reasoning behind Judge Kaplan issuing his Friday order is therefore, more than likely, because he understands that Trump has a uniquely rich and sordid history of attempting to escape his debts via subterfuge.

For a federal court to implicitly acknowledge this with respect the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States isn’t just unprecedented and therefore astounding but could itself warrant a second discrete course of reporting from major media that we as American news consumers curiously aren’t getting this weekend. The effect of this non-reportage is obfuscation of the fact that the federal court system understands Donald Trump to be a scofflaw of highly irregular proportion and scope.

 

katie britt 3 7 2024 cspan

ny times logoNew York Times, Britt Faces Accusations of Misleading on Border in State of the Union Response, Ken Bensinger, March 9, 2024. The Alabama senator, shown above in her nationwide address, used a story about sex trafficking to criticize the Biden administration’s border policies. But the events appear to have occurred in Mexico years ago.

In her rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union speech Thursday night, Senator Katie Britt, Republican of Alabama, told a story about a Mexican woman who was a victim of sex trafficking at the age of 12, laying blame at the feet of the current administration.

“President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace,” she said.

The story, while wrenching, was highly misleading.

Although Ms. Britt did not name the victim in her speech, she has previously shared the story of a woman who appears to be the same individual based on congressional testimony, news releases and news reports.

That woman, Karla Jacinto Romero, is a Mexican citizen who does not live in the United States and who has spoken frequently about her experiences of being forced into sexual slavery for four years. In 2023, Ms. Jacinto participated in an event near the Texas border with Mexico that was also attended by three senators, including Ms. Britt. In a video released shortly after that trip, Ms. Britt discussed Ms. Jacinto’s experiences.

In her speech Thursday, Ms. Britt talked about the harrowing story as part of a critique of President Biden’s border policies, saying that “we wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a third-world country.” She added that “this is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it.”

jonathan katzIn fact, as first reported by the independent journalist Jonathan Katz, above, on TikTok on Friday, Ms. Jacinto’s experiences did not happen in the United States. She has testified that she was kidnapped in Mexico City and that her shocking experience of being raped thousands of times took place entirely in Mexico. Moreover, she has said the kidnapping occurred in 2002 and she was rescued in 2006. Ms. Jacinto continues to live in Mexico and does not appear to have ever lived in the United States or to have sought asylum here.

In other words: None of this happened during President Biden’s administration, nor does it appear to have anything to do with his policies regarding the U.S. border with Mexico. But that didn’t stop the first-term senator from strongly implying that the president could have somehow prevented it from happening, using rhetoric that seemed calibrated to inflame public fears about immigration.

“We know that President Biden didn’t just create this border crisis,” she said. “He invited it.”

Ms. Jacinto did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Ms. Britt, Sean Ross, stood behind her speech.

“The story Senator Britt told was 100 percent correct,” he said in a statement. “And there are more innocent victims of that kind of disgusting, brutal trafficking by the cartels than ever before right now. The Biden administration’s policies — the policies in this country that the president falsely claims are humane — have empowered the cartels and acted as a magnet to a historic level of migrants making the dangerous journey to our border.”

He did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about what direct responsibility Mr. Biden had for what Ms. Jacinto experienced or what an anecdote about sex trafficking entirely within another country has to do with U.S. border policies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Katie Britt’s false linkage of a sex-trafficking case to Joe Biden, glenn kesslerGlenn Kessler, right, March 9, 2024.

“We know that President Biden didn’t just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days. When I took office, I took a different approach. I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That’s where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped. katie britt oThe cartels put her on a mattress in a shoe box of a room, and they sent men through that door over and over again for hours and hours on end. We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.”

— Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-Ala.), right, in the Republican response to the State of the Union address, March 7

If you were watching Britt’s speech on Thursday night, you likely would have thought she was talking about a recent victim of sex trafficking who was abused in the United States and suffered because of President Biden’s policies.

If you did, you would have been wrong. Sean Ross, Britt’s communications director, confirmed that she was talking about Karla Jacinto Romero — who has testified before Congress about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008. (A viral TikTok by journalist Jonathan Katz first revealed that Britt was speaking about Romero.) In a phone conversation and a statement, Ross disputed that Britt’s language was misleading.

We disagree. Let’s take a look.

Britt’s account of Romero’s experience was a centerpiece of her rebuttal to Biden’s address. The way Britt sets up the story, there is no indication that she is talking about a woman who was working in brothels in Mexico during the George W. Bush administration. This is how the passage unfolds.

She first blames Biden for the surge of migrants at the border.

Then she says she visited the border shortly after she took office. That would be 2023.
At length, she details the story of an unnamed victim that she says she met on her trip. The implication is that the woman recently crossed the border — because of “sex trafficking by the cartels.”

She strongly suggests that her abuse took place in the United States: “We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it.”

She ends by reinforcing that such alleged trafficking is Biden’s fault: “President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.”

But Biden has nothing to do with Romero’s story. As she testified nine years ago, her mother threw her out of her house at age 12 and she “fell prey to a professional pimp.” She says she then spent the next four years in brothels before a regular client helped her escape when she was 16 years old. There is no indication in her story that drug cartels were involved, though Britt said that in the State of the Union response and has made a similar claim on at least one other occasion. Romero was never trafficked to the United States; instead, she says many men who paid to have sex with her were “foreigners visiting my city looking to have sexual interactions with minors like me.”

In a YouTube video, Britt features images of her hugging Romero during her 2023 trip to the border. “If we as leaders of the greatest nation in the world are not fighting to protect the most vulnerable, we are not doing our job,” she said in the video. The implication again is that this happened on Biden’s watch.

When Donald Trump was president, he regularly decried human trafficking that he claimed was happening at the border, including that “thousands of young girls and women” were being smuggled across the border for prostitution. In 2019, we investigated that claim and found no evidence to support it. Most human trafficking prosecutions generally involve legal border crossings, visa fraud and travel into the United States on airplanes. Victim organizations say there are relatively few cases that involve forced kidnapping across the border. This might be one reason Britt regularly cites a case that happened long ago and did not involve crossing the border.

Ross, Britt’s spokesman, said that Romero’s story was indicative of trafficking that is now happening at the border and that should be clear from Britt’s framing in the speech.

He said the reference to a “Third World country” was generic and was not intended to refer to Mexico, which he said is not a Third World country. Third World is a dated Cold War-era term previously used to refer to poor or developing countries. Global South, indicating low income and high poverty, is a more common expression today. Mexico is considered part of the Global South, though it is also a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In a written statement, Ross said:

“The story Senator Britt told was 100% correct. And there are more innocent victims of that kind of disgusting, brutal trafficking by the cartels than ever before right now. The Biden administration’s policies — the policies in this country that the President falsely claims are humane — have empowered the cartels and acted as a magnet to a historic level of migrants making the dangerous journey to our border. Along that journey, children, women, and men are being subjected to gut-wrenching, heartbreaking horrors in our own backyard. And here at home, the Biden administration’s policies are leading to more and more suffering, including Americans being poisoned by fentanyl and being murdered. These human costs are real, and it’s past time for some on the left to stop pretending otherwise.”

The Pinocchio Test

In a high-profile speech like this, a politician should not mislead voters with emotionally charged language. Romero’s story is tragic and may be evocative of other Mexican girls trapped in the sex trade in that country. But she was not trafficked across the border — and her story has nothing to do with Biden. Britt’s failure to make that clear earns her Four Pinocchios.

ny times logoNew York Times, In the Republican response, Senator Katie Britt of Alabama delivered tonally jarring remarks, Michael C. Bender and Kayla Guo, Updated March 8, 2024. The Alabama senator, 42, who has been floated as a possible running mate for Donald Trump, gave a tonally jarring speech that toggled between strained cheerfulness and a fierce glare.

With a sunny, inviting smile, Senator Katie Britt of Alabama, shown above, welcomed Americans into her kitchen on Thursday night.

Many soon backed away nervously.

In the Republican Party’s official response to President Biden’s State of the Union address, Ms. Britt delivered a jarring speech that toggled between an increasingly strained cheerfulness and a fierce glare as she gave ominous warnings about illegal immigration.

Ms. Britt, 42, has been seen as a rising Republican star and floated as a possible running mate for former President Donald J. Trump. But in the biggest moment of her fledgling political career, she delivered a tonally uneven speech that was made more unusual by the setting of her own house in Montgomery, Ala., where she sat at her kitchen table and painted a dark picture of an America in decline.

“Our commander in chief is not in command,” Ms. Britt said. “The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader.”

Her comments were in line with messages Republicans have increasingly used to criticize Mr. Biden at the start of the election year, but her 17-minute speech seemed likely to be remembered more for her disconcerting performance. She spoke in grim detail about a child victim of sex trafficking by drug cartels and the recent killing of a Georgia nursing student in which a Venezuelan migrant has been charged.

“That could’ve been my daughter,” Ms. Britt said. “It could’ve been yours.”

Previous State of the Union rebuttals have been delivered from behind a lectern in official settings, but Ms. Britt chose a domestic backdrop, trying to underscore her argument that Mr. Biden represents a threat to prosperity for American families.

But the scene seemed to confuse viewers on social media, where Ms. Britt was mocked by some for using a dramatic, breathy voice to deliver critiques of the president.

“Under his administration, families are worse off — our communities are less safe, and our country is less secure,” she said. “I just wish he understood what real families are facing around kitchen tables just like this one.”

Mr. Trump praised her speech.

“Katie Britt was a GREAT contrast to an Angry, and obviously very Disturbed, ‘President,’” he wrote on his social media site. “She was compassionate and caring, especially concerning Women and Women’s Issues. Her conversation on Migrant Crime was powerful and insightful. Great job Katie!”

March 2

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Biden orders US airlift of humanitarian aid into Gaza with cooperation of Jordan and other allies! Webster G. Tarpley, webster tarpley 2007below right, March 2, 2024. President says he will also create a direct maritime corridor to supply Gaza needs, while demanding big increase in aid trucks entering the enclave;

After cynical massacre of starving Palestinians in northern Gaza by IDF with 112 dead and 700 wounded, France's Macron says Palestinians are being deliberately targeted; In wake of horror, world demands immediate action; Biden's move takes aid implementation totally beyond Netanyahu's reach; US is no longer asking or urging, but announcing what is about to happen;

President says he will also create direct maritime corridor to supply Gaza needs, while insisting on big increase in aid trucks entering the enclave overland; Sens. King and Reed propose US Navy hospital ship for Gaza;

WHO estimates some 25% of Gaza residents are at point of famine and starvation, meaning that 500,000 could face death over weeks ahead in environment conducive to epidemic disease; To save these victims, US must commit massive resources to immediately saturating Gaza with food, medicine, fuel, and clean water; Starvation is by far the biggest threat of genocide in sight;

Cynical TV commentators sneer at new policy but are blind to giant step towards removing Netanyahu, Gallant, Smotrich, and Ben Gvir from power by first negating their total siege policy and then phasing out war; Airlift constitutes direct US action which dispenses with any further diplomacy or negotiations;

Power of airlift best illustrated by epic Berlin airlift of June 1948 to May 1949, launched by US, UK, France, Australia and others in response to Stalin's total rail, road, and canal blockade of West Berlin, an island 100 miles (170 km) inside the Soviet occupation zone; All necessities for West Berlin had to come by air, including coal for winter heating in city of over 2 million, about the size of Gaza today;

Over 15 months, US and allies delivered about one ton of supplies for every West Berliner, with about 8,000 tons per day initially relying on 2-engine DC-3 aircraft; 280,000 flights were carried out;

Success of airlift transformed attitude of West Berliners and Germans towards US and west from diffidence to appreciation, laying foundation for current Atlantic Alliance of 32 nations, the most powerful in world history; Generous humanitarian aid may alter Palestinian attitudes in similar fashion;

In yearly speech, Putin threatens thermonuclear World War Three and end of civilization even as Trump and MAGA Quisling caucus block funding for Ukraine defense and US border reform; Russian nuclear posture revealed as trigger-happy in the extreme; New conflicts threaten over dragooning of refugees by Wagner Group as pawns against West; Russian puppets in breakaway Transnistria appeal to Kremlin for help against Romania and Ukraine; Poland and Germany debate need for nuclear deterrents in light of MAGA treachery and subservience to Putin;

Supremes kowtow to Trump by granting certiorari on his absurd immunity claim, generating further dangerous delay; Georgia inquisition vs Fani Willis is national disgrace; In Mar a Lago documents case, Judge Cannon plays patsy for Benedict Donald; Much is rotten in US legal system, starting with ascendancy of Legal Positivism as Originalism and Textualism over Natural Law as justice, morality, and the values of the Preamble; Rep. Goldman breaks the ice by floating impeachment of Clarence Thomas; Supremes need infusion of four non-fascist judges!

 

February 2024

Feb. 28

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

The official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices set oral argument for week of April 20 on whether Donald Trump can be criminally prosecuted for acts he took while president, Ann E. Marimow, Feb. 28, 2024. The Supreme Court will review Donald Trump’s unprecedented claim that he is shielded from prosecution for actions taken while in office, further delaying the former president’s D.C. trial on charges of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to remain in power.

The justices set argument for the week of April 22 to consider a unanimous ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that rejected Trump’s sweeping assertion of immunity from prosecution.

Trump’s pretrial proceedings in D.C. will remain on hold until a ruling is issued, putting the Supreme Court in the politically fraught position of influencing the timing of a federal election-obstruction trial for the leading Republican presidential candidate.

The brief unsigned order issued Wednesday said the justices were not “expressing a view on the merits” of the case and would consider only the question of whether and to what extent a former president has "immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.

djt indicted proof

Trump faces four felony counts brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in connection with what prosecutors allege was a plan to overturn Biden’s 2020 presidential victory: conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct the formal certification in Congress of President Biden’s victory, obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiracy against rights — in this case, the right to vote.

He challenged the indictment, saying former presidents are immune from prosecution, at least for actions related to their official duties, unless first impeached and convicted by Congress. On Feb. 6, the D.C. Circuit delivered a forceful rebuke of that novel argument.

“We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results,” wrote the three judges, two nominated by Biden and the third by President George H.W. Bush.

Trump asked the Supreme Court to put the appeals court ruling on pause and give him time to seek rehearing by a full complement of D.C. Circuit judges. His lawyers argued that he should not be sidelined from the campaign trail by a months-long criminal trial, and said voters have the right to hear from Trump on the stump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He Might Have to Sell Properties to Pay $454 Million Penalty, Ben Protess and Kate Christobek, Feb. 28, 2024. Former President Trump, who is appealing the penalty in his civil fraud case, offered a bond of only $100 million to pause the judgment.

ICE logoDonald J. Trump offered a New York appeals court on Wednesday a bond of only $100 million to pause the more than $450 million judgment he faces in his civil fraud case, saying that he might need to sell some of his properties unless he gets relief.

It was a stunning acknowledgment that Mr. Trump, who is racing the clock to either secure a bond from a company or produce the full amount himself, lacks the resources to do so. Without a bond, the New York attorney general’s office, which brought the fraud case, could seek to collect from Mr. Trump at any moment.

djt maga hatIn a filing with the appeals court, Mr. Trump’s lawyers also asked to delay a wide range of other punishments that the trial judge in the fraud case, Arthur F. Engoron, levied in a decision this month. They include a prohibition on obtaining a loan from a New York bank for three years and a ban on running a company in the state during that same period.

One appellate court judge was hearing the request from Mr. Trump on Wednesday afternoon and was expected to issue a decision by the end of the day. If the judge were to grant the pause, it would be only temporary; Mr. Trump would still have to persuade a larger panel of appellate judges to keep the judgment on hold.

In seeking relief, Mr. Trump’s lawyers disclosed that he would be unable to secure a bond for the full $454 million, raising the prospect that he might soon default on the judgment if the appeals court denies his request.

Justice Engoron’s decision to bar Mr. Trump from obtaining new loans from New York banks further constrains his ability to either produce the money himself or have enough cash to pledge as collateral for a bond, they argued. Under New York law, a defendant also owes 9 percent interest to the plaintiff until the judgment is paid or the appeal resolved, meaning a full bond in this case might reach $500 million or more.

If the appeals court denies the request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers warned, he likely would have to sell some New York properties “under exigent circumstances,” in what would be a punishing blow to the former president.

“The exorbitant and punitive amount of the judgment coupled with an unlawful and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it impossible to secure and post a complete bond,” the lawyers wrote.

Mr. Trump might eventually be able to secure a bigger bond. His stake in Trump Media & Technology Group, his social media company, could be worth up to $4 billion after a long-delayed merger is final this year.

Posting a bond that the appeals court accepts would prevent the attorney general, Letitia James, from collecting the judgment until Mr. Trump’s appeal is resolved. Without a bond or pause from the court, Ms. James can seize Mr. Trump’s bank accounts and potentially take control of his New York properties. In its own filing, Ms. James’s office asked the appeals court to deny Mr. Trump’s request.

“There is no merit to defendants’ contention that a full bond or deposit is unnecessary because they are willing to post a partial undertaking of less than a quarter of the judgment amount,” the attorney general’s office wrote. “Defendants all but concede that Mr. Trump has insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Suspicious Powder Found at Courthouse Where Trump Judge Has Offices, Claire Fahy, Feb. 28, 2024. An envelope containing white powder was found Wednesday morning at the New York State Supreme Courthouse in Lower Manhattan, officials said. The court building, at 60 Centre Street, contains offices belonging to Justice Arthur F. Engoron, the judge who oversaw former President Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial.

Police officers responded to a 911 call at 9:29 a.m. regarding the suspicious powder. A court officer had opened an envelope, and white powder fell onto his pants, the police said.

No injuries were reported, and the building was not evacuated. The police said that the Fire Department had responded to the discovery of the powder and that the investigation continued.

The officer declined medical attention, according to the Fire Department, as did another court officer who was exposed to the powder.

Justice Engoron and the Supreme Court building have been targets in the past. Last month, the Nassau County Police Department responded to a hoax bomb threat at the judge’s home on Long Island.

In December, a man set a small fire on the fourth floor of the courthouse that he then quickly extinguished. The Fire Department responded, and three floors of the building were evacuated, but no serious injuries were reported. It was unclear whether the fire was related to Mr. Trump’s trial.

djt maga hatOver the course of the 11-week civil fraud trial, which ended this month, Mr. Trump repeatedly attacked Justice Engoron on Truth Social, Mr. Trump’s website, and in statements he made in court. In November, Mr. Trump’s Republican allies also went after Justice Engoron publicly, with Representative Elise Stefanik of New York filing an ethics complaint accusing him of “inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance,” and Laura Loomer, a far-right activist close to the former president, repeatedly attacking the judge and his family on social media.

Feb. 26

 

dan rather djtSteady, Commentary: Trouble in Trumpland? Dan Rather, Steady founder, author and former CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor (shown above right), Feb. 26, dan rather steady logo2024. A deeper dive indicates where and how Trump is vulnerable. NBC’s “Meet The Press” this morning characterized Donald Trump’s South Carolina primary victory as “delivering a crushing blow to [Nikki] Haley in her home state on Saturday, trouncing her by 20 points with nearly 60 percent of the vote. The former president dominated nearly every key group.”

While he did indeed win handily, a deep dive into the numbers provides some interesting context.

trump 2024The part of the story missing from many news reports is that Trump is slipping from his 2020 numbers. His support is strongest among his MAGA base, which pollsters put at no more than 33% of the electorate. Clearly, he will need more than MAGA to win the White House again.

biden harris 2024 logoPresident Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary with 96.2% of the vote. Trump, who is essentially an incumbent up against a novice at running for national office, could not muster even 60% of his party’s vote. Exit polls from Saturday night should have GOP leaders nervous.

The makeup of South Carolina’s Republican voters does not mirror the country. They are heavily weighted with hard-right “conservatives,” older, white, male, evangelical election deniers. Trump won overwhelmingly among them. But Haley won among independents, moderates, and those who care about foreign policy. And that’s the crux of it.

To win the presidency again, Trump will need to bring all Republicans into the tent. Gallop estimates that 41% of the electorate identifies as Republican. Then it gets really tough. He has to convince a large number of independents and Democrats to vote for him. But how?

  • Not by favoring a 16-week national abortion ban
  • Not by threatening to pull out of NATO
  • Not by defunding Ukraine and supporting Putin’s invasion
  • Not by promising “ultimate and absolute revenge” against his political opponents
  • Not by refusing to accept the results of elections he’s lost
  • Not by promising to be a dictator on day one of his second term
  • Not by saying things like: “These are the stakes of this election. Our country is being destroyed, and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me.”

Trump is winning primaries while underperforming. Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to President Obama and current host of “Pod Save America,” writes: “You cannot win the White House with the coalition that Trump is getting in these primaries. He must expand his coalition, persuade people who aren’t already on board and get beyond the Big Lie-believing MAGA base. Through three primary contests, Trump has gained no ground.”

djt maga hatPolls also indicate a majority of voters in swing states would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he’s convicted of a crime. That could happen as soon as April or May.

As Axios writes: “If America were dominated by old, white, election-denying Christians who didn’t go to college, former President Trump would win the general election in as big of a landslide as his sweep of the first four GOP contests.” Fortunately, it is not. America is a rich tapestry of heritages, races, and creeds. Immigrants have long been one of our strengths.

But the likely GOP nominee continues to feed fears about immigration using language tailored to his MAGA base. “They’re coming from Asia, they’re coming from the Middle East, coming from all over the world, coming from Africa, and we’re not going to stand for it ... They’re destroying our country,” Trump said Saturday at CPAC, a conference of extreme-right Trump supporters.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos“No, Mr. Trump, they’re not,” is the answer of many Americans. There is strong public opinion that what is tearing our country apart is the divisiveness and rancor that comes from Trump, the Republican Party, and their right-wing media machine.

The mainstream press may begin to offer more of this context and perspective as we get deeper into the presidential campaign. One of the things Steady was created to do was offer reasoned context and perspective to news stories. This writing is an example.

Trump remains a real and present threat to win the presidency again in November. But that is not assured. Not nearly, as a deep analysis of early primary results indicates.

There is still a long way to go and many rivers to cross for both major candidates.

Feb. 24

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary, U.S. lands lunar probe Ulysses on moon 52 years after Apollo 17, Webster G. Tarpley, right, webster tarpley 2007historian, author, Feb. 24, 2024 (148:20 mins.). Success of nation under Biden’s leadership prepares moon mission of Artemis astronauts, marks signal victory for scientific optimism, progress, and human reason over cynical nihilism and historical pessimism typical of MAGA camp; Leibniz defeats Nietzsche!

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary, Congress Must Act Now On Ukraine Defense!  Webster G. Tarpley, right, webster tarpley 2007historian, author, Feb. 24, 2024. After two years of Putin’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, and a week after his savage murder of opposition leader Navalny, Congress must reconvene at once to vote $60 billion for Kiev while Biden transfers $350 billion in sequestered assets to defense of Kiev! Webster G. Tarpley, right,historian, author, Feb. 24, 2024 (148:20 mins.).

Biden orders sanctions on 500 Russian targets after meeting with Navalny’s widow; Ukraine needs ATACMs ballistic missiles to destroy Kerch Strait bridge, F-16s and Patriot missiles for air defense, Abrams tanks, and limitless 155mm shells; Ukraine still winning on sea and in air;

Trump’s GOP emerges as abject annex of Kremlin, sabotaging NATO defense and peddling the lies of Alexander Smirnov, the accused Russian double agent who peddled lie that Joe Biden and son were bribed by Ukrainian company; MAGA Quisling candidate serves Putin by calling on Russia to attack NATO members who don’t spend 2% for defense;

Trump raves that NATO nations must pay their debts, but will the orange windbag pay his own? Trump must pay New York County $454 million plus $119,000 per day within 30 days or face the seizure of his Manhattan trophy properties, starting with 40 Broadway and Trump Tower; Deranged outbursts by Don are widely expected when expropriation is carried out;

Trump’s finances are already desperate as his campaign loses over 200,000 small-dollar donors; he has half the cash on hand held by Biden; Trump’s fines and fees to lawyers are draining GOP downballot, making momentum towards party extinction overwhelming;

NRA boss LaPierre found guilty of filching cash for personal luxury; Southern Baptists including MAGA Mike still plagued by scandal; Trump eyes takeover of Republican National Committee to drain cash for fines and attorneys at expense of downballot races;

Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, and Jon Stewart are Nervous Nellies who still fetishize polling, even after colossal failure of Wall Street’s ”Red Tsunami” brainwashing and gaslighting campaign of 2022; By contrast, Dem performance in actual elections grows more and more formidable;

Situation in Gaza is catastrophic but could still be much worse with nuclear weapons, mass expulsions into Transjordan and Sinai deserts, war with Hezbollah, and Gallant’s demand for Gaza to be hermetically sealed with no aid trucks whatsoever; Trump is merciless who could strip US Arabs of citizenship as in UK case of Shamima Begum and feed them into his planned apparatus of Gestapo raids, huge concentration camps, and largest mass deportations in world history; Tlaib’s self-destructive bid to abandon Biden in next week’s Michigan primary is cutting off your nose to spite your face for Michigan Arabs and should be scorned by all sane voters; Defeat of Biden would be greatest imaginable horror for all humanity!

Time to fire Zients, Garland, Wray, Hur, Weiss, and provide the security to keep Smirnov alive to testify!

Feb. 17

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary: President Biden Should Use His Constitutional Power to Call The House Back Into Session to Pass webster tarpley 2007the Urgent Senate Ukraine Funding Bill Before Putin Kills More Ukrainians, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, author, Feb. 17, 2024 (132:51 mins).  Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution provides that the President ”may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them….”

Time to seize the initiative from the flailing and chaotic subversive MAGA Mike, who is determined to serve Putin and Trump;

The example of Harry Truman, who won re-election in 1948 despite dismal polls, a hostile press corps, and a lack of money: at the Democratic harry trumanconvention, Truman called the Republican-controlled Congress back into session to approve Fair Deal legislation to fight inflation, solve the housing crisis, protect civil rights, and implement points of agreement in the both party platforms;

After the GOP refused to pass any of these bills, Truman went on a 22,000 mile whistlestop campaign tour of US, coast to coast and border to border, denouncing the ”Do-Nothing Eightieth Congress; Truman became ”Give ’em hell Harry,” taking 28 states to win re-election with 303 electoral votes and a plurality of 49.5% to GOP candidate Dewey’s 45.1% in the most stunning political upset in American history and a ”major miracle” (Newsweek);

Biden stresses that Navalny assassination shows true nature of the bloody dictatorship run by Trump-MAGA heartthrob Putin; Navalny’s widow indicts Kremlin tyrant for murder in dramatic intervention at Munich Wehrkunde Security Conference; Benedict Donald is silent; West must transfer $350 billion in Russian assets to Ukraine for defense; If all else fails, Biden should declare national emergency to transfer military supplies to Kiev by Executive Order;

Judge Engoron slams Benedict Donald with $364 million in fines on top of $88.3 million already imposed by New York federal court; Don banned from New York real estate for 3 years; Total fines now exceed $464 million plus interest, suggesting Trump may exhaust GOP cash reserves to pay lawyers in at least 9 separate losing legal battles; Survival of Trump’s fortune now in serious doubt; Sons Don Jr. and Eric also face fines and business bans;

Fani Willis offers profile in courage, defying grotesque Georgia inquisition demanded by lawyers for Trump and RICO co-defendants; Smirnov arrest shows linchpin of Comer’s impeachment case against Biden is a criminal lie; Shellenberger-Taibbi-Gutentag launch absurd rewrite of Russiagate history; Probe of Trump’s Russian links was triggered by warnings from nine US allies;

Suozzi wins NY-3 seat in Nassau and Queens, once again exposing bankruptcy of gaslighting polls run by malefactors of great wealth; Long Island Democrat pushes aside ultra-left border orthodoxy to wage devastating attack on MAGA demagogy while stressing path to citizenship, democracy and return to Roe; Rep. Grace Meng of neighboring NY-6 gave vital help with Asian voters, showing superlative mastery of united front team play; She continues spirit of tolerance exemplified by Flushing Remonstrance of 1657, the first call for freedom of religion in North America;

Zients and Garland should quit now to permit Biden administration to definitively seize initiative in sweeping away wreckage of moribund Republican Party; New York State expropriating much of Trump’s fortune may be seen by history as marking the end globalization era

 

 arthur engoron djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Ordered to Pay Fraud Penalty That Will Exceed $450 Million, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). The ruling in Donald Trump’s civil fraud case could cost him all his available cash. It also bars him from running a business in the state for three years. The judge (shown above at left) also barred the former president’s adult sons from serving in top roles at any New York company for two years.

A New York judge on Friday handed Donald J. Trump a crushing defeat in his civil fraud case, finding the former president liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth and ordering him to pay a penalty of nearly $355 million plus interest that could wipe out his entire stockpile of cash.

The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron caps a chaotic, yearslong case in which New York’s attorney general put Mr. Trump’s fantastical claims of wealth on trial. With no jury, the power was in Justice Engoron’s hands alone, and he came down hard: The judge delivered a sweeping array of punishments that threatens the former president’s business empire as he simultaneously contends with four criminal prosecutions and seeks to regain the White House.

Justice Engoron barred Mr. Trump for three years from serving in top roles at any New York company, including portions of his own Trump Organization.

eric trump djtHe also imposed a two-year ban on the former president’s adult sons and ordered that they pay more than $4 million each. One of them, Eric Trump (shown above at right), is the company’s de facto chief executive, and the ruling throws into doubt whether any member of the family can run the business in the near term.

letitia james o headshotThe judge also ordered that they pay substantial interest, pushing the penalty for the former president to $450 million, according to the attorney general, Letitia James, right.

In his unconventional style, Justice Engoron criticized Mr. Trump and the other defendants for refusing to admit wrongdoing for years. “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” he said.

He noted that Mr. Trump had not committed violent crimes and also conceded that “Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff.” Still, he wrote, “defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty but will have to either come up with the money or secure a bond within 30 days. The ruling will not render him bankrupt, because most of his wealth is tied up in real estate.

Mr. Trump will also most likely ask an appeals court to halt the restrictions on him and his sons from running the company while it considers the case.

But there might be little Mr. Trump can do to thwart one of the judge’s most consequential punishments: extending for three years the appointment of an independent monitor who will be the court’s eyes and ears at the Trump Organization, watching for fraud and second-guessing transactions that look suspicious.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have railed against the monitor, Barbara Jones, saying that her work has already cost the business more than $2.5 million; the decision to extend her oversight of the privately held family company could enrage the Trumps, who see her presence as an irritant and an insult.

The attorney general, Letitia James, had sought those consequences and more, asking for Mr. Trump to be permanently barred from New York’s business world. In the 2022 lawsuit that precipitated the trial, she accused Mr. Trump of inflating his net worth to obtain favorable treatment from banks and other lenders, attacking the foundation of his public persona as a billionaire businessman.

Even though the lenders made money from Mr. Trump, they were the purported victims in the case, with Ms. James arguing that absent his fraud, they could have made even more. The financial penalty reflects those lost profits, with nearly half of the $355 million — $168 million — representing the interest that Mr. Trump saved, and the remaining sum representing his profit on the recent sale of two properties, money that the judge has now clawed back.

Before the trial began, Justice Engoron ruled that the former president had used his annual financial statements to defraud the lenders, siding with the attorney general on her case’s central claim. The judge’s Friday ruling ratified almost all of the other accusations Ms. James had leveled against Mr. Trump, finding the former president liable for conspiring with his top executives to violate several state laws.

The judge’s decision for now grants Ms. James, a Democrat, a career-defining victory. She campaigned for her office promising to bring Mr. Trump to justice, and sat calmly in the courtroom during the trial as the former president attacked her, calling her a corrupt politician motivated solely by self-interest.

 

hunter biden beard

ny times logoNew York Times, Indictment of Informant Undercuts G.O.P.’s Impeachment Drive, Luke Broadwater, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). The effort by House Republicans to find wrongdoing on the part of President Biden took another big blow when a key source was charged with making up allegations.

fbi logoThe indictment of a former F.B.I. informant on charges of making up claims that President Biden and his son sought bribes from a Ukrainian energy company is the latest blow to the effort by House Republicans to assemble a credible impeachment case against the president.

Republicans had hailed the informant, Alexander Smirnov, as “credible” and “most respected.” They asserted that he had 17 recordings to back up his story that Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, shown above, had each accepted bribes of $5 million from Burisma, the Ukrainian firm that had paid Hunter Biden as much as $1 million a year for serving on its board.

But the tapes never materialized, and on Thursday, the Justice Department announced that it had charged Mr. Smirnov with making it all up.

That left Democrats calling for the immediate halt of the inquiry, and Republicans scrambling to find something else to use against the president.

“He is lying and it should be dropped and it’s just been an outrageous effort from the beginning,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the indictment exposed the evidence being cited by Republicans as false. “I hope it will be the final chapter of this ludicrous wild goose chase,” Mr. Raskin said.

The charges against Mr. Smirnov are unlikely to deter Republicans from marching forward with their investigation into the president. But they deeply undercut the foundation of the inquiry and give more weight to longstanding Democratic complaints that the impeachment drive is a purely political exercise intended to put Mr. Biden on the defensive as he seeks re-election.

Mr. Smirnov, 43, is accused of falsely telling the F.B.I. that Hunter Biden demanded the money to protect the company from an investigation by the country’s prosecutor general. But those claims were false, and Mr. Smirnov’s motivation for lying appeared to have been political, prosecutors wrote, citing anti-Biden messages he wrote during the 2020 campaign.

“They’re making an impeachment inquiry based on — it looks like now — criminal conduct,” said Kimberly Wehle, a law professor at the University of Baltimore. “It’s not like where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s like the smoke is actually a lie and a federal felony.”

The charges against Mr. Smirnov are not the first time the central thesis of the Republican case — that Mr. Biden accepted bribes from Ukraine — has been undercut or shot down. Attempts to prove that Mr. Biden was on the take have repeatedly failed over the years, according to congressional testimony.

One example stemmed from an incident in 2019, as allies of President Donald J. Trump were hunting for allegations of corruption against Mr. Biden. Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, secured an interview with the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, that the men hoped would prove a bribery allegation central to their case.

But the interview backfired, undercutting the claims of bribery. Mr. Giuliani became enraged and demanded that Mr. Parnas tell no one of what the Ukrainian had said, according to Mr. Parnas’s account to Congress.

“Make sure nobody sees this,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Bury this.”

Mr. Parnas concluded in a letter to Congress: “There was no evidence of bribery or extortion that anyone could find.”

Other officials who have undercut the Republican case against Mr. Biden include Petro Poroshenko, the former Ukrainian president; Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations; Gordon Sondland, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the European Union; career U.S. State Department officials; and several of Hunter Biden’s business associates.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former FBI informant charged with lying about Biden business, Devlin Barrett, Feb. 16, 2024 (print ed.). Charges come amid pitched accusations from Republicans in Congress over alleged informants.

david weissSpecial counsel David Weiss, left — who has previously filed criminal charges against President Biden’s son Hunter (shown above) — announced new charges Thursday against a former FBI informant who officials say lied about the Bidens’ business dealings.

Alexander Smirnov, 43, is described in charging documents as a former confidential human source for the FBI who gave agents false information in 2020 about a prominent political figure and his son.

The description of the two individuals matches that of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and a person familiar with the matter said those are the individuals about whom Smirnov lied. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Los Angeles charges Smirnov with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record.

fbi logoFor months, congressional Republicans have tried to use some FBI informant claims to argue that Hunter Biden — and President Biden — engaged in corrupt business deals and that the FBI did not pursue those claims.

Now, the same prosecutor who is seeking to convict Hunter Biden of gun and tax crimes has also brought charges against a person who allegedly made false claims of corruption against the Bidens.

Thursday’s indictment implicitly argues that some of the most sensational charges Republicans have sought to level against President Biden and his son were based on lies.

Smirnov, according to the indictment, “transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery Justice Department log circularallegations against Public Official 1, the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President, after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his candidacy.”

Authorities charge that Smirnov, in talking to his FBI handler, repeatedly expressed dislike for Joe Biden, and at one point texted the agent that Biden was "going to jail.”

burisma logoSmirnov allegedly reported to an FBI agent in 2017 that he had a phone call with the owner of the Ukrainian firm Burisma, in which it was discussed that “Public Official 1’s son, was a member of Burisma’s Board” — which was publicly known information at the time.

In 2020, the indictment charges Smirnov brought new claims to the bureau, including that he knew of conversations from 2015 or 2016 in which Burisma executives said they hired the son “to protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.”

Smirnov’s claims that he knew of those conversations were false, the indictment charges.

U.S. authorities said that when agents questioned Smirnov again in 2023, he repeated some past false claims, changed other parts of his story and suggested new falsehoods after claiming to have met with Russian officials.

Smirnov was arrested at a Las Vegas airport on Wednesday, when he flew into the United States from overseas, the Justice Department said.

 

alexny navalny ap denis kaminevAlexei Navalny was President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent and a fierce critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Denis Kaminev photo via the Associated Press)

washington post logoWashington Post, Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, dies in prison, officials say, Staff Report, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). Russia’s jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, died in a Russian prison colony Friday, Russia’s prison service announced in the early afternoon, without giving the cause of his death. News of his death flooded across Russian Telegram news channels early Friday afternoon and was later confirmed in a curt announcement by prison authorities.

Russian FlagPrison authorities reported that Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk, “almost immediately losing consciousness,” and added that a medical team failed to resuscitate him.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had “some very serious questions to answer” about Navalny’s death, while European Council President Charles Michel saying the bloc considers Russia “responsible for this tragic death.” A spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the West of having “its conclusion ready” before more information was available.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Prison Certain and Death Likely, Why Did Navalny Return to Russia? Neil MacFarquhar, Feb. 17, 2024. Aleksei Navalny thrived on agitation and feared irrelevancy in exile. Winning respect as he continued to lambast the Kremlin behind bars cost him his life.

alexey navalny 2017There was one question that Russians repeatedly asked the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, right,  who died in a remote Arctic penal colony on Friday, and he confessed that he found it a little annoying.

Why, after surviving a fatal poisoning attempt widely blamed on the Kremlin, had he returned to Russia from his extended convalescence abroad to face certain imprisonment and possible death? Even his prison guards, turning off their recording devices, asked him why he had come back, he said.

Russian Flag“I don’t want to give up either my country or my beliefs,” Mr. Navalny wrote in a Jan. 17 Facebook post to mark the third anniversary of his return and arrest in 2021. “I cannot betray either the first or the second. If your beliefs are worth something, you must be willing to stand up for them. And if necessary, make some sacrifices.”

That was the direct answer, but for many Russians, both those who knew him and those who did not, the issue was more complex. Some of them considered it almost a classical Greek tragedy: The hero, knowing that he is doomed, returns home anyway because, well, if he didn’t, he would not be the hero.

ny times logoNew York Times, Aleksei Navalny’s Allies Confirm His Death, Ivan Nechepurenko, Feb. 17, 2024.  A spokeswoman for the team that has continued Mr. Navalny’s work said his mother had received the official notification.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Biden said President Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for Aleksei Navalny’s death, Peter Baker, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). President Biden condemned “Putin and his thugs” for the Russian dissident’s demise, while European allies urgently sought assurances that the United States would not abandon them.

Russian FlagPresident Biden blamed President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia personally on Friday for the reported death of the imprisoned Russian dissident Aleksei A. Navalny, and cited the case in pressing House Republicans to approve military aid to Ukraine in its war with Moscow.

But while he once threatened to impose “devastating” consequences on Mr. Putin if Mr. Navalny died in prison, the president conceded that there was not much more he could do after the sanctions and other actions taken in the last two years in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Mr. Biden said in a televised statement from the White House. “Putin is responsible. What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled, not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world.”

Asked if Mr. Navalny had been assassinated, Mr. Biden said the United States did not have a full understanding of the circumstances. “The answer is, we don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

The death of Mr. Navalny came at a delicate moment in America’s confrontation with Russia over its aggression in Europe and repression at home. House Republicans are blocking $60.1 billion in military aid to Ukraine at the behest of former President Donald J. Trump, who himself is boasting that he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO allies that do not spend enough on their armed forces.

Mr. Biden is seeking to make the case for American leadership in the world and reassure European allies that the United States still has their back. He sent Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to the Munich Security Conference in Germany this week to defuse fears of an American retreat. But the mood in Munich was dark even before reports of Mr. Navalny’s death. American attendees said everywhere they went, they were besieged by distraught Europeans.

ny times logoNew York Times, “Dictators do not go on vacation,” Ukraine’s president warned, calling on world leaders for support, Peter Baker, David E. Sanger and Erika Solomon, Feb. 17, 2024. President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back against skepticism of a Ukraine victory, calling on world leaders not to ask when the war would end, but why Russia was still able to wage it.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called on world leaders not to abandon his country, citing the recent death of a Russian dissident as a reminder that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would continue to test the international order, and pushing back against the idea of a negotiated resolution to the war.

munich security 2024Mr. Zelensky, speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, said that if Ukraine lost the war to Russia, it would be “catastrophic” not only for Kyiv, but for other nations as well.

“Please do not ask Ukraine when the war will end,” he said. “Ask yourself why is Putin still able to continue it.”

Russian FlagThe two topics that have loomed over nearly every discussion at the yearly meeting of world leaders have been Russia and the potential weakening of trans-Atlantic relations, amid an increasingly pessimistic assessment of Kyiv’s ability to beat Moscow.

Mr. Zelensky’s speech on Saturday came as Ukrainian forces retreated from a longtime stronghold, Avdiivka, giving Russian troops their first significant victory in almost a year.

And it came a day after attendees of the conference were shaken by the news that the prominent dissident Aleksei A. Navalny had died in a Russian Arctic penal colony. It was a stark reminder, Mr. Zelensky warned, of how Moscow would continue to test the Western-backed international rules-based order.

“This is Russia’s war against any rules at all,” Mr. Zelensky said. “But how long will the world let Russia be like this? This is the main question today.”

Mr. Zelensky’s impassioned call was in dramatic contrast to his last appearance in Munich, two years ago. At that moment, an invasion seemed inevitable, but European officials were still insisting, despite the satellite evidence of massing troops, that Mr. Putin was bluffing. Even Mr. Zelensky, in his public appearance on the same stage that he used on Saturday, had said he did not believe Mr. Putin would dare to attack.

ny times logoNew York Times, Avdiivka, Longtime Stronghold for Ukraine, Falls to Russians, Carlotta Gall, Marc Santora and Constant Méheut, Feb. 17, 2024. With Ukraine’s forces at risk of encirclement, the top military commander ordered a retreat. It was the first major gain by Russian forces since last May.

Ukraine ordered the complete withdrawal from the decimated city of Avdiivka before dawn on Saturday, surrendering a position that had been a military stronghold for the better part of a decade, in the face of withering Russian assault.

Russian Flag“Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines,” Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, said in a statement issued overnight.

The fall of Avdiivka, a city that was once home to some 30,000 people but is now a smoking ruin, is the first major gain Russian forces have achieved since May of last year. After rebuffing a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer and fall, Russian forces in recent weeks have been pressing the attack across nearly the entire length of the 600-mile-long front.

The Ukrainian withdrawal on Saturday follows a bloody endgame that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the two-year-old war. Relying on its superiority in personnel and weaponry, Russia pounded the city with aerial bombardments and ground assaults, even as its fighters suffered a staggering amount of casualties.

Outgunned Ukrainian forces had begun withdrawing from positions in the southern part of the city on Wednesday, and since then have been engaged in a desperate battle to avoid encirclement inside the city as Russian forces advanced from multiple directions. As Russian bombers pummeled Avdiivka, Ukraine said its forces had targeted and shot down three Russian warplanes.

Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the head of Ukraine’s forces in the south, said there had been no choice but to withdraw, given the Russian advantage in firepower and the number of soldiers Russia was willing to throw into the battle.

“In a situation where the enemy is advancing on the corpses of their own soldiers with a 10-to-1 shell advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only correct solution,” he said in a statement.

 

yulia navalnaya pool kai pfaffenbach 2 16 2024

 Yulia Navalnaya, Aleksei Navalny’s wife, at the Munich Security Conference on Friday (Pool photo by Kai Pfaffenbach)

ny times logoNew York Times, Navalny’s Wife Makes Dramatic Appearance After Reports of His Death, Peter Baker, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). In a surprise address in Munich, Yulia Navalnaya said that if her husband, Aleksei A. Navalny, was dead, those responsible “will be brought to justice.”

Just hours after her husband was reported dead, Yulia Navalnaya made a dramatic, surprise appearance at a gathering of world leaders in Munich on Friday. Taking the stage, she denounced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and vowed that he and his circle “will be brought to justice.”

alexey navalny 2017The diplomats and political leaders at the Munich Security Conference were already reeling from reports that her husband, Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian dissident, had died in prison under suspicious circumstances when Ms. Navalny stunned the hall by striding in. Conference organizers quickly wrapped up a session with Vice President Kamala Harris and turned the munich security 2024microphone over to Ms. Navalnaya.

“We cannot believe Putin and his government,” Ms. Navalnaya told the audience. “They are lying constantly. But if it’s true, I would like Putin and all his staff, everybody around him, his government, his friends, I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our country, with my family and with my husband. They will be brought to justice, and this day will come soon.”

Ms. Navalnaya spoke clearly and calmly, with remarkable composure, her face etched with evident pain but under complete control. Standing at the lectern, she clasped her hands in front of her and stared straight ahead as if willing herself to focus on her message.

The audience was captivated and gave her an emotional standing ovation when she finished.

In the annals of international meetings, it would be hard to remember a more riveting moment, when the careful scripts of government leaders laden with diplomatic jargon fall to the wayside as life-and-death questions play out so intensely in front of them.

The conference was already focused on security threats from Russia, and Friday’s news added new urgency to the gathering.

Russian FlagMs. Navalnaya had come to Munich along with Leonid Volkov, her husband’s longtime chief of staff, to keep world leaders focused on her husband’s case and the clampdown on dissent by Mr. Putin’s government. She met on Thursday evening with conference attendees, who described conversations hoping for better days ahead.

Ms. Harris addressed the reports of Mr. Navalny’s death at the beginning of her speech to the conference, extending her sympathy to Ms. Navalnaya and saying that Washington was still gathering information. “If confirmed,” Ms. Harris said, “this would be a further sign of Putin’s brutality. Whatever story they tell let us, be clear: Russia is responsible, and we’ll have more to say on this later.”

Over the years, through Mr. Navalny’s near death from poisoning and his long prison sentences, many Russians hoped that Ms. Navalnaya might step in to become an alternative leading figure in the opposition. She has always demurred.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prominent antagonist of Putin exposed corruption at Russia’s highest levels of power, David E. Hoffman and Harrison Smith, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). He emerged as the most prominent antagonist of Russian President Vladimir Putin while exposing self-dealing at the country’s highest levels of power.

Alexei Navalny, the steely Russian lawyer who exposed corruption, self-dealing and abuse of power by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies, sustaining a popular challenge to Putin for more than a decade despite constant pressure from the authorities and a near-fatal poisoning, died Feb. 16 in a Russian prison colony just above the Arctic Circle. He was 47.

His death at Kharp, in the Yamal-Nanets Autonomous Region, was announced by Russia’s prison service. Prison authorities said in a statement that Mr. Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk, “almost immediately losing consciousness,” and added that a medical team failed to resuscitate him.

Russian FlagMr. Navalny had endured the country’s harshest prison conditions since December; the region is brutally cold. In August, his prison sentence was extended by 19 years on charges connected to his anti-corruption foundation. Supporters said the charges were politically motivated and part of a campaign by Putin to silence him.

Mr. Navalny emerged over the years as a singularly successful blogger, activist and opposition leader in Putin’s Russia, reaching a mass audience through online videos that detailed ruling-class corruption and lavish spending. He was handsome, articulate and charismatic — a natural politician in a country where there is virtually no competitive public politics.

 

Kamala Harris Munich Security Conference 2 16 2024

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris seeks to reassure allies at Munich Security Conference, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Emily Rauhala, Michael Birnbaum
and Souad Mekhennet, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Vice President Harris (shown above) tried to allay concerns among European allies about American resolve in major conflicts while also sending a message to voters at home: Electing Donald Trump in November would destabilize the global order and weaken the United States.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 file“I know there are questions here in Europe and around the world about the future of America’s role of global leadership,” she told the conference on Friday afternoon. “These are questions the American people must also ask ourselves.”

munich security 2024Harris’s speech — which marks her third appearance at the annual confab of world leaders and policy and security officials — precedes a busy weekend in which she will meet several European leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking just days after Trump set off new anxiety by saying he would encourage Russia to attack NATO allies that underspend on defense, Harris may find it difficult to reassure Washington’s transatlantic partners, who are keenly aware of the electoral uncertainty of this year’s presidential contest.

But Harris argued that a worldview that includes isolationism and support for authoritarian governments only weakens the United States and hurts its people.

Russian Flag“That worldview is dangerous, destabilizing and indeed shortsighted. That view would weaken America,” she said.

It is in many ways a global spin on Biden and Harris’s reelection message that Trump would undo the progress the administration has made on rebuilding trust in Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. political uncertainty looms over key security conference in Munich, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Emily Rauhala, Michael Birnbaum and Souad Mekhennet, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.).

 

truth social logo

Politico, Trump’s Truth Social nears Wall Street listing that could yield millions, Declan Harty, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). The deal could inject some $300 million into the company, which operates Trump’s social media bullhorn, Truth Social.

politico CustomDonald Trump may be finally headed for Wall Street.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has signed off on one of the last outstanding hurdles to a more than two-year-old planned merger to take the former president’s media venture public, according to the companies behind the deal, Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp.

Now, pending final approval from investors, Trump Media would join the ranks of thousands of other public companies trading in the U.S. The deal could inject some $300 million into the company, which operates Trump’s social media bullhorn, Truth Social. And Trump himself will gain a major stake in the company.

“I never thought it would get to this point,” said Julian Klymochko, CEO of Accelerate Financial Technologies, which operates a fund focused on so-called blank-check companies like Digital World that seek to acquire private companies to take them public. “Deals die on the vine, but this one somehow managed to survive despite seemingly everything going against it.”

The SEC’s green light is a surprising turn for the beleaguered deal — injecting new hope into Trump’s next act in business, just as the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign against President Joe Biden heats up.

Shares in Digital World Acquisition Corp., or DWAC, skyrocketed more than 25 percent on the news Thursday.

Since the beginning, the planned union has been mired in regulatory issues, market volatility and looming deadlines that have posed existential threats to the deal.

The SEC began investigating the transaction soon after its unveiling in late 2021, resulting in insider trading charges against a trio of Florida men involved in the deal as well as a separate settlement with Digital World over the company’s disclosures. Digital World agreed to pay $18 million last year to resolve the allegations.

Executives for Digital World and Trump Media have had to push investors repeatedly for more time to complete the deal.

Feb. 15

 

djt indicted proof 

 

 Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Imagesand TNS).

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference to discuss his indictment of former President Donald Trump, outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 (Angela Weiss photo via AFP, Getty Images and TNS).

ny times logoNew York Times, In Manhattan, a Possible Court Date in a Trump Criminal Trial, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and Kate Christobek, Feb. 15, 2024. A date may be set for Donald Trump’s trial on charges that he disguised hush-money payments. It would be the first such trial of a former president.

A New York judge on Thursday is expected to rule on whether the Manhattan district attorney’s case against Donald J. Trump can go to trial as early as next month, in what would be the first criminal prosecution of a former American president.

juan merchan djtThe judge, Juan M. Merchan (shown above left), convened a hearing at 9:30 a.m. to address Mr. Trump’s long-shot request that he throw out the charges, which stem from a hush-money payment to a porn star. If Justice Merchan rejects Mr. Trump’s request — as is expected — then the judge will most likely set a firm date for the trial, which had been tentatively scheduled for March 25.

Mr. Trump, who is expected to attend the hearing on Thursday, faces 91 felony counts across four indictments from prosecutors in Washington, Florida and Georgia as well as Manhattan, all while he seeks to lock up the Republican presidential nomination.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, was the first to obtain an indictment of Mr. Trump, accusing him last year of covering up a potential sex scandal involving the porn star during and after the 2016 election. Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, has cast his case not as a condemnation of sordid financial dealings, but as an example of Mr. Trump’s interfering in an election by concealing crucial information from voters.

Until recently, another criminal case involving accusations of election interference was poised to go to trial first. That case, filed in federal court in Washington by a special counsel, Jack Smith, centers on Mr. Trump’s effort to remain in power after his 2020 election defeat.

Mr. Bragg had indicated a willingness for the Washington case to jump ahead in line, underscoring its historical significance. But appeals from Mr. Trump postponed that trial, initially scheduled for March 4.

Here’s what else you need to know about Thursday’s hearing:

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair.

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair from election finance officials and the public.

Mr. Bragg’s case is best known for its salacious facts: During the 2016 campaign, the porn star, Stormy Daniels, threatened to go public with her story of a tryst with Mr. Trump, who then authorized a $130,000 payoff to keep her quiet. Paying hush money is not inherently illegal, but Mr. Trump is accused of falsifying records to hide a potential scandal from voters.

The case might come down to the word of Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who paid Ms. Daniels just days before voters went to the polls. Once Mr. Trump was elected, he reimbursed Mr. Cohen. This is the conduct at the heart of the case. Mr. Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, is expected to testify that Mr. Trump authorized his family business to falsely record the payments to Mr. Cohen as legal expenses.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that Justice Merchan should throw out the case, deriding it as a “discombobulated package of politically motivated charges marred by legal defects.” They have also disputed whether the charges should be felonies. Mr. Trump has accused Mr. Bragg of carrying out a witch hunt against him.

This week is a perilous one for Mr. Trump. A day after Justice Merchan holds his hearing, another New York judge is expected to deliver a final ruling in Mr. Trump’s civil fraud case. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, is weighing the New York attorney general’s request that he penalize Mr. Trump nearly $370 million and effectively oust him from the New York business world.

In addition to the Manhattan and Washington criminal cases, Mr. Trump faces federal charges in Florida, also brought by Mr. Smith, over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. In the Georgia case, Mr. Trump is accused of seeking to subvert the 2020 election results in that state. On Thursday, at the same time that Mr. Trump is expected in Justice Merchan’s courtroom, there is a hearing in the Georgia case concerning a romantic relationship between the two prosecutors leading the case.

 

fulton county jail

Fulton County Prosecutors Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (Reuters file photo by Elijah Nouvelage).

ny times logoNew York Times, In Georgia, a Push to Disqualify the Main Prosecutors, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Feb. 15, 2024. A judge in Atlanta will hear evidence about the defense’s claim of a disqualifying conflict of interest among the main prosecutors.

georgia mapThe three-year-long investigation of Donald J. Trump and his allies for election interference in Georgia faces a major hurdle on Thursday, when a judge begins to assess whether the lead prosecutor and her office should be disqualified from the case.

A hearing that began in the morning, delves into a romantic relationship between the two main prosecutors — Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, and Nathan J. Wade (both shown above), whom she hired to run the case. The defense argues that their relationship has created an untenable conflict of interest.

Here are the details:

  • michael romanThe revelations about the relationship between Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade surfaced in a legal filing last month from Michael Roman, right, a former Trump campaign official who is one of the defendants in the Georgia election case. Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade acknowledged the relationship in a February court filing.
  • Lawyers for Mr. Roman and other defendants are seeking to disqualify the two prosecutors from the case. Their argument hinges on assertions of a financial conflict of interest: Mr. Wade has been paid more than $650,000 since he was hired in 2021, and during that time he has spent money on vacations with Ms. Willis. Defense lawyers argue that the money paid to Mr. Wade creates an incentive for Ms. Willis to prolong the case.
  • Ms. Willis, who acknowledged the romantic relationship in a filing last week, said it began only after Mr. Wade was hired, and was irrelevant to the case or her ability to lead it. She said that the costs of the couple’s personal travel had been “divided roughly evenly” between her and Mr. Wade, so it represented no financial conflict.
  • Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, right (Photo via Superior Court of Fulton County).Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, right, the presiding judge in the Trump case, was persuaded that there was sufficient reason to hold an evidentiary hearing delving into the relationship. “It’s clear that disqualification can occur if evidence is produced demonstrating an actual conflict or the appearance of one,” the judge said at a hearing on Monday afternoon.
  • Ms. Willis, Mr. Wade and a number of others have been subpoenaed to testify at the hearing, including more than half a dozen prosecutors and others who work in the district attorney’s office, as well as Mr. Wade’s former divorce lawyer. Ms. Willis’s office has indicated that the prosecutors may call her father, who lives with her in Atlanta, as a witness. The evidentiary hearing is expected to last into Friday or longer.
  • Mr. Trump and 18 other defendants were charged last August with racketeering and a variety of other charges in connection with a plot to subvert the presidential election results in a number of swing states. Four of the defendants have already pleaded guilty.

Feb. 13

Covert Action Magazine, Hugh Aynesworth: CIA Media Asset, FBI Informer, Friend of Lyndon Johnson White House and Media’s Darling JFK Assassination “Lone Nutter” Journalist Dies at 92, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Feb. 13, 2024. In 1967, the CIA issued a memo to its army of media “assets” instructing them on how to counter so-called “conspiracy theorists” who challenged the veracity of the Warren Commission report, which determined that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

One of the CIA’s “assets” is believed to have been Hugh G. Aynesworth, a long-standing reporter for The Dallas Morning News who made a career of trying to invalidate the claims of so-called JFK conspiracy theorists.

Aynesworth died on December 23 at his home in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 92.

Texas television station KERA published a laudatory obituary heralding Aynesworth, who started working at The Dallas Morning News in 1960, describing him as a “renowned Dallas journalist and bestselling author.” The article went on to quote Robert Mong, the former editor-in-chief at The Dallas Morning News, who said: “Personally, I don’t know that there’s ever been a better reporter to come out of Dallas, really.”

But according to noted JFK researcher Robert Morrow, “Hugh did the same thing to truth and the JFK assassination as [serial killer] Ted Bundy did to the Florida State University Chi Omega house on January 15, 1978, except Aynesworth [producer of a Netflix documentary on Ted Bundy] did his butchering for 60 years.”

A native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, who started his journalism career as freelancer for the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram and sports writer for the Fort Smith (Arkansas) Times Record, Aynesworth claimed to have been the only reporter present in both Dealey Plaza, when Kennedy was fatally shot, and the Texas Theatre when police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald.

Aynesworth also claimed to have been present in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters when Jack Ruby shot Oswald and was the first newspaperman to get an interview with Oswald’s widow, Marina, whom he bragged about having an affair with.[4]

In a May 1967 Newsweek article “The JFK Assassination Conspiracy,” which he sent an advanced copy to White House Press Secretary George Christian, Aynesworth accused New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison of engaging in bribery to advance what Aynesworth considered to be conspiratorial theories about the JFK assassination.

Feb. 10

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary: Corrupt Supremes on track to violate oaths of office by negating plain text of XIV Amendment’s webster tarpley 2007Insurrection clause to keep Trump on Colorado ballot, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Feb. 10, 2024. Thomas defies call from Chairman Durbin of Senate Judiciary Committee to recuse based on wife’s infamous complicity in rebellion;

Even three Democratic justices capitulate to MAGA program; Court is vitiated by ideological poison of Legal Positivism, now available as originalism (fake history or Geschichtskletscherei) or textualism (stupid nominalism in tradition of William of Ockham); Remedy is jurisprudence of Natural Law, meaning justice, morality, awareness of social consequences, and fulfilling tasks of government as expounded by Preamble to US Constitution;

Time to fire DoJ MAGA hack Robert Hur, the special counsel probing Biden for mishandling classified documents; Hur is the new Comey, having violated DoJ rules for special counsel by producing a 388 page screed defaming President and portraying him as senile; Hur’s obiter dicta could also open him to a lawsuit for defamation;

With AG Barr’s distortion of March 2019 Mueller Report, misleading intro hid Trump’s real Russiagate misdeeds; Now Hur’s lying introduction alleges crimes which are explicitly denied in main body of report;

Hur report is a blatant hatchet job to help Trump while bidding for post of Attorney General in a second Trump regime; Hur report was screened by AG Merrick Garland, who has failed to redact gratuitous and slanderous material that violates DoJ regulations mandating that prosecutors put up an indictment or shut up about derogatory material they have found; Garland is worst cabinet secretary, and must resign or be fired;

Garland failed for almost two years to name a special counsel, making Trump’s current delaying strategy possible; He has not moved against Congressional MAGAts implicated in January 6 coup, and has ignored rampant Supreme Court corruption;

Press riot at White House Thursday evening when Biden refutes Hur report as crazed journalistic hooligans scream their scurrilous objections on orders from their super-rich, Biden-hating owners; Failed White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients permitted this disservice to the President and should go back to his true calling in private equity;

MAGA Quislings tank border security bill to enable Trump’s demagogy, but mainly to block funding for Ukraine defense as loyal toadies of Putin; MAGA Mike bungles impeachment of Mayorkas, highest ranking Hispanic in Biden administration;

Trump must present immunity appeal to rotten Suprem by Monday; Engoron moving toward imposing NY corporate death sentence after reports of Weisselberg perjury surface; Pro-Trump Mar a Lago judge stalls, wants to reveal witnesses to MAGA goons;

Behind the worldwide chaos: death agony of economic and globalization is marked by decline of all-powerful plutocratic finance oligarchs, who are now fighting for survival: Central engagement will be contest between arch-plutocrat Trump and Biden’s return to the FDR New Deal.

Feb. 6

 

djt handwave file

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, US appeals court says, Eric Tucker and Alanna Durkin Richer, Feb. 6, 2024. It’s the second time in as many months that judges have spurned Trump’s immunity arguments and said he can be prosecuted for actions undertaken while in the White House and in the run-up to the Jan. 6 riot.

A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting the former president’s claims that he is immune from prosecution.

The decision marks the second time in as many months that judges have spurned Trump’s immunity arguments and held that he can be prosecuted for actions undertaken while in the White House and in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. But it also sets the stage for additional appeals from the Republican ex-president that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The trial was originally set for March, but it was postponed last week and the judge didn’t immediately set a new date.

“We conclude that the interest in criminal accountability, held by both the public and the Executive Branch, outweighs the potential risks of chilling Presidential action and permitting vexatious litigation,” the judges wrote.

The trial date carries enormous political ramifications, with the Republican primary front-runner hoping to delay it until after the November election. If Trump defeats President Joe Biden, he could presumably try to use his position as head of the executive branch to order a new attorney general to dismiss the federal cases or he potentially could seek a pardon for himself.

The appeals court took center stage in the immunity dispute after the Supreme Court last month said it was at least temporarily staying out of it, rejecting a request from special counsel Jack Smith to take up the matter quickly and issue a speedy ruling.

The legally untested question before the court was whether former presidents can be prosecuted after they leave office for actions taken in the White House related to their official duties.

The Supreme Court has held that presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts, and Trump’s lawyers have for months argued that that protection should be extended to criminal prosecution as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2024: Republicans fear they will be targets in Trump’s ‘retribution’ campaign, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Feb. 6, 2024. The former president is already attacking those who have endorsed his GOP opponents or have crossed him in other ways.

trump 2024Donald Trump has promised a presidency of “retribution” if he wins another term in office. Many Republicans fear they might face the brunt of it.

djt maga hatThe former president has threatened to have donors to his Republican opponent Nikki Haley “permanently barred” from his orbit. A top adviser has vowed to destroy the career of Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), House Freedom Caucus chairman, after he endorsed another Trump challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Trump campaign has also attempted to condemn former aides who worked for his rivals during the GOP nomination fight and have twisted arms demanding endorsements, telling lawmakers that Trump will remember exactly when they backed him.

“MAGA disowns her and anyone else that associates/works with her,” read a recent Trump campaign social media message targeting the Trump campaign’s 2020 communications director for working last year to elect DeSantis. “TRAITOR!”

Even new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has been dragged into the crossfire. One of his top political consultants, Jason Hebert, works for Axiom Strategies, a consulting company that advised the DeSantis presidential effort. A Trump adviser called Johnson after he won the speakership to warn him not to work with Axiom, according to multiple people familiar with the call, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal details. Hebert, a college friend of Johnson’s, is expected to start billing his work for Johnson through a company not tied to Axiom, one of the people said.

The high-dollar donor community, which has been told in various ways to rally quickly behind Trump, has taken notice.

“People took that as, ‘I am going to be president and I am going to investigate you,’” said Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina GOP chairman and Haley backer, when Trump threatened to punish her donors. “There is always a threat. If you are not for him he’s against you.”

  • What the 14th Amendment says about whether Trump can be on the ballot
  • What we’re watching: How Haley frames her expected victory
  • Haley slams Republicans for stopping border deal to help Trump

Feb. 3

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview: Will the Supreme Court uphold the plain text of the Constitution, or will threats and bribes induce them into an Orwellian denial of the Fourteenth Amendment’s exclusion of insurrectionist Trump from the ballot? webster tarpley 2007 Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentatory, Feb. 3, 2024 (156:05 mins.).

If Democrats want to defend the Constitution from Trump, here is where they must start; Trump got all the due process he was entitled to when XIV Amendment was ratified in 1868; Beware the perils of hyper-democracy, a key factor in the 1933 destruction of Germany’s Weimar Republic constitution;

ICE logoFriends of the court brief from 25 historians makes plain that Insurrection Clause was intended to apply to presidents, and therefore to Trump, as officers of US federal government; Ban on insurrectionists in public office was intended to be permanent, with an emphatic view to excluding future offenders; this provision is self-executing and does not require further legislation by Congress or court convictions; the key roles of Reps. Thaddeus Stevens (right, a Republican thaddeus stevens brady handycongressman from Pennsylvania shown in a photo by Brady Handy), Jonathan Bingham, and Benjamin Butler;

Confederate ex-President and arch-traitor Jefferson Davis (shown below at left in a photo by Matthew Brady in approximately 1859 when Davis was a U.S. senator). might have sought White House in 1870s, but XIV Amendment barred him and he acknowledged it; Originalists and jefferson davis 1859 matthew bradytextualists cannot today deny the force of this clause;

Judge Luttig’s brief represents that rarity, the views of an actual conservative concerned with tradition, precedent, custom, norms, protocols, conventions, and stare decisis — in contrast to MAGA demagogues who proclaim they want to tear up the Constitution;

Reports of long-overdue indictments for Congressmen and Senators implicated in January 6 putsch attempt; these are also the main saboteurs of foreign military aid; Trump hypes US-Mexico border situation as apocalyptic emergency for demagogic purposes, but then demands solutions wait at least a year for his supposed regime;

Biden should ready emergency powers to make sure military aid to Ukraine arrives in time to defeat Russian aggressors; European Union rebuffs sinister bid by Russian satellite Orban of Hungary to deliver Kiev into hands of Kremlin; 50 billion euros now headed for Ukraine;

Realism at last: Biden leads Trump 50-44 overall in latest Quinnipiac poll, with epic 58-36 Dem lead among women voters; Bidenomics created a stunning 353,000 jobs in January; Trump faces cash crunch after spending $55 million on lawyers in 2023; RNC hack Ronna McDaniel’s tenure under heavy attack; GOP state organizations impoverished and/or bitterly factionalized in Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota; MAGA personalities are not selling well, so they try to use Taylor Swift as a wedge issue;

Biden State Department joins with British Foreign Office to study diplomatic recognition of Palestinian Authority as sovereign state without reference to Israel; Biden has thus revived two-state solution after decades of frustration; US readies sanctions against leaders of armed fascist settlers in West Bank, perhaps including Smotrich and Ben Gvir of Netanyahu cabinet; Why Dearborn attacks on Biden are tragically misguided; Remembering Bourguiba’s 1965 realistic advice to Nasser that could have prevented 6-day war;

Breaking: Biden orders air strikes on 85 pro-Iranian militia targets in Syria and Iraq to deter repeats of last week’s rocket hit that killed 3 US soldiers at Tower 22 in Jordan.

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Politico, Special counsel mounts forceful — and unusual — defense of Trump classified documents case, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Feb. 3, 2024. The routine filing features a public rebuttal of “misimpressions” allegedly fueled by the former president.

politico CustomSpecial counsel Jack Smith used a routine legal filing Friday to offer a forceful public rebuttal against Donald Trump’s claims that his criminal prosecution for allegedly hoarding classified documents has been infected by politics and legal impropriety.

The 68-page document began with what Smith’s team described as an effort to correct false assertions the former president had made about the nature of the case against him.

“It is necessary to set the record straight on the underlying facts that led to this prosecution,” the prosecutors argued. “The government will clear the air on those issues … because the defendants’ misstatements, if unanswered, leave a highly misleading impression.”

What followed was a lengthy recitation of the events that led prosecutors to suspect Trump had been squirreling reams of classified records at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Rather than the bloodthirsty partisan endeavor Trump describes, prosecutors say federal officials from the National Archives, intelligence community and White House counsel’s office took “measures” and “incremental” steps to retrieve the documents — often in coordination with some of Trump’s own designated advisers — before escalating the matter as the former president continued to resist.

The approach taken in the legal brief is somewhat unusual for the Justice Department. Though the filing was submitted to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, at times it sounded like an opening argument to a jury Trump could face in the future or the first chapter of a report meant to detail investigative findings to the public.

It’s unclear whether the “misimpressions” prosecutors say they’re trying to correct are ones they fear Cannon could fall prey to, whether the target audience for the brief is a larger one, and how the Fort Pierce, Fla.-based Trump appointee will respond to the tactic.

The substance of the prosecution brief is aimed at countering the demands by Trump and his two co-defendants — Walt Nauta and Carlos DeOliveira — for access to a broad range of documents from across the government that the defense attorneys contend could be useful in defending their clients. They’ve asked Cannon to consider massive executive branch agencies and the White House as appendages of Smith’s prosecution team — a decision that could open their files to defendants beyond the typical evidence-sharing that occurs for witnesses in criminal proceedings.

The filing included some new details about the origins of the probe, particularly as Trump’s liaisons to the National Archives began a dialogue with key White House officials about how to facilitate the return of missing documents. Though Trump has long portrayed the Biden White House’s involvement in the process as a sign of sinister politics, Smith’s team described it as limited, necessary and well-known to Trump’s aides, who did not protest.

That was a running theme throughout the prosecutors’ filing: Where Trump spoke in ominous terms about a monolithic “Biden administration” acting against him, the reality was that career officials from multiple agencies, acting on their discrete responsibilities, took standard and even “innocuous” actions to fulfill their duties, according to the brief.

The brief is also peppered with factual claims that make Trump’s behavior sound more serious and egregious. When discussing the defense’s request for more information from the Secret Service, prosecutors assert that their interaction with the federal agency that guards the president and his family underscored Trump’s recklessness in keeping a large volume of classified information at his Florida home, which also serves as a social club and a site for political and social events with lengthy guest lists.

The Secret Service reported that “of the approximately 48,000 guests who visited Mar-a-Lago between January 2021 and May 2022, while classified documents were at the property, only 2,200 had their names checked and only 2,900 passed through magnetometers,” the prosecution filing says

Feb. 1

 

ICE logo

Proof,  Investigative Commentary:  Last Month’s $83.3 Million Civil Jury Verdict Against Donald Trump in Federal Court Raises Historically Serious seth abramson graphicNational Security Concerns, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 1-2, 2024  The disgraced former president often cites his ongoing political ambitions as a reason for special treatment from the courts—but what they really require is special treatment from the intel community.

seth abramson proof logoWere Trump not planning to appeal the Carroll II judgment, he would have to pay it in full right now—or plead poverty to the court and establish some sort of negotiated payment plan, a decision that would reveal him to have committed Fraud and Perjury in the 2023 civil deposition in which he discussed having $400 million in liquid assets (for the record, an amount just under 500% of the amount he owes Carroll).

What this means is that Trump now has two options: he can pay $83.3 million into a federal escrow fund to remain therein for the duration of his appeal of Carroll II—a process that could take years, during which time Trump would be responsible for the interest on the $83.3 million, amounting to about $10 million—or he could purchase a bond to cover that amount, a purchase that would cost him approximately $16 million (20% of the total jury award in Carroll II).

If Trump doesn’t actually have $83.3 million (or $92.5 million, with interest included) in liquid assets, which it appears hardly anyone thinks he does, he will have to opt for the second route described above.

Keeping in mind that Trump has a decades-long history of not paying his debts; that he’s facing (as noted above) hundreds of millions in civil judgments if his New York Trump Organization case is included in the mix of his 2024 legal troubles; that he’s currently on a $200,000 bond in a criminal case in Georgia; that his friend and lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s creditors have announced they will be going after Trump for millions and millions in unpaid legal bills as part of the longtime Trump attorney’s bankruptcy proceedings; and that Trump has consistently exhibited contempt for every aspect of Carroll II—including its verdict; indeed, he’s already defamed Carroll again, which may lead imminently to a “Carroll III” and, this time, a nine-figure civil judgment—what domestic or foreign lender would take the risk of paying anything on Trump’s behalf?

It’s not merely that Trump said in a sworn deposition—almost certainly falsely—that he had $400 million in liquid assets (a lie he would have told, if indeed it was a lie, to continue to try to convince his MAGA base that he’s been successful in business, a pillar of his political persona); it is also, much more to the point, that it appears that the Carroll II jurors relied on this sworn statement in determining that a relatively small fraction of that purportedly free and ready amount (about 20%) would be a reasonable verdict in a case designed to dissuade Trump from defaming Carroll again. A sizable chunk of the $83 million judgment in Carroll II—65$ million—was in fact earmarked as “punitive damages” for precisely this critical purpose: deterrence.

So we have a current presidential candidate who will spend much of this year in court rather than on the campaign trail saying that he will file a seemingly hopeless appeal that will either cost him $16 million—if he can find anyone to bond him—or $92.5 million, neither of which are amounts of liquid cash anyone thinks he has.

With all that in mind, the conversation that now needs to be had—but likely will not be, because major media is gunshy after the Russia investigation—is whether Trump plans on getting the hundreds of millions of dollars he’s going to owe in New York from foreign nationals who believe what they’re really purchasing from him is his second-term foreign policy agenda.

As detailed in each of the three books of the Proof Trilogy, Trump has a nearly decade-long track record of trading U.S. foreign policy in exchange for personal gain; and to be clear, there are no shortage of buyers for that particular commodity. So it would be stunning if now, at his worst moment politically and legally and financially, he did not look overseas for aid. As already noted, small donations from poor and working-class Trumpists who can’t afford the money he’s attempting to squeeze from them will almost certainly not be enough to save him from what he currently faces.

And all this is unfolding as Trump’s overseas deals continue to explode in number and remuneration. And while Trump has of course engaged in illegal foreign election interference many times before, he has never done so while out on bail on three criminal cases or under the degree of scrutiny he is certain to face as a known insurrectionist.

One of the many ways American major media has given Trump a pass—and the total number of such passes is staggering, by now—is that it has investigated his finances without ever letting the other shoe drop: emphasizing to American voters and news-readers that Trump’s dodgy finances matter not because they reveal him to be a historically incompetent “nepo baby” (his father gave him more than $410 million in ill-gotten gains to get his miserably incompetent business career started) but because they underscore that a man who can be easily compromised by the first foreign agent to compliment him also has significant bases to find himself deeply in hock to hostile foreign powers.

ABC News, Special counsel questioned witnesses about 2 rooms FBI didn't search inside Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence: Sources, Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin, Feb. 1, 2024. The FBI missed the rooms in their search for classified documents, said sources.

abc news logoTrump was warned by attorney about ignoring documents subpoena: Sources

The attorney, Jennifer Little, told investigators she had warned Trump that failing to comply with the sub...Show More
Special counsel Jack Smith's team has questioned several witnesses about a closet and a so-called "hidden room" inside former President Donald Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago that the FBI didn't check while searching the estate in August 2022, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

FBI logoAs described to ABC News, the line of questioning in several interviews ahead of Trump's indictment last year on classified document charges suggests that -- long after the FBI seized dozens of boxes and more than 100 documents marked classified from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate -- Smith's team was trying to determine if there might still be more classified documents there.

MORE: Attorney warned Trump 'it's going to be a crime' if he didn't comply with subpoena for classified docs: Sources
According to sources, some investigators involved in the case came to later believe that the closet, which was locked on the day of the search, should have been opened and checked.

ICE logoAs investigators would later learn, Trump allegedly had the closet's lock changed while his attorney was in Mar-a-Lago's basement, searching for classified documents in a storage room that he was told would have all such documents. Trump's alleged efforts to conceal classified documents from both the FBI and his own attorney are a key part of Smith's indictment against Trump in Florida.

Jordan Strauss, a former federal prosecutor and former national security official in the Justice Department, called the FBI's alleged failure to search the closet "a bit astonishing."
"You're searching a former president's house. You [should] get it right the first time," Strauss told ABC News.

In addition to the closet, the FBI also didn't search what authorities have called a "hidden room" connected to Trump's bedroom, sources said.

Smith's investigators were later told that, in the days right after the search, some of Trump's employees heard that the FBI had missed at least one room at Mar-a-Lago, the sources said.

According to a senior FBI official, agents focused on areas they believed might have government documents.

"Based on information gathered throughout the course of the investigation, areas were identified and searched pursuant to the search warrant," the official told ABC News.

Within a few months of the FBI's search, federal prosecutors in the Justice Department pushed Trump's legal team to ensure that no classified documents remained at any of Trump's properties, but it's unclear if those prosecutors or any Trump lawyers even knew about the unexamined spaces then.

It's also unclear if Trump ever kept any classified documents in either of those spaces, or whether Smith's team ever considered seeking another warrant to search Mar-a-Lago again.

In their questioning of witnesses, Smith's team seemed to focus more on the missed spaces in the three months before first indicting Trump in the case, sources said.

Reached by ABC News, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign criticized President Joe Biden and the news media, saying the investigations into Trump are "just desperate attempts at election interference ... to stop the presumptive Republican nominee for President."

Strauss, who served in the Justice Department from 2005 to 2016, said he was particularly surprised to hear about the FBI's alleged inaction considering how "exceptionally thorough" he said they usually are and how meticulously they planned for the Mar-a-Lago search ahead of time.

Wray assured lawmakers that in such "sensitive" investigations, "Our folks take great pains to be rigorous [and] professional."

Justice Department log circularBut when agents reached the locked closet near the front of Trump's residence, they couldn't locate a key for it and were told the space behind the door -- an old stairwell turned into a closet with shelves -- went nowhere, so they decided not to break it open, sources said.

Sources also told ABC News that FBI agents didn't do more in part because they felt like they had been at Mar-a-Lago long enough. But the senior FBI official disputed that, saying, "Discussions took place that day about additional areas of the property and it was determined that actions already taken met the parameters of the search warrant."

"[The FBI] is almost notorious for their relentlessness and follow-through," Strauss said.

At the time, the FBI didn't know the lock change -- at least in their view -- could have been potentially significant, sources said.

According to the indictment against Trump, after Trump received a federal subpoena demanding the return of all classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his attorney -- identified to ABC News as Evan Corcoran -- was told to look for any responsive documents in boxes stacked inside a basement storage room.

But in the days before Corcoran arrived at Mar-a-Lago on June 2, 2022, Trump aide Walt Nauta -- acting "at Trump's direction" -- moved more than 30 boxes from the storage room to Trump's residence, so the attorney never even saw many of Trump's boxes, according to the indictment.

Corcoran found 38 classified documents in the storage room and gave them to the FBI, but Trump ensured that "many documents responsive to the [subpoena] could not be found," the indictment alleges.

Through their investigation, Smith's team learned that while Corcoran was still in the storage room, Trump asked a longtime Mar-a-Lago employee to change the lock on the closet, sources said. For years, the lock on the closet was managed by the Secret Service, but on June 2, 2022, Trump had it changed and wanted the key, the sources said.

One former maintenance worker described Trump's request as unusual, according to the sources.

Unlike the locked closet, the FBI didn't even know the so-called "hidden room" existed until after they left Mar-a-Lago, sources said.

MORE: Trump visits secure facility to view evidence in classified documents case: Sources
Though agents searched Trump's bedroom, a small door in one of the walls was concealed behind a large dresser and a big TV, sources said. The space behind the wall was the "hidden room," which maintenance workers sporadically entered to access cables running through it, sources said.

Strauss said it's not uncommon for agents executing search warrants to miss some things, especially when they're searching expansive properties.

Nevertheless, the fact that witnesses were saying the FBI missed a "hidden room" within Trump's bedroom caught the attention of Smith's team, according to sources.

A federal judge had signed off on the search of Mar-a-Lago, approving the FBI's plan to search Trump's office and "all storage rooms and any other rooms or locations where boxes or records may be stored."

During their search, they allegedly found 27 classified documents in Trump's office and 75 more in the basement storage room, where Corcoran had searched two months earlier and found a smaller set of other apparently classified documents, according to the indictment against Trump.

The FBI did not find classified documents in any ballroom, bathroom, or in Trump's bedroom, where he allegedly stored classified documents at times over the year-and-a-half after leaving the White House.

During the summer of the FBI search, Trump was primarily living at his property in Bedminster, New Jersey. The FBI didn't search that property -- it only searched Mar-a-Lago.

As ABC News previously reported, within months of the FBI search, the Justice Department suspected Trump was still holding classified documents somewhere, so -- under pressure from the department -- one of Trump's attorneys conducted another search of Mar-a-Lago and other properties, and he found a handful of more classified documents.

In his testimony to Congress last year, Wray said that, under "specific rules," there are only certain locations that can securely store classified information, "and in my experience, ballrooms, bathrooms and bedrooms are not" among them.

"Our folks in this case have proceeded honorably and in strict compliance with our policies, our rules, and our best practices," Wray added.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, insisting he did not break the law by holding onto the documents later seized by the FBI. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Nauta, the aide who allegedly helped move Trump's boxes, and Mar-a-Lago's property manager, Carlos De Oliveira, have also been charged for their alleged roles in Trump's conspiracy. Both have pleaded not guilty.

 

djt indicted proof

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2024: Trump spent over $55 million in donor money on legal fees last year, filings show, Maeve Reston, Clara Ence Morse and Hannah Knowles, Feb. 1, 2024 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump is cruising toward the Republican presidential nomination after victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he is diverting enormous sums of donor money to his mounting legal fees as he faces multiple lawsuits and 91 felony charges across four criminal cases.

djt maga hatThe new figures for his legal spending were outlined in campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday night. Trump’s advisers have said the money that is being spent on legal expenses is not only for Trump’s defense, but also for the lawyer fees for some of his advisers and associates. Here are a few early takeaways from the new filings:

Trump’s mounting legal bills: Two of Trump’s committees, Save America leadership PAC and the Make America Great Again PAC, spent $55.6 million on legal bills in 2023, including $29.9 million in the second half of the year, according to the new reports released Wednesday.

The Trump campaign had more than $33 million in cash on hand at the end of last year after raising more than $19 million in the fourth quarter. Save America leadership PAC had about $5.1 million in cash on hand at the end of the year. Across all of his committees, Trump had a war chest of over $70 million at the end of the year, a total that includes cash available to his allied super PAC, MAGA Inc.

Trump has raised most of his campaign funds from small-dollar donors. In the fine print of his solicitations, Trump’s joint fundraising committee notes that about 90 cents of each dollar is diverted to his campaign committee and 10 cents is diverted to the Save America leadership PAC.

 

 

January 2024

Jan. 29

The Education Forum, Peter Dale Scott on "Why was JFK Killed?" Douglas Caddy, left, attorney and author, Jan. 27, 2024. Karen Croft and David Talbot, david talbotright, interviewed Peter douglas caddyDale Scott in the January 23, 2024, issue of The Kennedy Beacon. The link to the full article is here. What is posted below  is that portion of the interview that deals with the assassination of President Kennedy.

Excerpt, beginning with Croft and Talbot questions: The JFK Records Act leads us to another big question, because you’ve been doing research on the Kennedy assassination for so long. As another researcher once said, “Peter Dale Scott has forgotten more about the Kennedy assassination than we’ll ever know.” So, the big question is why was JFK killed?

peter dale scottPeter Dale Scott (right, author, poet, retired diplomat and retired professor):  We don’t live in a system like a monarchy. We live in a state of chaos — a kind of Hobbesian state of nature, with different, powerful oligarchs — and they’ve been battling each other in the U.S. ever since they met to draft the Articles of Confederation. And at least one of the states — South Carolina — was there to guarantee the protection of slavery, because in their state at least 60 percent of the people were black. So, this racist system was baked into America at the beginning. It was a kind of built-in conflict at the top level, which is what I think is now running this country, rather than a “deep state.” I was never happy about that term, even though I helped import it to the United States from Turkey, and said so when I wrote about it. It sounds like it’s a “thing.” What we actually live in is a kind of Hobbesian condition of chaos, a new Gilded Age, with greater and greater accumulations of private power.

Yes, but you sidestepped the question – why was President Kennedy eliminated? What made him a target?

Well, he was threatening an end to the Cold War, which was the basis of the military economy that had made America prosperous since 1953. He was threatening to ease us off the war economy, and to deal with problems at home like poverty and racism.

The Cold Warriors who ran the country maintained a constant state of alarm, constant preparedness. The sociologist C. Wright Mills, author of The Power Elite, recognized how they created a national security emergency “without foreseeable end.” He called these men “crackpot realists…In the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own.”

A “paranoid reality” that was – and still is – very profitable for the military-industrial complex.

People forget President Kennedy’s 1963 Atomic Test Ban Treaty, which ended all nuclear arms testing above ground. It sounds petty now, but it wasn’t petty then. There had been no treaty with the Soviet Union since 1955 when Washington and Moscow agreed by treaty to respect the neutrality of Austria.

During the debate about the atomic test ban, the Cold War lobby and the media were saying you cannot conclude a deal with the Russians cia logobecause they are Communists — but JFK did it. And worse than that, Kennedy — rightly — didn’t trust his CIA. So, the president was privately talking to his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and Bobby was privately talking to Georgi Bolshakov, the Soviet representative in Washington, as a back-channel to Khrushchev in the Kremlin. Well, the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) knew about the back-channel. And a document that purports to be a DIA document — I think it’s authentic — comes out 12 years later, an analysis that Kennedy is doing something treasonous, illegal. That agency, the DIA, might have helped do him in. Ironically, the DIA was created by Kennedy, who distrusted naval intelligence and army intelligence.

 

jfk graphic from au peace speechKennedy gave two important speeches, one day apart in June 1963. In the first one, the so-called Peace Speech (excerpted above), he said we should empathize with our enemy, the Russians. At the height of the Cold War, he said, “In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.”

And the very next day, he gave his swiftly composed civil rights speech on national TV, responding to the turmoil in the South, including Governor George Wallace, how he stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama to try to prevent two black students from integrating the university. The president told the nation that racial justice was “a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.”

I can see, and I believe I’m right in seeing, that there was a kind of retro Southern presence in the military. The Army slow-marched to the University of Mississippi in 1962 and to the University of Alabama the following year, after President Kennedy ordered Army troops to restore order on those campuses.

I could go on, but I won’t go on. There were probably five or six reasons Kennedy was killed —- it was a coalition that killed Kennedy. And it was a coalition that killed Kennedy in a way that they knew the media would have to come in and make it look like it had been a lone nut who had killed Kennedy.

So, was the media part of the coalition?

Not in the actual assassination, but to cover it up, absolutely. It was planned that they were to play that role.

And who was organizing the whole thing, in your mind?

david talbot dulles coverI’ve always said I’m here to analyze what was happening, the forces behind it, not to have a point of view about who did it. David, I know that in your book (The Devil’s Chessboard), you wrote that essentially it was the CIA — Allen Dulles, who was fired as agency director by JFK, and the network around him. I do think they were in it. But I have a whole chapter in my book Deep Politics about military intelligence — more importantly, the Military Intelligence Reserve, which interfaces with oil corporations, and had a conspiratorial unit in Dallas exploring petroleum deposits in the Soviet Union. I believe they were at least as involved in the murder as the CIA.

But the JFK plot was a coalition. The anti-civil rights people in the South were also part of it. I refer people to the Joseph Milteer story I talk about in my book Dallas 1963. There’s a white Southern factor that helped to kill Kennedy.

To paraphrase Jim Douglass (author of 'JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters'), why does the JFK assassination james douglass unspeakable coverstill haunt us?

I could go on and on and on about this, all this fuss now about truth and propaganda, about “fake facts” and so on. The truth is, we’ve been living with “fake facts” ever since the Warren Report. The Warren Report is so phony that even some of the men who drafted it, and signed it, didn’t believe it! Some were quite vocal about it. They were signing a fake document. To believe the Warren Report you have to believe that one bullet was able to cause seven wounds in two different people, hit a bone, and then fall unscathed onto a stretcher. It’s all in the report. And if you believe that, you’re nuts.

(Editorial note: The Warren Report’s “magic bullet theory” was finally “buried in concrete,” according to forensics expert Cyril Wecht, following former Secret Service agent Paul Landis’s recent account that he found the pristine bullet in the presidential limousine.)

This is the bullet believed by the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (Warren Commission) to have caused wounds to both President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally. It came to be termed the "magic bullet" by those who questioned the Commission's "single bullet theory."

And we all condition ourselves to say, 'Well, something went wrong with the JFK investigation, but I don’t want to think about that because then I’d have to think about everything.'

Of course, a few of us do start thinking about everything and I came up with Deep Politics. But most of us, and you can’t blame them, they have to live lives and they have to earn incomes. They can’t afford to think about the assassination too much.

One last question about the Kennedy assassination. Why after all this time are you the only prominent intellectual in the country who has looked seriously into this historic event? Where were leading intellectuals on the left, like Noam Chomsky?

He won’t touch it. I’ll talk about it.

We read a quote of Chomsky where he said Kennedy was a warmonger and not worth discussing.

Well, I know about this issue because when the Pentagon Papers were released in 1971, they were later published by a maverick press, howard zinn flickr redjarBeacon Press. The following year, they commissioned a follow-up volume of essays which was edited by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, left. I was asked to write an essay, in which I stated that President Kennedy had plans, which he already began implementing, to withdraw most U.S. troops out of Vietnam by 1965.

Chomsky was out of the country at the time so I sent my essay to Howard Zinn and he, thinking like Chomsky, said, “You don’t want to publish this.”

And I said, “Why not?”

He said, “It sounds like you think it would make a difference if we had a different president.”

And I said “Yes, it did make a difference! That’s the whole point of my essay.”

And Howard said, “Peter, that’s bad politics. It’s the system that’s wrong. You’ve got to be against the system.”

And that’s what Noam was about. Noam is not a Marxist, he’s an anarchist. He doesn’t want to see any good in Kennedy because he wants to get rid of the whole system. And replace it with what? I won’t go any further because Noam and I respect each other, but it’s quite clear that on the Kennedy record Noam and I have disagreed.

You’ve had a difficult time over the years getting your work about the Kennedy assassination published, haven’t you?

peter dale scott war conspiracy coverYes. In 1970 I did a book called The War Conspiracy. And my thinking about the Kennedy assassination then was very primitive compared to what it is now. But I figured you couldn’t think about william harveythe state of war that we were in without thinking about the Kennedy assassination. I sent the manuscript to the publisher, Bobbs-Merrill. I only found out later that the head of their legal department at the time was William Harvey, left, who had been in the CIA and is someone many people suspect was involved in the assassination.

Bill Harvey? The CIA’s former assassination chief? He was working there?

Yes, he was the head of the legal department at Bobbs-Merrill, which was a tiny little publishing house in Indianapolis. It normally did children’s literature like The Wizard of Oz, but suddenly had got into a phase of requesting manuscripts from people like me. They had gone to Ramparts magazine, and Ramparts made a deal with them without first consulting me.

Anyway, Bobbs-Merrill said to me, “We think you’ll have a better book if you save your four chapters on the Kennedy assassination for a different book.” They published the expurgated version of the book, but it was buried. They absolutely did not promote it.

So, it was a catch-and-kill situation?

It was a catch-and-kill situation. The word I think is “privished.”

Privished?

Instead of being published, you make it a private thing for the author and his friends. (laughs)

How have you managed to maintain your cheerful disposition, despite the efforts to censor you?

It sounds trivial, but I think I have an advantage in that I was not born in America. And I see America from outside, without getting furious. I think most Americans, when they begin to see the terrible things America has done — they’ve had president after president guilty of war crimes — either they suppress the thought, because it means changing their life too much to accept that thought, or they acknowledge it and get furious. They never say: Well, that’s the bad side and this is the good side.

And that’s what you say?

That’s what I say. I say it in my book that’s coming out, Reading the Dream. I say it’s important at all times to maintain balance. And don’t get 100 percent into an emotion or a single point of view. Realize that there are conflicting values and you have to reach a compromise. And the American political system, at its best, does just that. It’s a very crude way of reaching compromise. It could be a lot better, but it’s the best in the world. So, let’s keep it.

I’d like to quote something from the end of my book that is pertinent here. It’s my last paragraph: “In this post-secular time, passionate divisions, sometimes between retro and generative spiritualities, threaten more and greater wars. So let each of us, mindful of our own internal yin-yang doubleness, resolve to balance the urgent need to preserve the best in this precious world with the urgent need to make it better. Hopefully this book may contribute to a less fervid politics and a healthier, friendlier culture.”

But isn’t it true what the Irish say? Nobody throws themselves into politics with more passion than the Irish. But they still say that politics will break your heart.

Well, that’s very true. That’s why you have to balance politics with something else. In my case it’s poetry. And I’m not the only one. The investigative author Douglas Valentine, who has done good work about the CIA and drugs, also balances his life by writing poetry. Other political activists and writers take up athletics or travel, whatever — you have to keep balance in your life. I still take longish walks, every day. I used to play the piano. Now I don’t.

What did you play?

Mozart, Beethoven. I was trained, briefly, to be a concert pianist. But they kept saying that if I wanted to do it, I’d have to dedicate my life to it. I realized pretty quickly I didn’t want to do that. This was all when I was 13 or 14.

I had a friend who came to Berkeley in the ‘70s to work with me on the JFK assassination case and he went insane. Somebody else committed suicide. And some people who were looking down that dark well in the past were murdered, but that’s a whole different story. The deeper into it you get, the harder it is to keep balance. I take long breaks — I’ve actually retired (from giving interviews on this subject). I’m doing this for you.

Anyway, that’s my message – search for balance in your life. Take a walk, listen to music, savor a glass of wine.

The mind-body connection?

Right

Well, you’ll live forever, then.

Jan. 27

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview: Death Agony of the U.S. Republican Party -- Behold the beginning of the end for Trump and his webster tarpley 2007MAGA Republican Party! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Jan. 27, 2024 (151:38 mins.). UAW endorses Biden for second term as union chief Fain condemns Trump as a “scab” billionaire who serves super-rich and opposes everything UAW stands for;

Worse than empty seats at a small venue rally: Trump’s crippling weakness with voters on display in Iowa and New Hampshire results; Grievous damage likely if he is convicted; Federal abortion ban widely rejected; Traditional Trump base turnout strategy cannot succeed;

Despite being a write-in candidate with few ads and minimal spending, Biden gets 67% of Dem votes-the level expected for an incumbent; Spoilers Philips and Williamson amount to nothing, sounding ominous note for RFK Jr., Cornel West, and No Labels saboteurs;
Pathetic disarray of RNC boss Ronna McDaniel’s abortive attempt to declare Trump the winner after just two states; Two GOP state chairs gone in one week, with Michigan colleague soon to follow;

Counting on help from MAGA Quisling caucus, Putin starts preparing a claim on Alaska; Belarus dictator says he has Russian nuclear missiles ready to hit Poland; Putin claims no need for another troop callup now, meaning he will delay announcement until after mid-March election;

Trump orders MAGA Mike to torpedo Senate border/Ukraine compromise because he wants total immigrant crisis to enhance his campaign demagogy, but effect is also to deprive Ukraine of urgent funds, raising specter of deliberate betrayal of beleaguered ally, giving Putin the upper hand;

International Court of Justice finds charge of genocide against Israel plausible; Netanyahu regime ordered to prevent genocidal actions and stop incitement to genocide, setting up clash with Gallant, Smotrich, Ben Gvir, and assorted messianic fanatics; Humanitarian supplies must be augmented; Report to Court on anti-genocide measures required within 30 days; Opinion also condemns and binds Hamas; Biden warns Bibi that US will not tolerate a long war, central to his plans to stay in office and out of jail;

Manhattan jury finds Trump liable to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 for defamation in verdict full of ominous portent for imminent federal and state criminal prosecutions; MAGA fascist mob was implicitly held liable for threats and harassment; Judge Engoron’s New York civil fraud finding likely next week with hundreds of millions more in liability expected; These payments may well cripple financing for Trump’s presidential campaign; Expropriation and incarceration loom.

Jan. 20

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and Reform Agenda: German Defense Ministry leak reveals Putin’s plan for 2024-2025 invasion of Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Jan. 20, 2024 (145:38 mins.) Kremlin said to plan callup of 200,000 more troops for spring offensive against Ukraine, cyber attacks to stir up unrest among ethnic Russians in near abroad, accusations of plots to topple Putin, and attempt to cut transportation links from Poland to Lithuania via Suwalki Gap; Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave are hinges of land grab;

Ongoing sabotage of Ukraine defense by MAGA Quisling Caucus and expected strategic confusion in wake of potential Trump win fit perfectly into Kremlin war plans;

Strategic crisis emerges as Iran attacks targets in Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan with ballistic missiles; Hamas-Houthi-Hezbollah proxies of Tehran already in action; Pakistan retaliates in first air attack on Iran since early 1980s;

Top NATO officials at defense chiefs meeting warn of need to prepare defenses for clash with Russia at any time during coming years; Swedish civil defense minister suggests 210 years of peace may be ending for country;

Putin threatens Ukraine with irreparable damage to national sovereignty if resistance against occupiers continues;

North Korean dictator Kim demonstratively turns towards war, abandons rhetoric of unification with South Korea;

Biden defeats Xi in Taiwan’s presidential election as voters defy Xi’s threats; Winner is William Lai of DPP;

In another insult to US, Netanyahu rejects demand for two-state solution; White House and State Department contradict him; First Biden-Bibi phone call in 26 days; Likud sources see end of Bibi era; Eisenkot and Gantz of war cabinet signal waning trust in premier; Labor Party seeks no confidence vote vs government in Knesset; Fake populism exposed: In Switzerland, finance oligarchs of the Davoisie expect Trump will win presidency, and are happy about it!

Breaking: Germany debates banning anti-constitutional Alternatives for Germany party.

Jan. 13

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview: Central issue of 2024 election emerges: Does the Presidency come with a license to kill political  webster tarpley 2007adversaries?  Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Jan. 13, 2024 (152:50 mins.). Trump’s lawyer tells three federal judges the answer is yes!

Hitler’s lawyer Carl Schmitt defended his master after the bloody purge of dissidents known as The Night of the Long Knives by claiming that the Fuehrer was able to legislate through his actions, i.e. his murders;

To defend freedom of navigation in Red Sea against Houthi piracy, vandalism, and international anarchy, Biden orders powerful air strikes against Houthi capacity to interdict maritime traffic; US and UK, aided by Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and Bahrain hit 60 targets at 28 locations with 150 bombs and missiles; Who are these Houthis? Slaveholders specialized in black African chattels!

If Christie wants to help defeat Trump, he should endorse Biden, repudiate the GOP, and demand full application of XIV Amendment Insurrection Clause to bar putschist Trump from White House; No confidence for liberal Republicans; In Iowa and New Hampshire, any rational Republicans should vote strategically for Haley to weaken Trump and prepare breakup and extinction of party;

Speaker Johnson must quickly bring bipartisan budget/supplemental complete with funds for Ukraine and Taiwan to floor vote it will easily win; No more minority rule by lunatics of pro-Putin MAGA Quisling caucus;

International Criminal Court in The Hague hears South Africa’s charges against Netanyahu regime as Gaza death toll approaches 24,000-equivalent to 20 times the slaughter of Oct. 7 aggression; Evidence of genocidal bombing and denial of prerequisites for human survival is overwhelming; Case includes genocidal statements by Netanyahu likening Palestinians to the Amalekites, an ancient people whom the Hebrews exterminated, plus Gallant’s raving order for a total siege of ”human animals” in Gaza; Israeli answer is a self-righteous rehash of discredited Mossad arguments;

At 1945 Nuremberg trials, Nazi defendants were prevented from offering a ”tu quoque” or ”you too” defense, arguing that their accusers committed the same war crimes, so the trials could not continue; But at ICC today, Israel was permitted to assert in effect that Oct. 7 massacre legitimizes everything that has followed;

Recommending Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane for these times; Classic film depicts a malignant narcissist who demands love but gives none; Running for governor, he pledges to appoint a district attorney who will investigate and convict his opponent; On election night, his newspaper staff prepares two headlines reading ”Kane Elected” and ”Fraud at Polls,” and quickly decides to print the latter with no proof when the boss loses owing to a scandal: A Mirror for Modern MAGAs!

Breaking: In Taiwan elections, world needs a victory for ruling Democratic Progressive Party, since KuoMinTang ex-Nationalists have degenerated into a shadow of their former selves; US forces hit Houthis a second time, wiping out a key radar used for targeting Red Sea shipping.

Jan. 6

 

Then-President Donald Trump, left and future President Joe Biden and shown during a 2020 debate in Associated Press photos by Patrick Semansky on Sept. 29,  2020.

Then-President Donald Trump, left and future President Joe Biden and shown during a 2020 debate in Associated Press photos by Patrick Semansky on Sept. 29, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, Clashing Over Jan. 6, Trump and Biden Show Reality Is at Stake in 2024, Michael C. Bender, Lisa Lerer and Michael Gold, Jan. 6, 2024. Former President Trump and President Biden are framing the election as a battle for democracy — with Mr. Trump brazenly casting Mr. Biden as the true menace.

Rarely in American politics has a leading presidential candidate made such grave accusations about a rival: warning that he is willing to violate the Constitution. Claiming that he is eager to persecute political rivals. Calling him a dire threat to democracy.

Those arguments have come from President Biden’s speeches, including his forceful address on Friday, as he hammers away at his predecessor. But they are also now being brazenly wielded by Donald J. Trump, the only president to try to overthrow an American election.

Three years after the former president’s supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Trump and his campaign are engaged in an audacious attempt to paint Mr. Biden as the true menace to the nation’s foundational underpinnings. Mr. Trump’s strategy aims to upend a world in which he has publicly called for suspending the Constitution, vowed to turn political opponents into legal targets and suggested that the nation’s top military general should be executed.

The result has been a salvo of recriminations from the top candidates in each party, including competing events to mark Saturday’s third anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.

The eagerness from each man to paint the other as an imminent threat signals that their potential rematch this year will be framed as nothing short of a cataclysmic battle for the future of democracy — even as Mr. Trump tries to twist the very idea to suit his own ends.

“Donald Trump’s campaign is about him — not America, not you,” Mr. Biden said Friday, speaking near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. “Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future. He’s willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power.”

On Friday evening, at his own rally in Sioux Center, Iowa, Mr. Trump fired back, calling Mr. Biden’s remarks “pathetic fear-mongering” and again accusing him, without any evidence, of wielding federal law enforcement to attack his political opponents.

 

“We all know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is who are we.”

— Biden at Valley Forge

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic News Summary: In powerful campaign kickoff at start of year of destiny, President brands Trump as holding webster tarpley 2007a dagger to the throat of democracy since January 6 MAGA insurrection, Webster G. Tarpley, (right, historian and commentator), Jan. 6, 2024 (141 mins.). Cites George Washington’s ”sacred cause” of independence;

Liberty, freedom, and democracy are on the 2024 ballot, along with the MAGA alternative of totalitarian fascist dictatorship; As FDR noted, needy people cannot be free, so content of freedom and democracy is not only political rights, but also return to economic progress after nightmare of plutocratic globalization-as in today’s sustained job creation of 216,000 jobs and full employment jobless rate of 3.7%, continuing longest stretch below 4% since Vietnam war;

Legality under Constitution is indivisible, meaning that Insurrection Clause of XIV Amendment bans Trump from second term, despite whining from faint-hearted centrists and liberals from Newsom to the Washington Post; Scalia majority opinion in 1989 Midland Asphalt case limiting interlocutory appeals may rule out Trump’s delaying tactics in his immunity appeal;

Gaza death toll among Palestinians approaches twenty times the victims of October 7 terrorist attacks; US attempt to prevent spread of Gaza war is failing as conflict metastasizes across Middle East; with Netanyahu further weakened by defeat in Supreme Court, opportunity emerges to speed his replacement; Blinken starts mission to Middle East;

To enhance White House performance, time for departure of inept Chief of Staff Zients and AG Garland, who has failed to enforce law vs Congressional insurrectionists;

A mirror for modern squadristi: Shameful track record of ultra-left sectarian fratricide over a century features treachery of German KPD in enabling 1933 Nazi seizure of power;  Best wishes to those marking Epiphany!

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Three Years After Jan. 6, Trump’s Immunity Claims to Take Center Stage, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Jan. 6, 2024. An appeals court will hear arguments on Tuesday over the former president’s attempt to shut down the federal election case. Much is riding on how — and how quickly — the issue is decided.

Three years after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, former President Donald J. Trump will make his latest and potentially most consequential argument in the coming week for why he should not be held responsible for seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Impeachment proceedings, the House Jan. 6 committee’s inquiry and two separate criminal investigations have established a comprehensive set of facts about Mr. Trump’s deep involvement in overlapping efforts to remain in office despite having been defeated at the polls.

But when — or even whether — he will ultimately face a trial on charges related to those efforts remains unclear. One of the most decisive factors in getting an answer to those questions will be the success or failure of the arguments his legal team plans to make on Tuesday in a federal appeals court in Washington.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are banking on a long shot, hoping to convince a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the Constitution affords him complete immunity from actions he undertook as president. The assertion, while untested in the courts, has the advantage to the former president of chewing up time in the service of his strategy of trying to delay any trial until after Election Day.

Should Mr. Trump be elected, he could seek to order the federal charges against him to be dropped. The pace and outcome of the appellate challenges stemming from his immunity claim could also affect the timing of the three other criminal cases he is facing.

The legal maneuvering is playing out against a backdrop in which President Biden is casting the 2024 campaign as a test of whether democratic norms and institutions can hold against Mr. Trump and his push to convince voters that he is not a perpetrator of the chaos of Jan. 6 but a victim of an effort to silence him and his supporters.

Mr. Trump has been making plans to attend the appeals court hearing even though he is not required to be there, a further indication of how central fighting his prosecutions has become to his political strategy heading into the Republican primary campaign.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Donald Trump was ineligible for Colorado’s G.O.P primary ballot, Adam Liptak, Updated Jan. 6, 2024. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last month that the former president could not appear on the state’s Republican primary ballot because he had engaged in insurrection.

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether former President Donald J. Trump is eligible for Colorado’s Republican primary ballot, thrusting the justices into a pivotal role that could alter the course of this year’s presidential election.

The sweep of the court’s ruling is likely to be broad. It will probably resolve not only whether Mr. Trump may appear on the Colorado primary ballot after the state’s top court declared that he had engaged in insurrection in his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, but it will most likely also determine his eligibility to run in the general election and to hold office at all.

Not since Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George W. Bush, has the Supreme Court taken such a central role in an election for the nation’s highest office.

The case will be argued on Feb. 8, and the court will probably decide it quickly. The Colorado Republican Party had urged the justices to rule by March 5, when many states, including Colorado, hold primaries.

The number of challenges to Mr. Trump’s eligibility across the country can only have added pressure on the court to hear the Colorado case, as they underscored the need for a nationwide resolution of the question.

The case is one of several involving or affecting Mr. Trump on the court’s docket or on the horizon. An appeals court will hear arguments on Tuesday on whether he has absolute immunity from prosecution, and the losing side is all but certain to appeal. And the court has already said that it will rule on the scope of a central charge in the federal election-interference case in a decision expected by June.

Mr. Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene after Colorado’s top court disqualified him from the ballot last month. That decision is on hold while the justices consider the matter.

Jena Griswold, Colorado’s secretary of state, pressed the Supreme Court to act fast.

“Coloradans, and the American people, deserve clarity on whether someone who engaged in insurrection may run for the country’s highest office,” she said in a statement.

Mr. Trump acknowledged the court’s decision to hear the case at a rally Friday in Sioux Center, Iowa, saying he hoped the justices would fairly interpret the law. “All I want is fair; I fought really hard to get three very, very good people in,” he said, referring to his appointees. He added, “And I just hope that they’re going to be fair because, you know, the other side plays the ref.”

The case turns on the meaning of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, which bars those who had taken an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States” from holding office if they then “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Congress can remove the prohibition, the provision says, but only by a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Jan. 4

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Received Millions From Foreign Governments as President, Report Finds, Luke Broadwater, Jan. 4, 2024. House Democrats released evidence that the former president took in at least $7.8 million from foreign entities while in office, engaging in the kind of conduct the G.O.P. is grasping to pin on President Biden.

President Donald Trump officialDonald J. Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from 20 foreign governments during his presidency, according to new documents released by House Democrats on Thursday that show how much he received from overseas transactions while he was in the White House, most of it from China.

The transactions, detailed in a 156-page report called “White House For Sale” that was produced by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, offer concrete evidence that the former president engaged in the kind of conduct that House Republicans have labored, so far unsuccessfully, to prove that President Biden did as they work to build an impeachment case against him.

U.S. House logoUsing documents produced through a court fight, the report describes how foreign governments and their controlled entities, including a top U.S. adversary, interacted with Trump businesses while he was president. They paid millions to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.; Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas; Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York; and Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza in New York.

House Democrats highlighted the transactions on Thursday as a counterweight to Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden, which has sought to tie him to international business deals by his son Hunter Biden before his father became president in a bid to prove corruption or influence peddling. They have so far failed to show that President Biden was enriched in any way by any of those transactions.

”By elevating his personal financial interests and the policy priorities of corrupt foreign powers over the American public interest, former President Trump violated both the clear commands of the Constitution and the careful precedent set and observed by every previous commander in chief,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, wrote in a foreword to the report.

China FlagAmong the countries patronizing Mr. Trump’s properties, China made the largest total payment — $5.5 million — to his business interests, the report found. Those payments included millions of dollars from China’s Embassy in the United States, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Hainan Airlines Holding Company.

Saudi Arabia was the second-largest spender, shelling out more than $615,000 at the Trump World Tower and Trump International Hotel.

Eric Trump, the former president’s son, has long insisted that foreign interests did not influence his father’s presidency and that any profit the company earned on the hotel stays was returned to the federal government through a voluntary annual payment to the Treasury Department.

The Constitution prohibits a president from accepting money, payments or gifts “of any kind whatever” from foreign governments and monarchs unless he obtains “the consent of the Congress” to do so. The report notes that Mr. Trump never went to Congress to seek consent.

The report also acknowledges its own limitations. Democrats fought aggressively through years of litigation to gain access to only a portion of Mr. Trump’s business records. After they won court rulings, Mazars USA, the longtime accounting firm for Mr. Trump that cut ties with him and his family business, began in 2022 turning over documents related to his financial dealings.

The development came after Mazars said it could no longer stand behind a decade of annual financial statements it had prepared for the Trump Organization.

But once Republicans won control of Congress, they dropped the effort to force Mazars to continue with its production of documents about Mr. Trump’s business dealings.

Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight Committee, made clear he had abandoned any investigation into the former president’s financial dealings and was instead focusing on whether Mr. Biden and members of his family were involved in an influence-peddling scheme.

Still, Democrats say they received key material before the investigation was shut down.

“Critically, even this subset of documents reveals a stunning web of millions of dollars in payments made by foreign governments and their agents directly to Trump-owned businesses while President Trump was in the White House,” the report states. “These payments were made while these governments were promoting specific foreign policy goals with the Trump administration and even, at times, with President Trump himself, and as they were requesting specific actions from the United States to advance their own national policy objectives.”

The report is the result of a multiyear investigation into Mr. Trump’s receipt of payments from foreign-controlled entities while in office. The investigation began in 2016 under the leadership of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who died in 2019.

It noted that Mr. Trump sometimes bragged about the wealth that foreign governments had provided him, including at a campaign rally in 2015, when he suggested that his personal financial incentives might influence his dealings with another government.

“Saudi Arabia, I get along great with all of them.,” the report quotes him saying. “They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!”

ny times logoNew York Times, 2024 Election: Bomb Hoaxes and ‘Swatting’ Attempts Target Public Officials as 2024 Begins, Neil Vigdor, Jan. 4, 2024.  Colorado and Maine, which blocked former President Donald Trump from the ballot, have grappled with the intimidation and harassment of officials.

The caller had tipped off the authorities in Maine on Friday night: He told them that he had broken into the home of Shenna Bellows, the state’s top election official, a Democrat who one night earlier had disqualified former President Donald J. Trump from the primary ballot because of his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

No one was home when officers arrived, according to Maine State Police, who labeled the false report as a “swatting” attempt, one intended to draw a heavily armed law enforcement response.

In the days since, more bogus calls and threats have rolled in across the country. On Wednesday, state capitol buildings in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana were evacuated or placed on lockdown after the authorities said they had received bomb threats that they described as false and nonspecific. The F.B.I. said it had no information to suggest any threats were credible.

The incidents intensified a climate of intimidation and the harassment of public officials, including those responsible for overseeing ballot access and voting. Since 2020, election officials have confronted rising threats and difficult working conditions, aggravated by rampant conspiracy theories about fraud. The episodes suggested 2024 would be another heated election year.

Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia who debunked Mr. Trump’s election fraud claims in 2020 in the battleground state, urged caution on Wednesday.

“Do not jump to conclusions as to who is responsible,” Mr. Sterling wrote on social media. “There will be chaos agents sowing discord for 2024. They want to increase tensions. Don’t let them.”

Mr. Sterling later said he was among the public officials who have been swatted by callers falsely reporting crimes. Someone called 911 to report a shooting after a drug deal gone bad, he wrote on X, “Everyone is ok. But this is wrong.”

Other prominent Republicans have also been swatted in recent weeks, including Representative Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Senator Rick Scott of Florida.

Ms. Greene, a right-wing provocateur and Trump ally, was home on Christmas morning when a man in New York called a Georgia suicide hotline and claimed that he had just shot his girlfriend at Ms. Greene’s residence and was about to kill himself, The Associated Press reported.

Two days later, on Dec. 27, it was Mr. Scott’s turn, he said. He was having dinner with his wife when it happened.

 

December

Dec. 30

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic News Summary and Pro-Democracy Reform Agenda: In 2024, Americans have a rendez-vous webster tarpley 2007with destiny, with the future of human civilization at stake! Webster G. Tarpley, (right, historian and commentator), Dec. 30, 2023 (130:12 mins). Coming year must see the decisive electoral defeat, conviction, and incarceration of Trump, with the breakup of the moribund Republican Party, and three branches of the federal government entirely controlled by Biden Democrats elected on a strong reform agenda!

Insurrection Clause of Fourteenth Amendment is the sacred embodiment of Lincoln’s new birth of freedom and reflects the sacrifices of the Union dead; As part of Constitution, the Insurrection Clause is an integral part of the supreme Abraham Lincoln (Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress and Getty Images)law of the land and is binding and compulsory for all officials at all levels of government, whatever their preferences;

Alleged aversion to ”patchwork” of election rules and demand for lockstep among states are no argument in a variegated federal system in which election practices have long diverged; Trump is unquestionably guilty of aggravated insurrection; Only an imbecile could suggest that a president is not an officer of United States; Some say they prefer to defeat Trump at polls, but the advanced fascist emergency does not permit this luxury;

Defeatist spirit of McClellan 1864 grips milquetoast Democrats who propose to ignore a clear Constitutional imperative in favor of their own fears and preferences for appeasement of MAGA fascists; Standard fascist seizure of power involves cynical gaming of democratic systems and guarantees to impose totalitarian dictatorship;

”Let the voters decide” is a catchy slogan but collapses utterly when it becomes a direct attack on the Constitution, where some critical points are deliberately placed beyond the reach of majority votes;

gavin newsom headshotGov. Newsom, right, and Dems must understand their only chance to prevail against Trump subversion is to run strong candidates pledged to defend constitution, not populist demagogues pandering to masses by tampering with it;

Corrupt, discredited, bribed, and hated Supremes should contemplate not just the threats of the shrinking MAGA hooligan minority, but also the pro-constitution supermajority who reject a return to the MAGA fascist yoke; Given their claims to represent originalism, textualism, and state’s rights, the only valid choice for Supremes is full implementation of Insurrection Clause against Trump;

scott perryRep. Scott Perry’s phone messages now scrutinized by Jack Smith could implicate other MAGA Hill bigwigs as January 6 co-conspirators, with potential to break legislative logjam and flip chamber as they are brought to justice;

House GOP sabotage of Ukraine military aid facilitates deadly Russian attacks and makes these MAGA bosses accessories to war crimes eligible for prosecution in The Hague, starting with MAGA Mike;

djt maga hatMAGA dirty tricks against Ukraine feed Putin’s hope for new orgy of appeasement on model of 1938 Munich sellout, with himself cast as Hitler, Ukraine cast as Czechoslovakia, and Biden-led NATO cast as appeasers Chamberlain and Daladier!

As their hour of reckoning approaches, Netanyahu, Gallant & Co. are trying harder than ever to embroil US in war with Hezbollah and Iran; These schemers must receive a decisive rebuff;

In US, fratricidal ultra-lefts and assorted squadristi are eager to blame Biden for war crimes committed by Netanyahu, but stubbornly refuse to condemn Putin for the war crimes Putin has unquestionably committed! Reviewing Toni Negri, in whose career postmodern anarcho-syndicalism turned into the ideology of terrorism.

Dec. 26

 

 

ICE logo

ny times logoNew York Times, How Trump Plans to Wield Power in 2025: What We Know, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman and Charlie Savage, Dec. 26, 2023. Donald J. Trump and his allies are already laying the groundwork for a possible second Trump presidency, forging plans for an even more extreme agenda than his first term.

Since beginning his 2024 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump has said the “termination” of the Constitution would have been justified to overturn the 2020 election, told followers “I am your retribution” and vowed to use the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries — starting with President Biden and his family.

FBI logoBeneath these public threats is a series of plans by Mr. Trump and his allies that would upend core elements of American governance, democracy, foreign policy and the rule of law if he regains the White House.

Some of these themes trace back to the final period of Mr. Trump’s term in office. By that stage, his key advisers had learned how to more effectively wield power and Mr. Trump had fired officials who resisted some of his impulses and replaced them with loyalists. Then he lost the 2020 election and was cast out of power.

CIA LogoSince leaving office, Mr. Trump’s advisers and allies at a network of well-funded groups have advanced policies, created lists of potential personnel and started shaping new legal scaffolding — laying the groundwork for a second Trump presidency they hope will commence on Jan. 20, 2025.

In a vague statement, two top officials on Mr. Trump’s campaign have sought to distance his campaign team from some of the plans being developed by Mr. Trump’s outside allies, groups led by former senior Trump administration officials who remain in direct contact with him. The statement called news reports about the campaign’s personnel and policy intentions “purely speculative and theoretical.”

The plans described here generally derive from what Mr. Trump has trumpeted on the campaign trail, what has appeared on his campaign website and interviews with Trump advisers, including some who spoke with The New York Times at the request of the campaign.
Trump wants to use the Justice Department to take vengeance on his political adversaries.

If he wins another term, Mr. Trump has said he would use the Justice Department to have his adversaries investigated and charged with crimes, including saying in June that he would appoint “a real special prosecutor to go after” President Biden and his family. He later declared in an interview with Univision that he could, if someone challenged him politically, have that person indicted.

Allies of Mr. Trump have also been developing an intellectual blueprint to cast aside the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department investigatory independence from White House political direction.

Foreshadowing such a move, Mr. Trump had already violated norms in his 2016 campaign by promising to “lock up” his opponent, Hillary Clinton, over her use of a private email server. While president, he repeatedly told aides he wanted the Justice Department to indict his political enemies, including officials he had fired such as James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director. The Justice Department opened various such investigations but did not bring charges — infuriating Mr. Trump and leading to a split in 2020 with his attorney general, William P. Barr.

Dec. 23

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Analysis: Setting example for other states, Colorado’s High Court disqualifies Trump from GOP primary webster tarpley 2007ballot, defending US Constitution against MAGA fascism! Webster G. Tarpley, (right, historian and commentator), Dec. 23, 2023 (102:22 mins.). 54% of Americans back move, including 24% of Republicans, a number that potentially dooms Don’s bid for power;

Ruling leaves no doubt that Trump was kingpin of insurrection for violent overthrow US government; Corrupt Thomas-Alito court boxed in; Two, three, many states must now disqualify would-be dictator;

As monument to epic sacrifices of Union dead, Fourteenth Amendment is essence of New Birth of Freedom foreseen by Lincoln as second founding of this country; Prime movers Thad Stevens and Sen. Sumner loom as moral giants whose radicalism frightens the cowardly pols, trimmers, and media hacks of today;

Imbecilic and dishonest calls to let the voters decide ignore the wisdom acquired at great cost by the victors in a bloody Civil War; Intent was to bar infamous, hardened traitors from federal office; Trump’s exclusion is objective and Constitutional, just like barring foreign born and teenagers from presidency;

Given sabotage by House MAGA Quislings, Biden should order billions in emergency military aid to Ukraine, shielding Europe from Putin’s aggression; $300 billion in frozen Russian assets must be expropriated now and transferred to Kyiv as combined Lend Lease and Marshall Plan to finance defense and postwar reconstruction;

Federal judge orders texts, emails, and phone records from MAGA Congressman Scott Perry’s phone turned over to Jack Smith-A first step towards finally indicting the Congressional coup plotters who backed January 6, who are the same clique trying to destroy Ukraine;

US takes step away from Netanyahu’s war crimes by abstaining on UNSC resolution mandating humanitarian aid; Experts question if Israel is losing Gaza war militarily after mauling of elite Golani brigade and suspected heavy losses; US assembles ten-power coalition for freedom of navigation Red Sea, where 12% of world trade is threatened by Iran’s Houthi proxies;

Phone tapes said to depict Trump and RNC’s Ronna McDaniel coercing Detroit election officials to sabotage Wayne County vote count in 2020;

Glorieta March 1862: How Colorado Union regiments stopped Texas troops from extending the slaveholder Confederacy to the Pacific in a neglected battle rightly called The Gettysburg of the West.
Breaking: Renegade Supremes feed Trump delaying strategy, deny Jack Smith’s bid to fast track Don’s absurd claim to blanket immunity as president!

Dec. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Ruling in Colorado Will Test Conservative Approach to Law, Charlie Savage, Dec. 20, 2023. A ruling that Donald Trump is ineligible for the presidency will test the court’s methodological values.

The ruling by Colorado’s Supreme Court that former President Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be president again because he engaged in an insurrection has cast a spotlight on the basis for the decision: the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which includes a clause disqualifying people who violated their oaths of office from holding government positions in the future.

Mr. Trump has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court. It is dominated by a supermajority of six justices who emerged from the conservative legal movement, which values methods of interpretation known as textualism and originalism. Under those precepts, judges should interpret the Constitution based on its text and publicly understood meaning when adopted, over factors like evolving social values, political consequences or an assessment of the intended purpose of the provision. 

Proof, Investigative Commentary: It’s Almost Certain No Supreme Court Justices Will Recuse Themselves From the Case of the Century. But seth abramson graphicOrdinarily, They Might All Have To, Seth Abramson, left (author, lawyer, professor), Dec. 20, 2023. The United States Supreme Court has innumerable ways to reply to the recent major breaking news in Colorado—which saw the Colorado Supreme Court remove 2024 Republican Party frontrunner and former twice-impeached president Donald Trump from the 2024 GOP primary ballot in Colorado on the basis of him meeting the legal definition of an “insurrectionist” under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

seth abramson proof logoThe Colorado Supreme Court immediately stayed the execution of its order so that the SCOTUS could take up Trump’s inevitable appeal. Which it certainly will.

Anderson v. Griswold is undoubtedly “the case of the century”—given that Bush v. Gore was decided on December 12, 2000, making it technically the last great case of the last century—and more or less every attorney nationwide (this author included) expects the Supreme Court to announce that it is taking up the case sometime before January 4, 2024, the day on which (if SCOTUS hasn’t acted by then) the Colorado Supreme Court stay would be lifted and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold be ordered to remove Trump from the state’s 2024 primary ballot (which would inevitably lead to a subsequent proceeding removing him from the state’s general-election ballot, also).

The general sense among legal analysts, this one included, is that the Supreme Court will feel that it must act on this issue and do so as quickly as possible. And that’s not just for the sake of those of Americans who know (not as a matter of opinion but fact) that Trump is an active insurrectionist who’s done far more to try to realize a tinpot tyranny in the United States than he’s charged with in his federal criminal case in Washington, D.C. or his state criminal case in Georgia.

If, in the view of one of the most conservative Supreme Courts in American history, Trump isn’t eligible to serve in public office again, the GOP will need to (i) cast about for an alternative, whether it’s Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis or another Trump (e.g., Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump) who wages an unprecedented MAGA convention “coup” at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in mid-July 2024, and (ii) deal with the certainly dramatic—and potentially even violent—fallout of losing its frontrunner at a time the man commands about 65% of the national GOP-primary vote.

But what SCOTUS can’t do—not after this week—is play at aloofness from the stark consequences of whatever it decides.

And it’s some additional breaking news from this week that explains why that is.

What would the would-be rioters have done if they couldn’t have gotten onto Capitol grounds, let alone inside the Capitol building itself?

Indeed, as a far-right armed rebellion against the United States government unfolded on January 6, it was entirely possible that a sprawling Supreme Court event could have been—had the Capitol been better defended—that horrible day’s main target, instead.

Which brings us to a most uncomfortable question: is it inappropriate for journalists to note that a second Trump term puts every Supreme Court Justice in immediate mortal danger? After all, the justices would invariably have to rule at some point in the future that Trump can’t serve a third term as he aims to do, so there can be no question that the Justices—perhaps even all nine of them—will be aligned against Trump going forward in much the same way most of Congress was on January 6.

Having said all this, judges don’t ordinarily recuse themselves because of their fear of potential future harms emanating from one of the parties before them. If the courts habitually did this, what judge would sit on any case that could end with a displeased party? Indeed, as I know from having practiced criminal law for years, there are even situations in which a judge stays on a case even after he or she has been threatened by a party. But what we’re speaking of in this instance—in Anderson v. Griswold—is quite different.

Why? Because this entire case is about the manner of threat Trump posed on January 6, and because the evidence in play relates not just to what Trump said and did at the end of 2020 and in early 2021 but what he’s already said about 2024 and (yes) 2028—words that implicate the future safety of the very federal judges Trump is about to ask to rule in Anderson v. Griswold.

Putting aside the fact that Justice Clarence Thomas should already be recused from any January 6-related case, including this one—his wife supported Donald Trump’s insurrection publicly and privately—the whole court is implicated within Anderson v. Griswold merely by the fact that an armed attack on, and occupation of, their place of business is part of the evidence relevant to the case.

So why isn’t anyone in American media discussing this unprecedented conundrum?

Dec. 16

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Stragetic Analysis and Reform Agenda: Week of epic treason with betrayal of Ukraine and frivolous impeachment of webster tarpley 2007 Biden showing Trump’s MAGA party lacks moral fitness for political survival! Webster G. Tarpley, (right, historian and commentator), Dec. 16, 2023. Kremlin media congratulate MAGA Quislings on their infamous handiwork in the service of Putin; Biden should use constitutional power to compel House to come back into session to fund emergency support for Kyiv and other allies; Time to enforce law against Congressmen implicated in January 6 coup attempt;

Impeachment for no known crime or misdemeanor is a last gasp of moribund GOP headed for extinction;

djt maga hatSavage cruelty of MAGA anti-abortion policies will be another key factor in party’s looming defeat next year, as confirmed by recent elections;
Hungarian dictator Orban blocks EU aid to Ukraine for now, but cannot prevent membership process from starting;

Funding of Hamas by UAE with help from Netanyahu exposed, undermining Bibi’s posturing;

Israeli officials show contempt for two-state solution, long the official policy of the US; Netanyahu demands long war to keep himself in power and out of jail; Congress must pass Van Hollen-Bernie Sanders bill to prevent US military aid from being used for further war crimes; Biden demands end to bombing within weeks, but Bibi & Co. say no; IDF kills 3 more Israeli hostages in Gaza;

In triumph of Bidenomics, Fed keeps interest rates steady and announces three rate cuts for 2024 as inflation falls to 3.1%, with gasoline below $3 per gallon in many states; Dow all-time record above 37,000 eclipses Trump’s incessant bragging about stock market!

Dec. 9

 

djt threat graphic

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Analysis: Trump’s “vermin” and “dictator for a day” outbursts alert voters to grave risk of MAGA totalitarian dictatorship in webster tarpley 20072024 election! Webster G. Tarpley, (right, historian and commentator), Dec. 9, 2023. Flurry of articles and broadcasts now discusses looming threat of fascism, although in-depth historical understanding of Mussolini and Hitler is often inadequate; Nazi enabling act of March 1933 set up dictatorship by allowing Hitler to rule by decree and approve treaties without parliament (Reichstag) and to violate the Weimar constitution;

MAGA saboteurs in House Traitorville block funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and border personnel; New questions about possible Russian influence on Speaker; Probe MAGA Mike for his obstruction of blurring faces; Why have Garland and Smith not indicted the GOP Congress members complicit in Trump’s January 6 coup?

With ouster of Santos, departure of Qevin, and other changes, House MAGA majority could soon dwindle to a single vote; Dems must prepare for quick and decisive motion to vacate the chair making Hakeem Jeffries the new Speaker, and then repeal the ”debt limit”;

To restore order in House, Garland must enforce federal law against 4 MAGA scofflaws who defied subpoenas from January 6 committee and investigate the half dozen who wanted pardons from Trump; House members must respect their oaths of office;

Israeli Ambassador Pincas denounces Netanyahu’s plan to activate infamous Breakaway Ally scenario, attempting to dump the opprobrium of his own failures on US and Biden; US should promote ouster of desperate demagogue Bibi and his coalition of fascist settlers;

US veto of UNSC ceasefire resolution is tragic blunder leaving this country isolated; Biden must urgently shift policy to favor armistice; US airlift needed to saturate Gaza with humanitarian supplies at rate of 250 truckloads per day, on scale of Berlin airlift;

Hunter Biden is targeted with draconian indictments for many of same offenses for which Trump ally Roger Stone got off scot free; With 199,00 new jobs in November, Bidenomics racks up new record of 14 million jobs created so far during presidency!

 

seth abramson proof coup cover

 This 250-page, Fall 2022 report on the coup plot at the Pentagon is the fourth book in the Proof series. Other books in the series include the national bestsellers Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018); Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019); and Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020). The Proof project also includes an international top-ten podcast that ran just before the 2020 election, Proof: A Pre-Election Special (Cineflix/Connect3 Media, 2020)

Proof via Substack and Medium, New Book Released with 'Proof of Coup: How the Pentagon Shaped An Insurrection,' Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 8-9, seth abramson graphic2023. This fourth book in the New York Times-bestselling "Proof" series is a fully sourced 250-page exposé on the January 6 coup plot at the Pentagon — with hundreds of citations, photographs, videos, and more. The first five chapters of this full-length book are free to read right now. But you can read the entirety of the book for free simply by trying Proof for a week. To do so, click the button below.

seth abramson proof logoIn early 2018, as part of his unsuccessful efforts to goose congressional Republicans’ chances in the upcoming midterm elections, then-president Donald Trump signed into law an act designed to bring Hillary Clinton and her name out of retirement and back into mainstream political discussion: as Politico summarizes it, the law Trump signed “stiffened the penalty for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents from one year to five years, turning it into a felony offense.”

That Trump intended the law as a political stunt—one that gave him an excuse to now and again invoke Clinton’s 2015 “email” case three years later—would subsequently be confirmed by facts no American who didn’t work in the White House could’ve known at the time: behind the walls of the People’s House, Trump was himself (though in his case unambiguously) mishandling government records, including classified documents, to a degree that had been unthinkable in the nearly quarter-millennium of American history that preceded Trump taking office. Not only would Trump sometimes literally consume government records, he would routinely flush documents legally required to be preserved down his private toilet. At other times he simply ripped up government records and threw them in the trash, while on still other occasions he had his aides take a large number of such records, put them in “burn bags”, and incinerate them.

One of the many reasons that legal experts—including the DOJ prosecutor who led the investigation into Clinton’s email practices—say that Trump’s conduct exceeded in audacity his 2016 Democratic opponent’s by orders of magnitude is that Trump curated which records he wanted destroyed, suggesting a degree of premeditation and nefarious intent found to be wholly absent in the Clinton case.

But perhaps the best evidence of Trump’s years-long plot to hide his conduct in office from U.S. voters by selectively removing key documents from the public (i.e. taxpayer-owned) record was a means of handling classified documents less spectacular than those listed above but no less troubling: in his final months in office, which included all of his initial preparations (beginning in the summer of 2020) to steal the upcoming presidential election through false claims of election fraud and extended to the period immediately after his failed January 6, 2021 coup attempt, Trump was followed around the White House by a troupe of aides with oversized cardboard boxes of government records he’d commanded be stored in this bizarre fashion. On a regular basis the then-president would order that these boxes be deposited in his private residence in the White House. Throughout the waning months of the Trump presidency—amidst his clandestine effort to hold onto power via stratagems America had never seen before—the president would routinely select certain documents to be secreted in these boxes, with the said material evidence never to be seen again (he seemed to hope) by either the taxpayers who were paying his salary or by the many federal investigators who had in the past and would soon be again investigating him and his conduct in office.

 

Norman Lear (shown in a New York Times file photo by J. Emilio Flores).

Norman Lear (shown in a New York Times file photo by J. Emilio Flores).

Going Deep With Russ Baker via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Norman Lear: The Man with the REAL Family Values, Russ Baker whowhatwhy logoruss baker(right, founder of the WhoWhatWhy investigative site and best-selling author), Dec. 9, 2023. What he was like in person.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching All in the Family — with my family. It was a seminal bonding experience, an informal education on the human condition, a chance to laugh at human folly, a chance to dare to see the world differently, to think differently. Many years later, I had the good fortune of meeting and becoming friends with the creator of that show, Norman Lear.  Much has already been said about him and his legacy. I want to add my small piece to the remembrances.

When I heard that Norman had died, one of my first thoughts was how far this man brought America and how far backward we have gone in recent years.

How he helped America become more enlightened and more tolerant — and how tragic it is that he spent his final days seeing just how unenlightened, intolerant, and viciously tribal our society has become.

And yet it is this legacy of Norman Lear that will keep me fighting the good fight until we get back to the progress he helped engineer — and are able to move forward again.

After a career in making a difference through media, Norman turned to the issue arena, founding the nonprofit, 300,000-member People for the American Way (PFAW) to advance tolerance and progress. Besides backing and opposing political candidates in a manner consistent with a vision of a better, more just America, it fostered opportunity through such entities as the Young Elected Officials Network, the African American Ministers Leadership Council, and the Latino Vote program, which played a role in the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

PFAW also took the gloves off — with its Right Wing Watch exposing the ugliness, hypocrisy, and dangerous hate speech of politicians, preachers, and media outlets — and can take credit for, among other things, having Alex Jones’s reckless Infowars removed from several popular distribution sites.

Dec. 8

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Meet the Biden impeachment managers: Larry, Moe and Curly, Dana Milbank, right, Dec. 8, 2023. After House Republicans’ dana milbank newestcaucus meeting in the Capitol basement this week, Speaker Mike Johnson gave the media an update on his release of thousands of hours of security footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The release had been slowed, Johnson explained, because “we have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day, because we don’t want them to be retaliated against — and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other, you know, concerns and problems.”

It was as clear a statement as there could be on where the new speaker’s allegiance lies: protecting those who sacked the Capitol from being brought to justice for their crimes. Johnson (La.) was openly siding with the insurrectionists and against the United States government he swore an oath to defend.

The Justice Department already has the undoctored footage, as Johnson’s spokesman later acknowledged, so, presumably, the speaker is trying to prevent members of the public from identifying anyone in the violent mob (“persons who participated in the events of that day”) that law enforcement might have overlooked. Sure, they attacked the seat of government in their bloody attempt to overthrow a free and fair election, but let us respect their privacy! After all the yammering from the right about transparency, Johnson is manipulating the footage — not to protect the Capitol’s security but to protect the attackers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How an Ohio senator’s stunt proves the Trump dictatorship theory, Ruth Marcus, right, Dec. 8, 2023 (print ed.). Sen. J.D. Vance ruth marcus twitter Customwants Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate my colleague Robert Kagan for allegedly inciting insurrection with his recent essay warning of the “increasingly inevitable” dangers of dictatorship under Donald Trump.

jd vance w gage skidmoreFor good measure, the Ohio Republican, left, wants Secretary of State Antony Blinken to look into whether Kagan’s wife, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, should have her security clearance revoked because her “close relationship with her husband might compromise her judgment about the best interests of the United States.”

victoria nuland currentRight. The little woman, right, who was George W. Bush’s ambassador to NATO and has decades of foreign policy experience in both Republican and Democratic administrations, must be under her husband’s thumb.

Under ordinary circumstances — that is to say, circumstances in which Trump’s reelection were not a serious possibility — Vance’s missive would be dismissible for what it is: a preening, Trump-toadying stunt. No sane Justice Department would take any action other than tossing Vance’s letter in the trash. No sane State Department would touch Nuland’s clearance.

In the current climate, however, the stunt must be taken seriously as a preview of what life under a Trump presidency — or, to use Kagan’s term, a Trump dictatorship — might entail. Because we know, not from Kagan but from Trump himself, along with his constitutionally illiterate enablers, that this is just the kind of abuse of power they contemplate in a second Trump term.

Dec. 7

ny times logo

Politico, Trump’s ‘dictator’ remark jolts the 2024 campaign — and tests his GOP rivals on debate day, Adam Wren, Dec. 7, 2023 (print ed.). The former president’s remarks came on the eve of what may be the final GOP primary debate of the 2024 campaign.

politico CustomSean Hannity was trying to throw Donald Trump a life vest, and Trump was waving it off.

At a town hall in Davenport, Iowa, on the eve of what may be the final Republican primary debate of the campaign, the Fox News host asked the likely GOP nominee whether he had “any plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power? To break the law? To use the government to go after people?”

   Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mug shot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday (Photo via Fulton County Sheriff's Office).Trump parried. Hannity probed. He again asked Trump whether he was indeed “promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”

“Except for Day One,” Trump said.

Were Trump’s initial remarks a Trumpian jest? A threat? A promise?

Whether Trump was smiling and winking at a dictatorship, his declaration marked a pivotal point in the race — coming as he and those who would likely populate his second-term administration spark concerns that they are laying the groundwork for a more authoritarian style of governance.

And the timing could hardly have been more significant — immediately throwing down a gauntlet for his remaining four challengers as they gather in Alabama tonight. Implicitly, his interview served as an invitation for them to either acquiesce or criticize their party’s frontrunner in a primary where they have been reflexively reluctant to do so. His day-one dictator remarks offer Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy the opening to either reject or affirm that a thread of authoritarianism is now woven into the fabric of the Republican Party.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Liz Cheney reminds us of the stakes, Jennifer Rubin, right, Dec. 7, 2023. Nowonder MAGA Republicans hate Liz Cheney. jennifer rubin new headshotNo Republican is as articulate, persuasive and passionate as the former Wyoming congresswoman in describing the threat four-time-indicted former president Donald Trump and her own party as currently constituted pose to the future of American democracy and international security.

Her new book Oath and Honor has plenty of bombshells — the congressman who derided Trump as “orange Jesus”; Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s pathetic excuse that he had to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago because the former president was depressed and not eating. But the jaw-dropping tidbits should not distract from her overarching message, one that Republicans and the media alike need to embrace.

In her characteristically blunt, unvarnished way, she told CBS’s John Dickerson in an interview aired Sunday: “He’s told us what he will do. It’s very easy to see the steps that he will take. … People who say ‘Well, if he’s elected, it’s not that dangerous because we have all of these checks and balances’ don’t fully understand the extent to which the Republicans in Congress today have been co-opted.” She stressed, “One of the things that we see happening today is a sort of a sleepwalking into dictatorship in the United States.”

Dec. 6

 

jack smith 6 9 2023 cnn

 washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump Cases: Special counsel alleges Trump ‘sent’ supporters on path to Jan. 6 violence, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 6, 2023 (print ed.). Jack Smith, shown above in a file photo, accused the former president of a history of election lies and ‘encouragement of violence.’

President Donald Trump officialFederal prosecutors on Tuesday accused former president Donald Trump of a long pattern of lying about elections and encouraging violence, saying he “sent” supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 to criminally block the election results.

In a new court filing, prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith went further than in their August indictment in attempting to tie him to that day’s violence, saying they intended to introduce evidence of his other acts both before the November 2020 presidential election and subsequent alleged threats to establish his motive, intent and preparation for subverting its legitimate results.

“Evidence of the defendant’s post-conspiracy embrace of particularly violent and notorious rioters is admissible to establish the defendant’s motive and intent on January 6 — that he sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, whom he knew were angry, and whom he now calls ‘patriots,’ to the Capitol to achieve the criminal objective of obstructing the congressional certification,” prosecutors alleged in a nine-page filing.

They added, “At trial, the Government will introduce a number of public statements by the defendant in advance of the charged conspiracies, claiming that there would be fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” laying the “foundation for the defendant’s criminal efforts.”

Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges in what prosecutors say was a broad conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election by spewing a gusher of lies about purported election fraud and trying to get state local and federal officials to change the legitimate results to remain in power.

A four-count federal indictment in Washington, D.C., alleges he plotted to defraud the federal election process, obstruct Congress’s certification of the vote in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, and deprive Americans of their civil right to have their votes counted. It is one of four criminal cases charged this year against the former president.

The others include a federal indictment in Florida over Trump’s alleged retention and mishandling of classified documents and obstruction after leaving the White House; a state trial in Georgia that involves similar allegations of trying to obstruct the state’s election results; and a New York state business fraud prosecution accusing Trump of covering up hush money payments made during his 2016 election campaign.

They added, “At trial, the Government will introduce a number of public statements by the defendant in advance of the charged conspiracies, claiming that there would be fraud in the 2020 presidential election,” laying the “foundation for the defendant’s criminal efforts.” Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused former president Donald Trump of a long pattern of lying about elections and encouraging violence, saying he “sent” supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 to criminally block the election results.

Dec. 4

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: It’s Time to Fix America’s Most Dangerous Law, David French, right, Dec. 4, 2023 (print ed.). There is a land mine embedded in the United david french croppedStates Code, one that Donald Trump, if re-elected president, could use to destroy our republic. But it’s not too late for Congress to defuse the mine now and protect America.

I’m talking about the Insurrection Act, a federal law that permits the president to deploy military troops in American communities to effectively act as a domestic police force under his direct command. In theory, there is a need for a well-drafted law that permits the use of federal troops in extreme circumstances to maintain order and protect the rule of law. The Insurrection Act, which dates back to 1792 but has since been amended, is not, however, well drafted. And its flaws would give Trump enormous latitude to wield the staggering power of the state against his domestic political enemies.

These flaws are especially relevant because Trump and his allies are keenly aware of the act’s provisions and have long expressed interest in its use. Trump has publicly regretted not using more military force to suppress riots in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in 2020, there were suggestions that he utilize the act as part of his plot to steal the 2020 election, and now there are reports that Trump might invoke the act on the first day of his next term, to suppress demonstrations, to control the border or both.

Moreover, these reports have to be read in the context of Trump’s latest public pronouncements. He has declared many of his domestic political opponents to be “vermin.” His campaign has promised that his critics’ “sad, miserable existence” will be “crushed.” And he has specifically told his followers, “I am your vengeance.”

Some version of the Insurrection Act is probably necessary. After all, from the Whiskey Rebellion to the Civil War to Trump’s own insurrection on Jan. 6, we have seen direct, violent challenges to federal authority. But any such authorization should be carefully circumscribed and subject to oversight. The authority granted by the act, however, is remarkably broad, and oversight is virtually nonexistent.

The Insurrection Act contains a number of provisions, and not all are equally bad. For example, the first provision, 10 U.S.C. Section 251, provides that the president may deploy troops “upon the request of [a state’s] legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened” in the event of an insurrection. There is no unilateral presidential authority under this provision; the president’s power is activated only by a state request.

But the act gets worse, much worse. The next section takes the gloves off, giving the president the ability to call out the National Guard or the regular army “whenever the president considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any state by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” Note the key language: “whenever the president considers.” That means deployment is up to him and to him alone.

The section after that does much same thing, again granting the president the power to “take such measures he considers necessary” to suppress “any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.” This broad grant of power makes the Insurrection Act far more immediately dangerous than many other threatened Trump actions, such as prosecuting political opponents and transforming the federal work force. Judicial review can blunt many of Trump’s worst initiatives, but there’s no such obvious check on the use of his power under the act.

You might wonder why the Insurrection Act hasn’t presented much of a problem before now. It’s been used rarely, and when it has been used, it’s been used for legitimate purposes. For example, it was used repeatedly to suppress racist violence in the South during the Reconstruction era and the civil rights movement. Most recently, George H.W. Bush invoked it in 1992 — at the request of the governor of California — to assist in quelling the extreme violence of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

That historical restraint has been dependent on a factor that is utterly absent from Trump: a basic commitment to the Constitution and democracy. Previous presidents, for all their many flaws, still largely upheld and respected the rule of law. Even in their most corrupt moments, there were lines they wouldn’t cross. Trump not only has no such lines but also has made his vengeful intentions abundantly clear.

There is still time, however, to take this terrible tool out of Trump’s potential hands. The Insurrection Act has not always been so broad. In its earliest versions, the president’s power was much more carefully constrained. But Congress expanded the president’s power after the Civil War, in part to deal with racist insurgencies in the defeated Confederacy.

It’s time to rein in the excesses of the act. In 2022, Elizabeth Goitein and Joseph Nunn from the Brennan Center for Justice submitted a comprehensive reform proposal to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. The proposal would narrow and carefully define the circumstances in which the president can deploy troops, provide for a congressional review and approval process and enable judicial review of claims that the legal criteria for deployment were not met. It’s a proposal worth adopting.

I’m not naïve. I recognize that it will be difficult if not impossible for any reform bill to pass Congress. Mike Johnson, the speaker of the Republican-led House of Representatives, was a central player in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. Many of Trump’s congressional allies share his thirst for vengeance. But it’s past time to highlight this problem in the federal code. It’s past time to strip unilateral authority from the president.

Dec. 3

 

benjamin netanyahu frown screenshotThe Intercept, Netanyahu’s goal for Gaza: “Thin” population “to a minimum,” Ryan Grim, Dec. 3, 2023. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, above, has tasked his top adviser, Ron Dermer, the minister of strategic affairs, with designing plans to “thin” the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip “to a minimum,” according to a bombshell new report in an Israeli newspaper founded by the late Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

The outlet, Israel Hayom, is considered to be something of an official organ for Netanyahu. It reported that the plan has two main elements: The first would use the pressure of the war and humanitarian crisis to persuade Egypt to allow refugees to flow to other Arab countries, and the second would open up sea routes so that Israel “allows a mass escape to European and African countries.” Dermer, who is originally from Miami, is a Netanyahu confidante and was previously Israeli ambassador to the United States, and enjoys close relations with many members of Congress.

The plan to ethnically cleanse Gaza of Palestinians faces some internal resistance from less hard-line members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, according to Israel Hayom.

Israel FlagIsrael Today and other Israeli media are also reporting on a plan being pushed with Congress that would condition aid to Arab nations on their willingness to accept Palestinian refugees. The plan even proposes specific numbers of refugees for each country: Egypt would take one million Palestinians, half a million would go to Turkey, and a quarter million each would go to Yemen and Iraq.

The reporting relies heavily on the passive voice, declining to say who put the proposal together: “The proposal was shown to key figures in the House and Senate from both parties. Longtime lawmaker, Rep. Joe Wilson, has even expressed open support for it while others who were privy to the details of the text have so far kept a low profile, saying that publicly coming out in favor of the program could derail it.”

To underscore how absurd the refugee resettlement plan is, the de facto Houthi government in Yemen claimed an attack today on a U.S. ship as well as commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Back on October 20, in a little-noticed message to Congress, the White House asked for $3.495 billion that would be used for refugees from both Ukraine and Gaza, referencing “potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries.”

“This crisis could well result in displacement across border and higher regional humanitarian needs, and funding may be used to meet evolving programming requirements outside of Gaza,” the letter from the White House Office of Management and Budget reads. The letter came two days after Jordan and Egypt warned they would not open their borders to a mass exodus of Palestinians, arguing that past history shows they would never be able to return.

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel’s assault forced a nurse to leave babies behind. They were found decomposing, Miriam Berger, Evan Hill and Hazem Balousha, Dec. 3, 2023. A nurse at al-Nasr hospital was caring for premature babies. Then he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

The nurse in the besieged hospital was caring for five fragile babies. Infants, born premature, their parents’ whereabouts after a month of war unknown. Now he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

Israel FlagIt was the height of Israel’s assault on northern Gaza last month, and al-Nasr Children’s Hospital was a war zone. The day before, airstrikes had cut off the Gaza City facility’s oxygen supplies. Israeli tanks had surrounded the hospital complex, and the Israel Defense Forces were calling and texting the doctors, urging them to leave.

But ambulances couldn’t safely reach al-Nasr to transport the wounded, and doctors refused to leave the facility without their patients.

The five premature babies were particularly vulnerable. They needed oxygen, and medication administered at regular intervals. There were no portable respirators or incubators to transport them. Without life support, the nurse feared, they wouldn’t survive an evacuation.

Then the IDF delivered an ultimatum, al-Nasr director Bakr Qaoud told The Washington Post: Get out or be bombarded. An Israeli official, meanwhile, provided an assurance that ambulances would be arranged to retrieve the patients.

The nurse, a Palestinian man who works with Paris-based Doctors Without Borders, saw no choice. He assessed his charges and picked up the strongest one — the baby he thought likeliest to bear a temporary cut to his oxygen supply. He left the other four on their breathing machines, reluctantly, and with his wife, their children and the one baby, headed south.

“I felt like I was leaving my own children behind,” said the nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy. “If we had the ability to take them, we would have, [but] if we took them off the oxygen they would have died.”

Israel Flag

ny times logoNew York Times, Israel’s Military Expands Evacuation Orders in Southern Gaza, Vivian Yee, Iyad Abuheweila and Ameera Harouda, Dec. 3, 2023. The U.S. has increasingly stressed the need to limit civilian harm as Israel turns its focus to the enclave’s south.
Confusion and fear gripped much of southern Gaza on Sunday as Israel’s military ordered more residents to clear out and fighting there intensified.

The Israeli military’s latest evacuation orders appeared to be setting the stage for a ground invasion in the south since hostilities started again after the collapse of a weeklong truce with Hamas. They evoked similar orders given by the Israeli military before it invaded northern Gaza in late October. But the announcements were prone to change with almost no notice, leaving many Gazans confused and with little time to flee.

The list of areas had swelled from 19 the previous morning to 34 on Sunday, all clustered southeast of the city of Khan Younis. The Israeli military marked each on a map of Gaza that divided the territory into nearly 2,400 “blocks,” advising residents to pay attention to Israeli announcements about whether their block was being evacuated.

Some families whose homes and shelters were not included in the initial evacuation areas announced by Israel’s military, and who had thought they would be able to stay put, said they had later received recorded calls ordering them to leave.

Many people under evacuation orders had already been displaced at least once before, forced to leave northern Gaza when the fighting and the airstrikes began. Now they found themselves once again at a loss for where to go in an already overcrowded area under threat of bombardment.

“I cannot overstate the fear, panic & confusion that these Israeli maps are causing civilians in Gaza, including my own staff,” wrote Melanie Ward, head of the humanitarian organization Medical Aid for Palestinians, on social media, adding that “people cannot run from place to place to try to escape Israel’s bombs.”

Hospitals in the south were also under pressure. A team from the World Health Organization visited a hospital in Khan Younis on Saturday that was three times over its capacity, according to the agency’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Countless people were seeking shelter, filling every corner of the facility,” he wrote on X. “Patients were receiving care on the floor, screaming in pain.”

The Israeli military’s evacuation map showed big orange arrows directing people toward already-overflowing shelters or what it called the “humanitarian zone” in Al-Mawasi, an agricultural area toward the Mediterranean Sea.

But it was not clear whether the zone provided sufficient supplies or shelter, with some Gazans who fled there describing little awaiting them and no visible presence of humanitarian aid.

The idea of “safe zones” in Gaza, as was envisioned for Al-Mawasi, is opposed by the United Nations. Last month, U.N. agencies and other groups said they would not participate in setting up any such zones in Gaza.

Here’s what we know:

  • The Biden administration has increasingly stressed the need to limit civilian harm as Israel turns its focus to the enclave’s south.
  • Many Gazans who were already displaced are under orders to move again.
  • The U.S. defense secretary cites urban warfare risks as Harris warns against relocation.
  • Released hostages give Tel Aviv protesters hope for those left behind.
  • A university president was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, Palestinian officials say.
  • Gazans again find themselves in dire straits, searching for safe areas and food.

Dec.  2

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary: In unfriendly act towards sole ally USA, butcher Bibi re-starts Gaza bloodbath despite efforts of Biden, Blinken, & webster tarpley 2007Burns to make ceasefire into a permanent armistice, Webster G. Tarpley (right, historian and commentator), Dec. 2, 2023 (133:52 mins.). Netanyahu brags to supporters of his ability to manipulate and dupe US public opinion;

Netanyahu, Gallant, Smotrich, Bengvir & Co. bitterly insisted on endless war until Biden shut down Bibi’s impossible conditions; Next task is to render ceasefire permanent, with abundant humanitarian aid, followed by release of all hostages on all sides;

When messianic Israeli warmongers demand resumption of bombing & killing, they must face the veto of US, EU, Arab League, &

State Department readies travel ban for armed fascist settlers of the Smotrich-Ben Gvir faction seeking US visas; Save the next rejection slip for Netanyahu!

US, UK, EU should fast track an Emergency International Peace Conference on the model of Madrid 1992 to enact a solution based on two sovereign states;

US media omit the late Henry Kissinger’s implication in the 1977 demise of Italian PM Aldo Moro; Moro’s widow said Henry had threatened her husband; Kissinger’s China card has boomeranged into today’s greatest threat to future of US; He presided with Nixon over the August 15 1971 wrecking of the Bretton Woods currency system, triggering decades of parasitical speculation; The 1971 Tilt crisis, which threatened to expand an Indo-Pakistani war into a US-USSR nuclear confrontation while 3 million died in Bengal; His role in Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, the 1973 Kippur War; His brief interlude advising the JFK White House; How he set the stage for the Watergate Plumbers; The passing of a cynical nihilist and Spenglerian pessimist;
June 1990: Secretary of State James Baker reads the riot act to shifty, duplicitous Israeli PM and Netanyahu/Likud precursor Shamir over his refusal to start a peace process with Palestinians-a memorable example!

 

November

Nov. 30

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending, Robert Kagan, right, Nov. 30, 2023. There is a clear path robert kagan looking leftto dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. So why is everyone behaving like normal?

Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day. In 13 weeks, Donald Trump will have locked up the Republican nomination. In the RealClearPolitics poll average (for the period from Nov. 9 to 20), Trump leads his nearest competitor by 47 points and leads the rest of the field combined by 27 points.

The idea that he is unelectable in the general election is nonsense — he is tied or ahead of President Biden in all the latest polls — stripping other Republican challengers of their own stated reasons for existence. The fact that many Americans might prefer other candidates, much ballyhooed by such political sages as Karl Rove, will soon become irrelevant when millions of Republican voters turn out to choose the person whom no one allegedly wants.

President Donald Trump officialFor many months now, we have been living in a world of self-delusion, rich with imagined possibilities. Maybe it will be Ron DeSantis, or maybe Nikki Haley. Maybe the myriad indictments of Trump will doom him with Republican suburbanites. Such hopeful speculation has allowed us to drift along passively, conducting business as usual, taking no dramatic action to change course, in the hope and expectation that something will happen. Like people on a riverboat, we have long known there is a waterfall ahead but assume we will somehow find our way to shore before we go over the edge. But now the actions required to get us to shore are looking harder and harder, if not downright impossible.

djt maga hatThe magical-thinking phase is ending. Barring some miracle, Trump will soon be the presumptive Republican nominee for president. When that happens, there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic, in his favor. Until now, Republicans and conservatives have enjoyed relative freedom to express anti-Trump sentiments, to speak openly and positively about alternative candidates, to vent criticisms of Trump’s behavior past and present. Donors who find Trump distasteful have been free to spread their money around to help his competitors. Establishment Republicans have made no secret of their hope that Trump will be convicted and thus removed from the equation without their having to take a stand against him.

Robert Kagan, a Post Opinions contributing editor, is the author of “Rebellion: How Antiliberalism Is Tearing America Apart — Again,” which will be published by Knopf in May.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. stops helping Big Tech spot foreign meddling amid GOP legal threats, Naomi Nix and Cat Zakrzewski, Nov. 30, 2023. Anthony Faiola, Stefano Pitrelli and Louisa Loveluck, Nov. 30, 2023. The federal government has stopped warning Meta about foreign influence campaigns amid a legal campaign against the Biden administration’s communication with tech firms.

The U.S. federal government has stopped warning some social networks about foreign disinformation campaigns on their platforms, reversing a years-long approach to preventing Russia and other actors from interfering in American politics less than a year before the U.S. presidential elections, according to company officials.

Meta no longer receives notifications of global influence campaigns from the Biden administration, halting a prolonged partnership between the federal government and the world’s largest social media company, senior security officials said Wednesday. Federal agencies have also stopped communicating about political disinformation with Pinterest, according to the company.

The developments underscore the far-reaching impact of a conservative legal campaign against initiatives established to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election, when Russia manipulated social media in an attempt to sow chaos and swing the vote for Donald Trump.

For months, researchers in government and academia have warned that a barrage of lawsuits, congressional demands and online attacks are having a chilling effect on programs intended to combat health and election misinformation. But the shift in communications about foreign meddling signals how ongoing litigation and Republican probes in Congress are unwinding efforts once viewed as critical to protecting U.S. national security interests.

Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks

Ben Nimmo, chief of global threat intelligence for Meta, said government officials stopped communicating foreign election interference threats to the company in July.

That month, a federal judge limited the Biden administration’s communications with tech platforms in response to a lawsuit alleging such coordination ran afoul of the First Amendment by encouraging companies to remove falsehoods about covid-19 and the 2020 election. The decision included an exemption allowing the government to communicate with the companies about national security threats, specifically foreign interference in elections. The case, Missouri v. Biden, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has paused lower court restrictions while it reviews the matter.

The shift erodes a partnership considered crucial to the integrity of elections around the world — just months before voters head to the polls in Taiwan, the European Union, India and the United States. Ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential race, foreign actors such as China and Russia have become more aggressive at trying to exacerbate political tensions in the United States, while advanced artificial intelligence allows bad actors to easily create convincing political propaganda.

Sen. Mark R. Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said “legal warfare by far-right actors” has led to a dire situation.

“We are seeing a potential scenario where all the major improvements in identifying, threat-sharing, and public exposure of foreign malign influence activity targeting U.S. elections have been systematically undermined,” the senator from Virginia said in a statement.

 

Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Suspects: Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via Associated Press ).

Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Suspects: Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. All pleaded guilty this year to federal and state charges (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via Associated Press ).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How a ‘Goon Squad’ of Deputies Got Away With Years of Brutality, Brian Howey and Nate Rosenfield, Photographs by Rory Doyle, Nov. 30, 2023. They barged into homes in the middle of the night, then held people down while they beat them, witnesses said. For years, signs of the violence in Mississippi went ignored.

For nearly two decades, a loose band of sheriff’s deputies roamed impoverished neighborhoods across a central Mississippi county, meting out their own version of justice.

Narcotics detectives and patrol officers, some who called themselves the Goon Squad, barged into homes in the middle of the night, accusing people inside of dealing drugs. Then they handcuffed or held them at gunpoint and tortured them into confessing or providing information, according to dozens of people who say they endured or witnessed the assaults.

They described violence that sometimes went on for hours and seemed intended to strike terror into the deputies’ targets.

In the pursuit of drug arrests, deputies of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department shocked Robert Jones with a Taser in 2018 while he lay submerged in a flooded ditch, then rammed a stick down his throat until he vomited blood, he said.

During a raid the same year, deputies choked Mitchell Hobson with a lamp cord and waterboarded him to simulate drowning, he said, then beat him until the walls were spattered with his blood. That raid took place at the home of Rick Loveday, a sheriff’s deputy in a neighboring county, who said he was dragged half-naked from his bed at gunpoint, before deputies jabbed a flashlight threateningly at his buttocks and then pummeled him relentlessly.

The string of violence might have continued unchecked if not for one near-fatal raid in January.

According to a Justice Department investigation, deputies broke into the home of two Black men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, shocked them with Tasers and threatened to rape them. Deputy Hunter Elward shoved the barrel of a gun into Mr. Jenkins’s mouth, not realizing a bullet was in the chamber, and pulled the trigger. Mr. Jenkins was grievously injured, the incident was thrust into the national spotlight, and in August five deputies and a police officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

But an investigation by The New York Times and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today reveals a history of blatant and brutal incidents stretching back to at least 2004.

Nov. 25

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary and Reform Agenda: “This is a Biden ceasefire,” Webster G. Tarpley (right, historian and commentator), Nov. 25, webster tarpley 20072023 (143:37 mins.). Top Israeli official official gives all credit for armistice and hostage release to US President, MSNBC reports!

Netanyahu, Gallant, Smotrich, Bengvir & Co. bitterly insisted on endless war until Biden shut down Bibi’s impossible conditions; Next task is to render ceasefire permanent, with abundant humanitarian aid, followed by release of all hostages on all sides;

When messianic Israeli warmongers demand resumption of bombing & killing, they must face the veto of US, EU, Arab League, & civilized world; Concerns about Hamas bigwigs are legit & can be handled by Mossad’s well-known traditional methods of targeted assassinations by highly trained hit teams and countergangs as frequently seen over decades; Never forget that some 60 hostages alleged by Israel have already been slain by relentless IDF carpet bombing; Where are the Americans?

Grave danger now is provocations to sabotage ceasefire carried out by armed fascist settlers in West Bank areas; World public opinion must press for immediate convocation of an Emergency International Peace Conference with agenda of lasting armistice, world humanitarian mobilization, two-state solution, economic reconstruction & development;

Fratricidal progressive sectarians in US must turn away from irresponsible rhetoric; As Biden notes, starting with nothing but demands for ceasefire might never have produced such progress as has been attained; Arab-Americans & youth foolishly threatening to desert Biden next year must also contemplate Trump’s likely program of giant concentration camps, massive deportations, & endless anti-immigrant raids, with Moslems & Arabs obviously among priority targets; RFK will be nothing but a spoiler & otherwise irrelevant, and is anyway backing Bibi to the hilt;

Extensive think-tank planning underlines that crushing MAGA fascist dictatorship will be on the ballot next November; Persons of good will must fight it out for freedom on this line over the next twelve months; Failure to support Biden at this rendez-vous with destiny will disgrace anyone’s biography, as per Friedrich Schiller’s 1786 prophecy ”World history is the world court”!

The parable of Palestinian diplomat Issam Sartawi (1935-1983) and the terrorist countergang Abu Nidal, the precursor of Hamas.

Nov. 22

 

Lee and Marina Oswald (far right) and their child with Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Romanovich Zieger and Eleanor Zieger. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2628. Photo credit: National ArchivesLee and Marina Oswald (far right) and their child with Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Romanovich Zieger and Eleanor Zieger. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2628. Photo credit: National Archives

WhoWhatWhy Podcast, Conflicting Memories of Two ‘Friends’ of Lee Oswald, Jeff Schechtman, Exclusive interviews with two who knew Lee Oswald, offering unique insights into the enigmatic figure linked to JFK’s assassination.

whowhatwhy logoAs part of the WhoWhatWhy special series commemorating the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, we bring you exclusive interviews with two individuals closely connected to Lee Oswald. Offering contrasting perspectives, these interviews shed light on Oswald’s complex character and his place in the tragedy of Kennedy’s death.

First, we hear from professor Paul Gregory, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and an expert in Soviet and Russian economics. Gregory’s unique connection to Oswald began in Texas in 1962, following Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union with his Russian wife, Marina. Gregory’s insights are further detailed in his book The Oswalds: An Untold Account of Marina and Lee.

We also speak with Ernst Titovets, a Minsk-based medical doctor and neurosurgery professor, who said he befriended Oswald during his Soviet sojourn. Titovets’s memoir, Oswald: Russian Episode, opens a rare window into Oswald’s life in the USSR and provides a critical analysis of the Kennedy assassination investigations, weighing official narratives against his personal experiences.

These are intimate accounts, providing sharply contrary insights into the enigma of Lee Oswald through the eyes of some of those who interacted with him in a critical period — the several years before he allegedly shot Kennedy.

  • Interview with Paul Gregory:
  • Interview with Ernst Titovets:

About the JFK Assassination Series

This series was inspired by an ongoing project of WhoWhatWhy Founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker to produce a definitive, meticulous, book-length investigation of Kennedy’s death. Click here for the introduction to the series. To read the other articles in this series, go here.

If you have information to bring to our attention about any aspect of the JFK assassination — or are with the media and interested in covering or reproducing our work or inviting Mr. Baker to appear on a program — please click here. If you would like to be on a mailing list to receive news of the book, click here. To sign up for WhoWhatWhy newsletters, click here.

Nov. 21

 

Then-President Trump, center left, talks to Chief of Staff John Kelly at veterans gathering on May 29, 2017 (Washington Post photo by Matt McClain).

Then-President Trump, center left, talks to Chief of Staff John Kelly at veterans gathering on May 29, 2017 (Washington Post photo by Matt McClain).

washington post logoWashington Post, Many former Trump aides say he shouldn’t be president. Will it matter? Josh Dawsey, Nov. 21, 2023 (print ed.). Critics are grappling with how they can puncture Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2024, whether they should coordinate and whether their voices can affect the race.

John F. Kelly, the longest-serving chief of staff in President Donald Trump’s White House, watches Trump dominate the GOP primary with increasing despair.

President Donald Trump official“What’s going on in the country that a single person thinks this guy would still be a good president when he’s said the things he’s said and done the things he’s done?” Kelly said in a recent interview. “It’s beyond my comprehension he has the support he has.”

Kelly, a retired four-star general, said he didn’t know what to do — or what he could do — to help people see it his way.

djt maga hat“I came out and told people the awful things he said about wounded soldiers, and it didn’t have half a day’s bounce. You had his attorney general Bill Barr come out, and not a half a day’s bounce. If anything, his numbers go up. It might even move the needle in the wrong direction. I think we’re in a dangerous zone in our country,” he said.

No president has ever attracted more public detractors who were formerly in his inner circle. They are closely watching his rise — cruising in the GOP nomination contest and, in most polls, tying or even leading President Biden in a general election matchup — with alarm. Among them are his former vice president, top military advisers, lawyers, some members of his Cabinet, economic advisers, press officials and campaign aides, some of whom are working for other candidates.

Among their reasons for opposing a second Trump term, they cite the 91 criminal charges against him, his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his false claims of election fraud, his incendiary rhetoric in office, his desire to weaponize the Justice Department, his chaotic management style, his likely personnel choices in a second term, and his affinity for dictators.

Interviews with 16 former Trump advisers — some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their former boss — show they are grappling with how they can puncture Trump’s candidacy in 2024, whether they can or should coordinate with one another and whether their voices will even matter.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Dire Words Raise New Fears About His Authoritarian Leanings, Michael C. Bender and Michael Gold, Nov. 21, 2023 (print ed.). Former President Trump is focusing his most vicious attacks on domestic political opponents, setting off fresh worries among autocracy experts.

Donald J. Trump rose to power with political campaigns that largely attacked external targets, including immigration from predominantly Muslim countries and from south of the United States-Mexico border.

But now, in his third presidential bid, some of his most vicious and debasing attacks have been leveled at domestic opponents.

During a Veterans Day speech, Mr. Trump used language that echoed authoritarian leaders who rose to power in Germany and Italy in the 1930s, degrading his political adversaries as “vermin” who needed to be “rooted out.”

“The threat from outside forces,” Mr. Trump said, “is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within.”

This turn inward has sounded new alarms among experts on autocracy who have long worried about Mr. Trump’s praise for foreign dictators and disdain for democratic ideals. They said the former president’s increasingly intensive focus on perceived internal enemies was a hallmark of dangerous totalitarian leaders.

Scholars, Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans are asking anew how much Mr. Trump resembles current strongmen abroad and how he compares to authoritarian leaders of the past. Perhaps most urgently, they are wondering whether his rhetorical turn into more fascist-sounding territory is just his latest public provocation of the left, an evolution in his beliefs or the dropping of a veil.

“There are echoes of fascist rhetoric, and they’re very precise,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor at New York University who studies fascism. “The overall strategy is an obvious one of dehumanizing people so that the public will not have as much of an outcry at the things that you want to do.”

Mr. Trump’s shift comes as he and his allies devise plans for a second term that would upend some of the long-held norms of American democracy and the rule of law.

These ambitions include using the Justice Department to take vengeance on his political rivals, plotting a vast expansion of presidential power and installing ideologically aligned lawyers in key positions to bless his contentious actions.

 

djt threat graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Court Signals It Could Keep Trump Election Case Gag Order, but Narrow It, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Nov. 21, 2023 (print ed.). A federal appeals court panel is considering how to balance former President Trump’s free-speech rights against the need to protect people involved in the case.

A federal appeals court in Washington appeared to signal at a hearing on Monday that it would keep in place at least some version of the gag order placed on former President Donald J. Trump in the criminal case accusing him of plotting to overturn the 2020 election.

But a three-judge panel of the court left open the possibility of adjusting the terms of the order or even narrowing the scope of the people covered by it, including by potentially freeing Mr. Trump to attack Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the federal cases against him.

The trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, imposed the gag order in October in Federal District Court in Washington. It forbid Mr. Trump to publicly maligning any prosecutors, potential witnesses or court employees involved in the case.

But Judge Chutkan explicitly permitted Mr. Trump to criticize the Justice Department, President Biden and herself. She also allowed him to maintain that the prosecution itself was a partisan retaliation against him.

Mr. Trump swiftly appealed, with his lawyers arguing that the order was the “essence of censorship” and infringed on his First Amendment rights in the midst of a campaign — one in which he has repeatedly complained that the cases against him are political persecution. The appeals court has suspended the gag order while it weighs the challenge.

At the hearing, the three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pushed hard at the argument that Mr. Trump’s social media posts should enjoy absolute protection under the First Amendment as examples of “core political speech.” They questioned whether the posts could in fact be something very different: examples of “political speech aimed at derailing or corrupting the criminal justice process.”

The judges also suggested that a gag order could be imposed on Mr. Trump as a “prophylactic” measure of protecting people involved in the case from threats or acts of harassment that had not yet occurred. The panel cited a longstanding “dynamic,” reaching back to the 2020 election, in which Mr. Trump has mentioned certain people in his posts who later suffered intimidation from others.

“As this trial approaches, the atmosphere is going to be increasingly tense,” said Judge Brad Garcia. “Why does the district court have to wait and see, and wait for the threats to come, rather than taking a reasonable action in advance?”

Each of the three members of the appellate panel assigned to the case was nominated by a Democratic president: Judges Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard were both Obama appointees, as was Judge Chutkan to the district court. Judge Garcia was appointed by President Biden.

D. John Sauer, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, countered that events three years ago were insufficient to meet the standard for gagging Mr. Trump now. He argued that it would be an impermissible “heckler’s veto” to bar Mr. Trump from speaking freely amid an election on the rationale that his remarks “might someday inspire some random third party” to make threats.

There are few legal guideposts directly on point to the issues raised by the Trump gag order fight. Past Supreme Court cases that have addressed gag orders have focused on lawyers or reporters, rather than defendants. And they have generally centered on keeping juries from being tainted by information about trials rather than on preventing threats and harassment that could jeopardize the integrity of the criminal justice process.

Complicating matters further, Mr. Trump has blurred the lines between his criminal cases and his presidential campaign, using court appearances to deliver political talking points and employing public remarks to assail his prosecutions.

The appellate judges appeared to be seeking a way to balance protecting the integrity of the election interference case and the people involved in it while preserving Mr. Trump’s rights to respond in public to denunciations by his political adversaries or critics. Some of them are likely to be witnesses against him in the case — such as former Vice President Mike Pence.

Underscoring the legal difficulties, the arguments ran far longer than the time they had been allotted. The plan had been that each side would get 20 minutes, but the panel kept grilling Mr. Sauer for nearly four times that. Its questioning of Cecil Vandevender, a lawyer working for Mr. Smith, went on for nearly an hour.

Nov. 19

 

elon musk sideview

ny times logoNew York Times, More Advertisers Halt Spending on X in Growing Backlash Against Musk, Kate Conger and Tiffany Hsu, Nov. 19, 2023 (print ed.).  Warner Bros. and Sony have joined other companies in pausing spending on X, formerly Twitter, over Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic post.

More major advertisers have paused their spending on X, the social media service formerly known as Twitter, as the backlash continued over Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X.

x logo twitterThe entertainment company Warner Bros. and Sony have joined other prominent brands in halting their spending on X. IBM cut off its advertising on X on Thursday, while Apple, Lionsgate, the entertainment and film distribution company, and Paramount Global, the media giant that owns CBS, all paused their ads on Friday.

The spending freeze comes as X has fought to win back advertisers who were wary of spending on the platform after Mr. Musk took it over a year ago and said he would loosen content moderation rules. Major brands tend to be cautious about placing their ads next to posts with offensive or hateful speech.

twitter bird CustomMr. Musk, who bought Twitter in October 2022 and renamed it X, drew scrutiny this week after replying to a post on X that accused Jewish people who are facing antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war of pushing the “exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them” and supporting the immigration of “hordes of minorities.”

“You have said the actual truth,” Mr. Musk replied. Jewish groups said that Mr. Musk’s message boosted a conspiracy theory known as replacement theory, which claims that Jews have organized nonwhite immigrants to replace the white race. The concept was embraced by Robert Bowers, who killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

Mr. Musk’s statement drew condemnation from the White House on Friday. Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said in a statement that it was “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Mr. Musk lashed out at advertisers who had pulled their dollars from X on Friday, and threatened legal action against Media Matters, a left-wing advocacy organization that said it found antisemitic content on X and highlighted advertisements for Apple, IBM and other brands that appeared alongside posts touting Hitler and the Nazi Party.

In a post on Friday night, Mr. Musk said, “The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”

X said that the research strategy used by Media Matters to discover the advertisements that ran along antisemitic content was not representative of how regular people use its platform. The organization followed accounts that posted the content, then refreshed the X timeline until ads appeared, X said in a blog post. Only one of the nine posts highlighted by Media Matters violated its content moderation rules, X added.

In a statement, Joe Benarroch, the head of business operations at X, said, “50 impressions served against the content in the article, out of 5.5 billion served the whole day, points to the fact of how efficiently our model avoids content for advertisers.” He added, “Data wins over allegations.”

Media Matters said that it would defend itself from litigation by X. “Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully threatening a meritless lawsuit in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate,” said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters. “Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. This is like getting mad at a mirror because you don’t like the reflection. If he does sue us, we will win.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Antisemitism was rising online. Then Elon Musk’s X supercharged it, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Taylor Lorenz, Naomi Nix and Joseph Menn, Nov. 19, 2023. After neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, white supremacists were confined mostly to fringe websites. Musk’s purchase of Twitter changed that. In the weeks following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Twitter user @breakingbaht criticized leftists, academics and “minorities” for defending the militant group. But it wasn’t until the user spoke up on behalf of antisemites that he struck a viral chord with X owner Elon Musk.

The user blamed Jewish communities for bringing antisemitism upon themselves by supporting immigration to the United States, welcoming “hordes of minorities” who don’t like Jews and promoting “hatred against whites.”

“You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded. Soon, @breakingbaht had gained several thousand new followers — and the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews are causing the replacement of White people was ricocheting across the internet once again.

Antisemitism has long festered online, but the Israel-Gaza war and the loosening of content moderation on X have propelled it to unprecedented levels, coinciding with a dramatic rise in real-world attacks on Jews, according to several monitoring organizations.

Since Oct. 7, antisemitic content has surged more than 900 percent on X and there have been more than 1,000 incidents of real-world antisemitic attacks, vandalism and harassment in America, according to the Anti-Defamation League — the highest number since the human rights group started counting. (That includes about 200 rallies the group deemed to be at least implicitly supporting Hamas.)

Factors that predate the Gaza war laid the groundwork for the heightened antisemitic atmosphere, say experts and advocates: the feeling of empowerment some neo-Nazis felt during the Trump presidency, the decline of enforcement on tech platforms in the face of layoffs and Republican criticism, even the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021, which gave rise to harsh criticism of Israel’s actions and sustained antisemitism online.

But Musk plays a uniquely potent role in the drama, disinformation specialists say. His comments amplifying antisemitic tropes to his 163.5 million followers, his dramatic loosening of standards for what can be posted, and his boosting of voices that previously had been banned from the platform formerly known as Twitter all have made antisemitism more acceptable on what is still one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.

Musk’s endorsement of comments alluding to the great replacement theory — a conspiracy theory espoused by neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville in 2017 and the gunmen who killed people inside synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Poway, Calif., in 2019 — brought condemnation from the White House and advertising cancellations from IBM, Apple, Comcast, and Disney, among others.

Late Friday, Musk was unrepentant: “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech,” he tweeted after word of the cancellations spread. He did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Joan Donovan, a former research director at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center who now teaches at Boston University, included Musk in what she described as “a strata of influencers … who feel very comfortable condemning Jewish people as a political critique.”

“In moments where there is a lot of concern, these right-wing influencers do go mask-off and say what they really feel,” she said.

The Israel-Gaza war also has given new life to prominent Holocaust deniers who have proclaimed on X, Telegram and other platforms that the Hamas attacks that left hundreds of Israelis dead were “false flags.” The #Hitlerwasright hashtag, which surged during the 2021 war, has returned, with Memetica, a digital investigations firm, tallying 46,000 uses of the phrase on X since Oct. 7. Previously, the hashtag appeared fewer than 5,000 times per month.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit focused on online extremism and disinformation, identified 200 posts that promoted antisemitism and other forms of hate speech amid the conflict. X allowed 196 of them to remain on the platform, the group said in a report.

Nov. 18

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary and Pro-Democracy Action Agenda: Biden White House condemns Trump’s threat to destroy “vermin” webster tarpley 2007adversaries as lethal threat to American freedom! Webster G. Tarpley (right, historian and commentator), Nov. 18, 2023 (162 mins.).  Echo of Hitler’s rhetoric finally breaks media reluctance to condemn MAGA fascism;

djt maga hatOutburst follows raving threats to suspend Constitution, deploy Department of Justice to indict political adversaries, impose citizen’s arrest of prosecutors, and exact ”retribution”; 60 years after Dallas assassination, recalling Weimar pattern of defeated putschists morphing into the political assassins of the Consul Organization;

Over 75 think tanks, law firms, and quackademics prepare plans for replacing constitutional government with MAGA dictatorship; Likely measures include activation of Insurrection Act on January 20 2024, end of Civil Service system, government packed with MAGA hacks and cretins, killer austerity and deregulation, no birthright citizenship, no XIV Amendment, sweeping and continuous anti-immigrant raids, giant concentration camps, mass deportations, and unitary executive under Gleichschaltung of centralized control, including states; Garland and Wray must get ahead of this conspiracy by launching a task force investigation NOW!

In summit with Xi, Biden successfully implements One War at a Time strategy to keep Xi out of Ukraine (the central issue now) and away from Taiwan; Weakened Chinese dictator faces demographic cliff, labor shortage, bankrupt real estate sector, youth joblessness, slowing growth, exit of factories, declining foreign investments, reduced growth rate; Military communication promotes deconfliction to rule out war by miscalculation; Anti-fentanyl efforts can mitigate deadly opioid epidemic;

Ukraine liberates more territory on east bank of Dneiper River, keeping initiative by opening new path to free Crimea; 48% of Russians said to want an end to war; Russian draftees prepare protest demonstrations for Sunday, November 19;

Sec Def Austin warns Israelis not to provoke wider war with Hezbollah and Iran, alluding to Netanyahu’s notorious plan to embroil US in conflict; Israel threatens to bomb all of Gaza, despite assurances to refugees; Allegations of secret terrorist HQ under Shiva Hospital remain wholly unproven as Gaza death toll nears 12,000, including 5,000 children; Israeli opposition leader Lapid issues his first call for Netanyahu to step down as prime minister, marking a watershed; Macron of France calls for CEASEFIRE in Gaza;

Soution to crisis requires a ceasefire to enable an Emergency International Peace Conference to launch humanitarian aid, postwar reconstruction and development, and the two-state solution with an independent sovereign state under the Palestinian Authority as demanded by Biden;
Billionaires deploy phalanx of third-party fakers to replicate Weimar landscape of forty political parties against Biden to elect Trump and end democracy!
Breaking: Fani Willis requests August 6 start date for Georgia RICO election interference trial; MAGA lawyers howl!

Nov. 16

 

 From left: Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.; Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.; Robert F. Kennedy; and John F. Kennedy in 1939 (Boston Globe photo via Associated Press).

From left: Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.; Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.; Robert F. Kennedy; and John F. Kennedy in 1939 (Boston Globe photo via Associated Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, How R.F.K. Jr. Has Turned His Public Crusades Into a Private Windfall, Susanne Craig, Nov. 16, 2023. The causes Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has championed have brought him admiration, criticism — and tens of millions of dollars.

In 2021, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. earned more than $500,000 as the chairman and top lawyer at Children’s Health Defense, the nonprofit organization that he has helped build into a leading spreader of anti-vaccine falsehoods and a platform for launching his independent bid for the White House.

The compensation was almost three times as high as the amount paid to the organization’s president, but it was not Mr. Kennedy’s biggest source of income. Neither was his family’s fabled wealth. Instead, most of his earnings around the same time came from law firms — a total of $7 million for lending them his name, connections and expertise to sue major companies.

Throughout his long public life, Mr. Kennedy has cultivated an image as a man committed to a greater good, the blessing and burden of belonging to one of America’s most storied political families. Whether cleaning up rivers as an environmentalist or railing against the purported dangers of inoculations, he has said he is driven by his family’s legacy of civic duty and sacrifice.

He built his presidential run around similar themes, even as his cousin dismissed the campaign as a “vanity project” and other relatives disavowed his beliefs. On the trail, Mr. Kennedy has delivered a populist message of anti-corporate rhetoric and debunked science while invoking a powerful lineage: his uncles, former President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, and his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

“RFK Jr. began a career of public services as soon as he passed the NY State Bar,” reads one of the top lines on his campaign website.

In a 2018 book, he credited his mother, Ethel, for instilling important values. “She tried to give us the sense that we mustn’t be satisfied with ‘making a big pile for ourselves and whoever dies with the most stuff wins,’” Mr. Kennedy wrote. “Our lives, she taught us, should serve a higher purpose.”

But an examination of Mr. Kennedy’s finances by The New York Times, including public filings and almost two dozen interviews as well as tax returns and other documents not previously made public, showed that while he appears to believe in the causes he champions, they have also had a practical benefit: His crusades, backed by the power of his name, have earned him tens of millions of dollars.

Mr. Kennedy inherited many things from his family — a charismatic presence, a gift for public speaking, a place among the nation’s elite — but not necessarily the kind of money that would support a life of both altruism and the trappings of wealth he seems to enjoy, The Times found. His grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, poured a fortune into trust funds for his descendants, helping to support the political ambitions of his sons. But Mr. Kennedy came into a relatively modest portion.

Behind much of his public career has been a relentless private hustle: board positions and advisory gigs, side deals with law firms, book contracts and an exhausting schedule of paid speeches, once upward of 60 a year by his own count.

While most people have to work, Mr. Kennedy did not always settle for the six-figure salary he was earning in positions with nonprofits. For decades, he has entwined his loftier missions with opportunities for enrichment. In addition to his salary at Children’s Health Defense, for instance, he stands to profit personally from lawsuits, including against the pharmaceutical giant Merck over a common vaccine for children.

When Mr. Kennedy was still best known as an environmentalist, he met Alan Salzman, an investor in clean technology companies, and was intrigued: Mr. Kennedy wanted to find alternatives to carbon-based energy, “which I think is the biggest enemy to American democracy and the environment,” he said in a 2012 deposition reviewed by The Times.

“And I also saw it as an opportunity to make some money for my family,” he continued.

Mr. Kennedy would earn millions of dollars over at least eight years from work connected to Mr. Salzman’s venture capital firm, VantagePoint, including promoting a project that other environmentalists opposed.

In an interview, Mr. Kennedy said that he was proud of giving his family a good life while promoting his causes.

“I have been able to use the various gifts I’ve been given — education, the contacts and the value of a name that a generation in my family put a lot of effort into enhancing and retaining its value,” he said. “I’m grateful that I’ve been given those gifts and that I am able to do well by doing good.”

His campaign said in a statement that he had “never put a need or desire to make money ahead of his values and moral compass.”

Recently, Mr. Kennedy’s presidential bid has gained some traction. In a poll conducted last month by The Times and Siena College, 24 percent of voters in battleground states said they would support Mr. Kennedy in a theoretical matchup between him, President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican candidate.

In the campaign, Mr. Kennedy has cast himself as an heir to his family’s mystique. Yet what has at times looked from the outside like the glamorous life of a dynastic prince has occasionally been underwritten by others.

Wealthy friends were behind the purchase of the home Mr. Kennedy used on the family compound on Cape Cod, records show. He had an arrangement with a major environmental nonprofit group to pay for his children to accompany him on work trips, and he accepted a free Lexus as part of a promotional event for green vehicles.

“The Kennedys’ wealth is inextricably intertwined with people’s impression of the Kennedys — and that isn’t a surprise when you think their grandfather amassed one of America’s biggest fortunes when his kids were young,” said Fredrik Logevall, a historian at Harvard who is writing a two-volume biography of John F. Kennedy.

“But two generations later,” Professor Logevall said, “some family members have more of the money than others.”

A Grandfather’s Wealth

Joseph Kennedy’s estate, widely believed to be valued at roughly $500 million when he died in 1969 (about $4.2 billion in today’s dollars), was left largely in trusts for his descendants.

Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the previous year while running for the Democratic nomination for president. He left half his estate to Ethel and divided the remainder equally among his children, according to documents filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court. But after an expensive campaign, he died with heavy debt, and more than half of his estate went to pay it off.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Behind Rise of Catalytic Converter Crime Rings, Walt Bogdanich, Isak Hüllert and Eli Tan, Nov. 16, 2023 (print ed.). Recycling catalytic converters costs less than mining the ore. But it carries a risk, as Stillwater discovered after paying more than $170 million for used ones, many of them stolen, according to an indictment handed up this spring on Long Island that implicated the mine. Stillwater was not charged and denied knowing the devices were stolen.

The indictment is an outgrowth of a billion-dollar epidemic of catalytic converter thefts that has not only disabled vehicles but also involved dozens of shootings, truck hijackings and other violence. Replacement devices are often hard to get and can cost $1,000 or more.

Despite public attention on the thefts, little has been known about where the stolen metal goes, who benefits or why stopping the thievery has proved so difficult.

An examination of business records and social media posts, as well as interviews with more than 80 officials on three continents who have ties to the industry, showed that the stolen devices pass through middlemen, smelters and refineries in the United States and overseas. Along the way, their provenance becomes opaque, leaving beneficiaries of the thefts with plausible deniability and little incentive to stop them.

During processing, the metal is blended with legitimate supplies from mines and scrapyards, The New York Times found, before being sold primarily to companies that make catalytic converters for automakers, as well as pharmaceutical companies for cancer and other drugs, military contractors for weapons production, and banks for their precious-metals trading desks, among others.

By then, it is nearly impossible to separate what’s legal from what’s not.

A cycle chart describes a repeating process: Metals come from mines and used catalytic converters; the metals are processed and sold to auto suppliers and other companies; catalytic converters are stolen from vehicles and sold to recyclers; stolen and legally recycled converters are commingled and sold to refiners.

Banks provide short-term financing to process the metals, while other lightly regulated lenders, sometimes called “shadow bankers,” step in when the big banks won’t, Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve Bank examiner, said in an interview.

Quantifying the thefts is difficult, and estimates vary widely. About 6 percent of the 12 million catalytic converters recycled each year are believed to have been stolen, with the rest coming from scrapyards and other legitimate sources, according to Howard Nusbaum, administrator of the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program, a nonprofit group that works closely with law enforcement.

Nov. 13

 

jenna ellis source unknown

Proof, Investigative Commentary: A Trump Attorney’s Shocking Proffer to Prosecutors Opens a Major New Front in the Federal January 6 Investigation: seth abramson graphicMembers of Congress, Seth Abramson, left, Nov 13, 2023. A fired thirty-something traffic-court lawyer (shown above) brought on by the former President of the United States as a key player in his coup plot has just materially changed the stakes of feds’ January 6 probe.

The New York Times reports that there were twenty White House Christmas parties in December 2020. The largest of these parties, per the Times, were held on December 11, December 14, and December 16 of that year.

seth abramson proof logoabc news logoWhy do these parties matter? Because ABC News had issued a bombshell report that includes details of the proffer Trump attorney Jenna Ellis—a fired traffic-court lawyer—made to prosecutors in Georgia, where she recently pleaded guilty to the felony of Aiding and Abetting False Statements.

U.S. House logoAccording to Ellis, top Trump adviser Dan Scavino told her at one of the White House Christmas parties in December 2020 that hen-President Trump had no intention at all of leaving the White House—or of leaving the office of the presidency—President Donald Trump officialin 2021, despite having by then lost all his legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election.

And why does what Scavino said to Ellis at a Christmas party matter? Because on December 21, 2020—just before Christmas Day, but almost certainly after all the major White House Christmas parties—Dan Scavino attended a key meeting in the Oval Office with then-President Trump and at least twelve far-right members of Congress.

Scavino has repeatedly risked federal imprisonment to avoid telling anyone what was said in that meeting. (DOJ later shocked Congress by refusing, without any explanation, to indict Scavino or another meeting attendee, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, for ignoring their valid January 6 federal subpoenas.)

Besides Mr. Trump and Mr. Scavino, the members of Congress known to have been at the White House for at least three hours on December 21 are (with asterisks added to mark any former members of Congress, and wedges added for then-members-elect):

Members of Congress (Past or Present) Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)* Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA)* Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)^ [video of Greene post-meeting here] Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)* Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)* [then Chief of Staff] Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)* [retiring] “a handful of others [who] dialed in” [per Cassidy Hutchinson testimony] “possibly [people] from the White House Counsel’s office” [per Cassidy Hutchinson testimony] (emphasis added).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Russia's invasion of legislatures around the world continues sowing chaos in governance, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, Nov. 13, 2023. The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has had monumental success in employing its influence operations, disinformation seeding, and other propaganda programs, which are aimed at co-opting members of legislatures and parliaments around the world, to embrace policies favored by Moscow.

wayne madesen report logoThese active measures include cutting off military and other aid to Ukraine, opposing Western sanctions against Russia, and supporting withdrawal from NATO and affiliated programs like the Partnership for Peace.

Astoundingly, Russia’s program of co-opting legislators and political parties has enjoyed its greatest successes in the United States and Canada. Russia exercises control over small but crucial blocs of U.S. Senators and Representatives, Canadian Members of Parliament, and even Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. There are well-established factual reports concerning Russian intelligence’s co-option of national elections in Western democracies, including the 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Nov. 12

djt indicted proof

Forbes, Trump Compares Political Foes To ‘Vermin’ On Veterans Day — Echoing Nazi Propaganda, Sara Dorn, Nov. 12, 2023. Former President Donald forbes magazine l CustomTrump pledged to eliminate political extremist groups that “lie, steal and cheat on elections,” calling them “vermin” during a speech Saturday and in a Truth Social post commemorating Veterans Day—echoing a term Nazis often used in antisemitic propaganda to dehumanize Jews, equating them to parasites who spread disease.

   Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mug shot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday (Photo via Fulton County Sheriff's Office).Trump made a “pledge” to “root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country” in a Truth Social post Saturday “in honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day.”

Trump accused the groups of doing “anything possible to destroy America, and the American Dream,” adding that “the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within.”

He repeated the phrasing at a rally in New Hampshire later Saturday, referring to “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country” and declaring “the real threat is not from the radical right, the real threat is from the radical left.”

The former president’s incendiary rhetoric invokes a term frequently used by Nazis to dehumanize Jews, including a 1939 quote attributed to Hitler: “This vermin must be destroyed. The Jews are our sworn enemies,” he told the Czech foreign minister, according to historical accounts.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Veterans Day Speech, Trump Promises to ‘Root Out’ the Left, Michael Gold, Nov. 12, 2023 (print ed.). The former president said that threats from abroad were less concerning than liberal “threats from within” and that he was a “very proud election denier.”

Former President Donald J. Trump, on a day set aside to celebrate those who have defended the United States in uniform, promised to honor veterans in part by assailing what he portrayed as America’s greatest foe: the political left.

Using incendiary and dehumanizing language to refer to his opponents, Mr. Trump vowed to “root out” what he called “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within,” Mr. Trump said Saturday in a nearly two-hour Veterans Day address in Claremont, N.H.

Mr. Trump accused Democrats and President Biden of trying to roll back his efforts to expand veteran access to health care, causing soaring inflation, pushing the country to the brink of World War III, endangering the troops in Afghanistan and of lying and rigging elections.

He also promised to care for America’s veterans, reviving a hyperbolic claim that he made throughout his 2016 campaign that Democrats “treat the illegal aliens just pouring into our country better than they treat our veterans.”

And he said he would divert money currently earmarked “for the shelter and transport of illegal aliens” to instead provide shelter and treatment for homeless military veterans.

Nov. 11

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary and Pro-Democracy Action Agenda: In Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, voters confirm in actual webster tarpley 2007elections -- not polls! -- that Biden and Democrats are on track to crush MAGA fascism and stabilize constitutional government! Webster G. Tarpley,  right, historian and commentator, Nov. 11, 2023 (142:14 mins).  In Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, voters confirm in actual elections-not polls!-that Biden and Democrats are on track to crush MAGA fascism and stabilize constitutional government!

Corporate pollsters continue to use bankrupt and corrupt Red Tsunami methods to brainwash, disorient, demoralize, gaslight, deceive, and manipulate electorate in service of finance oligarchs, who are their owners; No more credence for such polls! Objective reality always preferable to radical subjectivism;

New York Times poll fiasco does yeoman service for Wall Street plutocrats who hate Biden as advocate of progressive taxation, unions, regulation, social safety net, and civilized progress; Lester Holt of NBC suggests that polls are metaphysically real, while real-world vote tallies are misleading! How much payola has been at work in failed and inaccurate polls of 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2023?

Strike wave supported by Biden is winning victories for workers, raising real wages, and bringing the globalization era to an end!

Trump announces plans to activate Insurrection Act on Inauguration Day for violent suppression of mass demonstrations to resist his odious dictatorial rule; A grotesque menagerie of monarchists, fascists, and assorted Nietzschean crackpots furnish ideology for MAGA incendiaries;

Pressure for ouster of Netanyahu is approaching critical mass as his failure to free hostages adds a new dimension of fiasco to his responsibility for October 7; Eminent diplomat Yossi Beilin endorses opposition leader Yair Lapid as replacement for Bibi capable of leading nation into two-state solution for peace;

Gaza death toll exceeds 10,000 as calls for ceasefire multiply worldwide; Arab governments warn US of dire political consequences;

Biden wants a multi-day bombing pause and the two-state solution, but Bibi is fighting to stay out of jail; In Tokyo, Blinken tells G-7 US demands no forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no use of Gaza for terrorism, no reoccupation, no blockade or siege, no reduction of territory;

Deputy Premier of NATO and EU home base Belgium calls for sanctions against Israel for war crimes, including probe by International Criminal Court;

MAGA chaos in House as government shutdown is less than a week away: Bungling MAGA Mike fails twice to pass appropriation bills owing to conflicts inside GOP caucus;

Insane voices from inside a dying party: Scott wants attack on Iran, DeSantis talks like Duterte, Haley wants to exhume the full neocon endless war program;

105th anniversary of World War I armistice recalls wisdom of Lincoln’s great maxim of One War at a Time.

Nov. 9

The seven-member Warren Commission, led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (shown at center left) and including its chief counsel, presents its report in 1964 on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy to President Lyndon B. Johnson (shown at center right).

The seven-member Warren Commission, led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (shown at center left) and including its chief counsel, presents its report in 1964 on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy to President Lyndon B. Johnson (shown at center right).

New York Magazine, Secrets of the JFK Assassination Archive:  How a dogged journalist proved that the CIA lied about Oswald and Cuba — and spent decades covering it up, Scott Sayare, Nov. 9, 2023. In 1988, in an elevator at a film festival in Havana, the director Oliver Stone was handed a copy of On the Trail of the Assassins, a newly published account of the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

oliver stone portraitStone, right, admired Kennedy with an almost spiritual intensity and viewed his death on November 22, 1963 — 60 years ago this month — as a hard line in American history: the “before” hopeful and good; the “after” catastrophic. Yet he had never given much thought to the particulars of the assassination. “I believed that Lee Oswald shot the president,” he said. “I had no problem with that.” On the Trail of the Assassins, written by the Louisiana appellate judge Jim Garrison, proposed something darker. In 1963, Garrison, below, had been district attorney of New Orleans, Oswald’s home in the months before the killing. He began an investigation and had soon traced the contours of a vast government conspiracy orchestrated by the CIA; Oswald was the “patsy” he famously claimed to be. Stone read Garrison’s book three times, bought the film rights, and took them to Warner Bros. “I was hot at the jim garrisontime,” Stone told me. “I could write my own ticket, within reason.” The studio gave him $40 million to make a movie.

The resulting film, JFK, was a scandal well before it came anywhere near a theater. “Some insults to intelligence and decency rise (sink?) far enough to warrant objection,” the Chicago Tribune columnist Jon Margolis wrote just as shooting began. “Such an insult now looms. It is JFK.” Newsweek called the film “a work of propaganda,” as did Jack Valenti, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, who specifically likened Stone to the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. “It could spoil a generation of American politics,” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in the Washington Post.

Critics objected in particular to Stone’s ennoblement of Garrison, whose investigation was widely viewed, including by many conspiracy theorists, as a farce. And yet some of the response to the film looked an awful lot like a form of repression, a slightly desperate refusal to acknowledge that the official version of the Kennedy assassination had never been especially convincing. One week after the assassination and five days after Oswald himself was killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, President Lyndon Johnson convened a panel of seven “very distinguished citizens,” led by Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court, to investigate. Ten months later, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald, firing three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, had killed Kennedy entirely on his own for reasons impossible to state. Notwithstanding JFK’s distortions — “It’s a Hollywood movie,” Stone pointed out — the film noted quite accurately that the Warren Commission seemed to be contradicted by its own evidence.

In a famous courtroom scene, Garrison, played by Kevin Costner, showed the Zapruder film, the long-suppressed footage of the shooting, rewinding it for the jury as he narrated the movement of Kennedy’s exploding cranium — “Back, and to the left; back, and to the left” — which suggested a shot not from behind, where Oswald was, but from the front right, in the direction of the so-called Grassy Knoll, where numerous witnesses testified to having seen, heard, and even smelled gunshots. (Stone had offered the role of Garrison to Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, who both passed, but Costner, the very symbol of wholesome Americana, was actually the more subversive choice.) In another courtroom scene, Garrison appeared to dismantle the “single-bullet theory,” according to which the same round had been responsible for seven entry and exit wounds in Kennedy and Texas governor John Connally — an improbable scenario made all the more so by the alleged bullet itself, which was recovered in near-pristine condition. The simplest explanation would have been that all those wounds were caused by more than one bullet, but this would have meant either that Oswald had fired, reloaded, and again fired his bolt-action rifle in less than the 2.3 seconds required to do so or, more realistically, that there was a second shooter.
President Kennedy’s limousine shortly after he was shot. The Grassy Knoll is visible in the background. Photo: APTN/AP Photo

Three of the seven members of the Warren Commission eventually disavowed its findings, as did President Johnson. In 1979, after a thoroughgoing reinvestigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations officially concluded that Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” But such findings seemed not to penetrate. “In view of the overwhelming evidence that Oswald could not have acted alone (if he acted at all), the most remarkable feature of the assassination is not the abundance of conspiracy theories,” Christopher Lasch, the historian and social critic, remarked in Harper’s, “but the rejection of a conspiracy theory by the ‘best and brightest.’” For complex reasons of history, psychology, and politics, within the American Establishment it remained inadvisable to speak of conspiracy unless you did not mind being labeled a kook.

Stone ended his film in the style of a documentary, with a written text scrolling beneath John Williams’s high-patriotic arrangement for string and horns, that deplored the official secrecy that still surrounded the assassination. Large portions of the Warren Report, Kennedy’s full autopsy records, and much of the evidence collected by the HSCA had never been cleared for public release. When JFK came out in December 1991, this ongoing secrecy quickly supplanted the movie itself as a subject of public scandal. Within a month, the New York Times was editorializing, if begrudgingly, in Stone’s defense. (“The public’s right to information does not depend on the integrity or good faith of those who seek it.”) By May 1992, congressional hearings about a declassification bill were underway. Stone, invited to testify before the House, declared, “The stone wall must come down.” CIA director Robert Gates pledged to disclose, or at least submit for review, “every relevant scrap of paper in CIA’s possession.” “The only thing more horrifying to me than the assassination itself,” Gates said, “is the insidious, perverse notion that elements of the American government, that my own agency had some part in it.”

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 mandated that “all Government records related to the assassination” be provided to the National Archives and made available to the public. The historian Steven M. Gillon has called it the “most ambitious declassification effort in American history.” It has done little to refute Gates’s “insidious, perverse notion.” On the contrary, for those with the inclination to look and the expertise to interpret what they find, the records now in the public realm are terrifically damning to the Warren Commission and to the CIA.

Among the first visitors to the JFK Assassination Records Collection was Jefferson Morley, then a 34-year-old editor from the Washington Post. Morley had made a name for himself in magazines in the 1980s. He helped break the Iran-Contra scandal for The New Republic and wrote a much-discussed gonzo essay about the War on Drugs for which he’d spent an evening smoking crack cocaine. By that time, he’d become Washington editor of The Nation. He drank with Christopher Hitchens, with whom he was once deported, after a gathering with some Czech dissidents, by that country’s secret police. “He was a little out there,” a colleague at the Post recalled. “But you want some people like that in the newsroom.” Morley had read about the Kennedy assassination for years as a hobby, but it never occurred to him that he might report on it himself. “I never thought I had anything to add,” he told me. “Until 1992.”

jefferson morley newJefferson Morley, right, has become known as one of the most sober-minded assassination researchers. He spent so much time looking at CIA documents that he adopted the same filing system.

I visited Morley in Washington in September. He is now 65 and somewhat more demure than his younger self, if still combative, with a sweep of gray hair, a high brow, and a sharp nose that together lend him a vaguely avian aspect, an impression heightened by his tendency to cock his head quizzically, like an owl, and speak into the middle distance. We met at the brick rowhouse that he still shares with his second wife, with whom he is in the midst of a divorce. She will keep the house, and Morley was not yet certain where he would go, but they agreed that he could stay through “the coming JFK season,” as he put it. His small office is there, as is his personal file collection, three decades of once-classified records culled from the National Archives and stored in worn banker’s boxes, tens of thousands of photocopy sheets arranged chronologically and, in duplicate form, by subject matter. “If you use what we’ve learned since the ’90s to evaluate the government’s case,” he told me, “the government’s case disintegrates.”

Morley, the author of three books on the CIA and the editor of a Substack blog of modest but impassioned following called JFK Facts, has made a name for himself among assassination researchers by attempting to approach Kennedy’s murder as if it were any other subject. “Journalists never report the JFK story journalistically,” he said. Early on, when Morley was still at the Post, editors would frequently ask, “What does this tell us about who shot JFK?” “I have no idea!” he responded. “I have to have a fucking conspiracy theory?”

He did not set out to make a career of the JFK Act, but the declassification process has taken longer than expected. At the urging of the CIA and other agencies, President Donald Trump twice extended the original 2017 deadline. In 2021, President Joe Biden pushed it to 2022 before extending it once again. At least 320,000 “assassination-related” documents have been released; by one estimate, some 4,000 remain withheld or redacted, the majority belonging to the CIA.

Morley’s serious interest in the assassination had begun in the early 1980s, prompted by Christopher Lasch’s attack on the conspiracy taboo in Harper’s. (He’d helped edit the essay.) He began to read the available literature. Some of the “conspiracy” books were highly suppositious, in his view, sylvia meagherbut some he found to be impressively thoughtful, documented, even restrained. Sylvia Meagher’s 1967 critique of the Warren Commission, Accessories After the Fact, based on a close reading of the commission’s report and its appendices, was particularly influential. She is shown at left. The report “didn’t hang together,” Morley said, “didn’t make sense on its own terms.”

In 1992, during passage of the JFK Act, he was hired by the Washington Post to work for “Outlook,” the paper’s Sunday opinion section, an outpost of impertinence and boundary-testing in an otherwise buttoned-down newsroom. By Morley’s recollection, he pitched a piece about the JFK archive during his job interview. “They didn’t realize all these records were coming out, they weren’t really paying attention, and I was on the ball,” Morley said.

Morley visited the new archive after work, prospecting for stories, and began contacting researchers of the assassination to ask for guidance. Among them was John Newman, a U.S. Army major who had spent 20 years in Army intelligence and written a widely praised history of Kennedy and Vietnam. Newman, who also served as a consultant on JFK, was then at work on a book about Oswald and his connections to the CIA.

The possibility of such a tie had been floated since almost the moment Kennedy was shot. The mutual detestation between Kennedy and the Agency, especially after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, was widely known in Washington. It is a measure of the paranoia of the era, and also of the Agency’s reputation for lawlessness, that on the afternoon of his brother’s murder, Robert Kennedy summoned the director of the CIA to his home to ask “if they” — the CIA — “had killed my brother,” Kennedy later recalled. (The director, John McCone, said they had not.) The Agency assured the Warren Commission that, prior to the assassination, it had had no particular interest in Oswald and almost no information on him whatsoever. This had always seemed implausible. Oswald was only 24 when he died, but his life had been eventful. He had served as a radar operator in the Marine Corps, stationed at an air base in Japan from which the CIA flew U-2 spy missions over Russia; had then defected to Moscow, where he told American CIA Logodiplomats that he planned to tell the Soviets everything he knew; had been closely watched, if not recruited, by Soviet intelligence services; and had then, in 1962, after more than two and a half years in the USSR, returned, Russian wife in tow, to the United States. One would think the CIA might have taken somewhat more than a passing interest.

Early on, Newman had photocopied the entirety of Oswald’s pre-assassination CIA file at the archive and brought it home. Morley came often to study it. “I had read something that said, you know, they only had five documents on him,” Morley said. “And it was like, ‘No, there were 42.’”

Whatever mystique may attach to it, the CIA is also a highly articulated bureaucracy. Newman encouraged Morley to focus less on the documents themselves than on the attached routing slips. “When you start getting into spy services, everybody lies,” Newman told me. “And so how do you know anything?” The answer was “traffic analysis.” Even if the information contained in an intelligence file was false, Newman believed an account of how that information flowed — who received it, in what form, from whom, when — could be a reliable source of insight.

lee harvey oswald in dallas custodyCIA officer George Joannides, right, a key figure in the CIA's anti-Cuban activity and efforts to thwart investigations into the JFK Assassination. cover-up of its actions, according to extensive FOIA litigation and cutting-edge reporting by Jefferson Morley.

Via cryptic acronyms, the Agency’s routing slips recorded precisely who had been receiving information on Oswald in the period leading up to the assassination. “It was, when you saw it, a lot of people,” Morley recalled. “I just remember being in John’s basement and thinking, Oh my God.” A large number of senior CIA officers at the Agency’s headquarters had evidently been tracking Oswald, and tracking him closely, since well before November 22, 1963. “The idea that this guy came out of nowhere was self-evidently not true,” Morley said. “That was a door swinging open for me.”

Nov. 4

   Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mug shot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday (Photo via Fulton County Sheriff's Office).

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary and Pro-Democracy Action Agenda: In outrageous affront to American ally, Netanyahu scorns Blinken’s call webster tarpley 2007for humanitarian bombing pause! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Nov. 4-5, 2023 (146: 34 mins.). With 9,000 dead Palestinians, US can no longer tolerate IDF atrocities;

israel flagSettler fanatics Ben Gvir and Smotrich rule in Jerusalem, but Israel is bound by UN Charter, UN Declaration of Human Rights and Geneva Conventions; US political ground shifting rapidly in favor of Gaza ceasefire as Durbin, Murphy, and Sanders demand bombing halt;

Biden reportedly sees at most a few months of political survival for defendant Bibi, resented by voters for his dictatorial plans and abject intel and military debacles; US eyes Gantz, Lapid, and Bennett to form next government;

After Oct. 7, Biden’s goals had to be avoiding mass deportations of Palestinians into the Sinai and Transjordan deserts or the use of nuclear weapons, while maintaining alliances intact; Priority now to increase humanitarian deliveries, save hostages and free foreign citizens from Gaza captivity;

Fourteenth Amendment embodies Lincoln’s New Birth of Freedom and the Second American Revolution; It must be applied to remove Trump from all state ballots across the nation for blatant MAGA insurrection;

Tlaib and other fratricidal ultralefts foolishly want to punish Biden for Gaza tragedy: their tactics help only Bibi’s friend Trump, whose hostility to Palestinians is sinister and limitless; No calamity coming out of the Middle East can exceed the threat to humanity posed by a Trump-MAGA dictatorship in US, so vote accordingly;

MAGA Mike’s theocratic attack on the Gelasian foundation of western civilization in the distinction between political-military and spiritual and political-military powers i.e. between church and state; Security alert: with such a figure two heartbeats away from the Presidency, pay special attention to reports that MAGA campaign slogan is now ”Come retribution,” the Confederate code word for the plot to assassinate Lincoln!

 

October

Oct. 29

Proof, Investigative Commentary: From Start to Finish, Major Media Got the Tragic al-Ahli Hospital Blast Exactly Right. Seth Abramson, left, Oct 29, 2023. seth abramson graphicIt Now Looks Like the Munition That Hit the Hospital in Gaza— Causing a Massacre—Indeed Came From Israel.

Media critics and mea culpas from some outlets aside, a journalistic analysis of how media reported the tragedy at the al-Ahli reveals lessons—not errors—as well as the likely truth of what happened.

seth abramson proof logoIsrael has quietly tried to build international support in recent weeks for the transfer of several hundred thousand civilians from Gaza to Egypt for the duration of its war in the territory, according to six senior foreign diplomats.

Israeli leaders and diplomats have privately proposed the idea to several foreign governments, framing it as a humanitarian initiative that would allow civilians to temporarily escape the perils of Gaza for refugee camps in the Sinai Desert, just across the border in neighboring Egypt.

The suggestion was dismissed by most of Israel’s interlocutors — who include the United States and the United Kingdom — because of the risk that such a mass displacement could become permanent. These countries fear that such a development might destabilize Egypt and lock significant numbers of Palestinians out of their homeland, according to the diplomats, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss a sensitive matter more freely.

The idea has also been firmly rejected by Palestinians, who fear that Israel is using the war — which began on Oct. 7 after terrorists from Gaza raided Israel and killed roughly 1,400 people — to permanently displace the more than two million people living in Gaza.

More than 700,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel during the war surrounding the creation of the state in 1948. Many of their descendants are now warning that the current war will end with a similar “nakba,” or catastrophe, as the 1948 migration is known in Arabic.

An intensive, comprehensive, ten-day curation and macroanalysis of reliable major-media reports from the around the world—including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Spain, Israel, and Qatar—reveals, with high confidence, that the munition that struck the al-Ahli Hospital in northern Gaza on October 17, 2023 was fired from Israeli territory by Israeli forces.

Data regarding casualty counts (both killed and wounded) following the explosion was substantially reliable when and as it was released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (PMH), an entity that has for years been relied upon by the international community—including governments, NGOs, major-media outlets, and subject-matter experts. In contrast, following the tragedy at al-Ahli the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) engaged in what appears in retrospect to have been a systematic campaign of deceit that included false casualty counts, doctored evidence, mistranslations, the omission and even obfuscation of inculpatory evidence, gross misinterpretation of multimedia, and disingenuous or even offensive rhetoric.

While the precise origin-point of the killer munition in this case remains unknown, all extant data points at either a Tamir interceptor missile with an 11kg warhead fired from a confirmed Iron Dome installation less than two miles east of Nahal Oz, Israel, or a 155mm artillery shell from a self-propelled howitzer fired from Nahal Oz itself. Nahal Oz is a kibbutz that is under a mile from the border between Gaza and Israel.

All of the foregoing is substantiated by videos (corporate-media and citizen-journalist), audio (corporate-media and citizen-journalist), time-stamp analyses, geolocations, Doppler readouts, forensic analyses of trace evidence, testimonial evidence, and repeated patterns of conduct by the principals involved in the event.

Media critics in the West are factually wrong in opining that U.S. major media “took the word of a terrorist group” in its coverage of the al-Ahli tragedy. In fact, U.S. media coverage of the event was careful, measured and correct—honoring the best traditions of professional journalism despite an environment in which news consumers wanted hard questions answered with ease. Major media was hampered by misinformation and in some cases disinformation fed to it by the IDF, as well as other actions taken by the IDF to ensure that its false narrative about the October 17 explosion at al-Ahli Hospital would triumph in the court of public opinion.
Introduction

For years I taught journalism at an R1 flagship public research university, University of New Hampshire, so compiling an after-action report on a major breaking news story isn’t new to me. But it’s not something I’ve done here at Proof before, and it’s certainly not something easily or lightly done when the story in question involves the deaths of scores or even hundreds of civilians, many of them women and children.

The importance of reviewing major-media reporting on the explosion at the al-Ahli Hospital in northern Gaza a week ago goes well beyond the harrowing nature of the event itself. The way in which media, and Western media in particular, succeeded or failed to adequately cover one of the single bloodiest events of the seventy-five-year history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict presents for working journalists like me (and for that matter, current or former journalism professors like me) a dilemma that isn’t going to go away and so must be addressed now—not merely as an after-action report, but as a guide for the future.

This said, none can doubt that the al-Ahli blast, even taken in isolation, warrants all the ink that has now been spilled reporting it—as well as all the reporting about the reporting about it.

Oct. 28

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary and Reform Agenda: Netanyahu’s wanton aggression in Gaza is now greatest threat to Biden’s re-election, and thus webster tarpley 2007to future of US and world! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Oct. 28, 2023 (129:51 mins.). UN General Assembly demands immediate, durable, and sustained humanitarian truce by large majority; US humiliated as part of minority of 14 in embarrassing defeat for Blinken’s misguided diplomacy; Thoughts and prayers not good enough;

Biden must veto further Israeli attacks and blockade in the name of some 20 US hostages and 600 Palestinian Americans he is pledged to protect, lest they needlessly perish; Hamas claims 50 hostages already slain by bombing;

IDF escalates attacks from air and land; Deed done in dark of night with no phones, no internet, no visibility; Iran issues threats and warnings; 82% of Americans are wary of Bibi’s war; Israelis now 50-50 on more attacks;

Tragic history of strategic blank checks, featuring German Kaiser’s infamous blank check to Austria-Hungary in July 1914, which played a key role in triggering World War I with 20 million dead;

Palestinian dead near 8,000; For danger of wider war, watch Israeli border with Hezbollah/Lebanon and Strait of Hormuz;

Dear Abby’s grandson wants to challenge Biden in New Hampshire; RFK Jr.’s backers attempt to rehabilitate appeaser of fascism and coward Joseph P. Kennedy as peace angel and precursor of his illustrious grandson;

What fresh hell: Meet austerity ghoul MAGA Mike Johnson, the sinister fanatic who is now just two heartbeats away from the presidency! Trump legal defense front disintegrates as Meadows joins anti-Don defectors;

Bidenomics generates stunning 4.9% rise in GDP; Labor renaissance continues with UAW contract for 25% wage hike, cost of living escalator, thanks to political strike support!

If Biden is not sure of Palestinian death count, fire White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, responsible for managing intelligence flow to President!

Oct. 27

 

 elon musk sideview

ny times logoNew York Times, The Consequences of Elon Musk’s Ownership of X, Steven Lee Myers, Stuart A. Thompson and Tiffany Hsu, Oct. 27, 2023. Dozens of studies of the platform formerly known as Twitter have shown a similar trend: an increase in harmful content during Mr. Musk’s tenure.

twitter bird CustomNow rebranded as X, the site has experienced a surge in racist, antisemitic and other hateful speech. Under Mr. Musk’s watch, millions of people have been exposed to misinformation about climate change. Foreign governments and operatives — from Russia to China to Hamas — have spread divisive propaganda with little or no interference.

x logo twitterMr. Musk (shown above in a file photo) and his team have repeatedly asserted that such concerns are overblown, sometimes pushing back aggressively against people who voice them. Yet dozens of studies from multiple organizations have shown otherwise, demonstrating on issue after issue a similar trend: an increase in harmful content on X during Mr. Musk’s tenure.

The war between Israel and Hamas — the sort of major news event that once made Twitter an essential source of information and debate — has drowned all social media platforms in false and misleading information, but for Mr. Musk’s platform in particular the war has been seen as a watershed. The conflict has captured in full how much the platform has descended into the kind of site that Mr. Musk had promised advertisers he wanted to avoid on the day he officially took over.

“With disinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflict flourishing so dramatically on X, it feels that it crossed a line for a lot of people where they can see — beyond just the branding change — that the old Twitter is truly gone,” Tim Chambers of Dewey Square Group, a public affairs company that tracks social media, said in an interview. “And the new X is a shadow of that former self.”

Oct. 24

 

Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts. absence of support from Georgia's Republican election officials supporting his claims. Fani Willis, left, is the district attorney for Atlanta-based Fulton County in Georgia. Her office has been probing since 2021 then-President Trump's claiming beginning in 2020 of election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere. Trump and his allies have failed to win support for their claims from Georgia's statewide election officials, who are Republican, or from courts.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jenna Ellis, Former Trump Lawyer, Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Case, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Oct. 24, 2023. Ms. Ellis agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors as the case progressed against the former president and 15 remaining defendants.

jenna ellis cropped screenshotJenna Ellis, right, a Trump lawyer who pleaded guilty, was closely involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Jenna Ellis, a pro-Trump lawyer who amplified former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud as part of what she called a legal “elite strike force team,” pleaded guilty on Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors in Georgia.

Addressing a judge in an Atlanta courtroom, she tearfully expressed regret for taking part in efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election.

Ms. Ellis, 38, pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, a felony. She is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the Georgia case, which charged Mr. Trump and 18 others with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor.

georgia mapMs. Ellis agreed to be sentenced to five years of probation, pay $5,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. She has already written an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia, and she agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors as the case progresses.

Prosecutors struck plea deals last week with Kenneth Chesebro, an architect of the effort to deploy fake Trump electors in Georgia and other swing states, and Sidney Powell, an outspoken member of Mr. Trump’s legal team who spun wild conspiracy claims in the aftermath of the election.

The charges fall into several baskets. Several of the individual counts stem from false claims of election fraud that Giuliani and two other Trump lawyers made at legislative hearings in December 2020. Another batch of charges concerns a plan to vote for a false slate of pro-Trump electors. A third raft of charges accuses several Trump allies of conspiring to steal voter data and tamper with voting equipment in Coffee County, Ga.

Late last month, Scott Hall, a bail bondsman charged along with Ms. Powell with taking part in a breach of voting equipment and data at a rural Georgia county’s elections office, pleaded guilty in the case.

fulton county jail

republican elephant logoFani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., obtained an indictment of the 19 defendants in August (shown above) on racketeering and other charges, alleging that they took part in a criminal enterprise that conspired to interfere with the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Ms. Ellis, unlike the other defendants who have pleaded guilty, asked the court to let her give a statement. She cried as she rose from the defense table and said, “As an attorney who is also a Christian, I take my responsibilities as a lawyer very seriously.”

She said that after Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020, she believed that challenging the election results on his behalf should have been pursued in a “just and legal way.” But she said that she had relied on information provided by other lawyers, including some “with many more years of experience than I,” and failed to do her “due diligence” in checking the veracity of their claims.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, right (Photo via Superior Court of Fulton County).“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these postelection challenges,” Ms. Ellis told Judge Scott McAfee, right, of Fulton County Superior Court. “I look back on this experience with deep remorse. For those failures of mine, your honor, I’ve taken responsibility already before the Colorado bar, who censured me, and I now take responsibility before this court and apologize to the people of Georgia.”

In March, Ms. Ellis admitted in a sworn statement in Colorado, her home state, that she had knowingly misrepresented the facts in several public claims that widespread voting fraud had occurred and had led to Mr. Trump’s defeat. Those admissions were part of an agreement Ms. Ellis made to accept public censure and settle disciplinary measures brought against her by state bar officials in Colorado.

Though she is still able to practice law in Colorado, the group that brought the original complaint against her, leading to the censure, said on Tuesday that new action would be coming.

“We do plan to file a new complaint in Colorado based on the guilty plea, so that the bar can assess the matter in light of her criminal conduct,” said Michael Teter, managing director of the 65 Project, a bipartisan legal watchdog group.

Ms. Ellis’s new misgivings about Mr. Trump and his refusal to accept his election loss were evident before her plea on Tuesday.

Last month, on her Christian broadcasting radio show, she called Mr. Trump “a friend” and added, “I have great love and respect for him personally.” But she said on the show that she could not support him politically again, because he displayed a “malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he’s never done anything wrong.”

djt michael cohenPolitico, As Trump glowers, Michael Cohen takes the stand against him, Erica Orden, Oct. 24, 2023. Cohen,shown above left in a file photo, testified that Donald Trump directed him to “reverse engineer” the value of Trump’s assets to inflate Trump’s net worth.

politico CustomMichael Cohen, Donald Trump’s onetime loyal aide turned vocal antagonist, took the witness stand Tuesday to testify against Trump in a $250 million civil fraud trial, telling the judge that the former president ordered Cohen to falsify financial documents.

In measured tones, Cohen testified that when he worked for Trump as his lawyer and fixer, Trump directed him to modify documents that represented Trump’s net worth so that they reflected the number Trump desired.

“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen said, “and my responsibility, along with [former Trump Organization CFO] Allen Weisselberg, predominantly, was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had tasked us.”

President Donald Trump officialAs Cohen delivered that testimony, Trump, who was seated at the defense table, grew red in the face and shook his head. Trump didn’t look at Cohen as he entered the courtroom, but as Cohen spoke on the witness stand, Trump trained his eyes on him and either crossed his arms or leaned forward over the defense table.
Trump calls Michael Cohen ‘a proven liar’ ahead of testimony

Cohen didn’t look at his former boss as he testified, instead directing his attention entirely to the lawyer from the New York attorney general’s office who was questioning him.

Cohen is one of the central witnesses in Attorney General Tish James’ case against Trump, which accuses him, his adult sons and his business associates of inflating his net worth in order to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurers.

Cohen’s testimony Tuesday marks a fresh front in his efforts to take down Trump after years of defending him. That defense ended five years ago, when Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance crimes that he and federal prosecutors said Trump directed him to commit, and Cohen began speaking publicly about his former boss as a coward and a “con man.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Black prosecutors taking on Trump know what they’re up against, Paul Butler, right, Oct. 24, 2023 (print ed.). The former president pulls his paul butlerracist tropes out of an old and deep American well.

Black prosecutors are having a moment in America.

Of the three prosecutors who have charged the former president of the United States with crimes this year, two of them — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani T. Willis — are African American. On top of that, Letitia James, New York’s Black attorney general, is pursuing a civil fraud case with the potential to crush the Trump Organization.

These are historic cases, and the race of the people bringing them shouldn’t matter — except it clearly matters to Donald Trump, who has lambasted them all using racist dog whistles.

To be sure, as my Post colleague Aaron Blake has catalogued, the former president harbors no love for any investigator or prosecutor focused on him. But Trump reserves a particularly race-inflected venom for the Black government lawyers who threaten his liberty and wealth.

He called Bragg a “Soros-backed animal” and James a “political animal.” Quite a word, that. His nickname for James is “peekaboo,” which rhymes with a racist slur.

Trump never stops with the tropes. He lied that Willis was in a relationship with an alleged gang member she is prosecuting. In an email after Trump’s indictment in Fulton County, his campaign said that Willis came from “a family steeped in hate” and highlighted the fact that her first name is Swahili. Trump repeatedly attacks Bragg, Willis and James as “racists.”

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: It’s actually worse to overturn an election you know your side lost, Philip Bump, Oct. 24, 2023 (print ed.). Donald Trump wanted to make something very clear over the weekend: Attorney Sidney Powell, who last week pleaded guilty to charges filed against her in Fulton County, Ga., was not his attorney.

It’s a dubious claim, one that deserves the skepticism we should always apply to flat statements of fact from the former president. Powell was introduced with others as “representing President Trump” and “representing the Trump campaign” during the Rudy-Giuliani-hair-dye news conference in November 2020 (shown above) and cited attorney-client protections in response to an inquiry from Axios a few months later. Reporting has indicated that Trump not only appreciated Powell’s efforts to elevate false claims about election fraud in the weeks after the election, but also considered appointing her as special counsel to conduct some sort of investigation.

What Powell did that was problematic for Trump was that she was embarrassing. Her performance at that news conference was bizarre. Her inability to present any evidence despite the friendly urgings of Fox News spurred the channel to publicly chastise her failure to do so. In November 2020, Giuliani distanced the campaign from her; yet less than a month later, Trump was flirting with that special counsel appointment.

Contrast that with Kenneth Chesebro, another Trump lawyer who entered a guilty plea last week in Fulton County.

Over the weekend, his attorney, Scott Grubman, appeared on MSNBC to discuss the termination of the case against his client. Host Katie Phang noted that Chesebro had at one point been described as the “architect” of the effort to introduce alternate slates of electors in states Trump lost. Grubman disputed that, but also wanted to make another point clear.

“Mr. Chesebro never believed in the ‘big lie,’” he said of the false claim that Trump won the 2020 contest. “If you ask Mr. Chesebro today who won the 2020 election, he would say ‘Joe Biden.’”

But note that what Chesebro was “trying to do from a legal standpoint,” per Grubman, was shift the results of the 2020 election in favor of someone that he thought lost.

That is … not good.

Oct. 21

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary and Reform Agenda: Biden’s visit to Israel is act of statesmanship designed to ward webster tarpley 2007off regional war, nuclear war, and domestic autogolpe, salvaging what can be salvaged to avoid the worst, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Oct. 21, 2023 (132 mins.). Biden tells 22 million Americans that 2-state solution is necessary, Gaza occupation must be avoided and laws of war respected;

US once again the arsenal of democracy; Must avoid US mistakes of post-9/11; $106 billion in aid for Israel, Ukraine, border, and Taiwan; $100 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza, where partial lifting of blockade is expected for weekend;

Current administration is indispensable defense against fascism foreign and domestic;

How to hug Bibi so tightly he can’t follow warmonger demagogues Smotrich and Ben Gvir; Problems of weakened post-Arab Spring leaders dealing with mob rule in the Arab street; Loss of Abbas-Biden summit a tragedy;

israel flagNot clear how small Hamas or Islamic Jihad Qassam or Katyushka/Grad rockets could create the atrocity of Episcopal Hospital in Gaza; Publish the evidence and appoint an independent international commission if you want credibility; NBC recalls Israel’s tradition of lying about atrocities; Truce and end of blockade remain fundamental;

Lesson of Yom Kippur 1973, when nuclear war danger emerged just 18 days after fighting started is end the fighting before it spreads; We are now 15 days into current emergency; Cease-fire now!

In early outing against invaders, US ATACMs delivered to Ukraine destroy 25 helicopters in Berdiansk and Luhansk;

More news from inside a dying political machine: GOP congressmen enraged by death threats from backers of MAGA republican elephant logohooligan Gym Bag Jordan; he faces increased defections and is dumped as candidate by GOP caucus after third ballot; No MAGA fanatic can be tolerated just two heartbeats from presidency and no ally can trust him;

House rules are not a suicide pact: replace parliamentarian and/or reform rules to pass the June budget deal arthur engoran judgeand emergency military aid; Try a discharge petition;

Trump’s legal defense front collapsing as Sidney Powell, Chesebro, and Michigan fake elector cop pleas to testify against Don; NY Justice Engeron, right, slaps MAGA boss with $5k fine, more to come over intimidating court personnel; Who will be next to defect from kamikaze mission?;

Will Gaza become the Sarajevo of the twenty-first century?

Oct. 16

 elon musk sideview

Going Deep With Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: Time to Deal with Elon Musk as Chaos Agent #1, Russ Baker, right, founder of WhoWhatWhy, author and  media critic, Oct. 15-16, 2023. Musk (shown above in a  file photo) may pay a russ baker cropped david welkerbig fine for willfully spreading lies — but the human whowhatwhy logocost in lives cannot be calculated.

The media has played into the image of Elon Musk as a loveable, wacky, brilliant guy.

This past week, it seems that the media, which has waffled for years, suddenly settled on just how bad and dangerous golden boy Elon Reeve Musk actually is.

x logo twitterAs with Donald John Trump, the media screwed up big time, helping hype the brand, which in turn enabled Musk’s amassing of a far greater fortune and power. The merits of the companies he bought or started, while significant, have been far exceeded by the amount of hagiography heaped upon him.

Now, like Dr. Frankenstein, they regret their creation. And no wonder. Not only is Musk basically a destructive narcissist — he’s also a disinformation kingpin, a danger to domestic tranquility, to national security, and much, much more.

The evidence is voluminous, and may be familiar to you. Yet the details are well worth reviewing because, cumulatively, they show the evil purpose at hand.

“I Still Don’t Know What They’re Talking About!”

european union logo rectangleOn October 10, in rapid response to disinformation Musk was putting out about the Hamas-Israel conflict that had just exploded, Thierry Breton, a commissioner with the European Union and author of the Digital Services Act (passed in 2022 to regulate social media content for the protection of the public), fired off a letter to Musk. He warned him that failing to moderate fake news on X could result in a fine of 6 percent of X’s revenues — or even an EU blackout of the social media platform altogether.

twitter bird CustomThe fake news includes disinformation about the Hamas attack, including the posting of misrepresented and repurposed old images, and “military” footage that actually came from a video game. 

As he routinely does, a la Trump, when confronted about the bogus information pervading every inch of his site, Musk asks, in effect, “Huh?”

In response to the EU’, Musk feigned ignorance: “Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them.”

Oct. 14

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary: Gaza War must be immediately ended by ceasefire before the conflict spreads! Tell Bibi to webster tarpley 2007cool it! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Oct. 7, 2023 (127 mins.). This is lesson of Kippur War of October 1973, when Egyptian moves to end Sinai occupation took the world to the brink of thermonuclear World War III between US and Soviets!

Biden, Blinken, and Austin must impose respect for Geneva Convention and laws of warfare, which are compulsory for all nations;Israeli ultimatum to evacuate 1.1 million Palestinians to south Gaza is tantamount to genocide and must be rescinded, while lifting blockade on food, water, fuel, and medicine for 2.4 million people!

Blinken meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Amman; Bibi has for years built up Hamas crazies to sabotage moderate and constructive PLO;

US government must make 600 Palestinian-Americans and c. 20 US hostages in Gaza top priority; Smotrich doctrine of cruelty and contempt for lives of hostages must be formally repudiated;

Netanyahu is dishonest, devious intriguer who has long sought to dupe US into catastrophic war with Iran; Bibi is obsessed with preventing peace settlement, including Palestinian state under Abbas and PLO; Bibi has sacrificed national unity to stay out of jail; He is pro-Trump, anti-Biden, and utterly unprincipled; His aggression is a threat to Biden’s re-election!

Last week’s war crimes by Hamas terrorist killers are rapidly being eclipsed in infamy by this week’s war crimes by Netanyahu; International anarchy could supplant the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions to the advantage of aggressors Putin over Ukraine and Xi over Taiwan;

Bibi’s planned Gaza bloodbath will enrage Arab public opinion across the world, impelling Iran to unleash Hezbollah against Israel with 100,000 fighters and 150,000 missiles; Netanyahu will then demand US unleash catastrophic war (possibly nuclear) against Tehran; Putin and Xi will pick up the pieces; Israel bombs Damascus and Aleppo airports, skirmishes with Hezbollah:

Netanyahu’s failures of intelligence and readiness have decimated his base of support: 24 IDF battalions were deployed on West Bank to repress PLO, but only 6 battalions defended against Hamas;

On Friday evening Oct. 7, IDF and Shin Beth execs got signs of suspicious activity by Hamas, but decided NOT to put the Gaza front on alert (Axios); On Saturday, Norm Ornstein tweeted that Netanyahu had danger signals but did nothing; Late Friday night, Israeli intel monitored an upsurge of Hamas chatter and sent an alert to Israelis near Gaza, but no action ensued-Israeli relied on Bibi’s high-tech superfence, which proved fatally vulnerable to drone attack (NYT); Hamas conducted public dress rehearsal of destroying a border gate and attacking nearby towns and IDF posts, which was posted Sept. 12 (The Hill); Based on data from Israel, US intelligence issued three warnings of possible Hamas escalation between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6 (CNN);

Netanyahu’s quest for dictatorship via the courts had created a powerful mass movement for his ouster during 2023; He may have reasoned that a only shocking defeat and war emergency might help him retain power; This was the approach of France’s Marshal Petain, who used military defeat by Nazis to create the Vichy fascist dictatorship in May-June 1940;

Will Gaza become the Sarajevo of the twenty-first century?

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Past Is Prologue in the Republican Speaker Fight, Carl Hulse, Oct. 14, 2023 (print ed.). The current chaos is not the first time Republicans have found themselves rocked by a vacancy at the top.

The House speaker had been unceremoniously dumped by colleagues unhappy with his performance and overly optimistic political predictions. Those who would typically be considered next in line had made too many enemies to be able to secure the necessary numbers to take his place. The House was in utter chaos as bombs fell in the Middle East.

Today’s relentless Republican turmoil over the House speakership has striking parallels to the tumult of 1998, when House G.O.P. lawmakers were also feuding over who would lead them at a crucial period.

republican elephant logoThen as now, personal vendettas and warring factions drove an extraordinary internal party fight that threw the House into chaos. The saga had multiple twists and turns as Republicans cycled through would-be speakers in rapid succession — just as the G.O.P. did this week. And in the end, they settled on a little-known congressman as a compromise choice.

It’s not clear how the current speaker drama will end; Republicans left Washington on Friday after nominating their second candidate for speaker of the week, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, with plans to return on Tuesday for a vote but no certainty that he could be elected.

Back in 1998, Republicans moved swiftly to fill their power vacuum in just one day, unlike the present situation, where they have let unrest fester for more than a week while struggling to overcome deep internal divisions and anoint a new leader.

“That was pretty chaotic,” said Representative Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who was already a veteran lawmaker at the time and is now the dean of the House as its longest-serving member. “But it didn’t last very long.”are eyeing impeachment charges of bribery and abuse of power against President Biden. But so far, they have struggled to provide proof of wrongdoing.

Both dramas began when a Republican speaker lost the faith of some key colleagues. Hard-right Republicans precipitated their party’s current crisis by forcing out Representative Kevin McCarthy of California from the speaker post as punishment for working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown. Twenty-five years ago, Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican whose closest allies were turning on him, announced he would not run again for speaker.

Mr. Gingrich, whose scorched-earth tactics had returned Republicans to the majority in 1995 after four decades in the minority wilderness, was finally burned himself after predicting Republican gains in that November’s elections, only to lose seats.

Representative Richard K. Armey of Texas, who held the same majority leader position then as Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana does today, was a potential replacement, as was Representative Tom DeLay, the powerful No. 3 Republican whip who was also from Texas. But both had political baggage likely to keep them from the top job, and Mr. Armey faced a fight just to remain in the No. 2 slot.

Neither even bothered going through the motions of seeking their party’s nomination, as Mr. Scalise did successfully on Wednesday — only to discover quickly that he lacked the support to be elected, leading to his abrupt withdrawal.

“Both of them were toxic, and they knew it,” Fred Upton, the recently retired moderate Republican from Michigan who was in the House at the time, said of Mr. Armey and Mr. DeLay.

Sensing an opportunity, Robert Livingston, an ambitious Louisiana Republican who commanded a solid bloc of supporters as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, jumped into the speaker’s race and cleared the field. He won the Republican nomination without opposition in mid-November.

Mr. Livingston went about setting up his new leadership operation as Republicans plunged ahead with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton growing out of his relationship with a White House intern. Many Republicans believed the impeachment push had cost them in the just-concluded election, but pursuing Mr. Clinton was a priority of Mr. DeLay, whose nickname was the Hammer, and he was not one to be deterred.

Then Saturday, Dec. 19, arrived, with the House set to consider articles of impeachment even as Mr. Clinton had ordered airstrikes against Iraq over suspected weapons violations — an action that Republicans accused him of taking to stave off impeachment.

Mr. Livingston, who had not yet assumed the speakership but was playing a leadership role, rose on the floor to urge Mr. Clinton to resign and spare the nation a divisive impeachment fight. But Mr. Livingston himself had acknowledged extramarital affairs a few days earlier to his colleagues. Democrats began shouting “no, no, no” as he spoke.

“You resign,” shouted Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. “You resign.”

To the amazement of everyone present, Mr. Livingston did just that, saying that he would set an example for the president and that he would not run for speaker. The House was stunned as lawmakers absorbed the news — similar to the surreal atmosphere last week when it became clear that Mr. McCarthy would be removed as speaker after hard-right Republicans moved to oust him and eight of them joined Democrats in pushing through a motion to vacate the chair.

Oct.  13

 

kevin mccarthy 10 3 2023 washpo   Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) leaves the House chamber after being voted out as speaker on Tuesday in Washington (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

 Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) leaves the House chamber after being voted out as speaker on Tuesday in Washington (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford).

Politico Magazine, Analysis: Republican Chaos Has Conservative Media Fuming. It’s Their Fault It Happened, Brian Rosenwald, Oct. 13, 2023 (print ed.). Brian Rosenwald is director of the Red and Blue Exchange at the University of Pennsylvania, senior editor of Made by History, and author of "Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States."

politico CustomTalk radio and Fox News hosts created the political incentives that fueled Kevin McCarthy’s ouster and today’s speakership drama.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is a “POS demagogue” for orchestrating the ouster of Kevin McCarthy from the speakership, a man who “repeatedly” lied to conservatives and, perhaps worst of all, is the “favorite Republican of the Democrat Party and their media.” Harsh words from conservative talk radio and cable news host Mark Levin.

djt maga hatFox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade recently laid into another one of the GOP mutineers, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), to start off a stunningly confrontational interview: “You were one of the eight. Speaker McCarthy had 96 percent approval rating. But that wasn’t good enough for you. Do you feel good enough about your vote?”

And then there was Jeanine Pirro announcing twice that she was “furious” on Fox’s The Five, adding, “You’ve got the Republicans going out there and showing how dysfunctional they are as Matt Gaetz is engaging in fundraising.”

But the truth is that angry conservative media hosts have only themselves to blame for McCarthy’s downfall and the disarray currently facing House Republicans.

The leaders of conservative talk radio and cable news have spent years assailing GOP congressional leaders — including McCarthy — and they are largely responsible for turning far-right rebels like Gaetz into stars. Going back to the 1990s, conservative media created the political ecosystem in which torching and targeting Republican leaders is good politics on the right. And they’ve ensured that the next speaker, whether it’s Steve Scalise or someone else, will face the same poisonous incentive structure that took down McCarthy.

Oct. 9

 

elon musk sideviewwashington post logoWashington Post, As false war information spreads on X, Musk promotes unvetted accounts, Joseph Menn, Oct. 9, 2023. Information researchers said that the new outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas is an early test of how the revamped X conveys accurate data during a major crisis.

As false information about the rapidly changing war between Gaza Strip militants and Israel proliferated on the social media platform X over the weekend, owner Elon Musk, shown aboce,  personally recommended that users follow accounts notorious for promoting lies.

“For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors & @sentdefender are good,” Musk posted on the platform formerly called Twitter on Sunday morning to 150 million follower accounts. That post was viewed 11 million times in three hours, drawing thanks from those two accounts, before Musk deleted it.

x logo twitterBoth were among the most important early spreaders of a false claim in May that there had been an explosion near the White House. The Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index briefly dropped 85 points before that story was debunked.

Emerson T. Brooking, a researcher at the Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab, posted that @sentdefender is an “absolutely poisonous account. regularly posting wrong and unverifiable things … inserting random editorialization and trying to juice its paid subscriber count.”

The War Monitor account has argued with others over Israel and religion, posting a year ago that “the overwhelming majority of people in the media and banks are zionists” and telling a correspondent in June to “go worship a jew lil bro.”

Information researchers said that the new conflict was an early test of how the revamped X conveys accurate data during a major crisis, and that the immediate impression was poor.

“Anecdotal evidence that X is failing this stress test is plentiful,” said Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. “Go on the platform, do a search on Israel or Gaza — you don’t have to scroll very far to find dubious or debunked information.”

Oct. 8

 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others testify on censorship and free speech before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government. Photo credit: C-SPAN

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others testify on censorship and free speech before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government. Photo credit: C-SPAN

Politico, RFK Jr.’s Ultimate Vanity Project, David Freedlander, Oct. 7, 2023. How a deep sense of persecution and a taste for conspiracy have coalesced into a campaign about censorship that matters to almost no Democratic voters.

politico CustomThe Bowery Hotel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is the place where Hollywood stars and rock royalty stay when in New York. Courtney Love, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner have all been spotted at one time or another traipsing past its heavily lacquered and dimly lit lobby.

Sitting on the highest floor one Wednesday in May, out on the terrace off his penthouse hotel room and using the arms of his eyeglasses to stir a ginger-lime-pear-and-celery green juice that was brought up by room service is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late New York senator, environmental lawyer, vaccine skeptic and then surprisingly strong challenger to Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.

Kennedy is building his campaign around the argument that the American people in 2023 are being systematically gagged by their government and their handmaidens on social media and in the mainstream press.

The air was heavy; Kennedy and I had spoken a few weeks before, and it ended badly. The man has an almost inhuman ability — or compulsion — to talk, and he called me one Sunday afternoon as he was hiking in the canyons behind his Brentwood, California, home. More than two hours later, he was asking if I agreed with him on the threat government censorship had on American life. As I wracked my brain to think of concrete examples of the federal government actually prohibiting or punishing people for speaking, he took my silence for acquiescence.

“I can tell you are not troubled,” he said. “To me, that is just really shocking. I thought you were supposed to be a journalist.”

In order to change the subject from my failures as a reporter and as a human being, I asked him if he remembered where he was during the afternoon of Jan. 6.

“What do you think is more dangerous,” he responded. “The censorship by the government of Americans who disagree with its policies or Jan. 6?”

I tried to point out that there really is no government censorship as commonly defined — that the government neither really coerces nor threatens private citizens or businesses. As for his complaint that the government sometimes flags information on social media platforms as incorrect, after which those platforms remove certain posts, I suggested that presumably the government has as much right to flag suspect content as any other entity, that no one was being killed or imprisoned for their statements or their views and that in fact there were more avenues to reach more people now than ever before. I said that not only did people die on Jan. 6 but a mob tried to murder a sitting vice president and members of Congress in a bid to disrupt the lawful transfer of power, but Kennedy cut me off.

“Jan. 6 was an attack on a building,” he said. “And we have lots of layers of government behind that building.”

Kennedy has built his campaign around this argument: that the American people in 2023 — perhaps the most lavishly platformed population in any society in human history — are being systematically gagged by their government and its handmaidens on social media and in the mainstream press. For Kennedy, censorship isn’t just about punishing speech, or even pressuring opponents into silence. It also means decisions by private actors — including those who control social media and the press and other gateways to public debate — who limit what can be said on their own platforms.

Like many people from both the right and the left who rail against censorship, Kennedy’s views on the matter tend to align with his political incentives and don’t particularly cohere. He talks a lot about the need to express himself on social media, but little, for example, about limits some school districts are placing on books in their library or what college professors can teach. Still, it is this question of censorship, even more than his widely discredited anti-vaccine work, or arguments against Covid-era public health measures, or his long and estimable career as an environmental lawyer, or his equally long crusade against a government which he says is willfully deceiving the people it claims to serve, that is the true cornerstone of his run for president. This is so because it is the thing Kennedy talks about that he has enfolded everything else within. What is the debate around vaccines, after all, if not a debate about who gets to say what where, and what kind of information has the imprimatur of truth and science associated with it?

The problem for him is that no one much seems to care. When we spoke in April, Kennedy was a novelty act, someone who, after half a century as an activist and author and repeated entreaties to run for office, had finally jumped into politics. For a moment, it looked as if Kennedy would make a dent. He was polling as high as 20 percent in some polls — higher, he liked to point out, than Ron DeSantis — and was generating media buzz and a lot of attention, especially from the type of Silicon Valley edgelords who were recently part of a cohort thought to be the progressive vanguard in American politics, and who, it should be said, have more influence on what is permissible on social media than probably anybody else.

rfk jr twitterNow, some five months later, Kennedy, left, is still a novelty. Polls show that Biden could have been vulnerable to the right kind of primary challenge, but Kennedy has never attempted that kind of primary challenge. He has managed to squander a healthy chunk of that early polling bump, settling just under 15 percent. And he appears set to bolt the party that has been synonymous with the Kennedy family and launch an independent bid, arguing once again that the powers that be — in this case the Democratic National Committee — are effectively silencing him again by not scheduling any debates with the incumbent president, and rigging the game against him by backing Biden instead of acting as neutral arbiters in the process.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

And so Kennedy has become every conservative pundit’s favorite Democrat (in part, although Kennedy seems not to acknowledge this, because he is taking on an incumbent Democrat) — hosted by the likes of Tucker Carlson (“He is the only guy talking about the First Amendment,” Kennedy says of him) and Bari Weiss, invited by Republicans to testify to Congress in a hearing this summer about the federal government censoring Americans on social media (“We appreciate your willingness to fight for the First Amendment,” said Republican chair and Donald Trump attack dog Jim Jordan) and boosted by Steve Bannon and others in Trump’s orbit (“I would go on his podcast if my wife would let me,” Kennedy told me).

But even as Kennedy attempts to broaden his reach as an independent, there is little indication that this is an issue that ranks at all among the concerns of most voters. (In fact, most Americans agree the government and social media companies should restrict false or violent information online.) Crime and the economy are still the top two issues for most voters, a fact that Kennedy mostly just shrugs at.

“It is part of my job to remind Americans about what is important in this country,” he told me. And if, after they are reminded of his crusade, they just sort of shrug? Well, “they ought to care,” he said. “That is one of the missions of my campaign, to make censorship important to people.”

He unleashes a torrent of stats and information about the pandemic far too fast to permit any kind of fact-check, threads together vast covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2conspiracies of government figures doing the bidding of their corporate pay-masters, says that Vitamin D supplements are superior to the Covid shot, insists he has been proven right by everything (“Tell me one thing I got wrong,” he says) and can’t believe how you have been fed lies about the cover-up involving the conspiracy to kill both his father and his uncle.

“Everything you are saying is wrong. The evidence is so voluminous, you just don’t know about it, and you really need to ask yourself why that is,” he said to me when we first spoke in April. “All you are doing is repeating the narrative that is, of course, supported by the New York Times. You are walking around in a sleep state right now.”

This feeling, that he wasn’t being properly heard and considered, and that so-called experts were dismissing him, is not a new one for Kennedy. In 2014, Kennedy wrote a book titled Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, which picked up on an argument Kennedy made in a 2005 article co-published in both Salon and Rolling Stone which alleged that childhood vaccines caused autism. The article was so error-ridden — including by vastly overstating the amount of mercury in vaccines, conflating ethylmercury with methylmercury, misattributing quotes and getting basic factual details wrong — that it received five major corrections within days of publication, and in 2011 was retracted entirely by Salon, which could no longer stand by the piece.

The reviews didn’t slow down his reach; Kennedy published six books in the eight years after Thimerosal was released, including a defense of his cousin, Michael Skakel, who was convicted for the 1975 murder of his Greenwich, Connecticut, neighbor. (Kennedy fingers two teens of color from the Bronx as the real killers, saying they were “obsessed” with the neighbor’s “beautiful blonde hair,” and daring the men to sue him if they were wrong; they say they do not have the money to mount a suit. Skakel was released in 2013 when a judge ruled that his lawyer had not provided an adequate defense. In 2016, the state Supreme Court reinstated his conviction, then reversed itself again in 2018.) Much more recently, and more sensationally, he published The Real Anthony Fauci, which even a sympathetic reviewer in the conservative Claremont Review of Books found so wrong on its facts and contradictory in its claims as to be entirely without merit, a book that “will be of very little use to future historians, except as an example of the strain of extreme paranoia that is an ineradicable, but not admirable, part of human nature in response to crisis.”

Even Kennedy’s booting from Instagram was at best an only partial cancellation. He was still publishing books, after all, still selling them on Amazon and still giving speeches. He was even still on Twitter and Facebook. No matter. He was now a member of the Rebel Alliance, linking arms with all those cast out from polite society, to say nothing of Democratic Party politics, the True King of Canceled Mountain preparing to exact revenge on those stuffed shirts who kicked him into the wilderness in the first place.

It was this experience, as much as anything that had happened to him previously, that has powered Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Over the last several years, there has been an explosion in an alternative ecosystem of content that caters to those with the very specific views on public health, the pandemic and censorship that Kennedy has. He told me that much as John F. Kennedy used the then-new medium of television to boost his presidential campaign, he intends to do the same with this still-nascent form of social media. In this sense, he says, getting kicked off Instagram was a blessing.

When reviewers panned his earlier books, and magazines retracted his articles, Kennedy said those who did it were misinformed, and in some cases, were in league with powerful forces determined to suppress the truth, but what he didn’t say was that he was being “censored.” It took Covid for that.

Prior to Covid, tech companies had been reluctant to restrict who could say what on their platforms. Threats made by users with smaller followings were dealt with more harshly than when threats were issued by, say, the president of the United States, under the guise that statements by the latter at least had news value. It is hard to remember now, but before 2016, tech companies were seen as havens of progressive politics, their users skewed left, and the platforms themselves were seen as vehicles of democratization, pluralization and openness.

An attempt by Russia, a foreign adversary, to use those platforms to elect Trump made its leaders skittish about their commitment to open debate. It isn’t cutting tech billionaires and the platforms they operate an unfair amount of slack to imagine that in the midst of a global pandemic, the goal of balancing the desire for free speech and a vigorous exchange of ideas ran up against a need to not have people with large platforms recite information so wrong that it could not only kill people but could leave society grappling with a pandemic longer than it needed to.

This is not slack that Kennedy is willing to cut them, however, and it is not slack that they are willing to cut themselves. Some of Kennedy’s most prominent supporters are the people who made billions on building those platforms and who now echo Kennedy in his complaint of them, among them Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, current X owner Elon Musk, Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, who in 2017 said the social media site was ripping society apart, and David Sacks, an early investor in PayPal, Facebook and Twitter who now says that the tech companies hold too much power in American life.

Kennedy’s take is similarly schizophrenic. On the one hand, censorship is the greatest threat facing the republic; on the other, YouTube, x logo twitterApple podcasts, X, Instagram and the like are private companies, and he says, are free to kick him off anytime they want. When I asked him if platforms had the right to remove Alex Jones, which they did in 2018 for glorifying violence, inciting hatred, bullying and hate speech after Jones had spent years calling for the harassment of Sandy Hook families as crisis actors, Kennedy said he didn’t know anything about it. “For what? What did he say?”

As for Tucker Carlson, who was repeatedly accused of encouraging acts of violence against specific people, Kennedy said, “I am not familiar with that. I don’t agree with everything Tucker says by any means, but by the way he had the biggest audience on TV, and he was the only guy talking about the First Amendment.”

What about Russia using social media platforms to hack the 2016 election?

“I don’t know. What is your take on it? Wasn’t a lot of this sort of debunked in the Durham Report? I can’t speak with any authority about it. I haven’t delved into it.”

And what would a President Kennedy do if a foreign adversary attempted a similar attack on our election again?

“I tell you what you don’t do, what you don’t do is censor,” he said. “The solution to bad information is more information. Everybody knows that they are being censored and that the government is trying to hide information from them, so they stop trusting in anything,” he said. “You can point to information and you say, ‘This is a sworn enemy of ours and they are trying to rig the election.’ You say, ‘Mr. Trump, will you please disavow that?’”

And if he doesn’t?

“Well then, that’s fine,” he said. “That’s his problem if he refuses to acknowledge it.”

Oct. 7

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary: With fall of Qevin, MAGA death rattle grinds on amid orgy of chaos and anarchy! Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Oct. 7, 2023 (130:32 mins). Republican Party has no platform or unifying ideology and thus stands for absolutely nothing, leaving it a mere battlefield for rival gangs;

Democrats should ready a rapid maneuver to secure 6-8 GOP votes to install Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker on a reform program;

US public will not tolerate a Speaker who voted for Trump’s coup, enabled pedophiles, or supported white supremacy groups; Mobilize XIV Amendment NOW to stop Trump as Speaker of the House today and presidential candidate later;

djt maga hatOrigins of Gaetz’s pseudo-reforms: single-subject spending bills are straight out of Confederate Constitution of 1861; Motion by a single member to oust Speaker recalls the practice of exploding the Polish parliament, when one disgruntled petty nobleman could veto a law or even send everyone home for a few years;

Models of extinction for political parties in US history:

republican elephant logoFor degenerate plutocratic Federalists, end came through New England secessionism after the 1815 Hartford Convention; Monroe enabled an Era of Good Feelings as Federalists collapsed and disappeared;

Whigs disintegrated after splitting over the odious Fugitive Slave Law in the Compromise of 1850 and losing the 1852 election with Winfield Scott;

Xenophobic Knownothings evaporated after losing the 1856 vote with Filmore over Douglas’ squatter sovereignty and the Kansas-Nebraska Act; The 1857 Dred Scott decision and the rise of the Republicans completed the rout;

MAGA GOP spreads chaos in House with Gaetz and the anti-Ukraine clique, in the Senate with Tuberville’s sabotage of miliary personnel, and in the Supreme Court with the corruption of Thomas, Alito, and others;

Voting rights, abortion, gun control, Ukraine, student loan debt, immigration, public health, minimum wage, the social safety net, public Russian Flageducation, low-income housing, law and order: whatever your issue, real solutions must always include liquidating the Republican Party!

Breaking: How will RFK Jr. and Cornel West respond to Russia’s latest war crime, the massacre of Ukrainian civilians at Hroza? Will it be more appeasement?

 Oct. 6

 

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

Documents being stored at indicted former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida according to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on June 9, 2023 (Photo via Associated Press).

mar a lago aerial Customny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Said to Have Revealed Nuclear Submarine Secrets, Alan Feuer, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Oct. 6, 2023 (print ed.). Soon after leaving office, former President Trump is said to have shared information with an Australian businessman, a billionaire Mar-a-Lago member.

President Donald Trump officialShortly after he left office, former President Donald J. Trump shared apparently classified information about American nuclear submarines with an Australian businessman during an evening of conversation at Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The businessman, Anthony Pratt, a billionaire member of Mar-a-Lago who runs one of the world’s largest cardboard companies, went on to share the sensitive details about the submarines with several others, the people said. Mr. Trump’s disclosures, they said, potentially endangered the U.S. nuclear fleet.

jack smith graphicFederal prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, learned about Mr. Trump’s disclosures of the secrets to Mr. Pratt, which were first revealed by ABC News, and interviewed him as part of their investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents, the people said.

australian flag wavingAccording to another person familiar with the matter, Mr. Pratt is now among more than 80 people whom prosecutors have identified as possible witnesses who could testify against Mr. Trump at the classified documents trial, which is scheduled to start in May in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Mr. Pratt’s name does not appear in the indictment accusing Mr. Trump of illegally holding on to nearly three dozen classified documents after he left office and then conspiring with two of his aides at Mar-a-Lago to obstruct the government’s attempts to get them back.

But the account that Mr. Trump discussed some of the country’s most sensitive nuclear secrets with him in a cavalier fashion could help prosecutors establish that the former president had a long habit of recklessly handling classified information.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's treason, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 24 books and former Navy Intelligence officer, Oct. 6, 2023. House Republicans eye Speaker's chair for wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump. That's not the chair he should get!

wayne madesen report logoAccording to ABC News, after leaving office, Donald Trump disclosed Critical Nuclear Weapons Design Information (CNWDI) on the number of nuclear weapons carried by U.S. submarines, as well as acoustic intelligence information on how close U.S. submarines can approach Russian submarines without being detected.

rosenberg execution headlineAs a former Integrated Undersea Surveillance System warfare specialist in the Navy, I can attest to the seriousness of Trump's damage to national security.

And here is a reminder of what fate has awaited such treasonous action in the past (a fate urged on in this case by Trump's one-time lawyer, Roy Cohn, shown in a later photo with Trump via Getty Images).

djt roy cohn bettman getty

 

September

Sept. 30

 

 

djt handwave file

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Commentary: MAGA faction sinks into abyss of collective insanity, with party extinction fast approaching! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Sept. 30, 2023 (148:38 mins.). Trump horrifies nation with call to execute Gen. Milley for disloyalty to him; First session of Comer’s impeachment probe dissolves amid guffaws;

Biden speech at McCain Library is clarion call for the defense of constitutional democracy, with direct attacks on MAGA boss: ”Trump says the Constitution gave him the right to do whatever he wants as president”;

President sets new aggressive tone for coming year of campaigning; Biden now joins FDR as the two most pro-labor presidents in US history; At Milley’s retirement, Biden slams Tuberville’s ”outrageous” sabotage of military promotions; In farewell to arms, Milley joins in stressing Constitution as touchstone of American life, noting that American soldiers swear oath neither to a dictator nor to a ”wannabe dictator”;

Looming expropriation of fraudulent oligarch could have ramifications in many directions; Voters should brace for further tantrums;
As shutdown looms, 21 crazed House sectarians torpedo McCarthy’s short-term spending bill with 30% spending cuts, demanding even more killer austerity; Trump wants shutdown to promote chaos, paralyze courts, and smash the state;

MAGA on the wrong side of history: violent reactionary anarchists seek to roll back modern state into dark ages oligarchy, aborting process that began in Italy in 1300s; UAW President Fain starts long-overdue discussion of class as auto workers fight for labor rights;

Breaking: WaPo reports anti-McCarthy putsch plot by MAGA extremists to install Majority Whip Tom Emmer, seen as more likely to deliver killer cuts

Sept. 29

elon musk sideview

Politico, Musk ousts X team curbing election disinformation, Clothilde Goujard, Sept. 29, 2023. The announcement comes after EU digital chief Vera Jourová criticized the social media company over rampant falsehoods on its platform.

politico CustomElon Musk, above, the owner of X (formerly Twitter) said overnight that a global team working on curbing disinformation during elections had been dismissed — a mere two days after being singled out by the EU's digital chief as the online platform with the most falsehoods.

twitter bird CustomResponding to reports about cuts, the tech mogul said on X, "Oh you mean the 'Election Integrity' Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone."

Several Ireland-based staff working on a threat-disruption team — including senior manager Aaron Rodericks — were x logo twitterallegedly fired this week, according to tech media outlet The Information. Rodericks has, however, secured a court order halting disciplinary action over allegedly liking tweets critical of the company, according to Irish media.

european union logo rectangleVice President Vera Jourová this week warned that EU-supported research showed that X had become the platform with the largest ratio of posts containing misinformation or disinformation. The company under Musk left the European Commission's anti-disinformation charter in late May after failing its first test.

Jourová also urged tech companies to prepare for numerous national and European elections in the coming months, especially given the “particularly serious" risk that Russia will seek to meddle in them. Slovakia will hold its parliamentary election on Saturday. Poland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands will also head to the polls in the coming weeks.

X must comply with the EU's content rules, the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires large tech platforms with over 45 million EU users to mitigate the risks of disinformation campaigns. Failure to follow the rulebook could lead to sweeping fines of up to 6 percent of companies' global annual revenue.

Sept. 27

 

The late financier, sex trafficker of underage victims and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein is show in a collage with scenes from the island in the Caribbean he owned before his death in prison.

The late financier, sex trafficker of underage victims, companion and advisor to the powerful, and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein is show in a collage with scenes from the island in the Caribbean he owned before his death in prison

washington post logoWashington Post, JPMorgan agrees to $75 million settlement over ties to Jeffrey Epstein, Aaron Gregg, Sept. 27, 2023 (print ed.). JPMorgan Chase will pay $75 million to resolve a lawsuit with the U.S. Virgin Islands alleging it facilitated disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

jp morgan chase logoThe banking giant admitted no wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement, a large portion of which will be distributed to charities. It also sets aside $10 million to support mental health services for Epstein’s survivors.
Get a curated selection of 10 of our best stories in your inbox every weekend.

“This settlement is a historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” USVI attorney general Ariel Smith said in a statement.

Smith also said JPMorgan agreed to “implement and maintain meaningful anti-trafficking measures,” which includes a commitment to elevate and report suspicious activity in the future.

Sept. 26

 

 

donald trump money palmer report Customny times logoNew York Times, Judge Finds Trump Inflated Property Values, a Win for N.Y. Attorney General, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Sept. 26, 2023. The decision will simplify the path for Attorney General Letitia James, who has accused former President Trump of overvaluing his holdings by as much as $2.2 billion.

A New York judge ruled on Tuesday that Donald J. Trump persistently committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets, and stripped the former president of control over some of his signature New York properties.

arthur engoran judgeThe decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron, right, is a major victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Mr. Trump, effectively deciding that no trial was needed to determine that he had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.

Ms. James has argued that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion and is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday.

Justice Engoron wrote that the documents in the case “clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.”

While the trial will determine the size of the penalty, Justice Engoron’s ruling granted one of the biggest punishments Ms. James sought: the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of Mr. Trump’s New York properties to operate, a move that could have major repercussions for the Trump family business.

The decision will not dissolve Mr. Trump’s entire company, but it sought to terminate his control over a flagship commercial property at 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and a family estate in Westchester County. Mr. Trump might also lose control over his other New York properties, including Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan, though that will likely be fought over in coming months.

Justice Engoron’s decision narrows the issues that will be heard at trial, deciding that the core of Ms. James’s case was valid. It represents a major blow to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers had sought to persuade the judge to throw out many claims against the former president.

In his order, Justice Engoron wrote scathingly about Mr. Trump’s defenses, saying that the former president and the other defendants, including his two adult sons and his company, ignored reality when it suited their business needs. “In defendants’ world,” he wrote, “rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air.”

“That is a fantasy world, not the real world,” he added.

The judge also levied sanctions on Mr. Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500, noting that he had previously warned them that the arguments in question bordered on being frivolous.

Repeating them was “indefensible,” Justice Engoron wrote.

Mr. Trump still has an opportunity to delay the trial, or even gut the case. Mr. Trump has sued Justice Engoron himself, and an appeals court is expected to rule this week on his lawsuit. But if the appeals court rules against him, Mr. Trump will have to fight the remainder of the case at trial.

Sept. 25

 

gop house chairs 2023 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Wrecking-Ball Caucus: How the Far Right Brought Washington to Its Knees, Carl Hulse, Sept. 25, 2023 (print ed.). Far-right Republicans are sowing mass dysfunction, and spoiling for a shutdown, an impeachment, a House coup and a military blockade.

djt maga hatWhen it comes to his view of the United States government, Representative Bob Good, a right-wing Republican who represents a Virginia district that was once the domain of Thomas Jefferson, doesn’t mince words.

“Most of what Congress does is not good for the American people,” Mr. Good declared in an interview off the House floor as the chamber descended into chaos last week. “Most of what we do as a Congress is totally unjustified.”

Though his harsh assessment is a minority opinion even among his Republican colleagues, it encapsulates the perspective that is animating the hard right on Capitol Hill and, increasingly, defining a historically dysfunctional moment in American politics.

republican elephant logoWith a disruptive government shutdown just days away, Washington is in the grip of an ultraconservative minority that sees the federal government as a threat to the republic, a dangerous monolith to be broken apart with little regard for the consequences. They have styled themselves as a wrecking crew aimed at the nation’s institutions on a variety of fronts.

They are eager to impeach the president and even oust their own speaker if he doesn’t accede to their every demand. They have refused to allow their own party to debate a Pentagon spending bill or approve routine military promotions — a striking posture given that unflinching support for the armed forces has long been a bedrock of Republican orthodoxy.

Defying the G.O.P.’s longstanding reputation as the party of law and order, they have pledged to handcuff the F.B.I. and throttle the Justice Department. Members of the party of Ronald Reagan refused to meet with a wartime ally, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, this week when he visited the Capitol and want to eliminate assistance to his country, a democratic nation under siege from an autocratic aggressor.

And they are unbowed by guardrails that in past decades forced consensus even in the most extreme of conflicts; this is the same bloc that balked at raising the debt ceiling in the spring to avert a federal debt default.

“There is a group of Republican members who seem to feel there is no limit at all as to how you can wreck the system,” said Ross K. President Donald Trump officialBaker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “There are no boundaries, no forbidden zones. They go where relatively junior members have feared to tread in the past.”

 

donald trump apprentice color nbc

Meidas Touch Network, Analysis: Trump Vows to Ban All News Media That Doesn’t Praise Him, Brett Meiselas, Sept. 24-25, 2023. Donald Trump continues to tell us his fascist intentions should he be reelected. Will the mainstream media finally listen?

Donald Trump launched into his most overtly fascist assault on the First Amendment in a Sunday night tirade, promising that he will remove from the airwaves any news media that is not friendly towards him should he be reelected as president of the United States.

NBC News logoTrump specifically took aim at NBC News to make his point t (ironically, NBC is the network that employed and elevated Donald Trump during The Apprentice days, shown above in a publicity photo from the show), writing that the network “should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason.’”

Trump then made his intentions crystal clear:

“I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media djt maga hatwill be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!”

washington post logoWashington Post, As possible shutdown nears, a disconnect between political rhetoric and budget reality, Jeff Stein and Marianna Sotomayor, Sept. 25, 2023 (print ed.). Lawmakers in both parties have called for getting serious about the rising federal debt. The shutdown fight ignores its key drivers.

Time is running out for Congress to prevent a government shutdown, as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tries to defuse the demands of ultraconservatives in the House who are demanding aggressive spending cuts.

When lawmakers return Tuesday, both the House and the Senate will try different tactics to fund the government past the fast-approaching deadline — each looking to jam their preferred legislation through the other chamber in a risky game of brinkmanship. djt maga hatCurrent spending laws expire on Sept. 30, so the government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1 without action.

U.S. braces for costly government shutdown in eight days

In the House, the GOP majority failed several times last week to reach consensus on a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution. Most of the conference says they want to avert a shutdown, but a small group of far-right members who oppose a short-term extension have blocked that option. So Republicans will try to pass some separate bills that would fund the government for the full fiscal year.

senate democrats logoThe Senate will begin work on its own short-term spending bill on Tuesday, aiming to send it to the House by the weekend with hours to go before a shutdown starts — where it would probably have enough votes to pass, but only with support from Democrats, a red line for many in the GOP.

But while the far-right rebels in McCarthy’s caucus say the rising national debt is such a threat that it’s worth forcing the government to close down in pursuit of spending cuts, the uncomfortable fiscal reality is that most of what is driving federal borrowing to record levels isn’t even up for discussion this week.

Conservatives want to pare federal discretionary spending back to 2022 levels, which would mean cutting more than $100 billion from agency budgets each year.

social security administrationThat’s a lot of money, but hitting the goal would require severe cuts to a small portion of the federal budget — mostly programs that provide services like education, medical research and aid for families in poverty. The government’s biggest annual expense, though, and the main projected drivers of U.S. debt, are the retirement programs Medicare and Social Security. The United States spends more than $6 trillion every year. McCarthy’s caucus is tying itself in knots over how to make cuts from domestic discretionary spending, which accounts for less than one-sixth of that total.

Looking at it another way, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the annual federal deficit is expected to rise to nearly $3 trillion per year by next decade, up from roughly $2 trillion this year. If the conservatives in the House GOP get everything they’re seeking now, that number could drop to about $2.8 trillion per year.

“The people back in my district, they’re tired of the way this town works,” said Rep. Elijah Crane (R-Ariz.), who joined other conservatives in the last week to stymie McCarthy’s attempts to move spending bills. “They understand there’s no appetite to spend money we don’t have, and they expect me to do whatever I can to stop it, and to change how we do business. It’s not always the most comfortable thing.”

But the disconnect between the political rhetoric about the shutdown and the reality of the budget math underscores how little lawmakers are doing to try to rein in the long-term federal spending imbalance. Without a deal, the federal government will shut down, hurting economic growth and leading to the suspension of a wide range of essential public services.

Meidas Touch Network, Analysis: Trump Directs House GOP to Shut Down Government and Blame Biden, Ben Meiselas, Sept. 24-25, 2023. This is Trump’s second directive to compliant House Republicans via his social media posts

President Donald Trump officialDonald Trump has issued his latest order to House Republicans: shut down and refuse to fund the United States government and then blame President Biden for the catastrophic fallout.

On September 20, Trump issued his first directive to compliant House MAGA Republicans, telling them that a “very important deadline is approaching at the end of the month” and “this is the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me.”

djt maga hatIn his latest post, Trump orders the House GOP: “UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN.

Trump goes on to say that Republicans shouldn’t worry about the damage that will be caused to the country, as he claims President Biden will get blamed for it. Trump also tells House Republicans not to listen to Republican Senate republican elephant logoMinority Leader Mitch McConnell if he wants to make a deal with Democrats, because Trump says McConnell is “weak” and “dumb.”

MAGA Republicans in the House continue to take their orders directly from Donald Trump and do whatever he says. They have followed his directives, bringing the country to the brink of a catastrophic shutdown.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Prosecutions Move Forward, Threats and Concerns Increase, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Sept. 25, 2023 (print ed.). As criminal cases proceed against the former president, heated rhetoric and anger among his supporters have authorities worried about the risk of political dissent becoming deadly.

Justice Department log circularAt the federal courthouse in Washington, a woman called the chambers of the judge assigned to the election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump and said that if Mr. Trump were not re-elected next year, “we are coming to kill you.”

FBI logoAt the Federal Bureau of Investigation, agents have reported concerns about harassment and threats being directed at their families amid intensifying anger among Trump supporters about what they consider to be the weaponization of the Justice Department. “Their children didn’t sign up for this,” a senior F.B.I. supervisor recently testified to Congress.

And the top prosecutors on the four criminal cases against Mr. Trump — two brought by the Justice Department and one each in Georgia and New York — now require round-the-clock protection.

As the prosecutions of Mr. Trump have accelerated, so too have threats against law enforcement authorities, judges, elected officials and others. The threats, in turn, are prompting protective measures, a legal effort to curb his angry and sometimes incendiary public statements, and renewed concern about the potential for an election campaign in which Mr. Trump has promised “retribution” to produce violence.

Given the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, scholars, security experts, law enforcement officials and others are increasingly warning about the potential for lone-wolf attacks or riots by angry or troubled Americans who have taken in the heated rhetoric.

In April, before federal prosecutors indicted Mr. Trump, one survey showed that 4.5 percent of American adults agreed with the idea that the use of force was “justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.” Just two months later, after the first federal indictment of Mr. Trump, that figure surged to 7 percent.

Sept. 23

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and Reform Agenda: Campaign by corrupt Wall Street media to foment Democratic defeatism webster tarpley 2007refuted by election returns! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Sept. 23, 2023. Surveys of scores of 2023 state-level special elections show Democrats overperforming recent results by 8% to 10%; Tired demagogy of inflation and Biden’s age falls flat with voters: UNH-CNN poll shows Biden leading Trump 52% to 40% in New Hampshire, with 94% of Democrats committed to voting for Biden;

Garland’s duty is to defend US government against going fascist assault, not to curate his own inflated reputation for rectitude; Indictment of Hunter Biden reeks of dirty politics of both-sidesism Garland could stop if he wanted to;

Biden pledges vital ATACM missiles and $325 million to Zelensky; White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients must now assure rapid delivery; Ukraine hits Russian naval HQ for Crimea in Sevastopol; Is Russia on verge of a new warlord era?

After demanding end of US Constitution and pledging to have DoJ arrest opponents, Trump orders House MAGAts to paralyze government and stop his prosecution by Feds; reactionary anarchists rush to obey; Qevin sabotages support for Kyiv, but Ukrainian APCs are now operating south of Surovikhin line; Putin continues to bet everything on Trump’s return to power;

vivek ramaswamy linked inRamaswampy, left, demands scrapping of XIV Amendment, fruit of Union sacrifice in Civil War; Haley and Scott spearhead GOP scab attack on striking UAW; Don’t be a chump for Trump, no matter what he promises;

Musk probed by Senate committees over taxes and his Starlink sabotage of Ukraine’s defense measures in occupied Crimea; The erratic billionaire says he wants a modern American version of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the bloody-handed leader of the oligarchical party in the late Roman Republic c. 80 BC, who started and won a civil war, becoming the gravedigger of the republic; What are we to make of this strange remark?

Sept. 16

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and Reform Agenda: Biden, "Friend of Labor," delivers best and most class-conscious webster tarpley 2007economic policy speech since FDR in the New Deal, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Sept. 16, 2023 (155::23 mins.). 25% minimum tax on billionaires sought in “Donald Hoover Trump” statement of Bidenomics!

President supports UAW strike against selected Big Three plants in Michigan-Missouri-Ohio, noting that record profits must lead to record contracts; He sends Secretary of Labor Julie Su and White House adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit to promote fair solution; Sen. Peters walks picket line; Biden backs union view that auto executives must share the bounty reflected in their salaries of $20 million per year plus;

Anti-tax hysteria of oligarchs explains much of absurd anti-Biden propaganda by corrupt corporate media;

MAGA GOP revealed by impeachment and shutdown demands as moribund anti-Constitution gang of extreme right-wing anarchists intent on destroying US government; Hurry them down the path to oblivion trod by the Federalists c. 1820;

Best legal experts agree: NEVER in recorded judicial history of US have federal courts prosecuted inaccurate statement on gun purchase papers as a stand-alone felony; Weiss indictment of Hunter Biden represents sleazy prosecutorial misconduct as triple jeopardy and selective, vindictive, and malicious accusations; case is politically motivated overkill in service of MAGA; Comer’s ”whistleblowers” are disgruntled misfits;

Jack Smith asks Judge Chutkan to stop Trump’s slanders and threats to judge, prosecutor, jurors, and court officers in upcoming January 6 election interference trial;

Is White House chief of staff Jeff Zients filling the bill? Questions multiply;

New Axis of Aggression formed by weakened Putin and Kim, with Xi as silent partner and all striving to restore Trump to power to wreck US and NATO; Zelensky to visit Washington; German Foreign Minister Baerbock slams Putin and Xi; Sanctions vs Russia are working; Thrust towards Tokmak gains ground, with Russian supply line almost within range; Ukrainians destroy two major Russian warships, smaller patrol craft, naval repair facility, ball bearing plant, and high-priced S-400 air defense system; Top officials in China and Russia keep disappearing; Chechen pro-consul Kadyrov gravely ill;

Happy New Year to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah!

Sept. 9

World Crisis Radio, Global Strategic Overview: Putin is betting everything on a second term for Trump, meaning that he will interfere in webster tarpley 2007US election more than ever before. So, get ready! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Sept. 9, 2023 (137:04 mins.). Russia is already spreading confidential information about Atlanta trial over the dark web; Prigozhin had confirmed that Russia has meddled, is meddling, and will meddle in US democracy, validating Mueller Report despite MAGA lies;

Ukrainian forces advance south towards Tokmak on road to Sea of Azov, a point at which artillery interdiction of Russia’s east-west rail and road supply line will become feasible;

Musk, brazenly usurping exclusive presidential powers over foreign policy, cut off Starlink access last year to sabotage Ukrainian attack on Russian Black Sea fleet that would have prevented missile slaughter of civilians and kept grain supplies moving; Vigorous application of Defense Production Act and Logan Act is urgent;

CNN sample for latest anti-Biden poll contained 60% Republicans, raising myriad suspicions;

As her price for funding government, MAGA pasionaria MTG demands impeachment of Biden, defunding DOJ, no Covid vaccine or masks, and betrayal of Ukraine to appease Putin; Tuberville cripples US chain of command; Our nation can dispense with such disloyal opposition;

MAGA GOP dissolving into Texas-style warring factions and lack of funds; Jack Smith is following the money; Pro-Trump dupes reduced by 700 years of jail time exacted from January 6 insurrectionists;

Breaking: Mark Meadows bid to move his RICO case to federal court rejected by federal judge, sinking his hopes for immunity; White House has no role in administering state elections; Trump & Co. options for evading Fani Willis dwindle!

Sept. 4

 

 

climate change photo

Going Deep With Russ Baker, Investigating The Ramaswamy Two-Step: Selling Corporate Greed as Anti-Woke Gospel, Russ Baker, right, Sept. 4, 2023. Vivek russ baker cropped david welkerRamaswamy should not be allowed to play with matches — or our future.

It is not too early to sound the alarm regarding what may be the driving motivation behind the GOP’s rapidly rising star, Vivek Ramaswamy, below left, who is still a longshot but whose numbers are way up.

Let’s start with what the suddenly-so-public political candidate said during the first GOP presidential debate — a bald statement that vivek ramaswamy linked inis absolutely incorrect and incredibly dangerous: I’m the only candidate on stage who isn’t bought and paid for, so I can say this: The climate change agenda is a hoax. The anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on the economy ... And so the reality is, more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.

Of course, none of that is true. So why would Ramaswamy, who does not appear to be completely ignorant or deranged, say such a thing? Surely, lust for power is one motive for a man on a mission to curry favor with the MAGA masses — along with many of today’s would-be “leaders,” especially those who have never worked in public service for even one day in their lives.

But this is mainly about the other historically important motivator of amoral behavior: greed.

What I say below has been said, in varying ways, by others. But it’s surely time to bring what has been brewing behind the scenes to the foreground — making transparent the deep cynicism of this man and those whose interests he serves.

This is not some sideshow. This is our survival we’re talking about. For a random example, see this article about how wildfires in the Mediterranean — fueled by record-breaking heat not anticipated until 2050 — are devastating the region.

Ramaswamy — whose family is “Brahmin, the highest caste in the Hindu hierarchy” — originally made his money in biotech, in large part with a pump-and-dump stock scheme involving a failed Alzheimer’s drug. But in the last several years he seems to have hit on a perfect formula for further enrichment.

  • What if he could promise right-wingers in charge of public and private money that they could realize a better yield and stay true to their beliefs by opting out of “socially responsible investing?”
  • What if he could tap into the cultural pushback against the empowerment of people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, etc., and against the drive for equality and humanistic and humane policies in government and industry?
  • What if he could introduce a way for conservatives in government to decouple from everything they disdain as “woke”? What if that easy-to-understand, “populist” appeal could be harnessed to a more complex, less sexy effort to rid corporations of their societal obligations?
  • What if it could be launched by providing state and local officials a way to get off the train headed to ESG — environmentally and socially conscious investing (Environmental, Social, Corporate Governance)?

With more and more state and local offices held by movement conservatives, this would have a natural appeal. It could offer a clever new way of revitalizing an old, failed effort by the dirty industries to extend their lives and further enrich their owners and enablers.

The average MAGA voter does not want to think about something as complex and weighty as climate change, and so Ramaswamy’s assurance they can just sit back, surrounded by their favorite screens and distractions, hits home.

Vivek Ramaswamy is unlikely to be the GOP nominee. But the entire situation is, with Trump’s indictments, fluid. And even if Ramaswamy’s not the nominee this time, he now has a powerful platform on which to build this dangerous new movement — so we’d better start paying attention.

Sept. 1

Mother Jones Magazine, A New Rudy Scandal: FBI Agent Says Giuliani Was Co-opted by Russian Intelligence, Dan Friedman and David Corn, right, Sept. david corn headshot1, 2023. The whistleblower says his probe of Giuliani’s ties to suspected Russian operatives was thwarted.

It was big news when Rudy Giuliani, once hailed as America’s Mayor, was indicted last month by a district attorney in Atlanta for allegedly being part of a criminal enterprise led by Donald Trump that sought to overturn the 2020 election results. Giuliani was mother jones logoback in headlines this week when he lost a defamation suit filed against him by two Georgia election workers whom he had falsely accused of ballot stuffing. Giuliani’s apparent impoverishment, caused by his massive legal bills, and even his alleged drinking have been fodder for reporters. But another major Giuliani development has drawn less attention: An FBI whistleblower filed a statement asserting that Giuliani “may have been compromised” by Russian intelligence while working as a lawyer and adviser to Trump during the 2020 campaign.

That contention is among a host of explosive assertions from Johnathan Buma, an FBI agent who also says that an investigation involving Giuliani’s activities was stymied within the bureau.

In July, Buma sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a 22-page statement full of eye-popping allegations, and the document leaked and was first reported last month by Insider (after a conservative blogger had posted it online). According to Buma’s account, Giuliani was Russian Flagused as an asset by a Ukrainian oligarch tied to Russian intelligence and other Russian operatives for a disinformation operation that aimed to discredit Joe Biden and boost Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Moreover, Buma says he was the target of retaliation within the bureau for digging into this.

The FBI declined to comment on Buma’s claims.

Buma’s revelations may only be the start. A source familiar with his work tells Mother Jones that other potential FBI whistleblowers who participated in the investigation involving Giuliani have consulted the same lawyer as Buma and might meet with congressional investigators in coming weeks. That attorney, Scott Horton, declined to comment.

Giuliani faces a heap of legal and financial problems, including those felony charges in Georgia. He is also an uncharged co-conspirator in the federal case in which Trump was indicted for his efforts to retain power after losing the 2020 election. He has been sued by a former assistant for rape. And apparently Trump has not helped the supposedly broke Giuliani cover his legal bills, though the former president did agree to headline a fundraiser for Giuliani.

Still, Buma’s statement suggests that Giuliani has been lucky to avoid deeper trouble over his attempt during the 2020 race to deploy made-in-Ukraine disinformation to sully Joe Biden.

It is widely known that Giuliani tried mightily to unearth and disseminate dirt on Biden in Ukraine—particularly regarding the unfounded allegation that as vice president Biden squashed an investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company for which his son Hunter was a director. This smear campaign led to Trump’s first impeachment and resulted in a federal investigation into whether Giuliani violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Prosecutors ended that probe last year.

But Buma’s allegations that FBI and Justice Department officials blocked his efforts to investigate these Giuliani activities and the work of suspected Russian agents who may have influenced the former New York City mayor could spark a new dust-up on Capitol Hill. As Republicans keep trying to gin up a controversy over the Bidens, Burisma, and other matters, Buma’s statement reinforces the case that this supposed Biden-Ukraine scandal was egged on or orchestrated by Russian intelligence. And it contradicts the narrative pushed by Trump and his defenders that the FBI and Justice Department have been in cahoots with Democrats.

Giuliani’s role in Trump’s coup attempt and his string of public humiliations may overshadow the Ukrainian chapter in Giuliani’s downfall. But, according to Buma and various US intelligence findings, Giuliani apparently was a dupe—a useful idiot—for suspected Russian operatives and propagandists. And the bureau, Buma says, investigated this—until it didn’t.

Buma’s statement highlights Giuliani’s relationship with Pavel Fuks, a wealthy Ukrainian developer, who in 2017 hired Giuliani and paid him $300,000. Fuks once told the New York Times that he had retained Giuliani to lobby in the United States for the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where Fuks then lived. Giuliani has denied that he was paid to lobby for Kharkiv, insisting he only provided advice regarding security to the city. And Fuks has changed his tune. Through a spokesperson, he told Mother Jones that Giuliani’s work was limited to advising the city.

In his statement, Buma says that the FBI assessed Fuks to be a “co-opted asset” of Russian intelligence services, meaning a person who Russian intelligence used to advance its goals. Buma’s complaint does not name a specific Russian intelligence agency, but a person who spoke to agents involved in this investigation says that the FBI believes Fuks worked for the FSB, the successor to KGB. All this raises the possibility that Giuliani, a former Republican presidential candidate who became a close adviser to Trump, received a large payment directly from a Russian asset.

Buma alleges that Fuks has carried out various tasks for Russian spies, including laundering money for them. Fuks also reportedly paid locals to spray-paint swastikas around Kharkiv in the weeks before Russia’s invasion. Buma says Fuks did so to bolster Vladmir Putin’s claim that the invasion aimed to achieve the “de-Nazification of Ukraine.”

Fuks denies these claims. “Mr. Fuks has never cooperated with Russian intelligence,” his spokesperson says.

Buma maintains that his investigative work led to Customs and Border Patrol in 2017 revoking Fuks visa for travel to the United States and that the FBI assessed that Fuks constituted “a national security threat,” a finding that caused Fuks to be placed on an organized crime watch list. Buma also says that he sent the Treasury Department a recommendation that the United States sanction Fuks. To date, the US government has not done so.
Advertise with Mother Jones

Ukraine has sanctioned Fuks, and it is reportedly investigating him for fraud and tax evasion. Fuks now lives in London, according to recent media reports.

In his statement, Buma says that he developed suspicions that Giuliani, through his relationship with Fuks, was “compromised by the RIS,” meaning the Russian Intelligence Services. That is a striking claim—an allegation that Russian spies may have obtained influence over a top adviser to the US president.

It’s a new piece of information to add to a pile of public indications that Giuliani left himself wide open to manipulation by Russian agents, while he was dredging Ukraine in search of derogatory information about Hunter and Joe Biden.

Giuliani has previously asserted that his work for Fuks ended before he joined Trump’s legal team in April 2018. And Fuks’ spokesperson also says that Fuks’ dealings with Giuliani finished in 2018. But Buma suggests that Fuks may have maintained an indirect connection to Giuliani by hiring in 2019 Andriy Telizhenko, a former low-level Ukrainian diplomatic official, to mount a public relations effort for him in the United States. Buma says that a source told him that Fuks retained Telizhenko to help him “establish contacts with US politicians.” Telizhenko went on to work with Giuliani, feeding him information on the Bidens.

Telizhenko, in a recent interview with Mother Jones, maintained that his work for Fuks and his contacts with Giuliani were unrelated.

But Telizhenko’s interactions with Giuliani raise serious questions about whether this Trump adviser, wittingly or not, played. a part in a covert Russian operation to discredit Biden. In 2021, the Treasury Department sanctioned Telizhenko for promoting Russian “disinformation narratives that U.S. government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.” Telizhenko denies advancing disinformation or aiding Russia. He says the sanctions resulted from an FBI informant making false claims about him.

Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine placed him in contact with several Ukrainians since sanctioned for allegedly assisting Russian disinformation efforts. The most prominent was Andriy Derkach, the son of a former KGB officer and then a Ukrainian legislator, who supplied Giuliani with unsubstantiated information about the Bidens’ supposed activities in Ukraine. After making a trip to Ukraine in the summer of 2020, Giuliani told the Washington Post that he kept in touch with Derkach and called him “very helpful.”

Trump’s Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach in 2020, calling him an “active Russian agent for over a decade.” In March 2021, a declassified report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that Putin in 2020 signed off on a Russian intelligence effort to use proxies to feed prominent US individuals “influence narratives” aimed at hurting Biden’s campaign and helping Trump. The report cited Derkach, asserting that Putin “had purview” over his activities. Though the report did not name him, Giuliani was obviously one of the Americans the ODNI believed had been manipulated by the Russians. Last year, federal prosecutors hit Derkach with criminal charges for his alleged attempts to evade sanctions.

In his statement, Buma says he investigated Giuliani’s use of “funds he collected from political influencers to travel and conduct a series of interviews with former Ukrainian officials”—a reference to Giuliani’s campaign to gather opposition research on the Bidens. But he adds that “Giuliani was himself never considered a subject” of that part of his probe, which focused on “foreign organized crime figures and intelligence service assets or agents who chose to deal with him.”

Giuliani has admitted to meeting Ukrainians subsequently cited by the US government as Russian operatives. But he has defended his actions by arguing he had to deal with questionable people to seek information on what he has referred to as alleged Biden crimes. (No evidence has surfaced to prove Biden acted improperly in Ukraine to help his son.)

Buma reveals in his statement that he also probed whether Russian operatives or assets were involved in a 2020 Giuliani effort to make a film about Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine and elsewhere. As Mother Jones reported, the GOP activists behind this venture noted in legal documents that they were considering seeking foreign financing for the film. The anti-Biden film was to include commentary from Konstantin Kulyk, a former Ukrainian prosecutor who Treasury sanctioned in 2021 for working with Derkach to spread “fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations” about Biden. That is, this project was to feature information from sources who the US government later deemed were connected to a disinformation campaign linked to Russian intelligence.

Giuliani played a key role in trying to line up investors for the movie. His lawyer, Robert Costello, denied that Giuliani solicited money from foreign investors. The investors Giuliani did help find were two brothers, David and Kable Munger, who own a large blueberry producing company in California and have donated generously to GOP candidates. The movie never came close to being made, and people involved in the endeavor told Mother Jones the project was disorganized and incompetently managed.
Advertise with Mother Jones

The Mungers recently sued two GOP activists involved in producing the film, Tim Yale and George Dickson, along with a company they formed. Giuliani was not named as a defendant in the suit. The Mungers say that Giuliani helped persuade them to invest $1 million by saying that they would receive a share of the film’s profits. The brothers also claim that Yale and Dickson told them the movie would be “more profitable than Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.” Giuliani, Dickson, and Yale also said, according to the Mungers’ lawsuit, that they possessed “smoking guns” revealing Joe Biden was corrupt.

Giuliani and his colleagues possessed no such material. The Mungers allege that Dickson and Yale stole their investment. In a text message to Mother Jones, Yale insisted that the lawsuit is “total hogwash.” He declined to comment further. Dickson did not respond to requests for comment.

Giuliani, according to the lawsuit, was paid $300,000 for his participation in the film project. A lawyer and a spokesperson for Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.

Buma’s disclosures spell new trouble for Giuliani. They further implicate him in a covert Russian operation to tilt the 2020 election toward Trump. They also raise the possibility that Giuliani was protected by FBI officials. (After the 2016 election, the Justice Department investigated whether Giuliani had improper contacts with FBI agents during that race regarding the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton, and it found no evidence Giuliani had been leaked information.) Buma’s statement offers an investigative roadmap for inquiries that could soil Giuliani’s already tarnished reputation. But the down-and-out Giuliani may get lucky: With all the controversy and scandal swirling about him, there just may not be much room in the Giuliani coverage for the allegation that he was a puppet for Putin

Sept. 1

djt march 2020 Custom

World Crisis Radio, World Strategic Analysis: Ukrainian ground forces advance south towards cutting vital Russian supply line from Donetsk to Kherson and webster tarpley 2007Crimea! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, commentator, Sept. 1, 2023 (131 mins.). Despite wretched defeatism of controlled corporate media, defenders register ”notable progress” against invaders over last 72 hours; Large Russian anti-tank ditch now within striking distance south of Robotyne; West Point Professor Jan Kallberg writes that ”victory is closer than you think”; Time to deliver armored vehicle launched assault bridges to Kiev;

Neoliberal ideologue Larry Summers freaks out over Bidenomics, says he’s ”profoundly concerned by the doctrine of manufacturing-centered economic nationalism that is increasingly being put forth as a general principle to guide policy,” in contrast to policies of Clinton and Obama; Summers doesn’t like compulsory labor standards built into federal funding, and views offshoring of 10,000 US factories as a golden age;

For Labor Day, White House proposes raising eligibility wage level for overtime pay rates to $55,000 per year;

If he wants to fight immiseration and despair, singer Oliver Anthony should support Biden’s anti-globalization revolution in trade and industrial policy, the only detailed reform plan that goes beyond crass platitudes;
State officials across US are evaluating throwing Trump off their presidential ballots based on XIV Amendment’s section 3, participation in rebellion;

Success of US system requires constitutional democracy with due process and representative government; But a rising standard of living is also indispensable, in line with FDR’s dictum that needy people cannot be free people; Biden gets it;

Former President Donald J. Trump and several of his fellow defendants, in mug shots released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in Atlanta (Photos by Fulton County Sheriff’s Office).Conviction of Trump would deprive Putin of any hope of prevailing in Ukraine through US betrayal of Kyiv; defeat of Putin can dissuade Xi from aggression while isolating North Korea and Iran;

Getting right with Lincoln at the start of a decisive world historical year.

84 years ago, Hitler attacked Poland under cover of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, starting World War II in Europe.

 

August

Aug. 27

Going Deep with Russ Baker! Investigative Commentary: The Scary Truth About the GOP Candidates and Their Appeal, Russ Baker, right, founder of the investigative site Who, What W,hy and author of the best-selling Family of Secrets, Aug. 27, 2023. What russ baker cropped david welkerthe Fox debate revealed about whowhatwhy logohatred, fear and race.

Note: As I was preparing to publish the essay below, with its discussion of race and the GOP, a young white man attempted to enter the campus of a historically black college in Jacksonville, Florida, but was turned away by a security officer after refusing to identify himself. He then went to a nearby discount store, where he shot and killed three black employees. “This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” said Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters.

It’s hard to contemplate what follows without considering the impact of GOP rhetoric on impressionable people like the perpetrator.

It’s been a few days now since the first GOP debate on August 23, and pretty much everyone has already weighed in with their performance assessment. The spectacle had an average of 12.8 million viewers, which, without their star, Trump, was a larger than expected audience.

Me, I’m still wrestling with a notion I couldn’t get out of my mind.

It struck me as emblematic of larger issues that, while discussed endlessly, never result in clarity: the kinds of people who want to lead us, how they present themselves — and what all this says about their voters and advocates.

Each contender seemed to be auditioning for the role of apex predator — although they sometimes inadvertently morphed, however briefly, into a different, less alarming guise.

Aug. 26

 

   Former President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mug shot released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday (Photo via Fulton County Sheriff's Office).

World Crisis Radio, World Strategic Roundup and Activisim Recommendations: Twilight of Trump, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, commentator, Aug. 26, 2023 (129:41 mins.). In webster tarpley 2007Atlanta, MAGA boss is arrested for fourth time as mindless corporate media keep raving that indictments only make him stronger! Three Trump co-defendants allege he ordered their misdeeds, foreshadowing flipping to come;

Former President Donald J. Trump and several of his fellow defendants, in mug shots released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in Atlanta (Photos by Fulton County Sheriff’s Office).Activating Fourteenth Amendment ban on insurrectionists holding federal office rapidly gains prestigious bipartisan support from scholars and elected officials; Need legal action now by states to banish Don from ballot well before primary voting starts in January 2024;

yevgeniy prigozhin battle gear apPrigozhin, right, ends as homicidal monster and his top staffers fall victim to assassination by Putin’s secret police; Wagner mercenary units, Putin’s Foreign Legion, decapitated and in disarray; Prigozhin’s epitaph is statement admitting that there was no NATO threat to Russia on eve of February 2022 invasion -- an embarrassing fact for Mearsheimer, Chomsky, RFK Jr., Wagenknecht and other avid appeasers;

Ukrainian forces capture Robotyne on road to Melitopol and Sea of Azov, widening the breach in the first Russian defense line; Repeated strikes on Moscow and targets inside Russia; Debate on how many axes of attack are optimal;

Leaders from Brazil, China, South Africa, India and Russia convene at the BRICS Summit in South Africa on Aug. 23 2023 (Pool photo).

brics logoBRICS may be viewed as a pressure group, a propaganda agency, a school of rhetoric, a brand of nostalgia, or a photo op, but they are incapable of joint action: no joint currency to challenge US dollar and no moral standing as they support the butcher of Ukraine, who is making them starve;

GOP debate shows absolute depravity of this moribund party; 60 years since Martin Luther King’s ”I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial; Trump’s rogue’s gallery photo depicts cornered kingpin snarling into the abyss.

Aug. 22

 

leonard leo ap carolyn kaster

 Ultra-right Republican dark money legal powerbroker Leonard Leo is shown above.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

Politico, D.C. Attorney General is probing Leonard Leo’s network, Heidi Przybyla, Aug. 22, 2023. The Federalist Society co-chair and ex-Trump judicial adviser has utilized nonprofit groups to collect more than $1 billion for conservative causes.

politico CustomWashington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb is investigating judicial activist Leonard Leo and his network of nonprofit groups, according to a person with direct knowledge of the probe.

The scope of the investigation is unclear. But it comes after POLITICO reported in March that one of Leo’s nonprofits — registered as a charity — paid his for-profit company tens of millions of dollars in the two years since he joined the company. A few weeks later, a progressive watchdog group filed a complaint with the D.C. attorney general and the IRS requesting a probe into what services were provided and whether Leo was in violation of laws against using charities for personal enrichment.

David B. Rivkin Jr., an attorney for the parties in the investigation, said in a statement that the complaint “is sloppy, deceptive and legally flawed and we are addressing this fully with the DC Attorney General’s office.”

The news of the investigation comes as the nonprofit that was a subject of the complaint quietly relocated in recent weeks from the capital area to Texas, according to paperwork filed in Virginia and Texas. For nearly 20 years the nonprofit, now known as The 85 Fund, had been incorporated in Virginia.

Gabe Shoglow-Rubenstein, Schwalb’s communications director, declined to confirm or deny the existence of the probe, including whether the attorney general took any action in response to the complaint.

Schwalb, who took office in January, has a background in tax law and served as a trial attorney in the tax division of the Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton.

Best known as Donald Trump’s White House “court whisperer,” Leo played a behind-the-scenes role in the nominations of all three of the former president’s Supreme Court justices and promoted them through his multi-billion-dollar network of nonprofits. Trump chose his three Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, from a list drawn up by Leo. More recently, Leo was the beneficiary of a $1.6 billion contribution, believed to be the biggest political donation in U.S. history.

He is also the co-chair of the Federalist Society, the academic arm of the conservative legal movement, for which he worked in various capacities for decades while building his donor base.

While Leo grants few interviews, in mid-July he was featured in a two-part podcast with the Maine Wire, a conservative news organization. Asked why he’s become a “lightening rod for criticism,” Leo cited his commitment to “defend the Constitution” and spoke about the “long history” of dark money in U.S. politics.

Aug. 19

World Crisis Radio, Global Strategic News Roundup & Action Recommendations, To get peace, lock him up: If Trump is jailed, Putin’s last hope for webster tarpley 2007conquest will be gone, likely bringing Ukraine war to an end! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, commentator, Aug. 19, 2023 (129:41 mins.). Fani Willis’ landmark fourth indictment of Trump and 18 accused RICO accomplices hailed as most aggressive prosecutorial response to the shameful chapter of January 6; Clear potential exists for GOP extinction; Justice delayed is justice denied;

Judges must impose zero tolerance for death threats to courts, juries, and witnesses, no matter who the perpetrator;

Biden joins with leaders of Japan and South Korea at Camp David to proclaim new tripartite Pacific Charter to deter CCP, DPRK, and Russia;

Trump wants to postpone answering January 6 charges until April 2026, otherwise known as the Twelfth of Never;

WaPo showcases defeatist voices on Ukraine offensive from inside Pentagon: They may be holdovers from the Kashyap Patel-Gen. Charles Flynn era; US must expedite delivery of ATACMs and F-16s to interdict Kerch bridge and four other spans, cutting supplies for invaders; Convoys with NATO escorts on Black Sea are needed at once to guarantee grain shipments to stop genocide in Africa;

Prof. Robert Reich brands Trump as worse than authoritarian: ”He is a fascist!”; Attention to class nature of fascism in supporting oligarchy proves essential;

Breaking: Trump attorney Cheseboro identified at Capitol on January 6, linking insurrection dupes with MAGA bigwigs; Don plans to snub GOP’s Milwaukee primary debate on Wednesday and instead play softball with Tucker Carlson; NBC News reports Trump will surrender at Fulton County jail next Thursday or Friday

Aug. 15

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Proof: Exclusive Report: An Annotated List of the 30 As-Yet Unindicted Georgia Co-Conspirators in the Just-Released Trump Indictment in Fulton County, seth abramson graphicSeth Abramson, left, Aug 15, 2023. The 98-page indictment just announced by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis contains 30 unnamed co-conspirators identified by number. Proof reveals, for the first time, who these people are.

Introduction: “Open-source intelligence” (OSINT)—that is, reliable public records, including major-media reporting and government reports—allows us to identify nearly all of the thirty Donald Trump co-conspirators Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis declined to indict (or name) in her recent 98-page indictment of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, Jenna Ellis, Mike Roman and eleven less-well-known individuals.

seth abramson proof logoNote that Trump, Giuliani, Eastman, Clark, and Chesebro together comprise four of the seven individuals identified explicitly or implicitly in the recent indictment Jack Smith brought in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Special Counsel. The three other Trump-affiliated persons listed above are facing indictment—thus, a last-chance opportunity to cooperate with both state and federal prosecutors and investigators—for the very first time.)

Some of these thirty individuals will likely be indicted at some point in the future, either in the State of Georgia or elsewhere. But others may not have been indicted or even named because they’re currently cooperating individuals or have done enough to indicate that they one day might be that prosecutors are holding off on indicting them.

What is clear, however, is that these names could matter just as much as the names of the nineteen individuals who were indicted as Trump’s Georgia co-conspirators.

Why?

(1) First, because thirty is more than nineteen.

(2) Second, because some of the thirty unindicted co-conspirators may well have been selected for non-indictment because they’re already cooperating.

(3) Third, because by definition some of the thirty unindicted co-conspirators may have been more tangential to the Georgia Conspiracy, which means—for a few of them—they were more central to other components of Trump’s post-election crimes.

(4) Fourth, these thirty unindicted individuals are as or more interesting than the nineteen for the simple reason that they remain an unknown—a mystery. And it seems everyone loves a mystery.

Indeed, given how many coup foot-soldiers and coup plotters have now been indicted, the idea that the list of infamous individuals not yet indicted or listed as unindicted co-conspirators—men and women like Steve Bannon, Peter Navarro, Cleta Mitchell, Ginni Thomas, Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Ali Alexander, Alex Jones, Christina Bobb, Kash Patel, Cindy Chafian, Bianca Gracia, Garrett Ziegler, Michael Flynn, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Scott Perry, Tommy Tuberville, Louie Gohmert, and others—are all going to go unindicted (even as some surely will, as some surely didn’t commit any identifiable crime for all their unethical conduct) has now become a non-starter.

There simply can be no doubt that many, many more indictments—both superseding and otherwise—are yet to come. The list of unindicted but now-identified Trump co-conspirators below is certainly a great place to start in imagining what direction the January 6 investigation(s) might head in next.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Aug. 12

 

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Summary: Broad united front of anti-dictatorship forces wins Ohio referendum against MAGA extremist power grab!  Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, historian, commentator, Aug. 12, 2023 (126 mins.). Eyes of world turn to Atlanta in expectation of Fani Willis’ indictment of Don, Rudy, and fake presidential electors next week; Legal issues are key part of anti-fascist resistance of our time, and momentum is on side of democracy;

In January 6 case, Judge Chutkan issues protective order to prevent threats to witnesses, jurors, and the cause of justice; Smith wants trial to start on January 2, 2024 and last 4-6 weeks;

Ever fixated on his own vanity in the face of MAGA attacks, craven dawdler Garland names Trump appointee Weiss as special counsel against Hunter Biden after five years of fruitless fishing expedition culminating with Trump-deployed Noreika; Time for Garland to depart!

Clarence Thomas got 38 free vacations, a yacht cruise, and 26 private jet junkets from a quartet of reactionary billionaires; Judge Cannon also enjoyed largesse of pro-Trump court fixers; Federalist Society honchos advance self-evident reality that XIV Amendment violators like Trump are forever barred from holding federal office, with no criminal trial necessary;

Musk uses Starlink to cripple an ally and assist an enemy state, meaning he is usurping U.S. foreign policy in defiance of Logan Act; Defense Production Act is needed to correct his depravity;

Ukraine disables Russian warship and oil tanker; Moscow hit repeatedly by drones; Kyiv wants humanitarian corridors for grain shipments on Black Sea, and NATO should provide minesweepers and escort vessels; Germany pledges highly effective Taurus stealth cruise missiles; Bridges into Crimea interdicted;

Tyrant Xi gropes for panic button as China enters deflationary spiral accelerated by crushing real estate debt; Exports down 12%, while youth unemployment grows; Communists blame U.S., escalate provocations against Taiwan, and silence demands for stimulus; Biden wisely bans U.S. capital investment in Beijing’s military-industrial complex!

Aug. 10

Proof, Investigative Report: DOJ and the NYT Say the First January 6 Coup Memo Was Written in November 2020. They’re Wrong, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 10, 2023. The seth abramson graphicfirst coup memo appeared in October 2020—and this “October Memo” informed the November and December 2020 Chesebro memos and John Eastman’s December memos. How do we know? From the men themselves.

On November 18, 2020, the New York Times reports, attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote a memo about the possible use of alternate electors by the 2020 Trump presidential campaign in Wisconsin. On December 6, 2020, Attorney Chesebro wrote a far broader memo about such electors potentially being a key to Donald Trump remaining in the Oval Office.

seth abramson proof logoThree days later—on December 9, 2020—Chesebro wrote yet another such memo. By the end of the month, Chesebro’s fellow Trump legal adviser, John Eastman, had spilled an enormous amount of words both in writing and in in-person discussions pushing precisely the same ideas that Chesebro had earlier articulated. Both Chesebro (Co-Conspirator 5 in the Trump January 6 indictment) and Eastman (Co-Conspirator 2 in that indictment) now face the prospect of significant legal jeopardy for their various “coup memos,” even as the authors of other documents deemed coup memos appear not the be on Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith’s radar at all.

The New York Times Wades In

In a series of recent reports by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and now book-published Trump biographer Maggie Haberman, the Times tells readers that the three Chesebro memos mentioned atop this Proof report were the “earliest” indications from within Trumpworld that a so-called “fake elector” plot was afoot.

That is untrue.

Moreover, this inaccuracy could be damaging to the current prosecution of Trump by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Special Counsel, as these Times reports, so lauded and repeated by other major-media outlets, have had the following key effects:

  • Cementing the false idea, among not just American voters but also apparently Jack Smith and his attorneys and investigators, that the “fake elector” plot was wholly a post-election one;
  • cementing the false idea, among not just American voters but also apparently Jack Smith and his attorneys and investigators, that the plot emerged from the fringes of Trumpworld and slowly moved toward its center; and
  • cementing the false idea, among not just American voters but also apparently Jack Smith and his attorneys and investigators, that individuals with enormous power and cultural capital within Trumpworld were in no way involved in the plot when they may well have been.

And more broadly—given that Attorney Smith and his team have so far, at least in public filings, focused almost exclusively on the “fake elector” plot and (in more recent days) Trump’s possible fundraising crimes while ignoring the extension of his conspiracy to the civilian leadership at the Pentagon and the use of Sidney Powell and her agents to advance (via false federal affidavits regarding supposed foreign election interference that Jason Funes told Congress resulted from “blackmail” and “force[d]” testimony) the pro-martial-law plot known as the Waldron Plot—the recent New York Times reporting gives federal investigators no foothold whatsoever to understand this video of one of the architects of January 6, top Trump adviser and convicted criminal Steve Bannon.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Aug. 5

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Commentary: Trump’s arrest is decisive victory for US Constitution over forces of totalitarian dictatorship!  Webster G. Tarpley, right, webster tarpley 2007historian, commentator, Aug. 5, 2023 (136:44 mins.). Reuters-Ipsos poll shows Trump would lose about half of his GOP supporters if he is convicted of a felony or imprisoned; So house arrest will not be enough; Defeatist blather about indictments making Don stronger is inspired by owners of controlled corporate media;

American voters have the right to know before Election Day whether likely GOP candidate is officially a criminal; Judge Chutkan signals a rapid process;

Fani Willis is ready to go with RICO charges against MAGA vote fraud clique; Georgia case offers vital insurance policy against possible self-pardon by Trump;

Putin’s only hope of salvaging his genocidal aggression vs Ukraine is a second term for Trump designed to cut aid to Ukraine, wreck NATO alliance, and reduce US to satellite of Kremlin butchers;

AG Garland dithered for 18 months on prosecuting Jan. 6 bigwigs, accumulating dangerous delays which Smith must strive to overcome; Garland is demoralizing drag on Biden’s re-election and should be replaced;

Archer testimony against Hunter Biden, touted by Comer and Gym Jordan, falls flat as a diversionary GOP nothingburger;

Ukraine deploys sea and air drones, crippling large Russian amphibious assault ship in Novorossisk, seen listing heavily and now run aground to prevent sinking; oil tanker hit; new explosions on Kerch Strait bridge; RFK Jr. PAC garners $10 million from two reactionary plutocrats for efforts to counter Biden!

Aug. 1

 

djt march 2020 Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, DEVELOPING: Jan. 6 grand jury probing efforts to overturn 2020 election issues indictment, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 1, 2023. Trump indicted on four counts, including obstruction and conspiracy. Indictment is the first to emerge from special counsel Jack Smith’s probe of the underpinnings of the Jan. 6 riot and the campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s victory.

A grand jury investigating the efforts of former president Donald Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election has returned an indictment, though the document remained under seal and it was not immediately clear who was charged, or with what alleged crimes.

Reporters observed a prosecutor with special counsel Jack Smith’s office and the foreperson of a grand jury that has been active for many months examining the events surrounding Jan. 6 deliver the indictment Tuesday evening to a magistrate judge in federal court in Washington, D.C.

  • Read the indictment here.

That grand jury panel gathered Tuesday, and left the courthouse in the afternoon.

FBI logoThe indictment could mark a major new phase in Smith’s investigation of the former president and his aides and allies, coming nearly two months after Trump and his longtime valet were indicted for allegedly mishandling classified documents and scheming to prevent government officials from retrieving them.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty in the documents case, denies all wrongdoing related to the 2020 election as well. He announced on social media on July 18 that his lawyers had been told he was a target in the election-focused probe.

jack smith 6 9 2023 cnnSmith, shown above, was tapped in November to take charge of the both high-profile investigations, after Trump launched his 2024 presidential election campaign and Justice Department log circularAttorney General Merrick Garland — an appointee of President Biden — concluded that an independent prosecutor should oversee the probes.

Indictment is the first to emerge from special counsel Jack Smith’s probe of the underpinnings of the Jan. 6 riot and the campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s victory.
A state grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., is also considering whether to file broad charges against Trump and his lawyers, advocates, and aides over their efforts to undo the 2020 election results. A decision on that front is expected in August, although previous plans to announce a charging decision have been delayed. Michigan and Arizona are also investigating aspects of the efforts to block Biden’s victory in their states.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michigan Republicans charged in connection with 2020 voting machine tampering, Patrick Marley and Aaron Schaffer, Aug. 1, 2023. A Michigan grand jury charged a former state lawmaker and a losing candidate for state attorney general as part of an investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines.

A Michigan prosecutor charged a former state lawmaker and a losing candidate for state attorney general Tuesday as part of an investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines.

michigan mapSpecial prosecutor D.J. Hilson since last year has been looking into efforts by a group of conservatives to persuade election clerks to give them voting machines as they attempted to prove the 2020 presidential election had been wrongly called for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. The group never turned up any proof, and courts in dozens of cases across the country ruled that the election was properly decided.

Former attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno (R) was charged with improper possession of a voting machine, conspiracy to unlawfully possess a voting machine, conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a computer system and willfully damaging a voting machine, according to Hilson. Former state representative Daire Rendon (R) was charged with conspiracy to unlawfully possess a voting machine and using false pretenses with the intent to defraud, he said. Both were arraigned Tuesday and released.

 

July

July 29

World Crisis Radio, Commentary With Weekly Strategic Overview and Civic Agenda, Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, July 29, 2023 (147:47 mins). As January 6 indictment webster tarpley 2007watch continues, long awaited Ukrainian counterattack advances towards Melitopol, Mariupol, and Bakhmut, putting Putin’s Crimean supply line in danger.

Smith adds additional defendant and new MaL charges against Trump for ordering deletion of security camera footage and showing off top secret document; Georgia indictments loom; Trump hurls scurrilous threats at prospect of incarceration; Navarro talks of civil war, blames Dems;

Like Stalin in June 1941, Putin froze during first hours of Prigozhinshchina; mercenary boss shows up on sidelines of Russia-Africa conference in St. Petersburg; African client states reduced from 45 to an unhappy 20 as Russian Black Sea grain blockade triggers starvation in developing sector; Biden had 50 guest nations last year; Token grain delivery promised to 6 of the most subservient countries, but diplomatic fiasco goes on with demands to respect existing grain deal;
NATO should increase grain exports through port of Reni on Ukrainian bank of Danube; Time for escorted convoys from Odessa through territorial waters to Bosporus and open sea;

Xi rebuffs Kerry, repeats his intent to escalate carbon emissions until 2030, making a mockery of predictions by climate scientists;

Fed concedes there is no recession as Wall Street grudgingly acknowledges landmark success of industrial strategy aka Bidenomics, marking beginning of the end for neoliberal Washington consensus; Next step is breaking Wall Street control of Fed;

In US visit, Italian premier Meloni supports NATO military aid to Ukraine and turns away from Chinese Belt and Road debt trap; History can be guide to current events, provided the history be real and not diluted!

July 25

Wayne Madsen Report,  Investigative Commentary: Is Opus Dei behind Ron DeSantis's far-right politics? Wayne Madsen, left, author of 23 books and former Navy intelligence officer, July 25-26, 2023. It is an wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallinternational organization that is so secret it refuses to publish membership lists. This shadowy cabal has infiltrated the upper echelons of government, business, and religion with operatives intent on furthering the cause of fascism.

wayne madesen report logoIt may count at least four members of the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court in its ranks, as well as dozens of members of the U.S. Congress. Contrary to how this group was dramatized in the film “The DaVinci Code,” its members do not wear cowls while hiding in the shadows but are adorned in expensive business suits. This group, the Roman Catholic order known as Opus Dei, is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy the world has seen since Nazi Germany.

Headquartered at 73 Viale Bruno Buozzi in Rome, Opus Dei was founded in 1928 by Spanish priest, Josemaría Escriva, right,. Opus Dei, which has been derisively josemaria escrivanicknamed “Octopus Dei,” became the religious underpinning for General Francisco Franco’s Falangist movement, which espoused fascism in Spain and, through Falangist agents aided by Opus Dei priests, around the world. Opus Dei would not have become a worldwide order espousing fascism had it not been for Popes Pius XII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, all of whom promoted the order within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In 2005, Benedict ordered a statue of Escriva erected within St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Before he was elevated to pontiff as John Paul I, Albino Luciani, while Cardinal-Priest of San Marco in Rome, used the term “radical” to describe Escriva.

john mccloskey priestIt was Archbishop of Washington, DC, John McCloskey, left, the former director of Opus Dei’s Washington headquarters – masked as the Catholic Information Center (CIC) on K Street -- who helped greatly expand Opus Dei’s influence in the nation’s capital. McCloskey was also the first Opus Dei official charged with sexual misconduct. In McCloskey’s case, it involved a woman during his time as CIC director. McCloskey presided over several conversions to Catholicism by leading Washington politicos and pundits, including Newt Gingrich, Robert Novak, Larry Kudlow, Sam Brownback, Blackwater mercenary firm founder Erik Prince, and Bernard Nathanson, the latter a gynecologist and co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) who became a leading anti-abortion activist.

Opus Dei is believed to count among its most ardent supernumeraries and other lay supporters Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, the extremist Republican Ginni Thomas; Trump Attorney General William Barr and his “Russiagate” special counsel John Durham; Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; Trump’s former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; the author of the infamous anti-abortion Hyde Amendment, the late Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois; the late Solicitor General and failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork; former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and most disturbing, Leonard Leo, the head of the far-right Federalist Society that has served as a virtual employment agency for right-wing judges, including Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, as well as Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts. All but Gorsuch are Catholic, but he was raised as one.

 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others testify on censorship and free speech before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government. Photo credit: C-SPAN

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others testify on censorship and free speech before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government. Photo credit: C-SPAN

WhoWhatWhy, Going Deep Investigative Commentary: RFK Jr.’s Panel of Health Hoaxers, Hucksters & Hustlers, Russ Baker, right, July 26, 2023. The russ baker cropped david welkerquestion is, what are they really selling?

Although he subsequently sought to deny it, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. really did say that wacky stuff suggesting that COVID-19 was bioengineered — targeted at specific ethnicities and races, while sparing others (those supposedly being spared were Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews.)

whowhatwhy logoHe tried to squirm out of it, claiming he never said it, but those words will not go away. To wit, they have already settled into the fertile soil of a neo-Nazi website.

So where does he get such material? Who are his sources? And how well is he able to evaluate them? That, we don’t know. What we do know is that a pretty strange group of self-anointed experts harboring extreme views on COVID-19, and more broadly on public health, are part of his brain trust.

One such person is Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, an early promoter of the theory that COVID-19 is a bioweapon designed to spare Chinese and Jewish people — almost exactly what Kennedy later claimed publicly, although she may have only confirmed ideas he already had.

Tenpenny is quite the character. She has shared numerous antisemitic claims on social media, including Holocaust denial and praise for the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,

In early 2022, she claimed Jews were using the Ukraine conflict to distract the world from a meeting in Europe about pandemic preparedness.

Kennedy will have a hard time disassociating himself from Tenpenny and her beliefs, given that she is right next to him in the image below for Kennedy’s June 27 “Health Policy Roundtable.”

Virtual Health Policy Roundtable tweet. Photo credit: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. / Twitter

Let’s take a closer look at Tenpenny, who Kennedy says is “leading this movement against vaccines,” and a brief look at the others.

Kennedy’s Brain Trust

Tenpenny has claimed that vaccines leave people magnetized. This was her proof:

They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there’s a metal piece to that.

She explained this — as an “expert witness” — to lawmakers in the Ohio House at a hearing in favor of a bill that would prevent businesses and government from requiring proof of vaccination. A nurse tried to demonstrate the phenomenon, with embarrassing results.

Tenpenny also claimed that vaccines interface with 5G cellular towers, and that “we’re trying to figure out what it is that’s being transmitted to these unvaccinated [sic] people that is causing health problems.” She also spread the idea that vaccinated people “shed” — leading at least one private school to instruct immunized teachers to stay away from unvaccinated students, claiming they could develop menstrual irregularities and other reproductive harm, merely from interacting with them.

Tenpenny, author of the book Saying No to Vaccines, is an osteopath, a type of doctor deploying a holistic approach to disease — but with no expertise in magnetism, epidemiology, virology, immunology, or infectious disease. The Center for Countering Digital Hate said she is one of the top 12 spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation.

July 22

World Crisis Radio, Trump indictment watch in wake of Smith warning letter, with January 6 charges possible next week and Fani Willis of Atlanta poised to indict for RICO!  Webster G. Tarpley, webster tarpley 2007right, author and historian, July 22, 2023 (139:45 mins.). US 2024 vote will be binary referendum on fascist dictatorship and descent into savagery or constitutional government and progress of civilization; Challengers and third parties are pure negatives;

US warns of Russian false flag attacks on grain ships in Black Sea after Putin kills UN grain shipment deal and bombs food export facilities; NATO should protect sea lane along Romanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish coasts from Odessa to Danube to Bosporus for safeguard of world food supply;

Russia-Africa gathering in St. Petersburg brings African leaders together with Russians responsible for malnutrition and starvation in their nations;
Putin banned from BRICS in late August as would-be anti-western bloc gives up on launching attack on dollar;

Desperate MAGA hooligans Gym, Marge, and Chuck run wild with fantastic charges about Hunter Biden; RFK Jr. alleges that any criticism or editorial neglect of his crackpot views is tantamount to censorship; MAGA federal judges in Fort Pierce, Amarillo, and Monroe show need for reform of entire judiciary, not just Supremes;

MAGA think tanks ready plans for liberticide oppression by ”unitary executive”; What might be the horrors of Trump’s second cabinet?

Michigan AG Nessel indicts 16 Electoral College imposters, with Arizona and Georgia soon to follow; 84 fake electors/MAGA leaders could now face charges across seven critical swing states;

De Santis’ Florida education hacks allege benefits from slavery, which was instead an unmitigated disaster of primitive accumulation and destruction of economic value incapable of surviving without conquest;

Breaking: Monmouth poll shows Biden leading Trump 47%-40%; Presence of Manchin-Huntsman wrecking ticket still leaves Biden ahead of Trump by 40%-34%; 63% see Trump unfavorably; half would definitely not back him in 2024

July 18

 

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents..

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Allies Forge Plans to Increase Presidential Power in 2025, Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage and Maggie Haberman, July 18, 2023 (print ed.). Former President Trump and his backers aim to strengthen the power of the White House and limit the independence of federal agencies.

Donald J. Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government if voters return him to the White House in 2025, reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands.

Their plans to centralize more power in the Oval Office stretch far beyond the former president’s recent remarks that he would order a criminal investigation into his political rival, President Biden, signaling his intent to end the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence from White House political control.

Mr. Trump and his associates have a broader goal: to alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House, according to a review of his campaign policy proposals and interviews with people close to him.

Mr. Trump intends to bring independent agencies — like the Federal Communications Commission, which makes and enforces rules for television and internet companies, and the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces various antitrust and other consumer protection rules against businesses — under direct presidential control.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary:The international Plot to attack democratic legislatures, Wayne Madsen, left, July 17-18, 2023. Current law wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallenforcement and judicial investigations in the United States, Brazil, Germany, and other countries point to a coordinated effort by far-right political parties and politicians – backed by anti-democratic dictatorships in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and – to a lesser extent, China -- to physically attack legislatures in order to bring about fascist rule. The threat to democratic legislatures has not been this severe since the 1930s, which saw a Nazi-led arson attack on the wayne madesen report logoGerman Reichstag in Berlin in 1933 and the siege by fascists of the French National Assembly in Paris in 1934.

The analysis being undertaken by WMR will present the links between the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Congress, the January 2, 2022 arson attack on the South African Parliament, and the January 8, 2023 attack on the Brazilian Congress had more in common than occurring during the month of January. These attacks were closely linked to a vast network of fascist movements backed by far-right political operatives within the U.S. Republican Party and similar parties and organizations in North and South America and Europe.

The arson attack on the South African Parliament had similarities to the 1933 Reichstag fire. Although a mentally ill black man, Zandile Christmas Mafe, was charged with the arson and later confessed to the crime, it turned out that he had links to far-right South Africans who supported the parole of Janusz Waluś, the convicted Polish assassin in 1993 of Chris Hani, the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party and chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

WMR will also point to far-right attacks on the Macedonian Parliament in 2017 and the South Korean National Assembly in 2019 that may have served as rightist dry runs on future attacks in Washington, Cape Town, and Brasilia. We will also address failed attempts by the far-right to attack legislatures in Germany, Canada, and New Zealand.

Shadowy dark money, the sources for which include Russian oligarchs, anti-democracy and “libertarian” billionaires, and right-wing foundations, has supported groups targeting democratic legislatures that are also known as the “peoples’ houses.” The international nature of the fascist movement to neuter legislatures centers around the activities of Donald Trump propagandist and accelerationist agitator Steve Bannon and other fascist apparatchiks, including Brazilian Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of former President Jair Bolsonaro. Eduardo Bolsonaro’s fingerprints are found on both the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the January 8 insurrection in Brasilia this past January 8th. Acceleration is a term applied to far-right movements that are attempting to bring about fascist rule through civil strife. The accelerationist blueprint includes attacks on legislatures. Accelerationist rhetoric often invokes such historical events as the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British House of Parliament in London and assassinating King James I, the storming of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, and the February 27, 1933 Nazi-backed arson attack on the Reichstag in Berlin.

The network of far-right anti-vaxxers, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other right-wingers responsible for the failed attempt to storm the Reichstag would continue to advocate for the storming of legislatures. In fact, there had already been a successful security breach of a legislature, that of Michigan in Lansing. On May 1, 2020, several armed protesters, some brandishing semi-automatic weapons, occupied the Senate and the House of Representatives. The gun-wielding protesters attempted to intimidate lawmakers who were debating Covid lockdown measures in the state. The protest was led by Michigan United for Liberty, a group that was connected to several other far-right organizations in the United States. Among those who occupied the legislature in Lansing were individuals later arrested and convicted in a plot to kidnap and assassinate Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and seize control of the state government.

The Reichsbürger plotters also planned acts of violence to overthrow the Federal German government. The conspiracists included a former member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), members of the former East German Stasi secret police, and former members of the German special forces, the KSK. The head of the coup plot was Heinrich XIII Prinz Reuss zu Köstritz, a minor German noble.

There were links between the Reichsbürger coup plotters and the QAnon movement in the United States, the Russian government, anti-vaxx zealots like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had stoked up the German far-right, including members of AfD and Generation Identity, in an August 29, 2020 speech at the Victory Column in Berlin. Kennedy Jr.’s speech was just hours prior to the attempted storming of the Reichstag building, Kennedy, who shamelessly attempted to invoke the spirit of the famed 1963 West Berlin speech of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, said to the delight of the German far-right that “today Berlin is again the front against totalitarianism.” He added that the “surveillance state,” “5G phone networks,” and Covid-19 lockdowns were part of some diabolical international grand conspiracy. Recently, Kennedy claimed that Covid-19 had been genetically-engineered to spare Jews and Chinese, more pabulum for the global far-right conspiracists.

Kennedy’s current vanity campaign to capture the Democratic presidential nomination is not only supported by Bannon and his global network of fascists, including Chinese expat multi-billionaire Guo Wengui, currently in jail in New York awaiting trial on federal fraud charges, but also wealthy high-tech figures like Twitter and PayPal investor David Sacks, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya. Sacks, like far-rightist Twitter owner Elon Musk, is a native of apartheid-era South Africa. Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka. Peter Thiel, Musk’s one-time business partner and past major donor to Republicans, is a native of Germany who grew up in apartheid South Africa and South West Africa. The presence of uber-wealthy Chinese, white South Africans, Sri Lankans, Russians, as well as influential Indians, Britons, and Germans among the upper echelons of the global far-right, is a stark indication that the “deep state,” the bane of the far-right, is actually far-right itself and much more global and influential than the progressive left.

Those who fear the world stands on the same precipice of a worldwide fascist takeover have a reason for such concern. Not since the 1930s has there been a coordinated attempt by fascists to attack the instruments of democracy. Their first target has always been the chief symbol of democracy, legislatures elected by popular suffrage.

July 17

 

jfk american university Custom

President John Kennedy delivering his iconic "Peace Speech" at American University in June, 1963.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s ‘Final’ Order on Kennedy Files Leaves Some Still Wanting More, Peter Baker, July 17, 2023 (print ed.). President Biden finished a review mandated in 1992. While a majority of files related to John F. Kennedy’s assassination are public, some remain redacted.

On June 22, 1962, an intelligence official drafted a memo summarizing a letter intercepted between Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother. The memo was made public long ago. But for 60 years, the name of the letter opener was kept secret.

Now it can finally be told: According to an unredacted copy of the memo released recently by the government, the official who intercepted Oswald’s mail for the C.I.A. in the months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated was named Reuben Efron.

nara logoAnd that means — what, exactly? A tantalizing clue to unraveling a complicated conspiracy that the government has sought to cover up for decades? Additional proof that the C.I.A. knew more about Oswald than initially acknowledged? Or a minor detail withheld all this time because of bureaucratic imperatives irrelevant to the question of whether Oswald was the lone gunman on the fateful day?

The mystery of Reuben Efron, who has been dead for three decades, may never be resolved to the satisfaction of some of those dedicated to studying the assassination. Thirty years after Congress ordered that papers related to the killing be made public with limited exceptions, President Biden has declared that he has made his “final certification” of files to be released, even though 4,684 documents remain withheld in whole or in part. Going forward, agencies will decide any future disclosures that may be warranted by the passage of time.

The president’s certification, issued at 6:36 p.m. on the Friday before the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, when it would not draw much attention, has frustrated researchers and historians still focused on the most sensational American murder of the 20th century. But they suffered a setback on Friday when a federal judge refused to block Mr. Biden’s order.

Jefferson Morley, the editor of the blog JFK Facts and the author of several books on the C.I.A., said the belated identification of Efron indicated that intelligence agencies still had something to keep from the American public.

“If they hid this guy’s name for 61 years and they’re still hiding other stuff, I would say they’re still hiding sources and methods around Oswald,” Mr. Morley said. “Why else did the name remain secret for 61 years? The C.I.A. is trying to slam the door now, and Biden’s gone along with this.”
The Biden Presidency

July 15

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Summary and Action Recommendations: Biden in the ascendant at home and abroad, with most successful NATO summit ever and Sweden on the way to membership, webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, July 15, 2023 (131:59 mins.)  3% inflation as triumph of Bidenomics; $72 million raised in second quarter.

Ukraine gets security guarantees from G-7 powers plus immediate deliveries of cluster munitions and French SCALP missiles; ATACMs and more Harpoons still needed; Erdogan placated by substantial concessions from US;

Putin’s New Time of Troubles unfolds with post-Prigozhin crisis of Russian military chain of command: 30 flag officers disappeared, arrested, interrogated, or killed including ”General Armageddon” Surovikin, ”Butcher of Mariupol” Mizintsev, Popov; deputy invasion commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Tsokov, slain in Berdyansk; Submarine Captain Stanislav Rzhitsky assassinated; Dire warnings against Putinism by Gens. Ivashov and Savostyanov confirmed;

Ukrainian forces defend Orikhiv salient against Russian attacks, keeping open path south towards Melitopol, the key to cutting land corridor towards Crimea and severing supply line of the invaders;

US needs an adequate strategic culture to protect voters against the demagogy of defeatism and appeasement;

How finance oligarchs promote irrationalism as self-defense against challenges to their power: the case of the existentialist Albert Camus, cited by RFK Jr.

July 13

Ilene Proctor Global Public Relations, Book Announcement: 9/11 From Dust To Deceit, From Bush To Butchery, From Trump To Treachery, Ray McGinnis, below ray mcginnisright, July 13, 2023. Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored. 

Unanswered Questions is a brutally persuasive book for those who want answers to the real origins of the Afghanistan war. This Ray McGinnis book digs deeper and hammers harder for the unvarnished truths. 

For twenty years the United States government has shielded Saudi Arabia from legal action by families of the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11. In 2020 Attorney General William Barr and the acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, argued before a judge that revealing anything about “Saudi connections to ray mcginnis unanswered coverthe 9/11 plot would imperil national security… and that even its justification for that secrecy needed to remain asecret.” Barr told the judge, releasing documents “would reveal information that could…harm…state secrets...”
Many families wondered how American national security would be imperiled by 9/11 families suing the Saudis? How could details of possible Saudi complicity in the attacks embarrass the United States government, or harm the nation? Are there classified documents that point not only to Saudi complicity, but to the United States itself?

Some families are hopeful that President Biden’s September 3 Executive Order on Declassification Review of Certain Documents Concerning the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, will clear the air. But others worry what “certain documents” will be declassified? Will there be other documents kept sealed, possibly harming American national security or implicate the US government. Jersey Girls Kristen Breitweiser and Lorie Van Auken have said they are suffering from PTBS – Political-Betrayal Syndrome.

July 12

 

supreme court 2022 o

ap logoAssociated Press via New York Post, Investigation: SCOTUS judges likely would break ethics rules that cover officials in other branches of gov, Staff Report, July 12, 2023. The Associated Press submitted over 100 public records requests to public schools and institutions that the Supreme Court has visited over the years.

new york post logoIn a monthslong inquiry, which included reviewing tens of thousands of pages of documents from more than 100 public records requests, the Associated Press has examined what happens behind the scenes when Supreme Court justices travel to colleges and universities for lectures and other events.

The AP learned the identities of donors and politicians invited to events with justices, details about the perks that have accompanied the school visits and information about how school trips have helped advance books sales.

Some of the key takeaways:

Book sales

sonya sotamayor saul loeb afp via getty imagesThe documents reveal how university visits are a convenient way for justices to sell their own books. That’s especially true in the case of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, above, a prolific author who has kept the court’s most active travel schedule over the past decade, according to the records reviewed by the AP.

Emails and other documents show that Supreme Court staff members have been directly engaged in facilitating book sales by asking schools how many copies they want to buy and by helping to arrange the purchase of mass quantities.

At a 2019 event jointly hosted by the Multnomah County Library in Oregon and Portland Community College, a Sotomayor aide told organizers that “250 books is definitely not enough” for a program with an expected 1,000 guests in which people would be required to have a copy to meet the justice for a signing after the event.

michigan state logoMichigan State University purchased 11,000 copies to be distributed to incoming first-year students. When Clemson University in South Carolina worried that 60 copies might be too many for Sotomayor to sign, a staffer reassured the school that “most institutions order in the ranges of 400 and up.”

And before a scheduled visit to the law school at the University of California, Davis, for the 2018 commencement, the court staff pitched the school on signed copies of her books in connection with the event.

In a statement, a Supreme Court spokesperson said that staff members work to follow judicial ethics guidance and that “at no time have attendees been required to buy a book in order to attend an event.”

“Schools have occasionally invited Justice Sotomayor to take part in a program in which they select a book for an entire school or a freshman class, and the Justice gives a book talk,” the statement said. “When she is invited to participate in a book program, Chambers staff recommends the number of books based on the size of the audience so as not to disappoint attendees who may anticipate books being available at an event, and they will put colleges or universities in touch with the Justice’s publisher when asked to do so.”

A lure for money

Supreme Court justices insist that they cannot and do not participate in fundraising events. But the emails obtained by the AP show that the court’s definition of a fundraiser — an event that raises more than it costs or where guests are asked for contributions — excludes much of the work that typically goes into persuading a wealthy donor to cut a check.

That’s given schools wide latitude to court rich patrons.

clarence thomas official scotus portraitFor instance, ahead of a 2017 event with Justice Clarence Thomas, right, officials at McLennan Community College in Texas worked with the prominent conservative lawyer Ken Starr and his wife, Alice, to craft a guest list designed to reward school patrons and incentivize future contributions. In an interview, Starr’s widow called it “friendraising.”

In an email planning the event, the executive director of the college’s foundation wrote that she had thoughts about whom to invite “mainly because they are wealthy conservative Catholics who would align with Clarence Thomas and who have not previously given.”

Thomas isn’t the only one whose status as a justice has been leveraged by schools eager to capitalize with donors. Before Justice Elena Kagan, below left, visited the University of Colorado’s law school, one official suggested a “larger donor to staff ratio” for a 2019 dinner with her, emails show. Another event Elena Kagan O HRorganizer said the organizer was “open to suggestions about which VIP donors to cultivate relationships with.” A school spokesperson said the attendees weren’t asked for any donations connected to the event.

One official said it was hoped the events, which included donors, would “ultimately generate resources” for the university’s Humanities Advancement Board, which played a lead organizing role. As university officials devised a guest list, an alumni relations official wrote: “When you say $1M donors, please be sure to include our corporate donors at that level, too.”

In a statement, a court spokesperson said it “routinely asks event organizers to confirm that an event at which a Justice will speak is not a fundraiser, and it provides a definition of ‘fundraiser’ in order to avoid misunderstandings.” The spokesperson said justices have occasionally declined to attend events even after being told expressly that they were not fundraisers.

Political commingling

Visits to universities are promoted as academic in nature, but they also have facilitated encounters between justices and elected officials.

neil gorsuch headshotMonths after he was seated on the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, left, attended an event at the University of Kentucky with then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, hosted by a center to study the judiciary named after one of McConnell’s closest friends, a former mitch mcconnell2federal judge.

In 2020, after teaching a weeklong course at the University of Florida’s law school, Thomas extended his stay in the state to attend a gathering of the regional branch of the Federalist Society, where he was introduced with effusive praise by Gov. Ron DeSantis, with whom he also had a private dinner.

Thomas also attended a private dinner during a visit to the University of Texas at Tyler that was sponsored by a group of donors to then-Rep. Louie Gohmert. Six years later, Gohmert would spearhead a lawsuit that sought to empower Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election that Donald Trump lost.

A court spokesperson said: “Justices exercise caution in attending events that might be described as political in nature, following guidance in the Code of Conduct which cautions judges against engaging in political activity. Merely attending an event where an elected official might also be in attendance — such as several of the events described in your email — does not necessarily render the event impermissibly political in nature.”

No ethics code

Some of the conduct revealed by the AP likely would run afoul of ethics rules that cover officials in other branches of government as well as lower federal court judges.

July 8

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview: Supreme Court is not a court, but a modern version of the Committee of Public Safety (1792-1795) in the French Revolution! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, July 8, 2023. Committee boss Robespierre was called The Incorruptible, while many of today’s justices are thoroughly corrupt; Markey bill for four new justices plus a strict ethics code are just the beginning of needed measures; 2024 Democratic campaigns must demand rollback of unpopular decisions on abortion, gun safety, affirmative action, and voting rights; Time for minority to break Roberts lockstep; The absurdities of the website designer case; In outrageous overreach, another MAGA federal judge bans administration contact with social media firms;

NATO summit starts next Tuesday July 11, and should invite Ukraine to join once fighting stops, while redoubling military support; Richard Haass and pro-appeasement elements from Council on Foreign Relations–the Wall Street State Department–held April secret meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, violating US pledge not to discuss Ukraine without Ukrainians; Meeting also indicates pre-Prigozhin Russian weakness; CFR cannot comprehend how war could end through internal Russian political collapse, despite examples of World War I in February1917 and Afghanistan 1989;

RFK Jr.’s New Age campaign evokes myths of pre-1963 Golden Age, The Fall as mystical loss, and the corrupt fallen world; Paradise was Camelot, the Fall was JFK’s assassination, and the fallen world is ours of today; RFK’s campaign offers the Messianic vehicle for Paradise Regained, but should he fail, the last battle (aka Armageddon) looms; Close parallels with MAGA belief structure;

RFK’s radical subjectivism poses question of whether presidential choice depends on competence to govern, or whether a candidate’s role is to minister to the emotional needs of the base, confirming their frustrated beliefs about history, science, etc.; RFK not a Democrat.

July 6

JFK Facts, Commentary: How Many JFK Documents Remain Secret? Jefferson Morley, July 6, 2023. About 4,000 but the Mary Ferrell Foundation says we don't have a precise answer.

nara logoAfter President Biden’s June 30 announcement on JFK files, reporters have been calling the Mary Ferrell Foundation asking for basic some basic information. The National Archives claims that 99 percent of JFK files have been released but thousands remain redacted.
People want to know.
• Is the 99 percent figure accurate?
• How many JFK files did the president release?
• How many remain secret?
• How many documents is the CIA still sitting on? 

“That 99 percent figure is a throwaway number that sounds impressive to some audience perhaps,” said foundation president Rex Bradford in an email to the New York Times.
He went on:

My best guess is that the number of records with redactions is more like 4,000 or so, based on a number NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] put out earlier. But you’re right that there’s no way of verifying, no list of record numbers, no metadata update to allow it to be computed. Not to mention things like records and whole agencies which don’t even appear in the master spreadsheets of metadata nara has online. So it’s pretty mysterious where we’re at after what appears to be the “final drop.”

Bradford is the creator and webmaster of MaryFerrell.org, the internet’s largest collection of searchable JFK records. The foundation has posted these records and incorporated them into the JFK Database Explorer, an essential tool for journalists, students, and scholars interested in the events of November 1963.

July 3

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Commentary: When the Reptilian Brain Drives the Political Bus, Russ Baker, right, author, commentator and founder/publisher of the investigative project WhoWhatWhy, July 3, 2023. Politicians like Trump — and, more recently, russ bakerRFK Jr. — have mastered what it takes to tap into your reptilian brain.

Five percent of the people think; 10 percent of the people think they think; and the other 85 percent would rather die than think.

— Thomas A. Edison

The constant obsessing with Hunter Biden — as if this man matters, given the very real threats our society faces — what is that actually about? Well, more than mere tribalism or confirmation bias on the right. It’s symptomatic of a deeper and broader illness.

whowhatwhy logoTo find the answer to this mystery, we need to lift the lid on the human skull — and have a look at the wiring inside. By “wiring” I refer to a specific feature of anatomy that may provide at least part of the explanation: the reptilian brain. Carl Sagan described it well:

Deep inside the skull of every one of us there is something like a brain of a crocodile … which evolved tens of millions of years ago. … It is a major source of our moods and emotions. … On the outside, living in uneasy truce with the more primitive brains beneath, is the cerebral cortex [that part of the brain that thinks rationally]; civilization is a product of the cerebral cortex.

So, our civilized selves live in “uneasy truce” with our more primitive selves, an internal battle within each of us.

As a longtime analyst of historical and political events, I’m well aware of the odiousness of many establishment figures and policies. I’m also exquisitely sensitive to the dangers of co-opting carefully researched and extensively sourced work to support irrational and highly tendentious conclusions about life-and-death issues.

I see this phenomenon when I perpetually receive links to the same passed-around article or video from a range of people who insist that if I would only consider with an open mind the views of this or that self-proclaimed expert, I would come to see that everyone on the “other side” is dead wrong.

At first blush, these articles often make a kind of sense, at least on the surface, which is exactly why they achieve some degree of resonance. Yet, those buying into them seem oblivious to the wealth of other studies that have produced contradictory results.

Today, while the hard right and hard left are pounding the table — the world is going up in flames.

July 1

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview: “Not a normal court!” Corrupt and hated Supremes declare total class war on US Constitution and American people! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, July 1, 2023 (155:55 mins.). Outrageous rulings against abortion rights, gun safety, affirmative action, and student loan debt relief foreshadow extinction of MAGA fanatics in 2024!

Biden suggests adversity as admissions enhancement criterion less likely to be attacked by plutocratic Supremes, hinting at greater role for socioeconomic class;
Defense of crushing debt burden on Millennials and Gen Z is found nowhere in Constitution, and violates General Welfare clause and Natural Law generally; Action under Heroes’ Act struck down, but Higher Education Act or other statues may permit another try for debt relief in near future;

”Bidenomics” is shorthand for successful Hamiltonian dirigism and industrial policy to replace failed and discredited free trade, free market trickle-down economics and neo-liberalism; US has best GDP growth, lowest inflation, and most robust job creation in G-7;

  • But in RFK’s grotesque world, Biden is blamed for high court’s student debt fetish because he has not neutralized MAGAts! In News Nation town hall, RFK condemns US as provocateur leaving no alternative but invasion of Ukraine for peace-loving Putin, who supposedly acts in good faith; RFK breaks own Carteresque promise to always tell the truth; demands completion of Trump’s Wall and sealing of border, with immigration reform unattainable; Gun control and ban on AR-15s are impossible without consensus-also a Utopia; He won’t pledge to back Dem nominee and won’t criticize Trump; Obscurantist on public health, but wants legalization of psychedelics; RFK unworthy of debate and unfit for presidency;
  • Russia enters new Smuta, the Time of Troubles c. 1590-1620 when at least one third of population perished; Reports allege preparations for Putin assassination during motorcade crossing of Moskva River bridge en route to suburban palace;
  • Top Russian generals Surovikin and Gerassimov not seen in public, with Prigozhin nowhere to be found; Speculation about Putin’s doubles; US Army ATACMs ballistic missiles likely to be delivered to Ukraine;
  • Reasonable people must stop misnomering and euphemizing fascists and fanatics as ”conservatives”; Conservatives value precedent, tradition, custom, norms, and protocols, but today’s Supremes hold these in contempt; A distant sample of real jurisprudence: If Goverment policy on vital questions affecting the whole people is irrevocably fixed by Supreme Court decisions made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will cease to be their own rulers, having resigned their Government to that tribunal.-Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural, March 4, 1861 in Washington DC.

 

June

June 24

 

daniel ellsberg umass

Going Deep with Russ Baker! Daniel Ellsberg: Remembering a Gentle Giant, Russ Baker, right, author, commentator and founder/publisher of the investigative project WhoWhatWhy, June 24, 2023. A few things you might not know about the Pentagon russ bakerPapers whistleblower.

The last time I saw Dan Ellsberg (shown above in a University of Massachusetts photo) was at a journalism conference a few months back. I was there and he was on the screen remotely.

whowhatwhy logoIt was just him, and his fellow whistleblower Reality Winner, speaking with the attendees about what it’s like to take great risks in service of the public good.

Although the audience was journalists, who have been important allies of Ellsberg throughout his life, he was, characteristically, blunt. He criticized our tendency to use sources and discard them. Because of the authenticity and heartfelt nature of the critique, it seemed like everyone took what he said as true. Personally, I couldn’t help but roar my approval.

That was April 29. He knew he only had a few months left at most because of his fast-spreading pancreatic cancer. By June 16, he was dead.

****

Dan Ellsberg first came on my radar when I was a child, long before he was well known as the nation’s most famous whistleblower from the unprecedented Pentagon Papers case, in which he’d smuggled out of the Pentagon a massive report showing that the government was lying to the public about how the costly and bloody Vietnam War was going.

Growing up in Los Angeles, I attended the same experimental elementary school as his children. His daughter, Mary, was my classmate.

One day, for “show and tell,” Mary brought a beautiful doll from Vietnam. As I recall, she said something like, “My dad is a secret agent in Vietnam.”

It was a long journey, from gung-ho Marine and intelligence analyst to peace campaigner.

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic News Overview with Reform Agenda: Insurrection of Wagner mercenary army in Russia: Will the Russian front in Ukraine now webster tarpley 2007collapse, possibly leading to fall of Putin? Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, June 24, 2023 (120:39 mins.). Prigozhin claims his forces were hit with missiles by Shoigu and Gerassimov, causing heavy losses; Kremlin forced to issue denial on state television; Wagner HQ raided; Prigozhin claims he is approaching Rostov-on-Don at the head of a Wagner column;

Civil war may be near: Armored personnel carriers and tightening security on Moscow streets including at Kremlin and State Duma (parliament) and Rostov in southern Russia; FSB (KGB) issues indictment of Prigozhin, urges Wagner troops to arrest and detain him; Deputy Army Commander Surovikin tells Wagner to end uprising, but will other generals and units join?

Denying Putin’s theory, Prigozhin says there was no need to invade Ukraine in February 2022, accuses defense ministry of corruption and war profiteering; the Wages of Aggression;
How appeasement, defeatism, and anti-semitism ended the political career of of US Ambassador to London Joseph P. Kennedy in 1940;

How Garland, Monaco and Trump backers in the FBI delayed investigation of January 6 for a year and more; From ”Where’s the FBI?” to DC field office boss d’Antuono’s ”I’m not serving subpoenas on the frigging Willard” about infamous January 6 war room;

Instability in Russia confirms New Time of Troubles (1598-1603); Another precursor: 1682 mutiny of Streltsy (archers) regiments against Peter the Great: Boyars and army commanders lynched on charges of corruption;
Wall Street’s anti-FDR intrigue in 1933-1934 is called Morgan coup, not just Business Plot;

Breaking: Russia complains Ukraine is exploiting Prigozhin rebellion by attacking Bakhmut-Artyomovsk, where Wagner has left front lines.

June 21

samuel alito frowing uncreditedwashington post logoWashington Post, ProPublica asked about Alito’s travel. He replied in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Farhi, June 21, 2023. Questioned about an undisclosed fishing trip hosted by a GOP billionaire, the Supreme Court justice instead shared his rebuttal in a rival media outlet — before the investigative journalists could publish their scoop.

pro publica logoSupreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., shown above in a file photo, took issue with questions raised by the investigative journalism outlet ProPublica about his travel with a politically active billionaire, and on Tuesday evening, he outlined his defense in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal.

Yet Alito was responding to a news story that ProPublica hadn’t yet published.

Alito’s Journal column, bluntly headlined “ProPublica Misleads Its Readers,” was an unusual public venture by a Supreme Court justice into the highly opinionated realm of a newspaper editorial page. And it drew criticism late Tuesday for effectively leaking elements of ProPublica’s still-in-progress journalism — with the assistance of the Journal’s editorial-page editors.

An editor’s note at the top of Alito’s column said that ProPublica reporters Justin Elliott and Josh Kaplan had sent a series of questions to Alito last week and asked for a response by Tuesday at noon. The editor’s note doesn’t mention that ProPublica hadn’t yet published its story — nor that Alito did not provide his answers directly to ProPublica.

June 18

 

rfk jr twitterGoing Deep With Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: If Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Were President, How Safe Would We Be? Russ Baker, right, author, commentator and founder/publisher of the investigative project WhoWhatWhy, June 18, russ baker2023. A dream for some, a nightmare for others.

Since I published what so far is a series of five columns exploring RFK Jr.’s positions and claims, almost the entirety of the media, it seems, has jumped in, each offering another variation on why you wouldn’t want this guy anywhere near the White House. Most have stuck to a general recitation of his well-cataloged history of controversies, and the pros and cons of having the Kennedy name.

There are certainly some pros. First off, we should all remember the Robert F. Kennedy Jr., shown above, of his early years. When he was not engaging in foolhardy personal behavior, he was trying to be a good citizen, doing praiseworthy work to promote environmental consciousness and oppose large corporations’ subversion of government oversight, among other good deeds.

That was then; this is now. He seems to have changed, in many ways, and not for the better. He’s hardly the only person who has gotten worse — much worse — over the years. Sadly, the debasement of lofty principles and the degradation of the discourse is a trend.

Still, I’ve seen few media drill-downs into his core beliefs, or detailed scrutiny of the claims he’s made that are either scientifically dicey or simply false — which has thus far been my principal focus.

And there’s something else I haven’t yet seen: a rumination on what it would actually be like if he, against all odds, actually won.

June 17

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and Reform Agenda: Twice-indicted Trump faces gauntlet of more charges and trials that will end his reign webster tarpley 2007as sentimental favorite of GOP, Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, June 17, 2023 (134:10 mins.).  Defendant is incorrigible, demands return of papers; Slow disintegration of Trump political machine ongoing as backlash against MAGA boss builds on Hill & among presidential field; Vigilance and scrutiny needed to deter lawless actions by Florida district judge now handling case; Legal positivism remains curse of US judiciary;

Michael Cohen theorizes that scattered document hoard and copies could be used to extort US government and escape punishment;

MAGA insiders’ clique plans totalitarian perversion of US justice and police agencies if their man ever returns to power;

Ukraine launches offensive phase with reconnaissance and battlefield shaping probes; Invincible Russian hypersonic missiles prove highly vulnerable; Melitopol axis will be crucial; Milley sees ”steady progress” in arduous battles; Gen. Hodges says main offensive will entail spearhead of three or more armored brigades; Beware voices of defeatism and appeasement backed by Kremlin;

The pathos of African leaders deprived of grain visiting Kyiv under rocket fire from the criminal aggressor Putin who tell Zelensky ”both sides” must sacrifice for peace;

Biden’s Pacific diplomacy in high gear: Blinken en route to China, Modi of India expected in Washington; Sullivan of NSC meets with Japanese, South Korean, and Philippine reps in Tokyo;
China’s Xi is failing on multiple fronts: population is shrinking & workforce aging, foreign companies and research teams departing, economy and exports slowing, and regime’s only answer comes as threats to India and Taiwan;

Weissman sees 100% certainty of additional federal criminal charges against Trump!

New York Times, A Year After Dobbs, Advocates Plan to Fight for Access to Birth Control

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year After Dobbs, Advocates Plan to Fight for Access to Birth Control, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 17, 2023. After Justice Clarence Thomas cast doubt on whether the Constitution affords a right to contraception, advocates are preparing for state-by-state battles.

One year after Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court should reconsider whether the Constitution affords Americans a right to birth control, Democrats and reproductive rights advocates are laying the groundwork for state-by-state battles over access to contraception — an issue they hope to turn against Republicans in 2024.

The justice’s argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion, galvanized the reproductive rights movement. House Democrats, joined by eight Republicans, promptly passed legislation that would have created a national right to contraception. Republicans blocked a companion bill in the Senate.

Now, reproductive rights advocates are pressing their case in the states. Even before Dobbs, some states had taken steps to protect the right to contraception, by either statute or constitutional amendment; 13 states and the District of Columbia currently have such protections, according to KFF, a health policy research organization.

This month, the movement seemed on the cusp of victory in Nevada, where the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a bill, with support from a handful of Republicans, that would have guaranteed a right to contraception. But on Friday, Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, quietly vetoed the measure. Proponents of codifying such a right saw Nevada as a test case.

June 11

Going Deep, Investigative Commentary: Fog of War: A Whole New Scenario for Nord Stream Bombing? Russ Baker, right, June 11, 2023. Very little can be taken at face russ bakervalue — not documents, not claims, not supposedly trustworthy sources.

The finger-pointing about the destruction last year of Russia’s Nord Stream natural gas pipelines is getting pointier. And, by my reading, the matter grows yet more intrigue-filled.

As you may recall, in my column of March 4, 2023, I expressed skepticism about Seymour Hersh’s exclusive and highly controversial report from a purported intelligence insider — who stated that the bombing was a United States government operation. Since then, The Washington Post has reported that, no, it was actually a Ukrainian operation.

Having covered the machinations of intelligence apparatuses and White Houses on highly sensitive matters for many years, I’m naturally wary of all these scoops. It’s just as likely that we’re all missing larger agendas that are in play.

The truth, whatever it is, may not be known for years — if ever. However, I want to propose the eminently logical possibility that, in fact, it was a Ukrainian operation, but one helped, on a highly deniable basis, by the United States.

This would be, for both players, a win-win: The US helps Ukraine, keeps away from any sort of direct conflict with Russia, and Ukraine gets seen, eventually, and despite its denials, as a decisive, capable, and muscular entity that the world — and Russia — better not underestimate.

June 10

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: Trump indictment makes June 8-9 a glorious rebirth of freedom in fight to prevent fascist dictatorship in 2024! Webster webster tarpley 2007G. Tarpley, right, author and strategic reformer, June 10, 2023 (120 mins.). Trump charged with 37 criminal felony counts in greatest reckoning of his lifetime; charges include illegal retention of 31 documents in violation of 1917 Espionage Act, conspiracy to promulgate false statements, obstruction of justice, and dissemination of secrets as papers were shown to random visitors; Hapless body man Walt Nauta also accused;

US national security and armed forces imperiled owing to lawless hoarding of state secrets; Majority of damning evidence comes from Don’s own lawyers and employees in form of emails, texts, tapes, and memos;

VI Amendment considerations of venue have dictated transfer of case to south Florida, but role of pro-MAGA renegade judge Aileen Cannon is threat to United States and must be rejected;

South Florida federal bench runs rocket docket along lines of Alexandria, Virginia-which could deprive Don of his most potent weapon of delay;

Orgy of whataboutism in reactionary media cannot hide Trump’s lack of any elements for a coherent defense in face of overwhelming evidence; Will he attempt a plea bargain in extremis, including ending his White House bid on model of Agnew in 1973?

Putin has staked his hopes of conquest on Trump’s second term; So, as Trump’s chances decline, the power of Russian aggression also diminishes;

The essence of globalization has been the catastrophic ascendancy of the predatory financier oligarchy over the modern nation state; The current twilight of globaloney is likely to enhance the role of the state! Indictments met by mass indifference, with no spontaneous riots or general strikes to protest, protest, protest!

June 9

 

djt confidential markings

djt indicted proof

The warrant authorizing the search of former president Donald Trump’s home said agents were seeking documents possessed in violation of the Espionage Act.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Unseals Indictment Against Trump, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, June 9, 2023. Federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment Federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment laying out the government’s case against former President Donald J. Trump on Friday, detailing their allegations that he mishandled classified documents after leaving office and obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim them.

Jack Smith, the special counsel who is bringing the case, made a brief statement to the press on Friday at his office in Northeast Washington at 3 p.m., his spokesman said. laying out the government’s case against former President Donald J. Trump on Friday, detailing their allegations that he mishandled classified documents after leaving office and obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim them.

The indictment gives the clearest picture yet of the files that Mr. Trump took with him when he left the White House. It said he had illegally kept hold of documents concerning “United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”

The indictment names one of his personal aides, Waltine Nauta, as a co-conspirator who assisted in obstructing the investigation into the former president’s retention of sensitive defense documents at his resident and resort in Florida.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Trump shared a highly sensitive “plan of attack” against Iran to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. in July 2021 — and was recorded on tape describing the material as “highly confidential” and “secret,” while it admitting it had not been declassified.

In another incident in Sept, 2021 he shared a top secret military map with a staffer at his political action committee who did not have a security clearance.

The filing includes many pictures of what appear to be bankers’ boxes, some containing highly sensitive national documents, which were haphazardly moved by Mr. Nauta and other aides at Mr. Trump’s behest. Some of the boxes appear to be sagging — and on Dec. 7, 2021 Mr. Nauta found that one of the boxes had toppled and spilled its contents on the floor.

The files that splayed on the carpet included the designation “SECRET/REL TO USA, FVEY” — which meant that they were meant to be seen by officials from the U.S., U.K. New Zealand and Australia with high-level security clearances.

Mr. Trump is expected to appear in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Judge Aileen M. Cannon is scheduled to preside over that initial hearing, according to people familiar with the matter. It was not clear whether Judge Cannon, who was criticized by a higher court for handing Mr. Trump a series of unusually favorable rulings during the early stages of the investigation, would remain assigned for the entirety of the case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump charged in secret documents case, He is the first former president to face federal criminal charges, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, June 9, 2023. The charges include willful retention of national defense secrets, obstruction of justice, false statements and conspiracy, which carry the potential of years in prison if he is found guilty. Trump will appear in federal court in Miami for an arraignment on Tuesday.

Former president Donald Trump said Thursday night that he’s been charged by the Justice Department in connection with the discovery that hundreds of classified documents were taken to his Mar-a-Lago home after he left the White House — a seismic event in the nation’s political and legal history.

A seven-count indictment has been filed in federal court naming the former president as a criminal defendant, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a case that has yet to be unsealed. The charges include willful retention of national defense secrets, obstruction of justice and conspiracy, which carry the potential of years in prison if Trump is found guilty.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump, indicted over classified document handling, must appear in federal court, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman and John Wagner, June 9, 2023. Trump, who is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, will appear in federal court in Miami for an arraignment on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Former president Donald Trump is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Miami on Tuesday in connection with a criminal investigation that found hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida after he left the presidency.

Trump, who is again seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has been indicted on seven charges, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post, including willful retention of national defense secrets, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump can still run for president in 2024 after being indicted twice, Perry Stein, March 30, 2023, updated June 8, 2023. Though a former president has never been convicted of a crime, even that wouldn’t bar Trump from running again. And some advisers think the indictments could be a good thing for his campaign.

Even a guilty verdict in either of the cases pending against him would not disqualify Trump’s bid for office, according to Anna G. Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School, or keep him from serving if he were elected.

“There are actually not that many constitutional requirements to run for president,” Cominsky said. “There is not an explicit prohibition in the Constitution in respects to having a pending indictment or even being convicted.”

2016 Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during their third debate in 2016 at a time they were accusing each other of being a

2016 Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during their third debate in 2016 at a time they were accusing each other of being a "puppet" following many weeks in which Trump and his allies led rallies chanting "lock her up" regarding Clinton.

ny times logoNew York Times, Indictment Brings Trump Story Full Circle, Peter Baker, June 9, 2023 (print ed.). Former President Trump assailed Hillary Clinton for her handling of sensitive information. Now, the same issue threatens his chances in the 2024 election.

There was a time, not that long ago really, when Donald J. Trump said he cared about the sanctity of classified information. That, of course, was when his opponent was accused of jeopardizing it and it was a useful political weapon for Mr. Trump.

Throughout 2016, he castigated Hillary Clinton for using a private email server instead of a secure government one. “I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information,” he declared. “No one will be above the law.” Mrs. Clinton’s cavalier handling of the sensitive information, he said, “disqualifies her from the presidency.”

Seven years later, Mr. Trump faces criminal charges for endangering national security by taking classified documents when he left the White House and refusing to return all of them even after being subpoenaed. Even in the what-goes-around-comes-around department of American politics, it is rather remarkable that the issue that helped propel Mr. Trump to the White House in the first place now threatens to ruin his chances of getting back there.

The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury at the request of the special counsel Jack Smith effectively brings the Trump story full circle. “Lock her up,” the crowds at his campaign rallies chanted with his encouragement. Now he may be the one locked up if convicted on any of the seven reported counts that include conspiracy to obstruct justice and willful retention of documents.

The indictment is the second brought against the former president in recent months, but in many ways it eclipses the first in terms of both legal gravity and political peril. The first indictment, announced in March by the Manhattan district attorney, charged Mr. Trump with falsifying business records to cover up hush money to an adult film actress who alleged that they had a sexual tryst. The second is brought by a federal prosecutor representing the nation as a whole, the first in American history against a former president, and concerns the nation’s secrets.

While Mr. Trump’s defenders have tried to brush off the first as the work of a local elected Democrat concerning issues that, however unseemly, seem relatively petty and happened before he took office, the latest charges stem directly from his responsibility as the nation’s commander in chief to safeguard data that could be useful to America’s enemies.

Republican voters may not care if their leader slips money to a porn star to keep quiet, but will they be indifferent about impeding authorities seeking to recover clandestine material?

Perhaps. Mr. Trump certainly hopes so. The Manhattan indictment only seemed to boost his poll ratings rather than hurt him. And so he immediately cast the latest indictment as part of the most extravagant conspiracy in American history, one that in his telling seems to involve a wide range of local and federal prosecutors, grand jurors, judges, plaintiffs, regulators and witnesses who have all lied for years to set him up while he is the one truth teller, no matter what the charges.

“I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election,” he wrote on his social media site, making multiple misleading assertions in a single sentence. “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Times investigation went inside Mar-a-Lago, where thousands partied near secret files. (From 2022), Anjali Singhvi, Mika Gröndahl, Maggie Haberman, Weiyi Cai and Blacki Migliozzi, Dec. 15, 2022. A Times investigation shows how Donald J. Trump stored classified documents in high-traffic areas at Mar-a-Lago, where guests may have been within feet of the materials.

Mar-a-Lago is the primary home of former President Donald J. Trump. It is also a private club reserved for 500 members and a venue for parties and fund-raisers that are frequently attended by hundreds of people at a time.

ny times logoNew York Times, These are some of the charges Mr. Trump faces, Charlie Savage, June 9, 2023 (print ed.). Taking a look at what the prosecutors may have to prove to a jury. A grand jury has charged former President Donald J. Trump with a total of seven counts, according to two people familiar with the indictment.

While the precise details of all the charges are not yet clear, the people familiar with the matter said the charges include willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements.

Here is a closer look.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans in Congress are decrying the indictment, vowing retaliation, Luke Broadwater, June 9, 2023 (print ed.). House Republicans reacted with outrage on Thursday night to the federal indictment of former President Donald J. Trump, vowing to use their majority in Congress to fight the Justice Department.

“WITCH HUNT,” was posted on the Twitter account of the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee within minutes of news of the indictment becoming public.

The chairman of that panel, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, has used his perch to attempt to pressure the Justice Department over what he views as unfair treatment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Jordan this week sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding unredacted documents concerning the investigation of the special counsel, Jack Smith.

“It’s a sad day for America,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement on Thursday. “God bless President Trump.”

republican elephant logoMembers of Congress have no power to stop criminal charges, but they can attempt to interfere with prosecutors through their legislative powers, such as issuing subpoenas, demanding witness interviews or documents, restricting Justice Department funding and using the platform of their offices to attempt to publicly influence the case.

Several Republicans who are closely allied with Mr. Trump said, without evidence, that the indictment was an attempt to distract from their investigation into President Biden’s family, including his son Hunter’s business dealings. They made clear that they would target federal law enforcement in retaliation.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, said the case against Mr. Trump was a “stain on our nation that the F.B.I. and D.O.J. are so corrupt and they don’t even hide it anymore.” She added, “We must win in 2024. We must beat these sick people.”

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies, predicted that the former president would prevail against the charges, and that his rivals would be imprisoned.

“This scheme won’t succeed. President Donald Trump will be back in the White House and Joe Biden will be Hunter’s cellmate,” Mr. Gaetz wrote on Twitter.

It was the second time this year that House Republicans rallied to Mr. Trump’s defense after he was charged criminally. In April, Speaker Kevin McCarthy pledged to use the investigative powers of the House to hold Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, “accountable” after Mr. Trump was charged in New York with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Appointed by Trump Will Oversee Case, at Least Initially, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, June 9, 2023. aileen cannonJudge Aileen M. Cannon, right, who Mr. Trump appointed to the bench in 2020, is scheduled, for now, to preside over his first appearance in Federal District Court in Miami.

The Justice Department took the momentous step to file criminal charges against Donald Trump after an investigation of his handling of classified files; Mr. Trump’s indictment will be initially overseen by a federal judge who has been criticized for handing him unusually favorable rulings.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal indictment on charges stemming from his handling of classified documents will be overseen — at least initially — by a federal judge who a higher court criticized for handing him a series of unusually favorable rulings during the early stages of the investigation, according to five people familiar with the matter.

The judge, Aileen M. Cannon, who Mr. Trump himself appointed to the bench in 2020, his final year in office, is scheduled, at least for now, to preside over the former president’s first appearance in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday, the people said. But it was not clear whether Judge Cannon would remain assigned for the entirety of Mr. Trump’s case.

Judge Cannon’s involvement was earlier reported by ABC News.

While judges are typically given cases by a random process, it is also customary to hand incoming matters to judges who have dealt with related ones.

Last fall, Judge Cannon presided over an unusual and highly contentious legal battle between the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s lawyers over whether to pause the documents investigation so that an outside arbiter could review thousands of records seized by the F.B.I. from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.

Ruling for Mr. Trump, Judge Cannon effectively froze a significant portion of the government’s inquiry, barring prosecutors from using the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago for any “investigative purpose” connected to the case against Mr. Trump until the work of the arbiter, known as a special master, was finished.

An appeals court sitting in Atlanta ultimately overruled Judge Cannon, scrapped the special master’s review and allowed the investigation of Mr. Trump to resume unhindered.

In a sharply critical decision, a three-member panel of the appeals court said Judge Cannon never had the proper jurisdiction to intervene in the case and order the review. The court also chided her for stopping federal investigators from using the files seized from Mar-a-Lago, saying there was no justification for treating Mr. Trump differently from any other target of a search warrant.

“It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,” the court wrote.

the Trump drama play out without commenting, convinced that it is better they be seen as governing. Biden is about to leave the White House for a daylong visit to North Carolina, where he will visit a community college for an event on workforce training and, later, the Army base Fort Liberty, where he will meet with service members.

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump charged in secret documents case, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, June 9, 2023 (print ed.). Former president, shown above in a file photo and the first ever to face federal criminal charges, posts on social media that he must appear in court in Miami on Tuesday,  The former president posted on social media that he must appear in court in Miami on Tuesday.

Former president Donald Trump said Thursday night that he’s been charged by the Justice Department in connection with the discovery that hundreds of classified documents were taken to his Mar-a-Lago home after he left the White House — a seismic event in the nation’s political and legal history.

Several Trump advisers confirmed the charges. Trump, who is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said he has been summoned to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday at 3 p.m. A seven-count indictment has been filed in federal court naming the former president as a criminal defendant, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a case that has yet to be unsealed.

jack smith graphicThe charges include illegal retention of government secrets, obstruction of justice and conspiracy, according to people familiar with the matter. It is the second time Trump has been criminally charged since March, when he was indicted in state court in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments from 2016. Trump, who has denied wrongdoing in both cases, is the only former president ever charged with a crime.

“I have been indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump posted on social media site Truth Social. He claimed he was being treated unfairly. “I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States,” he said in a screed that ended: “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”

A spokesman for special counsel Jack Smith, who has been running the investigation since November, declined to comment.

The charges cap a high-stakes investigation that began in early 2022 and slowly built steam over the summer, until FBI agents conducted a court-ordered search of Trump’s home in early August which turned up 103 classified documents, even after Trump’s advisers had claimed they had conducted a diligent search in June for such papers and handed over all they could find.

In the months since that raid, investigators have been gathering evidence to determine whether the former president deliberately set out to obstruct law-enforcement efforts to recover the top-secret material at his Florida home and private club.

FBI logoMuch of the investigation centered around the actions of Trump and his closest advisers following a May subpoena from the government for the return of all documents with classified markings. Witness and videotape evidence gathered by the FBI indicated that Trump may have sought to keep documents, despite having turned over some material to authorities in response to the subpoena.

The Warning, Steve Schmidt compares recent attacks on Donald Trump from former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, June 8-9, 2023. Steve says that Christie's direct style is more likely to impact Donald Trump's ability to be the Republican nominee, which is important for the future of democracy.

June 8

The Warning, Steve Schmidt compares recent attacks on Donald Trump from former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, June 8-9, 2023. Steve says that Christie's direct style is more likely to impact Donald Trump's ability to be the Republican nominee, which is important for the future of democracy.

June 7

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

The Independent, Investigative Report: Prosecutors ready to ask for Trump indictment on obstruction and Espionage Act charges, Andrew Feinberg, June 7, 2023. The Independent has learned that prosecutors are prepared to ask grand jurors to vote on charges as early as Thursday

The Department of Justice is preparing to ask a Washington, DC grand jury to indict former president Donald Trump for violating the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice as soon as Thursday, adding further weight to the legal baggage facing Mr Trump as he campaigns for his party’s nomination in next year’s presidential election.

The Independent has learned that prosecutors are ready to ask grand jurors to approve an indictment against Mr Trump for violating a portion of the US criminal code known as Section 793, which prohibits “gathering, transmitting or losing” any “information respecting the national defence”.

The use of Section 793, which does not make reference to classified information, is understood to be a strategic decision by prosecutors that has been made to short-circuit Mr Trump’s ability to claim that he used his authority as president to declassify documents he removed from the White House and kept at his Palm Beach, Florida property long after his term expired on 20 January 2021.

That section of US criminal law is written in a way that could encompass Mr Trump’s conduct even if he was authorised to possess the information as president because it states that anyone who “lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document ...relating to the national defence,” and “willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it” can be punished by as many as 10 years in prison.

It is understood that prosecutors intend to ask grand jurors to vote on the indictment on Thursday, but that vote could be delayed as much as a week until the next meeting of the grand jury to allow for a complete presentation of evidence, or to allow investigators to gather more evidence for presentation if necessary.

A separate grand jury that is meeting in Florida has also been hearing evidence in the documents investigation. That grand jury was empaneled in part to overcome legal issues posed by the fact that some of the crimes allegedly committed by Mr Trump took place in that jurisdiction, not in Washington. Under federal law, prosecutors must bring charges against federal defendants in the jurisdiction where the crimes took place.

 

mark meadows with cell

Meidas Touch Network, Breaking: DOJ Prepared to INDICT Trump as Meadows Makes STUNNING Move, June 7, 2023. MeidasTouch host Ben Meiselas reports on the breaking news that Special Counsel Jack Smith is ready to indict Donald Trump as early as this week and that Mark Meadows, the former Trump chief of staff shown above in a file photo, has agreed to plead guilty to several federal charges as part of a deal he has already received for limited immunity in exchange for his testimony.

June 3

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Roundup and Pro-Democracy Commentary: In masterpiece of statesmanship, Biden steers US away from abyss of chaos and webster tarpley 2007default fomented by MAGA extremists! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, June 3, 2023 (113:51 mins). Failure of Trump’s policy of default reflects growing weakness of Republicans and isolation of extremist ”Freedom Caucus” fanatics; Jeffries and Schumer keep Dems largely unified in support of Biden-Qevin bill except for some ultra-left defections;

Majority of GOP senators vote against bill lifting ”debt ceiling” for 2 years, showing that their party is a chaos agent incapable of governing;
Newly revealed July 2021 tape of Trump brandishing classified Iran war plan to discredit Gen. Milley leads Weissman to call ”game over” for former guy and expect indictment within two weeks; Talk of Espionage Act grows;

Fani Willis may expand Georgia case against Trump to include companies hired by his campaign to prove vote fraud in swing states but who found none; RICO allegations could loom; Ominous pattern of reverses for former guy on legal front;

Drone attacks on Moscow suburbs and Krasnodar oil refineries plus border attacks by anti-Putin Russian militias indicate start of Ukraine counterattack; Blinken in Kyiv warns against ”Potemkin” cease fire or peace deal with Putin; At European summit in Moldova, Macron backs NATO membership for Ukraine; Pressure on Turkey to approve Swedish membership before July 11 NATO summit.

 

 rfk jr twitter

 Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: More Indications RFK Jr’s Anti Vaccine Claims Have Little Basis, Russ Baker, right, June 3, 2023. Russ whowhatwhy logoruss bakerBaker, founder and publisher of the investigative site WhoWhatWhy, is a longtime media critic, investigative reporter and researcher on historical topics, including as author of the best-selling "Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years."

At a time when disinformation and narrow-mindedness are at an all-time high, the last thing we need is a purported “reform” candidate who contributes to the mess.

Although COVID-19 numbers are down in the US, they are soaring in China — and we know well enough from history that as goes China, so may go the rest of the world. Therefore, it’s not a good time to just thank our lucky stars and move on. And that means we still need to achieve consensus on the threat and what to do about it.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Most people believe that the medical and scientific establishment did the best they could with an unanticipated emergency, that they made mistakes but learned along the way.

And most people remember how it was. Not so long ago, hospitals were bursting at the seams with patients deathly ill with COVID-19. As soon as one died, another was brought in. Freezer trucks were parked outside the hospitals, containing piles of bodies with nowhere to go for burial. Victims of other emergencies — car accidents, heart attacks, strokes — were being sent away in ambulances driven by desperate EMT workers who didn’t know where to go next. The public was crying out for a vaccine.

rfk jr mouth openBut not everyone seems to remember why a COVID-19 vaccine became necessary. There’s a small but loud minority who seem to have forgotten.They’re the base for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign, which drew 20 percent of Democratic voters in a recent CNN poll. He almost certainly can’t win, but he can be a potent factor, and maybe a distraction at an inflection point in what is shaping up as an epic battle for the future of America and the world.

As noted in previous columns, I find Kennedy (shown above and at left) a bit slippery in terms of what he says about COVID-19 and vaccines. That seems a glaring deficiency given that Kennedy is ostensibly running to mitigate a lack of forthrightness and honesty among politicians.

I’ve also noticed, based on comments from his supporters, that their skepticism about the trustworthiness of the US medical establishment often extends to the US establishment in general — which they accuse of nefarious meddling in almost everything, including the endless tragedy in Ukraine.

They are infatuated by the notion that Kennedy will “unwind the empire” — as if at this particular point in history, when US power is receding, that is nevertheless more urgent than solving climate change and ensuring that humanity survives.

They lecture me, they chastise me, they say I have lost my way, or perhaps am a traitor and covert operative for big pharma, and some explicitly grouse that I was never the critical-eyed investigative reporter and resolute truth-seeker they thought I was.

So for my own sanity I’ve had to hit the mute button quite a bit lately. To be totally frank, the more I look into their assertions the more I conclude these folks don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

I also am increasingly identifying a sort of core gene, an almost reptilian-brain instinct from being in the trenches so long against an admittedly flawed US system and “empire” — a perspective so calcified and lacking in open-mindedness that all situational discernment and fair-mindedness is out the window.

It’s the Left version of a disease sweeping the country. Mindset drives everything. As a result, like Fox and Newsmax viewers, these Bobby Kennedy Jr. acolytes trust a small set of “sources” that they actually know little about.

As noted, I’ve explored many of Kennedy’s claims on various subjects, and found them to be shoddy or downright incorrect. But his supporters — much like Trump’s — will forgive almost anything, due to some “larger principle.” I’ve actually seen some writing off gross mischaracterizations as, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Still, they continue to send links, and videos, and articles, dismissing the millions of scientific and healthcare professionals with whom they disagree. But I keep remembering the old saying: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And they don’t present such evidence — not even solid ordinary evidence, let alone extraordinary. Before I put a pin in this topic, I will briefly discuss one final request, which comes from a friend of long standing.

 

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

 NOTE: This week RFK Jr. excitedly tweeted that Fox News had made a documentary about him, and Elon Musk has offered him a one-on-one discussion on Twitter. The Republicans cannot wait to inflict him on Biden. Those who care neither about the accuracy of his COVID-19 claims nor about the consequences of his candidacy as a lobbed grenade in a moment of great peril must bear some personal responsibility for where this all could go. As someone just wrote to me on Twitter, “I wonder when critical thinking died in this country.”

May

May 27

World Crisis Radio, Commentary and Advocacy: House MAGA fanatics strive for US default and national bankruptcy to trigger world economic depression, weaken Biden, and enable Trump’s 2024 push for dictatorship! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, May 27, 2023 (131:03 mins.). MAGA ideologues from Trump to Chip Roy demand cataclysmic default;

It is past time for Biden to announce a return to Constitutional government in the form of the Fourteenth Amendment, setting aside the illegal debt ceiling based on the vestigial 1917 Liberty Bond Act, which Congress intended to accelerate borrowing during the World War I emergency; The post-1974 federal budget law is its own ceiling and its own floor, telling the president exactly what to spend; If default occurs, GOP fantasies of paying bondholders and stiffing pensioners will be ruled out as a line item veto and by the anti-Nixon Impoundment Control Act, so no ”prioritization.”

The many misfortunes of Il Ducetto;

Right-wing anti-Putin Russian militias mount large-scale raid into Belgorod, signalling start of new edition of Russia’s Time of Troubles (1598-1613);
Warmer weather in southern Ukraine brings season for military operations;

Time for a drastic upvaluation of the Lincoln-era Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens, the architect of the greenbacks, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment-which is the key to the current crisis;

The Succession series, a realistic portrait of the depraved oligarchs dominating a Hobbesian society during late globalization: An owl of Minerva for this moribund era, marred mainly by dialogue of relentless banality and obscenity;

In defense of Amanda Gorman and her inauguration ode, a fine American document of patriotism, optimism, and unity;

Ukraine and default are iambic, not trochaic! Breaking: Ukraine’s National Security & Defense Council Director Danilov tells BBC everything is ready for counterattack; says Wagner is redeploying.

May 26

 

stewart rhodes djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Is Sentenced to 18 Years in Jan. 6 Sedition Case, Alan Feuer, May 26, 2023 (print ed.). The sentence for Stewart Rhodes was the longest so far in the federal investigation of the attack and the first issued to a defendant convicted of sedition.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison for his conviction on seditious conspiracy charges for the role he played in helping to mobilize the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The sentence, handed down in Federal District Court in Washington, was the most severe penalty so far in the more than 1,000 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack — and the first to be increased for fitting the legal definition of terrorism.

It was also the first to have been given to any of the 10 members of the Oath Keepers and another far-right group, the Proud Boys, who were convicted of sedition in connection with the events of Jan. 6.

For Mr. Rhodes, 58, the sentence was the end of a tumultuous and unusual career that included Army service, a stint on Capitol Hill and a law degree from Yale. His role as the Oath Keepers’ founder and leader thrust him into the spotlight and will now send him to prison for what is likely to be the better part of his remaining days.

At a dramatic, nearly four-hour hearing, Judge Amit P. Mehta chided Mr. Rhodes for seeking for years through his leadership of the Oath Keepers to have American democracy “devolve into violence.”

“You, sir,” Judge Mehta went on, directly addressing the defendant, “present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country, to the Republic and the very fabric of our democracy.”

As the hearing opened, prosecutors urged Judge Mehta to sentence Mr. Rhodes to 25 years in prison, arguing that accountability was needed for the violence at the Capitol and that American democracy was on the line.

Kathryn L. Rakoczy, one of the lead prosecutors in the case, told Judge Mehta that Mr. Rhodes had been calling for attacks against the government for more than a decade and that his role in the Jan. 6 attack was part of a longstanding pattern.

The Oath Keepers leader, Ms. Rakoczy said, exploited his talents and influence to goad his followers into rejecting the results of the 2020 election and ultimately mobilized them into storming the Capitol in two separate military-style “stacks” in a violent effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in office.

“It is conduct that threatened — and continues to threaten — the rule of law in the United States,” she said.

Ms. Rakoczy also noted that Mr. Rhodes had shown no remorse for undermining the lawful transition of power and continued to advocate political violence. Just four days ago, she said, Mr. Rhodes gave an interview from jail, repeating the lie that the election had been marred by fraud and asserting that the government was “coming after those on the political right.”

“It’s not going to stop until it’s stopped,” Mr. Rhodes said during the interview, adding that the country needed “regime change.”

As if to prove the government’s point, Mr. Rhodes — in an orange prison smock and his trademark black eye patch — gave a defiant address to the court, blaming the news media for demonizing the Oath Keepers for leading the Capitol attack. He also compared himself to the Soviet-era dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and to the beleaguered main character in the Kafka novel “The Trial.”

“I am a political prisoner,” Mr. Rhodes said.

The hearing opened a week of sentencing proceedings for eight other members of the Oath Keepers who were convicted at two separate trials — in November and January — of charges that included not only seditious conspiracy but also the obstruction of a congressional proceeding to certify the 2020 election. One of Mr. Rhodes’ deputies, Kelly Meggs, who once led the group’s Florida chapter, was set to be sentenced later on Thursday.

The process for sentencing all the defendants began on Wednesday, when some police officers and congressional staff members testified about the horror they experienced on Jan. 6.

Several spoke through tears on the witness stand, describing lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt, particularly after many of their colleagues resigned and some died by suicide in the months after the attack.

“I am an introverted, depressed shell of my former self,” said Harry Dunn, a Capitol Police officer who encountered members of the Oath Keepers in the Capitol rotunda. When Mr. Dunn referred to the officers who were injured on Jan. 6 as “real oath keepers,” he shot an angry glance toward Mr. Rhodes and other members of the group in the courtroom.

In court papers filed this month, prosecutors dwelled on the importance of severely punishing Mr. Rhodes and his subordinates, stating that the acceptance of political violence was on the rise in the United States and that lengthy prison terms were needed to serve as a deterrent against future unrest.

“As this court is well aware, the justice system’s reaction to Jan. 6 bears the weighty responsibility of impacting whether Jan. 6 becomes an outlier or a watershed moment,” the prosecutors wrote. “Left unchecked, this impulse threatens our democracy.”

In court on Thursday, prosecutors persuaded Judge Mehta to increase Mr. Rhodes’ sentence by arguing that his repeated calls for violence against the government and his plan to stage an arsenal of weapons outside Washington in case of an emergency on Jan. 6 should be punished as an act of terrorism.

“This wasn’t blowing up a building,” Ms. Rakoczy said. But “organizing an armed force” and advocating “bloody civil war” came “pretty close,” she said.

The government had asked to apply the terrorism enhancement in four previous Jan. 6 cases, but judges — including Judge Mehta — had denied the requests each time.

From the outset of the hearing, Mr. Rhodes’ lawyers — Phillip Linder and James L. Bright — were constrained in their efforts to ask for leniency, unable to fully claim that Mr. Rhodes was remorseful or no longer presented a threat to the government, knowing that his stemwinder statement to the court was coming.

May 25

 

Richard “Bigo” Barnett in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Barnett was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Wednesday Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Richard “Bigo” Barnett in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Barnett was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 (Agence France-Presse photo Saul Loeb via Getty Images). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Rioter Who Reclined in Pelosi’s Office Given Sentence of More Than 4 Years, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, May 25, 2023 (print ed.). Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who was pictured with his foot on a desk in the speaker’s office, had been convicted of eight crimes for his role in the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters.

On Arkansas man who became notorious for putting his foot on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the attack on the Capitol by supporters of President Donald J. Trump was sentenced on Wednesday to four and a half years in prison.

The man, Richard “Bigo” Barnett, was found guilty at a trial in January of eight criminal offenses, including interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder and obstructing the certification of the 2020 election that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

After deliberating for less than three hours, a jury in Federal District Court in Washington rejected Mr. Barnett’s testimony that he had ended up in Ms. Pelosi’s office suite while looking for a bathroom and that the 950,000-volt stun gun he was carrying that day was not working.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Mr. Barnett, 63, arrived at the Capitol “prepared for violence” and intending to stop Mr. Trump from leaving office after losing the 2020 election.

In court papers filed before the sentencing hearing, prosecutors accused Mr. Barnett of seeking to profit from his case by selling autographed photos of himself leaning back with his foot on a desk in Ms. Pelosi’s office and by considering seeking copyright protections for an obscene note he left Ms. Pelosi that day, reading in part, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here.”
Understand the Events on Jan. 6

On Wednesday, prosecutors sought to emphasize the lasting scars inflicted by the rioters. They cited Emily Berret, a staff member for Ms. Pelosi who recalled that of eight colleagues who were trapped inside the speaker’s office when the mob first overwhelmed the Capitol, six exited public service shortly thereafter.

Prosecutors also accused Mr. Barnett of lying several times in testimony during his trial, adding that he showed “brazen disrespect for every form of authority he encountered.”

“Barnett recognizes no authority but himself and is willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get what he wants,” the prosecutors wrote, “even if it requires harming others, stealing or breaking the law.”

Just before issuing the sentence, Judge Christopher Cooper said he was dismayed by the way Mr. Barnett had sought to cash in on his notoriety.

“You’re 63 years old; you’re too old for this nonsense,” he said. “But for better or worse you have become one of the faces of Jan. 6, and I think you enjoy it.”

Mr. Barnett was among the first defendants arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 assault and quickly became one of the best-known rioters, along with figures like Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman, who stormed the building in a horned helmet and was later sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Mr. Barnett has also frequently and vocally criticized the Justice Department for overreaching in its efforts to investigate the Capitol attack. He has also accused the police officers who defended lawmakers that day of instigating the assault on the building by using what he has described as excessive force.

His lawyers, Jonathan Gross and Bradford Geyer, had asked Judge Cooper to sentence Mr. Barnett to only one year in prison and to give him credit for the nearly four months he spent behind bars before his trial. The lawyers said in court papers that Mr. Barnett still believed the police used a “disproportionate response” during the attack.

“Mr. Barnett is outspoken about his political views and has attended dozens of rallies in his life, but was always peaceful, never violent,” the lawyers wrote.

More than 480 people have been sentenced so far in connection with the Capitol attack, and about 275 are serving at least some time in prison, Justice Department officials say. The terms have ranged from a high of 14 years to only days behind bars.

May 24

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Proof, Investigative Commentary on The Trump Trials, Vol. 15: New Indictments Now Expected; NYC Criminal Trial Date Set; a Finding of Sexual Abuse and seth abramson graphicDefamation, Seth Abramson, left, May 24, 2023. This new Proof series—authored by a longtime criminal defense attorney and leading Trump biographer—will unpack recent events in the historic trials of disgraced former president Donald Trump.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith is said to be wrapping up the significantly easier part of his two-part remit—the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents probe—and according to the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump and his lawyers expect the former president to be indicted. You can read about this here.

seth abramson proof logoApparently Trump and his counsel are now so certain he’s about to be indicted—potentially for Obstruction of Justice but maybe also, now, given the evidence Smith has that Trump well knew that he could not legally take the documents, under the even-more-serious Espionage Act—that they have made an extraordinary request to meet in private with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

This request is certain to go nowhere, as it would constitute unprecedented interference by Main Justice in the work of one of its special counsels (albeit just the sort of interference Trump eagerly sought from his own DOJ when he was president) and because it includes in its sole paragraph a wholly baseless claim that the famously independent and nonpartisan Smith is in fact some sort of Democratic Party operative, but it does underscore that if Trump were still President of the United States this would be the moment that he’d fire Smith in the same way he repeatedly tried to fire Robert Mueller during the Trump-Russia investigation.

What is so stunning about the current situation is that with Trump already under dozens of felony indictments in Manhattan; with the near-certainty that he’ll soon face federal felonies in D.C. for stealing (and possibly seeking to profit from) classified documents from the White House; with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis apparently planning to indict Trump in August on state felonies; with Smith currently widening rather than narrowing down his second-stage federal criminal investigation into Trump (the one involving January 6); and with Trump himself making sure that his Sexual Abuse and Defamation trial will continue to be in the news for the rest of this year and next (see below), we’re looking at a presidential candidate who’ll be in more civil and criminal legal trouble by far than any candidate in American history.

Indeed, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis readies himself to announce his candidacy tonight (Wednesday, May 24, 2023) in a Twitter Spaces event with white supremacist Elon Musk, it is clearer than ever before that DeSantis does not expect to beat Trump so much as expect him to eventually be forced out of the 2024 campaign by outside forces.

May 20

World Crisis Radio, Commentary and Advocacy: Biden must ride groundswell of legal and political support for Fourteenth Amendment to end MAGA debt ceiling extortion forever! Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, author and historian, May 20, 2023 (130:51 mins). Eleven Senate Democrats urge Biden to master crisis using 1868 measure that outlaws default, the fruit of vast sacrifices to save the Union;

House discharge petition reaches 210 signatures, eight short of the 218 needed to force a floor vote; What’s wrong with renegade Maine Democrat Jared Golden?; Contact GOP congressmen to urge them to put the nation over their moribund party and sign up;

AOC shows that Qevin [Kevin McCarthy, with the QAnon preface] does not have the votes to pass any budget deal through House due to extremist defections, but would need an unreachable 50 to 100 Dems to maintain fiction that he is Speaker; Democrats’ clean bill would need fewer than 10 votes from GOP, so who needs Qevin?;

G7 hiroshima summit country namesAt Hiroshima G-7, Biden meets with Quad, okays allied F-16 training program for Ukraine; Patriot missiles from three nations help defend Kiev airspace;

Poll gives Biden 7% general lead over Trump; Don at top of ticket would cut 5% from downballot;

Weakness on applying Fourteenth Amendment could complicate Biden dealings with despots Putin and Xi, who respect only power, not formalities;

Self-styled tough guy Chris ”Sit down and shut up” Christie to declare for White House with promises to attack Trump; DeSatanis is eclipsed;

Breaking: Erratic MAGA extremists return to default negotiations with White House after six-hour psychotic interlude!

Going Deep with Russ Baker via WhoWhatWhy, Investigative Commentary: Coming to Grips With the Anti-Vaxxer, pro-RFK Jr. Worldview, Russ Baker, May 20, 2023. While looking everywhere for the deep state — you might fall down a sinkhole.

My recent columns on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 's presidential candidacy and his views on vaccines have provoked many comments, both public and private, from those who feel Kennedy is the Man of the Hour — an honest broker calling out the fundamental rottenness of the system writ large.

I especially appreciated a tweet I got from one of those people, @ImJustDebi. She wanted to explain why she doubts (I assume she means why she has doubts about vaccines, and anything that the medical and scientific establishment says about COVID-19 and other matters):

Things that made me doubt... JFK, Iran Hostages, coming ice age, Iran Contra, acid rain, Desert Storm, Whitewater, ozone layer, 9/11, Iraq war, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, GMO, Chemtrails, climate change, COVID.....

Debi honestly summed up the mindset of a vocal and, to all appearances, growing minority in the United States (and elsewhere).

The following comments are not about Debi, whom I don’t know, but about people like Debi whom I do know.

These folks have concluded — from partial and sometimes complete cover-ups involving many major historical traumas — that basically the establishment cannot be believed at all, about anything, ever.

Some of the issues Debi cited, like chemtrails, are classic speculative theories that discount plausible, less sinister explanations. Others, such as the failure to investigate the true motives for US mideast wars under two presidents Bush, come with evidentiary backing. It’s a very mixed bag, but in the hands of someone prone to confirmation bias and given to broad generalizing, it can be dangerous.

From this fundamental doubt about… almost everything have emerged such toxic myths as the belief that no one died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

And “doubt” may be the wrong word here, because many have no doubt. I wish they did. No, what they seem to have is absolute, dogmatic certainty.

It starts with real things and disappointment, alienation, and mistrust around them — then gradually the mind hardens, the filter turns on, and more and more events become “things to doubt.”

In any case, Debi represents a worldview. And once one accepts this premise without any critical thinking, then of course Robert F. Kennedy is the one truly honest man, and therefore what he says about public health is the one real truth. Everything else is a lie or a coverup.

How many of these people ever confirmed — on their own — what various studies on viruses and vaccines have proven or not proven? Or even what studies exist?

Many seem to accept a distorted if not completely discredited set of facts — from a cherry-picked set of articles.

This will, alas, leave me open to the howls of those who insist they have “studied the literature” and have reached the conclusion that the pro-vax studies were all rigged. (Of course, this generalization is built on the fact that some of them were, as is always true of studies, flawed.)

They say that quality anti-vax studies have been censored and unfairly pilloried. These folks may present as sophisticated, and can spout all kinds of impressive-sounding facts and figures — but from a limited number of their own questionable studies.

In the end they still are working from a place of deep and all but immutable skepticism and distrust. I know quite a few such people — who come off smart and discriminating and hard to dismiss but still wind up cherry-picking their way to the same place.

And those of us who basically trust fact-based data about science and medicine — along with millions of workers in those fields with first-hand knowledge — good, decent people doing the best they can — are all considered by RFK Jr.’s followers to have lost clarity or perspective on the nefariousness behind so many things.

The establishment media typically dismisses the mindset of people like Debi by quoting (and this comes up like clockwork) historian Richard Hofstadter’s remarks about the paranoid tendency within America.

I am not sure I agree it is pointless paranoia. There’s certainly some basis for skepticism. But those who turn doubt into a fetishistic mind-set — without a fact-based openness to considering each matter on its merits and to weighing alternate, plausible explanations for the same phenomena — are damaging the public marketplace of ideas so necessary to democracy.

***

I have focused considerable effort and time over the years researching what is referred to as the “deep state.” In the process, I have acquired a bit of insight on this subject.

Some understand that this is not a static thing but rather a political-science concept that needs to be reanalyzed in each epoch. Those who do not understand this — or choose not to — it seems to me are often constitutionally disposed to dislike everything about the establishment, from the Pentagon to the medical profession, and they feel betrayed when they see someone who they thought was in their camp turn out to be more agnostic and inclined to view each case on its specific merits.

The term “deep state” was hijacked by Roger Stone and Donald Trump and it worked very well to convince those who deny all nuance and require a simple black and white dogma to explain a complex world, including in many cases buying that there was some omnipotent “cabal” directing everything.

In fact, the deep state was and is a concept (originating in Turkey) that relates to a consensus among a constituency within institutions — shared values and goals and, sometimes, methods. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Cold War and business interests united many of these people.

Today, what Trump and his acolytes call the “deep state” is a very different beast. It does not necessarily embody the same narrow-minded ruthlessness in pursuit of goals that often benefited a narrow class of individuals.

But both the “old,” documented deep state and the current one — if we can even identify a group to which that applies today — have played not only a troubling but also a salutary role in our country.

That is, the deep state has sometimes served as a steadying influence for society, rejecting extreme ideological swings that could tear the country apart. When Trump said that deep state elements in the CIA, Pentagon, etc. were against him, what he was actually talking about was the justifiable concern that Trump was some combination of a self-serving force for chaos and a willing cooperator with the enemies of America — as well as violating basic tenets of American democracy.

The deep state has also been a source of historical memory, and in some ways a nonpartisan force for order; and, if it can be said to still exist, its concern about the harm posed by Trump and his band of reckless deregulators and foreign policy buffoons was one such example.

So it’s complicated, as most things are.

When RFK’s disciples complain that the Pentagon — the Pentagon! — had a role in developing vaccines, they see a sinister, nefarious force up to no good.

I, on the other hand, see the military as one of the country’s largest institutions for handling responses to threats to public safety, and having the infrastructure and processes to help other governmental agencies not up to a crisis of this magnitude.

Does the Pentagon’s role necessarily portend some kind of military takeover? Of course not. For one thing, any large public health emergency necessarily concerns an organization responsible for the lives of millions of people. Having done (and continuing to do) investigative reporting on the military-intelligence complex, I understand that the Pentagon — and similar institutions — serve the established order, and indeed have an odious track record on many things. But they also do indispensable work.

And this is where the RFK-anti vaxxer worldview disappoints most. The critique vilifies many governmental and private sector institutions and, seemingly, entire professions — challenging anyone who trusts them.

Do these people not want a doctor to see them when they need it? Do they not trust hospitals to have the life-saving know-how when they are gravely ill? Do they not count on the government to reliably issue Social Security checks? Did they not attend universities and understand that, despite the obvious limitations, these institutions host an enormous amount of essential research that underpins many of the advances benefiting us all?

One commenter from the RFK Jr. School of Doubters wrote:

Russ, for the life of me I don’t understand why anyone, and especially we critical thinkers, give credence to the “official LI(n)ES” of the corrupt Machiavellian minions of the #nefariousNewWorldOrder’s seemingly murderous eugenicists.

We have to find ways to discuss what is going on in the country without making the divide greater and the parties even more confused, and therefore easier to manipulate.

Condemning the entire medical science and public health establishment as conspirators in a plot, and the science that underpins it as inherently corrupt — rather than sometimes fallible — is just stunningly simplistic and obviously does great harm. It’s time to push back at this lunacy.

May 18

 

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Supreme Court Is Blind to Its Own Corruption, Randall D. Eliason, right, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Eliason is the former chief of the fraud and public corruption randall eliasonsection at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

The scandal surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas has further eroded the already record-low public confidence in the Supreme Court. If Chief Justice John Roberts wonders how such a thing could have happened, he might start looking for answers within the cloistered walls of his own courtroom.

Over more than two decades, the Supreme Court has gutted laws aimed at fighting corruption and at limiting the ability of the powerful to enrich public officials in a position to advance their interests. As a result, today wealthy individuals and corporations may buy political access and influence with little fear of legal consequences, either for them or for the beneficiaries of their largess.

No wonder Justice Thomas apparently thought his behavior was no big deal.

He has been under fire for secretly accepting, from the Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, luxury vacations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, a real estate deal (involving the home where his mother was living) and the payment of private school tuition for a grandnephew the justice was raising. Meanwhile, over the years, conservative groups with which Mr. Crow was affiliated filed amicus briefs in several matters before the Supreme Court.

That sounds like the very definition of corruption. But over the years, many justices — and not just conservatives — have championed a different definition.

The landmark case is the court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A five-justice majority — including Justice Thomas — struck down decades-old restrictions on independent campaign expenditures by corporations, holding that they violated the companies’ free speech rights. It rejected the argument that such laws were necessary to prevent the damage to democracy that results from unbridled corporate spending and the undue influence it can create.

The government’s legitimate interest in fighting corruption, the court held, is limited to direct quid pro quo deals, in which a public official makes a specific commitment to act in exchange for something of value. The appearance of potentially improper influence or access is not enough.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens accused the majority of adopting a “crabbed view of corruption” that the court itself had rejected in an earlier case. He argued that Congress has a legitimate interest in limiting the effects of corporate money on politics: “Corruption operates along a spectrum, and the majority’s apparent belief that quid pro quo arrangements can be neatly demarcated from other improper influences does not accord with the theory or reality of politics.”

Citizens United opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending on behalf of political candidates and to the influence that spending necessarily provides. But the decision didn’t come out of nowhere: The court has often been unanimous in its zeal for curtailing criminal corruption laws.

In the 1999 case of United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of California, the court unanimously held, in effect, that it is not a violation of the federal gratuities statute for an individual or corporation to have a public official on private retainer. The court rejected a theory known as a “status gratuity,” where a donor showers a public official with gifts over time based on the official’s position (that is in contrast with a more common gratuity, given as a thank you for a particular act by the official). The quite reasonable rationale behind that theory was that when matters of interest to the donor arose, the past gifts (and hope for future ones) might lead the official to favor his or her benefactor.

That actually sounds a lot like the Crow-Thomas relationship. But the court held that such an arrangement is not unlawful. The gratuities law, the court ruled, requires that a particular gift be linked to a particular official act. Without such a direct link, a series of gifts to a public official over time does not violate the statute, even if the goal is to curry favor with an official who could act to benefit the gift giver.

In the wake of Sun-Diamond, federal prosecutors increasingly turned to a more expansive legal theory known as honest services fraud. But in Skilling v. United States, the court ruled that theory is limited to cases of bribes and kickbacks — once again, direct quid pro quo deals. Three justices, including Justice Thomas, wanted to go even further and declare the statute that prohibits honest services fraud unconstitutional.

The court proceeded to limit its “crabbed view of corruption” even further. In the 2016 case McDonnell v. United States, the court held that selling government access is not unlawful. Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, accepted about $175,000 in secret gifts from the businessman Jonnie Williams, who wanted Virginia’s public universities to perform research studies on his company’s dietary supplement to assist with its F.D.A. approval. In exchange, Mr. McDonnell asked subordinates to meet with Mr. Williams about such studies and hosted a luncheon at the governor’s mansion to connect him with university health researchers.

A jury convicted the McDonnells on several counts of corruption. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit — hardly known as a bastion of liberalism — unanimously affirmed the convictions. But the Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that the things Mr. McDonnell did for Mr. Williams did not qualify as “official acts” under federal bribery law. Selling official access may be tawdry, the court held, but it is not a crime.

Those who think Justice Thomas may be guilty of corruption may not realize just how difficult the court itself has made it to prove such a case. Now only the most ham-handed officials, clumsy enough to engage in a direct quid pro quo, risk prosecution.

Viewed in light of this history, the Thomas scandal becomes less surprising. Its own rulings would indicate that the Supreme Court doesn’t believe what he did is corrupt. A powerful conservative with interests before the court who regularly provides a justice with vacations worth more than his annual salary is, as the court said in Citizens United, merely the “appearance” of potential corruption. In the court’s view, the public has no reason to be concerned.

But the public clearly is, and should be, concerned over the ability of the rich and powerful to purchase access and influence unavailable to most citizens. Unfortunately, Citizens United is here to stay without a constitutional amendment or an overruling by the court, neither of which is very likely.

But it’s still possible for the rest of the country to move past the court’s naïve and inadequate view of corruption. Congress could amend criminal corruption laws to expand their scope and overturn the results in Sun-Diamond, Skilling and McDonnell. It could increase funding for enforcement of the Ethics in Government Act and increase the penalties for filing a false financial disclosure form (or failing to file one at all). Beefed up disclosure regulations could make it more difficult for officials to hide financial interests and could make it clear there are no disclosure exceptions for enormous gifts of “personal hospitality,” contrary to what Justice Thomas claims he believed. And Congress could pass legislation like the proposed Disclose Act, to require transparency regarding who is behind political donations and spending.

Congress so far has shown little interest in passing such reforms. But that’s where the remedy lies. It’s time for Congress to act.

In his Citizens United dissent, Justice Stevens observed, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.” That’s exactly how it now appears to the public — and that applies to Supreme Court justices as well as to politicians.

Randall D. Eliason is the former chief of the fraud and public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and teaches white-collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School. He blogs at Sidebarsblog.com.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Republicans blast judge during hearing over Clarence Thomas’s 2011 ethics review, Tobi Raji, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). Senate Republicans clashed Wednesday with a federal judge, right, who voiced concerns about the transparency of a 2011 ethics review of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Senior U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf (Martha Stewart photo)Thomas during a judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Sen. John Kennedy (La.), the subcommittee’s top Republican, slammed the hearing as being part of a “perpetual political carousel” that makes him “want to gag” and questioned Judge Mark L. Wolf's credibility as a witness.

john kennedy o law sen“For the last dozen years, a lone federal judge, who is with us today, has been obsessed with complaining that the judicial conference got it wrong,” Kennedy, left, said in his opening remarks. “Judge Wolf wasn’t getting his way from the head of the judicial conference or from Chief Justice Roberts himself.”

Several Democrats, including Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who sat in for Wednesday’s hearing, came to Wolf’s defense, arguing that the hearing is not a “witch hunt” but an attempt to “rescue the reputation of the court.”

sheldon whitehouseSen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), right, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the federal courts, convened the hearing after new reporting revealed that Wolf had expressed concerns more than a decade ago about how a committee of federal judges was handling a review of complaints alleging that Thomas had flouted financial disclosure rules. The financial disclosure committee ultimately concluded that Thomas had not willfully committed any wrongdoing.

mark wolfWolf, shown at left in a file photo, took issue with the transparency of the review. “The manner in which the Judicial Conference has interpreted and implemented the Financial Disclosure statutes has been shrouded in secrecy,” Wolf wrote in his opening statement.

Wednesday’s hearing is Whitehouse’s latest attempt to examine the inner workings of the federal courts’s policymaking body following new revelations about the high court’s longest-serving justice. “Congress has a role in making sure that our courts are administering federal ethics fairly and as intended. If they aren’t, we need a robust record of what has gone wrong and what new laws might be needed to fix it,” Whitehouse said in his opening remarks.

When a justice or judge is accused of falsifying or omitting information from their financial disclosure report, the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Financial Disclosure launches a probe that could culminate in a referral to the attorney general.

Bloomberg News revealed this month that Wolf believed the judicial conference, of which he was a member at the time, couldn’t exercise this authority because the financial disclosure committee hadn’t informed the conference what those complaints were.

Thomas was under fire in 2011 for not disclosing his wife’s employers and travel paid for by Dallas billionaire Harlan Crow.

The revelations drew condemnations from Democrats and court transparency advocates, who pressed the judicial conference to investigate Thomas. The late Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (N.Y.) and 19 other Democrats signed a September 2011 letter asking the judicial conference to refer the matter to the Justice Department.

The conference referred the complaints to the 16-member financial disclosure committee, which was chaired by Judge Bobby R. Baldock at the time and then by Judge Joseph McKinley, the chief judge of the western district of Kentucky, who succeeded him later that year. The committee is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Ethics in Government Act.

Wolf, who said he hadn’t seen the 2011 letters, criticized the committee’s failure to share information about the allegations with the conference.

“This concerned me because the issues raised by the letters were serious,” Wolf wrote. “Such information would have afforded me and the other members of the Conference the opportunity to discuss and decide whether there was reasonable cause to believe Justice Thomas had willfully violated the Act and, if so, to make the required referral to the Attorney General.”

The financial disclosure committee cleared Thomas and, instead, opted to amend its internal process for reviewing ethics complaints.

Now after a justice or judge is accused of violating financial disclosure rules and a member of the committee has reviewed the accusations made against them, a referral is made to the subcommittee on compliance. The subcommittee reviews the allegations and the reviewing judge’s findings, and issues a recommendation to the full committee about whether to accept that judge’s assessment. The financial disclosure committee must also now report the number and nature of the complaints — as well as the action taken — to the full conference.

The committee will follow these steps when reviewing complaints about Thomas.

Whitehouse and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) asked the judicial conference to refer Thomas to Attorney General Merrick Garland for an investigation after ProPublica revealed last month that Crow took Thomas on lavish vacations and purchased three properties in Savannah, Ga., from him and his relatives for about $133,000, including the house where the justice’s mother lives.

Thomas did not disclose the transaction on his annual financial report, which requires disclosure of any sale or purchase of property over $1,000. He also did not report the trips with Crow.

Since then, new reporting has revealed that Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo paid Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting work through a nonprofit. Additional ProPublica reporting has revealed that Crow also paid the tuition of the justice’s grandnephew for two private boarding schools.

If the body has “reasonable cause” to believe Thomas willfully ignored ethics rules, it will vote to refer the matter to Garland. Ten votes are needed for a referral.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two GOP senators smear a witness to defend Clarence Thomas, Ruth Marcus, right, May 19, 2023 (print ed.). Mark L. Wolf has spent his ruth marcus twitter Customcareer fighting against corruption and for the rule of law — as a public corruption prosecutor, as a federal judge, as a crusader against international kleptocracy. For that, at a hearing on judicial ethics this week, he was rewarded with some of the most shameful treatment in memory by a pair of Republican senators seemingly more intent on smearing the messenger and defending Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas than on exercising their constitutional oversight responsibilities.

The episode says far more about the reflexively partisan nature of the current Congress and the character of the senators — John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah — than it does about Wolf.

As a young lawyer during the Ford administration, Wolf served as special assistant to two iconic figures, both Republicans — then-Deputy Attorney General Laurence Silberman, later a federal appeals court judge, and Attorney General Edward Levi — as the department struggled to recover its bearings after the Watergate scandal.Wolf led the public corruption unit at the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, securing more than 40 convictions, including of officials close to Mayor Kevin White, a Democrat.

Named to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan in 1985, he exposed the FBI’s use of organized crime figure James “Whitey” Bulger as an informant and how it protected Bulger and an associate as they committed murder and tipped Bulger off so that he could flee when he was about to be indicted. Now a senior judge, Wolf, 76, has campaigned for creation of an international anti-corruption court. As it turns out — and this was the subject of his testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee — Wolf was also briefly a thorn in the side of the Judicial Conference of the United States a dozen years ago, during an earlier ethics episode involving Thomas. At the time, Wolf was serving on that policymaking body of the federal judiciary, which reviews, or is supposed to review, financial disclosure reports by federal judges, including Supreme Court justices.

The Post's View: What Congress can do, right now, about Justice Thomas

To call the operations of the Judicial Conference opaque is an understatement. When I asked a few weeks back for the names of the judges, past and present, on the financial disclosure committee, I was told that was not public information. (It was released this week in a letter to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who chaired Wednesday’s hearing.)

Wolf’s experience, first reported by Bloomberg News’s Zoe Tillman, was similarly frustrating. In 2011, the Judicial Conference received complaints that Thomas had violated financial disclosure laws by failing for years to identify the sources of income received by his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. The justice, who had previously reported such information, said he had misunderstood the filing instructions and amended years’ worth of forms. Other stories and complaints followed, including about Thomas’s relationship with conservative donor Harlan Crow — sound familiar? — and whether he had failed to report travel and hospitality provided by Crow and the Federalist Society.

So, Wolf began to ask questions, and stir up trouble: Why were members of the Judicial Conference not informed of the complaints or their disposition? How did the financial disclosure committee determine that Thomas’s conduct did not trigger a referral to the Justice Department under the terms of the Ethics in Government Act? (The law provides that the conference “shall refer to the Attorney General” when there is “reasonable cause to believe” the judge “has willfully failed to file” required information.)

The powers that be put Wolf off. He kept pushing. In the end, the Judicial Conference simply waited Wolf out — his term expired before the matter could be raised at a meeting.

As Wolf explained in his prepared remarks, “It is unfortunately relevant to consider these events today. The [Ethics in Government] Act only performs its vital function if the Conference understands and properly performs its role. I believe that in 2011 and 2012 it did not.” Despite allegations from Congress and the public, the financial disclosure committee “did little to nothing for at least a year.” Its process was “opaque,” failing to disclose the allegations and its response to other members of the conference.

Finally, Wolf said, the committee applied “the wrong standard,” deciding for itself whether Thomas’s violations were willful rather than whether there was a “reasonable cause” to refer the matter.

Maybe that’s right, maybe not. But it seems like a reasonable, and important, point to consider — if you were a lawmaker weighing whether the existing financial disclosure and other ethics rules need to be revised.

This turns out to be a big “if.” Kennedy and Lee came out swinging — at Wolf. Their goal wasn’t to discuss ethics, it was simply to discredit the messenger, at any cost.

Kennedy dismissed Wolf as “a lone federal judge ... obsessed with complaining” about Thomas but himself guilty of ethical missteps. He cited discredited information placed in the file of an FBI informant that Wolf, as a federal prosecutor, had leaked evidence to organized crime. He asserted that Wolf had engaged in a “highly unethical move — that’s an understatement” when he declined to recuse himself from a death penalty case after moderating a panel that included a professor who later became a witness in the case. He asserted that Wolf had behaved improperly when he wrote an opinion piece endorsing a code of conduct to cover Supreme Court justices. “Is Judge Wolf planning on launching a super-PAC next?” Kennedy asked.

And then he left the hearing room before listening to a word of Wolf’s testimony. It takes some gall to hurl these accusations at a federal judge and not stick around to hear his response.

Lee then took up the cudgel. “I am concerned by the tone and tenor of this hearing,” he said. “It feels an awful lot like a political witch hunt, which may be in the process of being aided and abetted by a member of the judiciary.”

Greg Sargent: Finally, a bipartisan response to the Clarence Thomas fiasco emerges

When Wolf suggested that Lee’s father, former solicitor general Rex E. Lee, with whom Wolf served in the Ford administration, “would have been very disturbed by the matters that I’ve addressed,” Lee exploded. “Seriously, you’re here attacking a member of the United States Supreme Court on grounds that are frivolous … and you have the audacity to come in and invoke the memory of my late father?” Lee said, raising his voice. “Shame on you, sir.”

Wolf kept his cool. “Some people I respect advised me not to do this … that I would be subject to various unfair attacks,” he said as the hearing drew to a close. “I did it because so many of my colleagues on the bench are deeply disturbed themselves. … So many of us worked so hard to give integrity to the ideal of impartial, equal justice under law, and now that ideal is imperiled.”

Ethics shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I’ve spoken to numerous federal judges, Democratic and Republican nominees alike, and none of them are comfortable with the extent of the benefits that Thomas accepted from Crow.

Much as Kennedy and Lee want to peddle their “everyone does it” line, everyone doesn’t. Other justices have amended their disclosure forms, but Thomas is unique in having to do so repeatedly, only after being called out, and in his pattern of claiming to have misunderstood reporting requirements with which he initially complied.

Wolf’s point, made without hyperbole or insinuation, was less focused on Thomas than on a flawed process that seemed designed to shield the justice’s conduct from appropriate scrutiny. That this observation would expose him to such unhinged attacks suggests how much Republicans fear what a real investigation would uncover.

  

george santos mug

Republican House Congressman George Santos (R-NY) is shown above in both an official photo and a mug shot.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Republicans Stall Effort to Kick George Santos Out of Congress, Michael Gold, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). Democrats tried to force a vote to expel Mr. Santos, a Republican of New York who was indicted last week. But Republicans pushed the matter to the House Ethics Committee.

U.S. House logoHouse Republicans on Wednesday repelled an effort by Democrats to force a vote on expelling Representative George Santos of New York, who was charged last week in a 13-count federal indictment covering wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, stealing public funds and lying on financial disclosures.

Republicans voted along party line — 221 to 204, with seven Democrats voting “present” — to refer the resolution to expel Mr. Santos to the House Ethics republican elephant logoCommittee, which has been investigating Mr. Santos’s finances and campaign activity for months.

The measure to expel Mr. Santos, introduced by Representative Robert Garcia, a Democrat of California, was unlikely to succeed in the House, where it would have required a two-thirds supermajority to pass. Republicans hold a majority so thin that Mr. Santos’s vote remains crucial, reducing the political incentive for them to support his ouster.

Indeed, by delaying the vote, House Republicans — including some who have called on Mr. Santos to resign — avoided having to commit to a firm position on his behavior. But their actions also may be construed as a tacit endorsement of Mr. Santos’s remaining in Congress as he faces ethical and legal inquiries.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The curious question of the alleged $2 million pardons, Philip Bump, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). The allegation comes in a lawsuit philip bumpfiled this week by Noelle Dunphy, a woman who worked for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani from 2019 until 2021. It reads as follows:

“[Giuliani] asked Ms. Dunphy if she knew anyone in need of a pardon, telling her that he was selling pardons for $2 million, which he and President Trump would split.”

noelle dunphy rudy giulianiIf she did, the allegation continues, she should “refer individuals seeking pardons to him, so long as they did not go through ‘the normal channels’ of the Office of the Pardon Attorney” because those communications would otherwise be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

This is a serious claim that, given the implications for former president Donald Trump and his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is worth considering in the context of what we know.

Dunphy’s lawsuit spans 70 pages, most of which articulate a slew of other allegations about Giuliani. It’s an escalation of a complaint issued in January, asking for $3.1 million in unpaid wages, punitive damages and legal fees, among other things. The new suit, though, goes further. Now seeking $10 million, it includes detailed allegations of abuse and harassment by Giuliani that are walked through on a nearly day-to-day basis.

In a statement to reporters, Giuliani’s attorneys said that their client “unequivocally denies the allegations raised by Ms. Dunphy,” in addition to attempting to cast doubts on her credibility by including a pejorative quote from a former boyfriend.

It’s worth noting that in addition to screenshots of alleged text message exchanges between Giuliani and Dunphy, the lawsuit also includes numerous references to conversations between Dunphy and Giuliani having been recorded. That allegedly includes a recording of Giuliani consenting to being recorded by Dunphy (though New York, where most of the alleged interactions occurred, requires only that one party consent to being recorded). It also allegedly includes Giuliani making disparaging comments about Jewish, Black and Hispanic people.

But back to the allegations about the pardons.

The allegation that Giuliani was offering pardons for $2 million has been made before. In January 2021, shortly before Trump left office, the New York Times reported that former CIA officer John Kiriakou had been “told that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million.” Kiriakou rejected the request, but an associate worried about the legality of such an offer tipped off the FBI. Kiriakou was not granted a pardon.

raja krishnamoorthi resized oThe Times’s report on the small economy that sprung up around Trump’s pardon process spurred a request from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), right, to the Justice Department.

“I am writing with grave concern following recent reports that President Trump intends to issue as many as 100 pardons in his final day in office at the same time that his close associates have been selling access to the President to those seeking clemency for thousands of dollars and potentially far more,” Krishnamoorthi wrote to acting attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen. A representative for Krishnamoorthi’s office told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he didn’t believe the congressman had received a response — in part because the letter was sent on Jan. 19, 2021, the day before President Biden’s inauguration and Rosen’s departure.

The letter also referred to another investigation into the pardon process revealed in a court filing the previous month.

“The Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House or related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court records unsealed Tuesday in federal court,” CNN’s Katelyn Polantz reported in December 2020. Polantz pointed to details in a heavily redacted court document.

It suggests that, in reviewing material collected from a number of electronic devices, investigators found emails suggesting “a related bribery conspiracy scheme, in which [redacted] would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.” Note that this is different from what’s alleged about Giuliani; here, the court filing notes, the promise was for “anticipated future substantial political contributions.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Millions flowed to Biden family members. Don’t pretend it doesn’t matter, Jim Geraghty, May 19, 2023. Let’s assume that, as President Biden’s fans insist, there’s no evidence of lawbreaking in the deals that had foreign companies paying more than $10 million to Biden family members during and after Biden’s years as vice president.

And no doubt, the House Oversight Committee led by Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has its own preconceived narrative that Biden is on the take from all kinds of shady characters. An indictment of bribery or corruption would require proof that, at some point while in office, Biden acted or influenced a U.S. government policy decision to benefit one of those companies, and the House Oversight Committee, so far, does not have that proof.

Yet we’re still left with a motley collection of odd and unsavory figures sending a lot of money through a lot of companies to a lot of members of the Biden family, with little explanation why. Comer contends that bank records confirm more than $10 million in payments, run through at least 20 businesses, mostly limited liability companies, to the president’s son Hunter Biden; the president’s brother, James Biden; James’s wife, Sara Jones Biden; Hallie Biden (widow of Joe Biden’s son Beau, who died in 2015); Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle; Hunter’s current wife, Melissa Cohen; and, as Comer noted, “three children of the president’s son and the president’s brother.”

Just what goods or services did all those Biden family members provide to those companies?

Why did Gabriel Popoviciu, a businessman convicted of bribery in Romania and relatedly investigated by British authorities pay as much as $1 million that ended up in Biden family accounts? Does anyone believe that Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming in 2017 gave Hunter Biden a 2.8-carat diamond, estimated to be worth up to $80,000, as a gift out of the pure goodness of his heart? Ye disappeared from public view in 2018 amid a Chinese corruption crackdown.

President Biden voluntarily releases his tax returns and other financial disclosure reports that are required by law. But members of elected officials’ families are not required to disclose anything, leaving a very easy way for any deep-pocketed individual or institution to purchase a friendship with someone who has the politician’s ear.

Maybe it’s entirely coincidental that so many foreign entities just happened to give large amounts of money and gifts to Biden family members, and no one involved ever believed, promised, insinuated or suggested that Joe Biden would ever return the favor.

What the House Oversight Committee report reveals is a larger and more complicated version of Hunter Biden’s ludicrously remunerative “work” for Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian oil and natural gas company from 2014 to 2019. Hunter Biden had never worked in the oil or natural gas industry, and yet Burisma reportedly paid him up to $83,000 per month until his father left office, all without Hunter ever needing to travel to Ukraine. One Burisma official told Reuters in 2019 that Hunter Biden was a “ceremonial figure” at the company.

Confronted with the Comer committee’s report, Democrats scream, “What about Ivanka Trump’s trademarks in China, or Donald Trump and Jared Kushner profiting from Saudi investors?” And they’re right to object. We don’t elect leaders to the presidency — or the vice presidency — so that their relatives can cash in with foreign business executives. The sordid intermingling of personal financial interests with U.S. government policy is absolutely fair game in the 2024 presidential election.

Jim Geraghty is National Review’s senior political correspondent, where he writes the daily “Morning Jolt” newsletter, among other writing duties. He’s the author of the novel "The Weed Agency" (a Washington Post bestseller), the nonfiction "Heavy Lifting" with Cam Edwards and "Voting to Kill," and the Dangerous Clique series of thriller novels.

May 17

 

Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (photo via Tablet).

Author and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (photo via Tablet).

Medium, Opinion: The Sad Downfall of Seymour Hersh, Jeremy Fassler, May 17, 2023. Note: I originally wrote this piece in June 2018 for The Daily Banter upon the publication of Sy Hersh’s memoir, "Reporter." In the wake of his unacceptable reporting about Ukraine, I am republishing it here with some slight revisions.

Throughout his career, Seymour Hersh has been a crusading investigative reporter, exposing such stories as the My Lai Massacre in the Vietnam War and the abuses at Abu Gharib. With his memoir Reporter being released today, he finds himself once again in the news as journalists sing his praises. However, as they appraise his life’s work, they must take into account how, over the past decade, Hersh has grown increasingly conspiratorial and untrustworthy in his reporting, adopting bizarre theories that threaten to seriously compromise his legacy.

The first major sign of trouble came in 2013, when Hersh wrote “Whose Sarin?,” an article absolving the government of Bashar al-Assad for that summer’s chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, near Damascus, killing hundreds of Syrians and nearly bringing the United States to military action. Although a UN report on the attack laid the blame at Assad, Heresh argued that the real perpetrators were an Al-Qaeda spinoff group called Jhabat-al Nusra, citing anonymous military officials as his sources. In a follow-up article in 2014, he cosigned blame for the attack to the government of Turkey, which experts quickly debunked.

Sadly, Hersh has not let go of his Syria trutherism. Last April, after the U.S. launched missiles in retaliation to Assad’s chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, he wrote in the German paper Die Welt that, according to anonymous military officials, the initial attack was a collaboration between the Syrian Air Force, the Russians, and Washington, and the targets were not innocent Syrians but Jihadist leaders. When Guardian reported George Monbiot asked him for the coordinates of the bombing site, Hersh dodged the question.

Hersh’s conspiratorial beliefs went mainstream in 2015 when he published “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” (later released as a book) in the London Review of Books. The 10,000-word article, which had been rejected by The New Yorker, argued that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) kidnapped bin Laden in 2006, locked him up with funding from the Saudis as leverage against Al-Qaeda, and sold him to the United States in exchange for increased military aid and a “freer hand” in Afghanistan. Instead of flying the Navy SEAls into the Abbottabad compound via helicopter, raiding the promises, and killing bin-Laden with a double tap, Hersh claimed a courier let the SEALs in and allowed them to shoot the world’s most famous terrorist multiple times.

As with any conspiracy theory, a number of variables contradict Hersh’s reporting. For example, assuming that Hersh is correct — and he claims he’s correct, despite offering no supporting documents — why would the U.S. drop Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan in subsequent years? Why would the intelligence materials brought back from Abbottabad be made up, as he says they are, even though Al-Qaeda’s second highest-ranking member says they were real? And why would Pakistan even invite the U.S. to participate in a phony raid at all? Why not just kill him themselves? Hersh has never provided satisfactory answers to any of these questions, trusting his primary source, an anonymous retired senior intelligence official who supposedly had knowledge of the plan.

This is a large red flag with Hersh’s reporting. While anonymous sources are essential in journalism, Hersh over-relies on them, taking their word at face value without properly vetting them. In fact, ex-military and intelligence officials, or “cranks,” are often the worst kinds of anonymous sources, as Jamie Kirchik called them in this article responding to Hersh’s bin Laden reporting:

“Cranks are an archetype of the intelligence world…obsessive, frustrated idiot savants who perceive themselves as stymied by the paper pushers…who don’t have the courage to come out and tell it like it really is. Such people are naturally drawn to a reporter like Hersh, a crusading writer who ‘gets it,’ who sees the world in the same conspiratorial tones they do, where dark, shadowy forces manipulate global events.”

Hersh, a member of the Vietnam generation who learned the hard way not to take the government’s justifications for war at face value, may have good reason to identify with these sources. After all, identifying the crimes of the U.S. military brought him renown. But after nearly 50 years of exposing these illegalities, he can no longer tell the difference between a solid scoop and a conspiracy that has no business being in the news.

This leads us to the story of Seth Rich, a former DNC aide who, in the summer of 2016, was murdered in a botched robbery. Conspiracy theorists on both the far right and the far left argued that Rich, a disgruntled Sanders supporter, had been murdered by the DNC for leaking their emails to Julian Assange. The conspiracy when so far that Rich’s family sued Fox News for manipulating the investigation of their son’s murder into an unbelievable series of claims, one of which said that a suppressed FBI report proved he leaked the emails. Nobody apparently saw this report, except for an anonymous intelligence official who spoke to — you guessed it — Seymour Hersh.

In a conversation with Fox News reporter Ed Butowsky, Hersh said that his source told him Rich had shared the emails with Assange via Dropbox, and even shared them with friends “in case anything happens to me.” Hersh later denied having spoken to anyone at the FBI about the report, nor having seen it with his own eyes. But while believing that Seth Rich leaked the emails to Assange is bad enough, it’s this next quote from his talk with Butowsky that consigns Hersh to the loony bin:

“I have a narrative of how that whole fucking thing [the Russia investigation] began. It’s a Brennan operation, it was it was an American disinformation and fucking the fucking president, at one point when they, they even started telling the press, they were back briefing the press, the head of the NSA was going and telling the press, fucking cock-sucker Rogers, was telling the press that we even know who in the GRU, the Russian Military Intelligence Service, who leaked it. I mean all bullshit.”

One of America’s greatest investigative reporters doesn’t believe the Russian plot to interfere in the election was real. But why should he? Hersh not only ignored the Russia story in 2016, he actually abetted the enemy. That summer, at the Washington D.C. Newseum, he introduced a documentary by filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov attacking martyred Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the namesake for the Magnitsky Act, as a liar. Hersh was still at it by the time Trump was inaugurated, when he attacked the media for taking the intelligence community’s word on the story at face value, and offered sentiments that would make Susan Sarandon blush:

“The idea of somebody breaking things away, and raising grave doubts about the viability of the [two] party system, particularly the Democratic Party, is not a bad idea.”

Well, the system is shook up now: 4600 dead in Puerto Rico, a Supreme Court that ruled in favor of small businesses discriminating against gays, and a “zero tolerance” policy at the border separating children from their families and locking them in cages, but at least Hersh got his wish. Whether or not he comes to his sense remains to be seen, but given how he’s entrenched himself on the fringes, it seems unlikely.

We need great investigative journalism now more than ever, and Reporter will make readers nostalgic for an age of journalism that no longer exists. Unfortunately, the book’s main character no longer exists either, as Hersh has devolved from a truth-teller into, like the anonymous sources he relies on, a crank.

Jimmy Fessler is freelance writer and journalist with bylines: in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, etc. Co-author of "The Deadwood Bible"with Matt Zoller Seitz.

May 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham report sharply criticizes FBI’s probe of 2016 Trump campaign, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, May 15, 2023. The long-awaited report on how the government probed Russian interference in the 2016 election seems likely to fuel, rather than end, partisan debates about politicization within the Justice Department and FBI.

john durham CustomSpecial counsel John Durham, right, has issued a long-awaited report that sharply criticizes the FBI for investigating the 2016 Trump campaign based on “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” — a conclusion that may fuel rather than end partisan debate about politicization within the Justice Department and FBI.

Durham was appointed in 2019 by President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, to re-examine how government agents william barr new ohunted for possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to interfere in the presidential election. The report, coming almost four years to the day since Durham’s assignment began, will likely be derided by Democrats as the end of a partisan boondoggle, while Republicans will have to wrestle with a much-touted investigation that didn’t send a single person to jail.

Many of the details of FBI conduct described by the Durham report were previously known and had been sharply criticized by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which did not find “documentary of testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct."

Durham goes further in his criticism, however, arguing that the FBI rushed to investigate Trump in a case known as Crossfire Hurricane, even as it proceeded cautiously on allegations related to then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Justice Department log circularDurham’s report finds the FBI failed to live up to its standards, and failed “to critically analyze information that ran counter to the narrative of a Trump/Russia collusive relationship throughout Crossfire Hurricane is extremely troublesome.”

FBI logoThe FBI’s handling of key aspects of the case was “seriously deficient,” Durham wrote. He concluded that the bureau failed in its responsibility to the public, causing “severe reputational harm” to the FBI. Durham said that failure could have been prevented if FBI employees hadn’t embraced “seriously flawed information” and had followed their “own principles regarding objectivity and integrity.”

Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid Durham probe of FBI, CIA activities

In particular, the report notes that while the FBI gave Clinton’s team a defensive briefing when agents learned of a possible evidence by a foreign actor to garner influence with her, agents moved quickly to investigate the Trump campaign without giving them a defensive briefing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s highly touted “Durham probe” just crashed and burned into a pile of nothing, Bill Palmer, right, May 15, 2023. Donald Trump bill palmerspent quite awhile publicly insisting that the “Durham probe” was going to prove that everyone from the FBI to the Democratic Party criminally conspired to rig the bill palmer report logo header2016 election against him.

But anyone paying attention knew the Durham probe would find nothing, because there was nothing to find. The entire thing was based on incoherent conspiracy theories cooked up by Trump and his fellow loons.

Sure enough, John Durham’s final report has been released today, and it’s completely toothless. Actually that’s too generous of a word to describe it. According to his own report, Durham found literally nothing. He failed to land a single conviction against anyone for any alleged crime. In the end he’s presented no evidence of any criminal behavior on the part of anyone.

It’s almost hilarious that Durham is trying to cover his own tracks by baselessly “concluding” in his final report that the FBI never should have launched the Trump-Russia probe to begin with. That’s certainly not a legal finding or even a valid prosecutorial conclusion. It’s just conspiracy theory gibberish, indistinguishable from what some right wing nutjob might post in a Twitter thread.

May 13

webster tarpley 2007World Crisis Radio, Nihilist Trump endorses catastrophic Treasury default as best way to extort killer budget cuts! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, May 13, 2023 (138:38 mins.). Biden eyes Fourteenth Amendment to maintain US government solvency and reserve currency role of dollar in world where there is no viable alternative to greenback; President encouraged by shift of Prof. Tribe of Harvard to embrace 1868 provision as path out of crisis; Tribe predicts MAGAts will lack standing to get case before Supremes, eliminating problem of prolonged litigation;

Dimon of JPMorgan warns that markets will panic well before cash is exhausted; Austin and Milley forecast Chinese and Russian strategic efforts to exploit default;
Trump held liable for $5 million worth of sexual battery and defamation in New York; Santos indicted on 13 federal counts; Expulsion of Long Island mythomaniac would cut Qevin’s pro-default majority to three votes;

CNN New Hampshire town hall repeats 2016 media favoritism for Trump by corporate bigwigs; Malone, Zaslav, and Licht push network to right; Fact checking top prevaricator would require a Truth Squad panel on stage, not just one moderator; Many recent polls are suspect due to oligarchs’ hatred of Biden policies on unions, re-regulation, and taxation of plutocrats and corporations; Granite State GOP voters not suited for key role in primaries;

Kremlin hysterical as UK gives Kiev Storm Shadow 500km cruise missiles, allowing interdiction of Kerch Bridge; Pentagon confirms Patriot missile downed Russian hypersonic rocket; Zelensky says more ammunition is needed to start offensive; Wagner mercenaries pushed back over a mile inside Bakhmut;

Immigration and population growth are the demographic key to defeating the challenge of China, a nation whose population is now declining; US deserves policies that reflect this basic truth; Durbin: Illinois needs farm workers!

Breaking: MAGA fanatic Chip Roy threatens Biden that using Fourteenth Amendment to shut down Republican deficit blackmail will cause party to ”blow crap up” in ”open warfare” against ”unconstitutional” provision of Constitution!

May 12

American Oversight, American Oversight Receives Indication That Durham Investigation Has Closed, Staff Report, May 12, 2023. John Durham’s Politicized Investigation — And William Barr’s Role in It.

On Friday, the Department of Justice dropped a key objection to the release of more than 4,500 pages of documents related to the Durham investigation, the Trump-era inquiry into the origins of the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

The DOJ had previously withheld the records claiming that their disclosure would interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Instead of filing an anticipated brief that would have defended the withholdings, the department withdrew its assertion of the “ongoing investigation” exemption — strongly suggesting that the Durham investigation has been closed.

The reversal was announced in a motion filed in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit American Oversight brought in August 2019 to compel the release of documents related to the Durham inquiry, including communications between Durham and senior Justice Department officials and any communications Durham or DOJ officials may have had with the Trump White House or Congress.

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer:

“The Durham investigation remains an alarming example of former President Trump’s weaponization of the Justice Department for his own political ends. Tasked with proving Trump’s allegations of a ‘deep state’ plot against him — and given nearly four years and millions of taxpayer dollars to do so — Durham found no wrongdoing. It’s long past time for the American people to see the full extent of the inquiry’s work and its influences and we look forward to the release of these records.”

American Oversight first requested the records in June 2019, after then Attorney General William Barr had instructed Durham to initiate the politicized investigation of the roots of the inquiry into potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. That original FBI inquiry ultimately led to the larger investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Lawyers for the Justice Department had previously argued the government could properly withhold more than 4,500 pages of records and one voicemail audio recording responsive to American Oversight’s requests under the FOIA exemption designed to protect ongoing investigations.

The New York Times reported in January that, after four years, the Durham inquiry was winding down “without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.” Records previously obtained by American Oversight through the litigation revealed that Barr met frequently with Durham in the period directly after the Mueller investigation ended — 18 times in seven months — raising questions about potential political interference.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Durham probe just ended with a whimper, Bill Palmer, right, May 13, 2023. The Durham probe just ended with a whimper. When Bill Barr bill palmerappointed John Durham to investigate the “origins” of the Trump-Russia investigation, there was a ton of excitement about it among Trump supporters, and a ton of fear and loathing about it from anti-Trump people.

bill palmer report logo headerWe were supposed to believe that this Durham probe would somehow magically hand Trump the ability to remain in office forever, or allow Trump to con voters into reelecting him in 2020, or something like that. But at the time it seemed pretty clear that Barr was merely appointing Durham as a way of appeasing Trump, who is and always has been so clueless about how politics works, he actually thought Durham could magically help him.

Now it’s reported that the Durham probe has officially closed. It ended up having zero impact on the political or legal landscape, just as we all knew it would. It didn’t change a single mind. It didn’t hand Trump or the GOP a single talking point it could use to change a single mind. This probe was never magically going to help Trump. These people simply do not have magical powers – and the demise of the Durham probe is merely the latest reminder of that.

May 9

 

stewart rhodes

politico CustomAssociated Press via Washington Post, Oath Keepers' Rhodes seeks leniency in Jan. 6 sentence, Alanna Durkin Richer, May 9, 2023 (print ed.). Lawyers for Stewart Rhodes, above, the Oath Keepers founder convicted of seditious conspiracy in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, say he doesn’t deserve any more time behind bars when he’s sentenced this month, according to court papers filed Monday.

While the Justice Department is seeking 25 years in prison, defense attorneys are urging the judge to sentence Rhodes to the time behind bars he has already served. Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, has been locked up since his arrest in January 2022.

Rhodes is expected to be sentenced on May 25 after his November conviction in one of the most serious cases brought so far in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Prosecutors accused Rhodes of being the architect of a plot with his extremist followers to forcibly block the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.

Prosecutors built their case around dozens of encrypted messages and other communications in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 that showed Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection” to defeat Biden if Trump didn’t act.

Rhodes, who took the witness stand at trial, has insisted there was no plan to attack the Capitol and said the Oath Keepers who did so acted on their own. His attorneys say they plan to appeal his conviction.

In their filing, Rhodes’ attorneys told the judge that all of Rhodes’ writings and statements were “protected political speech.”

“None of his protected speech incited or encouraged imminent violent or unlawful acts, nor were any likely to occur as a result of his speech,” they wrote. “In particular, nothing Mr. Rhodes wrote or published concerned the direct prevention of the transfer of power between then President Trump and President-elect Biden.”

His attorneys cited Rhodes’ military service — Rhodes joined the Army fresh out of high school and served nearly three years before he was honorably discharged in January 1986 after breaking his back in a parachuting accident.

They also rejected the portrayal of the Oath Keepers as an extremists group, and noted that its members helped provide assistance after Hurricane Katrina and other events.

“Much as the character of those within the Oath Keepers has been misconstrued and mischaracterized by others, so too has their history and actions,” they wrote.

Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy alongside Florida Oath Keepers chapter Kelly Meggs, while three of their co-defendants were cleared of the rarely used Civil War-era charge. Those three, however, were convicted of other serious crimes. Four other Oath Keepers were convicted of the sedition charge in a subsequent trial.

Prosecutors, in their filing, described the Oath Keepers’ actions as “terrorism,” and told the judge that a harsh sentence is critical to deter future political violence. They wrote that Rhodes believes he has done nothing wrong and “still presents a threat to American democracy and lives.”

Leaders of another far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys, were convicted of seditious conspiracy last week for what prosecutors said was a separate plot to stop the transfer of power. Those convicted in that case include former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio.
Oath Keepers' Rhodes seeks leniency in Jan. 6 sentence
local

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. seeks 25 years in prison for Rhodes in first Jan. 6 sedition case, Spencer Hsu, May 6, 2023. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four others are set to be the first sentenced for seditious conspiracy in the Capitol breach.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six months after midterm losses, election deniers mount new efforts, Matthew Brown, May 9, 2023 (print ed.). Candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election are considering runs for different offices and building political power ahead of 2024.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosIn the 2022 midterm elections, an unprecedented number of Republican candidates denied or cast doubt on the results of the latest presidential election, spread false conspiracy theories about the nation’s voting systems and, in many cases, questioned the legitimacy of American democracy itself.

While a majority of them won, nearly all of the highest-profile candidates lost in what was seen as a national rebuke of the movement.

But losing did not seem to deter many of them.

Six months later, many are considering a return to the campaign trail or continuing to build popularity and power in conservative circles.

“They may have lost an election, but they gained a platform,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, a nonpartisan group that advocates for protecting U.S. elections and tracks election deniers. “We’re starting to see some of these defeated candidates seeking power outside of government, and they’re still pushing lies and conspiracy theories about elections. So we have to stay vigilant.”

In the 2022 midterm elections, an unprecedented number of Republican candidates denied or cast doubt on the results of the latest presidential election, spread false conspiracy theories about the nation’s voting systems and, in many cases, questioned the legitimacy of American democracy itself.

While a majority of them won, nearly all of the highest-profile candidates lost in what was seen as a national rebuke of the movement.

But losing did not seem to deter many of them.

Six months later, many are considering a return to the campaign trail or continuing to build popularity and power in conservative circles.

“They may have lost an election, but they gained a platform,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, a nonpartisan group that advocates for protecting U.S. elections and tracks election deniers. “We’re starting to see some of these defeated candidates seeking power outside of government, and they’re still pushing lies and conspiracy theories about elections. So we have to stay vigilant.”

Here’s a rundown of what some of the highest-profile election-denying candidates have done since the midterm elections:

kari lake gage skidmoreKari Lake, shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore, lost her race for Arizona governor, refused to accept the defeat and is now eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Independent Kyrsten Sinema.

One of the breakout right-wing stars of the 2022 midterms, Lake narrowly lost her bid for Arizona governor to Democrat Katie Hobbs, who took office in January. Lake challenged the outcome in state court, claiming widespread irregularities. The Arizona Supreme Court has refused to hear the majority of Lake’s claims and sent one part of her challenge to trial court for review.

Despite her loss, Lake is now a powerhouse in the party. She is considered a top contender for the Republican nomination for Senate in Arizona, a bid that excites the party’s base but worries strategists who fear she cannot win the highly competitive seat.

May 8

 

 

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts arrives before President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. Roberts has declined a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing on ethical standards at the court, instead providing the panel with a statement of ethics reaffirmed by the court's justices. (AP pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin.)

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts arrives before President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. Roberts has declined a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing on ethical standards at the court, instead providing the panel with a statement of ethics reaffirmed by the court's justices. (AP pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin.)

Politico, Chief justice must implement strong ethics code, Sen. Dick Durbin says, David Cohen, May 8, 2023 (print ed.). Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on Sunday called politico Customon Chief Justice John Roberts to create a strong “code of conduct” for the Supreme Court.

“History is going to judge him by the decision he makes on this. He has the power to make the difference,” the Illinois Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

richard durbin hDurbin, left, was speaking in response to the latest reporting by ProPublica about what Texas megadonor Harlan Crow has provided Justice Clarence Thomas over the years, including private-school tuition for a relative of Thomas’. (Thomas was the legal guardian of his relative.) Other news organizations have reported of ethical issues involving Thomas and other current members of the nation’s top court.

“I keep calling on Chief Justice Roberts to make a move and say something and solve this problem,” Durbin told host Jake Tapper. “He has the power to do it for the Roberts Court. But other justices can speak out as well.”

Durbin also said “everything is on the table” but didn’t offer any solutions that Congress could undertake on its own to impose policies on ethics for the nation’s highest court. But he said a strong policy is definitely needed to rebuild the court’s credibility.

“We need to change the image of this court. At this point it is at the lowest ebb in history,” Durbin said.

 

fani willis djt collagePolitico, 8 false Trump electors have accepted immunity deals, lawyer says, Kyle Cheney, May 8, 2023 (print ed.). The new revelation is the latest sign that a Georgia prosecutor is advancing her investigation into Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.

politico CustomEight Republican activists who falsely claimed to be legitimate presidential electors for Donald Trump have accepted immunity deals from the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.

georgia mapKimberly Debrow, a lawyer for the false electors, revealed the arrangement — reached last month — in a court filing Friday, opposing a bid by District Attorney Fani Willis, above left, to disqualify her from representing the large group.

It’s the latest indication of Willis’ advancing investigation, which she recently revealed could result in charges — possibly against Trump himself and a slew of high-profile allies — as soon as July.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Tucker Carlson’s Dark and Malign Influence Over the Christian Right, David French, right, May 8, 2023 (print ed.). On April 25, the far-right network david french croppedNewsmax hosted a fascinating and revealing conversation about Tucker Carlson with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of America’s leading Christian conservative advocacy organizations.

Perkins scorned Fox News’s decision to fire Carlson, and — incredibly — also attacked Fox’s decision to fire Bill O’Reilly. These terminations (along with the departures of Glenn Beck and Megyn Kelly) were deemed evidence that Fox was turning its back on its conservative viewers, including its Christian conservative viewers.

What was missing from the conversation? Any mention of the profound moral failings that cost O’Reilly his job, including at least six settlements — five for sexual harassment and one for verbal abuse — totaling approximately $45 million. Or any mention of Carlson’s own serious problems, including his serial dishonesty, his vile racism and his gross personal insult directed against a senior Fox executive. It’s a curious position for a Christian to take.

Similarly curious is the belief of other Christians, such as the popular evangelical “prophet” Lance Wallnau, that Carlson was a “casualty of war” with the left, and that his firing was a serious setback for Christian Republicans. To Wallnau, an author and a self-described “futurist,” Carlson was a “secular prophet,” somebody “used by God, more powerful than a lot of preachers.”

Other prominent Christian members of the American right applauded Carlson’s “courage” or declared — after The Times reported that Carlson condemned a group of Trump supporters for not fighting like “white men” after “jumping” an Antifa member — that Carlson did “nothing wrong.” Rod Dreher, editor-at-large at The American Conservative, said, “I hope Tucker Carlson runs for president,” and a “Tucker-DeSantis ticket would be the Generation X Saves The World team.”

I’m going to pause now and confess that I was once naïve. I was especially naïve about human nature. As a much younger Christian, I’d read stories of unholy violence and hatred unleashed in Jesus’ name in religious conflicts of even the recent past and think, “Thank God that’s over.” I felt comfortable in my Christian conservatism. My conservatism reflected my best effort to discern the policies that would contribute to justice and human flourishing, while my Christianity hovered over everything, hopefully (though not always, I must confess) infusing my public engagement with humility and kindness.

After all, isn’t “love your enemies” a core Christian command? The fruit of the spirit (the markers of God’s presence in our lives) are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” not Republicanism, conservatism and capitalism.

But the temptations — including the will to power and the quest for vengeance — that plagued the Christians of the past still plague the Christians of today. These temptations can plague people of any faith. If you infuse an issue or set of issues with religious intensity but drain a movement of religious virtue, then profound religious conflict — including violent conflict — is the inevitable result. Indeed, we saw religious violence on full display when a mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and it is no coincidence that one of Carlson’s most mendacious projects was his effort to recast the Jan. 6 insurrection and its aftermath as a “patriot purge.”

The great tragedy is that a moment of dangerous national polarization is exactly when a truly Christian message that combines the pursuit of justice with kindness and humility would be a balm to the national soul. A time of extraordinary social isolation, where people report less companionship, less time with friends, and less time with family, is exactly the time when a healthy church community can be a beacon of inclusion and hope.

May 6

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and Advocacy Recommendations: With baby drones hitting Kremlin, a civil war of violent factional conflict breaks webster tarpley 2007out in Moscow amid the gathering gloom of Ukraine defeat! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, May 6, 2023 (134:02 mins). Russian deputy foreign minister Ryabkov shrieks that Putin’s bandit regime and US are on edge of “abyss of open armed conflict”; Former Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev compares drone caper to 1933 Reichstag fire, blames FSB/KGB for incident designed to augment repression and tyranny;

Only defeat is an orphan: Mercenary terrorist boss Prigozhin–himself a suspect in drone affair– denounces Defense Minister Shoigu and General Gerassimov, the commander of the Ukrainian front, blaming them for bad logistics of “shell famine” in Bakhmut; Prigozhin claims Wagner casualties are up 500% because of sabotage in Moscow, and issues dubious threat to retreat from Bakhmut after Russian VE Day on May 9 unless ammo arrives;

White House analysis shows MAGA budget default would trigger depression with 8 million jobs lost and 45% dive by stock market; Insolvency would ruin achievements attained from Civil War to World War II, leaving reserve currency void that no other nation can fill;

Sen. Tester warns of MAGA clique actively seeking to shut down borrowing by bankrupting this nation; Even corrupt corporate media begin to understand that default is unconstitutional and illegal;

Asked on Friday if he is ready to end MAGA default blackmail by invoking XIV Amendment imperative to respect solvency of national debt, Biden responds ”I’ve not gotten there YET.”

Special counsel flips Trump staffer from Mar a Lago in classified documents probe; More on the “Quid pro Crow” scandal of Clarence Thomas’ blatant corruption;

RFK Jr. endorses pro-appeasement compendium of myths on Russian history and politics;

US default would brook comparison only with the British insolvency of September 1931, whose consequences included Great Depression and the Second World War!

With baby drones hitting Kremlin, a civil war of violent factional conflict breaks out in Moscow amid the gathering gloom of Ukraine defeat!

 

 

In an image released and annotated by the U.S. Justice Department, Peter Schwartz, circled in red, carried a wooden tire-knocker on Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol.

In an image released and annotated by the U.S. Justice Department, Peter Schwartz, circled in red, carried a wooden tire-knocker on Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Rioter Gets 14 Years for Police Attacks, Longest Sentence Yet in Inquiry, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, May 6, 2023 (print ed.). A Pennsylvania welder who attacked police officers at the Capitol with a chair and then chemical spray was sentenced on Friday to slightly more than 14 years in prison, the most severe penalty handed down so far in connection with the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

At a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, the man, Peter Schwartz, 49, joined a growing list of people charged with assaulting the police on that day who have received stiff sentences. Until now, the longest sentence in a Jan. 6 case had been the 10-year term given to Thomas Webster, a former New York City police officer who was found guilty last year of swinging a metal flagpole at an officer at the Capitol.

The sentence could presage more long prison terms to come. In a separate case on Friday, prosecutors recommended 25 years in prison for Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November along with one of his lieutenants. The prosecutors said holding Mr. Rhodes accountable at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for May 24, would be essential to preserving American democracy. His punishment, they said, could help decide whether “Jan. 6 becomes an outlier or a watershed moment.”

In the case of Mr. Schwartz, who went to the riot armed with a wooden tire knocker, prosecutors had asked Judge Amit P. Mehta for a sentence of 24 years and six months in prison — more than twice Mr. Webster’s sentence. While Judge Mehta declined to go that high, he said that his decision to issue a term of 170 months was necessary given Mr. Schwartz’s substantial history of violent offenses, and lack of remorse for his actions.

“There are not many who have come before this court with a criminal history like yours,” Judge Mehta said.

Mr. Schwartz was convicted at a trial in December of, among other acts, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and one of obstructing the certification of the election, which was taking place inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

 

April

April 30

 

Ultra-right dark money fund-raiser Leonard Leo, center, a major provider of funding for the Federalist Society and other influencers on judicial appointments and decision-making (New York Times photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick).Ultra-right dark money fund-raiser Leonard Leo, center, a major provider of funding for the Federalist Society and other influencers on judicial appointments and decision-making (New York Times photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Scalia Law School Became a Key Friend of the Supreme Court, Steve Eder and Jo Becker, April 30, 2023. George Mason University’s law school cultivated ties to justices, with generous pay and unusual perks. In turn, it gained prestige, donations and influence.

In the fall of 2017, an administrator at George Mason University’s law school circulated a confidential memo about a prospective hire.

gmu scalia law logoJust months earlier, Neil M. Gorsuch, below left, a federal appeals court judge from Colorado, had won confirmation to the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon for whom the school was named. For President Donald J. Trump, bringing neil gorsuch headshotJudge Gorsuch to Washington was the first step toward fulfilling a campaign promise to cement the high court unassailably on the right. For the leaders of the law school, bringing the new justice to teach at Scalia Law was a way to advance their own parallel ambition.

“Establishing and building a strong relationship with Justice Gorsuch during his first full term on the bench could be a game-changing opportunity for Scalia Law, as it looks to accelerate its already meteoric rise to the top rank of law schools in the United States,” read the memo, contained in one of thousands of internal university emails obtained by The New York Times.

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

By the winter of 2019, the law school faculty would include not just Justice Gorsuch but also two other members of the court, Justices Clarence Thomas, below right, and clarence thomas HRBrett M. Kavanaugh — all deployed as strategic assets in a campaign to make Scalia Law, a public school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, a Yale or Harvard of conservative legal scholarship and influence.

The law school had long stood out for its rightward leanings and ties to conservative benefactors. Its renaming after Justice Scalia in 2016 was the result of a $30 million gift brokered by Leonard Leo, prime architect of a grand project then gathering force to transform the federal judiciary and further the legal imperatives of the right. An ascendant law school at George Mason would be part of that plan.

Since the rebranding, the law school has developed an unusually expansive relationship with the justices of the high court — welcoming them as teachers but also as lecturers and special guests at school events. Scalia Law, in turn, has marketed that closeness with the justices as a unique draw to prospective students and donors.

The Supreme Court assiduously seeks to keep its inner workings, and the justices’ lives, shielded from view, even as recent revelations and ethical questions have brought calls for greater transparency. Yet what emerges from the trove of documents is a glimpse behind the Supreme Court curtain, revealing one particular version of the favored treatment the justices often receive from those seeking to get closer to them.

April 29

 

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, anti-vax activists Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Charlene Bollinger, and longtime Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone, left to right, backstage at a July 2021 Reawaken America event. The photo was posted but later removed by Bollinger, who has appeared with Kennedy at multiple events. She and her husband sponsored an anti-vaccine, pro-Trump rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Bollinger celebrated the attack and her husband tried to enter the Capitol. Kennedy later appeared in a video for their Super PAC. Kennedy has repeatedly invoked Nazis and the Holocaust when talking about measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and vaccine mandates. Kennedy, who has announced a presidential campaign for 2024, has at times invoked his family’s legacy in his anti-vaccine work, including sometimes using images of President Kennedy.

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: How Robert F. Kennedy Jr., His Presidential Candidacy and Vaccine Views, Help Trump, Russ Baker, right, russ bakerbest-selling author, media critic and founder of the investigative project WhoWhatWhy, April 29, 2023. Will Roger Stone’s Trump-Kennedy “dream ticket” come true?

whowhatwhy logoI have mixed feelings about Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the recently announced challenger to President Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination. But not evenly mixed feelings.

On the positive side, he is one of the very few members of the Kennedy family willing to risk saying what others in the family will not: Key people in charge of investigating the deaths of his uncle and father, John and Robert, consistently failed to pursue meaningful leads that contradicted the official story.

Bobby Jr.’s willingness to endure a broad range of risks for talking about that topic impressed me, and led me to look at what else he has said, including his bracing critique of the military-intelligence-industrial complex.

Unfortunately, the good news ends there. It’s one thing to recognize real conspiracies and another to embrace all kinds of disinformation in keeping with his preconceived ideas, which are not supported by fact.

Which takes us to RFK Jr.’s views on public health.

His outspoken positions and continuous leadership of the anti-vaccination movement are a huge blot on his overall record. Because it’s such a striking and profound departure from evidence-based logic, I think it instantly disqualifies him as a presidential candidate.

In upcoming columns, I’ll take a look at the claims Kennedy has publicized regarding vaccines.

This country faces too many complex challenges and perils to turn the presidency over to someone who lacks good judgment on a subject as important as this. He shouldn’t be president, and even his spoiler role is a bad and terribly dangerous idea — given the overall stakes.

None other than the villainous Steve Bannon, a longtime Trump adviser, spent months trying to convince RFK Jr. to run. Bannon is expert at generating chaos, and he’s found the perfect vehicle.

Meanwhile, Roger Stone has proposed a “dream ticket” — Trump and Kennedy, together. Yes, this is actually happening. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see where this is headed. It’s obviously not good for the country, not good for humanity. Now is the time to speak up to head off potential disaster.

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Overview and What You Can Do About It: 2024 campaign kicks off with confrontation over MAGA plan to force US default! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, April 29, 2023 (117:30 mins.). Seeking to extort killer austerity in federal budget, Qevin McCarthy manages to pass a budget resolution demanding 22% cuts in Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, student loan debt relief, IRS modernization, and Social Security/Medicare administration; Large areas of discretionary spending would be crippled;

XIV Amendment makes default on US public debt unconstitutional and illegal, meaning there can be no debt ceiling; Biden must order Yellen to maintain the normal schedule of Treasury securities auctions to make sure that public debt is kept solvent and fully funded, with all legal obligations paid on time-and without reference to treasonous antics of MAGA-Tea Party clique in House;

Negotiations with terrorists and hostage takers are contrary to US policy in any case;

Pence testifies for 7-8 hours before Jack Smith grand jury; Trump rape trial resumes Monday; July-August may be prime time for Fulton County indictments;
ulysses grant matthew bradyWidow of Putin mentor and St. Petersburg Mayor Sobchak warns that Kremlin dictator has lost his mind; Harbingers of Ukraine offensive multiply;

Nebraska and South Carolina reject draconian abortion bans; Supremes stall on medication abortions; Roberts snubs invitation to appear before Senators as Supreme Court corruption scandal widens;

Recalling the massive historical achievements of U.S. Grant (the future president is shown at right in a photo by Matthew Brady), born April 27, 1822.

April 27

 

 

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts arrives before President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. Roberts has declined a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing on ethical standards at the court, instead providing the panel with a statement of ethics reaffirmed by the court's justices. (AP pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin.)

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts arrives before President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. Roberts has declined a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing on ethical standards at the court, instead providing the panel with a statement of ethics reaffirmed by the court's justices. (AP pool photo by Jacquelyn Martin.)

ap logoAssociated Press, Supreme Court on ethics issues: Not broken, no fix needed, Jessica Grfesko, April 27, 2023. The Supreme Court is speaking with one voice in response to recent criticism of the justices’ ethical practices: No need to fix what isn’t broken.

April 22

 

djt as chosen one

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump touts authoritarian vision for second term: ‘I am your justice,’ Isaac Arnsdorf and Jeff Stein, April 22, 2023 (print ed.). The former president is proposing deploying the military domestically, purging the federal workforce and building futuristic cities from scratch.

President Donald Trump officialMandatory stop-and-frisk. Deploying the military to fight street crime, break up gangs and deport immigrants. Purging the federal workforce and charging leakers.

Former president Donald Trump has steadily begun outlining his vision for a second-term agenda, focusing on unfinished business from his time in the White House and an expansive vision for how he would wield federal power. In online videos and stump speeches, Trump is pledging to pick up where his first term left off and push even further.

djt maga hatWhere he earlier changed border policies to reduce refugees and people seeking asylum, he’s now promising to conduct an unprecedented deportation operation. Where he previously moved to make it easier to fire federal workers, he’s now proposing a new civil service exam. After urging state and local officials to take harsher measures on crime and homelessness, Trump says he is now determined to take more direct federal action.

“In 2016, I declared I am your voice,” Trump said in a speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference and repeated at his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco a few weeks later. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

Trump’s emerging platform marks a sharp departure from traditional conservative orthodoxy emphasizing small government, which was famously summed up in Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Trump, by contrast, is proposing to apply government power, centralized under his authority, toward a vast range of issues that have long remained outside the scope of federal control.

Experts called some of Trump’s ideas impractical, reckless, self-defeating, potentially illegal and even dangerous. Some of Trump’s specific proposals are admittedly underdeveloped, such as a plan for building futuristic cities from scratch on unused federal land, which has been compared to projects in repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

 

 

joe biden twitter

World Crisis Radio, Weekly Strategic Summary & What You Can Do About It: To defeat fascism and Sino-Russian aggression, US needs Biden for President in 2024! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, April 22-23, 2023 (132:25 mins.). If Biden is going to declare his candidacy for president this coming Tuesday then that's a golden opportunity for people to put aside the illusion of Third Parties, more or less dubious, more or less manipulated, and all really suicidal for the future of the United States.

This is now crunch time. This is the crisis. This is where you got to show who you are world historically and Biden gives you more than enough to make a commitment in his direction, clearly. And that's what I ure people to do. This is what makes sense for the moment is full support for Biden, enthusiastic support. Be glad you have such a person. Let's hope it last through the coming

We need another crushing defeat for Trump and his MAGA hooligans, fanatics and sleazebags. We've had enough of that. The United States may not be able to stand another term of Trump as the chief executive, especially in the full vendatta mode, the full revenge mode, which is all he has to offer. Notice that overall his speeches come down to "Me, Me and my losses. I'ved been treated unfairly." Yeah, unfairly.

edouard daladierThis is now intolerable. This is now the central point of world history along with the Ukraine war at the moment, which is now closely linked because you've got Trump a notorious appeaser. We should send him an umbrella of the type [Neville] Chamberlain carried at the 'Munich Sell-Out Conference' where Hitler was given Western and Central Europe by Chamberlain and [Édouard] Daladier (left). You've got to make sure this doesn't happen.

Fortunately, the pocess of stopping Trump is working. 80% of Democrats are already committed to support President!

dominion voting systemsDominion’s $788 million out of court settlement wisely avoids corrupt and hostile Supremes, who are eager to facilitate defamation cases by oligarchs against the press; Abby Grossberg’s tapes further expose Fox madhouse; Running scared in shadow of corruption chaos, Supremes cave 7-2 to keep abortion pill available for now;

jack smith graphicTrump goes on trial Tuesday in New York civil action brought by E. Jean Carroll; Fulton County DA Fani Willis grants immunity to an Electoral College imposter; Jack Smith, left, calls Trump insider Boris Epshteyn to testify;

Problem Solver and Governance Republicans make McCarthy’s odious Freedom Caucus-style budget blackmail and extortion possible; Time to focus opprobrium on 18 MAGA enablers in Biden districts and other vulnerable Republicans to prevent catastrophic default at all costs; President must not meet privately with Qevin, who can be counted on to lie about any talks to dupe his own caucus;

WaPo reports Russian documents revealing Kremlin plot to join German ultra-left peacenik faction with xenophobic/nostalgic Alternative for Germany to wreck public and military support for Ukraine; Moscow’s methods remain the same as they were when Stalin helped Hitler seize power!

 

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, Testimony Suggests Trump Was at Meeting About Accessing Voting Software, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, April 21, 2023. A liberal-leaning group highlighted testimony to the Jan. 6 panel that described Donald Trump attending a meeting about the plan in December 2020.

georgia mapFormer President Donald J. Trump took part in a discussion about plans to access voting system software in Michigan and Georgia as part of the effort to challenge his 2020 election loss, according to testimony from former Trump advisers. The testimony, delivered to the House Jan. 6 committee, was highlighted on Friday in a letter to federal officials from a liberal-leaning legal advocacy group.

Allies of Mr. Trump ultimately succeeded in copying the elections software in those two states, and the breach of voting data in Georgia is being examined by prosecutors as part of a broader criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump and his allies interfered in the presidential election there. The former president’s participation in the discussion of the Georgia plan could increase his risk of possible legal exposure there.

A number of Trump aides and allies have recounted a lengthy and acrimonious meeting in the Oval Office on Dec. 18, 2020, which one member of the House Jan. 6 committee would later call “the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency.” During the meeting, then-President Trump presided as his advisers argued about whether they should seek to have federal agents seize voting machines to analyze them for fraud.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosTestimony to the Jan. 6 committee from one aide who attended the meeting, Derek Lyons, a former White House staff secretary and counselor, was highlighted on Friday in a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from Free Speech for People, a liberal nonprofit legal advocacy group. Mr. Lyons recounted that during the meeting, Rudolph W. Giuliani, then Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, opposed seizing voting machines and spoke of how the Trump campaign was instead “going to be able to secure access to voting machines in Georgia through means other than seizure,” and that the access would be “voluntary.”

Other attendees offered similar testimony to the committee, which released its final report on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in late December. Among those involved in the Oval Office discussion were two prominent pro-Trump conspiracy theorists: Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, a lawyer who spread numerous falsehoods after the 2020 election and who also discussed Mr. Giuliani’s comments in her testimony.

April 15

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary and Activism: Trump faces multiple envelopment by criminal and civil actions already grinding down his base dupes, webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, author and historian, April 15, 2023 (132:20 mins.). MAGA attacks on abortion plus orgy of gun violence paint Trump candidates into corner of desperate unpopularity for 2024; 6-week law could doom deSantis; Social explosion looms;

Legal positivism gone wild empowers one ignorant yokel Trump-appointed judge to cancel the entire FDA process and over 20 years and 4 million treatments with mifepristone; Don’t let epitaph of Constitution become ”Died of fascist judges”;

France’s Macron lives up to his title of ”President of the Rich”: he panders to Putin and China as ordered by Paris bankers, while imposing brutal pension austerity on working people;

UK defense ministry warns that classified documents published by Teixeira come replete with many inaccuracies; Moscow Marge leads GOP hooligans in glorifying leaker, aka JackTheDripper of Thug Shaker Central; The recent mirrors of Tuchashevsky and Operation Splinter Factor;

Russia’s Yavlinsky of Yabloko Party is demanding end to Ukraine genocide and end of Putin’s rule, refuting the western vatniki (Kremlin stooges) who whine for arms embargo and appeasement;

April-May 1864: Grant’s Overland campaign starts with coordinated attacks by all Union armies, ending Civil War within less than a year;

Once again: Tell corporate media to stop misnomering and euphemizing fascists as ”conservatives” !

truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Six Takeaways From Trump’s New Financial Disclosure, Michael C. Bender, Eric Lipton, Matthew Goldstein and Ken Bensinger, April 15, 2023 (print ed.). In a 101-page filing, Donald Trump revealed lower-than-expected values on his social media company and sizable bank loans.

Former President Donald J. Trump provided the first look at his post-presidency business dealings on Friday with a new personal financial disclosure. Though light on specifics, the documents filed with the Federal Election Commission revealed lower-than-expected values on his social media company, two additional hefty bank loans and a new income stream for former first lady Melania Trump.

The former president filed his disclosure after requesting multiple extensions. He had been warned that he would face fines if he failed to file within 30 days of a March 16 deadline.

fec logo black background CustomThe financial disclosure shows cumulative income from January 2021 to Dec. 15, 2022, as required by the Federal Election Commission, and the value of assets as of December 2022, according to a person familiar with the documents.

Here are six takeaways from the 101-page filing.

Trump’s social media company takes a valuation hit. The disclosure valued the parent company of Truth Social, the former president’s social media platform and personal megaphone, at between $5 million and $25 million. That reported value for the parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, was considerably less than the potential $9 billion valuation for the company when it announced a merger in October 2021 with a cash-rich special purpose acquisition company called Digital World Acquisition Company.

The estimate reflected the current value for Mr. Trump’s holding and was not an attempt to price the assets after a potential estimate, a person familiar with the filing said. Still, the intrinsic value of Trump Media is considerably less than he had hoped for when he launched the company in early 2021.

The merger deal has been held up by dual investigations by federal prosecutors and securities regulators, causing the stock of Digital World to tumble from a high of $97 a share to its current price of $13.10 a share. Still, if the deal is ever completed, it will bring at least $300 million in badly needed cash to Trump Media and potentially increase Mr. Trump’s paper wealth by a considerable amount. And Mr. Trump stands to get 70 million shares.

Trump’s online trading cards show underwhelming early sales. Late last year, Mr. Trump announced a foray into digital assets known as NFTs, or nonfungible tokens. Trump Cards, virtual trading cards illustrated with a variety of cartoonish images of the former president, first went up for sale on Dec. 15.

Expectations for the deal — orchestrated by Bill Zanker, a serial entrepreneur who had previously co-authored a book with Mr. Trump and paid him millions of dollars in speaking fees — were high: NFTs had commanded stunning prices in recent years, with one single token topping $22 million in early 2022.

Privately, Mr. Trump had been assured the venture could hit as much as $100 million in sales, but early returns suggested a less spectacular outcome, with analysts estimating less than $6 million in total revenue by early February.

Mr. Trump’s new financial disclosure states that the company he created for the NFT project, CIC Digital LLC, had between $100,001 and $1 million in income. But because the filing cuts off on Dec. 15 — the exact day that Trump Cards began trading — it was unclear how much of the early sales of the NFTs was included.

April 13

 

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, shown left to right, each expressed contempt for the voting fraud allegations they were broadcasting to Fox audiences, according to newly released internal documents obtained as evidence in a forthcoming defamation trial against the network, its owners and personnel.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Landmark Trial Against Fox News Could Affect the Future of Libel Law, Michael M. Grynbaum, April 13, 2023. Jury selection starts on fox news logo SmallThursday in Delaware Superior Court, where the proceedings will tackle misinformation and the limits of journalistic responsibility.Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against the network will tackle misinformation and the limits of journalistic responsibility.

dominion voting systemsDominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News, which goes to trial in Delaware next week, is expected to stoke hot-button debates over journalistic ethics, the unchecked flow of misinformation, and the ability of Americans to sort out facts and falsehoods in a polarized age.

For a particular subset of the legal and media communities, the trial is also shaping up as something else: the libel law equivalent of the Super Bowl.

“I’ve been involved in hundreds of libel cases, and there has never been a case like this,” said Martin Garbus, a veteran First Amendment lawyer. “It’s going to be a dramatic moment in American history.”

With jury selection set to begin on Thursday in Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington, the case has so far been notable for its unprecedented window into rupert murdoch pink shirtsleevesthe inner workings of Fox News. Emails and text messages introduced as evidence showed the Fox host Tucker Carlson insulting former President Donald J. Trump to his colleagues, and Rupert Murdoch, left, whose family controls the Fox media empire, aggressively weighing in on editorial decisions, among other revelations.

Now, after months of depositions and dueling motions, the lawyers will face off before a jury, and legal scholars and media lawyers say the arguments are likely to plumb some of the knottier questions of American libel law.

Dominion, an elections technology firm, is seeking $1.6 billion in damages after Fox News aired false claims that the company had engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election for Joseph R. Biden Jr. The claims, repeated on Fox programs hosted by anchors like Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, were central to Mr. Trump’s effort to persuade Americans that he had not actually lost.

Lawyers for Fox have argued that the network is protected as a news-gathering organization, and that claims of election fraud, voiced by lawyers for a sitting president, were the epitome of newsworthiness. “Ultimately, this case is about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” the network has said.

 

fox upside down news

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Imposes Sanction on Fox for Withholding Evidence in Defamation Case, Katie Robertson and Jeremy W. Peters, April 13, 2023 (print ed.). Judge Eric Davis also said an investigation was likely into Fox’s handling of documents and whether it had withheld details about Rupert Murdoch’s corporate role.

dominion voting systemsThe judge overseeing Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against Fox News said on Wednesday that he was imposing a sanction on the network and would very likely start an investigation into whether Fox’s legal team had deliberately withheld evidence, scolding the lawyers for not being “straightforward” with him.

The rebuke came after lawyers for Dominion, which is suing for defamation, revealed a number of instances in which Fox’s lawyers had not turned over evidence in a timely manner. That evidence included recordings of the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo talking with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, which Dominion said had been turned over only a week ago.

eric davisIn imposing the sanction on Fox, Judge Eric M. Davis, right, of the Delaware Superior Court ruled that if Dominion had to do additional depositions, or redo any, then Fox would have to “do everything they can to make the person available, and it will be at a cost to Fox.”

He also said he would very likely appoint a special master — an outside lawyer — to investigate Fox’s handling of discovery of documents and the question of whether Fox had inappropriately withheld details about the scope of Rupert Murdoch’s role. Since Dominion filed its suit in early 2021, Fox had argued that Mr. Murdoch and Fox Corporation, the parent company, should not be part of the case because Mr. Murdoch, the chair, and other senior executives had nothing to do with running Fox News. But in the past few days, Fox disclosed to Dominion that Mr. Murdoch was a corporate officer at Fox News.

Dominion, a voting technology company, accused Fox and some of the network’s executives and hosts of smearing its reputation by linking it to a nonexistent conspiracy to rig voting machines in the 2020 presidential election. Fox had said that it was just reporting on newsworthy allegations from Mr. Trump, who was then the president, as well as his lawyers and supporters, who told Fox’s hosts and producers that they would prove their allegations in court.

Jury selection starts on Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Dominion would avail itself of the judge’s ruling allowing its lawyers to conduct additional depositions. But it was clear from Judge Davis’s stern reprimand of Fox’s lawyers on Wednesday — and similarly piqued remarks from him during another hearing on Tuesday — that he was losing patience.

The judge told Fox’s lawyers to retain all internal communications, starting from March 20 of this year, that related to Mr. Murdoch’s role at Fox News. That was the date the lawyers submitted a letter to Judge Davis asking that Mr. Murdoch and other Fox Corporation executives not be forced to testify at the trial in person, saying they had “limited knowledge of pertinent facts.” The letter did not mention that Mr. Murdoch was also a Fox News executive.

Judge Davis said he would weigh whether any additional sanctions should be placed on Fox.

He also said he was very concerned that there had been “misrepresentations to the court.”

“This is very serious,” Judge Davis said.

Davida Brook, a lawyer for Dominion, told the court that they were still receiving relevant documents from Fox, with the trial just days away.

“We keep on learning about more relevant information from individuals other than Fox,” she said. “And to be honest we don’t really know what to do about that, but that is the situation we find ourselves in.”

She pointed to one email that had recently been handed over, between Ms. Bartiromo and Ms. Powell on Nov. 7, 2020. In the email, Ms. Powell was forwarding evidence to Ms. Bartiromo that Dominion said was proof Fox had acted recklessly: an email from a woman Ms. Powell relied on as a source who exhibited signs of delusion, claiming, for instance, that she was aware of voter fraud because she had special powers, including the ability to time travel.

“I just spoke to Eric and told him you gave very imp info,” Ms. Bartiromo wrote back to Ms. Powell, most likely referring to Eric Trump, Mr. Trump’s son.

Ms. Brook also played two recordings for the court of pre-interviews, which are preliminary conversations before an on-air interview, conducted by Ms. Bartiromo that Ms. Brook said were received only after they were revealed in legal complaints filed by Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who is suing the network.

In one of the recordings, on Nov. 8, 2020, Ms. Bartiromo asks Mr. Giuliani about Dominion’s software. In it, he admits that he doesn’t have hard evidence to back up the claim that the software could be manipulated, saying it was “being analyzed right now.” When Ms. Bartiromo asks about a conspiracy theory circulating at the time that claimed Dominion was connected to Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, Mr. Giuliani says: “Yeah, I’ve read that. I can’t prove that yet.”

A Fox News spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday: “As counsel explained to the court, Fox produced the supplemental information from Ms. Grossberg when we first learned it.”

Justin Nelson, another lawyer for Dominion, told Judge Davis that had Fox Corporation, the parent company, been quicker to share the information about Mr. Murdoch’s role as an officer of Fox News, the universe of documents Dominion could have obtained during discovery from him and other Fox Corporation executives would have been much larger. He also said that Fox might have failed to produce relevant documents.

“We have been litigating based upon this false premise that Rupert Murdoch wasn’t an officer of Fox News,” he said.

npr logoNational Public Radio (NPR), NPR announced it would cease posting to Twitter after the social media platform labeled the nonprofit "Government-funded Media," David Folkenflik, April 12-13, 2023. NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform. In explaining its decision, NPR cited Twitter's decision to first label the network "state-affiliated media," the same term it uses for propaganda outlets in Russia, China and other autocratic countries.

The decision by Twitter last week took the public radio network off guard. When queried by NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn, Twitter owner Elon Musk asked how NPR functioned. Musk allowed that he might have gotten it wrong.

twitter bird CustomTwitter then revised its label on NPR's account to "government-funded media." The news organization says that is inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

By going silent on Twitter, NPR's chief executive says the network is protecting its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without "a shadow of negativity."

"The downside, whatever the downside, doesn't change that fact," NPR CEO John Lansing said in an interview. "I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility."

Elon Musk says NPR's 'state-affiliated media' label might not have been accurate

elon musk sideviewIn a BBC interview posted online Wednesday, Musk, shown above in a file photo, suggested he may further change the label to "publicly funded." His words did not sway NPR's decision makers. Even if Twitter were to drop the designation altogether, Lansing says the network will not immediately return to the platform.

"At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter," he says. "I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again."

NPR's Allyn emailed Musk on Wednesday morning asking for "your reaction" to the news organization quitting Twitter.

Initially, Musk didn't respond, but a couple of hours later Musk tweeted out Allyn's email followed with a tweet saying "Defund @NPR." His followers quickly piled on.

NPR is instituting a "two-week grace period" so the staff who run the Twitter accounts can revise their social-media strategies. Lansing says individual NPR journalists and staffers can decide for themselves whether to continue using Twitter.

In an email to staff explaining the decision, Lansing wrote, "It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards."

 

pbs logoAxios, PBS stops tweeting after Musk adds "government-funded" label, Sara Fischer, April 12-13, 2023. PBS has not tweeted from its main Twitter handle since April 8, following Elon Musk's decision to label the outlet "government-funded news."

axios logoWhy it matters: PBS joins NPR, another major editorially independent outlet that receives some government funding, in halting its Twitter activity in light of the new label.

NPR said Wednesday it was suspending its use of Twitter after the platform labeled it "government-funded."

twitter bird CustomDetails: Twitter added a "government-funded" label to PBS' main Twitter account last weekend, a spokesperson confirmed.

“We did stop tweeting at that point as soon as we discovered it," a PBS spokesperson confirmed. "We have no plans to resume tweeting."

The label was placed only on PBS' main Twitter handle, not any of the accounts affiliated with PBS, like its local stations or individual shows.

State of play: NPR and PBS are the second and third major outlets to stop tweeting since Musk bought Twitter last fall. CBS news last year paused its use of Twitter temporarily after Musk purchased the platform.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jeff Bezos isn’t planning Commanders bid, clearing path for Josh Harris group, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, April 13, 2023 (print ed.). Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has no plans to enter the bidding for the Washington Commanders, a person familiar with the bidding process said Wednesday, potentially clearing the way for a group led by Josh Harris to complete a deal to purchase the franchise from Daniel Snyder.

amazon logo smallBezos, who owns The Washington Post, declined to comment through a spokesperson. But the person with knowledge of the process said Bezos does not intend to bid on the team, and others familiar with the sale process have said they believe Harris’s group would be the favorite to purchase the franchise from Snyder if Bezos does not bid.

It was not clear Wednesday whether an agreement between Harris’s group and Snyder might be close. The Commanders declined to comment through a spokesperson.

Snyder has not notified the NFL and its finance committee that he has reached a deal to sell the team, a person with direct knowledge of the league’s inner workings and the views of the owners said Wednesday. But hopes are growing that a sale could occur in the coming weeks, that person said.

Harris, the owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $5.9 billion. His investment group includes Potomac, Md., businessman and philanthropist Mitchell Rales and Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Rales, the co-founder of the Danaher Corporation, has an estimated net worth of $5.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Harris-Rales partnership gives Daniel Snyder a strong non-Bezos option

Harris’s group and another group led by Canadian commercial real estate developer and private equity executive Steve Apostolopoulos entered competing formal bids last month for the Commanders, people with direct knowledge of the sale process said then. The bid by Harris’s group was for about $6 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge of the process.

April 12

 

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jet-Setting With Clarence Thomas Puts Spotlight on Eccentric Billionaire, Abbie VanSickle, April 12, 2023 (print ed.). The justice’s connection to Harlan Crow raised questions of whether friendships can be separated from politics and intensified calls for an ethics code.

Shortly after the leak of the draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas made headlines last spring when he told an audience in Dallas that the breach might have permanently damaged the court. Less noticed was what he said about his longtime friend, the conservative Texas real estate billionaire Harlan Crow.

As the justice settled into a chair by a fireplace at Old Parkland, a palatial office complex, his interviewer, John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, thanked Mr. Crow, the owner of Old Parkland, for making “this wonderful facility available” for the talk.

“I know Harlan hates that,” Mr. Yoo said, a reference to the eccentric and press-averse Mr. Crow’s dislike of praise in public.

“That’s why I wouldn’t say it,” Justice Thomas chimed in, amused. “I’d like to keep that friendship.”

The precise nature of the friendship between the justice and Mr. Crow is under new scrutiny since ProPublica revealed last week that Justice Thomas did not disclose lavish gifts from Mr. Crow, including travel on the billionaire’s private jet, stays at his Adirondacks resort and island hopping in Indonesia on his superyacht.

Although Justice Thomas has said the two have been close friends for decades and the trips were personal, Mr. Crow — a longtime donor to conservative causes whose Dallas home includes paintings by Renoir and a signed copy of “Mein Kampf” — did not meet the justice until he was already on the court. The relationship has raised questions about whether such a friendship can be separated from politics and has intensified calls from Democrats for transparency and an ethics code for the justices.

sheldon whitehouse“The fact that there’s no way to get an independent internal investigation of a justice is how Justice Thomas has been able to get away with all these reporting failures,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, left, Democrat of Rhode Island. “There’s simply no process to look into any of this other than the justice making his own determination.”

Mr. Crow, 73, has since 2006 been a trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society, a charity that asks for an annual contribution of $5,000 or more to further its mission of preserving the court’s history and educating the public. Mr. Crow is also a trustee of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation and gave $500,000 to a group that ran advertisements to build public support for Mr. Bush’s Supreme Court picks.

Mr. Crow and his firm have not had a case before the Supreme Court during Justice Thomas’s time there, and in a statement to ProPublica said he and the justice and their wives kept the court and politics out of their friendship.

April 8

 

Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts in historic indictment linked to Stormy Daniels hush money probe (Associated Press photo by Seth Wong).

Former President Donald J. Trump, in a blue suit, sits with his attorneys shortly before arraignment in New York City's state court on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records related to the 2016 presidential campaign season, reportedly involving in part hush money to women (Associated Press photo by Seth Wong).

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary and Activism: Trump is now an accused felon as his gaslighting machine and demagogic powers dwindle! Webster webster tarpley 2007G. Tarpley, right, author, strategist, April 8, 2023 (113:15 mins.). Federal courts shred claims of privilege regarding grand jury testimony against Trump by Pence, Secret Service agents, and White House insiders Meadows-Scavino-Miller-OBrien-McEntee-Racliffe-Luna-Cucinelli;

Infamous NY criminal defendant escalates illegal threats against Judge Merchan, DA Bragg, and their families, stubbornly courting imprisonment;

Bitter partisan clashes emphasize urgency of GOP extinction as criminal irrationality of desperado leaders comes to fore; GOP cannot exist without rube bait issues that also render party unelectable;

More crude threats from Beijing as ”Balloon Boy” Xi succeeds in uniting US political forces against his mad quest for world domination; Reports from Kremlin defector and CIA vet depict Putin as fey and isolated paranoid obsessed with avoiding the fate of Qaddafi;

Cliques of Wall Street zombie bankers seek to block Biden’s second term to prevent fair taxation and rational re-regulation; Sinister dark money mobilizing for No Labels Superpac 2023 strategy that could allow Trump or DeSantis to seize power; Anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy reportedly encouraged by Bannon to foment chaos;

In Tennessee, the native soil of the Ku Klux Klan, Gestapo methods are on the march in state government;

Time to impeach the lawless Clarence Thomas, whose wealthy cronies ALWAYS have business before the Supreme Court because their business IS the court; Wisconsin voters bar MAGA fanatic from their state supreme court;

Breaking: Rogue Texas MAGA judge runs wild, rolls back 20 years of medication abortion!; A conservative judge would respect precedent, this one tramples on it; This is fascist jurisprudence; To defeat MAGA, STOP EUPHEMIZING AND MISNOMERING THEM AS CONSERVATIVES!

April 6

 

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, left, and his billionaire friend and benefactor Harlan Crow (file photos).

pro publica logo

ProPublica, Investigation: Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire, Clarence Thomas Undisclosed Luxury Travel Gifts, Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott and Alex Mierjeski, April 6, 2023.

In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.

If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.

For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks.

The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.

Thomas did not respond to a detailed list of questions.

In a statement, Crow acknowledged that he’d extended “hospitality” to the Thomases “over the years,” but said that Thomas never asked for any of it and it was “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”

Through his largesse, Crow has gained a unique form of access, spending days in private with one of the most powerful people in the country. By accepting the trips, Thomas has broken long-standing norms for judges’ conduct, ethics experts and four current or retired federal judges said.

“It’s incomprehensible to me that someone would do this,” said Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. When she was on the bench, Gertner said, she was so cautious about appearances that she wouldn’t mention her title when making dinner reservations: “It was a question of not wanting to use the office for anything other than what it was intended.”

Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in administrations of both parties, said Thomas “seems to have completely disregarded his higher ethical obligations.”

“When a justice’s lifestyle is being subsidized by the rich and famous, it absolutely corrodes public trust,” said Canter, now at the watchdog group CREW. “Quite frankly, it makes my heart sink.”

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: Supreme Court fight reignites, Zachary Basu and Andrew Solender, April 6, 2023. An explosive ProPublica investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' ties to a billionaire GOP donor has triggered a furious response from Democrats, sparking calls for resignation, impeachment and sweeping reforms to the nation's highest court.

axios logoDriving the news: For more than two decades, the conservative justice has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow without disclosing them, according to flight records, internal documents and interviews with staff.

Thomas and Crow are genuine friends, ProPublica reports, but the extent and frequency of the billionaire's gifts "have no known precedent in the modern history" of the Supreme Court.

By accepting the opulent trips on Crow's private jet and superyacht — and failing to report them on his financial disclosures — Thomas broke long-standing norms and potentially a post-Watergate ethics law.

Why it matters: The vast majority of Democrats already believe the Supreme Court is broken, unrepresentative of the views of most Americans, and captured by conservative and corporate interests.

That trend of distrust was accelerated by the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer, a landmark decision that has transformed the political landscape.
A record-low 47% of Americans said they have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of trust in the Supreme Court last year, down 20 points from 2020, according to Gallup polling.

Between the lines: Thomas, in particular, has become a top target of Democratic anger after it was revealed that his wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, participated in Trump-aligned efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

What we're hearing: Within hours of the report's publication, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred to it as a "call to action" and promised his panel "will act."

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, floated using the appropriations process to "ensure that the Supreme Court adopts a code of conduct."

Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) revived a progressive call to "expand the court" — an idea that gained steam after Republicans quickly replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, but which is opposed by President Biden.

Reality check: With Republicans in control of the House, any congressional action against the conservative jurist is likely to fall flat.

"Under Republican leadership, it’s not going to happen, I’m afraid," Johnson told Axios of impeachment or congressional censure.
"Based on what I've seen so far from my House Republican colleagues, I think they're going to close their eyes, cover their ears and hope this goes away soon," Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), a House Judiciary member, told Axios.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Justice Thomas Revelations, Lawmakers Call for Tighter Ethics Code, Zach Montague, April 6, 2023. Clarence Thomas failed to disclose that he accompanied Harlan Crowe, the billionaire and conservative donor, on a series of vacations, ProPublica revealed.

Democratic lawmakers reiterated calls on Thursday to tighten ethics rules for the Supreme Court after a report revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas had accepted luxury gifts from a major conservative donor without disclosing them.

An investigation by ProPublica described how Justice Thomas accompanied the donor, Harlan Crow, a real estate billionaire, on a series of vacations for nearly two decades. The trips included extended stays on Mr. Crow’s yacht, flights on Mr. Crow’s private jet and visits to Mr. Crow’s all-male private retreat in Monte Rio, Calif.

The disclosure early Thursday renewed scrutiny of Justice Thomas, who has long faced questions over conflicts of interest in part because of the political activities of his wife, Virginia Thomas.

No formal code of conduct on the Supreme Court specifically bars the justice from taking the trips mentioned in ProPublica’s reporting. But under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, justices, like federal judges, must file a financial disclosure each year that lists gifts of more than $415 in avoidance of even an “appearance of impropriety.” The cost of one of the trips with Mr. Crow may have exceeded $500,000, according to ProPublica.

The New York Times would like to hear from readers who want to share messages and materials with our journalists. nytimes.com/tips

Lawmakers have seized on the lack of enforceable ethics code governing Supreme Court justices, urging that they be held to standards similar to those in place for members of the executive and legislative branches.

The Senate is considering a bill that would codify that practice, in line with past legislation. And new rules adopted in March now require the justices to report travel by private jet and extended stays at commercial properties including hotels, resorts and hunting lodges.

April 5

 

Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts in historic indictment linked to Stormy Daniels hush money probe (Associated Press photo by Seth Wong).

Former President Donald J. Trump, in a blue suit, sits with his attorneys shortly before arraignment in New York City's state court on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records related to the 2016 presidential campaign season, reportedly involving in part hush money to women (Associated Press photo by Seth Wong).

New York Daily News, Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts in historic indictment linked to Stormy Daniels hush money probe, Molly Crane-Newman and Larry McShane, April 5, 2023 (print ed.). Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to Manhattan District Alvin Bragg’s investigation of hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

new york daily news logoThe one-term commander-in-chief entered the plea during an unprecedented and extraordinary hour-long Manhattan court proceeding. Trump, in his trademark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, remained uncharacteristically quiet inside the courtroom and out, uttering just two words.

“Not guilty,” the native New Yorker responded when asked for a plea to the charges.

He entered and departed the state Supreme Court hearing without speaking to the media.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a target of Trump’s venom during the probe, attended the hearing. The ex-president described the prosecutor as an “animal” in one of his social media postings.

“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Bragg said afterward in a statement.

juan merchan djtAnd Acting Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, shown above left, asked Trump to “please refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest.” or “engage in conduct that jeopardizes the rule of law.”

A grand jury investigating Trump indicted him March 30, making him the first former president in United States history to face criminal charges.

Trump did turn to social media before entering the courtroom, recounting how his day was about to go.

“WOW,” he wrote. “They are going to ARREST ME! Can’t believe this is happening in America!

The charges against Trump had remained under seal until Tuesday’s court appearance.

Bragg offered the details once the hearing ended and Trump departed, likely headed for his Florida home in Mar-a-Lago.

The court documents detailed Trump’s $130,000 payoff to adult film actress Daniels 12 days before the presidential election of 2016 to buy her silence over an alleged sexual encounter they had a decade earlier. There was another $150,000 payout through an intermediary to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who alleged a sexual relationship with the thrice-married Trump.

And there was a new allegation: A $30,000 payout to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about an out-of-wedlock child sired by the developer.

 

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair.

Porn star Stormy Daniels and former President Donald J. Trump, who allegedly hid hush payments to her via The National Enquirer newspaper during the 2016 presidential campaign to hide their affair from election finance officials and the public.

washington post logoWashington Post, Here are the 34 charges and what they mean, Ann E. Marimow, April 5, 2023 (print ed.). Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records under Article 175 of the New York Penal Law.

Read the full indictment of former president Donald Trump

Falsifying business records is a felony in New York when there is an “intent to defraud” that includes an intent to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” a crime. In this case, prosecutors will have to prove that Trump is guilty of maintaining false business records with the intent to hide a $130,000 payment in the days before the 2016 election to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged 2006 affair.

alvin bragg twitterManhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, right, said at a news conference after the court hearing that the alleged scheme was intended to cover up violations of New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to illegally promote a candidate. Bragg also said the $130,000 payment exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap.

Under New York law, most nonviolent felonies must be charged within five years of the alleged misconduct. But legal experts say the statute-of-limitations clock could be paused under certain circumstances, including during the period in which a defendant moves out of the state.

 

djt handwave file

Daily Beast, Trump Literally Lists All His Grievances in Post-Arraignment Speech, Brett Bachman, April 4-5, 2023. In a speech addressing his historic arraignment that felt more like a campaign rally Tuesday night, former President Donald Trump started out with a six-minute list of unresolved grievances that culminated with his recent indictment over alleged hush-money payments.

daily beast logo“From the beginning the Democrats spied on my campaign and they attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations,” he began the speech from his Florida club Mar-a-Lago.

“Russia, Russia, Russia. Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. Impeachment hoax No.1. Impeachment hoax No. 2. The illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago. Lying to the FISA courts,” he continued, though he was nowhere near done.

“The FBI and DOJ relentlessly pursuing Republicans. Unconstitutional changes to election laws by not getting approval from state legislators. The millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes—and all caught on government cameras. And just recently, the FBI and DOJ and collusion with Twitter and Facebook Facebook in order not to say anything bad about the Hunter Biden laptop from hell.”

Just hours after appearing at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, Trump jetted straight back to his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, to deliver the fiery speech.

Despite conservative commentators on Fox News and elsewhere pleading all day for Trump to issue an even-handed, forward-looking address rebutting the unprecedented charges and his vision for the country should he reclaim the White House in 2024, he instead took to rehashing his campaign speech greatest hits: the respect he commanded as leader of the free world, the incredible economy he created (before the COVID-19 pandemic brought it all down), and, of course, his signature exaggerated picture of contemporary America as a lawless hellhole on the verge of total collapse.

“The USA is a mess. Our economy is crashing, inflation is out of control, Russia has joined with China; Saudi Arabia has joined with Iran; China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have formed together as a menacing and destructive coalition,” Trump said. “Our currency is crashing and will soon no longer be the world standard which will be our greatest defeat, frankly, in 200 years.”

After all this, he finally addressed the elephant in the room, bashing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and all of his contemporaries helming open investigations against the former president.

He even attacked Bragg’s wife for tweeting about the case, and mentioned his daughter’s career as a digital strategist for political campaigns—including Kamala Harris’ doomed presidential bid—as evidence that the local prosecutor was irredeemably biased against Trump and his family.

It was an attack echoed by his son, Donald Trump Jr., earlier in the day.

“I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife, and a family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris,” Trump said. “Right out of the old Soviet Union. That’s where we are.”

According to the unsealed indictment first available to the public following Trump’s arrest, the former president faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in relation to two hush money payments he allegedly orchestrated just before the 2016 presidential election: one to former porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence regarding their affair, and a “catch-and-kill” agreement with American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, to bury a story about another one of Trump’s affairs after the publication had found out about Trump’s indiscretions.

Both were campaign finance crimes already on the books in New York City—after Trump’s onetime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty for his part in the schemes in 2018.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday on charges stemming from his alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels (Reuters Pool photo by Andrew Kelly).

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday on charges stemming from his alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels (Reuters Pool photo by Andrew Kelly).

Another accusation contained in the indictment is that Trump tried to organize a $30,000 payment to a doorman at one of his buildings, who claimed to have information about an illegitimate child that Trump fathered with a housekeeper. The “love child” accusation remains unconfirmed—but the payment is a key element of Tuesday’s charges.

“From August 2015 to December 2017, the Defendant orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects,” the charging document states.

According to the indictment, Trump attempted to cover up the payments using a number of false record-keeping strategies; duplicate lines in corporate ledgers, checks written from his personal trust and invoices from Cohen for “legal fees,” among other ways.

Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday—and his lawyers blasted the charges as old news that wouldn’t stand up in court.

"There's nothing,” said Trump lawyer Todd Blanche. “The indictment itself is boilerplate.”

The indictment represents the first serious charges brought against an American president in the country’s history—and comes as Trump faces arguably even more serious legal threats on several fronts.

In just a few weeks, Trump will have to return to Manhattan to face a civil trial—brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll under a new state law—which alleges he raped Carroll in a high-end department store decades ago.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith is currently in the middle of two investigations—one into Trump’s attempted 2020 election subversion, and another concerning his hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago following his departure from the White House.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has also filed a $250 million civil suit against Trump and his company for fraud.

Politico, While Trump’s base rallies, the GOP fractures, Sally Goldenberg, April 5, 2023 (print ed.). At a rally for Trump in New York, the Republicans who didn’t show up said as much about the modern GOP as those who did.

politico CustomIn a Manhattan park that served as a staging ground for America’s deepest political divisions on Tuesday, a Donald Trump impersonator posed for photographs in an orange jumpsuit. Nearby, a man waving a blue “Keep America Great” flag declared, “Trump is a little bit like Jesus.”

“We will rebuild, we will restore and America will be reborn. Mark my words,” one demonstrator shouted into a bullhorn during a rally hosted by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. He was followed by a woman who likened the indictment of the former president to actions of the Chinese Communist Party.

But if the pro-Trump rally laid bare the intensity of the Republican base’s support for the 45th president, it also suggested its limitations.

While polling, fundraising and public displays of enthusiasm indicate the indictment is emboldening Trump’s MAGA supporters, there is no evidence yet it has helped him expand his political base. In fact, many Republicans have expressed fears it may ultimately damage his prospects with swing voters the GOP will need to win the White House in 2024.

“It is sad that we have a pretty large New York congressional delegation that has failed to show up. We’ve seen the party leadership fail to show up. We’ve seen local elected officials from the state Assembly to the state Senate fail to show up,” Gavin Wax, president of the New York Young Republican Club, said after the rally. “So I think it shows a complete disconnect between party leadership, party electeds and the establishment and the base of their actual party — their actual voters.”

Wax noted two New York congressional Trump loyalists — Reps. Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney — hosted a public demonstration of support elsewhere in New York. And newly-elected Rep. George Santos — infamous for lying about some aspects of his identity during his campaign last year — defended the ex-president and lamented that the indictment “cheapens the judicial system” as he walked by the courthouse.

But for others — specifically New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox — Wax called it “a complete miscalculation on their part to not come out, to not be more strong on this issue.” Trump would appear to benefit in the short term from his legal troubles. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted shortly after the indictment was announced showed Trump running far ahead of DeSantis, his main GOP rival, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

April 4

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: We stand at the precipice of Nazi America, Wayne Madsen, left, columnist, author of 22 books (including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right, shown below), and former Navy intelligence officer, April 4, 2023. The U.S. is now under fascist wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallrule in many Republican-led states.

As Donald Trump today enters a courtroom in New York City to be arraigned on 34 felony counts for business fraud, he makes no secret of his disdain for the law, presiding judge Juan Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and the U.S. Constitution.

wayne madesen report logowayne madsen fourth reich coverTrump is actually emulating his hero Adolf Hitler, who, on May 8, 1931, stood in Room 664 of the Berlin Criminal Court building to appear as a witness in a trial of Nazi Storm Troopers, who, on November 22, 1930, had shot up the Eden Dance Palace in Berlin, killing three and wounding 20.

Hitler was incensed that it was Hans Litten, the attorney for one of those injured in the Nazi attack, who was the person who cross-examined him on the witness stand. Litten, a Jewish convert to Lutheranism, set out to prove that it was Hitler who had given the order to attack the dance hall. In many respects, Litten was trying to prove that it was Hitler who was ultimately responsible for the Nazi's acts of violence, something that U.S. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith could try to prove with regard to Trump and the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

April 2

 

 djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump’s Time-Tested Legal Strategy: Attack and Delay, William K. Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Jonah E. Bromwich, April 2, 2023 (print ed.). Across many court cases over the decades, Mr. Trump has leaned on those tactics. Now facing criminal charges in Manhattan, the attacks have already begun.

Attack. Attack. Attack.

Delay. Delay. Delay.

Those two tactics have been at the center of Donald J. Trump’s favored strategy in court cases for much of his adult life, and will likely be the former president’s approach to fighting the criminal charges now leveled against him if he sticks to his well-worn legal playbook. In fact, his attacks against both the prosecutor and the judge in the case have already begun.

Over more than four decades, Mr. Trump has sued and been sued in civil court again and again. In recent years, he has faced federal criminal investigations, congressional inquiries and two impeachments. He has neither a law degree nor formal legal training, but over the course of that long history, he has become notorious in legal circles for thinking he knows better than the lawyers he hires — and then, very often, fires — and frequently is slow to pay if he does at all.

The former president now faces an indictment stemming from a hush-money payment made to a porn star in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Trump, who has steadfastly contended he committed no crime and almost certainly will decline any plea deal, will fight the case in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The battle there will play out in front of the same judge who last year presided over the tax fraud trial of Mr. Trump’s family real estate company — a trial that ended in a conviction on 17 felonies.

The details of Mr. Trump’s defense strategy are still unclear because the specific charges in the indictment against him will stay under seal until his arraignment Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Leaders Abroad, the Prospect of a Trump Revival Is Ever-Present, Mark Landler, April 2, 2023. The indictment of Donald Trump has not changed the calculations of world leaders who view his political resilience as inevitable.

Whether foreign leaders view the potential return of Donald J. Trump to the White House with hope or horror, the prospect of a Trump restoration is so deeply ingrained overseas that leaders in several countries have hedged their bets in diplomacy, security and even where they invest their fortunes.

There were few signs that Mr. Trump’s indictment last week on criminal charges in New York has changed those calculations.

Foreign leaders have watched him bounce back from so many disasters, according to diplomats and foreign policy experts, that they now regard his political resilience with something approaching fatalism. This is especially true in Europe, whose leaders spent four years enduring Mr. Trump’s hectoring on a host of issues, including military spending and climate change.

Even if Mr. Trump’s legal woes end his political viability in a way that two impeachments and an election defeat to Joseph R. Biden Jr. did not, many worry that he will be replaced by any number of Trump-like alternatives, of whom the Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, is the most prominent example.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s G.O.P. Rivals, Shielding Him, Reveal Their 2024 Predicament, Michael C. Bender and Maggie Haberman, April 2, 2023 (print ed.). Many of Donald Trump’s potential opponents snapped into line behind him, showing how hard it may be to persuade Republican voters to choose an alternative.

ron desantis oLast week, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, right, took a measured dig at Donald J. Trump by publicly mocking the circumstances that led New York investigators to the former president.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” Mr. DeSantis said.

But as soon as Mr. Trump was indicted this week, Mr. DeSantis promptly vowed to block his state from assisting a potential extradition. In a show of support for his fellow Republican, Mr. DeSantis called the case “the weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda.”

In the hours after a grand jury indicted Mr. Trump, many of his potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination snapped into line behind him, looking more like allies than competitors. All passed on the opportunity to criticize him, and some rushed to his defense, expressing concerns about the legitimacy of the case.

The turnaround by some prospective contenders was so swift and complete that it caught even the Trump team off guard. One close ally suggested to Mr. Trump that he publicly thank his rivals. (As of Friday evening, he had not.)

The reluctance to directly confront Mr. Trump put his strength as a front-runner on full display. His would-be challengers have been sizing up political billiard balls for the possibility of an increasingly tricky bank shot: persuading Republican voters to forsake him, while presenting themselves as the movement’s heir apparent.

In one reflection of Mr. Trump’s durability, his team said it had raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after the indictment was made public by The New York Times.

“There has been a narrative for a while that we could have Trump policies with someone more electable, but the reaction to the indictment showed that power is unique to Trump,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in an interview. “Trump was the leading contender for the nomination before the indictment, and now he’s the prohibitive favorite.”

The closest any possible Republican challenger came to criticizing Mr. Trump was former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who told Fox Business Network on Friday that while the yet-to-be-revealed charges might not end up being substantial, Mr. Trump should “step aside” now that he has been indicted.

April 1

ny times logoNew York Times, The Manhattan district attorney’s office criticized top Republicans for trying to interfere in the investigation, Jonah E. Bromwich and Luke Broadwater, April 1, 2023 (print ed.). The letter described as unfounded the three members’ allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.

A day after filing charges against Donald J. Trump, the Manhattan district attorney’s office wrote a letter criticizing three influential congressional Republicans for their efforts to interfere in the investigation into the former president.

djt michael cohen disloyalThe letter was addressed to three committee chairmen who had demanded that the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, left, provide them with communications, documents and testimony related to the inquiry into Mr. Trump.

The office’s letter noted that before being indicted, Mr. Trump had used his social media platform to denigrate Mr. Bragg, and had threatened “death and destruction” if he were to be charged.

“You could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury,” Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for the district attorney’s office, wrote.

“Instead, you and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges,” Ms. Dubeck wrote, describing as unfounded the three members’ allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.

The letter, addressed to Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, chairman of the Judiciary Committee; James R. Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the Oversight and Accountability Committee; and Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, chairman of the Administration Committee, repeated portions of an earlier one Ms. Dubeck had sent them, calling the Republican request for confidential information about the investigation unprecedented.

 

juan merchan djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out against judge who will hear his criminal case, Perry Stein and Shayna Jacobs, April 1, 2023 (print ed.). New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, above, left, also presided over prosecutions of the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg.

Former president Donald Trump is quite familiar with New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, the judge who oversaw the grand jury that indicted Trump this week and will preside over the criminal proceedings that follow.

Merchan, 60, who has sat on the New York bench since 2009, also presided over the jury trial last year of Trump’s namesake real estate company, which resulted in a conviction in December, and the prosecution of the company’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

On Friday, the first former president ever charged with a crime lashed out at Merchan on social media, declaring that the judge “HATES ME.”

Merchan “is the same person who ‘railroaded’ my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a ‘plea’ deal,” Trump wrote.

The former president continued: “He strong armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn’t ‘plead,’ VICIOUSLY. APPEALING.”

Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to 15 counts including tax fraud, conspiracy and grand larceny and is serving a five-month jail sentence. Trump was not personally implicated in that case.

But on Tuesday, Trump is expected to appear before Merchan for an arraignment hearing in a different criminal matter. His indictment remains under seal, which means the specific charges are not known. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is believed to have been investigating a payment made before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress, to keep her from publicly discussing a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier.

The judge, who was born in Colombia and grew up in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, has held various posts as a lawyer and jurist in New York government since the 1990s, including working as a family court judge in the Bronx and as an assistant district attorney in the New York County district attorney’s office. He now works at the New York Supreme Court, a felony-level trial court with branches in each New York City borough and each county around the state.

As part of his portfolio, Merchan oversees a specialized court that gives treatment options and merit-based plea agreements to eligible defendants who are in the throes of mental illness when they commit crimes. The program prioritizes treatment and recovery. Graduates can see their charges reduced or dismissed. 

World Crisis Radio, Opinion and historical commentary: Trump indicted, showing justice still exists in US after all! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author, strategist, April 1, 2023 (113:15 mins.). NY DA Alvin Bragg becomes a webster tarpley 2007national hero by delivering the indispensable indictment in time to save democratic legality; Trump responds with innuendos of violence; Indictment to be read at arraignment next Tuesday at 2:15 pm; Manhattan DA”s action renews tradition of black America as the moral conscience of the nation;

AG Garland’s feckless performance makes his resignation mandatory;

Trump camp may now be decimated by indictments, civil suits and defections; An extinction event for Republican Party looms;

Meddling MAGAt extremists should be halted at the Hudson River, since their attempted sabotage of Bragg’s case has no legal basis; Is Putin offering political asylum?; Kremlin warlord admits that sanctions are disrupting the Russian war economy;

A bad week for oligarchs, from Trump to Netanyahu and beyond; Xi eyes Russian territory beyond Amur and Ussuri Rivers, seized from China during 1850s Opium Wars;

DeSantis attacks full faith and credit clause of US Constitution by refusing to cooperate with transfer of accused felon Trump from Florida to New York if needed; Breaking: In defeat for Murdoch, Delaware judge orders Dominion vs Fox case to trial!

 

Former Trump White House senior advisors Jared Kushner, center, and Ivanka Trump, Trump's daughter and Kushner's wife, meet with Saudi leader Mohammad bin Salman on the former president's first international trip of his administration, to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. Bin Salman's regime later authorized a $2 billion investment into Kushner's private operations promptly after Trump's presidency.

Former Trump White House senior advisors Jared Kushner, center, and Ivanka Trump, Trump's daughter and Kushner's wife, meet with Saudi leader Mohammad bin Salman on the former president's first international trip of his administration, to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. Bin Salman's regime later authorized a $2 billion investment into Kushner's private operations, thereby augmenting the money flows from Middle Eastern royalty into Kushner companies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kushner Firm Got Hundreds of Millions From 2 Persian Gulf Nations, Jonathan Swan, Kate Kelly, Maggie Haberman and Mark Mazzetti, March 31, 2023 (print ed.). The infusion of money from interests in the two Persian Gulf monarchies reflects the close ties to Middle Eastern countries established by Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

Wealth funds in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have invested hundreds of millions of dollars with Jared Kushner’s private equity firm, according to people with knowledge of the transactions, joining Saudi Arabia in backing the venture launched by former President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law as he left the White House.

The infusion of money from interests in the two rival Persian Gulf monarchies reflects the continued efforts by Mr. Trump and his aides and allies to profit from the close ties they built to the Arab world during his presidency and the desire of leaders in the region to remain on good terms with Mr. Kushner as his father-in-law seeks the presidency again.

The Emiratis invested more than $200 million with Mr. Kushner’s firm, Affinity Partners, two people told about the transactions said. The U.A.E.’s embassy in Washington declined to comment. A Qatari entity invested a similar sum, according to two people with knowledge of that deal. A spokesman for the Qatari embassy in Washington declined to comment.

The investment from the U.A.E. came through a sovereign wealth fund, but the identity of the Qatari investor is unclear. An Affinity Partners official did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Top Emirati officials have a close relationship with Mr. Kushner, forged during the Trump administration. And the Kushner family has previously benefited from Qatari funds. A Qatar-linked company helped bail out the Kushners’ debt-ridden tower in midtown Manhattan, 666 Fifth Avenue, during the Trump presidency.

But despite these relationships, Emirati and Qatari officials were at first reluctant to invest in Mr. Kushner’s private equity fund, at least in part because of the political risks involved, according to people familiar with both governments’ internal deliberations. The Times previously reported that Qatari officials feared they would face unfavorable treatment if they turned down Mr. Kushner’s invitation to invest and Mr. Trump returned to power.

It is not unusual for insiders from both parties to benefit financially from deals abroad after leaving government service, particularly in the Middle East. There is a long history of firms populated by former officials from Democratic administrations signing lucrative contracts with Gulf nations, and there are few laws or ethics guidelines prohibiting it.

But the scale of the investments Mr. Kushner’s venture has received from the Gulf countries — in the range of $2.5 billion — and the timing, coming relatively soon after his leaving the White House, are striking and have drawn criticism from Democrats and ethics experts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rules that Dominion, Fox News lawsuit will go to trial, Jeremy Barr and Sarah Ellison, April 1, 2023 (print ed.). A judge ruled on Friday that Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News will go to trial next month, notwithstanding motions from both parties requesting that he decide the case in their favor before a jury weighs in.

Delaware Superior Court’s Judge Eric M. Davis denied motions for summary judgment from Fox News and parent company Fox Corporation. He granted some of Dominion’s competing motions while denying other aspects.

fox news logo Small“We are gratified by the Court’s thorough ruling soundly rejecting all of Fox’s arguments and defenses, and finding as a matter of law that their statements about Dominion are false,” Dominion said in a statement. 'We look forward to going to trial."

“This case is and always has been about the First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news," Fox said in its own statement. "FOX will continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings.”

 

March

March 26

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary on “Death and Destruction”: Trump courts immediate imprisonment and gag orders with raving threats to Manhattan DA! , webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, author, strategist, March 26, 2023.  (108 mins.). Paroxysm of demagogy expected at Waco rally on Saturday; Experts warn of stochastic terrorism; Feckless Garland failing to defend rule of law!

djt impeachment graphicDon’s legal strategy for MaL documents crumbles as federal judge cuts through attorney-client privilege based on crime-fraud exception, ordering lawyer Corcoran to testify; In January 6 case, Don’s staffers Meadows, Scavino, Miller, Cucinelli, Ratcliffe, O’Brien, and Luna must tell all;

Beijing’s Trojan horse Tik Tok must be sold to US buyers or seized by feds on national security grounds; Don’t let ultra-lefts give this issue to the GOP; Xi copies 19th century European imperialism;

Biden gets hero’s welcome in Canadian Parliament, pledging that benefits from US economic recovery program will be shared north of border; NORAD modernization will strengthen continental and hemispheric defense;

At summit of the bunglers, Putin degrades Moscow the Third Rome to status of vassal state of the nondescript Beijing; But will this buy him Chinese weaponry against Ukraine?

Marge and her Marginals comfort January 6 riot jailbirds in DC jail;

Macron’s austerity obsession poses threat to a key country of Atlantic Alliance; Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland merge their air forces to hold Putin at bay; EU plans 1 million shells for Kyiv; Marking the 40th anniversary of Strategic Defense Initiative

March 25

 

Former President Trump faces varied legal and political threats, including an escalating New York criminal investigation into purported campaign finance crimes involving payments in 2016 to hide his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, shown above left on the cover of her memoir

Former President Trump faces varied legal and political threats, including an escalating New York criminal investigation into purported campaign finance crimes involving payments in 2016 to hide his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, shown above left on the cover of her memoir "Full Disclosure."

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump and the Sordid Tradition of Suppressing October Surprises, Jonathan Weisman, March 25, 2023. The payoff to Stormy Daniels that has a Manhattan grand jury weighing criminal charges can trace its lineage to political skulduggery in 1968 and 1980.

Secretive talks in the waning days of a campaign. Furtive phone calls. Ardent public denials.

American history is full of October surprises — late revelations, sometimes engineered by an opponent, that shock the trajectory of a presidential election and that candidates dread. In 1880, a forged letter ostensibly written by James A. Garfield claimed he wanted more immigration from China, a position so unpopular it nearly cost him the election. Weeks before the 1940 election, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s press secretary kneed a Black police officer in the groin, just as the president was trying to woo skeptical Black voters. (Roosevelt’s response made history: He appointed the first Black general and created the Tuskegee Airmen.)

But the scandal that has ensnared Donald J. Trump, the paying of hush money to a pornographic film star in 2016, is in a rare class: an attempt not to bring to light an election-altering event, but to suppress one.

The payoff to Stormy Daniels that has a Manhattan grand jury weighing criminal charges against Mr. Trump can trace its lineage to at least two other episodes foiling an October surprise. The first was in 1968, when aides to Richard M. Nixon pressed the South Vietnamese government to thwart peace talks in the closing days of that election. The second was in 1980. Fresh revelations have emerged that allies of Ronald Reagan may well have labored to delay the release of American hostages from Iran until after the defeat of Jimmy Carter.

The tortured debate over precisely which election law might have been violated in 2016 is missing the broader point — all three events might have changed the course of history.

“There have been three cases at a minimum,” said Gary Sick, a former national security aide to President Carter who for more than two decades has been pursuing his case that the Reagan campaign in 1980 delayed the release of the hostages from Iran. “And if you had the stomach for it, you’d have to say it worked.”

The potential criminal charges against Mr. Trump for his role in the passing of hush money to Ms. Daniels — falsifying business records to cover up the payment and a possible election law violation — may seem trivial when compared to the prior efforts to fend off a history-altering October surprise.

This month, a former lieutenant governor of Texas came forward to say that he accompanied a Reagan ally to the Middle East to try to delay the release of American hostages from Iran until after the 1980 election. And notes discovered in 2016 appeared to confirm that senior aides to Mr. Nixon worked through back channels in 1968 to hinder the commencement of peace talks to end the war in Vietnam — and secure Mr. Nixon’s victory over Hubert H. Humphrey.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Trump Rally Comes to Waco, 30 Years After Its Darkest Hour, Charles Homans, March 25, 2023 (print ed.). For some, it’s no accident that former President Trump will speak in a city where a fiery raid symbolizes government overreach to the far right. Thirty years ago, a fiery federal raid on a doomsday sect turned the city into a symbol of government overreach. Donald Trump will speak there on Saturday, and some supporters — and critics — say it’s no accident.

In the chapel at Mount Carmel, the longtime home of the Branch Davidian sect outside Waco, Tex., the pastor preaches about the coming apocalypse, as the sect’s doomed charismatic leader David Koresh did three decades ago.

But the prophecies offered by the pastor, Charles Pace, are different from Mr. Koresh’s. For one thing, they involve Donald J. Trump.

“Donald Trump is the anointed of God,” Mr. Pace said in an interview. “He is the battering ram that God is using to bring down the Deep State of Babylon.”

Mr. Trump, embattled by multiple investigations and publicly predicting an imminent indictment in one, announced last week that he would hold the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign on Saturday at the regional airport in Waco.

The date falls in the middle of the 30th anniversary of the weekslong standoff involving federal agents and followers of Mr. Koresh that left 82 Branch Davidians and four agents dead at Mount Carmel, the group’s compound east of the city.

Mr. Trump has not linked the rally to the anniversary, and his campaign did not respond to requests for comment on whether the rally — his first ever in the city of 140,000 — was an intentional nod to the most infamous episode in Waco’s history. And there are other reasons for the former president to open his campaign in Texas, a state rich in electoral votes where he trailed Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida by double digits in a state Republican Party poll late last year.

But the historical resonance has not been lost on some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers. “Waco was an overreach of the government, and today the New York district attorney is practicing an overreach of the government again,” said Sharon Anderson, a retiree from Etowah, Tenn., who is traveling to Waco for Saturday’s event, her 33rd Trump rally.

Mr. Pace said he believed it was “a statement — that he was sieged by the F.B.I. at Mar-a-Lago and that they were accusing him of different things that aren’t really true, just like David Koresh was accused by the F.B.I. when they sieged him.”

 

steve schmidt msnbc CustomThe Warning with Steve Schmidt, Commentary: How Donald Trump is using the January 6 playbook to incite violence, Steve Schmidt (former Republican and now independent national political strategist, shown above in a screenshot), March 24, 2023 (10:21 min. video). Steve Schmidt breaks down Donald's Trump's latest Truth social post where the former President infers that charging him will lead to "potential death and destruction." Steve describes how Trump uses a similar playbook inciting the riots on January 6th, and condemns the Republican Party for not standing up to Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns of ‘potential death & destruction’ if he is charged in hush-money case, John Wagner, March 25, 2023 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump warned early Friday of “potential death & destruction” if he is charged in Manhattan in a criminal case related to alleged hush-money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to conceal an affair.

The posting after midnight on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, was his latest — and most explicit — allusion to violence that could follow an indictment stemming from an investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), whom Trump called a “degenerate psychopath.”

Trump wrote: “What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?”

In a post on Thursday, Trump criticized those who have called for his supporters to remain peaceful. Over the weekend, Trump urged a “PROTEST” over his potential arrest in the case, which he wrongly predicted would happen Tuesday.

The messages have all had echoes of the days leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob. Trump had urged his followers to assemble in Washington that day, saying “Be there, will be wild!” as he pushed to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win.

Five people died in the attack or in its aftermath, and 140 police officers were injured. The House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection; the Senate acquitted him.

Trump has been commenting frequently on the hush-money case as a Manhattan grand jury weighs evidence against him. The panel is not scheduled to meet again until at least Monday, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss proceedings that are secret.

March 24

 

ronald reagan 1981 w

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: The Iran Hostages, Carter, Reagan, and Bush: What the NY Times ‘Scoop’ Missed, Russ Baker, right, whowhatwhy logoauthor, widely published journalist and founder of the WhoWhatWhy investigative project, russ baker new head and shouldersMarch 25, 2023. A seemingly stolen election in 1980 led to the US of today, where the richest one percent hold power over the rest of the population.

Recently, The New York Times published an article with a stunning new claim that seemingly verifies a long-alleged plot by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign to prevent Jimmy Carter, below left, from winning reelection.

jimmy carter portraitThe fact of the Times publishing the scoop was significant, since the paper has generally dismissed the so-called October Surprise theory, relying on a congressional investigation that I and many believe was a whitewash.

In fact, though I have come to believe there’s enough evidence to conclude that the Reagan campaign did carry out this outrageous and illegal operation, I also have doubts about the new material.

But my big beef is how the Times, following a familiar pattern, presents something in isolation as if completely unaware of, or unwilling to discuss, the much vaster criminality of which it is part. That larger framework is required for anyone trying to understand the political corruption and immorality that has long afflicted America, and the profound consequences still being felt 43 years later.

Carter Election Mystery

On Wednesday evening, October 30, 2019, Speaker Nancy Pelosi received the 2019 LBJ Liberty & Justice for All award from the LBJ Foundation. The event was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C...LBJ Foundation photo by Amanda Rhoades.The article recounts the story of a former Texas politician, Ben Barne (shown at left in a 2019 photo), who says he accompanied his friend and business partner John Connally, a former Democratic Texas governor turned Republican (shown at right on a 1979 Time Magazine cover), on a trip to the Middle East in 1980. john connally time coverDuring the trip, Barnes says, they met a slew of Arab leaders. Barnes now says he suspects the real purpose of the trip was to help Reagan steal the election:

Mr. Barnes said he was certain the point of Mr. Connally’s trip was to get a message to the Iranians to hold the hostages until after the election. “I’ll go to my grave believing that it was the purpose of the trip,” he said.

This is a new wrinkle on a topic that has confounded investigators and researchers for decades.

The background: 52 Americans were taken hostage in the 1979 Iranian revolution led by exiled Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This was the long-festering blowback from the CIA-orchestrated 1953 Iranian coup d’état, which put the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, back into power. His puppet government spent two decades torturing and murdering Iranian dissenters. The US media’s nightly drumbeat of coverage about the hostages’ plight CIA Logoreminded audiences of Carter’s complete failure. It was such a hot topic that it led to the launching of the first new network news program in a decade, Nightline with Ted Koppel.

The Reagan campaign was panicked that Carter would succeed in negotiations to get the American hostages released prior to the election — and, some believe, they endeavored to block any deal. Although that is every bit as treasonous as it sounds, we now know that this is not the first time a Republican presidential candidate negotiated against the interests of America to enhance his career. Richard Nixon’s campaign worked aggressively to block Democratic peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War in 1968 for the same reason.

CIA Director William Casey, left, and Vice President George H.W. Bush, below right, President Ronald Reagan portraits published in the Michael Evans william casey reagan libraryPortrait Project in 1985 from the Reagan Library

According to some accounts, William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager and a future director of the CIA, met with Iran’s representatives in Madrid in July and August of 1980. Then, in October, according to these accounts, Casey was joined by George H.W. Bush, Reagan’s vice presidential candidate and a george h w bush reagan libraryformer director of the CIA, in a Paris meeting with the Iranians, where they nailed a deal to sell arms to Iran if Iran held the hostages until Reagan could beat Carter. Of course, it would have been most unusual for private citizens to meet with any foreign government, let alone one with whom the US was in a de facto war. Most striking, of course, is the purported treachery at the heart of the matter.

Much of the recent Times article is devoted to showing that the paper has an authentic, historic scoop about Carter’s presidency, at a time when the country stands vigil during the 98-year-old’s final days.

I’ll share what insights I can offer here, since I know Ben Barnes, the Times’s source — and since I have some experience investigating the issue years ago. My main objective, though, is to do what I always do: provide missing context.

Part of a Pattern

All the focus on the Reagan campaign and its alleged connivance to gain power misses this point: In many fundamental ways, Reagan was a figurehead president, while George H.W. Bush, the man he beat in a heated nomination battle, was deeply involved with seismic US policy operations, highly sensitive and often illegal covert activities, including, it appears, blocking the hostages’ release.

Connally himself is a fascinating character deserving of more attention, for more reasons than I can give here — including his suppressed assertion that during the Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963, he and John F. Kennedy, riding together, one in front of the other, were hit by volleys from different shooters.

***

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the “October Surprise” and how things would be different today if Jimmy Carter had been able to get the hostages released.

Many believe the president’s popularity would have surged, and that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would never have been elected president and vice president.

Imagine how things might look today if Reagan — the author of today’s “rule by the rich” government — had not unseated Carter.

Among other things, we never would have had Reaganomics, or the entire deregulation movement and major tax cuts for the wealthy. Almost certainly, George H.W. Bush would never have become president, nor his son, George W. Bush. We likely would have had no Gulf War in the ’90s and no Iraq War in 2002 — and, based on various calculations, possibly no 9/11.

For various reasons related to changes in media ownership laws, we probably would have had no Fox News. Environmental policy would have been completely different, and early warnings about climate change would almost certainly have been acted on, at least in part.

We would have a completely different Supreme Court, and therefore a completely different country. Campaign contributions from the rich would have been restricted, changing the face of Congress. Though Buckley v. Valeo had been decided in the 1970s, giving corporate money the status of speech, at least we’d have had no Citizens United decision to weaponize that ruling.

Finally, if “rule by the rich” economics had not been instituted, it’s doubtful that anyone like Donald Trump could have ever entered the White House except as an outré guest.

Instead, the hostages were imprisoned longer, while Reagan and Bush covertly orchestrated Carter’s and Walter Mondale’s departure from the White House.

Of course, if the secret agenda of the Barnes-Connally trip was indeed to conspire with the Iranians to prolong the captivity of the hostages until after the election, this gambit would have been considered treason, a hanging offense.

For decades, people more knowledgeable than I have thought that such a deal took place. Barnes admits that he does not actually know, but a dispositive claim is that on their return, he and Connally met at a Dallas airport lounge with Reagan’s campaign chairman, Casey, who debriefed them on the trip.

Were Reagan’s people worried about losing? Of course. Was the possibility of a hostage release before the election real? Of course. The only question is, just how ruthless, amoral, and ultimately un-American would Reagan’s team show itself to be in their pursuit of electoral victory?

In my research about George H.W. Bush for Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, I found plenty of evidence of this extraordinary level of anti-American, self-serving criminality – which the Times and other establishment media have gone to great lengths to avoid exploring.

The late journalist Robert Parry, who did extensive research on the October Surprise, received an anonymous tip and found documents in a closet on Capitol Hill. One, by future National Security Advisor Richard Allen, showed discussion about Carter and the hostages, and mentioned Connally and Bush specifically. (Parry’s son wrote about it in a recent article.) The excerpt from Allen’s notes, cited by Nat Parry, reads:

Geo Bush — JBC [Connally] — already made deal. Israelis delivered last wk spare pts. via Amsterdam. Hostages out this wk. Moderate Arabs upset. French have given spares to Iraq and know of JC [Carter] deal w/Iran. JBC [Connally] unsure what we should do. RVA [Allen] to act if true or not.

As mentioned previously, Bush is alleged to have traveled to Paris with Casey to seal an Iranian deal. Whether he took that trip or not, the Allen notes show that he was intimately involved with the issue.

Yet for some reason, the media establishment has seemed unable to really focus on Bush himself or his true role and actual imprint on American history. Conventional popular histories, biographies, documentaries, and “assessments” — though they contain some critical material — are largely admiring in retrospect.

It is all myth.

As my book research showed, when Bush was named CIA director, he was not the intelligence “outsider” presented to the public by the Times and other media. In fact Bush, son of CIA Director Allen Dulles’s close friend and collaborator Prescott Bush, had been inducted into covert CIA work decades earlier, shortly after graduating from Yale, a nursing ground for future CIA employees. While operating undercover as an “oilman,” documents show George H.W. Bush personally involved with a host of stunning and illegal covert schemes (including assassination and domestic intrigue), many still publicly unrecognized today.

By the time Bush became Gerald Ford’s CIA director, a number of disturbing revelations began to emerge in Senate hearings about the extent of the CIA’s unaccountability as well as their illegal and immoral operations worldwide. No one, not even the president, had control of this vast shadow enterprise, a concern voiced by several presidents including Truman, Eisenhower, and especially Kennedy. That Bush — known at the time as a minor, uncredentialed, and undistinguished politician — was chosen to oversee the agency at that very sensitive moment is highly significant and should by now be front and center for understanding that pivotal moment for national scrutiny.

Just as Kennedy kicked a hornet’s nest by firing Dulles in 1961, so too did Carter when, upon defeating Ford, he gave Bush the boot. Although Bush personally lobbied Carter to keep him on, Carter refused. Bush then turned to running for the presidency himself, only to be frustrated by the popularity of media idol Ronald Reagan.

But after Bush managed to convince the Reagan team to bring him on as the vice presidential candidate, he was able to utilize his own vast network of current and former CIA people. If the hostage deal with Iran in fact took place, it would be but one of many stunning criminal acts described in my book and ignored to this day by the establishment media — and even by many in the so-called “alternative media.” (A bit more on that below.)
Ben Barnes Tells a Carter Story

Enter the Times and its Ben Barnes confession. The story centers around the claims of the 85-year-old former Texas politician that he realized in retrospect he might have been part of the larger treasonous effort to foil Carter’s reelection.

I am not surprised that Barnes spoke with the Times and provided them with this story. The “paper of record” is still the most prominent news outlet in the world. The article doesn’t say how its DC-based reporter got the story. Did Barnes, who is not averse to attention and long had a DC lobbying practice, approach the Times? That’s unclear, though the reporter does mention “three paragraphs about Mr. Barnes’s recollections in a 2015 biography of Mr. Reagan,” which lends credence to Barnes’s having told others about the trip before now.

In considering his late-in-life confession, I should note I have known Ben Barnes for years and we’ve spoken on various occasions. He’s a likable guy, though I do have to point out that the Texans I know, and who have also worked with him, describe him, some affectionately, in Texas parlance as a “rogue” and a “first class bullshitter.” Indeed the Times failed to mention that Barnes’s political career ended because of a stock-fraud scandal. Barnes and Connally also did business with some dubious characters.

It’s only fair and good journalism to include that. Instead, the Times wrote,

Mr. Barnes is no shady foreign arms dealer with questionable credibility, like some of the characters who fueled previous iterations of the October surprise theory.

As the Times did note, Barnes helped George W. Bush avoid the draft by getting him bootstrapped into a coveted out-of-harm’s-way slot with the Texas Air National Guard, though this was presented not as a failing but as evidence of his “influence.”

In general, the attempts to verify the alleged Reagan-Bush plot have been stymied by disinformation, and failed House and Senate panels (as has been common with national security investigations over the years) that never get to the bottom of anything.

I — along with colleagues of mine at the alternative paper The Village Voice, including Frank Snepp and Doug Vaughan — spent a lot of time investigating the so-called hostage deal and found that several individuals who claimed to have flown Casey and Bush to Paris and Madrid for meetings with the Iranians (or to have been present themselves) were fabricating their stories.

These individuals could either have been pure con men seeking fame or they could themselves have been part of a deliberate effort to derail inquiries into the deal itself. Hence, we should not let their dissembling influence the investigation of this alleged quid pro quo.

As for Barnes, he has shown in the past that it is best not to take everything he says literally. One example: He once showed up, uninvited, to an Austin party to celebrate my book and raise funds for WhoWhatWhy. From the back of the room, he pronounced the work to be of vital national significance, urged everyone to donate, and announced that he would personally be writing a big check. When, predictably, he never did, one longtime Barnes associate chortled, “That’s Ben for you!”
Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on February 11, 1981. Photo credit: Reagan Library / Consortium News

I still like Barnes and in the ensuing years we have continued to occasionally communicate. I only recount this incident because what he says does need to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

He claims he came forward now because Carter, at 98 and in hospice care, deserves to know the truth. I’d like to believe that was his primary motivation. And, like the source mentioned in the Times article, I’ve never known Barnes to outright lie, in spite of his penchant for Texas-style embellishment.
Times Misses Big Flaws in the Story

One serious flaw in the story is timing. The Times quotes Barnes’s basis for concluding that the trip was not purely on Connally’s own initiative:

“It wasn’t freelancing because Casey was so interested in hearing as soon as we got back to the United States.” Mr. Casey, he added, wanted to know whether “they were going to hold the hostages.”

But that doesn’t make sense.

The Mideast trip lasted 24 days, and the duo returned on August 11, though their meeting at the airport lounge with Casey wasn’t until September 10. The Times reporter does not draw attention to that nearly one-month gap between their return and the Casey meeting, and someone reading quickly, and particularly reading Barnes’s quote on the matter, might conclude that Casey rushed to meet them upon their return to hear their urgent information.

If it were so urgent, why would Casey wait an entire month? It sounds more like they went on a trip, a month passed, and then Casey came to Dallas (either to see them or because he was passing through the airport) and they came out to speak with him.

Another problem is that Barnes cannot say for sure that the topic was the hostages. But why wouldn’t he know? He was right there with Connally and Casey. Meanwhile, Casey was alleged to already be in Europe for direct negotiations with the Iranians by July, so it is not clear what the purported Connally-Barnes mission would have accomplished — besides building covert support for the swap among Arab regimes that we