Deep State 2020 News, Revelations, Commentary

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Editor's Choice: 2020-21 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 so-called "Deep State" 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 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

June

June 19 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Daily Beast, New Docuseries Suggests Jeffrey Epstein Was a Government Informant, Nick Schager, June 19, 2021. The Plot Thickens. The Peacock docuseries “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell” traces the life of the late sex trafficker’s right-hand woman, with victims speaking out about the damage they wrought.

Ghislaine Maxwell has a name that many can’t pronounce and a backstory that’s shrouded in mystery. Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell seeks to rectify the latter by investigating the life of Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious girlfriend and co-conspirator, who currently resides in a Brooklyn jail awaiting trial for a variety of sex-trafficking charges that were levied against her by the U.S. federal government daily beast logoin 2020. Informative and comprehensive, it paints a portrait of a woman who was groomed at an early age for her eventual role as a madame for her pedophilic partner—a cretin for whom she herself groomed countless underage girls for his perverse sexual pleasure.

Peacock’s three-part docuseries (premiering June 24) is a no-frills non-fiction affair, and all the better for it. A raft of interviews with acquaintances, authors, journalists, and more provide the narrative spine for an archival footage-heavy investigation into Maxwell’s saga, which has ensnared the many rich and powerful people whom she brought into Epstein’s orbit.

Those include, most infamously, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, whose damningly clumsy BBC interview receives some airplay here, as well as Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and various celebrities—Elon Musk, Mick Jagger, Joan Rivers—whom she was photographed with at one gala event or another. Maxwell was the conduit between Epstein and high society’s cream of the crop, and though this overview presents no new bombshells about her A-list relationships, her intimate ties to dignitaries, politicians, artists, and other notable names is made definitively clear.

Those links are central to Maxwell’s fate, since it’s apparent she and Epstein made secret surveillance videos (and photographs) of visitors to their NYC townhouse home—meaning they potentially have blackmail material on a host of global big shots.

These incriminating recordings have been fingered as the reason Epstein received a “sweetheart deal” from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (and Secretary of Labor under Trump) Alexander Acosta in 2008, when the feds had Epstein dead-to-rights on sex-trafficking crimes, and yet offered him a plea agreement that put him behind bars for 15 months—he could even come and go during the day from prison—and provided immunity to anyone related to his infractions, at least in Palm Beach. It’s also been suggested that they’re the cause of his much-debated suicide; as the conspiracy theory goes, he may have been murdered by forces that wanted to keep what he knew—and had—from seeing the light of day.

June 17

Trump attorney and former Justice Department Deputy Attorney Gen. Rudy Giuliani, his colleague and significant other Maria Ryan, and One America Network White House correspondent Christina Bogbb are shown working in a Willard Hotel

Trump attorney and former Justice Department Deputy Attorney Gen. Rudy Giuliani, his colleague and significant other Maria Ryan, and One America Network White House correspondent Christina Bogbb are shown working in a Willard Hotel "War Room" near almost across the street from White House grounds with fellow Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 in a photo by a fellow Trump supporter.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: We Now Know What the Willard Hotel War Room Was For—and You're Not Going to Believe It, Seth Abramson, June 16-17-2021. The revelation of the seventh person in seth abramson graphicTrump's Willard Hotel war room leads to the strangest discovery of the January 6 investigation so far, one so bizarre that it must be read to be believed.

When I discovered that the seventh identifiable figure in the photographs of Donald Trump’s Willard Hotel command center (photographs which had been posted on Instagram by Trump associate Robert Hyde) was Rudy Giuliani girlfriend Maria Ryan, the news meant little to me. It would, I felt, merit little interest from anyone else, either.

I now realize that I couldn’t have been more mistaken, as sometimes mundane discoveries lead to appalling ones—something you’d think I’d recall from my experience as a federal-system criminal investigator and then a state criminal defense attorney.

seth abramson proof logoAs the identification of Maria Ryan as the seventh entrant into the Willard war room was underway, a Proof reader sent me a January 5 “interview” Ryan had conducted with One America News (OAN) propagandist Christina Bobb. I put the word “interview” in quotes here because, as the above photo confirms, and as Proof has already reported at great length, Bobb was, with Ryan, a member of Trump’s secretive insurrection-week team at the Willard — and therefore her on-air discussion with Ryan on January 5 was in no way a real interview. Note: Bobb didn’t disclose her association with Ryan during their chat.

Even odder than the truth of the Bobb-Ryan “interview” was its timing: Insurrection Eve.

Indeed (and this was the first sign of the strange story I was about to find myself immersed in as a journalist and researcher) on January 5, 2021, Maria Ryan was being interviewed from the very war room that Bobb was a member of—meaning that Bobb had at some point left the war room, gone in to work at OAN’s television studio, and then conducted an “interview” with the very legal team she was a part of with a fellow team member who was sitting in the very war room that Bobb herself had been using.

June 14

Washington Post, Opinion: The secret gag orders must stop, Brad Smith, June 14, 2021 (print ed.). Brad Smith, right, is the president of Microsoft. The past seven days marked another bad week for the brad smith microsoftcollision between technology and democracy. We live in an era when private emails and text messages typically are backed up and stored in the cloud by tech companies. When it comes to cybersecurity, the cloud bolsters protection.

But now we’ve learned that the Trump Justice Department exploited this feature as part of a secret effort to obtain emails in investigations of the media and Congress, two institutions where transparency is essential.

microsoft logo CustomThe government cannot justify secrecy in such probes. The abuse of secrecy orders is neither new nor confined to a single administration, and certainly not limited to investigations involving members of Congress or the news media. Democracy rests on a fundamental principle of government transparency. Secrecy should be the rare exception — not the rule.
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Not long ago, if the government wanted to serve a search warrant as part of a criminal investigation, it had to do so in person, with notice. An agent or officer needed to bring a signed warrant to a house or building and hand it to the target of the probe at the front door; only then could the government search the premises for documents, records and computer files. This was true for individuals, businesses and governments alike. If secrecy required getting a “sneak and peek” warrant because evidence would be destroyed in advance or a witness’s safety would be jeopardized, this required a heightened showing, beyond mere probable cause.

Those principles still hold true today. Yet with the expansion of cloud computing in every industry, the federal and state governments know they quickly can obtain data electronically from sources other than the target. So that’s what they do. In secret. By serving search warrants on companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to obtain emails and messages that belong to our customers. Government prosecutors also ask courts to impose gag orders on companies such as ours that prevent us from letting people know that copies of their emails are now in the government’s hands. 

June 13

Top Headlines

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Private Inequity: How a Powerful Industry Conquered the Tax System, Jesse Drucker and Danny Hakim, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Private equity firms are almost never audited, despite tax-avoidance strategies that have prompted whistle-blowers to file claims alleging illegal tactics. The $4.5 trillion industry’s ability to vanquish the I.R.S. and Congress goes a long way toward explaining the deep inequities in the U.S. tax system.

There were two weeks left in the Trump administration when the Treasury Department handed down a set of rules governing an obscure corner of the tax code.

Overseen by a senior Treasury official whose previous job involved helping the wealthy avoid taxes, the new regulations represented a major victory for private equity firms. They ensured that executives in the $4.5 trillion industry, whose leaders often measure their yearly pay in eight or nine figures, could avoid paying hundreds of millions in taxes.

The rules were approved on Jan. 5, the day before the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Hardly anyone noticed.

irs logoThe Trump administration’s farewell gift to the buyout industry was part of a pattern that has spanned Republican and Democratic presidencies and Congresses: Private equity has conquered the American tax system.

The industry has perfected sleight-of-hand tax-avoidance strategies so aggressive that at least three private equity officials have alerted the Internal Revenue Service to potentially illegal tactics, according to people with direct knowledge of the claims and documents reviewed by The New York Times. The previously unreported whistle-blower claims involved tax dodges at dozens of private equity firms.

But the I.R.S., its staff hollowed out after years of budget cuts, has thrown up its hands when it comes to policing the politically powerful industry.

While intensive examinations of large multinational companies are common, the I.R.S. rarely conducts detailed audits of private equity firms, according to current and former agency officials.

Such audits are “almost nonexistent,” said Michael Desmond, who stepped down this year as the I.R.S.’s chief counsel. The agency “just doesn’t have the resources and expertise.”

One reason they rarely face audits is that private equity firms have deployed vast webs of partnerships to collect their profits. Partnerships do not owe income taxes. Instead, they pass those obligations on to their partners, who can number in the thousands at a large private equity firm. That makes the structures notoriously complicated for auditors to untangle.

Increasingly, the agency doesn’t bother. People earning less than $25,000 are at least three times more likely to be audited than partnerships, whose income flows overwhelmingly to the richest 1 percent of Americans.

The consequences of that imbalance are enormous.

By one recent estimate, the United States loses $75 billion a year from investors in partnerships failing to report their income accurately — at least some of which would probably be recovered if the I.R.S. conducted more audits. That’s enough to roughly double annual federal spending on education.

It is also a dramatic understatement of the true cost. It doesn’t include the ever-changing array of maneuvers — often skating the edge of the law — that private equity firms have devised to help their managers avoid income taxes on the roughly $120 billion the industry pays its executives each year.  

katie logan 2001 currently tim gruber wash post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: People of Praise, a Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, faces reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Barrett’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court spurred former members of the group to speak out and forced People of Praise to hire lawyers to investigate.

In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

Logan (shown above in 2001 photo at left and in a recent Washington Post photo by Tim Gruber) told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

“People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoLogan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, left, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left.

Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

In response to questions from The Post, Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, said that the lawyers’ findings will be reviewed by a People of Praise committee of men and women and that “appropriate action” will be taken.

Lent declined in a written statement to respond to specific questions about Logan’s allegation but acknowledged the “serious questions that it raises.” He declined to say how many claims are being investigated.

“People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” said Lent, who is also chairman of the board overseeing three Trinity Schools campuses for middle and high school students — in the Minneapolis area, South Bend, Ind., and Falls Church, Va.

People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

amy coney barrett ap oct 12 2020Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

Barrett was not asked about People of Praise during her confirmation to the Supreme Court (shown at right). At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court, she said she would not put her religious beliefs before the rule of law. “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law,” she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden asks G-7 to take a tougher line on China, but not all allies are enthusiastic, Ashley Parker and Anne Gearan, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden is asking leaders of other wealthy democracies to make a unified front against China’s use of forced labor, arguing Saturday that a stronger line is a moral and practical imperative.

g7 logo uk 2021The Group of Seven economic club is also expected to agree on a joint alternative to heavy-handed Chinese economic expansion tactics that can leave poorer nations saddled with debt.

Countering China is fast becoming a central element of Biden’s foreign policy, despite extensive trade ties and hopes for cooperation to combat climate change and other china flagpriorities.

But some of the leaders Biden is seeing for the annual Group of Seven nations are less eager to prod Beijing over its labor practices, and it was not clear whether Biden could persuade them to fully back his proposal to call out China for its use of forced labor, including of the Uyghur ethnic and religious minority.

Countering China is fast becoming a central element of President Biden’s foreign policy. But some members in the Group of Seven nations are less eager to prod Beijing, and it was not clear whether Biden could persuade them to back his proposal to call out China for its use of forced labor.

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: The Secrets and Lies of the Vietnam War, Exposed in One Epic Document, Elizabeth Becker, June 13, 2021 (print ed.).  With the Pentagon Papers revelations, the U.S. public’s trust in the government was forever diminished.

Brandishing a captured Chinese machine gun, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara appeared at a televised news conference in the spring of 1965. The United States had just sent its first combat troops to South Vietnam, and the new push, he boasted, was further wearing down the beleaguered Vietcong.

“In the past four and one-half years, the Vietcong, the Communists, have lost 89,000 men,” he said. “You can see the heavy drain.”

That was a lie. From confidential reports, McNamara knew the situation was “bad and deteriorating” in the South. “The VC have the initiative,” the information said. “Defeatism is gaining among the rural population, somewhat in the cities, and even among the soldiers.”

Lies like McNamara’s were the rule, not the exception, throughout America’s involvement in Vietnam. The lies were repeated to the public, to Congress, in closed-door hearings, in speeches and to the press. The real story might have remained unknown if, in 1967, McNamara had not commissioned a secret history based on classified documents — which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

By then, he knew that even with nearly 500,000 U.S. troops in theater, the war was at a stalemate. He created a research team to assemble and analyze Defense Department decision-making dating back to 1945. This was either quixotic or arrogant. As secretary of defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, McNamara was an architect of the war and implicated in the lies that were the bedrock of U.S. policy.

daniel ellsberg umassDaniel Ellsberg (shown in a recent University of Massachusetts photo), an analyst on the study, eventually leaked portions of the report to The New York Times, which published excerpts in 1971. The revelations in the Pentagon Papers infuriated a country sick of the war, the body bags of young Americans, the photographs of Vietnamese civilians fleeing U.S. air attacks and the endless protests and counterprotests that were dividing the country as nothing had since the Civil War.

The lies revealed in the papers were of a generational scale, and, for much of the American public, this grand deception seeded a suspicion of government that is even more widespread today.

Officially titled “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” the papers filled 47 volumes, covering the administrations of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Their 7,000 pages chronicled, in cold, bureaucratic language, how the United States got itself mired in a long, costly war in a small Southeast Asian country of questionable strategic importance.

They are an essential record of the first war the United States lost. For modern historians, they foreshadow the mind-set and miscalculations that led the United States to fight the “forever wars” of Iraq and Afghanistan

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret recordings, leaked letters expose backroom dealings and rock the Southern Baptist Convention, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). On Tuesday, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s future, including the choice of its next president.

Demands for political loyalty. Disputes about racism. A fight between conservatives and ultraconservatives. It sounds like current debates within the Republican Party, but on Tuesday, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s future, including the choice of its next president.

More than 16,000 people are expected to attend the denomination’s annual meeting, probably the largest religious gathering since the pandemic, as well as the biggest Baptist meeting in decades.

What is especially unusual about the meeting is infighting at the highest levels of leadership that has become public in recent weeks. New details released to news media outlets have shined a light on the backroom dealings of several of its high-profile leaders.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I took a vote that cost me my seat. I know what Joe Manchin is facing, Tom Perriello, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Tom Perriello is a former congressman from Virginia’s 5tCongressional District and a former U.S. Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region. He now serves as the U.S. executive director of the Open Society Foundations

“Just promise you will never forget that Judgment Day is more important than Election Day.” That was the advice — directive, really — my father offered when I asked about running for Congress. He was born and raised in Dunbar, W.Va., with the deep faith in the community, the Catholic Church and the New Deal that defined many Italian immigrant families recruited by the coal mines or Union Carbide. My dad died a few months after seeing me sworn in as a member of the 111th Congress in 2009, just three weeks after he retired as a pediatrician. He had cared for so many children of every race, faith and class that more than 1,000 people showed up for his funeral.

When I cast one of the deciding votes to pass the Affordable Care Act that year— a vote many warned might cost me my seat — I wore one of my father’s old wool suits. He had opposed Hillary Clinton’s 1993 health-care plan but watched regretfully as the insurance companies spread like a cancer across his profession, choking out the space between doctor and patient. I felt him nodding with approval from on high.

My dad liked Governor Joe Manchin and would have really loved Sen. Manchin for his decency and determination to fight for forgotten towns and workers. This year, the Democratic senator from West Virginia has shown marked political courage by embracing at least the aspirations of President Biden’s agenda to “build back better,” sending a signal to colleagues on both sides of the aisle that this is a time to unite around solutions rather than hide in the shadow of base politics.

Yes, the Senate is rigged for small states. But not for Republicans

As his colleagues fail to answer this call, Manchin is rapidly approaching a test of his convictions on what he must do to protect America’s historic experiment with democracy.

West Virginia became a state when its citizens had the honor to break away from Virginia to defend our more perfect union. Now, their senior senator may need to break traditions to defend voting rights and the integrity of our elections. Manchin recently indicated his inability to support the For the People Act unless Republican senators show the courage to put democracy over party. He stated no substantive disagreements with the reforms, which would limit partisan gerrymandering, dark money, foreign election interference, and corporate corruption, while adopting existing voting rights and expanded election protections.

 

merrick garland new

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Garland Confronts Long-Building Crisis Over Leak Inquiries and Journalism, Charlie Savage, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Prosecutors’ approach to unauthorized disclosures of government secrets has undergone a sea change in the 21st century.

Government leak hunters have been ratcheting up pressure on the ability of journalists to do their jobs for a generation — a push fueled by changing technology and fraught national-security issues that arose after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Now, those tensions have reached an inflection point.Recent disclosures about aggressive steps that the Justice Department secretly took under President Donald J. Trump while hunting for the confidential sources of reporters — at The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post — prompted a backlash from the top. President Biden ordered prosecutors to stop seizing reporters’ phone and email data.

Justice Department log circularBut Mr. Biden’s sweeping vow to ban a practice he called “simply, simply wrong” left crucial questions unanswered. Among them: How broadly prosecutors will define the journalistic activities that the new protections apply to? And will the changes be easy or difficult for a future administration to roll back?

“The question of how this will be institutionalized or codified is crucial,” said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “These kinds of protections shouldn’t be a matter of executive grace.”

Enshrined in the First Amendment, the role of the free press in bringing to light information beyond what those in power approve for release is a foundational principle of the American system of self-government. In Senate testimony this past week, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland (shown above) said the transparency that comes from investigative journalism about “wrongdoing and error in the government” gives people faith in democracy.

An essential task for journalists who report such material is to talk with officials who are not authorized to publicly speak about government matters and to protect their confidentiality. Leak prosecutions and seizures of journalists’ communications data not only jeopardizes particular sources, but can also frighten others with newsworthy information into staying silent.

But the confluence of recent events — which also include the Trump-era targeting of Democratic lawmakers and aides suspected of being reporters’ sources, and extraordinary gag orders imposed on Times and CNN executives in fights over data that spilled into the Biden era, all of which an inspector general is investigating — has brought into focus how fragile the protections for journalism are in the 21st century.

 Washington Post, Chicago officer charged in Jan. 6 riot wore a police sweatshirt to the Capitol, U.S. alleges, Tom Jackman, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). A Chicago police officer was arrested Friday morning and charged with two misdemeanor counts tied to his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, where he apparently wore a Chicago police sweatshirt and took a selfie inside a senator’s office.

Karol J. Chwiesiuk, 29, was charged after FBI agents learned his phone had been inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and then found photos he had sent to a friend along with texts such as “We inside the capitol” and “Knocked out a commie last night,” according to court documents.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a number of civil rights leaders in the city, including Jesse Jackson, appeared at the news conference to denounce the sentiments allegedly expressed by Chwiesiuk, an officer for two years.

“You will not be paid by the taxpayers of this community,” Lightfoot said, “to be a hateful member of our community.”

Chwiesiuk is charged with knowingly entering or remaining on restricted grounds without lawful entry and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He is not accused of attacking police or vandalizing property.

Chwiesiuk appears to be at least the 19th current or former member of law enforcement to be arrested in the investigation into Jan. 6. On Thursday, a former police chief in La Habra, Calif., Alan Hostetter, also was arrested.

June 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Will Investigate Trump-Era Seizure of Lawmakers’ Data, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats denounced the Trump administration’s seizure of the data as an abuse of power and called on Republicans to back a congressional inquiry.

The Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation on Friday into the decision by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the data of House Democrats and reporters as investigators hunted down who was leaking classified information early in the Trump administration.

Justice Department log circularAt the same time, top Senate Democrats demanded that the former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr testify publicly before Congress about the leak investigations, including about subpoenas issued to tech companies in 2017 and 2018 for the records of at least a dozen people tied to the House Intelligence Committee. The senators vowed to “vigorously investigate” and called on Republicans to join them.

Apple, which complied with a subpoena for information related to more than 100 email addresses and phone numbers in February 2018, said on Friday that it did not realize that the records belonged to Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and his associates. Microsoft said it was also subpoenaed by a grand jury as early as November 2017 for data related to an email account for an aide to the panel.

Democrats and privacy advocates denounced the exceedingly unusual seizures related to Congress, reported on Thursday by The New York Times, as an abuse of power. Some called on lawmakers to pursue legal changes to crack down on the kind of gag orders used for years to keep companies from disclosing the subpoenas. Others urged the Justice Department to punish investigators who sought the records.

“I hope every prosecutor who was involved in this is thrown out of the department,” said Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a Democrat on the intelligence panel whose records were also seized. “It crosses the line of what we do in this country.”

The episode added fuel to accusations of politicization in the Trump-era Justice Department, where federal prosecutors seemingly gave lenient treatment to some of the former president’s allies and targeted reporters and Democrats he reviled as the administration sought to stop leaks about Trump associates and Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, The leak investigation has placed tech giants at the center of a political firestorm, Jack Nicas, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Apple, under fire for turning over the data of two lawmakers to the Trump Justice Dept., said it did so unknowingly, while Google fought a request for New York Times data because it related to a corporate client.

On Feb. 6, 2018, Apple received a grand jury subpoena for the names and phone records connected to 109 email addresses and phone numbers. It was one of the more than 250 data requests that the company received on average from U.S. law enforcement each week at the time. An Apple paralegal complied and provided the information.

This year, a gag order on the subpoena expired. Apple said it alerted the people who were the subjects of the subpoena, just as it does with dozens of customers each day.

But this request was out of the ordinary.

apple logo rainbowWithout knowing it, Apple said, it had handed over the data of congressional staff members, their families and at least two members of Congress, including Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat and now its chairman. It turned out the subpoena was part of a wide-ranging investigation by the Trump administration into leaks of classified information.

The revelations have now plunged Apple into the middle of a firestorm over the Trump administration’s efforts to find the sources of news stories, and the handling underscores the flood of law enforcement requests that tech companies increasingly contend with. The number of these requests has soared in recent years to thousands a week, putting Apple and other tech giants like Google and Microsoft in an uncomfortable position between law enforcement, the courts and the customers whose privacy they have promised to protect.

The companies regularly comply with the requests because they are legally required to do so. The subpoenas can be vague, so Apple, Google and others are often unclear on the nature or subject of an investigation. They can challenge some of the subpoenas if they are too broad or if they relate to a corporate client. In the first six months of 2020, Apple challenged 238 demands from the government for its customers’ account data, or 4 percent of such requests.

google logo customAs part of the same leak investigation by the Trump administration, Google fought a gag order this year on a subpoena to turn over data on the emails of four New York Times reporters. Google argued that its contract as The Times’s corporate email provider required it to inform the newspaper of any government requests for its emails, said Ted Boutrous, an outside lawyer for The Times.

But more frequently than not, the companies comply with law enforcement demands. And that underlines an awkward truth: As their products become more central to people’s lives, the world’s largest tech companies have become surveillance intermediaries and crucial partners to authorities, with the power to arbitrate which requests to honor and which to reject.

“There is definitely tension,” said Alan Z. Rozenshtein, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s law school and a former Justice Department lawyer. He said given the “insane amount of data these companies have” and how everyone has a smartphone, most law enforcement investigations “at some point involve these companies.”

On Friday, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation into the decision by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the data of House Democrats and reporters. Top Senate Democrats also demanded that the former attorneys general William P. Barr and Jeff Sessions testify before Congress about the leak investigations, specifically about the subpoena issued to Apple and another to Microsoft.

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said in a statement that the company regularly challenged government data requests and informed affected customers as soon as it legally could.

“In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation, and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” he said. “Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

In a statement, Microsoft said it received a subpoena in 2017 related to a personal email account. It said it notified the customer after the gag order expired and learned that the person was a congressional staff member. “We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this,” the company said.

 Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), WMR also targeted by Trump DoJ, Wayne Madsen, June 12, 2021. As a reminder, WMR was also a target of Donald Trump’s misuse of the Justice Department to seek wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallwayne madesen report logocommunications metadata on CNN, The New York Times, and Democratic members of Congress. We reported on these subpoeanas last May.

Last year, the following emails were received from Microsoft (shown below) and Apple concerning Attorney General William Barr's private communications subpoena action: 

From: Microsoft User Notification <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Date: May 27, 2020 at 12:34:51 PM EDT
To: "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Subject: Microsoft Notification of Legal Process – GCC-1160500-V0W7F0

Hello,

Microsoft received a legal demand from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on 29 March 2019 for data related to your Email account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The request was served by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Microsoft complied with the legal demand by providing responsive data on 10 April 2019.

The legal demand contained a non-disclosure order of limited duration. This non-disclosure prohibition has expired and Microsoft is now able to notify you of the existence of this legal demand.

Pursuant to Microsoft policy found here: https://blogs.microsoft.com/datalaw/our-practices/#does-microsoft-notify-users, Microsoft gives notice to users whose data is sought by a law enforcement agency or other governmental entity, except where prohibited by law.

Regards,

Law Enforcement National Security
Microsoft Corporation

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

ny times logoNew York Times, Schumer Demands That Barr Testify About Seizure of Lawmakers’ Data, Staff Reports, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer  (shown above in a file photo with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) said the actions by William Barr and other Trump officials were a gross abuse of power.

Top Senate Democrats on Friday demanded that former Attorney General William P. Barr, right, and other Justice Department officials testify before the Judiciary Committee about their extraordinary william barr new odecision to secretly seize data from the accounts of House Democrats and their aides as they hunted for leaks of classified information.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chairman of the judiciary panel, said they were willing to subpoena for testimony Mr. Barr, former Attorney General Jeff Session and others if necessary. They also announced they would “vigorously investigate” the department’s actions and called on Republicans to join them in the inquiry.

“This issue should not be partisan; under the Constitution, Congress is a coequal branch of government and must be protected from an overreaching executive, and we expect that our Republican colleagues will join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter,” Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin said in a statement.

Their demands came as Democrats in both chambers decried the seizures and aggressive investigative tactics, first reported by The New York Times on Thursday, as a gross abuse of power to target another branch of government. They said the pursuit of information on some of President Donald J. Trump’s most visible political adversaries in Congress smacked of dangerous politicization.

So far, no prominent Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for investigations, which could make fact-finding more difficult. The attempt by Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin to put pressure on them to stand up for Congress’s prerogatives reflected the fact that to issue subpoenas or compel testimony in an evenly divided Senate, Democrats would need at least some Republican support.

The Times reported that as it hunted for the source of leaks about Trump associates and Russia, the Justice Department had used grand jury subpoenas to compel Apple and one other service provider to hand over data tied to at least a dozen people associated with the House Intelligence Committee beginning in 2017 and 2018. The department then secured a gag order to keep it secret.

Though leak investigations are routine, current and former officials at the Justice Department and in Congress said seizing data on lawmakers is nearly unheard-of outside of corruption investigations. The Times also reported that after an initial round of scrutiny did not turn up evidence tying the intelligence committee to the leaks, Mr. Barr objected to closing out the inquiry and helped revive it.

Investigators gained access to the records of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee and now its chairman; Representative Eric Swalwell of California; committee staff; and family members, including one who was a minor.

“I hope every prosecutor who was involved in this is thrown out of the department,” Mr. Swalwell, right, said in an interview on Friday. “It crosses the line of what we do in this country.”

“We have to figure out what and how it happened to determine the extent to which D.O.J. misused its powers under Trump for political purposes,” he continued. “I think it was absolutely a frontal assault on the independence of a coequal branch of government.”

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Urged on by Biden, G-7 will offer developing countries a superior alternative to Beijing’s insidious Belt and Road debt trap! Webster G. Tarpley, right, June 12, 2021US leads G-7 in webster tarpley 2007pushback against China on human rights, Taiwan security, Covid-19 truth, pandemic preparedness, and supply chains; France’s Macron says he is on “same page” with President.

  • Department of Justice is not an independent state within the state, but must serve the general welfare; Officials who enabled Trump’s enemies’ list operations must be ousted;
  • Virginia and New Jersey primaries are won by moderates; Defund the police slogan losing ground; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads as early voting begins in June 22 contest;
  • Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King cannot be written out of American history to please ideologues of today!
  • A century after Oswald Spengler’s orgy of historical pessimism, clear signs of the resurgence of the West.

June 11

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Palmer Report, Biden-appointed Deputy Attorney General tells DOJ Inspector General to investigate Trump DOJ spying scandal, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. When the disturbing news bill palmerbroke last night that the Trump DOJ spied on the personal data of multiple Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, the defeatists insisted that nothing would be done about it. But now they’re already being proven wrong.

bill palmer report logo headerDeputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has asked Department of Justice Inspector General Horowitz to open an investigation into the scandal, according to NBC News. This is a big deal, because the Inspector General is the highest ranking watchdog in the DOJ, and has independent authority to carry out an investigation that can’t be meddled with by any remaining Trump loyalists within the DOJ. Moreover, Horowitz has already previously demonstrated that he’s fair and honest in his past high profile probes.

The Inspector General’s report on the scandal will lay the groundwork for the firing of any Trump-era DOJ officials who acted improperly in this scandal and are still on the job. It will also lay the groundwork for any criminal charges that might arise from this scandal.

It’s also a big deal that the Deputy Attorney General, the second highest ranking official in the Department of Justice, is the one telling the Inspector General to do this. It will give serious weight and legitimacy to the Inspector General’s findings. And to be clear, the Deputy Attorney General would not be doing this unless she’s acting in concert with her boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland. Finally, the Department of Justice is moving forward with the “Justice” part.

g7 group photo uk resized 2021

G7 leaders representing major democracies plus the European Union pose in a socially distanced manner at their meeting at Cornwall, England hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center. Others, from left, are: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Charles Michel, President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose at the start of the G-7 summit in Carbis Bay on June 11 (Patrick Semansky / Pool Photo / via Reuters).

ny times logoNew York Times, G7 Live Updates: Leaders Will Pledge to Donate 1 Billion Covid Vaccine Doses, Marc Santora, June 11, 2021. The leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies are expected to pledge one billion doses of Covid vaccines to poor and middle-income countries on Friday as part of a campaign to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

g7 logo uk 2021“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” President Biden said in a speech in England on Thursday evening, before the meeting of the Group of 7 wealthy democracies. “When we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help any way we can.”It is not just a race to save lives, restart economies and lift restrictions that continue to take an immeasurable toll on people around the globe.

Since Mr. Biden landed in Europe for the start of his first presidential trip abroad on Wednesday, he has made it clear that this is a moment when democracies must prove that they can rise to meet the world’s gravest challenges. And they must do so in a way the world can see, as autocrats and strongmen — particularly in Russia and China — promote their systems of governance as superior.

Yet the notion of “vaccine diplomacy” can easily be intertwined with “vaccine nationalism,” which the World Health Organization has warned could ultimately limit the global availability of vaccines.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).When Mr. Biden, left, announced on Thursday that the U.S. would donate of 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses, the president said they would be provided with “no strings attached.”

“We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic,” he said. “That’s it. Period.”

But even as wealthy democracies move to step up their efforts, the scale of the challenge is enormous.

Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program, still remains underfunded and billions of doses short.

In related news:

  • China, charting its own course, plays a key role in vaccinating the world against Covid.
  • Remember the Trump balloon? Now there’s one for Biden, too.
  • Trans-Atlantic relations are friendlier, but are they really different?
  • For Australia’s prime minister, his visit to Cornwall is a homecoming — of sorts.
  • ‘Mount Recylemore’ fashions world leaders’ faces out of trash.
  • What is the G7 summit, and why does it matter?
  • At the G7’s first in-person gathering since the pandemic began, tackling the health crisis is a top priority. President Biden, on his first presidential trip abroad, said it was a pivotal moment for Western democracies.

 anthony fauci graphic Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Daily Distortions: No, Fauci is not profiting from a coming book on lessons he’s learned from his public service, Davey Alba, June 11, 2021. In the past few days, after the listing for a coming book by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Covid-19, was taken down from Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s websites, right-wing outlets and social media commentators spread the rumor that the it had been removed because of public backlash to the idea of Dr. Fauci’s “profiteering” from the pandemic.

In truth, Dr. Fauci (shown above in a file photo) is not making any money from the book, which is about lessons he has learned during his decades in public service, and the listing was pulled for a simple reason: the publisher had posted it too early.

Dr. Fauci “will not earn any royalties from its publication and was not paid” for the book, Expect the Unexpected, said Ann Day, a spokeswoman for National Geographic Books, its publisher. She said Dr. Fauci also would not earn anything for a related documentary. (Dr. Fauci did not respond to a request for comment.)

The book, which compiles interviews and speeches given by Dr. Fauci during his 37 years as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was taken off the websites because “it was prematurely posted for presale,” Ms. Day said. She added that proceeds would “go back to the National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education and to reinvest in content.”

In a statement, the national institute noted that the book had not been written by Dr. Fauci himself. The institute also confirmed that he would not earn any royalties from its publication.

The falsehood about the book and Dr. Fauci spread widely online. On May 31, the right-wing outlet The Daily Caller published an article about the book’s appearing for presale online. Some conservative Republicans, including Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Dan Bishop of North Carolina, seized on the article and claimed without evidence that Dr. Fauci would be profiting from the book.

 

katie logan 2001 currently tim gruber wash post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: People of Praise, a Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, faces reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, June 11, 2021. Barrett’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court spurred former members of the group to speak out and forced People of Praise to hire lawyers to investigate.

In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

Logan (shown above in 2001 photo at left and in a recent Washington Post photo by Tim Gruber) told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

“People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoLogan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, left, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left.

Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

In response to questions from The Post, Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, said that the lawyers’ findings will be reviewed by a People of Praise committee of men and women and that “appropriate action” will be taken.

Lent declined in a written statement to respond to specific questions about Logan’s allegation but acknowledged the “serious questions that it raises.” He declined to say how many claims are being investigated.

“People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” said Lent, who is also chairman of the board overseeing three Trinity Schools campuses for middle and high school students — in the Minneapolis area, South Bend, Ind., and Falls Church, Va.

People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

amy coney barrett ap oct 12 2020Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

Barrett was not asked about People of Praise during her confirmation to the Supreme Court (shown at right). At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court, she said she would not put her religious beliefs before the rule of law. “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Severe Is the Western Drought? See for Yourself, Nadja Popovich, June 11, 2021. Maps show that drought conditions are the most widespread and severe in at least 20 years, with reservoirs running dry.

An intense drought is gripping the American West. Extreme conditions are more widespread than at any point in at least 20 years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the government’s official drought-tracking service.

And the hottest months of summer are still to come.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America seth abramson graphicHas Ever Seen, Seth Abramson, left, June 10-11, 2021. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself.

The most ardent adherents to a self-described billionaire’s “populist” movement claim to be animated by what they say is the worrying spread of “cancel culture” in America. If their complaint seems not just hypocritical but even delusionally self-contradictory, do remember that that’s the point: Trumpism is about attributing to one’s opponents whatever it is one is doing oneself that one cannot defend, whether it’s encouraging violent attacks on persons and property, undermining U.S. elections, or “cancelling” so many companies, websites, media outlets and persons through concerted digital action and even (see below) a systematized protocol for cancelling entities that there can no longer be any doubt that Patriot.Win is now the chief “canceller” in the United States.

The Patriot.Win Website: Patriot.Win is an insurrectionist outgrowth of the now-defunct pro-sedition website TheDonald.Win, which latter address now redirects to America.Win. Patriot.Win has two badges it uses to warn its users about companies, sites, media outlets and persons:

    • The Orange “Warning” Badge
    • The Red “Cancellation” Badge 

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).

 

More On U.S. Assaults On Elections, Voting Rights  

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director berated for Jan. 6 failures and Giuliani probe as he testifies before House committee, Matt Zapotosky, June 11, 2021 (print ed.).  Democrats and Republicans lobbed withering questions at the FBI as Director Christopher A. Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, though their concerns diverged significantly along partisan lines. 

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) blasted Wray for the bureau’s failure to detect in advance and respond to the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while ranking Republican Jim Jordan (Ohio) accused the bureau of intruding on Americans’ civil liberties in an eclectic mix of circumstances.

The hearing made clear that Democrats and Republicans could hardly be further apart on what the FBI should and shouldn’t be doing. But on this much, they seemed to agree: the nation’s premier federal law enforcement institution had significant problems that needed to be addressed.

christopher wray oFor his part, Wray, right, sought to highlight how the bureau seeks to root out violence — no matter what motivates it — and is careful not to tread on Americans’ First Amendment rights.

In his opening statement, the FBI director highlighted the “extremist violence” of Jan. 6 in which more than 100 officers were injured in just a few hours and asserted that law enforcement had made more than 500 arrests.

But he also noted the bureau saw extremist violence during last summer’s civil unrest associated with racial justice protests. While he asserted that “most citizens made their voices heard through peaceful lawful, protests,” he said that others attacked federal buildings and left officers injured, and thousands had been arrested across the country.

“That is not a controversial issue that should force anyone to take sides,” he said, adding later in response to questions, “I don’t care whether you’re upset at our criminal justice system, or upset at our election system, violence, assaults on federal law enforcement, destruction of property, is not the way to do it. That’s our position.”

FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

FBI logoNadler and other Democrats pressed Wray on the intelligence the bureau had gathered in advance of Jan. 6, and the actions it took that day as rioters stormed the Capitol. Nadler noted that a report from the bureau’s Norfolk field office from the day before seemed to predict what was going to happen, and it was forwarded to the field office in Washington. He questioned why — in the days after the riot — the head of that office insisted the bureau had no intelligence anything would happen beyond activity protected by the First Amendment.

“Did the FBI simply miss the evidence, or did it see the evidence and fail to piece it together?” Nadler asked.

Wray, as he and others have in the past, said the document was “raw, unverified” intelligence, and asserted that it nonetheless was shared with law enforcement partners, including the Capitol Police, in multiple ways.

“We tried to make sure that we got that information to the right people,” Wray said. He added that, among those arrested and charged so far in the Capitol attack, “almost none” were previously under investigation.

Federal agents execute search warrant at Giuliani’s home

Democrats also sought to get Wray to stress the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, while Republicans focused more on the summer’s unrest. Though Wray stressed the seriousness of both, he noted that with the summer’s violence across the country, it was often easier for prosecutors to pursue local charges, while the mayhem at the Capitol produced more federal offenses.

  • Proof via Substack, Investigation: Inside the Willard Hotel on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, June 8-9, 2021. One of Washington's most expensive hotels (above) was the nerve center for theinsurrection—and a playground for seditious kingpins media and the FBI seem content to ignore for now. Proof takes a look inside.

alan hostetter left russ taylor right

Alleged "Three Percenters" leaders  Alan Hostetter, left, a former police chief, and Russell Taylor are shown above in Washington, DC before the January insurrection at the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Men Said to Be Tied to Three Percenters Movement Charged in Capitol Riot, Alan Feuer and Matthew Rosenberg, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). The indictment marks the first charges lodged against conspirators linked to the radical gun rights group.

Federal prosecutors filed a wide-ranging conspiracy indictment on Thursday accusing six California men said to be connected to a radical gun rights movement called the Three Percenters with plotting to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, in the first charges lodged against anyone involved with planning any of the political events held the week of the attack.

Justice Department log circularThe 20-page indictment was also the first to be brought against a group of alleged Three Percenters, a loosely organized movement that takes its name from the supposed 3 percent of the U.S. colonial population that fought against the British. The new charges, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, came on the same day that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified in front of a House committee that prosecutors were pursuing additional conspiracy charges against some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Investigators have said for months that several extremist groups were involved in the attack, but while the Three Percenters have been occasionally mentioned in court filings, most accused extremists have come from two other groups: the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys. The new charges could suggest that prosecutors have started to pay attention not only to those who directly took part in the Capitol attack, but also to those who helped foment the assault.

The two top defendants in the indictment — Alan Hostetter, 56, a former police chief turned yoga instructor; and Russell Taylor, 40, a wealthy graphic designer with a taste for red Corvettes — were already under scrutiny by the government after the F.B.I. raided their homes in January. Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor were leaders of a group called the American Phoenix Project, which was founded to fight the “fear-based tyranny” of coronavirus-related restrictions. The group later embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about a stolen election, and helped organize a well-attended rally outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 5, where the speakers included Roger J. Stone Jr., a former adviser to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Hostetter’s wife, Kristine, a schoolteacher, also attracted national attention this year after she attended “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, setting off a furor in their hometown, San Clemente, Calif., that prompted an investigation by the school board into whether she had attacked the Capitol. She was cleared by the district in March.

seth pendley facebook

washington post logoWashington Post, He brought a sawed-off rifle to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Then he plotted to bomb Amazon data centers, Katie Shepherd, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). For weeks this spring, 28-year-old Seth Aaron Pendley had plotted an attack on Amazon data centers in Virginia. He had already taken a sawed-off rifle to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, he hoped to cripple much of the Internet and take down government networks.

Last April, he finally arranged a meeting with a man promising to provide the C-4 explosive devices. When they met in Fort Worth, Tex., the man showed Pendley how to arm and detonate the powerful bombs.But just as Pendley placed the devices into his Pontiac, federal agents swarmed in and arrested him. The bomb seller was actually an FBI plant who had helped unravel a plan Pendley believed could “kill off about 70 percent of the internet.”

On Wednesday, Pendley (shown above in a Facebook photo) pleaded guilty to planning to bomb Amazon facilities in an attempt to undermine the U.S. government and to spark a rebellion against the “oligarchy” he believed to be running the country.

amazon logo smallThe case underscores the dramatic rise in domestic terrorism driven by right-wing extremists and raises concerns about those who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection plotting new attacks. Domestic attacks peaked in 2020, mostly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists. Those far-right attacks have killed 91 people since 2015, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Justice Department officials on Wednesday said Pendley’s plans could have injured or killed workers at the Amazon facilities if the FBI hadn’t intervened.

“Due in large part to the meticulous work of the FBI’s undercover agents, the Justice Department was able to expose Mr. Pendley’s twisted plot and apprehend the defendant before he was able to inflict any real harm,” Prerak Shah, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “We may never know how many tech workers’ lives were saved through this operation — and we’re grateful we never had to find out.”

Pendley’s plot against the government began to take shape in January, according to investigators. He said he traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 with a sawed-off rifle concealed in a backpack. As a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, he decided to leave the gun in his car and never entered the building, according to court records. But he later boasted about taking a piece of broken glass from the federal building home to Texas with him.

Under his plea agreement, Pendley faces between five and 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of probation and will be banned from owning firearms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Attorney General Is Being Investigated by State Bar Association, Dave Montgomery, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). Attorney General Ken Paxton is accused of filing a frivolous lawsuit when he challenged President Biden’s victory.

The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether Attorney General Ken Paxton committed professional misconduct by challenging President Biden’s victory in the courts, which a complaint called a “frivolous lawsuit” that wasted taxpayer money.

texas mapThe investigation, which could result in discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment, is the latest obstacle for Mr. Paxton, who has been at the center of bribery and corruption accusations and was indicted in 2015 on allegations of securities fraud in a case that has not been resolved.

Mr. Paxton, left, a Republican, is also being challenged by a member of the Bush family in next year’s primary for attorney general, the state’s highest law enforcement office ken paxton mugand a position that has served as a political springboard. He was preceded in office by Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn.

After it became clear that Mr. Biden won the election, Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit in early December that was ridiculed by many legal experts and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. He had asked the court to extend a deadline for the certification of presidential electors, arguing that election irregularities in four other states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — warranted further investigation.

That month, Kevin Moran, a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and president of the Galveston Island Democrats, filed a grievance to the Texas State Bar. In his filing, Mr. Moran contended that Mr. Paxton knew the lawsuit lacked legal merit and that any unelected lawyer would face disciplinary action for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

“Knowing that the national election had NOT been rigged or stolen, he acted in a way to stoke those baseless conspiracy theories nationwide,” Mr. Moran wrote.

The State Bar of Texas said it was prohibited by statute from discussing any pending matters, and the attorney general’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

Mr. Paxton’s campaign spokesman, Ian Prior, denounced the complaint as a “low-level stunt” and “frivolous allegation,” adding that “Democrats in Texas keep showing just how much they can’t stand election integrity.”

The complaint was initially dismissed by the state bar’s chief disciplinary counsel’s office but later revived by its Board of Disciplinary Appeals, which is appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. The 12-member board notified Mr. Moran in late May that it had granted his appeal after “finding that the grievance alleges a possible violation” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct.

Mr. Moran, 71, said on Thursday that he had filed the complaint as “an upset citizen” — not as a Democratic official — because he was outraged by the attorney general’s lawsuit, particularly after a multitude of judges had upheld Mr. Biden’s victory.

“With his track record, I believe he should be disbarred,” he said of Mr. Paxton.

After receiving a letter from the state bar in January that dismissed his complaint, Mr. Moran filed an appeal that he said he was somewhat surprised to see granted.

Mr. Paxton, in his second term as the Texas attorney general, faces a tough re-election campaign against George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner as well as the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and the son of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Both candidates are vying for an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, who still wields influence over Texas Republicans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Merrick Garland’s big day, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. Merrick Garland has refrained from giving high profile speeches since he became Attorney General, preferring to simply do bill palmerhis job rather than publicly posturing. But his silence has allowed procedural court filings – and a number of really cranky liberal pundits – to write his story for him. Now that’s changing today.

Garlan is giving a major speech this afternoon about how he and the Department of Justice intend to take specific legal steps to protect the voting rights of all Americans. It sounds a lot like he’s going to announce legal action against the red states that have passed blatantly unconstitutional voter suppression laws thus far this year.

bill palmer report logo headerThis will be a huge swing for Garland, , below at right, because he’ll be trying fix the voting rights mess through the court system that Congress is still struggling to fix through legislation. It’s Garland’s responsibility to go this route, as the DOJ has a legal duty to challenge the actions of states that it feels are unconstitutional. It’ll also prove to be very popular with liberal merrick garlandactivists, who have been demanding that “somebody do something” about voting rights.

Of course Merrick Garland’s speech today very likely won’t address why the DOJ has made a series of procedural court filings that have been interpreted by liberal activists as protecting Donald Trump and Bill Barr. In reality these court filings may be mere formalities, as the judge in each instance is likely to rule against the DOJ anyway. But with Garland now about to very publicly tackle voting rights and voter suppression, this should take the heat off him long enough for us to all find out where he really stands on bringing the previous regime to justice.

June 10

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress, Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman, June 10, 2021. The Justice Department seized records from Apple for metadata of House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family members.

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

adam schiff squareAll told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, right, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had subpoenaed.

american flag upside down distressProsecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr, shown above, revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

The zeal in the Trump administration’s efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly apple logo rainbowunheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one.

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month.

Prosecutors also eventually secured subpoenas for reporters’ records to try to identify their confidential sources, a move that department policy allows only after all other avenues of inquiry are exhausted.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America seth abramson graphicHas Ever Seen, Seth Abramson, left, June 10, 2021. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself.

The most ardent adherents to a self-described billionaire’s “populist” movement claim to be animated by what they say is the worrying spread of “cancel culture” in America. If their complaint seems not just hypocritical but even delusionally self-contradictory, do remember that that’s the point: Trumpism is about attributing to one’s opponents whatever it is one is doing oneself that one cannot defend, whether it’s encouraging violent attacks on persons and property, undermining U.S. elections, or “cancelling” so many companies, websites, media outlets and persons through concerted digital action and even (see below) a systematized protocol for cancelling entities that there can no longer be any doubt that Patriot.Win is now the chief “canceller” in the United States.

The Patriot.Win Website: Patriot.Win is an insurrectionist outgrowth of the now-defunct pro-sedition website TheDonald.Win, which latter address now redirects to America.Win. Patriot.Win has two badges it uses to warn its users about companies, sites, media outlets and persons:

    • The Orange “Warning” Badge
    • The Red “Cancellation” Badge 

dan mcgahn djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes, Bill Palmer, right, June 10, 2021. It shouldn’t have taken this long. It’s been sabotaged by bill palmercorrupt bad actors at every turn for years. But once Donald Trump lost the election, it was always going to happen inevitably. And sure enough, former White House Counsel Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes.

McGahn (above right) testified about these crimes to the Mueller team long ago – but as we all remember – the most important parts of the Mueller report were illegally buried by Bill Barr and then the media inexplicably took Barr at his word. But now McGahn has testified about Trump’s obstruction crimes to Congress, and while it took place behind closed doors, McGahn knew the transcript would be released shortly after his testimony.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that happened yesterday. The public transcript reveals that while Don McGahn wasn’t the most cooperative of witnesses, he did specifically state that Donald Trump ordered him to do things to interfere with the Mueller probe that he refused to do, because he viewed the orders as illegal. This is a confession on McGahn’s part that he witnessed Trump commit felony obstruction of justice.

Why does this matter? Here’s the thing. Donald Trump is already facing grand jury indictment in New York, and he’s on a glide path to state prison. But that will be for his financial crimes, many of which took place before he took office. The big question is whether Trump will also be federally criminally charged for the crimes he committed in his role as President.

McGahn’s confession to Trump’s guilt will make it a heck of a lot easier for the Feds to criminally charge Trump with obstruction of justice, if they want to. Also, the public release of this testimony should help ramp up public demand for Trump’s federal prosecution, which will help put pressure on the Feds to charge him even if they’d rather not.

Because McGahn’s testimony emerged as a transcript and not live on television (something that McGahn would never have agreed to and would have instead fought in court for another few years), the impact of his testimony won’t be immediate. But we’re already seeing the McGahn transcript filter its way into media coverage, which will help gradually educate the public about Trump’s obstruction crimes, which could finally get the ball rolling on obstruction charges.

Again, Donald Trump is already earmarked for prison for financial crimes in New York. And frankly, it’ll be infinitely easier to get a jury to convict Trump for straightforward financial crimes than it will be to get a jury to convict Trump for something as qualitative as obstruction of justice. But if you believe that the Feds must criminally charge Trump for his crimes in office, suffice it to say that those odds – while still unknown – certainly just went up

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Tweaks Its Formula, Seeking to Curb Online Slander, Kashmir Hill and Daisuke Wakabayashi, June 10, 2021. In response to Times articles, the search giant is changing its algorithm, part of a major shift in how Google polices harmful content.

For many years, the vicious cycle has spun: Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers. People slander their enemies. The anonymous posts appear high in Google results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down.

This circle of slander has been lucrative for the websites and associated middlemen — and devastating for victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop.

google logo customThe company plans to change its search algorithm to prevent websites, which operate under domains like BadGirlReport.date and PredatorsAlert.us, from appearing in the list of results when someone searches for a person’s name.

Google also recently created a new concept it calls “known victims.” When people report to the company that they have been attacked on sites that charge to remove posts, Google will automatically suppress similar content when their names are searched for. “Known victims” also includes people whose nude photos have been published online without their consent, allowing them to request suppression of explicit results for their names.

The changes — some already made by Google and others planned for the coming months — are a response to recent New York Times articles documenting how the slander industry preys on victims with Google’s unwitting help.

That represents a momentous shift for victims of online slander. Google, which fields an estimated 90 percent of global online search, historically resisted having human judgment play a role in its search engine, although it has bowed to mounting pressure in recent years to fight misinformation and abuse appearing at the top of its results.

June 9 

sherri tenpenny ohio

Ohio Capital Journal, ‘5G towers,’ other conspiracies flourish at hearing on vaccine bill, Jake Zuckerman, June 9, 2021. Supporters crammed into the House Health Committee room June 8 in support of House Bill 248, which weakens state vaccination laws.

A doctor warned that vaccinated people might be magnetized and pose a health risk to unvaccinated people around them.

A pastor said vaccines contain ingredients like formaldehyde and fetal cells.

A nurse sought to prove the truth of “magnetic vaccine crystals.”

These statements — none of which are true — came during the Ohio House Health Committee’s review Tuesday of House Bill 248, a broad weakening of state vaccination laws. The five-hour hearing, limited to proponent testimony, devolved into a forum of fear-stoking, speculation, and conspiracy theorizing around the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, shown above, a board-certified physician from the Cleveland area, repeatedly raised unfounded claims of deaths, strokes and other “horrendous side effects” from the vaccine. The Center for Countering Digital Hate identified Tenpenny as one of a dozen of the most prolific anti-vaccination disinformers “who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines.” The report is linked here and excerpted below:  Advocacy Special Report: The Disinformation Dozen: Why Platforms Must Act On Twelve Leading Online Anti-Vaxxers

At one point, Tenpenny made a claim to lawmakers, with no evidence behind it, that vaccinated people are somehow magnetized.

“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 there’s a metal piece to that,” she said. “There’s been people who have long suspected that there was some sort of an interface, yet to be defined interface, between what’s being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers.”

Shortly thereafter, Tom Renz, a lawyer, testified in support of the bill as well. Renz has filed lawsuits in states around the U.S. crying foul of an array of government practices related to COVID-19 and vaccination.

He filed one such case in Ohio, which he withdrew after U.S. District Judge James Carr called Renz’s arguments nearly “incomprehensible” and his supporting evidence “a jumble of alleged facts, conclusory and speculative assertions, personal and third-party allegations, opinions, and articles of dubious provenance and admissibility.”

Renz, like several other witnesses, accused health officials of secretly profiting from vaccines while covering up their dangers.

House Bill 248, co-sponsored by 16 House Republicans, would prohibit any of the following institutions from mandating, incentivizing, or “otherwise requesting” their employees, customers or students get vaccinated: businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, day-care centers, and insurers.

It also:

  • Prohibits a person from mandating, requiring, or otherwise requesting that an individual receive a vaccine.
  • Compels public schools, which already accept exemptions for non-medical and medical reasons, to emphasize vaccine exemptions “in the same timing and manner, including text size and font, as it
  • provides notice of the requirements.”
  • Blocks businesses from separating patrons by vaccination status or asking whether they’ve been vaccinated.

Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester, the bill’s lead sponsor, has said she isn’t opposed to vaccination, but people should have the right to choose. “This is not a scientific bill,” she said last month. “This is a freedom bill.”

Several public health experts have warned in interviews that the legislation will likely lead to sagging vaccination rates, and in turn, outbreaks of infectious disease.

mike dewine oIn the last two weeks, Gov. Mike DeWine, right, Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud, and ODH Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff declined to comment on the legislation.

At a press call last week, a physician joined Vanderhoff for a largely unrelated press conference encouraging vaccination against COVID-19. When asked by a reporter about the bill, she didn’t share Vanderhoff’s reticence.

“I’ll be very direct and say this bill threatens how we take care of children, and how we keep them healthy, and how we keep them alive,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, the chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“To limit and restrict the ability to require vaccinations in schools or to check vaccination status, it’s almost unthinkable in a pediatric community to think that one of the best tools we have at prevention would be limited, restricted, or discussed in a way that is negative.”

Similarly, a “vaccine coalition” of business groups along with the largest medical groups and associations in the state — including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Anthem, OhioHealth, and others — issued a public letter warning the legislation puts all children at risk.

“At its core, this proposal would destroy our current public health framework that prevents outbreaks of potentially lethal diseases, threaten the stability of our economy as it recovers from a devastating pandemic, and jeopardize the way we live, learn, work and celebrate life,” the coalition wrote.

An item that fully escaped the committee’s attention: during the hearing itself, the CDC published an early release of a report analyzing COVID-19 infections by age group and vaccination status.

The researchers found occurrences of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death plummeted among Americans aged 65-and-up (about 82% of whom are vaccinated) compared to those aged 18-49 (about 42% of whom are vaccinated).

The finding builds on mounting evidence of the COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy.

The legislation drew immense support including more than 800 pieces of written testimony. The hearing room was virtually full, requiring two overflow rooms for supporters. At a lunch recess, a man stood outside the statehouse passing out faux vaccination cards with a vulgarity on the flip side.

“Mandatory vaccines and masks are a joke … much like this card!” it states.

In an interview after the hearing, House Health Chairman Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, said it’d be tough but possible to see the bill passed out of committee before lawmakers break for summer recess at the end of the month.

He indicated looming amendments might narrow the bill, possibly restricting its focus solely to the flu or COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to its current form of all vaccinations.

“If you could trim this bill down, you could pass it,” he said.

During the hearing, Lipps tried to steer witness testimony and lawmakers’ inquiries toward the philosophical questions about the role of government in public health as opposed to litigating the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The attempts were largely unsuccessful with both proponents and opponents.

He distanced himself from Tenpenny’s remarks.

“I do believe Representative Gross requested Dr. Tenpenny to speak, and she got a little off balance, I think she got a little outside the lines of what we were intending or hoping to keep her in,” he said. “I hope that didn’t harm her credibility, but I think some committee members walked away with big questions.”

Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), Advocacy Special Report: The Disinformation Dozen: Why Platforms Must Act On Twelve Leading Online Anti-Vaxxers, Imran Ahmed, March 24, 2021. The Disinformation Dozen are twelve anti-vaxxers who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines. They were selected because they have large numbers of followers, produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content or have seen rapid growth of their social media accounts in the last two months.

Analysis of a sample of anti-vaccine content that was shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter a total of 812,000 times between 1 February and 16 March 2021 shows that 65 percent of anti-vaccinecontent is attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.

Despite repeatedly violating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s terms of service agreements, nine of the Disinformation Dozen remain on all three platforms, while just three have been comprehensively removed from just one platform.

This is the product of a series of failures from social media platforms

a. Research conducted by CCDH last year has shown that platforms fail to act on 95 percent of the Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them.
b. CCDH’s recent report, Malgorithm, uncovered evidence that Instagram’s algorithm actively recommends similar misinformation.
c. Tracking of 425 anti-vaccine accounts by CCDH shows that their total following across platforms now stood at 59.2 million in December, an increase of 877,000 more than they had in June.
d. CCDH’s ongoing tracking shows that the 20 anti-vaxxers with the largest followings account for over two-thirds of this total cross-platform following of 59.2 million.

Analysis of anti-vaccine content posted to Facebook over 689,000 times in the last two months shows that up to 73 percent of that content originates with members of the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers.

facebook logoFacebook’s own internal analysis of vaccine hesitant content on its platform is likely to underestimate the influence of leading anti-vaxxers by failing to address the ultimate source of this content, and by the recorded failure of its algorithms to identify content concerning vaccines.

Analysis of over 120,000 anti-vaccine tweets collected in the last two months shows that up to 17 percent feature the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers.

The most effective and efficient way to stop the dissemination of harmful information is to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders, who we term the Disinformation Dozen. This should also include the organisations these individuals control or fund, as well as any backup accounts they have established to evade removal.

Platforms should establish a clear threshold for enforcement action, such as two strikes, after which restrictions are applied to accounts short of deplaforming them.

Users should be presented with warning screens when attempting to follow links to sites known to host vaccine misinformation, and users exposed to posts containing misinformation should be shown effective corrections.

Facebook should not allow private and secret anti-vaccine Groupswhere dangerous anti-vaccine disinformation can be spread with impunity.

The Disinformation Dozen are responsible for up to 65% of anti-vaccine contentAt the outset of this research, we identified a dozen individuals who appeared to be extremely influential creators of digital anti-vaccine content.

These individuals were selected either because they run anti-vaccine social media accounts with large numbers of followers, because they produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content or because their growth was accelerating rapidly at the outset of our research in February.Full profiles of each are available at the end of this report.


1. Joseph Mercola
robert f kennedy jr gage skidmore2. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (shown at right in a Gage Skidmore portrait)
3. Ty and Charlene Bollinger
4. Sherri Tenpenny
5. Rizza Islam
6. Rashid Buttar
7. Erin Elizabeth
8. Sayer Ji
9. Kelly Brogan
10. Christiane Northrup
11. Ben Tapper
12. Kevin Jenkins

The Disinformation Dozen are responsible for up to 65% of anti-vaccine content.

Our analysis of over 812,000 posts extracted from Facebook and Twitter between 1 February and 16 March 2021 shows that 65 percent of anti-vaccine content is attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.This shows that while many people might spread anti-vaccine content on social media platforms, the content they share often comes from a much more limited range of sources.

Exposure to even a small amount of online vaccine misinformation has been shown by the Vaccine Confidence Project to reduce the number of people willing to take a Covid vaccine by up to 8.8 percent.

Platforms have failed to act on the Disinformation Dozen

Despite repeatedly violating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s terms of service agreements, nine of the Disinformation Dozen remain on all three platforms, while just three have been comprehensively removed from just one platform. This is an extension of platforms’ failure to act on vaccine misinformation. Research conducted by CCDH last year has shown that platforms fail to act on 95 percent of the Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them, and we have uncovered evidence that Instagram’s algorithm actively recommends similar misinformation.

Tracking of 425 anti-vaccine accounts by CCDH shows that their total following across platforms now stands at 59.2 millionas a result of these failures.

The 20 anti-vaxxers with the largest followings account for over two-thirds of this total.

Up to 17% of anti-vaccine tweets feature the Disinformation Dozen

Analysis of over 120,000 anti-vaccine tweets collected in the last two months shows that up to 17 percent feature the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers. This analysis is based on a representative sample of 123,494 anti-vaccine tweets identified by analysis of their text contents.

We collected this sample using Brandwatch, an enterprise social listening tool, to extract anti-vaccine tweets posted between 1 February and 16 March 2021 based on text analysis.

Retweets and quote tweets were also extracted to discover which pieces of anti-vaccine content were shared most frequently.

Tweets were selected based on their use of anti-vaccine keywords, phrases and hashtags, as well as selecting tweets about vaccines from known anti-vaxxers including those who are not members of the Disinformation Dozen. This process selected tweets using phrases commonly used by anti-vaxxers such as “informed consent” and “casedemic” in combination with more common terms regarding Covid vaccines.

This sample was then analysed using an automated set of rules to tag those that featured the name or username of a member of the Disinformation Dozen, or contained a link to a website controlled by or related to one of them.Tweets that were extracted and tagged using these methodswere then checked by researchers on a daily basis to maintain the quality of our data.

This analysis showed that 21,351 of the tweets in our sample featured members of the Disinformation Dozen equivalent to 17.3% of the whole sample.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate is a not-for-profit NGO that seeks to disrupt the architecture of online hate and misinformation. Digital technology has changed forever the way we communicate, build relationships, share knowledge, set social standards, and negotiate and assert our society's values.

Digital spaces have been colonised and their unique dynamics exploited by fringe movements that instrumentalise hate and misinformation. These movements are opportunistic, agile and confident in exerting influence and persuading people. Over time these actors, advocating diverse causes --from anti-feminism to ethnic nationalism to denial of scientific consensus -- have formed a Digital Counter Enlightenment. Their trolling, disinformation and skilled advocacy of their causes has resocialised the offline world for the worse.

The Center's work combines both analysis and active disruption of these networks. CCDH's solutions seek to increase the economic, political and social costs of all parts of the infrastructure -- the actors, systems and culture -- that support, and often profit from hate and misinformation.

June 7willard hotel

Proof via Substack, MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Team Trump Had a Second Pre-Insurrection War Room, Seth Abramson, left, June 6-7, 2021. An investigation of who was in this second Insurrection Eve war seth abramson graphicroom has now begun.

Introduction: As this publication has exclusively and exhaustively detailed, on the eve of the January 6 insurrection Team Trump convened a 23-person war council at Trump International seth abramson proof logoHotel in D.C. to plot out—as attendees have since confessed—what would happen the following day. It is now clear that a second, contemporaneous pre-insurrection war council was held at a nearby Washington hotel and that it may well have been linked, through either phone or video conferencing, to the first.

This previously unreported news could significantly swell the size of Donald Trump’s pre-insurrection planning team, even as it remains possible (indeed, a possibility that has been extensively investigated here at Proof) that any remote conferencing that occurred the night before the January 6 insurrection also included the White House.

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).

June 4

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Says Trump’s Ban Will Last at Least 2 Years, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, June 4, 2021. Facebook said on Friday that Donald J. Trump’s suspension from the service would last at least two years, clarifying a timeline on the ban that the company put in place in January.

The company said Mr. Trump (shown in a file photo) would be eligible for reinstatement in January 2023, when it will then look to experts to decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Facebook said. The company barred the former president from the service after comments he made about the Capitol riots.

“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, wrote in a company blog post, “we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.”

If reinstated, Mr. Trump will be subject to a set of “rapidly escalating sanctions” if he committed further violations, up to and including the permanent suspension of his account.

Facebook also said it was ending a policy that treated content by politicians differently from that of other users. The policy had previously been used to allow Mr. Trump, and other global leaders, to post content that violated Facebook’s rules.

Threats To U.S. Democracy  

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: BREAKING NEWS: New Trump Fundraising Push May Violate Federal Law By Strongly Implying Trump Is the Nation's Real President, Seth Abramson, left, June seth abramson graphic3-4, 2021. Language in texts and survey sent to Trump voters raises question of whether Trump has gone beyond telling friends and allies he'll be reinstalled as POTUS in August and into federal criminal conduct.

On June 2 and June 3, 2021, countless Americans reported on social media receiving a text from the Trump campaign that read as follows: Pres. Trump: Before I give my Presidential speech on June 5th, I need your input, friend. You have 1HR. Take Prep Survey NOW. These Americans reported that the text had a link to a bizarre and deeply unsettling survey.

seth abramson proof logoIt is one thing for Trump to refer to himself as “President Trump” seven times in one survey; it’s one thing for him to refer to President Biden as simply “Joe Biden” four times in the survey; but given that Trump is telling friends and allies that he will be reinstalled in the White House in August, an action would require a military coup, and given that (via the “Big Lie”) Trump is daily implying to his voters that he is the only legitimate President of the United States, not only does all of the foregoing take on a very different cast, but a survey question like this one, below, becomes profoundly problematic:

It’s inexplicable that dozens of bands and musicians have now formally demanded that Trump stop playing their songs without permission but somehow the Department of Justice and/or FBI logothe Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or the United States Secret Service can’t tell Donald Trump to stop fraudulently pretending he’s President of the United States.

Trump Is Committing a Crime—and a Dangerous One. Under the provisions of U.S. federal law (specifically, 18 U.S. Code § 912), “Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Trump is knowingly—and falsely—doing all of the things listed above.

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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Plans to End Hands-Off Approach to Politicians’ Posts, Mike Isaac, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The social network, under pressure since barring former President Donald J. Trump, will no longer automatically give world leaders special treatment. The policy change is a stark one for Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, previously said he didn’t want the company to be an arbiter of speech.

Facebook plans to announce on Friday that it will no longer keep posts by politicians up on its site by default if their speech breaks its rules, said two people with knowledge of the company’s plans, reversing how it has allowed posts from political figures to remain untouched on the social network.

facebook logoThe change, which is tied to Facebook’s decision to bar former President Donald J. Trump from its site, is a retreat from a policy introduced less than two years ago, when the company said speech from politicians was newsworthy and should not be policed.

Under the change, politicians’ posts will no longer be presumed newsworthy, said the people with knowledge of the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Politicians will be subject to Facebook’s content guidelines that prohibit harassment, discrimination or other harmful speech, they said.

If Facebook does decide speech from politicians is newsworthy, it can be exempt from being pulled down, under a standard the company has used since at least 2016. Starting on Friday, the people with knowledge of the plans said, Facebook will disclose when it has applied the newsworthiness clause to rule-breaking posts.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment. The Verge reported earlier on Facebook’s change.

The change is stark because of how Facebook’s leaders previously pledged not to interfere with political speech. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, said in a 2019 speech at Georgetown University that the company wouldn’t be an arbiter of speech “because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.” Nick Clegg, who leads Facebook’s public affairs, has also said all speech from politicians “should, as a general rule, be seen and heard” on the platform.

Yet Facebook has grappled with a backlash against that stance by lawmakers, civil rights activists and even its own employees, especially when Mr. Trump used social media to rally a crowd that ended up storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A day after the riot, Facebook said it would block Mr. Trump because the risks of allowing him to use the platform were too great.

Since then, Mr. Trump’s allies and supporters have challenged the company, saying Facebook engaged in censorship and had too much power over who could say what online. To defuse the situation, the social network sent its decision to block Mr. Trump to a company-appointed oversight board for review. Last month, the board upheld the ban of Mr. Trump but also kicked the case back to the company.

The board said that an indefinite suspension of Mr. Trump was “not appropriate” because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board also said Facebook must respond by Friday to its recommendations for how to handle potentially dangerous posts from world leaders.

Around the world, political leaders have also tried to curtail Facebook’s power over online speech, while using social media to advance their own agendas. Russia, India and other countries have recently ordered Facebook to pull down posts, even as some of their own politicians have tried to influence citizens with Facebook posts.

In the United States, Florida last month became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook moderate speech online, by imposing fines on companies that permanently bar political candidates in the state.

 

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure.

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Sinema and Manchin’s Nihilistic Bipartisanship, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 4, 2021. We are in the eye of the storm of American democratic collapse. There is, outwardly, a michelle goldberg thumbfeeling of calm. The Biden administration is competent and placid. The coronavirus emergency is receding nationally, if not internationally. Donald Trump, once the most powerful man on earth and the emperor of the news cycle, is now a failed blogger under criminal investigation.

Yet in red states, Trump’s party, motivated by his big lie about his 2020 loss, is systematically changing electoral rules to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote and, should Democrats win anyway, easier for Republicans to overturn elections.

You’ve probably heard the details already — Democrats are repeating them ad nauseam, with a growing sense of desperation.

Republicans have an excellent chance of gerrymandering their way to control of the House in 2022, whether or not they increase their vote share. A Republican-dominated House is unlikely to smoothly ratify even a clear Democratic presidential victory in 2024. We may be living through a brief interregnum before American democracy is strangled for a generation.

Two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, could save us by joining their colleagues in breaking the filibuster and passing new voting rights legislation. But they prefer not to.

On Tuesday, Sinema, touring migrant facilities with her Texas Republican colleague John Cornyn, defended the filibuster by spouting an alternative history nearly as delusional as Trump’s claims to have actually won the election. “The idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before us in the United States Senate to create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together,” she said.

This is nonsense. The filibuster was created by mistake when the Senate, cleaning up its rule book in 1806, failed to include a provision to cut off debate. (A so-called cloture rule allowing two-thirds of senators to end a filibuster was adopted in 1917; the proportion was reduced to three-fifths in 1975.) The filibuster encouraged extremism, not comity: It was a favorite tool of pro-slavery senators before the Civil War and segregationists after it.

It is impossible to know whether Sinema believes what she said, or whether she simply doesn’t care. Both she and Manchin are committed to bipartisanship as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fai

Talking Points Memo, ‘You Are Full Of Poop’: A Proud Boy-Fueled Power Struggle Divides Portland-Area GOP, Matt Shuham, June 4, 2021. “First of All, James Ball III, you are full of poop,” wrote one Republican Party functionary to another in a bitter, paramilitary-tinged rift over the future of the GOP in Multnomah County, Oregon. “That is a legal term used by bible believing Christians,” the email continued, “who want to say something much much stronger but err on the side of caution.”

djt maga hatThe author was Tim Sytsma, a precinct committee person, or PCP, for the Multnomah County Republican Party who helped arrange for an associate of the Proud Boys, the right-wing street gang, to provide security for a recent meeting in which the county chair was recalled. The target of his email, Ball, is also a PCP, though he’s stuck by ousted chair Stephen Lloyd and has led the effort to get him back in power.

republican elephant logoThe beef — aired out in a series of stories over the past month by the Portland-based Willamette Week (WW) — is part of a pattern playing out in some form around the country: Fringe and even violent movements like the Proud Boys are muscling their way into internal Republican Party politics.

The story in Multnomah County, which is home to both Democrat-dominated Portland and a strong contingent of right-wing militia types, started with anger and frustration over Lloyd’s effort to make the party “open to everyone,” including with more public-facing meetings.

At press time Friday, Lloyd was still listed as county GOP chair on the Oregon Republican Party’s website. But the party will need to make a more explicit choice soon, Ball said: On Saturday, the ORP is having a statewide meeting, and will need to determine which Multnomah County Republican Party delegation is legitimate.

“The ORP will have to choose one,” he said. “So that’s probably where this ends.”

capitol riot shaman

Two of the pro-Trump insurrectionists who took over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent congressional election-certification of President-elect Joe Biden.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin off the hook, Bill Palmer, right, June 4, 2021. Here’s the thing about Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. They’re selfishly bill palmerholding up progress and putting democracy at risk, so they deserve all the criticism you can heap on them. But there’s a huge difference between going at them in a way that will allow us to win, and going at them in a way that will ultimately just make it easier for them to get off the hook.

bill palmer report logo headerIf you’re yelling around about how Manchin and Sinema have destroyed democracy because they’ll never cave on the filibuster, then you’re doing it wrong. Why? Because you just let them off the hook. You stated your expectation that they’re never going to cave, which means you just told them that you’re not even trying to get them to cave.

Instead, we should actively work to pressure Manchin and Sinema to cave, and – this is crucial – we should presume going in that we’re going to be successful in making them cave. Let them know that you’re not going to let them get away with not caving.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouths. President Biden just publicly called Manchin and Sinema to the carpet over voting rights. Now they’re both being louder than ever in insisting that they’ve never cave on the filibuster. But this doesn’t mean anything.

95% of politics takes place behind closed doors. When politicians speak publicly, it’s only ever to try to influence what’s going on behind the scenes. Politicians take what they’d like to do, or what they wish were going to happen, and publicly state it as fact. It’s your job to ignore their their public proclamations about how they’ll never cave no matter what, and to keep pushing them harder than ever to cave.

sean mchugh police bodycam photo capitol insurrection

CNN, Alleged US Capitol rioter who heckled police for 'protecting pedophiles' served jail time for statutory rape of 14-year-old girl, Marshall Cohen and Hannah Rabinowitz, June 4, 2021. A Trump supporter accused of storming the US Capitol and heckling police officers for "protecting pedophiles" previously served jail time after being convicted in the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, according to court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in the cases.

Federal prosecutors say Sean McHugh of Auburn, California, fought with police as they fended off the massive mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol on January 6. During the scuffle, McHugh was recorded by police body-worn cameras heckling the officers with a megaphone.

According to prosecutors' description of the footage, McHugh (shown above in a photo via a police bodycam) allegedly shouted, "You guys like protecting pedophiles?" "you're protecting Communists," "I'd be shaking in your little s--t boots too," and, "there is a Second Amendment behind us, what are you going to do then?"

His comments about "pedophiles" are particularly striking, considering his criminal history.

McHugh was convicted in 2010 on a state charge of unlawful sex with a minor, according to California court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in McHugh's cases. McHugh was sentenced to 240 days in jail -- though he served less -- and got four years of probation.

There was DNA evidence that connected McHugh to the girl, former prosecutor Todd Kuhnen told CNN. The victim was 14 years old and McHugh was 23 when the crime occurred, Kuhnen said. The victim also alleged that she was intoxicated when the incident occurred.

McHugh pleaded no contest to the underage sex charge. Kuhnen said he didn't take the case to trial because he didn't want to "run the victim through the ringer again," and said that the victim and her mother signed off to the plea agreement as part of California's victims' rights law.

McHugh has been charged with eight federal crimes tied to the Capitol insurrection, including trespassing charges and the more serious counts of obstructing congressional proceedings and assaulting police officers with a dangerous weapon. He hasn't yet entered a plea in court.

Prosecutors allege that McHugh used a megaphone to incite other rioters outside the Capitol by calling on the crowd to advance on a police line. As the rioters grew more hostile, McHugh allegedly grabbed a large metal Trump sign and urged the mob to push it into the officers.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP should think twice before it tries to mess with elections, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2021. In addition to a slew of efforts to impair access to the ballot, Republicans jennifer rubin new headshotthroughout the country are attempting to shift control of elections away from local authorities or nonpartisan officials and toward partisan GOP operatives. But they should think twice before proceeding with such tactics; they might be venturing into some dangerous territory.

To be blunt, these efforts open up the potential for partisan Republicans to overthrow legitimate election results. That is, these laws could allow them to stage a coup, just as the MAGA crowd attempted in 2020. Arizona’s circuslike election “audit” conducted by Republican partisans provides a glimpse of the horror show that could result if partisan Republicans were counting the votes rather than trying to delegitimize the vote after the fact.

This sort of election rigging is difficult to combat at the federal level, even if Democrats manage to pass voting reforms protecting access to the ballot or paper audit trails. (Audits are not much help if the auditors are partisan toadies.) Nevertheless, legal barriers exist that might deter election rigging or a shift in control of elections from nonpartisan to partisan control.

For starters, it is worth remembering that it is illegal under state and federal law to change vote outcomes.

This is the basis for the ongoing investigation of the former president’s phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which the election’s loser pleaded with the Republican official to “find” sufficient votes to change the state’s outcome. Georgia prosecutors sent a letter to state officials in February noting potential violations of state law, including “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, FBI investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with his political fundraising, Matt Zapotosky and Jacob Bogage, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, right, in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business, according to people familiar with the matter and a spokesman for DeJoy.

louis dejoy CustomFBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities, these people said. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information, one of the people said.

That person, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing and politically sensitive investigation.

Mark Corallo, a DeJoy spokesman, confirmed the investigation in a statement but insisted DeJoy had not knowingly violated any laws.

FBI logo“Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector,” Corallo said. “He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.”

us mail logoThe inquiries could signal impending legal peril for the controversial head of the nation’s mail service — though DeJoy has not been charged with any crimes and has previously asserted that he and his company followed the law in their campaign fundraising activity.
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Spokesmen for the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeJoy — who was appointed to run the Postal Service by its board of governors last May — has been dogged by controversy for almost his entire time in office. Soon after starting in the job, he imposed cost-cutting moves that led to a reduction in overtime and limits on mail trips that mail carriers blamed for creating backlogs across the country.

Democrats accused the prominent GOP fundraiser, who personally gave more than $1.1 million to the joint fundraising vehicle of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the RepublicanParty, of trying to undermine his own organization because of Trump’s distrust of mail-in voting. Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the FBI asking agents to investigate whether DeJoy or the Postal Service’s governing board “committed any crimes” in stalling mail.

In a congressional hearing last year, DeJoy disputed he was trying to affect the vote.

“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said at the time. “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”

In early September, The Washington Post published an extensive examination of how employees at DeJoy’s former company, North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or make contributions to Republican candidates, and then were paid back through bonuses.

Such reimbursements could run afoul of state or federal laws, which prohibit “straw-donor” schemes meant to allow wealthy donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscure the source of a candidate’s money. 

carolyn maloney oDeJoy has adamantly disputed that he broke the law. 

When The Post later published its report, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, said the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an inquiry and asserted DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath.

Corallo noted in his statement about the FBI investigation that DeJoy “fully cooperated with and answered the questions posed by Congress regarding these matters.”

“The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General’s inquiry which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues,” Corallo said. “He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it.”

June 2

Vice, Investigation: QAnon Has a Disturbing Takeover Plot to ‘Eliminate’ Elected Officials, David Gilbert, June 2, 2021. A known grifter and QAnon supporter who claims she can time-travel has amassed an army of thousands of loyal followers to carry out a plot to oust elected officials across the country and replace them with QAnon believers—and she’s using game-streaming platform.

Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman has spent the last four months building an intricate network of groups in all 50 states, urging followers to dig up information about elected officials and cough up hundreds of dollars to take part in her scheme.

Maras-Lindeman has promised her followers that the plot will bring about “retaliation” for what she believes was a stolen election last November, and ultimately see the return of former president Donald Trump to the White House.

All the while, Maras-Lindeman, who streams under the name Tore Says, has grown her subscriber base massively, raking in tens of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the year. She even managed to convince her supporters to cough up over $87,400 in a crowdfunding campaign, which she used to buy a new Tesla.

Maras-Lindeman is part of a growing ecosystem of grifters and hucksters who are leveraging the widespread belief that Trump’s election loss was somehow orchestrated by shadowy figures and companies tied to the Democrats. This so-called “Big Lie” has taken hold within the mainstream Republican Party, and fringe figures like Maras-Lindeman have succeeded in carving out a niche that’s proving to be highly lucrative.

When President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, QAnon supporters were distraught—after all, they were promised that would never happen.
Building the army on Twitch

For some it was the final straw, but others, who had spent years devoted to the conspiracy movement, needed something to latch onto—and Maras-Lindeman provided that.

A week after Biden’s inauguration, Maras-Lindeman outlined an audacious plan to oust sitting lawmakers across the country and replace them with Q believers who were tired of having elections stolen from them.

And they were going to begin with Ohio.

“Ohio’s gonna be lit, next week we’re gonna be setting some serious fires,” she told viewers on her Twitch channel, ToreSays, on Jan. 29. Then, she issued a warning to the lawmakers: “You want a great reset? Here it is. We’re gonna do it our way, and that’s by eliminating you.”

The plan was relatively simple: Maras-Lindeman claimed that vote-counting equipment used in states across the country were not properly certified and that as a result, all elected officials—both Democrat and Republican—were illegitimate. This opens the door for anyone to file what’s known as a “quo warranto” lawsuit, an arcane legal action that requires a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.

But so far neither Maras-Lindeman nor any of her supporters has provided evidence to back up their claims that the voting machines are invalid.

“From what I can discern, the final step is meeting at the Ohio Supreme Court, where they’ll look to have Ms. Lindeman filing their election fraud warrants, in an effort to remove the ‘illegally elected’ representatives, and take their place,” Genevieve Oh, a livestreaming analyst who has been closely tracking Maras-Lindeman’s activity on Twitch for months, told VICE News.

“Looking at her followers’ messages and reactions, she seems to have legitimately convinced her viewers they’re going to take Ohio Senate and House of Representatives’ seats through this movement,” Oh added.

So far over 60 people in Ohio alone have signed up to take part in this mass lawsuit filing, according to an online spreadsheet used by the group and seen by VICE News.

Over the course of the next four months, Maras-Lindeman’s support base grew dramatically on her Twitch channel. In parallel, she organized state-specific groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram to allow citizens in those states to coordinate their efforts and get people to sign up to challenge elected officials.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 2, 2021. The admission by the Biden Justice Department followed similar recent disclosures to The Washington Post and CNN.

The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday.

It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources. Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed Trump-era seizures of the phone logs of reporters who work for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, condemned the action by the Trump administration.

“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”

Last month, after the disclosures about the seizures of communications records involving Post and CNN reporters, President Biden said he would not allow the department to take such a step during his administration, calling it “simply, simply wrong.”

Referring to that declaration, Mr. Baquet added: “President Biden has said this sort of interference with a free press will not be tolerated in his administration. We expect the Department of Justice to explain why this action was taken and what steps are being taken to make certain it does not happen again in the future.”

Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman, said that law enforcement officials obtained the records in 2020, and added that “members of the news media have now been notified in every instance” of leak investigations from the 2019-2020 period in which their records were sought.

The department informed The Times that law enforcement officials had seized phone records from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017, for four Times reporters: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt. The government also secured a court order to seize logs — but not contents — of their emails, it said, but “no records were obtained.”

The Justice Department did not say which article was being investigated. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.

Discussing Mr. Comey’s unorthodox decision to announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. was recommending against charging Hillary Clinton in relation to her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state, the April 2017 article mentioned a document obtained from Russia by hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials. The document, whose existence was classified, was said to have played a key role in Mr. Comey’s thinking about the Clinton case.

The document has been described as a memo or email written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far. Russian hackers had obtained the document, but it is apparently not among those that Russia sent to WikiLeaks, intelligence officials concluded.

Mr. Comey was said to be worried that if Ms. Lynch were to be the one who announced a decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton, and Russia then made the document public, it would be used to raise doubts about the independence of the investigation and the legitimacy of the outcome.

The Times reported in January 2020 that Trump-era investigators had pursued a leak investigation into whether Mr. Comey had been the source of the unauthorized disclosure in that 2017 article.

Mr. Comey had been under scrutiny since 2017, after Mr. Trump fired him as the director of the F.B.I. After his dismissal, Mr. Comey engineered — through his friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor — the disclosure to The Times of accounts of several of his conversations with the president related to the Russia investigation.

The inquiry into Mr. Comey, according to three people briefed on that investigation, was eventually code-named Arctic Haze. Its focus was said to evolve over time, as investigators shifted from scrutinizing whether they could charge Mr. Comey with a crime for disclosing his conversations with Mr. Trump, to whether he had anything to do with the disclosure of the existence of the document.

As part of that effort, law enforcement officials had seized Mr. Richman’s phone and computer, according to a person familiar with the matter. They are said to have initially searched them for material about Mr. Comey’s conversations with Mr. Trump, and later obtained a court’s permission to search them again, apparently about the Russia document matter.

Separately, according to a person briefed on the investigation, the F.B.I. is also said to have subpoenaed Google in 2020, seeking information relevant to any emails between Mr. Richman and The Times. A spokesman for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

But by November 2020, some prosecutors felt that the F.B.I. had not found evidence that could support any charges against Mr. Comey, and they discussed whether the investigation should be closed.

At the beginning of this year, prosecutors were informed that the F.B.I. was not willing to close the case — in part because agents still wanted to interview Mr. Comey, according to a person familiar with the F.B.I.’s inquiry. Interviewing the subject of an investigation is typically considered a final step before closing a matter or bringing charges.

Last month, the F.B.I. asked Mr. Comey’s lawyer whether he would be willing to sit down for an interview, a request that Mr. Comey declined, according to a person familiar with the case.

Starting midway through the George W. Bush administration, and extending through the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, the Justice Department became more aggressive about pursuing criminal leak investigations.

May

May 28

gladys sicknick center harry dunn former rep barbara comstock tom williams cq roll

Gladys Sicknick, center, mother of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, Officer Harry Dunn and former Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., address the media Thursday before a meeting with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to urge Republican senators to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Roll Call, Republican senators torpedo Jan. 6 commission, Chris Marquette, May 28, 2021. Some senators didn't have an answer for what they would need to see in order to vote for the measure. Republican senators on Friday drowned the hopes of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, gathering enough members of their own conference to block legislation to establish the panel.

Though it received overall majority support in the chamber, the procedural vote, a cloture vote on a motion to proceed, to the legislation fell short of the 60 votes needed, 54-35. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans who voted to end debate on whether to take up the legislation.

The vote, which had been expected on Thursday, was delayed after some Republican senators, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, consumed floor time that brought the chamber to a painfully slow cadence and culminated at around 3 a.m. Friday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said he struck an agreement that ensured the commission vote would happen “in the light of day” and not in the early morning hours.

brian sicknick

washington post logoWashington Post, Sicknick’s family and officers on duty Jan. 6 plead with GOP senators to back investigation, Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian and Peter Hermann, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). The mother and partner of the late Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick personally lobbied Republican senators Thursday to support an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Two other officers who responded that day and protected members of Congress also pleaded with GOP lawmakers to support a probe into the failed insurrection and the events surrounding it.

“If January 6th didn’t happen, Brian would still be here. Plain and simple,” U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn said Thursday morning as the group began a long day of lobbying senators ahead of a possible vote.

Gladys Sicknick, the late officer’s mother, and Sandra Garza, his companion of 11 years, are leading the lobbying effort, which comes as the legislation for an independent commission faces near-unanimous Republican opposition, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The face-to-face meetings involving Sicknick’s family, police officers and Republican senators highlighted a stark choice for GOP lawmakers: either stand with former president Donald Trump, who opposes the commission, or with members of law enforcement.

Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the insurrection, the District’s chief medical examiner ruled last month. In early February, Sicknick, who grew up in New Jersey, was honored at the U.S. Capitol. His remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nearly 140 officers were assaulted during the failed insurrection as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said.

The House last week passed legislation that would form an independent commission to investigate the attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday began the process of setting up a Senate vote on the bill, which could come as early as Thursday evening.

But the legislation’s prospects in the Senate remain dim. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them in supporting the measure for it to pass. McConnell has voiced opposition to the commission, dismissing it Thursday as “extraneous” and arguing that it would not shed light on the events of Jan. 6.

“I do not believe the additional, extraneous ‘commission’ that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,” McConnell said in floor remarks. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to.”

Several Republican lawmakers have also sought in recent days to play down the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, comparing the violent mob to “tourists,” railing against law enforcement for seeking to arrest them and questioning how anyone could be sure the rioters were supporters of Trump.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: An unsettling similarity between the German Nazi Party and the current U.S. Republican Party, Wayne Madsen, left, May 28, 2021. One major unsettling similarity between the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallNazi Party of Adolf Hitler and the Republican Party of Donald Trump is that both would resist an independent investigation of the attacks on the respective legislatures of the two nations: the February 27, 1933 Reichstag Fire in Berlin and the January 6, 2021 storming by Trump loyalists of the U.S. Capitol complex.

republican elephant logoHitler and his Nazis falsely claimed the Reichstag arson was carried out by a mentally deranged Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe, who was allegedly aided by German Communists.

In the case of the U.S. Capitol attack, several far-right Republicans have claimed the attack was actually carried out by members of "antifa" (an acronym for "anti-fascist") and Black Lives Matter (BLM). Using Nazi propaganda from 1933, some Republicans also falsely claim that BLM is a "communist" organization.

At the post-war Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, German Army General Franz Halder testified that he heard Hermann Göring boast about setting the fire at the Reichstag himself.

 

capitol mob

Pro-Trump rioters and insurrectionists, including the so-called "Q-Anon Shama dressed in fur at center, are shown after storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and threatening lawmakers unless they overturned November elections and reinstalled Trump for four more years. That followed Trump's repeated claims via social media that he had won re-election and was being deprived of the right to rule because of fraud that was never prove in more than 60 lawsuits by Trump and his allies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: When Capitol insurrectionist thugs plead insanity, Robert Harrington, right, May 27, 2021. In 1998 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I won’t drag you through tales of the therapies, robert harringtnn portraitmedications, hospitalisation, diets, Napoleonic highs and Lilliputian lows I’ve tried and endured since. I will say I’ve learned to live in a kind of armed truce with my mental illness. Let’s just further say that diet and exercise are vastly underrated and criminally under-utilized in the world of the treatment of mental health disorders and leave it at that.

One in five humans on our overburdened planet suffer from some kind of mental illness. Most of us don’t talk about it much because there isn’t much to say. Unless it’s a disorder of the obvious kind, such as schizophrenia for example, our conditions remain largely invisible and we are content to let them stay that way.

I can’t speak for the rest of the mentally ill but some of us in the manic-depressive club share a little secret: we wouldn’t change it for the world. We like our mountain top highs and put up with our cavernous lows as part of the price of entry. But one thing I guarantee none of us would do. We wouldn’t use bipolar disorder as an excuse to attack our own country.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s tempting to call the January 6th rioters crazy. It’s one of the many adjectives most of us have used, including me. But when they use it themselves as an excuse to betray democracy, I’m afraid I’m going to have to speak up on behalf of my brother and sister sufferers of actual mental disease and call, if you’ll pardon the expression, bullshit. They are, in fact spoiled, privileged little assholes who chose to follow a hateful, toxic bigot and were dumb enough to believe he’d stick his neck out for them if they got into trouble.

Take Jacob Chansley, for example. You all know who he is. He’s the so-called QAnon Shaman, the idiot with the Buffalo Bill outfit and quasi Native American paint job. Almost four months to the day after his first court appearance his lawyer is now asking the judge for a psychological examination. That’s right, he’s going to try the not guilty by reason of insanity argument.

republican elephant logoPart of the problem, I will admit, is semantic. We have become so accustomed to characterizing people on the rightwing with terms that are also traditionally used to describe mental disorders that a lot of confusion has resulted. 

But it’s unlikely that any of the January 6th rioters will get away with an insanity plea. Why? Because they have no history of mental disorders. Mental stupidity, to be sure. But not mental illness. It is part of the banality of evil that people who would attack their own country live and work among us. We occasionally exchange pleasantries with them. They’re seemingly normal human beings with corrupt souls.

But even more to the point, we of the 20% who suffer from mental illness are not them. While it is unquestionably true that some of the mentally ill among us are evil, they are not evil because of mental illness. They are evil because they’re jerks. It’s an important distinction to make, and I can’t make it enough.

Some of the Capitol rioters are going to try the insanity plea in the coming months, and they are hoping that no one deciding their fates will notice that which we of the 20% know so well. Mental illness doesn’t cause treason. Evil causes treason. And mental illness and evil are not the same thing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Have you no decency left, Republican Senator? Shirley Kennedy, May 28, 2021. Republicans have had every opportunity to stand up and be counted as useful members of society. bill palmer report logo headerSo far, they have failed miserably. They had an opportunity to show the level of humanity they possess, if any, when they met with the mother of Brian Sicknick, who died as a result of the January 6 insurrection.

Gladys Sicknick was joined by Brian’s long-time girlfriend and another officer who was injured that day, Michael Fanone. Hopefully, they can appeal to any shred of human decency that Republicans might have left.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center, with Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, above right, and their colleague Ignor Fruman. Parnas and Fruman were arrested while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Are Investigating Ukrainians for Meddling in 2020 Election, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and Nicole Hong, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). The criminal inquiry includes looking at whether Ukrainian officials funneled misleading information about President Biden through Rudolph Giuliani. The previously unreported investigation underscores the federal government’s aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in elections.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The criminal investigation, which began during the final months of the Trump administration and has not been previously reported, underscores the federal government’s increasingly aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in American electoral politics. Much of that effort is focused on Russian intelligence, which has suspected ties to at least one of the Ukrainians now under investigation.

The investigation is unfolding separately from a long-running federal inquiry in Manhattan that is aimed at Mr. Giuliani. While the two investigations have a similar cast of characters and overlap in some ways, Mr. Giuliani is not a subject of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said.

Instead, the Brooklyn prosecutors, along with the F.B.I., are focused on current and former Ukrainian officials suspected of trying to influence the election by spreading unsubstantiated claims of corruption about Mr. Biden through a number of channels, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer at the time. It is unclear whether the Brooklyn prosecutors will ultimately charge any of the Ukrainians.

At one point in the investigation, the authorities examined a trip Mr. Giuliani took to Europe in December 2019, when he met with several Ukrainians, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing inquiry.

andrii derkachAt least one of the current and former officials Mr. Giuliani met, a Ukrainian member of parliament named Andriy Derkach, left, is now a focus of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said.

The trip was the culmination of a yearlong effort by Mr. Giuliani, with support from Mr. Trump, to undermine Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign. The effort proceeded primarily on two parallel tracks: collecting information from Ukraine to attack Mr. Biden’s diplomatic efforts there as vice president, and pressing Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Biden and other Trump critics.

The effort ultimately backfired, leading to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

Amid the impeachment proceedings, U.S. intelligence officials warned Mr. Trump that Mr. Derkach was seeking to use Mr. Giuliani to spread disinformation. Mr. Giuliani, who has said he did not receive a similar warning at the time, continued to vouch for the authenticity of information he received, even after Mr. Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Mr. Derkach for election interference, and accused him of being “an active Russian agent.”

ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests, Giovanni Russonello, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). Fifteen percent of Americans believe that “patriots may have to resort to violence” to restore the country’s rightful order, the poll indicated.

As hopes fade for a bipartisan inquiry into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, it’s increasingly clear that the Republican base remains in thrall to the web of untruths spun by Donald J. Trump — and perhaps even more outlandish lies, beyond those of the former president’s making.

A federal judge warned in an opinion yesterday that Mr. Trump’s insistence on the “big lie” — that the November election was stolen from him — still posed a serious threat. Presiding over the case of a man accused of storming Congress on Jan. 6, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington wrote: “The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.”

But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that has caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public — particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and “restore the rightful leaders.”

“These are words I never thought I would write into a poll question, or have the need to, but here we are,” Robby Jones, the founder of P.R.R.I., said in an interview.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Election-deniers are running for a key role in swing states. It could lead to a scary 2024, Editorial Board, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). Imagine how the 2020 election might brad raffenspergerhave gone if, instead of principled Republican Brad Raffensperger, right, running Georgia’s voting system, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist had been the state’s secretary of state, receiving calls from former president Donald Trump asking to find enough votes to overturn the results.

Or if, as Mr. Trump pressured Michigan’s canvassers to refuse to certify President Biden’s win in that state, that state’s chief elections officer had helped drum up rather than tamp down the former president’s bogus fraud allegations.

These what-ifs might become the nation’s reality in 2024, with Republican election-deniers running for secretary of state in several swing states

 

May 27

American System Radio, Biden demands Senate pass jobs and infrastructure bill, Webster G. Tarpley, right, May 27, 2021. In rousing Cleveland speech, Biden demands Senate pass jobs and infrastructure bill, webster tarpley 2007citing need to attain full employment to drive up wages and secure workplace dignity for workers, especially women;

President repeats commitment to 28% tax rate for corporations, Buy American pledge, and $15 per hour federal minimum wage; singles out greedy executives obsessed with stock buybacks; his evocation of inflection point evokes FDR’s rendez-vous with destiny!

New jobless claims fall to lowest level since start of pandemic, new Covid cases fall by half in May.

May 25

Melinda Gates, left, and Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Melinda Gates, left, and then-husband Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Unz Review, Investigation: The Cover-Up Continues: the Truth About Bill Gates, Microsoft, and Jeffrey Epstein, Whitney Webb, below right, May 25, 2021. While more revelations about the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship have begun trickling out following the Gates’s divorce announcement, the strong evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades prior to 2011 continues to be covered whitney webb newer smileup by the media—not necessarily to protect Bill but to protect Microsoft.

In early May, the announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates would be divorcing after twenty-seven years of marriage shocked both those that praise and those that loathe the “philanthropic” power couple.

Less than a week after the initial announcement of the divorce, on May 7, the Daily Beast reported that Melinda Gates had allegedly been “deeply troubled” by Bill Gates’s relationship with child sex trafficker and intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein. The report suggested that Melinda was a major reason for her husband’s decision to distance himself from Epstein around 2014 because of her discomfort with Epstein after they both met him in 2013. That previously unreported meeting had taken place at Epstein’s mansion on New York’s Upper East Side.

The Daily Beast also revealed that the details of the Gates’s divorce had been decided several weeks prior to the official announcement. Then, on May 9, the Wall Street Journal published a report suggesting that the plans for divorce went back even farther, with Melinda having consulted divorce lawyers in 2019. Allegedly, that consultation was made after details of Bill Gates’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein had gained considerable mainstream media attention, including from the New York Times.

While mainstream media outlets apparently agree that Jeffrey Epstein was a likely factor in the Gates’s recently announced split up, what these same outlets refuse to cover is the real extent of the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship. Indeed, the mainstream narrative holds that Gates’s ties to Epstein began in 2011, despite the evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades earlier.This blanket refusal to honestly report on the Gates-Epstein ties likely is due to Gates’s outsized role in current events, both in terms of global health policy as it relates to COVID-19 and in his being a major promoter and funder of controversial technocratic “solutions” to a slew of societal problems. What is more likely, however, is that the nature of the relationship between Gates and Epstein before 2011 is even more scandalous than what transpired later, and it may have major implications not just for Gates but for Microsoft as a company and for some of its former top executives.

microsoft logo CustomThis particular cover-up is part of an obvious tendency of mainstream media to ignore the clear influence that both Epstein and members of the Maxwell family wielded—and, arguably, continue to wield—in Silicon Valley. Indeed, the individuals who founded tech giants such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, and Amazon all have connections with Jeffrey Epstein, some closer than others.

This investigation is adapted from my upcoming book One Nation Under Blackmail, which will be released early next year and will include a more complete investigation into Epstein’s ties to Silicon Valley, scientific academia, and intelligence agencies.
The Evening Standard Mystery

In 2001, perhaps the most important article ever written about Jeffrey Epstein was published. The article, which focused mainly on Ghislaine Maxwell’s and Epstein’s relationship with Prince Andrew, was published on January 22, 2001, in London’s Evening Standard. The article, written by Nigel Rosser, was never retracted and was published well before Epstein’s first arrest and the onset of his public notoriety. It has, nevertheless, since been removed from the Evening Standard’s website and can now only be found on professional newspaper databases. I made a PDF of that article and several other scrubbed Epstein-related articles publicly available in October 2019.

The full article here can also be accessed here:Download

Key statements made in the article make it clear why it was removed from the internet, apparently in the wake of Epstein’s first arrest in Florida. Rosser introduces Epstein as “an immensely powerful New York property developer and financier,” a nod to Epstein’s past in the New York real estate market. Later in the article, he notes that Epstein “once claimed to have worked for the CIA although he now denies it,” one of several likely reasons why the article was removed from the internet well before Epstein’s second arrest in 2019.

Much of the article notes the closeness of Epstein and Maxwell to Prince Andrew and suggests that both wielded considerable influence over the prince, largely due to Maxwell’s role as his “social fixer.” It states that Maxwell was “manipulating” the prince and that “the whole Andrew thing is probably being done for Epstein.”

One line stands out, however, as the first major clue toward demystifying the true origin the of the Gates-Epstein relationship. Soon after Rosser introduces Epstein in the article, he states that Epstein “has made many millions out of his business links with the likes of Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner, whose trust he runs.”

Both Wexner’s and Trump’s relationships with Epstein prior to 2001 are well known and date back to 1985 and 1987, respectively. Mainstream media, however, continue to report that Gates and Epstein first met in 2011 and have declined to follow the leads laid out by Nigel Rosser. I am personally aware of this withholding of information to a degree as a BBC reporter contacted me in 2019 for details about this 2001 Evening Standard article, which I provided. To date, the BBC has never reported on the contents of that article. Notably, the BBC has received millions in funding for years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Not only was Rosser’s article never retracted, but neither Gates, Trump, nor Wexner disputed the claims made in the article at the time, which was well before Epstein became notorious. In addition, given that Gates is named alongside two known close Epstein associates at the time—Donald Trump and Leslie Wexner—it further suggests that Gates’s ties to Epstein prior to 2001 were considerable enough to warrant his mention alongside these two other men.

.....

The ties of Epstein and the Maxwells to Silicon Valley, not just to Microsoft, are part of a broader attempt to cover up the strong intelligence component in the origin of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies. Much effort has been invested in creating a public perception that these companies are strictly private entities despite their deep, long-standing ties to the intelligence agencies and militaries of the United States and Israel. 

TThe true breadth of the Epstein scandal will never be covered by mainstream media because so many news outlets are owned by these same Silicon Valley oligarchs or depend on Silicon Valley for online reader engagement.

Perhaps the biggest reason why the military/intelligence origins and links to the current Silicon Valley oligarchy will never be honestly examined, however, is that those very entities are now working with breakneck speed to usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which would make artificial intelligence, automation, mass electronic surveillance, and transhumanism central to human society. One of the architects of this “revolution,” Klaus Schwab, said earlier this year that rebuilding and maintaining trust with the public was critical to that project. However, were the true nature of Silicon Valley, including its significant ties to serial child rapist and sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein and his network, to emerge, the public’s trust would be significantly eroded, thus threatening what the global oligarchy views as a project critical to its survival.

May 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Commerce Dept. security unit became counter-intelligence-like operation, Shawn Boburg, May 24, 2021. An obscure security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities has evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department, a Washington Post examination found.

The Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) covertly searched employees’ offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their emails trying to surface signs of foreign influence and scoured Americans’ social media for critical comments about the census, according to documents and interviews with five former investigators.

In one instance, the unit opened a case on a 68-year-old retiree in Florida who tweeted that the census, which is run by the Commerce Department, would be manipulated “to benefit the Trump Party!” records show.

commerce dept logoIn another example, the unit searched Commerce servers for particular Chinese words, documents show. The search resulted in the monitoring of many Asian American employees over benign correspondence, according to two former investigators.

The office “has been allowed to operate far outside the bounds of federal law enforcement norms and has created an environment of paranoia and retaliation at the Department,” John Costello, a former deputy assistant secretary of intelligence and security at Commerce in the Trump administration, said in a statement for this story.

ITMS “rests on questionable legal authority and has suffered from poor management and lack of sufficient legal and managerial oversight for much of its existence,” Costello said.

Concerns have long simmered internally about the Commerce unit, which was led for more than a decade by career supervisor George D. Lee.

The unit’s tactics appear as if “someone watched too many ‘Mission Impossible’ movies,” said Bruce Ridlen, a former supervisor.

Investigators lodged complaints with supervisors, and the department’s internal watchdog launched multiple inquiries, documents show. In an internal memo laying out his concerns about the unit, Costello described an inspector general’s investigation that he said had found it had no legal authority to conduct criminal investigations.

Incoming Commerce leaders from the Biden administration ordered ITMS to pause all criminal investigations on March 10, and on May 13 ordered the suspension of all activities after preliminary results of an ongoing review, according to a statement issued by department spokeswoman Brittany Caplin.

Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part III), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part III: The most chilling sentence seth abramson graphicinAli Alexander’s chilling January 13 interview with the chillingly named Church Militant of Michigan is this one: “We [Stop the Steal] own all of [the government of] Arizona except katie hobbsfor the Secretary of State [Katie Hobbs, right].

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

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

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

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part II), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part II: The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private residence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

These are Parts II and III of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part I), Seth Abramson.

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).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Be wary of the 6th of January -- a coup by any other name, Wayne Madsen, left, May 24, 2021. The right-wing coup continues as a "rolling putsch." wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallEven without a congressionally-mandated January 6 Commission, we are slowly learning more about the premeditated attempt by Donald Trump and members of his administration and key support groups to overthrow the government of the United States on January 6, 2021.

wayne madesen report logoThanks to Washington Metropolitan Police memos hacked into and released by a ransomware group and a disclosure by an aide to Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), it is now known that the Boogaloo Bois and members of the Qanon cult were planning on attacking other targets in Washington, DC on and after January 6 -- and that among these targets was the FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Alex Ferro, an aide to Gimenez, reported to both the FBI and US Capitol Police that he overheard one Trump supporter, who was dressed in military-type tactical gear, talking about seizing control of the FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of January 6.

franklin d rooseveltRepublican leaders in the Congress are adamantly opposed to a January 6 Commission with the power to subpoena those with direct knowledge of what is beginning to look like a pre-planned "rolling coup" that extended from prior to January 6 through January 20.

The January coup attempt by Trump loyalists came the closest to an overthrow of the government since the aborted 1933 right-wing "Wall Street bankers" coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, right. That plot was disclosed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler.

 djt impeachment graphic

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Key impeachment witness who accused Trump of quid pro quo sues Pompeo, U.S. for $1.8 million, John Hudson, May 24, 2021. President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, right, is suing former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the U.S. government for $1.8 million to compensate for legal fees incurred during the 2019 House impeachment probe.

gordon sondland oThe suit, filed Monday in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleges that Pompeo reneged on his promise that the State Department would cover the fees after Sondland delivered bombshell testimony accusing Trump and his aides of pressuring the government of Ukraine to investigate then presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid.

Sondland, a Portland hotel magnate appointed by Trump to serve as ambassador, became a key witness of the impeachment probe because of his firsthand knowledge of conversations with Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and senior Ukrainian officials — as well as his punchy answers, affable demeanor and colorful language.

The allegations in the suit also offer new details on Sondland’s rapid devolution from Trump insider to political outcast in the span of days.

mike pompeo portraitThe complaint alleges that Pompeo, left, told Sondland that government lawyers would not be made available to represent him but that if he hired his own counsel, his attorney fees would be covered by the U.S. government. Top aides to Pompeo also acknowledged this commitment, the suit alleges, but “everything changed” after Sondland delivered his testimony alleging a “quid pro quo” and then refused to resign despite a request from one of Pompeo’s most trusted aides, Ulrich Brechbuhl.

“Ambassador Sondland confirmed he would not resign because he did not do anything improper. After that, everything changed. Ambassador Sondland did not receive his attorneys’ fees, notwithstanding the promises from the State Department that the attorneys’ fees would be paid,” the suit alleges.Sondland is demanding that the U.S. government cover the fees or Pompeo pay out of his own pocket. The suit argues that Pompeo’s actions as secretary of state should not be subject to governmental immunity because the promise “was self-serving, made entirely for personal reasons for his own political survival in the hopes that Ambassador Sondland would not implicate him or others by his testimony.”

In the past year, Sondland’s businesses empire, including several hotels in Portland, was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which decimated tourism across the country. Before being tapped by Trump for the ambassador position, Sondland donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers worry the toxic mood on Capitol Hill will follow them home, Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane, May 24, 2021 (print ed.). House members head out of Washington for three weeks, anger at each other is turning into fear of what could await them back home.

Tensions among lawmakers have been running high since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and have only increased in recent weeks. The two parties are clashing over how to investigate what transpired that day and whether, or how, to ease precautions put in place to keep members and staff safe during the pandemic.

U.S. House logoThe tenor of the debate has been highly personal, with Democrats expressing a sense of distrust toward their Republican colleagues with regard to their personal safety and health, while many GOP members are accusing Democrats of using the tragedies of the attack and the pandemic to score political points.

Now, several Democrats said they are concerned that the toxic political culture on Capitol Hill could greet them back home as their communities open up, with the pandemic waning and vaccination rates rising, and there is pressure to hold more in-person events.

“Obviously we’re going to return to more outward-facing live, in-person things and I’m thrilled about that. I want to do that,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). “I think we’re going to have to be very cautious. I think there’s going to have to be some ramped-up security. Hopefully it’s going to be low key, I don’t want people to feel like they’re walking into an armed event, but I imagine doing a lot of events in parks, in the daytime, staffers and local police are around.”

Bitter anger over Jan. 6 riots lingers in the House, prompting a week of tense standoff and legislative stalemate

Several Democratic members have privately expressed their concerns to leadership about security back home as threats have risen, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversations. Some of these Democrats said they have paid out of their own pocket to increase security at their district offices or install security systems in their homes out of an abundance of caution.

May 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Do Whistle-Blowers Damage National Security? Justin Vogt, May 21, 2021. One morning in December 1965, the C.I.A. station chief in Montevideo, Uruguay, went to the city’s Police Headquarters to tell security officials about a disinformation campaign the Americans were planning in their country. Like the rest of Latin America, Uruguay was a Cold War battleground, and Washington was eager to discredit a left-wing insurrection — in this case, by concocting rumors that Soviet agents had infiltrated Uruguayan labor unions. Accompanying the C.I.A. chief was a 30-year-old case officer named Philip Agee, who was helping coordinate the plot.

philip agee 1977As the Uruguayans reviewed the C.I.A.’s plans, a soccer match played on the radio. Soon, however, a different noise intruded. “I began to hear a strange low sound which, as it gradually became louder, I recognized as the moan of a human voice,” Agee later wrote. At first, he thought it was a street vendor outside. But the sound persisted, and it became clear that it was coming from the room above.

“The moaning grew in intensity, turning into screams,” Agee wrote. “By then I knew we were listening to someone being tortured.” Agee was already harboring moral qualms about his work, and to his horror, he suspected — correctly, he soon learned — that the voice belonged to a Communist operative whose name Agee himself had supplied to the Uruguayans. “All I wanted to do was get away from the voice,” he recalled.

Agee  (shown at right in a 1977 photo) did get away — far away. He left the Central Intelligence Agency in 1968, and seven years later launched an unprecedented assault on the agency by publishing a book, Inside the Company, that revealed the names of more than 400 C.I.A. officers, agents, informants and assets. The book created a crisis for the American intelligence community; with its personnel compromised and its sources and methods exposed, the C.I.A. had to dismantle many of its Latin American operations.

CIA LogoThe history of United States intelligence features many leakers, whistle-blowers and even a few traitors. But no one had ever done anything like this before — and, to this day, no one else has.

Agee became a celebrity of sorts. His book wrapped its revelations inside a withering critique of American foreign policy, and leftists around the world hailed Agee as a hero. The C.I.A., he wrote, was “nothing more than the secret police of American capitalism, plugging up leaks in the political dam night and day so that shareholders of U.S. companies operating in poor countries can continue enjoying the rip-off.”

He was repudiating more than just the C.I.A.; his real target was “the American project writ large,” as Jonathan Stevenson, the managing editor of Survival, argues in A Drop of Treason, his new biography of Agee. “He was part of the opposition, but he was no longer loyal,” Stevenson says.

Stevenson’s book seeks to unravel the mix of personal and ideological motives that drove Agee.

“His detractors might say he just got mildly disenchanted with C.I.A. work; tried to take the quiet, nontreasonous way out; got frustrated; was seduced by a couple of lefty women; felt the allure of dissident celebrity; and only then became a real dissenter,” Stevenson writes. He rejects that view and casts Agee as “a figure of profound ambivalence and considerable subtlety.” That portrait, however, is undermined by the rigor of the portrayal. The book is remarkably well researched and treats complex issues with admirable clarity. But Stevenson so thoroughly documents Agee’s shallowness and self-regard that his nuanced assessment ultimately seems too charitable.

There is little doubt that Agee grew disgusted with Washington’s hypocritical backing of authoritarian governments. And it is true that Agee took a huge risk without much promise of personal profit. (Some evidence suggests that the C.I.A. at one point plotted to assassinate him.) But his decision to expose the agency came two years after he had ceased working there, during which he grew increasingly bitter owing to a messy divorce and a failed business venture. Moreover, he worked on his tell-all memoir while living in Havana and maintaining contacts with Cuban intelligence officials; Stevenson concurs with other historians who have concluded that Agee became, in essence, a Cuban asset — which, given the nature of the Castro regime, undercut his pose as a principled defender of liberty.

The C.I.A. recovered quickly from the damage Agee had inflicted. He was never charged with a crime because, strange as it may seem, it was not clearly illegal to reveal the identities of intelligence officers when he did so. After a brief period of notoriety, he faded from view, carrying out a peripatetic life on the fringes of international leftism, nursing various grudges. By the time he died, in 2008, he was largely forgotten. Ultimately, despite Stevenson’s efforts to raise the stakes, Agee’s story seems less about moral risk-taking or the wages of dissent than about what might be called the banality of betrayal.

Still, if the book falls short in some ways as biography, it delivers as history. It offers a vivid snapshot of America in the mid-1970s, when the collapse of institutional authority after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal was followed not by revolution or reformation but by exhaustion and decadence. As Stevenson writes: “The fierce and euphoric idealism that had arisen in the 1960s was giving way to doubt and paranoia, a kind of creeping corporate co-optation and, ultimately, downbeat social lassitude and introverted resignation.” Agee wanted his actions to be seen through the prism of the earlier moment. He was late to the party, however, and to the extent that his revelations had an impact, it was less to hinder American power than to feed the nihilism that took hold in the country.djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report's Hollywood, Film Commentary: Screen treatment of mind control cults, Wayne Madsen, left, May 23, 2021. Hardly an American has not been touched, in some way, by a close relative wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallor longtime friend joining the cult of Donald Trump while also advocating against coronavirus public health measures such as the wearing of masks or getting vaccinated against the deadly virus.

Hollywood has amply dealt with the plague of cults in a number of films, including comedies. Big and small screen offerings include the three aspects inherent with any cult: a lavishly worshiped and adored leader; use of threats and coercion to convince others to join the cult; and pyramidal financial, sexual, or psychological exploitation of cult members.

Hollywood's first major treatment of cults was with 1934's "The Black Cat," which starred horror film staples Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The leader of a group of Satan-worshipers, Karloff, plans to sacrifice a woman but to her rescue comes none other than Lugosi, famed more for his perennial roles as Count Dracula rather than a movie hero.

In 1943's "The Seventh Victim," which starred Jean Brooks and Kim Hunter, focused its plot on a Greenwich Village-based Satanic cult. Appearing in a minor role was Hugh Beaumont, better known to later television audiences as Ward Cleaver, the father in "Leave it to Beaver."

May 22

Proof via Substack Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part I), Seth Abramson, right, May 22, 2021. The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private seth abramson graphicresidence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

Introductseth abramson proof logoion: The mystery of which three Unites States senators attended Donald Trump’s secret pre-insurrection war council has remained only one-third resolved for months, with only Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville admitting—after being forced to do so by reporting at Proof—that he attended, though his confession included a passel of new lies about the event, anyway.

The other two U.S. senators present at the war council alongside Trump family members, aides, and advisers at Trump’s “private residence” in Trump International Hotel have remained a mystery, and (inexplicably) one that U.S. media thus far has made no effort to unravel.

This is Part I of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. Part II of the series can be found at this link. Part III will be published at Proof very shortly. 

May 14

Insider.com, Leaked memos show police were concerned about Boogaloo Bois' plans to attack major landmarks in DC ahead of Biden's inauguration, Jacob Shamsian, May 14, 2021. \Newly leaked intelligence memos demonstrate how concerned law enforcement in Washington, DC, was about the Boogaloo Bois' — a right-wing militia group seeking to incite a second Civil War — plans for violence ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The plans, called "Operation Stormbreaker," involved targeting landmarks, government buildings, power plants, and other civic institutions in DC on January 19, the memos show.

Members of the Boogaloo movement and QAnon adherents called the date "National Popcorn Day," when they planned to follow up the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol with another wave of violence.

Intelligence memos detailing the Boogaloo movement's plans were prepared by the DC Metropolitan Police Department Intelligence Division and include notes from the FBI. Babuk, a ransomware hacking group, released the memos Thursday in a
cache
of what it claims are 250 GB of data stolen from MPD.

The FBI declined to comment. MPD didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment, but has commented on other leaked documents and confirmed their veracity.

Alex Friedfeld, a researcher specializing in far-right movements for the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism and a former New York Police Department terrorism intelligence analyst, reviewed portions of a memo and told Insider it resembled a legitimate police intelligence report.

The cache of files includes several memos that show Boogaloo members planned a schedule, priority list, and communications strategy for attacking DC buildings and landmarks. An FBI memo issued on January 18 and included in the leak shows a map of targets it says originated from a Boogaloo chat group.

May 7

 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary and Opinion: Qanon and pedophilia -- Hold your cards, we have a Bingo! Wayne Madsen, left, May 7, 2021. U.S. Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMarjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) are kicking off their "America First" national tour at the Brownwood Hotel and Spa in The Villages, a central Florida retirement community that is over 70 percent Republican.

The pairing of Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for being involved in an Orlando-based sex trafficking ring involving minors, and Taylor-Greene, a Qanon advocate who believes that leading Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking operations that use pizza restaurants as fronts, points to the dirty secret that it is the far-right and Qanon that are involved in pedophilia and child sexual exploitation.

It does not take the political marriage of Gaetz, who is suspected of committing other bizarre sexual crimes, and Taylor-Greene, who subscribes to the Qanon "Pizzagate" nonsense, to shine the light on the fact that it is Qanon and their far-right allies who are involved in international satanic pedophilia activities.

May 6

Justice Integrity Project, Medical Expert, Oswald's Friend, Debunks Accused JFK Killer’s Portrayal, Andrew Kreig, May 6, 2021. A new book disputes false portrayals of Lee Harvey Oswald, whom officials promptly named in 1963 as the sole assassin of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

"Oswald: Russian Episode" reveals Oswald’s true character and rebuts claims that his personality made him a likely assassin of JFK.

“The real Oswald,” concludes the author, Professor Ernst Titovets, M.D., Ph.D., based on his close friendship with the American six decades ago, “had no reason whatsoever – either political or personal – to murder John F. Kennedy.”

This book culminates the scientist’s painstaking research conducted over many years to reveal the character of Oswald, which is still largely unknown to the general public.

ernst titovets new coverThe book, initially privately published, has been updated and is now widely available in Western nations for the first time. This follows publication on May 6 by Eagle View Books, based in Washington, DC. The book launch was timed for continuing interest in both the JFK assassination, as indicated by a continued publication of new books in recent months, as well as ramped up interest in so-called "conspiracy theories."

At a major annual research conference from Nov. 20-22 about the JFK assassination organized by Citizens Against Political Assassination (CAPA), investigative reporter Andrew Kreig, Eagle View’s book editor on this project and also editor of the Justice Integrity Project, moderated a CAPA panel of experts reviewing media coverage of JFK’s death.

Kreig has written and spoken extensively on the topic, documenting how criticism of the Warren Commission report on the JFK can be solidly researched and thus is far different from wild and otherwise unsupported claims commonly derided as "conspiracy theory."

The Justice Integrity Project also has published a 55-part "Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives, Commentary," which is excerpted below with links.

Professor Titovets, who is still active as an accomplished researcher on brain functions, provides a gripping and historically important challenge to conventional wisdom regarding the 1963 assassination.

His account describes first-hand appraisals of what he regards as the shockingly misguided research of such Oswald biographers whom he met as Norman Mailer.

To recap JFK’s history-changing death: Oswald, an ex-Marine was arrested soon after Kennedy’s murder by gunfire in downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Oswald denied killing the president. ernst titovets book back cover portrait newTwo days after Oswald’s arrest, nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered him in a Dallas police station. That enabled authorities for the most part to condemn Oswald as JFK’s sole assassin without trial, despite vast and still-lingering public skepticism about the official story.

Professor Titovets, shown at right, expertly refutes the standard portrayals of Oswald as a loner and mentally deranged man prone to violence. He draws on their friendship during the years Oswald spent in the former Soviet Union, beginning in 1959 at the height of the Cold War.

Oswald, who previously had worked as a U.S. Marine technician in Japan with clearance for high secrets on the then-highly classified U-2 spy plane missions, undertook a supposed “defection” to the Soviet Union that in some ways previewed the plot of the future James Bond thriller “From Russia With Love.”

May 4

 

david berkowitz

Daily Beast, The new Netflix docuseries “The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness” explores the theory that the serial killer who terrorized New York may not have acted alone, Nick Schager, May 4, 2021. David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam (shown above), killed six New Yorkers and wounded seven more—all with his trademark .44 caliber revolver—before being caught on Aug. 10, 1977. A loner who struck fear into the heart of the Big Apple with crimes that were all the more chilling for being so random, Berkowitz was, and remains, one of America’s most notorious serial killers, a fiend who targeted everyday citizens because, he claimed, a 6,000-year-old demon told him to via his neighbor’s dog. His crime spree was national news, and his capture calmed the metropolis he had paralyzed with terror.

Yet the question The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness poses is, what if he didn’t act alone?

daily beast logoPremiering on May 5, director Joshua Zeman’s four-part Netflix docuseries is, per its title, a descent into a bleak abyss, although the specific nature of that horror is perhaps its biggest surprise. Berkowitz’s crimes during the summer of 1977, and the New York Police Department’s desperate attempts to stop them, comprise the bulk of The Sons of Sam’s initial installment. Compiling a wealth of talking-head interviews and archival footage from the era, from TV news reports and on-the-street interviews to police press conferences and talk shows featuring experts, psychologists, and New York Daily News superstar reporter Jimmy Breslin—whose direct correspondences with Berkowitz became fodder for the front page—the series presents a harrowing account of those stressful few months, which were compounded by a July 13-14 blackout that further put New Yorkers on edge.

Berkowitz targeted young women with long brown hair as well as their male acquaintances, almost always when they were in cars late at night, and when he was nabbed in August, New York breathed a sigh of relief. Or, at least, most of the city did. From the moment Berkowitz was apprehended—and then smirked to the cameras during his perp walk, before confessing his guilt in court—IBM employee Maury Terry suspected that there was more to this story than simply a delusional sociopath who shot strangers on the orders of an evil spirit living in his elderly neighbor Sam Carr’s dog, and who wrote taunting letters to the police in which he ranted about Satanic forces, gave himself various nicknames, drew strange insignias, and declared, “I am the monster, Beelzebub, the chubby behemoth.” In light of various discrepancies in the case, including the fact that Berkowitz didn’t remotely resemble the many police sketches made from eyewitness statements, Terry surmised that more than one person might have committed these executions.

Thus, a private investigation was born, one that led Terry first to the Carr family.

Though Berkowitz dubbed himself the “Son of Sam,” Sam Carr actually had two sons of his own—John and Michael Carr—and the former’s nickname, “Wheaties,” almost perfectly aligned with one of the nicknames (“John Wheaties”) the killer had mentioned in a letter to the cops. Berkowitz knew John and Michael Carr, and they all used to hang out in Yonkers’ Untermyer Park—in particular, at a decrepit pump house known as “the Devil’s Cave,” whose interior was decorated with blood and upside-down crosses, and where mutilated animal corpses that had apparently been used in ritual sacrifices were found. Since John Carr looked eerily similar to one of the police sketches of the killer, Terry became convinced that the three were in cahoots—and, moreover, that they were members of a Satanic cult known as “the Children,” which was an offshoot of a British cult known as “the Process Church of the Final Judgment.”

May 3

Daily Beast, Commentary: U.S. Captured, Tortured, and Cleared Him. He’s Still in GITMO, Spencer Ackerman, May 3, 2021. Abu Zubaydah was a human guinea pig for the CIA’s post-9/11 torture. Almost 20 years later, as the U.S. moves on, he’s still trying to get out of Guantanamo.

daily beast logoIt’s been 19 years since U.S. forces captured Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn and declared him one of the senior leaders of al Qaeda. It’s been 15 years since the CIA quietly revoked that assessment once it was done torturing him. Today, Huseyn, a forgotten man, remains locked inside Guantanamo Bay, a living symbol of the permanent damage wrought by the War on Terror.

As the Biden administration performs the latest government review into closing Guantanamo, attorneys for Husayn, better known as Abu Zubaydah, have decided they’ve waited long enough. They filed a petition on Friday with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking his release from his 19 years of captivity. They want the panel to exercise its “urgent actions” procedures to appeal to Washington for his freedom, citing his counsel’s “serious concerns for his physical and mental health and welfare [stretching back] for years.”

May 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it, Margaret Sullivan, right, May 2, 2021. While Sunday shows keep margaret sullivan 2015 photobooking the lawmakers who undermined democracy, one public radio station decided it wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.

“There’s a kind of clubby atmosphere on these shows, part of the Beltway Bubble mentality, in which it’s become almost impolite to raise the topic of the insurrection,” Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse told me.

“CBS This Morning,” for example, sent out an email alert last week touting its exclusive interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), one of the seven senators who voted against certifying the election results in Pennsylvania. Scott blasted President Biden for “spending us into oblivion” and mocked him for not achieving bipartisanship — yet interviewer Anthony Mason never mentioned that Scott had literally tried to overturn Biden’s election.

“109 days after Jan. 6, ‘history will remember’ is a complete joke,” Matt Negrin of “The Daily Show” tweeted last week. He added: “These media outlets want you to forget.”

But Harrisburg’s WITF has gone a different route: They want you to remember.

May 1

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Corrupt media still covering up for GOP's fake infrastructure offer, which represents just $189 billion or only 8% of Biden's $2.3 trillion planned investment, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, Ph.D., host, right, May 1, 2021. Media sacrifice truth and national interest to their imbecilic cult of bipartisan cooperation with the criminals of January 6.

Increased taxes on wealthy must include levies for solvency of Medicare, which will begin to run out of cash in 2024; Four additional years of free public education will help make US competitive with world; productivity depends chiefly on quality of education and infrastructure, but GOP is committed to destroying public education; Biden marks 50 years of Amtrak in Delaware.

Barr Justice Department blocked search warrant for Giuliani last year, but charges now appear imminent; 00 million Americans now immunized for Covid

 

April

April 30

Boston Herald, FBI won’t release documents linking Saudis to Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Joe Dwinell, April 30, 2021. 10,000 families suing to force Biden administration to open books. The 10,000 families suing to finally uncover Saudi ties to the 9/11 terrorist attacks were “basically told to go to hell,” a loved one said, by the FBI in the latest fight over sealed documents.

The agency stated in their court filing over the bottled-up intelligence that what they know “cannot be disclosed without proper authorization.”

“It’s outrageous,” said attorney Andrew Maloney on Friday. “That information is 20 years old and there’s no reason not to give us this information.”

FBI logoMaloney’s firm, Kreindler and Kreindler with offices in Boston, represents 10,000 families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, or had family members die from the toxic fallout following the toppling of the Twin Towers in New York City.

He and other lawyers have joined in going after the Saudi government to once and for all expose support given to the 9/11 hijackers two decades ago. But, as this latest denial from the FBI shows, the Biden administration is not making it easy.

“We were hoping for a different outcome from the Biden administration and the new attorney general” — Merrick Garland, Maloney added. “We’re not giving up.”

Maloney says the FBI’s latest refusal in the federal case out of the Southern District of Manhattan does prove the Department of Justice has evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

“How is this America?” said Brett Eagleson, who was 15 years old when his dad died while working at the Twin Towers. “Garland needs to step up and right the ship and help the 9/11 families.

“The FBI has just basically told us to go to hell,” Eagleson, one of those suing the government, added. “We’re begging, pleading with the government to help us.”

As the Herald reported last week, GOP lawmakers in D.C. — along with a few Democrats — have written to Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to finally go public with the intel. It could expose how out of the 19 hijackers that day, 15 of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia.

April 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court to consider Guantánamo Bay terrorism suspect’s request to learn more about his CIA-sponsored torture, Robert Barnes, April 27, 2021 (print ed.). The prisoner is Abu Zubaida, once a prized capture whose torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been extensively documented. But the government has invoked the “state secrets” privilege to oppose his efforts CIA Logofor additional information about foreign intelligence officials who partnered with the CIA in detention facilities abroad.

The government already has declassified vast amounts of information about Abu Zubaida, whose birth name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein and whose closeness to Osama bin Laden, the deceased founder of al-Qaeda, is now questioned.

But he and his attorney have asked for more disclosure and to question two CIA contractors, James Mitchell and John Jessen, about the interrogations. Abu Zubaida wants the information because he has intervened, through his attorneys, in a Polish investigation of the CIA’s conduct in that country, where he was once held.

His request was opposed by then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who said the disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause serious, and in many instances, exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security.”

Justice Department log circular

ABC News / KTRK-TV (Houston), International panel call on lawmakers to dismantle police, Cory McGinnis, April 27, 2021. Traffic stops and excessive use of force against Black people are being reported as "common precursors" to police killings, a new report shows.

On Tuesday, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence in the United States released its final report of its investigations into police violence across the country.

The commission selected 44 cases of police violence from 33 different cities, including Houston. The panel met via Zoom after weeks of live hearings involving cases of Black people killed by police as well as months of review of relevant documents.

The commission found that traffic stops are a common precursor to police killings and uses of excessive force against Black people. They also found a pattern of police destructing or manipulating evidence in cases of involving people of color.

"The only weapon that they had was the color of their skin," said a panel member.

Commissioners also mentioned how these patterns of violence and mistreatment ultimately breaks up Black families and Black communities.

The guest speakers featured on the Zoom call included families touched by police violence, including the mother of Eric Garner and the brother of George Floyd. The commissioners are now calling on lawmakers and President Joe Biden to step in. Visit the group's website for the full list of the committee's findings. 

washington post logoWashington Post, When communities try to hold police accountable, law enforcement fights back, Nicole Dungca and Jenn Abelson, April 27, 2021. Attempts by civilian oversight groups to hold law enforcement officials accountable are often an exercise in failure and frustration. Police say citizens are well-meaning but ill-equipped to judge officers.

The struggle in New Mexico’s largest city illustrates the challenge of asking civilians to check police powers. Police nationwide have frequently defied efforts to impose civilian oversight and, in turn, undermined the ability of communities to hold law enforcement accountable, according to a Washington Post review of audits, misconduct complaints, emails, lawsuits and interviews with dozens of current and former officials.

More than 160 municipalities and counties have implemented some form of civilian oversight through review boards, inspectors general and independent monitors. Another 130 localities are trying to do so, according to officials from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, or NACOLE, though this represents a fraction of roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The issue has gained new traction as part of the push to overhaul policing in the United States after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, both unarmed and Black. Their deaths last year sparked massive demonstrations and reignited long-held skepticism about law enforcement’s treatment of Black people and its tolerance for misconduct.

David and Leila Centner identify themselves as “health freedom advocates,” and their school has posted guidance to help parents file for exemptions to state-required vaccinations. In late January, they invited Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine advocate, to speak at the school.

Daily Beast, Secret Court Reveals: FBI Hunted for Domestic Terrorists Without a Warrant, Spencer Ackerman, April 27, 2021. A secret court warned the FBI in 2018 about warrantless searches. But the bureau still went looking for “racially motivated violent extremists” in NSA troves without a court order.

daily beast logoThe FBI, without any court order, sifted through the National Security Agency’s massive troves of foreign communications for information on American “racially motivated violent extremists,” a newly declassified order from the secret surveillance court details.

Even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court warned the FBI in 2018 that its warrant-free queries, known as backdoor searches, were constitutionally alarming, the bureau still conducted queries relevant to criminal investigations about, among other things “domestic terrorism involving racially motivated violent extremists.” The court’s Judge James E. Boasberg found what he referred to as “apparent widespread violations of the querying standard.”

FBI logoThat’s the euphemistic term the bureau tends to use to denote white supremacist violence. On one occasion, an FBI analyst ran a multi-search-term “batch query” on Americans “in connection with predicated criminal investigations relating to domestic terrorism” that returned 33 foreign surveillance results.

“The FBI continues to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases for routine criminal investigations.”

And not only domestic terror. The FISA Court recounts government acknowledgment that at least 40 FBI searches through the NSA’s warrantlessly collected data involved “health care fraud, transnational organized crime, violent gangs” and “public corruption and bribery.”

On at least one occasion, around May 2020, an FBI analyst looked through the foreign NSA troves “to vet [a] potential source in [a] predicated criminal investigation relating to public corruption.” Seven FBI field offices were implicated in “these and a number of similar violations,” according to a November 18, 2020 FISA Court opinion declassified on Monday and signed by Boasberg.

In other words, the FBI continues to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases—the ones the NSA is not required to get warrants before filling with communications information—for routine criminal investigations that are supposed to require warrants.

Mother Jones, Investigation: In Sworn Testimony in Inauguration Scandal Case, Donald Trump Jr. Made Apparently False Statements, David Corn, April 27, 2021 (3:16 min. video). On February 11, Donald Trump Jr. sat in front of his computer for a video deposition. He swore to tell the truth. But documents and a video obtained by Mother Jones—and recent legal filings—indicate that his testimony on key points was not accurate.

The matter at hand was a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization by Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, DC. The suit claims that the inauguration committee misused charitable funds to enrich the Trump family.

As the attorney general put it, the lawsuit “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel. Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events. The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.” In short, the attorney general has accused the Trump clan and its company of major grifting, and he is looking to recover the amounts paid to the Trump Hotel so he can direct those funds to real charitable purposes.

As part of the case, Racine has taken depositions from Tom Barrack, the investor and Donald Trump pal who chaired the inauguration committee; Rick Gates, the committee’s former deputy chair, who subsequently pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation; and two of Trump’s adult children: Donald Jr. and Ivanka. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a top producer for the inauguration committee, was deposed as a lead witness cooperating with the investigation. Racine has also collected internal emails and material from the committee, its officials, and others who worked on the inauguration.

During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, “I don’t recall,” and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others and that appear to be false.

One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about Winston Wolkoff. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and Gates about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1.03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)

During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: “Do you know her?” He replied, “I know of her. I think I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not sure I would recognize her.” He added, “I had no involvement with her.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The indictments of two men connected to an alleged neo-Nazi terror cell in Georgia shines light on the reach of the group known as the Base, Staff Report, April 27, 2021. The recent indictments of two more men connected to an alleged neo-Nazi terror cell in Floyd County shine new light on the reach of the group known as the Base.

Duncan Christopher Trimmell, 23 of Austin, Texas, and Brandon Gregory Ashley, 21 of Hayden, Alabama, face charges of animal cruelty related to the alleged theft and ritual beheading of a ram or goat on Halloween 2019, according to an indictment handed down by a Floyd County grand jury earlier this month.

The charges, first reported by the Rome News-Tribune, reveal more of the web of what authorities describe as a criminal gang whose members planned to kill a Bartow County couple they suspected of being anti-fascist activists. Group members were arrested as part of a undercover investigation by state and federal law enforcement before they could carry out the plot.

Trimmell and Ashley join six other men believed to have come to an isolated property in the Silver Creek community south of Rome where an undercover law enforcement officer said they shot guns, took drugs and planned for a race war as part of a white supremacist group known as the Base.

According to court records, one aspect of those meetings was the killing of an animal alternately described in court records as a ram or a goat. The animal was allegedly stolen from a nearby property and killed in what was described as a "ritual sacrifice."

Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, said the new indictments show the Base's long reach, drawing members from across the nation and even from other countries.

"As this case further develops it sheds a very bright light of how this group that had a substantial presence in the virtual spaces engaged in real-world action, bringing individuals from the far corners of our country together," she said.

In January 2020, three Georgia residents were arrested in the alleged conspiracy: Michael Helterbrand, 26, of Dalton; Jacob Kaderli, 20, of Dacula; and Luke Austin Lane, 22, whose Silver Creek residence prosecutors say was used as the locale for the meeting.

Along with the animal cruelty charges, Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane face charges of conspiracy to commit arson, home invasion and murder, and violations to the state's anti-gang laws.

In addition, Patrik Mathews, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., also accused members of the Base, were indicted on charges related to the killing of the ram. Those charges are in addition to federal firearms charges they face in Maryland. Mathews Bilbrough and Lemley hail from Maryland, but Mathews was a member of the Canadian military and was in the United States illegally.

Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane have been held in jail for more than a year without bond but were only formally indicted last month, thanks to judicial delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lane's most recent motion for bond was rejected by Floyd County Superior Court Judge John Neidrach in a March 30 order.

Authorities contend the suspects in the alleged murder plot continue to have contact with white supremacists while in jail. At Lane's bond hearing last month, Assistant DA Johnson said Lane has been in contact with far-right figures while in jail, including Dalton Woodward, a Georgia resident who was expelled from the National Guard after the AJC reported his membership in a pagan sect known for attracting white supremacists.

The Georgia suspects have also been featured on the website of the Global Minority Initiative, a group that encourages supporters to send money and cards of support to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in prison. Attorneys for Lane and Kaderli said their clients are not soliciting that kind of support.

April 25

SpyTalk.com, Commentary: The Crazy CIA Plot to Kill the Other Castro, Peter Kornbluh, April 25, 2021. The CIA wanted a pilot to sabotage Raul Castro's plane—while he was flying it. In early March 1960, a special team of CIA officials and operatives gathered for the first meeting of the new “Branch 4 Task Force,” which was dedicated to overthrowing Fidel Castro in Cuba.

April 20

Kennedys and King, Book Review: A Slice of Time: Review of Josiah Thompson’s Last Second in Dallas, Milicent Cranor, April 20, 2021. Milicent Cranor, right, determines that, despite its flaws, "Last Second in milicent cranorDallas" is a stimulating book about an eternal puzzle concerning the confounding details of this monumental murder. Josiah Thompson’s book is rich in detail and a lot of it is factual and not well-known.

If you take a moment in time and slice it down the middle, all kinds of things may come tumbling out — even state secrets.

Moments on films of the Kennedy assassination are sliced into about 18 frames per second. In his latest book, Last Second in Dallas, Josiah Thompson focuses on one of those seconds, during which time, he says, and I agree, the president’s head exploded as it was hit by multiple bullets.

To the mainstream media, Thompson has always been a credible source, so it’s a wonderful thing that, in his latest book, this credible source promotes — without reservation — the concept of josiah thompson last second coverconspiracy in the assassination.

The strongest proof described in the book is the famous Dictabelt tape, a recording of what a motorcycle policeman’s stuck-open microphone picked up — the sounds of five separate shots. Some were fired in such rapid succession that more than one shooter had to have been involved. And not all came from the same direction.

To me, it’s inconceivable that gunfire would not have been recorded under the circumstances described. So, it seems significant that apparently no recording exists of only three shots — the government-approved number.

Thompson attempts to correlate these sounds with specific frames of the Abraham Zapruder film of the event. In gruesome color stills, he points out what he believes is evidence of an additional shot.

You may or may not agree with his conclusions, but it doesn’t matter. You should have no trouble correlating — however loosely — these additional shots with what bystanders said they heard, what they saw, and when. Below is a small collection of their observations, selected for their relevance to the tape. I find them fascinating.

Milicent Cranor is currently a senior editor at whowhatwhy.org. She has been a creative editor at E.P. Dutton (fiction, non fiction); comedy ghostwriter; co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles for medical journals; editor of consequential legal and scientific documents; former member, American Mensa Society.

April 19

Palmer Report, Opinion: QAnon has apparently infiltrated U.S. Special Forces, Robert Harrington, left, April 19, 2021. NBC News has infiltrated two private Facebook robert harringtnn portraitgroups dedicated exclusively to members of special operations forces. Disturbing trends have emerged from this investigation, including evidence that many group members support and promote certain radical political conspiracy theories, including QAnon dogma and the Big Lie that the election was stolen.

facebook logoRepublicanism is attractive to some people in the armed services because for decades Republicans have cultivated the tough guy image, despite the provable fact that they are cowards. If you need to open-carry an AR-15 in order to shop at Walmart then you’re a coward. If you need a rocket launcher to buy a sandwich at Subway then you’re a coward.

If you’re afraid of being called a snowflake because you openly weep for the less fortunate then you’re a coward. If you’re afraid that people of color have too many rights then you’re a coward. Just because Republicans have stolen the tough guy image doesn’t mean they’re tough guys. They’re not.

bill palmer report logo headerUnfortunately some members of the military’s special operations forces have fallen for this lie. Because of this they confuse conservatism with being tough. I hasten to add this is not true of all of them, or even most of them. Just enough of them to be worrying.

My best man at my first marriage was a Captain in Special Forces in Vietnam, for example, and he was an exemplary human being and a man of real strength and compassion. So I wish to emphasise that I am not excoriating all members of special forces specifically or the military in general.

But NBC has looked at two Facebook groups for special forces, “SF Brotherhood – PAC” and “US Special Forces Team Room.” These groups are largely political in nature and the forums shouldn’t be seen as necessarily reflective of the views of the special operations forces community as whole.

Department of Defense SealCollectively, the two Facebook groups have more than 5,000 members, with some belonging to both. By comparison, U.S. Special Operations Command has about 70,000 active personnel. Even so, some of the views and ideas posted to these groups are concerning.

For example, members of these groups often ridicule President Joe Biden by describing him as senile and weak and they compare him unfavourably to “stronger” leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin. They also refer to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a man of color, with derogatory terms like “bubba.”

Many of the posters are Trump supporters who believe the false narrative that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election. One member said of law enforcement officers during the January 6 attack on the Capitol, “too bad they didn’t bother to defend the Constitution.”

djt maga hatFormer Green Beret Robert Wilson, who was counterterrorism director on the National Security Council during the Obama and Trump administrations, and who commanded the 3rd Special Forces Group, said members of the community “are radicalizing themselves online, just like many of these lone-wolf ISIS terrorists did.” As we have seen in recent years, home grown American terrorists are a much larger threat than terrorists from abroad.

These Facebook groups are strictly private and members are carefully vetted. Members are encouraged to speak their minds but to keep what is said inside the groups stringently confidential. Facebook does flag some members’ wilder ideas with warnings that they are fake news, such as the notion that the election was stolen or that the Deep State is running the government, but otherwise leaves them alone. They walk a very thin line between freedom of speech and an immediate threat to national security.

April 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Seeing a threat to democracy in a conservative Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone (right, professor and former dean, University geoffrey stoneof Chicago School of law), April 18, 2021 (print ed.). Ian Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority is skewing the law to benefit the Republican Party.

In The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America, Ian Millhiser examines the current makeup of the Supreme Court and how it is likely to affect our democracy. This question is especially important in light of the wave of Republican state legislation designed to undermine the voting rights of racial minorities and other supporters of the Democratic Party. At this pivotal moment, the core precepts of our democracy are once again at risk. Will the Supreme Court live up to its essential responsibility to protect our profound constitutional commitment to democracy and equality?

ian millhiser agenda coverIn this short and very accessible work, Millhiser focuses on four facets of the court’s current and future jurisprudence: the right to vote, the dismantling of the administrative state, religion and the right to sue. It is a bit surprising that Millhiser, a senior correspondent at Vox, does not address such issues as abortion rights, gay rights and affirmative action. Although he holds out little, if any, hope that the current Supreme Court will act appropriately with respect to those matters, he maintains that, in terms of our democracy, they are less important than the four issues on which he focuses.

The most discomforting of those is the right to vote, which, of course, lies at the very heart of our democracy. At the center of today’s crisis are the ever-more-aggressive efforts of Republican legislatures to find ways to effectively disenfranchise Democratic voters — and especially Black voters. In recent years, the Roberts court has often evaded its responsibilities in this realm. In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, for example, the court in 2008 upheld an Indiana voter ID law that would clearly have a disproportionate effect on Black voters, even though there was no evidence that the law would meaningfully deter voter fraud.

Even more dramatically, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Roberts court in 2013 held unconstitutional Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states and localities with a history of racial voter suppression to submit proposed changes to their election laws either to the Justice Department or to a federal court in Washington, which would not approve the changes if they had the purpose or effect of “abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” The impact of this decision has been “profound.”

In Millhiser’s words, “many Republicans recognized immediately that they’d been given a gift,” and GOP legislators have acted quickly and aggressively to enact laws, especially in the South, that have had a significant role in preventing minority voters from exercising their most fundamental constitutional right. In light of the current makeup of the court, this trend toward allowing manipulation of the electoral process to benefit Republican candidates is likely, Millhiser predicts, to escalate. The new Georgia law on voting, which has generated a great deal of controversy, is an example of what Millhiser anticipates and fears.

Adding insult to injury, in Rucho v. Common Cause, decided in 2019, the Roberts court held that partisan gerrymandering is not unconstitutional, although it permits a state legislature to draw district lines in a way that ensures that the party in control will remain in control, even if its candidates statewide receive far less than 50 percent of the vote. As Millhiser notes, Republicans in the future “could gain a lock on the House of Representatives, not because they necessarily have the votes to win elections, but because the Supreme Court is likely to remove nearly all remaining safeguards against gerrymandering.”

The court’s actions on voting rights reflect only one part of its conservative activism. Millhiser explains that over the past decade the court has dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law; crippled the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion; created a religious exemption doctrine that permits a person or a company objecting to compliance with a law for religious reasons to deny the rights of employees and third parties; undermined the ability of public-sector unions to raise money; and halted President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, among other decisions in a similar vein. And, he notes, with “Republicans now controlling two-thirds of the seats on the Supreme Court, the Court could potentially sabotage any policy initiative pushed by President Joe Biden.”

April 16

 

joe biden black background resized serious file

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Imposes Tough Sanctions on Russia, Blaming It for Major Hack, Michael D. Shear, David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger and Andrew E. Kramer, April 16, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden administration announced sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation efforts and for carrying out U.S. election interference. Following years of wrist slaps under former President Trump, the new measures are designed to have a noticeable impact on the Russian economy.

In the broadest effort yet to give more teeth to financial sanctions — which in the past have failed to deter Russian activity — the sanctions are aimed at choking off lending to the Russian government.

American FlagIn an executive order, President Biden announced a series of additional steps — sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation efforts and for carrying out the Russian government’s interference in the 2020 presidential election. Ten Russian diplomats, most of them identified as intelligence operatives, were expelled from the Russian Embassy in Washington. The country also joined with European partners to sanction eight people and entities associated with Russia’s occupation in Crimea.

russian flag wavingThe announcement is the first time that the U.S. government had placed the blame for the “SolarWinds” hacking attack right at the Kremlin’s feet, saying it was masterminded by the SVR, one of the Russian intelligence agencies that was also involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee six years ago. The finding comports with the findings of private cybersecurity firms.

Widely anticipated, the sanctions come amid a large Russian military buildup on the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014.

They comprise what United States officials described as “seen and unseen” steps in response to the hacking, known as SolarWinds; to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan; and to Russia’s longstanding effort to interfere in U.S. elections on behalf of Donald J. Trump. The key to the sanctions’ effectiveness, officials concede, will be whether European and Asian allies go along with that ban, and whether the United States decides to seek to extend the sanctions by threatening to cut off financial institutions around the world that deal in those Russian bonds, much as it has Vladimir Putinenforced “secondary sanctions” against those who do business with Iran.

In a conversation with President Vladimir V. Putin, right, on Tuesday, Mr. Biden warned that the United States was going to act to protect its interests, but also raised the prospect of a summit meeting between the two leaders. It is unclear whether Russia will now feel the need to retaliate for the sanctions and expulsions. American officials are already alarmed by a troop buildup along the border of Ukraine and Russian naval activity in the Black Sea.

 April 15

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Miami Herald, Appeals court upholds deal that silenced Epstein victims, Julie K. Brown, April 15, 2021. Appeals court upholds Jeffrey Epstein deal that minimizedmiami herald logopunishment, silenced victims.

How a Miami Herald investigation "Perversion of Justice" and the voices of four brave survivors, once silenced by the courts, helped to blow up Jeffrey Epstein’s sweetheart deal,  Brittany Peterson | Emily Michot (Video investigation).

In a landmark decision, a U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected the 12-year quest of a Jeffrey Epstein survivor to hold the government accountable for giving the infamous child predator a clandestine deal that essentially allowed him to get out of jail after a minimal sentence, and, according to recent lawsuits, continue to abuse girls and women.

The 7-4 decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was split mostly along gender lines, with four female judges issuing a scathing rebuke of the majority’s interpretation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). The decision, unless it is overturned on further appeal, could allow wealthy defendants to continue to arrange favorable plea deals from the government without any oversight or accountability, said an attorney who originally filed the challenge.

“The ruling is very disturbing. It sets up two systems of justice, one for wealthy defendants who can negotiate deals before charges are filed — and one for most criminal defendants, who don’t have the wealth and power to arrange those kinds of deals,’’ said the attorney, Paul Cassell.

The plaintiff, Courtney Wild, was 14 when she was first raped by Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion. Wild, now 33, has waged a one-woman crusade against the federal government on behalf of Epstein’s victims since the case was filed in 2008.

courtney wild

While underage, Courtney Wild was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein (Photo by Emily Michot / Miami Herald)

The court ruled that, because federal prosecutors never lodged criminal charges against Epstein — he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in state court in Palm Beach County — neither Wild nor any of Epstein’s victims has standing to successfully file such a challenge citing the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

perversion of justice miami herald logoCircuit Judge Kevin C. Newsom, in writing the majority’s opinion, said that while “we have the profoundest sympathy for Ms. Wild and others like her, who suffered unspeakable horror at Epstein’s hands, only to be left in the dark — and, so it seems, affirmatively misled by government attorneys,’’ the court nevertheless concludes that the CVRA doesn’t give crime victims the right to file a lawsuit or seek judicial enforcement of the law.

The CVRA, passed by Congress in 2004, enumerates certain rights that victims of crimes are entitled to during the criminal justice process. Among them: that victims have a right to confer with prosecutors about their case, that they should be treated with fairness and that they be given an opportunity to appear at sentencing.

Years later, Epstein's victims discuss the lasting impact of sexual abuse. Victims of Jeffery Epstein share the emotional toll that sexual abuse has taken on them — even years after the abuse occurred. Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown interviewed the young women, most speaking for the first time about Epstein. By Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown

Epstein signed a secret plea agreement with federal prosecutors in September 2007, agreeing to shift the case into state court. Despite the fact that a deal had jeffrey epstein sex offenderbeen negotiated and signed, federal authorities met with Wild in January 2008 and assured her that the investigation into Epstein was continuing. She didn’t learn about the deal until well after Epstein was sentenced and sent to the Palm Beach County jail, where he would serve just 13 months, most of it while on work release. He was let out for good in 2009.

Epstein’s deal was sealed by federal prosecutors at the behest of Epstein’s high-powered lawyers, who reasoned that if the victims found out, they might strenuously object and even convince the judge to derail the deal.

The Epstein case was detailed in a 2018 Miami Herald series, “Perversion of Justice,’’ that led federal prosecutors to take another look at the crime. Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges six months later in the Southern District of New York. One month after that, however, he was dead. The medical examiner ruled that he hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

frank hull resized In her dissenting opinion, Senior Circuit Judge Frank Hull, right, skewered the majority’s “sense of sorrow,’’ over not being able to give Epstein’s victims justice. Noting that the decision would have far-reaching impact in other cases involving wealthy defendants, she said the ruling “leaves federal prosecutors free to engage in the secret plea deals and deception’’ before criminal charges are ever made public, resulting in “the travesty” that happened in the Epstein case.

She also noted that “the Department of Justice’s failure to discipline its own prosecutors heightens the importance of the CVRA’s private right alexander acosta labor oof action.’’

DOJ’s investigation found that prosecutors exercised “poor judgment,’’ but stopped short of recommending sanctions against prosecutors, including Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Attorney in Miami who approved the secret deal.

Acosta (left, later U.S. Labor Secretary under President Trump) declined to comment on the ruling.

“Most would-be defendants lack resources and usually have no counsel during this pre-charge period,’’ Hull pointed out, referring to the time before a defendant is formally charged with a crime. “Consequently, they do not have the pre-charge opportunity to negotiate the kind of extremely favorable deal that Epstein received.’’

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot
Virginia Roberts was working at Mar-a-Lago at age 17 when she was recruited to be a masseuse to Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein. She was lured into a life of depravity and sexual abuse. (Story by Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown, photo via recent NBC screenshot).

Cassell suggested that the case would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, Wild continues to lobby Congress to pass the Courtney Wild Crime Victims’ Rights Reform Act, which would strengthen the law and close loopholes that federal prosecutors used to exploit the law and justify giving Epstein one of the most lenient plea deals for a serial sex offender in history.

His alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested in July and now faces sex trafficking charges in connection with Epstein’s crimes. Her trial is scheduled for July 2021.

Since Epstein’s arrest, several women have filed lawsuits claiming that they were sexually abused while Epstein was on work release and after he was released from jail.

Thus far, Epstein’s estate has paid out more than $67 million in damages to more than 175 victims who have come forward alleging they were abused by Epstein.

April 15

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Warns Russia on Bounties, but Stops Short of Sanctions, Charlie Savage, April 15, 2021. The available evidence supporting a stunning C.I.A. assessment — which President Donald J. Trump’s inaction on prompted bipartisan uproar — remains less than definitive proof.

CIA LogoThe Biden administration warned the Kremlin on Thursday over the C.I.A.’s conclusion that Russia had covertly offered payments to militants to encourage more killings of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, delivering the diplomatic admonition as it imposed sanctions on Moscow over its hacking and election interference.

But the administration stopped short of inflicting sanctions on any Russian officials over the suspected bounties, making clear that the available evidence about what happened — primarily what Afghan detainees told interrogators — continues to fall short of definitively proving the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia likely paid money to reward attacks.

Russian FlagThe intelligence community, a senior administration official told reporters, “assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, and perhaps earlier, including through financial incentives and compensation.”

The New York Times first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment and that the National Security Council had led an interagency process to develop a range of response options — but that months had passed and the Trump White House had failed to authorize any response, not even a diplomatic protest.

NSA Official LogoThe Times also reported that the available evidence behind that assessment centered on what detainees who were believed to be part of a criminal-militant network linked to the Taliban had told interrogators, along with suspicious travel patterns and financial transfers, and that the C.I.A. placed medium confidence in its conclusion.

But, it also reported, the National Security Agency — which is focused on electronic surveillance — placed lower confidence in the assessment, citing the lack of smoking-gun electronic intercepts. Analysts at two other agencies that were consulted, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency, were also said to split, with the former backing the C.I.A. and the latter the National Security Agency.

Former intelligence officials, including in testimony about the issue before Congress, have noted that it is rare in the murky world of intelligence to have courtroom levels of proof beyond a reasonable doubt about what an adversary is covertly doing.

The re-scrub of available evidence by President Biden’s administration had not uncovered anything new and significant enough to bring greater clarity to that muddied intelligence portrait, so the disagreement over confidence levels remained, an official familiar with internal deliberations said.

April 10

mike pence djt side by side

Associated Press, Investigation: ‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows, Lisa Mascarfo, Ben Fox and Lolita C. Baldor, April 10, 2021. From a secure room in the Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters pummeled police and vandalized the building, Vice President Mike Pence tried to assert control. In an urgent phone call to the acting defense secretary, he issued a startling demand.

ap logo“Clear the Capitol,” Pence said.

Elsewhere in the building, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were making a similarly dire appeal to military leaders, asking the Army to deploy the National Guard.

“We need help,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in desperation, more than an hour after the Senate chamber had been breached.

At the Pentagon, officials were discussing media reports that the mayhem was not confined to Washington and that other state capitals were facing similar violence in what had the makings of a national insurrection.

mark milley army chief of staff“We must establish order,” said Gen. Mark Milley, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a call with Pentagon leaders.

But order would not be restored for hours.

These new details about the deadly riot are contained in a previously undisclosed document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use that was obtained by The Associated Press and vetted by current and former government officials.

The timeline adds another layer of understanding about the state of fear and panic while the insurrection played out, and lays bare the inaction by then-President Donald Trump and how that void contributed to a slowed response by the military and law enforcement. It shows that the intelligence missteps, tactical errors and bureaucratic delays were eclipsed by the government’s failure to comprehend the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.

With Trump not engaged, it fell to Pentagon officials, a handful of senior White House aides, the leaders of Congress and the vice president holed up in a secure bunker to manage the chaos.

While the timeline helps to crystalize the frantic character of the crisis, the document, along with hours of sworn testimony, provides only an incomplete picture about how the insurrection could have advanced with such swift and lethal force, interrupting the congressional certification of Joe Biden as president and delaying the peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of American democracy.

Lawmakers, protected to this day by National Guard troops, will hear from the inspector general of the Capitol Police this coming week.

“Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which is investigating the siege, said last month.

The timeline fills in some of those gaps.

At 4:08 p.m. on Jan. 6, as the rioters roamed the Capitol and after they had menacingly called out for Pelosi, D-Calif., and yelled for Pence to be hanged, the christopher miller official.jpgvice president was in a secure location, phoning Christopher Miller, left, the acting defense secretary, and demanding answers.

There had been a highly public rift between Trump and Pence, with Trump furious that his vice president refused to halt the Electoral College certification. Interfering with that process was an act that Pence considered unconstitutional. The Constitution makes clear that the vice president’s role in this joint session of Congress is largely ceremonial.

Pence’s call to Miller lasted only a minute. Pence said the Capitol was not secure and he asked military leaders for a deadline for securing the building, according to the document.

By this point it had already been two hours since the mob overwhelmed Capitol Police unprepared for an insurrection. Rioters broke into the building, seized the Senate and paraded to the House. In their path, they left destruction and debris. Dozens of officers were wounded, some gravely.

Just three days earlier, government leaders had talked about the use of the National Guard. On the afternoon of Jan. 3, as lawmakers were sworn in for the new session of Congress, Miller and Milley gathered with Cabinet members to discuss Jan. 6. They also met with Trump.

In that meeting at the White House, Trump approved the activation of the D.C. National Guard and also told the acting defense secretary to take whatever action needed as events unfolded, according to the information obtained by the AP.

The next day, Jan. 4, the defense officials spoke by phone with Cabinet members, including the acting attorney general, and finalized details of the Guard deployment.

The Guard’s role was limited to traffic intersections and checkpoints around the city, based in part on strict restrictions mandated by district officials. Miller also authorized Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to deploy, if needed, the D.C. Guard’s emergency reaction force stationed at Joint Base Andrews.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Clear the Capitol” – Trump busted after military leaders defied Mike Pence’s direct request for help, Bill Palmer, right, April 10, 2021. Today bill palmer report logo headerthe Associated Press bill palmerconfirmed in great detail what had already previously been vaguely reported elsewhere: Vice President Mike Pence directly called U.S. military leaders and instructed them to take control of the Capitol building during the January 6th attack, but they ignored him.

To be clear, the Vice President can’t give a formal order to the military; unless the President is unreachable or indisposed. But as a practical matter, U.S. military would never simply ignore an instruction from the Vice President, unless the President told them to ignore it.ap logoIn other words, this helps confirm that Donald Trump really did order U.S. military leaders to defy Mike Pence’s instructions to come rescue him – and only hours later did the military finally take action. This means that Trump actively worked to protect the insurrectionists inside the Capitol building, which makes him guilty of not just inciting the attack, but conspiring to commit it.

This scandal is just getting started, with hundreds of insurrectionists having been arrested, and some of them cutting plea deals, even as the low level leaders of the attack are now being hit with conspiracy charges. We expect these charges to continue to work their way all the way to the top of the hierarchy – meaning Donald Trump.

April 3

Proof via Substack, Investigation: A Comprehensive Guide to Those Responsible for the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, left, April 3, 2021 (excerpted below to about one-fourth published length). This primer also explains, in seth abramson headshotdetail, how and seth abramson proof logowhy the attack on the Capitol occurred.

The Department of Justice calls the FBI investigation into the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol one of the largest criminal probes in American history. One of the reasons the investigation is so historically vast and complex is that it encompasses five discrete yet overlapping classes of potential criminal defendants.

This article details those five classes, establishes the key intersections between each, identifies a small number of key events in the lead-up to the insurrection, and presents an overarching narrative—confirmed by both testimonial and documentary evidence—of how the insurrection occurred.

The Five Classes of Insurrectionists

Paramilitaries: The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Boogaloo Bois, QAnoners, and 8kun (an online community of trolls) all had a significant presence at the Capitol on January 6, as well as a patchwork of lesser-known entities that included smaller white supremacist organizations, militias, independently operating trolls from the internet, and heterogeneous breeds of conspiracy theorist.

Grassroots Organizations: This category includes at least six grassroots organizations (Stop the Steal, Women for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Students for Trump, Jericho March, and Women for America First, this last an outgrowth of Women for Trump) as well as a number of pro-Trump PACs or nonprofits (among them Save America PAC, America First Policies, and the Council for National Policy) that were involved in planning, funding, promoting, and/or coordinating the events of January 6.

The Trump Campaign: Officially, the 2020 Trump campaign began dissolving shortly after the 2020 election, but a sufficient number of loyalists and dead-enders remained to seek to assist Trump in overturning the November election. Many of these individuals had longstanding ties to the Trump family, the Trump administration, or a past Trump political campaign.

Independent Agitators and Enablers: Trump’s brand of personal and professional corruption has always attracted a bizarre swarm of persons that includes dissolute grifters, deranged ideologues, and foreign agents—essentially, unscrupulous but sufficiently well-resourced people who see in Trump a means of advancing their fringe designs with relative impunity.

Members of Congress: Trump’s GOP allies in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives did not directly participate in the January 6 insurrection, but nevertheless issued public rhetoric and engaged in actions in their official capacity as members of Congress that helped inspire the false belief that the 2020 election had been stolen—and that with sufficient pressure on Congress on and before January 6, the election result might be overturned. Many individuals listed below attended pre-January 6 strategy sessions with the president and his top advisers, while other spoke at Stop the Steal events and (in a few rare instances) arguably directly incited violence with their irresponsible rhetoric.

Seth Abramson, shown above left 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

March 31

 

gordon liddy

ny times logoNew York Times, G. Gordon Liddy, Mastermind Behind Watergate Burglary, Dies at 90, Robert D. McFadden, Updated March 31, 2021. Unlike other defendants in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, Mr. Liddy refused to testify and drew the longest prison term.

G. Gordon Liddy, a cloak-and-dagger lawyer who masterminded dirty tricks for the White House and concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, died on Tuesday in Mount Vernon, Va. He was 90.

His death, at the home of his daughter Alexandra Liddy Bourne, was confirmed by his son Thomas P. Liddy, who said that his father had Parkinson’s disease and had been in declining health.

Decades after Watergate entered the lexicon, Mr. Liddy was still an enigma in the cast of characters who fell from grace with the 37th president — to some a patriot who went silently to prison refusing to betray his comrades, to others a zealot who cashed in on bogus celebrity to become an author and syndicated talk show host.

As a leader of a White House “plumbers” unit set up to plug information leaks, and then as a strategist for the president’s re-election campaign, Mr. Liddy helped devise plots to discredit Nixon “enemies” and to disrupt the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Most were far-fetched — bizarre kidnappings, acts of sabotage, traps using prostitutes, even an assassination — and were never carried out.

But Mr. Liddy, a former F.B.I. agent, and E. Howard Hunt, a former C.I.A. agent, engineered two break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington. On May 28, 1972, as Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt stood by, six Cuban expatriates and James W. McCord Jr., a Nixon campaign security official, went in, planted bugs, photographed documents and got away cleanly.

A few weeks later, on June 17, four Cubans and Mr. McCord, wearing surgical gloves and carrying walkie-talkies, returned to the scene and were caught by the police. Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt, running the operation from a Watergate hotel room, fled but were soon arrested and indicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy.

In the context of 1972, with Mr. Nixon’s triumphal visit to China and a steam-rolling presidential campaign that soon crushed the Democrat, Senator George S. McGovern, the Watergate case looked inconsequential at first. Mr. Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed it as a “third-rate burglary.”

But it deepened a White House cover-up that had begun in 1971, when Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt broke into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, looking for damaging information on him. Over the next two years, the cover-up unraveled under pressure of investigations, trials, hearings and headlines into the worst political scandal — and the first resignation by a sitting president — in the nation’s history.

“I have lived as I believed I ought to have lived,” Mr. Liddy, a small dapper man with a baldish pate and a brushy mustache, told reporters after his release. He said he had no regrets and would do it again. “When the prince approaches his lieutenant, the proper response of the lieutenant to the prince is, ‘Fiat voluntas tua,’” he said, using the Latin of the Lord’s Prayer for “Thy will be done.”

Disbarred from law practice and in debt for $300,000, mostly for legal fees, Mr. Liddy began a new career as a writer. His first book, “Out of Control,” (1979) was a spy thriller. He later wrote another novel, “The Monkey Handlers” (1990), and a nonfiction book, “When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country” (2002). He also co-wrote a guide to fighting terrorism, “Fight Back! Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style” (2006), and produced many articles on politics, taxes, health and other matters.

In 1980, he broke his silence on Watergate with his autobiography, “Will.” The reviews were mixed, but it became a best seller. After years of revelations by other Watergate conspirators, there was little new in it about the scandal, but critics said his account of prison life was graphic. A television movie based on the book was aired in 1982 by NBC.

March 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans Have an Ambitious Agenda for the Supreme Court, Ian Millhiser (commentator on the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the intersection of law and politics), March 30, 2021. Why the G.O.P. doesn’t need to try to pass mostly unpopular policies through the elected branches.

Not so long ago, Republicans had one of the most ambitious legislative agendas of any political party in modern American history.

paul ryan wDevised by the former House speaker, Paul Ryan, left, the so-called Ryan budget sought to reduce much of the nation’s social safety net to ashes. Congressional Republicans planned to slash Medicaid spending and food stamps. In the most aggressive version of Mr. Ryan’s proposal, Republicans would have replaced Medicare with “premium support” vouchers that could be used to buy private insurance, and then reduced the value of this subsidy every year — effectively eliminating traditional Medicare over time.

But all of that has changed. The Ryan budget is a relic. At their 2020 national convention, Republicans didn’t even bother to come up with a new platform.

republican elephant logoYet while the party appears to have no legislative agenda, it’s a mistake to conclude that it has no policy agenda. Because Republicans do: They have an extraordinarily ambitious agenda to roll back voting rights, to strip the government of much of its power to regulate, to give broad legal immunity to religious conservatives and to immunize many businesses from a wide range of laws.

It’s just that the Republican Party doesn’t plan to pass its agenda through either one of the elected branches. Its agenda lives in the judiciary — and especially in the Supreme Court.

From 2011, when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and denied President Barack Obama a governing majority, until the pandemic forced legislators’ hands in 2020, Congress enacted hardly any major legislation outside of the 2017 tax law.

In the same period, the Supreme Court dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law; severely weakened the Voting Rights Act; permitted states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion; expanded new “religious liberty” rights permitting some businesses that object to a law on religious grounds to diminish the rights of third parties; weakened laws shielding workers from sexual and racial harassment; expanded the right of employers to shunt workers with legal grievances into a privatized arbitration system; undercut public sector unions’ ability to raise funds; and halted Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Now, a 6-to-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court is likely to reshape the country in the coming decade, exempting favored groups from their legal obligations, stripping the Biden administration of much of its lawful authority, and even placing a thumb on the scales of democracy itself.

Many of these changes would build on decisions handed down long before President Donald Trump reshaped the Supreme Court. The court, for example, first allowed employers to force workers to sign away their right to sue the company — locking those workers into a private-arbitration system that favors corporate parties — in a 2001 case, Circuit City v. Adams. But the court’s current majority is likely to make it much harder for workers and consumers to overcome these tactics. In Epic Systems v. Lewis (2018), Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s majority opinion favoring an employer that forced its employees to give up their right to sue.

March 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial, Georgia Republicans’ ban on giving voters water epitomizes the GOP’s disturbing priorities, Editorial Board, March 28, 2021 (print ed.). A petty crusade is just one provision in a bad new election law.

Let's say you sat down with a group to brainstorm on how best to strengthen our democracy. Let’s say someone said, “I know! Let’s make sure that people waiting to vote in long lines on hot days can’t be given water to drink!” You might reply: “Uh . . . what?”

Yet that is indeed one of the “reforms” Republicans in Georgia implemented this week.

Georgia has been a primary battleground in the voting wars, pitting Republicans who seek to restrict voting against Democrats, good-government groups and others who want casting a ballot to be easier, not harder. While state Republicans backed off their worst ideas, such as abolishing no-excuse absentee voting, the restrictionists still scored a victory on Thursday, when Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill containing plenty of noxious provisions. Among them: a ban on distributing food or water to voters waiting in long polling place lines.

This provision will do little to improve confidence in the vote, but it promises to make voting in person in Georgia — particularly in those areas that see epic voting lines — even less pleasant. Meanwhile, state lawmakers added new rules on absentee voting, which may require more people to sit out in the sun to cast a ballot.

It is clear who would be hurt most by this shift. Lines tend to be long in predominantly non-White precincts — areas that tend to vote for Democrats. State and local officials have failed to keep pace with the fast growth of ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the Atlanta area, leading to lengthy voting backups. Data on Georgia’s primary elections last June, collected by Georgia Public Broadcasting and ProPublica, revealed that the average wait after 7 p.m. in predominantly non-White neighborhoods was 51 minutes, while in predominantly White neighborhoods it was six minutes.

Georgia state law previously barred people and groups from handing out gifts, such as refreshments, to those waiting in line. But the law appeared to allow the distribution of food and water if it were available to everyone — voters, poll workers, passersby — so it did not amount to a reward for voting.

Moreover, those passing out the refreshments could not do any campaigning. Now the law restricts anyone from giving out water to any voter within a certain distance of a polling place, authorizing only election officials to provide self-service water from an unattended receptacle — and only if election officials choose to do so.

Georgia lawmakers also banned mobile voting buses such as those that Atlanta’s Fulton County used to ease lines. They added voter ID requirements for absentee voting and narrowed the amount of time people have to request mail-in ballots. They placed so many limits on ballot drop boxes as to render them practically useless. So it is now a criminal offense for someone to hand a bottle of water to an elderly Black voter in Fulton County — who had to wait in line because she could not navigate the new absentee ballot requirements.

March 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden attacks new Georgia voting law as ‘Jim Crow,’ Seung Min Kim, March 26, 2021. President Biden issued a full-throated attack Friday on a new Georgia law that dramatically constrains voting access in the Peach State, calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and putting his voice behind efforts to pass voting-rights legislation in Congress.

Biden’s criticism of Georgia’s SB 202, which was signed into law Thursday evening, came after similarly vehement comments from the president at his first formal news conference this week, in which he denounced efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to voting.

georgia map“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” Biden said of the Georgia statute. “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.”

Like other critics, Biden took particular aim at a provision that forbids people from providing drinks or food, including water, to voters waiting in line at the polls — arguing that it was Republicans themselves who created those lines by cutting the number of polling sites, especially in majority Black communities.

But some civil rights activists argued that Biden is not doing enough beyond his impassioned rhetoric to ensure the passage of a federal voting protection law.

“I think he has to do more, and do everything within his power,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “I understand he’s trying to work across the aisle and get bipartisanship, but voting is sacred. So he has to be out in public explaining why it’s necessary that it pass, that it’s important.”

republican elephant logoThe White House has been somewhat vague about Biden’s plans to push for voting rights, but the president said Friday he would continue to make the public argument that voting restrictions hurt democracy.

“I will take my case to the American people — including Republicans who joined the broadest coalition of voters ever in this past election to put country before party,” Biden said. “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.”

SB 202 is one of the first comprehensive state bills to significantly restrict voting access in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when former president Donald Trump repeatedly and baselessly attacked the integrity of state elections systems.

Trump’s attacks were particularly severe in Georgia, after he became the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the state since 1992.

The new Georgia law has several components: It allows state lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards while stripping power from the secretary of state. It institutes new ID requirements for mail ballots and curtails the use of drop boxes. It includes the ban on providing food and drink to those in line.

 

"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, center, and his co-organizer, Infowars radio host, Alex Jones, to his right.

ny times logoNew York Times, Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine, Neil MacFarquhar, March 27, 2021 (print ed.). Extremist groups are trying to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation about vaccines in an effort to undermine the government.

Adherents of far-right groups who cluster online have turned repeatedly to one particular website in recent weeks — the federal database showing deaths and adverse reactions nationwide among people who have received Covid-19 vaccinations.

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

republican elephant logoIf the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.

These groups tend to portray vaccines as a symbol of excessive government control. “If less people get vaccinated then the system will have to use more aggressive force on the rest of us to make us get the shot,” read a recent post on the Telegram social media platform, in a channel linked to members of the Proud Boys charged in storming the Capitol.

Apocalyptic warnings about the vaccine feed into the far-right narrative that the government cannot be trusted, the sentiment also at the root of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The more vaccine opponents succeed in preventing or at least delaying herd immunity, experts noted, the longer it will take for life to return to normal and that will further undermine faith in the government and its institutions.

In April, a conference with the tagline “Learn How to Fight Back for Your Health and Freedom,” is set to bring together Trump allies like Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell along with high-profile members of the anti-vaccination effort.

Maligning the coronavirus vaccines is obviously not limited to extremist groups tied to the Capitol riot. There is deep partisanship over the vaccines generally.

One third of Republicans surveyed in a CBS News poll said that they would avoid getting vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls found similar trends.

About 100 members of the House of Representatives, roughly one-quarter, had not been vaccinated as of mid-March, according to Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader.

It is unclear where Mr. Trump will fit into the vaccine battle. The former president, who has been vaccinated, endorsed getting the shot recently, provoking some disbelief in QAnon and other chat rooms. “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me frankly,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Support Builds for Amazon Workers in Struggle to Obtain Union Representation in NRLB Election Ending Monday, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, March 27, 2021. Sanders, Barber Attend Rallies in Bessemer, Alabama; At Stake is a New Era of Militant Civil Rights Unionism on Ruins of Globalist anti-Worker Policies of Last Three Decades; Contest Pits Six Thousand Largely Black Workers against World’s Most Infamous Finance Predator; Bezos’ Beijing-Style Micromanagement of Workers by Algorithm Destroys Human Dignity and Must Be Stopped; Alliance of Revived Labor Movement with Democratic Party Could Stabilize US Politics for Many Years; Time for Multi-Billionaire Oppressors to Lose One for a Change!

Defeated in January 6 Bid for Dictatorship by Autogolpe, Republicans Fall Back on Gradual Creeping Coup through the Institutions, with Voter Suppression and Vote Fraud as Key Weapons; Georgia GOP Seeks to Cancel XV Amendment to Stop Black Voters; Move Condemned by Biden as Atrocity and Attack on Constitution; Blatant Gestapo Tactics against Black Legislators Likely to Trigger Backlash against Party; Trump’s New Lost Cause Narrative of to Disguise Failed Coup is a Tissue of Lies;

Xi’s Favorite Myanmar Junta Kills Over 100 in Worst Repression Yet of Protests against February Coup; Blinken Condemns Horrifying “Reign of Terror”; PRC Diplomats Keep Lying about Uighurs of East Turkestan; Pentagon Contracts for Mid-Course Defense Signal New Phase of Anti-Ballistic Measures;

Biden to Announce More Specifics of $3 Trillion Infrastructure and Industrial Policy Bill in Pittsburgh on Wednesday; No to Buttigieg’s Gambit of a Regressive “Mileage Tax.”

March 26

seth abramson headshotProof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: 15 Questions for the Secret Service About Its Conduct During the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, March 26, 2021. America deserves a thorough public Congressional inquiry into the actions of the Secret Service both before and during the January 6th, 2021 armed insurrection.

March 23

American System Network, Opinion: After Latest Gun Massacre in Boulder, Biden Calls for Background Checks and Ban on Assault Weapons, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, March 23, 2021. Extremist Cruz Leads the GOP Pack in Slandering Any and All Gun Safety Reforms as “Ridiculous Theater”; If Senate Republicans Now Insist on Carrying Out Their Usual Despicable Routine, Will This Finally Convince All Concerned that “Bipartisanship” is an Impossible Chimera?

Priority Must Be to Pass $3 Trillion Public Works Recovery Bill by Budget Reconciliation, While Ending the Filibuster and Enabling Gun Safety Legislation in the Process; Eyes of World on Monday’s NLRB Election at Amazon Shipping Center in Bessemer, Alabama Where Jeff Bezos, the World’s Richest Man, Treats His Employees Like Serfs in One of Worst Union-Busting States; Union Organizers Seeking to Win Over Last Undecided Workers;

Biden Should Put Jerome Powell on Warning that Federal Reserve will Be Called on to Help Finance $3 Trillion Infrastructure and Modernization Bill, Even if GOP Senate Blocks It; FDR Did This in 1940 When Fascist Threat Came from Abroad; Today’s Fascist Threat Comes from Within, Feeding Off Poverty and Despair;

Chinese Government Stunned by First-Time Coordinated Sanctions by EU, Five Eyes, and US: This Was Something Trump was Somehow Never Able to Do
In Fourth Israeli Election in Two Years, Fragmentation of Splinter Parties Increases, Leaving Formation of Next Government Uncertain; Netanyahyu’s Likud Party Leads with About Half of Necessary Majority, Just Two Weeks before He Enters the Next Phase of his Ongoing Corruption Trial; Jury Still Out on Worldwide Left Turn Signaled by Biden Win.

Law&Crime, High-Profile Former Mormon Accuses Church of Fraud, Seeks Millions in Restitution, Jerry Lambe, March 23, 2021. A prominent lawcrime logoformer member of the Mormon Church and brother to former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman filed a federal lawsuit on Monday accusing the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints of defrauding members by spending their charitable donations to further commercial interests.

In a 13-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, James Huntsman alleged that the church’s corporate arm, the LDS corporation, has been collecting tithes—ten-percent of members’ incomes—and using it to prop up private businesses with ties to the church.

“For decades, in a fraudulent effort to elicit the donation of tithing funds from Mr. Huntsman and other devout Church members, the LDS Corporation repeatedly and publicly lied about the intended use of those funds, promising that they would be used for purely non-commercial purposes consistent with the Church’s stated priorities – namely, to fund missionary work, member indoctrination, temple work, and other educational and charitable activities,” the suit states. “Behind the scenes, however, rather than using tithing funds for the promised purposes, the LDS Corporation secretly lined its own pockets by using the funds to develop a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate and insurance empire that had nothing to do with charity.”

Specifically, the complaint claims that the LDS Corporation used approximately $1.5 billion in donations to develop a for-profit shopping center in Salt Lake City called the City Creek Mall and to bail out a church-owned insurance and financial company called Beneficial Life Insurance. Huntsman said the church had explicitly stated on several occasions that tithes would not go towards those endeavors, calling those statements “outright lies.”

According to the suit, Huntsman relied on such misrepresentations when he donated $5 million to the church from 1993 to 2017, money he now wants back, saying he’ll donate any recovered funds to “benefit organizations and communities whose members have been marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines, including by donating to charities supporting LGBTQ, African-American, and women’s rights.”

Huntsman claims to have discovered the church’s misdeeds after a senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors—the church’s investment branch—became an IRS whistleblower in 2019. David A. Nielsen alleged that the LDS Corporation misappropriated more than $2 billion in the church’s charitable contributions while simultaneously failing to fund any “religious, educational, or charitable activities” for more than 20 years.

Huntsman also unequivocally stated that his lawsuit was not attacking the church’s beliefs, only its alleged financial misdeeds.

In a statement shared with news organizations following the suit’s filing, the church denied Huntsman’s claims, calling them “baseless.”

“Mr. James Huntsman resigned his Church membership last year. Now, he is demanding through his lawyers that tithing he paid to the Church as charitable contributions be returned to him. He claims that, contrary to assurances made by past Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Church used tithing to build City Creek, a mixed use commercial development across the street from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City,” spokesperson Eric Hawkins said. “In fact, tithing was not used on the City Creek project. As President Hinckley said in the April 2003 General Conference of the Church, the funds came from ‘commercial entities owned by the Church’ and the ‘earnings of invested reserve funds.’ A similar statement was made by President Hinckley in the October 2004 General Conference. Mr. James Huntsman’s claim is baseless.”

March 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Filmmaker’s Suit Says A&E Networks Suppressed ‘Watergate’ Series, Julia Jacobs and Nicole Sperling, March 22, 2021. The director, Charles Ferguson, said in a lawsuit that an executive was concerned about the “negative reaction it would provoke among Trump supporters and the Trump administration.”

“Watergate,” a four-hour documentary examining the scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, had its world premiere in 2018 at the Telluride Film Festival, an event known to foretell future Oscar nominations. It went on to be shown at the New York Film Festival and several others, collecting positive reviews that highlighted allusions the series made to the Trump presidency.

It aired on the History Channel over three days in early November, just before the 2018 midterm elections. To the filmmaker’s surprise, it was never broadcast on American television again.

The writer and director of the documentary, the award-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson, is now suing the company that owns the History Channel, A&E Networks, asserting it suppressed the dissemination of his mini-series because it was worried about potential backlash to allusions the documentary makes to the Trump White House.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Ferguson accuses the company of attempting to delay the documentary until after the 2018 midterm elections because a History Channel executive feared it would offend the White House and Trump supporters.

“He was concerned about the impact of ‘Watergate’ upon ratings in ‘red states,’” the lawsuit said of the executive, Eli Lehrer, “as well as the negative reaction it would provoke among Trump supporters and the Trump administration.”

Mr. Ferguson resisted that plan, and the mini-series ultimately aired shortly before Election Day. But the filmmaker contends the documentary was given short shrift, despite acclaim in the film industry and previous assurances that it would receive “extremely prominent treatment.”

The lawsuit describes the treatment of the documentary as part of a “pattern and practice of censorship and suppression of documentary content” at A&E Networks, and cites several others that it says were subject to attempted manipulation for political or economic reasons.

A&E called the lawsuit meritless and the assertion that the documentary was suppressed “absurd,” saying its decision to not rebroadcast it additional times was based on lower than expected ratings.

bradcast gavin newsom resized don siegelman 032221

BradBlog, Former AL Gov. Siegelman on GOP Recall of CA Gov. Newsom, Radio interview by Brad Friedman, March 22, 2021. 'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party,' Gov. Gavin Newsom (above left). Also, Siegelman (above right) on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future.

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

bob rileyWe're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, left, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomSiegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor. That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation;

And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

March 21

Hollywood PoliTrivia, Film Commentary: The Hollywood Extermination List, Wayne Madsen, left, March 21, 2021. Adolf Hitler had a plan to round up all of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallHollywood's "undesirables" and transport them to concentration camps.

The Germans relied on a massive network of U.S. collaborators -- members of such organizations as the Friend of New Germany (FNG), its successor, the German-American Bund, and the Silver Shirts -- who provided German intelligence with the personal details on key figures in the American motion picture industry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brian Barger (1952–2021): Journalist who helped unravel Iran-contra scandal, dies at 68, Bart Barnes, March 21, 2021 (print ed.). A former reporter for the Associated Press and The Washington Post, Brian Barger in recent years worked as a full-time volunteer with immigrants’ rights organizations.

brian barger 2008 family photoBrian Barger, shown at right in a 2008 family photo, was an investigative journalist who edited and reported on Colombian drug cartels, covert operations of the CIA, international terrorism, money laundering, excessive levels of toxins in sea fish, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was among the primary reporters covering the Iran-contra arms-for-hostage scandals of the Reagan administration.

In a journalism career spanning three decades, he worked for the Associated Press, CNN and The Washington Post, among other CIA Logoorganizations. He was a restless man who disliked staying long in one place. Early in his career he was a school bus driver and a garbage collector in suburban Maryland; a bartender in Tokyo; a logging truck driver in Wyoming; and an auto mechanic, taxi driver, carpenter, house painter, short-order cook and motorcycle messenger in Washington, D.C.

For a time, he was a California farmworker and organized protests against low wages and poor working conditions. He also had been an insurance claims adjuster and an activist for political and humanitarian causes. He was arrested several times in protests against the Vietnam War.

In 1999, he took a three-year hiatus from journalism to co-found and direct Casa Amiga, a rape crisis and domestic violence counseling center network in Mexico. This, said his family, was an outgrowth of his friendship with Dianna Ortiz, a Catholic nun and missionary who in 1989 was abducted, raped and tortured by members of the Guatemalan military. She died Feb. 19 and is shown at below in a 1996 AP photo pointing at a press conference to sketches of her attackers.

sister ortiz guatemalan attackers 1996 ron edmonds apMr. Barger, a District resident who in recent years has been a full-time volunteer with immigrants’ rights organizations, died Feb. 22 at a hospital in New York. He was 68 and the cause was complications following surgery for pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Tia Duer.

Brian King Barger was born in Washington on June 21, 1952. His father was a Foreign Service officer, whom he accompanied to postings in Indonesia, Mexico and Tokyo.

He began his journalism career in 1979 as a Post news aide and retired in 2008 after seven years as an assistant foreign editor. In between, he was an independent correspondent in Latin America and an off-camera reporter with CBS and ABC News, and a Washington-based reporter with the AP, United Press International and CNN.

At the AP, Mr. Barger partnered with colleague Robert Parry on the Iran-contra story, conducting extensive and early reporting about drug trafficking by members of the right-wing Nicaraguan force known as the contras, who had U.S. backing and ties to National Security Council member Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.

But as Mr. Barger and Parry were examining details of North’s role in the illegal Iran-contra affair, the journalists complained that the bureau chief blocked or delayed running their findings while high-level news agency officials were in discussions with North about securing the release of Terry Anderson, an AP journalist who had been taken hostage during the Lebanon civil war.

At the time, Louis D. Boccardi, president and general manager of AP, denied the allegation that he or others “were somehow editing the AP wire to suit Ollie North.” Mr. Parry soon left for CBS News.

As a foreign desk editor at The Post from 2001 to 2008, Mr. Barger worked on stories connected with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, national security issues and current events in Latin America and the Middle East.

March 20

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: State of the JFK Releases 2021, Rex Bradford

mary ferrell foundation logo

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: State of the JFK Releases 2021, Rex Bradford (director), right, March 20, 2021. This essay discusses the state of the JFK Records Collection as of March 2021. It describes the background and results of the declassifications which occurred in 2017 and 2018, and alerts readers to rex bradfordthe re-review which is taking place this year. Particular focus is placed on 3,598 "withheld in full" records which the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) declared would be finally released. Some were, and some weren't, as will be explained.

A companion column to this, Analysis: Withheld in Full -- 2021 Update, is excerpted below. It contains an interactive table where the not-released portion of the 3,598 "withheld in full" records may be explored.

A companion page, 2017 Document Releases, discusses the set of records that were released in 2017 and 2018, along with links to read and search them all.

Background: The JFK Records Act and the Assassination Records Review Board

Following public outcry over Oliver Stone's film JFK, Congress in 1992 passed the JFK Records Act. This law created the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which from 1994 until 1998 oversaw the declassification of a large number of documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy and the various investigations into his murder; this broad effort included a wide swath of formerly-secret records on Kennedy foreign policy on Cuba and Vietnam, and FBI and CIA and other agencies' files on myriad related topics and individuals.

The revelations from the declassifications of the 1990s have rewritten the story of the formation of the Warren Commission, thrust into prominence Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City in the fall of 1963 and the allegations of Communist conspiracy emanating from that city, and turned that story on its head with the stunning news that Director Hoover -- in a memo to the Secret Service and a now-erased presidential phone call -- relayed the FBI's determination that someone had impersonated Oswald there. Also released were formerly-secret notes of Oswald's interrogation which include an alibi for his whereabouts, buried testimony about the nature of JFK's wounds (and thus the direction of shots), which was taken by Congressional investigators and then hidden, documents revealing that CIA officers lied about their knowledge of Oswald before the assassination, a Pentagon false-flag operation named Northwoods outlining terrorist acts which could be implemented and then used to justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba, written plans kept secret for 35 years to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam, and so much more, far too voluminous to even summarize here.

The JFK Records Act has been in many ways a great success in reaching toward a fuller history of Kennedy's murder and its context.

The JFK Collection now sits at over 300,000 records comprising over 5 million pages, plus abundant photographic and audiovisual records. The records processed in the 1990s and later all have a unique 13-digit record number assigned to them and are represented in a master collection database. A substantial portion of the 5 million pages, including voluminous Warren Commission files, predate this system, have no record numbers, and do not appear in the database.

But while the ARRB oversaw a massive declassification effort, it also deferred in many cases to government agencies desiring continued secrecy; tens of thousands of JFK records were released with "redactions" (blackouts) -- sometimes as small as a name, sometimes entire pages. And thousands of records remained "withheld in full."

The JFK Records Act mandated that, 25 years after the passage of the Act, all such records should be released in full, barring a determination by the president that "continued postponement is made necessary by an identifable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations" and "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

The 25-year deadline came on October 26, 2017. But when the 25-year deadline finally arrived, the remaining records were not released in full. Instead, under a process approved by then-President Trump:

Over 34,000 documents were released, or re-released with fewer redactions, in 7 batches in 2017 and 2018.

Hundreds of documents were declared sealed in accordance with Sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Records Act (IRS and Social Security Administration records are exempt from public disclosure, as are those sealed by court order or donated to the Archives under a restrictive "deed of gift").

On the date of the last batch of releases, April 26 2018, another Trump memorandum authorized a process whereby the more than 15,000 records with remaining redactions would be subject to re-review in 2021.

It is now 2021.

The 2017 and 2018 Releases

In seven batches in 2017 and 2018, the National Archives (NARA) put online more than 34,000 documents from its JFK Collection. Some of these had been previously released in redacted form, and were re-released in full. Others were simply re-released with fewer (or, inevitably, more) redactions. The nara logodocuments themselves may be read and searched here at the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

According to NARA's JFK Assassination Records Processing Project page, 15,834 documents still feature redactions. A listing of which particular documents remain redacted is not available, and it is not possible without access to all those records to independently make such a determination. NARA's online database of records, which does list the status of records, has not been updated since 2008, and so is quite out-of-date in this regard. The Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) is in possession of scanned copies of only 20% or so of the collection, and thus is not in a position to do this analysis.

NOTE: NARA has for years provided online a searchable database of the metadata -- title, date, subjects, etc. -- of the over 300,000 records in the JFK Collection. The JFK Assassination Collection Reference System webpage says the database is "currently down for maintenance"; a huge downloadable spreadsheet is available there instead. The MFF had already obtained a copy of the database and used it to fashion our innovative JFK Database FBI logoExplorer, which may be used to filter and search listings of all metadata records in the database.

The majority of the newly-released documents came from the FBI and CIA, but other agencies which released records included the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, Department of Justice, the National Archives itself, and others. Records from previous investigations including the Church Committee, the Rockefeller Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations were also declassified.

What was in the redacted text that got revealed, and what blackouts remain? There is no single answer. In many cases, the redactions relate to "sources and methods" -- agent or informant names or numbers, or names or details of particular operations. Sometimes they involve a relationship with a foreign government official. Agencies like the FBI and CIA naturally want to keep these secret, but a full accounting of the JFK assassination story can turn on such details. The issue is whether, more than 55 year later, revealing them is really a matter of "identifiable harm" of "such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

The 2017/2018 releases contained revelations of interest to researchers -- that the mayor of Dallas was a CIA asset, for example. Among audiotapes released were actual interrogations of Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko, whom the CIA imprisoned during the Warren Commission investigation and afterwards. Abundant details in CIA files are still being studied to fill out much of the story of the "secret war" against Castro's Cuba. Generally, the 2017/2018 releases did not produce the vast sweeping new revelations that the 1990s declassifications uncovered. But the removal of redactions is indeed helping researchers fill in previously-murky details of various aspects of the vast JFK assassination saga.

Too many redactions remain, however, without compelling reasons for them. Some examples of the kinds of redactions still seen in the records:

CIA LogoClassification that prevents the release of trivial information: In one document about CIA's Mexico City station, the word "unilateral" was made public only in 2017 (see then vs. now). In context, "unilateral" means no other intelligence service assisted in technical surveillance in Mexico City 55 years ago. Did withholding this information protect U.S. national security? It's hard to see how. This redaction is symptomatic of widespread overclassification of JFK files.

Classification that spares the CIA embarrassment and has nothing to do with national security: In this testimony of CIA officer Sam Halpern (who is one of very few insiders alleging that Robert Kennedy was a driving force in the plots to kill Fidel Castro) the Agency is still hiding the details of a 1960's scheme, in which Halpern participated, to make a fake porno film about President Sukarno of Indonesia because he charted a foreign policy independent of the U.S. government. This type of withholding is a matter of public relations, not public safety.

Classification that blocks release of potentially significant JFK information: Some of the 2017/2018 releases actually left redactions completely unchanged. For example, see this March 1964 CIA memo for the Warren Commission, then vs. now. The redacted information in this case is almost certainly the job title of counterintelligence officer Lee Wigren and the CIA component he worked in. This information could be significant in the JFK story because the Warren Commission was originally told that the CIA had only 5 documents on Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of the assassination. In fact, the true number of pre-assassination Oswald documents was at least 42. The CIA waited ten weeks to share this very basic information with the Commission. Lee Wigren did the belated sharing. What CIA office was he working for in 1964? His CIA job title/office in 1975 are declassified in this document, which has been in the public domain for decades. So why is his title/office in 1964 withheld? The answer might help illuminate the process by which the CIA slow-walked the Oswald investigation. This is exactly the kind of question the release of JFK records is supposed to answer.

Not all documents were previously seen with redactions. Also among the released files were nearly 2,500 which had been "withheld in full" -- not previously available even with blackouts. One of these is the subject of the concluding section of this essay. In general these completely-secret documents naturally invoke curiosity, and for them we do have a listing of the documents in question. Our discussion turns next to these records.

Withheld in Full - Released Now?

In 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information request from Politico, other news organizations, and researchers, the National Archives produced a listing of 3,603 documents which were at that time "withheld in full." That list was amended to 3,598 (and still later amended, mistakenly, to a count of 3,571). These records were explicitly slated for release as part of the 2017 declassifications in accordance with the JFK Records Act.

Sample metadata for a withheld JFK record

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has conducted an analysis of these 3,598 records, comparing that list to what was actually released in 2017 and 2018. We have also taken into account declarations made on NARA's project page. In summary, only 2,447 of them were released in any form; 1,151 remain withheld, were declared released but not put online, or are missing. NARA's project page contains explanations for most of these, though there are a few ambiguities and the provided explanations in some cases are questionable. Our analysis indicates that an unknown but significant number of records remain unaccounted for.

Here is a summary of the information provided by NARA regarding what we identify as 1,151 records not released online by the Archives, coupled with our own analysis:

...

[Visit Mary Ferrell Foundation site for its detailed analysis of links to this material]

...

The Upcoming 2021 Review

Where are we now? The April 26, 2018 Trump administration memorandum set a date of April 26, 2021 by which time agencies must "identify to the Archivist the specific basis for concluding that records (or portions of records) satisfy the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act." It further states that "the Archivist shall recommend to the President, no later than September 26, 2021, whether continued withholding from public disclosure of the identified records is warranted after October 26, 2021."

At the time of this writing, April 26 is not much more than a month away. President Biden's decision on the fate of these continued withholdings comes six months later. Researcher Larry Schnapf has sent a detailed and compelling letter to the House Oversight Committee chairperson asking for hearings and enforcement of the JFK Records Act. Specifically, he asks that Congress:

  • Conduct an oversight hearing before the April 26th deadline established by the Archivist for the agencies to request further postponement;
  • Instruct agencies that requested records to be withheld in 2017 that they are to comply with the April 26th deadline;
  • Instruct any agency requesting further postponement to provide a Vaughn Index setting forth specific explanations on a document-by-document basis why the particular document needs to be withheld as required by Section 4(3)(e) of the JFK Act;
  • Require all agencies to provide and publish in the Federal Register explanations for each and every postponed document (or portion of a document); and
    Investigate if certain records were properly categorized as “Not Believed Relevant” (NBR).

The MFF endorses all of these requests.

The Cost to History

There is a cost to the lack of transparency, to the willful destruction of historical records, to the endless kicking the can down the road on declassification orders. John F. Kennedy was killed more than 55 years ago, and as for the figures named in these documents, the obituaries are piling up every year. That makes continued withholding less likely to hit the bar set by the Congress that "postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm..." and that "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

Among the releases of December 15, 2017 was the 6/23/1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations' sworn testimony of Orest Pena, a bar owner in New Orleans. Why was the testimony of a bar owner held in complete secrecy for nearly 4 decades? Why did the Assassination Records Review Board apparently not review this testimony for release (its date of last review is 7/22/1993, before the ARRB was formed)? You may ask, but you will not find a satisfactory answer.

It has long been known that Mr. Pena told the HSCA that he knew that Lee Harvey Oswald, who frequented his bar in the summer of 1963, was an FBI informant. It has also long been known that Pena told the Committee that he himself was also an informant to the same FBI agent, Warren de Brueys, whom Pena said had threatened him physically after the assassination to keep his silence. The HSCA chose to disbelieve Pena, writing that de Brueys denied these accusations, and citing a few (weak) reasons why "he was not a credible witness."

Now that the testimony is finally public, what's in it? In one sense, nothing new -- Pena tells the story the HSCA attributed to him. The reader can judge the credibility of the witness across the 38-page transcript; to this reader he seemed compelling. More importantly, Pena named names. A Mr. Pedro to whose restaurant Oswald would "go...in the morning with other federal agents from the Customs House Building." A Victor Perez who could verify Pena's having seen Oswald in their company at that restaurant. These people are no doubt dead now. And if the HSCA ever interviewed Mr. Pedro or Mr. Perez, there is no such indication in the metadata of the records it left behind, nor were they cited in the dismissal of Orest Pena's allegations.

Regarding Oswald and U.S. Customs, the earlier Church Committee was also onto this connection during their limited review of the JFK assassination. Declassified memos written by staffer Paul Wallach made notes of phone conversations with a David Smith of Customs, and an associate named Wendall Roach of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Wallach noted that both names had been provided by none other than Orest Pena. Roach told the staffer "I've been waiting twelve years to talk to someone about this," and said he was "willing to come to D.C. at our convenience." However, there is no subsequent interview transcript with Wendall Roach to be found in the released Church Committee files. That Committee's other records on this matter are frustratingly meager.

Oswald palling around with government agents doesn't mesh well with the "lone nut" assassin theory. But the point here is not to say with any certainty that Pena's allegations and the Oswald-Customs connection would necessarily have held up under investigative scrutiny. The point is that the investigations failed in this and so many other instances to do what was needed, and their files have remained secret for too long, and thus as a country we have failed to get to the bottom of Kennedy's assassination.

This is the "identifiable harm" we should be attending to -- the harm to our nation due to ongoing secrecy - not now-inconsequential harm or embarrassment from the release of the remaining clues in these records. Justice demands allegiance to the truth, and democracy demands accountability and transparency, and we have not had enough of either in this affair. We should end the pattern of obstruction. Release all the files now.

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: Withheld in Full -- 2021 Update, Rex Bradford (director), right, March 20, 2021. In 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Archives produced a spreadsheet of 3,598 "withheld in full" records slated for declassification in 2017. In the subsequent rex bradfordreleases of 2017 and 2018, 2,447 of these were in fact released online, but 1,151 were not. The table at the bottom of this page lets you explore those 1,151 unreleased records. As an organizational aid, the Mary Ferrell Foundation has split them into categories -- these mary ferrell foundation logocategories are an MFF invention and not official designations.

The categories into which these records are divded was developed using guidance from the JFK Assassination Records Processing Page, which described reasons why some of these documents remain withheld and declares others lost or previously released.

Each record is summarized by its 13-digit record number, agency where the record was held, date, title, and subjects, all taken from the National Archive's JFK Records database. Records can be expanded to show the full set of metadata from the database.

Here's how use the table below:

  • nara logoSelect a category. Click one of the tabs to view summaries of that category of records. A description of the category appears between the tabs and the record summaries.
  • Expand an entry. Click the record number of an entry to view full metadata for that record.
  • Expand all entries. Click the "expand all" and "collapse all" to see full metadata for the entire list

Kennedys and King, Book Review: John Fitzgerald Kennedy The Devil is in the Details By Malcolm Blunt with Alan Dale, James DiEugenio, left, jim dieugenio fileMarch 20, 2021.

Malcolm Blunt may, in fact, be the most important little-known JFK researcher of our generation. Jim DiEugenio uses this review of Alan Dale’s excellent new oral history, The Devil is in the Details, to survey Malcolm’s crucial contributions to the evidence that has been exposed today and to pay tribute to his tireless, selfless, and insightful work.

This book is an oral history. The interviewer is Alan Dale and the interviewee is Malcolm Blunt—with minor appearances by authors Jefferson Morley and John Newman.

malcolm blunt devil coverDale is the executive director of Jim Lesar’s Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). He has worked with authors like Newman and Joan Mellen. He is a close friend and admirer of Malcolm Blunt, who is, by far, the major personage in the book. Unfortunately, many people, even in the critical community, do not know who Malcolm is. Why is that?

That is because every once in awhile there comes a character in the JFK case who isn’t interested in doing interviews, starting a blog, writing books or articles, or getting on the radio. This type of person essentially wants to dig into those 2 million pages that were declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). He or she wants to find out what is and is not in that treasure trove.

I was lucky enough to know someone like this back in the nineties. His name was Peter Vea. He was an American living in Japan at the time the ARRB was forming. He said he was returning to the USA, relocating to Virginia and planned on visiting the National Archives to see what had been declassified. He asked if I would be interested in him sending me some of these documents. I said, of course I would. Many of the articles in Probe magazine were based upon the discoveries that Peter made in the archives. And Bill Davy’s fine book, Let Justice be Done, owes much to Peter’s work. But yet, Peter is virtually unknown today.

Malcolm Blunt (shown on the cover of the book at right) took up Peter’s baton. The extraordinary thing about Malcolm is this: he does not live in America. He lives across the pond in England. He travels to America to make long visits to the National Archives. Up to now, he has not written a book. He shares alan dale newhis discoveries with other researchers who he thinks would be interested in the particular subject matter. I know this because I have been the sometime recipient of his largesse.

In this book, Alan Dale, left, tried to elicit some of the discoveries Malcolm has made in his many visits to the Archives. In that regard, it is an unusual book, since I know of no prior attempt to do such a thing. The volume is made up of ten long interviews done from 2014–18. There is a lengthy back matter section, consisting of 8 appendixes and a penultimate 3-page section labeled as “Afterthought.”

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Diplomatic Clashes with Russia and China Confirm Reality of Three-Block World with US and Allies Arrayed on Defensive against webster tarpley 2007Totalitarian Aggressors, Webster G. Tarpley, right, March 20, 2021. Increased Belligerence of Moscow and Beijing Suggests Domestic Disaffection After Regime Failures and Crackdowns on Opposition.

US Alliance System Emerges as Decisive Asset, in Sharp Contrast to Trump’s Unilateral Rage and Greed; Biden Shows that Appeasement Is Over; Austin Hints US Edge Eroded by Futile Neocon Wars in Middle East.

Democrats Must Act Immediately to Disrupt GOP’s Creeping Coup Apparatus Before It Can Consolidate for 2022 Takeover of Congress; Filibuster Must Be Abolished; No More Republican Purges of Voter Rolls and Other Vote Fraud Tactics; Vigilance on Loyalty in Military; House Opens Door to Citizenship for Dreamers by 228-197 vote;

Myanmar Generals Show World the Grim Future that Awaits Beijing Satellites with Over 200 Killed in Anti-Coup Protests and Pervasive Use of Huawei’s Facial Recognition Technology;

Michael Cohen Completes Eighth Session with Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Expects More Visits, Says Charges May Be Imminent in Trump Organization Case.

jfk american university Custom

President John Kennedy delivering his iconic "Peace Speech" at American University in June, 1963.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: Oswald or the Pentagon/CIA? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, March 17, 2021.This evening at 7 p.m. jacob hornberger newEastern time, we continue with our online conference “The National Security State and the Kennedy Assassination.” We currently have 693 registrations.

Our speaker is Dr. John Newman, below left, adjunct professor of political science at James Madison University. Newman is the author of the seminal book JFK and Vietnam and four books relating to the JFK assassination. He served as a consultant for Oliver Stone’s movie john newman newJFK. To receive a zoom link, just register (or re-register) at our conference web page.

Our first two speakers — James DiEugenio and Michael Swanson — set the stage for John Kennedy’s assumption of the presidency in 1961. Those two talks can be found in the multimedia section of FFF’s website.

After World War II, the federal government was converted to a national-security state, which vested omnipotent, non-reviewable powers in the hands of the federal government, including the powers of assassination and regime change.

As DiEugenio and Swanson pointed out, there was already tension between Kennedy and the Pentagon and the CIA before he even became president. As DiEugenio observed, Kennedy sided with Third World independence movements, which the Pentagon and the CIA were certain were communist-directed. As Swanson indicated, Kennedy also was skeptical about sending combat troops into Southeast Asia, something that the Pentagon and the CIA believed was necessary to prevent a communist takeover of the United States.

future of freedom foundation logo squareWith Newman’s talk tonight, we head directly into the Kennedy administration and the various crises faced by Kennedy, which led to an ever-growing devolution in the relationship between Kennedy and the Pentagon and the CIA, which ultimately culminated in outright war between the executive branch and the national-security branch of the government, much as it would ten years later within the Chilean national government.

Since the time of the assassination, the official story, one promoted by both the Pentagon and the CIA, has been that a communist former U.S. Marine assassinated Kennedy because he was a little man wanting to kill a big man.

From the beginning, there have been problems with that theory. For one, Oswald denied he committed the crime. In fact, he claimed that he was being framed for the crime. That’s what he meant when he stated that he was a “patsy” or fall guy for the crime. If he was really just a little man wanting to kill a big man, wouldn’t the natural thing to do be to brag about what he had done rather than deny it?

Moreover, how many communist Marines have you known? Communists hate the Marines and vice versa. Marines kill communists. They, along with others in the military, killed millions of communists in Korea and Vietnam. Why would a communist want to join an organization that hated communists and wanted to kill them? Why would the U.S. Marines permit a communist to exist within their midst? Does that sound like the Marines you know?

john newman oswald ciaAnd it’s not as though Oswald was hiding his supposed affinity to communism while he was a Marine. His Marine buddies were jokingly calling him “Oswaldovitch.” That’s because he was learning to speak Russian fluently while in the military and studying the principles of Marxism at the same time.

This was the Cold War period of time, when the U.S. national-security establishment was infiltrating communist organizations with the intention of spying on them and destroying them. In order for a person to be a good infiltrator, he had to convince the organization that he was one of them — that he believed in Marxism and socialism as much as they did. Naturally, an infiltrator oftentimes had to be trained to be an infiltrator,

As previously secret evidence has been uncovered over the years, it has led inexorably to Oswald’s operating as a U.S. intelligence operative, one who was recruited and trained when he was in the Marines. One revealing factor here is that when Oswald returned to the United States after supposedly trying to defect to the Soviet Union, to which he promised to divulge classified information he had acquired as a Marine, they did nothing to him. No indictment. Not even a grand jury summons. No torture. No anything. Remember: This is supposedly one of the most notorious communists in U.S. history and yet they didn’t give him the treatment that they gave to people like Dalton Trumbo and many others who had done nothing more than become members of the Communist Party.

lee harvey oswald hsLet’s talk about motive. If Oswald, left, had been a genuine communist, why would he want to kill Kennedy? After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy experienced a breakthrough that would culminate in a full-fledged war between him and the Pentagon/CIA. At his Peace Speech in June 1963 at American University, he declared an end to the Cold War and America’s intention to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the Soviet Union and the communist world, a position that the Pentagon and the CIA were convinced posed a grave threat to national security.

Pursuant to this new course for America, Kennedy entered into a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets, over the vehement objection of the Pentagon and the CIA. He also ordered a partial withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and told aides he would bring them all home after he won the 1964 presidential election. He announced that he wanted to explore the possibility of a joint moon shot with the Soviets, which meant sharing U.S. rocket technology with the communists. He sided with Martin Luther King and the civil-righs movement, which the national-security establishment, particularly the FBI, was convinced was a communist front.

Why would a genuine communist want to kill a president who was establishing peaceful and friendly relations with the communist world, especially given that Vice President Lyndon Johnson was on the same page as the Pentagon and the CIA?

It stands to reason that people who would have the motive to kill the president, and frame a “communist” for the crime, were those who vehemently objected to the new course that Kennedy was setting for the United States, a course that posed a grave threat to the existence of the national-security establishment itself.

To get a zoom link [free], just register at our conference website.

Date   Speaker(s)         Time                        Topic

3/3/21  Jim DiEugenio     7:00 PM Eastern Time  President Kennedy and the Third World
3/10/21 Mike Swanson    7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK, the Vietnam War, and the War State
3/17/21 John Newman     7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK and the Cold War: Deception, Treachery, and the Struggle for Power
douglas horne 20213/24/21 Jefferson Morley  7:00 PM Eastern Time  Morley v. the CIA [Part 1]
3/31/21 Jefferson Morley  7:00 PM Eastern Time  Morley v. the CIA [Part 2]
4/7/21   Douglas Horne (r.) 7:00 PM Eastern Time The JFK Medical Coverup
4/14/21 Douglas Horne     7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment
4/21/21 Jacob Hornberger 7:00 PM Eastern Time  Regime Change: The JFK Assassination

American System Network, Opinion: After Defeat of January 6 Attempted Autogolpe, GOP Regroups around Plan for Cold Coup or Creeping webster tarpley 2007Coup Designed to Establish Dictatorship in Two Years, Webster G. Tarpley, right, March 17, 2021. Scenario Includes Subversion of Military Units as Suggested by Army Memo Supplying Reasons to Refuse National Guard Defense of US Capitol.

Republican Assault on Voting Rights Shows Intent to Seize Congress through Voter Suppression; Senate Filibuster Can Sabotage Biden’s Measures to Pacify Domestic Privations and Conflicts: GOP Attorneys General Start Legal Challenge to Rescue Plan over Ban on Using Federal Money to Fund Tax Cuts for GOP Parasites.

US Hits More Chinese Functionaries with Sanctions on Eve of Yang-Blinken Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Alaska; DNI Avril Haines Reports that Kremlin Peddled Slanders against Biden through Politicians and Media to Help Trump in 2020 Election; Biden Repeats that Sanctions Loom Next Week in Solar Winds Hack Attack.

Biden Accepts That Putin is “Killer” with “No Soul,” Signaling End of Four Years of Groveling Appeasement under Trump; Russian Ambassador to Washington Recalled in a Huff.

 nsa official logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Intelligence cybernauts: the new spies, Wayne Madsen, left, March 15, 2021. The world of intelligence gathering is rapidly wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallchanging as a result of two major factors: increased capabilities of artificially intelligent programs to break into computer systems and networks and Covid-19 shutting down many of the venues favored by spies.

wayne madesen report logoThese include trade shows, scientific conferences, diplomatic receptions, and in-person press conferences. James Bond is being replaced by nameless AI cybernauts capable of gathering more "actionable intelligence" in an hour than many human agents could compile in a year or more. 

March 14

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, March 14, 2021. The undercount complicates President Biden’s decision on carrying out a complete withdrawal by May 1, as his administration tries to jump-start peace talks.

Facing a high-stakes choice and running out of time to make it, the Biden administration is wrestling with whether to follow through with a full withdrawal in the next seven weeks of the 2,500 American troops still in Afghanistan — except, as it turns out, that number is actually around 3,500.

American FlagThe United States has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, according to U.S., European and Afghan officials. That adds another layer of complexity to the swirling debate at the White House over whether to stick with a deal, struck by the Trump administration and the Taliban, that calls for removing the remaining American forces by May 1.

A thousand troops may seem like a small number compared to the roughly 100,000 who were there at the height of the war. But the scope of the U.S. presence has become a contentious issue in Afghanistan — where the Taliban want the Americans gone, while the government’s beleaguered security forces rely on U.S. air support — and also in Washington.

Members of Congress have repeatedly called for an increase in troops if the United States decides to stay past the withdrawal date outlined in the agreement, which was reached just over a year ago.

cia logoThe cloudy accounting around the troop numbers results from some Special Operations forces having been put “off the books,” according to a senior U.S. official, as well as the presence of some temporary and transitioning units. These troops, according to a second U.S. official, include Joint Special Operations Command units, some of them elite Army Rangers, who work under both the Pentagon and the CIA while deployed to Afghanistan.

Having more troops in a country than the Defense Department officially acknowledges is common practice. From Syria to Yemen to Mali, the United States often details military troops to the CIA or other agencies, declares that information “classified” and refuses to publicly acknowledge their presence.

March 10

 

capitol weare the storm flyer resized

Organizers for the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol used as one of their tools the flyer above, distributed widely by partner organizations. See the commentary by Mark Karlin, the founder of BuzzFlash.com: Trump Didn't Just Incite Sedition on January 6. He Aided and Abetted Ongoing Insurrection, Jan. 19, 2021.

seth abramson headshotseth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Investigation: "Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6," Seth Abramson, shown at left, (best-selling author, attorney, Harfvard Law grad, professor), March 10, 2021 (subscription required). "It's time we started talking about the former president's game plan for the armed insurrection of January 6, as all its details are now public — and they're terrifying."

 

March 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s Justice Dept. already has split from Trump. Merrick Garland will go even further, Matt Zapotosky, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Biden nominees Monaco, Gupta face Senate confirmation hearing for high-level Justice Dept. posts.

For nearly two months, the Justice Department has quietly rolled back several Trump-era policies and shifted position in civil cases, moves that officials see as relatively noncontroversial returns to previous ways of doing business.

merrick garlandNow, with federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, set to take over as attorney general, the thornier work begins.

Garland, who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate this week, will inherit a Justice Department damaged by President Donald Trump’s efforts to use its power to benefit his friends and hurt his enemies. He’ll inherit a department overseeing several high-profile Justice Department log circularpolitical cases, the outcomes of which probably will leave wide swaths of the country unhappy. And he’ll inherit a department that has for the past four years vigorously implemented Trump’s conservative agenda — instituting an aggressive charging policy and reviving use of the federal death penalty.

Garland, analysts say, will have to improve morale and restore the traditional barriers between his agency and the White House on criminal matters, while shepherding the department’s leftward policy shift that seemed to begin immediately after President Biden took office.

Garland said at his confirmation hearing that his first briefing would focus on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and the criminal cases that have emanated from it. Prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in connection with the mayhem, authorities have said, and have been working their way up from those who entered to building to those who might have planned or orchestrated the violence that day.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes Merrick Garland! Bill Palmer, right, March 9, 2021. How afraid are Senate Republicans of Attorney General Merrick Garland? bill palmerThey’ve been using every procedural move in the book to drag out his confirmation process for as long as possible. There was literally nothing President Biden or the Democrats could have done to get Garland confirmed any sooner. But now the Republicans are all out of tricks, and as was always going to be the case, Garland is about to be confirmed.

bill palmer report logo headerThe full Senate is holding a cloture vote on the Garland nomination later today, meaning he’s inches away from his inevitable confirmation. This brings up two equally important issues. The first is what new shoes will drop at the Department of Justice once Garland is officially in place. There are likely federal criminal cases ready to go against everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Donald Trump, waiting for Garland to greenlight them, revise them, or whatever the case may be. We couldn’t begin to guess precisely what day they’ll happen on, but there will be indictments.

republican elephant logoThe second issue at hand is precisely why the Republicans worked so hard to drag out the Merrick Garland nomination for so long. Is it simply that they were trying to delay the federal prosecution of Donald Trump, because it’ll be embarrassing for the GOP? Or do some of these Republicans fear that the DOJ is about to hit them with criminal charges as well? There has to be a reason so many Senate Republicans are suddenly announcing that they’re not seeking reelection. We’ll see.

 

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a broadcast airing on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a CBS broadcast that aired on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Meghan and Harry interview has Britain abuzz; critics howl in outrage, Karla Adam, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Any doubt that Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Prince Harry was overhyped was quickly put to rest on Monday morning, as Brits caught up with highlights from CBS's two-hour "tell-all" event.

The morning news was filled with the interview highlights about suicidal thoughts, alleged racism within the royal family and the fact that, at one point, Prince Charles stopped taking calls from Harry.

British broadcaster ITV said: “Harry and Meghan loaded up a plane and dropped bomb after heavy bomb on Buckingham Palace in their Oprah interview.”

A review in the Daily Telegraph said: “Sussexes deliver enough bombshells to sink a flotilla.”

Peter Hunt, the BBC’s former royal correspondent, said, “The claim of racism is one that will endure. No Palace spin can erase it from the collective memory.”

In his piece for the Spectator magazine, Hunt added that “the only person to emerge relatively unscathed is the Queen — apart from the minor matter that she is the head of the family that has been subjected to such a battering in this broadcast.”

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Harry-Meghan tribulations rooted in assassination of Diana, Wayne Madsen (shown at left, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcommentator, author and former Navy intelligence officer), March 9, 2021. When Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, says she was scared of the royal threats, believe her.

The trials and tribulations of Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle, while serving up fare for the tabloid-format cable "news" channels, does conjure up memories of the death of Harry's mother, Lady Diana, the former Princess of Wales, Diana's contentious divorce from Charles, the Prince of Wales, Harry's alleged father and heir to the British throne.

This editor investigated Diana's August 31, 1997 death in the weeks after it occurred, traveling to London, Paris and the scene of her death at the Pont d'Alma tunnel, and one of her favorite holiday retreats, the French Riviera. Diana's death was triggered by her planned marriage to Dodi al-Fayad, a Muslim, an act that would have placed their potential Muslim offspring -- future step-siblings of Princes William and Harry -- in the royal line of succession

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Analysis: The Trump-Brazil Scandal: Did Donald Trump "Attend" the January 5 War Council From the White House? Seth Abramson, March 9, 2021. Possibility emerges that one of the oddest social media typos in recent U.S. history wasn't a typo—and that the January 5 meeting was in part a Trump-Brazil summit focused on insurrection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact with rioters before and during Capitol breach, U.S. alleges, Spencer S. Hsu, March 9, 2021. U.S. prosecutors alleged Monday that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact before, during and immediately after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach with members since charged with plotting to prevent Congress from confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In a late-night court filing, prosecutors alleged Rhodes directed Oath Keepers to rally during the riot to the southeast steps of the Capitol, after which several members forcibly entered the east side of the building.

Prosecutors said they had recovered a chat called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” on the encrypted Signal messaging app that “shows that individuals, including those alleged to have conspired with [others], were actively planning to use force and violence.”

Prosecutors said chat participants included Rhodes — identified only as “Person One” in the filing but whom prosecutors named in earlier court papers — and two charged Oath Keepers members, Jessica Watkins, 38, an Ohio leader; and Kelly Meggs, 52, of Florida.

U.S. authorities have charged Watkins, Meggs and seven other individuals who appear to be members or associates of the right-wing anti-government group, alleging a wider conspiracy to obstruct Congress amid rioting that led to five deaths and assaults on about 140 police officers. Charges have been brought against more than 300 defendants, but to date prosecutors led by the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington have not publicly charged anyone other than alleged rioters themselves.

In the court filing, prosecutors said Rhodes, Watkins, Meggs and “regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country” discussed plans in the chat for members and affiliates to come to Washington for events on Jan. 5 and 6 to “provide security to speakers and VIPs.”

Prosecutors said they found “no discussion of forcibly entering the Capitol until January 6.”

jacob chansley

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘QAnon Shaman’ stays in jail as judge slams his arguments: ‘So frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence,’ Katie Shepherd, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman” who donned horns and red-white-and-blue face paint to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (as shown above), has spent nearly two months pleading with a judge — and with the public in high-profile interviews — to let him go free.

He said on “60 Minutes+” last week that the Capitol riots were “not an attack on this country,” while his attorney has argued that he was actually a peaceful protester and wasn’t really armed when he was filmed storming the building with a spear.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, left, was not impressed.

royce lamberth 2009On Monday, Lamberth denied Chansley’s motion for release in a scathing memorandum that rejected his arguments as “meritless,” “mistaken” and “so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence.” The judge said that Chansley was too dangerous to release and continues to pose a threat to the public.

“The statements defendant has made to the public from jail show that defendant does not fully appreciate the severity of the allegations against him,” Lamberth wrote. “To the contrary, he believes that he — not the American people or members of Congress — was the victim on January 6th.”

Chansley is charged with violently entering the Capitol, among other felony charges, and prosecutors have urged the court to keep him in jail. Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, did not immediately return a request for comment late Monday.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mugThe 33-year-old Phoenix resident (shown at right in his costume and in a mug shot) quickly became one of the most recognizable people charged in the Capitol riot, in part because of the eccentric costume he wore while sitting in Vice President Mike Pence’s chair. His connection to QAnon, an extremist ideology that spreads a sprawling set of false claims, has also highlighted the movement’s role in the Jan. 6 riot.

He made headlines soon after his arrest when he asked to be fed only organic foods, citing his obscure religious beliefs, and begged to be released after Watkins said he lost 20 pounds in jail. Watkins also made a public plea for a pardon from President Donald Trump, which was ignored. Chansley has filed multiple motions for release before his trial, but none have succeeded.

Last week, he made another public appeal on “60 Minutes+,” without permission from the jail, the U.S. Marshals Service or the court — a move that led Lamberth to scold him and his attorney in a hearing on Friday.

On Monday, Lamberth, a fiery presence in D.C. courts appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, eviscerated the alleged rioter’s claims one by one.

March 8

Substack via OpEd News, Opinion: With a Second War on Terror Looming, a New Film Explores the Grave Abuses of the First, Glenn Greenwald, right, March 8, glenn greenwald hs2021. Imprisoned without charges for 14 years in Guanta'namo, Mohamedou Slahi is a symbol of humans' impulse to abuse power and their capacity for redemption.

Mohamedou Slahi, shown below left in a Red Cross photo, is an extraordinary person with a harrowing past and a remarkable, still-unfolding story. The interview I conducted with him on Saturday, which can be viewed below, is one I sincerely hope you will watch. He has much to say that the world should hear, and, with a new War on Terror likely to be launched in the U.S., his story is particularly timely now.

mohammedou ould salahi int red cross committeeKnown as the author of the best-selling Guanta'namo Diary, a memoir he wrote during his 14 years in captivity in the U.S. prison camp at Guanta'namo he is now the primary character of a new Hollywood feature film about his life, The Mauritanian. The first eight years of Slahi's imprisonment included multiple forms of abuse in four different countries and separation from everything he knew, but it afforded no charges, trials, or opportunities to refute or even learn of the accusations against him.

The film stars Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley, while Slahi is played by the French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim. Foster last week won a Golden Globe award for her role as Nancy Hollander, Slahi's lawyer who worked for years, for free, to secure his right simply to have a court evaluate the evidence which the U.S. Government believed justified his due-process-free, indefinite imprisonment. Cumberbatch plays Slahi's military prosecutor whose friend died on 9/11 when the American Airlines passenger jet he was piloting was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Slahi's story is fascinating unto itself but, with a second War on Terror looming, bears particular relevance now. No matter your views on the post-9/11 War on Terror ranging from "it was necessary to take the gloves off and dispense with all limits in order to win this war against an unprecedented evil and existential threat" to "the U.S. gravely overreacted and mirrored the worst abuses of what it claimed it was fighting" to anything in between it cannot be disputed that limitless power was placed in the hands of the U.S. Government to imprison, to monitor, to surveil, to kidnap and to kill anyone it wanted, anywhere in the world, with no checks. And like most authorities vested in the state in the name of some emergency, these powers were said to be temporary but, almost 20 years later, show no signs of going anywhere. They are now embedded in the woodwork of U.S. political life.

What happened to Slahi is a vivid embodiment of how humans will inevitably abuse power when it is wielded without safeguards or limits. In November, 2001, Slahi was attending a party with his mother and other relatives in his home country of Mauritania, the U.S.-aligned nation in Northwest Africa plagued for years by dictatorships and military coups. Police arrived and told him they needed to question him. That was the last time he would ever see his mother.

After two weeks of intense interrogation about his ties to Islamic radicals, Slahi was flown in chains and shackles to Jordan, the U.S.-controlled oil monarchy where he had never visited and with which he had no ties. For the next eight months, he was interrogated on a daily basis by Jordanian and U.S. operatives, including CIA agents. The Jordanians frequently used classic torture techniques to extract information when their CIA bosses assessed that he was not being forthcoming. After eight months, the Jordanians concluded that he was not affiliated with any extremist groups and had no more information to provide, but the Americans, still reeling from the 9/11 attack, were not convinced.

He was told he would return to Mauritania but quickly realized that was a lie as he was placed in full-body shackles, chains and a jumpsuit. This time, he was flown to the notorious U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan, home to thousands of prisoners detained indefinitely by the Bush and Obama administrations with no charges or human rights protections. After two weeks of brutal daily interrogations, Slahi was told that he was being taken to a U.S. military base in Guanta'namo.

Because the camp had opened only after Slahi was first detained in Mauritania, he had no idea what Guanta'namo was. But, he told me, he was so happy and relieved to hear he was being taken to the U.S. because "the U.S. is where you get legal rights and there is a functioning court system." Upon hearing the news, he thought his nightmare, now almost a year long, was about to end. In fact, it was only beginning, and was about to get far darker than he could have imagined.

Flown to the floating island prison in the middle of the Caribbean, thousands of miles away from his home, Slahi, though in American custody on a U.S. military base, was in a place which the U.S. Government had decreed was not the United States at all. It was a no-man's land, free of any law or authority dick cheney wother than the unconstrained will of U.S. political leaders. Shortly after his arrival, the Bush administration guided by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, right, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft authorized the use of multiple forms of torture that it and the U.S. press euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

It is not in dispute, because official U.S. Government documents acknowledge it, that Slahi, along with dozens of others, was subjected to these techniques over and over. They included prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings and stress positions, a mock execution, and sexual humiliation and assault.

When he arrived at the camp, he spoke Arabic, German and French, and then quickly learned English from his captors and interrogators. His refuge from his hopelessness was the book he wrote, which he authored in English. Completed in 2005, it was taken from him by camp guards and not permitted to be published until ten years later, when it became a global bestseller while Slahi was still consigned to a cage, convicted of nothing and with no idea of when, if ever, he would be freed.

Throughout his ordeal, all Slahi wanted, as any human would, was the opportunity to be told of the charges against him and presented with the evidence corroborating the accusations. But the U.S. government's decree that Guanta'namo was foreign soil and thus free of constitutional constraints enabled them to imprison people indefinitely with no due process of any kind. A bipartisan law enacted by Congress in 2006 called "the Military Commissions Act" fortified the Bush administration's position by barring federal courts from reviewing any petitions brought by War on Terror detainees to have the validity of their imprisonment legally evaluated.

richard nephew sanction

Gray Zone, Commentary: Biden Iran envoy boasted of depriving civilians of food, driving up Iranian inequality in sadistic sanctions manual, Max Blumenthal, March 8, 2021. Richard Nephew, above at right, has taken personal credit for depriving Iranians of food and driving up their unemployment rates, celebrating the economic destruction he caused as “a tremendous success.” Under Biden, he will help direct policy on Iran.

The Joseph Biden administration has named Richard Nephew as its deputy Iran envoy. As the former principal deputy coordinator of sanctions policy for Barack Obama’s State Department, Nephew took personal credit for depriving Iranians of food, sabotaging their automobile industry, and driving up unemployment rates.

Nephew has described the destruction of Iran’s economy as “a tremendous success,” and lamented during a visit to Russia that food was still plentiful in the country’s capital despite mounting US sanctions.

Nephew’s appointment to a senior diplomatic post suggests that rather than immediately returning to the JCPOA nuclear deal, the Biden administration will finesse sanctions illegally imposed by Trump to pressure Iran into an onerous, reworked agreement that Tehran is unlikely to join.

After coordinating Obama’s sanctions regime against Iran, Nephew left the administration for a position at the energy industry-funded Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. There, he published a book outlining in blunt terms how he honed the craft of economic warfare and applied it against Iran.

Entitled The Art of Sanctions: A View From The Field, the book’s cover image features two Caucasian hands drawing a rope for a noose, presumably to strangle some insufficiently pliant Global South government. Its contents read like a list of criminal confessions, detailing in chillingly clinical terms how the sanctions Nephew conceived from inside an air-conditioned office in Washington immiserated average Iranians.

With his candor, Nephew has shattered the official US rhetoric about “targeted sanctions” that exclusively punish “bad actors” and their business cronies while leaving civilian populations unharmed.

The application of pain to a country’s civilian population is central to Nephew’s sanctions strategy. As he explains in “The Art of Sanctions,” for the unilateral coercive measures to succeed, they must impose significant pain to a state’s most vulnerable sectors, shatter the state’s political and social resolve, and ultimately force the state to cry uncle in the face of Washington’s demands.

March 7

"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, center, and his co-organizer, Infowars radio host, Alex Jones, to his right.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Investigation: How Republican Politics (And Twitter) Created Ali Alexander, The Man Behind ‘Stop The Steal,’ Luke O’Brien, March 7, 2021. High above Constitution Avenue, on a rooftop terrace, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander gazed down at the U.S. Capitol and the chaos he’d helped unleash.

A mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters had just stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing members of Congress to scramble for safety. White nationalists, QAnon cultists and Make America Great Again extremists roamed the halls hunting for politicians. Some carried zip-tie handcuffs. One wore a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz.”

“I don’t disavow this,” Alexander said, pointing to the scene below.

The longtime Republican political operative had spent months working with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and far-right activists, such as Mike Cernovich, to organize nationwide protests aimed at invalidating Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. Alexander knew plenty of influential Republicans, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led an effort in the Senate to dispute the election results. He had connections to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which was also involved in promoting the rally-turned-riot.

Alexander had plenty of friends in low places, too: far-right Twitter influencers and grifters; members of the violent neo-fascist Proud Boys gang who showed up at his protests; Nick Fuentes, a prominent far-right extremist who participated in 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fuentes said in 2019 that he could accurately be described as a white nationalist, being both “white” and a “nationalist,” and just two days before the riot he seemingly encouraged his followers to kill legislators.

Unsurprisingly, several of Alexander’s previous Stop the Steal events had inspired bloodshed. But none of them ― and nothing in American history ― compared to what happened Jan. 6.

The warning signs were ominous. Before the rally, white nationalists and militia members talked about smuggling guns into D.C. Pro-Trump internet forums crackled with homicidal chatter and plans to lay siege to the Capitol. And the Proud Boys were back in town. They’d turned out by the hundreds for Alexander’s two other Stop the Steal events in Washington. Brawls and stabbings occurred after those demonstrations. The Proud Boys attacked residents. In December, they ripped a Black Lives Matter banner off a Black church and burned it in the street. Their leader, Enrique “Henry” Tarrio, was arrested on Jan. 4 with high-capacity firearms magazines as he entered the city.

At the rally, the president whipped up demonstrators with a speech on the White House Ellipse, where Alexander had a front-row seat. “We will not take it anymore,” Trump said. “We will stop the steal.” The demagogue then pointed his supporters toward the heart of American democracy.

The mob arrived at the Capitol just before 1 p.m. Insurrectionists smashed through barricades and police lines. Once inside, they looted and vandalized. They urinated and defecated on floors. One of them scrawled “Murder the media” on a set of doors. Many were far-right extremists, including a Proud Boy allegedly looking to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence. Men carrying a flag from Fuentes’ “America First” group prowled through the building. Another Alexander associate, Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, a veteran of the Charlottesville rally, livestreamed himself inside the Capitol and was later arrested.

But it was the fate of Ashli Babbitt, a military veteran and QAnon conspiracy theory devotee, that crystallized to what lengths some would go on behalf of Trump. On Twitter, Babbitt was in thrall to MAGA propagandists and Stop the Steal organizers such as Jack Posobiec — one of Alexander’s close friends and a prolific spreader of disinformation, including the Pizzagate sex trafficking conspiracy theory that in 2016 resulted in a pro-Trump gunman storming a restaurant in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 5, Posobiec tweeted a photo of a plane loaded with Trump supporters traveling to Washington and described them, seemingly in jest, as “domestic terrorists.” Babbitt retweeted the message. It was her penultimate act on a platform that helped radicalize her.

Police would later find pipe bombs outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee offices. They’d find Molotov cocktails in a nearby truck. National security experts declared the attack domestic terrorism. Seven people died in the mayhem or by suicide in the immediate aftermath, including three Capitol Police officers.

“I do not denounce this,” Alexander reiterated from his rooftop perch, impassively surveying the Capitol grounds in a video posted to Twitter by one of his associates and preserved by Kristen Doerer at Right Wing Watch.

On Twitter, Alexander had called violence a “natural right.” He was a prominent influencer on the platform, with almost 200,000 followers. “I am a sincere advocate for violence and war, when justified,” he tweeted in 2019. “I recognize no law above what is natural and good.” A militant Christianity has permeated his extremism; he has spoken often about being an agent of God.

Insomuch as he was a zealot, however, he was also out to make a buck. His Jan. 6 protest, which he’d dubbed the Wild Protest after Trump promoted his “March to Save America” event on Twitter ― “Be there, will be wild!” the president tweeted ― had brought in almost $200,000 in donations in just over two weeks. On his Stop the Steal site, Alexander hawked $45 T-shirts, $40 baseball caps and $75 yard signs. A bumper sticker cost $17.76. On merchandise site Gumroad, he sold self-designed “New Crusades” T-shirts for $55. Alexander hadn’t bothered to set up a business or a nonprofit, he admitted on his personal site, where he peddled a “persuasion” class for $198. Stop the Steal donations flowed initially into his personal accounts. In mid-November, his lawyer, Baron Coleman, who has also served as local counsel in Alabama for Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, registered a limited-liability company, or LLC. One of Alexander’s partners set up a political action committee.

To radical Republicans, he was worth it. Alexander, 36, represented the possibility of a multiracial far-right coalition and put a diverse sheen on a movement founded on white supremacy. And he did it from within. A lifelong product of Republican politics and activism who’d radicalized in step with his party, Alexander embodied a turn toward outright fascism. His Stop the Steal movement was simply a Trumpified extension of decades of Republican efforts to invalidate Democratic votes, especially Black ones, with false accusations of “fraud.”

The day before the riot, Alexander bounded onto a stage in Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington to prepare protesters for “rebellion.” “Victory or death!” he cried, leading Trump supporters in a chant. Proud Boys and militia members were in the crowd. Some carried knives and clubs. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want or we are going to shut this country down!” Alexander shouted as a cold rain fell. “Our government should be afraid.”


Petty Crime, Conservative Politics

Ali Alexander was once Ali Abdul-Razaq Akbar. Alexander, who was born in Texas, claims his father was an exchange student from a “prominent family” in the United Arab Emirates who abandoned him and his Black mother when Alexander was a toddler. He says his mother raised him by herself in Fort Worth, where he went to Fossil Ridge High School. Even then, he was a conservative political junkie who liked to talk about the big sponsors he’d land who would take him to the “hieghts of the Hill” one day, as he wrote in 2005.

“Very early as a child, I sought power. I sought power and influence,” Alexander would later say.

After high school, however, he got into legal trouble. He briefly attended the University of North Texas but dropped out in 2006 and was arrested that year for stealing property. A month later, he was arrested again for debit card abuse. In 2007 and 2008, the charges resulted in felony convictions.

But the Republican Party took him in. Alexander recognized Twitter’s potential for political activism early on, creating his account less than a year after the platform launched. “I was like the first [of] four political operatives that joined Twitter, and we made sure there was mass adoption on the Republican side,” he later told Cernovich in a podcast. Alexander also had a knack for graphic design and web development. He started setting up right-wing blogs, including one that attacked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as an elitist trying to “marginalize traditional Americans.” On his personal blog, Alexander embraced a right-wing “birther” conspiracy that disputed Obama’s birthplace and racial identity. He wrote that Obama was an “African man (he is not Black!).”

March 6

 capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows was near the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Below is a separate photo by a suspect described in the story below.5,000 salary.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Says Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Had Contact Before Riot, Katie Benner, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, March 6, 2021 (print ed.). A leader of the far-right group separately said he had been in touch with Roger Stone, but an official said it was not the same contact investigators found.

A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.

The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack.

The same data has revealed no evidence of communications between the rioters and members of Congress during the deadly attack, the official said. That undercuts Democratic allegations that some Republican lawmakers were active participants that day.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomSeparately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told The New York Times on Friday that he called Roger J. Stone Jr., left, a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump’s, while at a protest in front of the home of Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. During the protest, which occurred in the days before the Capitol assault, he put Mr. Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering.

A law enforcement official said that it was not Mr. Tarrio’s communication with Mr. Stone that was being scrutinized, and that the call made in front of Mr. Rubio’s home was a different matter. That two members of the group were in communication with people associated with the White House underscores the access that violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys had to the White House and to people close to the former president.

Mr. Stone denied “any involvement or knowledge of the attack on the Capitol” in a statement last month to The Times.

Mr. Tarrio was arrested in Washington on Jan. 4 on charges of destruction of property for his role in the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner that had been torn from a historic Black church during a protest in Washington in December. He was asked to leave the city, and was not present when the Capitol was attacked. His case is pending.

The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys with crimes related to the attack, including conspiracy to obstruct the final certification of President Biden’s electoral victory and to attack law enforcement officers.

In court papers, federal prosecutors have said groups of Proud Boys also coordinated travel to Washington and shared lodging near the city, with the intent of disrupting Congress and advancing Mr. Trump’s efforts to unlawfully maintain his grip on the presidency.

The communication between the person associated with the White House and the member of the Proud Boys was discovered in part through data that the F.B.I. obtained from technology and telecommunications companies immediately after the assault.

Court documents show F.B.I. warrants for a list of all the phones associated with the cell towers serving the Capitol, and that it received information from the major cellphone carriers on the numbers called by everyone on the Capitol’s cell towers during the riot, three officials familiar with the investigation said.

The F.B.I. also obtained a “geofence” warrant for all the Android devices that Google recorded within the building during the assault, the officials said. A geofence warrant legally gives law enforcement a list of mobile devices that are able to be identified in a particular geographic area. Jill Sanborn, the head of counterterrorism at the F.B.I., testified before a Senate panel on Wednesday that all the data the F.B.I. had gathered in its investigation into the riot was obtained legally through subpoenas and search warrants.

Although investigators have found no contact between the rioters and members of Congress during the attack, those records have shown evidence in the days leading up to Jan. 6 of communications between far-right extremists and lawmakers who were planning to appear at the rally featuring Mr. Trump that occurred just before the assault, according to one of the officials.

The Justice Department is examining those communications, but it has not opened investigations into any members, the official said. A department spokesman declined to comment.

 

capitol mob-jacob-charnsley

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge scolds ‘QAnon Shaman’ for appearing on ‘60 Minutes Plus’ without permission, Emily Davies, March 6, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Chansley (shown above at center) to remain in jail pending trial as a judge considers his release. The judge said in a detention hearing that Chansley appeared in an interview without proper authorization.

A federal judge chided the self-identified “QAnon Shaman,” who was part of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, for appearing in a “60 Minutes Plus” interview without permission.

During a detention hearing Friday, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia questioned whether Jacob Chansley appeared in the interview that aired Thursday without the required clearance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the detention facility or the judge. The judge also questioned whether Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, was deceitful in skirting proper authorization to appear on the show.

In what was billed as Chansley’s first interview since his arrest, he said that his actions were “not an attack on this country” and that he does not regret being loyal to former president Donald Trump. Chansley became one of the most distinct individuals arrested in the riot, photographed flexing near the vice president’s chair in the Senate while shirtless and wearing a headdress and face paint.

Watkins said he did make “independent arrangements” with “60 Minutes Plus” but denied conducting “subterfuge.” He said he assumed his client would be allowed to be captured on camera from his office.

A decision about Chansley’s detention is still pending.

Chansley has been behind bars since he was arrested in his hometown of Phoenix on Jan 9. Chansley has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building among other federal felony charges. He is among more than 300 charged in the Capitol riots that resulted in five deaths.

In a previous interview with the Washington Post, he said he danced, sang and prayed in the Capitol, drumming on the floor with his pole to “reclaim our nation.” He also said he left a note for Vice President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall argued that Chansley is a danger to the community and should therefore remain jailed until trial. She said there was “ample evidence” that Chansley was carrying a spear while facing off with an officer inside the Senate chambers. She pointed to Chansley’s “60 Minutes Plus” interview as evidence of his still-standing belief “that the current government is not a legitimate government and that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.”

She argued that Chansley would not be capable of following conditions of release.

Watkins, meanwhile, painted his client as a nonviolent man misled and let down by Trump, whom he greatly admired. He highlighted Chansley’s lack of criminal history and said his client simply walked into the Capitol after police let him in. The judge and prosecutor pushed back.

“I am not belittling my client . . . but my client was wearing horns,” he said. “He had tattoos around his nipples. He wasn’t leading anywhere. He was a follower.”

Watkins also said that Chansley believes in ahimsa, a form of nonviolence toward living things, and denied that the flagpole he carried was a spear.

Chansley apologized last month for storming the Capitol, saying he regrets entering the building and that Trump “let a lot of peaceful people down.”

Chansley publicly requested — but did not receive — a pardon from Trump, an outcome with which he expressed disappointment in the “60 Minutes Plus” interview. At one point, Chansley had offered to testify against Trump during his impeachment trial.

On Friday, Watkins cast the absence of a pardon as a turning point for Chansley.

“My client went from that point to expressing deep disappointment in the former president,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impact of Capitol riot looms over efforts to overhaul policing in the District, Peter Hermann, March 6, 2021. The acting police chief says he needs a larger force to help combat new threat of domestic terrorism.

Amid months of protests for social justice, the D.C. Council moved quickly last year with emergency legislation to make sweeping overhauls to the police force, including cutting its budget and making it smaller.

Then came the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, when hundreds of D.C. officers rushed to help defend the building. Now the mayor’s pick for her new police leader says any further reimagining of the force must take into account what he calls a growing and persistent threat of domestic terrorism.

The coming weeks will be a pivotal moment for the future of law enforcement in the District as the city wrestles over that balance. Acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III says his department needs to grow, not shrink, to confront both rising crime and extremism.

Contee, who faces a confirmation hearing later this month from a Council that last year cut the police budget, forcing it to shed nearly 200 officers, said he must prepare for “a high probability for violent confrontations that will require a significant police response.”

Last year’s budget cuts brought the District’s police force down to about 3,650 officers, below a threshold officials once considered the bare minimum. Contee said he believes 4,000 officers — a number the mayor aspired to in 2019, when the department counted 3,850 officers — are needed “to get to where we need to be in light of the things we need to contend with now.” Similarly, the Capitol Police wants to increase its force and budget following its failure to properly mobilize ahead of the deadly riot.

But Contee could face pushback from members of the D.C. Council, a progressive group of lawmakers who want police to adapt a public health approach to combating crime that de-emphasizes arrests and redirects resources into programs that attack the root causes of criminal behavior.

Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee, said last year’s budget cuts — opposed at the time by the mayor — and other laws enacted to make police more transparent and accountable, could be just a start.

“That wasn’t a one-year budget, pat yourself on the back and call it a day,” said Allen, who will oversee hearings this month on the state of the police department and Contee’s confirmation. “We’re in the midst of a conversation on the nature of policing.”

Allen credited D.C. police with helping the overwhelmed Capitol police end the Jan. 6 riot, but he said, “I don’t think we need to be planning our force size based on an armed insurrection. We hope to never see such an event again.”

Contee will face Allen and other lawmakers at an oversight hearing on Thursday, where he is likely to field questions over rising homicides, the insurrection that involved 850 D.C. officers sent to the Capitol and his commitment to making further changes in the force to reflect new ideas born out of the protests that started with the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

That will be followed by the expected release of an independent audit of fatal shootings and a deadly use of force incidents by D.C. police, and then Contee’s confirmation hearing, where lawmakers will decided whether to make him the permanent chief.

March 5

Gray Zone, Commentary, Tulsi Gabbard calls out the US dirty war on Syria that Biden, aides admit to, Aaron Maté, March 5, 2021. As Tulsi Gabbard criticizes former Congressional colleagues for ignoring the ongoing US dirty war and sanctions on Syria, a look at the comments of Joe Biden and top aides show that they have admitted to the same underlying, horrific facts. Gabbard only stands apart — and is even vilified — for being willing to call it out.

tulsi gabbard debate stage gabe skidmore CustomWhile Joe Biden has faced some mild Congressional pushback for bombing the Iraq-Syria border, Tulsi Gabbard (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo at right) says her former colleagues are ignoring the larger issue: the ongoing US dirty war on Syria. After a decade of proxy warfare that empowered Al Qaeda and ISIS, the US is now occupying one-third of Syria and imposing crippling sanctions that are crushing Syria’s economy and preventing reconstruction.

While Gabbard has been vilified for her stance on Syria, many top White House officials — including Joe Biden himself — have already acknowledged the same facts that she has called out.

Aaron Maté plays clips of Biden and some of his most senior aides admitting to the horrific realities of the US dirty war on Syria, and argues that Gabbard only stands apart in being wiling to criticize it.

Featuring clips from: Tulsi Gabbard, former Democratic Congressmember; President Joe Biden; Brett McGurk, National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa; Martin Dempsey, former Joint Chiefs chairman; Rob Malley, Special Envoy for Iran; John Kerry, Special Envoy for Climate & former Secretary of State; former President Donald Trump; Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions; Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East; Vice President Kamala Harris.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Conference Agenda: The National-Security State and the Kennedy Assassination, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, March 5, 2021. jacob hornberger newAdmission: FREE. Register at conference website

The national-security establishment’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy was one of the pivotal events in our lifetime, and it continues to have an adverse impact on American life today. This conference will be oriented toward people who are not well-versed in the assassination and who wish to gain a deeper understanding of it.

The conference will present an easy-to-understand introduction to what happened and why. Consider it a primer on the Kennedy assassination. Attendees will learn about President Kennedy’s foreign policy and how it was so different from that of both his predecessors and successors — and why the Pentagon and the CIA considered it to be such a grave threat to future of freedom foundation logo squarenational security. Attendees will also learn about the fraudulent nature of the autopsy that the national-security establishment performed on the president’s body on the evening of the assassination and how it leads to an understanding of the assassination itself.

The conference will consist of a weekly series of online presentations by various speakers, beginning Wednesday evening, March 3, and continue every Wednesday evening through April 21. By the time it is over, participants will have a good grasp of what happened on that fateful day in November 1963 and why it is so critically important today.

Date Speaker(s) Time Topic

3/3/21 Jim DiEugenio 7:00 PM Eastern Time President Kennedy and the Third World
3/10/21 Mike Swanson 7:00 PM Eastern Time JFK, the Vietnam War, and the War State
3/17/21 John Newman 7:00 PM Eastern Time JFK and the Cold War: Deception, Treachery, and the Struggle for Power
douglas horne 20213/24/21 Jefferson Morley 7:00 PM Eastern Time Morley v. the CIA [Part 1]
3/31/21 Jefferson Morley 7:00 PM Eastern Time Morley v. the CIA [Part 2]
4/7/21 Douglas Horne (right) 7:00 PM Eastern Time The JFK Medical Coverup
4/14/21 Douglas Horne 7:00 PM Eastern Time JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment
4/21/21 Jacob Hornberger 7:00 PM Eastern Time Regime Change: The JFK Assassination

U.S. Capitol Riots, Insurrection

 capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows was near the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Below is a separate photo by a suspect described in the story below.

federico klein fbi poster

washington post logoWashington Post, State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, beat police with a riot shield, FBI says, Katie Shepherd, March 5, 2021. The FBI arrested Trump appointee Federico G. Klein, a former State Department aide, on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the agency said.

FBI logoOn Thursday, the FBI arrested a political appointee of former president Donald Trump on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint, marking the first member of the administration arrested in connection with the insurrection.

Federal agents arrested Federico G. Klein, 42, a former State Department aide, on multiple felony charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to a criminal complaint published by the New York Times. (Politico first reported the arrest.) The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.

Klein (shown above circled and also at left), who is also a former Trump campaign employee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early federico klein been cansFriday. It is unclear if he has hired a lawyer.

Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6 when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.

At one point, Klein was caught on video shouting for more insurrectionists to come to the front lines, where officers were struggling to hold back the mob.

“We need fresh people, need fresh people,” he said, according to the complaint.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoKlein’s arrest is the most direct link yet between the Trump administration and the rioters, despite attempts by some conservatives to dissociate the insurrection from the former president. Many of the 300-plus people who have been charged in connection with the insurrection have described themselves as Trump supporters, while some have ties to extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

Klein had a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019, the FBI said.

A LinkedIn profile the FBI identified as Klein’s also lists a top-secret security clearance and shows that Klein has been politically active in the Republican Party since at least 2008, when he began volunteering for political campaigns. Before joining the State Department in 2017, Klein worked for the Trump campaign, which paid him a $15,000 salary.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Eric Swalwell sues Trump over Jan. 6 riot, alleging he poses risk of ‘inciting future political violence,’ Spencer S. Hsu, March 5, 2021. A House impeachment manager and intelligence subcommittee chairman filed a federal lawsuit Friday against former president Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claiming they should be held liable for injuries and destruction caused by their incitement of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), right, who also sits on the judiciary and homeland security committees, alleged Trump and his fellow speakers at a rally near the White House that day were directly responsible for mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands of pro-Trump supporters to march on the Capitol and priming them for violence.

Trump’s actions before and during the assault — in which at least 800 people broke into the Capitol, attacked police and delayed Congress’s confirmation of the presidential election results — “made clear he poses a risk of inciting future political violence,” the complaint alleged.

Read the lawsuit here

“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” the 65-page suit asserted. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former president Trump’s orders in service of their country.”

The lawsuit claims the four speakers violated the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring to violently interfere in Congress’s constitutional duties and failing to act to stop the mob. It also accuses them of multiple counts of negligence under both federal and D.C. law, aiding and abetting, and infliction of emotional distress.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement, “Eric Swalwell is a low-life with no credibility.” Miller then repeated allegations in an Axios report from December that an alleged Chinese spy, Christine Fang, cozied up to Swalwell from 2012 to 2015 before he was briefed by U.S. intelligence officials about their concerns and cut off ties. Miller said “after failing miserably with two impeachment hoaxes,” Swalwell is engaging on witch hunt on behalf of the Chinese.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: Miller's claim makes innuendoes from little or no evidence of any improper behavior by Swalwell, who posed in a routine photo with a Chinese-American student leader from a college in his district who had invited him to speak. She later volunteered for one of his campaigns and returned to her native China, with Republicans floating claims of inappropriate conduct.

The suit is the latest claim against Trump and top allies to assert they had a role in the storming of the Capitol through their actions that day and weeks of baseless allegations that November’s presidential election was stolen from him.

House Homeland Security chairman sues Trump and Giuliani, accusing them of inciting Capitol riot

The NAACP last month sued Trump, Giuliani and two extremist groups whose members have been accused of leading the violence at the Capitol — the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers — on behalf of Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.). Guiliani, Trump’s campaign and others also face defamation claims related to their groundless post-election criticism of a former U.S. election cyber security official and vote counting machine maker.

Thursday’s lawsuit paints a fuller picture of Trump’s actions before and after the event, drawing on the House impeachment manager’s case against the former president, suing under a wider theory of negligence. The suit does not focus on extremists who planned for violence but the “many more [who] were there for a political rally” before the defendants and others alleged “whipp[ed] them into a frenzy and turn[ed] them into a violent mob that participated in the attack.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The secretive Capitol Police Board is poised for an overhaul, if not elimination, after the Jan. 6 riot, Carl Hulse, March 5, 2021. The congressional inquiry into the security failures surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol assault has barely begun, but one outcome already seems certain: The Capitol Police Board, the secretive three-member panel that oversees protection of the complex where Congress meets, is headed for major changes, if not outright elimination.

Lawmakers of both parties in the House and the Senate, some previously unfamiliar with the sweeping authority of the board, have expressed astonishment at its lack of accountability and its inability to rapidly respond to the riot at the Capitol.

“It seems nonfunctioning to me,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, which controls money for Capitol security. “Nobody is in charge. When something goes wrong, no one has the ultimate responsibility.”

yogananda pittmanNew tension over the board’s power emerged on Thursday as Yogananda D. Pittman, right, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, appealed to House and Senate leaders to intercede to persuade the panel to grant her department’s emergency request to extend the deployment of National Guard troops at the Capitol. After her letter to the leaders became public, the board gave its approval. But the episode was reminiscent of events in the run-up to Jan. 6, when the panel rebuffed a request from the Capitol Police for National Guard reinforcements to counter a threat that had been identified by intelligence, with disastrous consequences.

Like many things on Capitol Hill, the board is a remnant of the past that has survived in large part because it suits those who hold power in Congress. A long line of House and Senate leaders in both parties have favored its existence because they handpick two of its three voting members, giving them tremendous influence over security operations with little public scrutiny.

At House and Senate hearings in recent days, lawmakers have been struck by the fact that two days before the attack, members of the board dismissed the Capitol Police request for troops to be on hand on Jan. 6. They acted with no vote, little discussion or consultation with other authorities, and no involvement by the architect of the Capitol. Then on the day of the riot, board members struggled to connect and agree to declare an emergency so that roy blunt official Smalltroops who were standing by to assist could be summoned to the Capitol.

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, left, the senior Republican on the Rules Committee, said the assault underscored longstanding problems with the police board that necessitate major changes.

“I don’t think it works well in the best of circumstances and I think it’s almost totally unworkable in crisis, and Jan. 6 was a great example of that,” Mr. Blunt said.

March 4

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. Guard chief says ‘unusual’ restrictions slowed deployment of backup during Capitol riot, Paul Sonne, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, March 4, 2021 (print ed.). The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard told lawmakers Wednesday how restrictions the Pentagon placed on him in the run-up to the Capitol riot prevented him from more quickly sending forces to help quell the violence.

william walker resized proofMaj. Gen. William J. Walker, right, said he did not receive approval to change the D.C. Guard’s mission and send his forces to the Capitol on Jan. 6 until three hours and 19 minutes after he first received an emotional call from the Capitol Police chief requesting urgent backup.

Walker described the Pentagon’s restrictions as “unusual,” noting that he did not have such limitations last summer, when the D.C. Guard was tasked with responding to local racial-justice protests after the killing of George Floyd.

Walker, who previously detailed the restrictions placed on him ahead of Jan. 6 in an interview with The Washington Post, told lawmakers that had he not been operating under those limitations, he could have sent about 150 soldiers to the Capitol hours earlier — and got them there within 20 minutes of being asked.

“I believe that number could have made a difference,” Walker said during Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate’s Rules Committee and its Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We could have helped extend the perimeter and helped push back the crowd.”

In addition to Walker, city officials and Capitol Police leaders have asserted that they were frustrated by a slow Defense Department response as the Capitol was breached. Defense officials have countered that the city requested only minimal assistance from the Guard in the run-up to the Jan. 6 riot event and tried to limit the military presence in the city, while the Capitol Police requested no military assistance ahead of the event, even though the Pentagon specifically asked whether it was necessary.

Robert G. Salesses, the Pentagon’s acting assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, testified that defense officials’ tight control over the response to the Capitol — and reluctance to issue quick approvals — was shaped by controversy they faced in responding to civil unrest surrounding racial-justice protests last year.

“There was a lot of things that happened in the spring that the department was criticized for,” he said.

Much of the hearing focused on how long it took the Pentagon to give the members of the D.C. Guard who were already deployed that day a new mission and send them to the Capitol.

Though the acting defense secretary called up the full D.C. Guard shortly after 3 p.m. in response to the riot, he did not give the members of the D.C. Guard who were already deployed that day a new mission and send them to the Capitol until 4:32 p.m., Salesses said. He acknowledged, however, that the D.C. Guard did not receive that change in assignment until 5:08 p.m., more than half an hour later.

roy blunt official Small“How is that possible?” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), right, asked incredulously, noting the time gap.

“I think that’s an issue,” Salesses said, offering no explanation.

The Guard arrived at the premises at 5:20 p.m.

The absence of Pentagon officials responsible for making decisions on Jan. 6 at Wednesday’s hearing irritated committee members, including some who expressed concern that the Department of Defense sent Salesses to testify even though he was not one of the key decision-makers that day.

 william walker resized proof

Proof via Substack, Commentary: Annotated Testimony of William J. Walker (shown above), Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, Seth Abramson, left, March 3, 2021. Before the Senate Homeland seth abramson headshotSecurity and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration Committees, opening statement—focused on the January 6 insurrection.

I was sickened by the violence and destruction I witnessed that fateful day and the physical and mental harm that came to the U.S. Capitol Police officers and MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.], some of whom I met with later that evening and I could see the injuries they sustained. It is my hope that my recollection of events and presentation of the facts as I know them will help your Committees in its investigation and prevent such tragic events from ever occurring again.

seth abramson proof logoFirst, I think it is critical to understand what the D.C. National Guard’s mission was on January 6, to include what civilian agency we were supporting and how requests for support of other civilian authorities were handled.

On December 31, 2020, the D.C. National Guard [PROOF annotation: later “DCNG”] received written requests from District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and her Director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Dr. Christopher Rodriguez. The requests sought D.C. National Guard support for traffic control and crowd management for planned demonstrations in DC from January 5 through [January] 6.

After conducting mission analysis to support the District request, I sent a letter to then Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, dated January 1, requesting approval. I received approval in a letter dated January 5 from Secretary McCarthy granting support of the MPD with 340 total personnel to include 40 personnel assigned to a Quick Reaction Force.

{PROOF annotation: Note that it took four days before Trump’s Pentagon to respond to the Democratic leadership of D.C., meaning that the District got “approval” for National Guard assistance on one of the very two days it had urgently asked for help on—January 5. Not only did this approval come too late for January 5 aid, it left under 24 hours for aid for January 6 to be readied.}

The DCNG provides support to MPD, the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Secret Service and other District and federal law enforcement agencies in response to planned rallies, marches, protests and other large scale first amendment activity on a routine basis.

A standard component of such support is the stand up of an offsite Quick Reaction Force (QRF), an element of guardsmen held in reserve equipped with civil disturbance response equipment (helmets, shields, batons, etc.) and postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civilian authorities. The Secretary of the Army’s Jan. 5th letter withheld authority for me to employ the Quick Reaction Force....

{PROOF annotation: It is now clear that when Capitol Police issued an urgent request for help on January 6, there was absolutely no chance help would be forthcoming in any timely fashion—not because of delays on January 6, though there were many—but primarily because of the actions Trump’s Pentagon had taken prior to January 6 in taking so long to respond to Democratic officials in the District and then denying them the sort of aid those officials had every reason to expect. Media’s exclusive focus on January 6 itself continues to be misplaced; so much of what happened on January 6 was inevitable based on what had happened prior to January 6. In particular, the fact that Trump had installed loyalists Kash Patel and Ezra-Cohen Watnick immediately after learning he’d lost the November 2020 election, and that these two men were essentially controlling Trump defense secretary Chris Miller in the days before the insurrection, according to Vanity Fair, have produced a significant concern that Trump and his agents coordinated the Pentagon’s refusal of Democratic officials’ urgent pleas both before and during the insurrection.}

steve sund recroppedImmediately after the 1:49PM call with Chief [Steven] Sund (right), I alerted the Army Senior Leadership of the request. The approval for Chief Sund’s request would eventually come from the Acting Secretary of Defense and be relayed to me by Army Senior Leaders at 5:08PM—3 hours and 19 minutes later. We already had Guardsmen on buses ready to move to the Capitol. Consequently, at 5:20PM—in under 20 minutes—the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol. We helped to re-establish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the Joint Session of Congress.

{PROOF annotation: This is stunning. Commander Walker is saying that had he received approval from the Pentagon at 1:49PM on January 6, he could have had Guardsmen at the Capitol by somewhere between 2:05PM and 2:08PM—in time to quell the worst of the insurrection—but instead he heard nothing from Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, the Trump Pentagon power center, until 5:08PM. Meanwhile, the boss of Mssrs. Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, was gleefully watching events from the White House and refusing to contact his men at the Pentagon. There is no chance that Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick would have missed the clear signal from (at the very least) Trump’s silence, if not some White House communication we don’t yet know about: don’t do anything until I tell you. By the time the Pentagon acted, Trump had issued public statements about wanting the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol grounds. It was only then that his men at the Pentagon responded to the urgent pleas for aid from the Capitol.}

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).

seth abramson headshotProof via Substack, Subject: Adventures in Metajournalism Commentary, Seth Abramson, left, March 4, 2021 (podcast, Episode 2, 59 mins.). The most significant event in the insurrection timeline besides the assault on the U.S. Capitol—a January 5 “war council” at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel—remains almost entirely uncovered by the major media, despite three eyewitnesses confirming the secretive meeting and its attendees.

More On U.S. Capitol Riot, Insurrection

 capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows was near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

dana milbank Customwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Did the Pentagon wait for Trump’s approval before defending the Capitol? Dana Milbank, March 4, 2021 (print ed.). Three hours and 19 minutes.

That’s how long it took from the first, desperate pleas for help from the Capitol Police to the Trump Pentagon on Jan. 6 until the D.C. National Guard finally received permission to help put down the bloody insurrection.

During those 199 minutes, the mob sacked the Capitol. People died. Overwhelmed Capitol and D.C. police were beaten. Lawmakers’ lives were jeopardized. And violent extremists defiled the seat of government, temporarily halting the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

“At 1:49 p.m., I received a frantic call from then-chief of United States Capitol Police, Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter of the United States Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters,” Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commander of the D.C. Guard, testified Wednesday to a joint Senate committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. “Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency at the Capitol, and he requested the immediate assistance of as many available national guardsmen that I could muster.”

Walker immediately alerted senior Army leadership — and then waited. And waited. Approval to mobilize the guard wouldn’t be received until 5:08 p.m.

Department of Defense SealAt best, this was a catastrophic failure of government. At worst, political appointees and Trump loyalists at the Defense Department deliberately prevented the National Guard from defending the Capitol against a seditious mob.

The man ultimately responsible for the delay, Christopher Miller, left, had been a White House aide before Donald Trump installed him as acting defense secretary in christopher miller official.jpgNovember, as the president began his attempt to overturn his election defeat. Miller did Trump’s political bidding at another point during his 10-week tenure, forcing the National Security Agency to install a Republican political operative as chief counsel.

Also involved in the Pentagon delay was Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, brother of disgraced former Trump adviser Michael Flynn, convicted (and pardoned) for lying to the FBI. Michael Flynn had suggested Trump declare martial law, and he helped to rile Trump supporters in Washington the day before the Capitol attack. The Pentagon had falsely denied to Post journalists that Charles Flynn was involved in the pivotal call on Jan. 6.

Representing the Pentagon on Wednesday fell to Robert Salesses, who haplessly tried to explain the delay. An hour and six minutes of the holdup was because then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy “was asking a lot of questions” about the mission. Another piece of the delay: The 36 minutes between when the Pentagon claims Miller authorized the action and when the D.C. Guard was informed of the decision. “That’s an issue,” Salesses allowed.

Curiously, the Pentagon claims Miller’s authorization came at 4:32 — 15 minutes after Trump told his “very special” insurrectionists to “go home in peace.” Was Miller waiting for Trump’s blessing before defending the Capitol?

The Pentagon’s 199-minute delay looks worse in light of a Jan. 4 memo Miller issued saying that without his “personal authorization” the D.C. Guard couldn’t “be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.”

The Army secretary added more restrictions the next day, saying in a memo that he would “withhold authority” for the D.C. Guard to deploy a “quick reaction force” and that he would “require a concept of operation” before allowing a quick reaction force to react. McCarthy even blocked the D.C. Guard in advance from redeploying to the Capitol guardsmen assigned to help the D.C. police elsewhere in Washington.

Without such restrictions, Walker, the D.C. Guard commander, could have dispatched nearly 200 guardsmen soon after the Capitol Police mayday call. “That number could have made a difference,” Walker testified.

robert portmanSen. Rob Portman, left, an Ohio Republican, was incredulous. “There are three unarmed national guardsmen who are helping with traffic control … and they were not permitted to move a block away without getting permission from the secretary of the Army?”

“That’s correct,” Walker replied.

Miller “required the personal approval of the secretary of defense for the National Guard to be issued riot gear?” Portman asked.

“That’s correct,” Walker replied. “Normally for a safety and force-protection matter, a commander would be able to authorize his guardsmen to protect themselves.”

But this was not normal. The Pentagon claims the restrictions were in response to criticism of the heavy-handed deployment of the National Guard in Washington during racial justice protests last summer. Maybe so. But Walker testified that when the police chiefs “passionately pleaded” for the Guard’s help on Jan. 6, senior Army officials on the call said it wouldn’t be “a good optic.” They thought “it could incite the crowd” and advised against it.

During this moment of crisis — an attempted coup in the Capitol — the defense secretary and the Army secretary were “not available,” Walker testified.

The nation deserves to know why.

washington post logoWashington Post, At the Capitol, a March 4 threat from militant Trump supporters proves a mirage, Katie Mettler, Emily Davies and John Woodrow Cox, March 4, 2021. Trump’s most delusional supporters swore he would return to power today. That, of course, didn’t happen

National Guard members armed with M4 rifles braced for rebellion that never came. Razor wire lined miles of steel fencing that went unbreached. Trump remained in Florida, where it was 70 degrees and sunny.

Capitol Police say intelligence shows militia group may be plotting to breach the Capitol

The angst stemmed from another misguided belief within QAnon, the extremist ideology that claims Trump has been working in secret to overthrow a cabal of blood-drinking, Satan-worshipping Democratic pedophiles. After repeated unfulfilled prophecies, the group’s supporters declared in recent weeks that Trump would retake office on March 4, the country’s original Inauguration Day.

  • Washington Post, Retropolis: Why did QAnon zero in on March 4 for Trump’s comeback? March 4, 2021.

ethan nordean WSJ

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge releases Proud Boys leader after prosecutors withdraw several allegations, Spencer S. Hsu, March 4, 2021. The government has cast the Washington state Proud Boys leader as a key figure in the Jan. 6 breach.

A federal judge on Wednesday released a Washington state leader of the Proud Boys from jail pending trial, chiding prosecutors for withdrawing some of the more sensational allegations against him in the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington upheld a lower court’s Feb. 8 release order for Ethan Nordean (shown above), 30, of Seattle. She found that although Nordean appeared to be a key leader in raising money, gear and assembling Proud Boys to Washington before leading them to breach police lines in a “1776”-style revolt against the presidential election results, the government had not supplied evidence to date that he directly ordered individuals to break into the Capitol.

Nordean “was a leader of a march to the Capitol. But once he got there it is not clear what leadership role this individual took at all for the people who went inside,” Howell said. “Evidence that he directed other defendants to break into or enter the Capitol is weak, to say the least.”

Nordean’s release marked a stumble for prosecutors, who have cast him as a key figure based on what Howell agreed were “ominous” communications before Jan. 6 that they said indicated he and other Proud Boys were planning “violent action” to overwhelm police and force entry to the Capitol. The judge’s decision sets back for now the government’s efforts to establish that there was a wider plot to that end.

Howell ruled after a hearing in which prosecutors said they stood by their claim that Nordean led Proud Boys members in a plan to break into the Capitol from as many different points as possible, but withdrew it from the detention argument because it was disputed.

  •  Washington Post, Opinion: Did the Pentagon wait for Trump’s approval before defending the Capitol? March 4, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Mike Pence’s remarkable op-ed highlights the GOP’s choice on voting rights — and where it will probably land, Aaron Blake, March 4, 2021 (print ed.). In an mike pence oop-ed for the Daily Signal, Pence details his opposition to a voting rights bill spearheaded by House Democrats. He begins, “After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”

It’s a remarkable entry from Pence, given how disinformation about the election jeopardized his own safety. It’s also emblematic of the GOP’s pivot from Trump’s effort to question the election results, which divided the party in some high-profile ways, to a post-election effort to increase voting restrictions, which seems to be something that more of the Republicans can agree upon.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The big March 4th dud, Bill Palmer, right, March 4, 2021. It’s March 4th. Has Trump magically been installed as president, as his QAnon goons predicted? Have his goons bill palmertaken over the government? No, because they’re the kind of cowards who run and hide when faced with superior force, which is what they would have been facing today if they’d tried anything – just as nothing happened on Inauguration day, because the proper troops were in place. If proper troops had been in place, January 6th wouldn’t have happened either.

bill palmer report logo headerThe above is super easy to understand. Even the average kindergartner understands that it’s only worth trying to sneak into the toy box if the teacher isn’t looking. But that’s the easy part. The harder questions are precisely how to put superior forces in place, how long to leave them there, how to strike a balance between vigilance and freedom when it comes to having troops deployed in Washington DC, and so on.

But it’s more important than ever to keep in mind that these would-be insurrectionists aren’t evil geniuses. They don’t have a magic wand for doing whatever they want to us, whenever they want. They’re inept cowards who got lucky once due to inside help, and still managed to accomplish zero percent of their stated agenda on that day. We will not be held hostage by these bottom feeding idiots, their conspiracy theories, and their largely toothless threats.

Law&Crime, Defendant Flips Out in Federal Court, Says ‘It’s Not Fair’ He’s Been Locked Up ‘For a Whole Month’ After Putting His Feet on Desk in Pelosi’s Office, Aaron Keller, March 4, lawcrime logo2021. A defendant facing charges after allegedly carrying a stun gun while kicking his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office melted like a snowflake Thursday before a federal judge.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, a self-described “white nationalist” who posted on Facebook under the name “George Reincarnated Patton,” once said that he “[c]ame into this world kicking and screaming, covered in someone else’s blood” and was “not afraid to go out the same way.”

Barnett turned himself in to authorities after images of his activities spread widely both during and after the deadly riots.

Court documents say Barnett subsequently bragged about his exploits in Pelosi’s office.“I got blood on her office,” he is quoted as saying. “I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t fucking worth it. And I left her a note on her desk that says ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you Bitch.'”

Barnett said he left the quarter after taking an envelope because he was not a thief. Such exploits should not, in his view, keep him behind bars pending trial. He belligerently said Thursday that “its not fair” that others were being released from custody on bail while he remains locked up.

He referred to the proceedings and the decision to keep him detained as “a bunch of crap.”

“Everyone else who did things much worse are already home,” he exclaimed.

The judge, not wanting to further listen to the outbursts, called a five-minute recess. When court resumed, Barnett’s attorneys said they were planning to file a new bond motion; the judge ended the hearing.

According the court docket, Judge Christopher R. Cooper set a new status conference the case for May 4th at 11:00 a.m. “The Court finds it in the interest of justice to toll the speedy trial clock from 3/4/2021 through 5/4/2021,” the docket continues. In other words, Barnett’s outburst, either directly or indirectly, resulted in his trial being pushed back two months — and he remain in custody, the docket says.

washington post logoWashington Post, House scraps plans for Thursday session after security officials warn of possible plot to breach Capitol, Jacqueline Alemany, March 4, 2021 (print ed.). Security detail for House impeachment managers extended through the week. The House scrapped plans for a Thursday session and moved up action on legislation to Wednesday night, when it will hold its last votes for the week. The Senate plans to be in session Thursday, with a handful of committees scheduled to meet.

The security detail assigned to the House’s Democratic impeachment managers has been extended through this week, according to two officials familiar with the assignments. The detail may last until next week, depending on the guidance from the sergeant-at-arms, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security for lawmakers.

The extended protection comes as security officials warned of credible threats of violence circulated by right-wing extremists claiming that March 4 will be the “true Inauguration Day” for former president Donald Trump. Some congressional offices are asking staffers to stay home for the day after Capitol security officials warned of a possible plot by an unnamed militant group to breach the Capitol. Three offices have confirmed to The Washington Post that they will give staffers the option of working virtually or encourage them to work from home.

The Democratic managers argued the case against Trump last month on the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, an assault that resulted in the death of a Capitol Police officer and four other people. The Senate acquitted Trump.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Destroying a subversive terrorist organization -- the RepubliQan Party, Wayne Madsen (left, commentator, author of 18 books and former Navy intelligence officer), March wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small4, 2021. Today, the Congress [House] stands adjourned due to a far-right terrorist threat. The elected representatives of the American people are unable to act on important pandemic and voting rights measures due to a Qanon-inspired threat to repeat the actions of January 6.

Due to crackpot theories spread by Qanon and other far-right groups, March 4 has been declared the date on which Donald Trump will be inaugurated for a second presidential term.

republican elephant logoThere is only one way to halt the perpetuation of threats on Congress and federal and state government. For the first time since the end of World War II, the German government has declared its main opposition political party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) under legal surveillance for the party's promotion of neo-Nazi causes. Donald Trump political adviser Steve Bannon has a close relationship with AfD leader Jörg Meuthen.

Based on the RepubliQan Party now being no different than Qanon, neo-Nazi groups, and the Ku Klux Klan, the Biden administration should follow the example of Germany and place the Republican Party, its elected members, and the party leadership, including the Trump family, under court-authorized surveillance and asset freezes for constituting major threats to the U.S. Constitution and national security.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out the insurrectionist members of Congress may be seeing their worst fears come true after all, Bill Palmer, right, March 4, 2021. During congressional hearings bill palmerthis week, a couple of Republican Senators made a point of grilling FBI Director Chris Wray on what evidence had been collected of cellphone communications in relation to the January 6th Capitol attack. It couldn’t have been more obvious that they were fishing to see if the FBI had evidence linking them to the Capitol attackers.

bill palmer report logo headerNow it sounds like their worst fears may indeed be real. CNN is reporting that the Feds are investigating “communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the US Capitol,” in an attempt at determining whether members of Congress aided the attackers with the information they provided. No members of Congress have been specifically named, and we’ll have to let the investigation play out. But it sounds like some members of Congress really need to be worried right about now.

Interestingly, the overly defensive Senators who grilled Wray this week seem to have given away a key angle that they’ll use for mounting a political and criminal defense if they do end up getting charged: they’ll argue that the cellphone records were obtained illegally. In other words, they’ll try to blame their own domestic terrorism on the “deep state.”

Future of Freedom Foundation, Kennedy’s Policy Toward Third World Nations, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, March 4, 2021. Last night, we had the first presentation in jacob hornberger newour online conference “The National Security State and the Kennedy Assassination.” Our first speaker was James DiEugenio, below at left, who has been the leading figure in the JFK assassination research community highlighting how President Kennedy’s policy toward independence movements in Third World countries was contrary to the policy held by the U.S. national-security establishment, namely the Pentagon and the CIA.

After World War II, the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state. This was when the U.S. government, future of freedom foundation logo squarespecifically the CIA, acquired the powers of assassination and regime change.

The justification for this monumental change in America’s governmental structure, which was accomplished without a constitutional amendment, was a supposed grave threat to the United States from a supposed international communist conspiracy to take over the world that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia.

Americans barely had time to celebrate their victory in World War II when they began to be told that they were now facing an even more dangerous enemy than Nazi Germany. That enemy was the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), which, ironically, had been America’s partner and ally in World War II.

Public officials, from the president down to the local public school teacher, inculcated Americans with a deep fear of communism and communists. Everyone was told that the communists were coming to get us. And supposedly the Reds were everywhere. The State Department. Congress. The army. Hollywood. The public schools. Some people even claimed that President Eisenhower was a communist agent. And by 1959, they were only 90 miles away from American shores, in Cuba.

jim dieugenio PhotoIt is impossible to overstate the deep fear of communism and communists that was inculcated into the American people. This is why so few people objected when U.S. officials intervened in Korea’s and Vietnam’s civil wars. The notion was that if we don’t stop the Reds there, it won’t be long before they are on American shores.

As Jim (shown at left) pointed out in his talk last night, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were independence movements in Third World nations that were trying to cast off the shackles of colonial rule by such imperialist powers as Great Britain, France, and Belgium. Colonial rule, more often than not, had turned out to be brutal for the people living in those nations. They had had enough and were now agitating and fighting for independence.

Taking the position that these independence movements were communist-inspired, the Pentagon and the CIA sided with the colonial powers. Pentagon and CIA officials supported their efforts to brutally put down these revolts to ensure that these Third World nations remained as part of the “free world.”

While he was a U.S. Senator and before he was running for president, Kennedy took an opposite position. He came out publicly in favor of these independent movements, arguing that the United States should be siding with the rebels rather than with the imperial powers.

As Jim related in his talk, knowing that Kennedy sympathized with Congo leader Patrice Lumumba and his independence movement, the CIA decided to act fast, before Kennedy could interfere with its plans to rid the world of Lumumba through assassination. The CIA succeeded in its goal. Lumumba, who was an innocent man, was assassinated just a few days before Kennedy assumed the presidency. The CIA then waited three weeks to inform Kennedy that Lumumba was dead. As Jim pointed out, Kennedy’s anguish upon learning of Lumumba’s death through a telephone call was captured by a photographer. You can see Kennedy’s reaction to Lumumba’s death here.

Thus, in the eyes of the national-security establishment, which had already been opposing the supposed international communist threat for some 20 years, Kennedy was beginning his presidency in a very auspicious way, given his support for what the Pentagon and the CIA were certain was a grave threat to U.S. national security. As we will see as their conference proceeds, things would only go from bad to worse as Kennedy term in office proceeded.

Over the years, people have sometimes asked me what the relevance is of the JFK assassination given the long passage of time since it occurred. The relevance is this: It’s a straight line from that assassination to what we are living under today — a system of state-sponsored assassinations, including against American citizens, anti-democratic coups, installation of dictatorial regimes, alliances with dictatorial regimes, support of dictatorial regimes, wars of aggression, perpetual wars, the war on terrorism (and Muslims and communists), fear of Russia, fear of China, denial of due process, torture, indefinite detention, prosecution of people who reveal the dark-side secrets of the deep state, and much more. Understanding the who and the why of the Kennedy assassination enables one to gain a deeper understanding of the way of life we live under today — and what we need to do to extricate ourselves and our nation from this deadly, destructive, and immoral morass.

The Q&A after Jim’s talk was lively. We started the evening at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. When we finally wrapped up, it was 9:30 pm. And there were still lots of questions from the audience pending.

We recorded the talk and it will be on our website shortly. If you missed it, I recommend watching it before the next talk by Mike Swanson about the origins of the war state and the Vietnam War. Mike’s talk will be Wednesday, March 10. at 7 pm Eastern. Register at our conference website. Registration is free.

March 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Investigating Trump Focus on His Finance Chief, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman, March 1, 2021. State prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating former President Donald J. Trump and his family business are sharpening their focus on the company’s long-serving chief financial officer, asking witnesses questions about his dealings at the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

allen weisselberg croppedThe increased focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, right, could step up pressure on him to cooperate with the investigation if the prosecutors unearth evidence of wrongdoing on his part. He has served as the Trump Organization’s financial gatekeeper for more than two decades and could be a vital source of information for the government about the inner workings of the company.

In recent weeks, the prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have been interviewing witnesses who know Mr. Weisselberg and have asked at least one witness about Mr. Weisselberg’s sons, Barry and Jack Weisselberg, according to two of the people with knowledge of the matter.

Barry Weisselberg has been the property manager of Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park, and Jack works at Ladder Capital, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest lenders.

The district attorney’s office has not accused Mr. Weisselberg or his sons of any wrongdoing, and there is no indication that the sons are a focus of the investigation.

If the prosecutors were to secure Allen Weisselberg’s cooperation, it might provide a significant boost to the long-running investigation and deliver a blow to Mr. Trump, who has long depended on Mr. Weisselberg’s unflinching loyalty.

 djt cpac 2021 cspan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

February

Feb. 24

couy griffin facebook

In a now-deleted Facebook post, New Mexico county official Couy Griffin, above, predicted of Inauguration Day at the Capitol, “blood will run out of the building.”

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI alert on possible ‘war’ on Congress reached police on eve of attack, deepening questions, Beth Reinhard and Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.).  A joint hearing by two Senate committees spotlighted the stark warnings issued before the Jan. 6 riot.

Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 5, less than 24 hours before an angry mob overran the U.S. Capitol, an FBI bulletin warning that extremists were calling for violent attacks on Congress landed in an email inbox used by the D.C. police department. That same evening, a member of the Capitol Police received the same memo.

FBI logoBut the alert was not flagged for top officials at either agency, according to congressional testimony Tuesday — deepening questions about the breakdowns that contributed to massive security failures on Jan. 6.

steve sund recroppedBoth acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III and former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, left, said the intelligence community at large failed to detect key information about the intentions of the attackers and adequately communicate what was known in the run-up to the Capitol riot.

“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” Contee told lawmakers.

Sund cast the Capitol Police as a “consumer” of intelligence from 18 federal agencies.

“If they were finding efforts that this was a coordinated attack, that had been coordinated among numerous states for some time in advance of this, that’s the information that would have been extremely helpful to us,” Sund said, adding, “That type of information could have given us sufficient, advance warning to prep, plan for an attack such as what we saw.”

But Tuesday’s joint hearing by two Senate committees also spotlighted the stark warnings that were issued before Congress met in a joint session to formalize President Biden’s victory.

 

More On Trump Mob Capitol Riot

 

Former Trump 2016 Campaign CEO and White House advisor Steve Bannon after his arrest last August 21 on a fugitive Chinese billionaire's yacht, portrayed in the background.

Former Trump 2016 Campaign CEO and White House advisor Steve Bannon after his arrest last August 21 on a fugitive Chinese billionaire's yacht, portrayed in the background. President Trump pardoned Bannon from federal charges alleging that he profited from a scheme to bilk pro-Trump donors hoping to build a "Wall" at the U.S.-Mexico border with private funds.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Key indicators that January 6 was an attempted coup d'etat, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 18 books, former Navy intelligence officer and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallNSA analyst), Feb. 24,2021. The history of modern political era coups and coup plots provides a great deal of insight in forming a conclusion that what occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was no mere "riot" or protest "gone wild."

wayne madesen report logoRecent disclosures in federal charging documents of insurrection participants and leaders, as well as the feeble attempt by the Capitol's three top law enforcement officials -- who either resigned or were fired after the melée -- to blame others for the lack of security all point to a coordinated operation involving the Trump White House, the political leadership of the Pentagon, far right extremist groups, and last, but not least, GOP Congressional insiders, including Senators and U.S. Representatives and their staffs.

It can also be ascertained what sort of post-constitutional government Donald Trump and his collaborators planned to form after eliminating the legislative branch of the federal government as a threat.

What is being largely missed by the corporate media is the fact that former and, reportedly, current Trump political adviser Steve Bannon is in league with far-right fascist parties around the world that seek to oust existing democratic governments and replace them with far-right regimes. Bannon's efforts are being financially supported by Rebekah Mercer, the deep-pocketed billionaire daughter of hedge fund mogul and major alt-right media financier Robert Mercer; exiled Chinese billionaire and would-be fascist warlord of a post-Communist Chinese state, Guo Wengui; and right-wing, anti-Pope Francis elements of the fascist Roman Catholic order Opus Dei.

washington post logoWashington Post, Major Trump backer Rebekah Mercer orchestrates Parler’s second act, Rachel Lerman, Feb. 24, 2021. The daughter of a major Republican donor is a founding investor of the social media network, where she reportedly is pulling strings.

When social media website Parler’s founding CEO John Matze was pushed out last month, it was at the direction of a quiet but powerful political megadonor backing the right-leaning site.

parler logoRebekah Mercer, right, the 47-year-old daughter of major Republican donor Robert Mercer, is a founding investor of Parler. She increasingly pulls the strings at the company, according to people familiar with the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters. She holds the majority stake in Parler and rebekah mercercontrolled two of three board seats as of early February — a board to which she recently appointed allies.

The social media company started garnering a name for itself last year as a friendly gathering spot for Republican politicians and pundits turned off by fact-checking and moderation on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But Parler, which publicly extolled itself as a free-speech-focused network with minimal rules, became a breeding ground for conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. The site was knocked offline shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol for its alleged role in allowing the rioters to plan and egg each other on.

Now Mercer, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected president in 2016, is working to revive the site. It came back online last week with her new handpicked CEO, former tea party patriots leader, Mark Meckler, at the helm. It’s the latest in a long line of maneuvers by the Mercer family to create an alternative media industry that pushes a version of the cambridge analytica facebook logosnews that fits with their right-wing, populist political agenda — while keeping a low profile themselves.

Mercer has worked with her father for years to fund and support a complicated web of foundations and companies designed in part to sow distrust of big government. The Mercers invested in data company Cambridge Analytica, the firm that spurred a long-running scandal over misuse of Facebook data. They also invested heavily in right-wing site Breitbart News and were instrumental in connecting its former CEO, Stephen K. Bannon, with Donald Trump, for whom he served in a senior adviser role until mid-2017.

Palmer Report, Opinion: They’re either lying, or they were in on it, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 24, 2021. We all knew that a ton of deranged Trump supporters would be outside the Capitol on January bill palmer6th. Everyone paying attention to the news cycle knew it. Anyone reading Trump’s tweets knew it.

bill palmer report logo headerWe just expected it not to go anywhere, because we presumed that law enforcement leaders would prepare for it, in which case the invasion never would have happened. It would have merely been a bunch of angry goons yelling stupid things outside the building, and nothing more.

During Tuesday’s congressional hearings, we kept hearing from law enforcement leaders who claim they had no idea Trump’s goons were going to be outside the Capitol on January 6th. But any law enforcement leader who says they didn’t see it coming is lying – or in on it.

Part of the reason these kinds of congressional hearings take place is that they force the people involved in the scandal to publicly stake themselves to a position on what happened, which can then point criminal investigators in the right direction when it comes to uncovering what really happened. The law enforcement leaders who are currently playing dumb are the ones who have something to hide.

ny times logoNew York Times, Retired N.Y.P.D. Officer Who Guarded City Hall Charged in Capitol Riot, Jonah E. Bromwich, Feb. 23, 2021. Thomas Webster turned himself in on charges that he assaulted a Washington police officer with a flagpole during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

A retired New York police officer who once was part of the security detail at City Hall was charged on Tuesday with assaulting a police officer with a metal flagpole during the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

thomas webster resized headshotThe former officer, Thomas Webster, shown in an FBI photo, served in a New York Police Department unit that provided security for the mayor, Gracie Mansion and City Hall, according to a law enforcement official. He retired from the force in 2011.

Mr. Webster, 54, a former Marine, surrendered to the F.B.I. on Monday and was charged with six counts relating to the attack on an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and his participation in the violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Mr. Webster attacking the Washington officer, first with a metal flagpole that earlier had flown a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands.

According to court documents, after the officer wrestled the flagpole away from Mr. Webster, the former Marine tackled the officer, pinned him to the ground, straddled him and attempted to rip off his face shield and gas mask — an attack that left the officer unable to breathe.

“These videos shock the conscience,” the prosecutor, Benjamin A. Gianforti, said. He said Mr. Webster had shown an utter lack of compassion and had pursued the officer he attacked “like a junkyard dog.” The government did not immediately identify the officer.

ron johnson palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Critics slam Sen. Ron Johnson for unfounded claim that ‘fake Trump protesters’ led riots: ‘It’s disgraceful,’ Katie Shepherd, Feb. 24, 2021. As senators on Tuesday worked to unpack the security failures that allowed a pro-Trump mob to storm the Capitol last month, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), shown above, offered a wholly different take on what had happened: that “agent provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters” were to blame.

Critics, including some within his party, promptly slammed Johnson over his unfounded suggestions that the Jan. 6 insurrection had been a “jovial” protest and that rioters who stormed the Capitol were not supporters of Donald Trump. “It’s disgraceful for a sitting Senator to spread disinformation so blatantly,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has been an outspoken djt maga hatcritic of Trump and his role in the insurrection, said Tuesday evening on Twitter. “It’s a disservice to the people he serves to continue lying to them like this. It’s dangerous and it must stop.”

As security officials testified about the intelligence lapses that allowed an armed group of insurrectionists to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, Johnson repeated unfounded claims about the riot that have become a familiar refrain from those who want to minimize the event’s seriousness and distance the worst participants from Trump.

Quoting an article published on a far-right website, Johnson claimed the “great majority” of protesters had a “jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor” and blamed the violence that turned deadly on “plainclothes militants, agent provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and disciplined uniformed column of attackers.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Life amid the ruins of QAnon: ‘I wanted my family back,’ Greg Jaffe and Jose A. Del Real, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.). An epidemic of conspiracy, fanned by social media and self-serving politicians, is tearing families apart.

She bought ammunition, camping gear, a water purifier and boxes of canned food. Then, Tyler’s mother started wearing a holstered pistol around the house, convinced that 10 days of unrest and mass power outages were coming.

The chaos would culminate, she assured her son, in former president Donald Trump’s triumphant return to power on March 4, the original Inauguration Day before the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1932.

Tyler, 24, had been living with his mother an hour north of Minneapolis since he graduated college in 2019. The paranoia and fear that had engulfed his home had become unbearable in the months since Trump began to falsely claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.anthony warner

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind Nashville Bombing, a Conspiracy Theorist Stewing Over Government, Steve Cavendish, Neil MacFarquhar, Jamie McGee and Adam Goldman, Feb. 24, 2021.  Anthony Warner, above, who was obsessed with an outlandish tale about lizard aliens and other plots, had been planning the Christmas Day bombing for months.

Mr. Warner, the authorities said, drove his booby-trapped white recreational vehicle to Second Avenue North in the pre-dawn hours. The detonation damaged some 50 buildings, collapsing a few and shearing the antique brick facades off others that will require years and tens of millions of dollars to restore. Two months later, the blast area remains a confused, desolate patchwork of boarded-up buildings, cyclone fencing and uneven reconstruction efforts.

The explosion, in front of an AT&T hub, crippled cellular, internet and cable service across several states for two days and underscored the vulnerability of such common yet unprotected facilities.

Though Mr. Warner’s motive remains shrouded in mystery, false information and outlandish tales had poisoned his mind, apparently driving him to spectacular violence. This mind-set has become alarmingly familiar to law enforcement officials now reckoning with the destructive force of conspiracy theories that mutate endlessly online and played a role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Warner, who was 63 when he died, was not among the angry QAnon followers who came to believe the unlikely theory that Donald J. Trump would hold onto power by defeating a satanic cabal. He was a computer specialist with a deep distrust of government, according to his own writings and to those who knew him. A loner, he had made at least one female friend feel manipulated and frightened. And he had cultivated a bizarre obsession with shape-shifting alien lizards and a dense thicket of other peculiar ideas.

Biden Transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden turns to Obama administration veteran to lead key federal personnel agency, Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Kiran Ahuja will lead the Office of Personnel Management, a department that is expected to take on a high-profile role.

joe biden oPresident Biden has tapped Kiran Arjandas Ahuja, a civil rights lawyer, activist and Obama-era veteran, to lead the Office of Personnel Management, a department the Trump administration tried to kill but is now expected to take on a high-profile role.

Ahuja, 49, served as the personnel agency’s chief of staff from 2015 to 2017 as it faced fallout from a massive data breach that compromised the personal information of millions of federal workers and contractors. Before that, she led the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Obama White House.

Ahuja returned to federal personnel matters during the Biden transition as head of the team reviewing OPM and other agencies that deal with the federal workforce, taking a leave from her role as chief executive of Philanthropy Northwest, a regional philanthropic network of six northwestern states. Her nomination was announced Tuesday.

Ahuja would have a mandate to reverse course on former president Donald Trump’s policies on the civil service, which he and his top aides often derided as a “deep state” of Democratic bureaucrats. Many agencies lost experts in a range of fields during the Trump era, and Biden has pledged to revitalize the workforce.

The agency became deeply politicized under the Trump administration, which installed a record number of political appointees there as personnel policy was increasingly dictated by the White House. Trump’s last confirmed personnel chief, Dale Cabaniss, quit with no notice last year after five months on the job, following months of tension with political appointees installed by the White House to monitor how she ran the office.

Trump’s first chief, Jeff Tien Han Pon, was fired after seven months because he resisted the administration’s plan to dismantle the office and farm out its functions to other departments, including the White House.

UN logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate confirms Biden’s nominee for ambassador to United Nations, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.). The Senate confirmed President linda thomas greenfieldBiden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, elevating an African American woman and career diplomat to one of the most high-profile jobs in diplomacy.

The upper chamber took an initial step, voting 78 to 20 to elevate Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, to ambassador status, with Democrats and moderate Republicans praising her decades of experience serving under presidents of both parties. A second vote to make her “representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations” was 78 to 21.

The votes come as the United States prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council for the month of March. Thomas-Greenfield has promised to work with foreign countries to achieve common goals and defend human rights around the world.

 

colin kahl proof

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: A Statement on Colin Kahl, Seth Abramson, Feb 24, 2021. New reporting suggests that Senate Republicans may try to use me as part of a bid seth abramson headshotto scuttle one of Joe Biden's Pentagon nominations (shown above)—a sad misdirection doomed to fail.

It recently came to my attention that there’s a distant chance my name will come up at a televised Congressional hearing on March 4, 2021. Because—if this comes to pass—it would be part of a preposterous sideshow deeply incongruous with the dignity of the Senate and the gravity of the hearing in question, I thought I’d issue a statement now that anyone can refer to later if they wish to, or if circumstances should warrant it. I regret that this is even necessary.

I don’t know Colin Kahl. I’ve never met or spoken to Colin Kahl. I know so little about the man that in drafting this brief statement I repeatedly spelled his name “Kohl” until I looked it up and saw that I’d been mistaken. Yes, Colin Kahl follows me on Twitter, but then so do nearly a million people—including an arch-conservative like Charlie Kirk and one of the chief critics of “Russiagate” reporting (as he calls it), Matt Taibbi. My Twitter feed is followed by thousands of major-media journalists and by hundreds of politicians, local and state and federal, who hail from both major political parties.

seth abramson proof logoOn March 23, 2017, approximately 60 days after the release of the Steele dossier and many months before the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in the Trump-Russia affair, I published a lengthy thread on Twitter. I was already becoming well known on Twitter for such threads, which I mercifully briefly—though March 2017 happens to be in a sweet spot in this regard—called “mega-threads.” By the late summer of 2017, both I and Colin Kahl would be remarked upon by Politico as being among the ten most notable “threaders” on Twitter. It’s entirely possible that, to the extent Kahl took any notice of my “mega-threads” in the spring of 2017, it was in part because they stood out to him for their length, and in certain respects mirrored his own crowbarring of Twitter’s rather straitjacketed UX for his own rhetorical purposes.

Kahl was one of literally millions of Twitter users—according to Twitter analytics—who read my now-famous (or now-infamous, depending on your historical view and your politics) “Mayflower Thread,” a work that was inspired by the fact that in early 2017 journalists around the country, metajournalists like myself included, were still trying to determine the validity of the Steele dossier. I ultimately came down on the same side as many folks in journalism and indeed as Steele himself, concluding that the dossier was likely about one-third false and two-thirds accurate, consistent with what we might expect from a bundle of raw intelligence from one of the world’s top spies and a longtime partner of the FBI. I understand that conservatives demur from this assessment, in response to which I comfort myself with the knowledge that almost none of the critics of the Steele dossier have read it. I not only read it countless times, I wrote a bestselling trilogy of books on Trump’s foreign policy scandals in Russia and the Middle East (Proof of Collusion in 2018, Proof of Conspiracy in 2019, and Proof of Corruption in 2020) that spanned 2,500 pages and 12,000 major-media citations. So my assessment of the Steele dossier is that of a researcher and an author, not a partisan.

christopher steele ex MI6 spy express croppedMy March 2017 “Mayflower Thread” sought to investigate whether a then-only-lightly-reported event in the late period of Donald Trump’s 2016 primary campaign, his April 27 foreign policy speech (indeed his first such speech) at the Center for the National Interest, dovetailed with the raw intel [Christopher Steele, the former British spy and Russia expert, shown at left] had provided to the FBI in the summer of 2016. It turned out that in certain respects it did; with respect to other components, such as the dossier’s recitation of contacts between Trump national security adviser Carter Page and Kremlin agents, we would only discover how on point the dossier was many months later, when Page publicly lied about the contacts on national television.

Because I am a metajournalist, not a reporter, my thread drew almost exclusively from major-media sources, citing and linking to, variously, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Politico, Slate, BuzzFeed News, New York Magazine, and the website for the Center for the National Interest, among other sources. Content from the Mayflower Thread would later be included in my book Proof of Collusion, which was published by Simon & Schuster—Bob Woodward’s publisher—and became a New York Times bestseller in November of 2018. The number of significant insights in the Mayflower Thread is what caused it to go viral and receive media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic, with me thereafter appearing on CNN, the BBC, the CBC, CBS News, HBO, and countless other media outlets in significant part on the strength of the revelations in the thread. These included 14 ultimately prescient observations, all based on OSINT and my own past experience as a criminal investigator in the federal criminal justice system in D.C. (as well as my years of experience as a public defender in multiple jurisdictions in New England):

  • Paul Manafort took over effective control of Trump’s 2016 campaign far earlier than many realized, in fact in early April 2016.
  • Top players in Trump’s campaign—and top advisers in Trump’s social circle— wanted Manafort to take over the campaign from Corey Lewandowski almost immediately after the former’s hire.
  • Jared Kushner had orchestrated Trump’s first foreign policy speech through extensive contact with the Center for the National Internet and its director, a man (Dimitri Simes) who was the Trump campaign’s top adviser on Russia in 2016 and now works as a paid propagandist for Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
  • Kushner and Manafort were keen to work with the Center in part because of its close ties to Moscow and Trump’s professed desire for a detente with Russia.
  • Manafort made the decision to move Trump’s speech from the National Press Club to the Mayflower Hotel just days before the event, doing so in part to facilitate a private VIP event before the speech to which media would not be invited.
  • The VIP event included a large number of people who shared Trump’s goal of a detente with Russia, including Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Iran-Contra figure Bud McFarlane, and ambassadors from countries rooting for a U.S.-Russia breakthrough in part because they were involved in a massive oil-and-LNG deal with the Kremlin (a deal often referred to, at the time, as the “Rosneft deal”).
  • Trump had had secret meetings at Trump Tower with Kislyak and McFarlane—both of who would later be involved in White House efforts to broker a secretive multilateral foreign policy deal with the Kremlin involving oil and LNG in the Middle East and elsewhere—during a 3-day period in which the aforementioned Rosneft deal was closing.
  • Richard Burt, an adviser to Russia’s Alfa Bank, had participated in the vetting of Trump’s April 27 speech.
  • One of the attendees at the VIP event at the Mayflower Hotel, Jeff Sessions, chose to lie to Congress about his attendance.
  • Trump miscast the length and nature of the VIP event to falsely portray himself and his top advisers as having had no significant contact with any of the event’s attendees.
  • Kislyak also lied about his contact with the Trump campaign—both his contacts in April 2016 and thereafter.
  • Manafort, based on a long history of working on behalf on pro-Kremlin interests, was well-positioned to seek out secret contacts with such interests, or even with agents of the Kremlin.
  • Many of the Kremlin agents or pro-Kremlin advisers Trump and his top advisers (including Kushner) met with at Trump Tower during the 2016-2017 presidential transition were brought into Trump Tower through alternate entrances to keep the meetings secret from the media and the American people.
  • Bud McFarlane came to be keen on Trump and a Trump-Russia detente because he knew his designs on energy interests in the Middle East could be further effectuated by a historic geopolitical agreement between Trump and Putin.

Whatever you may think of the Trump-Russia investigation broadly writ, none of the above is controversial—as it was all later contained within the Mueller Report and, thereafter, in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report. I just happened to put together this information years before either DOJ or Congress did. And I put it together both accurately and responsibly, calling for additional investigations of the Rosneft deal mentioned in the Steele dossier without drawing any conclusions about that deal or the dossier that first brought it to the attention of the intel community.

So why am I writing now about a Twitter thread from nearly four years ago, which, to the extent it could come in for any criticism at all, would almost surely face such criticism from individuals employing 20/20 hindsight to make the hectic early days of the Trump-Russia probe seem more incautious than they were (or my thread was)?

Well, because apparently, three days after I posted the Mayflower Thread and it was being widely discussed on Twitter, Colin Kahl wrote that my research for the thread was “intriguing” and “seem[ed] worth [a] closer look.” It was hardly a fawning endorsement, especially as it came three days after the work had been published, at a time it was in general conversation on both the left and right of American politics. Indeed, Kahl did no more than say that the April 27 event “seemed” to be worth a “closer look,” without prejudging what that “look” might produce—if anything at all.

In the event, of course, it produced quite a lot. Nearly everything in my thread was confirmed, including Trump-Russia lies by the president, his top staffers, Putin’s top representative in the U.S., the now-disgraced director of the Center for the National Interest, Paul Manafort, Jeff Sessions, and many others in Trump’s personal, political, and professional milieus. While it did not turn out that there were significant sideline meetings at the Mayflower Hotel event—at least that we know of—there is no longer any doubt that the event was a turning point in Trump’s ongoing effort to woo Putin. The Mayflower Thread noted the possibility of sideline meetings at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016, but it did not go beyond the then-available evidence to claim that such meetings were a certainty—merely that the possibility was worth consideration and additional investigation. That was, at the time, the prevailing view in America among those following the Trump-Russia scandal, with Colin Kahl being just one of many millions in agreement.

Apparently, Kahl’s mild approval of a stock of OSINT research that turned out to be years ahead of the curve is now a problem for his Senate confirmation as Joe Biden’s pick to run the Pentagon’s policy shop. Instead of lauding Kahl for recognizing solid independent journalism that turned out to be better sourced intelligence than almost anything Trump loyalists in the ODNI and elsewhere put out during the entirety of the Trump administration, the fact that Kahl quote-tweeted a New York Times-bestselling Trump biographer, Newsweek columnist, experienced attorney, journalism professor, and trained federal criminal investigator is now supposed to be some sort of problem.

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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s C.I.A. Pick Warns of China and Russia at Amicable Confirmation Hearing, Julian E. Barnes, Feb. 24, 2021. The nominee, William J. Burns, appears likely to win bipartisan support from senators.

williams burns 2005President Biden’s nominee to lead the C.I.A. pledged during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday to improve spying on China, warned of Russia’s ability to interfere with American affairs and promised to deliver apolitical intelligence to the White House, leaning on his long diplomatic experience to win over senators.

The nominee, William J. Burns, right, argued that China was an adversarial power and the intelligence community’s greatest geopolitical challenge. He called for investing more resources and personnel as well as technological innovation.

He also warned that even as a declining power, Russia has shown it can be disruptive. And he pledged to examine evidence about mysterious attacks that have left a number of C.I.A. officers with lingering ailments, making a commitment to a work force battered for years by former President Donald J. Trump.

cia logoMr. Burns’s confirmation as C.I.A. director seems all but assured, with a large bipartisan majority of senators supporting him. A vote by the full Senate could come next week.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was far more of a coronation than a confrontational question-and-answer session, with more of the discussion focusing on foreign policy than intelligence matters, perhaps unsurprising given Mr. Burns’s experience as ambassador to Jordan and Russia, as well as the senior State Department positions he has held.

That deep experience and ability to clearly explain complex foreign policy challenges appealed to President Biden, according to current and former officials.

Feb. 22

djt handwave file

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Leading Republican Candidate for Governor of Virginia Met with Insurrectionists and Discussed Armed Rebellion the Day Before the January 6 seth abramson headshotInsurrection, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 22, 2021 (republished from subscription site with permission). Recorded discussion included consideration of Donald Trump raising a personal army of more than a million combat veterans to help him retain control of the White House.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary in Virginia, State Senator Amanda Chase, below right, has a healthy lead of 7% over her nearest competitor. The bad news for Chase is that just 48 hours ago she lost a lawsuit seeking to compel the Republican Party of Virginia to hold a conventional primary rather than—as the party is now considering, and has until Tuesday to decide upon—a state “convention” at which the party’s 2021 gubernatorial candidate would be selected by a committee of just 72 party members.

Chase, who has been called “controversial” by local media, even “the Donald Trump of Virginia politics” by one source, certainly has reason to fear that her party’s leaders, as opposed to amanda chase resizedVirginia’s Trumpist voter base, might not select her to be their standard bearer for the November 2, 2021 gubernatorial election.

And it now appears that there’s very good reason for Virginia’s Republican leaders not to do so.

A no-longer-publicly-available social media thread allegedly depicting a January 5, 2021 Facebook Live event involving Chase and several infamous insurrectionists is now getting renewed attention. In the video (originally posted on a Facebook page that Facebook on January 8 suspended for 60 days) Chase speaks with Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, and Joshua Macias, head of Vets for Trump. CNN notes that the FBI is investigating many of Rhodes’ associates in the Oath Keepers, and has arrested some of them in a plot detailed by the Wall Street Journal as involving gassing all of Congress to death in the tunnels beneath the United States Capitol. As for Macias, he was arrested on gun charges during the counting of seth abramson proof logovotes in Philadelphia and was later charged with felony election interference in November of 2020.

At one point in the video, with Senator Chase sitting between them, Macias and Rhodes have the following incredible exchange (made all the more harrowing because it comes just hours before Insurrection Day):

MACIAS: “…[t]he most well-trained—crucible-trained—combat veterans this world has ever seen….there are veterans out there that are well-trained, that can immediate [sic] president be brought in as a special group and be utilized—in any way, shape or form—at his [the president’s] disposal. And we have a million just in Vets for Trump right now, standing at the ready, let alone those within one degree of separation, and the six million that didn’t even vote before [in 2016], that now voted in the 2016 [sic] election. So here we sit [on January 5] at a precipice of change, where we have the community that’s ready to step in, do what is needed, we have those that are—the president has all the power and the authority to do so—and he has all the backing of “we the people” and the 80 million that voted for him.

RHODES: In fact, us veterans, until age 65, under federal statute, still are subject to being called up as a militia. It goes from 17 to 45 if you’re not a veteran; if you’re a veteran, because of our prior experience and training, it goes to age 65. He could call us up right now as a militia—

MACIAS: Right now!

RHODES: —and put us to work.

MACIAS: And he has the ability—with special groups—that he can pull them in in other ways as well, and we can intake all of them, and place them wherever he needs it. So he has, standing at the ready, well-trained—crucible-trained—veteran volunteers that are at the ready right now.

At another point in his comments, Macias spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros controlling the U.S. criminal justice system and opines that “the Communists have taken over so many places in our country.” At several points in the Vets for Trump leader’s diatribe, Senator Chase visibly nods.

Less than two weeks later, Macias would, alongside Latinos for Trump—whose leader Bianca Gracia not only also appears in the January 5 video alongside Chase, Rhodes, and Macias, but had also appeared at the Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America that day—seek a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court in Texas to try to keep Joe Biden from being inaugurated. {Note: Other speakers at the January 5 rally included Roger Stone and Alex Jones, both of whom say—see the prior articles in Proof on this subject—that they were in touch with Trump or the White House in the days leading up to the insurrection.} 

djt maga hatSenator Chase attended the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event that incited the armed insurrection that day, and indeed recorded a video from the event in which she confirmed that “everyone” at the event was a Trump supporter and that there were “no counter-protestors”—a statement that, as of February 21, 2021, 58% of Trump voters disagree with (they claim, instead, per a USA Today poll, that it was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters”). In fact, New York Times cell phone tracking data confirms that the same group that attended the Trump rally at the White House Ellipse, which Chase denominated in her video as composed wholly of Trump supporters, thereafter stormed the Capitol.

Chase’s personal Facebook page, which has not yet been suspended by Facebook, includes the January 6 video but not the January 5 video of her discussion with several insurrectionists. In the January 6 video, which Chase closes with the words “stay tuned”, she can be seen wearing a lanyard around her neck that is attached to some sort of identification badge or access pass whose contents can’t readily be determined.

The New York Times calls Amanda Chase a Trump loyalist; Chase has called herself “Trump in heels.” Now that Chase’s hob-knobbing with insurrectionists to discuss—among other matters, like anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and false claims of a Communist takeover in the United States—armed insurrection is publicly known, it becomes a key question in American politics whether Trump will publicly endorse her. Per the Times, Chase called the January 6 insurrectionists “patriots” and “was still arguing with less than a week left in Mr. Trump’s presidency that he could yet be inaugurated for a second term.” At stake, therefore, in Virginia right now is whether Trump plans to make an active play to get insurrectionists into positions of power in America.

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).

Feb. 20

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Signs of Positive Turn in Direction of World Events, Webster G. Tarpley, Feb. 20, 2021. As Post-Trump Era Begins, Signs of Positive Turn in Direction of World Events Away webster tarpley 2007from Fascist Nihilism, Pessimism, and Despair Towards Rationality. World Affairs Starting to Stabilize under Biden as US Abandons Wrecking Role of Last Administration; Russian and Chinese Designs for International Anarchy Can Now Be Checked; Claims by Totalitarian Powers of Decline and Decadence of US Democracy Refuted.

US Economic Recovery Now within Reach as Biden Shows Determination to Pass $1.9 Billion Rescue Bill despite GOP Sabotage; $15 Minimum Wage is Now Central Issue;Republican Party in Crisis as Trump Attacks Mitch, Who Embodies GOP’s Vital Money Pipeline from Reactionary Megadonor Billionaires to Candidates and Advertising; Texas-Cruz Debacle Is Case Study of Bankruptcy of Anti-Government, pro-Speculation Thinking Under Globalization;

US Returns to World Affairs at NATO, G-7, and Munich Security Conferences; State Department Working to End Genocidal Yemen War Trump Enabled MBS to Unleash;
A Bad Day for the Kremlin and Beijing: Biden Proclaims US Will Respect NATO Article Five Pledge of Mutual Aid for Allies, Stresses End of America First aka America Alone; Discusses Need for Public Health Cooperation and Joint Opposition to Beijing and Moscow; Europe Welcomes Junking of Trump Interlude; Concept of “Westlessness” as Discussed at Recent Munich Conferences Is Obsolescent;

New York Magazine, Commentary: An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter? Jonathan Chait, Feb. 20, 2021. In 2018, I became either famous or notorious — depending on your point of view — for writing a story speculating that Russia had secret leverage over Trump (which turned out to be correct). The story’s most controversial suggestion was that it was plausible, though hardly certain, that Russia’s influence over Trump might even date back as far as 1987.

I conceded it was probably just a coincidence that Trump came back from his trip to Russia and started spouting themes that happened to dovetail closely with Russia’s geopolitical goal of splitting the United States from its allies. But there was a reasonable chance — I loosely pegged it at 10 or 20 percent — that the Soviets had planted some of these thoughts, which he had never expressed before the trip, in his head.

If I had to guess today, I’d put the odds higher, perhaps over 50 percent. One reason for my higher confidence is that Trump has continued to fuel suspicion by taking anomalously pro-Russian positions. He met with Putin in Helsinki, appearing strangely submissive, and spouted Putin’s propaganda on a number of topics including the ridiculous possibility of a joint Russian-American cybersecurity unit. (Russia, of course, committed the gravest cyber-hack in American history not long ago, making Trump’s idea even more self-defeating in retrospect than it was at the time.) He seemed to go out of his way to alienate American allies and blow up cooperation every time they met during his tenure.

A second reason is that reporter Craig Unger, left, got a former KGB spy to confirm on the record that Russian intelligence had been working Trump for decades. In his new book, “American craig unger twitterKompromat,” Unger interviewed Yuri Shvets, who told him that the KGB manipulated Trump with simple flattery. “In terms of his personality, the guy is not a complicated cookie,” he said, “his most important characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated vanity. This makes him a dream for an experienced recruiter.”

craig unger resized american kompromatThat’s quite similar to what I suggested in my story:

Russian intelligence gains influence in foreign countries by operating subtly and patiently. It exerts different gradations of leverage over different kinds of people, and uses a basic tool kit of blackmail that involves the exploitation of greed, stupidity, ego, and sexual appetite. All of which are traits Trump has in abundance.

This is what intelligence experts mean when they describe Trump as a Russian “asset.” It’s not the same as being an agent. An asset is somebody who can be manipulated, as opposed to somebody who is consciously and secretly working on your behalf.

Shvets told Unger that the KGB cultivated Trump as an American leader, and persuaded him to run his ad attacking American alliances. “The ad was assessed by the active measures directorate as one of the most successful KGB operations at that time,” he said, “It was a big thing — to have three major American newspapers publish KGB soundbites.”

To be clear, while Shvets is a credible source, his testimony isn’t dispositive. There are any number of possible motives for a former Soviet spy turned critic of Russia’s regime to manufacture an indictment of Trump. But the story he tells is almost exactly the possibility I sketched out. And it fits the known facts about how Russian intelligence works and what Trump has done pretty tightly.

One thing I have changed my mind on since my story ran is the effect any this would have on the American public even if it were proven.

If something like the most sinister plausible story turned out to be true, how much would it matter? Probably not that much. Don’t get me wrong: Russia having secret channels of leverage over an American president isn’t good. I have merely come to think that even if we could have confirmed the worst, to the point that even Trump’s supporters could no longer deny it, it wouldn’t have changed very much. Trump wouldn’t have been forced to resign, and his Republican supporters would not have had to repudiate him. The controversy would have simply receded into the vast landscape of partisan talking points — one more thing liberals mock Trump over, and conservatives complain about the media for covering instead of Nancy Pelosi’s freezer or antifa or the latest campus outrage.

One reason I think that is because a great deal of incriminating information was confirmed and very little in fact changed as a result. In 2018, Buzzfeed reported, and the next year Robert Mueller confirmed, explosive details of a Russian kompromat operation. During the campaign, Russia had been dangling a Moscow building deal that stood to give hundreds of millions of dollars in profit to Trump, at no risk. Not only did he stand to gain this windfall, but he was lying in public at the time about his dealings with Russia, which gave Vladimir Putin additional leverage over him. (Russia could expose Trump’s lies at any time if he did something to displease Moscow.)

Mueller even testified that this arrangement gave Russia blackmail leverage over Trump. But by the time these facts had passed from the realm of the mysterious to the confirmed, they had become uninteresting.

We don’t know what other sources of leverage Russia had, or how far back it went. Ultimately, whatever value Trump offered to Russia was compromised by his incompetence and limited ability to grasp firm control even of his own government’s foreign policy. It was not just the fabled “deep state” that undermined Trump. Even his own handpicked appointees constantly undermined him, especially on Russia. Whatever leverage Putin had was limited to a single individual, which meant there was nobody Trump could find to run the State Department, National Security Agency, and so on who shared his idiosyncratic Russophilia.

Feb. 14

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Some Say the Criminal Justice System Will Save Us From Trump — But Can It? Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 14, 2021. The "New Big Lie" is a bait-and-switch involving the indictment of Donald Trump.
seth abramson headshot

Having spent nearly a decade working in state and federal criminal justice systems — including as a criminal investigator in the federal justice system in D.C. and a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts and New Hampshire — I have as many opinions as everyone else about what our justice system is equipped to handle and what it is not.

Right now we have many D.C. politicians, particularly powerful Republicans like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), telling us the appropriate forum for disqualifying a politician from future office is the federal criminal justice system. They sagely aver that if we will just accept that the proper jurisdiction for litigating a President of the United States inciting armed insurrection against the government in the waning days of his administration is the federal courthouse in D.C. — not, say, the chambers of Congress—all will be well. America will be rid of the scourge of Trump.

Except, per usual, they’re lying. But this lie is far more pernicious than many realize.

seth abramson proof logoFirst, understand while our justice systems can indict, prosecute, and incarcerate citizens for countless statutory crimes, they struggle to do so in a timely fashion — sometimes at all — if a defendant is rich, particularly if he’s also powerful and famous. There are many reasons for this, perhaps foremost among them that prosecutors in the United States are not apolitical. In fact, for reasons passing understanding, we created state and federal justice systems in which the most politically oriented prosecutors flourish — those who avoid pushing cases that are or may become politically unpopular, corner a defendant with powerful allies, or lead to a precedent that disadvantages the already advantaged.

Donald Trump is almost the Platonic case of a prospective federal defendant who, if disposed of in the same way any of the rest of us would be, could destroy not just the professional futures but also the personal lives of anyone who takes him on. Why should an ambitious prosecutor hoping to leverage that career track into some future political office take the risk of becoming a pariah to about half of the voters they may ultimately need to rely upon? Why risk losing a high-profile case someone above you in the hierarchy believes should have been won, and therefore losing your job rather than being vaulted even higher into the ranks of high-visibility public servants? And why do any of this when the very scions of public service you most wish to impress — the folks who work in D.C. and, in that group, particularly those in the White House — have already publicly decided not to pursue any action against Donald Trump, even a slam-dunk campaign finance case in which he remains an unindicted co-conspirator?

Second, the simple fact is that our criminal justice systems have no authority at all to bar someone from future office. Their only option, instead, is to incarcerate people for such a long period of time that they will die before they can run for office again. Is this what McConnell and Rubio would have us think they believe may happen here? That Trump — a seventy-something with no prior record; enough money to delay any case almost indefinitely through frivolous legal action (and a track record of always doing so successfully); at least 74 million supporters who wanted him to be the most powerful man in America not 120 days ago, many of whom (more than half) think he’s currently America’s rightful president; and access to legions of domestic terrorists likely to threaten and perhaps harm any prosecutor who juror who takes any adverse action against him—is going to be not just indicted and prosecuted and caged but for so long his political career will be effectively over? At a moment his popularity within the Republican Party remains well over 70%?

It won’t happen. It would be a miracle surpassing human understanding — and defying hundreds of years of history within the federal justice system—if, in prospective cases in Washington and Georgia, Trump were to be charged at all, let alone successfully prosecuted and then imprisoned. America has no track record of incarcerating a man of Trump’s notoriety, stature, and authority, let alone in a way that incapacitates him for a long period of time. Even the friends of men as powerful as Trump — think Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, or Steve Bannon — consider themselves immune from any long-term consequences for their actions; history has proven their presumption to be correct.

Donald Trump has recourses no other federal defendant would have, for instance to convincingly claiming that any prosecution of him is “political,” or having legions of powerful Republicans with ready access to the media saying as much at all hours of the day; he has civilian supporters he can effortlessly marshal to so intimidate any federal prosecutors, investigators, law enforcement officials, judges, or juries pursuing him as to make successfully convicting him (let alone caging him) so distant a possibility that only the most devout left-wing wish-casters can fathom it. Do I wish it were otherwise? Have I argued daily for years that it should be otherwise? Did I and millions of others work in the justice system at various points in our lives in part as an effort to ensure that all defendants are treated fairly, no matter their resources? Yes, yes, and again yes. Which is why I can report that anyone in D.C. now claiming that Trump will be dealt with properly by our legal system is lying to you. Our system isn’t equipped to do it.

Third, we must understand that the only reason men like McConnell and Rubio are pointing toward federal courts in D.C. and Georgia, or the state courts in New York, as the appropriate venues for disposing of Trump post-impeachment, is because they want to (a) distract us, (b) move the goalposts of accountability, (c) remove themselves from responsibility for whatever happens.

Per the Constitution, the body with the power to disqualify an elected official from holding future office is Congress — not the federal courts. We find this power enshrined, in both of its two instances frustratingly vaguely, in both the Impeachment Clause and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the former case, the disqualification vote requires only a majority of members of Congress, but it remains unclear whether this vote can be taken, during an impeachment proceeding, whether or not the respondent in such a proceeding is convicted. While the issue hasn’t been litigated in the past, to date both Democrats and Republicans have seemed to presume that you can’t be disqualified from future office until you’ve been convicted of having committed malfeasance in your present (or recent) office. It’s an argument that doesn’t explain why the vote threshold required is different in the two instances, or for that matter why senators are allowed to use whatever standard of proof they wish in either of the two inquiries.

Even though we know the Constitution is silent on the standard of proof in an impeachment proceeding, politicians have — perhaps to better protect themselves—decided a senator can’t deem the bar for conviction to be higher than the bar for disqualification from future office.

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).

Feb. 13

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Kennedys and King, Book Review: Litwin and the Warren Report, James DiEugenio, below left, Feb. 13, 2021. As an introduction to the Fred Litwin Follies, Jim DiEugenio jim dieugenio filereviews his first book, which attempts to validate the Warren Commission using the thesis that “the authors of the Warren Report were honorable men who conducted an honest investigation and reached the right answer.” Jim, of course, decimates this thesis using a wealth of facts clearly available in the historical record.

It is not possible to understand Fred Litwin’s second book on the JFK case, dealing with Jim Garrison, without addressing his first book, which tried to uphold the Warren Commission. David Mantik did an excellent job in critiquing that first work. But I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak is such a shabby book that no one person could expose the scope and depth of its tawdriness.

One of the most startling remarks Litwin makes in the first book—and one which shows how politically slanted his work is—appears relatively early. (Since this review is based on the e-book version, the pages I quote may differ slightly for the reader.) On page 51, Litwin writes: “The authors of the Warren Report were honorable men who conducted an honest investigation and reached the right answer.”

In this day and age, for anyone to infer that Allen Dulles and John McCloy were honorable men indicates either:

  • Staggering ignorance
  • The writer lives in an alternative moral universe, one outside the bounds of a normal ethical system, or
  • The writer does not care what he writes since he has an agenda a mile long.

In reality, there were very few prominent Americans of the 20th Century who were more utterly dishonorable than Dulles and McCloy.

While working in the War Department during World War II, John McCloy (shown at the far left of the 1964 photo of the Warren Commission presenting its report to President Lyndon B. Johnson). was one of the strongest advocates for the Japanese internment. This removal and detainment of mostly American citizens was so ethically indefensible that even J. Edgar Hoover opposed it. When his opponents argued that if American jfk warren  comm. to lbj 1964citizens were deprived of property and rights, they deserved due process, McCloy replied with one of the most shocking remarks an attorney could make:

If it is a question of the safety of the country or the Constitution of the United States, why the constitution is just a scrap of paper to me. (Jacob Heilbrunn, The New Republic, “The Real McCloy,” May 11, 1992.)

Attorney McCloy was so determined to discard the Constitution that he used unethical means to keep the victims in detention. He deleted important evidence from the record in the appeals of the case. (Ibid) To any objective person, such behavior would be relevant to his performance on the Commission. Yet one will not read about it in Litwin’s book. And, make no mistake about this affair, the “honorable” John McCloy was also a racist. In a letter to a friend, he talked about how the internment was an opportunity to “study the Japanese in these camps.” The last part of this passage is a doozy in delineating McCloy:

I am aware that such a suggestion may provoke a charge that we have no right to treat these people as guinea pigs. But I would rather treat them as guinea pigs and learn something useful, than merely to treat them…as they have been in the past with such unsuccessful results. (Kai Bird, The Chairman, pp. 165–66)

Whatever McCloy meant by that last statement, I don’t think anyone could describe it, in Litwin’s phrase, as honorable and honest. I should add, McCloy never admitted he could have been wrong about this shameful exercise. In the seventies, with over twenty years to think about it, he objected to any monetary compensation to those who had their rights trampled, property confiscated, and lives detoured. He called even the consideration of compensation, “utterly unconscionable.” (Op. cit., Heilbrunn)

McCloy’s bizarre sense of justice is further exemplified by his involvement in the other theater of World War II, in Europe. McCloy objected to the bombing of the Nazi concentration camps. He replied to this proposal with another of his jarring leaps of logic. He said that even if it were possible—which it was—it could lead the Germans to do something even more vindictive. (Heilbrunn, p. 42) As many have commented about that reply: What could be worse than the Holocaust?

This lack of mercy for the Jews of Eastern Europe made an interesting contrast with McCloy’s sympathy for the Nazis responsible for slaughtering them. McCloy was involved with the escape of Klaus Barbie out of Germany to Bolivia after the war. There, the former Gestapo chief became a drug lord. (Bird, p. 346). Even for a Nazi, Barbie was sadistic. He liked torturing his victims before killing them. A favorite method was hanging them upside down by hooks. In the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz, Barbie decided there should be no age barrier to an early exposure to poison gas. He emptied a French orphanage of 41 children ages three to thirteen and sent them to the gas chambers.

But aiding Barbie wasn’t enough for the man who did not want to attack and liberate Auschwitz. After the war, McCloy became High Commissioner for Germany. He decided that many of the former Nazis who had been given prison sentences deserved to be set free early. In just six weeks, McCloy reviewed 93 cases. (Bird, p. 336) In 77 of those cases, McCloy’s board recommended reductions in sentencing. In some instances, this meant commutations of death sentences. That group included 20 former SS officers who served in the Einsatzgruppen. (Heilbrunn, p. 44) The Einsatzgruppen was Hitler’s first method of Jewish extermination. In this phase of the Holocaust, the SS troops, and, at times, the regular army, would round up the victims and herd them onto a bus. They would then drive them to a rural wooded area and, in this concealed area, they would machine gun them. Somehow, some way, McCloy thought the Allies had been too hard on these killers. After viewing this record, instead of calling McCloy honest and honorable, journalist Jacob Heilbrunn had a different opinion of the man. He called him a thoroughly despicable character. (Heilbrunn, p. 41)

Again, none of the above is in Litwin’s book, which is doubly strange. Because, as we shall see, Litwin likes playing the anti-Semite card against Commission critics. But somehow, the Jewish Litwin is able to, not just stomach all of the above, he eliminates it from the record. Only in Fred Litwin’s moral universe does endorsing the Single Bullet Theory erase crimes of the magnitude of John McCloy’s.

allen w dullesWhat I have done with McCloy, I could also do with Dulles (shown second from right in the above photo regarding the Warren Commission and at right here) and Commissioner Jerry Ford. And, in fact, I have done so. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 325–41).

But further, by necessity, Litwin’s term “honest and honorable” extends to the man who provided the overwhelming majority of investigative materials to the Commission. Or else how could they have come up with the “right answer”? That would be the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. (DiEugenio, pp. 237–40) But wisely, Litwin does not directly describe Hoover as honest and honorable. Probably because, with all that is now known today about the man, if he did, the reader would start laughing and throw the book into the trash can. But the key point to understand here is that Litwin is willing to censor or curtail important information, in order to disguise who the perpetrators of the cover up actually were—some of the worst Americans of that era. If you conceal that record, then you can hide from the reader the things they would be willing to do.

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About the Reviewer: One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).

Feb. 12

Seattle Times, Judge blocks sale and closure of National Archives in Seattle; notes ‘public relations disaster’ by feds, Erik Lacitis, Feb. 12, 2021. In the National Archives and Records Administration building on Sand Point Way Northeast in Seattle are records created by federal agencies and courts in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour granted a preliminary injunction Friday morning to stop the sale of the National Archives property in Seattle.

He pointedly asked Brian Kipnis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle, if anybody on the five-person Public Buildings Reform Board was from the Pacific Northwest.

nara logoThat’s the little-known entity that in January 2020recommended the Archives be shuttered in Seattle. The board was created in 2016 to find what it deems excess federal property.

Kipnis said he didn’t know.

Coughenour said the feds could have avoided a “public relations disaster” if they had “displayed some sensitivity” to how the closure affected the Northwest.

Coughenour also asked Kipnis what he knew about this quote in a Thursday Seattle Times story from a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget: “Tribal consultation is a priority for this administration, and we will further assess the extent to which tribes were consulted under the previous administration on this proposal.”

Kipnis answered, “I can tell you there is truth to that statement.”

He also said that “in a week or so” he expected to learn the Biden administration’s position on the archives here.

Coughenour said he’d issue a written decision next week.

Going forward, said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, “Unless the federal government formally reverses course, at some point we’ll be asking for a final decision on the merits of the case.”

Ferguson’s office, along with 29 tribes and other groups, filed a lawsuit Jan. 4 seeking to declare the sale to developers illegal. But that lawsuit could take a while to wind its way through the courts, prompting the request for the preliminary injunction.

Having declared the 10-acre site on Seattle’s Sand Point Way Northeast as surplus, the federal government plans to move 800,000 cubic feet of archival records from here to facilities in Kansas City, Missouri (1,840 miles away), and Riverside, California (1,200 miles away). The archives hold millions of boxes of documents, and only a tiny fraction of them have been digitally scanned.

Set to be moved are the histories of 272 federally recognized tribes in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho, as well as all federal records generated in the Pacific Northwest, including military, land, court, tax and census documents. The collection also includes more than 50,000 original files related to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

The archives in Seattle would have stayed open for another three years after any sale of the property. It is currently closed to the public because of the pandemic.

Ferguson said about Coughenour’s decision, “I hope these agencies have gotten the memo that their conduct isn’t acceptable and is illegal.”

The U. S. Attorney’s Office here had no comment about the ruling.

Adam Bodner, executive director of the buildings board, also had no comment Friday on the ruling.

The Seattle facility is one of 12 surplus properties identified by the board. The original plan was to sell them individually, which would have given opponents until July 2021 to fight the move.

Feb. 10

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capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Votes to Allow Trump Impeachment Trial to Proceed, Peter Baker, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Trial of Former President Is Found Constitutional, With 6 G.O.P. Votes, Senate Votes to Proceed With Trump’s 2nd Impeachment Trial.

The Senate voted on Tuesday to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, rejecting his defense team’s claim that it would be unconstitutional to prosecute a president after leaving office. But the final tally signaled that his Republican allies could muster enough support to potentially block the two-thirds necessary for conviction.

The 56-to-44 vote, with six Republicans joining all 50 Democrats, paved the way for the House Democrats trying the case to formally open their arguments on Wednesday afternoon as they seek to prove that Mr. Trump incited an insurrection by encouraging supporters who stormed the Capitol last month and disrupted the counting of Electoral College votes.

But the 44 Republicans who agreed with Mr. Trump’s claim that a former president cannot be subject to an impeachment trial seemed to all but guarantee that he would have the 34 votes he needs on the final verdict to avoid conviction. To succeed, the House managers would need to persuade at least 11 Republican senators to find Mr. Trump guilty in a trial that they have deemed unconstitutional.

The vote came after House managers, arguing to proceed with the trial, presented the Senate with a vivid and graphic sequence of footage of Mr. Trump’s backers assaulting the Capitol last month.

american flag upside down distressThe managers wasted no time moving immediately to their most powerful evidence: the explicit visual record of the deadly Capitol siege that threatened the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and members of both houses of Congress juxtaposed against Mr. Trump’s own words encouraging members of the mob at a rally beforehand.

The scenes of mayhem and violence — punctuated by expletives rarely heard on the floor of the Senate — highlighted the drama of the trial in gut-punching fashion for the senators who lived through the events barely a month ago and now sit as quasi-jurors. On the screens, they saw enraged extremists storming barricades, beating police officers, setting up a gallows and yelling, “Take the building,” “Fight for Trump” and “Pence is a traitor! Traitor Pence!”

jamie raskin feb 10 resized senate“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, right, the leader of the House Democrats prosecuting the case, told the senators after playing the video. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers responded by arguing that his words at the rally on Jan. 6 constituted free speech akin to typical political language and hardly incited the violence. They characterized the impeachment as yet another partisan attack driven by animus that will set a precedent for political retribution as power changes with each election.

“The political pendulum will shift one day,” Bruce L. Castor Jr., the lawyer leading off for the former president, told the Senate. “This chamber and the chamber across the way will change one day and partisan impeachments will become commonplace.”

The second trial of Mr. Trump opened in the crime scene itself, the same chamber occupied on Jan. 6 by the mob that forced senators to evacuate in the middle of counting the Electoral College votes ratifying President Biden’s victory.

Never before has a president been tried by the Senate twice, much less after his term has expired, but Mr. Trump’s accusers argue that his actions in his final days in power were so egregious and threatening to democracy that he must be held accountable.

“What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life,” Representative Joe Neguse, Democrat of Colorado and another impeachment manager, told the senators. “Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

Even though Mr. Trump can no longer be removed from office, conviction would stand as a statement of repudiation for history and permit the senators to bar him from running for federal office again.

The managers maintained that there must be no “January exception” for presidents to escape repercussions through impeachment on their way out of office and cited a series of writings by the nation’s framers as well as contemporary conservative scholars.

 ny times logoNew York Times, What to Watch For on Day 2 of Trump’s Impeachment Trial, Zach Montague, Feb. 10, 2021. House Democrats will make their case for convicting former President Trump in what could be an exceptionally short impeachment trial. Senators narrowly voted on Tuesday to move ahead with the trial, an indication that Mr. Trump is likely to be acquitted. Here’s what to expect today.

House Democrats will lay out the case for convicting former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday as the Senate forges ahead with what could well become the fastest presidential impeachment trial in history.

After a compact debate on Tuesday over the constitutionality of the proceeding, senators narrowly voted to move ahead with the trial to decide whether Mr. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The central question facing lawmakers on Tuesday was whether a former president could be tried by the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. By a 56-to-44 vote, senators found that the body did have jurisdiction to do so.

The Senate will convene again at noon Wednesday.

How quickly will this go?

Under the rules agreed to by both sides, the prosecution and defense each have up to 16 hours to present their cases.

jamin raskin american university Custom 2Both the House managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, right, and Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers will be limited to eight hours on any given day of the trial.

Neither side is expected to fully use the allotted time, as both parties appear eager to conclude the proceedings as quickly as possible, particularly given that Mr. Trump seems headed toward an all but certain acquittal.

This was reflected in the latest draft of the trial rules, which has senators scheduled to meet for a rare Sunday session if no verdict has been reached before then. The trial had already been set to continue into the weekend after Mr. Trump’s lawyers withdrew a request to break on Friday evening in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, last year, lasted only 21 days, but his second could move even faster.

Wednesday’s arguments may very well establish the pace for the rest of the proceedings.

How will House prosecutors connect the dots?

House prosecutors set the tone for their opening arguments on Tuesday by sharing an arresting video montage of the violence at the Capitol last month, laying out a chronological account of the rampage as it unfolded.

The 13-minute clip showed scenes of brutality and mayhem, laced with profanities, forcing some television networks to add content warnings and many of those present in the chamber to relive the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as they met to affirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory.

The House managers appear to have at least two goals: dredging up vivid and emotional memories from that day, and hammering home their point that Mr. Trump was personally responsible for igniting the violence. 

jamie raskin feb 10 resized senate

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jamie Raskin won the impeachment trial before it began, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 9, 2021. Raskin, above, delivers emotional jennifer rubin new headshotrecollection of Capitol attack. “Winning” the impeachment trial means removing any reasonable doubt in the minds of Americans that President Donald Trump incited a riot, that he let it continue in desperate attempt to keep power and that Republicans simply do not care. The House impeachment managers did a masterful job on all points in their opening arguments on Tuesday.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House manager, demolished the notion that presidents get a free pass to commit high crimes in the waning days of their terms. On its face, Raskin explained, it’s absurd to argue that “conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president and your second year as president and your third year as president and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all,” he said, adding that it would have been the Founders’ “worst nightmare.”

Let’s not forget that the only reason the impeachment, which the House voted on before Trump left office, was not sent to trial immediately was because then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow Republicans stalled. They break the hypocrisy meter by turning around and claiming that the Senate, therefore, cannot try Trump now.

Beyond conclusively establishing the trial’s constitutionality, Raskin brought back to life the horrifying hours of Jan. 6 when insurrectionists, hyped-up on Trumpian fury, assaulted the Capitol. The Post reported: “Almost every senatorial eye in the chamber was glued to the screens as lead House manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) played a 13-minute video depicting the events of Jan. 6 to introduce the impeachment case against [former president Donald Trump] — with a few notable exceptions.” It was obvious why Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rick Scott (Fla.), and Rand Paul (Ky.) cravenly averted their gaze: The scenes were so disturbing as to render their defense of the former president a moral abomination.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trial begins with clash over proceedings’ constitutionality, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Senators hear debate over trying a former president.

  • Raskin, overcome with emotion, pleads: ‘People died that day. Senators, this cannot be our future'
  • Trump ‘sided with the insurrectionists,’ Rep. Cicilline says
  • Rep. Neguse says Jan. 6 was ‘the framers’ worst nightmare come to life’
  • Rep. Neguse cites historical precedents, views of conservative legal scholars
  • As video of Capitol riot played, some GOP senators turned away
  • Constitutional expert quoted by Trump’s attorneys says his views are ‘misrepresented’

 

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Meandering Performance by Defense Lawyers Enrages Trump, Maggie Haberman, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.) The former president was particularly angry at Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of his lawyers, for acknowledging the effectiveness of the House Democrats’ presentation.

On the first day of his second impeachment trial, former President Donald J. Trump was mostly hidden from view on Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., moving from the new office that aides set up to his private quarters outside the main building.

bruce castorMr. Trump was said to have meetings that were put on his calendar to coincide with his defense team’s presentation and keep him occupied. But he still managed to catch his two lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr., right, and David I. Schoen, on television — and he did not like what he saw, according to two people briefed on his reaction.

Mr. Castor, the first to speak, delivered a rambling, almost somnambulant defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.

And while he was heartened that his other lawyer, Mr. Schoen, gave a more spirited performance, Mr. Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, the people familiar with his reaction said.

Unlike his first Senate impeachment trial, just over a year ago, Mr. Trump has no Twitter feed to do what he believes he does better than anyone else — defend himself — and to dangle threats of retaliation over the heads of Republican senators who serve on the impeachment jury.

So the former president was forced to rely on a traditional method of defense — lawyers in the well of the Senate chamber, and allies spreading word about their plans to defend him against the charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob of supporters.

In the lead-up to the trial this week, Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers said he seemed to be taking his second impeachment more or less in stride, preoccupied with his golf game and his struggling business, and trying to ignore what was happening in Washington.

But the fact that he struggled to retain a full team of lawyers for the trial was a source of concern to some of his aides. None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump returned for the second round. And most of the team he initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.

capitol peter stager

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Democrats must make the full case against Trump, Megan McArdle, right, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). If Donald Trump directly megan mcardlecaused the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 (shown above), then Democrats need to prove it.

To be clear, I believe Trump deserves to be convicted of grave crimes against the republic and barred from ever again running for office. But I also believe that asserting these things will not suffice; Americans need to see all the evidence. And I’m worried that Democrats won’t supply enough of it.

Citizens need testimony and documentation that painstakingly lays out the theory of the case: how Trump planned to claim fraud well before the election and how he followed through afterward, using false statements and frivolous lawsuits to deceive his followers into believing that he hadn’t really lost; how his political team helped bring the angriest and most extreme of those followers to D.C. on the day the results were being certified and whipped the crowd into a rage; how Trump himself then pointed that mob at Congress; and how the president both demonstrated and magnified his complicity by refusing to intervene for long hours as his supporters rampaged through the U.S. Capitol.

Yet as I write, opening arguments have begun in Trump’s Senate trial, and Democrats aren’t even sure whether they’re going to call witnesses.

Despite the gravity of the charges, already the situation looks similar to what happened in Trump’s first Senate trial: Democrats accuse Trump of outrage after outrage, and Republicans call this a frivolous political witch hunt, until finally proceedings end in a mostly party-line vote that Trump will use to claim persecution. The only difference is that this time a few more brave Republicans may vote to convict.

Why, then, do I think that meticulous case must nonetheless be made, even if it takes weeks and means losing momentum for other items on the Biden agenda?

djt maga hatOne reason is to put the powerful people who colluded with Trump on the record, under penalty of perjury. People who made baseless claims of election fraud, or helped assemble that volatile mob on the day of the certification, are more responsible for what happened than the deluded fanatics who followed their lead; they should be more accountable. Force them to acknowledge what they did, or let history record their refusal to do so.

More important is to lay out the entire case before the large number of Americans who haven’t understood exactly how the events of Jan. 6 unfolded or how much Trump and his allies did to foment that insurrection. That is, those Americans who support impeachment, but weakly, should be left in no doubt that they are on the right side. And Republicans who support Trump, but weakly, should be given every chance to change their minds.

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation of Trump Call, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Feb. 10, 2021. Prosecutors are investigating former President Trump’s January phone call to the Georgia secretary of state asking him to “find” votes.

georgia mapProsecutors in Fulton County have initiated a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results, including a phone call he made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Mr. Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to help him reverse his loss.

brad raffenspergerOn Wednesday, Fani Willis, the recently elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to numerous officials in state government, including Mr. Raffensperger, left, requesting that they preserve documents related to Mr. Trump’s call, according to a state official with knowledge of the letter. The letter explicitly stated that the request was part of a criminal investigation, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The inquiry comes as Mr. Trump faces a second impeachment trial in Washington this week, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in stirring up the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6. The violence that day followed weeks of false claims by the former president that election fraud deprived him of victory, including in Georgia, where he lost by about 12,000 votes.

For two months after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump relentlessly attacked election officials in Georgia, including Mr. Raffensperger and the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, claiming they were not doing enough to uncover instances of voting fraud that might change the outcome. In addition to the phone call to Mr. Raffensperger, he also called Gov. Brian Kemp in early December and pressured him to call a special legislative session to overturn his election loss. Later that month, Mr. Trump called a state investigator and pressed the official to “find the fraud,” according to those with knowledge of the call.

The inquiry makes Georgia the second state after New York where Mr. Trump faces a criminal investigation. And it comes in a jurisdiction where potential jurors are unlikely to be hospitable to the former president; Fulton County encompasses most of Atlanta and overwhelmingly supported President Biden in the November election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger, Updated Feb. 10, 2021. President Biden said there was “no need” for former President Donald J. Trump to get the briefings, traditionally given to ex-presidents as a courtesy and to keep them informed if their advice is needed.

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmerPresident Biden said on Friday that he would bar his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, from receiving intelligence briefings traditionally given to former presidents, saying that Mr. Trump could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior” even before the Jan. 6 attack on the CIA LogoCapitol.

The move was the first time that a former president had been cut out of the briefings, which are provided partly as a courtesy and partly for the moments when a sitting president reaches out for advice. Currently, the briefings are offered on a regular basis to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Biden, speaking to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, said Mr. Trump’s behavior worried him “unrelated to the insurrection” that gave rise to the second impeachment of Mr. Trump.


“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Mr. Biden said.

Adam Schiff“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Mr. Biden added. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

The White House said this week that it had been reviewing whether the former president, whose impeachment trial in the Senate begins on Tuesday, should receive the briefings. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, left, said last month, just before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, that Mr. Trump’s access to any classified information should be cut off.

“There is no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now and not in the future,” said Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, who was the House manager for Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, a year ago.

 

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"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, center, and his co-organizer, Infowars radio host, Alex Jones, to his right.

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Solving the Biggest Mystery of January 6, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 10, 2021. Unraveling contacts between the seth abramson headshotWhite House and three Stop the Steal coordinators is the key to the House managers' case. But it appears that no one is looking into it.

The Mystery

seth abramson proof logoTeam Trump wanted Stop the Steal to tell the mob on January 6 that Trump was going to the Capitol, even though Team Trump knew that wasn’t true. And Trump told the mob directly that he was going to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, even though he knew that wasn’t true.

And the result of these actions is that the Stop the Steal organizers of the March to Save America told thousands and thousands of people that it was okay to trespass on the Capitol grounds because Trump would be joining them there. In other words, it was lies by Team Trump, including those very close to him and possibly the man himself, that not only brought the mob to D.C. but go the mob to trespass on the Capitol grounds.

We have no idea if the FBI has spoken to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Ali Alexander is currently in hiding. Meanwhile, we know that the third Stop the Steal organizer, Roger Stone, below left, somehow had enough concern about the march that after raising money for “protective equipment” for the Proud Boys and Oath roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomKeepers who would on January 6 be marching to the Capitol, Stone declined (after being asked, he said, though he does not say by whom) to lead the march. And indeed he never went to the Capitol.

This leaves open the distinct possibility that Stone knew, perhaps even from Trump himself—the two men speak by phone regularly—that Trump was lying to the Stop the Steal organizers in order to swell and encourage and embolden the mob that he knew would head to the Capitol on January 6.

This would explain the now-ubiquitous, universal major-media reporting confirming that Trump was thrilled as he watched the insurrection from the White House.

Why does all this matter? Because we learned during Day 1 of the impeachment trial that a part of Trump’s defense will be that the breach of the Capitol was pre-planned. But now we have evidence that Team Trump was part of that planning — through both lies, omissions, and disinformation about Trump’s January 6 movements. Do the House managers have sufficient information in their hands to make this argument? I hope so.

The Twist

On the evening of Day 1 of Trump’s second impeachment trial, the director of Jason Rink’s Stop the Steal documentary, Paul Escandon—the documentary is simply called “The Steal”—contacted this writer to say that in fact the Stop the Steal organizers never believed Trump was coming to their event at the Capitol (see tweets below). So now we have a battle of potential federal witnesses: Paul Escandon says one thing, Alex Jones and Ali Alexander seem to say another, and two witnesses who could clarify things — Roger Stone and Kimberly Guilfoyle — are not, it seems, in contact with the FBI. So what’s going on here, exactly? This is the key mystery in the federal case of the century and it’s not clear that anyone is tracking down answers.

So Team Trump wanted Stop the Steal to tell the mob on January 6 that Trump was going to the Capitol, even though Team Trump knew that wasn’t true. And Trump told the mob directly that he was going to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, even though he knew that wasn’t true. And the result of these actions is that the Stop the Steal organizers of the March to Save America told thousands and thousands of people that it was okay to trespass on the Capitol grounds because Trump would be joining them there. In other words, it was lies by Team Trump, including those very close to him and possibly the man himself, that not only brought the mob to D.C. but go the mob to trespass on the Capitol grounds.

We have no idea if the FBI has spoken to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Ali Alexander is currently in hiding. Meanwhile, we know that the third Stop the Steal organizer, Roger Stone, somehow had enough concern about the march that after raising money for “protective equipment” for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who would on January 6 be marching to the Capitol, Stone declined (after being asked, he said, though he does not say by whom) to lead the march. And indeed he never went to the Capitol.

This leaves open the distinct possibility that Stone knew, perhaps even from Trump himself—the two men speak by phone regularly—that Trump was lying to the Stop the Steal organizers in order to swell and encourage and embolden the mob that he knew would head to the Capitol on January 6.
This would explain the now-ubiquitous, universal major-media reporting confirming that Trump was thrilled as he watched the insurrection from the White House.

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).

 

Feb. 9

capitol weare the storm flyer resized

Sample promo, entitled #WeAreTheStorm, for the pro-Trump riots that killed five on Jan. 6 in the effort to halt the U.S. presidential election certification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s impeachment trial will tackle constitutional questions, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 9, 2021.  His attorneys’ arguments in the trial beginning today are expected to revolve around a First Amendment defense of his fiery speech before the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and a challenge to the legality of putting a former president on trial.

The arguments by opposing lawyers in the Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump this week are expected to revolve largely around a pair of constitutional questions: A First Amendment defense of his fiery speech ahead of the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and a challenge to the legality of putting a former president on trial.

Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, and the only one to be tried in the Senate after leaving office. While an impeachment proceeding is distinct from a typical criminal trial, with a different set of rules, Trump’s case will feature broad legal questions about whether his actions violate the Constitution.

Most legal scholars who have studied the issue think post-presidential impeachment and conviction are allowed based on history and past practice in Congress. “The overwhelming scholarly consensus supports this argument,” said Steve Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

A prominent conservative lawyer added political and legal heft to the Democrats’ argument that Trump can be tried in the Senate even after he has left office. The assertion from Republican lawyer Charles J. Cooper in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Sunday undercuts the central argument embraced by most GOP lawmakers that it is unconstitutional to convene the Senate trial because Trump is no longer president.

Proof via Substack, Investigative Analysis: A Comprehensive Analysis of Trump's January 6 "Incitement to Insurrection" Speech: Part III, Seth Abramson, Feb. 8, 2021. This breakdown of one of the most dangerous presidential addresses in American history confirms the need for a Senate conviction and rigorous criminal investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Senate must convict Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Feb. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The Senate will begin considering Tuesday whether to convict Donald Trump following the House’s unprecedented second impeachment of the former president. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, as well as many Republicans, deny that the proceedings are legitimate. They are wrong. The Senate must hold its trial, and the right vote is for conviction.

The House was able to impeach Mr. Trump quickly in the final days of his presidency because he betrayed the nation on live television. The House impeachment managers’ brief is damning, even though it reveals little that was not already in the public record.

After Mr. Trump lost the Nov. 3 presidential election, he conducted a persistent campaign of lies alleging that Joe Biden’s victory was fraudulent. His campaign escalated after he failed in court; he suggested Senate Republicans should “fight to the death.” He asked supporters to descend on Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was to count electoral votes. Some of those supporters responded by planning to attack the Capitol.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump instructed the crowd to go to the Capitol and warned, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Supporters screamed, “Take the Capitol right now!” That is what they did after Mr. Trump stopped speaking. Mr. Trump watched as a mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence” stormed the building, resulting in multiple deaths, the interruption of the electoral vote counting and the desecration of the nation’s seat of government. Some in the mob reported that they were following Mr. Trump’s directions. Mr. Trump eventually issued meek statements designed as much to justify the mob’s rage as to pacify it.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers claim that the former president was just exercising his First Amendment rights. But public officials are accountable for the things they say; Mr. Trump would have fired any member of his Cabinet who had, say, publicly denounced him. Mr. Trump is responsible for whipping extremists into a frenzy with lies, encouraging violence and directing those extremists to the chambers in which members of Congress were overseeing the transfer of power. He betrayed his oath to faithfully execute his duties and defend the Constitution; indeed, he disrupted the core operations of the constitutional system.

Many Republicans avoid saying much about Jan. 6, instead claiming that the Senate cannot try to convict Mr. Trump after he has left office. This is a convenient but faulty interpretation. The Constitution contemplates two potential punishments for impeached officials: removal and barring from further service. If former officials could not be impeached and convicted, those facing impeachment could resign quickly and avoid being blacklisted. Historically, Congress has avoided this nonsensical view. What’s more, the House impeached Mr. Trump while he was still in office, and the Constitution states unambiguously that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

Senators must not hide behind fig-leaf arguments. They should listen to the nearly 400 congressional staffers who wrote them a letter about the trauma they endured on Jan. 6, begging them to convict Mr. Trump. And they should think about the precedent they set. As the House managers put it, “Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means — and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross.”

Feb. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, As impeachment trial nears, court documents cite Trump’s rage-fueling rhetoric, Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Evidence to bolster the Democratic case has already emerged in federal criminal cases filed against more than 185 people so far in the aftermath of the insurrection.

Storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was no spur-of-the-moment decision for Jessica Marie Watkins, an Ohio bartender and founder of a small, self-styled militia, federal prosecutors allege.

In documents charging her with conspiracy and other crimes for her role in the insurrection, they say she began planning such an operation shortly after President Donald Trump lost the November election, ultimately helping recruit and allegedly helping lead dozens of people who took violent action to try to stop congressional certification of the electoral college vote last month.

In text messages cited in court documents, Watkins was clear about why she was heading to Washington. “Trump wants all able bodied patriots to come,” she wrote to one of her alleged co-conspirators on Dec. 29, eight days before prosecutors say they invaded the building.

The question of what exactly motivated Watkins and other alleged rioters — and when their plans took shape — will be among the central questions of Trump’s impeachment trial this week, when the Senate will consider whether to convict the former president on charges that he incited the crowd to attack the Capitol.

The nine House impeachment managers leading Trump’s prosecution made clear in an 80-page brief filed last week that they will argue that his role in inspiring the crowd to action began long before the 70-minute speech he gave that day.

They assert that the violence was virtually inevitable after Trump spent months falsely claiming that the election had been stolen from him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump attorneys call Senate trial over deadly Capitol riot a ‘brazen political act’ by Democrats, John Wagner and Paulina Firozi, Feb. 8, 2021. Attorneys for Donald Trump asked the Senate to dismiss the impeachment case against him in a brief filed Monday that contends the Constitution does not permit a trial of a former president and accuses Democrats of a “hunger for this political theater.”

President Biden, who returned to Washington from Delaware on Monday morning, plans to take a virtual tour of a professional football stadium in Arizona that has been turned into a mass coronavirus vaccination site as he continues to focus on combating the pandemic.

Here’s what to know:

  • Rep. Ron Wright (R-Tex.) has died after contracting covid-19. In a statement, Wright’s office said the 67-year-old lawmaker, who had been battling cancer, will be “remembered as a constitutional conservative.”
  • Two in 3 Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll by ABC News-Ipsos that also shows widespread support for his efforts to pass a relief bill.

Filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink, left, working with

Filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink, left, working with "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander (Screenshot).

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Trump Told Stop the Steal Organizers He Would Speak at the Front of the Capitol After His January 6 Speech at the Ellipse, seth abramson headshotSeth Abramson, left, Feb. 8, 2021. New revelations about Trump's schedule for January 6 confirm that the White House was indispensable to the events that led to an armed assault on the U.S. Capitol.

In November 2020, filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink produced a short video romanticizing the then-nascent post-election Stop the Steal movement led by convicted felon and far-right activist Ali Alexander.

seth abramson proof logoAlexander quickly sent Rink his thanks for the short, and afterward the two continued their conversation via email, with Rink agreeing to go to Georgia to produce a one-day documentary on Alexander’s operation. That one day expanded into several days, and eventually into a feature-length documentary, The Steal, that Rink hopes to release by mid-2021. {Note: Ali Alexander claims to have planned the pre-breach events of January 6 along with three Trump Congressional allies: Reps. Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, and Andy Biggs.} 

A trailer of The Steal—a still from which tops this article—reveals that Jason Rink’s weeks of shadowing Alexander, whom he now calls a “friend”, involved him also getting substantial footage of the pre-insurrection activities of Trump adviser and Stop the Steal organizer (as well as “Stop the roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomSteal” phrase-coiner) Roger Stone, left, in addition to footage of conspiracy theorist, InfoWars host, and third Stop the Steal organizer Alex Jones. It appears, too, that insurrectionist and far-right activist Nick Fuentes, often referred to as a white supremacist, is featured in Rink’s documentary.

Following the insurrection, Rink conducted a January 13, 2021 podcast interview with fellow libertarian Tatiana Moroz, during which chat he made the following striking statement (see 34:10 in this video; emphasis supplied):

“I was actually right at the front of the breach [of the Capitol] because I left Trump’s speech like 15 minutes into it [approximately 12:13 PM on January 6] because I was helping to set up a stage that was permitted [had received a permit to be erected] on the other side [the front] of the Capitol. And so I walked over early....[and] when I got to the Capitol, I actually have a little video clip, when people started first coming up to the gates and people started jumping over the fence to get onto the Capitol lawn. And it was kind of, like, regular angry MAGA people trying to get to the Capitol steps, is what I saw. And there was very little security out front of there. Surprisingly little.”

Those who haven’t been tracking the shocking statements made by Ali Alexander, Roger Stone, and Alex Jones on January 6 and January 7 may not immediately see why Rink’s statement is so striking, so I’ll unpack it in five steps

Feb. 6

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s access to sensitive briefings will be determined by intelligence officials, White House clarifies, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Feb. 6, 2021. The statement clarifies comments from President Biden to "CBS Evening News" expressing reluctance about making the briefings available to his predecessor.

The White House on Saturday said President Biden’s comment that his predecessor should not receive intelligence briefings was not a final decision on the matter, which will instead be resolved by intelligence officials.

Biden made his views known during an appearance on “CBS Evening News” with Norah O’Donnell. Asked whether former president Donald Trump should receive the briefings, as is customary for ex-presidents, Biden said, “I think not.”

“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Biden said in a portion of the interview aired Friday. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” (See previous story: New York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger.)

Biden has the unilateral authority to deny intelligence access to anyone he chooses, and his remarks seemed to suggest he considered Trump enough of a risk to do so. But his aides said he would leave that decision to his intelligence team.

“The president was expressing his concern about former president Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence, but he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point the former president Trump requests a briefing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued Saturday.

Former presidents do not receive the same classified daily briefing as a sitting commander in chief. Still, their briefings are typically delivered by current intelligence officers — partly out of respect and convention and partly to prepare them if their advice is solicited or if they’re representing the administration abroad.

The response made clear that Biden’s concerns go beyond the events of Jan. 6, which are core to the Senate impeachment trial set to begin in a few days. As president, Trump selectively revealed highly classified information to attack his adversaries, gain political advantage and impress or intimidate foreign governments, in some cases jeopardizing U.S. intelligence capabilities.

ny times logo

New York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger, Feb. 6, 2021 (print ed.). Mr. Biden said there was “no need” for former President Donald J. Trump to get the briefings, traditionally given to ex-presidents as a courtesy and to keep them informed if their advice is needed.

President Biden said on Friday that he would bar his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, from receiving intelligence briefings traditionally given to former presidents, saying that Mr. Trump could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior” even before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The move was the first time that a former president had been cut out of the briefings, which are provided partly as a courtesy and partly for the moments when a sitting president reaches out for advice. Currently, the briefings are offered on a regular basis to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Biden, speaking to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, said Mr. Trump’s behavior worried him “unrelated to the insurrection” that gave rise to the second impeachment of Mr. Trump.


“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Mr. Biden said.

“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Mr. Biden added. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

The White House said this week that it had been reviewing whether the former president, whose impeachment trial in the Senate begins on Tuesday, should receive the briefings. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, said last month, just before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, that Mr. Trump’s access to any classified information should be cut off.

“There is no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now and not in the future,” said Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, who was the House manager for Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, a year ago.

Feb. 5

Proof, Investigative Commentary:  If You Love America, You Want Donald Trump Convicted. Here's Why, Seth Abramson, below left, Feb. 5, 2021. Far more is at stake now than the fate of a single political party or former president.

seth abramson headshotSome on both the left and right of American politics say that the main reason not to hold a trial of Donald Trump isn’t some fraudulent constitutional dodge cooked up by Trump, his lawyers, and Congressional Republicans — namely the canard, rejected by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, that the Senate can’t convict former presidents — but rather that an acquittal would signal our acquiescence to insurrection.

I don’t know what sort of backwards thinking this country’s intelligentsia has come to that it would embrace the paradox that upholding American rule of law undermines it; that way lies madness.

seth abramson proof logoIndeed, the very fact that an acquittal would signal the country’s acquiescence to insurrection is the reason to hold a trial. Nations hold trials as much to hold themselves accountable to their first principles as to hold defendants accountable.

american flag upside down distressThe jury in Trump’s upcoming trial is ostensibly the senators of the 117th Congress, but in fact it’s you, me, and every patriotic American. A conviction of Donald Trump for incitement to insurrection would be a vote by all of us to continue moving toward the America we wish to become, away from a dark period in our history of which so many of us are deeply ashamed.

By comparison, an acquittal would open the door to a return to that darkness in 2024, in the form of an embossed invitation for Trump to run for president again and to undoubtedly sow insurrection again.

Those in media today, and it is far too many, whose focus of late has not been on the future of our country but the daily political “horserace” that pays their salaries — and who, in inconsequence, have spent each hour of each day telling us that the verdict in this trial has already been determined — should be ashamed of themselves. And they should be shamed in the eyes of the tens of millions of Americans who understand that convicting Donald Trump of the most grave crime against an Oath of Office that any American president has ever committed is not a game, but a national imperative.

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).

 World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Biden’s Programs for Public Health and Economic Recovery Gain Support, Webster G. Tarpley, left, Feb. 6, 2021. With Trump webster tarpley 2007Impeachment Trial Imminent, Biden’s Programs for Public Health and Economic Recovery Gain Support; Choice for GOP: Impeach and Disqualify Trump Before He Is Indicted for Federal and State Infractions, or Face Early Extinction.

AP-NORC Poll Shows 61% Approval for Biden, including a Quarter of Republicans; 74% Have Confidence in Biden’s Handling of the Pandemic, and 65% Trust His Approach to Rebuilding Economy; 54% Want No More of Trump’s Wall; In Party Poll, 48% Favor Democrats, 23% Like Trump’s Hypothetical “Patriot Party”; 17% Are Backing GOP; 14% Respond with “Other”; Dems Must Obtain $15 Minimum Wage;

Putin’s Nomenklatura Dictatorship Seriously Shaken by Two Weekends of Pro-Navalny Demonstrations; US Demands Navalny’s Release; BBC Finds Widespread Rape and Torture of Moslem Uighur Women in Despot Xi’s East Turkestan Concentration Camps; Any US Official Who Argues that Washington Should “Cooperate with Beijing on Climate” Should Be Fired for Appeasement;

Biden Take Notice: After Their Treason in the War of 1812 Hartford Convention, the Federalist Party Became Extinct, Opening the Way to the Era of Good franklin d rooseveltFeelings under the Presidency of James Monroe; Today’s Path to National Reconciliation Passes Through Collapse of GOP as Contender for Power in Washington;

The Reward for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 100 Days of Fighting the Herbert Hoover/GOP Depression: In 1934 Mid-Term Election, Democrats Took 313 Seats in House for a Gain of 9, Leaving Just 117 Republicans; In 48-State Senate, Democrats Took 69 Seats with a Gain of 9, with Only 25 Republicans Surviving; These Are Best Results for Any US Party in Modern History, Proving the Power of a Strategy that Favors Working People Over the Forces of Organized Money!

Feb. 4

American System Network, Commentary: Biden Launches New Foreign Policy Based on Reconstruction of Alliances, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Feb. 4, 2021.webster tarpley 2007Biden Launches New Foreign Policy Based on Reconstruction of Alliances; Breaking Sharply with Trump’s Appeasement Line, US Demands Russia Release Jailed Opposition Leader Navalny; This Can Be Based on Human Rights Basket Three of Helsinki Final Act of 1975;

No More US Military Role in the Genocidal Saudi War on Yemen, which Has Generated Some 233,000 Dead and Inflicted Food Insecurity on 20 Million More; This Trump’s War; No Blanket Charge of Terrorism against the Shiite Houthi Rebels; US Demands that Burmese Generals Give Up Power and Refrain from Violence; Communist China Emerges as Main Sponsor of Mynanmar Coup; Biden Confident US Will Prevail over Beijing;

Defense Secretary Austin will Carry Out Worldwide Review of US Military Posture; No Reductions in US Forces in Germany before this Study Has Been Completed; Focus is Broadened to Include Indo-Pacific;

Biden Must Go Full Speed Ahead to Pass $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief; GOP Gambits All Boil Down to Sabotage and Delay; No Need for Romney’s Weak and Inadequate “Family Security Act”, Since Biden’s Own Child Tax Credit Increase Can Already Cut Child Poverty by about 50%, Far More than Romney’s Plan; Question Remains: How Many Americans Are Supposed to Die in Search of Chimera of Bipartisanship, Meant only to Prop Up the Moribund GOP, Prime Vehicle of Sedition;

Warren Wants New Education Secretary Cardona to Use Administrative Cancellation to Wipe Out $50,000 per Debtor in Student Loan Debt; Move Would Win a Whole Generation as Democratic Voters; Pay for it with a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax!

White House Briefing Suggests that US Concern about Covid Vaccinations Goes No Further than the American People, which Is Hardly the Language of Alliances and Cooperation; Psaki Strikes the Wrong Tone Again;

National Bolsheviks and Fascists for MAGA: Lead Impeachment Manager Raskin Notes that “Extremist Elements in Russia and Germany View the Storming of the Capitol as a Great Victory for 21st Century Fascism.”

Feb. 2

American System Network, Commentary: GOP Gang of Ten Uses the Usual Republican Tricks to Sabotage Biden’s Opening Legislative Gambit, the Urgently webster tarpley 2007Needed $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Bill, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Feb. 2, 2021. Comments from President and White House Reject the Ten’s Proposal as Far too Meager for the Present Emergency.

One Week Before Trump’s Impeachment Trial Begins, Lawyers Submit Legal Briefs; On Trump’s New Legal Team, Attorney David Schoen Was Recruited by Jeffrey Epstein to Lead His Defense; On His schoenlawfirm.com Website, Schoen Lists Some of the Famous Defendants He Has Defended, Including the Boss of One of New York’s Five Crime Families, plus the World Capo of the Italian Mafia and the American Leaders of the Russian and Israeli Mafia; Do Q-Anon Who Prate about Draining the Swamp Smell a Fault?

Trump’s Tired and Discredited Arguments Include the Absurd Claim that Trump Cannot Be Tried as a Private Citizen; But Impeachment Started when He Was Still in Office, and Main Issue is His Disqualification for Future Federal Office; Trump Sure to Claim Landslide Victory in 2020 Election; Democratic Case to Concentrate on Evoking Psychological Truth of Trump’s Crimes;

Chinese Communists Strictly Limit WHO Inspectors in Wuhan; International Organizations Have Long Had Bad Record in Resisting Tyranny; By Late 1930s, Nazis and Fascists Were in Control of League of Nations, Bank for International Settlements, and Interpol!
Breaking: Moscow Court Sends Navalny Back to Jail for Two and a Half Years; His Powerful Speech Declares Bankruptcy of Putin’s Oppressive Regime; Blinken Condemns Kangaroo Court Verdict

 

January Update

Jan. 31

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump's Dozen Impeachment Defenses, Ranked in Order of Legal and Factual Validity, Seth Abramson seth abramson proof logo(shown at right, lawyer, professor, author, syndicated columnist), Jan. 31, 2021. A dry run of Donald's dozen debunked, discredited, and disreputable defenses.

Here are the dozen defenses Trump will flirt with at his impeachment trial, ranked by their plausibility, viability, and accuracy as a matter of both law and fact. {Note: Keep in mind that “trial” should be in quotes here, as this isn’t a criminal trial but a political one, so typical courtroom protocols regarding evidence, witnesses, conflicts of interest, decorum, examinations, and common sense are thrown over the balcony.} 

Jan. 30

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Speculative Mania in Heavily Shorted Stocks is Probable Harbinger of Brutal Day of Reckoning, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 30, 2021. webster tarpley 2007The Story of Joseph P. Kennedy and the Bellboy in 1929 Teaches that When People of Modest Means Start Borrowing Money on Margin and Attempt to Join Bubble Very Late in the Game, the End is Near; Leveraged Buying Frenzy by Retail Investors Cannot Last; Gamestop and Some Other Distressed Stocks Make Gains, but Overall Market Declines below 30,000; Recent Market Favorites Like Apple Pulled Down into Vortex.

Biden Administration Must Defend US from Looming Crash with Aggressive Re-Regulation, Bringing Back Classic New Deal Safeguards: Restore Glass-Steagall, While Using Federal Reserve Regulation T to Impose 100% Margin Requirements; Naked Shorting of Stocks, Bonds, and Derivatives Must Be Banned Entirely, as in Europe During 2010 Bond Crisis;

Fallacy of Speculators: For Small Retail Investors to Defend Themselves from Giant Zombie Banks and Vicious Hedge Fund Hyenas, They Must Have the Support of Government; Biden Must Suppress Speculation with 1% Wall Street Sales Tax on All Wall Street Transactions in Stocks, Bonds, and Derivatives; Camouflaged by the Crowd of Neophytes, It Must Be Assumed that Malefactors of Great Wealth Have Infiltrated the Various Chat Rooms for Purposes of Manipulation; When the Finance Oligarchs Bolt for the Exits, the Credulous Little People Will Be Left Holding the Bag.

Jan. 27

Proof via Substack, Investigation: More Revelations About Secretive January 5 War Council at Trump International Hotel, Seth Abramson, Jan. 27, 2021. A few seth abramson proof logokey questions have been resolved, but significant unsolved mysteries remain.

Reporting in the Omaha World-Herald, as well as social media screenshots and videos, confirm a January 5 pre-insurrection war council at DC’s Trump International Hotel. Also confirmed by the evidence is a list of the gathering’s (minimum) fifteen attendees.

The first Proof article on this subject can be found here.

The secretive January 5 meeting — which one attendee, Senator Tommy Tuberville, has already been caught lying about, and which another, Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, has attempted to scrub his social media to conceal — included eight different components of Trump’s political machine:

  • Family members: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle (current girlfriend of Trump Jr., and a former on-air Fox News personality).
  • Trump’s legal team: Rudy Giuliani.
  • United States senators: Tuberville and at least two other senators (see below).
  • Administration officials: Peter Navarro and Charles Herbster.
  • January 6 organizers: Ali Alexander, Adam Piper, and Michael Flynn.
  • Trump campaign officials: Corey Lewandowski (former), David Bossie (former).
  • Cyberintelligence specialists: Flynn (information operations) and possibly Phil Waldron (self-described—see more below—as skilled in “intelligence analysis”).
  • Trump donors: Mike Lindell, Daniel Beck, and Herbster.

Due to minimal ongoing coverage of this extraordinary pre-January 6 strategy meeting, questions about the Trump International Hotel gathering remain. This article outlines key questions and reveals the answers to several — all uncovered over the last 24 hours.

Question 1: How many senators attended Team Trump’s January 5 war council?

...

Seth Abramson, shown at right, founder of Proof, 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).

Jan. 26

U.S. Politics, Governance, Civic Life

Steve Bannon at a 2013 Tea Party Rally (Photo via C-SPAN)

Steve Bannon at a 2013 Tea Party Rally (Photo via C-SPAN)

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: The battle against fascism and a looming World War III, Wayne Madsen, right, Jan. 26, 2021. The threat of international wayne madsen screen shotfascism is now so great, the world's democracies must declare total war on the leadership, militias, political constructs, and infrastructure of global fascism.

On January 25, the House of Commons in Canada got the ball rolling by unanimously voting for a motion put forth by the New Democratic Party (NDP) that canadian flagdeclares the pro-Donald Trump Proud Boys a terrorist organization and bans it from operating on Canadian soil.

The U.S. government should awake to the dangers of the global fascist movement.

Two overseas organizations that involve Americans, The Movement and The Base, should be squeezed politically and financially by the Biden administration. The Movement, which is headquartered in Brussels and is Steve Bannon's fledgling Fascist International, has managed to secure funding guo wen gui 2017from exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, left -- who has replaced Robert and Rebekah Mercer as Bannon's primary sugar daddy -- and moneyed interests in the Roman Catholic Church that are affiliated with the fascist religious order Opus Dei.

Guo has provided Bannon with media platforms, including a television network, that are being used to rally the extreme right around the United States and the world. Guo was granted political asylum by the Trump administration after China issued a warrant for his arrest for epoch timesseveral counts of financial fraud in China.

Guo and Bannon have linked their media efforts with those of the religious cult Falun Gong, which publishes the pro-Trump and far-right conspiracy newspaper Epoch Times. Bannon's strategy is to infiltrate existing political parties with far-right activists. So far, Bannon's ploy has seen success with the Republican Party, especially its state-level party organizations in Arizona, Oregon, Maine, Texas, and Hawaii that have been largely taken over by conspiracy theorists touting Qanon inanity.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 5 Meeting at Trump International Hotel Could Hold the Key to the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, Jan. 26, seth abramson proof logo2021. The night before the insurrection, a large group of Trump family and advisers held an urgent meeting with January 6 organizers at the president's private residence in DC.

Well after dark on January 5, 2021 — just 15 hours before an insurrection against the United States government incited by the President of the United States — Nebraska Republican Charles W. Herbster, at the time the National Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee for the Trump administration, attended a private meeting of Trump family members, Trump administration officials, Trump campaign advisers, January 6 organizers, and at least one member of the United States Senate at Trump International Hotel in Washington.

In attendance at the large and only recently uncovered meeting, conducted “in the private residence of the President” at his hotel, were, according to Herbster’s account, the following individuals (Note: Donald Trump’s presence at the meeting, either in person or via speakerphone, as yet remains unclear, so his name is temporarily absent from this listing):

  • Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of the president
  • Eric Trump, second-eldest son of the president
  • Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to the president
  • Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator
  • Corey Lewandowski, 2016 Trump campaign manager
  • David Bossie, 2016 Trump deputy campaign manager
  • Adam Piper, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association
  • Tommy Tuberville, United States senator from the State of Alabama

According to research by political strategist and regular CNN, MSNBC, The Hill, CBS, and Fox News contributor Cheri Jacobus, Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck claims he was at the January 5 meeting also, and that additional attendees at the gathering included the following three people:

  • Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to the President of the United States
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
  • Michael Lindell, Trump donor and MyPillow CEO

In a Facebook post, Beck claims that there were “fifteen of us [who] spent the evening [January 5]” at Trump International Hotel in DC, a statement that tracks with the nine attendees listed by Herbster, the additional three referenced by Beck himself, and a photograph Beck took on January 5 in which he appears outside the hotel with an unidentified woman and three unidentified men, two wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps:

Guilfoyle’s presence at the meeting is critical given that Stop the Steal coordinator Ali Alexander claims he received a call from Guilfoyle during the evening of January 5 — when she would have been with Trump’s family and advisers at Trump International. As for Tuberville, he now claims, contrary to the statements of Herbster and Beck, that he was never at the Trump International Hotel on January 5.

An Instagram photograph from January 5, taken at Trump International Hotel in DC, appears to show Senator Tuberville on-site, as described by both Beck and Herbster:

In Charles Herbster’s Facebook post detailing the meeting — a post that looks forward with anger and trepidation to the upcoming January 6 certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and has since been hidden and reposted, along with all photos of the Trump family on Herbster’s Facebook account posted from December 2020 through January 2021 — the Nebraska Republican writes of the “battles and blood” that in the past have been required to “protect our way of life”, as well as his own decision “[not to] choose the easy path” but instead “fight” the “widespread voter fraud that happened on November 3.”

Herbster is, as of January 26, not yet speaking to media about January 5, nor about Senator Tuberville’s contrary account of the events of that evening in DC.

...

Seth Abramson, shown at right, founder of Proof, 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).

Palmer Report, Opinion: Removing Louis DeJoy, Rob Partridge, Jan. 26, 2021. Dr. Benjamin Franklin established America’s postal service in 1775, operating out of a small storefront that still exists on Market Street in Philadelphia. Time-honored and highly popular, the USPS oath remains: “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

bill palmer report logo headerWith the Trump campaign staring at a likely presidential election loss, could it be that a sinister Roger Stone inspired heist was planned focused on derailing the USPS?

What if a mere 3% of the mail could be delayed by a month or more – especially in ‘blue’ cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta? In that case the mail-in ballot option driven by COVID-19, and utilized far more by Democratic Party and Independent voters, might be muted. Voting center deadlines for mail arrival would pass with millions of such votes rendered ineligible to be counted under state laws. A mere 3%.

The problem with that plan might have emerged when Louis DeJoy was appointed as Postmaster General and used a sledgehammer on the USPS rather than a scalpel. High speed sorting machines were disabled and thousands of the ubiquitous blue mail boxes were removed from local street corners. Thousands of veterans saw their needed medicines delayed. Millions of Social Security check deliveries were late. Everyone noticed, Congress got involved, and small but important corrections were forced just in time.

The House and Senate must subpoena Mr. DeJoy at the earliest possible date to investigate his role in that debacle. Concurrently, the entirety of the Trump-appointed Postal Board of Governors must resign, so that a new Board can be appointed, and quickly relieve Mr. DeJoy of his post.

Jan. 25

Proof via Substack, Investigation: The Fingerprints of Top Trump Adviser Roger Stone Are All Over the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, Jan. 26, 2021. seth abramson proof logoStone says he wasn't involved, but the evidence suggests he's lying — yet again.

Roger Stone’s fingerprints are all over the January 6 insurrection.

And the fact that no Trump friend, ally, or adviser granted clemency by the former president was more attentively aided by him — Trump first commuted Stone’s 40-month prison sentence in July 2020, then later pardoned him — raises the question of whether Trump needed Stone both out of prison and beholden to him as part of the president’s own plans: specifically, a scheme to overturn the November 2020 election.

The evidence that has emerged since January 6 — discussed at length here, and fully sourced via major-media investigative reporting — suggests that’s just what happened.

Trump would have known in advance of his commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence in July 2020 exactly what Stone would start doing thereafter, as Stone had coined the phrase “Stop the Steal” in the lead-up to the 2016 election, declaring at the time that “If this election is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT” (emphasis in original, both here and in every all-caps quotation that appears hereafter). Stone’s 2016 “Stop the Steal” effort was a massive fundraising scam that would see its echo in Trump’s 2020 post-election Save America PAC, an “election defense” fund that raised hundreds of millions of dollars via hundreds of November and December emails to frustrated Trump voters.

While we don’t know where the money Stone needlessly raised in 2016 went, we do know that virtually none of the hundreds of millions raised by Trump in 2020 via his Save America PAC went to election defense. The most recent assessment puts the percentage of the money raised that went to Trump lawsuits at under 10%. The rest went to either the RNC or, to a far greater degree, a political fund that Trump can now draw from in the future for almost any purpose, including domestic and international travel self-declared by the man himself as being for “political” purposes.

Roger Stone’s “Stop the Steal” tagline was picked up, during Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, by a man he describes as a “good friend”, far-right activist Ali Alexander. Stone, at the time, was under the scrutiny of the federal justice system and was constricted in his political activities.

Beginning in midsummer 2020, however — just in time for the start of the 2020 general election — Stone was unleashed, thanks to Trump, thereafter conjoining his efforts with Alexander’s even as the latter bolstered his ties with a group with which Roger Stone has been associated: the Proud Boys, a far-right neofascist “club” for men.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has gone so far as to call the infamous white supremacist organization “affiliated with” Roger Stone, and vice versa. This is significant, given that blaze orange-hatted Proud Boys were, per the Wall Street Journal, at the forefront of the breach of the Capitol on January 6.

...

Seth Abramson, shown at right, founder of Proof, 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).

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court ends lawsuits alleging Trump illegally profited from business interests, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Jan. 25, 2021. All sides agreed that cases involving “emoluments clauses” are moot after Donald Trump lost reelection.

The Supreme Court on Monday put an end to lawsuits alleging that former president Donald Trump violated a constitutional anti-corruption prohibition by profiting from his business empire while president.

The justices, without comment or noted dissent, declined to hear Trump’s request to consider lower court orders that said lawsuits could go forward, agreeing with those on both sides of the issue that the cases became moot with Trump no longer in office.

The justices also vacated the lower court judgments in the cases, one of which was filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

It means that there is no definitive answer after years of legal wrangling over the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit presidents and others from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional approval.

The question has rarely been presented because presidents rarely maintain active business interests in office, as Trump did. Much of the litigation turned on the president’s interest in the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House, which became a magnet for foreign dignitaries and others doing business with the government.

The litigation was consumed with questions about who had the right to bring such a suit, and legal questions without precedent.

“We are proud that because of our case, a court ruled on the meaning of ‘emoluments’ for the first time in American history, finding that the Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting almost anything of value from foreign or domestic governments,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a joint statement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal from Sheldon Silver, Former N.Y. Lawmaker, Adam Liptak, Jan. 25, 2021. Mr. Silver, who once dominated state politics as the speaker of the New York Assembly, was convicted of taking illicit payments from real estate developers.

sheldon silver wThe Supreme Court on Monday let stand the conviction of Sheldon Silver, right, the once-powerful State Assembly speaker in New York who went to prison last summer on federal corruption charges.

As is the court’s custom, its brief order gave no reasons for turning down the case. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented, saying the court should have heard the case to clarify its rulings on bribery and extortion.

The court has in recent years been skeptical of broad interpretations of public corruption laws, saying they are not all-purpose devices to ensure good government.

Mr. Silver’s lawyers told the justices that prosecutors had overreached in his case by securing his conviction of accepting bribes in a real estate scheme without proving that those who made the payments had intended to influence particular official actions.

The federal appeals court in New York, in affirming Mr. Silver’s conviction for his role in the scheme, said it was enough that he understood that he would take official actions in exchange for the payments.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six shot dead, including pregnant woman, in ‘mass murder,’ Indianapolis officials say, Meryl Kornfield, Jan. 25, 2021 (print ed.). Authorities said they have determined the attack was “targeted” and there may have been more than one shooter, but no suspects have been identified.

FBI crime data indicated killings rose nearly 21 percent nationwide in the first nine months of the year, The Post previously reported.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Finishing off Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Jan. 25, 2021. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse expressed his ongoing exasperation this week that the Trump-era DOJ never did properly investigate Brett Kavanaugh, and now Kavanaugh is casting absurd Supreme Court votes unabated.

bill palmer report logo headerThe minute President Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland is confirmed, I strongly urge Senate Democrats to refer Brett Kavanaugh to the DOJ for felony perjury. It’s an easily proven charge, as we all saw him lie under oath about various key topics during his confirmation hearing.

If the DOJ brings a case, Kavanaugh will end up having to resign in exchange for non-prosecution. There’s never a guarantee that the DOJ will bring a case. But with Trump gone, and the DOJ being back to making decisions based on the merits of any given case, it’s difficult to imagine the DOJ not bringing a case in such a clear cut instance of felony perjury. For that matter, once the DOJ opens the perjury case, it can investigate the things he was lying about, such as how his debts magically disappeared, and get to the bottom of that as well.

Kavanaugh has to go. Even if we can’t nail him for sexual assault, we can nail him for perjury. Getting him off the Supreme Court won’t fix what’s currently wrong with the court – but it’ll make doing so easier.

Jan. 24

madison cawthorne hunting amazon

Proof via Substack, Investigation: It's Time to Talk About Madison Cawthorn, Seth Abramson, Jan. 24, 2021. The North Carolina Congressman (shown above) is seth abramson proof logoa key January 6 figure too few are talking about.

We’ve entered an era of American history in which we must be more on guard against recurrences of the past than ever before. Donald Trump, if not convicted of incitement to insurrection by the Senate in February, may run again for president—in a storm of vengeance and spite—in 2024. If he doesn’t, one or another of those of his offspring who haven’t fallen far from the tree might well do so, bringing with them the same depravity of spirit and hatred of democracy that festered in their father for decades.

But it may equally be that, over the next ten or twenty or thirty years, the recurrence of Trumpism as a dangerous monolith at the center of our democracy comes to us in the form of someone outside the Trump family: another man or woman with no scruples, a history of deceit, a willingness to incite the very worst in us, and a penchant for fraud.

It’s in this spirit that I write about a twenty-five year-old Republican Congressman from North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn. Cawthorn, we recently learned from The Nation, was elected to Congress of the strength of lies about his military service, his educational background, his work experience, and even his experience—as it turns out, wholly illusory—as a Paralympian. Why these lies weren’t caught by media before this Trump-in-waiting made it to the halls of Congress, we don’t yet know.

What we do know is that in mid-December 2020, Madison Cawthorn “encouraged” Trump voters to call the Capitol and “lightly threaten” members of Congress on the subject of the 2020 election results, in doing so saying to members of Congress, as he explicitly recommended, “‘You know what? If you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn’s coming after you, everybody’s coming after you.’”

In the event anyone thought Cawthorn had accidentally slipped into unfortunate and indelicate hyperbole, the Congressman appeared at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 to expand on his prior incitement. He repeated that he was “encouraging” Trump voters to “make their voice[s] heard” because “our Constitution was violated [on November 3].” He ranted that the mob was “doing this”—what he thought or believed the crowd was about to do is unclear—because they’d been forced to do so, indeed because no one else would “make sure they [their representatives in Congress] stood up for election integrity.”

Cawthorn spoke closer in time to Donald Trump on January 6 than either of Trump’s adult sons, and was introduced by the same music Trump himself is introduced by (“Macho Man” by the Village People). He began his speech on the day of the armed insurrection by shouting, “Wow, this crowd really has some fight in it! I’m so glad each and every one of you have come.” He proceeded to underscore to the gathered mob that the Capitol was only “two miles away” down “Pennsylvania Avenue”—as though he were a traffic cop directing them to their final destination. He juxtaposed the lack of “courage” at the Capitol—just two miles away, down Pennsylvania Avenue, you can’t miss it!—with the “courage” that he said he saw in the angry masses before him.

Jan. 23

Justice Department logo

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

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

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

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

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

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

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

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

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

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 23

Justice Department logo

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

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

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

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

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

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

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

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

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

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Majority of Americans Want Trump Convicted and Barred Forever from Holding Federal Office, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 24, webster tarpley 20072021. Majority of Americans Want Trump Convicted and Barred Forever from Holding Federal Office; Zero Tolerance Here for Fascist Coup d’État and Dictatorship; Some GOP Intrigues Want Trump Gone.

In Spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hundred Days, Biden Launches 30 Executive Orders and Actions to Defeat Pandemic and Worsening Economic Conjuncture; On Friday, Biden Established $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Workers and Contractors, Plus More Money for Food Stamps and Meals for School Kids;
16 Senators Set to Meet with Biden’s Top Economist Deese; Goal Must Be Full $2 Trillion Pandemic Relief and Stimulus Bill;

1% Wall Street Sales Tax on Turnover of Stocks, Bonds and Derivatives, plus 0% Century Bonds Bought by Fed Are Key to Financing Recovery and Reconstruction Programs;

Trump Economy’s Farewell Week Came with 900,000 New Jobless, Exposing Once Again the Catastrophe of Trump’s Policies; This is Worst Labor Market in Recent US History, Far Worse than the 700,000 per Month Faced by Obama-Biden in 2009 Depression; GOP Lunatic Fringe in Flux After Q Fails to Deliver Stormy Putsch; Some Groups Turn Against Trump;

Merchants of Death: US Exceeds Death Toll of World War II under Trump; British Count Under Johnson Exceeds Civilians Killed in World War II.

Jan. 20

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)

London police arresting the bearded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (screenshot from Ruptly video).

Information Clearing House, No Pardons For Edward Snowden Or Julian Assange, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 20, 2021. Although several long shot campaigns were mounted, President Donald Trump did not pardon any whistleblowers who were indicted or prosecuted under the United States Espionage Act. He also declined to pardon the only journalist ever to be indicted under the World War I-era law.

djt on wikileaksWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, right, were not offered clemency because Trump "did not want to anger Senate Republicans who will soon determine whether he's convicted during his Senate trial."

"Multiple GOP lawmakers had sent messages through aides that they felt strongly about not granting clemency to Assange or Snowden," according to CNN.

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, who was the first to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act under Trump, and former CIA officer John Kiriakou pursued pardons. They were effectively denied as well.

wikileaks logo2On January 17, the New York Times reported that an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Kiriakou a pardon would cost him $2 million.

"I laughed. Two million bucks—are you out of your mind?" Kiriakou told the Times. "Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn't spend it to recover a $700,000 pension."

The report exposed a sliver of the corruption around pardons in the final days of the Trump presidency, as "several people with connections" to Trump apparently "accepted large sums of money" in return for clemency.

john kiriakouKiriakou, right, said Trump was not the only president in history to encourage this kind of behavior. "Certainly, Bill Clinton did at the end of his administration well. But this just highlights how the pardon process in the United States is broken."

Throughout the past three months, prominent supporters of Assange, like Pamela Anderson and Glenn Greenwald, were frequent guests on Fox News during primetime in order to communicate the case for a pardon directly to Trump.

A few Republicans in Congress, like Senator Rand Paul and Representative Matt Gaetz, crafted a partisan pitch for pardoning Snowden that went something like Democratic allies, such as former director of national intelligence James Clapper, persecuted him.

“He revealed that James Clapper, the highest-ranking, most powerful spy in the world, was spying on Americans and lied to us about it,” Paul declared. “So I think what Snowden, right, did was a service to the American people and he ought to be pardoned.”

Edward SnowdenBut Snowden did not have millions of dollars to pay off Trump nor was he ever going to do Trump any political favors.

Snowden responded, "Reports that Trump has let himself be bullied out of pardoning Assange, mistakenly believing Senate Republicans won't vote to impeach him if he caves. Once he's out of power, they're going to vote to impeach him anyway. Which, well—that's one way to be remembered."

"Trump will either be remembered as the first president since JFK, who from his first to last day in office was hated by the NSA, CIA, and FBI, or as the one who caved to pressure at the very last moment," Snowden further suggested.

He constantly bashed the "deep state" during his campaign and presidency, but whenever he needed to challenge national security institutions and stand up to their apparatchiks in the Republican Party, he showed there was nothing behind it.

"[The rhetoric] ended up not really serving anybody," Kiriakou contended.

Which is not to say the pardon campaigns by Assange, Snowden, Winner, Kiriakou, and others were a waste of time. Nobody would have predicted President Barack Obama would commute U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning's sentence in 2017 during the final days of his administration.

Assange, who was indicted under Trump, will remain in Belmarsh, a high-security prison in London where COVID-19 has recently spread through his unit. reality winner mug CustomThe Biden Justice Department is expected to pursue an appeal of a British court’s decision to deny the U.S. government's extradition request against Assange.

With a newborn, Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, will remain in Moscow. They will live in exile at least until Snowden can return and defend his whistleblowing acts in a courtroom in the Eastern District of Virginia. (Significant reform is necessary for that to happen.)

Winner, shown at right in prison garb, will be able to leave Federal Medical Center Carswell and go to a halfway house as early as November 2021. However, she also must worry about COVID-19 outbreaks at Carswell.

Because Kiriakou completed his sentence several years ago, his circumstances are far less dire. He still would like to reclaim his pension.

In the end, a president who built up a brand of standing up to the so-called swamp did not want to take any heat for pardoning individuals loathed by the very establishment that despises him. He was spineless and weak.

Trump risked a scandal over pardons for his son-in-law or any one of his cronies. He was not willing to take the same risk for Assange, Snowden, or Kiriakou.

"No president wants to really be involved in a controversy. Donald Trump [was] no different," Kiriakou concluded.

Jan. 12

 

ali akbar alexander stop the steal

Legal Schnauzer, Investigation: As Parler data leak spews forth files about planning of deadly Trump rally, organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander goes into hiding, with legal problems likely looming, Roger Shuler, Jan. 12, 2021. Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander, he of the Alabama ties via Montgomery lawyer and talk-show host Baron Coleman, has gone into hiding, according to a report at the Daily Beast.

Is Alexander's disappearing act driven, in part, by reports that security researchers have cracked all the files at Parler, the site reportedly used by right wingers to plan last week's protest-turned-riot at the U.S. Capitol? Does Alexander (shown above in a file photo) know the security pros plan to provide Parler files to law enforcement, perhaps posing serious legal implications for planners from the Trump fringe who launched the rally that turned into a deadly assault on Congress?

It's too early to have definitive answers to those question, but it appears likely Alexander knows he's gone too far and might need to lawyer up shortly. Under the headline, "Stop the Steal’ Organizer in Hiding After Denying Blame for Riot," the DailyBeast's Will Sommer writes:

Two weeks before thousands of Trump rioters breached Congress, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander said his group wasn’t violent—“yet.”

“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks,’” Alexander told a crowd at a Dec. 19 rally at Arizona’s state capitol. “I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!”

Alexander, who has described himself as one of the “official originators” of the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, went on to use “yet” as a code word for violence. Then Alexander told the Phoenix crowd about his plans for Washington.

“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” Alexander said. “And if we have to explore options after that…‘yet.’ Yet!”

Alexander apparently is not quite so glib these days. Writes Sommer:

Alexander led a host of activists in ratcheting up the rhetoric ahead of Congress’ certification of the electoral votes, threatening to “1776” opponents of Trump’s re-election. Now that five people, including a Capitol Police officer, are dead, however, Alexander has gone into hiding, and the website promoting his Jan. 6 rally has been wiped from the internet.

Alexander is defiant, saying he won’t “take an iota of blame that does not belong to me.”

“I didn’t incite anything,” Alexander said in a video posted Friday to Twitter. “I didn’t do anything.”

That last statement suggests Alexander already is thinking of a defense to federal incitement charges that could be coming. Does Alexander's claim that he "didn't incite anything" mesh with reality? Not exactly. Writes Sommer:

Alexander’s voice grew more menacing in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 rally. He tweeted that he would “give my life for this fight,” a call that was promoted by the Arizona Republican Party.

Alexander also began tweeting frequently about “1776,” a reference to the start of the American Revolution. Alexander wrote in one post that the choice was “45”—Trump’s re-election—“or 1776.” In another message, he wrote that “1776 is always an option for free men and women.”

Most pointedly, Alexander responded to a tweet from QAnon-supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claiming that top congressional leaders were working to block objections to the electoral vote. If that happened, Alexander said, he and hundreds of thousands of other protesters would “1776” the Capitol.

“If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” Alexander tweeted on Dec. 30. “1776 is *always* an option”

The night before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander riled up Trump supporters in Washington with a “victory or death” chant and once again brought up “1776.”

“1776 is always an option,” Alexander told the crowd. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want, or we are going to shut this country down.”

For now, Alexander is out of sight and begging his followers for money:

Alexander claims to be in hiding, alleging in a video posted Friday that he needs $2,000 a day to fund his security detail and other expenses and hitting his fans up for donations. In a bizarre moment in his fundraising pitch, Alexander claimed that he was being targeted by the supernatural: “Witches and wiccans are putting hexes and curses on us.”

It’s not clear how, however, if Alexander’s supporters can send him money at all. On Saturday, he posted on Parler that he had been banned from Venmo and PayPal.

In his Friday video, Alexander claimed that his “rally never turned violent.” But Alexander also read a quote from talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that positively compared the rioters to the heroes of the American Revolution, and said rioters who entered the Capitol should suffer light consequences, if any.

“I think people should be rowdy, I think people should be messy,” Alexander said. “I do believe that we own that U.S. Capitol. So I’m not apologizing for nothing.”

As for Parler, the story of its downfall -- and the resulting data leak -- broke early yesterday, and that could prove to be a gift from heaven for federal investigators. Writes Dell Cameron at Gizmodo:

parler logoIn the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher [from Austria] began an effort to catalogue the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by her Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence. According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, among other sources, Parler is one of a several apps used by the insurrections to coordinate their breach of the Capitol, in a plan to overturn the 2020 election results and keep Donald Trump in power.

Operating on little sleep, @donk_enby began the work of archiving all of Parler’s posts, ultimately capturing around 99 percent of its content. In a tweet early Sunday, @donk_enby said she was crawling some 1.1 million Parler video URLs. “These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” she said. Included in this data tranche, now more than 56 terabytes in size, @donk_enby confirmed that the raw video files include GPS metadata pointing to exact locations of where the videos were taken.

@donk_enby later shared a screenshot showing the GPS position of a particular video, with coordinates in latitude and longitude.

The privacy implications are obvious, but the copious data may also serve as a fertile hunting ground for law enforcement. Federal and local authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in recent days accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, where a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, was fatally wounded after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Jan. 11

American System Network, House Democrats Introduce Resolution for Second Impeachment of Trump, Webster G. Tarpley, |Jan. 11, 2021. Biden Suggests webster tarpley 2007Two-Tiered Bifurcated Schedule to Handle Confirmations, Emergency Legislation, and Trump Senate Trial; Republicans Block Ultimatum to Pence to Activate XXV Amendment Immediately, which Will Be Approved on Tuesday;

Memo from FBI, DEA, ATF, Defense Department, US Park Police, and US Marshals Warns of Armed Fascist Attacks on Public Buildings in All 50 State Capitals from January 16 to January 20; This is in Addition to Previous Warning of Armed Putsch Attempts in Nation’s Capital Expected between January 17 and January 20; DC Mayor Bowser Demands and Gets Declaration of State of Emergency from White House; Beware of Fascist Networks Infiltrated into Law Enforcement, and of Foreign Intelligence Services at Work for Subversion!

Former AG Barr and Current White House Counsel Cipollone Warn Trump not to Attempt Self-Pardon; Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is Third Cabinet Office to Quit Since January 6 Putsch Attempt; Does Cabinet Still Have Quorum Needed to Oust Trump?; Ongoing Probe of January 6 Coup Attempt Points to Attempted Violent Overthrow of US Government;

Across Entire Society, Proliferating Signs of Traditional American Revulsion Against Fascism: Array of Social Media Banish Don and His Lies; Business CEOs and Trade Associations Cutting Campaign Contributions to GOP Fanatics; Professional Golfers’ Association Boycotts Trump Country Club in New Jersey; Calls for New York Bar to Ban Giuliani; Broadcasters Admonish Reactionary Talkers to Stop Raving About Trump Victory and Stolen Election or Be Fired; Cutoff of Cash from Big Money Donors is Threat to GOP Supply Line, Bringing Extinction into View;

About 100 Perpetrators Arrested So Far, with Many More to Come; Sentiment Growing in Congress for Expulsion of Cruz, Hawley, and Brooks;”
Waiting for Certification of Georgia Results, which Will Deprive McConnell of Senate Control and Empower New Majority Leader Schumer to Determine the Legislative Calendar;

Jan. 9

capitol guns drawn

Police with guns drawn watch as rioters and vandals break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Source: J. Scott Applewhite/AP); Separately, Fox News reported that an unidentified shooting victim, a California woman, was evacuated from the Capitol to a hospital in critical condition and died after being shot during unidentified circumstances, with at least three other dead during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump Removal Pressures?

 

U.S. Police, Capital Mob Riot

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Trump Removal Pressures

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces mounting demands to leave office or face impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump faces mounting pressure for his immediate ouster after he incited Wednesday’s violent siege at the Capitol — an increasingly louder drumbeat chastising his actions that threatens not only to prematurely end his waning tenure but to put him in legal jeopardy once he leaves office.

democratic donkey logoIn Congress, a growing cadre of House Democrats is pushing to rapidly impeach Trump a second time before he is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20. They are preparing to introduce articles charging him with inciting an insurrection and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States” and its institutions.

In public, Trump has come as close as he is likely to get to admitting he lost the election, acknowledging that there will be a transfer of power and confirming Friday that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But in private, the president has tried to rationalize his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest that would garner news coverage and rattle members of Congress — not for his supporters to actually storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden stimulus plan includes checks, jobless aid, Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he is assembling a multitrillion-dollar relief package that would boost stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000, extend unemployment insurance and send billions of dollars in aid to city and state governments, moving swiftly to address the nation’s deteriorating economic condition and the rampaging pandemic.

joe biden twitterThe package will also include billions of dollars to improve vaccine distribution and tens of millions of dollars for schools, as well as rent forbearance and assistance to small businesses, especially those in low-income communities, Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del.

“We need to provide more immediate relief for families and businesses now,” Biden said.

“The price tag will be high,” he said, adding, “The overwhelming consensus among leading economists left, right and center is that in order to keep the economy from collapsing this year, getting much, much worse, we should be investing significant amounts of money right now.”

Biden said he would lay out the package in more detail next week. It would build on some $4 trillion in economic assistance Congress has already devoted to battling the devastating pandemic, including a $900 billion package President Trump signed into law last month.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live U.S. Political Update: Democrats Lay Groundwork for Impeaching Trump Again, Staff Reports, Jan. 9, 2021. ‘I Want Him Out’: Murkowski Is First G.O.P. Senator to Call for Removal.

House Democrats intend to introduce an article of impeachment on Monday charging President Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.” President-elect Joe Biden prioritizes the economy, saying there is a “a dire, dire need to act now.”

  • Furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, pressured President Trump to leave office after a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski suggested she may leave the Republican Party if it continued to align itself with Mr. Trump.
  • But the president struck a defiant tone. Behind closed doors, he made clear that he would not resign. Here’s the latest from Washington.
  • Biden pledges action to address the economy and the pandemic.
  • Pelosi asked the Pentagon about preventing Trump from using the nuclear codes.
  • A judge has blocked Trump’s sweeping restrictions on asylum applications.
  • Trump's suspension from Twitter caps an online revolt against him.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell memo outlines how Senate would conduct second trial for Trump if House impeaches, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Based on the Senate schedule and timelines, the proceedings would occur after the president leaves office.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump held Senators hostage in the Capitol while calling them and demanding the election be overturned, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 9, bill palmer2021 (12:03 a.m.). We all saw Donald Trump incite the domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol Building. And it’s since been revealed that Trump refused to sign off on the mayor’s request that the DC National Guard be sent in to retake the Capitol. But now things have taken an even darker turn.

bill palmer report logo headerCNN is reporting that while the Capitol was under siege by Trump-terrorists, and while Trump was refusing to sign off on sending the National Guard, he called at least one Senator on the phone and demanded that the election results be overturned. CNN is reporting that Trump tried to call Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville and instead reached Republican Senator Mike Lee, making his demand.

This means that if the timeline of events as we understand it is indeed accurate, Donald Trump was holding members of Congress hostage in the basement while calling them and making demands. This is way beyond merely inciting the attack, or even refusing to do anything to put it down. This is some kind of ransom situation. Trump allowed the Vice President, every Senator, and every House member to remain held hostage and in danger of violence, while he made demands. This is one of the ugliest crimes in American history – and Trump will never get out of prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account, Nitasha Tiku and Tony Romm, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). “Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote.

Hundreds of Twitter employees demanded in a letter written this week that the company’s leaders permanently suspend Donald Trump’s Twitter account because of his actions surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, calling the company’s response insufficient.

twitter bird CustomIn an internal letter addressed to chief executive Jack Dorsey and his top executives viewed by The Washington Post, roughly 350 Twitter employees asked for a clear account of the company’s decision-making process regarding the President’s tweets the day that a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol. Employees also requested an investigation into the past several years of corporate actions that led to Twitter’s role in the insurrection.

donald trump twitter“Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote. “We request an investigation into how our public policy decisions led to the amplification of serious anti-democratic threats. We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm.”

“We play an unprecedented role in civil society and the world’s eyes are upon us. Our decisions this week will cement our place in history, for better or worse,” the added.

In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Brandon Borrman wrote, “Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees expressing their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them.”

Twitter on Wednesday initially labeled Trump’s tweets about the election as disputed. But a subsequent video from the president — calling for calm while continuing to peddle disinformation — prompted the company to step up its enforcement actions.

Twitter ultimately locked the president out of his account for the first time, requiring him to delete his offending tweets — then wait 12 hours — in order to regain access. That came Thursday morning, and Trump issued his first public comments on the site later that night. Twitter said it would suspend Trump permanently if he continues to break its rules, putting users at risk.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pressured Ga. elections investigator in a separate call that experts say could amount to obstruction, Amy Gardner, Jan. 9, 2021
More than a week before he urged the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the election results, the president urged the state’s chief elections fraud investigator to “find the fraud.

 ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast.

GregPalast.com, Investigation: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator? Greg Palast, Jan. 8-9, 2021. “WE’LL LIGHT THE WHOLE SH*T ON FIRE!”

The star of the GOP’s get-out-the-vote door-knocking program in the Georgia Senate run-off, standing next to Alex Jones, was blasting his threat through a georgia map 2megaphone in front of the Governor’s home. “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”GOP Operative: “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

Ali Alexander’s threat in December would become all too real when he repeated his performance on January 6 in Washington, DC.

In the U.S. Capitol that day, looking over the scene of screams, tear gas, and mayhem, Alexander said, “I warned you this would happen.”

Yes, he did. Nevertheless, the Georgia Republican Party’s Metro Atlanta Field Director Kevin Mason was more than happy to team up with Alexander. With his huge reach within the Alt-Right, Alexander could bring in a swarm of volunteers for the door-knocking campaign they desperately needed to hold back the looming Democratic victory in the US Senate run-offs.

republican elephant logoThe far-right celebrity was the magnet to draw scores of young enthusiasts to a January 3 training session at the DoubleTree Hotel in Roswell, an Atlanta suburb. The Palast Investigative Fund’s photojournalist, Zach D. Roberts, a specialist in white-fringe violence who’d been tracking Alexander’s pitch for mayhem across the nation, signed up.

Roberts, who joined up through Alexander’s website, StopTheSteal.US, was quite surprised to receive instructions, not from the right-wing group, but from Daniel George of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Why would the GOP team up with Alexander, a leader of the Stop the Steal extremists, especially after his well-broadcast warning of violence? The threat was not out of character. There are widely circulated films of Alexander with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. And there is a video chat with Alexander yucking it up with a right-wing jokester holding up a giant flag with a Nazi Swastika flag.

That is, if “Alexander” is his real name. He adopted it after his reported conviction for a felony crime under the name “Ali Akbar.” [See 2012 column excerpted immediately below.]

Alexander is a shapeshifter, sometimes the eye-swiveling crazy, sometimes the dapper guest for Alt-Right podcasts. We cannot link to his most incendiary outlets such as WildProtest.com because they’ve been taken down for inciting violence.

In Georgia, with Alex Jones and Nick Fuentes, a known white nationalist, Alexander hid nothing of his hopes for Washington on January 6. “Either they take Trump, prove that they won or they’re not going to hand them back the country again. We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

To fire up its base, the GOP is apparently willing to cavort with the violence-threatening fringe. The Grand Old Party dismissed Alexander’s warnings. And they also forgot John Kennedy’s warning that “Those who ride the tail of the tiger soon end up inside.”

greg palast logo

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC), shown above, is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits," out as major motion non-fiction movie: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election," available on Amazon and Amazon Prime.

 ali akbar mugshot

Crooks and Liars, The National Bloggers Club And Their Super PAC Friends, Matt Osborne, Co-authored with Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Bill Schmalfeldt, Research assistance by Melissa Brewer, Sept. 12, 2012. Ali Akbar, now President of the National Bloggers Club, is one of the conservative blogosphere's most infamous characters. He began his campaign of notoriety with a crime spree in 2006, blazing a six-year trail of fraud. That's him up there, in the mug shots.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just screwed himself even worse than you think, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. If Donald Trump had behaved during the transition period, he probably could have convinced the judge in his New York criminal trial to let him serve house arrest at Mar-a-Lago, perhaps even let him out on bail completely, while awaiting trial. But now that he’s a documented domestic terrorist threat, the odds of his pretrial incarceration just went up.

bill palmer report logo headerI’d like to thank Donald Trump for doing more to destroy Trumpism this week than I ever could have done on my own. I’d like believe i’ve certainly put a dent in Trump these past four years, but he just took a sledgehammer to his own cause.

Donald Trump’s subreddit has just been banned from Reddit. Do you know how badly you have to screw up in life to get banned from Reddit? YouTube has permanently banned Steve Bannon.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got kicked off Twitter for the THIRD time tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 8, 2021. Shortly after Donald Trump got permanently banned from Twitter tonight, he tried rogue tweeting from the @POTUS account, which is supposed to be for government use. That only lasted about thirty seconds before Twitter cracked down, deleting his rant. Now it’s happened again on another account.

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter has now permanently suspended Donald Trump’s official campaign Twitter account @TeamTrump after he and/or his handlers used it to post the same rant that Twitter had just removed from the @POTUS account. That’s right, Trump has now been kicked off Twitter for the third time tonight.

At this rate Donald Trump’s next move will be to create a new account called “Ronald Trump” and hope that Twitter doesn’t figure out it’s also him. Trump is the dumbest villain of all time, and he’s getting dumber as the night goes on.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting machine firm Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion in defamation claim, Emma Brown, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for havoc it says Powell has caused by spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations, including that Dominion played a central role in a fantastical scheme to steal the 2020 election from President Trump.

For weeks, Powell has claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for former vice president Joe Biden.

dominion voting systemsIn a 124-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion said its reputation and resale value have been deeply damaged by a “viral disinformation campaign” that Powell mounted “to financially enrich herself, to raise her public profile, and to ingratiate herself to Donald Trump.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include Powell, her law firm and Defending the Republic, the organization she set up to solicit donations to support her election-related litigation.

In an interview, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the lawsuit aims to clear his company’s name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election.

lin wood gage skidmorePoulos said he would like the case to go to trial rather than settle. “We feel that it’s important for the entire electoral process,” he said. “The allegations, I know they were lobbed against us . . . but the impacts go so far beyond us.”

Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. L. Lin Wood, left, a lawyer who has worked alongside Powell on post-election lawsuits and who says he is representating her in connection to defamation matters, called the lawsuit an attempt “to censor speech or try to intimidate people from telling the truth.”

 

Deaths From Pro-Trump Riot

brian sicknick

ny times logoNew York Times, He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Tracey Tully, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The death of Brian Sicknick, above, a veteran and experienced officer, amplified the tragedy of the riots and undermined President Trump’s pro-police claims.

Brian Sicknick followed his Air National Guard unit to Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and a military base in his home state of New Jersey, all in the hopes of one day wearing a police uniform. It was a wish fulfilled more than 10 years ago when he joined the police department tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol.

Then on Wednesday, pro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy, overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.

“Brian is a hero,” his brother Ken Sicknick said. “That is what we would like people to remember.”

The death of Officer Sicknick amplified the nation’s grief in the wake of the shocking attack on the Capitol by rioters, inflamed by President Trump’s calls to stop Congress from counting electoral votes and officially declaring Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of November’s election. One of those rioters, Ashli Babbitt, also died in the melee, shot by a police officer as she tried to push her way into the heavily protected Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House chamber.

In all, five have died since the riot began, though three of them were not killed by hostile action. But the beating of an officer brought waves of condolences from lawmakers in both parties still reeling from the event. It also exposed one of the many contradictions of the Trump presidency in his final weeks in the Oval Office. A president who campaigned as a “law and order” candidate, boasting about his relationships with police unions and demonizing those protesting racist policing, incited a riot that led to the death of a member of the law enforcement community.

“It’s a bunch of” nonsense, William J. Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, said of Mr. Trump’s pledges to the police, though he used a stronger word. “It was a misappropriation of the term ‘law and order.’”

Justice Department officials said during a news conference on Friday that they were investigating the circumstances of Mr. Sicknick’s death, but would not say whether it was a federal murder investigation. One official said that “felony murder is always in play,” but that investigators needed to complete their work.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters, Peter Hermann, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Officer Brian D. Sicknick, below right, brian sicknickcollapsed after returning to his division office and was rushed to a hospital, where officials said he died Thursday night.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history. But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

capitol ties

An as-yet unidentified rioter, center, heavily disguised, invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI focuses on whether some rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they are sifting through evidence to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Dozens have been arrested, and Friday, officials announced charges against an Arkansas man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with a foot on her desk. But investigators also are working to determine the motivations and larger goals, if any, of those who had weapons or other gear suggesting they planned to do physical harm.

FBI logoSome rioters, for instance, were photographed carrying zip ties, a plastic version of handcuffs, and one man was arrested allegedly carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds.

“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” said a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

No photos or videos that have surfaced so far suggest any of the individuals with zip ties tried to take hostages. One possibility being pursued by investigators is that some who burst into the building may be current or former law enforcement officers, or current and former military personnel, people familiar with the investigation said.

Some who participated in the larger pro-Trump protest this week do work in law enforcement.

Chris West, the sheriff of Canadian County in Oklahoma, for example, held a news conference Friday to dispute that he was the person pictured on social media who claimed he was inside the Capitol, according to a Fox affiliate there. West told reporters that though he did come to rally in D.C. as an “individual” and Trump supporter, he never set foot in the Capitol building and thought he was walking from Liberty Square in the direction of the Capitol when the violence began.

A sheriff in Bexar County, Tex., meanwhile, told reporters that one of his lieutenants ­— Roxanne Mathai ­— was under investigation after her Facebook posts appeared to show she was at the Capitol, according to a local ABC station. Mathai has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

rnc logoMany of the initial charges have been for unlawful entry, but authorities also found suspected pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and they arrested the owner of a truck they said was spotted nearby with 11 molotov cocktails inside. The FBI is still searching for the person who left the suspected pipe bombs.

Adding to the investigation’s urgency, Twitter on Friday noted that plans for future armed protests have begun circulating online, including a proposed second attack on the U.S. Capitol and assaults on state government buildings Jan. 17.

Officials cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who broke into Congress, and they said that a key part of their investigation is determining whether any individuals or groups had planned in advance or were coordinating in the moment to commit violence against individual politicians. Others may simply have been caught up in the moment and committed rash, unplanned crimes, officials said.

capitol mob

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), The anatomy of a fascist military-police coup in the United States, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 8, 2021. This editor worked for several wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallyears out of the U.S. Capitol complex, attending press conferences, covering hearings, and interviewing members, and got to know almost every nook and cranny.

On January 6, 2021 – truly a date that will live in infamy – armed marauders believing conspiracy theories were able to enter the U.S. Capitol unimpeded by Capitol police.

wayne madesen report logoThe reason was simple. They were aided and abetted in an attempted coup d’etat against the United States by top law enforcement officials of the U.S. Capitol, far-right Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Defense, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), elements within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Park Service and Police, Secret Service, and state-level offices.

The conspiracy to do exactly what was done on January 6 was advertised on social media, from Gab and Parler to Facebook and Instagram.

USA Today via Yahoo News, Florida man photographed carrying Speaker's lectern in Capitol riot arrested by federal marshal, Rich McKay, Jan. 9, 2021. A usa today logoFlorida man photographed carrying U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern from the House of Representative chambers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol was arrested late Friday, according to jail records.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida, was arrested on a federal warrant and booked into the Pinellas County jail Friday night, the records said. No bond was allowed.

Following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, where lawmakers had gathered to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, the FBI had asked the public for help identifying participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet.

Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

Johnson was one of those identified on social media and was identified by the Bradenton Herald as being from Parrish, a community about 25 miles (40 km) south of Tampa.

In addition to the arrest of Johnson, there were at least 13 people facing criminal charges in U.S. District Court in connection to the riot, and at least another 40 people were facing lesser charges in the District of Columbia Superior Court, a local venue.

Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released, with an order from the judge not to return to Washington unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their attorneys.

They included Cleveland Meredith, who was charged with threatening Pelosi as well as possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition, and Richard Barnett, the Gravette, Arkansas, man who was photographed sitting at Pelosi's desk and is also known as Bigo.

USA Today, Fact check: Claims of electoral fraud in Rome, dubbed 'ItalyGate,' are baseless, Camille Caldera, Jan. 8, 2021. The claim: Votes were switched usa today logofrom Trump to Biden at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. At 3:41 a.m. on Jan. 7, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump — an act that marked the formal end of the presidential race, per USA Today.

Nonetheless, some internet users have continued to levy baseless claims about electoral fraud. This week, there were multiple videos posted to Facebook that alleged the vote count was changed in Rome.

Pages like Conversation Controversy and Trump Train News Media shared a 52-minute video in which Maria Strollo Zack explains the theory, dubbed "ItalyGate."

"The theft of the election was orchestrated in the Rome Embassy, on the second floor of Via Veneto, by an employee, Stefano Serafini, foreign service officer of over 20 years," she said. "Stefano Serafini coordinated with a General Claudio Graziano."

"General Graziano is on the board of Leonardo — the defense contractor, Leonardo SPA," Strollo Zack continued. "Leonardo used their military satellite uplink to load the software and transfer it over to change the votes from Trump to Biden."

"ItalyGate" has quickly spread to around the internet. The three videos have amassed a combined 100,000 views and 7,000 shares on Facebook. An interview of Strollo Zack on America Can We Talk? on YouTube has also garnered over 400,000 views.

Conversation Controversy, Strollo Zack, American Can We Talk? have not responded to requests from USA TODAY for comment. Trump Train News Media told USA Today that they are not responsible for the content, since it was sent to the page to share.

Johnson told USA Today that "it’s clear from Italian newspapers this is going on," though he provided no proof.

The claims in both videos on "ItalyGate" are baseless. They are also easily contradicted by statements from multiple federal officials who have found no proof of electoral fraud.

On Nov. 12, a national coalition of election security officials announced that "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," per USA Today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter warns of new plans for violence, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Jan. 9, 2021. The company described a looming “secondary attack” on the U.S. Capitol and state government facilities next weekend.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Schmitt had ‘no knowledge’ of AG group’s robocall before Capitol siege, spokesman says, Eric Schmitt, Jan. 9, 2021. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt had “no knowledge” of a robocall a group tied to GOP attorneys general sent out ahead of violent clashes at the U.S. Capitol, Schmitt’s spokesman said Saturday.

The Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising entity connected to the Republican Attorneys General Association, sent out the robocalls a day before the siege, NBC News reported, following an investigation by the watchdog group Documented.

The robocall urged people to march to the U.S. Capitol, using phrases such as “continue to fight” and “stop the steal,” Documented reported.

“(W)e will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall said, according to Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Schmitt is vice chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“Attorney General Schmitt absolutely had no knowledge of or involvement in the robocall, and condemns the violence that took place on Wednesday in the strongest possible terms, period,” Schmitt spokesman Chris Nuelle said in a statement.

djt handwave file

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: House Will Vote Monday on Impeachment Resolution, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 9, 2021. House Will Vote Monday on Impeachment webster tarpley 2007Resolution by Democrats Cicilline, Raskin, and Lieu with Single Article Focused on Trump’s Attempt to Steal Georgia Electoral Votes and His Open Incitement to Violent Riot During Electoral Vote Count; Abundant Evidence to Convict and Remove is Already Available on Videotape; 185 Democratic and One Republican Co-Sponsor So Far; Craven Pence and Cabinet of Bootlickers are AWOL on XXV Amendment Duty; Parts of Trump’s Base Attack Him for Cowardice;

In Fading Twilight of His Lost Senate GOP Majority, Moscow Mitch Undermines US National Security with More Dangerous Stalling; Impeachment Even After January 20 is Imperative to Bar the Demagogue from Any Future Federal Office; Right Now, He Must Be Deterred and Dissuaded, Hemmed In, Pinned Down, and Boxed In, with All Circuits Overloaded to Prevent Wag the Dog Attempts; Trump, Who Claimed to Love Cops, Takes No Notice of Murder of US Capitol Policeman;

Decisive Practical Argument for Rapid Second Impeachment is to Keep Trump’s Tiny Fingers Away from Nuclear Button; We Need New Version of Schlesinger-Kissinger 1974 Restraints on Nixon’s Access to Nuclear Launch Codes;

Trump Tweets Finally Shut Down after Fomenting Violence; He Reportedly Reneges on Promise of Peaceful Transfer of Power; Over-Ripeness of Seditious GOP for Extinction is Now Beyond Doubt, but Many of the Deluded Are Dodging the Obvious; Sherrod Brown: Expel Cruz and Hawley!

Fascists Planning More Terrorist Actions in Washington and State Capitals on January 17 and January 19-20; FBI Dragnet Arrests Ringleaders; Grotesque and Infantile Excuses from Rioters: Sovereign Individuals Claim They Were Duped by Antifa Provocateurs!;

More Likely: Private Military Contractors and Espionage Agents of Foreign Enemies; Planned Actions May Have Included Kidnapping, Assassination, or Demolition; Government Computers Were Stolen, Pipe Bombs at DNC and RNC; Were SKIFS Penetrated?

Ossoff and Warnock Await Certification by Georgia Authorities, Who Need to Accelerate Process to Protect Nation; Toomey, Murkowski and Other Senate Republicans Waver; Arrival of Two New Democrats Will Flip Senate, Demote McConnell, and Bring Removal Closer!

Tragic Irony: Magamuffins Are Broken Souls, Reduced by Finance Capital to Desperation and Frenzy, and Deployed for Reactionary and Fascist Purposes.

Jan. 8

NBC News, Investigation: Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging march to the Capitol, Laura Strickler and Lisa Cavazuti, Jan. 8, 2021. “At 1 p.m., we will nbc news logomarch to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the voice on the recording, which was obtained by NBC News.

An arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a national group representing the top law enforcement officers in their states, sent out robocalls encouraging people to march to the U.S. Capitol the day before the building was stormed by a pro-Trump mob.

“At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the voice on the recording, which was obtained by NBC News.

The calls, which did not advocate violence or suggest the building should be breached, was sent out by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association. The groups share funding, staff and office space in Washington, D.C.

In a statement to NBC News, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who runs the fund, said the calls were sent out without his knowledge.

“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally,” said Marshall, who assumed his role Nov. 10. “Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions. I have directed an internal review of this matter.”

A website set up to promote the rally that preceded the Capitol incursion lists the Rule of Law Defense Fund as one of the participating organizations. The site has since been taken down.

Adam Piper, the executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and Peter Bisbee, the executive director of the fundraising arm, did not return requests for comment about the robocalls, which were first reported by the watchdog group Documented.

A spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, the chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, said he “had no knowledge or involvement in this decision.”

“Attorney General Carr has been working diligently to determine how this situation occurred and ensure that it does not happen again,” said spokesperson Katie Byrd. “The stance of the protestors was not consistent with Attorney General Carr’s position on election fraud. And, as he has been saying since moments after seeing news break, the violence and destruction we saw at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable and un-American.”

microsoft logo CustomThe Republican Attorneys General Association raised more than $18 million in 2020 from several top corporations, including Pepsi, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase and Comcast, the parent company of NBC News. Its supporters also include interest groups such as the NRA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was its top donor in 2020 with a $750,000 contribution.

nra logo CustomMany companies that donated to the Republican Attorneys General Association also gave to the Democratic Party equivalent. Several told NBC News that spending money on this kind of recruitment for protest runs counter to the purpose of their donation.

Reached for comment, the Chamber of Commerce provided a statement from Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

“We are appalled at Wednesday's incursion into the Capital, and did not support any efforts by the Rule of Law Defense Fund,” he said. “We do not support any similar activities now, and will not in the future.”

A Microsoft spokesperson said: “We condemn the actions taken by the RLDF and are raising our concerns directly with RAGA. Earlier this week, we spoke out alongside others in the business community regarding the violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol.”

A JPMorgan spokesperson said its political action committee donated $25,000 to the attorneys general group and none of it went to the Rule of Law Defense Fund.

Jan. 4

American System Network, Opinion: Rep. Clyburn Predicts Victory for Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia Primary, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 4, 2021. Rep. Clyburn webster tarpley 2007Predicts Victory for Warnock and Ossoff Over GOP Foes in Tuesday Georgia Primary; To Help Save the Country, Georgians Must Vote for These Democrats;

Trump Caught Red-Handed in Taped Telephone Conversation Attempting to Extort Extra Votes from Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger to Reverse Election Result; Call Includes Threats of Criminal Prosecution, Cajolery, and Hectoring of Georgia Officials, Who Stick to their Finding that Election Was Legitimate; The Tell-Tale Modus Operandi of the Zelenski Phone Call Confirmed; How Many Similar Phone Calls Has Trump Made to Other State Officials? How Many to Military Leaders?; Overriding Need to Prosecute Trump After January 20 Now Gathering Support in Large Parts of US Public Opinion;

john gotti mug shotsTrump Fails to Learn Lesson of John Gotti (shown at left in mug shots), Who Was Finally Indicted and Convicted Because of Too Much Explicit Talk in Telephone Conversations with Partners in Crime;

Reps. Lieu and Rice Urge Wray to Launch FBI Investigation of Trump Under 52 USC 2511 and Georgia State Code; All Ten Living Defense Secretaries Warn Armed Forces to Stay Out of Election Disputes, Which Would Throw US “Into Dangerous, Unlawful, and Unconstitutional Territory”; Accountability May Include “Criminal Penalties”;

Trump Fanatics Determined to Disrupt Wednesday’s Official Counting; Cruz-Hawley Putsch Faction Now Has 13 Senators; Former House Speaker Ryan: Tactics of GOP Hill Extremists Are Not Conservative; Nation’s Capital Awaits Arrival of Pro-Trump Hooligan Demonstrators; DC Mayor Wisely Tells Citizens to Stay Home; BLM Renounces Counter-Protests;

enrique tarrio stone facebookBrutal Faction Fight among Republicans Points Again to Early Extinction of Party on Model of Rotten Federalists, Whigs, and Knownothings — Condign Punishment for Enabling Trump!

Breaking: Proud Boys Boss Enrique Tarrio (shown at right in file photo with Roger Stone) Arrested upon Arrival in Washington DC; Convicted Felon Charged with Weapons Violations and Earlier Destruction of Property in Burning of BLM Banner.

Jan. 3

Breitbart, President Trump to Address ‘Stop the Steal’ Protesters on White House Lawn on January 6, Matthew Boyle, Jan. 3, 2021. President Donald Trump breitbart logoand a list of other high-profile speakers will address “Stop the Steal” protesters on Wednesday, Jan. 6, ahead of an effort by some congressional Republicans to challenge the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, Breitbart News has learned.

Thousands of Trump supporters are expected to gather in Washington, DC, for the occasion, and members of Trump’s team have been brought in to help organize the event which is officially being hosted by Women for America First.

The main event will happen on the Ellipsis at the White House—informally called “the President’s Lawn”—a source familiar with the organizational efforts said. The president tweeted Sunday morning that he will be there on Wednesday.

The president is expected to deliver remarks beginning at around 11 a.m. He will cap off an event at which several other high-profile names, including his eldest son Donald Trump, Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Amy Kremer, Rudy Giuliani, Katrina Pierson, Boris Ephsteyn, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Diamond and Silk, Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, Roger Stone, Benny Johnson, Scott Presler, Bernie Kerik, and Ali Alexander are all among those expected to speak, per a source involved in the matter.

Many of these speakers, and others, will also speak on Tuesday, Jan. 5—the day before the official festivities—at an event at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, DC. But the main event is on Wednesday, at the Ellipsis at the White House.

The doors for the White House Ellipsis event will open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, and while event-goers will not need to formally enter White House grounds through a White House gate there will be Secret Service checkpoints on the way in. Technically, event-goers do not need to register or have tickets, but are being encouraged to RSVP on the website MarchtoSaveAmerica.com.

The official program will begin around 9 a.m., and again will be capped by Trump’s speech beginning around 11 a.m. When the president finishes his remarks, organizers then will lead a march up to the U.S. Capitol where they are expected to arrive around 1 p.m.—the time during which the new Congress, which is being sworn in on Sunday, will consider certification of the electoral college results.

More than a hundred House Republicans are expected to challenge the certification of the electoral college results, and they will be joined by at least a dozen Senate Republicans. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was the first one to announce he would join House GOP challenges last week, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led an effort this weekend of 11 more Senate Republicans to join the cause.

With numbers like this, the effort is by far the most serious in modern history to challenge, via the process of Congress certifying the electoral college results, an election. There have been other attempts, like after Trump’s win in 2016 in early 2017 some House Democrats tried to challenge the results but did not get a senator on board with their challenge. Also, in early 2005, some House Democrats joined with then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to challenge then-President George W. Bush’s re-election. That effort failed, as vast majorities in both chambers of Congress rejected it.

This effort is similarly expected to fail, as the Democrats control the U.S. House so despite the impressive showing of more than 100 House Republicans siding with Trump he will fall short of a majority in that chamber. Similarly, some Senate Republicans—ranging from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—have said they recognize Biden as the legitimate president-elect and will not go along with this effort.

Therefore, given that the Senate GOP majority is tight—currently 52 members, which may change depending on what happens in Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia where Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) face Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively—there are already not enough votes for Trump to even get a majority in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Nonetheless, the success of those cheering this challenge on in getting as many members of Congress as they have gotten on board this fight—even if it is doomed to fail no matter what—is remarkable. It also resembles the anger and fury of the GOP base in the wake of the Nov. 3 contest, and signals that Trump base voters are seeking fighters in the future for the party. But it is also a tough balancing act for GOP leaders, as they seek to show the base they are willing to fight but also attempt to move forward with the reality of an incoming Biden administration that is fast-approaching in just a couple weeks.

The U.S. Senate has not started holding hearings for Biden’s cabinet picks, and may not start until after the inauguration. A large part of what will determine Biden’s administration post selections’ fates looms in Georgia on Tuesday, as those runoffs will ascertain which party controls the U.S. Senate for the foreseeable future and could mean the difference between some of Biden’s selections getting confirmed or not.

But the energy on the right as evidenced by the thousands of Trump supporters who months after the election will still descend on Washington, DC, this week is something Republicans will seek to harness in the future as they go into battle with the incoming Biden administration and as they seek to retake the House majority in 2022 after winning unexpected gains in the 2020 congressional elections.

Ultimately, too, this will all culminate in the 2024 White House battle, with what is expected to be a huge field of potential contenders bidding for their shot at Trump’s mantle, assuming he doesn’t run again which is no foregone conclusion.

Dec. 18

Southern Poverty Law Center, "Hatewatch" Opinion: Law Firm Tied to Far-Right Fringe Registers Stop the Steal LLC in Alabama, Michael Edison Hayden, Dec. 18, 2020. A law firm associated with activists on the far-right fringe registered the Limited Liability Company (LLC) Stop the Steal in Montgomery, Alabama, in November, state records show. “Stop the Steal” is the name of a nationwide protest movement focused on overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election based upon unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

George Coleman of the law firm Baron Coleman registered the Stop the Steal LLC in Montgomery on Nov. 13. Far-right activist Ali Alexander, 35, the self-described “National Organizer” for the Stop the Steal, told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman represents him. Alexander promoted Stop the Steal events to Twitter soon after it became apparent that Trump lost the 2020 election and has done so persistently ever since. Baron Coleman registered the LLC one day before protesters associated with Ali’s Stop the Steal movement descended on Washington D.C. The event gave way to violent clashes between Stop the Steal supporters and counterprotesters.

Hatewatch has so far been unable to determine what the LLC does, but it borrows from a brand name first associated with Roger Stone Jr. A former adviser to Donald Trump and a convicted felon, Stone first launched Stop the Steal during the 2016 election as a group of poll watchers tasked with disputing Democratic votes in urban, multiracial areas. Like the current iteration of Stop the Steal, Stone gathered the group together under the auspices of fighting voter fraud, as Hatewatch has reported. Hatewatch reached out to Stone by phone and email, but he did not respond.

Baron Coleman also represents Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes in his defamation lawsuit against Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based upon its designation of them as a hate group. Alexander and lawyers for Baron Coleman appeared with McInnes outside the center’s headquarters in Montgomery on Feb. 4, 2019, when he announced that suit. Alexander told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman advised him in responding to Hatewatch’s request for comment.

“[Baron Coleman] advised me to tell you not to contact me while I’m representing a client suing y’all. Conflict of interest. Thanks!” Alexander wrote.

Alexander does not appear to be an attorney, so it is unclear what he meant by representing. Alexander is a far-right operative linked to a number of political smear campaigns and is known for posting disinformation to Twitter. One example of that behavior includes a sustained campaign he created promoting the unsubstantiated claim that Biden is “sick” and suffers from some form of otherwise unreported, degenerative illness. Mother Jones reported that Alexander is a convicted felon. Hatewatch obtained records showing Alexander entered a guilty plea on charges of “debit card abuse” in Tarrant County, Texas, in April 2008. He went by the name “Ali Akbar” at that time.

Hatewatch followed up with another text, but Alexander did not respond. Hatewatch was therefore unable to ask him about the LLC.

Baron Coleman sent Hatewatch the following comment:

I received your request for comment and don’t have much I can add. As you know any conversations between my clients and me are privileged.

Stop the Steal, LLC, is an Alabama limited liability company I organized for clients of mine. I’m afraid I’m limited by my professional duties to defer to my clients – owners of the privilege – on whether they would like to add anything more.

I appreciate you reaching out. If you can think of anything else I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience. I’ll do my best to answer anything that isn’t privileged.

Sincerely,

Baron Coleman

Stone appeared with Alexander in the trailer of an apparent film about Stop the Steal activism, which was published to Twitter on Dec. 9. The trailer also featured an appearance by white nationalist live-streamer Nick Fuentes and anti-immigrant pundit and VDARE contributor Michelle Malkin, among other activists who are promoting the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election.

Proud Boys have also turned up at Alexander’s events. At a Stop the Steal-linked event on Dec. 12, members of the hate group reportedly took down two Black Lives Matter banners from two historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., and destroyed them. The Washington Post reported that police were investigating the incidents on hate crime charge

Dec. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A decade of wringing money and power out of conservative victimhood nears its apex, Philip Bump, Dec. 8, 2020. Ali Alexander is a right-wing personality who has worked with a rogue’s gallery of notorious characters in that world: Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Jacob Wohl, Laura Loomer, you name it.

A decade ago, he was flitting around on the fringes of the conservative movement where his past legal troubles contributed to scrutiny of his efforts to raise funds for an online publishing venture. Now, he identifies himself as “national organizer” for “Stop the Steal,” an organization which adopts the tagline of President Trump’s ploy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Alexander’s group isn’t linked to the Trump campaign. Instead, as CNN reported last week, his “Stop the Steal” website solicits contributions that aren’t bound by nonprofit rules or constraints and which, at least in its initial iteration, went straight to him. In a brief encounter at a rally focused on the election results, CNN’s Drew Griffin asked Alexander how much he was getting from the effort.

“Zero,” Alexander insisted. He then accused Griffin of being a racist for his past reporting.

You don't need to read between the lines much to understand that there's a distinct possibility that Alexander, after years of building his name through right-wing agitation, might similarly see an opportunity in Trump's effort to throw out the results of the 2020 contest. You might suspect that Alexander's more virulent rhetoric has, at a minimum, multiple motivations. If bolstering concerns about the election is lucrative, why draw a line on how far you're willing to go to bolster those concerns?

It’s not insignificant that Alexander’s emergence coincided with the rise of the tea party movement during President Barack Obama’s first term in office. For all of the legitimate energy that the movement fostered, there was also a lot of grifting — financial and political — associated with the effort. A number of groups emerged to fundraise off the energy of the movement and amplified concerns about the future of the country, not all of them legitimate. The passion of supporters could be easy to parlay into money and political support, something which Trump himself explored with his overt flirtations with the movement in his brief consideration of a 2012 run.

Kelli Ward is another person who rose within Republican politics through the tea party movement. After winning a seat in the Arizona state Senate in 2012, she twice tried to earn the party’s nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate, without success. She, too, has embraced the fringes of right-wing, including demonstrating support for rancher Cliven Bundy during his standoff with federal officials in 2014 and joining Loomer for an event last year.

Ward is now the head of the Republican Party in Arizona. She’s been outspoken in her criticism of Gov. Doug Ducey (R) since he certified the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. When Ducey explained in a series of tweets why he was legally bound to do so, Ward told him to “STHU” — to shut up.

Ward, too, has an interest in boosting the idea that the election was stolen. Much of the most vocal part of her party believes Trump’s rhetoric on the matter and sees nefarious efforts playing a role in the results. That doesn’t mean that her position is insincere; like many Republicans, she may in fact believe the baseless claims that rampant fraud occurred. But that doesn’t mean that fighting against Ducey on the point isn’t politically useful.

Sept. 12, 2012.

ali akbar mugshotCrooks and Liars, The National Bloggers Club And Their Super PAC Friends, Matt Osborne, Co-authored with Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Bill Schmalfeldt, Research assistance by Melissa Brewer, Sept. 12, 2012. Ali Akbar, now President of the National Bloggers Club, is one of the conservative blogosphere's most infamous characters. He began his campaign of notoriety with a crime spree in 2006, blazing a six-year trail of fraud. That's him up there, in the mug shots.

Akbar's story is as improbable as the Tea Party movement itself, and a lesson on the privileges of power in the age of Citizens United. How did a petty crook rise to these heights in such a short time? Why does he enjoy such influential connections today?

We ask these questions because we see an emerging bipartisan consensus that Akbar's National Bloggers Club (NBC) is entirely notional. Akbar has never applied to the IRS for 501(c)3 status -- despite having claimed as much on the NBC Facebook page. While the NBC requires an unusual amount of personal information from donors, they do not offer those donors an EIN (Employer ID Number) to make their contributions tax deductible.

An EIN is provided upon application for nonprofit status, and should be available if the National Bloggers Club has applied. It is an easy online process. Yet we have been unable to locate an EIN in any database, and inquiries by both liberal and conservative bloggers have been met with silence. When journalist Bill Schmalfeldt contacted the Internal Revenue Service, he was informed that no EIN existed in their database for a National Bloggers Club.

This would be less distressing if Akbar didn't have a long history of covering up his tracks and minimizing his criminal past. In 2006, he stole items from a woman's home; he later broke into a vehicle, stole a debit card, and withdrew money from the victim's account, earning a felony conviction. Yet this record did not keep Akbar out of Republican politics.

Barely a year later, Akbar was accused of discussing election fraud tactics. The accuser, Joey A. Dauben, was a former colleague. In coverage of the controversy, Akbar was frequently and mistakenly identified as a John McCain campaign staffer due to his involvement in Bloggers for McCain, a "cooperating" website independent from the campaign itself. Akbar also caught flak for “scrubbing the web” to cover the tracks of Michael Meissner, a former police chief who was charged with posing as a woman and soliciting photos of underaged boys.

In April 2008, Akbar pleaded guilty to the debit card fraud and was sentenced to four years probation and restitution of the stolen money. His probation ended in May of this year. In the meantime, Akbar has built quite a blog empire for himself -- and runs it from his mother's house.

By 2008 Akbar had linked up with Eric Odom's Don't Go movement. They likely met up when Akbar’s firm, Republic Modern, designed the old website of Sam Adams Alliance, for which Odom was the new media director. When Odom started American Liberty Alliance (ALA), a tea party website that was mainly in the business of monetizing other Tea Party sites with ads, he brought Akbar along with him. Starting off as ALA’s Technology Consultant, Akbar would eventually became Chairman of ALA's Board, spending much of his time collecting non-deductible donations.

Yes, despite claiming to be in the application process for 501(c) 4 status in August 2009, ALA eventually was embarrassed into posting the following caveat on their website (though not their donation page): “The American Liberty Alliance is not a 501c3, 501c4 or a PAC. We are not registered as a non-profit and we do not raise funds as such.” Yet they incorporated under the name “American Liberty Alliance - A Non-Profit Corporation.”

The most excoriating examination of the ALA came from Erick Erickson, who reported that ALA had eventually been rolled up into an Eric Odom PAC:

For a number of months I have had more than my share of phone calls from conservative donors, bloggers, activists, campaigns, and others wishing someone would speak out. Several tried pushing this story into the mainstream media, but we all know what would happen there ? we’d turn people into martyrs who shouldn’t be.

At best this conduct looks like ignorance of the complex bureaucracy and regulations surrounding the FEC. At its worst, it looks like . . . well, you decide. I’m sure even more will come out now that I’m willing to speak up and it does not look like a case of simple ignorance. If it were an isolated incident it’d be one thing, but it is a pattern.

Indeed, the pattern begins with a profitable deception. Although ALA was registered as a non-profit in Nevada, as far as we can determine they never actually applied for non-profit status with the IRS, despite always claiming they were "in the process" of doing so. The pattern repeats with NBC, which incorporated in Texas as a non-profit, and has collected donations as a non-profit, without ever applying for legal non-profit designation. (The NBC has scrubbed 501(c)3 language from its donations page at Rally.org.) Our attempts to reach the law firm listed as the NBC's registered agent have been rebuffed. (Update: the address appears to be a "virtual" office.)

These dubious credentials in the new Tea Party movement propelled Akbar into the upper echelons of conservative organizing, where he has apparently met Karl Rove. Yet Akbar seems to have done remarkably little real work during his ascension.

Jan. 2

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cnn logoCNN, Federal judge throws out Gohmert lawsuit asking Pence to interfere in Electoral College count, Dan Berman, Updated Jan. 2, 2021. A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit from Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and several Arizona Republicans seeking to force Vice President Mike Pence to help throw the election to President Donald Trump next week when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes.

Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas said on Friday that Gohmert, below left, and the others lacked standing to sue.

louis gohmertGohmert's suit was part of the desperate and extraordinary GOP attempt to overturn the presidential election using baseless and unproven allegations of mass voter fraud and charging that multiple states that President-elect Joe Biden won illegally changed their voting rules due to the pandemic. Those arguments have failed dozens of times in state and federal courts over the past two months.

Gohmert and a slate of would-be Trump electors from Arizona had said only Pence could decide what electoral votes count -- a remarkable argument suggesting vice presidents can directly determine who wins a presidential election, regardless of the results.

 

lin wood djt march 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump world hits panic button after Donald Trump lawyer Lin Wood violently threatens Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Jan. 1, 2021 (11:30 p.m. EST). Donald Trump has a long and strange history of hiring new lawyers who are so profoundly deranged, they end up making Trump’s existing deranged lawyers uncomfortable. We saw this when Trump had Sidney Powell filing court cases so absurd, Rudy Giuliani arbitrarily announced that Powell didn’t work for Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we’re seeing a whole new round of this lunacy, but even worse. Trump is now conspiring with attorney Lin Wood (shown above at the White House in a file photo), who tweeted his expectation today that Mike Pence, below right, will “face execution by firing squad.”

Even as we wait to see whether Wood gets arrested over this apparent threat on Pence’s life, Trump’s other election lawyer Jenna Ellis mike pence o Small– a deranged lunatic in her own right – just tweeted “To be clear: I do not support the statements from Attorney Lin Wood. I support the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.”

When you consider that Ellis has spent the past two months trying to illegally overturn the election in Trump’s favor, it’s not clear what laws she supposedly believes in. But it is clear that she’s worried about getting caught up in the criminal hole that Lin Wood is digging for himself right now.

We have a feeling that either Ellis (shown below) or Wood will no longer be Trump’s lawyer by the end of the weekend, as they can’t both be on the same legal team after this. Then again, at this rate, Wood is about to need a lawyer of his own. Trump’s endgame is getting more pointlessly deranged by the hour.

Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Overrides Trump’s Veto of Defense Bill, Dealing a Legislative Blow, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 2, 2021 (print ed.). The 81-to-13 vote, the last vote expected in this Congress, is the first time lawmakers have overridden one of Mr. Trump’s vetoes. It reflected the sweeping popularity of a measure that authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s military and amounted to an extraordinary reprimand delivered to Mr. Trump in the final weeks of his presidency.

The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority needed to force enactment of the bill over Mr. Trump’s objections. The House passed the legislation on Monday, also mustering the two-thirds majority required.

Mr. Trump, making good on a monthslong series of threats, vetoed the bipartisan legislation last week, citing a shifting list of reasons including his objection to a provision directing the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from bases. He also demanded that the bill include the repeal of a legal shield for social media companies that he has tangled with, a significant legislative change that Republicans and Democrats alike have said is irrelevant to legislation that dictates military policy.

Those objections infuriated lawmakers, who had labored for months to put together a bipartisan bill. They had prided themselves on passing the military bill each year for 60 years, and lawmakers in Mr. Trump’s own party ultimately moved to mow over his concerns and advance the legislation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party in real time, Bill Palmer, right,Jan. 1, 2021. Donald Trump’s approval rating is down eight bill palmerpoints since he lost the election, largely due to his sore loser antics, and it’ll drop further as his antics grow more embarrassing.

bill palmer report logo headerI’d rather Trump just pack up and leave quietly. But if he insists on going out this embarrassingly, at least he’s destroying the viability of a lot of his fellow bad people on his way out. His overall drop in popularity is going to convince a lot of people in the middle not to vote Republican next time. And his ongoing attacks on the Republicans will convince a chunk of his base not to vote Republican next time. The real losers here are, deservedly, the Republicans who let Trump get this far.

If this weren’t such an embarrassment to the country, it would almost be funny watching Trump-aligned clowns like Pence, Pompeo, Hawley, Cotton, and Sasse all scrambling to figure out which side of the no-win scenario they want to be on as Trump makes his exit. They’d all love to run for president in 2024, but they’re destroying their viability just by taking any position on Trump during his downfall.

julian assange stella morris son gabriel righ max belmarsh prison irish examiner com

Stella Moris and son Gabriel, right, and Max leave Belmarsh prison after visiting her partner and their father, Julian Assange. His two children could lose their father for the rest of their lives [Source: irishexaminer.com].

Covert Action Magazine, Opinion: Upcoming Ruling in Assange Trial Threatens More Than Just Freedom of the Press, Steve Brown, Jan. 2, 2021. Although important legal principles are at stake in the extradition trial of Julian Assange, below right in a file photo, for which a ruling will be handed down on January 4, it should not be forgotten that there are important human issues at stake as well.

One such issue is Assange’s health, which has progressively worsened under what seems to be cruel and even sadistic maltreatment by the British government, including the refusal of appropriate medical care and confining him in his cell for 23 hours a day, seven days a week.

The other is that, if the Judge’s ruling is adverse, Julian’s two children may never see their father again.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomMany stories have been written about the legal issues in Julian’s case, and the chilling effect that his extradition to the U.S.  — where he will almost certainly be imprisoned for life — would have on journalists around the world who seek to expose the lies and crimes committed by their own governments.

Most of those stories present Julian, primarily, as a symbol, a hero to his principles, and an ominous example in how far tyrannical governments and corrupt politicians will go to keep their citizens ignorant and submissive.

But Julian is more than a symbol. He is also a father, a husband-to-be (even if he may have to be married in prison) and, most importantly, a human being —o ne who, as the world watches in horror and shame, is being subjected to calculated assaults on his physical and mental health in hopes that he will quickly die and spare the British and American governments the embarrassment of having to deal with him.

For nearly three years Assange and his partner, Stella Moris, had successfully kept their personal relationship and the existence of their two children a secret. Moris only revealed it (on April 11) because “Julian’s poor physical health puts him at serious risk, like many other vulnerable people, and I don’t believe he will survive infection with coronavirus” — which had been spreading rapidly through the British prison system, especially at Belmarsh, the high security prison in which Assange is being held.

Jan. 1

lin wood djt march 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s lawyer Lin Wood goes on violent tirade about Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Jan. 1, 2021. Donald Trump’s election lawyer Lin Wood (shown above at the White House and at right in a Gage Skidmore photo) is now tweeting about Mike Pence facing “execution by firing squad.” So if Wood gets arrested for making threats against the sitting Vice President of the United States, will Trump pardon him for it? This Trump endgame is all so pointless and so stupid.

bill palmer report logo headerFor reference, this is the same Lin Wood who keeps urging Republican voters in Georgia to boycott next week’s Senate runoff races, on the grounds that the runoff is somehow null and void because Trump secretly won Georgia to begin with.

Wood is an obvious crackpot who’s so far gone, he arguably makes Trump’s other lawyers like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell look lin wood gage skidmorementally stable in comparison. The only reason we’re even writing about Wood is that, best anyone can tell, he’s actively representing Trump as a client while carrying on about these deranged conspiracies and pushing these violent threats.

Lin Wood should obviously be arrested immediately. But then what? Each time one of Trump’s crackpot election lawyers flames out, he manages to find an even crazier one who’s willing to spew even wackier and more irrelevant conspiracy theories. This is all obviously having no impact whatsoever on the fact that Trump lost and will be leaving office on January 20th. But this all keeps getting more dangerous for the Republican Party.

December

Dec. 31

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ny times logoNew York Times, Plan to Challenge Election Results Exposes Rift Among Republicans, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 1, 2021 (print ed.). After Senator Josh Hawley said he would object to the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, Senator Ben Sasse rebuked the effort as a “dangerous ploy.”

Senator Ben Sasse on Thursday condemned a drive by his Republican colleagues in Congress to challenge the results of the 2020 election, rebuking the effort as a “dangerous ploy” led by lawmakers who are “playing with fire.”

ben sasse o croppedIn a blistering open letter to his constituents, Mr. Sasse of Nebraska, left, became the first Republican senator to publicly condemn a decision by Senator Josh Hawley to challenge President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, saying it was intended to “disenfranchise millions of Americans.”

“Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage,” Mr. Sasse wrote. “But they’re wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

josh hawley missouriMr. Sasse’s scathing remarks came a day after Mr. Hawley, right, Republican of Missouri, announced that he would object to Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, the final procedural step in affirming Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Hawley’s move ensures that the process, usually a formality, will force up-or-down votes on the House and Senate floors, requiring lawmakers to either show loyalty to President Trump and object to the results or protect the sanctity of the electoral process.

There is almost no chance that the effort, led by Mr. Hawley in the Senate and a small group of Republican lawmakers in the House, will succeed in reversing the outcome. But Mr. Hawley’s decision to challenge the results is forcing a test of how far the Republican Party is willing to go to back Mr. Trump’s false claims.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has discouraged lawmakers from objecting to the results, and on Thursday, he told members of his conference on a private call that he considered his vote on Jan. 6 the most consequential one he would ever cast, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. McConnell did not explicitly say how he would vote, and made clear he was not trying to sway senators to vote one way or another, the people said. But he framed the vote to certify the election results as a critical moment to defend the backbone of the electoral system and invoked votes he had taken on wars and impeachment to underscore its significance.

djt maga hatEven some of Mr. Trump’s usual allies have called his efforts to cling to power unseemly.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called it a “kamikaze mission” this week and said “Republicans should be embarrassed by Mr. Trump’s Electoral College hustle.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump has yet to accept the election results months after Republicans said he would, JM Rieger, Jan.1, 2021 (print ed). The Republican Party continues refusing to accept the election results even as state and federal investigations have found little or no voter fraud and as Trump has lost 59 of 60 election lawsuits filed by his campaign and political allies, including two filed at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAmong the roughly three dozen congressional Republicans who have publicly acknowledged Biden’s win, many waited days or weeks after the election was called before doing so. It was a stark departure from the public congratulations that many of those same Republicans gave to then-President-elect Trump in the hours and days after the 2016 election was called.

That so many elected Republicans still refuse to accept the election’s outcome is perhaps not surprising, given how many Trump supporters falsely think that Biden did not legitimately win the election.

Mediaite,140 GOP House Members Expected to Challenge Electoral College Vote: CNN, Leia Idliby, Dec. 31, 2020. At least 140 House Republicans are reportedly planning to vote against confirming the electoral votes that would verify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, according to CNN.

republican elephant logoDespite no evidence of systemic voter fraud, two Republican members of the House told CNN that their colleagues will attempt to block the count of the Electoral College’s votes on Jan. 6, according to a report from Jake Tapper.

Although President Donald Trump has lost the election, and his House supporters have essentially no chance of changing the result, the motion will delay Biden’s confirmation by a couple of hours.

Trump and his colleagues and allies have spent almost two months working to overturn the election, making baseless claims of election fraud without any legal luck.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had reportedly warned fellow Republican senators not to attempt to challenge Biden’s victory, as he’s nervous the turmoil could lose the GOP Georgia’s two Senate seats.

many Trump supporters falsely think that Biden did not legitimately win the election.

 

djt i dont take responsibility at all

Strategic Culture Foundation, Investigative Commentary: Terrorism: A Menace From the Right-Wing and Allied wayne madsen screen shotFundamentalists, Wayne Madsen, right, syndicated columnist, autor of 18 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Dec. 31, 2020.

att logoOn early Christmas morning a vehicle bomb exploded in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The target was the AT&T metropolitan area network hub “Batman” building, a 33-story structure – the tallest building in Tennessee – which resembles the fictional cape crusader’s cowl.

The bomber turned out to be a 63-year-old white man. Anthony Quinn Warren, who blew himself up in the terrorist attack, apparently subscribed to the babble from the pro-Donald Trump “Qanon” group of far-right conspiracy advocates who believe that Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications networks are linked to both the anthony warnerCovid pandemic and electronic surveillance.

Warren, right, broadcast an evacuation message to residents of the downtown Nashville neighborhood prior to his detonating the bomb. After the explosion, police arrested another Tennessee man who broadcasted a similar message from his truck while driving on a highway in Lebanon, Tennessee. It turned out that there was no bomb in the truck. A third incident in strategic culture logoLeavenworth, Washington involved a bomb threat to the 911 emergency number. The claim, that there was a bomb in a garbage can on a downtown street, prompted a major evacuation of the town.

Such bombings and threats of bombings encompass the “accelerationist” doctrine of far-right Trump supporters who believe such attacks will hasten a civil war in the United States and the overthrow of the government.

The same belief system prompted a conspiracy by a pro-Trump group of armed terrorists to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, seize control of the Michigan state legislature in Lansing, and execute legislators and state gretchen whitmer o smile Custompolice officers, in addition to Whitmer, right. Similar plots were uncovered by right-wing groups targeting the Democratic governors of Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina and the Republican governor of Ohio.

Law enforcement investigators believe that Warren was part of a clandestine far-right group that has been targeting 5G infrastructure targets across Tennessee and the nation. These have included several cell towers that were damaged by arson in Memphis, Tennessee in December 2019. The anti-5G activists have found a ready-made audience with other right-wing groups across the United States, including racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists (REMVEs), anti-government militias, and “sovereign citizen” lone wolves.

Trump and his supporters have managed to draw the public’s and media’s attention away from the far-right’s terrorist activities by conjuring up a fictional strawman – “antifa” or anti-fascism. Far from being an actual group, antifa is a political philosophy centering on opposition to fascism and all of its offshoots, from Nazism to Trumpism.

Just as Adolf Hitler, below, and his Nazis convinced the German people that “Communists” were behind the 1933 arson attack on the adolf hitlerReichstag – the actual culprits were the Nazis, themselves – Trump and his followers believe that antifa forces are carrying out arson and looting in American cities.

In fact, the actual perpetrators of violent attacks are the far-right: Patriot Prayer, Proud Boys, Wolverine Watchmen, Boogaloo Bois, Three Percenters, etc. The far-right or their religious fundamentalist counterparts have been behind almost every major terrorist attack in the United States since 1975. On December 29, of that year, a powerful bomb exploded in the TWA baggage claim area of LaGuardia Airport in New York. Eleven people were killed and 75 injured.

The confluence of anti-5G and anti-vaccination modern-day Luddites and the far-right is seen in groups like the neo-Nazi “Vorherrschaft Division,” Germany “Forke und Schaufel” (FaS), California’s Freedom Angels 2.0, and Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine.

The unholy alliance of far-right and fundamentalist religious groups – be they Islamic, Christian or Jewish – has resulted in democracy coming under siege. Right-wing militia groups have occupied state legislatures in Michigan, Washington state, and Oregon. Political leaders from governors to members of the U.S. Congress and state legislators to mayors and public health officials have been threatened with physical harm.

 

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Protester at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

An overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in the past several decades have been carried out by the far-right, either directly or by false flags, and religious extremists, including Islamists taking their cues from the most far-right of regimes, the feudal monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the Likud-Orthodox government of Israel.

It is beyond clear where the threat of terrorism exists today. In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security us dhs big eagle logo4concluded in a report that “violent white supremacy was the most persistent and lethal threat” in the United States. A September 29, 2020 report from the FBI Field Office in Dallas that was marked FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY/LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE stated that the Boogaloo movement was “increasing anti-government violent rhetoric and activities . . . domestic violent extremist threat in the FBI Dallas Area of Responsibility.”

 Just as Hitler diverted suspicion for the Reichstag fire to fanciful “communists,” Trump employed the same tactic regarding far-right terrorism. Just prior to his electoral defeat, Trump lied when he stated, “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”

FBI logoTrump’s own FBI director, Christopher Wray, countered Trump during a September 17, 2020 hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee. Wray testified: “What I can tell you is that within the domestic terrorism bucket category as a whole, racially-motivated violent extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group, and within the racially-motivated violent extremists bucket, people subscribing to some kind of white supremacist-type ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that.” As for antifa, Wray said it was “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization.”

It is past time for the far-right to be dealt with harshly for their repeated terror acts, from the Oklahoma City and Nashville bombings to mass shootings in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Charleston, and Las Vegas.

steve bannon sofa shotAt the same time, far-right extremists should be summarily purged from law enforcement and the military.

Financiers of the extreme right, including hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, as well as Trump adviser Steve Bannon, right, should have their activities and finances thoroughly investigated. These must be a key agenda items on President Joe Biden’s “to do” list after he assumes the U.S. presidency.

Dec. 30

American System Network, Opinion: Four Epiphanies for the First Week of the New Year, Webster G.Tarpley, right, Dec.30, 2020. First, Georgia: Trump Demands webster tarpley 2007the Ouster of Republican Governor Kemp for Insufficient Zeal; Don also Condemns Secretary of State Raffensperger for Alleged Communist Chinese Ties of Alleged Brother; Thanks to this Chaos, Democrats Ossoff and Warnock Have Real Chance to Win in Jan. 5 Double Run-Off for Senate.

Second: Trump Camp Hyping Jan. 6 Protests Against Honest of Electoral Votes in Congress; Sen. Hawley of Missouri Defies Orders from Mitch and Thune, Pledges to Object to Legal Slates of Electors, Threatening to Split GOP and Make Unprincipled Opportunists Choose Between Legality and Loyalty to Trump;

Three: Will there be Demos in Washington DC and Other Cities? Will They Be Violent? Plan is to Use Conflict to Declare Martial Law and Cancel Results of November 3 Ballot in Battleground States Trump Lost;

Four: Pentagon Bigwigs Refuse to Brief Biden Transition About What They Are Doing, Raising Specter of Autogolpe and Putsch; Why Are Kash Patel and Cohn-Watnick Tampering with NSA, US Cybercommand, and FBI?; One Insider Scenario Has NSA Splitting from Cybercommand under Control of pro-Trump Bureaucrats and Joining with Decapitated FBI to Keep Usurper in Power;

As Part of Same Effort, Sharp High-Level Disagreements Are Reported about Whether Iran is Preparing a Surprise Strike against US Assets in Gulf Region for Suleimani Anniversary; Is This a Smokescreen for Trump War Provocations?

Manhattan DA Hires Leading Forensic Accounting Firm to Prepare Expected Tax and Bank Fraud Case against Don after January 20; Tonight, Trump Abruptly Announces Surprise Early Return from Florida to White House; Why Would He Be Needed in Capital?

Dec. 29

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Will Pence Do the Right Thing? Neal K. Katyal, right, and John Monsky, Dec. 29, 2020. On Jan. 6, neal katyal othe vice president will preside as Congress counts the Electoral College’s votes. Let’s hope that he doesn’t do the unthinkable — and unconstitutional.

President Trump recently tweeted that “the ‘Justice’ Department and FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud,” followed by these more ominous lines: “Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”

The unmistakable reference is to the day Congress will count the Electoral College’s votes, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding. Mr. Trump is leaning on the vice president and congressional allies to invalidate the mike pence leftNovember election by throwing out duly certified votes for Joe Biden.

Mr. Pence, shown in a file photo thus far has not said he would do anything like that, but his language is worrisome. Last week, he said: “We’re going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We’re going to win Georgia, we’re going to save America,” as a crowd screamed, “Stop the steal.”

And some Republicans won’t let up. On Monday, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas and other politicians filed a frivolous lawsuit, which has multiple fatal flaws in both form and substance, in an attempt to force the vice president to appoint pro-Trump electors.

Mr. Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown, is a former acting solicitor general of the United States. Mr. Monsky is the creator of the American History Unbound Series of multimedia productions that covers watershed moments in American history and a board member of the New-York Historical Society.

Dec. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, George Blake, British Spy Who Betrayed the West, Dies at 98, Robert D. McFadden, Dec. 27, 2020 (print ed.). He was caught spilling secrets to the Soviets in 1961 and imprisoned. Five years later, he escaped and fled to Moscow, where he was hailed a hero. He is shown below in a 1992 george blake 1992 at left 1961 mugshotphoto and at right in a 1961 mug shot.

George Blake, a notorious British double agent who betrayed Cold War secrets and Western spies to the Soviet Union in the 1950s and, after being caught, staged a spectacular escape to live out his life as a K.G.B. colonel in Moscow, has died. He was 98.

Like the Cambridge-educated moles Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, Blake became a dedicated Marxist, disillusioned with the West, and a high British intelligence officer while secretly working for the Soviets. His clandestine life lasted less than a decade, but had cost the lives of many agents and had destroyed vital British and American operations in Europe.

United Kingdom flagBut unlike the Cambridge clique, who defected when the authorities closed in, Blake was caught in 1961, tried secretly and sentenced to 42 years in prison. Five years later, with inside and outside help, he escaped from London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison and fled to Moscow. He left behind a wife, three children and an uproar over his getaway, the tatters of a case that encapsulated the intrigues of a perilous nuclear age, with flash points in Korea and Germany, where Blake served.

Settling into a new life in Moscow in 1966, Blake assumed the identity of Colonel Georgiy Ivanovich Bleyk, was awarded the Order of Lenin and given a pension and an apartment. He divorced his wife, remarried and had a son and grandson, helped train Soviet agents and on his 85th birthday in 2007, received the Order of Friendship from President Vladimir Putin of Russia. He wrote an autobiography, No Other Choice (1990) and a memoir, Transparent Walls (2006).

In a 1991 interview with NBC News, Blake voiced regret over the deaths of agents he had exposed, but not over his espionage. He denied being a traitor, insisting he had never regarded himself as British, though he was the son of a naturalized subject. “To betray, you first have to belong,” he later said. “I never belonged.”

Dec. 25

michael flynn djt

Former general and Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, shown above in a file photo separate from Trump's, has called for a military coup to maintain the presidency of Trump, who has pardoned Flynn from federal crimes stemming from lying at Flynn's contacts with Russians before taking office in January 2017. Flynn's attorney Sydney Powell, invited to the White House three times in recent days to meet with Trump, has been working on courtroom, political and media strategies to disallow voting results in multiple swing states to keep Trump in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell’s secret intelligence contractor witness is a pro-Trump podcaster, Jon Swaine, Dec. 25, 2020 (print ed.). As she asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to overturn President Trump’s election loss, the attorney Sidney Powell cited testimony from a secret witness presented as a former intelligence contractor with insights on a foreign conspiracy to subvert democracy.

sidney powellPowell, right, told courts that the witness is an expert who could show that overseas corporations helped shift votes to President-elect Joe Biden. The witness’s identity must be concealed from the public, Powell has said, to protect her “reputation, professional career and personal safety.”

The Washington Post identified the witness by determining that portions of her affidavit match, sometimes verbatim, a blog post that the pro-Trump podcaster Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman published in November 2019. In an interview, Maras-Lindeman confirmed that she wrote the affidavit and said she viewed it as her contribution to a fight against the theft of the election.

“This is everybody’s duty,” she said. “It’s just not fair.”

terpsichore maras lindemanIn a recent civil fraud case, attorneys for the state of North Dakota said that Maras-Lindeman, shown in a screenshot at left, falsely claimed to be a medical doctor and to have both a Ph.D. and an MBA. They said she used multiple aliases and social security numbers and created exaggerated online résumés as part of what they called “a persistent effort . . . to deceive others.”

Powell’s reliance on Maras-Lindeman’s testimony may raise further questions about her judgment and the strength of her arguments at a time when she is becoming an increasingly influential adviser to the president.

Trump’s legal team distanced itself from Powell last month after she falsely claimed Republican state officials took bribes to rig the election. But she has visited the White House three times in the past week, once to participate in an Oval Office meeting. Trump has weighed naming Powell a special counsel to investigate the election, according to previous reports.

Maras-Lindeman, 42, served in the Navy for less than a year more than two decades ago and has said she worked later as a government contractor and part-time interpreter. She has identified herself as a “trained cryptolinguist.”

North Dakota’s assertions about her credentials came in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education. He ordered her to pay more than $25,000.

Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

Dec. 22

william barr doj announcement Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Sees ‘No Reason’ for Special Counsels for Hunter Biden or the Election, Katie Benner, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The outgoing attorney general, William Barr, again broke with President Trump on his unsupported claims of widespread election fraud and the need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son.

Attorney General William P. Barr, shown above in a file photo, said Monday that he saw no reason to appoint special counsels to oversee the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., or to investigate President Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, again undercutting Mr. Trump’s efforts to bend the department to his political will and to overturn the results of the election.

President Donald Trump officialAt a news conference to announce charges in an unrelated terrorism case, Mr. Barr said that he did not “see any reason to appoint a special counsel” to oversee the ongoing investigation into the younger Mr. Biden.

“I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Mr. Barr said. ”To the extent that there is an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally.”

He also said that he would name a special counsel to oversee an inquiry into election fraud if he felt one was warranted. “But I haven’t and I’m not going to,” Mr. Barr said. He added that he saw “no basis” for the federal government to seize voting machines.

Mr. Barr’s comments are sure to further poison his relationship with Mr. Trump, who has expressed rage that Mr. Barr has not done more to help him overturn the results of the November election.

Mr. Barr has long been regarded as Mr. Trump’s most loyal and effective cabinet member, who on several occasions made decisions that directly benefited Mr. Trump and his allies. But his relationship with the president fractured in the wake of the election after he publicly said that he had not seen enough voter fraud to change the election’s outcome and it became clear that he had kept the ongoing investigation in Mr. Biden’s son under wraps.

tommy tuberville doug jonesIncoming Republican U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, left, is shown with the incumbent Alabama Democrat whom he defeated, Doug Jones.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s final hope rests with Tommy Tuberville. Sad! Dana Milbank, right, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.). dana milbank CustomPresident-unelect Trump has studied every play in the Coups-for-Dummies playbook: court challenges, pressure on Republican officials to overturn the election, even a half-baked plan for martial law from pardoned convict Michael Flynn. But no luck.

Now, Trump’s final hope rests with Tommy Tuberville.

This is like finding out your death-row appeal will be argued by Sidney Powell.

Tuberville — or “Tubs,” from his college football coaching days — is the Republican senator-elect from Alabama, and he’s proposing to object to the election results in the Senate on Jan. 6. Trump exulted: “Great senator.”

Problem is, Tubs, if he were a Democrat, is what Trump might call a “low-IQ individual.” In their wisdom, the voters of Alabama chose to replace Democrat Doug Jones, who prosecuted the Birmingham church bombing, with a man who recently announced his discovery that there are “three branches of government,” namely, “the House, the Senate and the executive.”

Tuberville was baffled by the vote counting after Election Day (“The referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard”), and last week said he plans a Senate challenge to the electoral college tally.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Has Jared Kushner finally punched his ticket to prison? Robert Harrington, right, Dec. 22, robert harringtnn portrait2020. What do Jared Kushner (Senior White House advisor and son-in-law to Donald Trump), Lara Trump (Eric Trump’s wife), John Pence (Mike Pence’s nephew) and Sean Dollman (Trump campaign CFO) all have in common? That’s a question that is going to become increasingly relevant to DOJ prosecutors and investigators as the pirate ship known as the Trump administration winds down into irrelevance.

bill palmer report logo headerIt turns out that Kushner helped to create a shell corporation called American Made Media Consultants Corporation, also known as American Made Media Consultants LLC. Kushner named Lara, John and Sean to the board of that corporation. Some $617 million was funnelled to that corporation to spend as it saw fit. Some of the spending was legitimate. But $170 million of it was not. That money found its way into the greedy pockets of the Trump family. And that, my friends, is what’s known as campaign finance fraud — writ large.

The $170 million was laundered as unearned salaries for various members of the Trump family together with a slush fund for various types of spending. But it all ended up being used for the personal gain of Trump family members.

donald trump twitterWhy was this done? The shell corporation was created in order to hide from Trump’s donors the fact that their money was being funneled directly into the pockets of Trump family members, and not for the Trump campaign or to help in the defense fund to reclaim the “stolen” election. In other words, those members of Trump’s following who dug deep into their own pockets to help their “Dear Leader” win re-election, and later, to help him take his “rightful place” to a second term, are really just losers and suckers financing the lifestyles of the already rich.

william barr new oIt turns out that the Department of Justice (that’s right, Bill Barr’s very own DOJ) is already looking into this. (Apparently, when you inherit a contraption the size of the DOJ you can’t always control all of its moving parts.) Once President Biden’s administration takes over it can pick up where they left off.

It’s probably no coincidence, therefore, that the defense bill that Donald Trump wants to veto also contains a rider intended to crack down on the creation of just such shell corporations as American Made Media Consultants LLC. The more you drill down, the more self-serving and incestuous the relationships become.

Naturally, so many of Trump’s followers are such thoroughly glassy-eyed dybbuks that they won’t care about this scam, but some of the not yet thoroughly zombified will. Whatever the case, one does not create a shell corporation for just such an operation unless one has something to hide.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Damage assessment on possible sleeper agent Mike Flynn, Wayne Madsen (shown at left, syndicated wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcolumnist, author of 18 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst), Dec. 22, 2020.

Retired three-star Army General Michael Flynn's recent call for Donald Trump to declare martial law and effect a military-run redo of the presidential election requires the law enforcement and intelligence arms of the armed forces to conduct a damage assessment covering Flynn's entire military career.

It is known that upon retiring as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Flynn began working for at least two foreign governments, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and perhaps others. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration weighs legal immunity for Saudi crown prince in alleged assassination plot, Spencer S. Hsu and Kareem Fahim, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Riyadh has asked the State Department to shield Mohammed bin Salman from a U.S. lawsuit by a former Saudi intelligence officer who claims he was targeted days after Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018. Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

The U.S. government is weighing a request to declare Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, immune from a federal lawsuit accusing him of targeting for assassination a former top intelligence officer who could disclose damaging secrets about the prince’s ascent to power, according to legal documents related to the case.

The Saudi government has asked that the prince be shielded from liability in response to a complaint brought by Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi counterterrorism leader and longtime U.S. intelligence ally now living in exile in Canada.

A State Department recommendation could also lead to the dismissal of the prince as a defendant in other cases recently filed in the United States, including ones accusing him of directing the death and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018; and of targeting a hack and leak operation to discredit an Al Jazeera news anchor, Ghada Oueiss, in retaliation for her critical reports on Mohammed and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.

The request to the Trump administration comes as the State Department, Aljabri’s family and supportive U.S. lawmakers have condemned Riyadh for detaining two of Aljabri’s children in a bid to silence him.

President Trump, though, has been an ardent supporter of the crown prince, who is sometimes referred to by his initials, MBS.

Dec. 21

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr sides with Mike Pompeo against Donald Trump as everything falls apart, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2020. There is no longer any plan, strategy, or scheme that will magically save Donald Trump from being booted out of office in thirty days. He can’t accept that, because once he’s out of office, he’ll be on a path to prison, bankruptcy, and the end of his life as he knows it.

There’s a reason why Trump is now reduced to listening to the delusional fantasies of his crackpot election lawyers: they’re the only people still floating any scenarios for magically saving him. Trump’s “adult” henchmen already know it’s over, and are now trying to cover their own backsides.

bill palmer report logo headerAttorney General Bill Barr is publicly admitting that Trump lost the election fair and square. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly admitting that it was indeed Russia who hacked U.S. government agencies. Barr has lost his job over it, and Pompeo might be about to. But now Barr is publicly siding with Pompeo on the Russia thing, contradicting Trump’s assertion that the hack was either overblown, or fake, or somehow done by China.

It’s clear that henchmen like Barr and Pompeo are trying to rehabilitate their images now that Trump is taking a fall. After all, the DOJ could easily charge them both with felonies for the criminal antics they carried out while in office. The best way to beat those charges is to establish the narrative now that they couldn’t have been willing Trump henchmen, since they stood up to him in the end.

Barr and Pompeo shouldn’t be let off the hook at all. They each belong in prison; Barr for numerous instances of felony obstruction of justice and Pompeo for his criminal antics in the Ukraine scandal. But for now, the point is that some of Trump’s biggest henchmen are already selfishly turning against him. They know Trump is finished.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jennar Ellis allege election fraud to Republican legislators this month in a performance widely ridiculed because of lack of evidence persuasive to courts and Giuliani's flatulence (heard shortly before this screenshot).

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jennar Ellis allege election fraud to Republican legislators this month in a performance widely ridiculed because of lack of evidence persuasive to courts and Giuliani's flatulence (heard shortly before this screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump drove the lie that the election was stolen, undermining voter trust in the outcome, Amy Gardner, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Flanked by pro-Trump media outfits and an assortment of state lawmakers and lawyers who gave oxygen to debunked allegations, the president persuaded millions of Americans that the vote was rigged.

Mediaite, Rudy Giuliani Disavows Sidney Powell’s Role in Trump Legal Fight — After Her Third Oval Office Visit in Four Days, Reed Richardson, Dec 21, 2020. Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and quixotic leader of the campaign to overturn the 2020 election, Rudy Giuliani, labored to distance the president from fellow legal conspiracist Sidney Powell, even though she has visited the White House in three of the last four days.

During an appearance on Newsmax’s Spicer & Co, Giuliani insisted that Powell was acting independently and was not associated with his official efforts on behalf of Trump, despite those visits.

Giuliani’s reference to “special counsel” came after news reports that, during Powell’s Friday Oval Office audience with the president, he reportedly floated the idea of naming Powell as special counsel to investigate election fraud — a move that it should be pointed out is beyond Trump’s authority, since, by regulation, only the attorney general can appoint a special counsel.

However, just moments later, Giuliani appeared to subtly cast aspersions on Powell’s legal strategy. “We’re going to be extremely aggressive, we’re going to fight for our client as hard as we can,” he added. “But we’re also going to do in within the bounds of rationality, common sense, and the law. And it can be done. There’s no reason to go beyond anything.”

This isn’t the first time Giuliani has ruled out Powell having an official role in the legal fight, as he claimed the pair were “pursuing two different theories” just before Thanksgiving. Still, Giuliani’s disavowal rings hollow, since Powell continues to have the president’s ear and, just days before his earlier disavowal, Giuliani and Powell held a surreal, joint press conference where he stood beside her as she pushed delusional election conspiracies involving George Soros, Hugo Chavez, the Clintons, and Antifa, among others.

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is leaving behind crises and undermining Biden before he takes office, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). In a situation without precedent in U.S. history, one president is ending his term amid a global emergency while seeking to delegitimize a successor — and floating the prospect of mounting a four-year campaign to return to power. 

Biden’s incoming administration has long described a “perfect storm” of four crises facing the country — the pandemic, economic distress, climate change and racial justice. It suddenly has another to add: a historic cyber intrusion into government networks that likely began months ago and could reverberate for months to come.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The ‘Red Slime’ Lawsuit That Could Sink Right-Wing Media, Ben Smith, Updated Dec. 21, 2020. Last week, a lawyer for Antonio Mugica sent scathing letters to Fox, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name. Voting machine companies threaten “highly dangerous” cases against Fox, Newsmax and OAN, says Floyd Abrams.

antonio mugicaAntonio Mugica, left, was in Boca Raton when an American presidential election really melted down in 2000, and he watched with shocked fascination as local government officials argued over hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

It was so bad, so incompetent, that Mr. Mugica, a young Venezuelan software engineer, decided to shift the focus of his digital security company, Smartmatic, which had been working for banks. It would offer its services to what would obviously be a growth smartmaticindustry: electronic voting machines. He began building a global company that ultimately provided voting machinery and software for elections from Brazil to Belgium and his native Venezuela. He even acquired an American company, then called Sequoia.

Last month, Mr. Mugica initially took it in stride when his company’s name started popping up in grief-addled Trump supporters’ wild conspiracy theories about the election.

“Of course I was surprised, but at the same time, it was pretty clear that these people were trying to discredit the election and they were throwing out 25 conspiracy theories in parallel,” he told me in an interview last dominion voting systemsweek from Barbados, where his company has an office. “I thought it was so absurd that it was not going to have legs.”

rudy giuliani recentBut by Nov. 14, he knew he had a problem. That’s when Rudy Giuliani, right, serving as the president’s lawyer, suggested that one voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, had a sinister connection to vote counts in “Michigan, Arizona and Georgia and other states.” Mr. Giuliani declared on Twitter that the company “was a front for SMARTMATIC, who was really doing the computing. Look up SMARTMATIC and tweet me what you think?”

Soon his company, and a competitor, Dominion — which sells its services to about 1,900 of the county governments that administer elections across America — were at the center of Mr. Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s theories, and on the tongues of commentators on Fox News and its farther-right rivals, Newsmax and One America News.

Here’s the thing: Smartmatic wasn’t even used in the contested states. The company, now a major global player with over 300 employees, pulled out of the United States in 2007 after a controversy over its founders’ Venezuelan roots, and its only involvement this November was with a contract to help Los Angeles County run its election.

In an era of brazen political lies, Mr. Mugica has emerged as an unlikely figure with the power to put the genie back in the bottle.

djt maga hatLast week, his lawyer sent scathing letters to the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name — and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit.

He has, legal experts say, an unusually strong case. And his new lawyer is J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million, for a beef producer whose “lean finely textured beef” was described by ABC News as “pink slime.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: There is no middle ground between fact and fiction on the election results, Editorial Board, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). As President Trump continues to lie about last month’s election, national Republican leaders are trying to stake out what they imagine as a middle ground: While Joe Biden is the president-elect, the 2020 election was marred by substantial fraud and election irregularities. In fact, this is also a lie, and their dishonesty damages U.S. democracy.

ron johnson oAt a Wednesday Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), right, declared that it is “not sustainable” for a large proportion of Americans to believe the election results are illegitimate. He then set about encouraging this false belief by dignifying debunked attacks on the vote’s integrity. Mr. Johnson insisted that pro-Trump forces have raised “legitimate concerns” about “violations of election laws,” “fraudulent votes and ballot stuffing,” and “corruption of voting machines and software that might be programmed to add or switch votes.”

Republicans are inaugurating a new, dangerous era in which political parties may refuse to acknowledge election results merely because they dislike the choices voters made. The damage is twofold: Dignifying fake claims of widespread election irregularities shreds confidence in democracy, destabilizing the nation’s politics and encouraging potentially violent resistance to duly elected leaders.

Meanwhile, GOP state lawmakers in swing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania have responded to Republican outrage about Mr. Trump’s loss by promising major voting overhauls. This would fit into Republicans’ longer-term efforts to impose restrictions on casting ballots that depress voter participation yet provide little improvement in election integrity.

Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump checks out, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 21, 2020. Donald Trump’s election lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have spent this bill palmerevening using social media to rather viciously attack Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing them of being part of some kind of ill-defined conspiracy against Trump.

Presumably, this is because Meadows dared to tell Trump that Powell’s lunatic plans to magically overturn the election were literally impossible, and that Pompeo dared to publicly admit that it was Russia who hacked U.S. government agencies. But the specific reasoning behind the scuffle is less important than the fact that it’s happening at all, and what it tells us about Donald Trump himself.

bill palmer report logo headerPowell, Wood, Meadows, and Pompeo are all fully complicit in Trump’s overall corrupt agenda. They’re all his henchmen. If Trump were still in the game, he’d be giving them marching orders, telling them what to do, and getting them all on the same page – his page.

Instead, Trump’s henchmen are all eating each other alive, even as Trump says and does little. This is a clear sign that he’s checked out mentally, and his henchmen are each left to their own devices and trying to fill the resulting power vacuum with their own personal agendas.

Best anyone can tell, Trump likes to hear from his lunatic lawyers because their magical imaginary solutions make him feel good – but then he also likes it when his more stable henchmen explain why none of it’s real, because that gives him an excuse not to have to take action.

Donald Trump is in that place where he’s scared of his own shadow, knows he’s one false move from finished, also knows that he’s doomed if he doesn’t do anything, and just wants to be told that it’s all going to be magically okay. In other words, he’s checked out entirely.

Dec. 18

Southern Poverty Law Center, "Hatewatch" Opinion: Law Firm Tied to Far-Right Fringe Registers Stop the Steal LLC in Alabama, Michael Edison Hayden, Dec. 18, 2020. A law firm associated with activists on the far-right fringe registered the Limited Liability Company (LLC) Stop the Steal in Montgomery, Alabama, in November, state records show. “Stop the Steal” is the name of a nationwide protest movement focused on overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election based upon unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

George Coleman of the law firm Baron Coleman registered the Stop the Steal LLC in Montgomery on Nov. 13. Far-right activist Ali Alexander, 35, the self-described “National Organizer” for the Stop the Steal, told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman represents him. Alexander promoted Stop the Steal events to Twitter soon after it became apparent that Trump lost the 2020 election and has done so persistently ever since. Baron Coleman registered the LLC one day before protesters associated with Ali’s Stop the Steal movement descended on Washington D.C. The event gave way to violent clashes between Stop the Steal supporters and counterprotesters.

Hatewatch has so far been unable to determine what the LLC does, but it borrows from a brand name first associated with Roger Stone Jr. A former adviser to Donald Trump and a convicted felon, Stone first launched Stop the Steal during the 2016 election as a group of poll watchers tasked with disputing Democratic votes in urban, multiracial areas. Like the current iteration of Stop the Steal, Stone gathered the group together under the auspices of fighting voter fraud, as Hatewatch has reported. Hatewatch reached out to Stone by phone and email, but he did not respond.

Baron Coleman also represents Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes in his defamation lawsuit against Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based upon its designation of them as a hate group. Alexander and lawyers for Baron Coleman appeared with McInnes outside the center’s headquarters in Montgomery on Feb. 4, 2019, when he announced that suit. Alexander told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman advised him in responding to Hatewatch’s request for comment.

“[Baron Coleman] advised me to tell you not to contact me while I’m representing a client suing y’all. Conflict of interest. Thanks!” Alexander wrote.

Alexander does not appear to be an attorney, so it is unclear what he meant by representing. Alexander is a far-right operative linked to a number of political smear campaigns and is known for posting disinformation to Twitter. One example of that behavior includes a sustained campaign he created promoting the unsubstantiated claim that Biden is “sick” and suffers from some form of otherwise unreported, degenerative illness. Mother Jones reported that Alexander is a convicted felon. Hatewatch obtained records showing Alexander entered a guilty plea on charges of “debit card abuse” in Tarrant County, Texas, in April 2008. He went by the name “Ali Akbar” at that time.

Hatewatch followed up with another text, but Alexander did not respond. Hatewatch was therefore unable to ask him about the LLC.

Baron Coleman sent Hatewatch the following comment:

I received your request for comment and don’t have much I can add. As you know any conversations between my clients and me are privileged.

Stop the Steal, LLC, is an Alabama limited liability company I organized for clients of mine. I’m afraid I’m limited by my professional duties to defer to my clients – owners of the privilege – on whether they would like to add anything more.

I appreciate you reaching out. If you can think of anything else I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience. I’ll do my best to answer anything that isn’t privileged.

Sincerely,

Baron Coleman

Stone appeared with Alexander in the trailer of an apparent film about Stop the Steal activism, which was published to Twitter on Dec. 9. The trailer also featured an appearance by white nationalist live-streamer Nick Fuentes and anti-immigrant pundit and VDARE contributor Michelle Malkin, among other activists who are promoting the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election.

Proud Boys have also turned up at Alexander’s events. At a Stop the Steal-linked event on Dec. 12, members of the hate group reportedly took down two Black Lives Matter banners from two historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., and destroyed them. The Washington Post reported that police were investigating the incidents on hate crime charge

Dec. 17

webster tarpley 2007American System Network, Opinion: Trump Still Threatening to Veto National Defense Authorization Act, Webster G. Tarpley, Dec. 17, 2020. Trump Still Threatening to Veto National Defense Authorization Act; Claims Bill Favors China; He also Wants to End Liability Shield for Social Media and Stop Removal of Confederate Names from US Bases; Likely Real-World Goal: To Cripple US Intelligence Defenses as Part of Appeasement.

While Trump Remains Spitefully Silent, New Reports on Extent of Russian SVR Hack Demonstrate Break-Ins at State, Defense, Treasury, Homeland Security, NIH, and other Government Agencies Since March.

New Attacks Revealed on Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Federal Energy Regulatory Regulatory Commission, and the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories; US “Einstein System” Fails to Detect Presence of Hackers; Trump Cabinet Vet Bossert Warns that Current Level of Russian Access Could be Used for Things Far Worse than Just Spying.

Biden Calls Hack Attacks “a Matter of Great Concern…my Administration will Make Cybersecurity a Top Priority at Every Level of Government”; Coons, Evidently Acting as Semi-Official Transition Spokesman for Biden, Condemns Extraordinary Russian Aggressivity, Noting Ominously that Blatant Cyber-War Attack Proves “Deterrence Has Failed”; Putin Refuses to Deny Kremlin Role in Poisoning of Opposition Figure Navalny; Accuses Navalny of Working with CIA. 

virginia roberts giuffres st tropaz naomi cambpell

Sex fiend Jeffrey Epstein's accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, recruited by the Mar-a-Lago member Epstein's operation from her work as a towel girl at poolside at the Trump-owned club in Florida, is shown at center at a party in St. Topez during her global travels as a 17-year-old in bygone days with such society figures as model Naomi Campbell, top right, and Epstein's friend, sex partner and alleged recruiter, Ghislaine Maxwell, back to camera at upper right. Maxwell, aughter of the late "billionaire" press lord, con man and espionage opertive Robert Maxwell,  is seeking release from pre-trial custody for the holidays on bond pending trial on sex trafficking charges next summer.

New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein’s modeling agent pal Jean-Luc Brunel detained in Paris, Rebecca Rosenberg, Dec. 17, 2020. Jean-Luc Brunel, model-scout pal of late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has been taken into custody in France for questioning on suspicion of raping and trafficking minors, Paris prosecutors said.

jean luc brunelBrunel, who was being investigated as part of a French probe into the sexual abuse of women and girls by Epstein and his friends, was picked up Wednesday at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, officials said. He was about to board a flight to Dakar, Senegal, the Guardian reported.

Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre alleges that Brunel, 74, had once “gifted” the late financier three 12-year-old French girls from poor families for his birthday.

She alleged that Brunel bought them in Paris from their parents, promising to promote their modeling careers, then shipped them to New York to be sexually abused by Epstein. They were allegedly returned to France the following day.

Giuffre, who has claimed she was coerced into being Epstein’s “sex slave,” made the disturbing disclosure in court papers.

Brunel’s lawyer has previously said he denies the allegations. He has been dogged by sexual abuse claims for decades. Ghislaine Maxwell introduced Brunel to Epstein in the 1980s, according to the Guardian. Maxwell was arrested in July on charges she recruited girls and women to be abused by her and Epstein. She has pleaded not guilty.

Dec. 13

 michael pack

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: Restoring the Voice of America after a Trump ‘wrecking ball’ won’t be easy. But it’s worth saving, Margaret Sullivan, right, Dec. 13, 2020. The global news organization has been under siege by CEO Michael Pack (shown above), who claims to be rooting out bias.

Dec. 10

American System Network, Opinion: 106 Seditious House Republicans Endorse Dictatorship in Form of Attack on Presidential Election, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 10, 2020. Trump is Said to Be Taking Names, So Voters Should Take Names Too; McConnell’s GOP Has Time to Shred webster tarpley 2007Constitution, But No Time to Pass Urgently Needed Pandemic Relief; Extinction of Republican Party Is Necessary Response to GOP’s Monstrous Excesses.

1,500 Lawyers Want Disbarment of Trump Lawyers for Lying as Officers of the Court; Federal Rule Eleven Sanctions for Bringing Frivolous Law Suits Are Also Long Overdue;

FDA Advisory Panel Votes 17 to 4 to Approve Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-Biontech Vaccine for Those 16 and Up; Final Decision on Vaccine from FDA Officials Expected Momentarily;

Biden Reminds Black Leaders that Unwise Slogan of Defund the Police Helped GOP to “Beat the Living Hell” Out of Democrats in Election; Stresses that Much Can Be Done Provided It Be Done Carefully, After January 5 Runoff; Since Vilsack Erred in Firing Shirley Sherrod, Compensate Her for the Injustice; Last Tango in Brussels: British Press Now View Catastrophic No-Deal Brexit as Likely; Biden Should Again Demand that BoJo & Co. Stop Wrecking the West;

Trump-Barr Death Cult Setting Up Busiest Year for Federal Executions Since 1896, Including First Woman in 70 Years; Death Penalty is a Racist Relic of Barbarism and Must Be Abolished;

Determined to Keep Americans Divided Even as Trump Rides Into Oblivion, Limbaugh Talks Culture Wars and Secession Once Again; But Lesson of Civil War is Never Again; And That Means Never Again Trump, and Never Again GOP!

Dec. 9

American System Network, Opinion: All Fifty States Have Now Certified Their Election Results and Electors in Conformity with Safe Haven Requirements, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 9, webster tarpley 20072020. Biden’s 306 Electoral Vote Total Makes Him Next President, According to Applicable Law; Electoral College Meets in State Capitals on Monday;

But Trump Presses Last-Ditch Lawsuit to Shred the Right to Vote of Americans: Seventeen Reactionary State AGs Join Rogue Attorney General Paxton of Texas in Attack on Statehood of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia; Supremes to Hear Initial Arguments Thursday; Time for Rule Eleven Sanctions Against These AGs and Pro-Trump Lawyers.

Will States Accept Lessons in Election Organization from Voter Suppression Leader Texas, Where Only One Drop Box for Paper Ballots Was Allowed in Each County; GOP Hates All Voter-Verifiable Paper Trails Because They Make Theft by Republicans More Difficult.

GOP’s Armed Fascist Gangs Run Wild in Various States with Political Cover from White House Usurper.

How Biden’s Personal Friendship with Defense Secretary-Designate Lloyd Austin Can Help Block Coups, Autogolpes, Putsches, and Other Subversive Chicanery Coming from the Trump Camp; In Parlous Times, President Has Right to Choose a Defense Minister He Knows and Trusts; Austin is Expert in Logistics, a Specialty Needed During Pandemic; Expertise in Directed Energy Weapons Using New Physical Principles Also Needed.

Gen. McCaffrey Backs Austin as Bulwark Needed in Pentagon to Counter “Squirrely Lads Burrowing In,” i.e. Trump’s Incompetent Recent Appointments Spreading Chaos!

Dec. 8

Attorney Mark Anderl, his wife, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, and their son, Daniel Anderl

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: My Son Was Killed Because I’m a Federal Judge, Esther Salas, shown above with her son and husband, is a United States District Court judge for the District of New Jersey who sits in Newark, Dec. 8, 2020. Protecting judges is essential to our families, and our democracy.

“Let’s keep talking; I love talking to you, Mom.” Those were the last words spoken to me by my only child, Daniel, as we cleaned up the basement from his birthday festivities. He was still glowing from a glorious weekend at home with his parents and friends.

Then the doorbell rang. Daniel raced up the stairs. Seconds later, as I stood alone in our basement, my beloved son was shot to death. Mark Anderl, my husband of 25 years was shot three times and critically injured.

This tragedy, every mother’s worst nightmare, happened for a reason wholly unrelated to either my husband or my son, but because of my job: I am a United States District Court judge. A lawyer who had appeared before me was angered by the pace of a lawsuit he had filed in my court. He came to my home seeking revenge.

My attacker sought to hurt me but his ire, and his focus, were not unique. Federal judges are at risk from other would-be attackers.

The threat to judges is intensifying. Security incidents targeting judges and other personnel who play integral roles in federal court cases rose to 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications in 2019, from 926 such incidents in 2015, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

roy den hollander esther salasIn my case, Roy Den Hollander [shown at right with the judge in file photos), a New York lawyer who had filed a suit against the male-only military draft, harbored deadly grudges.

On July 11, 2020, he killed a lawyer in California. Eight days later, he came to our door and killed Daniel. Too late, I learned that he had often described himself as “anti-feminist.” In a self-published memoir, he described me as “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.”

For judges and their families, better security is a matter of life and death. But its importance goes beyond our well-being alone. For our nation’s sake, judicial security is essential. Federal judges must be free to make their decisions, no matter how unpopular, without fear of harm. The federal government has a responsibility to protect all federal judges because our safety is foundational to our great democracy.

Dec. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A decade of wringing money and power out of conservative victimhood nears its apex, Philip Bump, Dec. 8, 2020. Ali Alexander is a right-wing personality who has worked with a rogue’s gallery of notorious characters in that world: Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Jacob Wohl, Laura Loomer, you name it.

A decade ago, he was flitting around on the fringes of the conservative movement where his past legal troubles contributed to scrutiny of his efforts to raise funds for an online publishing venture. Now, he identifies himself as “national organizer” for “Stop the Steal,” an organization which adopts the tagline of President Trump’s ploy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Alexander’s group isn’t linked to the Trump campaign. Instead, as CNN reported last week, his “Stop the Steal” website solicits contributions that aren’t bound by nonprofit rules or constraints and which, at least in its initial iteration, went straight to him. In a brief encounter at a rally focused on the election results, CNN’s Drew Griffin asked Alexander how much he was getting from the effort.

“Zero,” Alexander insisted. He then accused Griffin of being a racist for his past reporting.

You don't need to read between the lines much to understand that there's a distinct possibility that Alexander, after years of building his name through right-wing agitation, might similarly see an opportunity in Trump's effort to throw out the results of the 2020 contest. You might suspect that Alexander's more virulent rhetoric has, at a minimum, multiple motivations. If bolstering concerns about the election is lucrative, why draw a line on how far you're willing to go to bolster those concerns?

It’s not insignificant that Alexander’s emergence coincided with the rise of the tea party movement during President Barack Obama’s first term in office. For all of the legitimate energy that the movement fostered, there was also a lot of grifting — financial and political — associated with the effort. A number of groups emerged to fundraise off the energy of the movement and amplified concerns about the future of the country, not all of them legitimate. The passion of supporters could be easy to parlay into money and political support, something which Trump himself explored with his overt flirtations with the movement in his brief consideration of a 2012 run.

Kelli Ward is another person who rose within Republican politics through the tea party movement. After winning a seat in the Arizona state Senate in 2012, she twice tried to earn the party’s nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate, without success. She, too, has embraced the fringes of right-wing, including demonstrating support for rancher Cliven Bundy during his standoff with federal officials in 2014 and joining Loomer for an event last year.

Ward is now the head of the Republican Party in Arizona. She’s been outspoken in her criticism of Gov. Doug Ducey (R) since he certified the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. When Ducey explained in a series of tweets why he was legally bound to do so, Ward told him to “STHU” — to shut up.

Ward, too, has an interest in boosting the idea that the election was stolen. Much of the most vocal part of her party believes Trump’s rhetoric on the matter and sees nefarious efforts playing a role in the results. That doesn’t mean that her position is insincere; like many Republicans, she may in fact believe the baseless claims that rampant fraud occurred. But that doesn’t mean that fighting against Ducey on the point isn’t politically useful.

The Intercept, Opinion: The Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie, Naomi Klein, Dec. 8, 2020. Writing about “The Great Reset” is not easy. It has turned into a viral conspiracy theory purporting to expose something no one ever attempted to hide, most of which is not really happening anyway, some of which actually should.

It’s extra confusing for me to unpick this particular knot because at the center of it all is a bastardization of a concept I know a little something about: the shock doctrine. But here goes nothing:

Back in June, the World Economic Forum, best known for its annual Davos summit, kicked off a lunge for organizational relevance at a time when it was already clear that, for the foreseeable future, packing thousands of people, injected-cheek by lifted-jowl, into a Swiss ski resort to talk about harnessing the power of markets to end rural poverty was a nonstarter.

The effort was called the Great Website — I mean the Great Reset. And through articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, and a book by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, it provided a coronavirus-themed rebranding of all the things Davos does anyway, now hastily repackaged as a blueprint for reviving the global economy post-pandemic by “seeking a better form of capitalism.” The Great Reset was a place to hawk for-profit technofixes to complex social problems; to hear heads of transnational oil giants opine about the urgent need to tackle climate change; to listen to politicians say the things they say during crises: that this is a tragedy but also an opportunity, that they are committed to building back better, and ushering in a “fairer, greener, healthier planet.” Prince Charles, David Attenborough, and the head of the International Monetary Fund all figured prominently. That kind of thing.

In short, the Great Reset encompasses some good stuff that won’t happen and some bad stuff that certainly will and, frankly, nothing out of the ordinary in our era of “green” billionaires readying rockets for Mars. Indeed, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Davos speak, and the number of times it has attempted to rebrand capitalism as a slightly buggy poverty alleviation and ecological restoration program, will recognize the vintage champagne in this online carafe. (This history is explored in an excellent new book and film by the law professor Joel Bakan, “The New Corporation: How ‘Good’ Corporations Are Bad for Democracy.”)

Through its highly influential Global Competitiveness Report, the WEF has played a leading role in the transnational campaign to liberate capital from all encumbrances (like robust regulation, protections for local industries, progressive taxation, and — heaven forbid — nationalizations). Long ago, however, Schwab realized that if Davos didn’t add some do-gooding to its well-doing, the pitchforks that had started amassing at the foot of the mountain would eventually storm the gates (as they came close to doing during the 2001 summit).

And so the giddy sessions on new markets in Malaysia and new startups in California were complemented with somber ones on melting ice caps, United Nations development goals, “impact investing,” “stakeholder capitalism,” and “corporate global citizenship.” In 2003, Schwab introduced the tradition of each January summit having a big theme, starting with the appropriately chastened “Building Trust.” The new Davos tone, though, was truly set in 2005, when actor Sharon Stone, upon hearing Tanzania’s president speak of his nation’s need for mosquito nets to battle malaria, leapt to her feet and turned the session into an impromptu charity auction to purchase the nets. She raised $1 million in five minutes, and a new Davos era was on its way.

If Davos wasn’t “seeking a better form of capitalism” to solve the spiraling crises Davos itself systematically deepened, it wouldn’t be Davos.

The Great Reset is merely the latest edition of this gilded tradition, barely distinguishable from earlier Davos Big Ideas, from “Shaping the Post-Crisis World” (2009) to “Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild” (2010) to “The Great Transformation” (2012) and, who can forget, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” (2018). If Davos wasn’t “seeking a better form of capitalism” to solve the spiraling crises Davos itself systematically deepened, it wouldn’t be Davos.

And yet search for the term “global reset” and you will be bombarded with breathless “exposés” of a secret globalist cabal, headed by Schwab and Bill Gates, that is using the state of shock created by the coronavirus (which is probably itself a “hoax”) to turn the world into a high-tech dictatorship that will take away your freedom forever: a green/socialist/Venezuela/Soros/forced vaccine dictatorship if the Reset exposé is coming from the far right, and a Big Pharma/GMO/biometric implants/5G/robot dog/forced vaccine dictatorship if the exposé hails from the far left.

Confused? That’s not on you. Less a conspiracy theory than a conspiracy smoothie, the Great Reset has managed to mash up every freakout happening on the internet — left and right, true-ish, and off-the-wall — into one inchoate meta-scream about the unbearable nature of pandemic life under voracious capitalism. I’ve been doing my best to ignore it for months, even when various Reset “researchers” have insisted that all of this is an example of the shock doctrine, a term I coined a decade and a half ago to describe the many ways that elites try to harness deep disasters to push through policies that further enrich the already wealthy and restrict democratic liberties.

There has been a tsunami of examples of the real shock doctrine since the pandemic began: Trump’s attacks on Washington’s regulatory architecture; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s amped-up campaign for “school choice,” rather than, say, giving public schools the resources they need to keep children safe; Silicon Valley’s multiheaded power grab, which I wrote about as the Screen New Deal; the Modi government’s cruel attacks on price protections for India’s farmers (setting off a wave of heroic protests) — and so many more.

Dec. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Do So Many Americans Think the Election Was Stolen? Ross Douthat, Dec. 6, 2020 (print ed.). Looking for the reasons behind a seemingly unreasonable belief.

There have been few surprises this past month in how Donald Trump has dealt with the reality of his electoral defeat.

Anyone familiar with his career could have predicted that he would claim to have been cheated out of victory.

So far, so predictable. But speaking as a cynical observer of the Trump era, one feature of November did crack my jaded shell a bit: not his behavior or the system’s response, but the sheer scale of the belief among conservatives that the election was really stolen, measured not just in polling data but in conversations and arguments, online and in person, with people I would not have expected to embrace it.

Drawn from my conversations in the past few weeks, here’s an attempt at a taxonomy of these unlikely seeming fraud believers.

  • The conspiracy-curious normie.
  • The outsider-intellectual
  • The recently radicalized

At the moment, the voter-fraud narrative is being deployed, often by people more cynical than the groups I’ve just described, to help an outgoing president — one who twice lost the popular vote and displayed gross incompetence in the face of his administration’s greatest challenge — stake a permanent claim to the leadership of his party and establish himself as the presumptive Republican nominee in 2024.

And it’s being used to push aside the more compelling narrative that the Republican Party could take away from 2020, which is that Trump’s presidency demonstrated that populism can provide a foundation for conservatism, but to build on it the right needs a very different leader than the man Joe Biden just defeated.

Dec. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: America may not be so lucky next time. Benjamin L. Ginsberg, Dec. 4, 2020. Benjamin L. Ginsberg practiced election law for 38 years. He co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

The country was lucky that President Trump and his reelection campaign were so inept. He ultimately lost by a wide margin, and his challenges to the results have been farcical. His rhetoric ramped up in inverse proportion to his ability to produce evidence supporting his charges of systemic “fraud” or “rigged” elections.

The United States might not be so lucky next time. What if the 2020 election had been as close as it was in 2000, and the outcome hinged on a state (or states) with a truly narrow margin? How would the country have fared under a Trump-style assault on democracy’s foundations?

Trump’s attempts to negate millions of votes by challenging state certifications revealed cracks in those foundations. Some shoring-up is clearly needed before the next election cycle begins. A good place to start might be with the appointment of a bipartisan commission that would propose election reforms to Congress and the states. Here are half a dozen suggestions to get things started:

Revise the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a law that came perilously close to being invoked for the first time in its history. Its muddled language would not have provided clear answers to myriad crucial questions. What happens if a state submits competing slates of electors? How to determine if a “majority” of the electoral college refers to all 538 electors or only those present and voting? If choosing the president fell to the House, with a single vote for each state, could a majority of members prevent the swearing-in of enough minority members (who nonetheless represented more states) so that the majority’s presidential candidate would win? The 1887 law clearly needs updating and clarifying.

Dec. 3

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: The enemy within: Trump's coup and martial law attempt, Wayne Madsen, left, Dec. 3, 2020. WMR has learned wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallof a coordinated effort by Donald Trump loyalists Steve Bannon, exiled Chinese billionaire fugitive Guo Wengui, Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, retired Army Lieut. General and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and other members of Trump's political inner circle to not only attack the results of the 2020 presidential election but also call for Trump to suspend the U.S. Constitution and impose martial law.

Flynn has echoed Bannon in calling for Trump to "temporarily suspend the Constitution, declare limited martial law, have the military oversee a national re-vote, and silence the destructive media." Under the terms of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Flynn could be called back to active duty for the purpose of court-martialing him for sedition.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michael Flynn goes completely off the deep end – and he’s making things worse for himself, Bill Palmer, Dec. 3, 2020. Michael Flynn is now openly calling for the overthrow of the United States government on Twitter, urging Donald Trump to “temporarily suspend michael flynn microphonethe Constitution” and “silence” the media. To be clear, it would be literally impossible for Trump to do these things – and Flynn isn’t helping himself.

bill palmer report logo headerFlynn (shown in a file photo) has already gotten his pardon. There is no (sane) reason for him to continue acting like this. All he’s doing is painting himself as a dangerous madman. This means that if federal prosecutors decide to challenge Flynn’s flimsy preemptive pardon in court by hitting him with additional criminal charges, Flynn’s behavior right now will help make their argument stronger – both in federal court, and in the court of public opinion.

What Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. military general, is doing right now is dangerous. But in the end, all he’s doing is helping to ensure a worse outcome for himself. Then again, Flynn has been self destructively unraveling for years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump escalates baseless attacks on election with a 46-minute video rant, Philip Rucker, Dec. 3, 2020 (print ed.). He claimed without evidence that the nation’s election system was “under coordinated assault and siege” and that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to President-elect Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump officialEscalating his attack on democracy from within the White House, President Trump on Wednesday distributed an astonishing 46-minute video rant filled with baseless allegations of voter fraud and outright falsehoods in which he declared the nation’s election system “under coordinated assault and siege” and argued that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to President-elect Joe Biden.

Standing behind the presidential lectern in the Diplomatic Reception Room and flanked by the flags of his office and of the country whose Constitution he swore an oath to uphold, Trump tried to leverage the power of the presidency to subvert the vote and overturn the election results.

The rambling and bellicose monologue — which Trump said “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made” and was delivered direct-to-camera with no audience — underscored his desperation to reverse the outcome of his election loss after a month of failed legal challenges and as some key states already have certified Biden’s victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, President is said to be livid at attorney general, with one official suggesting termination is possible, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, Dec. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr had undercut President Trump’s unfounded claims of a rigged election.

william barr new oPresident Trump remained livid at Attorney General William P. Barr, right, on Wednesday, with one senior administration official indicating there was a chance Barr could be fired — not just for his public comments undercutting Trump’s unfounded claims of election-shifting fraud, but also for steps he did not take on a probe of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into Trump’s campaign.

A day after Barr told the Associated Press that he had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Trump continued to complain about his attorney general, people familiar with the matter said.

Trump, the official said, was perhaps even angrier that Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham did not issue a public report of his findings before last month’s election, and that Barr had secretly appointed Durham as special counsel in October, giving him extra legal and political protection to continue the work he started a year ago. Durham is examining whether crimes were committed by law enforcement during its 2016 investigation of whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia.

joseph diGenova victoria toensig fox

washington post logoWashington Post, Joseph diGenova resigns from Gridiron Club after saying fired cybersecurity official should be shot, Elahe Izadi, Dec. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The elite Washington journalism social organization asked the Trump campaign lawyer to step down.

Joseph diGenova, (shown above with his wife and law partner Victoria Toensig) the Trump campaign lawyer who had been a fixture in Washington legal circles for decades, resigned under pressure Tuesday from the elite Gridiron Club after an uproar over his comments suggesting a former government official should be executed.

DiGenova later said he was joking when he made the comments about Christopher Krebs, right, the federal cybersecurity official who was fired by chris krebs oPresident Trump after asserting that the 2020 election was secure and free of widespread voter fraud. “Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs . . . ." diGenova said on the conservative “Howie Carr Show” on Monday. “He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

Still, the White House denounced the statement, Krebs said he would consider legal action — and the 135-year-old Gridiron Club asked diGenova to step down.

The Gridiron Club is primarily an organization for Washington journalists, but it is best known for an annual formal dinner that also ropes in political luminaries and a raucous musical-comedy presentation of satirical songs and skits. DiGenova, who served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia in the 1980s, had been a “limited” member for more than 25 years, one of a handful of “ringers” recruited for their impressive singing voices.

His comments have also caused alarm on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Ted W. Lieu (D-Ca.), both former prosecutors, called on the disciplinary arm of the D.C. bar to immediately open an investigation into diGenova’s statements as an incitement to violence and a violation of rules of professional conduct. “If a lawyer licensed in the District of Columbia can – while speaking in a representative capacity – publicly call for the death of his client’s perceived adversaries without consequences, the [bar] Counsel has abjectly failed in its duty,” the lawmakers wrote.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Reaping what they have sown, Robert Harrington, right, Dec. 3, 2020. In the 24 hours since last I wrote to you, brothers and sisters, robert harringtnn portrait90 more Americans have died from coronavirus than died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That is, 2,889 coronavirus victims against the 2,799 who died that fateful day nearly 20 years ago. My hope is that grim statistic is more than just a mind-numbingly large number, but a reminder that there are often somber repercussions to ignorance. Most of those coronavirus deaths were preventable.

bill palmer report logo headerThe difference between those coronavirus deaths and the deaths of September 11, of course, is they did not occur in the midst of the shocking spectacle of mammoth collapsing buildings and shrieking terror-inspired New Yorkers in full flight for their lives, but quietly, unobtrusively, in a hospital bed, or at home.

To put it in cynical terms, September 11th had the better publicist. Even so, in some ways the coronavirus deaths are even more shocking. September 11th was the result of an attack by inimical foreign agents living outside the United States and setting out to murder Americans. The coronavirus deaths, on the other hand, were caused by ignorant Americans misled by the president of the United States. And, of course, Donald Trump is still killing Americans in 9/11 orders of magnitude every single day.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Prosecuting Trump Is a Very Bad Idea, Eric Posner (University of Chicago law professor and the author of “The Demagogue’s Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy From the Founders to Trump”), Dec. 3, 2020. The goal would be to renew faith in our government, but its effect would be the opposite.

As the Biden administration slowly coalesces, there have been many calls for its Justice Department to prosecute Donald Trump for any crimes he may have committed while in office. The hope, proponents of this view argue, is to establish that the president is subject to the rule of law and to deter future presidents from breaking the law.

The problem with this agenda is that there is little evidence that Mr. Trump did commit crimes as president. A conviction, given what we know now, is all but impossible. The calls to investigate him echo the president’s own calls to investigate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden based on mere speculation — calls that most people, especially liberals, rightly condemned.

The most plausible charge is that Mr. Trump obstructed justice by interfering with, and possibly lying to, Robert Mueller and his investigators. Critics also argue that Mr. Trump may have broken the law by threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government announced the opening of an investigation into the Bidens. A third possible charge is that Mr. Trump corruptly mixed his financial affairs with government business.

All of these charges would face formidable difficulties in court.

Investigations into allegations that Mr. Trump was involved in credit and tax fraud and campaign finance violations before his presidency are another matter. But convictions based on such pre-presidential behavior will not reflect on his presidency nor hold lessons for future presidents.

And even these investigations run the risk of turning Mr. Trump into one of the last things we want him to be: a martyr.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Washington DC Attorney General fires back at Ivanka Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 3, 2020. Yesterday the news broke that Ivanka Trump had been forced to testify in the Washington DC Attorney General’s civil investigation into alleged Trump inauguration fund fraud. It turns out Ivanka isn’t happy about it, and it further turns out that the Attorney General isn’t impressed with her whining.

bill palmer report logo headerIvanka posted a tweet today, revealing that she was forced to testify for five-plus hours. She accused the entire investigation of being a “politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness.”

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine fired back at Ivanka: “We filed suit after gathering evidence that the Presidential Inaugural Committee knowingly entered into a grossly overpriced contract with the Trump Hotel. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect … DC law requires nonprofits to use funds for stated public purposes, and to avoid unreasonable, wasteful expenses. Our investigation revealed the Committee willfully used nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. It’s very simple: They broke the law. That’s why we sued.”

karl racineRacine, left, also posted an email from former Melania Trump friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who is now working with investigators, addressed to convicted felon Rick Gates, and CC’d to Ivanka Trump. In the email, Wolkoff expressed concern that the inflated Trump hotel inaugural pricing would end up being “audited” and become a problem.

Here’s what stands out. There is no indication that Ivanka is a target of the investigation; thus far it’s merely established that she’s a witness to the alleged fraud. Also, this is merely a civil investigation, and not (yet) a criminal one. But Ivanka is reacting in remarkably angry, bitter, defensive, and conspiratorial fashion. Since her father lost the election, she’s starting to sound more like her father with every passing day.

Dec. 2

American System TV, Opinion: Pelosi and Schumer Support $908 Billion Bipartisan Interim Relief and Stimulus Measure for Pandemic-Stricken US webster tarpley 2007Economy, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec 2, 2020. Will McConnell and His Two Score GOP Austerity Hypocrites Vote for It, or Will They Try to Hide Behind Their Rediscovered Obsession with Deficits and Debt?; And Will Trump Go Along with the Bill?; Six Battleground States Have Already Certified for Biden.

GOP Split in the Making: Two Vital Georgia Runoff Elections on January 5 as Microcosm of US Politics: Ultra-MAGA Forces Around Sidney Powell and Lin Wood Call on GOP Voters to Boycott Senate Candidates Perdue and Loeffler for Insufficient Fanaticism for Don; Others Want Marshal Law to Overturn Election;

To Keep GOP Senate Control, Sen. Loeffler Baits Dems for Talking Defunding of Police; Obama Wisely Urges His Party to Steer Clear of Such Inflammatory Slogans and Stress Police Reform and Fairness; Omar of Ultra-Left Squad Defends Verbal Radicalism; Rep. Clyburn Backs Obama, Citing Vast Damage to Civil Rights Movement Wrought by “Burn Baby Burn” Extremists of 1960s;

“The Planet is Broken”: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Launches Hysterical Malthusian Campaign of Killer Energy Austerity Under Slogan of “Net Zero”; Not Mentioned in UN Charter; Proclaims that World’s Working People Will Have to Pay “Price on Carbon;” Focus on Glasgow Conference, Coming in November 2021;

The Pardoner’s Tale: Trump’s Plans for Executive Clemency Scrutinized;

Beijing Communist Regime Sentences Hong Kong Opposition Leaders to Multi-Month Jail Terms: Our Advent Wish is for a World More Concerned with the Fate of Brave Pro-Democracy Fighters Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam than with the Posturing of Greta Thunberg.

Dec. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, To boost voter-fraud claims, Trump advocate Sidney Powell turns to unusual source: The longtime operator of QAnon’s Internet home, Drew Harwell, Dec. 1, 2020. In her legal quest to reverse the reality of last month’s election, President Trump’s recently disavowed attorney Sidney Powell has gained a strange new ally: The longtime administrator of the message board 8kun, the QAnon conspiracy theory’s Internet home.

Powell on Tuesday filed an affidavit from Ron Watkins, the son of 8kun’s owner Jim Watkins, in a Georgia lawsuit alleging that Dominion Voting Systems machines used in the election had been corrupted as part of a sprawling voter-fraud conspiracy.

Powell has claimed that a diabolical scheme backed by global communists had invisibly shifted votes with help from a mysterious computer algorithm pioneered by the long-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez — a wild story debunked by fact-checkers as a “fantasy parade” and devoid of actual proof.

No real evidence was included in Watkins’ affidavit, either. But Watkins, who said in the affidavit that he lives in Japan, nevertheless speculated that — based on his recent reading of the Dominion software’s online user guide — it may be “within the realm of possibility” for a biased poll worker to fraudulently switch votes.

Watkins’ affidavit marks one of the first official connections between a notable player in the QAnon conspiracy universe and Trump’s muddled multistate legal campaign, which some of the president’s allies have labeled, in the words of Chris Christie, a “national embarrassment.”

But many similar Trump-QAnon overtures have already played out on TV and social media since the election nearly one month ago. Watkins made similar allegations in an unchallenged segment on the far-right One America News network, which Trump retweeted to his 88 million followers last month.

Powell and her client Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, are effectively celebrities to QAnon loyalists, who posit online that both will soon help “release the Kraken” and expose a bombshell that could salvage a Trump second term, vanquish his enemies and unveil the hidden machinations of a communist conspiracy.

Since claiming to have resigned last month from 8kun, Watkins has devoted much of his online activity to claims about unfounded suspicions regarding Dominion, an 18-year-old voting-technology company whose computer programs, ballot printers and other products are used by elections officials in 28 states. Trump and his supporters have loudly attacked the Denver-based company as having contributed in some unproven way to steal the vote.

In a lengthy rebuttal last week, Dominion said that Powell’s claims were nonsensical: Manual recounts, machine tests and independent audits had reaffirmed that the voting systems had given accurate, undistorted results. Her “wild and reckless allegations,” the company added, were “not only demonstrably false” but had “led to stalking, harassment, and death threats to Dominion employees.”

In his affidavit, Watkins called himself an information security expert with nine years of experience as a “network and information defense analyst” and security engineer. But he did not mention that his experience had come largely through 8kun, the site once called 8chan that was knocked offline for nearly three months last year.

The message board is infamous for its anonymous threads of racist bile and extremist threats, and the site was used by gunmen to announce and celebrate three fatal attacks last year at an El Paso Walmart, a San Diego-area synagogue and a New Zealand mosque.

Major web-services providers that form the Internet’s backbone have refused to work with the site, with one executive telling The Washington Post last year that Watkins’ site had facilitated “mass shootings and extreme hate speech with intolerable consequences.”

Q has posted more than 4,000 times since 2017, but only three times since the election, sparking a mix of anxiety and faith-based recommitment among QAnon believers.

 

November

Nov. 30

CBS News 60 Minutes, Fired director of U.S. cyber agency Chris Krebs explains why President Trump's claims of election interference are false, Correspondent Scott Pelley, posted Nov. 30, broadcast Nov. 29, 2020. Chris Krebs, a lifelong Republican, was put in charge of the agency handling election security by President Trump two years ago. When Krebs said the election was the country's most secure ever, Mr. Trump fired him. Now, Krebs speaks to Scott Pelley.

“We can go on and on with all the farcical claims alleging interference in the 2020 election, but the proof is in the ballots. The recounts are consistent chris krebs owith the initial count,” says Christopher Krebs, right. “The American people should have 100% confidence in their vote.”

Though the transition has begun, President Trump remains largely holed up in the White House tweeting false accusations of a rigged election from behind a crumbling wall of lawsuits. No legal challenge, no recount, no audit has changed the outcome in any state.

Mr. Trump's claim that millions of votes were deleted or switched is denied by the official he chose to secure the nation's election systems. Christopher Krebs called the 2020 vote "the most secure in American history" which promptly got him fired. Tonight, in his first interview since he was dismissed, Krebs tells us why he believes the vote was accurate and why saying otherwise puts the country in danger.

Chris Krebs: "I have confidence in the security of this election because I know the work that we've done for four years in support of our state and local partners. I know the work that the intelligence community has done, the Department of Defense has done, that the FBI has done, that my team has done. I know that these systems are more secure. I know based on what we have seen that any attacks on the election were not successful."

Two years ago, President Trump put Christopher Krebs in charge of the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Krebs, a lifelong Republican, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.

Nov. 28

American System TV, Opinion: Assassination of Leading Iranian Nuclear Scientist Fakhrizadeh Appears as Provocation by Pro-War Forces Calculated to webster tarpley 2007Cripple Biden’s Diplomacy as New Administration Seeks to Clean Up Wreckage Left by Trump, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 28, 2020. Iranian President Rouhani Blames Israel, But Urges More Restraint Despite Multiple Provocations; Warns Against Falling into Trap of Swift Retaliation when World Conditions Will Change in Just a Few Weeks;

For Lame Duck Trump, this Parthian Shot Could Provide Basis for Wag the Dog Operations to Make a Coup More Plausible; Trump-Kushner Normalization Deals by Gulf States with Israel Are Making War Easier;

Four Hundredth Anniversary of Mayflower Compact, the First Known Written Instrument of Democratic, Majority Self-Rule, Sharply Refutes the Manichean Distortion of American History Purveyed by the Anarchist Howard Zinn and his Co-Thinkers;

In Our Time, Positive Tradition of Plymouth Colony Has Done Its Part in Blocking Trump’s Bid for Authoritarianism; This Tradition Provides More Efficient Self-Government than Neo-Legalist Dictatorship in Beijing or Byzantine Oppression in Moscow

Third US Circuit Court of Appeals Gives Scathing Rebuff to Trump-Giuliani Attack on Pennsylvania Election; Will Supreme Court Now Accept Trump’s Appeal?

Nov. 24

nbc news logoNBC News, Opinion: Senate Republicans' Georgia bullying failed. But Lindsey Graham's ethics violations stand out, Richard Painter (right, former chief ethics richard painterlawyer for President George W. Bush) and Claire O. Finkelstein (faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania), Nov. 24, 2020. Graham’s actions should be clearly identified and vociferously rejected by his fellow senators, as well as by the Biden administration.

Republican Party organizations have continued to support President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud, amplifying his message in the press and in court filings. No such claim has survived legal scrutiny.

The president's own Department of Homeland Security has said that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” a statement that resulted in the firing of the director of that agency’s cybersecurity division. Just last week Trump summoned Michigan Republican leaders to the White House to try to throw out the state's election results. Despite these efforts, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania have certified the results in favor of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. And on Monday, the head of the General Services Administration approved the official transition process.

A handful of Republican senators has particularly disgraced the U.S. Senate in their willingness to support Trump’s doomed attempt to reverse the results of a lindsey grahamlawful and secure election.

A handful of Republican senators has particularly disgraced the U.S. Senate in their willingness to support Trump’s doomed attempt to reverse the results of a lawful and secure election. The most egregious example is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the subject of an ethics complaint we filed, along with former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, last Wednesday with the Senate Ethics Committee.

The complaint centers on a phone call Graham, left, placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to propose that Raffensperger invalidate thousands of mail-in ballots. According to The Washington Post, Graham “asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures,” which would have included ballots legally cast by eligible voters. In a subsequent interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Raffensperger explained that he took the senator’s message to mean “look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

Graham denies this account and maintains he was merely inquiring into the standards for mail-in ballots. His denial is not plausible. CNN reported that a staffer for Raffensberger, Gabriel Sterling, said “he participated in a controversial phone call with Sen. Lindsey Graham and claimed he heard Graham ask if state officials could throw out ballots.” Sterling and his family have received death threats and are now under 24-hour police protection.

Moreover, in the process of denying an attempt to invalidate ballots in Georgia, Graham admitted to reporters that he had also spoken with officials in Arizona, Nevada and possibly other states, because, as he said, “the future of the country hangs in the balance.”

Almost as worrisome as these attempts to influence election officials is Graham’s invocation of his authority as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to further the Republican narrative of fraud. Four days after the election, he vowed to launch a committee investigation into alleged irregularities, declaring that as chairman "all credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct will be taken seriously.” The next day he credited “allegations of system failure, fraud” as the reason Trump lost the election.

Graham is indeed empowered to investigate irregularities. But it would be a profound misuse of his office to call for an investigation for the purpose