Deep State 2020-23: News, Revelations, Commentary

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Editor's Choice: 2020-23 News & Views

This archive of assassination, regime change and propaganda news and commentary excerpts significant news stories and commentaries john_f_kennedy_smilingregarding alleged work by those involved with 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

 2020-21-22-23

 

January

Jan. 31

 

john roberts o

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties, Steve Eder, Jan. 31, 2023. Chief Justice John Roberts’s wife recruits lawyers to top firms, some with business before the court. But her ties have raised ethics questions.

After Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her career as a law firm partner to become a high-end legal recruiter in an effort to alleviate potential conflicts of interest. Mrs. Roberts later recalled in an interview that her husband’s job made it “awkward to be practicing law in the firm.”

Now, a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.

In his letter last month, Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, argued that the justices should be required to disclose more information about their spouses’ work. He did not cite specific Supreme Court decisions, but said he was worried that a financial relationship with law firms arguing before the court could affect justices’ impartiality or at least give the appearance of doing so.

“I do believe that litigants in U.S. courts, and especially the Supreme Court, deserve to know if their judges’ households are receiving six-figure payments from the law firms,” Mr. Price wrote.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, Patricia McCabe, said that all the justices were “attentive to ethical constraints” and complied with financial disclosure laws. The chief justice and his wife had also consulted the code of conduct for federal judges, Ms. McCabe said, including a 2009 advisory opinion that a judge “need not recuse merely because” his or her spouse had worked as a recruiter for a law firm with issues before the court.

Mrs. Roberts previously said that she handled conflicts on a case-by-case basis, avoiding matters with any connection to her husband’s job and refraining from working with lawyers who had active Supreme Court cases.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, did not address how the committee would respond to Mr. Price, but said in a statement that his letter raised “troubling issues that once again demonstrate the need” for ethics reforms to “begin the process of restoring faith in the Supreme Court.”

Public confidence in the court recently fell to a historic low, polls showed, and Democrats in Congress have called for greater transparency, including stronger disclosure and recusal standards. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Mr. Price and Mrs. Roberts both had worked as legal recruiters for Major, Lindsey & Africa, a global firm based in Maryland. According to the letter, Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.

He lost the case, but the litigation produced documents that he sent to Congress and the Justice Department, including spreadsheets showing commissions attributed to Mrs. Roberts early in her headhunting career, from 2007 to 2014. Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition in the case, said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.

“I keep my placements confidential,” she said in the deposition.

Mrs. Roberts, now the managing partner of the Washington office of Macrae Inc., had spent two decades at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, where she became a partner in the global technology group and also focused on talent development. In 2007, she changed careers and soon ascended the ranks of her new industry. Partners at leading law firms in Washington on average make well over $1 million a year, and at the high end, they can be paid over $7 million. Recruiting firms take a large cut from those placements, often equivalent to a quarter of the new hires’ first-year salaries.

The spreadsheets list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.

Jan. 30

  djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Manhattan Prosecutors Will Begin Presenting Trump Case to Grand Jury, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, Jan. 30, 2023. The decision potentially sets the case, tied to Donald Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star in 2016, on a path toward criminal charges.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald J. Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The grand jury was recently impaneled, and witness testimony will soon begin, a clear signal that the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.

david pecker croppedOn Monday, one of the witnesses was seen with his lawyer entering the building in Lower Manhattan where the grand jury is sitting. The witness, David Pecker, left, is the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal with the porn star, Stormy Daniels, right.

stormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomAs prosecutors prepare to reconstruct the events surrounding the payment for grand jurors, they have sought to interview several witnesses, including the tabloid’s former editor, Dylan Howard, and two employees at Mr. Trump’s company, the people said. Mr. Howard and the Trump Organization employees, Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff, have not yet testified before the grand jury.

The prosecutors have also begun contacting officials from Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, one of the people said. And in a sign that they want to corroborate these witness accounts, the prosecutors recently subpoenaed phone records and other documents that might shed light on the episode.

djt michael cohen disloyalA conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, left, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.

Still, the developments compound Mr. Trump’s mounting legal woes as he faces an array of law enforcement investigations: A district attorney in Georgia could seek to indict him for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state, and he faces a special counsel investigation into his removal of sensitive documents from the White House.

Mr. Bragg’s decision to impanel a grand jury focused on the hush money — supercharging the longest-running criminal investigation into Mr. Trump — represents a dramatic escalation in an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end.

Under Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney’s office had begun presenting evidence to an earlier grand jury about a case focused not just on the hush money but on Mr. Trump’s broader business practices, including whether he fraudulently inflated the value of his real estate to secure favorable loans and other financial benefits. Yet in the early weeks of his tenure last year, Mr. Bragg developed concerns about the strength of that case and decided to abandon the grand jury presentation, prompting the resignations of the two senior prosecutors leading the investigation.

One of them, Mark F. Pomerantz, was highly critical of Mr. Bragg’s decision and has written a book that is scheduled to be published next week, “People vs. Donald Trump,” detailing his account of the inquiry. Mr. Bragg’s office recently wrote to Mr. Pomerantz’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, expressing concern that the book might disclose grand jury information or interfere with the investigation.

For his part, Mr. Trump has denied all wrongdoing and chalked up the scrutiny — as he has many times before — to a partisan witch hunt against him. If he were ultimately convicted, Mr. Trump would face a maximum sentence of four years, though prison time would not be mandatory.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg’s office declined to comment. Mr. Pecker’s lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Ronald P. Fischetti, declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Mr. McConney and Ms. Tarasoff.

The panel hearing evidence about the hush money is likely what’s known as a special grand jury. Like regular grand juries, it is made up of 23 Manhattan residents chosen at random. But its members are sworn in to serve for six months to hear complex cases, rather than the routine 30-day panels that review evidence and vote on whether to bring charges in cases of burglary, assault, robbery, murder and other crimes.

 

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

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

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump is now in the process of being criminally indicted by grand juries in three different jurisdictions, Bill Palmer, bill palmerright, Jan. 30, 2023.  When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg decided last year not to criminally indict Donald Trump for his Trump Organization financial fraud, it seemed obvious that Bragg was simply trying to avoid being the first to indict Trump, and that he’d eventually indict him on something. After all, Bragg would have zero chance of reelection in Manhattan if he doesn’t end up indicting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerLast week Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the court that indictment decisions in her criminal probe against Donald Trump were “imminent.” Now that Willis is seemingly just days away from indicting Trump, it’s perhaps not a surprise that Alvin Bragg is now also in the process of indicting Trump.

Bragg is presenting evidence of Donald Trump’s campaign finance fraud to a grand jury, per the New York Times. Specifically, Trump is being criminally targeted for illegally using campaign money as part of his payoff scheme to keep Stormy Daniels quiet. This is the same Trump criminal plot which previously sent Michael Cohen to prison. So all that Bragg really has to do is show that Cohen was acting upon Trump’s instruction.

Michael Cohen responded to today’s news by retweeting a reminder that he met with the Manhattan DA’s office just two weeks ago. Cohen also retweeted a reporter who stated that campaign finance charges could be the “most dangerous criminal case” against Trump, in terms of landing a conviction.

The public will understandably be wary of Alvin Bragg until he actually indicts Trump, given how badly Bragg has dragged his feet up to this georgia mappoint. But there would be no reason for Bragg to go to the effort of presenting a criminal case against Trump to a grand jury, and leaking to the media that he’s doing so, unless he’s already decided to go through with indicting Trump. Bragg was seemingly just waiting until word came down that the Fulton County DA is now just days away from indicting Trump, meaning Bragg will get to indict Trump second (or third) instead of first.

This all comes after Bloomberg reported roughly two weeks ago that DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith was just weeks away from critical indictment decisions in his own criminal case against Donald Trump. This means Trump is now on track to be indicted by three different sets of prosecutors, each of which will put him on criminal trial. It’s been tricky to predict the timing, but this was always coming. And now we’re here.

 

U.S. Justice Failures, Scandals

william barr hearing new

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr’s Image Rehab Is Kaput, David Firestone, Jan. 30, 2023. Mr. Firestone is a member of the editorial board.

Former Attorney General William Barr has spent the last year in a desperate salvage operation for what’s left of his legal and ethical reputation.

During his 22 months in office, he allowed his Justice Department to become a personal protection racket for his boss, Donald Justice Department log circularTrump, and left prosecutors, the F.B.I. and other law enforcement officials subject to the worst impulses of the president. But then, in his 2022 memoir, Mr. Barr did an about-face, bashing Mr. Trump for lacking a presidential temperament and singling out his “self-indulgence and lack of self-control.”

In the book, he urged Republicans not to renominate Mr. Trump in 2024, accusing the former president of going “off the rails” with his stolen-election claims by preferring the counsel of “sycophants” and “whack jobs” to that of his real advisers. Clearly concerned that history was paying attention, he was even stronger in his videotaped testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, loosing a variety of barnyard epithets and bitter insults to describe Mr. Trump’s legal strategy. He said the president had become “detached from reality” and was doing a disservice to the nation.

The hollow and self-serving nature of this turnabout was always apparent. Mr. Barr never made these concerns public at a time when his dissent would have made a difference. Instead, he left office in 2020 showering compliments on his boss, praising Mr. Trump’s “unprecedented achievements” and promising that Justice would continue to pursue claims of voter fraud that he must have known were baseless.

But if Mr. Barr harbored any fantasy that he might yet be credited with a wisp of personal integrity for standing up for democracy, that hope was thoroughly demolished on Thursday when The Times published the details of what really happened when Mr. Barr launched a counter-investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The reporting demonstrated a staggering abuse of the special counsel system and the attorney general’s office, all in a failed attempt by Mr. Barr to rewrite the sour truths of Mr. Trump’s history.

It was bad enough when, in March 2019, Mr. Barr tried to mislead the public into thinking the forthcoming Mueller report exonerated Mr. Trump, when in fact the report later showed just how strong the links were between the campaign and the Russian government, john durham Customwhich worked to help defeat Hillary Clinton. A few months later Mr. Barr assigned John Durham, right, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, as a special counsel to investigate Mr. Mueller’s investigation, hoping to prove Mr. Trump’s wild public allegations that the federal intelligence officials had helped instigate the claims of Russian interference to damage him.

Attorneys general are not supposed to interfere in a special counsel’s investigation. The whole point of the system is to isolate the prosecution of sensitive cases from the appearance of political meddling. But the new Times reporting shows that Mr. Barr did the opposite, regularly meeting with Mr. Durham to discuss his progress and advocating on his behalf with intelligence officials when they were unable to come up with the nonexistent proof Mr. Barr wanted to see. (Aides told Times reporters that Mr. Barr was certain from the beginning that U.S. spy agencies were behind the allegations of collusion.)

When the Justice Department’s own inspector general prepared to issue a report saying that, while the F.B.I. made some ethical mistakes, the investigation was legitimate and not politically motivated, Mr. Durham lobbied him to drop the finding. When that effort was unsuccessful, Mr. Barr reverted to his usual pattern of trying to spin the report before it was issued, disagreeing with its finding before it was even out. Mr. Durham then followed up with a similar statement, shattering the clear department principle of staying silent about a current investigation.

The two men even traveled to Britain and Italy together, pressuring government agencies there to disclose what they told U.S. spy agencies about the Trump-Russia connections. That infuriated officials of those governments, who said they had done nothing of the kind, and no evidence was ever found that they had. But on one of those trips, The Times reported, Italian officials gave the men a tip which, people familiar with the matter said, linked Mr. Trump to possible serious financial crimes. (It is not clear what those crimes were, and more reporting will be necessary to reveal the details.) Did Mr. Barr follow protocol and turn the tip over to regular prosecutors in his department for investigation? No. Instead, he gave it to his traveling companion, Mr. Durham, who opened a criminal investigation but never made it public and never filed charges, and when word began to trickle out that a suspected crime had been discovered, he falsely let the world think it had something to do with his original goal.

The Durham investigation, of course, has never presented any evidence that the F.B.I. or intelligence agencies committed any misconduct in the course of the Russia investigation, bitterly disappointing Mr. Barr and especially his patron, Mr. Trump, who had assured his supporters for months that it would produce something big. Desperate for some kind of success, Mr. Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who had worked for Democrats in their dealings with the F.B.I., over the objections of two prosecutors on the special counsel team who said the case was far too thin and who later left the staff.

Mr. Sussmann was acquitted last May of lying to the bureau, and the jury forewoman told reporters that bringing the case had been unwise. Mr. Barr later tried to justify the trial by saying it served another purpose in exposing the Clinton campaign’s starting the Russia narrative as a “dirty trick.” The trial did nothing of the kind, but it did expose Mr. Barr’s willingness to abuse the gratuitous prosecution of an individual to score political points against one of Mr. Trump’s most prominent enemies.

One of the other casualties of this deceitful crusade was the deliberate damage it did to the reputations of the F.B.I., the intelligence agencies and officials in Mr. Barr’s own department. All of these agencies have had many problematic episodes in their pasts, but there is no evidence in this case that they willfully tried to smear Mr. Trump and his campaign with false allegations of collusion. They were trying to do their jobs, on which the nation’s security depends, but because they got in Mr. Trump’s way, Mr. Barr aided in degrading their image through a deep-state conspiracy theory before an entire generation of Trump supporters. Republicans in the House are launching a new snipe hunt for proof that these same government offices were “weaponized” against conservatives, an expedition that is likely to be no more effective than Mr. Durham’s and Mr. Barr’s.

But weakening the country’s institutions and safeguards for political benefit is how Mr. Barr did business in the nearly two years he served as the nation’s top law enforcement official under Mr. Trump. He has a long history of making the Justice Department an instrument of his ideology and politics; when he was attorney general in 1992 during the Bush administration, the Times columnist William Safire accused him of leading a “Criminal Cover-up Division” in refusing to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether the Bush administration had knowingly provided aid to Saddam Hussein that was used to finance the military before Iraq invaded Kuwait. Under Mr. Trump, Mr. Barr did the opposite, demanding that an unnecessary special counsel do the bidding of the White House and trying to steer the investigation to Mr. Trump’s advantage. His efforts came to naught, and so will his campaign to be remembered as a defender of the Constitution.

David Firestone is a member of the editorial board. Mr. Firestone was a reporter and editor at The Times from 1993 to 2014, including serving as a congressional correspondent and New York City Hall bureau chief, and was executive editor for digital at NBC News until 2022.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Durham Fiasco Is a Warning of What’s to Come, Michelle Goldberg,right,  Jan. 30, 2023. Thank goodness michelle goldberg thumbSpeaker Kevin McCarthy has created a House subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government!

Last week, The New York Times reported on an outrageous example of such weaponization, the flagrant use of federal law enforcement powers to target an administration’s political enemies. I’m talking, of course, about the John Durham special counsel investigation, which was meant to root out the ostensibly corrupt origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and quickly came to embody the sins that Donald Trump and his allies projected onto the F.B.I.

Trump’s circle insisted, falsely, that the Mueller inquiry was a hit job that employed Russian disinformation — via the Steele dossier — to frame Trump, all part of a plot cooked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Durham seems to have bought into this Trumpist conspiracy theory, and to help prove it, he tried to employ what appears to be Russian disinformation to go after the Clinton camp. More specifically, he used dubious Russian intelligence memos, which analysts believed were seeded with falsehoods, to try to convince a court to give him access to the emails of a former aide to George Soros, which he believed would show Clinton-related wrongdoing.

john durham CustomAstonishingly, The Times found that while Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr and Durham, right, were in Europe looking for evidence to discredit the Russia investigation, Italian officials gave them a “potentially explosive tip” linking Trump to “certain suspected financial crimes.” Rather than assign a new prosecutor to look into those suspected crimes, Barr folded the matter into Durham’s inquiry, giving Durham criminal prosecution powers for the first time.

Then the attorney general sat back while the media inferred that the criminal investigation must mean Durham had found evidence of malfeasance connected to Russiagate. Barr, usually shameless in his public spinning of the news, quietly let an investigation into Trump be used to cast aspersions on Trump’s perceived enemies. (The fate of that inquiry remains a mystery.)

This squalid episode is a note-perfect example of how Republican scandal-mongering operates. The right ascribes to its adversaries, whether in the Democratic Party or the putative deep state, monstrous corruption and elaborate conspiracies. Then, in the name of fighting back, it mimics the tactics it has accused its foes of using.

Look, for example, at the behavior that gave rise to Trump’s first impeachment. Trump falsely claimed that Joe Biden, as vice president, used the threat of withholding American loan guarantees to blackmail the Ukrainian government into doing his personal bidding. Hoping to get Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to substantiate his lies, Trump tried to use the threat of withholding American aid to … blackmail the Ukrainian government into doing his personal bidding. The symmetry between accusations and counter-accusations, in turn, fosters a widespread cynicism about ever finding the truth.

It’s important to keep this in mind because we’re about to see a lot more of it. Now that they control the House, Republicans have prioritized investigating their political opponents. McCarthy has stacked the Oversight Committee, central to the House’s investigative apparatus, with flame-throwing fantasists, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Lauren Boebert. Further, as Politico reported in a “field guide” to the coming Republican inquiries, McCarthy has urged Republicans to treat every committee like the Oversight Committee, meaning all investigations, all the time.

There are going to be investigations into Hunter Biden, and investigations into the origins of the pandemic. There will likely be scrutiny of the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago and Biden’s handling of classified documents. And, as my colleague David Firestone on the editorial board put it over the weekend, “Republicans in the House are launching a new snipe hunt” for proof that the F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies were “weaponized” against conservatives.

These all promise to be congressional equivalents of the Durham inquiry. Certainly, most if not all congressional investigations are politically motivated, but there is nevertheless a difference between inquiries predicated on something real, and those, like the many investigations in the Benghazi attack, meant to troll for dirt and reify Fox News phantasms. House Democrats examined Trump’s interference with the C.D.C. during the acute stage of the pandemic. House Republicans plan to look into what the Republican congressman Jim Banks termed the military’s “dangerous” Covid vaccine mandates. There might be an equivalence in the form of these two undertakings, but not in their empirical basis.

It remains to be seen whether our political media is up for the task of making these distinctions. The coverage of Trump and Biden’s respective retention of classified documents offers little cause for optimism. Again and again, journalists and pundits have noted that, while the two cases are very different, there are seeming similarities, and those similarities are good for Trump. This is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, since by speculating about political narratives, you help create them.

“John Durham has already won,” said the headline of a Politico article from last year, noting his success in perpetuating the right’s fevered counter-history of Russiagate. Of course he didn’t win; he would go on to lose both cases arising from his investigation as well as the honorable reputation he had before he started it. What he did manage to do, however, was spread a lot of confusion and waste a lot of time. Now the Republican House picks up where he left off.

Jan. 28

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: McGonigal arrest focuses attention on nest of pro-Russian, pro-Giuliani Trump supporters in New York City FBI field office, aka “Trumpland,” Webster G. Tarpley

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: McGonigal arrest focuses attention on nest of pro-Russian, pro-Giuliani Trump supporters in New York City FBI field office, aka “Trumpland,” Webster G. Tarpley, right,webster tarpley 2007 Jan. 28, 2023 (105:52 mins.). NYC field office holds key to sabotage of initial Trump-Russia inquiry of 2016, the failure of which helped Don prevail in presidential contest;

Scrutiny of Special Counsel John Durham reveals a blatantly political operative with no principles, eager to please Trump FBI logoand Barr; Durham’s grotesque contortions to procure a conviction to feed the reactionary noise machine at Fox News; Two humiliating innocent verdicts brought back in mere hours; Four years of blind alleys; The Barr-Durham junket to Rome in summer 2019 that yielded no exoneration of Trump, but rather a possible finance scandal against the hotelier!

UK, France, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Estonia and Poland had reported suspicious contacts of Trump campaign with Russia in 2015-2016; British GCHQ chief personally warned US;

With 15 NATO countries sending almost 100 modern main battle tanks to Ukraine, Biden’s alliance diplomacy continues to pay off!

Jan. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Jan. 26, 2023. The review by John Durham, right, at one point veered into a criminal investigation related to Donald Trump himself, even as it john durham Customfailed to find wrongdoing in the origins of the Russia inquiry.

It became a regular litany of grievances from President Donald J. Trump and his supporters: The investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt, they maintained, that had been opened without any solid basis, went on too long and found no proof of collusion.

donald trump for president button nice smileEgged on by Mr. Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr set out in 2019 to dig into their shared theory that the Russia investigation likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. To lead the inquiry, Mr. Barr turned to a hard-nosed prosecutor named John H. Durham, and later granted him special counsel status to carry on after Mr. Trump left office.

But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr.

Moreover, a monthslong review by The New York Times found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.

Interviews by The Times with more than a dozen current and former officials have revealed an array of previously unreported episodes that show how the Durham inquiry became roiled by internal dissent and ethical disputes as it went unsuccessfully down one path after another even as Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr promoted a misleading narrative of its progress.

Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it.

Mr. Durham used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media. Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.

There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known. The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)

Now, as Mr. Durham works on a final report, the interviews by The Times provide new details of how he and Mr. Barr sought to recast the scrutiny of the 2016 Trump campaign’s myriad if murky links to Russia as unjustified and itself a crime.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: What did the Italians tell Barr and Durham about Donald Trump's criminal activity? Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Jan. 27, 2023. In the fall of 2019, Attorney General William Barr and John Durham, the Special Counsel assigned by Barr to investigate the FBI for wrongly investigating Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign for ties to Russia, flew to Italy to pressure law enforcement there to fess up that they were involved with the FBI in what was falsely called by Trump the "Russia hoax."

wayne madesen report logoInstead of getting the goods on the FBI -- whose top counterintelligence agent in New York at the time was in bed with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska --Italian law enforcement provided Barr and Durham with information that Trump was involved in a major criminal matter, including suspicious financial dealings. Barr assigned Durham, a pro-Trump shill, to investigate the matter, granting him, for the first time, criminal prosecution authority. Not only did Durham not find any evidence of a "Russia hoax" involving the FBI logoDemocratic Party, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, or George Soros -- all of whom Durham had under investigation -- but the criminal matter conveyed by the Italians was never acted upon.

WMR had reported on a serious criminal matter involving the car bombing assassination of Maltese journalist  Daphne Caruana Galizia, right, on October 16, 2017 and its possible ties to Trump. Italian intelligence and law enforcement have kept a close eye on Malta daphne caruana galizia croppedever since the 1970s, when the island country developed close ties with the Soviet Union and Libya. Although Malta is now a member of the European Union, the Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard), as well as the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna (AISE) foreign intelligence service maintain a close eye on Malta, which has become a haven for offshore banking, corporate brass plates, and Russian and other foreign residents who have purchased Maltese passports and established residency in the twin island nation.

Caruana Galizia was assassinated after she had implicated Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife, and top aides in a scandal partly exposed by the release of the Panama Papers. The scandal led directly from Malta to Azerbaijan and, ultimately, to the Trump Organization in New York.

Caruana Galizia was well-aware of Trump's connections to international wealth and political and financial power brokers. During the 2016 presidential campaign, she wrote on her website, "You can't get more establishment than billionaire Donald Trump, scion of an extremely wealthy WASP family. So the real problem is stupidity and malice. But then it always was."

And, as she found out a year later, you can't get more corrupt and murderous than Donald Trump. Whatever the Italians passed on to Barr and Durham about Trump, America's "Mr. Magoo" Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has a duty and an obligation to the American people to make that information public without delay.

Jan. 23

 

Charles McGonigal, left, former FBI counterintelligence chief in New York, and his alleged ally, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, are shown in a collage.

Charles McGonigal, left, former FBI counterintelligence chief in New York, and his alleged ally, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, are shown in a photo collage.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former senior FBI official accused of working for Russian he investigated, Shayna Jacobs, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Jan. 23, 2023. Charles McGonigal, a former counterintelligence chief, is charged with money laundering and other counts connected to oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

FBI logoThe former head of FBI counterintelligence in New York has been charged in two separate indictments that accuse him of taking secret cash payments of more than $225,000 while overseeing highly sensitive cases, and allegedly breaking the law by trying to get Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, left, removed from a U.S. sanctions list, officials said Monday.

Charles McGonigal, 54, who retired from the FBI in September 2018, was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions and other charges in connection to his alleged ties to Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his role at the FBI, McGonigal had been tasked with investigating Deripaska, whose own indictment on sanctions-violation charges was unsealed in September.

Separately, McGonigal was accused in a nine-count indictment in federal court in Washington of hiding his receipt of $225,000 from a former Albanian intelligence agent living in New Jersey. McGonigal was also accused of hiding foreign travel and contacts with senior leaders in countries including Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia where the former Albanian agent had business interests.

McGonigal’s alleged involvement with Deripaska may impact a significant push by the Justice Department to hit wealthy Russians with economic sanctions for conducting business in the United States, an effort that accelerated last year with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The twin indictments are also a black eye for the FBI, alleging that one of its most senior and trusted intelligence officials was taking secret cash payments and undermining the bureau’s overall intelligence-gathering mission.

Through his lawyer, McGonigal pleaded not guilty at a brief court appearance Monday. The lawyer, Seth DuCharme, told journalists that his client "served the United States for decades in positions of public trust and leadership, so this is a distressing day for him, but we’re going to litigate the case in the courtroom.”

Prosecutors alleged that from at least August 2017 and beyond his retirement from the FBI, McGonigal failed to disclose to the FBI his relationship with the former Albanian security official, described as “Person A” in charging papers. He also allegedly failed to disclose that he had an “ongoing relationship with the Prime Minister of Albania,” the indictment said. Since 2013, Edi Rama has served as the prime minister of that country.

In late 2017, authorities charge, McGonigal received packages of cash totaling $225,000 from Person A — the first time, in a parked car outside a New York City restaurant, the next two times at the person’s New Jersey home. According to the indictment, McGonigal “indicated to Person A that the money would be paid back.”

Months later, at McGonigal’s urging, the FBI opened an investigation into an American lobbyist for an Albanian political party that is a rival of Prime Minister Rama, an investigation that used Person A as a source of information, authorities said.

Current and former U.S. officials who know and have worked with McGonigal said they were shocked by the indictments. As a senior FBI counterintelligence official, McGonigal had access to an extraordinary amount of sensitive information, potentially including investigations of foreign spies or U.S. citizens suspected of working on behalf of foreign governments, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the work McGonigal did. One former official said that McGonigal had worked with the CIA on counterintelligence matters.

 

capitol riot rather

washington post logoWashington Post, Four Oath Keepers found guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy, Rachel Weiner, Jan. 23, 2023. The verdict is the the second of three seditious conspiracy cases charged in the U.S. Capitol breach.

Four members of the far-right Oath Keepers group were convicted of seditious conspiracy Monday, joining founder Stewart Rhodes in being found guilty by a jury of plotting to keep President Donald Trump in power by force.

Seditious conspiracy charges are rarely used and even more rarely successful, making the verdict a significant victory for the Justice Department. Of the nearly 1,000 people charged with committing crimes at the Capitol on Jan. 6, only 14 were charged with seditious conspiracy, identified by the Justice Department as not just participants in a violent mob but leaders using brutality to further a political plot. In November, the same prosecution team failed to convict three associates of the Oath Keepers of the crime.

At Rhodes’s trial only he and Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs were found guilty of conspiring to commit sedition, while three associates were convicted of less politically loaded felonies that did not require plans to use force. The Oath Keepers verdict — which came after the jury deliberated for about 13 hours — comes as five members of the Proud Boys face trial down the hall on seditious conspiracy charges.

Joseph Hackett, 52; Roberto Minuta, 38; David Moerschel, 45 and Edward Vallejo, 64, were all also convicted Monday of obstructing lawmakers and Congress generally and conspiring to do the same. Hackett was convicted of destroying evidence by deleting it from his devices, while Minuta and Moerschel were acquitted on that charge. Hackett and Moerschel were acquitted of responsibility for damaging the Capitol’s historic Columbus doors.

The Oath Keepers were described by federal prosecutors as armed and dangerous traitors, and by their attorneys as hapless has-beens who stumbled into chaos.

“They claimed to wrap themselves in the Constitution, but they trampled it,” prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said in closing arguments. “They ignored the will of the people,” he said, but “had the audacity to claim to be oath-keepers.”

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta allowed all four men to await sentencing on 24-hour house arrest, noting that none of them had prior criminal history or issues on pretrial release.

Richard Barnett sits inside the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021 (AFP Photo by Saul Loeb via Getty Images).

Richard Barnett sits inside the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6, 2021 (AFP Photo by Saul Loeb via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Man photographed in Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6 convicted of 8 counts, Paul Duggan, Jan. 23, 2023. An Arkansas man who entered the U.S. Capitol with rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, and was photographed lounging at a desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite was convicted Monday of eight federal crimes related to the incursion.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who acknowledged leaving a vulgar written message for Pelosi before departing the suite with a purloined envelope bearing the California Democrat’s digital signature, sat impassively as a jury in U.S. District Court in Washington delivered its verdicts.

After eight days of testimony and legal arguments in Barnett’s trial, the panel began deliberating Monday morning and reached guilty findings on all eight counts against him, including four felonies, in less than two hours.

As for potential prison time, the most serious charge in the case, obstructing an official proceeding, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars. Based on previous prosecutions of Jan. 6 defendants, however, advisory sentencing guidelines used by the court are likely to recommend a much shorter term for Barnett.

He kicked back in Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6. Now he has ‘regrets.’

Although a prosecutor argued Monday that Barnett, who lives in Gravette, Ark., in the Ozarks, should be jailed pending his May 3 sentencing, Judge Christopher R. Cooper allowed him to remain on home detention.

Barnett, a construction company employee in 2020 and an ardent supporter of then-President Donald Trump, was carrying a walking stick equipped with a 950,000-volt stun device when he entered the Capitol with a riotous mob. Congress was meeting that day to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election despite Trump’s false claim that he had been denied a second term because of voter fraud.

In addition to obstructing an official proceeding, Barnett was convicted of two felonies related to carrying a dangerous weapon during the attack on the Capitol and a felony charge of civil disorder. The four misdemeanors he was convicted of included theft of government property, meaning the empty envelope.

Authorities said the stun device on his retractable walking stick was capable of rendering a person unconscious if held against the skin for 10 seconds.

Legally speaking, it did not matter to prosecutors whether Barnett sat or stood in the House speaker’s deserted office suite. His alleged criminal presence in the Capitol was the key issue in his trial.

But what brought him to viral notoriety was his decision to recline nonchalantly in a staff member’s swivel chair and plunk his left work boot atop the desk.

Like Jacob Chansley, the shirtless so-called QAnon shaman, who roamed the Capitol in face paint and horned headgear during the riot, and another accused trespasser, often referred to as the “zip tie guy,” who scaled the Senate gallery wearing military fatigues and carrying a fistful of plastic handcuffs, Barnett became an avatar of the Jan. 6 mayhem in widely viewed images captured by photojournalists.

Chansley was sentenced to 41 months in prison. The accused “zip tie guy,” identified by the FBI as Eric Munchel, is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court.

Jan. 21

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Is Garland double-crossing Biden by demanding cautious deference in secret documents case before webster tarpley 2007blindsiding him with a Trump-appointed special prosecutor? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 21, 2023 (97:55 mins.). Take Care Clause of Constitution makes President — not the Attorney General – the top law enforcement officer of US; This refutes Garland’s absurd claim of absolute metaphysical independence for DoJ as virtual state within a state; January 6 committee hearings shocked DoJ into August MaL search;

Garland’s claim to act based on fact and law only is refuted by his obsessive fixation on his own image and reputation; His rejection by Senate GOP must rank as greatest humiliation of his life, but is he seeking to restore his credit with Moscow Mitch?

If justice delayed is justice denied, Garland is violating the Preamble’s mandate to ”establish justice”;

The Mueller report detailed multiple cases of obstruction by Trump, but Garland has ignored these since January 20, 2021; Garland’s legal aid for Trump against E. Jean Carroll; Ending DoJ non-feasance is key to avoiding default and betrayal of allies simply by enforcing law against insurrectionists;

History of interwar period teaches that fascist movements can be crushed, provided they are confronted quickly!

Jan. 20

Going Deep with Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: George Santos and Lisa Marie Presley: Media Missed the Story, Russ Baker, right, russ baker new head and shouldersJan. 20, 2023. Santos could have been spotted earlier; Presley stories leave out what mattered most: the effects of Scientology.

One of the most odious practices of large news organizations is acting like smaller news organizations don’t exist, even while taking or building on work done by those smaller outfits.

This practice has always been a problem, but many people are unaware of it because large news organizations do, very selectively, credit other news organizations. They do this either because they have sizable or consequential followings, and not crediting them would be noticed and criticized, or because some small news entities are perceived as somehow “hot” and, again, there might be consequences for withholding credit.

I was thinking about this issue the other day when I saw a clause in a New York Times article about resume fabricator Rep. George Santos (R-NY). Mr. Santos, 34, managed to keep almost all of it from the public until after he was elected, when an investigation by The Times independently unearthed the problematic claims documented by researchers and others that they missed.

Of course, the Times deserves credit for its excellent reporting in shedding light on Santos’s web of self-aggrandizing lies. But it was not the first news organization to do so.

As I noted in a previous substack, a small Long Island newspaper, the North Shore Leader, reported dramatic allegations about Santos’s disdain for the truth months earlier. Now, we don’t know whether the Times found that article online or not, though there is no reason they wouldn’t find it; it comes up with any Santos Google search. Most likely, the investigation began with a tip, if not with a mention of the earlier story somewhere else.

Given how powerful the Times is and how “early” it was on this story compared to most news organizations, it is understandable that the Times would continue to press its leading role for credit, perhaps angling for yet another Pulitzer Prize.

But I again want to point out that the questions about Santos were out there for a long time before the election, yet the Times did not publish its bombshell until after Santos had already been elected.

Lisa Marie Presley’s (Un)Timely Death

Journalism has often been slow to critically investigate big names, as opposed to an Average Joe accused by the system of doing something nefarious. That’s true of individuals, and it is especially true of entities known to respond aggressively to critics and news organizations.

Over the years, as I investigated the doings of the so-called Church of Scientology, other journalists professed admiration for what they considered “guts.”

They admitted that they personally wouldn’t touch the topic because of the organization’s reputation for aggressiveness toward anyone, from former members to outsiders, thought likely to air material that made the cultish outfit look bad. Decision-makers at news organizations sometimes explicitly told me it was not a “topic for us.”

And no wonder: Scientology is so aggressive that its leader, David Miscavige, hired two private investigators to stalk his own father, an outspoken critic of his son’s operation. Police who stopped the investigators’ car found weapons in the trunk, including a silencer. In addition, the FBI has probed allegations that Miscavige was involved in sex trafficking, slave labor, torture, and violent beatings of members to insure their obedience. But, as of December 2022, attempts to serve him with a lawsuit have failed because he cannot be found.

Thus, when I saw the bland coverage of Lisa Marie Presley’s recent death, with mostly brief mentions of her embrace of Scientology, I was not surprised.

The fact is that her mother involved her in Scientology circles while Lisa Marie was a child and she lived most of her life “inside.” (Elvis, however, would have none of it. After one meeting at the church, he stormed out, saying, “Fuck those people! There’s no way I’ll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin’ group. All they want is my money.”)

That Lisa Marie and her mother publicly embraced Scientology was a tremendous publicity coup for a highly controversial organization accused by many, including high-ranking defectors, of being a money-hungry cult that preyed on people and inflicted substantial financial, psychological, and even physical damage on them. It has been accused of intentionally dividing families, threatening critics, employing blackmail, and outright brainwashing.

I knew she had some years ago cut ties with the organization after a lifetime inside, and had been quite outspoken about it.

Then I saw a disturbing report noting that she had figured in the criminal trial of another high profile Scientologist, actor Danny Masterson, who has been accused of multiple rapes. In a very troubling — and certainly illegal — action Scientology officials asked Presley to talk an accuser out of testifying; Presley complied. This fact then became part of the prosecution’s case.

Although a judge had ruled against having Presley testify, a new trial was due to start this year, and, this time, her testimony was possible.

And now she is dead....Had she lived, what would she have said at the new trial?

Despite the institutional wariness, some excellent journalism and books have been done on the topic of Scientology, and I doubt most well-informed people need me to lay out the sordid history. However, the media in general have not done enough to highlight how, by targeting big names for membership, Scientology has been able to make itself attractive to thousands, more than a few of whom say they suffered everything from destitution to severe mental health issues. The organization has also taken a ferocious attitude toward those who leave, and assiduously defended those who do not, especially the high-profile ones like Masterson.

One example of the elaborate use that Scientology makes of its stars was Presley’s surprising (and improbable) 1994 marriage to Michael Jackson. News organizations often mention the marriage matter of factly, although it’s hard to believe that any sentient journalist actually believes that the marriage was a true match of soul (or body) mates.

Left out was the fact that the pop singer’s marriage to Elvis’s daughter came on the heels of a string of scandals and legal problems around Jackson’s behavior with underage and even prepubescent male youths.

The marriage gave Jackson a most remarkable PR makeover — but it also benefited Scientology. Jackson was by far the biggest “get” for the church, a bigger icon than its frequently touted endorsers like John Travolta or the late Kirstie Alley, or even Tom Cruise.

I’ve been able to find only one major news organization, The Washington Post, that published actual speculation on the marriage itself and a possible Scientology role.

Jan. 19

 

Longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump. jt e jean carroll

Longtime advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump thought photo of accuser was of ex-wife during deposition, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 19, 2023 (print ed.). Donald Trump mistook his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples when shown a photograph from the 1990s in a deposition at Mar-a-Lago last year, potentially undermining one of the common defenses he has used to deny an attack.

Trump, who is being sued by Carroll, an author and advice columnist, for defamation and sexual assault stemming from the same alleged encounter, has repeatedly said Carroll is not his “type,” suggesting an assault could not have occurred because he would not have pursued her romantically.

“That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” Trump said under examination from Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, in a new selection of excerpts from the deposition that was unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Trump’s blunder in a sworn deposition was quickly corrected by his attorney Alina Habba, who told him it was Carroll, not Maples, an actress and singer who was married to Trump from 1993 to 1999.

The top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024, ranked

Maples was Trump’s second of three wives and is the mother of Trump’s youngest daughter, Tiffany.

Trump’s lawyer did not immediately have a comment.

The black-and-white photo at issue has been circulating since Carroll made allegations against then-president Trump in 2019, detailing an account in her memoir of a forced sexual act during an encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.

Trump has denied having ever known Carroll, and in response to the photo’s existence, he has said in the past that he was often introduced to people at events that he didn’t know. In the deposition, he said the photo appeared to show him on a “receiving line,” possibly at a charity event, where he met and greeted guests.

ny times logoNew York Times, Support for Trump Is Wavering Among Nation’s Evangelical Leaders, Maggie Haberman and Michael C. Bender, Jan. 19, 2023. Former President Trump, who relied on evangelical voters in 2016, has accused Christian leaders of “disloyalty.” Can he count on them in 2024?

On Sunday, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a longtime supporter of Donald J. Trump who has yet to endorse his 2024 White House bid, shared the stage at his Dallas megachurch with one of the former president’s potential rivals next year: former Vice President Mike Pence.

The next day, Mr. Trump lashed out at Pastor Jeffress and other evangelical leaders he spent years courting, accusing them of “disloyalty” and blaming them for the party’s disappointing performance in the 2022 midterm elections.

While Pastor Jeffress shrugged off the criticism, others weren’t as eager to let it slide, instead suggesting that it was time for Mr. Trump to move out of the way for a new generation of Republican candidates.

The clash highlighted one of the central tensions inside the Republican Party as it lurches toward an uncertain 2024 presidential primary: wavering support for Mr. Trump among the nation’s evangelical leaders, whose congregants have for decades been a key constituency for conservatives and who provided crucial backing to Mr. Trump in his ascent to the White House.

If these leaders break with Mr. Trump — and if evangelical voters follow, which is by no means a certainty — the result will be a tectonic shift in Republican politics.

“When I saw his statement, I thought, ‘You’re not going to gain any traction by throwing the most loyal base under the bus and shifting blame,’” said Bob Vander Plaats, an influential evangelical activist in Iowa and the chief executive of the Family Leader organization.

Mr. Vander Plaats said that while evangelicals were grateful to Mr. Trump for his federal judicial appointments and for moving the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, many thought that his time as leader of the party has passed given how hardened many Americans’ views of him are. Asked whether Mr. Trump would command support among evangelical leaders as he did in the past, Mr. Vander Plaats, who has criticized Mr. Trump in the past, said, “No way.”

Indeed, recent polls point to some Trump fatigue among Republican voters. But it is an open question whether evangelical voters will abandon him if prominent Christian ministers support other candidates. And Mr. Trump has previously had an ability to cleave various types of conservative voters from their longtime leaders, as he did during his unexpected Republican primary victory in 2016.

 

Trump legal advisors John Eastman, left, and Rudy Giuliani speaking on Jan. 6, 2021 at a rally led by then-President Donald Trump outside the White House whereby speakers repeatedly urged the crowd to oppose the presidential vote certification process then pending before the U.S. Congress (File Photo)..

Trump advisors John Eastman, left, and Rudy Giuliani speaking on Jan. 6, 2021 at a rally led by then-President Donald Trump outside the White House whereby speakers repeatedly urged the crowd to oppose the presidential vote certification process then pending before the U.S. Congress (File Photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, John Eastman Is Unbowed as Investigations Proliferate, Danny Hakim and Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 19, 2023. A legal reckoning awaits a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss. But in Mr. Eastman’s telling, he was far from a criminal.

John C. Eastman, a legal architect of Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times under questioning by the House Jan. 6 committee.

But in recently released testimony from the committee’s investigation, other witnesses had plenty to say about him.

Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world. Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as “gravely, gravely irresponsible,” calling him the “serpent in the ear” of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted “chewing out” Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas “nutty.”

In the coming months, Mr. Eastman will be facing a legal reckoning. He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments. The F.B.I. seized his iPhone. And the Jan. 6 committee, in one of its last acts, asked the Justice Department to investigate Mr. Eastman on a range of criminal charges, including obstructing a congressional proceeding. For good measure, he faces a disciplinary bar proceeding in California.

 

merrick garland john laucsch al drago bloomberg

Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, announces last week his appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Biden government documents case. Alongside him is John R. Lausch, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News).

washington post logoWashington Post, How the White House strategy on classified documents backfired, Matt Viser, Tyler Pager, Carol D. Leonnig and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Jan. 19, 2023. When sensitive documents began to emerge, Biden aides are said to have tried to defer to the Justice Department, lie low and avoid Trump-like behavior. They got a political firestorm — and then a special counsel.

One of President Biden’s personal attorneys entered the luxurious 10-story office building, so near the U.S. Capitol that its promoters billed it as “the front seat to power,” on a Wednesday last November to begin what seemed a mundane task: clearing out a rarely used office that Biden occupied after leaving the vice presidency.

The attorney, Pat Moore, went through a large closet and found nothing out of the ordinary, a person familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Then he tackled a smaller closet, finding it stuffed with folders, boxes and other political memorabilia, including documents related to Beau Biden’s funeral, drafts of political speeches and boxes of personal books, the person said.

But next, Moore made a surprising discovery: a folder with a cover sheet saying it contained secret government documents. Moore immediately called another attorney and notified the White House Counsel’s Office, which in turn contacted the National Archives, according to two people familiar with the matter.

But if the way they found the classified documents was out of the ordinary, Biden’s lawyers were determined to be sticklers for the rules once it happened, said people familiar with their work.

Those first decisions inside the airy office complex at the Penn Biden Center at 101 Constitution Ave. NW launched a 71-day push by Biden’s team, federal archivists and the Justice Department to make sense of the startling discovery. It culminated in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision, to the deep consternation of many in the White House, to appoint a special counsel.

Interviews with people directly involved in the discovery and the subsequent fallout provided new details on the effort to handle the crisis created at the intersection of politics, intelligence and the law. Republicans and other critics say the White House was, at a minimum, slow to seek the truth and level with the public; Biden’s aides say they were simply proceeding cautiously in a sensitive probe and taking their lead from federal investigators.

Jan. 14

World Crisis Radio, Investigative Commentary and Advocacy: Biden and Yellen must prepare to ignore unconstitutional and illegal “debt limit” to prevent US financial catastrophe! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. webster tarpley twitter14, 2023 (108:38 mins.). Treasury says borrowing authority will be exhausted by next Thursday, January 19, after which only cash conservation, tax receipts, and postponed payments will delay default; MAGAts ready extortion to launch genocidal austerity against American people; But XIV Amendment directs federal government to service the public debt; Yellen can order Treasury auctions to continue;

Following Sweden and Finland, Japan upgrades defense cooperation with US-in this case to ward off China and discourage attacks on Taiwan;

Putin’s cyber-war is prime suspect in UK Royal Mail breakdown plus failures of US and Canadian NOTAMS which disrupted passenger traffic here;

george santos headshotSantos campaign got large irregular contributions from Russian and Chinese sources, suggesting he poses risk to US national security;

McCarthy’s microscopic majority faces attrition if Santos, left, faces justice for campaign finance violations and is replaced by a Democrat, and more so when Jennifer McClellan wins February 21 special election for VA-4 seat held by late Congressman McEachin;

steve scalese twitterPast scandals provide context for future failures of McCarthy, Scalise (right), and Jordan;

New special counsel Hur is dyed-in-the-wool Republican linked to liberticide Federalist Society;

Garland pursues Fairness for Fascists while preening a non-existent reputation for integrity; Facts, law, but especially his precious public image are his lodestars; He belongs to same sleazy tradition as partisan AGs John Mitchell, Alberto Gonzalez, Sessions, and Barr; Remember Lincoln’s warning to legal positivists that the Constitution is not a suicide pact!

Sen. Murphy recognizes that robust immigration is necessary for US work force to compete with China!

Congressman until proven guilty? Kevin’s strange jurisprudence.

 

 United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r). (Safe Image)

United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r).

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Ginni Thomas Gave the Strangest January 6 Testimony By Far—and in Doing So Revealed Far More Than She Intended, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Jan. 14, 2023. In “The January 6 Files #2: Ginni Thomas, Part I,” an ex-federal criminal investigator and criminal defense lawyer whose January 6 research Congress has cited unpacks January 6 evidence others missed. (Note: This report builds upon Proof’s many prior reports on Ginni Thomas: I, II, III, IV, V.)

Before the January 6 testimony of Ginni Thomas can be discussed as to its specifics, several broader points about her September 29, 2022 appearance before the House January 6 Committee must be established that confirm it as perhaps the strangest—and most suspicious—testimony ever seth abramson proof logoreceived by the Committee.

These points include the following:

(1) Ginni Thomas lied about her testimony before it began. Thomas initially insisted that she “couldn’t wait” to talk to the House January 6 Committee, as she had nothing to hide. This itself was, apparently, a lie. Within a matter of weeks, Thomas’s attorney Mark Paoletta was attacking the Committee on several fronts, insisting that Thomas would never testify before it and falsely contending that Thomas had no knowledge of any events related to January 6 despite the fact that (by then) it’d been well established by major media that she was in contact with several of the major January 6 coup plotters in the latter half of 2020 as they were in the midst of their illicit plotting.

(2) Ginni Thomas chose as her attorney the former boss of a leading coup plotter. There’s a basically endless stock of high-end lawyers in America who are willing to jump onto a high-profile case, and that includes scores of well-respected conservative lawyers who primarily work in Washington, D.C. So it is truly inexplicable that Ginni Thomas, in the midst of claiming to have no connection to the Trumpist coup plots that encircled D.C. in January 2021, hired as her lead attorney for the most important legal imbroglio of her life Mark Paoletta, a longtime close professional associate of Ken Klukowski—not just one of the leading co-conspirators of John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark in the Trumpist plot to stage a historic anti-democratic coup inside the Department of Justice, but a man who Thomas specifically stood accused of having helped infiltrate the DOJ. Thomas’s choice of attorney alone would have marked her as running in insurrectionist circles, but in fact during her 136 pages of congressional testimony things got even worse—as she admitted to herself being a close associate of Klukowski.

ginni thomas gage skidmoreGiven that Thomas, right, knew this line of questioning was coming, her voluntary selection of Paoletta to represent her raises an understandable concern that she wanted a trusted and privileged conduit to Klukowski (Paoletta) to ensure that her testimony synched with his. Certainly, as we know from public hearings held by the House January 6 Committee this is a strategy many of the January 6 coup plotters have used: hiring lawyers intimately connected to Trump, his family, his inner circle, and his leading PACs, with formal joint defense agreements or informal information-sharing agreements (sometimes conducted against the will of the witnesses involved in them, such as Trumpworld lawyer Stefan Passantino’s apparent dismissal of his client Cassidy Hutchinson’s demand that he not share attorney-client privileged data with other Trumpworld figures) being used to pass information between conspirators.

Thomas could have avoided this appearance of complicity with leading Trumpist coup plotters, but she decided to indulge it, instead. And that’s not all, unfortunately: her own testimony before the House January 6 Committee, as we will soon see, offers compelling evidence that she herself sought—multiple times, even—to inappropriately make contact with other January 6 witnesses either directly or through her attorney (especially witnesses whose testimony could, based on all the evidence we have thus far, be problematic for her) which would seem to increase the odds that her selection of Klukowski’s friend Paoletta as her lead counsel was indeed a strategic decision.

(3) Ginni Thomas refused to testify under oath. To be clear, a refusal to testify under oath certainly does not equate to an intent to lie, but keep in mind that Thomas and her lawyer had loudly opined that not only did Thomas have nothing to hide from the House January 6 Committee but also that there was nothing of importance she could offer to it. Just so, her status as the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has, as she has at times conceded, opened social and professional doors for her and lent additional attention and weight to her words, so surely the flip side of that must be that if one’s spouse is one of just nine people in the United States who sit atop the nation’s jurisprudential superstructure, one must also (in addition to the myriad perks that come with that status) have some obligation—quite apart from the one Thomas already has from the mere fact that she herself is a lawyer—to respect government investigations enough to want to assist them to the best of your ability.

It is strange that media pundits so often note that Thomas is a partisan without simultaneously noting that she is also a lawyer, a judge’s spouse, a devout Christian, and someone who has worked for years in public service—all identities that would militate in favor of a person who says they have nothing to hide being willing to testify under oath in a duly constituted public inquiry (which the House January 6 Committee surely was).

Ginni Thomas refusing to testify under oath is so complex a legal, political, moral, ethical, and logistical question that it could easily give birth to its own report at Proof. Suffice to say that there is nothing normative, non-controversial, or simple about the decision, especially (again) since it was a decision made on the advice of a man extremely close to a man alleged to be a leading coup plotter.

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).

Jan. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Church Committee aide rips House Republicans: ‘A sad spectacle,’ Greg Sargent, right, Jan. 13, 2023. Because Rep. Jim Jordan is greg sargentwidely known as a statesman of world-historical stature, Republicans have been comparing the new investigative committee he will chair to the Church Committee of the 1970s.

Just as that storied panel exposed rampant intelligence abuses, the Ohio Republican vows his committee will boldly expose contemporary “weaponizing of the federal government” that’s similarly corrupt, lawless and pervasive.

But the analogy doesn’t ring true to a onetime aide to Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, the former chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, which was colloquially named for its chair.

frank church“That is really an absurd comparison,” Loch Johnson, who wrote a book about his experiences as Church’s top staffer on that committee, said in a phone interview. “It’s really a sad spectacle.”

Yet the GOP attempt to reboot the Church Committee tells us a good deal about our current political moment, about the GOP-controlled House’s obvious intention to abuse its oversight function to protect former president Donald Trump and about what’s happened to today’s Republican Party.

Jordan’s committee will examine the executive branch’s “collection of information” on U.S. citizens, “including criminal investigations.” It will have access to highly sensitive information available only to the House Intelligence Committee. Republicans say Jordan’s panel will reveal how “the radical left” weaponized law enforcement against ordinary Americans.

cia logoThe Church Committee of the mid-1970s actually did uncover extraordinary abuses by intelligence services directed at U.S. citizens — mostly of the left-wing variety. The committee was established after revelations that the CIA had been spying on antiwar activists for more than a decade, and its investigation probed FBI covert actions directed at the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. anti-Vietnam War protesters and many others (though some on the far right were also targeted).

It is widely understood that Republicans on today’s committee hope to paint a similarly lurid tale, this time depicting conservatives as mass victims of jack-booted oppression. But they are unlikely to find anything similar to what left-wing activists actually did experience in the 20th century.

“Driven by ideology and revenge,” is how Johnson, a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, describes the new GOP committee. He predicts an endless “search for the mythical deep state,” the imagined instrument supposedly used by the left to persecute conservatives inside the MAGA information bubble.

Jordan’s committee will also likely seek to harass and undermine criminal investigations of Trump and even prosecutions of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. We know this because GOP rage rises to its highest pitch in response to law enforcement activity directed at Trump. The GOP version of the Church Committee has no discernible aim of meaningful reform, but rather seeks to smear in advance what by all indications are legitimate law enforcement investigations into Trump.

“This is a protection operation,” Johnson told me, one designed to “protect the insurrectionists.” Because Jordan and other House Republicans are implicated in the events of Jan. 6, Johnson added, this is really “a self-protection operation.”

Jan. 11

 

 

turning point 12 2023

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Biggest Hole in the House January 6 Committee Final Report Has Been Found—and It Could Hold the Key to All Future seth abramson graphicInvestigations of Donald Trump’s Insurrection, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 11, 2023. In “The January 6 Files #1: Charlie Kirk,” a former federal criminal investigator and criminal defense attorney whose January 6 research Congress often cites unpacks January 6 evidence others missed.

In “The January 6 Files #1: Charlie Kirk,” a former federal criminal investigator and criminal defense attorney whose January 6 research Congress often cites, unpacks January 6 evidence others missed.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction

The evidence is quickly mounting—after the public release of over a hundred January 6 witness transcripts by the House January 6 Committee in the final hours of 2022—that the plot to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 had its origin in the Turning Point USA “Student Action Summit” (SAS) that was held just four miles from Mar-a-Lago between December 19 and December 22 of 2020.

Hours before that raucous far-right conference began, then-President of the United States Donald Trump—at the time just 72 hours from flying to Mar-a-Lago himself—infamously announced his endorsement of a “big” and “wild” event (which he termed a “protest”) that was slated to occur a nine-minute walk from the Capitol on January 6.

Documentary evidence now confirms that this December 2020 Mar-a-Lago-adjacent summit, which featured Trump himself as well as Trump family members and leading congressional allies, was used to shape the planning, funding, and logistics of a rally and subsequent march in January 2021—a rally and march that in turn helped set off an armed insurrection of a sort not seen in the United States since the American Civil War.

charlie kirk hostThe summit, which brought together far-right radicals from all across the country and even threatened to turn violent—with “angry” and “tense” confrontations between attendees and local officials—was set up by Turning Point USA (TPUSA) founder Charlie Kirk, right.

Speakers at the summit included Donald Trump (by phone), Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Donald Trump Jr.’s soon-to-be-fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Trump domestic policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, and Trump foreign policy adviser Tucker Carlson. United States senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who would play critical roles as Trump allies during the horrifying events of January 6, also attended and spoke. Many less well-known far-right firebrands, like convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza and author/podcaster David J. Harris Jr.—the latter of whom was in D.C. on January 6, 2021—were also speakers at the summit.

Promotional materials for the several-day event, which was attended by thousands, promised that it would offer “first-class activism training” to all attendees while in turn “organizing” them for future political action. It promised to put these angry, tense, newly organized far-right activists in direct contact with many conservative “political leaders and top-tier activist organizations.”

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).

Jan. 10

 

Trump Organization’s former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg arrives to court, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in New York (AP Photo by John Minchillo).

Trump Organization’s former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg arrives to court, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in New York (AP Photo by John Minchillo).

Law&Crime, Ex-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg Gets Five Months Behind Bars, as Judge Bemoans Sentence Couldn't Have Been 'Much Greater,'
Jerry Lambe, Jan. 10, 2023. "Were it not because I made that promise, I would not be imposing five-month sentence, I would be imposing a much greater sentence," Judge Merchan said in court.

Allen Weisselberg, right, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, will be trading his office in the glitzy Trump Tower for a cell in one of the most allen weisselberg croppedscandal-beset prisons in the country after pleading guilty to a series of financial crimes in connection with his work for the former president’s real estate empire.

New York Judge Juan Manuel Merchan on Tuesday sentenced the 75-year-old Weisselberg to five months in prison to be served at Rikers Island immediately. He appeared to dress for that outcome, skipping his usual business suit in favor of a North Face fleece and navy sweatpants.

The judge said that Weisselberg’s testimony at the Trump Organization criminal trial, over which he also presided, gave him pause about the lenient prison sentence he had agreed to hand down in the current case.

“Were it not because I made that promise, I would not be imposing a five-month sentence. I would be imposing a much greater sentence,” Merchan said in court. “Most significantly was the $6,000 payroll payment to Mr. Weisselberg’s wife and the reason I find that so offensive is that it was driven purely by greed.”

Merchan explained how Weisselberg was “earning upwards of seven figures” and clearly “did not need that money.” However, he still “found a way” to make sure that his wife received sufficient payroll income so she could “one day benefit from social security payments she was not entitled to.”

The sentence was previously agreed to by Weisselberg and prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in exchange for the longtime Trump executive pleading guilty to 15 separate criminal charges and testifying against the Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corp, which were convicted last month on more than a dozen felony charges.

In addition to the time in prison, Judge Merchan also sentenced Weisselberg to five years of post-release probation and ordered him to make full repayment of taxes, penalties, and interest due to New York City and New York State tax authorities totaling $1,994,321.

With good behavior, Weisselberg may be eligible for release from detention in just over three months.

Prior to the Judge Merchan passing the sentence, Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr., asked the court to further reduce his client’s time behind bars, requesting that Weisselberg be permitted to serve the second half of his prison term under house arrest.

“Aside from fact that he’s 75 years old, Mr. Weisselberg has no criminal history. He does have history of military service and has fully accepted responsibility for actions in this case, poses no danger to community, and has already been punished severely,” Gravante said, adding that what his client has had to endured was “unique for this particular case.”

“The publicity in this case has exponentially increased the severity of punishment that he has had to suffer,” Weisselberg’s attorney told the court.

He then spoke about how Weisselberg’s grandchildren “saw their grandfather being led into court” earlier that morning, and said the shame his crimes brought upon his family “causes him more pain than anything else that’s been imposed on him.”

The only individual currently charged in the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into the company’s roughly 13-year tax fraud scheme, Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny, three counts of third-degree criminal tax fraud, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, one count of fourth-degree conspiracy, one count of fourth-degree criminal tax fraud, four counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, and four counts of first-degree falsifying business records.

Brazilian Coup Attempt, U.S. Ties

 

Brazilian, Other Fascist Attacks (Graphic via The Wayne Madsen Report).

Brazilian, Other Fascist Attacks on U.S., Western Legislatures (Graphic via The Wayne Madsen Report).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: We are in a global war on fascism: When will the Biden administration face that fact? Wayne Madsen, Jan. 9-10, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2023. As Ian Fleming famously wrote in "Goldfinger" -- "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

wayne madesen report logoThe attack on the Brazilian National Congress, Supreme Court, and the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, dubbed the "Tropical Trump" is beyond coincidence. The attack on Brazil's government institutions is the fourth such major attack by fascist cadres representing a collection of anti-democratic cadres which include neo-Nazi thugs, anti-vaccine conspiracists, fundamentalist Christian extremists, and anti-social malcontents. In August 2020, such a group attacked and almost occupied the German Reichstag building in Berlin.

That was followed by the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of electors in the 2020 presidential election. Shortly after the January 6 attack, convoys of Canadian truckers attempted to lay siege to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, forcing the suspension of the regular order of business by the House of Commons and Senate. And on January 8, almost two years to the date since the January 6th attack, Brazilian fascists, aided and abetted by some of the same individuals who were behind the coordination of the attacks in Berlin, Washington, and Ottawa, stormed the government buildings in the Brazilian capital.

If fascist attacks on legislative bodies over the past few years includes assaults or other threatening actions targeting U.S. statehouses and governors' mansions, the insurrection in Brazil would count as the fifteenth such attack by fascists. The far right has also targeted the Legislative Assemblies of Alberta and Ontario and the parliament of the state of Victoria in Australia and New Zealand.

Four major attacks on the national legislatures of Germany, the United States, Canada, and Brazil in two years is enemy action. The enemy, the greatest global fascist threat since the Axis pact of World War II, represents a far-right coalition that includes Donald Trump and his chief political acolytes, including Steve Bannon, Jason Miller, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk, and others.

President Biden could take advantage of his current "Three Amigos" Summit in Mexico City with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce a global anti-fascist coalition dedicated to eliminate safe havens for fascist seditionists, Florida as but one example, and quick deportations, extraditions, and arrests of those who conspire to overthrow democratically-elected governments. That should happen today, not tomorrow, next week, or next month.

  • Update: Bolsonaro coup backer Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) has just been made chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

 

 

Then-U.S. President Trump is shown meeting, from left, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro Press Secretary Fabio Wajngarte (March 7, 2020 photo at Mar-a-Lago via Instagram).

Then-U.S. President Trump is shown meeting, from left, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro Press Secretary Fabio Wajngarte (March 7, 2020 photo at Mar-a-Lago via Instagram).

washington post logoWashington Post, Brazil’s riot puts spotlight on close ties between Bolsonaro and Trump, Michael Kranish and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Jan. 10, 2023 (print ed.). In August 2021, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s son traveled to Sioux Falls, S.D., to meet with some of the most prominent purveyors of former president Donald Trump’s false claims of mass election fraud.

Eduardo Bolsonaro had a dire warning for the group, which included Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former top adviser: Brazil’s electronic voting system was “ridiculous” and vulnerable to mass fraud, he said according to a recording of the event.

How Bolsonaro’s rhetoric — then his silence — stoked Brazil assault

brazil flag wavingThe gathering was part of the prologue to events that unfolded in Brazil on Sunday, when Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed government buildings — smashing windows and assaulting police — in a striking echo of the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Like Trump, Bolsonaro had spent months predicting mass fraud and then refused to concede defeat after losing his October election.

While no evidence has emerged that Bolsonaro or his son had a direct role in the rioting in Brazil’s capital, it is clear that the family fomented anger against democratic institutions — part of a playbook that reflected their deep ties to Trump and those who fueled his own push to cast doubt on American election results.

jair bolsonaro brazilAs Trump endorsed Jair Bolsonaro, right, for reelection, prominent U.S. election deniers made inroads with Bolsonaro’s movement and family, according to interviews and public documents. Eduardo Bolsonaro discussed election fraud with Bannon and lunched with former Trump adviser Jason Miller, while Donald Trump Jr. spoke remotely to a gathering in Brazil last year to push claims that outside forces were seeking to undermine Bolsonaro’s campaign.

In more recent months, Bannon has used his “War Room” podcast to stoke claims of fraud in Bolsonaro’s loss and insist that proof of systematic cheating was at hand. When rioters breached Brazilian government buildings on Sunday, Bannon took to the social media site Gettr to call the pro-Bolsonaro crowds “Brazilian freedom fighters.”

Bolsonaro’s new life as a Florida man: Fast food runs and selfies

The parallels between Trump and Bolsonaro show how an anti-democratic ideology embraced by Trump has been exported abroad and enlisted by foreign leaders and their allies. In addition to Brazil, Trump supporters have forged ties with far-right leaders in Hungary and other parts of Europe. While both Bolsonaro and Trump were ultimately cast out of office, with democratic institutions ratifying the will of voters, the recent turmoil has illuminated how deeply the Trump network has been enmeshed in Bolsonaro’s political world.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. would ‘treat seriously’ requests to revoke Bolsonaro’s visa, Miriam Berger, Emmanuel Felton and Karen DeYoung, Jan. 10, 2023 (print ed.). Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Florida on Dec. 30, 2022 — two days before the inauguration of his opponent, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and nine days before a large group of his supporters stormed Brazil’s capital and tried to overturn the country’s democratic elections.

But his tenure in the Sunshine State, where some analysts believe he’s hoping to stay clear of possible legal trouble back home, could be limited. If he entered the United States on a diplomatic visa, he would have to depart by the end of the month or apply for a different status, the State Department said Monday, amid calls by some lawmakers to extradite the far-right leader.

The United States requires all visitors from Brazil to acquire a visa. But Bolsonaro’s legal status remains murky. Both the White House and the State Department have refused to comment on his visa status, citing the need to protect individual confidentiality.

Bolsonaro was still Brazil’s president when he touched down in Florida, and could have entered on an A-1 visa reserved for diplomats and heads of state. In an apparent tacit recognition that Bolsonaro could be using a diplomatic visa, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that A-1 visa holders had 30 days to either leave or apply for a different visa at the conclusion of their term in office.

“If an A visa holder is no longer engaged in official business on behalf of that government, it is incumbent on that visa holder to depart the U.S., or to request a change to another immigration status within 30 days,” Price told reporters. “If an individual has no basis on which to be in the United States, an individual is subject to removal by the Department of Homeland Security.”

“It’s the responsibility of the individual to take care of it,” he said.

Several Democratic lawmakers have questioned why Bolsonaro has been allowed to remain after his supporters tried to overthrow Brazil’s democratically elected government.

The White House said that while it had not yet received any requests from Brazil regarding Bolsonaro’s “visa status,” it would “treat seriously” any inquiries to review or revoke it.

Politico, Biden to host Brazilian President Lula in February following storming of government buildings, Nahal Toosi and Myah Ward, Jan.10, 2023 (print ed.). The announcement came hours after Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts released a joint statement pledging to support the recently elected leader of the country.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden will host Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, right, widely known as Lula, in Washington in February, the White House announced on Monday.

Lula headshot 2022Biden extended the invitation during a call with Lula following the weekend storming of Brazil’s government institutions, according to the White House. During the call, Biden condemned the rioters’ violence and “conveyed the unwavering support of the United States for Brazil’s democracy and for the free will of the Brazilian people as expressed in Brazil’s recent presidential election, which President Lula won,” the White House said in a statement.

The announcement came hours after Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts released a joint statement pledging to support the recently elected leader of the country, whose predecessor has fueled doubts about his legitimacy.

The statement of condemnation from the three North American leaders came as they attended a summit and as some Democrats called for that predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, to be kicked out of the United States. Bolsonaro is reported to have been staying in Florida after he skipped Lula’s recent inauguration.

Biden administration officials declined to say whether they were looking at kicking out Bolsonaro, but noted that the Brazilian government had not requested it. A Brazilian news organization, meanwhile, reported that Bolsonaro had been admitted to a Florida hospital because of abdominal pains, though that report could not immediately be confirmed. Agence France-Presse later tweeted the same information about the former president’s health and hospitalization, citing his wife.

Unwilling to accept his defeat, Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday stormed Brazil’s presidential, congressional and supreme court buildings. The events echoed the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a vocal backer of Bolsonaro. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has a strongman style and sought to sow doubts about the election he lost.

Monday’s statement from Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was terse, but it put the countries’ full support behind Lula.

Jan. 7

World Crisis Radio, Investigative Commentary and Advocacy: Death agony of Republican Party signals long-overdue US party re-alignment! Webster G. Tarpley, webster tarpley twitterright, Jan. 7, 2023. In Pyrrhic win, hollow man McCarthy is finally elected as Speaker of the House on fifteenth [sic] ballot, but exposed as discredited and impotent hack seeking an office stripped of power; MCarthy’s rules package still risks defeat; Obscene GOP spectacle of chaos shocks US allies, offers aid and comfort to Putin and Xi;

Beyond the obvious soap opera, real program of House GOP amounts to genocidal austerity, debt default and national bankruptcy, betrayal of Ukraine and NATO allies, suicidal balanced budget amendment, demolition of Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, and Medicaid; massive federal job cuts, border fortifications to block legal and illegal immigration, replacement of federal income tax and IRS with brutally regressive consumption tax, drastic defense cuts, ending of foreign aid (including food aid), and police state attacks on Democrats camouflaged by oversight hearings;

Russian secret police veteran Strelkov sees three rival groups contending to oust Putin; Russo-Japanese War of 1904 models how military defeat can trigger crisis of regime in Russia;

Demand for bills limited to one issue only has precursor in Confederate Constitution of 1861; exaggerated power of individual legislators recalls disastrous Polish Diet of seventeenth century;

Given the rampant MAGAt insanity, Biden and Yellen must prepare to ignore the spurious ”debt ceiling” as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment admonition to pay the US public debt; Payments and Treasury auctions must occur on schedule, with no defaults allowed!

Lessons from Weimar: Hitler’s beerhall putsch of November 1923 failed, but change of tactics allowed him to become Chancellor on second try in January 1933;

Marking the second anniversary of January 6 fascist coup attempt, Biden honors heroes who defended Capitol and administered the 2020 election.

Jan. 5

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The awful corruption of Trump’s ‘coup lawyers’ demands accountability, Greg Sargent, Jan. 5, 2023. You are probably familiar with greg sargentthe term “mob lawyer.” It might now be time to inaugurate another, similar term: “coup lawyer.”

John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani were instrumental to the plotting and execution of President Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow his reelection loss, and they corruptly abused their knowledge of the law to that end. Will they ever face real accountability?

Eastman and Giuliani are facing disciplinary proceedings and might even get disbarred. But if they are disciplined on overly narrow grounds — say, for making false statements — it would be a highly insufficient outcome. They should also face professional discipline that declares in some way that their efforts to undermine our constitutional order were central features of their unscrupulous professional misconduct.

Yet good-government advocates are beginning to fear that opportunity will be squandered.

Right now, the state bar in California — where Eastman is licensed — is investigating whether he violated ethics rules governing attorneys. And the bars in New York and D.C. — where Giuliani is licensed — are currently weighing the former New York City mayor’s fate.

In Giuliani’s case, a New York court temporarily suspended him from practicing law for making false statements in court — his lies about the 2020 election — and the D.C. bar appears focused on that charge as well. In Eastman’s case, it is unclear what misconduct the California bar is weighing.

But the option exists for disbarment on a broader basis, according to advocates urging this course of action. In California, New York and D.C., ethics rules provide for sanctions on the grounds of fundamental unfitness for the legal profession and deep contempt for the rule of law. Disbarment decisions should cite both lawyers’ efforts to help Trump subvert democracy as the basis for those violations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Several documentary filmmakers have made Jan. 6 projects. Getting them released is proving difficult, Elahe Izadi, Jan. 5, 2023. Documentary filmmakers found reluctant subjects, wary distributors, polarization fears — and a long shadow from the hearings into the attack on the Capitol.

Nick Quested watched along with millions of other viewers as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol doled out revelation after revelation in a series of live televised hearings last year. But for him, some of the findings were less than revelatory.

“Scooped!” he found himself thinking on more than one occasion. “Scooped! … Scooped again!”

A British documentary filmmaker, Quested spent several months following the Proud Boys, which positioned him for an intimate view of the far-right extremist group’s actions during the siege on the Capitol two years ago. His unreleased film is one of more than a dozen recent or in-the-works projects related to the Capitol riot — the kind of world-shaking event, fraught with unanswered questions, tangled narratives, stark human tragedy and startling visuals, that could be documentary fodder for generations to come.

But launching a Jan. 6 documentary right now is proving complicated for many filmmakers and producers. Some of the subjects are still too traumatized to talk about it easily. Some platforms and distributors may hesitate to take on such a project, concerned that the topic has become too polarizing or that it has already inspired too many films.

And then there was the Jan. 6 committee itself, which revealed so many compelling details about the attack through a rich narrative approach worthy of a hit prime-time serial — and, unlike filmmakers, had subpoena power to get certain subjects to talk.

The subtle stagecraft behind the Jan. 6 hearings

One of those, ironically, was Quested, who testified as a witness in the first of the much-watched hearings this past summer and shared some of his film footage in response to a subpoena. Now, as he continues to labor on his project, he prefers not to mull whether the Jan. 6 hearings stole his thunder.

“This is too important to be selfish about your film at this point,” he said. “This is our collective future that we’re discussing here.”

Going Deep, Investigative Commentary: JFK Murder: Evolving Strategies for Damage Control, Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor, Jan. 5, 2023. More revisions upon revisions. What next?

After 60 years, establishment figures are increasingly voicing the belief that government agencies and officials might have at least covered up critical information about the assassination plot to kill President John F. Kennedy. And one major interpreter of history is even going so far as to suggest a key governmental entity took delight in JFK’s demise.

Nonetheless, they’re still behind the curve of public opinion. And even in their new posture, they appear to be playing a game of denial.

Most Americans don’t buy the official story of one disgruntled loner coincidentally securing a job along an as-yet-undetermined presidential motorcade route, then, once the route information was public, deciding spontaneously to bring a rifle and thereby altering the course of history.

And most people who have studied the copious research done over the years are even more sure that it’s hooey. (As was a 1970s panel, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded there was seemingly some kind of conspiracy involving more than one person). That’s why at least some of us keep on digging.

After Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK, swung public opinion on the issue in the early 1990s, Congress unanimously mandated that the government find and release all documents on the assassination. By 2017, a quarter-century later, all the documents were supposed to be out. But delays dragged on as federal agencies sought more time to review, redact, or outright withhold documents that might somehow breach individuals’ privacy or harm national security.

Still, more documents have slowly emerged, and finally, in December, the National Archives and Records Administration (“Archives”) let loose online another pile of faint, eye-straining documents related to the Kennedy assassination — 13,173 of them. The agency says that pretty much everything covered by the JFK Records Act of 1992 is now out, except a handful of papers protected by other laws involving IRS documents or those protected by rules around judicial proceedings like grand juries.

The commercial media’s reaction to this “final” release was, with one notable exception, pretty much what you would expect.

  • Oswald did it alone. Nothing to see here folks, move right along.
  • Oswald did it alone. And here’s more proof that he did it.
  • Oswald did it alone. The CIA has been hiding things, but for reasons that had nothing to do with the assassination.
  • The exception: Oswald alone pulled the trigger — but maybe others were involved.

Setting the Stage

This last version — that maybe others were involved — was speculation on the part of the historian Michael Beschloss, on NBC News Now, a day after the records were released.

Based on our long-term study of how “uncomfortable truths” are managed for public consumption, it is possible that this explanation will be softly promoted to prepare the public for any future semi-revelations, pieced together by savvy and conscientious researchers, that at least in part contradict the conclusions of the Warren Commission, which in 1964 became the formal government pronouncement on the matter.

Beschloss’s role here is important because he seems to have been anointed as one of a long string of go-to interpreters of all things presidential, hence all things Kennedy, hence all things related to the assassination.

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which Beschloss has attained the loving embrace of the establishment.

Here are only a few of his titles, in an untidy pile: trustee of the White House Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation; board member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History; trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation; trustee of the Miller Center of Public Affairs; a visiting scholar at the Harvard University Russian Research Center; chair of the annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards; and… that’s quite enough.

Who could or would ever doubt that anything this man says must be authoritative and settle all disagreements?

He’s hardly alone in fulfilling the system’s longstanding imperative that every single political assassination in US history be seen as the work of lone, or near-lone, lunatics — with nary a possibility of “executive action” by some entity or faction. In other words, the US must see itself, and present itself, as utterly unlike just about every other country on earth, where, when a leader is killed, suspicion immediately turns to powerful elements with a stake in the leader’s removal.

Others only too glad to serve the cause, and receive the professional rewards for doing so, include an army of up-and-coming “reporters” in major news organizations, who themselves are unfamiliar with the massive amount of research done over the years that does not point to the “Oswald presidential assassin” scenario.

For example, take NBC’s White House correspondent, Monica Alba. She made a brief, but remarkably deceptive announcement, just before Beschloss was brought into the discussion. She said that, from these newly released documents, they are now learning, in her words:
... new details about Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Mexico City and a wiretap that had collected some information about what he had said there in relation to wanting to kill John F. Kennedy.

We have the relevant document on that wiretap, a CIA report on all of the recorded phone conversations by someone claiming to be Oswald with Soviet Embassy personnel — and we read every word of it. Not once does “Oswald” say anything at all about Kennedy, let alone killing him, on those tapes.

The phone calls were all about “Oswald” trying to get a visa to the Soviet Union, and being able to wait in Cuba while it would have been processed.
In this same report, the CIA also expressed doubt that, contrary to what many were saying, Oswald was conspiring with the Russians:

The very openness of his visits and the phone calls speak against any secret role. His trip to Mexico was not itself a secret act; he traveled under his real name or a close variant of it… corresponded with the Soviets through the open mails… (page 18)

Certainly if Oswald had been a Soviet agent in training for an assassination assignment or even sabotage work, the Soviets would have stopped him from making open visits and phone calls to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico after he tried it a couple of times. (page 20)

Beschloss, who spoke immediately after Alba on the same NBC show, praised her brief report — and did not correct it. (Beschloss did not respond to emails requesting comment.)

This Is What They’ve Been Hiding?

Beschloss then went on to provide what seems meant to explain one reason certain documents have been withheld: He actually claims that the former director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and perhaps others, knew in advance that a so-called Soviet defector would be in the book depository window the day Kennedy would be driven by — and that they did nothing to have him removed.

Beschloss speculates this is possibly because Hoover and his colleagues “hated and disapproved of” Kennedy; and that, if Americans had known all this, they would have had Hoover prosecuted.

This of course is an astonishing claim being made by a major figure, yet it passed without further comment. It also goes to the growing desperation of the establishment to head off at the pass any further movement in the direction of a broader conspiracy.

To fall back on the idea that the head of the FBI either didn’t care whether Kennedy was assassinated or passively hoped that he would be means that the needle continues to move toward acceptance that, as the Rolling Stones sang in “Sympathy for the Devil”:

I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?”

When after all, it was you and me

In other words, that the death of political figures has been somehow sanctioned and approved by the leading elements of our establishment, far beyond one person or even agency.

Philip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter and author of A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, echoes this same damage control strategy. He told the BBC:

I suspect there may be information in these documents to suggest that … Oswald was a danger and that he may have talked openly about his intention to kill the president. And the question has always been: did the agencies of government, the CIA and FBI, have some sense that this man was a danger to President Kennedy, and if they had acted on that information could they have saved the president?"

Michael Isikoff, a longtime national security correspondent at Newsweek now working for Yahoo News, takes a more cautious stance of after-the-fact posterior-covering for security failures:

What emerges from this account is not so much a portrait of CIA officials horror-struck that their role in the president’s murder might be exposed but of government bureaucrats scrambling to find details about the accused assassin and cover themselves, no doubt worried that they might be blamed for not paying more attention to him before the murder.

Getting back to Beschloss, he ended his report with another startling remark — his main takeaway from the documents — that it seems less and less likely that Oswald acted alone. But he also said, with great confidence, “Oswald pulled the trigger.”

***

Another thing that is supposed to explain the secrecy — something that, so far, seems to have attracted much more attention than the above: The wiretap operation targeting the Soviet Embassy was a joint CIA effort with the office of the Mexican president, an arrangement that was “highly secret and not even known to Mexican security and law enforcement officials.” Several news organizations — including The New York Times — made much of this.

But no matter what the pundits say in nearly all the stories on the records release, one point stands out above all else: Oswald is always blamed as the one and only shooter.

In a New York Post article on Mary Ferrell, a longtime researcher who died decades ago and after whom a nonprofit foundation dedicated to JFK records is named, foundation founder Oliver Curme is quoted as saying Ferrell “was never able to find ‘the smoking gun’ evidence of whom Oswald might have been working for, or why the US government might have been covering up the assassination.”

And the same point was made in Newsweek, which said Oswald’s involvement with the CIA reignited questions “about whether Oswald truly was alone in his decision to kill the youngest man ever elected president.”

The Fox Factor

Various JFK researchers got a welcome and rare opportunity to present in commercial media.

Tucker Carlson — not usually known as a purveyor of reliable, accurate, and agenda-free systemic critiques — nonetheless surprised longtime researchers with a perspective rare on television. In his opening monologue on his December 15 show, he weighed in unambiguously on the controversy — and then claimed new information from an exclusive source.

Some critical excerpts:

The government’s explanation didn’t seem entirely plausible. And some people started asking obvious questions about it. It was at that point, as Americans started to doubt the official story, that the term “conspiracy theory” entered our lexicon. As Professor Lance DeHaven-Smith points out in his book on the subject, “The term conspiracy theory did not exist as a phrase in everyday American conversation before 1964. In 1964, the year the Warren Commission issued its report, The New York Times published five stories in which ‘conspiracy theory’ appeared.”

Now, today, of course, the term “conspiracy theory” appears in pretty much every New York Times story about American politics. It’s wielded, now as then, as a weapon against anyone who asks questions the government doesn’t feel like answering. But despite 60 years of name-calling, those questions have not disappeared. In fact, they have multiplied with time.

And here’s one of them. In April of 1964, a psychiatrist called Louis Jolyon West visited Jack Ruby in his isolation cell in a Dallas jail. According to West’s written assessment, he found that Jack Ruby was “technically insane” and in need of immediate psychiatric hospitalization. Those are conclusions that puzzlingly no one who had spoken to Jack Ruby previously had reached. … But what West neglected to say was that he was working for the CIA at the time. Louis Jolyon West was a contract psychiatrist for the spy agency. He was also an expert on mind control and a prominent player in the now infamous MKUltra program in which the CIA gave powerful psychiatric drugs to Americans without their knowledge.

Carlson went on to question why so many records are still being withheld, and he quotes a mysterious source:

We spoke to someone who had access to these still hidden CIA documents. … We asked this person directly, “Did the CIA have a hand in the murder of John F. Kennedy, an American President? And here’s the reply we received verbatim. Quote: ‘The answer is yes. I believe they were involved. It’s a whole different country from what we thought it was. It’s all fake.’”

While we have no reason to doubt this answer, the choice of words seems to reflect some hesitancy: “I believe” sounds more like an opinion, based on indirect evidence, rather than an acknowledgement of having seen unambiguous verbal proof. It’s almost as if he’s not really tattling… at all. Although assassination researchers desperate for acknowledgement of the truth from big media were glad to get anything — even from Carlson — the fact is he appears to have oversold the comment. Why would he do that? Was it to seal the deal against the CIA?

As for who this anonymous source is, Jacob G. Hornberger of The Future for Freedom Foundation, thinks he knows who: Donald Trump. Because of what Judge Andrew Napolitano, a former Fox judicial analyst, said in an interview on November 8:

I once had a conversation … with President Trump when he was in the White House. He used to call me all the time. And we talked about everything under the sun. I said, “Are you going to release those documents or not?” And he said to me, “If you saw what I saw, you wouldn’t release them.”

Can you imagine Trump keeping such information to himself? Hornberger, whose libertarian focus invariably leads to highlighting real or perceived government abuses, has an idea why that may be:

One possibility is that the CIA “Hoovered” Trump into continuing to keep the CIA’s decades-old assassination-related records secret. By “Hoovered” I am referring to J. Edgar Hoover, who was a serial blackmailer when he was serving as FBI director. Hoover would acquire personal information about people with the aim of blackmailing them into bending them to his will… If they refused…

If true, this might indicate that Trump, despite his claimed boldness, is just like virtually every other president: afraid to tangle with the CIA.

Jan. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 papers detail infighting, ‘chaos’ among extremist organizers, Hannah Allam, Jan. 4, 2023 (print ed.). Newly released documents zoom in on the role of far-right militants and conspiracy theorists.

How do we know that the architects of a pro-Trump rally that spiraled into insurrection were right-wing extremists? They said so themselves, according to newly released witness interviews from the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But it doesn’t mean they were all on the same page.

Thousands of pages of documents made public in recent weeks portray promoters of the Stop the Steal movement as backstabbing rivals who viewed one another as “crazies,” “extremists,” “nutty,” and “white supremacist.” The documents include a text exchange in which former senior Trump adviser Hope Hicks, while watching the Capitol rioting unfold, lamented, “We all look like domestic terrorists now.”

The behind-the-scenes chaos detailed in the report underlines how the risk of violence that day was known in advance, causing alarm even among some organizers who said they had qualms about working with fellow pro-MAGA factions such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, extremist groups whose members later were charged in the attack.

“I don’t think that we should be out there inciting people,” Amy Kremer of Women for America First told the committee of another organizer’s public chant of “victory or death.”

The documents offer glimpses into other aspects of national right-wing organizing: leaders’ proximity to power, a tolerance for violent rhetoric, fierce infighting, and the role of “grifters” who make their living by stoking conservative outrage. The committee traces this mobilization to Trump, going back to a 2015 campaign-trail interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to show how Trump “normalized” the extremist factions that later rallied supporters to march on the Capitol.

Here are five examples of how the latest documents shed light on the militant, conspiratorial movements that have gained a toehold in mainstream Republican politics:

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Jan. 6 committee yet again debunks Trump claim of 10,000 troops, Glenn Kessler, Jan. 4, 2023.

“The highly partisan Unselect Committee Report purposely fails to mention the failure of Pelosi to heed my recommendation for troops to be used in D.C.”

— former president Donald Trump, in a post on Truth Social, Dec. 22

Trump and his defenders have repeatedly claimed that the violence at the Capitol two years ago would have been prevented if only his order for 10,000 troops had been heeded. We have explored this claim twice before and debunked it, each time awarding Four Pinocchios.

But now the Jan. 6 committee has released its report and dozens of transcribed interviews that provide new details on the meetings in which Trump claims he requested troops at the Capitol.

Trump, in his post, says he made a “recommendation for troops” and that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) failed to act on it. But the evidence shows Trump did not issue any formal request — so there was nothing for Pelosi to heed. The committee report says it found “no evidence” to support the claim that he ordered 10,000 troops.

Moreover, the committee said that when he referenced so many troops, it was not because he wanted to protect the Capitol. He “floated the idea of having 10,000 National Guardsmen deployed to protect him and his supporters from any supposed threats by left-wing counterprotesters,” the report said.

The report says that Trump brought up the issue on at least three occasions but in such vague and obtuse ways that no senior official regarded his words as an order. Here’s what we know now about his statements at the time:

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jack Smith returns to U.S. weeks after becoming Trump special counsel, Perry Stein and  Devlin Barrett, Jan. 4, 2023 (print ed.). Tasked with two Trump-related investigations, the former war crimes prosecutor has returned from Europe, people familiar with the situation said

washington post logoWashington Post, Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Jan. 6 panel he’s become a political ‘lightning rod,’ Dan Lamothe, Jan. 4, 2023 (print ed.). The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke with congressional investigators about a ‘deliberate attempt’ to smear the military’s general officer corps.

The Pentagon’s top general told congressional investigators scrutinizing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that he has become a “lightning rod for the politicization of the military,” decrying critics who have sought to “smear” him and the Defense Department’s other senior leaders.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered the assessment during a remarkable portion of his discussion with the House select committee in November of that year. The panel in recent days released Milley’s interview transcript along with dozens of other documents as its work drew to a close.

He cited as one example the backlash he faced upon telling lawmakers in separate testimony months earlier that he wanted to “understand White rage,” a statement prompted by Republicans who had criticized leaders at the U.S. Military Academy for allowing cadets to learn about critical race theory. The academic framework centers on the concept that racism is systemic and not just exhibited by prejudiced people.

Milley told the Jan. 6 committee that he is “constantly strung out” along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top officials at the Pentagon. The military, he said, must avoid such fights.

“I think it’s fundamental to the health of the republic that we have an apolitical military,” Milley said in his testimony. “And apolitical means nonpartisan, neither Democrat nor Republican, and we execute the lawful orders of the civilian leadership that’s appointed over us. The key is ‘lawful’ orders, and therein lie some judgment calls.”

Milley addressed a range of issues during the Nov. 17, 2021, interview, including the Pentagon’s response to the Capitol riot, how senior defense officials navigated President Donald Trump’s tumultuous final year in office, and what Milley did to reassure U.S. allies and adversaries after Trump’s refusal to accept the election results culminated in an eruption of violence.

Jan. 3

 

capitol right full crowd uncredited

ny times logoNew York Times, As Jan. 6 Panel Closes, More Evidence Trump Planned to Join Protesters, Luke Broadwater, Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer and Emily Cochrane, Jan. 3, 2023 (print ed.). One top aide wrote in a note on Jan. 6 that former President Trump had wanted to walk alongside the crowd as it descended on Congress; Since Friday, the panel has released a whirlwind of files, including an adviser’s testimony that Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge his election loss.

The nation’s top military officer saw the Jan. 6 attack as similar to the “Reichstag moment” that led to Nazi dictatorship. Aides for former President Donald J. Trump saw their future job opportunities slipping away, and predicted being “perpetually unemployed.” Mr. Trump himself saw the push to overturn the 2020 election as a financial opportunity, moving to trademark the phrase “Rigged Election.”

These were among the latest revelations from the House Jan. 6 committee, which released a whirlwind of documents in its final days and wrapped up its work on Monday. Since Friday night, the panel has released several troves of evidence, including about 120 previously unseen transcripts along with emails and text messages obtained during its 18-month inquiry, totaling tens of thousands of pages.

The evidence touched on nearly every aspect of Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election. It provided new details about how some of his top allies lobbied for aggressive plans to keep him in power, while others lamented how the dark day of Jan. 6, 2021, had negatively affected their employment prospects.

The panel said it has now turned over an “enormous volume of material” to the Justice Department as Jack Smith, the special counsel, conducts a parallel investigation into the events of Jan. 6.

“Accountability is now critical to thwart any other future scheme to overturn an election,” the committee’s leaders, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement.

In the end, the committee released about 280 transcripts of interviews. Though the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, only a few hundred sessions took the form of formal depositions or transcribed interviews. Lawmakers said they withheld certain transcripts that contained sensitive information.

Here are some takeaways from the recently released evidence.

 

Then-U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney, R-WY, and Adam Kinzinger, R-IL are shown at left with incoming U.S. Rep. George santos, R-NY, and his campaign supporter U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, shown at right.

Shown above are then-U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney, R-WY, and Adam Kinzinger, R-IL. The photo was accompanied by another showing the incoming and disgraced U.S. Rep. George santos, R-NY, and his campaign supporter U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, who replaced Cheney in Republican House leadership because Cheney was willing to investigate Trump's role as part of her committee work. The photo array was labeled: "A tale of two Republican parties. An honorable one, for now in the wilderness. A dishonorable one, for now in power. Proud to stand with the first, and against the second." (Reported via Twitter by Bill Kristol, Bulwork co-founder and former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dan Quayle, a Republican from Indiana).

george santos elise stefanik

Politico, Inside the Jan. 6 committee’s massive new evidence trove, Kyle Cheney, Jan. 3, 2023 (print ed.). The panel's evidence provides the clearest glimpse yet at the well-coordinated effort by some Trump allies to help Trump seize a second term he didn’t win.

politico CustomThe Jan. 6 select committee has unloaded a vast database of its underlying evidence — emails between Trump attorneys, text messages among horrified White House aides and outside advisers, internal communications among security and intelligence officials — all coming to grips with Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to subvert the 2020 election and its disastrous consequences.

The panel posted thousands of pages of evidence late Sunday in a public database that provide the clearest glimpse yet at the well-coordinated effort by some Trump allies to help Trump seize a second term he didn’t win. Much of the evidence has never been seen before and, in some cases, adds extraordinary new elements to the case the select committee presented in public — from voluminous phone records to contemporaneous text messages and emails.

Trump lawyers strategized which federal courts would be likeliest to uphold their fringe constitutional theories; Trump White House aides battled to keep unhinged theories from reaching the president’s ears; as the Jan. 6 attack unfolded, West Wing aides sent horrified messages about Trump’s incendiary tweets and inaction; and after the attack, some Trump allies discussed continued efforts to derail the incoming Biden administration.

Here’s a look at some of the most extraordinary and important evidence in the select committee’s files.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Proof Launches Stage 2 of Its January 6 Coverage, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 3, 2023. Proof’s January 6 reporting—which has seth abramson graphicprovoked lawsuit threats from and texts between key January 6 actors, and often appeared in the U.S. House record—is moving from investigation to evidence review.

Introduction: The first two years of Proof have been a wild ride. This media outlet evolved into a sprawling, 14-section center for curatorial journalism that accrued a readership of 75,000 and became one of the Top 15 political substacks in the world.

seth abramson proof logoIt was cited in the successful House January 6 Committee referral of Steve Bannon for criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice. Its reports were entered into the Congressional record during the second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. It was the subject of private texts between two of the key event-planners behind January 6, Trump adviser Katrina Pierson and Women for America First capo Amy Kremer.

In 2022, the House January 6 Committee even reached out directly to Proof for aid.

Shortly thereafter, Proof published the fourth book in the New York Times-bestselling Proof series: Proof of Coup: How the Pentagon Shaped An Insurrection. The book tells the story of events so critical to national security, politically sensitive, and (not to put too fine a point on it) historically contingent—because they remain under active federal investigation—that they don’t even appear in the sprawling final report of the House January 6 Committee.

Proof has been the subject of lawsuit threats from key January 6 figures Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, as well as the co-founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes.

And Proof is currently being sued for $25 million by an attorney linked to the Flynn family, Kash Patel, Truth Social head (and former GOP congressman) Devin Nunes, and the First Amendment Praetorians (bodyguards for Flynn, Ali Alexander, Patrick Byrne, Sidney Powell and other Trumpist leaders in the post-election period in 2020).

January 6 reporting at Proof has been cited by major-media news outlets around the world, and even helped launched a Brazilian congressional inquiry into the actions of neo-fascist Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Trump ally and former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. (You can read much more about the odd, frenetic history of Proof here.)

And now, in these opening hours of 2023, Proof is about to enter a striking new phase in its celebrated January 6 investigation.

The Three Stages of An Investigation

From its founding in January 2021—just a week after the events of January 6—Proof has followed (a) the curatorial journalism methods I taught as a journalism professor at University of New Hampshire, and (b) the investigative methods that I employed as a federal criminal investigator in D.C. in the 1990s. My journalistic and investigative practices are informed by years of criminal defense work in multiple jurisdictions as an attorney, up to and including coordination and execution of investigative and trial-advocacy strategies in First-Degree Murder cases.

Every investigation worth its salt has at least three discrete stages.

(1) Building a theory of the case and collecting supporting evidence. Since every criminal case begins, on the defense side at least, with certain documents already prepared by the government—most notably police reports, but in some cases also photographs, timelines, witness interviews, maps, and other such investigative work product—an investigator is often in a position to develop an initial theory of the case (that is, a narrative of what most likely happened in a given situation and why) with the aid of these seminal documents.

January 6 is no exception. The work of law enforcement agents, corporate journalists, and independent researchers gave Proof a mountain of data with which to work in building a theory of the case for the coup plot behind January 6, as well as potential plans of action for collecting additional evidence that might confirm or deny such a theory. Those who don’t actually read Proof, and only casually consume social media content that discusses Proof, often mistake my work as a curatorial journalist (a type of investigative journalist) who has a background in criminal investigation and trial advocacy as the advancement of hard-and-fast notions about how a given criminal conspiracy unfolded. In fact, what Proof offers is the routine work of an investigator and a curatorial journalist—revealing what existing reliable evidence tells us, with an eye toward encouraging future investigations based on a well-sourced theory of the case.

To the extent Proof often ends its reports with explicit proposals for additional federal investigation(s), this project is clear to anyone who reads Proof and has a background in any of law, criminal investigation, or curatorial (investigative) journalism. It is also clear to anyone who simply approaches the work of this media outlet in good faith. All too often, however, what critics of Proof there are either never read Proof or do so with no background in (or even interest in) the professional pursuits that animate this site.

So much of the work that readers of Proof have found here over the last two years has been the basic work of a simultaneously journalistic and legalistic investigation in its earliest stages: synthesizing seminal evidence to create an investigative plan firmly rooted in a theory of the case, a theory that self-consciously remains unproven but is undergirded by what evidence presently exists. And since, in the law, proof is evidence that tends to support a given theory of a case (only those with no knowledge of the law equate the word proof to the phrase proof beyond a reasonable doubt), this publication has—from the day of its birth—been denominated Proof. If the aim of every report on this site had been to offer “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” for some ironclad and presumptively immovable theorem rather than “proof” advancing a mutable theory of the case, it would’ve instead been called Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

So how do we know that Proof was successful in Stage 1 of its January 6 investigation?

For the reasons stated above: its work spooked key January 6 figures to the point that they obsessively discussed it backchannel, and in some instances even tried to shut it down; it was cited as part of the permanent Congressional record a number of times, including during both an impeachment trial and a successful federal investigation and prosecution of white-supremacist Trump adviser Steve Bannon; and it was deemed so essential to the journalism surrounding January 6 that not only was it repeatedly cited by major media, but led to the House January 6 Committee reaching out to its author.

Katrina Pierson, the trusted Donald Trump presidential adviser who was in charge of the precipitating event on January 6—Trump’s incitement-to-insurrection rally at the White House Ellipse, now the subject of a sprawling federal criminal investigation by the FBI—opined in 2021, as we now know from the House January 6 Committee’s final publication of data, that this author was “like a dog with a bone” when it comes to January 6: in other words, per the definition of that phrase, “stubborn, tenacious, persistent, relentless, and dogged.” While there can’t be a much better endorsement of the work done by Proof since mid-January 2021 than this, the fact that some media columnists—non-reporters whose job, more or less, is to capriciously separate U.S. journalists into the cool and the uncool—have written hit-pieces about Proof shot through with barely disguised envy underscores that few media outlets have been as successful at tearing down the layers of misinformation, disinformation, rumor and innuendo surrounding the events of January 6 as this one.

Which is why there was always going to be a Stage 2 to Proof’s January 6 reporting.

(2) Evidence review. Once any available initial (seminal) evidence has been reviewed, and a theory or dueling theories of the case developed, and evidence supporting that theory or theories pursued, a time inevitably comes for the most critical determination of all: has one theory of the case won out, in view of all the evidence now compiled?

Determining this takes an encompassing and sometimes lengthy evidentiary review—a process not nearly as dry as it sounds, as it operates upon not just seminal evidence and early supporting evidence but the entire universe of available evidence that the case investigators have been able to compile, collate, and curate over a protracted period of time (in the case of January 6, approximately two years).

It’s at this stage that a final determination is made about “what really happened.”

While invariably some evidence once desired will be finally found to be unavailable—will even have been destroyed or degraded, perhaps intentionally—it is in this second stage that decisions can and must be made, with the evidence present, about whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant a criminal prosecution (if the investigators are government investigators) or what defense will be offered if or when a prosecution commences (if the investigators are defense investigators).

What differentiates these two different perspectives are their ambitions. What conjoins them is that each must make a good-faith effort to determine “what really happened.”

Just as a prosecutor, aided by his or her investigators, can’t proceed with a prosecution unless he or she believes the case they will offer to a jury is a fully realized, evidence-undergirded narrative roughly answering to the description “what really happened”, a successful defense to criminal allegations always starts with—but may or may not end with—a similarly fully realized, evidence-undergirded narrative. Simply put, a defense attorney and defense investigator can’t do their jobs properly if they don’t have a fully formed record (whether memorialized or simply memorized) of what happened in a given criminal incident. They need this to determine how to use that record (or just some of it) to force government agents to meet their constitutional burden of proof.

Needless to say, if the defense’s theory of a case ends up not bearing any meaningful relation to “what really happened,” the theory is doomed to be reified in court as a losing defense strategy. While the defense theory of the case need not be a totalizing narrative, it also cannot be contradicted in significant ways by the evidentiary record if it hopes to have any chance of success.

So how does this translate to Stage 2 of the January 6 investigation at Proof, which is about to be launched?

Now that the House January 6 Committee has published not just an 845-page final report but the entirety of the “non-sensitive” portion of its evidentiary record—which includes over a hundred notable witness transcripts—the seminal evidence related to January 6 (much of it already synthesized by DOJ in its prosecutions of January 6 foot-soldiers and by some independent researchers via the online #SeditionHunters effort) can be conjoined to this new evidence, and to existing theories of the case, to form the most complete picture of the events of January 6 we have ever had. Books like Proof of Coup—which cover information that was left out of the House January 6 Committee report for national security and political-sensitivity reasons (e.g., fear of destabilizing institutions that defend the nation’s soil and the President of the United States)—can also become a critical part of this encompassing evidentiary record.

You may now be asking, “Yes, but doesn’t the House January 6 Committee’s final report constitute the conclusive synthesis and summation of the January 6 record?”

And the answer—perhaps surprisingly—is no.

The reason the House January 6 Committee not only released a final report but all the evidence upon which it relied is because its work was curtailed far more dramatically than many realize. Had the Democrats not lost the House of the Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections, we could expect the House January 6 Committee to have continued its work for at least two more years. We would have had more hearings, more witness interviews, a longer final report, and—above all—much, much more federal litigation in an effort to force certain subpoenaed witnesses to honor their subpoenas. Moreover, because DOJ likely needs to make its charging decisions with respect to the January 6 coup plotters (as opposed to merely its foot-soldiers) in 2023, we would expect that a House January 6 Committee not prematurely shuttered by Republican gains in the House in November 2022 would have gleaned an enormous amount of additional data from anything DOJ already has or will soon find that will be made public via its hotly anticipated prosecutions of the masterminds of January 6.

The Committee is aware, in other words, that legions of corporate and independent journalists have been waiting to assist the Committee in its investigative work. All that these people and entities (which include this author and this media outlet) have been waiting for is the release of the evidence Congress has developed as it chased down various theories of the case of January 6 which—to be candid—Proof helped develop both directly and indirectly.

Now that this evidence has been made public, Stage 2 of the January 6 investigation—which is also Stage 2 of the January 6 investigation at Proof—can begin. It is likely to last almost the entirety of 2023.

But what about Stage 3? When will that stage begin, and what form will it take?

(3) Prosecution. In cases with only one defendant, calling the “prosecution” stage an “investigative” stage would make no sense. Indeed, one of the only things Law & Order gets right about the criminal justice system is the native divide between police and prosecutors (though, remarkably, the show and its numberless offspring get wrong precisely who these entities represent; in the criminal justice system, the “people” are represented only by juries, while judges represent the impartial face of the law and both police and prosecutors represent, in the most literal sense imaginable, the government).

In a situation, like the one emanating from the events of January 6, in which 1,000+ foot-soldiers and as many as fifty coup plotters may ultimately be charged—though we should have much more confidence that the former will happen than the latter—the prosecution stage is also an investigative stage because certain coup plotters may cut cooperation deals with the federal government to save their own skins. Such deals require these wrong-doers to divulge to investigators everything they know about the January 6–related crimes others may have committed.

In this way, new prosecutions can become part and parcel of existing investigations.

In the case of January 6, Stage 3 is almost certain to overlap somewhat with Stage 2 because (a) Stage 2 may take as long as a year, (b) DOJ appears to be operating on a political calendar that presumes that all politically sensitive prosecutions relating to January 6 must be launched by mid-2023 (in an effort to conclude them all by the end of Summer 2024, with an eye toward minimal overlap with the 2024 general election), and (c) it is a sure bet—if past is precedent—that DOJ will let certain coup plotters off the hook who it should in fact have prosecuted, which will only complicate (while also stoking new interest in) Stage 2.

For journalists, Stage 3 is of course not about prosecutions but about reporting on prosecutions, which usually involves little more than detailing what happens in court (and perhaps on occasion opining on how events could have or should have developed differently). Proof will likely conduct some journalism of this sort in late 2023 and 2024—after all, its author has a law degree and practiced criminal law for many years—but it is not likely to be as bracing or complex a process of discovery as Stage 2 will be.
Conclusion

It is the ambition of this author to have the Stage 2 investigation of January 6 at Proof be the most comprehensive—and essential—such journalistic coverage in the United States.

If that sounds like a preposterously lofty goal, perhaps it is: certainly, January 6 is already as reported on and analyzed an event as America has ever seen.

But as we have already seen, coverage of the House January 6 Committee Final Report is, at least in major corporate media, fairly shallow. Only a handful of newly released January 6 witness transcripts have been given any attention at all, and this attention has generally been (a) not from lawyers, (b) focused only on one or two very obvious takeaways, (c) so transient that the assumption of major media appears to be that Americans can’t focus on any discrete piece of evidence for more than a day or two, and (d) disconnected from the best research on January 6 (which frankly has come from obsessive independent researchers with an eye for detail, rather than major-network TV producers with an eye toward producing satisfying one-off “A” blocks).

What is needed now are researchers, historians, and investigative journalists who will, with academic precision, take discrete pieces of evidence and plug them meaningfully into the vast network of data the historic January 6 investigation has become. If major-media coverage of January 6 has devolved into briskness, redundancy and shallowness, it must now be durable, incisive and profound. It’s with this in mind that Proof says the following: that it aims for its readers to be the best-informed students of January 6 anywhere in the world.

This goal isn’t a small one—not when January 6, 2021 has turned out to be merely the launch of an ongoing far-right insurrection inside America, one that aims to replace our democracy with an authoritarian, Christofascist tyranny. January 6 doesn’t matter because of what it was in American history, but because of what it is right now.

In view of all this, the idea of Proof starting 2023 by launching Stage 2 of its January 6 investigation is at once exhilarating and terrifying. Proof has already uncovered, via its soon-to-be-launched “January 6 Files” series—which decodes, contextualizes, and networks the most important January 6 witness transcripts in exhaustive detail—acts of perfidy and possible sedition that couldn’t even have been contemplated, let alone reported on, prior to the release of witness transcripts (in the scores and more) by the U.S. House of Representatives over just the last two weeks.

What Proof asks of its readers, in advance, is a certain degree of patience. There are so many documents newly available for review by January 6 historians, researchers, and January 6 beat reporters that it is tempting to think they can be adequately unpacked in quick-hit major-media “listicles” addressing just a handful of the most high-profile witness transcripts. In fact, Stage 2 will be a painstaking process that may take, as was noted above, almost the entirety of 2023.

I intend this introductory essay to serve as a personal invitation for you to take a year-long journey with me right here at Proof, a place where the journalism is indeed—and very proudly so—“like a dog with a bone”: stubborn, tenacious, persistent, relentless, and dogged.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who later taught 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. 2

 

djt hope hicks

Newly disclosed message from former Trump White House and campaign aide Hope Hicks (shown above in a file photo) about the Jan 6 insurrection stated: “All of us who didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed....I’m so mad and upset. We all look like domestic terrorists now....This made us unemployable, untouchable. God, I’m so fucking mad.” (Reported via Twitter by Mike Sington, former senior executive at NBCUniversal.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Capitol police chief: FBI, DHS and Pentagon failed on Jan. 6, Carol D. Leonnig, Jan. 2, 2023 (print ed.). In a new firsthand account of the frantic efforts of Capitol Police officers to protect Congress and themselves from an armed mob on Jan. 6, 2021, the department’s former chief blames cascading government failures for allowing the brutal melee.

The federal government’s multibillion-dollar security network, built after 9/11 to gather intelligence that could warn of a looming attack, provided no such shield capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021on Jan. 6, former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund, left, writes in a new book.

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and even steve sund recroppedhis own agency’s intelligence unit had been alerted weeks earlier to reams of chilling chatter about right-wing extremists arming for an attack on the Capitol that day, Sund says, but didn’t take the basic steps to assess those plots or sound an alarm. Senior military leaders, citing political or tactical worries, delayed sending help.

And, Sund warns in Courage Under Fire, it could easily happen again. Many of the factors that left the Capitol vulnerable remain unfixed, he said.

The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the book, which will be published Jan. 3.

In his account, Sund describes his shock at the battle that unfolded as an estimated 10,000 protesters inflamed by President Donald Trump’s rally earlier in the day broke through police lines and punched, stabbed and pepper-sprayed officers, outnumbering them “58 to 1.”

Sund said his shock shifted to agony as he unsuccessfully begged military generals for National Guard reinforcements. Though they delayed sending help until it was too late for Sund’s overrun corps, he says that he later discovered that the Pentagon had rushed to send security teams to protect military officials’ homes in Washington, none of which were under attack.

Sund reserves his greatest outrage for those Pentagon leaders, recounting a conference call he had with two generals about 2:35 p.m., 20 minutes after rioters had broken into the Capitol and as Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers scurried to hiding places.

Sund writes that Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt told him he didn’t like the optics of sending uniformed Guard troops to the Capitol, but could allow them to replace police officers at roadside checkpoints. Listening incredulously and trying to explain that he needed help to save officers’ lives, Sund said, he felt both “nauseated” and “mad as hell.”

“It’s a response I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Sund writes. While on the call, Sund recalls hearing the frantic voice of an officer being broadcast into the command center: “Shots fired in the Capitol, shots fired in the Capitol.”

Sund’s anger boiled over and he shouted the report of gunfire into the conference call: “Is that urgent enough for you now?” Then Sund hung up to deal with this new crisis.

 

December

Dec. 31

 

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices, Jo Becker and Julie Tate, Dec. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court Historical Society has raised more than $23 million in the last two decades, much of it from lawyers, corporations and special interests.

While ostensibly independent, the society has become a vehicle for those seeking access to nine of the most reclusive and powerful people in the nation. A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices

People in formal attire sit on and stand amid the audience benches that face the bench where the justices sit in the Supreme Court chamber. Behind the justices’ bench are red curtains and four white marble columns.

john roberts oIn some years, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, does the honors. In others, it might be Justice Sonia Sotomayor or Justice Clarence Thomas presenting the squared-off hunks of marble affixed with the Supreme Court’s gilded seal.

Hewed from slabs left over from the 1930s construction of the nation’s high court and handed out in its magnificent Great Hall, they are a unique status symbol in a town that craves them. And while the ideological bents of the justices bestowing them might vary, there is one constant: All the recipients have given at least $5,000 to a charity favored by the justices, and, more often than not, the donors have a significant stake in the way the court decides cases.

The charity, the Supreme Court Historical Society, is ostensibly independent of the judicial branch of government, but in reality the two supreme court historical society sealare inextricably intertwined. The charity’s stated mission is straightforward: to preserve the court’s history and educate the public about the court’s importance in American life. But over the years the society has also become a vehicle for those seeking access to nine of the most reclusive and powerful people in the nation. The justices attend the society’s annual black-tie dinner soirees, where they mingle with donors and thank them for their generosity, and serve as M.C.s to more regular society-sponsored lectures or re-enactments of famous cases.

The society has raised more than $23 million over the last two decades. Because of its nonprofit status, it does not have to publicly disclose its donors — and declined when asked to do so. But The New York Times was able to identify the sources behind more than $10.7 million raised since 2003, the first year for which relevant records were available.

At least $6.4 million — or 60 percent — came from corporations, special interest groups, or lawyers and firms that argued cases before the court, according to an analysis of archived historical society newsletters and publicly available records that detail grants given to the society by foundations. Of that, at least $4.7 million came from individuals or entities in years when they had a pending interest in a federal court case on appeal or at the high court, records show.

The donors include corporations like Chevron, which gave while embroiled in a 2021 Supreme Court case involving efforts by cities to hold the oil company accountable for its role in global warming. Veteran Supreme Court litigators gave while representing clients before the court that included Tyson Foods and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

Among the ideologically driven activists from both sides of the political aisle who donated to the society were the benefactors of an anti-abortion group whose leader instructed them to use the society’s annual dinners to meet and befriend conservative justices.

Virtually no one interviewed by The Times, including critics of the society’s fund-raising practices, said they believed that donations to the society had any bearing on cases before the justices. For one thing, many of the donors are already part of the Supreme Court’s insular and clubby world, where former clerks frequently socialize with and argue cases before their former bosses, and where the justices steadfastly refuse to televise their arguments and specifically reserve only a fraction of the court’s 439 seats for members of the public.

Carter G. Phillips, a Supreme Court litigator at Sidley Austin and the society’s treasurer, said it never occurred to him that anyone would use the society as a way to buy face time or favor with the justices, in part because the society’s events generally afford only fleeting contact with them.

“It’s disgusting,” he said. “Many of the people who contribute have the same reasons I do. You go to a cocktail party and support a good cause. But it turns out that for some people it’s not that innocent. And I think the justices are a victim of that.”

But David T. Pride, the executive director of the society from 1979 until he retired last year, defended the society’s practice of seeking donations from those with interests before the court, saying he “was pretty unabashed about it.”

“Who wouldn’t expect that to be our constituency?” he said. “I don’t think I would have taken money from the Communist or Nazi Parties, but within reason the society was open to all.”

The society was founded in 1974 by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger to make the court more welcoming to visitors and to restore dusty old portraits of justices of yore. Every chief justice since has served as its honorary chairman.

It publishes bound journals of Supreme Court history; restores, maintains and displays historically significant artifacts such as the robes of Justice Louis D. Brandeis; hosts lectures; and brings schoolteachers from around the country to Washington for an annual summer institute, where they learn about the court. Trustees of the nonprofit are expected to give at least $5,000 a year, “patrons” give between $12,500 and $25,000, and “benefactors” give more than $25,000.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the historical society’s most significant source of identifiable funds — more than 34 percent — is the lawyers and law firms that practice before the Supreme Court, according to the Times analysis.

The chairman of the society’s board of trustees, Gregory P. Joseph, is a corporate litigator who served as the president of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Over the years, he and his firm have given at least $187,500 to the society, including in 2019, when he filed a submission with the court on behalf of the Sackler family, the longtime owners of Purdue Pharma, in a case involving accusations that they had siphoned billions of dollars out of the company in an attempt to deplete its coffers and limit the exposure the drugmaker faced over its deceptive marketing of OxyContin.

A number of other trustees who give regularly, such as Beth Brinkmann of Covington & Burling, served as Supreme Court clerks. Ms. Brinkmann joined the society’s board in 2006, and she was featured in the society’s newsletter in 2021 for giving at the patron level. Also in 2021, she represented power companies in the Supreme Court case West Virginia v. E.P.A., which limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plant emissions.

In 2013, the general counsels of Facebook and Time Warner were invited to attend the gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York. There, under a projected image of the Constitution, they were given the society’s first “Amicus Curiae Awards,” according to a society newsletter. That year, Facebook and Time Warner, through its various entities, donated at least a combined $50,000. This year, Kathryn Ruemmler, the general counsel of Goldman Sachs, received the award (as shown below in a promo for the event); Goldman Sachs, which had recently secured a Supreme Court victory making it harder for shareholders to mount class-action suits alleging securities fraud, donated $25,000.

 

supreme court historical society ny gala 2022

 

 

supreme court Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Chief justice ignores one of the most controversial Supreme Court terms in his annual report, Robert Barnes, Dec. 31, 2022. It was one of the most controversial terms in Supreme Court history, with the shocking leak of a draft opinion that eventually overturned a half century of abortion rights, public polls that showed record disapproval of the court’s work and biting dissension among the justices themselves about the court’s legitimacy.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, chose not to address those or any other controversies in his annual “Year-end Report on the Federal Judiciary,” issued john roberts oSaturday. Instead, he focused on a high mark of the judiciary’s past — a federal district judge’s efforts to implement school desegregation at Little Rock’s Central High School after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

“The law requires every judge to swear an oath to perform his or her work without fear or favor, but we must support judges by ensuring their safety,” Roberts wrote in his nine-page report. “A judicial system cannot and should not live in fear. The events of Little Rock teach about the importance of rule by law instead of by mob.”

Roberts thanked Congress for recently passing the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, named for the son of New Jersey District Judge Esther Salas. Anderl was murdered in 2020 when he answered the door to their home in what was meant to be an attack on the judge.

The legislation allows judges to shield on the internet certain personal information about themselves and their families, such as home addresses, some financial information and employment details of their spouses. It has an exception for media reporting, but some transparency groups have worried that broad interpretation of the law could inhibit watchdog efforts.

Roberts also commended “the U.S. Marshals, Court Security Officers, Federal Protective Service Officers, Supreme Court Police Officers, and their partners” for “working to ensure that judges can sit in courtrooms to serve the public throughout the coming year and beyond.”

That’s about as close as Roberts came in his 18th report to commenting on the present day. The chief justice and other conservative members of the court have seen protesters outside their homes since the May leak of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which a majority of the court overturned Roe v. Wade’s federal guarantee of abortion rights.
A California man is facing attempted assassination charges after being arrested outside the suburban Maryland home of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh with weapons and a plan to break into the justice’s house.

Roberts announced an investigation of the leak of the draft Dobbs opinion in the spring, just days after it was published in Politico, calling it a “singular and egregious breach of … trust that is an affront to the court and the community of public servants who work here.”

He directed Supreme Court Marshal Gail A. Curley to investigate the leak, saying that “to the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed.”

Man accused of threatening to kill Kavanaugh is indicted

But Roberts has not publicly mentioned the investigation since then. Last summer, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said the justices were expecting reports from Roberts about the work, but nothing has been exposed beyond leaked accounts of disagreements among justices and their clerks about attempts to examine cellphone records.

It is only one controversy to engulf the court. Several media outlets reported on what a former antiabortion evangelical leader said were efforts to encourage conservative justices to be bold in decisions regarding the procedure. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. denied a specific allegation from Rev. Rob Schenck to the New York Times that the justice or his wife disclosed to conservative donors the outcome of a pending 2014 case regarding contraceptives and religious rights.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary and Advocacy: McCarthy still lacks the votes to be elected Speaker, so Democrats must pre-empt MAGA chaos and subversion with a Coalition Speaker! webster tarpley twitterWebster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 31, 2022. (135:48 min. video). In the light of the January 6 committee findings, Garland and Jack Smith have a couple of months to indict Trump & Co. or preside over the end of the rule of law in US! DoJ obeyed Sessions and Barr, but now the survival of the Republic is the supreme law!

World situation is marked by the coalescence of a new edition of the Rome-Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo axis, this time as the Moscow-Beijing-Pyongyang-Tehran axis; US must lead opposition of free world to this New Axis;

Moments of decision loom for Ukraine: after so many atrocities, a negotiated peace with Putin is unthinkable; as with Hitler, appeasement spells wider war; Putin may escalate, but his military situation is unlikely to improve; CFR now regards anti-Putin coup as most likely outcome; As Gen. Ivashov foresaw, Putin’s aggression may mark the end of the current Russian state; His clones Patrushev, Prigozhin, Kadyrov contend for power; Over two dozen top Russian oligarchs eliminated by poison and open windows this year, the Kremlin equivalent of a faction fight!

Renaissance of Science under Biden: Artemis-Orion and Mars lander revive space program; Lawrence Livermore surpasses break even point for thermonuclear fusion reaction, a first for the world; NASA inaugurates planetary defense by deflecting an asteroid for the first time; Covid vaccines are landmark achievements; Cancer Moonshot advances; Chips and Science Act and other new laws repatriate offshored technology; NOAA upgrades oceanography and marine biology; Federal science workforce is expanding; lasers needed to defend against hypersonic weapons;

French scholar of eastern Europe sees roots of Ukrainian spirit of independence in the Zaporizhia Cossacks of the 1600s

NBC News, Law Demands Full JFK Record Release, But ‘Clearly The CIA Doesn’t Care About Those Consequences,’ Anchor Chuck Todd interviews JFK expert Jefferson Morley, Dec. 16, 2022. Jefferson Morley, historian and editor of the JFK Facts blog, discussed the release of thousands of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to the National Archives, 97% of all documents related to JFK's assassination have now been released, and the remaining 3% are either fully or partially redacted. Details below:

Dec. 27

 

 nicholas luna portraitFormer Donald Trump “body man” (personal assistant) Nicholas Luna, shown above

Proof, Source: Nick Luna Not Involved with Trump NFT Company CIC Digital or Trump NFT Scam, Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 27, 2022. Journalists at both the New seth abramson graphicYork Times and Washington Post linked CIC Digital and a similarly named company, CIC Ventures—but that presumption appears to have been wrong, per a Proof source.

Proof readers will be well aware that Proof has reported both here and elsewhere—for instance, in the New York Times-bestselling Proof Trilogy—that former president Donald Trump has a history of directly or indirectly promising money, jobs, and/or favors to those federal witnesses who testify before Congress or speak to the DOJ or FBI in a fashion consistent with his own interests, leading to some understandable concern that if any such individual were to have been seth abramson proof logoinvolved in Trump’s get-richer-quick NFT scam it could position that scam as part of a larger January 6 cover-up.

As the subhed of this new Proof report indicates, and as the last Proof report on Mr. Trump’s NFT venture disclosed, both the Washington Post and New York Times saw leading journalists on their payrolls draw conclusions about two Trump-launched companies—CIC Ventures and CIC Digital—that treated the two as one and the same, and therefore possibly at the head of a January 6 Witness Tampering scheme.

But Proof can now report, on the basis of contact with a person confirmed to have knowledge of the situation—and to whom Proof has granted anonymity to allow them to speak freely—that while former Trump “body man” Nicholas Luna was indeed involved with CIC Ventures for the purposes of signing contracts for Mr. Trump’s post-presidential speaking engagements, he had no involvement, formal or otherwise, with CIC Digital, a distinct venture that ultimately contracted with a dodgy entity named NFT INT LLC to mint Trump’s chintzy, much-mocked NFTs. Indeed, per this Proof source, CIC Digital was founded after Luna left Trump’s employ in October 2021.

This source believes CIC Digital to have been run, instead, by individuals associated with (or even formally part of) the Trump Organization. This source further states that there were no contacts between Luna and the listed co-director for CIC Ventures, Trump lawyer John Marion.

These revelations keep active the following key questions: (1) why a Trump lawyer (Marion) was made the co-director of an entity exclusively associated with Trump’s speaking engagements; (2) whether Marion was also involved with CIC Digital; and (3) whether Marion was given his business role(s) in the labyrinthine world of Trump single-purpose (sometimes shell) corporations as a means to avoid paying him for legal services rendered—whether through corporate perks or write-offs or by allowing Marion to do side business under Trump’s aegis and/or brand, as appears to have been the case in Ukraine with fellow Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani—or to generate a zone of attorney-client privilege in the context of a Witness Tampering (or other criminal) scheme.

Hopefully the Times and Post will update their coverage of Donald Trump’s NFT scam consistent with this new reporting by Proof.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who later taught 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).

Dec. 26

 

 Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a leading proponent of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump

 Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a leading proponent of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" that led to the Capitol insurrection, is shown in a collage with then-President Donald Trump (File photos).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The missing piece in the January 6th Committee Report, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books (including wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallThe Rise of The Fourth Reich, below,  and former synidcated columnist, Navy intellitence officer and NSA analyst, Dec. 25-26, 2022.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 attack on the Congress did an admirable job of cutting through the obstruction of justice, obfuscation, and plain old lying from Donald Trump and his administration’s and presidential campaign’s hopeless sycophants.

wayne madesen report logoHowever, the committee failed to answer the mail on the military’s involvement in pre- and post-coup plans for a Trump military-civilian junta to rule the United States. Far too many Department of Defense political appointees were not criticized in the committee’s report, particularly those who failed to order the early deployment of National Guard troops to safeguard the Capitol complex for the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes to proclaim Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the president- and vice president-wayne madsen fourth reich coverelect of the United States.

It is quite clear that Trump had installed a coterie of military and civilian officials at the Pentagon whose main task it was to fail to respond to pleas for assistance from congressional and Washington, DC authorities as insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.

The presence of then-Major General Charles Flynn, right, within the U.S. Army’s Pentagon staff should have raised the suspicions of the committee. Flynn’s brother, charles flynn oTrump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn, had been one of the chief proponents of advancing Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign to the point where he called for the military to not only seize voting machines but Trump to declare martial law and hold an unconstitutional “do-over” of the November 3rd election.

Other active duty officers who stymied the dispatch of National Guard troops to the Capitol included Lieutenant General Walter Piatt, Charles Flynn’s immediate superior, who remains the Director of the Army Staff at the Pentagon, and then-Brigadier General Christopher LaNeve, the Director of Operations and Mobilization, who worked under Piatt and Flynn, and has since been promoted to Major General and is currently the Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

It is very clear that a group of far-right retired flag rank military officers stood ready to fill important government positions in a Trump junta after a successful January 6 coup. During the 2020 campaign 317 of these officers, representing “Flag Officers 4 America,” signed an open letter full of vitriolic pro-Trump rhetoric, including the charge that the “Democrat Party” was “welcoming Socialists and Marxists” and that “our historic way of life is at stake.”

WMR has compiled a spreadsheet listing the names of the “Flag Officers 4 America” and other lower-ranked military retirees and active members of the military and reserves who provided aid and comfort to Trump and his coup plotters. While this is not a complete list of officer-level traitors in the U.S. military community, it can be appended with additional names.

just security logo

Just Security, January 6 Clearinghouse Congressional Hearings, Government Documents, Court Cases, Academic Research, Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix, Dec. 26, 2022. Deposition Transcripts of House Select Committee (sorted by affiliation, alphabetical, date of deposition)   Welcome to this all-source repository of information for analysts, researchers, investigators, journalists, educators, and the public at large. 

Check out our new addition below: A curated repository of deposition transcripts from the House Select Committee. Readers may also be interested in Major Highlights of the January 6th Report.

If you think the January 6 Clearinghouse is missing something, please send recommendations for additional content by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

The authors are grateful for the assistance of Joshua Asabor, Matthew Bailey, Sarah Butterfield, Brianne Cuffe, and Nicholas Tonckens in the creation of the Clearinghouse.

Dec. 25

 

 

Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk, standing in the back row at center, is shown with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in Qatar at the World Cup championship game in a VIP box on Dec. 18, 2022.Twitter owner Elon Musk, standing in the back row at center, is shown with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in Qatar at the World Cup championship game in a VIP box on Dec. 18, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Here’s who helped Elon Musk buy Twitter, Hamza Shaban and Faiz Siddiqui, Dec. 24, 2022. Who pulls the financial strings at Twitter? These are Musk’s backers:

  • Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud
  • The Qatar Investment Authority
  • Binance
  • Andreessen Horowitz
  • Sequoia Capital
  • Larry Ellison
  • Jack Dorsey
  • Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays

After slashing half the company’s 7,500 member staff, he’s driven away advertisers and created a bigger financial hole for the company. So far, his ideas for bringing in additional money — paying for verification and additional features — have failed to make much of a dent. An unscientific poll he launched recently told him to step down as CEO.

twitter bird CustomOn a Twitter audio chat recently, Musk cited the company’s precarious financial position as a driver of his aggressive job cuts and drastic actions, adding “we have an emergency fire drill on our hands.”

That’s making at least some of his investors in the deal antsy, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Last week, at least a couple of the original investors received letters from a Musk associate soliciting additional investments, according to two people familiar with the matter, although it was unclear if that would proceed.

Here’s who initially invested in the deal, and what we know about why:

Foreign Investors

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud. Estimated Contribution: $2 Billion

The Saudi prince agreed in May to convert his shares of Twitter, worth nearly $2 billion, into a stake in the company when Musk took it private. A month earlier, he had publicly sparred with Musk about the company’s worth, but later tweeted that Musk would be an “excellent leader for Twitter.”

The prince has previously placed winning bets on Apple, Amazon and eBay. But his latest Silicon Valley investment has drawn skepticism in Washington. qatar mapPresident Biden and some members of Congress have called on officials to examine the role of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Twitter deal.

The Qatar Investment Authority. Estimated Contribution: $375 Million

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: For Cassidy Hutchinson, ‘I don’t remember’ wasn’t good enough, Ruth Marcus, right, Dec. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Cassidy Hutchinson ruth marcusknew better than to put herself in debt to what she called “Trump world.” As she would later testify, “Once you are looped in, especially financially with them, there is no turning back.”

But Hutchinson, who witnessed the final days of the Trump White House from her all-access perch as an aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee. The deadline for turning over documents was looming, and Hutchinson was, she said, “starting to freak out.” One lawyer she consulted said he could assist — then demanded a $150,000 retainer.

So, the young aide, out of work since Trump had left office a full year earlier, initially decided to turn to Trump world for help. Which is how she came to receive a phone call from Stefan Passantino, previously a lawyer in the Trump White House counsel’s office.

“We have you taken care of,” he told Hutchinson. When she asked who would be paying the bills, Passantino demurred — this despite legal ethics rules that let attorneys accept payment from third parties but only with the “informed consent” of their client.

“If you want to know at the end, we’ll let you know, but we’re not telling people where funding is coming from right now,” Hutchinson, in her deposition, recalled him saying. “Like, you’re never going to get a bill for this, so if that’s what you’re worried about.”

If Hutchinson’s live testimony before the select committee was riveting, her deposition testimony, taken several months later and released Thursday, is a page-turner: The Godfather meets John Grisham meets "All the President’s Men." Before, we could only imagine how frightening the situation must have been for the 20-something Trump staffer. Now, we can read of her frantic search for help, and her terror as she contemplated telling the truth.

It is a tale, at least in Hutchinson’s telling, of Trump allies dangling financial support in exchange for unyielding loyalty. “We’re gonna get you a really good job in Trump world. You don’t need to apply other places,” Passantino assured Hutchinson. “We’re gonna get you taken care of. We’re going to keep you in the family.” The goal, as he set it out, was clear: “We just want to focus on protecting the President.”

Dec. 24

World Crisis Radio, Commentary and Advocacy: January 6 committee issues criminal referrals for Trump and Eastman, raising hopes for justice against former webster tarpley twittertenant of White House! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 24, 2022 (119:08 mins.). Charges against MAGA boss include interference with a federal function; conspiracy to defraud US; conspiracy to make false statements; and aiding an insurrection;

Report leaves no doubt about Don’s criminal intent; Weakness of Report lies in failure to deal with subversives and enablers in Secret Service, Pentagon, and elsewhere;

Just as Condoleeza Rice claimed that use of airplanes against buildings had been inconceivable before 9/11, despite numerous drills, Report claims Trump’s role as prime mover of insurrection was inconceivable;

More attention required for call to Pentagon in which Gens. Charles Flynn and Piatt refused to send National Guard to Hill;

Some distortions due to demands of Liz Cheney, who wanted everything focused on Trump and no attention for subversive networks in intelligence, Pentagon, FBI, and Secret Service;

Lack of adequate military and police response on January 6 suggests failure of reforms advocated by Kean-Hamilton 9/11 commission almost two decades ago;

Zelensky’s address to Congress validates Biden’s achievement as champion diplomat of 2022; Ukraine to get $45 billion in aid, Patriot surface to air missiles,and should also receive ATACM longer-range missiles, more long-range artillery, and Abrams tanks; If Trump had still been president this year, Russians would already be in Kiev and massing on the Polish border, threatening world war; Churlish behavior of McCarthy towards distinguished guest; Reminder: ”In war, there is no substitute for victory”;

Congress passes $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund US government despite hysteria of right-wing anarchists, reactionaries and fascists; 18 GOP join with all Dems in Senate; In House, measure passes 225 to 201, with 9 GOP votes; Squad member Tlaib votes present, while AOC joins MAGA rejection front; US government funded through end of September.

 

ali alexander alex jones proof uncredited

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Stunning New Ali Alexander Text Message Released By House January 6 Committee Could Be the Smoking Gun for Link Between Trump and Capitol Attackers, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Dec. 23-24, 2022. The House January 6 Committee has just released dozens of transcripts of January 6 witness testimony—and the one transcript that only Proof would be obsessed with is the one everyone needs to read.

For two years, Proof spilled more words reporting on Ali Alexander and Alex Jones and their role in the events of January 6, 2021 than any media outlet in the United States. All told, more than a hundred Proof reports detailed how these two men in particular—along with their fellow Stop the Steal co-organizer Roger Stone—directly coordinated with the Trump White House, and seth abramson proof logoeven Donald Trump himself, to move an armed mob from the White House Ellipse onto the Capitol grounds on January 6.

Then the House January 6 Committee hearings came, and Alexander and Jones were hardly mentioned at all. Instead, the Committee focused almost exclusively on Trump, and in only attenuated ways on Trump advisers who had been close to him for many years, like Stone. Alexander was interviewed but not mentioned, Jones was mentioned once or twice but had successfully fought revealing any testimonial evidence to the Committee by over and over and over again pleading his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination under live questioning by the Committee.

This led some to fear that Proof had been off-base in focusing so much on the Stop the Steal group alongside other topics that ultimately did make up a significant part of the Committee’s more than a dozen televised presentations to America: for instance, the Trump-, John Eastman-, and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)–led coup inside the DOJ or the pressure campaign the first two men waged against then-vice president Mike Pence.

So when, just 24 hours ago, the Committee began releasing dozens of transcripts of its interviews with January 6 witnesses, relatively few gravitated toward the Alex Jones transcript—not only because it was by then widely known that Jones had pleaded the Fifth Amendment in response to every question asked of him (despite having often insisted in the past that he had done nothing wrong with respect to the events of January 6), but because Jones hadn’t been a focus of the Committee’s many televised evidentiary hearings, so how significant could his testimony or transcript possibly be?

In fact, it may be a smoking gun.

As Proof has reported across scores of investigative reports on his activities on and before January 6, Ali Alexander has always claimed that he’s met face-to-face with Donald Trump several times (to the point that Trump had developed a nickname for him prior to January 6, “Sammy,” for his likeness to the late entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.), has spoken with him on other occasions as well, was in touch with Donald Trump Jr.’s wife-to-be Kimberly Guilfoyle on (at a bare minimum) Insurrection Eve, and was in constant communication with the 2020 Trump presidential campaign on January 6 itself. He’s also intimated that he was in touch with top officials at the White House throughout December of 2020—a period of time in which he began making what many would consider terroristic threats against the United States related to January 6.

More recently, over at Post News, Proof detailed how the just-published Executive Summary of the House January 6 Committee Report makes clear that Trump and Eastman developed their plot to use January 6 to overturn the 2020 election results in the first week of December 2020, approximately two weeks before Ali Alexander made public his plan to create a mob scene on Capitol Hill on that date (that is, on federal grounds that it would be illegal to enter upon or occupy on that day in January 2021).

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who later taught 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).

 

Dec. 23

The headline and photo collage above about Republican members of Congress who were disclosed this year as having unsuccessfully sought from then-President Trump presidential pardons for their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021 were by a liberal activist and not the New York Times.

Editor's Note: The headline and photo collage above about Republican members of Congress who were disclosed this year as having unsuccessfully sought from then-President Trump presidential pardons for their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021 were by a liberal activist and not the New York Times.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion by Adam Schiff: My Fellow Members of the Jan. 6 Committee and I Don’t Want You to Forget About ‘the Republican Congressmen,’ Adam Schiff, right, Dec. 23, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Schiff is a representative from California and a member of the Jan. 6 committee.

adam schiff squareOn Dec. 27, 2020, more than six weeks after losing re-election, an infuriated President Donald Trump telephoned his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. Mr. Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, had announced his resignation less than two weeks earlier, after telling the president that the claims of election fraud Mr. Trump had been trumpeting were — as Mr. Barr later bluntly put it in testimony — “bullshit” and publicly affirming that there was no fraud on a scale that would affect the outcome of the election.

With Mr. Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue, also on the line, Mr. Trump launched into the same tired, disproved and discredited allegations he had propagated so often at rallies, during news conferences and on social media. None of it was true, and Mr. Donoghue told him so. According to Mr. Donoghue, Mr. Trump, exasperated that his own handpicked top appointees at the Justice Department would not affirm his baseless allegations, responded: “Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

It was a remarkable statement, even for a president who had serially abused the powers of his office. Having been told by the very department that had investigated his claims of fraud that they were untrue, Mr. Trump told the acting attorney general and his deputy to lie about it and said he would take it from there.

That Mr. Trump was willing to lie so baldly about a matter at the heart of our democracy — whether the American people can rely on elections to ensure the peaceful transfer of power — now seems self-evident, even unremarkable, when we consider the violent attack on the Capitol he incited days later. But Americans shouldn’t lose sight of how this behavior indicts the former president, and not just the former president but also the Republican members of Congress who he knew would go along with his big lie.

The report released Thursday from the Jan. 6 committee, on which I served, makes abundantly clear that there were multiple lines of effort to overturn the 2020 election. Some involved attempts to pressure state legislatures to declare the loser to be the winner. Others involved a fake electors plot, pressure on the vice president to violate his constitutional duty and efforts to force an elections official to “find” thousands of votes that didn’t exist. It was only when all of these other efforts failed that the president resorted to inciting mob violence to try to stop the transfer of power.

But one line of effort to overturn the election is given scant attention, and that involved the willingness of so many members of Congress to vote to overturn it. Even after Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police put down the insurrection at great cost to themselves, the majority of Republicans in the House picked up right where they left off, still voting to overturn the results in important states.

At one of our Jan. 6 committee hearings, the committee vice chair Liz Cheney, a Republican, called out her colleagues in Congress for their duplicity in the most searing terms: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

With our work on the committee largely concluded, it will now fall to the Justice Department to ensure a form of accountability that Congress is not empowered to provide, and to vindicate the rule of law in a manner beyond our reach: through prosecution. Multiple laws were violated in the course of a broad attempt to overturn the election, and not just by the foot soldiers who broke into the Capitol building that day and brutally assaulted police officers, but also by those who incited them, encouraged them and, when it was all over, gave them aid and comfort. Bringing a former president to justice who even now calls for the “termination” of our Constitution is a perilous endeavor. Not doing so is far more dangerous.

Adam B. Schiff is a Democratic member of Congress from California and the author, most recently, of “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.”

Dec. 21

 

Elon Musk released what he called the “Twitter Files” on Friday, delving into the company's decision to block the Hunter Biden laptop story. In this 2019 photo, Musk speaks during a gaming convention (Photo by Mike Blake for Reuters).

Elon Musk released what he called the “Twitter Files” this month, delving into the company's decision to block the Hunter Biden laptop story and limit other controversial messaging that Musk wants distributed. In this 2019 photo, Musk speaks during a gaming convention (Photo by Mike Blake for Reuters).

The Guardian, Opinion: Elon Musk was never a liberal, and his plans for Twitter were never benevolent, Thomas Zimmer, Dec. 21, 2022. Tech barons’ lip-service to democracy and pluralism was always conditional on preserving their own positions at the top.

On Monday, Elon Musk polled Twitter users on whether he should step down as CEO. The answer was a resounding yes. On Tuesday, Musk announced that he will step down once he finds a replacement. Still, the damage has been done: Musk’s tenure has been a disaster for democracy.
Elon Musk is a Jekyll and Hyde character. And as head of Twitter, Hyde is winning

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, he has encouraged far-right conspiracy theories, consistently articulated rightwing extremist ideas and coddled extremists who propagated them, changed or undermined content moderation in a way that allowed hate speech and far-right abuse to flourish, and constantly derided Democrats, liberals and anyone he perceives as part of “the Left” in an escalating crusade against “wokeism”. He is now banning critical voices, including those of mainstream journalists, under obviously disingenuous pretenses.

Musk’s actions are fully consistent with the worldview that dominates among far-right reactionary extremists. Yet, many observers seem reluctant to acknowledge that what is happening is exactly what it looks like. People who cover the tech world are still searching for a grand business strategy that would explain all this behavior. And some people whose main occupation is to cover politics are also struggling. The New York Times recently declared Musk’s politics “tricky to pin down”, and said that “what he stands for remains largely unclear.”

The source of confusion seems to be that Musk’s actions collide with certain assumptions about the supposedly liberal tech world and with Musk’s own previous claims about his political leanings. But the male-dominated tech world seemed “liberal” only because it was associated with technical progress, while most of the (predominantly male) tech oligarchs were happy to present a culturally permissive image. And people say all sorts of things about their political leanings and may even believe them – that doesn’t mean we should take their proclamations at face value. What people actually do, the political projects they support, is far more relevant.

So, what’s up with Musk’s politics?

From a democratic perspective, it’s highly problematic that tech oligarchs like Musk are amassing so much power and influence. They are not democratically controlled in any way or guided by any concern for the public good. Musk is yet another example of how short the path from a certain kind of libertarianism to the far right is, a reminder that this type of libertarianism is driven by a desire for freedom from regulation and criticism of any kind.

Musk believes that the world works best if people like him are in charge and get to do as they please, unhampered by regulations or demands for equality – because their interests ought to be the same as humanity’s. It’s an inherently anti-democratic worldview that tracks very well with the reactionary idea that the world should be run by wealthy white men. This is what is pulling these people to the right, and why they eventually gravitate toward autocratic regimes at home and abroad.

Much of the moral panic over “cancel culture” – which animated Musk to buy Twitter in the first place – is a reaction to the fact that traditionally marginalized groups gained technological means to affect the political debate.

twitter bird CustomTwitter has been crucial in this uphill struggle: a tool for organizing, a platform, a global amplifier that enabled people with no traditional access to power to speak to powerful elites directly and criticize them in the public square. How valuable this has been is evidenced by the fact that many of those elites are so consistently bemoaning “persecution” – and, like Musk, wish to sabotage and destroy this instrument for public criticism. To the extent that traditional societal elites – and elite white men in particular – face a little more scrutiny today than in the past, Twitter has helped to democratize public life.

Thomas Zimmer is a visiting professor at Georgetown University, focused on the history of democracy and its discontents in the United States, and a Guardian US contributing opinion writer

Dec. 19

 

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel to Cap 18-Month Inquiry With Final Public Session Today, Luke Broadwater, Dec. 19, 2022. The committee is expected to approve its final report and vote on issuing criminal and civil referrals against Donald Trump at a 1 p.m. hearing.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold its last public meeting on Monday afternoon, ending an 18-month investigation with the approval of its final report and a vote on issuing criminal and ethics referrals against former President Donald J. Trump and his top allies.

During a business meeting at 1 p.m., the committee is expected to discuss some of the findings in its final report and recommendations for legislative changes.

The panel is also expected to vote on referring Mr. Trump to the Justice Department on charges of insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Referrals against Mr. Trump would not carry any legal weight or compel the Justice Department to take any action, but they would send a powerful signal that a congressional committee believes the former president committed certain crimes.

ny times logoNew York Times, From Zero Covid to No Plan: Behind China’s Pandemic U-Turn, Chris Buckley, Alexandra Stevenson and Keith Bradsher, Dec. 19, 2022. An examination of how the shift unfolded reveals a government overtaken by a cascade of outbreaks, confusion over directives, economic woes and protests.

The southwestern city of Chongqing was the latest frontline of Xi Jinping’s “zero Covid” war, until it came to epitomize China’s potentially devastating about-face that has cracked the Communist Party’s edifice of absolute control.

The city last month was enduring one of the biggest outbreaks cropping up across China, when the national leader, Mr. Xi, ordered officials to continue mass testing, lockdowns and quarantines. Chen Min’er, the Chongqing party secretary, devoutly complied, closing off neighborhoods and ordering the instant construction of a quarantine hospital designed to hold up to 21,000 beds.

“Be resolute in fighting and winning this war of annihilation against the pandemic,” Mr. Chen, a protégé of Mr. Xi, told officials on Nov. 27. “Not a day of delay.”

But 10 days later, China suddenly abandoned the “zero Covid” strategy on which Mr. Xi had staked his reputation. Now the country faces a surge of infections, and Mr. Xi has left officials scrambling to manage the disarray and uncertainty.

 Twitter, Tesla and SpacXe primary owner Elon Musk, top center, joins Jared Kushner and VIPs from Qatar at the World Cup finals in Qatar on Dec. 18, 2022.

Twitter, Tesla and SpacXe primary owner Elon Musk, top center, joins Jared Kushner and VIPs from Qatar at the World Cup finals in Qatar on Dec. 18, 2022.

washington post logoWashington Post, After backlash, Elon Musk is staking his leadership on a Twitter poll, Faiz Siddiqui, Cat Zakrzewski and Marisa Iati, Dec. 19, 2022 (print ed.). After a new policy prompted backlash, Twitter CEO Elon Musk said future policies would be determined by polls.

Elon Musk apologized and launched a poll asking whether he should step down as head of Twitter on Sunday night after the company launched a new policy that would suspend accounts linking to certain other platforms, a move that ignited massive backlash from individuals including some of Musk’s own supporters.

Musk apologized after putting the policy in place and wrote: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”

twitter bird CustomHe then launched a Twitter poll, surveying users on whether he should step down. Musk had abided by past polls, despite them being unscientific and unrepresentative.

“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” he wrote. He added shortly after: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”

Respondents leaned heavily toward “Yes” in Musk’s poll, indicating Musk should step down, after nearly an hour of voting: 58 percent of more than 3 million votes were in favor of him handing over the reins. The poll was set to expire Monday morning before the opening of the stock market. The value of Tesla’s stock — the source of much of Musk’s net worth — has recently plunged. Investors have said Musk stepping aside from Twitter would improve Tesla’s outlook.

Musk’s sudden reversal came after Twitter earlier in the day said it would start suspending accounts linking to “prohibited platforms” such as Facebook and Instagram if those accounts are “used for the main purpose of promoting content on another social platform,” according to the announcement Sunday.

The policy, dated this month and tweeted Sunday afternoon, said tweets promoting accounts on some sites may be removed if users urge their Twitter followers to join them elsewhere.

“At both the tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms,” the policy said. It lists several examples of such social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Truth Social, which former president Donald Trump co-founded.

Musk’s ownership of Twitter — which he bought in October for $44 billion — has plunged the site into turmoil. He ousted the company’s executives and installed a team of loyalists, laid off more than half the staff and dialed back Twitter’s content moderation. He has engaged in misinformation as the site’s owner and hastily rolled out new and confusing changes, courting controversy and alarming advertisers, some of whom paused their spending on the site.

His sudden and sometimes arbitrary decisions have grated on many of Twitter’s core users and staff, but also some of his own supporters who pushed his ownership bid rooted in a “free speech” driven approach.

Already Sunday, Musk appeared to be losing the support of some who had backed his management moves at Twitter over the new policy.

Twitter has slashed most of its public relations team since Musk took over the company in October, and Musk did not respond to an emailed list of questions about the new rule earlier in the day. Musk tweeted posts from the World Cup finale in Qatar earlier Sunday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter Users Say Elon Musk Should Quit as C.E.O., Eshe Nelson, Dec. 19, 2022. Elon Musk asked Twitter users if he should step down. Millions of votes were cast and delivered a clear verdict: yes.

Elon Musk asked Twitter users Sunday if he should step down as head of the social media site. More than 17 million votes were cast and delivered a clear verdict: 57.5 percent said he should quit, in a Twitter “poll” that closed after 12 hours on Monday.

Mr. Musk had said that he would abide by the results of the vote. After voting ended there was no immediate response from Mr. Musk on Twitter.

If he follows through, Mr. Musk would be handing over the reins of the company that he bought for $44 billion in late October. The turbulent weeks since then have been marked by mass layoffs at the company, falling advertising sales, executive resignations and various high-profile user accounts suspended for infractions of newly invented policy.

On Sunday, Twitter announced a policy to prevent users from sharing links and user names from other social platforms, like Instagram, Facebook and Mastodon, and then apparently curtailed the same policy.

 

Elon Musk: A Collage of Influencers (Graphic courtesy of the Wayne Madsen Report).

Elon Musk: A Collage of Influencers (Graphic courtesy of the Wayne Madsen Report).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The apartheid South Africa of Elon Musk's pampered existence, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small(including Decade of Death: Secret Wars and Genocide in Africa 1993-2003), former syndicated newspaper columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Dec. 19, 2022.

Elon Musk's predilection for censoring and banning journalists on his Twitter platform makes sense when his pampered youth in apartheid Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Durban is fully taken into consideration.

wayne madesen report logoThis apartheid-era South Africa was Jim Crow on steroids. Strict racial segregation of blacks, those of Indian subcontinent descent, and mixed race mulattoes (called "Coloureds") from white society was strictly enforced by the police and other authorities. Musk obviously gets his ideas on restricting freedom of expression from a major apartheid censorship contrivance, the Publications Control Board, which had been empowered by the 1963 Publications and Entertainments Act.

Consider that "banning orders" were applied by the apartheid regime to its opponents. Banned individuals were told where they could live and with whom they could have contact. Those banned were required to report to a police station weekly and they were prohibited from traveling outside a specific area. Moreover, those banned could not meet with more than one person, contact with journalists was particularly prohibited, and violations of banning orders carried a five-year prison sentence. The press was barred from reporting statements made by banned individuals.

Elon Musk is as undesirable as a naturalized citizen as an American could possibly be. As such, he should be shown America's exit door. Musk would not be the first Nazi sympathizer who became a citizen under false pretenses to be shown the door. And he should not be the last.

Dec. 17

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary and Strategy, To help defend Constitutional government, January 6 Committee must issue criminal referrals against Trump and his co-conspirators! webster tarpley twitterWebster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 17, 2022 (124:01 mins.). Trump’s day of reckoning approaches: Fateful events next week include Monday decisions on criminal and civil referrals, followed by Tuesday’s announcements of further action from House Ways and Means after initial probe of Don’s tax returns, and Wednesday’s publication of the January 6 Committee’s final report with interview transcripts: democracy hangs in the balance!

Public focus is also on Eastman, Giuliani, and Meadows of Don’s circle; TPM publishes trove of Meadows messages exchanged with 34 GOP tyrants;War of all against all rages among House Republicans as McCarthy appears to fall short of 218 votes need to be Speaker, meaning no decision on first ballot of January 3; Coalition Speaker is only means of avoiding prolonged chaos; Struggle for power in RNC mirrors pervasive power struggles throughout GOP;

Special Counsel subpoenas witnesses in seven battleground states: AZ-MI-WI-GA-NV-NM-PA;

Erratic Putin punks out of yearly press conference, but redoubles rocket rattling; Gen. McCaffrey welcomes promise of Patriot battery for Ukraine, wants ATACMs and other offensive weaponry added as well; Ukrainian command expects Russian winter offensive, most likely against Kyiv;

Berserker Musk launches vendetta vs. his Twitter critics, provoking warnings from European Union and United Nations; DeSantis forming anti-vax council of mountebanks and charlatans to help recruit anti-science mob;

Twilight of globalization as finance oligarchs, anti-union practices, foreign supply chains, just in time inventory, and prevalence of speculation over hard-commodity manufacturing are transformed;

Breaking: Press reports January 6 committee is preparing criminal referrals against Trump for conspiracy to defraud US, insurrection, and obstruction of an official proceeding; Conviction for insurrection would entail lifetime ban from federal office!

Dec. 16

 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), left to right, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), Thursday, June 9, 2022

Politico, Exclusive: Jan. 6 panel to vote on urging DOJ to prosecute Trump on at least three criminal charges, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Dec. 16, 2022. The report that the select panel (with two of its leaders shown at right above) is expected to consider on Monday afternoon reflects some recommendations from a subcommittee that evaluated potential referrals.

politico CustomThe Jan. 6 select committee is preparing to vote on urging the Justice Department to pursue at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump, including insurrection.

The report that the select panel is expected to consider on Monday afternoon, described to POLITICO by two people familiar with its contents, reflects some recommendations from a subcommittee that evaluated potential criminal referrals. Among the charges that subcommittee proposes for Trump: 18 U.S.C. 2383, insurrection; 18 U.S.C. 1512(c), obstruction of an official proceeding; and 18 U.S.C. 371, conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

It’s unclear whether the select committee’s final report will recommend additional charges for Trump beyond the three described to POLITICO, or whether it will urge other criminal charges for other players in Trump’s bid to subvert his 2020 loss. The document, according to the people familiar, includes an extensive justification for the recommended charges.

To justify incitement of insurrection, the report references U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta’s February ruling saying Trump’s language plausibly incited violence on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters besieged the Capitol in a bid to disrupt congressional certification of his loss to Joe Biden. The report also cites the Senate’s 57 votes in last year’s impeachment trial, Trump’s second, to convict him on an “incitement of insurrection” charge passed by the House.

The select panel’s report also notes that, in order to violate the insurrection statute, Trump did not need an express agreement with rioters — but rather, simply needed to provide “aid or comfort” to them.

A select committee spokesperson declined to comment.

A Trump spokesperson denounced the committee’s plans.

“The January 6th un-Select Committee held show trials by Never Trump partisans who are a stain on this country’s history,” said Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung in a statement. “This Kangaroo court has been nothing more than a Hollywood executive’s vanity documentary project that insults Americans’ intelligence and makes a mockery of our democracy.”

DOJ, which is already pursuing a criminal probe of Trump’s Jan. 6-related actions, is not required to consider referrals from Congress, which have no legal weight. However, the select committee plans to act in the hopes that lawmakers’ input can influence prosecutorial decision-making. Panel chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has also raised the possibility of referrals to outside entities like bar associations for the constellation of lawyers involved in election subversion efforts.

  • Highlights: Jan. 6 panel ends with unanimous subpoena for Trump testimony

The panel’s lawmakers have debated the value of referrals at length through the end of their investigation. But in recent days, they’ve made the referrals into a play for history and have stressed their symbolic nature, regardless of what DOJ or other entities might do.

Dec. 15

Biden Releases JFK Murder Documents, Withholds Others

 

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), National Archives Releases New Group of JFK Assassination Documents, Staff Report, Dec. 15, 2022. In accordance with President Biden’s memorandum of December 15, 2022, the National Archives today posted 13,173, documents containing newly released information subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). Released documents are available for download.

nara logoAt the direction of the President, and following the December 15, 2021, release, the National Archives and the agencies responsible for withheld documents conducted an intensive review of each remaining redaction withheld under section 5 of the JFK Act. This was the first review under the JFK Act that was done in an interagency manner at the redaction level.

john_f_kennedy_smilingThe John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection (the Collection), established by the National Archives in November 1992, consists of approximately five million pages. The vast majority of the collection has been publicly available without restrictions on access since the late 1990s. Following today’s release, over 97% of records in the collection are now available.

As permitted under section 5 of the JFK Act, agencies appealed to the President to continue postponement of certain information beyond October 22, 2021. Section 5 of the JFK Act permits postponement for an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations where the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The President then provided agencies with a temporary certification until December 15, 2022, to allow for a review of all documents withheld in part under section 5 of the JFK Act and directed agencies “to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency, disclosing all information in records concerning the assassination, except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise.” Today’s release is the result of that review. Section 5 postponement decisions now affect less than 4,400 documents in the Collection.

As of the December 15, 2021 release, all documents subject to section 5 of the JFK Act had been released in their entirety or in part, and no documents subject to section 5 of the JFK Act remained withheld in their entirety.

CIA LogoThe Collection also includes 515 documents withheld in full and another 2,545 documents withheld in part under sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act. Section 10 of the JFK Act addresses records withheld under court seal or for grand jury secrecy, and section 11 of the JFK Act addresses records subject to section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code or a deed governing access to or transfer or release of gifts or donations to the United States Government. Information subject to sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Act cannot be released independently by NARA, the agencies, or the President, though some of these documents also contain information postponed under section 5, which has been made available and posted today.

The National Archives and the Department of Justice are working together to determine whether information in five records withheld in full under court seal or for grand jury secrecy under section 10 of the JFK Act can be released.

Also posted online today are the letters from agencies requesting postponement, agency indices, and agency transparency plans.

Online Resources:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), JFK Assassination Records: 2022 Additional Documents Release, Staff Report, Dec. 15, 2022. NARA is nara logoprocessing previously withheld John F. Kennedy assassination-related records to comply with President Joe Biden’s Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, requiring disclosure of releasable records by December 15, 2022.

The National Archives has posted records online to comply with these requirements.

Accessing the Release Files: The table below displays metadata about all the released documents. You can also download the spreadsheet as an Excel file (1.4 MB).

Dec. 13

Rolling Stone, Russian Trolls Made Fake Kid Rock Fan Accounts — and Fooled Donald Trump Jr., Dec. 13, 2022. The former president’s son reposted a conspiracy theory on Ivermectin and oil supplies from “KidRockOfficial.” The account was a Russian troll trying to meddle in the U.S. election.

Russian trolls are taking advantage of the free-for-all on far-right social media apps to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda — and they were particularly successful when impersonating fans of MAGA musician Kid Rock.

rolling stone logoThose conclusions are from a new report by the social media tracking firm Graphika and Stanford University’s Internet Observatory. The researchers traced at least 35 accounts on the right-wing social apps to the Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), a phony news organization linked to Russia’s troll factory. The fake accounts focused on ginning up support for failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, attacking Democratic Senate candidates, and pushing bizarre conspiracy theories about Ukraine and the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, among other topics.

gab logo mainResearchers found Russian-linked fake accounts posing as authentic American conservatives cross-posting content to personas on Truth Social, Gab, and Gettr. While right-wing social platforms like Gab and Parler have previously played host to Russian influence operations, the report marks the first documented case of Russian meddling on Truth Social, the social media app founded by Trump.

The former president’s son reposted a conspiracy theory on Ivermectin and oil supplies from “KidRockOfficial.” The account was a Russian troll trying to meddle in the U.S. election

Russian trolls are taking advantage of the free-for-all on far-right social media apps to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda — and they were particularly successful when impersonating fans of MAGA musician Kid Rock.

Those conclusions are from a new report by the social media tracking firm Graphika and Stanford University’s Internet Observatory. The researchers traced at least 35 accounts on the right-wing social apps to the Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), a phony news organization linked to Russia’s troll factory. The fake accounts focused on ginning up support for failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, attacking Democratic Senate candidates, and pushing bizarre conspiracy theories about Ukraine and the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, among other topics.

Researchers found Russian-linked fake accounts posing as authentic American conservatives cross-posting content to personas on Truth Social, Gab, and Gettr. While right-wing social platforms like Gab and Parler have previously played host to Russian influence operations, the report marks the first documented case of Russian meddling on Truth Social, the social media app founded by Trump.

The 35 trolls amassed an audience of approximately 33,000 unique followers spread across Gab, Gettr, and Truth Social. The network’s memes and talking points mostly failed to recapture the large audiences they enjoyed during the 2016 presidential election, but a few — particularly those impersonating Kid Rock, a favorite target of Russian trolls — outperformed their troll persona colleagues. 

One of the trolls, KidRockOfficial, created a fake Kid Rock fan account that even scored a repost from Donald Trump Jr., when the former president’s son (a friend of the real Kid Rock) shared it with his more than 6 million Instagram followers. After screenshotting the troll’s post — a memed conspiracy theory about gas prices and the bogus Covid cure Ivermectin originally posted to Gettr — and putting it on Instagram, Trump Jr. commented simply “Yup.”

Researchers linked the bogus “official” fan account on Gettr to Russia’s troll factory when they discovered an identical account on Gab — first identified by the FBI as run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency in 2020 — had resurfaced under the same handle to post the same content as its Gettr twin. 

Dec. 10

World Crisis Radio, Analysis and Advocacy: House Democrats must go towards January 3 with a #CoalitionSpeaker candidate and a unified party, ready to head webster tarpley 2007off two years of MAGA chaos amid war and depression! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and commentator, Dec. 10, 2022 (127:50 min.). #NeverKevin faction of five Tea Party extremists urges McCarthy to end candidacy because he lacks the 218 votes; Seven other raving extremists pose conditions for getting their votes, including toppling of Speaker, using debt ceiling to extort a balanced federal budget, and attaching extraneous riders to must-pass bills;

Many center-left pundits still studiously avoid mentioning #CoalitionSpeaker option, although McCarthy cites it incessantly;

Trump reeling from series of political and legal defeats, making indictments timely;

On Hunter Biden Twitter story, GOP cannot grasp that First Amendment applies to government actions, not private companies, and that Trump, not Biden, was president in October 2020;

Ukraine launches successful attacks against the Russian air bases that support criminal bombardments of cities: Engels-2 in the Saratov region, Dyagilevo in Ryazan near Moscow, and Kursk;

Legal cranks with guns plan Putsch: German authorities round up 25 ”Reichsbuerger” fanatics seeking to make disgruntled petty nobleman Heinrich XIII Emperor and successor to Kaiser Wilhelm II;

In Peru, attempted autogolpe by President Castillo is turned back;

Crackpot doctrine of independent state legislatures is another MAGA timebomb threatening democracy; No conservative jurist would entertain such vandalism!

Dec. 9

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

 

djt confidential markings

The warrant authorizing the search of former president Donald Trump’s home said agents were seeking documents possessed in violation of the Espionage Act. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge to Hear Justice Dept. Contempt Request in Trump Documents Case, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 9, 2022. The department wants a representative of Donald Trump to swear under oath that there are no more classified documents at any of his properties.

A federal judge in Washington was set to hear arguments at a closed-door hearing on Friday about whether to force a representative of Donald J. Trump’s presidential office to swear under oath that there are no more classified documents at any of Mr. Trump’s properties, according to two people familiar with the matter.

beryl howellThe judge, Beryl A. Howell, right, is also being asked to decide whether to impose financial penalties or issue a contempt finding if no one from Mr. Trump’s office agrees to formally vow that, to the best of their knowledge, all of the classified materials he took from the White House when he left office last year have been returned to the government.

Justice Department log circularThe hearing, in Federal District Court in Washington, is being held at the request of federal prosecutors who asked Judge Howell in recent days to declare Mr. Trump in contempt of court for failing to obey a grand jury subpoena that was issued in May seeking the return of all of the classified records in his office’s possession.

The request by the government, first reported on Thursday by the Washington Post, came after months of frustration with the former president and his lawyers, who have repeatedly made assurances to prosecutors that the sensitive materials had all been returned — only to find out there were more.

No matter what Judge Howell decides, the fact that she has been asked to mull a contempt finding suggests that the Justice Department has taken a newly aggressive stance toward Mr. Trump’s long-delayed response to the government’s efforts to retrieve a trove sensitive records that he took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida.

Dec. 7

JFK Facts, From That D.C. Press Conference on the CIA and Oswald, Plus a New JFK Poll, Jefferson Morley, right, Dec. 7, 2022. Judge Tunheim and former CIA officer jefferson morley newcomment on CIA's pre-assassination interest in the so-called 'Lone Gunman.'

Here’s the Dec. 6 Mary Ferrell Foundation press conference that’s making news at home and abroad..

In my presentation I add more detail to my Nov. 22 post, “Yes, There Is Smoking Gun” laying out what we know about CIA operational activities around accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the summer and fall of 1963 and where the rest of the story is concealed.

Judge John Tunheim, former chair of the Assassination Records Review Board, says that the 44 CIA documents I seek should be made public on Dec. 15.

Former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen also comments.

Watch:

 

wmr Reichburger Coup 12 7 2022Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Neo-Nazis on move in North Carolina and Germany, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Dec. 7, 2022. In my The Rise of the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the New Far-Right, this wayne madsen fourth reich coverauthor calls for governments around the world to cooperate in suppressing resurgent Nazism and Fascism.

Recent events in North Carolina, Germany, and elsewhere have shown that governments are beginning to take more seriously the threat of international Nazism.

Germany's action December 7 in arresting more than a score of far-right insurrectionists underscores the global threat, as described below. In addition, Russian support for far-right terrorists is coming into sharper focus.

The right-wing terrorist attack on two Duke Energy electrical substations in Moore County, North Carolina, which knocked out power to 45,000 homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, is being investigated by federal, state, and local law enforcement.

The neo-Nazi plotters in North Carolina were in possession of a handwritten list of a dozen sites in Idaho and surrounding states that, according to the federal indictment, "contained a transformer, substation, or other component of the power grid for the northwest United States."

Dec. 6

 

elon musk shadow cnnCNN, Opinion: Elon Musk’s Twitter is helping to normalize a neo-Nazi, Dean Obeidallah, Dec. 5, 2022. Elon Musk (shown above) apparently is trying his hand at creating a major media story by the release of what he called the “Twitter Files,” which included internal Twitter documents from October 2020 showing the social media company’s executives debating whether to allow postings on the platform of a New York Post article about a laptop Hunter Biden reportedly owned.

CNNAs CNN reported, Musk’s release on Friday pointed to tweets by journalist Matt Taibbi, who was provided “with emails that largely corroborated what was already known about the incident.”

But the Twitter story that demands coverage is not about something that happened more than two years ago but what we are seeing now on Twitter since Musk took control in October. There has been an “unprecedented” spike in hate speech as well as a resurgence of ISIS-linked accounts, The New York Times detailed in an article published Friday, citing findings from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups studying online platforms.

twitter bird CustomIn addition, Twitter just reinstated the account of self-professed White supremacist Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. Anglin, who was banned from Twitter in 2013, has called for tearing down Berlin’s memorial to the Holocaust (which he despicably calls a “hoax”) and replacing “it with a statue of Hitler 1,000 feet tall.”

I have firsthand experience with the neo-Nazi just reinstated on Twitter. Anglin targeted me in 2017 in response to an article I wrote at that time slamming then-President Donald Trump for refusing to denounce White supremacist violence. (This was months before the August 2017 White nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.)

Anglin first posted fabricated tweets on his White supremacist website that appeared to have been written by me claiming responsibility for an ISIS terrorist attack. (I’m Muslim.) He then instructed his followers to “confront me.” Given that readers of The Daily Stormer had in the past committed acts of violence dylann roof pistol flag— including apparently Dylann Roof, left, who murdered nine Black people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 — they did what Anglin asked.

I was soon inundated with death threats. However, if Anglin thought I was going to cower in fear, he was wrong. I sued him in federal court for defamation and emotional distress, where I won a default judgment of $4.1 million. While I still have not recovered a penny, I have long pledged to donate all the proceeds to organizations that fight the type of hate Anglin spews.

I’m not alone. Anglin has orchestrated targeted harassment of other minorities, including African American student Taylor Dumpson who successfully sued Anglin, and Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent who also sued Anglin, resulting in a $14 million judgment.

In fact, the person who was reinstated on Twitter had an arrest warrant issued against him by a federal judge just last month over refusing to comply with court orders in the collection of those damages in Gersh’s lawsuit.

Alarmingly, Anglin’s dangerous influence continues. The White gunman who killed Black people in a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a racist attack in May, reportedly cited Anglin’s Daily Stormer by name in a manifesto, crediting it as shaping his view that White people were being “replaced” by people of color.

Reinstating Anglin on Twitter not only helps normalize a neo-Nazi, but it also helps him recruit followers. One of Anglin’s first tweets on Friday said: “Trying to find my friends. I lost them in 2013.”

But Anglin is not the only problem. As laid out in the bone-chilling New York Times article, recent data from groups that study online platforms has documented that hate speech has exploded on Twitter in the first two weeks since Musk took over. Overall, the Times reported that researchers noted “they had never seen such a sharp increase in hate speech, problematic content and formerly banned accounts in such a short period on a mainstream social media platform.”

Some of the most jarring statistics include that slurs against Black Americans have tripled to 3,876 times per day, antisemitic posts are up more than 60% and slurs against gay men jumped from 2,506 a day to now nearly 4,000 comments per day, according to the article.

Dec. 3

 

 

 

djt sedition graphic

Twitter, Analysis: Seditious Conspiracy by Trump? Seth Abramson, left, attorney, professor and best-selling author, Dec. 3, 2022. Calling for the overthrow of our government via “the termination of all rules, seth abramson proof logoseth abramson headshotregulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” is Incitement to Sedition. If Trump has taken any action in conjunction with anyone else to advance his goal [see announcement on Dec. 3 above] it is Seditious Conspiracy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Defaults Loom as Poor Countries Face an Economic Storm, Alan Rappeport, Dec. 3, 2022. Debt-relief efforts are stalling as developing economies are being hit by higher interest rates, a strong dollar and slowing global growth.

Developing nations are facing a catastrophic debt crisis in the coming months as rapid inflation, slowing growth, rising interest rates and a strengthening dollar coalesce into a perfect storm that could set off a wave of messy defaults and inflict economic pain on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Poor countries owe, by some calculations, as much as $200 billion to wealthy nations, multilateral development banks and private creditors. Rising interest rates have increased the value of the dollar, making it harder for foreign borrowers with debt denominated in U.S. currency to repay their loans.

Defaulting on a huge swath of loans would send borrowing costs for vulnerable nations even higher and could spawn financial crises when nearly 100 million people have already been pushed into poverty this year by the combined effects of the pandemic, inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The danger poses another headwind for a world economy that has been sputtering toward a recession. The leaders of the world’s advanced economies have been grappling privately in recent weeks with how to avert financial crises in emerging markets such as Zambia, Sri Lanka and Ghana, but they have struggled to develop a plan to accelerate debt relief as they confront their own economic woes.

 

david ray griffin officeArchitects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, David Ray Griffin (1939-2022) The Man and His Work: A Synopsis, Elizabeth Woodworth, Dec. 2, 2022. How big can a mind be?

ae for 9 11 truth logoIf we’re lucky, we have threescore and ten years — in a very big wide world, full of history — to experience as much as we can take in.

Threescore-ten is not nearly enough, but some extraordinary people manage to encompass and give order to a lot of it.

And some even more extraordinary people manage to rise above their own lives to interpret creation and the fabric of the universe as having consistent meaning across cultures and throughout the ages.

David Ray Griffin was Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, from 1973-2004. With his senior, Dr. John Cobb Jr., he co-founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973.

Griffin has stated that “the task of a theologian is to look at the world from what we would imagine the divine perspective, one that would care about the good of the whole and would love all the parts.”

Not only was David an outstanding theologian and one of the two best-known living scholars of Alfred North Whitehead’s process theology (the other being John Cobb): His books also spanned the related fields of postmodernism, theodicy (defence of God against evil), primordial truth, panentheism, scientific naturalism, parapsychology, Buddhist thought, and the mind-body interaction.

About the time that he retired in 2004, he was approached by some people who admired his candor, and pointed to evidence that the 9/11 event was highly suspicious.

At first David thought that 9/11 was simply blowback from the way America had treated the Middle East — but upon researching it more deeply he realized that there was indeed a very serious likelihood that the US had contrived 9/11 as a false flag operation to manufacture consent to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq for their oil.

This injustice fired his energy to research in depth, then write a dozen scholarly books on 9/11 — books that were not acknowledged in the media but which engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the purveyors of the official 9/11 narrative, who continually adapted their story to cover up the weaknesses that David tracked and revealed as their tattered narrative evolved.

The first and most famous of these books was The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, published by his much-appreciated Interlink press in March 2004.

That best-seller was followed in 2005 by a devastating takedown of the Bush Administration’s whitewash Commission titled The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, which exposed 115 problems in “the 571-page lie”.

Following these early 9/11 works, David was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2008 and 2009, and was named among “The 50 People Who Matter Today” by the New Statesman, on September 24, 2009.

In November, 2008, David’s seventh book about 9/11, The New Pearl Harbour Revisited, was one of only 51 books awarded as “pick of the week” that year by Publishers Weekly.

What followed was extraordinary.

As the foremost book reviewing tool in the English language, Publishers Weekly’s spotlight should have led to reviews in the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, Library Journal, and many other top reviewing sources — but the word was out in the narrative-controlled media to give it a pass.

In 2011, David and I founded an organization called the 9/11 Consensus Panel, comprised of more than 20 professionals expert in various aspects of the 9/11 attacks. In 2018, the 51 consensus points that were developed during this unique evidence-based reviewing project were published under the title 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation (2018).

During that seven-year project, David addressed the existential crisis of climate change, penning his encyclopaedic 2015 reference, Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? (I took that book to the COP21 Paris climate summit in 2015, and presented it there, following up with a YouTube documentary on that enormous gathering of humanity – the largest meeting since World War II.)

David then turned his attention to US imperialism – writing Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World in 2016, and producing the incredible work of scholarship, The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic, in 2018.

David was at last able, in 2019, to turn to his long-planned The Christian Gospel for Americans: A Systematic Theology. It is a magnum opus of enormous breadth and depth.

In it, for example, he confronts the science vs religion issue, showing that some scientists – former atheists – have been overwhelmed by the extent of exceedingly precise ratios between the chemical elements of earth that are required for life, to now saying that the universe was “fine-tuned for life,” thus reflecting a “fine-tuner” (or divine creator).

In 2022, as he approached the end of his life, and following a long struggle with prostate cancer, David wrote the beautiful and crowning reflections of his maturing theology, James and Whitehead on Life after Death.

In the spirit of James and Whitehead, he explains that the universe is not separate from, but is within God, and is itself the very nature of God. This evolving world view requires a new understanding of the divine reality – panentheism, meaning “all in God”.

The causal principles of the universe exist naturally, being inherent in the nature of things, because they exist in the very nature of God.

This chapter on the infinitely fine-tuned nature of the universe to support life is a transporting gift.

But he was not done yet!

Forthcoming in March, 2023, from the publisher Clarity Press, is David’s America on the Brink: How the US Trajectory Led Fatefully to the Russia-Ukraine War – which was completed during the last days of his life.

In total David Ray Griffin has written 50 books and more than 200 essays. (He was once asked if he had ever had an unpublished thought!)

In all of his books – and most notably those on American imperialism – he read and cited recent scholarly investigations from top university presses, effectively overriding the propaganda that has passed down through many years.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote: “David has served truth to the hilt. He is a hero of our time.”

There is no question that his body of work will go down in history as providing some of the most elegant thinking our century has witnessed.

And at some point, his chronicling of historically suppressed truths must emerge into full daylight, to allow reality-based civilization to advance.

Let us keep his work alive, so that earth’s future peoples will inherit the great spectrum of wisdom he has left them: from a hopeful common-sense theology, to the exposés of imperialist propaganda and false flag operations, to the full extent of the climate crisis, to our evolving perception of the nature of the divine, to the evidence that our spirits will survive after death.

David Griffin stands with the greats – yet was quiet, humorous, down to earth, and unassuming.

Elizabeth Woodworth, a career medical librarian and author/co-author of five books, worked with David Ray Griffin in various capacities from 2006-2022. She did proof-reading/editing on about 12 of his books and many of his essays, co-authored two books with him directly, and has also written in-depth reviews of most of his books from the 2006-2022 period on Amazon.

World Crisis Radio, Historical commentary and strategic advocacy: A coalition Speaker of the House must be webster tarpley twitterelected on January 3 to head off nightmare scenario under Speaker Trump! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, Dec. 3, 2022 (93:44 mins.). 

A realistic compromise. Speaker backed by a bipartisan majority to attain or exceed magic number of 218 is now the only alternative to two years of chaos, default, defeat, and sabotage by MAGA diehards!

McCarthy warns Republicans that Democrats could control House if ”Freedom Caucus” lunatics run wild over coming weeks; House currently estimated at 222 R, 213 D; If 5 current categorical no votes hang tough, McCarthy would be unelectable – and there may be more;

Likely formula would be all Democrats plus half a dozen dissident Republicans to block McCarthy’s power grab; GOP is grievously damaged by MAGA midterm failure, and losing control of House would seal party’s doom as a national force;

Under cover of corrupt media lies blaming Biden, Republicans block student loan relief and seven days of paid sick leave;

Other news: Biden administration dismantling many of the worst aspects of globalization era (c. 1990 to 2022); Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta ends the farce of Judge Cannon’s Special Master as indictments get closer;

Andrew Jackson had his Kitchen Cabinet of sycophantic advisers; his admirer Trump has raving antisemitic ideologues Kanye West and Fuentes; In broadcast, Ye endorses mass murderers Hitler, Stalin and Mao; Under massive backlash, Gym Jordan’s House Judiciary staff finally remove their ”Kanye. Elon. Trump.” slogan!

Dec. 2

 

President George W. Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney and senior staff in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) (Photo credit: U.S. National Archives via Flickr).

President George W. Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney and senior staff in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) (Photo credit: U.S. National Archives via Flickr).

Going Deep, Investigative Commentary:Revealed: What Bush Said About 9/11 Behind Closed Doors, Russ Baker, right, Dec. 1, 2022. What he didn’t say — and what russ baker cropped david welkerinvestigators didn’t ask.

So, you may not remember this, but after 9/11, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney managed to avoid testifying publicly about the historic tragedy and massive government screw-up (to be kind). They very reluctantly agreed to meet in private with a blue ribbon panel — but only if they were not sworn in, i.e., so they could lie with impunity.

Saudi Arabian flagYou also may not know that the contents of that meeting have never come out — until now.

Recently, an entity known as the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel released a summary of what was said — to almost total media silence.

Since you come here for a deeper and more informed take on subjects that get ignored or suppressed, I wanted to share with you some revealing things about that Oval Office session. But before we get to the content, let’s look at the report’s narrative writing style, which is also revealing.

Lots of warm smiles — but no explanation, no accountability. This echoes an earlier theme. Bush shielded himself in the standard self-serving attire of every guilty government official, the cloak of patriotism. He told the 9/11 Commission (this during his tough 2004 reelection campaign), that he “didn’t see much point in assigning personal blame for 9/11.” Perhaps because assigning personal blame might have led to… him being blamed.

Indeed, it’s essential to underline that Bush mysteriously failed to assign fault to anyone — despite the stunning failures and bizarre actions that significantly eroded the legitimacy of the government’s official 9/11 story.

  9 11 world trade center smoking on 9 11 flikr michael foran

New York’s World Trade Center after each of the towers were hit by hijacked Boeing 767 passenger jets on Sept. 11, 2001 (Photo: Michael Foran CC by 2.0).

 

elon musk sideview

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Elon Musk: the Julius Streicher of the digital age, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, Dec.1-2, 2022. Musk (shown above in a file photo) may fall victim to EU wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalllaws designed to combat the atrocities committed by Streicher.

wayne madesen report logoBy re-platforming in the name of "freedom of speech" previously banned neo-Nazi and pedophile Twitter users, Elon Musk has become the Julius Streicher of the digital age. Although Julius Streicher, one of the Nazi war criminals hanged in Nuremberg, is now largely remembered only in history books, his main avenue of propaganda, the Nazi weekly tabloid Der Stürmer ("The Storm"), lives on in QAnon and neo-Nazi conspiratorial lore.

Users linked to the neo-Nazi website "The Daily Stormer" continue to have a home on Twitter and Musk's announced policy of permitting all forms of hate speech on the social media platform will only increase the preponderance of such content. The homage paid to Der Stürmer by neo-Nazi Twitter users and QAnon, which uses the slogan "The Storm in Coming," is outrageous when one considers that Der Stürmer was considered so extreme in its vitriol against Jews that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring banned his staff from reading it.

Dec. 1

kennedys king new logo

Kennedys & King, Analysis: JFK Assassination Records – A Watershed Moment? Mark Adamczyk, Dec. 1, 2022. A new lawsuit aimed at forcing the President and the National Archives to finally release JFK assassination records, as required by law, is before the courts. Mark E. Adamczyk, Esq., explains the issues involved.

On October 19, 2022, a lawsuit was filed by the Mary Ferrell Foundation against President Joseph R. Biden and the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) to enforce the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The lawsuit seeks to compel the President and NARA to finally perform their duties under the federal law that governs the final declassification of JFK assassination records.

Some historical context is important. The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (the “JFK Records Act”) was unanimously passed by Congress in 1992. President Biden, a Senator at the time, voted in favor of the JFK Records Act. The JFK Records Act was unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. One can read the JFK Records Act in its entirety by searching “Public Law 102-526, 102d Congress, President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.”

The JFK Records Act is extremely favorable to the American public in terms of transparency and declassification of assassination records. On reading the JFK Records Act one does not have to go past the first page of the statute to see what Congress intended and how strong of an impact it was meant to have. For example:

Section 2(a)(2), JFK Records Act: “all Government records concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should carry a presumption of immediate disclosure, and all records should be eventually disclosed to enable the public to become fully informed about the history surrounding the assassination.”

[Snip]

This is what your Congress declared in 1992, 30 years ago, and with the strongest of language. Congress declared that records pertaining to the JFK assassination had already been unreasonably withheld from the public for 30 years. Even the CIA felt the JFK Records Act was a different breed of CIA Logodeclassification law, that had the teeth to go much further than FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) or any previous effort to shed light on deep government secrets. In a 1998 internal CIA Memorandum titled JFK Records Review – Lessons Learned, the CIA stated that, “The level of evidence required by the Board [the Assassination Records Review Board or ARRB] to postpone what was generally considered protectable information was extremely high and usually required documentation of ‘current harm’. Defenses based on general principles such as official cover or sources and methods were not acceptable.”

The Board closed down in 1998. In 2022, after another 30 years, and in spite of the strongest possible legislation, the President and responsible agencies are still withholding almost 15,000 records that are relevant to the JFK Assassination. Many records are still withheld in full. Others have been “released” with significant redactions. The point of this article is not to analyze which specific records have been withheld in full, which records still have significant redactions, or which records have not been turned over to NARA for inspection and preservation. The point of this article is to explain why legal action was necessary and also unfortunately for the American public, the last and only choice.

The JFK Records Act established and created the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). Upon creation of the JFK Records Act, agencies and government offices were ordered to deliver all assassination records to NARA. An assassination record is defined as any record related to the assassination of President Kennedy that was “created or made available for use by, obtained by, otherwise came into the possession of” (i) the Warren Commission; (ii) the Rockefeller Commission; (iii) the Church Committee; (iv) the Pike Committee; (v) the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA); (vi) any executive agency; and (vii) and other office of the Federal Government, or any state or local law enforcement office that performed work in connection with the federal inquiry in the Kennedy assassination. For anyone looking to understand the full scope of the JFK Records Act and the work of the ARRB, the ARRB’s Final Report is essential reading.

The above-defined assassination records became known as the JFK Records Collection, or the “Collection.” It was then the job of the ARRB, an independent body, to review the Collection and make legal determinations on which records might still qualify for classification under the standards of the JFK Records Act. What are those standards? For an agency or government office to request continued classification, section 6 of the JFK Records Act put the burden of proof on the objecting agencies. The burden of proof is not on researchers and the American public to demonstrate why an assassination record(s) should be released.

[Snip]

To its credit, the ARRB did a tremendous amount of work from 1994 to 1998, releasing more than 2 million pages of assassination records. In 1998, however, the ARRB’s authority had run its course according to its Congressional mandate and the ARRB was dissolved in late September of that year. NARA, and the American public, were then left with a Collection that still contained tens of thousands of classified records, totaling hundreds of thousands of pages. Agencies were required under the JFK Records Act to perform periodic review pursuant to the recommendations and Final Determinations of the ARRB in order to ensure timely declassification and release of the assassination records.

What happened after 1998? Virtually nothing. Without the independent ARRB to ensure that agencies and government offices continued their periodic review obligation, it was up to NARA to hope that agencies and government offices would finish the work on declassification. The intent of Congress is that maybe 1% (or less) of the Collection could plausibly still require classification as of 2017. Refer again to the declaration of Congress in the JFK Records Act: “most of the records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are almost 30 years old, and only in the rarest cases is there any legitimate need for continued protection of such records.” That declaration was made in 1992! Reflect on that for a moment.

October 26, 2017 was in fact the deadline for final declassification. Section 5(g)(2)(d) of the JFK Records Act required the President (Trump at the time) to take specific action to ensure that Congress’s mandate to release all assassination records by the deadline was completed. We are all aware of Trump’s tweets in which he committed to the final release of all assassination records on the eve of this deadline in 2017.

The President only has power to authorize continued classification of an assassination record if he certifies that “each” specific record continues to pose an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations, as required by the Act; and that such identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. In other words, the President is required to make decisions with regard to each assassination record under the same constraints and authority as the ARRB. The President was therefore required to finish the ARRB’s job by October 26, 2017, or provide published unclassified reasons, based on clear and convincing evidence for each assassination record withheld under the criteria set out in section 6 of the JFK Records Act, as outlined in detail above.

What happened instead? President Trump initially issued an order Executive Memorandum on October 26, 2017 delaying the release of assassination records. Plain and simple: This order was illegal and did not comply with the clear standards of the JFK Records Act. Trump’s first order in October 2017 authorized a 6-month delay for agencies and governments to continue their review of assassination records and make recommendations to Trump by April, 2018. Then it got worse. On April 26, 2018, President Trump issued another order Executive Memorandum authorizing another delay of over three (3) years.

In October of 2021, President Biden declassified about ten per cent of the outstanding documents. He then continued the trend of his predecessor, which is extremely troubling. President Biden issued another order Executive Memorandum giving agencies and government offices until December 15, 2022 to make final decisions on the release of assassination records. Let me say that again. President Biden has now empowered agencies and government offices to make their own decisions on declassification. This is exactly the opposite of how the JFK Records Act was intended to work. Like both of President Trump’s Memoranda, President Biden’s Executive Memorandum is simply unlawful.

Congress was abundantly clear that the purpose of the JFK Records Act was to publicly disclose all records related to the assassination of President Kennedy through an enforceable process of downgrading and declassification. In all but the “rarest of cases” was any assassination record to be kept secret beyond the final deadline for release on October 26, 2017. It therefore defies both reason and Congress that two Presidents, the Archivist, NARA, and a number of executive agencies have determined that the standards for continuing postponement of the withheld assassination records have somehow become less onerous now after that deadline for release and after 60 years have passed.

There is no reasonable expectation that President Biden will take appropriate action by December 15, 2022. If anything, he has empowered agencies and government offices to act with more secrecy in regard to the withheld assassination records. Thus the necessity of the legal action.

The government continues to operate under the findings of the Warren Commission, which is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination and with no confederates. That Commission also concluded that Jack Ruby assassinated Oswald on his own and with no associates. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (“HSCA”) concluded in 1978 that there was a probable conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination and referred the matter to the U.S. Justice Department for further investigation. However, the Justice Department has done nothing to further investigate the murder of the 35th President of the United States. If Oswald did act alone, or even if he acted with other alleged “pro-Castro sympathizers”, why the continued secrecy? One can only assume that the thousands of withheld records will show a U.S. Intelligence connection to Oswald, which was covered up immediately after the assassination and is still being covered up. That is an article for another day, but it is the only logical conclusion at this time.

Only time will tell, and hopefully a Court will finally declare that there is no reasonable or legal reason to continue the sixty years of government secrecy.

 

 

elon musk sideview

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Elon Musk: the Julius Streicher of the digital age, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, Dec .1, 2022. Musk (shown above in a file photo) may fall victim to EU wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalllaws designed to combat the atrocities committed by Streicher.

wayne madesen report logoBy re-platforming in the name of "freedom of speech" previously banned neo-Nazi and pedophile Twitter users, Elon Musk has become the Julius Streicher of the digital age. Although Julius Streicher, one of the Nazi war criminals hanged in Nuremberg, is now largely remembered only in history books, his main avenue of propaganda, the Nazi weekly tabloid Der Stürmer ("The Storm"), lives on in QAnon and neo-Nazi conspiratorial lore.

Users linked to the neo-Nazi website "The Daily Stormer" continue to have a home on Twitter and Musk's announced policy of permitting all forms of hate speech on the social media platform will only increase the preponderance of such content. The homage paid to Der Stürmer by neo-Nazi Twitter users and QAnon, which uses the slogan "The Storm in Coming," is outrageous when one considers that Der Stürmer was considered so extreme in its vitriol against Jews that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring banned his staff from reading it.

 

November

Nov. 30

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, January 6th Committee Report -- The devil may be in the details, Wayne Madsen, author of 22 books (including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich, shown below) and a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Nov. 30, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallAs the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection by Donald Trump and his allies wraps up, there is hope that some details of the planned coup d'état will be found either in the main report or its appendices.

wayne madesen report logoAs just one example, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have not advanced their investigations of who planted pipe bombs at Democratic and Republican National Committee headquarters.

wayne madsen fourth reich coverIn September last year, the FBI was requesting the public to supply any additional information on the identity of the suspect who planted the bombs.

The FBI said that the two pipe bombs were of sufficient explosive strength to have seriously injured or killed bystanders had they detonated.

There is other evidence that points to the January 6th insurrectionists having inside help in the Congress, including the offices of the House and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms; the Secret Service; and possibly other federal and local law enforcement agencies.

With the November 29 convictions for seditious conspiracy being handed down by a Washington, DC jury for insurrection leaders Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, the government has established that there was a criminal plot to overthrow the government. Such a predicate will undoubtedly empower the January 6th Committee to identify in its report others who were part of the conspiracy.

MeidasTouch,

, Ben Meiselas, Nov 30, 2022 (8:41 mins.). Stephen Miller testified before the federal criminal grand jury in Washington DC investigating crimes related to the January 6 insurrection.

Miller is the first witness to testify before this grand jury since Jack Smith was appointed Special Counsel. MeidasTouch host Ben Meiselas reports on the significance of this news.

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, The World Cup: Politics, Petrol & Power, Vicky Ward, Nov. 30, 2022. How Middle Eastern aristocrats learned to flex and why the West appears unable to push back.

Even if you are not an avid football fan, most likely you’ve noticed that, for the first time, the World Cup is being played in the Middle East—specifically in the tiny state of Qatar—and that there have been all sorts of controversies to do with that.

In no particular order:

Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, gave a surreal hour-long interview, seemingly to try to defend Qatar’s human rights and LGBTQ rights abuses (criticism has been levied on the death toll of the migrants building the World Cup stadiums) by accusing the West of being hypocritical.

Noticeably absent from the action in Doha is MBZ, who reportedly wanted the World Cup to happen in the UAE. “He’s not public-facing like MBS, and you never know—depending on who is in the final, he might go for that,” a source told me.

But who did show up regardless of who was winning on the football field? The U.S.’s Middle-East-Beneficiary-in-Chief Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump.

jared kushner ivanka trump family qatar world cup 2022Ivanka Trump posted on her Instagram page about her family’s visit to the World Cup in Qatar. [Credit: Instagram]

But what does it all mean for you in your armchair at home?

I spoke to the British academic Matthew Hedges, who specializes in the region. It’s Hedges's informed opinion that what we are witnessing this World Cup is the crescendo of political and economic influence that has been so carefully curated and bought in both the U.S. and the UK by the Gulf states. These countries have all shown us recently they are not desert fiefdoms many miles away; they control a great deal more of our lives than most of us know.

You can listen to my conversation with Hedges in the player above or read the transcript, edited and condensed for clarity.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: America's Immigrant Spies. Part 1: The Germans, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 28-29, 2020. With the exception of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallAfrican slaves and Chinese railroad workers, the United States has generally been a nation of willing immigrants. That has made it an attractive target for foreign intelligence agencies intent on implanting agents and even entire families in the United States as part of covert “illegals programs.”

wayne madesen report logoThese sleeper agents have often remained indistinguishable from normal American citizens. These agents bide their time until it is determined by their foreign controllers that they must be activated for specific purposes in service to their fatherland or motherland.

Here is an operative question: Are Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, neither born in the United States, modern-day versions of the German Kaiser’s and Hitler’s programs to seed immigrants to the United States with sleeper spies and saboteurs? If so, America has learned nothing from its past.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: America's Immigrant Spies. Part 2: The pro-apartheid white South Africans, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 29-30, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. Two white multi-billionaires, both with family connections in apartheid South Africa -- Elon Musk, a native born South African, and Peter Thiel, whose parents lived in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia today) -- moved to the United States at the height of South African intelligence's gambit to place as many agents-of-influence in the United States as possible.

wayne madesen report logoThiel moved to the United States from apartheid South Africa in 1977, followed by Musk and his Canadian-South African mother in 1990 via Canada. Laundering agents destined for placement in the United States via Canada has always been a favored option for hostile intelligence services, including the apartheid era's three state intelligence agencies: the Bureau of State Security (BOSS), the Department of National Security, and the National Intelligence Service.

Was it pure happenstance that Thiel and Elon Musk merged their businesses to control the first major worldwide cash transfer system, PayPal?

Or had the apartheid regime’s Illegals Program finally paid some handsome dividends?

 

steward rhodes kelly meigs jessica watkins kenneth harrelson thomas caldwellDaily Kos, Analysis: Oath Keepers Elmer Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs found guilty of seditious conspiracy, Brandi Buchman, right, Nov. 29-30, 2022. Oath Keepers fbrandi buchman newounder Elmer Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, not guilty of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties, and guilty of tampering with documents. 

Updates: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, an attack victim shown at right during his later congressional testimony, was in the courtroom when the verdicts were announced. It was an emotional and long-awaited moment. Justice, he told Daily Kos, should be expected not celebrated but nonetheless, he regarded today as a win for the American people.

It should be noted that after the verdicts were announced on Tuesday an attorney for Rhodes, James Lee Bright, spoke to reporters and offered graceful harry dunn capitol policeremarks about the case and U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta.

“The government did good,” Bright said. “They took us to task.”

Though he was disappointed with the mixed bag of verdicts and posited that a different venue may have benefited the case, he added: “I do believe it was a fair trial.”

Though defendants Caldwell, Watkins, and Harrelson were spared the seditious conspiracy charge by the jury, their failure to escape the obstruction of an official proceeding charge is significant. This charge, like the seditious conspiracy charge, carries a maximum 20-year sentence in prison.

For all of the charges he was convicted on, Rhodes faces a max sentence of up to 60 years in prison. Meggs faces up to 86 years in prison. As for Watkins, she could serve up to 56 years in prison if the judge doles out the steepest sentence possible for all of her charges. Caldwell is looking at 40 years and Harrelson could be sentenced up to 46 years for all of the charges he was convicted on. Sentencing guidelines are only recommendations and it could end up that the defendants receive shorter terms than the ones recommended.

All of the defendants will remain jailed except for Thomas Caldwell until sentencing. Caldwell was released from prison well ahead of the trial, citing various health concerns. An attorney for Jessica Watkins asked the judge after the verdict was read if his client could potentially be released ahead of sentencing, but Mehta denied the request from the bench.

The success of the seditious conspiracy conviction is the first one the Justice Department has had in more than a decade. The charge was also the steepest one brought against any defendant tied to Jan. 6 thus far.

It is important to note the subtle difference in charges the defendants mutually faced and in particular, conspiracy to obstruct versus obstruction.

Rhodes was acquitted of conspiracy to obstruct. He was also acquitted of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging their duties. Though he never entered the Capitol, prosecutors emphasized that in the moments just before Oath Keepers breached the building, Rhodes called Meggs as well as Michael Greene aka “Whip,” a man he selected to serve as his “Jan 6 ops” leader.

What was said on that call was not revealed at trial and the contents of it will remain a mystery short of an admission of the details from Rhodes, Greene, or Meggs.

Phone records offered up by prosecutors showed the conference call was patched through despite Rhodes' claim from the witness stand that it did not.

Greene, who was charged separately from Rhodes, currently faces five charges including conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging their duties, entering a restricted building or grounds, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

Greene, who also goes by Michael Simmons, opted to waive his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in order to testify on Rhodes’ behalf. The former Blackwater contractor’s testimony under direct examination flowed easily but once under cross-examination, his account of the events of Jan. 6 started to fray fast at the edges.

Jurors did not take questions after the marathon trial officially ended on Tuesday. They went straight home instead, so learning exactly how they may have reached their decision will have to wait.

Only three defendants, Rhodes, Watkins, and Caldwell, testified on their own behalf.

Caldwell’s testimony, like Rhodes’, was rife with contradictions and he frequently became emotional on the stand, at one point appearing to sob abruptly as he recounted the day the FBI showed up at his home in rural Virginia and ordered him and his wife to come outside.

Prosecutors said Caldwell was instrumental in coordinating a “quick reaction force” at a hotel in northern Virginia, just minutes from D.C., where Oath Keepers from multiple states including Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona convened in the days before the insurrection.

The “QRF” was packed with weapons that were rolled into the hotel on dollies, in many cases, and in large bins. At least one rifle brought to the hotel was only haphazardly covered with fabric, making its outline recognizable. Oath Keeper Terry Cummings told jurors in October there were more firearms in the QRF than any he had seen since his time serving in the U.S. military.

Caldwell stayed at the QRF hotel on the morning of Jan. 6, and met with Oath Keepers as they gathered for Trump’s insurrection-inciting speech at the Ellipse.

Despite his age and history of back injuries—he was 65 on Jan. 6—video and photo evidence showed Caldwell made it all the way up to the top of the inaugural platform erected at the Capitol. He steadfastly denied seeing any evidence of violence though he was less than 50 yards away, at one point, from the lower west terrace tunnel where police officers were viciously attacked with their own riot shields as well as fire extinguishers, chemical sprays, and the mob’s bare fists. His attorney David Fischer argued Caldwell was unable to see the violence in the tunnel from his vantage point.

“January 6 happened and I had nothing to do with it,” Caldwell testified.

Though he was acquitted of the sedition charge, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging their duties, he was unable to escape the obstruction of an official proceeding charge or the tampering charge.

Jurors saw extensive evidence of Caldwell’s efforts to cover his tracks after the Capitol siege. He deleted nearly 180 Facebook messages tied to Jan. 6 and did so on Jan. 14.

Metadata showed the messages he deleted on Jan. 14 were sent on Jan. 7.

Prosecutors emphasized to jurors that Caldwell wiped his correspondence on the same day he accessed a New Yorker article naming Jessica Watkins and Oath Keeper Donovan Crowl as participants in the riot.

The Oath Keepers insisted their efforts in the run-up to Jan. 6 were purely about providing “security” for Trump allies like Roger Stone and “Stop the Steal” event organizer and conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander. Stone, evidence showed, was part of at least one text group on Signal shared between members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

But other evidence like a secret recording of Rhodes captured four days after the insurrection by Jason Alpers, a military veteran who said he had indirect ties to Trump, showed the Oath Keeper leader was still intent on stopping the transfer of power.

 

supreme court Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The court’s supremely obtuse response to its ethical problems, Ruth Marcus, right, Nov. 30, 2022. The Supreme Court sent a two-page ruth marcusletter to Democratic lawmakers looking into allegations of a leak by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., left, or his wife. Words weren’t really necessary; a see-no-evil monkey emoji would have aptly summarized the court’s response.

The letter, by Ethan V. Torrey, legal counsel to the court, could scarcely have been more obtuse. The New York Times reported earlier this month the story of a conservative Ohio couple, Donald and Gayle Wright, who were deployed by a religious rights, antiabortion samuel alito oorganization to befriend the Alitos and other conservative justices as part of an influence campaign.

The Rev. Rob Schenck, who headed the organization, said that Gayle Wright had tipped him off in advance about the outcome and authorship of a 2014 case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, involving religious employers’ obligations to provide contraceptive coverage. Gayle Wright and the Alitos denied any leak (Donald Wright died in 2020), but contemporaneous evidence bolsters Schenck’s claim of advance knowledge.

“Rob, if you want some interesting news please call. No emails,” Gayle Wright wrote Schenck the day after the Alitos hosted the Wrights for dinner at their Virginia home. Wright’s unconvincing explanation? “I was so excited to tell him that Justice Alito had actually gotten in his car to take me home,” she told The Post. “We wanted to talk to him and share it with him.”

The Times article, along with coverage by Politico and Rolling Stone, depicts a disturbing, coordinated effort by conservative activists to insinuate themselves into the lives of sympathetic justices via six-figure donations to the Supreme Court Historical Society and access to vacation spots such as the Wrights’ Jackson, Wyo., home.

A Supreme Court that took ethics seriously would want to get to the bottom of this smarmy arrangement. That is not, apparently, this Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. didn’t bother to respond to a July letter from Schenck alerting him to the episode. But a nonresponse might have been preferable to Torrey’s legalistic and defensive letter to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who had asked the court about what plans it had to investigate or refine its ethics policies.

In a statement, Whitehouse and Johnson called Torrey’s letter “an embodiment of the problems at the Court around ethics issues.” This seems like a fair diagnosis. And Roberts should keep in mind: If the patient isn’t willing to take steps to heal itself, others will step in to administer the necessary medicine.

 

kennedys king new logoKennedys & King, Book Review: Mel Ayton's The Kennedy Assassinations, reviewed by James DiEugenio, left, Nov. 30, 2022. A new book by Mel Ayton is the latest jim dieugenio filein a long line of titles that try, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to show that the Warren Commission was right, after all. 

Say this about Mel Ayton, he will not give up. Seven years ago, Martin Hay reviewed his book Beyond Reasonable Doubt — co-written with David Von Pein. Martin left the authors without a leg to stand on and made a mockery of their bombastic title. (Click here for that review)

The subtitle of his new book is “Debunking the Conspiracy Theories.” In his preface, Ayton says that the bogus revelations in the John F. Kennedy case were put to rest by the late Vincent Bugliosi in Reclaiming History and the late John McAdams in JFK Assassination Logic.

This author spent 458 pages of analysis and evaluation in taking apart Bugliosi’s mammoth book. There is no other way to say this: Bugliosi lied in his introduction when he said he would present the critics’ arguments the way they wanted them presented. He then doubled down on this by saying “I will not knowingly omit or distort anything.” (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp XII-XIII)

What was so shocking about the former prosecutor’s initial claim was how easy it was to show it was utterly and, in fact, knowingly false. For a prime example, see how Bugliosi dealt with Jack Ruby’s polygraph. (DiEugenio, pp. 267-70) It seemed to me that, with that book, Bugliosi was simply playing to the crowd. In this case, the MSM. A perfect example of this was his treatment of Doug Horne on the paradox of Kennedy’s brain, which had disappeared. Horne tried to prove that the surviving pictures of Kennedy’s brain cannot really be his. And in Oliver Stone’s documentary, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, we proved this along three evidentiary lines. Horne was on camera elucidating one of those lines: the testimony of autopsy photographer John Stringer. (DiEugenio, pp.160-65)

The book by John McAdams was reviewed by four different authors: Pat Speer, Gary Aguilar, Frank Cassano and David Mantik. The last three were on this site. (Click here to read them.) The remarkable thing about those four critiques is that there is very little overlap between them. Which confirms there was a lot of objectionable material in the book.

This book is an anthology of essays Ayton has written and published, many of them updated. Before the five essays on the JFK case and six on the RFK case, Mel leads off with his Introduction, entitled “Conspiracy Thinking”. This is his way of branding any author who disagrees with him as a heretic who does not abide by the rules of evidence and logic. To any knowledgeable person, it’s quite the opposite. Let us just take a few examples.

Ayton says that the guilt of James Earl Ray in the Martin Luther King case is overwhelming (p. 8). Then why did Bill Pepper win the very accurate and detailed mock trial for Ray? Why did he also win the civil suit in Memphis against Lloyd Jowers for his culpability in the conspiracy. (The Assassinations, Edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, pp. 492-509)

He then adds this: “The post-Watergate United States became intensely susceptible to conspiracy arguments.” (p. 2) Well that would happen, if the American public was to finally see the evidence in the Zapruder film, as it was allowed to do in 1975—for the first time, after 12 years. The shocking sight of President Kennedy’s body rocketing backwards with terrific force, when Lee Harvey Oswald was supposed to be behind him—well that might do the trick Mel. Especially after trusted newsman Dan Rather misrepresented what happened in the film back in 1963.

One last example: Ayton quotes historian Henry Steele Commager as saying in the new millennium, that ”There has come in recent years something that might be called a conspiracy psychology: a feeling that great events can’t be explained by ordinary processes.” (p. 11) That old Priscilla Johnson, recycled by Michael Shermer, chestnut. The idea that Oswald did not shoot Kennedy was propagated way back in 1967 by the first wave of Warren Commission critics: works by Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher, Edward Epstein, and Harold Weisberg, among others. In December of 1967, Josiah Thompson’s book, Six Seconds in Dallas, actually made the cover of a large circulation magazine, Saturday Evening Post. Lane’s book Rush To Judgment, was a number one bestseller.

These books did what the MSM did not do. As Barry Ernest says in Oliver Stone’s documentary, they compared the Commission’s 26 volumes of evidence and testimony with the original 888-page Warren Report. They found, quite often, the evidence did not line up with the conclusions in that report. The Commisioners were banking on the premise that no one would ever read those 26 volumes. Not only did some intelligent people read them, they were so outraged they felt compelled to write about the difference, at length.

 Nov. 29

 

 

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman and Rachel Weiner, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes, above, stayed outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but prosecutors said he was the ringleader of a plot to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the inauguration of President Biden.

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy of seditious conspiracy for leading a months-long plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of President Biden, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Justice Department log circularThe panel of seven men and five women deliberated for three days before finding Rhodes and lead Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs guilty of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transition of presidential power. But three other associates were not convicted of the historically rare and politically freighted sedition count. All five were convicted of obstructing Congress as it met to confirm the results of the 2020 election. Both offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Rhodes, 56, in a dark suit and black eye-patch from an old gun accident watched impassively as verdicts were read.

James Lee Bright, one of Rhodes’s attorneys, said Rhodes intended to testify on behalf of other Jan. 6 defendants “if asked.” Edward L. Tarpley Jr, another Rhodes lawyer, noted that the defendants were acquitted on 11 of the 28 counts: “This is not a total victory for the government in any way shape or form.”

Rhodes and his co-defendants were the first accused of seditious conspiracy and the first to face trial and be convicted on any conspiracy charge to date in the massive Jan. 6 investigation. He is the highest-profile figure to face trial in connection with rioting by angry Trump supporters who injured scores of officers, ransacked offices and forced lawmakers to evacuate the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes and followers, dressed in combat-style gear, converged on the Capitol after staging an “arsenal” of weapons at nearby hotels, ready to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction in an attack on the ‘bedrock of democracy,’ the government charged. Rhodes’s defense said he and co-defendants came to Washington as bodyguards and peacekeepers, bringing firearms only in case Trump met their demand to mobilize private militia to stop Biden from becoming president.

Analysts called the outcome a vindication for the Justice Department.

“The jury’s verdict on seditious conspiracy confirms that January 6, 2021, was not just ‘legitimate political discourse’ or a peaceful protest that got out of hand. This was a planned, organized, violent assault on the lawful authority of the U.S. government and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Randall D. Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who teaches law at George Washington University.

“Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible,” Eliason said.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who helped defend the Capitol on Jan. 6, said he ran over to the federal courthouse when he heard there was a verdict. He sat sweating in the front row as the verdict was read.

“I was emotional,” Dunn said afterward. “I didn’t expect to cry.”

He thanked the jury and the Justice Department for their work on the case.

“I don’t look at it like a victory,” Dunn said. “A victory is when you win. This was right. This was about doing the right thing.”

The verdict in Rhodes’s case likely will be taken as a bellwether for two remaining Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy trials set for December against five other Oath Keepers and leaders of the Proud Boys, including the longtime chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio. Both Rhodes and Tarrio are highly visible leaders of the alt-right or far-right anti-government movements, and were highlighted at hearings probing the attack earlier this year by the House Jan. 6 committee.

Nov. 28

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: America's Immigrant Spies. Part 1: The Germans, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books (including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich, shown below) and a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Nov. 28, 2020. With the exception of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallAfrican slaves and Chinese railroad workers, the United States has generally been a nation of willing immigrants. That has made it an attractive target for foreign intelligence agencies intent on implanting agents and even entire families in the United States as part of covert “illegals programs.”

wayne madesen report logoThese sleeper agents have often remained indistinguishable from normal American citizens. These agents bide their time until it is determined by their foreign controllers that they must be activated for specific purposes in service to their fatherland or motherland.

wayne madsen fourth reich cover[Snip]

Could Herr Trumpf, eager to regain his German citizenship, have agreed to spy for Germany in New York in order see his conviction as a draft dodger voided?

[Snip]

Friedrich Trump, along with his pregnant wife, settled in The Bronx and on October 11, 1905, Mrs. Trumpf gave birth to a son, Fred Trump.

[Snip]

Here is an operative question: Are Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, neither born in the United States, modern-day versions of the German Kaiser’s and Hitler’s programs to seed immigrants to the United States with sleeper spies and saboteurs? If so, America has learned nothing from its past.

-------------------

End of Part 1. Next, the “Illegals Program” of apartheid South Africa

 

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, testifies before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Nov. 19, 2019.Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, testifies before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Nov. 19, 2019.

Jerusalem Post, Elon Musk calls Jewish US Army officer ‘puppet & puppeteer,’ Staff Report, Nov. 28, 2022. Musk's tweet – deliberately or not – evoked an antisemitic trope that Jews control positions of power.

Elon Musk called Jewish American retired US Army officer Lt.-Col. Alexander Vindman both a "puppet & puppeteer" on Monday in response to Vindman sharing a copypasta (copied and pasted text shared on the Internet) suggesting that Musk is "erratic" and too powerful now that he owns Twitter.

"Vindman is both puppet & puppeteer. Question is who pulls his strings … ?" Musk tweeted.

Musk's tweet was in response to another one by Tablet magazine Chief Technology Officer Noam Blum mocking the copypasta, which said that it's "Kinda weird that @elonmusk gets to decide how like a half-billion people communicate. Way too much power for one erratic individual to wield, don't you think?"

JFK Facts via Substack, Investigative Commentary: The Ultra-Reactionaries: Global Analysis of the Dallas Coup, Jefferson Morley, right with bio below, Nov. 28, 2022. A look jefferson morley newat a story many Americans ignore: how the world responded to November 22.

In a superb survey, published recently on Medium, the pseudonymous author “Marina” tells the story of how the world reacted to the gunfire on November 22, a story that devotees of the Warren Commission prefer to ignore.

When Thomas Mallon, author of Ruth Paine’s Garage, connects “the dangerous fact-free business of election denial” to “the more fantastical theories that grew up around the assassination decades ago,” “Marina” pitilessly buries his “cheap theory of history” under an avalanche of historical evidence.

“Marina” quotes Charles De Gaulle’s pithy assessment of U.S. officialdom’s attitude about who was behind JFK’s assassination:
“They don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out.”

The same words, incidentally, apply to our much (but not all) of the American political and intellectual elite today, that chorus of proud unskeptics who assure us, A little man killed a big man. Get over it. They are smug. They are condescending. They, alas, don’t know what they’re talking about.

Thom Mallon is a fine novelist who doesn’t know much about Oswald and CIA operations in 1963; Cass Sunstein is a distinguished Harvard prof whose fact-free JFK conspiracy scholarship tells us nothing about those senior CIA officers who monitored Oswald eight days before Kennedy was killed. Chris Matthews is a Kennedy loyalist, whose bombastic take on old conspiracy theories blots out discussion of new JFK developments, such as the undisclosed Oswald operation.

Jefferson Morley is author of multiple books (most recently Scorpion's Dance) about the JFK assassination, Watergate, and other political crimes and players

Nov. 27

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: Brace for #MAGA chaos and ungovernability in House! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, Nov. 27, 2022 (104:28 mins.). webster tarpley twitterMcQarthy is losing 5 to 8 Tea Party extremists, posing risk of hung Congress or monstrous concessions to crazed MAGAts, unless Democrats take over!

GOP busily working on its own extinction: For January 6 Committee final report, Liz Cheney, readying her own 2024 campaign, demands censored report with narrow focus on Trump alone, banning probe of intelligence, law enforcement & Pentagon failures; Study of coup funding to be deep sixed, & investigation of militias & violent extremists banned; Her goal evidently to preserve these networks for her own use; Democrats must block this crude power grab, give public full results of committee’s work; Lesson: Republicans are incorrigible!

MAGA foreign policy Blob is close to embracing outright cut and run policy for US to betray NATO allies, Ukraine & appease Putin, setting up Russian conquest of Europe;

MAGA boss fraternizes with scurrilous anti-semites Fuentes & Kanye;

Garland still dawdling, denying justice through endless delays; Questions arise about his dubious role in Oklahoma City trial, where he was his own Warren Commission;

CSTO, Putin’s feeble answer to NATO, is breaking up due to his abject failures: Armenia pushes back against his dictates in Collective Security Treaty Organization of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, & Tajikistan; Eurasian guru Dugin wants Putin ousted and worse!

Breaking: MAGA Grand Inquisitor Rep. Comer wraps his MTP debut in lies!

Nov. 22

 

 

French president Charles De Gaulle (center) and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (right) at JFK’s funeral, November 25, 1963 (Photo Credit: Stan Wayman The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock).

French president Charles De Gaulle (center) and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (right) at JFK’s funeral, November 25, 1963 (Photo Credit: Stan Wayman The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock).

Medium, The Ultra-Reactionaries: Global Analysis of the Dallas Coup, Marina, Nov. 22, 2022. As soon as the rifle smoke in Dealey Plaza cleared on November 22nd, 1963, the near unanimous reaction was shock and grief. An enormous audience across the country tuned in to view President Kennedy’s funeral televised on November 25th, 1963, viewing JFK Jr. saluting his father’s casket in an immediately iconic image. Pictures from that weekend were reprinted endlessly as glossy spreads in LIFE Magazine, and in William Manchester’s bestselling The Death of a President.

Yet newly inaugurated President Lyndon Johnson’s command to move forward seemed to highlight a glaring contradiction surrounding the assassination. Large numbers of the general public were immediately suspicious of the claim that only one man had acted alone in killing President Kennedy. In time, those figures would rise to a vast majority of the American public that felt a conspiracy was involved in the assassination. But what resulted from this?

As we turn to another anniversary of November 22nd, the media narrative of the public skepticism is that these “wild conspiracy theories” fueled a lack of trust in government, and somewhere along the way morphed into current right-wing conspiracy theories such as QAnon. As Thomas Mallon, author of Ruth Paine’s Garage, put it, “I have lately found myself wondering if the dangerous fact-free business of election denial doesn’t have some of its origin in the more fantastical theories that grew up around the assassination decades ago.”¹

This cheap theory of American history only looks at the public reaction to the Kennedy assassination in a vacuum, refusing to understand why so much of the public felt the government was lying to them. It cleanses the hands of J. Edgar Hoover, Allen Dulles, and Richard Helms, while casting anyone who dare doubt those luminaries as deranged fanatical right-wingers.

While American pundits still chortle over the idea of a wider conspiracy to assassinate the president, in any other country this is not an absurd idea at all, particularly in nations targeted by American intelligence agencies. Understanding the international reaction, and the thoughts of other world leaders in 1963, helps put the unresolved assassination into context. Their immediate response is worth examining to better analyze the nature of the crime, as is their characterization of Kennedy, in light of recent portrayals.

For instance, French president Charles De Gaulle had been the target of numerous assassination attempts by the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) due to his withdrawal from the brutal French war in Algeria.

The CIA was behind some of these plots, and President Kennedy had warned the French government that while he personally would do what he could to break up these plots, “the CIA is such a vast and poorly controlled machine that the most unlikely maneuvers might be true.”² A startling quote, and one that reveals how even Kennedy was aware that the CIA’s massive machinery could carry out crimes even beyond the knowledge of the president. Within hours of the shooting in Dealey Plaza, De Gaulle stated “President Kennedy died as a soldier under fire, doing his duty in the service of his country. In the name of the French people, a friend always to the American people, I salute this great example and this great memory.”³

De Gaulle attended President Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, and upon his return to Paris, had a conversation with information minister Alain Peyrefitte about the circumstances of the assassination. De Gaulle noted the similarities between the attempts on his own life, and the murder of President Kennedy, perceptively commenting “the security forces were in cahoots with the extremists.”

Peyrefitte then began asking De Gaulle about the circumstances of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and whether he had been set up as a patsy. De Gaulle told Peyrefitte “they got their hands on this communist who wasn’t one, while still being one. He had a sub par intellect and was an exalted fanatic — just the man they needed, the perfect one to be accused.” Going on, the French president explained the necessity of Oswald’s death at the hands of the conspirators, and how Ruby had been tasked to silence Oswald forever.

De Gaulle finished his examination with this remarkable insight on how the United States would bury the coup:

“America is in danger of upheavals. But you’ll see. All of them together will observe the law of silence. They will close ranks. They’ll do everything to stifle any scandal. They will throw Noah’s cloak over these shameful deeds. In order to not lose face in front of the whole world. In order to not risk unleashing riots in the United States. In order to preserve the union and to avoid a new civil war. In order to not ask themselves questions. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out.”

 

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supreme court headshots 2019

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court denies Trump request to withhold tax returns from Congress, Robert Barnes, Nov. 22, 2022. The court’s order means that the Treasury Department may quickly hand over six years of tax records from former president Donald Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied former president Donald Trump’s efforts to block the release of his tax records to a congressional committee that has sought the information for years.

irs logoThe court’s order means that the Treasury Department may quickly hand over six years of tax records from Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

There were no recorded dissents in the court’s order.

Lawmakers have said they need Trump’s tax returns from his time in office to help evaluate the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump has argued that Democratic lawmakers are on a fishing expedition designed to embarrass him politically.

Time is not on the side of Democrats who run the committee. The demands for the records will almost surely expire in January, when Republicans take control of the House as a result of the recent midterm elections.

“Delaying Treasury from providing the requested tax information would leave the Committee and Congress as a whole little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is quickly approaching its end,” House general counsel Douglas N. Letter said in a filing to the court.

Trump’s lawyers said that was all the more reason to grant the request to block the release of the records. “The Congress has only a few days left on its legislative calendar,” lawyer Cameron T. Norris said in his filing. “Though a few days is enough time to improperly expose the most sensitive documents of its chief political rival, it’s not enough time to properly study, draft, debate, or pass legislation.”

Trump's early 2024 launch fails to rally GOP around him

Last month, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review earlier rulings finding that lawmakers are entitled to the documents in the long-running legal battle. That court also refused to put the release of the papers on hold while Trump’s lawyers sought Supreme Court review.

JFK Facts via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Yes, There Is a JFK Smoking Gun, Jefferson Morley, right, author of multiple books (most recently Scorpion's Dance) about the JFK assassination, Watergate, and other political crimes and players, Nov. 22, 2022. It will be found in 44 CIA documents that are still jefferson morley new"Denied in Full." As the 59th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy approached, I often hear the question posed last month by NBC News, “What are they hiding?”

With 16,000 plus documents in the JFK Records Collection still containing redactions—11,275 of them held by the CIA—the question is not only appropriate. It is troublesome. If the official theory of a lone gunman is correct, as our leading editors and academic historians insist, why doesn’t the government release all its records and prove it has nothing to hide? Why, pray tell, has the clandestine service blown two congressional deadlines for full JFK disclosure in the last five years?

FBI logoIn a memo last year, President Biden set December. 15 as the new deadline. A recent report in Politico shows that Biden’s order will likely to be resisted by the CIA, FBI, and Defense Department. Phil Shenon’s reporting shows these agencies don’t care if their defiance of the JFK Records Act casts doubt on the government’s credibility. They simply don’t care if their furtive actions stimulate conspiracy theorizing. They have secrets they want to keep, public interest in full JFK disclosure be damned.

CIA LogoWhy is the CIA so recalcitrant? Some claim the blameless Agency has nothing significant to hide. With all due respect, that argument is simply wrong. The CIA does have something to hide, something significant, something embarrassing, something potentially explosive. Among the CIA’s JFK secrets is a proverbial “smoking gun” that demonstrates the official theory of a lone gunman is misleading, if not deceptive.

I don’t use the term “smoking gun” lightly. I’ve been reporting on the JFK story since I published a story in the Washington Post in April 1995, based on my interview with retired CIA officer Jane Roman. A declassified routing slip, shows Roman signed for an FBI report on Oswald just eight days before Kennedy was killed.

My Post story marked the first interview ever with a CIA officer who handled reporting on Lee Harvey Oswald while President Kennedy was still alive. In the tape recorded interview, Roman said that cables in the Oswald file indicated someone at the CIA had a “keen interest” in Oswald, held on a “need to know basis” in October 1963, six weeks before Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas.

[For more details about this interview, see my article, “What Jane Roman Said,” via Mary Ferrell Foundation/History Matters.]
Denied in Full

Now, after 28 years of reporting and reflection, I am ready to advance the story. Jane Roman was correct. A small group of CIA officers was keenly interested in Oswald in the fall of 1963. They were running a psychological warfare operation, authorized in June 1963, that followed Oswald from New Orleans to Mexico City later that year. One of the officers supporting this operation was George Joannides, a career CIA officer whose records I sued for in 2003.

(This 2009 New York Times story on my lawsuit is pretty good.)

The evidence of the undisclosed Oswald operation is found in one partially declassified document from 1963 and 43 additional documents found in Joannides’ personnel file that have been “denied in full,” meaning no portions of them have been made public.

According to a CIA document filed in my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, these sensitive records concern Joannides’ intelligence methods, his cover (meaning his false identity), and his travel in 1963-64, when he served as the chief of psychological warfare branch of the Agency’s Miami station, and in 1978, when he served as liaison to the House Select Committee on Assassination.

(The CIA’s policy of not revealing the names of living agents and informants does not apply here; Joannides died in 1990.)

The partially declassified document, partially released in 2004, shows that Joannides was cleared for Special Intelligence in June 1963. “Special Intelligence” is the CIA’s term of art for wiretap information. This document raises a key question: Was Joannides cleared for receiving information from wiretaps in Mexico City?

Smoking gun? This key JFK file from May 1963 is still heavily redacted.

Nov. 19

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Garland’s appointment of a special counsel was cautious. But also bold, Ruth Marcus, right, Nov. 19, 2022. Trump should not sleep soundly. Attorney General Merrick Garland, ruth marcusshown above, on Friday made a typically cautious decision in a bold way: He appointed a special counsel to investigate former president Donald Trump, but chose a veteran lawyer known for an aggressive streak and a fast prosecutorial metabolism.

This was a step Garland didn’t want to take; he believed the department’s career lawyers were capable of doing the job with integrity and independence. But he had been anticipating — and, careful lawyer that he is, preparing for — this possibility for months.

The first shoe to drop was President Biden’s statement that he intended to run again. That wasn’t enough, in Garland’s assessment, to trigger the requirements of the Justice Department’s special counsel regulations. Even if Trump was teasing another presidential run, the department’s twin investigations — into the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — could proceed as normal.

But Trump’s announcement that he would enter the 2024 race forced Garland’s reluctant hand. The rules, he believed, didn’t leave him any choice.

I thought Garland had more leeway to make the judgment call the other way, but in retrospect it seems almost inevitable that the by-the-books attorney general would go the special counsel route. Justice Department regulations provide that the attorney “will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted” and that investigation or prosecution “would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”

The regulations offer an out, one I previously wrote that Garland should take: The attorney general doesn’t have to name a special counsel if he decides that would not be in the public interest. But consider: An administration headed by a president who has announced his intention to seek reelection is investigating a former president who just declared he will run again. If this does not constitute an extraordinary circumstance, what would? What lesson would not appointing a special counsel send to future attorneys general? These are serious concerns.

If Garland had a mission on leaving the bench to return to Justice, it was to repair the department’s reputation for independence and integrity, battered after four years of Trump administration meddling, and to reassure its demoralized troops. Naming a special counsel was never going to assuage the concerns of Trump partisans that the Biden administration is out to get him, as the immediate reaction from Trumpworld underscored. Trump denounced the effort to take any whiff of politics out of the decision-making as “the worst politicization of justice in our country.” A Trump campaign spokesperson called the announcement “a totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”

But Garland’s goal was not to persuade the unpersuadable. It was, in the familiar language of the law, aimed at how a reasonable person would perceive the fairness of the investigation, and whether a reasonable person would think a special counsel was warranted under the facts at hand and the language and spirit of the regulations. It was telling that in this regard, Garland did not acknowledge that investigating Trump constituted a conflict of interest for the department — just that the circumstances had become extraordinary.

“I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” Garland said. “And I also believe that appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do.”

This is where the bold part comes in: Special counsels usually have big names. Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, tapped to oversee the Trump-Russia probe, is the most recent such example. History offers others: Harvard Law School professor Archibald Cox to conduct the Watergate investigation as special prosecutor; former U.S. attorney Robert Fiske and then former appeals court judge Kenneth Starr to handle the Whitewater investigation as independent counsels. They came to the job with a public reputation that, at least in theory, lent credibility to their oversight.

jack smith vestJack Smith, right, Garland’s choice, is decidedly low profile. I spoke with a number of former prosecutors who not only didn’t know Smith — they hadn’t even heard of him. But Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor who has been working at The Hague investigating war crimes in Kosovo, offers advantages that the boldface names don’t. He knows how the department works. He knows how to speed an investigation along. “Stop playing with your food,” Mueller used to instruct hand-wringing prosecutors. Smith is, by all accounts, no food-player. And he offers a potential counter-balance to Garland’s innate cautiousness; hard-charging is the word that comes up in speaking with former colleagues.

“Jack Smith makes me look like a golden retriever puppy,” tweeted Andrew Weissmann, the famously aggressive former Enron and Mueller prosecutor who worked with Smith for years in the federal prosecutor’s Brooklyn office.

One example of Smith’s inclination to aggressiveness: the 2011 decision to charge former North Carolina senator John Edwards for accepting illegal presidential campaign contributions to help support his mistress. This was a stretch, as I wrote at the time, and the subject of controversy within the department. Smith, the head of the department’s Public Integrity Section, pressed to indict. The case ultimately fizzled as a jury acquitted Edwards on one count and deadlocked on five others; the department chose not to seek a retrial.

“For those concerned that the appointment of a Special Counsel will delay things: just the opposite,” Weissmann wrote. “Jack is a super fast, no-nonsense, and let’s-cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. And now, with less DOJ bureaucracy in decision-making, the investigations can move faster.”

That may be over-optimistic, but Trump should not sleep soundly. As a prosecutor, “you have to be able to admit that if it’s not there, it’s not there,” Smith said when he took the public integrity job in 2010. “I think that’s hard for people to do and having been a prosecutor for 15 years that is something I can do.”

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: Garland names obscure DoJ veteran Jack Smith special counsel for Trump cases, Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, Nov. 19, webster tarpley twitter2022 (139:09 mins.). Move raises specter of justice delayed; Far from placating Trump fanatics, this step may increase acrimony, as Rep. Greene demands impeachment of Garland;

Democrats hold Senate and Arizona governor’s post; Pelosi quits as Speaker, followed by Hoyer and Clyburn; likely Dem succession is Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar;

Pelosi excelled in promoting unity of Dem caucus; Jeffries dealt effectively with disruptions by ousting AOC’s guru Chakrabarti; Ultra-lefts trying to escape blame for New York losses by condemning Mayor Adams’ stance on crime;

Chaos and anarchy run riot among House MAGA extremists, with personal hatreds, rivalries, and runaway committees; no major forces in House GOP respect voters’ aversion to Trump’s bombastic lunacy and demand for dictatorship;

Multiple ballots for Speaker loom in January, with uncertain outcome; GOP could splinter in short order;

Wall Street loves gridlock: corrupt corporate media pushing hard for DeSantis, just as they aided for Trump in 2015-2016;

GOP ran on border, crime, and inflation, but first steps don’t involve oil company executives or energy speculators: instead, in parody of Nixon’s infamous Enemies’ List, House MAGA extremists target 42 Democrats of Biden administration starting with Klain, Mayorkas, and Cardona; Gym Jordan and James Comer focus on Hunter Biden laptop, but voters demand to know about the Ginni Thomas emails;
Seize and nationalize Twitter as a key national security asset of US!

Nov. 17

 kennedys king new logo

Kennedys & King, Book Review and Analysis: Worse Than I Thought: A Mother In History, John Kelin, Nov. 17, 2022. This follow-up to an earlier article is a deep and disturbing dive into the source material of Jean Stafford's 1966 profile of Marguerite Oswald, 'A Mother In History.' As John Kelin discovered, the book is false and misleading, almost start-to-finish.

The literature on the JFK assassination is rife with dishonest books that endorse, defend, and/or excuse the findings of the Warren Commission (WC). Nothing new about that: this has been true since publication of the Warren Report in 1964, and has carried on through a long line of apologist nonsense.

One Commissioner and several WC attorneys cashed in on their experiences. A host of lesser, pseudo-serious WC advocates have contributed to this worthless tripe, and profitably. At the time of the assassination’s fiftieth anniversary, Vince Salandria called it a mountain of trash. All of this propaganda is meant to bury the obvious.

jean staffordJean Stafford’s A Mother in History (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1966) was an early entry into this disgraceful body of work. I have written about it before, most recently on this Kennedys and King site. What more could I possibly have to say? Do I have an unhealthy preoccupation with this slender book, ostensibly an unbiased profile of the mother of the alleged presidential assassin?

If you Google “Jean Stafford A Mother In History” you are likely to find available copies on used book sites, along with reviews and reader opinions. Most of the opinions I found are favorable. All of them, it is safe to assume, are based solely on reading Jean Stafford’s published text. Almost certainly, none of the writers of these favorable judgments had access to some of the book’s raw material, in particular the tape-recorded Stafford-Oswald interviews. I did. Once it has been appraised, and contrasted with the published work, it is difficult to see A Mother in History as anything but a hatchet job intended to destroy Marguerite Oswald.

The raw material to which I refer is in the Jean Stafford collection at the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder, part of the Norlin Library’s Rare and Distinctive Collections.

Stafford, who was from Boulder, left her papers to CU. Since she primarily wrote fiction, the source material for A Mother in History is only a small portion of that archive. This small portion includes typescripts, notes, and an interview transcript, all of which reside in one small box. Not included in the box are the interview tape recordings, which have long since been digitized.

A Mother In History was published in three sections, simply titled I, II, and III (plus an Epilogue and appendices). A breathless jacket blurb touts Stafford’s “three incredible days” with Marguerite Oswald. That, and other indicators, clearly imply each of those three book sections correspond to one day of conversation between the author and her subject.

There may have been three days of interviews, incredible or otherwise, but I am highly suspicious of the published chronology. An exchange on the book’s p. 36, as that purported first-day section nears its end, first got my attention. Here Stafford writes that she asked Mrs. Oswald if it would be okay to bring a tape recorder the next day. Marguerite agreed. Stafford does not say so explicitly, but the clear message is that the first day was not tape recorded.

The audio at CU consists of six undated .mp3 files. A CU archivist told me last summer that the original reel-to-reel tapes were transferred to audio cassette in the 1970s. They were digitized sometime in the 1980s, or perhaps a little later.

Nowhere, in the .mp3 audio, does Stafford say the day, date, or subject of her interviews. Interviewers often do; it could even be considered a best practice. It creates a record, and helps keep things in order.

The .mp3 files at CU may be undated, but they do have sequential filenames. The first is stafford-interview-with-mrs.-oswald_-part-1-a.mp3. This particular audio begins with Stafford asking, “Tell me about your early life, Mrs. Oswald. You were born in New Orleans, weren’t you?” The transcript begins the same way. It’s an amiable first question, a likely starting point, and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest this was, in fact, the very first of the interviews: that is, the first day, which Stafford implied was not recorded.

As I described in my previous article, I had grown curious about a quote in the first section of the book – an unrecorded first day, readers are led to believe. Lee Harvey Oswald, Marguerite said, “spoke Russian, he wrote Russian, and he read Russian. Why? Because my boy was being trained as an agent, that’s why.”

In Stafford’s book there was no follow-up question. This baffled me. Even an amateur journalist, like Stafford, should have enough sense to explore such an explosive statement. Surely the audio would clarify things. Instead, it revealed that Marguerite Oswald didn’t say what Stafford quoted her as saying. It is a manufactured quote.

It’s a little complicated, so bear with me. Most of the words in that quote were, in fact, spoken by Marguerite Oswald. They were also tape recorded; I have heard the audio. But it’s a false quote, because Stafford pieced together several phrases – some of them separated by as much as three minutes. Placing it all within quotation marks implies it is verbatim – but it is not, and is thus a deception.

I can only speculate on Stafford’s motives. That false quote does not support the lone gunman thesis. Given the magnitude of surrounding events, I cannot believe creating it was innocent. I think Stafford floated the idea of Oswald-as-agent – not a common view at the time – to characterize Marguerite Oswald as paranoid, and out of her mind.

There are other false and manufactured quotes in A Mother In History. I have not itemized them all and don’t intend to; it would be a huge undertaking. The more I studied the source material, the more dishonesty I found.

On page 23 of A Mother In History is the following statement, attributed to Marguerite:

Lee purely loved animals! With his very first pay he bought a bird and a cage, and I have a picture of it. He bought this bird with a cage that had a planter for ivy, and he took care of that bird and he made the ivy grow. Now, you see, there could be many nice things written about this boy. But, oh, no, no, this boy is supposed to be the assassin of the President of the United States, so he has to be a louse. Sometimes I am very sad.

This is a rather inconsequential matter, but it is still false. Marguerite Oswald didn’t really say it. Here is what she did say, in answer to Stafford’s question, “Did he ever have any pets?”

Oh yes, Lee had a dog, and with his first pay he bought a bird and a cage – I have pictures of it, with ivy in it and all the food for the bird. Yes, sir. With his first pay. He had a collie shepherd dog that I had gotten for him when it was a little [bitty] puppy. And he had it all those years until we went to New York. And that dog had puppies. He gave one to his school teacher. She wrote a nice article for the newspaper saying Lee loving animals and giving her a pet.

True, the published quote roughly parallels what she really said. But it is still false. “Lee purely loved animals” does not appear in any of the audio. There is no mention of dogs in the published quote, let alone puppies, or giving one to a school teacher.

Nor does Marguerite say, “Sometimes I am very sad.” In fact, elsewhere in the recorded interviews, she said quite the opposite: “I’m not unhappy, Jean. You can see I’m not.”

As I write these words, I feel like I’m in attack mode. I have listened to all the audio that is available. Can I be certain that every last recorded word from the Stafford-Oswald interviews wound up in the CU archive? Of course not. All that CU has is what Stafford gave them. She also wrote, in her book, that when Mrs. Oswald agreed to be tape recorded, she stipulated that there be two recorders so she could have a copy.

The example about animals and pets is minor, compared to a false quote on pages 12-13 of A Mother In History. This one is presented as dialogue between interviewer and interviewee, and Jean Stafford goes in for the kill. It is intended, I am convinced, to make Marguerite Oswald appear nuts – to use a non-clinical term.

Marguerite spoke first:

“And as we all know, President Kennedy was a dying man. So I say it is possible that my son was chosen to shoot him in a mercy killing for the security of the country. And if this is true, it was a fine thing to do and my son is a hero.”

“I had not heard that President Kennedy was dying,” I said, staggered by this cluster of fictions stated as irrefutable fact. Some mercy killing! The methods used in this instance must surely be unique in the annals of euthanasia.

This exchange is not found anywhere in the interview audio or the transcript. Marguerite does not make the statement, and Jean Stafford does not make that stunned reply.

There is something similar to this in the interviews. Unfortunately, the digitized version of the tape recording at CU ends partway through the quote. Did the original tape end there, too? No, because the corresponding transcript, which I have found to be consistently accurate, continues for several more pages. It is convoluted, but this is what Marguerite Oswald really said.

That President Kennedy was killed by – a mercy killing – by some of his own men that thought it was the thing to do and this is not impossible and since I blame the secret service from what I saw and what I thought it could have been that my son and the secret service were all involved in a mercy killing.

A minute or so before her “mercy killing” remark, Marguerite did say “a dying President,” but “As we all know” is an invention. She says JFK was dying because he had Addison’s disease, which he did. She also called it a kidney disorder, which it is not. Addison’s can be life-threatening, but Stafford correctly points out that it is a manageable adrenal condition. And Kennedy managed his.

But Stafford can’t let this go without having some fun, falsely quoting Marguerite calling it Atkinson’s disease. In the audio, there is no doubt: Marguerite says Addison’s. It is rendered as Atkinson’s in the transcript. Maybe Stafford didn’t remember what Mrs. Oswald actually said, and later on trusted the error of the unknown transcriber. While accurate overall, the transcript does, in fact, garble certain words here and there; in places it reminds me of the sometimes-strange voicemail transcripts my Smartphone makes. The ethical thing would have been double-checking Marguerite’s presumed mistake, before putting it to print.

But the point is that Marguerite Oswald did not say her son was chosen to shoot a terminally ill JFK in a mercy killing. Jean Stafford created that illusion.

According to biographer David Roberts (Jean Stafford: A Biography, 1988) Jean Stafford later “held parties at which she played the Oswald tapes for her friends.” Roberts cites Stafford’s “fascination” with Marguerite Oswald’s voice.

It sounds more like arrogance to me. One imagines a bunch of cocktail-quaffing intelligentsia howling with laughter over Marguerite’s unschooled chatter. But maybe not. Maybe Stafford just wanted to give some of her pals a front-row seat to history. Whatever: the image this conjures is, to me, thoroughly repulsive.

The Stafford-Oswald interviews took place in May 1965. This is approximately ten months after Marguerite met with Harold Feldman and Vince Salandria, after which Feldman wrote “The Unsinkable Marguerite Oswald,” published in September 1964 (available online).

Nov. 15

 

President John F. Kennedy, with his wife Jacqueline Kennedy seated beside him, waves from his motorcade minutes before he was shot in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963 (Associated Press photo).President John F. Kennedy, with his wife Jacqueline Kennedy seated beside him, waves from his motorcade minutes before he was shot in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963 (Associated Press photo).

Politico, Why We Still Don’t Have the JFK Assassination Files, Philip Shenon, Nov. 15, 2022. Nov. 15, 2022. The FBI and the CIA are still protecting their sources from six decades ago.

Almost exactly 59 years after those rifle shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, left a president mortally wounded and changed the course of history, there are still secrets that the government admits it is determined to keep about the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. More than 14,000 classified documents somehow related to the president’s murder remain locked away, in part or in full, at the National Archives in clear violation of the spirit of a landmark 1992 transparency law that was supposed to force the release of virtually all of them years ago.

politico CustomThe fact that anything about the assassination is still classified — and that the CIA, FBI and other agencies have refused to provide the public with a detailed explanation of why — has convinced an army of conspiracy theorists that their cynicism has always been justified.

Newly released internal correspondence from the National Archives and Records Administration reveals that, behind the scenes, there has been a fierce bureaucratic war over the documents in recent years, pitting the Archives against the CIA, FBI and other agencies that want to keep them secret.

nara logoThe correspondence, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that the Archives has tried, and often failed, to insist that other agencies comply with the 1992 law by declassifying more documents. The struggle was especially fierce in 2017, when then-President Donald Trump sided with the CIA and FBI and agreed to waive a supposedly concrete legal deadline that year to release all classified documents related to the JFK assassination.

Last year, President Joe Biden ordered another review of the documents to allow more to be made public this December. Officials involved in the declassification process say they are optimistic that a large batch of documents will be made public next month.

The internal correspondence from the Archives helps resolve one lingering mystery about the documents: In their negotiations with the White House and the Archives in recent years, how have the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon and other agencies justified keeping any secrets about a turning point in American history that occurred decades ago — an event that has always inspired corrosive conspiracy theories about government complicity?

In the past, those agencies have provided the public with only vague explanations about their reasoning, citing potential damage to national security and foreign policy.

The Archives correspondence reveals, for the first time, their detailed justifications, providing a rare window into reasoning inside the CIA and FBI. In many cases, it shows, the CIA and FBI pressed to keep documents secret because they contained the names and personal details of still-living intelligence and law-enforcement informants from the 1960’s and 1970’s who could be at risk of intimidation or even violence if they were publicly identified.

Many of those sources — now elderly, if not close to death — are foreigners living outside the United States, which means it would be more difficult for the American government to protect them from threats. The CIA has also withheld information in the documents that identifies the location of CIA stations and safehouses abroad, including several that have been in use continuously since Kennedy’s death in 1963.

The Archives correspondence shows that, while much of the still-classified information is only indirectly related to the assassination, some of it comes directly from the FBI’s “main investigative case files” about the president’s murder. That includes the all-important case files on Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin [JIP Editor's Note: This should read "alleged assassin.], and Jack Ruby, the Dallas strip-club owner who murdered Oswald two days after Kennedy’s death.

Philip Shenon, a former Washington and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is author of "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination."

Nov. 14

 

djt on phone white house photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Wanted I.R.S. Investigations of Foes, Top Aide Says, Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 14, 2022 (print ed.). John Kelly, who was White House chief of staff, said former President Trump wanted investigations into perceived enemies like the former F.B.I. director.

While in office, President Donald J. Trump (shown above in a White House photo during his presidency) repeatedly told John F. Kelly, his second White House chief of staff, that he wanted a number of his perceived political enemies to be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Kelly said.

FBI logoMr. Kelly, right, who was chief of staff from July 2017 through the end of 2018, said in response to questions from The New York Times that Mr. Trump’s demands were part of a broader pattern of him trying to use the Justice Department and his authority as president against people who had been john kelly o dhscritical of him, including seeking to revoke the security clearances of former top intelligence officials.

Mr. Kelly said that among those Mr. Trump said “we ought to investigate” and “get the I.R.S. on” were the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. His account of Mr. Trump’s desires to use the I.R.S. against his foes comes after the revelation by The Times this summer that Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe had both been selected for a rare and highly intrusive audit by the tax agency in the years after Mr. Kelly left the White House.

Mr. Trump has said he knows nothing about the audits. The I.R.S. has asked its inspector general to investigate, and officials have insisted the two men were selected randomly for the audits.

irs logoMr. Kelly said he made clear to Mr. Trump that there were serious legal and ethical issues with what he wanted. He said that despite the president’s expressed desires to have Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe investigated by the I.R.S., he believes that he led Mr. Trump during his tenure as chief of staff to forgo trying to have such investigations conducted.

After Mr. Kelly left the administration, Mr. Comey was informed in 2019 that his 2017 returns were being audited, and Mr. McCabe learned in 2021 that his 2019 returns were being audited. At the time both audits occurred, the I.R.S. was led by a Trump political appointee.

New York Daily News May 9, 2017.(Comey was a Republican whose firing by Trump during Comey's 10-year term was reported by the New York Daily News in front page story at right on New York Daily News May 9, 2017.)

Mr. Trump regularly made his demands in response to news reports in which he thought his perceived enemies made him look bad. The president would carry on about having them investigated to the point that Mr. Kelly thought he needed to tell the president that what he wanted was highly problematic, explaining, in sometimes heated conversations, that what Mr. Trump wanted was not just potentially illegal and immoral but also could blow back on him.

Mr. Trump would eventually let the idea go, Mr. Kelly said, but during subsequent outbursts about his enemies he would again bring up his desires to have them investigated.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency he regularly, in both public and private, ranted about Mr. Comey, whom Mr. Trump had fired in May 2017, and Mr. McCabe, who played a leading role in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

 

McCabe, a career federal prosecutor, successfully sued to regain his pension that had been eliminated one day short of vesting when Trump's team fired him. He wrote a memoir,

McCabe, a career federal prosecutor and Justice Department official, successfully sued to regain his pension that had been eliminated one day short of vesting when Trump's team fired him. He wrote a memoir, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

 

 kennedys king new logo

Kennedys & King, Analysis: Dale Myers and his World of Illusion, James DiEugenio, left, Nov. 14, 2022. 'Lone Nut' supporter Dale Myers recently attacked Oliver jim dieugenio fileStone's film, JFK Revisited. Stone's screenwriter, James DiEugenio, demonstrates how groundless those attacks are with this detailed reply.

Dale Myers has made a career out of giving the MSM what it wants concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This includes proffering a truly dubious witness, Jack Tatum, to incriminate Lee Oswald as the murderer of J. D. Tippit. Jack Myers exposed the man Myers foisted on the public via PBS in 1993. (Click here for details).

But that was not enough for Myers. Not by a long shot. On the 40th anniversary of JFK’s murder, ABC’s Peter Jennings wanted to do a program supporting the Warren Report. Somehow, he knew where to go. Jennings hired Myers’ buddy Gus Russo as lead reporter. Russo turned to his PBS chum Dale. Myers went to work on two main areas. These were the acoustics evidence, and his Rube Goldberg “computer simulation” of the Zapruder film: an animation that is supposed to reveal the forensic truth about the last few seconds of Kennedy’s life as it was extinguished in Dealey Plaza.

The problem with both of these is that they turned out to be about as reliable as Myers’ PBS work on the murder of Tippit. Concerning the acoustics evidence, Myers tried to proffer that by relating the movement of the DPD motorcycle driven by H. B McLain in the Hughes film, and then drawing a parallel with the same rider in the famous Zapruder film, he could discredit the acoustics evidence as being inaccurate about the shot sequence in Dealey Plaza. Myers attested that by his mathematical comparison, McLain would have had to have been riding at 200 mph to be in the correct spot to capture the sounds of the bullets in Dealey Plaza on his radio. (Donald Thomas, Hear No Evil, p. 676).

The problem with Myer’s statement was that the general public only saw the computations it was based on three years later. When informed people finally did, it turned out that Dale had done some MSM like slicing and dicing in order to come out with that 200 mph number, e. g. the timing of the first shot, assuming the grassy knoll shot missed, the placement of Robert Hughes etc. (Thomas, pp 677-680). After a long and detailed analysis, Don Thomas concluded that not only was Myers wrong, but “The ABC documentary’s “concrete evidence” had feet of clay. The producers had relied on an expert whose only credential was a bias against conspiracy theories.” (ibid, p. 684; we will go into the Myers “simulation” shortly.)

On July 24th, Myers wrote a piece that was his way of getting back at Oliver Stone’s two new documentaries JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed. He bases this critique on his viewing of the two films in the DVD package plus the release of the accompanying book JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, which contains the annotated scripts, and interview excerpts.

He starts off on the wrong foot by saying the DVD package contains almost ten hours of material. Since the long version of the film is four hours and the short version is two hours, and there is overlap between the two, I guess we will have to wait about another three years to figure out how Dale came to that number. (Even if one throws in the commentary track version, it is not ten hours.)

Myers now slips up again. He wants to criticize the film for something that it does not include. Namely the murder of Tippit. He then acknowledges that some might think this is not fair, but he brushes this off with another of his patently bombastic pronouncements: “I think this is the heart of why the film comes off like a stacked-deck.”

This is the guy who used Jack Tatum as his chief witness in the Tippit case, and who then based his 200 mph motorcycle speed on invisible calculations.

He now works his way into the mind of Oliver Stone and his screenwriter—namely me—and says imperiously, ”Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio won’t deal with the Tippit murder because it is the snare that entrapped Lee Harvey Oswald. It was Tippit’s murder that made Oswald a prime suspect in the JFK assassination.”

Now that is a rhetorical trick worthy of a card sharp. For the simple matter that the film shows that Oswald not only did not shoot Kennedy, he could not have shot Kennedy. Therefore why would he be involved in the Tippit murder? As Bob Tanenbaum, who Stone and I met with numerous times while planning the film, says on screen: With the Warren Report’s evidence you could not convict Oswald in any court in the country. As an Assistant New York County District Attorney in Manhattan, Tanenbaum never lost a murder case in seven years. I think those credentials outdo Myers.’ Don’t you?

The book accompanying the DVD contains annotated scripts to both films: the short and long version. It also has excerpts from interviews that largely did not make it into the film due to time issues. Myers refers to that over four hundred-page book as being “semi-annotated.” In reality, the pages dealing with the film scripts contain over 500 footnotes. Every statement of factual evidence is sourced.

Interestingly, Stone’s lawyer actually started that process when, upon seeing the rough cut of the film, she wanted us to prove the things we were saying about the pathologists in the film. She thought they were quite startling and might be hard to comprehend to a general audience. Much of that evidence was produced by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), and this is why we enlisted three members of the Board to appear on the program. The reader may want to ask Myers if, in any of the shows he has worked on, he talked about the existence of that body or revealed any of the new or declassified results of its work. One example: that autopsy photographer John Stringer denied he took the pictures of Kennedy’s brain in the National Archives. After all, JFK Revisited has ARRB employee Doug Horne relating this evidence. He was in the room when Stringer said it under oath. That disturbing testimony leaves us with these questions:

  • Who did take the pictures?
  • Why did someone else have to shoot them?

This evidence, as presented in the film, is the kind of material that one could have taken into a court room to adjudicate an acquittal for Oswald. Because the presentation of fraudulent evidence in a felony case can be grounds for having the proceeding thrown out. Stone’s film actually has a practicing neurologist, Michael Chesser, talking about this evidentiary issue.

JFK Revisited, the film and the book, attempted to gather professionals in the field of legal procedure and forensics. I have named two, Tanenbaum and Chesser, and I wish to introduce a third, namely Dr. Henry Lee. Why? Because Myers said that our film included an animated reconstruction of the shooting. No, it does not. If we had done so, we would have had to include scale models of the figures in the car, close ups of where the bullets struck the two bodies, and some kind of time sequence also. We chose not to do that. And this is where Dr. Lee comes in to play.

As screenwriter, I did a pre-interview with Lee when he was in Los Angeles testifying in a case. I asked him about this whole issue of doing computer reconstructions for trajectory analysis purposes in the JFK case. He said simply and pointedly: You cannot do that in the Kennedy case. He added that this is due to the basic reason that neither wound in the president was dissected. Therefore, any trajectory analysis amounts to guesswork. Unless a wound track is dissected, you cannot present a trajectory with any real authority. This from the man who many consider the best crime scene reconstruction professional in the business. I decided he was, in all probability, correct and we did not do that sort of thing.

Why did I conclude that? Because Lee has worked on 8,000 felony cases, and about 1,000 of them have been death by gunshot. He has written over 30 books about true crime cases and some of those are used as textbooks in forensic science classes. He has been approved to testify in almost every state of the union, and also 42 countries. As with Bob Tanenbaum, I would like to ask Mr. Myers: “How many states have you been approved in to testify as a forensic crime scene reconstruction expert? How many countries?”

jim dieugenio destiny coverConcerning Lee’s statement, in Myers’ ABC “simulation’ I don’t recall him telling the audience that there was no dissection of the back wound in President Kennedy. Or explaining why. He surely has to know that Kennedy pathologist Pierre Finck admitted under oath at the Clay Shaw trial that there was military brass in the morgue that night and they would not allow the wound to be tracked. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, second edition, p. 302). This was rather important information. But I don’t think that Russo or Jennings would have allowed that in the show; for obvious reasons.

Myers tries to neutralize the attacks on his “computer simulation” by saying the critiques I named of it, that somehow, he had crushed them all. This really makes me wonder about good ole Dale. According to Bob Harris, Myers asked You Tube to remove his critique of Myers’ simulation. To my knowledge, he never replied to Milicent Cranor. Myers said he called David Mantik, but Dave said he never got the call or any message. As for Pat Speer’s, well the reader can see how this exchange turned out himself.

Anyone who watches JFK Revisited can see that what we did was to present evidence that 1.) It is highly unlikely that a bullet could do the damage that CE 399 did and emerge in such intact condition. 2.) The chain of custody of this bullet is rather suspect. For the former we had forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht on camera along with battlefield surgeon Dr. Joseph Dolce, who worked for the Warren Commission. For the latter we had Dr. Gary Aguilar, Dr. Henry Lee, and former police investigator Brian Edwards as witnesses. In the film, Aguilar proved that the FBI lied when they wrote that Bardwell Odum showed CE 399 to original Parkland identification witnesses O. P. Wright and Darrell Tomlinson. Odum said he never did any such thing. (The Assassinations, edited by James DIEugenio and Lisa Pease, pp.282-84) To repeat: this is the kind of fraud that can get a case thrown out of court. Again, I do not recall Myers discussing this for his ABC “reconstruction”. I think it would be relevant to that presentation. After all, if the bullet was not CE 399, what bullet trajectory was Dale “simulating”?

Myers objects to my references to the Tippit case in the book, JFK Revisited. He says the essay I wrote and reference is a mélange of work by Bill Simpich, Farris Rookstool and John Armstrong. Anyone who reads that piece can see that there are about 7 references to those three in that profusely annotated work. (Click here.) The two most often used sources are, by far, the Warren Commission volumes and the book by Joe McBride, Into the Nightmare. Myers does not want to acknowledge this, perhaps because it indicates 1.) There is material in the volumes he chose not to use and 2.) McBride’s book showed that Myers’ work on the Tippit case was, to be kind, not as comprehensive as he tried to advertise it.

For instance, it turns out that-- in all the decades he says he worked on the Tippit case--he never interviewed the murdered policeman’s father. If Joe McBride found him, why couldn’t Dale? When McBride quoted Edgar Lee Tippit as stating things that would contradict the Myers/Warren Report version of the Tippit shooting, Dale did a funny thing. He now wrote that Edgar Lee was somehow mentally afflicted. As McBride points out, that information was garnered from a sister of J. D. ten days after Myers ordered McBride’s book. In other words, Myers somehow could not locate the man in some 35 years, but now—oh so conveniently-- he finds out it did not matter.

Anyone can read McBride’s reply to Myers. (Click here.) Myers wants to belatedly discredit Edgar because he brings out evidence that indicates Tippit, and another officer, “Had been assigned by the police to hunt down Oswald in Oak Cliff.” Edgar then added that the other policeman did not make it to the scene since he stopped for an accident. As McBride also reveals, former DA Henry Wade seemed to corroborate Edgar. He told Joe: “Somebody reported to me that the police already knew who he [Oswald] was, and they were looking for him.” McBride goes further and states, with convincing evidence, that the other officer, who did not get to the scene, was William Duane Mentzel.

In sum, if Oliver Stone had decided to explore the Tippit case, I would have scripted that also. And I would have brought in the work of McBride, as well as authors like Henry Hurt, Jack Myers and myself. I would have chosen what I thought was the best from each of these sources and arranged it as astutely as I could. To put it mildly, it would not have comported with the Warren Report version.

Myers closes his diatribe by making some of his usual sociologically absurd comments. He first says that there is a movement to silence in America. Really Dale? In the age of Donald Trump? He then gets to his point: Somehow Oliver Stone and myself were ignoring and obfuscating what happened on the day Kennedy was killed. No we were not. We were doing what he never did. We were analyzing the newest evidence in the case with persons who are, unlike him, credentialed professionals. That is why we used people like Dr. Cyril Wecht, criminalist Henry Lee, Dr. Gary Aguilar, physicist David Mantik, neurologist Mike Chesser, former police investigator Brian Edwards, journalist Barry Ernest, ARRB investigator Douglas Horne, surgeon Donald Miller and radiologist Randy Robertson. We easily had more accredited professionals on screen than appeared in all of the programs Myers has worked on combined. In fact, the comparison is so one sided as to be kind of laughable.

This unprecedented gathering of authorities gave the public some new, evidence-backed insights into the actual circumstances concerning what happened to President Kennedy in Dallas. One example: Chesser, Mantik and Aguilar proffered a case-- with House Select Committee on Assassinations advisor Larry Sturdivan’s own evidence—that a shot came from the front. Those same three, plus Horne, also showed that the brain photos, accepted by the HSCA as President Kennedy’s, cannot be his. And, as anyone can see—except Dale Myers—they did this on three evidentiary grounds. I could go on in this vein e.g. about demonstrating Oswald’s alibi, but the point is made. Questions like: What does the autopsy reveal about the true circumstances and the actual cause of death? Does the defendant have an alibi? These are what a criminal investigation of a gunshot homicide are about.

But that is what Myers, Russo, the late PBS producer Mike Sullivan, and Peter Jennings, were not going to do. It was they who were the masters of silence about really happened to JFK. And this new work helps show Dale Myers for what he was and is: a designer of sand castles in the air.

Nov. 13

 

 9 11 world trade center smoking on 9 11 flikr michael foran

New York’s World Trade Center after each of the towers were hit by hijacked Boeing 767 passenger jets on Sept. 11, 2001 (Photo: Michael Foran CC by 2.0).

FloridaBulldog.org, Investigation: U.S. coughs up 9/11 Commission report on 2004 private meeting with Bush/Cheney; Bush saw no reason to pursue accountability wtc towers 9 11 michael foranfor failures, Dan Christensen, right, Nov. 13, 2022 (First of a two-part series).

Nearly two decades after President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney answered questions for the 9/11 Commission in a closed gathering in the Oval Office, a 31-page “summary” of what they had to say finally has been made public.

Neither Bush (shown below announcing military action against Iraq in 2003) nor Cheney was under oath during the three-hour meeting on April 29, 2004. And the summary shows it was a generally relaxed, non-adversarial and largely superficial get-together during which no george w bush oval iraq 2003 wsignificant new insights were gleaned.

Yet the summary does yield Bush’s forceful, nonpublic opinion that he “didn’t see much point in assigning personal blame for 9/11.”

The president’s admonition, uttered as he was running for re-election, would not have played well with thousands of 9/11 survivors and the families of the murdered – who were then near top of mind with many American voters, Republicans and Democrats alike.

“It would have been pure outrage,” 9/11 widow and activist Kristen Breitweiser, shown below right on the cover of her accusatory memoir, told Florida Bulldog. “We felt that in the face of nearly 3,000 dead bodies in lower Manhattan that people would have been held accountable.”

kristen breitwasser cover“This document makes my blood boil,” said Sharon Premoli, who was in her office on the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane struck on September 11, 2001 and was later pulled from the wreckage. “That our lives were in the hands of these incompetents is chilling and [explains] why 3,000 were murdered, 6,000 injured.”

A LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY

The lack of accountability, Breitweiser said, is exemplified by Bush’s decision to retain then-CIA boss George Tenet amid significant public criticism. “Why leave the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in place when he had utterly failed to synthesize information in the pipeline about the attacks? Is anyone surprised there was [later] bad intelligence in the war on Iraq?”

Tenet retired in July 2004. Five months later, Bush awarded Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Bush and TenetPresident Bush after bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on retired CIA DIrector George Tenet in December 2004. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via the White House

Said Breitweiser, “Tenet is a very good example of why it was important to hold people accountable, not for political reasons, but to make the nation safe. You can’t fix problems and make sure it doesn’t happen again if you don’t have accountability. That was the families’ mandate to the commission.”

Breitweiser was a leader of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, an organization that had pushed a reluctant Bush to create the 9/11 Commission. The steering committee urged 9/11 Commission Chair Thomas Kean and Vice Chair Lee Hamilton to ask Bush, alone and in sworn public testimony, a list of tough, probing questions, including: “Why was our nation so utterly unprepared for an attack on our own soil?” and “Why no one in any level of our government has yet been held accountable for the countless failures leading up to and on 9/11?”

Nov. 12

World Crisis Radio, Historical Commentary: Fascism was on the ballot this year, and fascism has been defeated! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author and historian, Nov. webster tarpley twitter12, 2022 (119 mins.). After warnings from Biden in Independence Hall and Union Station speeches, American people confirm standing as most anti-fascist major power on planet!

AG Garland must now honor his oath of office by immediately enforcing the rule of law against a weakened Trump and his co-conspirators; Donald set to declare candidacy next Tuesday, but allies urge him to postpone taking plunge;
Kelly wins in Arizona to make Senate 49-49, while Cortez-Mastow gains on Laxalt in Nevada and Graham threatens civil war if MAGAt does not prevail; Democrats near control of Senate; Warnock must win Georgia on December 6 to devalue recalcitrant Dems; House majority still not clear;

Internecine struggles among disappointed GOPers could cripple party; Reactionary extremists of House Tea Party (aka ”Freedom”) caucus promise challenge to McQarthy, demanding right to oust Speaker at any time and other chaotic measures; Five senators signal no confidence in Moscow Mitch; Trump against DeSantis;

Defeated Rep. Maloney notes AOC was AWOL in New York House races; Ultra-lefts as the bane of the Democrats, from Florida to Albany to Ohio; Shame of the controlled corporate media for pushing the fantastic narrative of a red tsunami;

Too late for maskirovka: Ukraine liberates Kherson from Russian war criminals; Negotiating with Putin is as futile as talking to Hitler about Czechoslovakia in August 1938; Russian troops are free to leave Ukraine at any time; Reparations and transportation might then be discussed; Zelensky: Putin does not negotiate, but issues ultimatums; Crypto world collapsing; Will Wall Street follow?

Biden attends COP 27 in Egypt, where Xi and Modi are absent; President continues to ASEAN in Cambodia, followed by summit with Xi at G-20 in Bali, Indonesia.

Nov. 9

 

The late financier, sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, and former longtime Harvard Law School Professor and author Alan Dershowitz (file photo).

The late financier, sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, and former longtime Harvard Law School Professor and author Alan Dershowitz (file photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein Victim Says She May Have Made a Mistake in Accusing Dershowitz, Katherine Rosman and Jonah E. Bromwich, Nov. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Virginia Giuffre, who was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein, had accused Alan Dershowitz of abusing her. Now she says she is no longer certain.

Virginia Giuffre, a victim of Jeffrey E. Epstein who for years maintained that the law professor Alan Dershowitz had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, settled a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Dershowitz on Tuesday and said that she might have “made a mistake” in accusing him.

Virginia Roberts 2015 photoIn a joint statement announcing the settlement, Ms. Giuffre, shown at right at age 31, said, “I have long believed that I was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to Alan Dershowitz. However, I was very young at the time, it was a very stressful and traumatic environment, and Mr. Dershowitz has from the beginning consistently denied these allegations.

“I now recognize I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz,” her statement said.

The joint statement announced the end of litigation between Ms. Giuffre and Mr. Dershowitz — who had also sued her — as well as of two other lawsuits between Mr. Dershowitz and the lawyer David Boies that stemmed from Ms. Giuffre’s accusation.

Ms. Giuffre had sued Mr. Dershowitz on the grounds that he had made defamatory statements about her after her accusation. Her lawyer would not comment on the statement but confirmed that the settlement had been reached. A document confirming that Ms. Giuffre had agreed to dismiss her case was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.

“She has suffered much at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, and I commend her work combating the evil of sex trafficking,” Mr. Dershowitz said of Ms. Giuffre in his own statement.

And Mr. Boies, who has represented Ms. Giuffre, though not in this matter, said that “the time has come to end this litigation” and that Mr. Dershowitz “has suffered greatly from the allegation of sexual abuse made against him — an allegation that he has consistently and vehemently denied.”

The terms of Ms. Giuffre’s deal with Mr. Dershowitz were not immediately clear on Tuesday, though the statement and the court filing said that no payments were made by any of the parties.

The settlement of the defamation lawsuit, which was filed in 2019, and Ms. Giuffre’s accompanying statement represented a remarkable turnabout for Mr. Dershowitz, who has been trying to resuscitate his reputation since Ms. Giuffre first made her claim publicly in 2014. Her accusations against Mr. Epstein have been corroborated.

A longtime friend of Mr. Epstein, Mr. Dershowitz defended the financier after he was first arrested and charged with sex trafficking, attacking his client’s young accusers, and in 2008, helped to win a lenient plea deal for Mr. Epstein. After pleading guilty to two prostitution charges in state court, Mr. Epstein served about a year in a Florida jail, leaving confinement six days a week to work out of his office.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001

Giuffre accused Epstein as treating her as a "sex slave" beginning when she was 15 as part of a massive sex trafficking operation he ran exploiting girls in their mid-teens, below the legal age of consent.

Roberts, now 31, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, Epstein's attorney Dershowitz, and French modeling scout Jean Luc Brunel.

The California native said the photo below left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. The death left one of the world's largest media empires with a reported $3 billion in debts.

 Nov. 8

 

 elon musk safe image time

ny times logoNew York Times, Facing a Tide of Criticism, Elon Musk Is Tweeting Through It, Ryan Mac, Nov. 8, 2022 (print ed.). Twitter’s new billionaire owner (shown above in a file photo) has embarked on a tweeting spree to push back, spar and justify his actions.

Under pressure and facing a wave of criticism, Elon Musk has increasingly turned to his favorite release valve: Twitter.

Since Saturday, Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man and the new owner of Twitter, has embarked on a tweeting spree so voluminous that he is on a pace to post more than 750 times this month, or more than 25 times a day, according to an analysis from the digital investigations company Memetica. That would be up from about 13 times a day in April, when Mr. Musk first agreed to buy Twitter.

twitter bird CustomHis recent tweets have covered an increasingly broad range of topics. Over the last four days, Mr. Musk, 51, needled the comedian Kathy Griffin and beefed with the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on the platform. He made masturbation jokes aimed at a rival — and much smaller — social media platform. He posted, then deleted, a tweet engaging with a quote from a white nationalist. And he defended his ownership of Twitter, including why he had laid off 50 percent of the company’s staff and why people should not impersonate others on the service.

All in all, Mr. Musk, who described himself in his Twitter profile as “Chief Twit” before later changing the description to “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator,” has tweeted more than 105 times since Friday, mainly about Twitter, according to a tally by Memetica.

Mr. Musk is under tremendous scrutiny 11 days after completing his $44 billion deal for Twitter, which was the largest leveraged buyout of a technology company in history. On Friday, he cut roughly 3,700 of the company’s 7,500 employees, saying he had no choice because Twitter was losing $4 million a day. At the same time, he has found himself embroiled in the same content debates that have plagued other social media companies, including how to give people a way to speak out without spreading misinformation and toxic speech.

On Friday, Mr. Musk, who has more than 114 million followers on Twitter, proposed a “thermonuclear name & shame” campaign against brands that had stopped advertising on the platform. He said that he had done everything he could to appease advertisers but that activists had worked against him to cause brands to drop out of spending on Twitter.

At the same time, the billionaire was embroiled in a fight over his plan to charge Twitter users $8 a month for a subscription service, Twitter Blue, which would give a check mark to anyone who paid. The check mark had been free for notable people whose identities had been verified by the company, including celebrities, politicians and journalists, as a way to protect against impersonation.

Critics were unhappy about Mr. Musk’s plans to monetize the check mark, saying it could lead to the spread of misinformation and fraud on the platform. In protest, some Twitter accounts that had check marks changed their display names and photographs to match Mr. Musk’s account over the weekend, a move intended to illustrate why it would be confusing if anyone could buy a check mark.

Nov. 7

kennedys king new logo

Kennedys & King, Book Review: Suppressing The Truth in Dallas, by Charles Brandt, reviewed by James DiEugenio, left, Nov. 7, 2022. James DiEugenio, Nov. 7, jim dieugenio file2022. Jim DiEugenio reviews the new JFK assassination book Suppressing the Truth, by Charles Brandt, and identifies its many weaknesses.

In the fall of 1977, former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, right, wrote a letter to Jonathan Blackmer of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. They had just met in New Orleans and were developing an informational relationship, one in which Garrison would offer any jim garrisonfiles he could dig up on a subject and often advise on its value. Blackmer had been originally appointed by Robert Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum was the New York City Chief of Homicide who had been the original Deputy Counsel for the Kennedy side of the HSCA. In this letter Garrison warned Blackmer about the perils of investigating the Kennedy case by using the usual tools of a police investigation. Garrison wrote that these methods would not be adequate in the JFK case. The main reason being that, in reality, Kennedy’s assassination was a covert operation. Which had layers of disguise around it.

That letter is still worth reading today. And I wish Charles Brandt had read it. Because his new book on the JFK case is a prime example of how a former criminal investigator can go off the rails by relying on the lessons he learned in prosecuting felonies back—in Brandt’s case—the state of Delaware. Brandt is the author of several books, both fiction and non-fiction, in the crime genre. He was a homicide investigator, prosecutor and finally Deputy Attorney General for Delaware. In his book on the JFK case, Suppressing the Truth in Dallas, he lets us know about his past career quite frequently. And this is a serious problem with the work.

For instance, fairly early in the book, Brandt states that Lee Oswald killed President Kennedy, wounded Governor John Connally and killed Officer J. D. Tippit. (Brandt, pp. 21-22) Brandt actually embarrasses himself with the following, “… the evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally.” (p. 21) Which would mean that he buys the efficacy of CE 399. Very wisely, he does not actually say that. Because in explaining the Magic Bullet, the evidence would be shown to be rather underwhelming.

I will give the reader one example of what Brandt does say to justify all this. He says that Oswald fired only three shots, and these were heard by the workers on the fifth floor, below the sixth floor crime scene. (Brandt, p. 22)

I was quite disappointed when I read this. First, it ignores the evidence of Tom Alyea. Alyea was the Dallas photographer who was the first civilian on the sixth floor on November 22, 1963. He told Alan Eaglesham that when the police first found the shells, they were within a hand towel of each other. Which means they could not have been ejected by the rifle found on that floor. But Tom also said that they were then lifted up and dropped on the floor and this was the arrangement that was then photographed by the police. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, p. 94)

nara logoAs per the noise of the dropping of the shells above the workers on the fifth floor, again, this is dubious. One of those witnesses, Harold Norman, presents a problem for prosecutor Brandt. Because it appears Mr. Norman changed his story. On November 26th, in his first statement to the FBI, there is no mention at all about those three sounds he heard from above. And there is nothing in the record about Norman saying anything like that prior to that report. What makes this even more suspicious is that Norman’s new story did not appear until his Secret Service interview of December 2nd. (ibid, p. 55)

Why? Because one of the Secret Service agents who Norman changed his story for was the infamous Elmer Moore. The man who worked on Dr. Malcolm Perry to change his story and the man who pulled a gun on Church Committee witness James Gochenaur. Moore also confessed that Secret Service Chief James Rowley and Inspector General James Kelly helped to frame agent Abe Bolden for his attempt to expose the plot to kill Kennedy in Chicago. (See Oliver Stone’s film, JFK: Destiny Betrayed.)

Right here, Brandt’s case would be in a world of trouble in any kind of legitimate legal proceeding. Two of his underlying evidentiary theses for Oswald’s guilt are quite questionable. But that is just the beginning of the problematic side of this book. Brandt accepts the Warren Commission tenet of Lee Oswald being a communist. He can do this since he proffers none of the new evidence from people like author John Newman, HSCA investigator Betsy Wolf, British researcher Malcolm Blunt, or journalist Jeff Morley. That sum total would indicate that Oswald was not a communist. He was, in all probability, a CIA agent provocateur and FBI informant. The evidence adduced by Morley and Newman in Stone’s film JFK Revisited would be enough to show the problems with Brandt’s ideas about Oswald.

Needless to say, Brandt also thinks that Oswald himself went to Mexico City in late September and early October of 1963. Again, there are serious problems with that belief. Many of them are put forth in the quite important, 410-page Lopez Report declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board in 1995. For instance, the lack of a picture of Oswald entering either the Cuban or Russian consulate, and the fact that Oswald himself spoke fluent Russian and the voice on the CIA tapes portray someone who spoke poor Russian. (DiEugenio, op. cit. pp. 287-300). In fact, it was the Commission treatment of Oswald in Mexico City which Jim Garrison once referred to as being perhaps the key to the plot. Since he was one of the first to suspect Oswald had been impersonated there. (Memo from Garrison to Lou Ivon, 1/19/68)

II

As part of his case against Oswald, Brandt states that Oswald fled the scene of the crime, namely the Texas School Book Depository. He accepts the Warren Report story about Oswald descending the sixth-floor stairs, and later being found in the second-floor lunch room by supervisor Roy Truly and policeman Marrion Baker; then leaving the building and going back to his rooming house. This is what he says: “…flight is powerful evidence of guilt…” (Brandt, p.22)

We have already shown that the idea that the sixth floor was a crime scene has some questions around it. But something that shocked me about the book is that I could find no mention of the three secretaries on the fourth floor: Sandy Styles, Victoria Adams, and Dorothy Garner. This is really strange in the face of the success of Barry Ernest’s book, The Girl on the Stairs and Rich Negrete’s follow up film, The Killing Floor. Those two works help express strong reservations that Oswald was on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting. And if he was not there, then how can this be powerful evidence of guilt? Also, we should not forget that people like Bart Kamp have presented evidence that the second-floor lunch encounter was an event created after the fact. It may not have happened as depicted in the Warren Report. (For more detail, click here.)

But to go further than that, if Oswald was fleeing the scene of the crime, why did he then take a bus back toward the scene of the crime? (Mark Lane, Rush to Judgment, p. 159) Because, if one accepts the Warren Report, that is what he did. But then he got off that bus, walked several blocks, and hitched a ride in a taxi. But before he did that, he was about to get out of the cab and offer it to an elderly lady who asked that same driver to hail a taxi for her. (Lane, p. 165) The question is: Does a man who killed the president and wounded the governor of that state use public transportation to escape the scene of the crime? Does he then get off a bus, and then offer to give up his cab to someone he does not even know? Where is the urgency in this? How does it portray consciousness of guilt? I won’t even bring in the questions some writers have had about whether Oswald was really on that bus—the driver did not think it was him—or whether or not he was in that cab. Some believe that Oswald—or a double-- was actually taken out of Dealey Plaza by a dark complected Cuban in a Rambler station wagon, as testified to by Deputy Sherriff Roger Craig. (Lane, pp. 173-74)

But one of the most arresting characteristics about Brandt is his single-mindedness. He portrays little if any doubt about what he is writing. But yet, that attitude is undermined by several mistakes he makes about the factual record. For instance, in discussing the murder of J. D. Tippit, he says “A few brave eyewitnesses followed Oswald to a movie theater and watched him sneak in.” (Brandt, p. 23) I am not aware of any witnesses who followed Oswald from 10th and Patton, the scene of the Tippit shooting, to the Texas Theater, let alone “a few.” Most people who write books about the case should know that the two witnesses who complained about Oswald sneaking into the Texas Theater were Johnny Brewer and Julia Postal. The former worked at a shoe store down the street from the theater, and Postal was the ticket taker.

To show the reader how determined Brandt is to turn Oswald into the assassin, he actually writes that Oswald tried to kill Officer McDonald inside the theater as he was being apprehended. (Brandt, p. 23) This has been pretty much demolished by Hasan Yusuf. As per the Tippit shooting, Brandt follows the Warren Report on that one also: Oswald shot Tippit. Except in this instance, he uses the testimony of the HSCA’s Jack Tatum as his signal witness. Apparently, he missed Jack Myer’s essay exposing Tatum as rather problematic.

As the reader can guess by now, Brandt also fingers Oswald in the attempted murder of General Edwin Walker. He does not explain how the projectile in that case went from a 30.06 to a 6.5 mm bullet - -and also changed color, during the transfer from the Dallas Police to the FBI. Or how Oswald was never a suspect in the seven months that the police handled the case; but he quickly became the perpetrator shortly after the Commission and Bureau took over the Walker shooting. (DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 100-01)

Robert Tanenbaum once said about his experience as a homicide attorney, he always ended up with more questions than answers in handling a murder case. Well, Brandt seems to have nothing but answers in the JFK case. But as we have seen so far, he has not asked himself the right questions.

III

Having shown some of Brandt’s liabilities, what is his actual take on the crime? Well, in addition to saying that Oswald did what the Commission said he did, he then chalks it all up to the Mob. (Brandt references Robert Blakey several times in his book.) As I noted above, by ignoring all the latest work on Oswald, he can simply make minimal observations about the man, and then label him a tool of organized crime. Even though one of the pieces of evidence he uses -- the whole connection with his uncle Dutz Murret as part of the New Orleans criminal element -- was shown by the declassified record to be incorrect. Dutz Murret’s wife Lillian was examined by the House Select Committee on this point. She said that Dutz was not working for any mob connected bookie outfit in 1963. His son Eugene said the same thing to the HSCA. In fact Eugene said his father had disconnected with the Mob prior to 1959. (Interviews by HSCA with Lillian and Eugene, 11/6 and 11/7/78) So if there is any other significant evidence that Oswald was Mob associated, Brandt does not adduce it. (He does bring up an association much later, but we will deal with the problems with it in due time.)

The structural framework for Brandt’s book is one of the oddest I have ever read. In fact, in that regard it is up there with the likes of Mark Shaw and Lamar Waldron. He begins by making Earl Warren out to be a villain -- not just in the JFK case, but in what he did with criminal law in general. Which is kind of odd, since many prosecutors think that what Warren did in this area was a long time coming and had prior precedents to back it e.g. the exclusionary rule was introduced in the Weeks vs United States case in 1914. Other aspects of what Warren did, ordering defendants to have attorneys in the Gideon case, and reading a suspect his rights in the Miranda case, have usually been praised as ameliorating abuses by police and prosecutors.

But incredibly, Brandt wants to put forth the idea that Warren was covering up for the Mob. (Brandt, pp. 10-11). The way Brandt does this is rather odd. Throughout the book, the author uses a phone call from Lyndon Johnson in which the president alluded to international complications in the JFK case. (Brandt, p. 41) Brandt treats this as a kind of nebulous pretext that LBJ was using. Yet, to anyone who has read say, James Douglass’ JFK and the Unspeakable, it’s clear what Johnson was referring to. It was to the alleged appearance of Oswald at the Cuban and Russian embassy in Mexico City. (Douglass, p. 83, p. 335). Johnson attempted to intimidate Warren with the threat of atomic warfare due to Oswald’s activities at the two embassies, with the implication that Oswald killed Kennedy for the communists. And by all accounts, LBJ succeeded. For instance, after LBJ put the fear of God in him, Warren did not want the Commission to call any witnesses or have subpoena power. (DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 311-12) How Brandt did not know about this, or failed to understand it, is really incomprehensible. But it was this nuclear intimidation that made Warren into a paper tiger on the Commission.

From this faulty premise, Brandt goes on to postulate another faulty premise. Namely that Warren dominated the Commission members and the legal staff. (Brandt, p. 50) This is undermined by another event the author fails to mention. Warren could not even push through the chief counsel he wanted — namely Warren Olney. By all accounts Olney was too much of a maverick for FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, and commissioners Gerald Ford, John McCloy and Allen Dulles. (DiEugenio pp. 314-15) So, quite early, Warren had been cowed twice. Unlike what Brandt writes, the real power within the Commission was what I refer to as The Troika: Gerald Ford, John McCloy and Allen Dulles. With their handpicked chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, they essentially ran the show. (DiEugenio, pp. 315-17)

IV

Brandt’s attempts at creating historical context for his structure is so unfounded and illogical that it becomes kind of an exercise in the theater of the absurd. For instance, his discussion of the Bay of Pigs invasion is one of the worst I have seen. Consider this for starters: he writes that Robert Maheu testified to the Church Committee about his actions in the Bay of Pigs. (Brandt, p. 73). I asked: What actions? As far as I can see, Maheu had nothing to do with the Bay of Pigs. The best volume I know of on the subject, Bay of Pigs Declassified, by Peter Kornbluh, never mentions Maheu.

Brandt follows this with something just as inexplicable. He writes that the Bay of Pigs led directly to Kennedy’s death. The problem with writing this is that he never comes close to proving it. If that is not bad enough, his characterization of the operation is a bit ridiculous. Consider how he regards Allen Dulles telling JFK he would have a disposal problem with the Cubans. Brandt interprets this as the Cubans badmouthing Kennedy if the operation failed. (p. 81). This is not what Dulles meant. What the CIA Director was indicating was that if Kennedy did not go through with the operation, there would be a problem in resettling the thousands of Cuban exiles the CIA had assembled. 

One of the most bizarre statements the author makes is that the Bay of Pigs constituted felony murder; an invasion of Cuba by the USA. I guess Brandt never heard of the Truman Doctrine, which dates from 1947. Or how it was used—to name just one instance-- in the CIA’s prior disaster in Indonesia in 1958, when Eisenhower tried to overthrow Sukarno.

Then we get to Brandt and Director of Plans Dick Bissell, the CIA’s chief architect and manger of the invasion. Brandt quotes Bissell as saying there would be an “air umbrella” accompanying the invasion. (Brandt, pp. 83-84) As many writers on this subject, like Larry Hancock and David Talbot have concluded, Bissell was a rather unreliable source about the operation. Kennedy had insisted that any further air operations after the preliminary raids—which Brandt all but ignores—were to be conducted from an air strip on the island. (Kornbluh, pp. 125-27). Since no beachhead was ever established, these launches could not be made. Two reasons that the beachheads were not secured are due to lies the CIA had told Kennedy: 1.) There was no element of surprise, and 2.) There were no defections.

Another fact that Brandt never mentions is crucial. Bissell and Director Allen Dulles both later confessed that they knew the invasion would fail. But they were banking on Kennedy intervening with direct American forces to bail out the operation rather than have it collapse. (Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy, pp. 521-22) When Kennedy learned about this duplicity, he decided to fire the top level of the Agency: Dulles, Bissell, and Deputy Director Charles Cabell. I could find no trace of any of this in Brandt.

Brandt continues in his vein as a very poor historian. He says that the Bay of Pigs invasion included a top-secret plan to murder Castro. (Brandt, p. 85) This is false. There was no such plot included in the designs of the plan. That whole affair was a completely separate operation secretly initiated and managed david talbot cover brothers look insideby the CIA. Brandt makes this all the worse by writing that this plot was hatched by President Eisenhower, CIA director Dulles and Director of Plans Bissell and was then executed by President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

To say this is horse manure is an insult to horses. Any real historian would know that the CIA Inspector General Report on the plots to kill Castro was declassified back in the nineties. In two places in that report it specifically states that the CIA had no presidential approval for these plots. (For instance, see pp. 132-33.) But Brandt then doubles down on this and says Operation Mongoose also included assassination plots. Again, this is not true.

But we later see why Brandt does this. He wants to argue that these plots gave the Mob blackmail power over John Kennedy. If Kennedy never knew of them and never authorized them, then such is not the case. And it creates another large fault line in his narrative. He adds to this later by saying that Bobby Kennedy concluded that the Mob killed President Kennedy. The best book on Robert Kennedy’s inquiry into his brother’s death is probably David Talbot’s Brothers. In that book, RFK considered three main culprits: the CIA, the Mob and the Cuban exiles. He never came to a definite conclusion. According to Talbot that was going to happen when he won the presidency.

Nov. 5

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Historical Commentary: 1933 in Germany or 1934 in US? The choice Is in Your Hands! Webster G. Tarpley, author and historian, right, Nov. 5, 2022 (60:40 mins.). webster tarpley twitter36 million early voters nationwide by late Friday, a midterm record, while Trump is reportedly preparing to announce a new bid for power on November 14; That makes this is a referendum — on Trump!

MAGA is now the party of Quislings appeasing Putin, as shown by Rep. Green’s pledge to betray Ukraine by cutting off all US assistance; Kremlin still rooting for Dem defeat;

AG Garland wanted his job, so he should face up to his responsibility to indict the coup leader within a month after the election — or resign; No to the obvious copout of a Special Prosecutor, which would postpone justice past the November 2024 elections and perhaps forever;

Stakes include civil war, with models including: the polycentric model of the French Wars of Religion, c. 1560-1600, a series of 9 regional conflicts plus assassinations and massacres involving Catholics and Calvinist Huguenots; Victims estimated at 2 to 4 million dead; Rebellious nobility used religious appeal to get mass support vs monarchy; andGermany’s Weimar Republic, 1919-1933, marked by fascist militas, left and right wing putsches, and 350 murders by the Konsul political assassination bureau, culminating in Hitler’s seizure of power, with QAnon-style irrational cults;

Want to avoid these nightmares? Vote the straight Democratic ticket from now on!

Breaking: Rusty Bowers sees fascism; Oprah endorses Fetterman over her protege Oz, plus Val Demings, Mandela Barnes, Cortez Masto, Beto, Warnock, Stacy Abrams, and Cheri Beasley; Harry Styles backs Beto in Texas; Support Adrian Fontes, a tough Democrat for Arizona Secretary of State, challenging the egregious MAGAT Finchem!

Nov. 2

 

President Biden speaks at Union Station in D.C. on Wednesday (AFP photo by Jim Watson via Getty Images).

President Biden speaks at Union Station in D.C. on Wednesday (AFP photo by Jim Watson via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden warns GOP could set nation on ‘path to chaos’ as democratic system faces strain, Rosalind S. Helderman and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Nov. 2, 2022. The president delivered his warning in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and just days after Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked.

Signs of strain in the nation’s democratic system mounted Wednesday with less than a week left before the midterm elections, as President Biden warned that candidates who refuse to accept Tuesday’s results could set the nation on a “path to chaos.”

Biden’s grim assessment in a speech Wednesday evening came as the FBI and other agencies have forecast that threats of violence from domestic extremists are likely to be on the rise after the election. In Arizona, voters have complained of intimidation by self-appointed drop-box monitors — some of them armed — prompting a federal judge to set strict new limits. And the GOP has stepped up litigation in multiple states in an effort to toss out some ballots and to expand access for partisan poll watchers.

Speaking at Washington’s Union Station — steps from the U.S. Capitol, which was attacked by a pro-Trump mob in the wake of the nation’s last major election — Biden warned of an ongoing assault on American democracy. The president spoke as a growing number of major Republican candidates have said they may follow in former president Donald Trump’s footsteps and refuse to concede should they lose.

“It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And it is un-American,” Biden said. “As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win.”

A majority of GOP nominees deny or question the 2020 election results

The virtually unprecedented presidential message — a plea to Americans to accept the basic tenets of their democracy — came as millions of voters have already cast their ballots or are planning to go to the polls on Election Day, and as some election officials expressed confidence that the system would hold.

Biden spoke days after an assailant armed with a hammer broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and, according to police and prosecutors, bludgeoned her 82-year-old husband, Paul. Biden opened by addressing the gruesome early Friday morning assault.

“We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country and say there’s no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it’s directed at Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “No place, period. No place, ever.”

 

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keeper Rhodes had violent message for Trump after Jan. 6, witness says, Rachel Weiner, Nov. 2, 2022. Four days after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, above, tried to tell President Trump it was not too late to use paramilitary groups to stay in power by force, according to testimony Wednesday in federal court.

If he did not, protesters “should have brought rifles” to Washington, and “we could have fixed it right then and there,” Rhodes said during a Jan. 10 recorded meeting, boasting that he would have killed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Rhodes made the violent comments at a meeting in Texas with Jason Alpers, who described himself on the witness stand as a military veteran and co-founder of Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). That organization played a key role in spreading false claims about the 2020 election through misleading and inaccurate reports about voting machine software.

On the stand, Alpers said he had an “indirect” line to Trump’s “inner circle,” without elaborating.

That apparent relationship is why Rhodes wanted to meet, Alpers testified. He said he recorded the meeting to accurately “provide information to President Trump.” What he got, he said, disturbed him enough to eventually go to the FBI.

Alpers took the stand in the sixth week of trial for Rhodes and four others accused of taking part in a seditious conspiracy against the U.S. government and planning to block the lawful transition of presidential power by force.

Kellye SoRelle, who is charged separately from Rhodes and has been described in court as both his girlfriend and an attorney for the Oath Keepers, was also at the meeting, Alpers testified.

“Here is the thing, we’re gonna fight,” Rhodes is recorded saying. “We’re not gonna let them come get our brothers. We’re going to fight, the fight’s going to be ours.”

And if he had known on Jan. 6 that Trump would never invoke the Insurrection Act, Rhodes said, he would have gone further that day — including assassinating a Democratic leader.

“If he’s not going to do the right thing, and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles,” Rhodes says on the recording. “We could have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang f------- Pelosi from the lamppost.”

Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, is currently hospitalized after being attacked by a man who officials say was looking to kill her.

Rhodes in the recording, also called the riot “a good thing in the end,” because it “showed the people that we have a spirit of resistance.”

But he said if Trump left office, “everyone that was at the Capitol” would be in danger of being charged with “felony murder … because someone died.” SoRelle is heard agreeing: “I know it’s gonna happen.”

What to know about the Oath Keepers sedition trial: Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, is charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of President Biden. Rhodes is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far. Five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, face trial. Prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Rhodes and his group intentionally conspired to use force to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The trial is an important step in the wider probe, analysts say.

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

Politico, Trump lawyers saw Justice Thomas as 'only chance' to stop 2020 election certification, Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein and Nicholas Wu, Nov. 2, 2022. Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have received any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).Court.

Donald Trump’s attorneys saw a direct appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their best hope of derailing Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, according to emails newly disclosed to congressional investigators.

“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 31, 2020, email to Trump’s legal team. Chesebro contended that Thomas would be “our politico Customonly chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.”

“I think I agree with this,” attorney John Eastman replied later that morning, suggesting that a favorable move by Thomas or other justices would “kick the Georgia legislature into gear” to help overturn the election results.

The messages were part of a batch of eight emails — obtained by POLITICO — that Eastman had sought to withhold from the Jan. 6 select committee but that a judge ordered turned over anyway, describing them as evidence of likely crimes committed by Eastman and Trump. They were transmitted to the select committee by Eastman’s attorneys last week, but they have not been publicly released.

 

Tech Dirt, Analysis and Opinion: Bullshit Reporting: The Intercept’s Story About Government Policing Disinfo Is Absolute Garbage, Mike Masnick, Nov. 2, 2022.  Do not believe everything you read. Even if it comes from more “respectable” publications.

The Intercept had a big story this week that is making the rounds, suggesting that “leaked” documents prove the DHS has been coordinating with tech companies to suppress information. The story has been immediately picked up by the usual suspects, claiming it reveals the “smoking gun” of how the Biden administration was abusing government power to censor them on social media.

The only problem? It shows nothing of the sort.

The article is garbage. It not only misreads things, it is confused about what the documents the reporters have actually say, and presents widely available, widely known things as if they were secret and hidden when they were not.

The entire article is a complete nothingburger, and is fueling a new round of lies and nonsense from people who find it useful to misrepresent reality. If the Intercept had any credibility at all it would retract the article and examine whatever processes failed in leading to the article getting published.

Let’s dig in. Back in 2018, then President Donald Trump signed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act into law, creating the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as a separate agency in the Department of Homeland Security. While there are always reasons to be concerned about government interference in various aspects of life, CISA was pretty uncontroversial (perhaps with the exception of when Trump freaked out and fired the first CISA director, Chris Krebs, for pointing out that the election was safe and there was no evidence of manipulation or foul play).

While CISA has a variety of things under its purview, one thing that it is focused on is general information sharing between the government and private entities. This has actually been really useful for everyone, even though the tech companies have been (quite reasonably!) cautious about how closely they’ll work with the government (because they’ve been burned before). Indeed, as you may recall, one of the big revelations from the Snowden documents was about the PRISM program, which turned out to be oversold by the media reporting on it, but was still problematic in many ways. Since then, the tech companies have been even more careful about working with government, knowing that too much government involvement will eventually come out and get everyone burned.

With that in mind, CISA’s role has been pretty widely respected with almost everyone I’ve spoken to, both in government and at various companies. It provides information regarding actual threats, which has been useful to companies, and they seem to appreciate it. Given their historical distrust of government intrusion and their understanding of the limits of government authority here, the companies have been pretty attuned to any attempt at coercion, and I’ve heard of nothing regarding CISA at all.

That’s why the story seemed like such a big deal when I first read the headline and some of the summaries. But then I read the article… and the supporting documents… and there’s no there there. There’s nothing. There’s… the information sharing that everyone already knew was happening and that has been widely discussed in the past.

Let’s go through the supposed “bombshells”:

Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information.

[Snip]

 I had tremendous respect for The Intercept, which I think has done some great work in the past, but this article is so bad, so misleading, and just so full of shit that it should be retracted. A credible news organization would not put out this kind of pure bullshit.

 

October

Oct. 29

webster tarpley 2007

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: On hundredth anniversary of Mussolini’s march on Rome, attacker targets Speaker Pelosi, Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, right), Oct. 29, 2022 (77:41 mins.). Would-be killer severely wounds husband Paul Pelosi, showing fascist threat is real today.

Pelosi demonized in countless GOP cable ads; Corrupt corporate media reach new low with their fatuous narrative of red wave and Democratic defeat; To the contrary: 17 million have voted early so far, with over 1.3 million in Georgia, while Republicans tend to wait for Election Day; Harvard Youth poll shows 40% of those 18-29 intend to vote, with 57% of them leaning Democratic; Polls cannot reflect massive post-Dobbs pro-choice registrations, who will now vote;

Ornstein warns of deliberate falsifications by dishonest pollsters; The role of dark money in punditry;

Jayapal first releases, then repudiates appeasement letter signed by 30 Dems calling for negotiations with Putin just as Kremlin dictator escalates his dirty bomb threats to Ukraine and McCarthy announces GOP will betray Kiev; Ultra-left pasionaria is shown unfit for leadership role in Democratic caucus; As with Hitler in 1938, negotiation with Putin is a fool’s errand;

New UK Premier Sunak expected to impose the most brutal killer austerity seen in Europe in many moons;

Despite media gaslighting, Dem success on scale of New Deal Congress in 1934 remains within reach reach; All Democrats and people of good will must mobilize now!

washington post logoWashington Post, Attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband follows years of GOP demonizing her, Ashley Parker, Hannah Allam and Marianna Sotomayor, Oct. 29, 2022. This year, the House speaker emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads.

In 2010, Republicans launched a “Fire Pelosi” project — complete with a bus tour, a #FIREPELOSI hashtag and images of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) engulfed in Hades-style flames — devoted to retaking the House and demoting Pelosi from her perch as speaker.

Eleven years later, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joked that if he becomes the next leader of the House, “it will be hard not to hit” Pelosi with the speaker’s gavel.

And this year, Pelosi — who Republicans have long demonized as the face of progressive policies and who was a target of rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — emerged as the top member of Congress maligned in political ads, with Republicans spending nearly $40 million on ads that mention Pelosi in the final stretch of the campaign, according to AdImpact, which tracks television and digital ad spending.

The years of vilification culminated Friday when Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was attacked with a hammer during an early-morning break-in at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a man searching for the speaker and shouting “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to someone briefed on the assault.

Police arrested the suspect, 42-year-old David DePape, who attacked Paul Pelosi, 82, and authorities plan to charge him with attempted murder and other crimes, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said at a news conference Friday. Paul Pelosi was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, the speaker’s office said.

  • Washington Post, Assailant shouted ‘Where is Nancy?’; Paul Pelosi undergoes surgery for skull fracture
  • Washington Post, What we know about the attack and the suspect now in custody
  • Washington Post, Youngkin draws ire with Pelosi comment that Democrats call insensitive, Oct. 29, 2022.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi (New York Times photo by Doug Mills in 2019).

ny times logoNew York Times, Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Is Seriously Injured in Hammer Attack by Intruder, Kellen Browning, Tim Arango, Luke Broadwater, Holly Secon, Oct. 29, 2022. As leaders from across the political spectrum condemned the attack, Paul Pelosi underwent surgery for a skull fracture. The police had a suspect in custody.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Attack Highlights Rising Fears of Political Violence, Catie Edmondson, Oct. 29, 2022. The assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband comes as threats against members of Congress have increased in recent years.

Members of Congress have watched warily in recent years as threats and harassment against them have crescendoed, privately worrying that the brutal language and deranged misinformation creeping into political discourse would lead to actual violence.

The assault of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside their San Francisco home early Friday morning by an intruder who shouted “Where is Nancy?” and bludgeoned him with a hammer before being taken into custody by police seemed to confirm their worst fears, vividly bringing to life the acute danger facing elected officials amid a rise in violent political speech.

And it revealed the vulnerabilities in security around members of Congress and their families — even a lawmaker as powerful and wealthy as Ms. Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and has her own security detail — as midterm congressional campaigns reach their frenzied final push.

Nearly two years after supporters of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, inspired by his lies of a stolen election, sending members of Congress and the vice president fleeing for their lives, the toxic stew of violent language, conspiracy theory and misinformation that thrives in digital spaces continues to pose a grave threat.

“When we see things like what happened last night at the speaker’s home; when we see things like plots to kidnap governors; when we see overt acts ramping up; we see, frankly, a whole host of indicators suggesting that we’re really at a crisis point,” said Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University who has studied extremist groups and violence for more than 20 years.

Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who is among the most threatened members of the House, said the attack on Friday was a “realization” for her and her husband.

“We used to theoretically talk about what would happen if they found our children when they came to look for us; what would happen if they found our loved ones when they came to look for us,” Ms. Omar said on MSNBC. “Now we know.”

While threats have proliferated from every corner of the political spectrum, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the United States faces growing danger from “violent domestic extremists” emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack, and motivated by anger over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives” — a reference to Mr. Trump’s claims that have been echoed by Republicans and right-wing activists.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Twitter, Once a Threat to Titans, Now Belongs to One, Kevin Roose, Oct. 29, 2022. A decade ago, the social media platform was a tool for those challenging authority. The powerful now use it for their own goals, Kevin Roose writes.

A decade ago, when Twitter — then a scrappy, young microblogging service — burst into the mainstream, it felt like a tool for challenging authority.

Pro-democracy activists in Libya and Egypt used Twitter to help topple dictatorships. Americans used it to occupy Wall Street. And in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing an unarmed Black teenager named Trayvon Martin, #BlackLivesMatter took root on Twitter.

These campaigns fueled one of the defining ideas of the 2010s: that social media was an underdog’s dream, a tool for bottom-up organizing that would empower dissidents and marginalized groups, topple corrupt institutions and give ordinary people the ability to communicate on equal footing with tycoons and tyrants. Or, as the Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei put it in 2010, “Twitter is the people’s tool, the tool of the ordinary people, people who have no other resources.”

That narrative — shaky as it might have been all along — officially ended this week, when Twitter became the property of the richest man in the world.

Elon Musk, the billionaire industrialist whose on-again, off-again bid for Twitter this year has been marked by chaos and confusion, has now added the company to a portfolio that includes Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company.

The deal, which cost Mr. Musk and his investment partners $44 billion, made history for several reasons. It was the largest buyout in tech history and the first time in years that a major social media network has been sold to an outsider.

It was also a symbolic bookend to a decade in which social media evolved to be, in many ways, more useful to the powerful than the powerless.

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

twitter bird Custompolitico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Moguls Have Been Unleashed, David Streitfeld, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Silicon Valley moguls used to buy yachts and islands. Now they are rich enough, and perhaps arrogant enough, to acquire companies they fancy.

Forget about the endless drama, the bots, the abrupt reversals, the spectacle, the alleged risk to the Republic and all we hold dear. Here is the most important thing about Elon Musk’s buying Twitter: The moguls have been unleashed.

In the old days, when a tech tycoon wanted to buy something big, he needed a company to do it. Steve Case used AOL to buy Time Warner. Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods for Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to buy Instagram and WhatsApp and Oculus and on and on. These were corporate deals done for the bottom line, even if they might never have happened without a famous and forceful proprietor.

Mr. Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, which finally became a reality on Thursday, six months after he agreed to the deal, is different. It is an individual buying something for himself that 240 million people around the world use regularly. While he has other investors, Mr. Musk will have absolute control over the fate of the short-message social media platform.

It’s a difficult deal to evaluate even in an industry built on deals, because this one is so unusual. It came about whimsically, impulsively. But, even by the standards of Silicon Valley, where billions are casually offered for fledging operations — and even by the wallet of Mr. Musk, on most days the richest man in the world — $44 billion is quite a chunk of change.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The Trump administration: the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Oct. 28-29, 2022. In an era marked by unprecedented events, it is not hyperbole to state that the Donald Trump administration and the twice-impeached disgraced ex-president's post-presidency represent the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history.

wayne madesen report logoAn examination by WMR of court records, including criminal cases dealing with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Trump's misappropriation of highly-classified documents at his private properties, points to over a dozen foreign intelligence services, most of them hostile to U.S. national interests, having gained access to America's most guarded secrets.

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is setting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

Oct. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Formally Bars Justice Dept. From Seizing Reporters’ Records, Charlie Savage, Oct. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The rule codifies and expands a policy he issued in 2021, after it came to light that the Trump administration had secretly gone after records of reporters for The Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

The Justice Department on Wednesday formally banned the use of subpoenas, warrants or court orders to seize reporters’ communications records or demand their notes or testimony in an effort to uncover confidential sources in leak investigations, in what amounts to a major policy shift.

The rules institutionalize — and in places expand — a temporary policy that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland put in place in July 2021, after the revelation that the Justice Department, under Attorney General William P. Barr, had secretly pursued email records of reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.

“These regulations recognize the crucial role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy,” Mr. Garland said in a statement.

“Because freedom of the press requires that members of the news media have the freedom to investigate and report the news, the new regulations are intended to provide enhanced protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools and actions that might unreasonably impair news gathering.”

The broad prohibitions are a major change in how the Justice Department has come to approach leak investigations in the 21st century, when it began a crackdown that spans administrations of both parties and has put pressure on reporting on matters of national security.

The publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, who was put under a gag order in 2021 that shielded from his own newsroom’s view a legal fight over the email logs of Times journalists, praised the new policy while calling on Congress to pass a law further strengthening such protections.

“We applaud the Justice Department for taking this important step, which will allow journalists to perform the crucial work of informing the public without fear of legal consequences,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “We encourage Congress to enact a federal shield law to help ensure that these reforms are lasting.”

Exceptions to the policy are narrow. Among others, it does not apply to situations in which a reporter is under investigation for something unconnected to news gathering, situations in which a member of the news media is deemed an agent of a foreign power or a member of a foreign terrorist group, or “when necessary to prevent an imminent or concrete risk of death or serious bodily harm.”

The Justice Department developed the regulation in consultation with press freedom advocates like Bruce D. Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Mr. Garland also met with representatives from The Times, The Post, The Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Dow Jones, NBC and The New Yorker.

Those conversations led to several adjustments about potentially critical issues, like how “news gathering” is defined. According to participants, the Justice Department originally intended to define it in a way that was limited to the passive receipt of government secrets. But the final version now covers the act of pursuing information.

The regulation defines “news gathering” as “the process by which a member of the news media collects, pursues, or obtains information or records for purposes of producing content intended for public dissemination,” including “classified information” from confidential sources.

The Justice Department is also said to have removed espionage from a list of criminal activities that are excluded from protected news gathering.

The final regulation does not cover criminal acts “committed in the course of obtaining information or using information.” Those include breaking and entering; theft; unlawfully gaining access to a computer or computer system; unlawful surveillance or wiretapping; bribery; or aiding or abetting or conspiring to engage in such criminal activities.

Emptywheel, Analysis: DOJ Rethinks — But In A Few Areas, Expands — Access To Media Content, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right),  marcy wheelerEmptywheel, Oct. 27, 2022. In a story on the new media guidelines DOJ rolled out yesterday, Charlie Savage reveals what representatives of the press think they got in the new guidelines, in addition to a formal codification of broader restrictions on the use of legal process to find real journalists’ sources:

Those conversations led to several adjustments about potentially critical issues, like how “news gathering” is defined. According to participants, the Justice Department originally intended to define it in a way that was limited to the passive receipt of government secrets. But the final version now covers the act of pursuing information.

The language in question appears to cover things like encrypted dropboxes, something that journalists liked to compare (inaptly) to the charge against Julian Assange of attempting to hack a password for Chelsea Manning. Thus far, multiple criminal prosecutions show that dropboxes have not thwarted DOJ from prosecuting those who submitted documents into them.

Oct. 26

Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick is overseeing litigation that could require Elon Musk to follow through on his deal to buy Twitter (Photo by Eric Crossan via New York Times).by Eric Crossan via New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware, Lauren Hirsch, Oct. 26, 2022. The chief judge of Delaware’s Chancery Court gave Mr. Musk until Friday to acquire Twitter. She is also the judge in at least one other case involving him.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to twitter bird Customacquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

elon musk 2015The woman who suddenly has a great deal of influence over Mr. Musk, right, comes from a much different world than the jet-setting, South African-born billionaire. The daughter of a high school football coach and an English teacher, Judge McCormick was raised in Smyrna, Del., a town with roughly 13,000 people about 14 miles away from Dover, the state capital.

Judge McCormick now oversees the 230-year-old court that is considered the foremost destination for adjudicating disputes over mergers and acquisitions and other corporate disagreements. She has been both quick-witted and blunt in months of hearings for Twitter’s lawsuit. And her decision to grant Mr. Musk a delay to a trial that was expected to begin earlier in October also displayed unusual flexibility — and pragmatism — to legal experts.

Oct. 22

washington post logoWashington Post, Mar-a-Lago classified papers held U.S. secrets about Iran and China, Devlin Barrett, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). At least one of the documents seized by the FBI at former president Trump’s Florida club describes Iran’s missile program, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Some of the classified documents recovered by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China, according to people familiar with the matter. If shared with others, the people said, such information could expose intelligence-gathering methods that the United States wants to keep hidden from the world.

At least one of the documents seized by the FBI describes Iran’s missile program, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Other documents described highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China, they said.

Unauthorized disclosures of specific information in the documents would pose multiple risks, experts say. People aiding U.S. intelligence efforts could be endangered, and collection methods could be compromised. In addition, other countries or U.S. adversaries could retaliate against the United States for actions it has taken in secret.

The warrant authorizing the search of former president Donald Trump’s home said agents were seeking documents possessed in violation of the Espionage Act. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

The classified documents about Iran and China are considered among the most sensitive the FBI has recovered to date in its investigation of Trump and his aides for possible mishandling of classified information, obstruction and destruction of government records, the people said. The criminal probe is unfolding even as the Justice Department and a district attorney in Georgia investigate alleged efforts by Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and as a House select committee has subpoenaed the former president seeking documents and testimony related to those allegations.

World Crisis Radio, Biden pledges to enact Roe into law on first day of new Congress! Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, right), Oct. 22, 2022 (132.50 webster tarpley 2007mins.). McCarthy shares his nightmare agenda with Punch Bowl News — Woe to the vanquished: Speaker wannabe plans early betrayal of Ukraine, citing exorbitant costs to justify treachery; National ban on abortion looms, with no exceptions likely; debt ceiling and threat of default to be used to extort genocidal austerity cuts vs Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and other vital programs; revenge against Trump foes to be paramount; Freak show in committees starting with power-mad thespian Marjorie Taylor Green;

Trump subpoenaed by House January 6 committee to testify on damning list of possible charges, starting mid-November; Bannon gets four months in the hoosegow for contempt of Congress; Appeals court orders Lindsey Graham to appear before Atlanta grand jury in Trump vote extortion attempt; CA Judge David Carter tells Eastman to deliver his emails with Trump to House committee since attorney-client privilege is voided by crime-fraud exception; Trump insisted on fake numbers despite warnings from attorneys, removing ”advice of counsel” defense; Trump aide Kashyap Patel appears before MaL documents grand jury; Special Master phase moves toward close; Trump takes Fifth in E. Jean Carroll defamation case;

Truss forced out as British Premier by City and Bank of England after attempted orgy of ”pro-growth” tax cuts for the rich and corporations paid for by borrowing; Her supply side agenda thought to resemble McCarthy’s doomed plans for hoped-for GOP House; Top-down Tory leadership contest underway;
Meloni takes over in Italy after 86-year old Berlusconi signals his support for Putin against Ukraine; Salvini denied police ministry;

Election personnel across US hit by death threats and harassment from MAGAt fascist hooligans; Time for priggish Merrick Garland to protect poll workers by indicting anti-election bigwigs!

”Federalist” columnist opines that western civilization is dead, so conservatives should style themselves radicals and counter-revolutionaries –against 1776 and 1865?

Biden sees inflection point of world history, approximating Schiller’s celebrated punctum saliens.

 

lindsey graham npr washington post logoWashington Post, Graham asks Supreme Court to block his Georgia 2020 election testimony, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). South Carolina Republican was summoned for grand jury questioning on attempts to overturn results in that state.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked the Supreme Court on Friday to block his required appearance before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to disrupt the state’s 2020 presidential election.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday turned down Graham’s attempt to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D), in which the lawmaker claimed a sitting senator is shielded from testifying in such investigations.

A district court judge had said Graham must appear, but narrowed the range of questions that prosecutors can ask.

Without a stay of the lower courts’ rulings, Graham’s lawyer, Donald F. McGahn, told the Supreme Court, “Sen. Graham will suffer the precise injury he is appealing to prevent: being questioned in state court about his legislative activity and official acts.”

McGahn, a former counsel to Trump, asked Justice Clarence Thomas, the justice designated to hear emergency requests from the 11th Circuit, for at least a temporary stay. He said Graham could be required to testify “in less than a month.”

Thomas could act on the request on his own or refer the matter to the entire court.

Mar-a-Lago classified papers had sensitive secrets about Iran, China

The Atlanta grand jury investigating alleged 2020 presidential election interference has already heard testimony from several Trump lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Epshteyn. Willis also wants to question former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Graham would be asked to testify about calls he made to Georgia election officials soon after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden. Prosecutors say Graham has “unique knowledge” about the Trump campaign and the “multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results” of the election in Georgia and elsewhere.

 

steve bannon exlarge

washington post logoWashington Post, Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison for contempt of Congress in Jan. 6 probe, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). The Trump strategist, shown above in a file photo, displayed ‘defiance and contempt’ rather than cooperate, prosecutors said, after the House committee asked about Bannon’s advance knowledge of events.

Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing podcaster and longtime adviser to former president Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon is set to become the first person incarcerated for defying a congressional subpoena in more than half a century under a statute that is rarely prosecuted. The judge said he would stay imposition of the penalty pending Bannon’s expected appeal.

Bannon’s case probably won’t be the final clash involving the work of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot and preceding events, as lawmakers Friday issued a subpoena to Trump himself.

“Flouting congressional subpoenas betrays a lack of respect for the legislative branch, which exercises the will of the people of the United States,” U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols said. Bannon “has expressed no remorse” and “has not taken responsibility for his refusal to comply with his subpoena.”

Bannon was convicted at trial in July on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to respond to the Jan. 6 committee’s request for testimony and documents. Both misdemeanors are punishable by at least 30 days and up to one year in jail. But Bannon has said he plans to appeal his conviction because Nichols ruled that Bannon could not argue at trial that he relied on his lawyer’s advice or believed his cooperation was barred by Trump’s claim of executive privilege.

Prosecutors asked for six months in jail and the maximum $200,000 fine, saying in a court filing that Bannon showed “a total disregard for government processes and the law” in ignoring the congressional subpoena, while smearing the House investigation and the justice system with “rhetoric that risks inspiring violence.” Bannon asked for probation, saying a mandatory-minimum jail sentence would be unlawful because his intent was not criminal or “willful.”

Bannon declined to speak in court Friday, saying only, “My lawyers have spoken for me, your honor.”

But in a raucous sidewalk appearance outside afterward, the bombastic Bannon claimed he would be vindicated by American voters next month if Republicans, as predicted, take control of the House of Representatives, and he said that Attorney General Merrick Garland would be impeached and “removed from office.”

“Today was my judgment day by the judge,” Bannon said as demonstrators called him a traitor. But, he added, “on November 8, the American people will weigh judgment, and we will prove the Biden administration ends [that] evening.”

Bannon is one of a half-dozen Trump associates to be convicted of federal crimes including fraud, making false statements and foreign influence-peddling, although Trump pardoned most of those who remained loyal before leaving office. More are now in legal jeopardy in investigations of attempts to subvert the 2020 election results as well as the storage of classified information at Trump’s Florida residence. M. Evan Corcoran, who is representing Bannon, has been counseled by colleagues to hire a criminal defense lawyer because he told the Justice Department that Trump had handed over all classified information at Mar-a-Lago before an FBI raid found more.

The committee had wanted to ask Bannon about his role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers into refusing to affirm the 2020 election results, culminating in the mob assault on the Capitol. Lawmakers in their subpoena noted that Bannon was involved in Trump supporters’ strategy meetings the day before the riot and that he predicted “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Justice Matters via MSNBC and Twitter, Opinion: Bannon remaining free pending appeal is the very definition of “a travesty of justice,” Glenn Kirschner, Oct. 22, 2022. Trump-appointed-judge Carl Nichols is an embarrassment to the federal bench.

"I am embarrassed for the criminal justice system and I am saddened and sickened that that is the result for Steve Bannon." @glennkirschner2
on the Trump appointed judge handing Steve Bannon a less severe sentence than prosecutors recommended #CrossConnection

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump subpoena from Jan. 6 committee sets deadlines for testimony, documents, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). It is not clear whether Trump will comply with the subpoena, which could set off a protracted legal debate.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena Friday for testimony and documents from former president Donald Trump, setting off a potentially prolonged legal battle with little historic precedent.

The committee requested that Trump testify under oath on or about Nov. 14, as well as any documents by Nov. 4 related to the former president’s sweeping efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of presidential power.

While the subpoena was anticipated, it is a remarkable escalation in the investigation into whether the deadly violence on Jan. 6 was the direct result of Trump’s actions in the weeks after he lost his bid for reelection.

“As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multipart effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power,” Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement, part of a 10-page letter to Trump.

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Could Harness Unresolved Legal Issues to Resist Jan. 6 Panel’s Subpoena, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Oct. 22, 2022. If former President Trump turns down the drama of testifying, his legal team could mount several constitutional and procedural arguments in court.

If former President Donald J. Trump decides to fight the subpoena issued to him on Friday by the House committee investigating his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his lawyers are likely to muster a battery of constitutional and procedural arguments for why a court should allow him not to testify.

In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena.

The issues raised by the extraordinary subpoena, which the panel announced at a hearing last week, are too complex to be definitively resolved before a potential change of power in the House, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor and author of “Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability.”

“We are in a constitutional gray area here where there is no clear guidance as to exactly what should happen,” Mr. Rozell said. “That gives the former president some leeway to put forward various creative legal arguments and ultimately delay the process until it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Emptywheel, Trump Subpoena: The Revolution Will Not Be Signaled, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 22, 2022. The January 6 Committee has marcy wheelerreleased the subpoena it sent to the former President.

It requires document production by November 4 and a deposition starting on November 14. Notably, the first deadline is before the election.

It focuses not just on Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, summon mobsters, and raise money off of it. There are several questions focused on obstruction: both document destruction and witness tampering.

The witness tampering one reads:

The subpoena mentions Signal at least 13 times. Which strongly suggests the President was in direct communication with some of the coup plotters via the mobile app.

The subpoena also asks the former President for all communications devices he used between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021. In the Stone trial, there were about nine devices identified on which he may have received a call during the 2016 election, and there are several others — such as that of his then bodyguard Keith Schiller — who weren’t discussed in the trial. Tony Ornato also receives a close focus in this subpoena; I wonder if he was receiving calls for the then-President on the Secret Service phone that has since been wiped.

washington post logoWashington Post, In middle of Jan. 6 riot, Oath Keepers chief reached out to Proud Boys, prosecutors say, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors gave a blow-by-blow of the actions in and around the Capitol of five charged with seditious conspiracy.

Fifteen minutes after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building’s west side on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court testimony, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sent a brief message to an encrypted chat group that included Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio.

“Back door of the Capitol,” Rhodes wrote.

He then called Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, who immediately began leading a group toward the doors on the Capitol’s east side.

The third week of the government’s case in the seditious conspiracy trial of Rhodes, Meggs and three other associates culminated in a minute-by-minute account of the Oath Keepers’ actions on Jan. 6 that prosecutors say shows how the group’s leaders plotted “rebellion” beforehand, greenlit violence while at the Capitol and appeared to coordinate their actions with other figures pushing to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Whitney Drew, a former FBI counterterrorism special agent with experience in Army intelligence, testified as prosecutors deployed audio, video and computers animations to give jurors an immersive path through the defendants’ actions that day.

Prosecutors mined material from Kellye SoRelle, described in court as both an Oath Keepers attorney and Rhodes’s girlfriend. SoRelle, who was recently charged with obstructing the vote count, started a four-minute long Facebook livestream at the east side of the Capitol at 2:12 p.m. just as a crowd began moving up the steps. Proud Boys simultaneously broke into the building on the west side, according to court records, and some moved to the east.

“This is what happens when the people are pissed and when they rise up,” SoRelle told followers in a video played for jurors. “That’s how you take your government back. You literally take it back.”

One minute after SoRelle’s video ended, a group of Oath Keepers led by Meggs arrived near where SoRelle was standing, Drew testified. Rhodes was also approaching, after telling an encrypted Oath Keepers leadership chat that it was Trump supporters, not leftist agitators, responsible for the action. He likened the crowd of “pissed off patriots” to “the Sons of Liberty,” American colonists who carried out the Boston Tea Party.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol rioter gets 34-month term for assaulting police and journalist, Paul Duggan, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). A former carpenter from Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers and a photojournalist during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Friday to 34 months in prison after apologizing in court for his actions and saying he behaved like “an antagonistic jerk” on the day of the siege.

“Regretfully, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I’m very disappointed,” the defendant, Alan W. Byerly, 55, told Judge Randolph D. Moss in U.S. District Court in Washington. “But make no mistake: This was no excuse for me to put my hands on anyone. … I was being an antagonistic jerk, and I still can’t understand why I was like that.”

Byerly, a divorced father and grandfather who had lost his carpentry job during the pandemic, said he was experiencing “depression, frustration and isolation” when he traveled to Washington to attend President Donald Trump’s incendiary rally Jan. 6 on the Ellipse, at which Trump repeated his debunked claim that rampant voter fraud had led to his defeat in the 2020 election.

Carrying an electric stun device “for protection,” Byerly said, he then joined thousands of Trump supporters as the mob stormed the Capitol while Congress was meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Later, in the months before his July 2021 arrest, Byerly said, “I felt so bad” about the riot that “I wouldn’t even tell the closest people in my life about January 6th.”

In court filings, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington said Byerly, who was not accused of entering the Capitol, was present on the building’s Lower West Terrace when rioters accosted an Associated Press photographer and hauled him down a flight of stairs.

“At the bottom of the stairs, [Byerly] and three other individuals grabbed the journalist and pushed, shoved and dragged him,” the office said in a statement. “Byerly grabbed the journalist with both hands and pushed him backward. He then continued to push and drag him away from the stairs.”

Emptywheel, Bill Barr Complains That His Special Counsel Was Unable To Match Robert Mueller’s Record Of Success, (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 22, 2022. Even marcy wheelerbefore the Igor Danchenko trial, Billy Barr declared victory in defeat — arguing that if John Durham could just “fill in a lot of the blanks as to what was really happening,” the inevitable acquittal would still give Durham an opportunity to spin fairy tales about what Durham imagines happened.

“What these cases show is that these are difficult cases to win,” Barr said. “There’s a reason it takes so long, and you have to build up the evidence because at the end of the day, you’re going before these juries that aren’t going to be disposed to side with the people they view as supporting Trump.”

But despite Durham’s limited success in the courtroom, Barr defended the investigation he ordered, saying the courtroom was allowing Durham to establish a record of what had occurred with the so-called Russiagate investigation.

Durham’s entire project is a continuation of Barr’s unprecedented politicization of DOJ, one that not only places Republicans attempting to secretly work for hostile nations above the law, but that has made the country far less safe in many other ways.

It’s not just Durham prosecuted two men without any real hope of winning conviction, all to expose things that aren’t crimes. It’s that Billy Barr hired him to do so.

World Crisis Radio, Biden pledges to enact Roe into law on first day of new Congress! Webster G. Tarpley ( historian, author, right), Oct. 22, 2022 (132.50 webster tarpley 2007mins.). McCarthy shares his nightmare agenda with Punch Bowl News — Woe to the vanquished: Speaker wannabe plans early betrayal of Ukraine, citing exorbitant costs to justify treachery; National ban on abortion looms, with no exceptions likely; debt ceiling and threat of default to be used to extort genocidal austerity cuts vs Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and other vital programs; revenge against Trump foes to be paramount; Freak show in committees starting with power-mad thespian Marjorie Taylor Green;

Trump subpoenaed by House January 6 committee to testify on damning list of possible charges, starting mid-November; Bannon gets four months in the hoosegow for contempt of Congress; Appeals court orders Lindsey Graham to appear before Atlanta grand jury in Trump vote extortion attempt; CA Judge David Carter tells Eastman to deliver his emails with Trump to House committee since attorney-client privilege is voided by crime-fraud exception; Trump insisted on fake numbers despite warnings from attorneys, removing ”advice of counsel” defense; Trump aide Kashyap Patel appears before MaL documents grand jury; Special Master phase moves toward close; Trump takes Fifth in E. Jean Carroll defamation case;

Truss forced out as British Premier by City and Bank of England after attempted orgy of ”pro-growth” tax cuts for the rich and corporations paid for by borrowing; Her supply side agenda thought to resemble McCarthy’s doomed plans for hoped-for GOP House; Top-down Tory leadership contest underway;
Meloni takes over in Italy after 86-year old Berlusconi signals his support for Putin against Ukraine; Salvini denied police ministry;

Election personnel across US hit by death threats and harassment from MAGAt fascist hooligans; Time for priggish Merrick Garland to protect poll workers by indicting anti-election bigwigs!

”Federalist” columnist opines that western civilization is dead, so conservatives should style themselves radicals and counter-revolutionaries –against 1776 and 1865?

Biden sees inflection point of world history, approximating Schiller’s celebrated punctum saliens.

Mobilize without stint from now through November 8 to prevent MAGAt dictatorship!

Oct. 17

 

 

capitol riot rather

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The House Jan. 6 Panel Has Tried to Show Criminality, a High Bar, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. The committee has yet to decide on making criminal referrals. But its decision to subpoena former President Trump is in keeping with its prosecutorial style.

In the final moments of what will most likely be the last hearing for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, its vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney, returned to a theme that has run through the committee’s work: criminality.

Without naming names or providing any specifics, Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, asserted that the committee now has “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals” to the Justice Department for prosecution.

It is not clear whether the committee will follow through and take the largely symbolic step of issuing a criminal referral for former President Donald J. Trump or anyone who worked with him to overturn the election and encourage the mob of his supporters who entered the Capitol seeking to block or delay certification of his defeat.

But throughout its investigation and hearings, the committee has operated with a prosecutorial style, using the possibility of criminality like a cudgel in extraordinary ways. It has penetrated Mr. Trump’s inner circle, surfaced considerable new evidence and laid out a detailed narrative that could be useful to the Justice Department in deciding whether to bring charges.

The panel is expected to issue a subpoena as soon as Tuesday seeking to compel Mr. Trump to testify before it wraps up its investigation and issues a final report.

The committee’s effects on related criminal investigations are clear to see. Federal prosecutors and authorities conducting a local investigation in Georgia have found themselves interviewing some of the same witnesses already interviewed by the committee and issuing subpoenas for some of the same evidence already obtained by Congress.

But in suggesting that its goal is to spur criminal charges, the committee is setting a standard for success that is beyond its power to carry out — and one that could risk overshadowing the work it has done in documenting Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power and marshal his supporters to help him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Hotels Charged Secret Service Exorbitant Rates, David A. Fahrenthold and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. House Inquiry Finds, Records obtained by the House Oversight Committee show the former president’s properties charged more than $1.4 million to agents protecting him and his family.

The Trump Organization charged the Secret Service up to $1,185 per night for hotel rooms used by agents protecting former President Donald J. Trump and his family, according to documents released on Monday by the House Oversight Committee, forcing a federal agency to pay well above government rates.

The committee released Secret Service records showing more than $1.4 million in payments by the department to Trump properties since Mr. Trump took office in 2017. The committee said that the accounting was incomplete, however, because it did not include payments to Mr. Trump’s foreign properties — where agents accompanied his family repeatedly — and because the records stopped in September 2021.

The records the panel obtained provided new details about an arrangement in which Mr. Trump and his family effectively turned the Secret Service into a captive customer of their business — by visiting their properties hundreds of times, and then charging the government rates far above its usual spending limits.

The records also make clear that Mr. Trump’s son Eric — who ran the family business while his father was in office — provided a misleading account of what his company was charging.

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that marks the culmination of a Durham probe that began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jury begins deliberating in case of Steele dossier source, Salvador Rizzo, Oct. 17, 2022. A jury on Monday began deliberating the case of Igor Danchenko, a private researcher who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations about former president Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and who was later accused of lying to the FBI about where he got his information.

The trial in federal court in Alexandria, Va., is a major test for special counsel John Durham, who lost his only other case that had gone to trial as part of his nearly 3½-year examination of the FBI’s 2016 probe of the Trump campaign.

Trump predicted Durham would uncover vast corruption inside the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that investigated his campaign’s links to Russia. So far, no one charged by the special counsel has gone to prison, and only one government employee has been accused of criminal wrongdoing. In both trials this year, Durham has argued that people lied to manipulate the FBI, not that investigators corruptly targeted Trump.

In May, a jury in D.C. federal court acquitted cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who also was accused by the special counsel of lying to the FBI. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was sentenced to one year of probation after admitting in a 2020 plea deal with Durham that he had altered a government email used to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

A grand jury that Durham was using in Alexandria is now inactive, people familiar with the matter have told The Washington Post. It is unclear whether a grand jury the special counsel was using in D.C. is still active. Barr directed Durham to write a report, and it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide how much of it, if any, to release to the public.

A longtime federal prosecutor who served as U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, Durham personally argued much of the government’s case against Danchenko. Prosecutors said Danchenko misled the FBI officials asking for the identity of his sources in 2017, after the agency determined the researcher was the source behind some of the most explosive allegations about Trump in reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

 

 

Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Deliberates in Trial of Analyst Who Gathered Steele Dossier Claims, Linda Qiu and Charlie Savage, Oct. 17, 2022. A Trump-era special prosecutor and a defense lawyer delivered starkly clashing views in closing arguments on Monday about the motives of Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who was a key contributor to the so-called Steele dossier.

A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the Steele dossier, a compendium of unsubstantiated assertions that Donald J. Trump and his 2016 campaign were colluding with Russia.

The case is a major test of the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed in 2019 to investigate the origins of the F.B.I.’s inquiry into the nature of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. An earlier indictment brought by Mr. Durham ended with an acquittal in May, and the trial appears to be his last chance to obtain a conviction in a case he developed.

In the closing arguments, a prosecutor working for Mr. Durham asserted that Mr. Danchenko had clearly lied to the F.B.I. and that his false assertions had a material effect. He pointed to part of the dossier that the F.B.I. cited to bolster applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia.

“This defendant’s lies caused intensive surveillance on a U.S. citizen,” said Michael Keilty, an assistant special counsel.

In his own remarks, Mr. Durham sought to broaden the case, telling jurors that “the whole house of cards of the dossier crumbles” under the weight of the evidence.

But the defense said the government’s own evidence showed that Mr. Danchenko did not lie. The lawyer, Stuart A. Sears, characterized Mr. Danchenko as a valuable and honest asset to the F.B.I. who unwittingly became embroiled in a politically charged investigation. Mr. Durham, he said, was intent on proving crimes “at any cost” and presumed Mr. Danchenko guilty from the start.

“He’s trying to help the F.B.I., and now they’re indicting him for it,” Mr. Sears said.

After BuzzFeed published the dossier in 2017, public suspicions of Mr. Trump escalated, but it has since been discredited — in part because Mr. Danchenko told the F.B.I. that its author, the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, had exaggerated gossip that Mr. Danchenko had gathered for him.

Mr. Trump and his supporters have falsely sought to conflate the dossier with the official investigation into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, but the F.B.I. did not open the inquiry based on the dossier and the final report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, did not cite anything in it as evidence.

The F.B.I. pointed to part of the dossier in applying to wiretap the former Trump campaign adviser. An inspector general’s investigation uncovered that the bureau had continued to do so after talking to Mr. Danchenko without informing a surveillance court that there was reason to doubt the dossier’s credibility.

The dossier was political opposition research indirectly funded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee. They paid a law firm, which paid a research firm, which in turn subcontracted to a company run by Mr. Steele. Mr. Steele hired Mr. Danchenko to canvass contacts in Russia and Europe about Mr. Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

Mr. Danchenko verbally conveyed rumors that Mr. Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia and that Russia had a blackmail tape of Mr. Trump with prostitutes in a hotel room in Moscow. But during an interview with the F.B.I., Mr. Danchenko said that he first saw the dossier when BuzzFeed published it and that Mr. Steele had exaggerated his statements, portraying uncorroborated gossip and speculation as fact.

The F.B.I. made Mr. Danchenko a paid confidential source and he disclosed his sourcing for the rumors. While he did not provide information substantiating the dossier, the trial has shown that the bureau found his network of contacts valuable for identifying unrelated Russian influence operations in the United States.

Emptywheel, John Durham’s Missing Signals (And Facetime And Whatsapp And Ipad), Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), right, Oct. 16-17, 2022. As is common, the case agent marcy wheelerfor the Durham investigation against Igor Danchenko, Ryan James, was the last witness on Friday. Case agents are often used to summarize the case against a defendant and introduce boring communications records that the prosecution will rely on in the closing arguments.

By description, he’s the single current or former FBI employee of five who testified at the trial (the others being Brian Auten, Kevin Helson, Amy Anderson, and Brittany Hertzog) who described no expertise in Russian counterintelligence.

James’ job was to introduce a bunch of travel and communications records that — Durham will claim on Monday — rule out the possibility that Igor Sergei Millian (shown in a screenshot from ABC-TV).Danchenko got a call from an anonymous caller, probably around July 24 or 25, 2016, someone Danchenko claimed to believe was Sergei Millian, left. This is the burden Durham chose to take on when he charged Danchenko with four counts — the four remaining after Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed the fifth on Friday — about whether Danchenko was lying on four different occasions in 2017 when he described what he had believed in July 2016.

[snip]

Whether you find Danchenko’s stories credible or not, the fact of the matter is that Durham charged Danchenko with lying in these conversations in spite of the fact that his primary witnesses both attested, sometimes under oath, that they believed him.

There’s no telling what the jury will do. Durham will use testimony from a validation review to suggest that at least one person at the FBI, someone who didn’t have a personal investment in Danchenko’s success, suspected he was a GRU spy. Durham will likely argue that Auten and Helson only believe Danchenko because they’re incompetent.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Bought Arsenal of Weapons Ahead of Jan. 6, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Oct. 17, 2022. The prosecution in the seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes and other members of the militia introduced evidence that he spent as much as $20,000 on rifles, ammunition and other equipment.

In the days before a pro-Trump mob — including members of his own organization — broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, went on a cross-country weapon-buying spree.

Setting out for Washington from Texas, his home state, Mr. Rhodes stopped at least six times, bank records show, purchasing items like assault-style rifles, ammunition and scopes. Sometimes he dropped into gun shops and sometimes he conducted the transactions in parking lots with private sellers he met online.

By the time he reached his destination, prosecutors said on Monday at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and four of his subordinates on seditious conspiracy charges, the Oath Keepers leader had spent as much as $20,000 on what amounted to a small arsenal that included at least three rifles and an Israeli-made semiautomatic shotgun.

Prosecutors have not yet told the jury precisely what Mr. Rhodes did with the weapons he amassed as he and a lawyer for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle, made their way from Texas, through Mississippi and Tennessee, to the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Va., where they stayed on Jan. 6.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Recommends Bannon Be Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. Stephen Bannon, who is set to be sentenced on Friday, deserved a penalty harsher than the minimum term, prosecutors said.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Steve Bannon is being sentenced to prison this week – and that’s just the half of it, Bill Palmer, Oct. 17, 2022. This week, career bill palmercriminal Steve Bannon will be sentenced in federal court for the pair of contempt of Congress charges he was convicted on earlier this year.

Due to the staggered manner in which criminal charges have been brought against Bannon at various levels of government, Bannon’s prison sentence for contempt is likely to be rather short. This is likely to set off widespread confusion, and a fair amount of mistaken “they’re getting away with it all” sentiment. So let’s make sure we’re all caught up on what’s actually happening to Bannon.

bill palmer report logo headerBannon’s sentencing this week will be solely for the contempt charges. Bannon could realistically get anything from a month to two years in prison. This particular crime gives a lot of latitude to the judge on sentencing, and the judge will have to decide whether or not to take Bannon’s prior pardoned charges into account, along with Bannon’s ongoing inappropriate public remarks about his trial.

Justice Department log circularBut whatever prison sentence Bannon ends up with this week, it’ll be just the half of it. Actually it’ll be a lot less than half of it, because contempt is the least severe charge that Bannon is facing. Bannon is separately set to stand trial next month on New York state-level charges of fraud – and if he’s convicted, that’ll likely come with a far longer prison sentence than whatever he ends up getting this week for contempt.

In addition, we’re still waiting to see if the DOJ ends up bringing additional January 6th related charges against Steve Bannon, which would also likely come with a more severe prison sentence than the current contempt charge.

But when Bannon is sentenced this week, the thing to keep in mind is that contempt of Congress is considered a fairly minor crime, which is why it comes with a shorter prison sentence. Bannon’s state-level fraud trial next month puts him in far greater jeopardy of spending a long time in prison. Bannon’s prison sentence for contempt will just be round one of his worsening legal troubles.

Emptywheel, On Steve Bannon’s Epically Bad Faith, Emptywheel, right, Oct. 17, 2022. The government’s sentencing memo for Steve Bannon, which asks Judge Carl Nichols to sentence Bannon to six marcy wheelermonths in prison for blowing off the January 6 Committee subpoena, mentions his bad faith thirteen times (and his failure to make any good faith effort once).

From the moment that the Defendant, Stephen K. Bannon, accepted service of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (“the Committee”), he has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt.

[snip]

It also describes how Bannon refused to tell the Probation office how much money he had; DOJ used that refusal to ask for a $200,000 fine as a result.

Even now that he is facing sentencing, the Defendant has continued to show his disdain for the lawful processes of our government system, refusing to provide financial information to the Probation Office so that it can properly evaluate his ability to pay a fine. Rather than disclose his financial records, a requirement with which every other defendant found guilty of a crime is expected to comply, the Defendant informed Probation that he would prefer instead to pay the maximum fine. So be it. This Court should require the Defendant to comply with the bargain he proposed when he refused to answer standard questions about his financial condition. The Court should impose a $100,000 fine on both counts—the exact amount suggested by the Defendant.

Oct. 16

HuffPost, Chilling Memo To FBI Official Warned Of Sympathy In Bureau For Jan. 6 Rioters, Mary Papenfuss, Oct. 15-16, 2022. A "sizable percentage of the employee population felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” a person wrote in an email to Paul Abbate.

huffington post logoA recently released email written by someone familiar with FBI operations warned a bureau official just days after last year’s insurrection of sympathy within the FBI for the Jan. 6 rioters.

 The memo sent via email to now FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate — first revealed by NBC News — is the latest ominous sign of increasing politicization of policing organizations that are supposed to enforce the law without partisan bias.

FBI logo“There’s no good way to say it, so I’ll just be direct: from my first-hand and second-hand information from conversations since Jan. 6, there is, at best, a sizable percentage of the employee population that felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” the email reads.

The sender’s name has been redacted, which was part of a trove of documents released this week by the FBI in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The message is marked “external email” but may have been written by a current or former agent or official on a personal computer. The writer refers to a past FBI “unit” and talking with agents. Abbate, who was then associate deputy director of the bureau, personally responded to the writer with a thank you for sharing the information. The sender addressed Abbate by his first name.

In the message, the sender referred to an unnamed retired senior FBI analyst who had packed his Facebook page with “Stop the Steal” propaganda, referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election he lost was rigged.

djt maga hatThe email noted that several agents insisted the violence at the Capitol was little different than Black Lives Matter protests. Still, Capitol rioters were being singled out because of “political correctness.”

Violence was far more significant at the Capitol riot that apparently involved a bid to disrupt the U.S. government. Nearly 900 people have been arrested and charged with crimes for involvement in the insurrection.

The writer recounted “literally” having to “explain” to a fellow agent the difference between “opportunists burning and looting during [Black Lives Matter] protests that stemmed [from] legitimate grievance to police brutality vs. an insurgent mob whose purpose was to the execution of democratic processes at the behest of a sitting president. One is a smattering of criminals; the other is an organized group of domestic terrorists,” the message added.

The divide on law and order enforcement — often impacted by racism — is so pronounced in the bureau that the email author claimed Black agents were afraid to join SWAT teams for fear their co-workers would not protect them.

Oct. 15

World Crisis Radio, A century after Mussolini’s March on Rome, US voters must choose between 1922 and 1934, when FDR’s New Deal scored midterm webster tarpley 2007gains! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and author, Oct. 15, 2022 (94:32 mins.). Time to purge federal agencies of Trump moles implicated in January 6 autogolpe! Latest January 6 hearings prove sabotage of Hill readiness by pro-Trump networks in FBI, Secret Service, Pentagon who left Congress undefended;

Film footage shows Pelosi, Schumer and Hoyer fighting to get police and Guard deployed to Capitol while Trump stooges stalled;

Supremes reject Don’s latest MaL motion, leaving early indictment as job one;

Corrupt television networks hide inflation decline of almost 1% from summer peak; Harping about Latinos and GOP, they forget that Hispanic jobless rate is down from 8.6% to an all-time record low of 3.8%;

Russia spews nuclear threats, mounts revenge attack on Ukraine with 100 missiles after Kerch bridge is crippled; G-7 nations pledge more support for Kiev, including air defense;

Beware GOP’s 2023 plans to destroy social safety net using debt ceiling to extort genocidal austerity; Yellen of Treasury must be ready to implement Fourteenth Amendment to prevent GOP default;

British pound sterling still on the brink of collapse as Truss fires Chancellor while rolling back wild tax cuts for rich; Italian neofascist coalition in crisis even before launch; Chinese Communists set for coronation of Xi, but Biden’s new semiconductor regs are ominous for Beijing; Pope condemns xenophobia and death penalty, posing problems for assorted fascist demagogues!

Oct. 9

 

maggie haberman confidence man

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Trump’s origins in a New York world of con men, mobsters and hustlers, Sean Wilentz, Oct. 9, 2022 (print ed.). In “Confidence Man,” Maggie Haberman puts special emphasis on Trump’s ascent in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Maggie Haberman hails from a New York City very different from Donald Trump’s dominion of glitz and criminality, but she knows that dominion well.

Raised in the household of a traditional shoe-leather New York Times reporter and a well-connected publicist, and now herself ensconced at the digitized Times, Haberman’s earliest assignments involved covering City Hall and its satellite ethical sinkholes for the New York Post and the Daily News. That singular education in New York corruption has stuck with her and sets her apart from her peers reporting on the Trump presidency and its seditious aftermath. It now distinguishes Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America as a uniquely illuminating portrait of our would-be maximum leader.

With a sharp eye for the backstory, Haberman places special emphasis on Trump’s ascent in a late 1970s and 1980s New York demimonde of hustlers, mobsters, political bosses, compliant prosecutors and tabloid scandalmongers. This bygone Manhattan that Tom Wolfe could only satirize in The Bonfire of the Vanities is the fundament to any understanding of what makes Trump tick.

“The dynamics that defined New York City in the 1980s,” Haberman observes, “stayed with Trump for decades; he often seemed frozen there.” Zombielike, he swaggers and struts and cons on the world’s largest stage, much as he did when gossip columnists fawned over him as The Donald; and he will continue his night of the living dead, with menacing success, until someone finally drives a metaphorical stake through his metaphorical heart.

The rote rap on Trump is that he was a bumptious, hyper-ambitious real estate developer from Queens who never earned the respect of the Manhattan society pooh-bahs and who vowed to beat them at their own game — a vow that eventually led him to the Oval Office, astonishing even Trump. That storyline appears in Confidence Man, but Haberman knows it is superficial.

Inside that cauldron of fakery, Trump, no rugged individualist, and padded with his father’s millions, gravitated to a specific milieu of arrivistes whom he equated with supreme power, class and ruthlessness. He held in especially high regard the bully George Steinbrenner, from the outer outer borough of Cleveland, and became a constant presence in the Boss’s Yankee Stadium box. (I’d not known until reading Haberman that Trump, a wimp when it came to sacking underlings, found his tag line for “The Apprentice” by impersonating Steinbrenner barking “You’re fired,” over and over, not least at the Yankees’ oft-discharged manager Billy Martin.)

djt roger stone CustomOff to one side there was the raffish schemer Roger Stone, left, a well-digger’s son from Norwalk, Conn., who got his start as one of the political saboteurs for Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign, and whose Washington lobbying mega-firm (with Paul Manafort as one of his co-partners) came to represent the Trump Organization’s interests. From the outermost borough of Adelaide, Australia, there was the unscrupulous media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who had already turned the liberal tabloid New York Post into a right-wing scandal sheet and who in 1985 completed the acquisition of 20th Century Fox that would eventually give the world Fox News, commanded by another member of the New York gang, Roger Ailes. There was also the high-profile, media-savvy U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani, from Brooklyn like Sharpton, and he and Trump would circle each other until they seriously hooked up some years later.

djt roy cohn fileTrump’s chief mentor, and a consigliere to most of the big shots named above, was the legendary underworld and overworld fixer Roy Cohn (shown with Trump at far right). The pampered son of a kingpin in Bronx Democratic politics, long notorious for his McCarthyite Red Scare grandstanding, Cohn, as Haberman details, connected Trump with Stone as well as with organized crime while giving him master classes in high-stakes con-man strategy and tactics. Whenever Trump today intimidates the press with threats of retaliation, whenever he defends his aggressions by claiming to be the victim, whenever he calls his accusers (especially if they represent the federal government) life-destroying, treasonous “scum,” he is channeling his mentor, Cohn.

Haberman offers plenty of material about how these men did it all with virtual impunity. Of course, there would be the occasional fines and sealed judgments — and Cohn was disbarred weeks before he died of AIDS, abandoned by Trump, who knew the score on being heartless. But as Haberman describes, Trump went to great lengths to square himself with a paragon of the city’s power elite, the longtime Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau, including making generous donations to Morgenthau’s pet charity, the New York Police Athletic League, the one charity commitment, Morgenthau would joke warmly, that Trump could be counted on honoring. Not until Cyrus Vance Jr., who had a fine pedigree but was no crusader, succeeded Morgenthau in 2010 did Trump and his properties, after Vance backed off for years, finally face serious investigation by the D.A.’s office — and even then, prosecutors on the case quit in protest when Vance’s successor suddenly seemed to drop it.

Confidence Man likewise enlightens about the massive oversights by the press and the broader world of publishing, especially in New York, not simply in failing to expose the corruption that Haberman catalogues but in creating and then abetting Trump’s celebrity. There were certainly exceptional naysaying reporters, notably Jack Newfield’s protege at the Village Voice, Wayne Barrett, who, at Newfield’s urging, dug deep into Trump’s shady dealings. Barrett’s and the Voice’s condemnations sparked a brief aborted federal investigation, but they weren’t about to shake the inertia at the most influential outlets, topped by the New York Times. Neither did the late lamented Spy magazine’s bull’s-eye satirical shots at the “short-fingered vulgarian” provoke inquiries, although they did provoke Trump to threaten lawsuits and are said to anger him to this day.

Some of the episodes in Haberman’s later chapters on Trump’s presidency have already stirred controversy. Beneath the buzz, though, many of the richest storylines from the Trump White House, as reported in “Confidence Man” and elsewhere, have a distinctly New York ring. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump snapped in 2018, in anger at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the very conservative former senator from Alabama, who had recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whom Trump eventually ousted.

Before he was twice impeached, Trump found his man, yet another New York mouthpiece, William Barr, who as attorney general happily did Trump’s bidding in, among other things, lying about the damning Mueller report on the Russian interference — until Trump lost reelection and Barr, well-schooled in transactional loyalty and with his reputation as a supposed “institutionalist” tarnished, declined recruitment into Trump’s coup and at the last minute jumped from the sinking ship. The manic and often antic crimes of Stone, pardoned and unpardoned, add another layer of continuity, a louche link with the old Cohn-centered netherworld.

Haberman’s contribution in Confidence Man, though, is much larger than its arresting anecdotes. Later generations of historians will puzzle over Trump’s rise to national power.

Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of “No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding.”

Oct. 8

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Shrinking Putin under fire from Kremlin insiders for catastrophic failure of Ukraine campaign, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, historian and author, Oct. 8, 2022  (1:05:47 mins.). Russian command structure factionalized and breaking up: Chechen boss Kadyrov and top mercenary Prigozhin demand ouster of Defense Minister Shoigu, Chief of Staff Gerasimov, and Ukrainian front commander Col. Gen. Lapin as draft-age men flee conscription;

Biden reminds Putin that any use of nuclear weapons by Russia will lead to an apocalyptic Armageddon battle;

Ukraine forces secure Izyum and then Lyman on road into Luhansk in east; Ukrainian column moving down west bank of Dneiper River from Mylove towards Beryslav and Kherson; destruction of Dneiper bridges can lead to encirclement of Russian forces on west bank;

After Kim fires missile over Japan, US and South Korea respond with large-scale drills;

One month before midterm vote, October Surprise season: Herschel Walker scandal powerfully underlines central issues of GOP abortion hypocrisy and unfit candidates; In reply, pro-Trump FBI networks illegally leak grand jury material on Hunter Biden;

Anti-ballistic missile defense: use kinetic kill vehicles in short run before deploying layered laser defenses based on new physical principles;

Trump’s pals Putin and MBS procure OPEC oil production cut of 2 million bbl/day to help GOP;

US remains at lowest jobless rate in history; Hispanic unemployment rate is 3.8%, also the lowest in US history;

Previous fascist ideologues as enemy combatants: the cases of Giovanni Gentile and Alfred Rosenberg.

Oct. 7

 

Senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman speaks at a memorial for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (Associated Press Photo by Susan Walsh).

Senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman speaks at a memorial for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (Associated Press Photo by Susan Walsh).

ny times logoNew York Times, Laurence Silberman, Conservative Touchstone on the Bench, Dies at 86, Sam Roberts, Oct. 6, 2022 (print ed.). From his powerful perch on the D.C. appeals court, he voided gun controls and challenged press freedoms but also upheld the Affordable Care Act.

Laurence H. Silberman, a conservative federal appeals court judge and advocate of judicial restraint whose opinions on guns rights, press freedom, the Affordable Care Act and other crucial issues resonated widely and sometimes presaged Supreme Court decisions, died on Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 86.

His death was announced by of Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where Judge Silberman had sat since he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and where he continued to adjudicate long after he assumed senior status in 2000. His son, Robert, said the cause was an infection.

Judge Silberman was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for six federal posts; was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush in 2008; and three times was shortlisted by Republican presidents for the Supreme Court.

He never got there, but his opinions on the D.C. appeals court, considered one of the most powerful benches in the country, could nevertheless be far-reaching.

Last year, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal described him as “one of the all-time giants of the federal bench” and perhaps “the most influential judge never to have sat on the Supreme Court.”

Judge Silberman defined judicial restraint not as acquiescence but as leaving it to Congress and other representative bodies to legislate and letting the federal courts decide whether those laws pass muster with the Constitution.

In 1988, for example, he wrote in an opinion that the Watergate-era law passed by Congress that allowed for the appointment of special prosecutors was unconstitutional because it interfered with the president’s powers. The Supreme Court disagreed, but the law eventually lapsed anyway.

In 2002, he wrote an opinion upholding a key provision of the post-9/11 Patriot Act that enabled law enforcement and intelligence officers to share information more easily.

In 2007, he ruled that the District of Columbia’s strict gun registration requirements and ban on carrying firearms violated the Second Amendment. In a decision that cheered gun-rights advocates, the Supreme Court momentously agreed with him, holding that bearing arms was an individual right.

And in 2011 he upheld the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which at the time required people to be insured. He wrote that individuals’ decisions to remain uninsured, in the aggregate, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce and were therefore fair game for federal regulation.

The Supreme Court went on to uphold the act on other grounds (and Congress later removed the insurance requirement), but Judge Silberman was applauded in some circles for his consistency in exercising judicial restraint, even in assessing the constitutionality of an emblematic Democratic initiative.

He was not unwilling to challenge judicial precedents, however.

In 2021, he delivered a scathing dissent in a libel case, urging the Supreme Court to overturn its 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan. That precedent said that to sustain a claim of libel against a public figure, a plaintiff had to prove that a published statement was known to have been false or was published with reckless disregard for whether it was true.

Arguing for a ruling that would make it easier for public figures to win libel suits, Judge Silberman said that The Times and The Washington Post had become “virtually Democratic Party broadsheets,” that “the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction,” that nearly all TV network and cable outlets are “a Democratic Party trumpet,” and that big tech companies censor conservatives.

“Democratic Party ideological control” of the media, he warned, could portend an “authoritarian or dictatorial regime.” His opinion on lowering the bar for libel suits, if not his same reasoning, was later echoed by the Supreme Court justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas.

Though a conservative paragon, Judge Silberman defied pigeonholing.

As solicitor in the Nixon administration’s Labor Department, he developed timetables for affirmative action, including numerical quotas that he later said he had initially hoped to avoid.

As under secretary of labor, he threatened to quit unless President Richard M. Nixon overruled a White House aide who sought to prevent the nomination of a Black labor expert as the Labor Department’s director for the New York region.

Judge Silberman said in 2017 that he had completed a draft of his memoirs but that they would not be for public consumption.

“If you write anything for publication, you’ve got to be accurate,” he said. “If you write for your grandchildren, you just have to be honest.”

“That’s the only people I care about,” he said.

Oct. 6

 

Coffee County historical marker and the county courthouse in Douglas, GA (Photo by Stephen Conn via Flickr, C BY-NC 2.0).

Coffee County historical marker and the county courthouse in Douglas, GA (Photo by Stephen Conn via Flickr, C BY-NC 2.0).

Going Deep With Russ Baker, Investigative Commentary: What Donald Trump Got Right About Voting Machines, Russ Baker, right, Oct. 6, 2022. The russ baker cropped david welkerweird drama over the supposed “forensic experts” who messed with election software in a tiny Georgia county distracts from the real problem: Voting machines — and our elections — are indeed vulnerabe.

“Fair elections” was perhaps the animating factor in American politics in 2020. That summer, as we all know, Donald Trump seemingly began to prepare for a November loss by declaring ad nauseam that the only way he could lose was if the election was rigged — but the idea that the integrity of the election was at risk was first floated by Joe Biden, who predicted (accurately) as early as June that Trump would “try to steal” the election by casting doubt on mail-in ballots.

Since then, for most people not attending Trump’s post-presidential rallies, the issue has pretty much disappeared. Among “reasonable” people, it’s taken as axiomatic that our elections are secure. But that’s not true. It’s a crisis for our country, beyond the hundreds of election deniers running for key positions overseeing future elections, and the situation sets us up for future disasters.

Thanks for reading Going Deep with Russ Baker! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

whowhatwhy logoWe know all about that at WhoWhatWhy. Long before Trump hijacked this legitimate issue for illegitimate purposes with the “Stop the Steal” fantasy, we were one of the first news outlets to sound the alarm over the “chain of custody” of ballots and the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems.

So-called “hybrid” voting machines, used to both create and mark and then scan and count barcoded paper ballots, can be manipulated in various ways that are difficult to detect. Hand-marked ballots, with the security of the chain of custody preserved and well documented, are probably the only way to ensure an election wasn’t hijacked.

Election integrity is a real concern. But once Trump commandeered the concept, many reasonable people saw any question of voting machine reliability as dangerous territory, the exclusive realm of MAGA and QAnon kooks.

The way legacy media is covering a ballot machine controversy in tiny Coffee County, GA, is not helping.

There, local GOP officials allowed some purported “election experts” — who were in fact Trump loyalists — to access official election computers and poll pads on January 7, 2021, under the cover story that they were looking for evidence that the 2020 election had indeed been stolen.

Exactly what they were up to is still a mystery, but one theory is that whatever they were doing tainted the Coffee County voting machines — and may have provided a blueprint for stealing future elections. For now, that’s just a theory. Georgia’s Republican election officials have repeatedly insisted that despite the curious visits and the so-called “forensic experts” accessing the machines, there was no sign of any tampering or other shenanigans.

Framed that way, Coffee County sounds like a sideshow. Yet it’s been an ongoing national story. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other major news organizations have been publishing bits of closed-circuit video footage and other evidence that increasingly show that the local GOP officials and their allies seem to have been evasive, had poor memory, or possibly lied outright about the incident.

Although the Post has played the story prominently and sought to keep its lead over other news outlets on it, something about the way in which the stories focused on the specific local characters and their actions obscures the larger issue — an issue that legacy media may be, understandably, fearful of highlighting.

georgia mapRecent coverage gives the impression that the only reason the footage is public is a lawsuit. What they neglected to mention: That lawsuit, filed in 2018, was brought about because advocates had identified specific security flaws with internet-connected voting machines, like the ones used in Georgia and four other states.

The following year, observers found internet-connected voting machines, used to upload results from precincts, in 10 states. Ahead of 2020, cybersecurity experts identified 35 voting systems that could be reached — and breached — via the internet, despite insistence to the contrary from Jeanette Manfra, the then-assistant director for cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security.

This context was absent from the legacy media’s Coffee County coverage. Who cares that, after the election, a small forensic effort took place to examine the voting system used in a tiny county in Georgia? Neither the Post nor the Times has done a great job of highlighting and focusing public attention, front and center, on what’s at stake in this blurry footage. The Times did raise the point, but only in a final paragraph.

I tried to draw attention to the core problem in a previous newsletter. My point was that, under the guise of investigating possible wrongdoing, the people captured in the video might have been opening the door to actual wrongdoing — i.e., by obtaining the code used in the machines, they could potentially use it to tamper with the whole system.

Now, there’s a tiny bit of acknowledgment of this by state authorities in Georgia. Two weeks ago, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger — the same Brad Raffensperger whom outgoing President Donald Trump leaned on in the infamous January 2021 phone request to “find” him 11,780 votes — announced that even though nobody could point out exactly what might be amiss, Georgia would go ahead and replace the Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Coffee County anyway.

But that seems more like a distraction and damage control than anything else — since the actual problem is that the incursion could potentially allow people to access and influence voting equipment throughout the state. That’s the real issue: The overall voting system is potentially insecure. (Raffensperger claimed otherwise, as does this Department of Homeland Security report — but experts we’ve consulted for years vehemently disagree.)

And even worse, Georgia’s exposure to covert election manipulation could be the bellwether for the rest of the country.

With very tight elections anticipated in consequential US Senate and gubernatorial races in that state — races that have national implications — it’s deeply concerning that more attention is not being paid to the underlying risks.

Those risks are copious and varied: There’s no reliable paper trail to ensure that miscounts don’t happen accidentally or deliberately, and there are plenty of ways for miscounts to happen.

What happened in Georgia is this: The state bought a lot of ballot-marking devices (BMDs) designed to make voting easier for handicapped people but then made them mandatory for all in-person voters, even though there are grave concerns among experts that these machines have flaws that could potentially permit manipulation.

But you could read about the Trumpy weirdos in Coffee County for hours, and never pick up this vital takeaway.

***

The lack of attention paid by the media to the real problems with voting machines may be explained, in part, by the fact that news organizations have painted themselves into a corner. They’ve been telling their audience that there is nothing to Trump’s election manipulation claims — and they’re right: There’s no evidence to support his Stop the Steal circus.

But the stench of Trump’s Big Lie has had a peculiar and paradoxical impact on coverage of election security and integrity. Because, in their aversion to it, the legacy media have avoided granting even a shred of credence to anything Trump, or anyone associated with Stop the Steal, has been saying on this issue.

Unless this problem is given attention and gets fixed, election fraud could become endemic — in 2022, and beyond.

Oct. 4

 

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors outline Oath Keepers’ alleged roles in seditious conspiracy case, Rachel Weiner, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). Five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, above, face trial. Prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Rhodes and his group intentionally conspired to use force to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The trial is an important step in the wider probe, analysts say. Rhodes plans to testify, denies call to Trump: defense lawyer; Rhodes attorney corrected by judge as defense openings begin.

Opening statements occurred in the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other members of the extremist group who face seditious conspiracy and other charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes and four co-defendants — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — have pleaded not guilty to felony charges alleging that they conspired for weeks after the 2020 presidential election to unleash political violence to oppose the lawful transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, is charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of President Biden. Rhodes is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far.

The defendants came from Texas, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and allegedly led a group that traveled to Washington and staged firearms nearby before forcing entry through the Capitol Rotunda doors in combat and tactical gear.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: They Legitimized the Myth of a Stolen Election — and Reaped the Rewards, Steve Eder, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mike McIntire, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). On the day the Capitol was attacked, 139 Republicans in the House voted to dispute the Electoral College count. This is how they got there.

A majority of House Republicans last year voted to challenge the Electoral College and upend the presidential election. That action, signaled ahead of the vote in signed petitions, would change the direction of the party.

Five days after the attack on the Capitol last year, the Republican members of the House of Representatives braced for a backlash.

Two-thirds of them — 139 in all — had been voting on Jan. 6, 2021, to dispute the Electoral College count that would seal Donald J. Trump’s defeat just as rioters determined to keep the president in power stormed the chamber. Now one lawmaker after another warned during a conference call that unless Republicans demanded accountability, voters would punish them for inflaming the mob.

“I want to know if we are going to look at how we got here, internally, within our own party and hold people responsible,” said Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

When another member implored the party to unite behind a “clarifying message” that Mr. Trump had truly lost, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, emphatically agreed: “We have to.”

More than 20 months later, the opposite has happened. The votes to reject the election results have become a badge of honor within the party, in some cases even a requirement for advancement, as doubts about the election have come to define what it means to be a Trump Republican.

The most far-reaching of Mr. Trump’s ploys to overturn his defeat, the objections to the Electoral College results by so many House Republicans did more than any lawsuit, speech or rally to engrave in party orthodoxy the myth of a stolen election. Their actions that day legitimized Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, gave new life to his claims of conspiracy and fraud and lent institutional weight to doubts about the central ritual of American democracy.

Yet the riot engulfing the Capitol so overshadowed the debate inside that the scrutiny of that day has overlooked how Congress reached that historic vote. A reconstruction by The Times revealed more than simple rubber-stamp loyalty to a larger-than-life leader. Instead, the orchestration of the House objections was a story of shrewd salesmanship and calculated double-talk, set against a backdrop of demographic change across the country that has widened the gulf between the parties.

Oct. 1

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 1, 2022. The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 

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

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

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: With avalanche of psychotic raving, madman Putin attempts illegal annexation of four more Ukrainian provinces, Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian, author and commentator, Oct. 1, 2022 (92:25 webster tarpley 2007mins.). Issuing new nuclear threats to US and NATO, Kremlin dictator defies specific warnings against more aggression from UN Secretary General, carrying out single worst escalation in conflict thus far; He alleges attack on Baltic natural gas pipelines is work ”Anglo-Saxons.”

Putin accuses West of ”outright Satanism,” but Stalin claimed he had devil on his side; Key Russian novel of twentieth century by Bulgakov is obsessed with devil aka Wolland in Moscow; Russian fascist Ivan Illyin quoted prominently in tirade; Russians vote with their feet in massive exodus of draft-age men;

Truss regime in UK embraces moribund doctrines of free market fetishism and radical deregulation, putting pound sterling and gilt markets in danger of imminent collapse;
Salvini demands post of Interior Minister in emerging Meloni cabinet; Prague coup of 1948 shows this is ideal position for illegal seizure of power;

Origins of Italy’s current neofascism in the Italian Social Republic (RSI), Mussolini’s 1943-1945 German puppet state, and in the postwar fascist party MSI of Giorgio Almirante;

Ginni Thomas continues to deny 2020 election; Espionage Act indictments are overdue;

Hypocrite Rep. deSantis voted against federal aid to states stricken by Superstorm Sandy, but now needs federal largesse for hurricane relief; GOP suing to block Biden’s student loan debt relief measures. So, punish them at the polls!

 

September

Sept. 28

 

 United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r). (Safe Image)

United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Eagerness of Ginni Thomas, Michelle Cottle, Sept. 28, 2022 (print ed.). Ginni Thomas has become a problem. You don’t have to be a left-wing, anti-Trump minion of the deep state to think it’s a bad look for American democracy to have the wife of a Supreme Court justice implicated in a multitentacled scheme to overturn a free and fair presidential election. But that is where this political moment finds us.

A longtime conservative crusader, Ms. Thomas increasingly appears to have been chin deep in the push to keep Donald Trump in power by any means necessary. Her insurrection-tinged activities included hectoring everyone from state lawmakers to the White House chief of staff to contest the results. She also swapped emails with John Eastman, the legal brains behind a baroque plot to have Vice President Mike Pence overturn the election that may have crossed the line from sketchy into straight-up illegal. Along the way, Ms. Thomas peddled a cornucopia of batty conspiracy theories, including QAnon gibberish about watermarked ballots in Arizona.

Even by the standards of the Trumpified Republican Party, this is a shameful turn of events. And after extended negotiations, Ms. Thomas has finally agreed to voluntarily testify soon before the Jan. 6 House committee. Her lawyer has declared her “eager” to “clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election.”

No doubt we’re all looking forward to her clarifications. But many people would be even more eager to have a bigger question addressed: How is it that someone with such evident contempt for democracy, not to mention a shaky grip on reality, has run amok for so long at the highest levels of politics and government?

The most obvious answer is that Ms. Thomas is married to a very important man. And Washington is a town that has long had to contend, and generally make peace, with the embarrassing or controversial spouses and close kin of its top power players (Martha Mitchell, Billy Carter, Ivanka and Jared…).

But even within this context, Ms. Thomas has distinguished herself with the aggressiveness and shamelessness of her political activities, which she pursues with total disregard for the conflicts of interest that they appear to pose with her husband’s role as an unbiased, dispassionate interpreter of the law.

In another era, this might have prompted more pushback, for any number of reasons. But Ms. Thomas has benefited from a couple of cultural and political shifts that she has shrewdly exploited. One touches on the evolving role of power couples and political spouses. The other, more disturbing, is the descent of the Republican Party down the grievance-driven, conspiracy-minded, detached-from-reality rabbit hole.

If most of America has come around to two-income households, Washington is overrun with bona fide power couples and has fashioned its own set of rules, official and unofficial, for dealing with them. Among these: It is bad form to suggest that a spouse should defer to his or her partner’s career, other than when explicitly required, of course. (A notable exception is the presidency, in which case the first lady is in many ways treated as if it were still 1960.) Though plenty of folks discuss it sotto voce, publicly musing that a couple’s work life might bleed into their home life is considered insulting — even sexist, if the spouse being scrutinized is a woman.

The Thomases have been playing this card for years. Ms. Thomas has forged all sorts of ties with individuals and groups with interests before her husband and his colleagues. In the chaotic aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, she was helping the conservative Heritage Foundation identify appointees for a new Republican administration, even as her husband was deliberating over the outcome of the race. When people grumble about perceived conflicts — or Ms. Thomas’s perpetual political crusading in general — the couple and their defenders complain that they are being held to different standards from others. They are adamant that of course the Thomases can stay in their respective lanes.

Sept. 24

World Crisis Radio, Historical commentary: To neutralize Putin’s thermonuclear threats to NATO, US must launch crash program for strategic webster tarpley 2007anti-missile defense using lasers & particle beams, Webster G. Tarpley, right, author, historian, commentator, Sept. 24, 2022 (93:10 mins.). US Patriots and Israeli ABM systems could help shield Ukraine in short term.

Desperate dictator runs press gangs to kidnap 300,000 recruits for cannon fodder on Ukraine front; 1,300 protesters arrested, indicating growing crisis for Kremlin; Iranian opposition mounts biggest anti-government actions since 2009;

Mar a Lago state secrets case turning against Trump with rational rulings from Brooklyn and Eleventh Circuit judges; New York AG lawsuit could prove fatal for family rackets; Fed boss Jerome Powell in monetarist frenzy, following catastrophic policy of Paul Adolf Volcker, who helped wreck Carter Administration with 22% prime rate;

MAGAt McQarthy presents GOP’s Commitment to America, a tissue of deception concocted with infamous demagogue Newt Gingrich; Platform is all lies and empty slogans, ducking questions on abortion, 2020 election, insurrection, democracy, and defunding FBI; GOP still at war with New Deal and Great Society reforms; Urging Italians to vote against neofascism this Sunday;

DeSantis’ cynical exploitation of asylum seekers for political provocations reveals the vile cruelty of Republicans; Trump sinking further into QAnon fascist mysticism; Next January 6 hearings September 28; Breaking: Benedict Donald’s lawyers struggling to prevent grand jury testimony on coup plot by subpoenaed White House aides

Sept. 18

 

 djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Former U.S. attorney dishes on how he held line against Trump White House, Barbara McQuade, Sept. 18, 2022 (print ed.). In detailing his ouster from the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman says former attorney general William Barr "was desperate," cites Barr's interference in other investigations.

geoffrey berman sdnyWhen then-Attorney General William Barr bungled the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, in 2020, we all knew there was more to the story.

Now, in his new book, Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, Berman dishes on that clumsy episode and on a range of conflicts with the Department of Justice during his tenure leading the Southern District of New York. Berman names the former DOJ officials who exerted political pressure that he found inappropriate, including Edward O’Callaghan and Jeffrey Rosen. Ultimately, Berman was ousted for the sin of refusing to obey what he believed to be partisan DOJ leadership. “The Department of Justice was not a private law firm dedicated to the president’s personal interests,” he writes, “and it was shameful when they operated as if they were.”

Justice Department log circularWith the storytelling skills of a trial lawyer, Berman describes the episode in which Barr summoned him to Manhattan’s Pierre hotel, “a swanky place where even standard rooms can cost a thousand bucks a night or more.” Barr told Berman that he wanted to replace him at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Barr even offered Berman a job he apparently thought would be an enticing sweetener: head of the DOJ’s civil division, which represents the United States in all civil lawsuits — a big job but far from the criminal fray. With that job, Barr told Berman, he could “attract clients and build a book of business” for whenever Berman left the DOJ for the private sector. Only after offering him the job did Barr ask whether Berman had any experience in civil law, revealing that the attorney general was not always concerned with the best interests of the department he was entrusted to lead.

william barr new oThough Berman refused to resign, Barr, right, still issued a news release announcing that Berman was “stepping down” and that, until President Donald Trump could nominate Clayton, the Southern District of New York would be led by Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. Barr bypassed Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, the presumptive choice to serve as acting U.S. attorney. Berman responded with a news release of his own, noting that he was not resigning. His main goal, he writes in “Holding the Line,” was to preserve the office’s independence. The next day, Barr backed down on Carpenito and inserted Strauss into the role of acting head of the office. With Strauss in place, Berman agreed to resign. He concludes: “The truth was that Barr was desperate to get me out of the job I was in, and it was not to put a better US attorney in place. The reasons were perfectly obvious. They were based in politics.”

geoffrey berman bookBerman knew all along that he was living on borrowed time at the SDNY, given his numerous run-ins with the DOJ over what he thought were inappropriate orders from department officials. In one episode that predated Barr’s tenure as attorney general, Berman was investigating Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. About two months before the 2018 midterm elections, O’Callaghan called Berman and told him to indict Craig and to do so before Election Day. Berman’s office had recently filed charges in separate cases against a Republican congressman and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. According to Berman, O’Callaghan had engaged in a heated exchange with the SDNY over the reference in the Cohen indictment to “Individual-1,” which, in context, was an unmistakable reference to Trump. Berman had refused demands to remove it. Now, O’Callaghan said of the Craig case, “It’s time for you guys to even things out.” Berman’s office ultimately declined prosecution. The DOJ sent the case to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, which filed the charges. Craig was acquitted at trial.

Berman reserves his strongest criticism for Barr, calling him a bully and his behavior “thuggish.” Upon taking office, Barr tried to “kill” the Southern District’s investigations relating to the campaign finance crimes to which Cohen had pleaded guilty. The reference in plea documents to “Individual-1” made it apparent that Trump faced potential criminal exposure in this investigation. Barr even discussed dismissing Cohen’s conviction in the same way he would later dismiss the false-statements charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In both cases, the defendants had pleaded guilty in open court.

Berman’s book provides a cautionary tale about how political forces can undermine the quest for justice. He’s concerned that power has become centralized in Washington, providing an opportunity for politics to influence decisions. To protect the independence of the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices, he offers some suggestions for reform. For example, he recommends prohibiting DOJ leadership from granting requests by defense counsel to overrule charging decisions made by U.S. attorneys. He further suggests forbidding the DOJ from shopping cases to other districts after they have been declined for prosecution by a U.S. attorney. He also proposes to eliminate prior-approval requirements that U.S. attorneys’ offices must obtain from the DOJ for sensitive investigative steps.

Fortunately, most U.S. attorneys know that their job is to exercise independent judgment and to refuse to take action based on politics. Berman reminds us that to do the job right, you must be willing to resign.

Or in some cases, refuse to do so.

Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

 

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step, Ellen Barry, Sept. 18, 2022. As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.

The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.

More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.

It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.

Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.

One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material about her. Public archives of Twitter accounts known to be Russian contain 2,642 tweets about Ms. Sarsour, many of which found large audiences, according to an analysis by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public-interest research and investigations.

Sept. 17

 

 

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

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

Politico, Opinion: The Supreme Court Is Now Ignoring Precedent It Doesn’t Like, Jeffrey L. Fisher (a law professor at Stanford Law School; co-director of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic), Sept. 17, 2022. Along with overturning major decisions, the court is quietly erecting new barricades on rulings they can’t quite throw out. 

The Supreme Court’s recent overruling of Roe v. Wade and other foundational decisions makes clear that key precedents are no longer safe.

politico CustomBut as we take account of the court’s last term and look ahead to the next one, it is critical to understand that the aggressive conservative supermajority has also embraced a new, quieter way of annulling other long-established legal rules — a tactic I call barricading precedent. Any assessment of the court’s fidelity to past judicial decisions should include a tally not just of decisions the court overrules but also those it walls off from any future extensions.

Take Egbert v. Boule, a case last term involving whether federal officers could be held liable for violating a person’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure. The Supreme Court held in a previous case that officers could indeed be held liable for conducting unreasonable seizures in the course of “conventional” law-enforcement investigations. And — as Justice Neil Gorsuch “candidly” acknowledged in his separate opinion — the Egbert case bore earmarks of a conventional investigation. At the same time, the six Republican appointees stressed that “if we were called to decide [the previous case] today, we would decline” to recognize this type of liability at all. That created a quandary for those justices: Should they follow the rule of the old case or overrule it?

As it turned out, the court did neither. The court professed to accept the prior decision, but it refused to apply it. The new factual setting, the court held, was itself reason enough to withhold application of disfavored precedent — regardless of how comparable the new setting was.

The court’s conservative justices followed a similar course last term in other cases. In Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, the court considered whether recipients of federal funds that discriminate against individuals because of their race, sex or disability must pay damages for any resulting emotional distress. The framework the court established 20 years ago strongly suggested the answer was yes. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, however, supplied the pivotal votes against the plaintiff on the ground that that framework itself was faulty and thus should never be extended. And in Vega v. Tekoh, Kavanaugh took the same approach to the court’s well-known Miranda rule — the rule requiring police officers to warn suspects in custody before questioning them. He encapsulated his approach to Miranda during the case’s oral arguments as follows: “Accept it, but don’t extend it.”

This approach is as problematic as it is pithy. In the guise of respecting precedent, the new tactic of barricading precedent actually thwarts it.

On one level, many surely welcomed the court’s announcement that it intends to preserve those important decisions. But this declaration also seems to confirm that the court is now comfortable deciding cases on the basis of pure power or will, not just traditional judicial reasoning.

That is cause for great concern. A core feature of the rule of law is that judicial decisions must be worth more than their resolutions of specific controversies in the past. Otherwise, the value of precedent threatens to become nothing more than the degree to which the current members of the court thinks a prior decision is correct — in other words, a system, to invert John Adams’ famous phrase, of men, not laws.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: China and India signal no confidence in Putin’s failing aggression in Ukraine! Webster G. Tarpley, right, author, webster tarpley 2007historian and commentator, Sept. 17, 2022 (111:54 mins.). After military rout east of Kharkiv, Russia faces diplomatic isolation and supply crisis on eve of UN General Assembly in New York; Pope Francis approves arms for Kiev as morally acceptable for self-defense.

70 Russian local officials in St. Petersburg area back petition for peace and Putin ouster; More Russian atrocities and war crimes found in liberated areas, with over 400 victims in mass grave near Izium; torture and execution evident in numerous cases;

DeSantis copies tactics of tyrant Lukashenko of Belarus by using refugees as weapon; Dems have 71% chance of taking Senate; Biden popularity hits 45%, up 9 points over recent months; Whitmer of Michigan and Hochul of New York open 13-15% leads over MAGAt challengers; Lindsay Graham’s national abortion ban will make GOP chances worse;

Italian pro-Putin neofascist block bidding for state power in Sept. 25 election 100 years after Mussolini’s March on Rome; Clashes of ambition aileen mercedes cannonamong Meloni, Salvini, and Berlusconi intensify-Could these rivals ever form a government?; European Union condemns Hungarian dictator and MAGAt darling Orban as undemocratic and threat to European values;

Attempted Etch-a-Sketch moment for pro-Trump crackpot candidates as they jettison 2020 election denial baggage in desperate hope of appearing less deranged: two-faced Gen. Bolduc of New Hampshire is a grotesque example; White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly used Bandy Lee’s ”Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” as handbook for damage control; Meadows, Epshteyn, and Pillow Guy under DoJ scrutiny;

Judge Cannon, left, reaches new low of ineptitude arguing that Trump is uniquely privileged, while denigrating reliability of DoJ; She appears unable to grasp irreparable harm to US inherent in Trump’s stubborn abuse of purloined nuclear secrets!

Sept. 15

Proof, Investigative Commentary:DOJ Investigating Ties Between the FBI and the Kremlin Agent Behind 2016 Trump-Russia Collusion; Jared Kushner May Also Be Implicated, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Sept. 15, 2022. A new Insider report is here expanded upon by Proof to reveal a potentially harrowing triangle linking Trump’s lead agent in Trump-Russia collusion, Putin’s lead agent in the same events, and the FBI.

Introduction: The oft-maligned collation of raw intel known as the Steele Dossier, once advertised as “70%” accurate by its curator, Christopher Steele—who said from the outset that his unprocessed data required additional work by U.S. intelligence agents—has so far proven to be about one-third accurate, one-third inaccurate, and one-third unproven, though with each passing year this last third moves closer and closer to falling under “accurate.”

seth abramson proof logoTo hear the Dossier tell it, the two lead agents for Donald Trump in colluding with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016—which we know Trump did, in secretly negotiating (through Michael Cohen) the most lucrative business deal of his life with the Kremlin, the Trump Tower Moscow deal, throughout the entirety of his 2016 presidential run, and thereafter overseeing a political operation that sent confidential election-related data (through Paul Manafort) to Vladimir Putin’s chief civilian agent doing business in America, Oleg Deripaska—were, well, the men I just said: Cohen and Manafort.

(Along with Trump himself, of course, as the candidate publicly asked the Kremlin’s hackers to hack on his behalf, which they began doing the same day—as requested.)

But at least as to Paul Manafort, this is all a bit misleading. Manafort was in fact under contract with Kremlin agent Deripaska to work as an agent of the Kremlin for the entirety of the time Manafort was allegedly working pro bono for Trump—a contract that had begun in 2005, just before Manafort suddenly moved into Trump Tower and renewed his by-then decades-long friendship with Trump—placing it somewhere between dubious and flat-out wrong to suggest Manafort was ever truly Trump’s man.

Just so, one could argue that Cohen couldn’t possibly have “led” in Trump’s political collusion with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016, as he wasn’t substantially involved in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign at all; his role in the Trump-Russia scandal was to help Trump secretly negotiate a real estate development deal with the Kremlin while Trump’s political team—the one Cohen wasn’t actually on—authored the most unabashedly pro-Russia foreign policy agenda in the history of American politics.

With this is mind, there’s never been any doubt amongst Trump biographers and political historians that while the lead for Putin in the Trump-Russia scandal was in fact Deripaska—as Steele’s dossier had implied, via its persistent focus on Deripaska agent Manafort—the corresponding lead for Trump was in actuality his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It was Jared Kushner who held the most secret (and later lied about) meetings with Kremlin agents, both himself and through intermediaries, before and immediately after the 2016 election; it was Jared Kushner who set up Vladimir Putin’s “friend” Dimitri Simes (who would permanently flee Washington for Moscow to take a job as a Putin propagandist the moment Kremlin spy Maria Butina was arrested in the U.S.) as Trump’s top adviser on Russia policy, in which role Simes helped Trump’s Kremlin intermediary George Papadopoulos and Russian Alfa Bank adviser Richard Burt write Trump’s now-infamous agenda for total American capitulation to Moscow (including and indeed perhaps especially on the subject of Ukraine); and it was Jared Kushner who orchestrated the multinational “grand bargain” detailed in 2019 New York Times bestseller Proof of Conspiracy, which bargain in part saw Trump and his son-in-law offering secrets (including nuclear secrets) to strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt in return for some concessions on Arab-Israeli relations and a windfall for Putin and Russia on (1) Ukraine-related sanctions, and (2) the building of nuclear power plants across the Middle East.

But it was also Jared Kushner who would have been needed to to act as intermediary for perhaps the most controversial component of the Steele Dossier—the sordid affair at the Ritz Moscow notwithstanding, as 2018 New York Times bestseller Proof of Collusion does more than enough to confirm that something uncouth (if largely benign) happened at that location in November 2013—this being the Dossier’s unprocessed intelligence on the sale of a portion of Kremlin-owned oil giant Rosneft, which sale was allegedly to be arranged in such a way as to benefit the Trump family directly.

While Steele’s dossier was silent on exactly how the deal would benefit Trump, its contention that Trump agent Carter Page discussed the deal pre-election in Moscow with Rosneft CEO and Putin lackey Igor Sechin was eventually confirmed (as was Page’s decision to lie about this discussion and his trip to Moscow repeatedly to the media, despite accurately debriefing Trump’s campaign on its particulars at the time).

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).

Sept. 11

 

djt jan 6 rioters capitol

Proof, Investigative Commentary: An Alphabetical Compendium of the Dangerous and Deadly Weapons Insurrectionists Wielded at the Capitol on seth abramson graphicJanuary 6, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 11, 2022. This list of 115+ dangerous and deadly weapons used on January 6 is the largest of its kind, curating reports from media and federal sources to offer a more accurate picture of Trump’s insurrection.

America will never get a full accounting of the weapons supporters of Donald Trump brought to the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There are a variety of reasons for this. Most notable among them is that precious few Trumpist insurrectionists were arrested on-scene, which means that well over 90% of those who attacked the Capitol on Insurrection Day were able to leave the building and/or its surrounding grounds with all the weapons they had had on their person and later deny having ever been armed at all. And because seth abramson proof logoWashington, D.C. is a gun-free zone, those who carried firearms to the Capitol on January 6—a class of pro-Trump criminals we know from extensive major-media reporting on this critical question sits somewhere in the double digits—largely did so by concealing these weapons on their person, meaning the cases we know about in which this occurred are only a very small fraction of the actual instances of handguns and long guns being brought into or near the seat of the U.S. federal government on January 6.

There’s also the simple fact that the January 6 insurrection was designed to unfold in several stages—an initial storming of the Capitol followed by a long-term occupation and, during that occupation, the reinforcement of the building’s criminal occupiers with a mass arsenal of heavy weaponry—so some significant percentage of the stock of weapons that was supposed to be brought to bear on the Capitol on January 6 was stored off-site, most notably—federal investigators have learned—in a Comfort Inn in Ballston, a Virginia neighborhood just a short distance from the planned launch site for Trump’s armed insurrection.

That Republican Party officials have brutally lied about January 6—falsely claiming that no guns were found on any Capitol attacker; falsely claiming that no arrests for conduct involving a weapon were ever made related to January 6; falsely claiming that an event isn’t an “insurrection” unless nearly all participants are armed with guns; falsely claiming that the only January 6 casualties were caused by government agents; falsely claiming that both antifa and Black Lives Matter were present at the Capitol on January 6; falsely claiming that the intention of the January 6 attackers couldn’t have been in any way seditious because if it had been the Trumpists would have killed everyone at the Capitol; falsely claiming that the United States Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police Department or unidentified left-wing agitators provoked the Trumpist mob on January 6; and even more vile lies Proof will not repeat here—means that even if we could uncover a significant fraction of the weaponry armed Trumpists brought to downtown D.C. on January 6 to try to overturn a democratic election there is no longer any chance that even a sizable minority of Republicans would believe any such reporting.

This, of course, was the purpose, from the start, of GOP disinformation about January 6: to rewrite the history of that terrifying day and to do so in a manner calibrated to ensure that such events could happen again, indeed on a far greater scale.

And yet, despite the impossibility of investigators ever getting a full accounting of more than a small fraction of the arms carried by the Trumpist mob as it marched on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, here’s what U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said about the weaponry brought to the U.S. Capitol grounds by pro-Trump insurrectionists on January 6 (with reference to her nearly 40-year as a judge in D.C.):

“I don’t think I’ve seen, in all my years as a judge, quite such a collection of weapons.”

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).

Sept. 10

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Climate Ideologue Charles III Follows in Footsteps of Edward VII, Webster G. Tarpley, Sept. 10, 2022. Strident webster tarpley 2007climate and architecture ideologue Charles III follows in footsteps of Edward VII, who waited decades for Queen Victoria to depart the throne, and James I, the royal pedant who hectored a hostile Parliament about the divine right of kings.

Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign puts her second only to Louis XIV in longevity on throne; Her finest moment was her opposition to Margaret Thatcher, an exponent of union busting, de-industrialization, and brutal austerity;
Tandem of Charles III with Tory free market fanatic and new Premier Liz Truss augurs extreme austerity, not the super-LIHEAP needed to prevent Britishers from freezing to death;

EU Commission President von der Leyen calls for action to defeat Putin’s energy blackmail, including an EU price cap on natural gas, a windfall profits tax on Big Oil, economical use of electricity, and emergency credit lines to get through winter;

CNBC veteran Ron Insana forecasts ”collapse of inflation” as gasoline price continues to fall and new jobless claims decline;

DoJ warns Judge Cannon that Federal government owns classified papers, not Trump; Top secret documents are way above pay grade of hack judge or pro-Don ”special master”; Appeal coming Thursday unless FL court cooperates;
Trump lawsuit against Hillary, Comey, and many others thrown out by another federal judge; Don’s Save America PAC probed for fraudulently bilking MAGA dupes after November 2020; Bannon performs perp walk in handcuffs; Trump aides Steven Miller and Brian Jack get subpoenas;

Reactionary-neofascist pro-Russian bloc of Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi leads in runup to September 24 Italian election, but 35% of voters remain undecided two weeks before vote;

Michigan Supreme Court defies GOP hacks, puts abortion rights on November ballot; Chief Justices of every state urge Supreme Court to reject crackpot legal doctrine of independent state legislatures!

Sept. 8

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

A photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. (U.S. Department of Justice via AFPand /Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. appeals judge’s order for a Mar-a-Lago special master, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 8, 2022. Donald Trump’s lawyers want a special master to shield seized documents that are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

The Justice Department said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master to sift through thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8, according to a Thursday court filing.

The notice of appeal arrived three days after Judge Aileen M. Cannon ruled in favor of Trump and said she would appoint a special master, slowing — at least temporarily — an investigation into the possible mishandling of extremely sensitive classified information, as well as possible hiding, tampering or destruction of government records.

The Justice Department wrote in a brief filing that it would be appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a separate, simultaneous court filing, prosecutors asked Cannon to stay her Sept. 5 decision on two key points: her order to temporarily halt a significant portion of the FBI investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information, and to allow a special master to review the classified material that is among the documents seized as part of a court-authorized search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Aug. 8.

Ultimately, the Justice Department said that a special master could be appointed, but argued that the judge should prohibit the special master from reviewing classified documents. The special master would be still able to sort through personal documents and other items the FBI also seized, setting aside materials as necessary, the filing says.

Prosecutors wrote that allowing a special master to review the classified material would “cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public,” noting that those documents have already been moved to a secure facility, separate from the rest of the seized Trump papers.

And they argued that by prohibiting investigators from using the classified materials found in the August until a special master has cleared them, Cannon could harm national security by hampering the Justice Department’s ability to recover any other classified papers that may still be outstanding.

Barring the FBI from using the classified material in the investigation “could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored—which itself presents the potential for ongoing risk to national security,” prosecutors wrote — the first time they have suggested in court filings that there could be more unsecured classified material they have yet to find.

Trump’s legal team argued in a federal courthouse in West Palm Beach last week that a special master is needed to determine whether any of the documents — more than 100 of which are classified — should be shielded from investigators because of attorney-client or executive privilege. They also said an independent outside expert would boost “trust” in the Justice Department’s criminal probe.

The Justice Department also argued that a former president cannot assert executive privilege after he leaves office, and that it is not possible for one part of the executive branch to assert privilege to shield documents from another part.

But even if Trump could assert executive privilege, the Justice Department argued in its Thursday appeal, the government’s “demonstrated, specific need” to have access to the classified materials would override that privilege. Government prosecutors also said that Trump had no clear need to maintain possession of these classified documents.

“Among other things, the classified records are the very subject of the government’s ongoing investigation,” the filing says.

In her original ruling, Cannon said that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence could continue its analysis of the possible risk to national security posed by the removal from government custody of classified documents, some of which contain the government’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering secrets.

But Justice Department lawyers said Thursday said that it is difficult to separate the FBI investigation from the intelligence review. They said they were unsure of the “bounds” and “implications” of the court order, prompting the intelligence community to temporarily halt its review along with criminal investigators.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that among the documents seized by the FBI was one describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The people also said of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations that are so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept., Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, Sept. 8, 2022. A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking information about Save America PAC, which was formed as Donald J. Trump promoted baseless assertions about election fraud.

A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a super PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.

According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The new focus on Save America was reported earlier by ABC News.

Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events.

The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those parts of the Jan. 6 inquiry related to Mr. Trump have so far largely centered on a plan to create slates of electors pledged to him in seven key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

The new subpoenas appeared to have been issued by a different grand jury in Washington than the one that has been gathering evidence about the so-called fake electors plan, which has focused on questions surrounding pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman.

At least one of the new subpoenas bore the name of a veteran federal prosecutor in Washington who specializes in fraud cases, suggesting that this avenue of inquiry is devoted primarily to examining the spending and fund-raising at Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: My Prediction on the CIA’s Secret Assassination Files, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, (author, publisher and Libertarian think tank president), Sept. 8, 2022. This jacob hornberger newcoming December 15 is the date that President Biden set for the release of the CIA’s long-secret JFK-related records. I would like to place my prediction on the record three months in advance of that deadline.

I predict that the CIA will, once again, request Biden to, once again, extend the time for secrecy. Further Biden, citing national security, Covid, the communist threat, the Russian threat, the terrorist threat, or some other nonsensical justification, will grant the CIA’s request for continued secrecy of its assassination-related records.

future of freedom foundation logo squareThere has to be a good reason that the CIA has steadfastly insisted on keeping those records secret for more almost 60 years. Whatever that reason is, it is obvious that it has not disappeared. Otherwise, the CIA would have authorized U.S. presidents to release its long-secret assassination-related records a long time ago.

That’s not to say, of course, that there is some document in there in which the CIA confesses to having committed a violent regime-change operation against President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Long ago, when the CIA was keeping its role in state-sponsored assassinations under wraps, it had a policy of never putting anything about its assassinations into writing. There is no possibility that those long-secret assassination-related records include a confession.

CIA LogoBut those records undoubtedly contain some information that helps to fill out the overall regime-change mosaic. Think of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle containing 1,000 small pieces. You have 80 percent of the puzzle put together. You can tell that it depicts the Eiffel Tower. Even though you still have 20 percent of the puzzle to fill in, you don’t really need the rest of the pieces. But each additional piece you’re able to fit into the puzzle helps to fill it out.

That’s what the CIA is scared about — not a confession being revealed but rather that its long-secret records contain additional pieces that fill out the regime-change mosaic.

My hunch is that some of the additional pieces relate to Mexico City, specifically Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip there shortly before the assassination. As I detail in my book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, Mexico City was pivotal in creating the World War III cover story that enabled U.S. officials to shut down the investigation immediately after Oswald was assassinated.

john f kennedy smilingThe idea was to establish Oswald’s connections to Cuba and the Soviet Union in Mexico City so that U.S. officials could conjure up the notion that Kennedy had been killed by an international communist conspiracy that had supposedly emanated from Moscow, Russia (yes, that Russia!). They even had Oswald meeting with Valery Kostikov, an officer in the KGB’s assassination department. (Yes, the Reds engaged in state-sponsored assassinations too.)

But everything obviously went wrong with the Mexico City side of the operation. After Kennedy was assassinated, the CIA came up with a photograph of someone who was supposed to be Oswald but wasn’t. We still don’t know who it was in that photograph. The CIA also came up with an audio recording of someone purporting to be Oswald talking with officials at the Soviet embassy but who had a voice that wasn’t Oswald’s.

Permit me though to modify my prediction: I predict that they will release a few records to make it look good, as they have in the past when extending the time for secrecy — to make it look like they are being open and forthright.

But let’s assume that you have 100 records that you steadfastly want to be kept secret. The worst thing you could do is to keep only those 100 records secret because it would call too much attention to them. So, what you would do is hide those 100 records within 10,000 records. In that way, you could slowly release the 9,900 irrelevant records while still keeping the 100 secret.

So, when Biden grants another extension for secrecy in December, don’t be surprised if he and the CIA release a few more records to show how open and forthright they are.

There is another factor to consider. If they release all the CIA’s remaining assassination-related records, then people will be able to see what they are still hiding. For example, in my new book An Encounter with Evil, I detail how the CIA took control over the Zapruder film on the very weekend of the assassination, something they were able to keep secret for decades.

Do any of those remaining records relate to the CIA’s operations with the Zapruder film on the weekend of the assassination? I don’t think so. When the ARRB was enforcing the JFK Records Act in the 1990s, the CIA would not have wanted to reveal that part of its operation. So, I don’t think it would have turned over those records to the ARRB. But we can’t really be certain of that so long as there are still records being kept secret.

Of course, what matters most in all this is what I have been emphasizing for many years — the fraudulent autopsy that the military conducted on Kennedy’s body at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center on the very evening of the assassination. As I emphasize in my three books The Kennedy Autopsy, The Kennedy Autopsy 2, and An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. No one has ever come up with one, and no one ever will. Once the evidence that the ARRB uncovered in the 1990s established the fraudulent nature of the autopsy, it was “case closed” on the regime-change nature of the assassination. The fraudulent autopsy is how we know that the Kennedy assassination cannot possibly be a “conspiracy theory.”

Even through the overall mosaic reveals a national-security regime-change operation against Kennedy on November 22, 1963, there are still pieces to the puzzle that need to be filled in. That’s why I predict that come December, Biden will, once again, grant another request by the CIA for continued secrecy of its assassination-related records.

Freedom, My Prediction on the CIA’s Secret Assassination Files

by Jacob G. Hornberger, Sept. 8, 2022. www.fff.org/2022/09/08/my-prediction-on-the-cias-secret-assassination-files/?utm_source=FFF+Daily&utm_campaign=884189aaed-FFF+Daily+2022-09-08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1139d80dff-884189aaed-318080685 This coming December 15 is the date that President Biden set for the release of the CIA’s long-secret JFK-related records. I would like to place my prediction on the record three months in advance of that deadline.

I predict that the CIA will, once again, request Biden to, once again, extend the time for secrecy. Further Biden, citing national security, Covid, the communist threat, the Russian threat, the terrorist threat, or some other nonsensical justification, will grant the CIA’s request for continued secrecy of its assassination-related records.

There has to be a good reason that the CIA has steadfastly insisted on keeping those records secret for more almost 60 years. Whatever that reason is, it is obvious that it has not disappeared. Otherwise, the CIA would have authorized U.S. presidents to release its long-secret assassination-related records a long time ago.

That’s not to say, of course, that there is some document in there in which the CIA confesses to having committed a violent regime-change operation against President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Long ago, when the CIA was keeping its role in state-sponsored assassinations under wraps, it had a policy of never putting anything about its assassinations into writing. There is no possibility that those long-secret assassination-related records include a confession.

But those records undoubtedly contain some information that helps to fill out the overall regime-change mosaic. Think of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle containing 1,000 small pieces. You have 80 percent of the puzzle put together. You can tell that it depicts the Eiffel Tower. Even though you still have 20 percent of the puzzle to fill in, you don’t really need the rest of the pieces. But each additional piece you’re able to fit into the puzzle helps to fill it out.

That’s what the CIA is scared about — not a confession being revealed but rather that its long-secret records contain additional pieces that fill out the regime-change mosaic.

My hunch is that some of the additional pieces relate to Mexico City, specifically Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip there shortly before the assassination. As I detail in my book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, Mexico City was pivotal in creating the World War III cover story that enabled U.S. officials to shut down the investigation immediately after Oswald was assassinated.

The idea was to establish Oswald’s connections to Cuba and the Soviet Union in Mexico City so that U.S. officials could conjure up the notion that Kennedy had been killed by an international communist conspiracy that had supposedly emanated from Moscow, Russia (yes, that Russia!). They even had Oswald meeting with Valery Kostikov, an officer in the KGB’s assassination department. (Yes, the Reds engaged in state-sponsored assassinations too.)

But everything obviously went wrong with the Mexico City side of the operation. After Kennedy was assassinated, the CIA came up with a photograph of someone who was supposed to be Oswald but wasn’t. We still don’t know who it was in that photograph. The CIA also came up with an audio recording of someone purporting to be Oswald talking with officials at the Soviet embassy but who had a voice that wasn’t Oswald’s.

Permit me though to modify my prediction: I predict that they will release a few records to make it look good, as they have in the past when extending the time for secrecy — to make it look like they are being open and forthright.

But let’s assume that you have 100 records that you steadfastly want to be kept secret. The worst thing you could do is to keep only those 100 records secret because it would call too much attention to them. So, what you would do is hide those 100 records within 10,000 records. In that way, you could slowly release the 9,900 irrelevant records while still keeping the 100 secret.

So, when Biden grants another extension for secrecy in December, don’t be surprised if he and the CIA release a few more records to show how open and forthright they are.

There is another factor to consider. If they release all the CIA’s remaining assassination-related records, then people will be able to see what they are still hiding. For example, in my new book An Encounter with Evil, I detail how the CIA took control over the Zapruder film on the very weekend of the assassination, something they were able to keep secret for decades.

Do any of those remaining records relate to the CIA’s operations with the Zapruder film on the weekend of the assassination? I don’t think so. When the ARRB was enforcing the JFK Records Act in the 1990s, the CIA would not have wanted to reveal that part of its operation. So, I don’t think it would have turned over those records to the ARRB. But we can’t really be certain of that so long as there are still records being kept secret.

Of course, what matters most in all this is what I have been emphasizing for many years — the fraudulent autopsy that the military conducted on Kennedy’s body at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center on the very evening of the assassination. As I emphasize in my three books The Kennedy Autopsy, The Kennedy Autopsy 2, and An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. No one has ever come up with one, and no one ever will. Once the evidence that the ARRB uncovered in the 1990s established the fraudulent nature of the autopsy, it was “case closed” on the regime-change nature of the assassination. The fraudulent autopsy is how we know that the Kennedy assassination cannot possibly be a “conspiracy theory.”

Even through the overall mosaic reveals a national-security regime-change operation against Kennedy on November 22, 1963, there are still pieces to the puzzle that need to be filled in. That’s why I predict that come December, Biden will, once again, grant another request by the CIA for continued secrecy of its assassination-related records.

Sept. 5

djt confidential markings

 

 

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Politico, Judge orders halt to DOJ review of documents seized from Trump, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Sept. 5, 2022. Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege.

politico CustomA federal judge on Monday ordered a halt to the Justice Department’s review of materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, describing a threat to institutions and the risk of media leaks that could cause harm to Trump.

aileen cannon“Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” U.S District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, right, wrote in a 24-page ruling issued on Labor Day.

Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege. Prosecutors expressed exasperation at Trump’s demand to review for executive privilege, noting that there is no precedent for a former executive to assert privilege to bar review of materials by a sitting executive branch — particularly when the government has determined the need is urgent.

Cannon, a Trump appointee who was confirmed a week after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, gave the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers until Sept. 9 to submit a joint filing to propose a list of special master candidates and outlining their duties and limitations. In the meantime, Cannon ruled that the documents would not be returned to Trump.

The Justice Department indicated that if Cannon were to make a ruling of this kind, she should formally enjoin the department, a format that would permit an appeal. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump plots aggressive midterm strategy seen in GOP as double-edged sword, Isaac Arnsdorf, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Republican campaigns hope rallies, robo-calls and virtual appearances by the former president can boost excitement in the party base without turning off moderates and independents.

Donald Trump’s political advisers are in early discussions with Republican campaigns about actively deploying him on the trail this fall, with party strategists placing a risky bet that Trump can boost GOP turnout without repelling moderates and independents who do not support the former president.

Trump plans to be more engaged in October than in September, by appearing at rallies, in robocalls and potentially on tele-town halls and at fundraisers, according to a close adviser, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential strategy. Trump’s political team has told others they want to be cooperative and helpful, focusing Trump on rural areas where he has strong support. Talks have included states across the South and Upper Midwest, among others.

But the risk is acute that his presence could distract from what the GOP has sought to make its central message of the midterms: that voters should fire Democrats who have presided over rising costs and violent crime. Trump, who is under multiple federal and state investigations, continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen and has asserted without evidence that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate was part of a political attack — inflammatory rhetoric that Democrats have sought to keep in the spotlight.

 

Trump Spy Scandal

 

djt confidential markings

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The photo of classified documents from Trump’s resort, annotated, Philip Bump, Sept. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department submitted the photograph as part of a court filing. Here’s what we learned from it.

Now we get to the heart of the matter: what investigators found. Let’s start with that document at the bottom center of the photo. It has a cover sheet indicating that it is classified as “secret.” The government has default cover sheets for various classification levels, ranging from a blue “confidential” classification to an orange “top secret.”

You’ll notice that the documents with the “TOP SECRET/SCI” markings in the photo have a yellow border and not an orange one. Similarly, the document at the bottom center has an orangeish-red-bordered cover sheet (not a purely red one) and is marked “SECRET/SCI.” That “SCI” is important — as are other markings on the cover sheet that provide more information about the document’s classification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Mar-a-Lago espionage scandal is a three-alarm national security crisis. We should act like it, Jennifer Rubin, right, jennifer rubin new headshotSept. 4, 2022. Republicans are treating the investigation of defeated former president Donald Trump’s purloining of classified government documents as another opportunity to play victim and attack law enforcement.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, left, a last-minute Trump nominee jammed through during the 2020 lame-duck session, seems to be contemplating a special master to review the documents one by one to see whether there is some basis for blocking them from prosecutors, even as the intelligence community feverishly conducts a national security review.

aileen cannonEven former attorney general William P. Barr observes, “Well, I think the whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring ... at this stage, since they have already gone through the documents, I think it’s a waste of time.”

Alas, Barr’s party cares not one whit about national security, only the security of their cult leader and his war on American intelligence.

The extent of the national security crisis Trump thrust upon us has not yet been fully appreciated. The more detailed inventory released on Friday is jaw-dropping.

Where did the documents that were in those folders go? Were any of them destroyed, given away, copied, hidden, sold or shared? We don’t know, and that is a national security disaster given that the documents could have contained the names of human sources and signals intelligence.

Put differently, any delay in investigation, prosecution and hopefully recovery of documents that contain our nation’s most sensitive secrets would be a further risk to national security.

Let’s imagine that Judge Cannon is willing, contrary to previous rulings in Trump-related cases, to find that Trump enjoys some residual executive privilege consideration. Nevertheless, as U.S. v. Nixon and its progeny have held, any such privilege claim pales in comparison to the interest in criminal prosecution.

It’s beyond time that Republicans demand not only candor from Trump — Why did he have documents? What did he do with them? — but also a full and swift investigation. And unless the court wants to rewrite decades of law, allow Trump to hold the nation hostage and deepen our national security crisis, Cannon should follow Barr’s advice, dismiss Trump’s claim and let the FBI get on with an investigation and any necessary prosecutions.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump keeps unwittingly dropping breadcrumbs, Bill Palmer, Sept. 5, 2022. While we’re all looking forward to the day when Donald Trump is no longer holding political rallies, there’s nonetheless a silver lining to them. For one thing, these rallies never seem to benefit the Republican candidates they’re nominally supposed to be helping. And now, Trump’s rallies are providing insight into how Trump is dealing with the very serious federal criminal charges he’s on the verge of getting hit with.

bill palmer report logo headerCertainly, prosecutors at the DOJ are watching footage of Trump’s rally from this weekend. Given how incoherent Trump’s speech was, they might have to watch it a few times to figure out what he was even talking about. But it’s notable, for instance, that Trump now claims the FBI ransacked his son Barron’s room. Whether this claim is true or not, it suggests that Trump – who seems to care nothing for his youngest son – is very concerned with his son’s room. Did Trump hide documents there? Did the Feds find them? Should the Feds circle back and check under the floorboards of that bedroom?

But it’s more than just that. Trump also claimed during his rally speech that Mark Zuckerberg came to visit him last week at the White House, in order to inform Trump that he’s now #1 on Facebook. This suggests that Trump’s mind is sinking further than ever into desperate delusion about how it’s all somehow magically going to work out okay for him. In his mind he’s now back in the White House, he’s back on Facebook, and everything is just fine and dandy. He’s perhaps in his safe space, so to speak, as a way of trying to convince himself that he’s not actually on the verge of arrest under the Espionage Act, which he is.

Of course Trump’s rally speech in Pennsylvania this weekend was supposed to be aimed at boosting midterm voter turnout for Republican candidates like Mehmet Oz. But you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, because Trump has never had much luck convincing his base to vote in general elections that don’t have his name on the ballot, and because Trump rarely even tries to use these rallies to promote such candidates.

The AP used Trump’s Pennsylvania rally as an opportunity to run a story about a member of Trump’s base who’s still on board with Trump but has no interest in voting for Oz, even after Trump’s rally. Such articles are always biased in the direction of the one anecdotal example that the article’s author has arbitrarily chosen to focus on. But this one example does track with what we already know about the sheer ineffectiveness of Trump’s political rallies – particularly now that he’s no longer in office and only holds them occasionally.

In the meantime, the DOJ is now doing what it always does whenever the target of an active federal criminal investigation publicly shoots off his mouth about the investigation: it’s poring over Donald Trump’s rally speech in search of strategic advantages. In that sense, if Trump wants to keep running his mouth, he’s more than welcome to do so. It’s not helping him, it’s not helping the Republican Party, and it’s probably just helping make it that much easier for the DOJ to take him down.

 

U.S. Law, Constitution, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, As Midterms Near, ‘60-Day Rule’ Raises Dilemma for Trump Inquiries, Charlie Savage, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.).The Justice Department is debating how an unwritten rule should affect the criminal investigations into Jan. 6 and Donald Trump’s handling of sensitive documents.

As the midterm elections near, top Justice Department officials are weighing whether to temporarily scale back work in criminal investigations involving former President Donald J. Trump because of an unwritten rule forbidding overt actions that could improperly influence the vote, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Under what is known as the 60-day rule, the department has traditionally avoided taking any steps in the run-up to an election that could affect how people vote, out of caution that such moves could be interpreted as abusing its power to manipulate American democracy.

Mr. Trump, who is not on the ballot but wields outsize influence in the Republican Party, poses a particular dilemma for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, whose department is conducting two investigations involving the former president. They include the sprawling inquiry into the Jan. 6 riot and his related effort to overturn the 2020 election and another into his hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida club and residence.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. But as the 60-day deadline looms this week, the highly unusual situation offers no easy answers, said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

 

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Politico, The seeds of Biden’s democracy speech sprouted long before the Mar-a-Lago search, Sam Stein, Eugene Daniels and Jonathan Lemire, Sept. 3, 2022. But the actions of Trump and his supporters, along with threats of violence, sped up Biden’s need to address the nation.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden’s speech warning about an assault against American democracy — by Donald Trump and his core followers — was an election-season call to arms unlike anything in modern American history.

It also was months in the making.

Aides said that Biden had been planning to give a version of Thursday night’s address since this past June, relaying he wanted to speak on what he saw as increasingly grave threats to the nation’s democracy. But events continued to get in the way of its delivery. Pressure built over the past few weeks, they said, amid a number of developments.

GOP primary victories of a number of 2020 election-denying candidates in state and federal contests, combined with the consolidation of support around Trump, jolted the White House. Biden told associates that he barely recognized the Republican Party with which he could once work, seeing a personality cult instead.

Threats made against federal agents in the aftermath of the FBI’s search in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home also outraged the president. Biden saw echoes of what happened 18 months ago, when officers lost their lives defending the U.S. Capitol. The actual writing of the speech started about three weeks ago, with Jon Meacham, the historian who has had a hand in a number of Biden’s most sweeping speeches, helping the framing.

When a number of Republican lawmakers warned of violence should Trump be indicted, it only added to the urgency. There was, as one senior administration official put it, “a rising degree of concern that this movement, rather than dissipating, is going stronger.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Second Constitutional Convention? Some Republicans Want to Force One, Carl Hulse, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). ht Some in the G.O.P. think a debate over rewriting the Constitution is necessary to rein in the U.S. government. A former Democratic senator warns of the risks.

Representative Jodey Arrington, a conservative Texas Republican, believes it is well past time for something the nation has not experienced for more than two centuries: a debate over rewriting the Constitution.

“I think the states are due a convention,” said Mr. Arrington, who in July introduced legislation to direct the archivist of the United States to tally applications for a convention from state legislatures and compel Congress to schedule a gathering when enough states have petitioned for one. “It is time to rally the states and rein in Washington responsibly.”

To Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin and president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal judicial group, that is a terrible idea. Mr. Feingold sees the prospect of a constitutional convention as an exceptionally dangerous threat from the right and suggests it is closer to reality than most people realize as Republicans push to retake control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

“We are very concerned that the Congress, if it becomes Republican, will call a convention,” said Mr. Feingold, the co-author of a new book warning of the risks of a convention called “The Constitution in Jeopardy.”

“This could gut our Constitution,” Mr. Feingold said in an interview. “There needs to be real concern and attention about what they might do. We are putting out the alert.”

While the rise of election deniers, new voting restrictions and other electoral maneuvering get most of the attention, Mr. Feingold rates the prospect of a second constitutional convention as just as grave a threat to democratic governance.

“If you think this is democracy’s moment of truth, this is one of those things,” he said.

Elements on the right have for years been waging a quiet but concerted campaign to convene a gathering to consider changes to the Constitution. They hope to take advantage of a never-used aspect of Article V, which says in part that Congress, “on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”

Throughout the nation’s history, 27 changes have been made to the Constitution by another grindingly arduous route, with amendments originating in Congress subject to ratification by the states.

With sharp partisanship making that path near impossible, backers of the convention idea now hope to harness the power of Republican-controlled state legislatures to petition Congress and force a convention they see as a way to strip away power from Washington and impose new fiscal restraints, at a minimum.

Recent Headlines 

 

Trump Rallies, Reactions

 

djt wilkes barre sept 3 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump lashed out at President Biden and federal agents in his first rally since the F.B.I. search of his home, Katie Glueck and Michael C. Bender, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump and President Biden have both made recent appearances in Pennsylvania, one of the key states in November’s midterm elections.

In his first rally since his home was searched by the F.B.I. on Aug. 8, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday lashed out at President Biden and federal agents, calling his Democratic rival “an enemy of the state” and the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice “vicious monsters.”

In an aggrieved and combative speech in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump stoked anger against law enforcement even as the F.B.I. and federal officials have faced an increase in threats following the search of Mr. Trump’s residence to retrieve classified documents.

Mr. Trump’s remarks echoed the chain of similar, escalating attacks he wrote on his social media website this week, including posts that singled out one agent by name. That agent has retired, and his lawyers have said he did not have a role in the search.

Although he faced criticism for the tirades, and some Republicans have warned about the political dangers in attacking law enforcement, the former president signaled he would yield no ground.

His speech came two days after Mr. Biden warned that democratic values were under assault by forces loyal to Mr. Trump. The former president described Mr. Biden’s address as “the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary, The "F" word to fascists is the word fascist, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 5, 2022. "With a fascist the problem is never wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallhow best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

It's a funny thing about Donald Trump's MAGA fascists. They resent being called fascists. Benito Mussolini had no problem with the word fascist. He even named his political party the "National Fascist Party." So, why do Mussolini's fellow Italian fascists like Doug Mastriano, Ron DeSantis, and Rudolph Giuliani abhor the words fascist or fascism so much?

Sept. 3

 

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Empty Folders That Had Contained Classified Files Were Found at Mar-a-Lago, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). An inventory of items seized in the F.B.I.’s search of former President Trump’s home, above, raised the question of whether the documents had fully been recovered.

The F.B.I.’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida club and residence last month recovered 48 empty folders marked as containing classified information, a newly disclosed court filing shows, raising the question of whether the government had fully recovered the documents or any remain missing.

The filing, a detailed list of items retrieved in the search, was unsealed on Friday as part of the court fight over whether to appoint an independent arbiter to review the materials taken by federal agents from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.

Along with the empty folders with classified markings, the F.B.I. recovered 40 more empty folders that said they contained sensitive documents the user should “return to staff secretary/military aide,” the inventory said. It also said that agents found seven documents marked as “top secret” in Mr. Trump’s office and 11 more in a storage room.

The list and an accompanying court filing from the Justice Department did not say whether all the contents of the folders had been recovered. But the filing noted that the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents remained “an active criminal investigation.”

The inventory also sheds further light on how the documents marked as classified were stored haphazardly in boxes or in containers, mixed among news clippings and “other printed media,” articles of clothing, books and “gift items.”

The inventory listed seven batches of materials taken by the F.B.I. from Mr. Trump’s personal office at Mar-a-Lago that contained government-owned documents and photographs, some marked with classification levels up to “top secret” and some that were not marked as classified. The list also included batches of government documents that had been in 26 boxes or containers in a storage room at the compound.

In all, the list said, the F.B.I. retrieved 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings.

A federal judge in Florida, Aileen M. Cannon, ordered the inventory list to be released during a hearing on Thursday to determine whether to appoint a so-called special master to review the government records seized from Mar-a-Lago for any that could be privileged. Judge Cannon said that she would issue a written decision on the matter “in due course.”

Mr. Trump appeared to acknowledge on social media this week that he knew that much of this material was at his estate, complaining about a photograph that the Justice Department released on Tuesday night that cataloged some of the evidence that had been seized.

The photograph showed several folders with “top secret” markings and some documents with classification markings visible. All the material was arrayed on a carpet near a placard labeled “2A,” presumably to make a record of what was in a box of that number before the F.B.I. removed it from Mar-a-Lago.

A shorter inventory, released earlier, said Box 2A contained materials found in Mr. Trump’s personal office. In a social media post, the former president declared that the folders had been kept in “cartons” rather than “sloppily” left on the floor, suggesting that he had been aware of the presence of the materials.

 

 

djt looking up

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Analysis: Biden formally warns nation and world that US is threatened by fascist dictatorship sought by Trump’s webster tarpley 2007degenerate MAGAt faction, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 3, 2022 (94:52 mins.). You have been warned!

New York Times calls for Trump’s indictment, which [conservative legal pundits] Andy McCarthy and Judge Napolitano consider imminent; Critical issue remains the indictment, not the Special Master issue;

FBI’s haul from August 8 raid includes 11,000 pages and pictures, 90 empty folders for classified and military aide/staff secretary documents;

Worse than library fines for unreturned books: CIA emergency message to all posts in October 2021 warned of severe losses in killed and flipped among agents and informants; Filchgate: Trump is still silent on his real motive in purloining masses of secret papers;

More to come: Wapo source suggests work of National Archives in recovering documents ”may not yet be done”: ”there might still be more records missing,” says one official;

At 66 days to vote, Biden popularity rises to 45%; Democrats take 3% lead in WSJ Congressional generic ballot, up from minus 5% in March, adding up to an 8% gain; Continuing winning skein from Kansas referendum and NY-19, Democrat wins Alaska House seat, defeating proto-Trumper Palin;

Wave of scientific optimism from Artemis moon shot can turn mass culture and psychology even faster against MAGAts;

G-7 ministers approve price cap on purchases of oil from Russia, while EU Commission endorses price cap for natural gas; Putin responds by cutting natural gas flow from Russia to Europe through Nordstream I; Kherson offensive is rolling;
French Energy Minister pledges that all 56 of France’s reactors will be working by winter, including the 32 now being serviced;

More proof of contemporary fascist threat: Melloni-Berlusconi-Salvini bloc could become the next Italian government after September 25 election, just in time for 100-year anniversary of Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome, which opened the fascist era!

On Labor Day weekend, celebrating 641 NLRB elections won by unions so far this year, defeating union busters at Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Amazon, and 230 Starbucks! Breaking: Michigan MAGAts use technicalities to throw abortion rights referendum off the ballot because they know they will lose!

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's blood-soaked hands may be behind suspicious deaths, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Sept. 2-3, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallPart of the damage assessment currently being conducted by the Intelligence Community with the possibility that Donald Trump, as president and after, compromised U.S. intelligence assets and sources will be to closely examine several suspicious deaths and outright assassinations of influential and key people abroad and in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn order to be considered a source or asset for the Central Intelligence Agency's Human Control System (HCS), any substantial contact between a U.S. intelligence agent and a source or asset would likely be identified in classified Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) HCS files. These files include those illegally kept by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and at his other properties in the United States and abroad.

Working in concert with its foreign intelligence partners, the U.S. Intelligence Community will examine every source possibly compromised during and after the Trump presidency.

The following chart contains the names of politically-connected decedents around the world whose causes of death were suspicious or not provided. For example, anti-Vladimir Putin Russian businessman Daniel Rapoport was found dead outside of his Washington, DC apartment on August 14. Police ruled Rapoport's death as not suspicious. He supposedly jumped from the 8th floor of his apartment building. Rapoport's suspicious death mirrors those of other Russian critics of Putin, with "jumping" from windows being quite a common cause of death.

WMR has examined the record of suspicious deaths since April of this year. Deaths from Covid have been filtered out. The CIA and other agencies are more than likely looking back to the very day Trump took office, January 20, 2017, to ascertain the damage he has caused to America's network of sources and informants for intelligence. That is no easy task.

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Dismisses Trump’s Request for a Special Master, Glenn Thrush, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department was justified in investigating former President Trump’s handling of government materials.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s call for an independent review of materials seized from his Florida home on Friday — and said an inventory of items recovered in the search last month seemed to support the Justice Department’s claim that it was needed to safeguard national security.

Justice Department log circular“As more information comes out, the actions of the department look more understandable,” Mr. Barr told The New York Times in a phone interview, speaking of the decision by the current attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, to seek a search warrant of the complex at Mar-a-Lago.

“It seems to me they were driven by concern about highly sensitive information being strewn all over a country club, and it was taking them almost two years to get it back,” said Mr. Barr, who resigned in December 2020, as Mr. Trump pushed him to support false claims that the election had been stolen.

“It appears that there’s been a lot of jerking around of the government,” he added. “I’m not sure the department could have gotten it back without taking action.”

 

August

Aug. 31

 

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's cache of stolen classified files resembles those of America's most notorious spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallintelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 31, 2022.  Trump's treason may have led to deaths of U.S. informants and intelligence assets in Saudi Arabia and Russia. Trump's cache of stolen classified wayne madesen report logofiles resembles those of America's most notorious spies.

Photographic evidence of the classified documents Donald Trump had strewn around Mar-a-Lago presents the U.S. Intelligence Community with the shocking depth and breadth of the compromise by Trump and his associates, Kash Patel and John Solomon, right, of America's most sensitive intelligence.

aldrich ames mugjohn solomonAs damage assessment teams from across 17 U.S. intelligence agencies conduct in-depth analyses of compromised intelligence sources, technical methods, and relationships with foreign intelligence services, federal law enforcement photographic evidence of unprotected classified documents at Mar-a-Lago will give the most seasoned U.S. counterintelligence professional pause.

The cache of documents resembles those seized from America's most notorious spies, including Jonathan Pollard, Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, shown far right in a mug shot, and John Walker.

ap logoAssociated Press, Feds cite efforts to obstruct probe of docs at Trump estate, Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo, The Justice Department says classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as part of an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into the discovery of the government records.

The FBI also seized boxes and containers holding more than 100 classified records during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and found classified documents stashed in Trump’s office, according to a filing that lays out the most detailed chronology to date of months of strained interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the discovery of government secrets.

The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.

The timeline laid out by the Justice Department made clear that the extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago came only after other efforts to retrieve the records had failed and that it resulted from law enforcement suspicion that additional documents remained inside the property despite assurances by Trump representatives that a “diligent search” had accounted for all of the material.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

During a June 3 visit to Mar-a-Lago by FBI and Justice Department officials, the document states, “Counsel for the former President offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the Premises nearly five months after the production of the Fifteen Boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the Administration.”

That visit, which came weeks after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for the records, receives substantial attention in the document and appears to be a key investigative focus.

Though Trump has said he had declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his lawyers did not suggest that during the visit and instead “handled them in a manner that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified,” according to the document.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s loony rants should remind the GOP his nomination would be disastrous, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 31, 2022. One jennifer rubin new headshotdoes not need a medical degree or a therapist’s license to conclude that defeated former president Donald Trump’s nutty rant insisting that he be made president immediately or the 2020 election be rerun is the sign of an unhinged personality.

Under pressure from the increasingly potent espionage investigation, he might be losing his grip. For a change, you don’t hear Republicans rushing forth to support his latest insane demand.

Trump’s posting of QAnon messages and implicit threats (in increasingly unintelligible syntax) suggests that he is losing the ability or desire to control his impulsive outbursts. This is the guy whom millions of Republicans want to nominate for president.

Since the redacted affidavit was released last week, the only two defenses from Republicans are no defenses at all. The first, courtesy of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), amounts to extortion: Prosecute Trump and there’ll be blood in the streets. The second is the laughable inquiry: Is that all? It’s not “all,” because the affidavit was heavily redacted. Moreover, the notion that we are talking “just” about documents ignores that most espionage cases are about documents (or equivalent material). That’s where the secrets are.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump has unhinged meltdown about “terrible” DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump spent all day bill palmermelting down on his failed social network, making about a hundred increasingly frantic and frazzled posts that were over the top even by his standards. This was presumably because he knew that by the end of the day, the DOJ would drop the hammer on him with a lengthy court filing spelling out just how throughly it has him nailed.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that document became public just before midnight last night, by which time Trump was presumably passed out near a bowl of Jello or something. But now he’s resumed his ranting and raving this morning, and – not shockingly – he thinks it’s all “terrible.”

Trump seems particularly upset about the DOJ’s decision to include a photo of clearly labeled highly classified documents that it found in a box mixed in with Trump’s framed copies of himself on the cover of Time Magazine. The photo helped make clear that Trump took the classified documents and considered them to be his personal property, even though he could tell just by looking at their covers that they were property of the government.

Nonetheless, Trump still thinks it’s “terrible” that the DOJ dared to do this. He’s accusing them of having thrown classified documents “haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!).” Trump is also apparently very upset that the DOJ released photos of these documents, which he says were supposed to be “secret.” He then claims he’s already declassified them, a false claim that even his own legal team has never officially made at any point.

We’re not going to keep sharing every deranged thought that pops out of Trump’s head today. But his initial response this morning does serve to demonstrate where his mindset is now that the DOJ has released this mammoth public court filing. He’s focused on whining like a baby and floating baseless legal defenses that probably hurt him more than help him. By (falsely) claiming he was allowed to be in possession of these documents because he declassified them, he’s admitting that they were indeed in his possession. So much for blaming the coffee boy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump wants to be treated like Hillary Clinton? By all means, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump dana milbank newestand his MAGA mouthpieces say the former president should be treated the same way Hillary Clinton was — and they’re right!

Ever since the FBI found boxes upon boxes of government secrets hoarded at his resort residence, Trump has complained that he’s being held to a different standard from the one applied to Clinton during the probe of her private email server in 2016. “Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable,” Trump claimed when he confirmed the search of Mar-a-Lago.

So, by all means, let’s relitigate. In fact, Trump should be treated exactly the way Clinton was:

The FBI should undertake a sprawling, multiyear investigation into Trump’s conduct, grilling him and his staff, running extensive forensics, and examining whether his actions allowed hostile actors to compromise U.S. security. The FBI should continue to keep him under investigation while he runs for president in 2024.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran may have to flip on him after this DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. bill palmer31, 2022. We kept seeing it in major media reports, and now we’re seeing it in a public DOJ court filing. Back in May, Donald Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb signed a letter, authored by Evan Corcoran, asserting to the DOJ that all classified documents in Trump’s possession had been returned. This letter obviously turned out to be a false claim, and is felony obstruction of justice on someone’s part.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two possible explanations here. The first would be that one or both of Trump’s lawyers knew the letter was a lie when they wrote and signed it. In such case, the attorney(s) would be charged for obstruction, and their only hope of getting off the hook would be to cut a plea deal or immunity deal against Trump.

The second scenario would be that Trump lied to his lawyers about the documents, tricking them into writing and signing this letter. In such case his lawyers would be innocent, but would still be material witnesses who would be compelled to testify against him – and refusing to testify could make them guilty of obstruction.

In either scenario, Trump’s lawyers would need to withdraw from their representation of him in order to cooperate against him. And if they’re looking for full immunity, they’d probably need to convince the DOJ that they were indeed misled, as opposed to being in on the plot. As so often ends up being the case, Trump’s newest lawyers already need their own lawyers.

 

 

djt barr conferring headshots

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr (above right) used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned robert mueller testifying flickrappointees instead of to the independent special counsel, left.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

Aug. 30

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A ‘filter team’ has completed its review of material possibly covered by attorney-client privilege, the court filing says.

FBI agents have already finished their examination of possibly privileged documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a Justice Department court filing Monday that could undercut the former president’s efforts to have a special master appointed to review the files.

Justice Department log circularThe “filter team” used by the Justice Department to sort through the documents and weed out any material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators has completed its review, the brief filed by Justice Department prosecutors says. The filing came in response to a decision Saturday by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to hold a hearing this week on Trump’s motion seeking the appointment of a special master.

The filing says prosecutors will provide more information later this week. But it notes that even before the judge’s weekend ruling, the filter team had “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes.

 

lindsey graham npr

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump again summons the mob, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Richard M. Nixon famously deployed the ruth marcusmadman theory of foreign policy, directing aides to suggest to his counterparts overseas that they might not be able to control a volatile and reckless president.

Now, Donald Trump and his defenders are using a version of that gambit to deter the Justice Department from prosecuting the former president, arguing that going after Trump would dangerously incite his already angry followers.

Trump had his lawyer deliver this sinister message to Attorney General Merrick Garland — wrapped in a purported effort to calm the waters. “President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is ‘angry,’ ” a Trump lawyer told a senior Justice Department official three days after the search at Mar-a-Lago. “The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”

Then, on Sunday, Trump acolyte Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t bother with the disingenuous niceties. He went straight to the threat.

Let’s address that supposed “double standard” between Trump and Hillary Clinton: There isn’t one. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state was, as I said at the time, sloppy and exasperating. She shouldn’t have used her private email address for official business, and she should have been more careful about classified information being on it. This is, as then-FBI Director James B. Comey concluded, a far cry from an indictable offense.

How does Trump’s conduct fit into this rubric? With so much of the evidence under seal, we can’t tell for sure. But we know, based on the redacted affidavit, that there appear to be significant differences between the Clinton and Trump situations.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned appointees instead of to the independent special counsel.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

 

anthony ornato djtUSA Today, Anthony Ornato, Secret Service and Trump official named in explosive Jan. 6 testimony, retires, Bart Jansen, Aug. 30, 2022. Ornato, shown above in sunglasses, was expected to testify to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, after another witness described him talking about a clash between Trump and his security detail. A former White House aide to Donald Trump who was a central figure in explosive testimony about the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, retired Monday from the Secret Service.

usa today logo 5Anthony Ornato, who served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations while also a top Secret Service official, retired after 25 years with the agency, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato, the former assistant director for the office of training, said in a statement to Politico.

Ornato’s retirement comes as the House committee awaits his additional testimony about an incident involving Trump before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Members of the Secret Service, including Tony Ornato, right, stand guard as then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before departing, Sept. 9, 2019.
A former Trump aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Ornato told her after Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that the president tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle and lunged for the chief of his Secret Service security, Robert Engel, in order to join the mob at the Capitol rather than return to the White House.

Hutchinson said Ornato described the incident while Engel was in the room with them and Engel didn’t correct the story.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

Ornato and Engel, who each cooperated with the committee before the June hearing, reportedly wanted to testify again to clear up potential disputes with Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6th commission.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service has cooperated with the investigation and made officials available for testimony. It will be up to Ornato to decide whether to testify.

“Certainly when he was an employee of the service, he had all intentions of testifying,” Guglielmi said. “Now that he’s a private citizen working for another organization, you’re going to have to check with him on if that still stands.”

A committee spokesman declined comment on Ornato’s retirement.

Ornato joined the Secret Service in 1997 and served under five presidential administrations. Before joining the White House in 2019, Ornato served as deputy assistant director of the Secret Service’s office of investigations. He previously served in the presidential protective division during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The next scary matter for Trump’s lawyers: The crime-fraud exception, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 30, 2022.  Even jennifer rubin new headshotoccasional “Law & Order” viewers know that the conversations between a criminal defendant and his lawyer are normally protected from prosecutors.

However, when any lawyer becomes a co-conspirator, such attorney-client privilege evaporates because of what is known as the “crime-fraud exception.” If you’re participating in a crime rather than defending a criminal, you and your client don’t get the benefit of the attorney-client privilege.

In the case of former president Donald Trump, we may soon get a treatise on the crime-fraud exception, as the matter is poised to come up in a shockingly large number of instances.

Aug. 29

Politico, Analysis: When an election denier becomes a chief election official, Zach Montellaro, Aug. 29, 2022. Trump-aligned secretary of state hopefuls are campaigning against ballot counting machines and could complicate mail voting, among other changes.

politico CustomMany of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.

The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.

Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.

But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.

djt maga hatThe Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.

And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.

That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.

Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States republican elephant logoUnited Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.”

Four Republicans on the ballot in major battlegrounds this fall have banded together in what they call the America First Secretary of State Coalition: secretary of state nominees Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada, along with Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who would appoint the state’s chief election official if he wins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game, Greg Sargent, right, Aug. 29, 2022. “If there’s a prosecution greg sargentof Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.”

The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. And it is that: Everyone knows the old mob-speak trick of cloaking threats in the guise of faux-innocent “predictions.”

But there’s a more pernicious danger here that shouldn’t escape notice. Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to the former president at all.

Trump endorsed Graham’s threat by posting video of it on Truth Social. And Trump himself had already unleashed a volley of deranged hints that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago compound is the stuff of banana republics and FBI leadership is riddled with corruption.

All this comes after release of the redacted affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant has deepened our understanding of Trump’s potential crimes and strengthened the case that the search was premised on reasonable law enforcement grounds.

Some Republicans have quietly shifted from objecting to the search to questioning the search’s timing. That’s silly: The timing reflects evidence amassed by federal agents that Trump still had highly sensitive documents as late as June. But this shows how hard defending Trump has become.

Not for Graham, apparently.

“Most Republicans, including me, believe that when it comes to Trump, there is no law,” Graham seethed in that Fox appearance. “It’s all about getting him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Finally, a Sunday anchor puts his foot down on Espionagegate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Finally, a Sunday anchor jennifer rubin new headshotputs his foot down on Espionagegate.

Given my fervent criticism of mainstream media interviewers for going soft on Republicans carrying water for defeated former president Donald Trump, who is under investigation for possible violation of the Espionage Act, it’s only fair to point out appropriately tough, take-no-prisoners performances.

On Sunday, that came from George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’s “This Week” in an interview with retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His upcoming retirement is noteworthy since he should have zero reason to fear Trump’s wrath or prostrate himself in front of the MAGA crowd. And yet he did.

Here’s the exchange:

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Document Inquiry Poses Unparalleled Test for Justice Dept., Katie Benner, Aug. 29, 2022. What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging and complicated criminal investigations in recent memory.

As Justice Department officials haggled for months this year with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers and aides over the return of government documents at his Florida home, federal prosecutors became convinced that they were not being told the whole truth.

That conclusion helped set in motion a decision that would amount to an unparalleled test of the Justice Department’s credibility in a deeply polarized political environment: to seek a search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago and retrieve what prosecutors suspected would be highly classified materials, beyond the hundreds of pages that Mr. Trump had already returned.

By the government’s account, that gamble paid off, with F.B.I. agents carting off boxloads of sensitive material during the search three weeks ago, including some documents with top secret markings.

merrick garlandBut the matter hardly ended there: What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging, complicated and potentially explosive criminal investigations in recent memory, with tremendous implications for the Justice Department, Mr. Trump and public faith in government.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis's "Mongoose Gang" of intimidators and cronies, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 29, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFlorida is currently the closest thing to a fascist police state within the borders of the United States.

wayne madesen report logoThat is primarily due to its Republican authoritarian governor, military "stolen valor" practitioner Ron DeSantis, below left, acting like a tinpot caudillo or dictator, the type that frequently plagued the Caribbean and Latin America over the decades. DeSantis has continually abused his authority as governor. This includes his throwing elected Democrats out of office, in one case at gunpoint, and replacing them with far-right Republican cronies.

ron desantis oOne of DeSantis's victims was the successful elected Democratic State's Attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Warren described his ordeal in DeSantis's banana republic of Florida: "An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out."

Warren, who is suing DeSantis in federal court for his actions, continued in his op-ed: "This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?"

Warren's question would soon be answered. DeSantis did not hesitate to fire other Democratic officials in the state. A few weeks after DeSantis suspended Warren, he struck again by suspending four elected members of the Broward County school board -- all registered Democrats -- from their non-partisan seats.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 29, 2022. Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

Politico, Same-sex marriage puts Ron Johnson in a bind, Marianne LeVine and Holly Otterbein, Aug. 29, 2022. The conservative Wisconsin senator — the chamber's most vulnerable incumbent this fall — could soon face a very tough vote.

politico CustomThe most endangered Senate Republican incumbent — who’s trailing his reelection foe in one of the most closely divided states in the country — could face a tough vote just weeks out from Election Day on whether to enshrine same-sex marriage into law.

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves closer to a vote that would put Sen. Ron Johnson on defense in the home stretch of the midterms, the Wisconsin conservative is suddenly under the microscope on a social issue that he’s rarely focused on during his decade-plus in office. But it’s far from clear whether he’ll take that baby step to the center ahead of a November contest against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s opened a slight lead in public polls.

Johnson surprised many fellow senators last month when he said he saw “no reason” to oppose what he described as unnecessary House-passed legislation designed to protect same-sex marriage, which could come to the floor as soon as next month. Then, when pressed later, he hedged on whether he’d vote yes or merely present. And he’s now pushing, alongside other Senate Republicans, for the bill to be amended before declaring his support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 29, 2022. If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

Aug. 28 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

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).

Justice Matters Podcast, Commentary: Trump-appointed-judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump's demand for special master BEFORE DOJ weighs in, Glenn Kirschner, Aug. 28, 2022. There are some fundamental principles and universal rules by which America courts operate. One of those fundamental principles is that a judge does not rule on an issue until hearing from both parties involved in the litigation.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump’s legal team is scrambling to find a defense to hold off the Justice Department, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 28, 2022. The lawyers representing the former president in the investigation into his handling of classified documents have tried out an array of defenses as they seek to hold off the Justice Department.

On May 25, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to a top Justice Department official, laying out the argument that his client had done nothing illegal by holding onto a trove of government materials when he left the White House.

The letter, from M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor, represented Mr. Trump’s initial defense against the investigation into the presence of highly classified documents in unsecured locations at his members-only club and residence, Mar-a-Lago. It amounted to a three-page hodgepodge of contested legal theories, including Mr. Corcoran’s assertion that Mr. Trump possessed a nearly boundless right as president to declassify materials and an argument that one law governing the handling of classified documents does not apply to a president.

Mr. Corcoran asked the Justice Department to present the letter as “exculpatory” information to the grand jury investigating the case.

Government lawyers found it deeply puzzling. They included it in the affidavit submitted to a federal magistrate in Florida in their request for the search warrant they later used to recover even more classified materials at Mar-a-Lago — to demonstrate their willingness to acknowledge Mr. Corcoran’s arguments, a person with knowledge of the decision said.

As the partial release of the search warrant affidavit on Friday, including the May 25 letter, illustrated, Mr. Trump is going into the battle over the documents with a hastily assembled team. The lawyers have offered up a variety of arguments on his behalf that have yet to do much to fend off a Justice Department that has adopted a determined, focused and so far largely successful legal approach.

“He needs a quarterback who’s a real lawyer,” said David I. Schoen, a lawyer who defended Mr. Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Schoen called it “an honor” to represent Mr. Trump, but said it was problematic to keep lawyers “rotating in and out.”

Often tinged with Mr. Trump’s own bombast and sometimes conflating his powers as president with his role as a private citizen, the legal arguments put forth by his team sometimes strike lawyers not involved in the case as more about setting a political narrative than about dealing with the possibility of a federal prosecution.

“There seems to be a huge disconnect between what’s actually happening — a real live court case surrounding a real live investigation — and what they’re actually doing, which is treating it like they’ve treated everything else, recklessly and thoughtlessly,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and F.B.I. official, said of Mr. Trump’s approach. “And for an average defendant on an average case, that would be a disaster.”

Politico, Judge rejects bid by Gov. Kemp and Trump attorney Chesebro to quash subpoenas, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 28, 2022.  However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve.

The judge overseeing the Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election has rejected an effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to block a subpoena for his testimony.

However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve, agreeing to delay his testimony until after the Nov. 8 vote, when Kemp is up for reelection and facing a challenge from Stacey Abrams.

“The Governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election,” McBurney wrote in his six-page order.

In a separate opinion, McBurney also rejected an effort by a Trump-allied attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, to similarly block a subpoena for his testimony. Chesebro had claimed that his potential testimony would be entirely barred by attorney-client privilege, as well as New York state’s rules around attorney confidentiality. However, McBurney noted that, as with many other witnesses, there are plenty of topics that would not be subject to privilege claims.

Among them: “Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican Party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc.”

“Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper,” McBurney wrote in a three-page order.

The rulings are victories for District Attorney Fani Willis, though the delayed testimony for Kemp is a setback for her investigation’s overall timetable. The DA has argued for the urgency of Kemp’s testimony sooner than November.

Kemp’s office and an attorney for Chesebro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kemp was a target of Trump’s fury during the closing weeks of his presidency, as Trump railed against his decision, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Both beat back challenges from Trump-backed candidates in the state’s May Republican primary elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Will Assess Security Risks From Mar-a-Lago Documents, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The director of national intelligence said her office would lead a review of the sensitive material retrieved from former President Trump’s Florida home.

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents after the F.B.I. retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Mr. Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

Aug. 27

 

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-27, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

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, Commentary: Biden launches powerful kickoff for Democrats’ fall campaign under watchword that MAGA Republicans represent “SEMI-FASCISM”! webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 27, 2022 (109 mins.). President provides intellectual clarity and leadership far superior to timid and vacillating academic historians in diagnosing the scourge of fascism in contemporary US;

Democrat Pat Ryan wins NY-19 House seat with campaign based on abortion rights and tax relief; GOP opponent outspent him by 3:1 in campaign stressing inflation and crime, but still succumbed by almost 4% in classic bellwether swing district, showing impotence of main lines of GOP demagogy;

Search affidavit exposes Trump’s betrayal of US interests, resulting in 20 months of above top secret documents being exposed to Russia, China, and other enemy states – or worse; flagrant contempt for security procedures is evident; New York Times breaks with appeasement to demand criminal prosecution of former tenant of White House, joining growing chorus for accountability; Draconian punishment is imperative;

Mar a Lago timelines show that Department of Justice was far too soft on Trump; Archives strove for months to pry loose documents; Affidavit specifies that “significant numbers” of witnesses/informants helped FBI locate papers;

Trump poses incalculable threat to United States, starting with his notorious association with aggressor Putin; Republican pols go silent, run for cover as guilt becomes irrefutable; Maryland GOP gubernatorial hopeful Cox purges website of MAGA references;

Shared features of fascist regimes during interwar period in cases of Horthy in Hungary, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, and Petain in Vichy France are all relevant to MAGA phenomenon.

Aug. 26

Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. (Army War College Photo Handout via Reuters.)

Retired Army colonel Doug Mastriano, a Republican state senator from Pennsylvania who is running for governor, poses at left in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-14 faculty photo at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 9, 2014. The photo was released by the Army War College to Reuters on August 26, 2022 under the Freedom of Information Act. Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017. (Army War College Photo Handout via Reuters.)

Reuters via U.S. News & World Report, Exclusive: Pennsylvania Candidate Mastriano Posed in Confederate Uniform at Army War College, Phil Stewart and Jarrett Renshaw, Aug. 26, 2022. Three years before retiring from the U.S. Army in 2017, Donald Trump-backed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano posed in Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College, according to a copy of the photo obtained by Reuters.

The previously unreported photo, released by the War College to Reuters after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, showed Mastriano in a 2013-14 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations, where he worked.

Faculty at the time had been given the option of dressing as a historical figure, people familiar with the photo said. At least 15 of the 21 faculty in the photo opted to appear in regular attire. Although one man wears a trench coat and sunglasses and another carries an aviator's helmet, Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.

Mastriano did not immediately respond to requests for comment made by email and phone. A Reuters reporter attended a Mastriano event on Wednesday to seek comment, but the candidate did not make himself available for questions.

Displays of Confederate symbols can be seen as insensitive to those who view them as painful reminders of racial oppression and the Civil War that saw 11 rebelling Confederate states fight to keep Black people enslaved.

The U.S. military issued a de facto ban on displaying the Confederate flag and has sought to remove segregationist symbols from bases and academic institutions following the murder in May 2020 of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis triggered protests worldwide.

After Reuters made its formal request for the photo, it was removed from the War College wall where it had hung alongside other annual portraits of faculty groups.

The Army War College (AWC), a premier military higher education institution in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, told Reuters a team had reviewed all art, text, and other images displayed at Carlisle Barracks in 2020, but missed the faculty photo.

"The faculty photo did not get the team's attention; the photo has since been removed because it does not meet AWC values," the college said in a statement.

Asked about the War College photo, a spokesperson at U.S. Army headquarters said: "The Army supports commanders who remove symbols or images that do not comport with Army values."

Confederate symbols and dress have been embraced by white supremacists in the United States, and monuments and flags honoring the Confederacy have been removed from many public areas in recent years.

Pennsylvania plays an outsized role in U.S. politics as a so-called swing state in presidential elections, and Republican Mastriano, who has embraced Trump's stolen election lies, is trailing his Democratic opponent in the governor's race ahead of the November ballot.

 

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 26, 2022. Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

Aug. 24

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: Pro-democracy candidates held their own in primary races in FL and NY, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 24, 2022. In two wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstates that represent a microcosm of American voters -- Florida and New York -- candidates generally committed to democracy and the rule of law defeated a Republican hodgepodge of Qanon believers, Adolf Hitler admirers, and, in one case, an admirer of Russia and Vladimir wayne madesen report logoPutin.

The election returns also pointed to a collapse in the corporate media's insistence that the Republicans will score victories at the expense of Democrats in this year's midterm elections.

In the race to fill the 23rd congressional seat of sex scandal-plagued Republican Tom Reed, who resigned in May, Joe Sempolinski, a former Reed staffer, edged out Republican Max Della Pia to finish Reed's term in the U.S. House. Della Pia, a retired Air Force colonel, is on the ballot for the seat in November. Della Pia received a surprising 47 percent of the vote against Sempolinski's 53 percent in the normally Republican-leaning district.

In the Florida 1st U.S. House District, suspected underage sex trafficker Matt Gaetz won re-election over his closest Republican challenger Mark Lombardo with 69 percent of the vote to 24 percent. Democrat Rebekah Jones, the Florida state data scientist who was fired and subsequently arrested by Governor Ron DeSantis for refusing to cook the numbers on Covid-19 deaths in the state, won the Democratic primary over Peggy Schiller, who described herself as a "former corporate attorney."

Not everything went Gaetz's way in the Panhandle. The Gaetz-endorsed GOP candidate for the Florida House District 3 seat, Mariya Calkins, was soundly defeated by physician Joel Rudman. WMR helped expose Ms. Calkins, a native of what was then the Soviet Union and who became a U.S. citizen in 2018, as an apologist for Russia and Vladimir Putin. That background information spread on social media contributed to Rudman receiving endorsements from current and former Republican political officeholders in the 3rd district. With no Democratic candidate in the November election, Rudman has won the Florida House seat.

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: Why Outlawing Ghost Guns Didn’t Stop America’s Largest Maker of Ghost Gun Parts, Anjeanette Damon, Aug. 24, 2022. Unregistered, unserialized weapons produced with Polymer80 parts have turned up at crime scenes across the country, but state-level efforts to close ghost gun loopholes continue to fall short.

Aug. 23

Rolling Stone, Trump Tells His Lawyers: Get ‘My’ Top Secret Documents Back, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, Aug. 23, 2022. The ex-president is desperate to recover the classified trove taken from Mar-a-Lago — and is pushing his legal team on a long-shot maneuver to return them.

rolling stone logoIn the weeks after the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump repeatedly made a simple-sounding but extraordinary ask: he wanted his lawyers to get “my documents” back from federal law enforcement.

Trump wasn’t merely referring to the alleged trove of attorney-client material that he insists was scooped up by the feds during the raid, two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The ex-president has been demanding that his team find a way to recover “all” of the official documents that Trump has long referred to as “mine” — including the highly sensitive and top secret ones.

Sources close to Trump agree with outside legal experts that such a sweeping legal maneuver would be a long-shot, at best. “I hate to break it to the [former] president, but I do not think he is going to get all [the] top-secret documents back,” says one Trump adviser. “That ship has probably sailed.”

Further, several longtime Trump advisers say they want absolutely nothing to do with the now-infamous boxes of documents, fearing that any knowledge of them could invite an unwanted knock on the door from the feds. “Who would want any of that back? … If it is what they say it is, keep them the hell away,” a second adviser says.

Still, the former president’s legal team appears to be working to retrieve at least some of the papers seized during the Aug. 8 federal search. In recent days, the Trump team — led by former federal prosecutor Evan Corcoran — has been quietly prepping additional legal arguments and strategies to try to pry back material that the feds removed from the ex-president’s Florida abode and club, the sources say. Those measures include drafting a so-called “Rule 41(g) motion,” which allows “a person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property” to “move for the property’s return,” according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

This would be a follow-up measure to the lawsuit, filed Monday by Trump and his attorneys, calling for the appointment of a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago materials for potentially privileged materials. It is unclear when the ex-president’s lawyers plan to file a subsequent motion, which people close to Trump expect to be more narrowly tailored than what the former president apparently wants.

“The motion he already filed is so absolutely terrible, that it’s hard to contemplate him filing something even more aggressive and even more unlikely to succeed,” says Ken White, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.

“However,” White added, Trump is “basically trying to litigate the ultimate issue in the case, which is whether he had the right to possess and keep those things, even after he was asked to return them. It’s very unlikely that the court would accept that invitation to litigate that…He would have to prove that those things were illegally taken, and — based on what we know — that is going to be very difficult to prove…He’s going to have to make some very unusual legal arguments, which, if they’re anything like the motion that was just filed, is going to be a very uphill climb.”

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: A Tax Credit Meant to Help Marginalized Workers Instead Subsidizes Temp Work, Emily Corwin, Aug. 23, 2022. The government gives hundreds of millions of dollars in Work Opportunity Tax Credits to temp agencies, even if the jobs they offer don’t lead to permanent employment.

Aug. 22

Leonard Leo outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2017 confirmation hearing for Justice Neil Gorsuch (Photo by Mark Peterson via Redux).

Leonard Leo outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2017 confirmation hearing for Justice Neil Gorsuch (Photo by Mark Peterson via Redux).

Pro Publica, Investigation: How a Secretive Billionaire Handed His Fortune to the Architect of the Right-Wing Takeover of the pro publica logoCourts, Andrew Perez, The Lever, and Andy Kroll and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, Aug. 22, 2022. (This story was co-published with The Lever.)  In the largest known political advocacy donation in U.S. history, industrialist Barre Seid funded a new group run by Federalist Society co-chair Leonard Leo, who guided Trump’s Supreme Court picks and helped end federal abortion rights.

An elderly, ultra-secretive Chicago businessman has given the largest known donation to a political advocacy group in U.S. history — worth $1.6 billion — and the recipient is one of the prime architects of conservatives’ efforts to reshape the American judicial system, including the Supreme Court.

Through a series of opaque transactions over the past two years, Barre Seid, a 90-year-old manufacturing magnate, gave the massive sum to a nonprofit run by Leonard Leo, who co-chairs the conservative legal group the Federalist Society.

The donation was first reported by The New York Times on Monday. The Lever and ProPublica confirmed the information from documents received independently by the news organizations.

Our reporting sheds additional light on how the two men, one a judicial kingmaker and the other a mysterious but prolific donor to conservative causes, came together to create a political war chest that will likely supercharge efforts to further shift American politics to the right.

As President Donald Trump’s adviser on judicial nominations, Leo helped build the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority, which recently eliminated Constitutional protections for abortion rights and has made a series of sweeping pro-business decisions. Leo, a conservative Catholic, has both helped select judges to nominate to the Supreme Court and directed multimillion dollar media campaigns to confirm them.

Leo derives immense political power through his ability to raise huge sums of money and distribute those funds throughout the conservative movement to influence elections, judicial appointments and policy battles. Yet the biggest funders of Leo’s operation have long been a mystery.

Seid, who led the surge protector and data-center equipment maker Tripp Lite for more than half a century, has been almost unknown outside a small circle of political and cultural recipients. The gift immediately vaults him into the ranks of major funders like the Koch brothers and George Soros.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: An Unusual $1.6 Billion Donation Bolsters Conservatives, Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 22, 2022. A low-profile Republican financier donated his company to a new group run by the influential operative Leonard A. Leo.

A new conservative nonprofit group scored a $1.6 billion windfall last year via a little-known donor — an extraordinary sum that could give Republicans and their causes a huge financial boost ahead of the midterms, and for years to come.

barre seidThe source of the money was Barre Seid, right, an electronics manufacturing mogul, and the donation is among the largest — if not the largest — single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The beneficiary is a new political group controlled by Leonard A. Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules and climate change policy.

This windfall will help cement Mr. Leo’s status as a kingmaker in conservative big money politics. It could also give conservatives an advantage in a type of difficult-to-trace spending that shapes elections and political fights.

The cash infusion was arranged through an unusual series of transactions that appear to have avoided tax liabilities. It originated with Mr. Seid, a longtime conservative donor who made a fortune as the chairman and chief executive of an electrical device manufacturing company in Chicago now known as Tripp Lite.

Rather than merely giving cash, Mr. Seid donated 100 percent of the shares of Tripp Lite to Mr. Leo’s nonprofit group before the company was sold to an Irish conglomerate for $1.65 billion, according to tax records provided to The New York Times, corporate filings and a person with knowledge of the matter.

The nonprofit, called the Marble Freedom Trust, then received all of the proceeds from the sale, in a transaction that appears to have been structured to allow the nonprofit group and Mr. Seid to avoid paying taxes on the proceeds.

For perspective, the $1.6 billion that the Marble trust reaped from the sale is slightly more than the total of $1.5 billion spent in 2020 by 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with Democrats, according to an analysis by The Times. That spending, which Democrats embraced to aid the campaigns of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his allies in Congress, dwarfed the roughly $900 million spent by a comparable sample of 15 of the most politically active groups aligned with the Republican Party.

The Marble Freedom Trust could help conservatives level the playing field — if not surpass the left — in such nonprofit spending, which is commonly referred to as dark money because the groups involved can raise and spend unlimited sums on politics while revealing little about where they got the money or how they spent it.

In a statement, Mr. Leo cited some of the left’s biggest donors and an advisory firm that helps manage the nonprofit groups they fund.

“It’s high time for the conservative movement to be among the ranks of George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, Arabella Advisors and other left-wing philanthropists, going toe-to-toe in the fight to defend our constitution and its ideals,” Mr. Leo said. Mr. Seid and an associate did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The funds are difficult to trace through public records. Tripp Lite is a private company that is not subject to corporate disclosure rules for public companies. On its tax filing, Marble indicated that the $1.6 billion came from the “sale of gifted company and subsidiaries,” but indicated that it withheld identifying information “to protect donor confidentiality.”

Ray D. Madoff, a professor of tax law at Boston College who is the director of the school’s Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good, said the structure of the transaction was most likely legal but did appear to allow a donor to avoid federal tax obligations from the sale of the company.

Here is how it works: Marble Freedom Trust is registered under a section of the tax code — 501(c)4 — for organizations that focus primarily on what the Internal Revenue Service calls “social welfare” and as a result are exempt from paying taxes. Such groups are allowed to engage in political advocacy, but their supporters are not entitled to deduct donations from their income taxes. Supporters can, however, donate assets that a nonprofit can sell and avoid capital gains taxes on the sale.

Aug. 20

 

djt hands up mouth open Custom

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Putin presses nuclear blackmail against Ukraine using occupied Zaporizhia nuclear complex, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Aug. 20, 2022 (110:49 mins.). UN calls on Russian forces to leave area, but threat of nuclear contamination is high; IAEA inspectors must supervise reactors!

Terrorist gambit may be Kremlin warlord’s main bid to retain initiative despite looming fall of Kherson; Radioactive clouds would drift east, showing Putin’s cynical contempt for Russian people;The grotesque lies of Putin, Lavrov, and Shoigu to western negotiators on eve of February 24 aggression;

GOP long touted as party of personal freedom, but now exposed as an unpopular minority of totalitarian oppressors ;

Already pointing fingers for coming defeat, Moscow Mitch laments the GOP’s odious crackpot candidates produced by Trump’s meddling in primaries; Dems ahead in five swing-state Senate races: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Georgia; Democrats now likely to retain control of US Senate; House also within reach for Dems as issues of abortion, gun violence, and resistance to fascist totalitarian dictatorship gain traction; Trump may own GOP, but it turns out to be a wasting asset!

Italy votes September 25; Russia’s Medvedev is blatantly meddling, urging voters to ”punish” the ”stupid” politicians of Rome; Di Maio calls for investigation of support for Melloni-Salvini-Berlusconi from Moscow;
Limits of viability for Liz Cheney and other liberal Republicans shown by her vote against the vital Inflation Reduction Act; Trump phenomenon became possible only due to declining standard of living, ”free market” off-shoring of factories, decline of labor unions, and futile Middle East wars; In short, Liz is a reactionary, who opposes the violent hooliganism of the Trump gang, but has no answer on class issues;

The dangerous prevalence of subjectivism over objective realty in decadent late globalization.

Aug. 18

Democracy Project, Voting Rights Advocacy: A Constellation of Anti-Voting Groups Threaten Democracy, Marc Elias, Aug. 18, 2022. Republican leaders of the anti-voting movement recently held a “gourmet dinner” at an “undisclosed location” to discuss my voting rights litigation. The event was billed as the inaugural leadership dinner for a group called the Honest Elections Project. I was not invited to attend.

There is a constellation of well-funded, right-wing groups that use the legal and political system to make voting more difficult and free and fair elections less likely. They range from mere vote suppressors to full-on election deniers. Most oppose expanding voting rights and support strict voting laws. Many seek to gut the Voting Rights Act entirely; others want it interpreted so narrowly as to be ineffective. None of these organizations supported Congress’ efforts to enact new pro-voter legislation.
These right-wing groups work closely with the RNC and with state legislatures to advance anti-voting legislation.

The American Constitutional Rights Union, Foundation for Government Accountability, Judicial Watch, Lawyers Democracy Fund, Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) and Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections are just a few of the groups fighting against voting rights in court. America First Legal Foundation, Election Integrity Network, Heritage Foundation and True the Vote also support anti-democracy legal efforts. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council advances model anti-voting legislation for state legislatures.

We recently got a preview of how these groups will operationalize their legal efforts in court in the future. Earlier this year, a Florida federal judge struck down most of the state’s “Big Lie” voter suppression law. In doing so, the court found that Florida Republicans had intentionally discriminated against Black voters and had violated the constitutional rights of Floridians seeking to participate in the democratic process. On appeal, six national anti-voting groups filed separate “friend of the court” briefs opposing the lower court’s decision — in addition to the briefs by the state defendants and the Republican Party.

For many years, the Republican National Committee (RNC) was legally barred from participating in election monitoring or voter suppression efforts as a consequence of the GOP’s ugly history of targeting minority voters in the 1980s. When that bar was lifted in 2017, the RNC picked up where it had left off and ran so-called “election integrity” programs with state parties.

These anti-voting legal groups offer a path for Republicans to wield majority political power without majority support.

Now, in the post-Trump era, the RNC directly partners with voter suppression groups and efforts that two years ago would have been unthinkable. The party’s dismal court results following the 2020 election coupled with MAGA supporters’ distrust of the party establishment has left the GOP operating in the penumbra of the current stars of the election denier and voter suppression movement.
It’s not just what these groups do, but who runs them.

On PILF’s board of directors, for example, are Cleta Mitchell and John Eastman, both of whom served as lawyers for former President Donald Trump. Mitchell participated in the infamous telephone call during which Trump demanded that the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) find 11,000 votes and declare Trump the winner. Eastman, who has been in the news recently for having a search warrant executed against him, helped craft the January 2021 insurrection plan.

The Honest Elections Project — the host of the secret dinner — was formed in February 2020 and is connected to Federalist Society founder Leonard Leo.

The newest of these groups, Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, was co-founded by former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr (R) and Karl Rove, who served as former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. Casino billionaire Steve Wynn provides the organization’s financial backing as its finance chair.

This group is notably more competent and well-resourced than the legal buffoonery who led Trump’s post-election antics. Though I am no fan of Barr, he is unlikely to hire lawyers who claim Hugo Chávez rigged elections from the grave or threaten to release the mythological Kraken. With Rove on its board as well, Barr is almost certainly not going to hold press conferences in a landscaping parking lot.

Aug. 17

pro publica logoPro Publica, Investigation: What Happened When Twitter and Other Social Media Platforms Cracked Down on Extremists, A.C. Thompson, Aug. 17, 2022. In a Q&A with ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson, former intelligence officer and data scientist Welton Chang explains how conspiracy theorists and violent racists fled to smaller platforms. Once there, their remarks festered and spread.

Aug. 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Michigan plot to breach voting machines points to a national trend, Patrick Marley and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). A state police inquiry found evidence of a conspiracy that has echoes elsewhere in the country as election deniers seek proof of 2020 fraud.

michigan mapEight months after the 2020 presidential election, Robin Hawthorne didn’t expect anyone to ask for her township’s voting machines.

The election had gone smoothly, she said, just as others had that she’d overseen for 17 years as the Rutland Charter Township clerk in rural western Michigan. But now a sheriff’s deputy and investigator were in her office, questioning her about her township’s three vote tabulators, suggesting that they somehow had been programmed with a microchip to shift votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and asking her to hand one over for inspection.

dana nessel o“What the heck is going on?” she recalled thinking.

The surprise visit may have been an “out-of-the-blue thing,” as Hawthorne described it, but it was one element of a much broader effort by figures who deny the outcome of the 2020 vote to access voting machines in a bid to prove fraud that experts say does not exist.

In states across the country — including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Georgia — attempts to inappropriately access voting machines have spurred investigations. They have also sparked concern among election authorities that, while voting systems are broadly secure, breaches by those looking for evidence of fraud could themselves compromise the integrity of the process and undermine confidence in the vote.

In Michigan, the efforts to access the machines jumped into public view this month when the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel (D), left, requested a special prosecutor be assigned to look into a group that includes her likely Republican opponent, Matthew DePerno.

The expected GOP nominee, Nessel’s office wrote in a petition filed Aug. 5 based on the findings of a state police investigation, was “one of the prime instigators” of a conspiracy to persuade Michigan clerks to allow unauthorized access to voting machines. Others involved, according to the filing, included a state representative and the sheriff in Barry County, Dar Leaf.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Elections Live Updates: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds,, Amy Gardner, Aug. 15, 2022. GOP nominees who dispute the 2020 results could be positioned to play a critical role in the next presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump’s election denialism took over the GOP, JM Rieger, Aug. 15, 2022 (video). Former president Donald Trump’s false claims election claims began in 2016, but did not become a key litmus test for Republican candidates until after the 2020 election. Here’s how it happened.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump’s January 6 Coup Plot Infiltrated the Pentagon, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 14-15, 2022. It’s no longer seth abramson graphicpossible to look away from a simple fact: the civilian leadership at the Pentagon under former president Trump is now implicated seth abramson proof logoin his coup conspiracy—and Congress must investigate it.

Note: This 250-page report on the coup plot at the Pentagon functions as the fourth book in the Proof series, Proof of Coup: How the Pentagon Shaped An Insurrection. Other books in the series include national bestsellers Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018); Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019); and Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020).

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump says the DOJ has seized his passports, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 15, 2022. After the DOJ had the FBI carry out a bill palmersearch warrant at Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the classified documents that Donald Trump stole, and the unsealed search warrant revealed that Trump was under criminal investigation for espionage, it raised questions about whether he might hypothetically try to flee the country. Looks like we won’t have to worry about that.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump just announced on his failed social network that while the FBI was carrying out the search warrant, it seized his three passports. Of course Trump claims the FBI “stole” his passports. For that matter we’re not sure why he has three passports, even if he is strangely announcing that one of the three is expired. Wouldn’t that mean two active passports? Is one of them from Russia? Is one of them for John Barron, or another of Trump’s aliases?

But here’s what we do know. The Feds wouldn’t have taken Trump’s passports unless they were legally authorized to do so. And the legal basis for seizing someone’s passports is that they’re considered a potential flight risk. This doesn’t mean that the Feds uncovered evidence Trump was planning to flee the country, only that the specifics of his crimes point to the potential for fleeing. Given that Trump reportedly stole nuclear secrets among other things, and his significant financial ties to Saudi Arabia and other nations, it’s not shocking to think he might panic and try to flee. But now he can’t.

Two things stand out here. First, this means Trump is almost certainly going to be criminally indicted by the DOJ. That was already obvious, but this helps nail it down. Second, why is Trump just now belatedly throwing a fit about his seized passports having been seized, a week after they were taken? Why did he just put that together today? Why was he looking for his passports, or asking his legal team about his passports, today? So many questions, so much intrigue, but it all firmly points to Trump in handcuffs.

On the other hand, it’s possible that Trump could be lying about this and making it up. He does lie constantly. But why would he make up such a weird and oddly specific lie that only makes him look even more guilty? It’s theoretically possible he asked his lawyers for his passports, and they tried to keep him from fleeing by lying to him and claiming the Feds had seized them. But that all seems less likely than the scenario in which the Feds really did seize Trump’s passports, as one would expect at this stage of this kind of criminal probe.

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Some Republicans Make a More Restrained Case for Defending Trump, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). When some G.O.P. members of Congress attacked the nation’s top law enforcement agencies immediately after the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, it underscored deep fissures within the party.

As Republicans continued on Sunday to defend former President Donald J. Trump after an unprecedented F.B.I. search of his residence in Florida, deep fissures were visible in the party’s support for law enforcement amid a federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of top secret documents.

Immediately after the search, congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. Some called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., and others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “gestapo” and “tyrants.”

On Sunday, more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department.

 

djt hands up mouth open CustomPalmer Report, Analysis: How the DOJ beat Donald Trump to the punch, Bill Palmer, Aug. 15, 2022. The DOJ had to know that once it carried out the search and seizure warrant against Donald Trump, he would try this “I thought I had already declassified all the documents I took” defense. So, based on how various legal experts have assessed the unsealed warrant and listed charges, it appears the DOJ carefully crafted its criminal probe such that Trump wouldn’t be off the hook even if the documents were declassified. This is why it takes time for these kinds of cases to come to fruition. It’s also why Trump will be convicted.

bill palmer report logo headerImagine if the DOJ had based the search warrant on a more simplistic argument that Trump was merely in illegal possession of classified documents. In such case he’d tell the jury that he honestly thought he’d declassified them, and if the jury saw it as a valid reasonable doubt argument, Trump would go free.

So the DOJ built its case on the premise that Trump wasn’t allowed to have these documents at his home, and refused to give them back, and lied about not having them, and voila, Trump is automatically guilty of espionage and obstruction. Whether anything was “classified” doesn’t even matter.

Obviously, if it turns out Trump stole nuclear secrets (reported), or particularly if he tried to sell them (unknown), that would merit additional, even more severe charges. But that would just be piling on. The point is to make certain that Trump is nailed on more straightforward charges, such as being illegally in possession of documents and obstruction.

As things now stand, based just on what’s in the unsealed search warrant, the Feds already have a jury-proof criminal case against Trump on multiple serious charges. We just don’t know if the DOJ will indict Trump on this now and then indict on January 6th-related and election fraud-related charges later, or if the DOJ will wait until it’s ready to bring all of the charges at once.

Trump and his people are making a big mistake if they think they can defeat an airtight federal criminal case by fighting it in the media. Criminal trials don’t work that way. Ask Steve Bannon. He seemed to think he could beat the rap by running his mouth. The judge and jury ended up seeing it differently.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Walker, Pollard, Hanssen, Trump . . . America's most traitorous spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 15, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. Donald Trump, with his affectation for Eastern European models during the Cold War, should have registered with the FBI early on as a potential spy for America's enemies.

wayne madesen report logoCzechoslovak State Security (ŠtB) certainly believed that to be the case when they tripled their efforts to ensure that their two assets, Ivana Zelníčková and her father, Miloš Zelníček, applied a full-court press on Trump beginning in 1976 when Ivana first met Trump.

A year later, ŠtB asset Ivana Zelníčková married Trump. The first Mrs. Trump and Warsaw Pact intelligence asset worked her way into top-level executive jobs in the Trump Organization, including president of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, later becoming the manager of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. These positions and her marriage to Donald Trump gave Ivana, and the ŠtB and, by default, the Soviet KGB, important access to the movers and shakers of American politics, business, and media.

Ivana Trump, the mother of Donald Trump, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, would continue to have access to her ex-husband and his business and political operations long after their divorce in 1992. These benefits included her use of Mar-a-Lago for one month a year pursuant to her divorce settlement with Donald.

[Documentation here.]

Since Trump's circle of acquaintances over the years has included notorious spies and sex blackmailers, where does that place Trump in the world of espionage against the United States? We know that Trump has stolen the nation's most sensitive secrets, but for how long has this gone on?

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Target of Georgia Criminal Inquiry on Election Interference, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Aug. 15, 2022. Lawyers for Rudolph W. Giuliani have been told that he is a target of a criminal investigation in Georgia into election interference by Donald J. Trump and his advisers, one of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers said on Monday.

Mr. Giuliani, who spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power as his personal lawyer, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta. Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before a special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret suitcases of Democratic ballots and corrupted voting machines.

For Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, the developments are the latest in a widening swath of trouble, though he got some good news recently when it emerged that he was unlikely to face charges in a federal criminal inquiry into his ties to Ukraine during the 2020 presidential campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Graham must testify in Ga. probe of effort to overturn 2020 election, judge rules, Eugene Scott, Aug. 15, 2022. A federal judge on Monday denied Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to quash his subpoena in Georgia prosecutors’ investigation into potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by President Donald Trump and his allies, signaling he must testify in the probe.

Graham had argued that he should be exempt from testifying because of speech or debate clause protections, sovereign immunity and his position as a high-ranking government official. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May rejected all three arguments.

“The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections,” the judge wrote.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) requested a special grand jury earlier this year. It began meeting in June and has identified more than 100 people of interest. The panel has already heard testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election workers.

GOP fake electors ‘targets’ in Georgia election fraud inquiry

Graham is of interest to the committee for phone calls he made to Raffensperger about Georgia’s election system. Willis claims Graham made multiple phone calls to Raffensperger and his staff after the election requesting that they reexamine certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”

Politico, Opinion: Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That, Renato Mariotti (Legal Affairs Columnist for Politico Magazine, and a former federal prosecutor), Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). He kept sensitive documents when he was told he shouldn’t and that’s a chargeable crime.

politico CustomWhile Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. | Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

Former president Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal to return highly classified material forced the Justice Department’s hand, resulting in the execution of a search warrant at his residence. But while it is possible the DOJ merely wanted to retrieve and secure the material that Trump refused to give back to the government, if they decide to press forward with charges, their case looks quite strong.

djt maga hatThe government initially treated Trump with kid gloves when he took government property, including classified documents, with him after he left office. The National Archives negotiated with Trump’s attorneys, securing 15 boxes of documents improperly taken by Trump in January, some of which contained classified information.

In June, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official and other federal officials traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and viewed additional material kept there by Trump, and they issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified material.

If you or I had some 21 boxes of potentially classified information in our home, the Feds wouldn’t ask for it politely or even issue a subpoena. They would have taken possession of that material right away, and we would face serious charges. The DOJ’s decision to wait and only obtain a search warrant after they received information that Trump had not relinquished all of the material was likely motivated by deference to the former president. Ironically this deference has likely strengthened a potential criminal prosecution of Trump.

Justice Department log circularMuch of the initial reaction to the search warrant focused on the Espionage Act, which was cited in the search warrant. While the title of that over 100-year-old law sounds like it has to do with spying, it is possible to violate the Espionage Act just by improperly retaining national defense information and failing to return it to the United States government when it is demanded.

That statute, along with one of the other statutes cited in the search warrant, require the prosecution to prove “willfulness.” In other words, they require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to break the law. It is often difficult to meet this burden, and one strategy I used as a federal prosecutor was to have agents serve targets of investigations with a notice indicating that what they were doing was breaking the law. If the target continued to violate the law after receiving the notice, we had the proof we needed.

DOJ’s repeated requests and demands to Trump and his team served the same purpose. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.

Despite Trump’s insistence that if the government wanted the records back, “all they had to do was ask,” the government repeatedly asked for the records and Trump refused to give them back, giving them only “what he believed they were entitled to.” Although Trump may believe that highly classified defense secrets are his own personal property, or that he could keep Top Secret documents because he informally “declassified” them without following established procedures, it will be difficult to convince jurors that he had a legitimate reason to keep such sensitive national security information at his Florida resort.

While Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. And unlike other outside-the-box acts he allegedly engaged in, like ordering that the special counsel who investigated him be fired (which his White House counsel disregarded), or inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, taking classified material and concealing it from the government is a crime that is regularly charged and straightforward to prove. Government employees are charged, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for doing what Trump did.
‘I will not stand by silently’: Garland defends FBI, DOJ

Trump’s defense appears to be that he “had a standing order” declassifying every document he brought to his residence.

But because the government is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the materials in question were classified, Trump’s “defense” that he declassified the materials would not itself defeat the government’s claim that the information was closely held national defense information, as required by the statutes.

Aug. 13

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: What did Don plan to do with these secrets? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., Aug. 13, 2022 (93:29 mins.). Eleven sets of classified webster tarpley 2007documents seized by FBI at Trump’s chateau include top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), with possible violations of Espionage Act and Atomic Energy Act; Garland shows signs of life.

Media exaggerate the rally round the Don effect among Republicans deriving from raid, with skepticism growing as his legal position deteriorated during the week;

Ill-considered ultra-left slogan of defunding the police was one of the most effective demagogic issues for GOP in November, but calls for violent attacks, defunding and breakup of the FBI for enforcing the law against Trump have completely thrown away that advantage; Republicans are left as the party of tax evaders and antinomians;

The mass psychology of fascist violence examined; Degenerate former party of law and order faces grim and lawless autumn, defeat at the hands of horrified voters;

Ukraine beginning offensive to capture Kherson; Russian air base in Novofedorivka in Crimea largely destroyed, leaving Putin’s Black Sea fleet without air cover; Biden sending another $1 billion in weaponry, especially HIMARS and possibly ATACMs;

GOP shows contempt for American people by rejecting $35 monthly maximum for insulin;

House passes Inflation Reduction Act, 220-207, with 15% minimum tax for large corporations, subsidy for nuclear power generation, lower prices for Medicare drugs, and maintenance of Obamacare subsidies; Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg will go on trial in Manhattan, suggesting that dormant criminal case against Donald may resume;

The great lesson of the American Civil War: Never again! Those who advocate domestic hostilities must be speedily crushed.

Aug. 10

The Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The U.S. Murder of Ayman al-Zawahri, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 10, 2022. While U.S. jacob hornberger newofficials and their acolytes in the mainstream press have described the U.S. national-security establishment’s recent assassination of Ayman al-Zawahri as a great victory for President Biden and the U.S. “global war on terror,” it is important to keep in mind that the assassination was just plain murder on the part of America’s federal killing machine.

future of freedom foundation logo squareFederal officials and their mainstream press have justified al-Zawahri’s killing on two grounds: (1) by claiming that al-Zawahri participated in the 9/11 attacks and (2) by claiming that the killing was simply part of their “global war on terror.”

Both justifications, however, are nothing more than rationalizations for a state-sponsored murder on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment.

Let’s keep in mind something important: terrorism is not an act of war. It is a federal criminal offense. That includes the 9/11 attacks. As acts of terrorism, the 9/11 attacks were federal criminal offenses.

Consider all the federal prosecutions for terrorism that have taken place in U.S. district courts in New York, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere for many years. There is a simple reason for those prosecutions: Terrorism is a federal criminal offense. If it were an act of war, there never would have been those criminal prosecutions. Instead, there would have simply been prisoner-of-war camps, like in regular wars. In regular wars, no soldier is criminally prosecuted for murder for killing an enemy soldier. That’s because in war, soldiers are legally entitled to kill the enemy.

ayman al zawahiri portrait creative commonsIn 1993, terrorists set off a bomb in the World Trade Center. The bombing didn’t bring down the towers but it did kill and injure multitudes of people. It was no different in principle from the later attacks on 9/11. When Ramzi Yousef, one of the people who committed the 1993 attack, was later taken into custody, he was not placed in a prisoner-of war-camp. Instead, he was prosecuted in federal district court. Again, that’s because terrorism is a federal criminal offense, not an act of war.

Because the magnitude of the death and damage was so much greater with the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon and the CIA succeeded in perverting and warping America’s founding judicial system. After those attacks, they established a torture and prison camp in Cuba.

Why Cuba? Their aim was to establish a Constitution-free zone where they could bring any suspected terrorist in the world and do whatever they wanted to him, without any judicial interference whatsoever. That included such things as torture, indefinite detention, and extra-judicial execution.

The Supreme Court declared that it had jurisdiction over the Cuba center but then, in an act of extreme passivity, permitted the Pentagon and the CIA to establish a dual judicial system, one that would operate alongside the federal judicial system. The Pentagon and the CIA would have the omnipotent authority to decide whether to send terrorism suspects through the federal system or through their kangaroo military-tribunal system.

The Gitmo system has always been flagrantly unconstitutional. But the federal judiciary has always been deferential to the Pentagon and the CIA. That’s why there are still prisoners at Gitmo who have been incarcerated and tortured for decades without even the semblance of a trial, in flagrant violation of the right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishments.

After the 9/11 attacks, the national-security establishment also claimed that it had the authority to assassinate anyone it considered to be a terrorist. As I document in my new book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, this power of assassination came into existence long before the 9/11 attacks, but by and large, it was kept under wraps and not publicized widely by the CIA and the Pentagon.

Not so after 9/11, however. At that point, assassination became a well-established, widely publicized power of the CIA and the Pentagon. From that point on, they didn’t have to bring suspected terrorists to justice, either in the federal court system or the tribunal system at Gitmo. They could just kill suspected terrorists on sight. That included American citizens.

There was always one great big legal problem, however, with their program of state-sponsored assassination: The Constitution, which not only does not delegate a power of assassination to federal officials but also, through the Fifth Amendment, expressly prohibits the federal taking of life without due process of law — i.e., without formal notice and a trial.

The Constitution, however, proved to be no obstacle to state-sponsored assassinations simply because the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary played their standard deferential and passive role by upholding this omnipotent, totalitarian, dark-side power.

Aug. 8

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The fascists are back menacing the world and there are no united Allies this time to stop them, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left (journalist, author of 22 books, including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich, shown below) and former Navy intelligence officer, Aug. 8, 2022. Not since the interbellum years of the 1920s and '30s has the world seen a coalescence of the forces of fascism as we are seeing today.

The Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas not only played host to several anti-democratic forces that currently wayne madesen report logocontrol the Republican Party, but granted its keynote speaker spot to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Orban’s wayne madsen fourth reich coverfar-right nationalist Fidesz Party makes no secret of its embracing of fascism.

CPAC Texas, as it was billed, was a far-right love fest that also featured some of the vilest far-right wingers in today’s Republican leadership. They included, in addition to Orban, Donald Trump, underage sex trafficker Matt Gaetz, B-grade zombie and vampire movie actress and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, high school dropout Lauren Boebert, creepy Ted Cruz and Jim Jordan, propagandists Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, suspected Chinese intelligence agent-of-influence and far-right propagandist Steve Bannon, Trump White House drug “candyman” Ronny Jackson, Qanon-embracing Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, MyPillow gadfly Mike Lindell....

The far-right is accomplishing the globalization of fascist ideology that Hitler and Mussolini set out to do but failed due to the Allied onslaught. Today, there are no Allied forces.

Aug. 6

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Kansas referendum rejecting abortion ban is stunning landslide defeat for liberticide GOP, creating chance for webster tarpley 2007Democrats to hold both Houses of Congress, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., Aug. 6, 2022 (105 mins.). In historic vote, US Senate approves NATO membership for Finland and Sweden; Only insurrectionist Hawley votes no, with Little Rand Paul offering a profile of courage by voting present.

Sinema relents, giving Schumer the votes to pass modified Inflation Reduction bill, including haggling with Big Pharma to reduce Medicare prescription costs, a 15% corporate minimum tax for billion-dollar firms, an excise tax on stock buybacks, drought aid, and a subsidy to keep existing nuclear plants in service; Vote could come late Saturday;

Sorry Republicans, No Recession! Exposing incompetence of neoliberal and monetarist economists, 528,000 new jobs created in July, reducing jobless rate to 3.5%, equivalent to lowest-ever unemployment; All 22 million jobs lost on Trump’s watch recouped, with more employment now than ever in US history; Dems gain 11 points on Generic Congressional Ballot in Monmouth poll; GOP’s MAGAt zoo of crackpot candidates in deep trouble;

After Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing tyrants parade their impotence to world in tantrum of flailing and bluster; At least one Beijing rocket violated Taiwan’s air space; Threats to offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu; Patriot systems should shoot down intruders without further notice; Japan demands an immediate end to spectacle, and must be seconded by Washington;

Dialogue with coal-smoke-belching Xi regime on climate is an obscene joke and should not be resumed; Economic retaliation against CCP is in order;

Trump stooge Orban of Hungary brings racial purity tirade to Texas; Population of Danube nation has declined by 350,000 on his watch over past ten years; lack of immigration, low life expectancy, exodus of young people make problems worse; Hungary’s primacy in cultural pessimism assured;

Despite whining of US appeasers and ravings of Beijing dictatorship, Pelosi’s Taiwan visit shows reliable commitment to key US ally while boxing in ultra-left neoappeasers in so-called progressive wing; Thomas Friedman of New York Times dismayed by collapse of his life’s work of globalization!

 

jane mayer cspan

New Yorker, Investigative Commentary: Goodbye, Columbus: State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy, Jane Mayer, Aug. 6, 2022 (Aug. 15, 2022 print ed.). Even in moderate places like Ohio, gerrymandering has let unchecked Republicans pass extremist laws that could never make it through Congress. Ohio’s voters are moderate, but its legislature is to the right of South Carolina’s.

new yorker logoAs the Supreme Court anticipated when it overturned Roe v. Wade, the battle over abortion rights is now being waged state by state. Nowhere is the fight more intense than in Ohio, which has long been considered a national bellwether. The state helped secure the Presidential victories of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, then went for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Its residents tend to be politically moderate, and polls consistently show that a majority of Ohio voters support legal access to abortion, particularly for victims of rape and incest.

Yet, as the recent ordeal of a pregnant ten-year-old rape victim has illustrated, Ohio’s state legislature has become radically out of synch with its constituents. In June, the state’s General Assembly instituted an abortion ban so extreme that the girl was forced to travel to Indiana to terminate her pregnancy. In early July, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana obstetrician who treated the child, told me that she had a message for Ohio’s legislature: “This is your fault!”

Longtime Ohio politicians have been shocked by the state’s transformation into a center of extremist legislation, not just on abortion but on such divisive issues as guns and transgender rights. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who served as governor between 2007 and 2011, told me, “The legislature is as barbaric, primitive, and Neanderthal as any in the country. It’s really troubling.” When he was governor, he recalled, the two parties worked reasonably well together, but politics in Ohio “has changed.” The story is similar in several other states with reputations for being moderate, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania: their legislatures have also begun proposing laws so far to the right that they could never be passed in the U.S. Congress.

Ohio’s law prohibits abortion after six weeks—or even earlier, if doctors can detect fetal cardiac activity—unless the mother is at risk of death or serious permanent injury. Dr. Bernard noted that the bill’s opponents had warned about the proposed restrictions’ potential effect on underage rape victims. “It was literally a hypothetical that was discussed,” she told me. Indeed, at a hearing on April 27th, a Democrat in the Ohio House, Richard Brown, declared that if a thirteen-year-old girl “was raped by a serial rapist . . . this bill would require this thirteen-year-old to carry this felon’s fetus.”

The bill’s chief sponsor, State Representative Jean Schmidt, is an archconservative Republican who represents a district east of Cincinnati. At the hearing, she responded to Brown by arguing that the birth of a rapist’s baby would be “an opportunity.” She explained, “If a baby is created, it is a human life. . . . It is a shame that it happens. But there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being.” The rapist’s offspring, she suggested, could grow up to “cure cancer.” Her remarks were deemed so outlandish that they were denounced everywhere from the Guardian to the New York Post.

According to David Niven, a political-science professor at the University of Cincinnati, a 2020 survey indicated that less than fourteen per cent of Ohioans support banning all abortions without exceptions for rape and incest. And a 2019 Quinnipiac University poll showed that only thirty-nine per cent of Ohio voters supported the kind of “heartbeat” law that the legislature passed. But the Democrats in the Ohio legislature had no way to mount resistance: since 2012, the Republicans have had a veto-proof super-majority in both chambers. The Democratic state representative Beth Liston, a pediatrician and an internist in Ohio, who voted against the bill, told me, “Doctors are going to be afraid of providing ordinary care. Women are going to die.”

The vast majority of Ohio residents clearly want legislative districts that are drawn more fairly. By 2015, the state’s gerrymandering problem had become so notorious that seventy-one per cent of Ohioans voted to pass an amendment to the state constitution demanding reforms. As a result, the Ohio constitution now requires that districts be shaped so that the makeup of the General Assembly is proportional to the political makeup of the state. In 2018, an even larger bipartisan majority—seventy-five per cent of Ohio voters—passed a similar resolution for the state’s congressional districts.

Though these reforms were democratically enacted, the voters’ will has thus far been ignored.

Aug. 1

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump Nazis Among Us -- a WMR video presentation, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 1, 2022 (20:45 mins. video). The Trump Nazis Among Us -- a WMR video presentation.

 

July

July 30

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Concrete signals emerge that Department of Justice is finally investigating the actions of Trump and his faction! Webster G. webster tarpley twitterTarpley, Ph.D., right, July 30, 2022. Pence staffers Short and Jacob testify to federal grand jury; contents of Eastman’s phone under FBI scrutiny; ex-Pentagon chief Miller says Defense Department never got order to post 10,000 guardsmen on Hill for January 6;

Under Trump’s court of miracles, Secret Service deep-sixed critical emails; Communications of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and deputy Cuccinelli have also disappeared; Many subpoenas needed to restore order; Dems call joseph cuffarifor ouster of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari, left.

A right-wing extremist government in Rome with Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi would be worse than the Orban regime in Hungary; Orban’s tirade against the so-called mongrelization of the races has been condemned by one of his former associates as worthy of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels; But the Magyar dictator will be welcome to cavort with Trump at CPAC Texas next week!

GOP has antagonized women, parents, blacks, gays, veterans, golfers, 9/11 families, while gratifying MAGAt hooligans, armed militias and racist fanatics; Trump snubbed by Fox News, who declined to carry his latest rally, while the ever-faithful OANN may soon cease to exist;

Synthesis of recent polls suggests that Senate is leaning Democratic, with promising leads in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and other states; House generic ballot gives Democrats more than a fighting chance; Radical Trump stooge Mastriano in Pennsylvania falls behind Shapiro;

$280 billion CHIPS bill will guarantee US leadership in semiconductors, AI, and other strategic production; This bill formally marks the end of Globalization (1990-2022);

Manchin-Schumer anti-inflation measure contains kilowatt-hour subsidy to keep existing US nuclear power plants producing; Bill includes a nuclear power production credit based on plant revenue;

Xi threatens Biden with old saw that those who play with fire will perish; Arrogance and impudence of chauvinist butchers of Beijing grows intolerable; Pelosi should feel free to visit Taiwan during her Asia trip!

Yale research group led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld shows crippling impact of departure of 1,000 foreign firms representing 40% of GDP plus toughest economic sanctions on Putin’s war economy; Russia’s position as a commodity exporter is permanently weaker, while imports have collapsed; Pipelines go to Europe, not China; Performance of Moscow financial markets is world’s worst!

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Homeland Security watchdog halted plan to recover Secret Service texts, records show, Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Homeland Security watchdog came up with a plan to recover text messages exchanged around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the Capitol, and then abandoned it.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog scrapped its investigative team’s effort to collect agency phones to try to recover deleted Secret Service texts this year, according to four people with knowledge of the decision and internal records reviewed by The Washington Post.

In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress.

But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones, according to three people briefed on the decision.

The latest revelation comes as Democratic lawmakers have accused Cuffari’s office of failing to aggressively investigate the agency’s actions in response to the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cuffari wrote a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this month saying the Secret Service’s text messages from the time of the attack had been “erased.” But he did not immediately disclose that his office first discovered that deletion in December and failed to alert lawmakers or examine the phones. Nor did he alert Congress that other text messages were missing, including those of the two top Trump appointees running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the administration.

Late Friday night, Cuffari’s spokesman issued a statement declining to comment on the new discovery.

“To preserve the integrity of our work and consistent with U.S. Attorney General guidelines, DHS OIG does not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing reviews or criminal investigations, nor do we discuss our communications with Congress,” the statement read.

Cuffari, a former adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), has been in his post since July 2019 after being nominated by Trump.

DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa said the agency is cooperating with investigators and “looking into every avenue to recover text messages and other materials for the Jan. 6 investigations.”

Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security’s Wolf and Cuccinelli

After discovering that some of the text messages the watchdog sought had been deleted, the Federal Protective Service, a DHS agency that guards federal buildings, offered their phones to the inspector general’s investigators, saying they lacked the resources to recover lost texts and other records on their own, according to three people familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.

A senior forensics analyst in the inspector general’s office took steps to collect the Federal Protective Service phones, the people said. But late on the night of Friday, Feb. 18, one of several deputies who report to Cuffari’s management team wrote an email to investigators instructing them not to take the phones and not to seek any data from them, according to a copy of an internal record that was shared with The Post.

Staff investigators also drafted a letter in late January and early February to all DHS agencies offering to help recover any text messages or other data that might have been lost. But Cuffari’s management team later changed that draft to say that if agencies could not retrieve phone messages for the Jan. 6 period, they “should provide a detailed list of unavailable data and the reason the information is unavailable,” the three people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security’s Wolf and Cuccinelli, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, July 29, 2022 (print ed.). Text messages for former President Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, right, and acting chad wolfdeputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are missing for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to four people briefed on the matter and internal emails.

This discovery of missing records for the senior-most homeland security officials, which has not been previously reported, increases the volume of potential evidence that has vanished regarding the time around the Capitol attack.

us dhs big eagle logo4It comes as both congressional and criminal investigators at the Department of Justice seek to piece together an effort by the president and his allies to overturn the results of the election, which culminated in a pro-Trump rally that became a violent riot in the halls of Congress.

The Department of Homeland Security notified the agency’s inspector general in late February that Wolf’'s and Cuccinelli’s texts were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden administration, according to an internal record obtained by the Project on Government Oversight and shared with The Washington Post.

The office of the department’s undersecretary of management also told the government watchdog that the text messages for its boss, undersecretary Randolph “Tex” Alles, the former Secret Service director, were also no longer available due to a previously planned phone reset.

joseph cufari testimony

The office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, above, did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the four people briefed on the watchdog’s actions. Cuffari also failed to alert Congress to the potential destruction of government records.

The revelation comes on the heels of the discovery that text messages of Secret Service agents — critical firsthand witnesses to the events leading up to Jan. 6 — were deleted more than a year ago and may never be recovered.

The news of their missing records set off a firestorm because the texts could have corroborated the account of a former White House aide describing the president’s state of mind on January 6. In one case, the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson said a top official told her that Trump had tried to attack a senior Secret Service agent who refused to take the president to the Capitol with his supporters marching there.

In a nearly identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agency-wide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office did not notify Congress until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records.

ken cuccinelliThe telephone and text communications of Wolf and Cuccinelli, left, in the days leading up to Jan. 6 could have shed considerable light on Trump’s actions and plans. In the weeks before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had been pressuring both men to help him claim the 2020 election results were rigged and even to seize voting machines in key swing states to try to “re-run” the election.

“It is extremely troubling that the issue of deleted text messages related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol is not limited to the Secret Service, but also includes Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, who were running DHS at the time,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson said in a statement.

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

“It appears the DHS Inspector General has known about these deleted texts for months but failed to notify Congress,” Thompson said. “If the Inspector General had informed Congress, we may have been able to get better records from Senior administration officials regarding one of the most tragic days in our democracy’s history.”

Neither Cuccinelli nor Wolf responded to requests for comment. DHS’s Office of Inspector General did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, The status of key investigations involving former president Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Matthew Brown, Shayna Jacobs, Devlin Barrett and Jacqueline Alemany, Updated July 30, 2022. Probes of the ex-president’s conduct in politics, government and business are underway in multiple places.

Donald Trump is facing historic legal and legislative scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by U.S. lawmakers, local district attorneys, a state attorney general and the Justice Department. Authorities are looking into Trump and his family business for a medley of possible wrongdoing, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and how he valued his various assets for loan and tax purposes.

The probes threaten Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he remains a dominant presence in his party and weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

  • Justice Department criminal probe of Jan. 6
  • Georgia election results investigation
  • The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation
  • The Mar-a-Lago boxes investigation
  • Trump business practices, criminal and civil probes in New York
  • Westchester, N.Y., golf club

washington post logoWashington Post, The Murdochs and Trump aligned for mutual benefit. That may be changing, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, In the frenzied coverage of the Jan. 6 House committee hearings, Fox News has been the outlier. While every other major network carried the first public testimony live in prime time in June, Fox relegated the feed to its little-watched business channel.

The network has aired midday hearings live, but Trump-boosting opinion hosts have tended to downplay revelations. When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison gave bombshell testimony a month ago, Laura Ingraham called it “bad acting.”

But the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, has been watching the hearings with a less dismissive eye. And there are signs that the proceedings have helped convince him that the former president is losing his political expediency.

Speculation over the 91-year-old media executive’s thinking crescendoed after the first set of hearings concluded this month and two of his papers published nearly simultaneous editorials. “Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning,” the New York Post declared. “Character is revealed in a crisis,” the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board concluded. “Mr. Trump utterly failed his.”

Murdoch’s support for Donald Trump has been crucial to his political career and at times to his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. But as Trump inches closer to a third presidential run under the glare of criminal, civil and governmental investigations, multiple associates of Murdoch told The Washington Post that it appears he has lost his enthusiasm for Trump.

But Murdoch, who controls a vast swath of the political media world, has spent decades learning to ride the waves of U.S. politics and hedge his bets on candidates. Fox has tried to pull away from the 45th president before, only to return in the face of Trump’s fury.

Politico, The RNC ‘election integrity’ official appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 subpoenas, Betsy Woodruff Swan, In addition to a group of former President Donald Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee staffer in a sensitive role.

politico CustomAt least three witnesses in DOJ’s investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election — two in Arizona and another in Georgia — have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.

rnc logoPolitico reviewed the subpoena sent to the Georgia witness after the Washington Post published copies of two Arizona subpoenas. Findlay’s appearance in the documents means the Justice Department has taken interest in his communications as part of its probe related to pro-Trump GOP officials and activists who presented themselves as legitimate electors from states where Joe Biden won.

Findlay worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign in multiple capacities. In January 2019, the campaign announced he was joining the team that would handle the 2020 Republican National Convention. After the convention, he worked as an attorney on the Trump campaign’s legal team.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The Trump Secret Service text messages, BIll Palmer, right, July 29, 2022. When it was revealed that the Secret Service bill palmerhad deleted January 6th-related text messages after Congress asked for them, the Homeland Security Inspector General launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

But even after that, multiple congressional committee chairs demanded the resignation of the Homeland Security Inspector General, alleging that he’d failed to do his job. Now we’re getting a clearer sense of just how badly the Inspector General failed at his job – and just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

bill palmer report logo headerCongress is alleging that the Inspector General knew months ago that the Secret Service had deleted the text messages in question, and that the Inspector General waited until just recently to finally inform Congress about it. Now it’s even uglier.

The Washington Post is reporting that the January 6th-related text messages from Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy Ken Cuccinelli are also conveniently missing. More to the point, the Homeland Security Inspector General has reportedly known about this since February, but failed to notify Congress.

The implications here are staggering. Who deleted the January 6th text messages of the top two Homeland Security officials, and why? These guys are both staunch Trump loyalists. What were they texting about? After all, in their role as the leaders of Homeland Security, they oversaw the Secret Service. And why would the Homeland Security Inspector General, of all people, help cover up the fact that these text messages were deleted?

This all just keeps getting uglier, in terms of who all might have been involved, what all was covered up, and who might have covered it up. The January 6th Committee (and at this point presumably the DOJ) will get to the bottom of this one way or the other, because conspiracies and coverups that involve this many people always start crumbling once it’s discovered that a coverup took place. At this rate Donald Trump’s election plot is going to end up making the Watergate scandal look like a mere overdue library book in comparison.

 

  Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, On Golf: At LIV Tournament, Thin Crowds and a Tense Start, Bill Pennington, Photographs by Doug Mills, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The controversy over the series, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, isn’t going away. But fans enjoyed the camaraderie among players.

liv golf logoStanding over his ball on Friday, Phil Mickelson, the prized acquisition of the new, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, lined up his opening tee shot in the breakaway circuit’s event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

Just as Mickelson, who reportedly received an upfront $200 million signing bonus to join the insurgent tour, was set to begin his swing, a fan 15 yards to his right yelled: “Do it for the Saudi royal family!”

Mickelson backed away from the shot as a security official approached the fan and told him he would be removed from the grounds if there was another outburst.

 

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses presidential seal at N.J. golf club amid ethics complaints, Mariana Alfaro, Rick Maese and Ellen Francis, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump was spotted using the presidential seal on multiple items during the LIV Golf tournament at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course.

The seal was plastered on towels, golf carts and other items as the former president participated in the pro-am event of the Saudi-sponsored tournament Thursday.

It is against federal law to use the presidential and vice-presidential seals in ways that could convey “a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”

While violating this law could result in imprisonment of “not more than six months,” a fine or both, these punishments are rarely doled out.

This is not the first time the display of the seal has been reported at Trump properties. The logo appeared on a marker at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., in an Instagram post earlier this year, according to Forbes. WNYC and ProPublica reported in 2018 that the Trump Organization ordered golf course tee markers with the emblem on them.

Last year, a D.C.-based watchdog group accused his Bedminster golf club of profiting from using images of the presidential seal.

“Unlawful use of the presidential seal for commercial purposes is no trivial matter, especially when it involves a former president who is actively challenging the legitimacy of the current president,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said when it filed the 2021 complaint.

As Trump teed off Thursday in the pro-am at the latest LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament, the event was closed to the public but open to media. This week marks the third event of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, with which Trump has joined forces in Bedminster in the face of criticism, and its second in the United States.

 

 Former president Donald Trump's golf bag and towel are seen during the pro-am of the LIV Golf tournament at his club in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo by Seth Wenig for the Associated Press).

Former president Donald Trump's golf bag and towel are seen during the pro-am of the LIV Golf tournament at his club in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo by Seth Wenig for the Associated Press).

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates: “He's Setting Himself Up as a Shadow President,” Vicky Ward, above, July 29, 2022. Former White House Ethics Czar Richard Painter on why it matters that Donald Trump is reportedly using the presidential seal for the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour.

I’ve been fascinated by the tensions caused by the emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour, a tournament currently being hosted at Bedminster, one of Donald Trump’s courses. This is partly because Trump’s long-standing feud with the PGA (who broke with him over January 6) is in my reporting wheelhouse, but also simply because I love playing the game of golf.

pga tour logoIt’s occurred to me as I’ve read the reporting about the rifts between golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau—who have reportedly taken individual payments between $90 million and $200 million from LIV Golf (whose major shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia)—and those who have stuck with the PGA that, if you’re not a golfer, you might not understand the full thorniness of this.

But complicating all this, in the way that only he can complicate things, is Trump. His alliance with LIV and his bad-mouthing of the PGA (after their desertion of his golf courses) has led to accusations of blood-money and complaints from families of victims of 9/11.

And now we have today’s news: Trump has reportedly plastered the presidential seal on towels, on golf carts, and on other items at Bedminster—which the Washington ethics group CREW believes to be a federal crime.

richard painterBut what does this mean? Will anything happen as a result? Or like so many of the ethics breaches we saw in the Trump administration—and which I reported on—will everyone just carry on as if nothing had happened?

I turned, as usual, to former Bush ethics czar Richard Painter for his opinion. If you read what Painter says closely, you’ll see he says that what matters is who is in attendance at Bedminster. Are there any foreign leaders? If there are, “it’s serious,” says Painter.

What follows is edited and condensed for clarity. Take a read.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News, Once Home to Trump, Now Often Ignores Him, Jeremy W. Peters, July 29, 2022. Former President Trump hasn’t been interviewed on the network in more than 100 days, and other Republicans often get the attention he once did.

The network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and boosted Mr. Trump’s ascension from real estate developer and reality television star to the White House, is now often bypassing him in favor of showcasing other Republicans.

In the former president’s view, according to two people who have spoken to him recently, Fox’s ignoring him is an affront far worse than running stories and commentary that he has complained are “too negative.” The network is effectively displacing him from his favorite spot: the center of the news cycle.

On July 22, as Mr. Trump was rallying supporters in Arizona and teasing the possibility of running for president in 2024, saying “We may have to do it again,” Fox News chose not to show the event — the same approach it has taken for nearly all of his rallies this year. Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. It was the first of two prime-time interviews Fox aired with Mr. DeSantis in the span of five days; he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show shortly after talking to Ms. Ingraham.

When Mr. Trump spoke to a gathering of conservatives in Washington this week, Fox did not air the speech live. It instead showed a few clips after he was done speaking. That same day, it did broadcast live — for 17 minutes — a speech by former Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Trump has complained recently to aides that even Sean Hannity, his friend of 20 years, doesn’t seem to be paying him much attention anymore, one person who spoke to him recalled.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The Trump Secret Service text messages, BIll Palmer, July 29, 2022. When it was revealed that the Secret Service had deleted January 6th-related text messages after Congress asked for them, the Homeland Security Inspector General launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

But even after that, multiple congressional committee chairs demanded the resignation of the Homeland Security Inspector General, alleging that he’d failed to do his job. Now we’re getting a clearer sense of just how badly the Inspector General failed at his job – and just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

Congress is alleging that the Inspector General knew months ago that the Secret Service had deleted the text messages in question, and that the Inspector General waited until just recently to finally inform Congress about it. Now it’s even uglier.

The Washington Post is reporting that the January 6th-related text messages from Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy Ken Cuccinelli are also conveniently missing. More to the point, the Homeland Security Inspector General has reportedly known about this since February, but failed to notify Congress.

The implications here are staggering. Who deleted the January 6th text messages of the top two Homeland Security officials, and why? These guys are both staunch Trump loyalists. What were they texting about? After all, in their role as the leaders of Homeland Security, they oversaw the Secret Service. And why would the Homeland Security Inspector General, of all people, help cover up the fact that these text messages were deleted?

This all just keeps getting uglier, in terms of who all might have been involved, what all was covered up, and who might have covered it up. The January 6th Committee (and at this point presumably the DOJ) will get to the bottom of this one way or the other, because conspiracies and coverups that involve this many people always start crumbling once it’s discovered that a coverup took place. At this rate Donald Trump’s election plot is going to end up making the Watergate scandal look like a mere overdue library book in comparison.

July 25

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

Politico, Cheney: Jan. 6 panel prepared to consider subpoena for Ginni Thomas, Jesse Naranjo, July 24, 2022. “We hope she'll agree to come in voluntarily," said Rep. Liz Cheney (shown above in a file photo).

politico CustomRep. Liz Cheney said Sunday the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is prepared to consider subpoenaing Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, if she does not appear voluntarily.

“The committee is engaged with her counsel,” Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when asked if the panel planned to speak with her about efforts to overturn the 2020 election. “We hope she’ll agree to come in voluntarily. The committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not.”

ginni thomas gage skidmoreCheney is the vice chair of the nine-member panel. Her statement was the most direct indication of the importance the panel attached to the testimony of Virginia Thomas, right, who is known as Ginni and whose lobbying on the election raised ethical questions because of her marriage to the Supreme Court’s current longest-serving justice.

A lawyer for Thomas previously said the conservative activist would not appear voluntarily before the committee. Thomas’ role in efforts to overturn the election made headlines in March when the Jan. 6 panel published text messages between her and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in which she urged him to fight harder to challenge the election’s results.

The committee requested testimony from Thomas in June, around the same time as news reports of her communications with White House officials and informal advisers, namely Trump attorney John Eastman, about efforts to overturn the election began to proliferate.

Asked to respond to Cheney’s comments — and whether it sets a dangerous precedent to subpoena the spouse of a high court justice — on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” panel member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said: “There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, but those lines involve sitting Supreme Court justices not presiding or appearing or taking action in cases in which their spouse may be implicated.”

“And in this case for Clarence Thomas to issue a decision in a case — a dissent in a case where Congress was trying to get documents and those documents might involve his own wife, that’s the line that’s been crossed.”

Schiff was referring to Clarence Thomas’ support of Trump’s efforts to block the Jan. 6 panel from gaining access to pertinent White House records. Thomas was the only justice who supported Trump’s request for an injunction in the January 2022 ruling.

July 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In one Oval Office meeting, a triple Russian threat, Peter Strzok, right, July 24, 2022. A midnight peter strzok 7 12 18rendezvous with Trump posed a national security risk, says former FBI counterintelligence deputy.

Late on the night of Dec. 18, 2020, a small group of people sat in the Oval Office with Donald Trump, loser of the previous month’s presidential election. White House advisers and campaign staff had repeatedly told him he’d lost — as witness after witness appearing before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol affirmed — and every lawsuit challenging the outcome had gone against him. Regardless, this meeting’s participants were there to explore a range of extraordinary, and extraordinarily dangerous, options to keep Trump in power, including invoking martial law, seizing voting machines extralegally and deploying the National Guard to rerun the election.

The committee has given Americans a clear window into the grim political aspects of this moment, which was leading the country toward a constitutional crisis. Chillingly, over weeks of public hearings, we’ve also seen evidence pointing to how the violent insurrection that followed on Jan. 6, 2021, was encouraged at the highest levels. And on Thursday night, in the last of the current round of hearings, we saw how reluctant Trump was to either halt or condemn this attack by Americans on their own government.

One aspect the committee hasn’t touched on yet, however, is the staggering national security implications of the Dec. 18 meeting. Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson characterized the West Wing that night as “unhinged,” but it wasn’t simply a domestic political nightmare.

It was a counterintelligence risk of the highest order.

Consider that the tiny group in the Oval Office that night was made up of not one, not two, but three people who’d had direct contact with employees or sanctioned or convicted agents of the Russian government: Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock chief executive Patrick Byrne.

At a moment of grave national peril for the United States, this was an astonishing intelligence achievement for Russia. Giuliani, Flynn and Byrne had all been likely targets of Russian information collection. Russia sought to gain access, develop relationships and, in varying ways, gather information from and convey disinformation to men who later had direct access to the Oval Office and the president. Each one, whether he knew it or not, had been bought, suckered or seduced by Russia.

Take Giuliani first. During repeated travel to Ukraine, Giuliani again and again interacted with Russian intelligence agents, including Andriy Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian parliament described by the U.S. government as “an active Russian agent for over a decade.” The Washington Post has reported that the contact reportedly raised such alarm within the U.S. intelligence community that agencies took the extraordinary step of warning the Trump White House that the president’s personal attorney was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Then there’s Flynn. Just two months before he joined Trump’s campaign in February 2016, Russia Today, now a registered agent of the Russian government that dispenses propaganda, paid him to attend its anniversary celebration in Moscow and seated him next to Vladimir Putin. Weeks into his tenure as national security adviser, Flynn resigned and was later convicted of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak relating to a variety of topics, including Russian interference in the 2016 elections. I was one of two FBI agents he pleaded guilty to lying to.
Patrick Byrne, second from left, former chief executive of Overstock.com, arrives July 15 to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Byrne was among those who, at a Dec. 18, 2020, Oval Office meeting, discussed ways to keep President Donald Trump in office. A few years before that, he dated Russian agent Maria Butina. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg)

And then there was Byrne, “the Overstock person — I didn’t even know who this guy was,” as former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who crashed the meeting, described him. Byrne had engaged in a years-long intimate relationship with now-convicted Russian agent Maria Butina. Butina admitted to conspiring with a Russian government official to clandestinely act in the United States at the direction of Russia. (Byrne has claimed that I and other senior FBI leaders directed him to sleep with Butina. That allegation is false, at least as it applies to me; I had not heard of Byrne until he made those claims.) While secretly working for Russia in this country, Butina’s targets included the National Rifle Association, Republican Party officials and the Trump campaign. After she was deported to Russia at the end of her prison sentence, Byrne “made a gift to Maria out of a desire to let her land on her feet and restart her life in Russia,” he told Business Insider in an email. Butina proceeded to hound Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, visiting him in prison at the behest of RT, Navalny’s team said, while he was on a hunger strike; wore clothing marked with a Z while urging support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and successfully ran for a seat in the Duma, Russia’s parliament.

Do I think any of the three men who graced the Dec. 18 meeting are recruited Russian agents? No. But at a certain level, it doesn’t matter. The bulk of Russia’s intelligence collection relies not on directed agents but on indirect contacts and friendships. That’s the way most countries collect most intelligence. Russia is just as happy with contacts who can be nurtured and developed to provide information (as Flynn did when he communicated the incoming administration’s position on U.S. sanctions for Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election) or pass on disinformation (as Giuliani did when he drew attention to edited audiotapes purporting to detail interactions between Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian government officials).

Of course, the counterintelligence elephant in the room sat on the other side of the Resolute Desk during that Dec. 18 meeting.

Trump’s numerous counterintelligence vulnerabilities — undisclosed financial entanglements; believing Russian intelligence agencies ahead of his own; odd pro-Russian views of NATO allies — are catalogued in the report of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a Senate report, and countless books and articles. (I opened the FBI’s investigation into allegations that the Russian government sought to privately offer election assistance to Trump’s presidential campaign and later was on Mueller’s team for the first two months of his two-year investigation.)

As if intelligence gathered through relationships and physical interactions weren’t enough, what might Russia have collected through technical means? What did Giuliani, Flynn and Byrne say on their cellphone calls? What did they text? Email? What electronic devices did they bring onto the White House grounds when they arrived unannounced, and were any brought into the Oval Office or the “Yellow Oval” in the president’s private residence? As anyone who has visited the White House can attest, screening is focused on physical, not data, security. Given Cipollone’s testimony to the House select committee that he “didn’t understand how they had gotten in,” it is reasonable to question the rigor of that screening — particularly in the context of someone as notoriously lackadaisical with communications security as Giuliani. The former New York mayor’s repeated travel to Ukraine presumably gave Russia opportunities for technical targeting that were far richer than those available here at home. The prospect of Russian technical intelligence collection looms large in assessing the risks of letting this crew roam the White House corridors.

Sadly, the potential inroads for Russian intelligence did not end with Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. Giuliani continues to advance the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Byrne has traveled the country, speaking and funding efforts to delegitimize the election (some of which contributed to his being sued by Dominion Voting Systems). Byrne is occasionally accompanied by Flynn, who when not with Byrne has at other times appeared next to longtime Trump associate Roger Stone and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell on the ReAwaken America tour. Trump political strategist Steve Bannon, who on Friday was found guilty of contempt of Congress after he ignored the select committee’s subpoena, recently commented that Flynn “could very well be on the VP shortlist in ’24. And if the president [Trump] doesn’t run, I strongly believe Mike is running.”

Peter Strzok is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and former deputy of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. He is the author of "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump."

July 23

The Future of Freedom Foundation, The Secret Service’s Obstructions of Justice, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, July 22, 2022. According to an article jacob hornberger newon the website Alternet, “Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner is calling for a “criminal investigation” into the U.S. Secret Service‘s deleted text messages” relating to the congressional investigation into the January 6 protests at the Capitol.

The article stated, “The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General notified the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees last week that the U.S. Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, after the OIG specifically requested them.”

Kirschner stated, “A criminal investigation should be opened into the destruction of this extremely important evidence.”

future of freedom foundation logo squareUnfortunately, this is not the first time that the Secret Service has engaged in obstruction of justice in this way. As I point out in my new book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, the Secret Service did the same thing early in the the term of the Assassination Records Review Board back in the early 1990s.

Even though the official narrative had been that a lone nut killed President Kennedy, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Secret Service had spent 30 years fiercely guarding the secrecy of their assassination-related records, which, needless to say, was a bit suspicious.

The ARRB was charged by Congress with enforcing the JFK Records Act, which mandated that all federal agencies, including the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Secret Service, release and disclose their assassination-related records to the public.

The matter was particularly relevant insofar as the Secret Service was concerned, owing to the unusual actions of Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent in the passenger seat of the limousine in which the president was riding when he got shot. After the first shot rang out, which was not fatal, Kellerman took no action to jump over the seat and use his body to shield the president, as he was supposed to john_f_kennedy_smilingdo. Instead, he just sat there like a bump on a log, waiting until the fatal shot that hit Kennedy in the head.

As I detail in my new book, as well as in my previous book The Kennedy Autopsy, after Kennedy, right, was declared dead, the Dallas County Medical Examiner, Dr. Earl Rose, announced that he was going to conduct an autopsy on the president’s body. That’s because state law required him to do so, given that this was a murder case under Texas state law.

secret service logoAt that point, a team of Secret Service agents, headed by none other than Roy Kellerman, went into action and stated in no uncertain terms that they were not going to permit Rose to conduct an autopsy. When Rose stood his ground and insisted on conducting the autopsy, they brandished guns and screamed, yelled, emitted profanities, initiated force against Rose, and forced their way out of Parkland Hospital with the president’s body. Medical personnel at Parkland later said that they were scared to death.

Later that night Kellerman participated in a casket-switching scheme at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where the military was conducting an autopsy on Kennedy’s body. As I detail in both my books, the autopsy that the military conducted on the president’s was fraudulent, which is how we know for certain the assassination was a national-security regime-change operation. As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. None. No one has ever come up with one. No one ever will. A fraudulent autopsy necessarily means criminal culpability. There is no way around it.

After the JFK Records Act was enacted, the National Archives informed Secret Service officials that the law required them to preserve their assassination-related records. Nonetheless, as Douglas Horne details in volume 5, pages 1451–1458, of his book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, Secret Service officials knowingly and deliberately destroyed “protective service reports” or “trip reports” for 23 of Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963….

The Secret Service’s intentional destruction of those records, after being told not to destroy such records, ensured that the American people would never get to see the information contained in them and that the ARRB would be unable to get a complete picture of the Secret Service’s protection of President Kennedy. As Horne put it, “Their destruction occurred long after the Secret Service was initially briefed on the requirements of the JFK Records Act in December of 1992 by the NARA [National Archives] staff, and required willful action by officials within that agency; it was hardly an accident. The Secret Service clearly didn’t want the ARRB poking into its past procedures and practices; the agency had been the recipient of severe criticism in the HSCA’s 1979 Report, and apparently did not wish to repeat that experience, or to have its sealed records released to the Archives for placement in the JFK Records Collection, for all JFK researchers to peruse in the future.”

doug horneHorne, left, writes in his watershed five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, which I cannot recommend too highly, that the ARRB’s general counsel Jeremy Gunn was furious over the Secret Service’s intentional destruction of its assassination-related records after specifically being advised to preserve such records.

But the Secret Service obviously was convinced that there was nothing that Gunn and the ARRB would do about it.

The ARRB should have gone after Secret Service officials with a criminal indictment for obstruction of justice. But the Secret Service turned out to be right. The ARRB let them off the hook with only some expressions of anger and outrage.

It was a fateful decision, one that no doubt left the Secret Service with the conviction that they could destroy records in official investigations with impunity and that nothing would happen to them except maybe a tongue-lashing. No doubt the Secret Service had in mind how it got away with its obstruction of justice in the Kennedy assassination when it intentionally destroyed its records relating to the January 6 protest at the Capitol.

Former federal prosecutor Kirschner is right. Service Service officials should be criminally indicted and prosecuted for their obstruction of justice. Otherwise, they’ll just keep doing it again in the future.

  • An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story.
  • The Kennedy Autopsy.
  • The Kennedy Autopsy 2.
  • JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated. 

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Trump’s in-house strategist Bannon convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress, and now faces 2 to 24 months in prison! webster tarpley twitterWebster G. Tarpley, right, July 23, 2022. Ukrainian diplomacy successful in lifting Putin‘s genocidal blockade of Black Sea grain ships leaving Odessa and other ports; Accord mediated by Guterres and Erdogan, who provides safe exit through Bosporus; 5 million tons of grain per month will alleviate world shortage;

Deal suggests growing Russian weakness, as confirmed by slowing progress and heavy losses on eastern front; US HIMARS destroy key Russian assets;

Putin gloats over fall of Italy‘s Draghi, whom two thirds of Italians want to stay in office; Draghi is Kremlin target owing to support for EU and Ukraine; Foreign Minister Di Maio notes Draghi government attacked by pro-Russian parties; these include the League of Trump clone Salvini and Five-Star of Trump pal Conte; Parliament dissolved, elections in September;

Bannon is first member of Trump‘s inner cabal convicted in wake of January 6 autogolpe;

Final hearings in current series draw audience of 18 million (about 100 million viewers for 8 sessions) without benefit of Fox News;
Hearings confirm Cassie Hutchinson‘s account of Trump‘s dispute with Secret Service over trip to Hill; Secret Service probe about deleted text messages of January 5-6 is now criminal; Recent history of this acutely troubled agency includes brothel blackouts in Thailand, cocaine-fueled orgies in Colombia, bullets left in hotel room, and other scandals; A thorough purge is in order, with immediate special measures to guarantee Biden‘s security;

Still unaddressed: why no re-enforcements until late afternoon; Key problem is Pentagon conference call with Army Sec. McCarthy, Gens. Piatt and Flynn, which denied troops for several hours; DC National Guard officers accuse Army and Pentagon IG of blatant lying on North Korean model; Ginni Thomas has escaped scrutiny so far;

Falling price of regular gasoline reaches $4.41 per gallon; Poll gives Democrats 7-point advantage in generic ballot for Congress, a lead that can survive GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression; despite corporate media hysteria, Dem midterm wipeout need not materialize!

July 22

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Right-wing rhetoric today is the same as that of the Nazis and fascists 90 years ago, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left (longtime commentator, author of 22 books, including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich below, and former Navy intelligence officer), July 22-24, 2022. Donald Trump and his fellow far-right Republican candidates for national, state, and local office are relying upon the same politically-charged rhetoric used by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis in Germany and Benito Mussolini's fascists in Italy in the years leading up to and during World War II.

wayne madesen report logoTerms like "radical left socialists," "Marxists," "black radicals," and "anarchists" match almost exactly the far-right propaganda lexicon manufactured by Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin and Dino Alfieri's Ministry of Popular Culture in Rome. During Trump's last year as president, he repeatedly attempted to have "antifa," which is an acronym for anti-fascism philosophy, declared a "terrorist group." Trump, like Hitler and Mussolini before him, has no problem with right-wing terrorism.

Moreover, Trump's and his supporters' use of Nazi German rhetoric were encouraged by two of the would-be U.S. dictator. White House wayne madsen fourth reich coveraides. They were Stephen Miller, who is Jewish, and Andrew Veprek, a supporter of Miller's unbridled neo-Nazi and white supremacist political views.

The alt-right's stock phrases and terms, including "Great Replacement," "foreigner invasion," and "lying media," have often been cited in manifestos and social media posts by mass killers. These include Anders Breivik in Norway, Jared Loughner in Tucson, Dylann Storm Roof in Charleston, James Fields in Charlottesville, Brenton Tarrant in Christchurch, Elliott Rodger in Santa Barbara, Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh, John Earnest in Poway, Robert Crimo in Highland Park, and Jonathan Sapirman at the Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana. The phrases used by the killers had been echoed on white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites, as well as frequently by Fox News and its resident fascist ideologue, Tucker Carlson.

The Republican Party is now the party of seditious conspiracy, white nationalism, and Donald Trump-level graft and corruption. It should be consigned to history, along with its political forbears, the Whigs, Federalists, and Know Nothings.

July 21

 

djt jan 6 twitter

Donald Trump rouses supporters in a speech outside the White House just prior to the mob's assault on the U.S. Capitol, which contained elected members of Congress giving final certification of November election results on Jan. 6, 2021 in advance of President-elect Joe Biden's planned Inauguration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service watchdog knew in February that texts had been purged, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, July 21, 2022 (print ed.). A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to three people briefed on the internal discussions.

secret service gold logoThat watchdog agency, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the people briefed on the matter said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal investigations.

The previously unreported revelation about the inspector general’s months-long delay in flagging the now-vanished Secret Service texts came from two whistleblowers who have worked with Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, the people knowledgeable about the internal discussions said.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Elaine Luria prepares to lead Jan. 6 hearing, connect Trump to violence, Meagan Flynn and Jacqueline Alemany, July 21, 2022 (print ed.). The Virginia Democrat has her defining moment on the committee as she faces her toughest election yet.

She couldn’t forget the time: 1:46 p.m.

It was the moment Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) evacuated her office on Jan. 6, 2021, after police found pipe bombs on Capitol Hill. A year later, on Jan. 6, 2022, it was the exact same time Luria announced her reelection campaign — unmistakably linking her bid for a third term representing a swing district on the Virginia coast to her service on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Now, Luria is preparing for her most defining moment on the committee yet: At the committee’s finale of this summer’s series of hearings, she and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) will detail what former president Donald Trump did and didn’t do over 187 minutes as the U.S. Capitol was under attack, and as Luria and hundreds of colleagues took cover.

Their presentation is expected to squarely place the blame for the violence on Trump after his months of false claims of voter fraud and will examine his reluctance to condemn the attack — culminating in what the panel plans to describe as a dereliction of duty and violation of his oath. It’s an assignment that people involved with the committee’s work say Luria specifically sought — even as she gears up for her toughest reelection campaign yet in a district that got redder after redistricting.

Trump’s choices escalated tensions and set U.S. on path to Jan. 6, panel finds

But with an air of defiance, the former Navy commander has said she is unconcerned about any potential political consequences that her role in unspooling the former president’s inaction on Jan. 6 could have in her own political future — a message that, rather than whispered to confidants, she has put front and center in her campaign.

“Getting this right, getting the facts out there and making some change in the future so that this doesn’t happen again, it’s so much bigger than whether you’re reelected or not,” Luria said in an interview. “I don’t want to make my bid for reelection seem petty, but that’s inconsequential. Does that make sense? And if I win, it will be a very strong statement about the work of the committee.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 Committee Hearings: Trump’s choices set nation on path to Jan. 6 violence, committee shows, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 21, 2022 (print ed.). Take a look: 15 times that Trump chose to escalate rather than dial down tensions; The latest: Sen. Leahy undergoes additional hip surgery. Across seven hearings, the panel’s findings have illustrated how the president repeatedly escalated tensions following his election defeat.

Donald Trump had already been told by his campaign manager, his top campaign lawyer and his lead data analyst that he had lost the presidential election when he was visited by his attorney general on Dec. 1, 2020.

William P. Barr was a steadfast Trump ally. But in the Oval Office that afternoon, he had no solace to offer the president. He told Trump that claims of 2020 voter fraud were “complete nonsense,” “crazy stuff,” “a grave disservice to the country,” he later recounted. They were “bullshit.”

In an interview with the Associated Press that day, he offered the country the same conclusion, though in less profane terms: The Justice Department had found no evidence sufficient to overturn Joe Biden’s election win.

Trump could have accepted what Barr later termed “reality.”

But inside the White House, the AP story was met with presidential fury. Sitting inside the ornate West Wing dining room, Trump threw his lunch, shattering a porcelain dish and leaving ketchup dripping down the wall.

That account came from a White House aide who testified to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which over seven public hearings this summer has laid out an elaborate case with a stark conclusion: It was Donald Trump himself who repeatedly set the nation on the path to violence in the weeks after he lost reelection.

July 17

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Two Men Very Close to Ginni Thomas—One of Them One Step Removed From Trump’s Coup Plot—Come seth abramson graphicUnder New Scrutiny, Seth Abramson, left, July 16-17, 2022. New evidence strongly suggests that it’s more imperative than ever that the House January 6 Committee get sworn testimony from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—and do so quickly.

Introduction: In early September of 2020, during the same several-week period that Ginni Thomas friend and Donald Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell was successfully recruiting Ginni Thomas friend and former Clarence Thomas law clerk John Eastman to also become a Trump lawyer, Eastman was the head of the far-right Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.

seth abramson proof logoAround this time—September 9—a member of Trump’s National Security Council, Michael Anton, authored a truly stunning article entitled “The Coming Coup?” The document is profoundly unsettling in retrospect, given Anton’s high position within Trumpworld’s intelligence apparatus.

In “The Coming Coup?”, Anton imagined the following scenario:

Violence around the time of the 2020 election propagated by left-wing groups; requiring the invocation of the Insurrection Act by then-President Trump....

Note that this very same sequence of events could equally be triggered if Trump and his political team were to stage a televised act of violence and chaos and then blame it on left-wing agitators in a premeditated way—which, in the event, is exactly what Trump used the Rudy Giuliani-Steve Bannon-John Eastman “war room” at the Willard Hotel in Washington to do during Insurrection Week.

Despite no evidence whatsoever that either Black Lives Matter activists or participants in the loose antifa movement had been present at the United States Capitol on that dark day, Trumpist partisans insisted that they had been—and immediately after the Capitol was cleared began pushing Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act on these (fraudulent) grounds.

[B]y September of 2020 it was Trump’s longtime friend, attorney, confidant, and fixer Michael Cohen who had told Congress and all America under oath that he knew for a fact that Donald Trump was not going to concede the 2020 presidential election no matter what happened in it.

Just days ago, a Mother Jones investigative report confirmed Cohen’s revelation with secretly recorded pre-election audio of Bannon—of Trump’s Insurrection Week Willard Hotel war room, which he shared with the Claremont Institute’s Eastman—confirming that in fact it was Trump who’d all along planned to execute the plot Anton wrote of for Eastman’s Claremont Institute back in September, just after Eastman came aboard Trump’s legal team at Ginni Thomas friend Cleta Mitchell’s invitation.

So Michael Cohen was right. And if you’re of the camp that believes—on significant evidence—that every accusation by Trumpworld is fact a confession, you can see in the coup plot outlined above by Trump adviser Anton precisely the sequence of events that would quite nearly be carried out by Bannon, Giulian, Eastman, Sidney Powell, Michael Lindell, Patrick Byrne, and Michael Flynn.

Within 90 days of Anton’s essay, Eastman would be working on making the seditious vision of Trump’s intel guru (which the Claremont Institute had eagerly published) a reality—though for Donald Trump, of course, rather than Joe Biden. Indeed, once Ginni Thomas friend Eastman joined Trump presidential adviser Ginni Thomas and the aforementioned Ginni Thomas friend and presidential adviser Cleta Mitchell as a Trump adviser, he appears to mostly have focused on executing Anton’s hypothetical.

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.

July 16

 

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Secret Service for missing records, Jacqueline Alemany and Maria Sacchetti, July 16, 2022 (print ed.). Earlier this week, a government watchdog accused the agency of erasing text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service on Friday requesting records after a government watchdog accused the agency of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after his office requested them.

secret service logoCommittee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), in a letter transmitting notice of the subpoena, wrote that the panel sought relevant text messages and reports issued in any way related to the attack on the Capitol.

“The Select Committee has been informed that the USSS erased text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 as part of a ‘device-replacement program.’ In a statement issued July 14, 2022, the USSS stated that it ‘began to reset its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration. In that process, data resident on some phones was lost.’ However, according to that USSS statement, ‘none of the texts [the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General] was seeking had been lost in the migration,” Thompson wrote.

The subpoena is the first the committee has issued to an executive branch agency.

The text messages could provide insight into the actions of the agency and potentially those of President Donald Trump on the day of the insurrection. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified during a hearing last month that Trump wanted to lead the mob from the Ellipse to the Capitol, despite knowing they were armed, and said that she was told by an agent that Trump physically assailed the Secret Service agent who informed him he could not go to the Capitol.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that the agency did not maliciously delete text messages following the request from DHS’s Office of Inspector General. The Washington Post previously reported that the Secret Service began a preplanned, agency wide replacement of staff telephones a month before the Office of Inspector General’s request, according to two people briefed on the document request.

Secret Service erased texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, official says

Joseph Cuffari, the DHS’s inspector general, briefed members of the committee on Friday after sending a letter to lawmakers this week notifying them that the text messages were erased following the inspector general’s request. The Intercept and CNN led media reports of the matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Watchdog signals that missing texts are part of a pattern of resistance to oversight, Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig, Updated July 15, 2022.  A government watchdog accused the U.S. Secret Service of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them as part of an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack, according to a letter sent to lawmakers this week.

Joseph V. Cuffari, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees indicating that the text messages have vanished and that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were being hindered.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump threatens the American people with another lunge for the White House! Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, 
webster tarpley 2007July 16, 2022 (64:30 mins.). He says his decision is already made, but the date for the announcement is not yet set; Bring it on, well before the mid-term elections, and set up a referendum on the fading MAGAt Duce!

Crude oil price is down 20% in a month, but gasoline price is down by only 8%; GOP torpedoed a bill to end this price gouging, so vote them out to fight inflation!

Atlanta DA Willis has reportedly sent target letters to Republican bigwigs involved in fabricating fake slates of Electors in December 2020, informing them they will soon be indicted;

Purge of troubled Secret Service is likely necessary after crude attempt to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, followed by illegal wiping of cell phone records; Are stay-behind Trump moles involved? Does this tell us something about the paralysis of the Department of Justice? House committee must fight it out on this line all the way to September;

In Israel, Biden views Iron Beam, a laser-powered system to shoot down drones; More powerful lasers are the key to the urgently needed crash program of strategic defense that can turn Putin’s vaunted missiles into a pile of junk;

Proposals for negotiations with Putin followed by plebiscite are idiotic in the extreme, given the Kremlin dictator’s obvious refusal to be bound by treaties and agreements;
Italy’s Draghi government holding on despite sabotage by pro-Russian useful idiots of Grillo’s Five-Star movement; Many Five-Stars refuse to support Ukraine against invaders;

GOP’s attempts to interfere with interstate travel by women seeking abortions resemble the internal passport system of the Soviet Union;
Breaking: Obama AG Eric Holder predicts criminal indictments for January 6 coup leaders!

July 13

 

djt as chosen one

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Did Donald Trump Commit Treason on December 18, 2020? The Arguments on Both Sides of a Suddenly seth abramson graphicPressing Question, Seth Abramson, left, July 13, 2022. The July 12 House January 6 Committee hearing was filled with shocking testimony. Perhaps the most shocking testimony has thus far gone overlooked by major media analyses—but it may point to Treason.

seth abramson proof logoThe position of Proof since its founding on January 14, 2021, has been that Donald Trump did not commit treason on January 6, 2021, or at any time before then—not because he’s a loyal American citizen, because he is not, but because Treason (the federal criminal statute) comprises a set of evidentiary elements a prosecutor must prove at trial.

It has been the view of this former criminal defense attorney that the facts of the January 6 insurrection, as heinous as they are, simply do not match the language of the Treason statute. Maybe the statute has blind-spots and should be rewritten; certainly Trump should be indicted for any crimes he committed (and is still trying to commit, apparently) related to January 6; but criminal statutes cannot and should not be retroactive. Therefore, the thinking here has been, Trump is not eligible to be federally prosecuted for Treason.

Or so Proof thought, until yesterday’s televised House January 6 Committee hearing.

Yesterday the strictly legal question of whether Trump is a traitor to the United States—that is, whether he committed statutory treason—became a viable one for the first time. And though I searched cable news and other news sources last night in the hope of finding some analysis of this question, I couldn’t find any, so I’m providing it here.

Proof will here offer the case both “for” and “against” former President Trump having committed the crime of Treason on December 18, 2020. I’ll be citing the new evidence from yesterday’s highly disturbing Congressional hearing as well as evidence formerly disclosed by Congress and/or Proof.

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.

July 11

  

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.


washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 hearing to focus on Trump’s ‘siren call’ to violent extremists, Amy B Wang and Olivier Knox, July 11, 2022 (print ed.). On Dec. 19, 2020, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter one of his many baseless claims about the presidential election, alleging that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Joe Biden and alerting his supporters to a Washington protest in the coming weeks.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump tweeted then. “Be there, will be wild!”

That tweet would serve as an invitation to far-right militant groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as well as other violent extremists who were part of the pro-Trump mob that overran the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block the certification of Biden’s electoral college win, members of the House select committee investigating the insurrection said Sunday.

The effect of that tweet — as well as other messages from Trump and his allies — will be explored this week as the committee resumes its public hearings. Tuesday’s session will focus on Trump’s connections to those far-right and political extremist groups.

“People are going to hear the story of that tweet, and then the explosive effect it had in Trumpworld, and specifically among the domestic violent extremist groups, the most dangerous political extremists in the country at that point,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who is scheduled to lead Tuesday’s hearing with Raskin, said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that the Dec. 19 tweet was a “siren call” to those groups that Jan. 6 would be a “last stand” to keep Trump in power.

Trump had already mounted a broad and ongoing pressure campaign — on Vice President Mike Pence, the Justice Department and state election officials — to help overturn the election results, she added, and his tweet amounted to a call for those violent groups to provide “additional support” leading up to Jan. 6.

Committee members also confirmed Sunday that they had received a letter from a lawyer for former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon stating that Bannon will waive his claim of executive privilege and testify at a public hearing. Bannon was indicted on charges of contempt of Congress last year after refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

Bannon could still assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and may insist on conditions, such as testifying on live TV rather than in a closed-door deposition, that committee members may not want to agree to.

Raskin said Sunday that the committee would be “very interested” in hearing from Bannon, but indicated it was unlikely that his initial testimony would be public.

The hearing on Tuesday will be the committee’s first since Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave bombshell testimony about Trump’s rage and inaction on the day of the Capitol attack. Hutchinson testified on June 28 that Trump knew that some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march on the Capitol anyway, and that Trump had told Meadows to talk to some of his aides who had relationships with far-right militia groups.

 

Former Trump White House staffer and House Jan. 6 Committee witness Cassidy Hutchinson, center, and Representative Liz Cheney, left, the vice chairwoman of the committee, have developed an unlikely bond (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

Former Trump White House staffer and House Jan. 6 Committee witness Cassidy Hutchinson, center, and Representative Liz Cheney, left, the vice chairwoman of the committee, have developed an unlikely bond (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Jan. 6 Committee Rushed Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony, Robert Draper, July 11, 2022 (print ed.).  Committee members were so alarmed by what they considered a clear case of witness tampering that they decided to hold an emergency public hearing.

The day before Cassidy Hutchinson was deposed for a fourth time by the Jan. 6 committee, the former Trump White House aide received a phone message that would dramatically change the plans of the panel and write a new chapter in American politics.

On that day in June, the caller told Ms. Hutchinson, as Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chairwoman, later disclosed: A person “let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal. And you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

At Ms. Hutchinson’s deposition the next day, committee members investigating the attack on the Capitol were so alarmed by what they considered a clear case of witness tampering — not to mention Ms. Hutchinson’s shocking account of President Donald J. Trump’s behavior on Jan. 6, 2021 — that they decided in a meeting on June 24, a Friday, to hold an emergency public hearing with Ms. Hutchinson as the surprise witness the following Tuesday.

The speed, people close to the committee said, was for two crucial reasons: Ms. Hutchinson was under intense pressure from Trump World, and panel members believed that getting her story out in public would make her less vulnerable, attract powerful allies and be its own kind of protection. The committee also had to move fast, the people said, to avoid leaks of some of the most explosive testimony ever heard on Capitol Hill.

In the two weeks since, Ms. Hutchinson’s account of an unhinged president who urged his armed supporters to march to the Capitol, lashed out at his Secret Service detail and hurled his lunch against a wall has turned her into a figure of both admiration and scorn — lauded by Trump critics as a 21st-century John Dean and attacked by Mr. Trump as a “total phony.”

Ms. Hutchinson’s