Deep State 2020-22 News, Revelations, Commentary

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Editor's Choice: 2020-21 News & Views

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

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

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

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

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

Index: Deep State News, Revelations, Commentary

 2020-21-22

 

December

Dec. 1

 

 

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.

 

 

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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.

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

 

djt handwave file

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

 

 merrick garland new

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. 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

 

 

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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."

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 foran_for 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 w_significant 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. 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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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 testimony also pushed the committee to redouble its efforts to interview Pat A. Cipollone, Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, who appeared in private before the panel on Friday. His videotaped testimony is expected to be shown at the committee’s next public hearing on Tuesday.

djt hands open amazon safeProof, Investigative Commentary: Trump Addressed Extremists Via Zoom 96 Hours Before the Capitol Attack—Some of Whom Thereafter Trespassed on Capitol Grounds, Seth Abramson, left, July 11, seth abramson graphic2022. Trump made two historically important phone calls on January 2, 2021. One is now the focus of a criminal investigation in Georgia. The other is almost never spoken of— but may be just as significant.

On Saturday, January 2, 2021, from 2PM ET until after 4PM ET, Donald Trump, his legal team, and several others spoke by Zoom to a much larger contingent of far-right insurrectionists than was previously understood. While it has long been known (and was reported on by Proof here) that Trump addressed nearly 300 GOP state legislators on the call—a call in which the seth abramson proof logothen-president outlined the coup plot now known as “The Green Bay Sweep”—new audio evidence indicates that the composition of Trump’s January 2 audience was significantly broader than originally thought.

And further evidence developed by Proof and its readership establishes the profoundly troubling reasons why this was so. This new picture of Trump’s activities on January 2—the same day he sought to coerce Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into “finding” new votes for him through threats of prosecution and the end of Raffensperger’s political career, an event that is now the subject of a grand jury inquiry in Fulton County—underscores how close Trump’s January 2021 coup plot came to achieving its objective: the end of American democracy as we know it.

What Independent State Legislature Doctrine (ISL)?

According to the dictates of ISL, neither a state constitution nor a state supreme court nor a state executive has any final power over how elections are run. This includes the determination of how presidential electors—state delegates to the Electoral College—are chosen for the national presidential election held every four years.

The upshot is that, under ISL, state politicians can pick which presidential candidate has won their state every four years, taking this authority away from the voters of their state. ISL holds that state legislators can declare as the victor of any statewide vote whosoever they wish—even a candidate who has lost the popular vote in the state—and that no one anywhere in the state can stop them from doing so.

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).

July 9

July 2

 

Shown above are the six partisan Republicans, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, shown at top left, who are undertaking radical changes in laws governing all Americans. All but Clarence Thomas, top center, were named by presidents who lost the popular vote for presidency but were installed via the Electoral College rules. Shown above are the six partisan Republicans, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, shown at top left, who are undertaking radical changes in laws governing all Americans. All but Clarence Thomas, top center, were named by presidents who lost the popular vote for presidency but were installed via the Electoral College system. 

washington post logoWashington Post, With sweep and speed, Supreme Court’s conservatives ignite new era, Robert Barnes, July 2, 2022. Observers say this term should be seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

The avalanche of change achieved by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority this term spans the breadth of American life, and its work draws comparisons to the most momentous decisions in the court’s history.

Its signature moment — erasing the constitutional right to abortion extended by the court nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade — would have been enough to highlight the term. The court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was the rare decision whose impact was felt within hours, as Republican-led states began prohibiting elective abortions, and will play out over years.

But the justices of what scholars say is one of the most conservative courts in decades did far more than that.

They continued a string of victories for conservative religious groups that dismantle the old rules regarding the role of religion in public life. After a decade of Supreme Court inaction, they expanded Second Amendment jurisprudence to bless the right to carry a weapon outside the home. And in a final flourish, the court’s dominant six-justice bloc limited the ability of government agencies to issue sweeping protections of health, safety and the environment without specific authorization from Congress.

With Justice Clarence Thomas, 74, the oldest member of the coalition and Amy Coney Barrett the youngest at 50, the term should be seen as much as the beginning of an era at the court as the culmination of years of work to solidify a conservative majority.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: All-out political warfare in US as Supreme Court reactionary majority goes berserk with a barrage of webster tarpley 2007decisions attacking traditional American freedoms, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, July 2, 2022. New outrages by the Junta involve Roe v. Wade, the New York State gun law on concealed weapons, Miranda rights, deregulating the Environmental Protection Agency’s measures vs carbon emissions, and other cases; Precedents trampled, suggesting perjury in confirmation pledges of stare decisis fidelity to precedent.

Trump faction now be vulnerable to charges for obstructing the Electoral Vote count, defrauding the United States, seditious conspiracy, incitement to riot, fomenting armed violence, assaulting a Secret Service officer, damaging federal property, threatening Congressional witnesses; and attempting the violent overthrow of the US government;

Garland’s plodding Department of Justice bureaucrats must act on an emergency basis to establish accountability, with fascist dictatorship at the gates: arrest the top perps for simpler crimes, then supplement that with superseding indictments for more complex offenses during pre-trial phase; The implacable timetable of November elections and the possible fascist takeover of Congress; No time for Comeyism!

Biden presides over revivified G-7 and NATO; Finland and Sweden joining Atlantic Alliance; 300,000 troops go to higher readiness as deterrent; US readies over $800 million in aid for Ukraine;

Worse for Putin than the sinking of the Moskva: Ukraine repossesses Snake Island in Black Sea, opening possible convoy route for grain ship convoys; US HIMARS rockets may have been involved; NASAMS coming soon;

Barr creature Cipollone must obey subpoena to testify next week or be disbarred; Federal law enforcement must not enable oppression of women;

Generic ballot jumps 10 points for Dems; Trump losing backing from Murdoch press and TV empire; Cheney lionized at Reagan Library;

Breaking: 2 Secret Service sources confirm Cassie Hutchinson’s account of Trump’s episode in the SUV when he demanded to join mayhem on Capitol Hill!

July 1

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Take me up to the Capitol now’: How close Trump came to joining rioters, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, July 1, 2022. Trump’s demands to lead a march to Capitol Hill sheds new light on his mindset as the siege began.

Toward the end of 2020, then-President Donald Trump began raising a new idea with aides: that he would personally lead a march to the Capitol on the following Jan. 6.

Trump brought it up repeatedly with key advisers in the Oval Office, according to a person who talked with him about it. The president told others he wanted a dramatic, made-for-TV moment that could pressure Republican lawmakers to support his demand to throw out the electoral college results showing that Joe Biden had defeated him, the person said.

secret service logoThe excursion that almost happened came into clearer focus this week, as the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 presented explosive testimony and records detailing Trump’s fervent demands to lead his supporters mobbing the seat of government. Though Trump’s trip was ultimately thwarted by his own security officers, the new evidence cuts closer to the critical question of what he knew about the violence in store for that day.

Trump has acknowledged his foiled effort to reach the Capitol. “Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” he told The Washington Post in April. “I wanted to go. I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”

But as Trump repeatedly floated the idea in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, several of his advisers doubted he meant it or didn’t take the suggestion seriously. One senior administration official said Trump raised the prospect repeatedly but in a “joking manner.”

As a result, the White House staff never turned Trump’s stated desires into concrete plans. Press officers made no preparations for a detour to the Capitol, such as scheduling an additional stop for the motorcade and the pool of reporters who follow the president’s movements. There was no operational advance plan drafted for the visit. No speech was written for him to deliver on the Hill, and it wasn’t clear exactly what Trump would do when he got there, said the person who talked with Trump about the idea.

 

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

From left: Cassidy Hutchinson; Michael Cohen; Randy Credico (Washington Post Photos by Demetrius Freeman; Jahi Chikwendiu; and Astrid Riecken).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: How Trump World pressures witnesses to deny his possible wrongdoing, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump and his allies shower potential witnesses with private flattery while publicly blasting those who cross him.

As rumors flew in the spring of 2018 that Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was preparing to flip on his former boss and offer potentially damaging testimony to federal prosecutors, Cohen received an email.

“You are ‘loved,’ ” read the email, which indicated it was relaying comments from former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and was quoted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s 2019 report. “Sleep well tonight … you have friends in high places.”

It was one of a number of times messages of cajoling support or bullying encouragement were delivered to potentially important Mueller witnesses.

And it was strikingly similar to the communications Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said on Tuesday had been received by witnesses who have testified for the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Evidence across multiple state, federal and congressional investigations points to a similar pattern: Trump and his close allies privately shower potential witnesses with flattery and attention, extending vague assurances that staying loyal to Trump would be better than crossing him.

Meanwhile, Trump publicly blasts those who offer testimony against him in bluntly personal terms, offering a clear example to others of the consequences of stepping out of line.

“Donald Trump never changes his playbook,” Cohen said in an interview. “He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.”

A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Cheney recounted that committee members have asked each witness connected to Trump’s administration or campaign whether they have been contacted by former colleagues or others who have “attempted to influence or impact their testimony.”

She described two responses that she said raised “significant concern.”

A witness, Cheney said, told the committee about receiving phone calls indicating that Trump reads transcripts and “to keep that in mind” during interviews with the committee.

“What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect. You know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World,” Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, said the witness testified.

Cheney described another call received by a witness. “[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,” she said, quoting the witness.

Cheney did not identify the witnesses who had been contacted. But a person familiar with the committee’s work said both quotes came from Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25-year-old former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. Her explosive testimony Tuesday that Trump knew the rioters were armed when he urged them to march on the Capitol has become a signature moment in the committee’s investigation.

Related stories below:

 

June Updates

June 30

 

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.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Authority on Emissions, Adam Liptak, June 30, 2022. The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, dealing a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

epa general logoThe vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal justices in dissent, saying that the majority had stripped the E.P.A. of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.”

The decision appeared to rule out approaches to regulation like a cap-and-trade system at a time when experts are issuing dire warnings on climate change.

The ruling further signals that the court’s conservative majority is deeply skeptical of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues.

The “major questions doctrine” requires Congress to authorize in plain and direct language any sweeping actions by administrative agencies that could transform the economy.

The doctrine, a judicially created principle of statutory interpretation, follows from the premise that Congress, as the Supreme Court put it in a 2001 decision, “does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions — it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouse holes.”

 joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden chastises court, backs setting aside filibuster to codify abortion rights, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, June 30, 2022. Today, President Biden chastised the Supreme Court for “outrageous behavior” and said he would support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it easier to write abortion protections into law.

Biden, speaking on the world stage in Madrid, called the court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade “destabilizing” and said an exception should be made to a Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.

Meanwhile, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised Thursday to make history, becoming the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is scheduled to be sworn in during a ceremony at the court at noon Eastern time, just minutes after Justice Stephen G. Breyer makes his retirement official. Biden’s nominee was confirmed by the Senate in April but has been waiting for Breyer to conclude his tenure.

Before the ceremony, the court is expected to issue its final two opinions of a highly significant term. The remaining cases concern the “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy enacted under President Donald Trump and the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

scotus gop six

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court lets N.Y. vaccine mandate stand without religious exemption, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, June 30, 2022. Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, objected to their colleagues’ refusal to review the state’s requirement.

Over the objection of three justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday left in place New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health-care workers that does not include a religious exemption.

The court’s action came on the final day of the term, as the justices also announced which cases they will review when the court reconvenes in October. Notably, they declined to take additional cases concerning significant rulings this month to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion and expand the right to carry firearms in public. Instead, the justices returned to lower courts more than a half-dozen related matters and instructed those judges to look again at their rulings on the basis of the Supreme Court’s new guidance.

In the New York vaccination case, the court had rejected in December an emergency request from doctors, nurses and other medical workers who said they were being forced to choose between their livelihoods and their faith. They said they should receive a religious exemption because the state’s rule allows one for those who decline the vaccine for medical reasons.

 

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022).

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris introduce at a White House ceremony Supreme Court nominee Kentaji Brown Jackson, center, a judge on the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals (pool photo, Feb. 25, 2022). She is shown below at right on June 30 with the retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she replaced.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Female Supreme Court Justice, Annie Karni, June 30, 2022. Ketanji Brown Jackson took the judicial oath just after noon on Thursday, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Justice Jackson, 51, was confirmed in April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 on her nomination. She is replacing Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 83, who stepped down with the conclusion of the court’s current term.

ketanji brown jackson stephen breyerJustice Jackson took both a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and a judicial oath, administered by Justice Breyer, making her the nation’s 116th justice and sixth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The brief swearing-in ceremony took place in the West Conference Room at the Supreme Court, before a small gathering of Judge Jackson’s family, including her two daughters. Her husband, Dr. Patrick G. Jackson, held the two Bibles on which she swore: a family Bible and a King James Version that is the property of the court.

“I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice Roberts said and shook her hand. He added that there would be a formal investiture in the fall, but the oaths would “allow her to undertake her duties, and she’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay.”

Justice Jackson made no statement.

Her rise to the court will not change its ideological balance — the newly expanded conservative wing will retain its 6-to-3 majority.

She joins at a time of sharp polarization about the court, especially in the wake of its ruling striking down Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to abortion, and in the wake of rulings in which the court has shown its deep skepticism of the power of administrative agencies to address major issues facing the country.

Minutes after Justice Jackson’s swearing-in, anti-abortion protesters staging a peaceful sit-in were arrested outside the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration and Justice Jackson have underscored the historic import of her elevation to the nation’s highest court.

 

scotus democracy docket state legs

washington post logoWashington Post, A radical change in how federal elections are conducted will be reviewed in court’s next term, Robert Barnes, June 30, 2022. The justices will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map rejected by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for contests even if their actions violated state constitutions and resulted in extreme partisan gerrymandering for congressional seats.

The court will look next term at a case from North Carolina, where Republicans want to restore a redistricting map that was drawn by the GOP-led legislature but rejected as a violation of the state constitution by the state’s supreme court.

The Supreme Court in March let the North Carolina high court ruling stand for the upcoming fall elections. But three of the court’s conservative justices at the time said they were skeptical state courts had a role in refereeing the rules for federal elections, and a fourth said the issue was ripe for consideration.

Supreme Court rejects GOP request to overturn congressional maps in NC, Pennyslvania

State courts have played an influential role in the congressional redistricting battles following the 2020 Census. Judges have reined in Republican gerrymanders in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, for instance, and rejected maps drawn by Democratic-led legislatures in New York and Maryland.

But the effort to have the Supreme Court examine what is called the independent state legislature doctrine has been a Republican-led effort. The GOP controls both houses of the legislature in 30 states.

The doctrine comes from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” While most often invoked in the redistricting process, the independent state legislature doctrine would also give lawmakers control over issues such as voter qualification, voting by mail and other election procedures.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency case is the product of a multiyear G.O.P. drive to tilt courts against climate action, Coral Davenport, June 30, 2022. The case decided on Thursday, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.

Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to reduce the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.

“The West Virginia vs. E.P.A. case is unusual, but it’s emblematic of the bigger picture. A.G.s are willing to use these unusual strategies more,” said Paul Nolette, a professor of political science at Marquette University who has studied state attorneys general.

The plaintiffs say they want to hem in what they call the administrative state, the E.P.A. and other federal agencies that set rules and regulations that affect the American economy. That should be the role of Congress, which is more accountable to voters, said Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general and one of the leaders of the Republican group bringing the lawsuits.

But Congress has barely addressed the issue of climate change. Instead, for decades it has delegated authority to the agencies because it lacks the expertise possessed by the specialists who write the complicated rules and regulations, and who can respond quickly to changes in the science, particularly when Capitol Hill is gridlocked.

West Virginia v. E.P.A. is also notable for the tangle of connections between the plaintiffs and the Supreme Court justices who will decide their case. The Republican plaintiffs share many of the donors who were behind efforts to nominate and confirm five of the Republicans on the bench — John G. Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

“It’s a pincer move,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the progressive watchdog group True North Research and a former senior Justice Department official. “They are teeing up the attorneys to bring the litigation before the same judges that they handpicked.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are the major Supreme Court decisions in 2022 so far, Adam Liptak and Jason Kao, Updated June 30, 2022. The leak in May of a draft of the decision overruling Roe v. Wade seemed to expose new fault lines at the Supreme Court in the first full term in which it has been dominated by a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority, including three justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump. The court’s public approval ratings have been dropping, and its new configuration has raised questions about whether it is out of step with public opinion.

According to a recent survey from researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Texas, the public is closely divided on how the court should rule in several major cases. In many of them, though, respondents held starkly different views based on their partisan affiliations. Here is a look at the major cases this term.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Dobbs Is Not the Only Reason to Question the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court, Ezra Klein, June 30, 2022. Since the Dobbs decision came down, I’ve heard a lot of liberals lamenting the Republican theft of the Supreme Court.

As the story goes, Mitch McConnell stole the majority when he refused to give Merrick Garland so much as a hearing in 2016, holding the vacancy open until Donald Trump took office in 2017. McConnell’s justification was his deep commitment to small-d democracy: No seat should be filled in a presidential election year; the people should be given a chance to weigh in. In 2020, he lit that invented principle aflame when he rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The vote on Barrett took place eight days before Election Day.

mitch mcconnellMcConnell, right, gaslit the nation, but he didn’t steal any seats. Nothing he did was against the rules, which was why Democrats found themselves powerless to stop him. Liberals, in their anger, have too often ignored the logic of McConnell’s actions. He understood what too many have ignored: America’s age of norms is over. This is the age of power. And there’s a reason for that.

Let’s start here: The Supreme Court has changed. In the ’50s and ’60s, you would have had a hard time inferring a justice’s political background from his votes, as this analysis by Lee Epstein and Eric Posner shows. In the ’90s, Byron White, a Democratic appointee, had a more conservative voting record than all but two of the Republican-appointed justices — Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist. John Paul Stevens, an anchor of the court’s liberal wing until his retirement in 2010, was appointed by Gerald Ford, a Republican.

But this record of independence was understood, by the parties that produced it, as a record of failure. The vetting process by which nominees are chosen was revamped to all but guarantee ideological predictability. In recent years, “justices have hardly ever voted against the ideology of the president who appointed them,” Epstein and Posner find.

Our political system is not designed for political parties this different, and this antagonistic. It wasn’t designed for political parties at all. The three branches of our system were intended to check each other through competition. Instead, parties compete and cooperate across branches, and power in one can be used to build power in another — as McConnell well understood.

Making matters worse is that the Supreme Court has gone from being undemocratic to being anti-democratic. Lifetime appointments are iffy under the best of circumstances, but the vagaries of retirements and deaths have given Republicans a control that makes a mockery of the public will.

Five of the court’s six Republican justices were appointed by presidents who initially took office after losing the popular vote (and, in the case of George W. Bush, after a direct intercession by five of the court’s conservatives in Bush v. Gore). Donald Trump was able to make more appointments in one term than Barack Obama was able to make in two.

ny times logoNew York Times, Wisconsin Court Validates a Republican Strategy to Preserve Power, Michael Wines, June 29, 2022. The Senate’s method wisconsin supreme court seal Customof keeping G.O.P. board members in office, by refusing to confirm replacements nominated by Gov. Tony Evers, was endorsed by a State Supreme Court ruling.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively handed the Republican-controlled State Senate broad authority over the composition of state boards and commissions, three and a half years into the term of a Democratic governor whose duties include naming wisconsin map with largest cities Customboard members.

The ruling allows a Republican member of the state Natural Resources Board whose term expired in May 2021, Frederick Prehn, to keep tony evers ohis position. Dr. Prehn had refused to step down, arguing that a replacement to his post has not been confirmed.

The court’s 4-3 opinion, which fell along ideological lines, turned on a technical question of when the seat on the board would be legally vacant. But its practical effect was to affirm a strategy devised by the State Senate to keep Republican board members in office simply by refusing to confirm replacements nominated by Gov. Tony Evers, right, a Democrat.

June 29

 

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

ny times logoNew York Times, Aide’s Testimony Highlights Legal Risk for Trump, Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush, Updated June 29, 2022. Experts Say Revelations Could Be Path Toward Future Charges.

It was one of the most dramatic moments in a presentation filled with them: Just before President Donald J. Trump went onstage near the White House last year and urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol, an aide testified on Tuesday, he was told that some of them were armed.

It was also a potentially consequential moment for any prosecution of Mr. Trump, legal experts said. Knowing that his crowd of supporters had the means to be violent when he exhorted them to march to the Capitol — and declared that he wanted to go with them — could nudge Mr. Trump closer to facing criminal charges, legal experts said.

“This really moved the ball significantly, even though there is still a long way to go,” said Renato Mariotti, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor in Illinois.

Knowing that his supporters were armed when he urged them to march on Jan. 6 could expose former President Trump to charges, legal experts said.

The testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, chipped away at any potential defense that Mr. Trump was just expressing views about election fraud.

 

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 Inaugution.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump did not care about the potential for violence on Jan. 6, Cassidy Hutchinson told the House panel, Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The first White House aide to testify publicly before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack provided a damning account on Tuesday of how former President Donald J. Trump, knowing his supporters were armed and threatening violence, urged them to march to the Capitol and sought to join them there, privately siding with them as they stormed the building and called for the hanging of the vice president.

The testimony from the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, was extraordinary even by the standards of Mr. Trump’s norm-busting presidency and the inquiry’s remarkable string of revelations this month. In fly-on-the-wall anecdotes delivered in a quiet voice, she described how frantic West Wing aides failed to stop Mr. Trump from encouraging the violence or persuade him to try to end it, and how the White House’s top lawyer feared that Mr. Trump might be committing crimes as he steered the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

Mark MeadowsDrawing from conversations she said she overheard in the West Wing and others contemporaneously relayed to her by top officials, Ms. Hutchinson, a 26-year-old who was an aide to Mark Meadows, right, Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, provided crucial details about what the former president was doing and saying before and during the riot. She painted a portrait of an unhinged president obsessed with clinging to power and appearing strong, and willing to tolerate violence as a result — as long as it was not directed at him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 Committee Hearings: Trump sought to lead armed mob to Capitol, aide says, Mike DeBonis and Jacqueline Alemany, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered stunning revelations about the day of the attack. She told Congress that Donald Trump knew his supporters were carrying weapons, physically assailed a Secret Service agent and mused about pardoning rioters.

A former White House official revealed explosive new details Tuesday about President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, telling Congress that he knew his supporters were carrying weapons, insisted on personally leading the armed mob to the Capitol, physically assailed the senior Secret Service agent who told him it was not possible, expressed support for the hanging of his own vice president, and mused about pardoning the rioters.

The testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was the most chilling to date in the House select committee’s Jan. 6 investigation. Recounting granular detail and private dialogue, she presented to the public a penetrating account of Trump’s actions and mind-set as the Capitol came under siege from his own supporters, who were determined to stop the counting of electoral votes and impede the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Testifying alone, her appearance punctuated by clips from taped depositions given by herself and others, the 25-year-old Hutchinson detailed how Trump and other powerful officials around him alternately encouraged, tolerated and excused the insurrection as it unfolded in front of them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: All the bombshells Cassidy Hutchinson dropped about Trump and Jan. 6, Amber Phillips, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection held a surprise hearing Tuesday that featured a key witness: Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former president Donald Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Hutchinson is not a household name, but she has become central to the committee investigation — sitting for taped interviews and being the only live witness at the Tuesday hearing. In live testimony, Hutchinson provided an intimate, detailed and shocking look inside the West Wing and at the president specifically on the day of the attack. Trump issued blanket denials of almost all of these allegations.

Here are some of her most stunning revelations about Trump: 1. Trump knew his supporters had weapons — and encouraged them to march on the Capitol. And he tried to go, too.

June 25

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: In orgy of tyranny, Supremes strike down Roe, attack New York gun law, and weaken Miranda, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, June 25, 2022. Trump-backed court majority seeks nothing less than total fascist dictatorship, with warning that more human rights will be trampled as GOP’s nightmare scenario unfolds;

Task now is to galvanize a United Front of the American people for the extinction of the Republican Party; this will require going beyond divide and conquer identity politics; For best results, do not genderize, do not racialize, do not urbanize or otherwise divide the resistance; Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress must be maintained and expanded at all costs; House January 6 hearings open dramatic window on GOP degeneracy;

Roots of current judicial depravity in originalism, textualism, and other forms of legal positivism which negate justice, morality, and humanity; The triumph of cynical rube bait; Supreme Court needs four new justices free of financier control and at home in the twenty-first century; this can be done by simple statute; Signs of GOP decline: new gun law shows weakness of NRA; Southern Baptists wracked by scandal; Lawsuits vs Fox by voting machine firms could cripple Murdoch machine;

EU admits Ukraine and Moldova to candidate status, with Georgia next; G-7 and NATO summits this coming week; More Russian threats to Lithuania over transit rights to Kaliningrad exclave;

June 22 is anniversary of Barbarossa 1941, when Hitler beat Stalin to the draw by two weeks; June 27 marks 80 years since the tragedy of Arctic convoy PQ-17, decimated on the Murmansk run.

June 24

Top Headlines

 

Top Stories

 

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.

 ny times logoNew York Times, SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, Adam Liptak, June 24, 2022. Ends Constitutional Right to Abortion; Draft Opinion Had Leaked.

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

The decision, which echoed a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in early May, will result in a starkly divided country in which abortion is severely restricted or forbidden in many red states but remains freely available in most blue ones.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voted with the majority but said he would have taken “a more measured course,” stopping short of overruling Roe outright. The court’s three liberal members dissented.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerned a law enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute, a calculated challenge to Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Lower courts ruled for the clinic, saying the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which prohibited states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, currently about 23 weeks.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

The decision, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years, will lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

It will also be one of the signal legacies of former President Trump: All three of his appointees were in the majority ruling.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next, Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, touching off a cascade of antiabortion laws that probably will take effect across roughly half the country.

Without the landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Thomas’s concurring opinion raises questions about what rights might be next, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that elicited fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

samuel alito oIn the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, left, the court said that nothing in its decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Justice Thomas said he agreed with that.

However, he noted that in its rationale, the court’s majority found that a right to abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Then, he took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating clarence thomas HRsodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Justice Thomas, right, wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

This kind of language is just what advocates for reproductive rights and for L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been fearing. Defenders of the right to abortion have repeatedly warned that if Roe fell, the right to contraception and same-sex marriage would be next.

Abortion opponents, who fought hard to overturn Roe, have insisted they have no interest in trying to undo the right to contraception.

But already, states like Missouri are trying to restrict access to contraception by banning public funding for certain methods: intrauterine devices and the so-called morning after pill. And some Republicans, notably Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have said that the Griswold case was wrongly decided. Earlier this year, Ms. Blackburn called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”

 

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2022. Newsom, West Coast governors pledge ‘sanctuary’ for abortion rights; Dick’s Sporting Goods to reimburse travel expenses for employees who seek abortion; Dispatch from Jackson, Miss: Vow to keep seeing patients.

President Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragic error” and implored voters to elect candidates in November who will support abortion rights and broader rights to privacy.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Steady, Commentary: A day at the Supreme Court that shakes America to its core, Dan Rather (right, author and former CBS Evening News dan rather 2011anchor and managing editor), June 24, 2022.

What to say that hasn’t been said but needs to be said again, and again, and again:

dan rather steady logoThis is not a court of humble jurists who are bound in any way by fidelity to precedent, the law, or common sense. There is nothing “conservative” about these damaging decisions, or the men and woman who have imposed their extreme views upon the American populace.

Right-wing politicians decry “elitism,” but what is more elitist than unelected and unaccountable activists using the language of legal argumentation as a fig leaf for their naked exercise of power?

There is no way that these decisions would pass a vote of the American public. Indeed, a majority of the justices were installed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And the polling on the issues these rulings tear asunder suggests that what these justices are doing is unpopular — in many cases, very unpopular.

But they sneer from their echo chamber of extremism. They are emboldened by a system that has been fixed, with the complicity of Mitch McConnell and others, to advantage minority viewpoints by leveraging a branch of government not designed to be a political actors' stage in order to circumvent the legislative and executive branches.

Where to begin, and where will it end?The Supreme Court has further cemented its role as a reactionary force in American life.

Today it was abortion, on top of recent decisions on gun regulations, public funding for religious schools, and Miranda rights. Soon they will likely gut environmental regulations, and we can guess at what comes next — gay marriage? Contraception?

We can’t let this moment pass without recognizing what a horrific decision today's is, and how it will relegate women to second-class status in decision-making over their own bodies. This will lead to a host of suffering and likely death. It will imprison women where control will be imposed by the state. It is the opposite of freedom. It is a right that existed — and still should.

The Supreme Court depends on its legitimacy, and today that is as tattered as the constitutional rights on which it has trampled. The Roberts court will be marked as a cabal of intemperance that made America far less safe and far less free. It will be noted for its zealotry and its cynical embrace of the ends justifying the means.

But as with all chapters of history, how our present is ultimately viewed depends on what comes next. Will these rulings lead to outrage-fueled activism that upends the political system, or apathy and defeatism? Will the majority mobilize? Will there be reforms? Will there be a recalibration of the current balance of power?

I leave you today with the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights lawyer and president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has experienced the fight from the trenches of justice, and her perspective mirrors my own. I could not have expressed it better.

Remember that we have never seen the America we’ve been fighting for. So no need to be nostalgic. Right on the other side of this unraveling is opportunity. If we keep fighting no matter what, take care of ourselves & each other, stay strategic & principled, & use all our power.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Roe’s demise, abortion will soon be banned across much of red America, Caroline Kitchener, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark precedent will prompt immediate changes to the country’s abortion landscape. The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with “trigger bans” that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.

In many states, trigger bans will activate as soon as a designated state official certifies the decision, which Republican lawmakers expect to happen within minutes.

“They just need to acknowledge, ‘Yes, this has occurred,’ ” said Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who has championed much of his state’s antiabortion legislation, including its trigger ban. “I’ll be happy to see the butcher mill in Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down for good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24, 2022. While we jennifer rubin new headshotknew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, and yet when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

 As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

National Public Radio (NPR), All Things Considered Interview: Former governor whose bill was at the center of Roe ruling reacts to SCOTUS' npr logodecision, Mary Louise Kelly, June 24, 2024. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Phil Bryant, below right, the Republican former governor of Mississippi who signed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's turn now to the state that brought us to this moment, Mississippi.

KELLY: Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion provider in the state and the defendant in the case that the Supreme Court decided today. It concerned a state law enacted in 2018. The governor who signed that bill into law was then-Governor Republican Phil Bryant, and he joins me now. Governor Bryant, welcome.

phil bryantPHIL BRYANT, right: I'm glad to be with you. It's a glorious day for those of us that are very pro-life.

KELLY: Well, I think people will have already gathered that this is the ruling you were hoping for. Can I ask your first thought when you heard the news?

BRYANT: Well, I was prayerful. To God be the glory, as - which I told everyone. There'll be a lot of politicians, and rightfully so, people who've helped that would try to take credit for this. That will be those that are campaigning for office that would say, that's exactly what I would have done. But when we had the opportunity in 2018 to protect innocent lives starting at 15 weeks, and of course, we then - we passed a more stringent anti-abortion bill after that. But we just believe that it's murder. We believe that it's a tearing apart of the human body in the womb. And so we were very happy, I was, and I know many of us that heard that ruling today.

KELLY: Walk me through what exactly changes now in Mississippi. You have a trigger law that kicks in.

BRYANT: We do.

KELLY: Mississippi, as we mentioned, only has one clinic providing abortions. What do these next days look like in your state?

BRYANT: Well, I think people will start thinking about something called individual responsibility. I think they're going to have to take into consideration that I might not be able to get an abortion on demand. I might not be able to do that just for my convenience. And so I think - I hope and I believe that there will be adults who will be more responsible and not bring about a life that they do not want.

This is not the most complicated thing in the world. Any seventh and eighth grader probably begins to realize where babies come from. And so for an adult female to say, well, you know, I just don't - I don't think this is what I want to do right now, I hope they will see more clearly through that process. And I know things happen. Look. I'm just saying that the life of that unborn child was where we were thinking and what we were doing when all of this began and even into today.

KELLY: In your years in office, you, of course, were governor for everybody in Mississippi, whatever their politics.

BRYANT: Correct.

KELLY: What do you say to Mississippians, like some of the ones we heard in that tape from outside the clinic today, who believe it is the right of women to decide what happens inside their own bodies and who are devastated...

BRYANT: I...

KELLY: ...At today's decision?

BRYANT: I would say first you need to kneel and pray to God, who is the God of everyone, that in your heart, you can understand that that is a living human being. And so try as you might to find God in this. Try to pray and have him open your eyes and come into your heart and realize this is your child. This is a human being who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And you're about to take all that away for your convenience. Pray. That's what I would tell them. Pray hard.

KELLY: When you say women are choosing an abortion because it is for their convenience, I just want to push you on that, because there are a lot of women who would say, this is not about my convenience. This is not a choice anyone wants to make. This is about my right to control my body.

BRYANT: And I would tell men and women that you have a responsibility. We all did, and all of us are - fall short of the grace of God. But please consider your responsibilities. And, men, take the responsibility of being the father. So we don't want to wish - we're not hardhearted. We understand these difficult situations. It's why we work so hard here to make adoption easier for families who can't have children and families who want desperately to have a child. So look. I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not judging anyone. I am just saying that the Supreme Court upheld a law today that said that the states have the right to regulate abortions and that we will continue to do that within the confines of the Constitution of the United States laws.

KELLY: Phil Bryant. He was the governor of Mississippi from 2012 to 2020. Governor Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thank you.

KELLY: One of many voices we are hearing from today as we cover this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Overturning Roe could threaten rights conservatives hold dear, Julia Bowes, June 24, 2022. Parental rights stem from the same liberty that the Supreme Court just began rolling back.

Recent Headlines

June 23

 supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 23, 2022. Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. 

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The New York law requires that people seeking a license to carry a handgun outside their homes show a “proper cause.” California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws, according to briefs filed in the case.

Two men who were denied the licenses they sought in New York sued, saying that “the state makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

The men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were authorized to carry guns for target practice and hunting away from populated areas, state officials told the Supreme Court, and Mr. Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.

“Nash and Koch did not receive unrestricted licenses because neither demonstrated a nonspeculative need to carry a handgun virtually anywhere in public,” Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, told the justices in a brief.

In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court recognized an individual right to keep guns in the home for self-defense. Since then, it has been almost silent on the scope of Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, the court for many years turned down countless appeals in Second Amendment cases. In the meantime, lower courts generally sustained gun control laws.

But they were divided on the question posed by the case from New York: whether states can stop law-abiding citizens from carrying guns outside their homes for self-defense unless they can satisfy the authorities that they have a good reason for doing so.

Last year, for instance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco upheld Hawaii’s law by a 7-to-4 vote.

“Our review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: Government has the power to regulate arms in the public square,” Judge Jay S. Bybee, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote for the majority.

The federal appeals court in Chicago, on the other hand, struck down an Illinois law that banned carrying guns in public. And a federal appeals court in Washington struck down a restrictive District of Columbia law that it said amounted to “a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun.”

The court’s reluctance to hear Second Amendment cases changed as its membership shifted to the right in recent years. President Donald J. Trump’s three appointees — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — have all expressed support for gun rights.

And the Supreme Court’s most conservative members have long deplored the court’s reluctance to explore the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.

In 2017, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that he had detected “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous,” Justice Thomas wrote. “But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense.”

In 2019, not long after Justice Kavanaugh’s arrival, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a New York City gun regulation that had allowed residents to keep guns in their homes to take them to one of seven shooting ranges in the city. But it prohibited them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns were unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition.

After the court granted review, the city repealed the regulation, and the court eventually dismissed the case as moot. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that he was concerned that lower courts were not sufficiently sensitive to Second Amendment rights. “The court should address that issue soon,” he wrote.

In June, however, the court turned down some 10 appeals in Second Amendment cases. Since it takes only four votes to grant review, there is good reason to think that the court’s conservative wing, which at the time had five members, was unsure it could secure Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote.

Justice Barrett’s arrival changed that calculus. Six months after she joined the court, it agreed to hear the New York case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, No. 20-843.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York criticized the ruling, saying “it shows this is an activist court that is undermining precedent and undermining common sense state laws that protect citizens and uphold public safety.”

The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

It also comes after a spate of mass shootings has renewed the debate over gun control, and as a group of senators is racing to pass legislation. Follow updates.

 

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion on the gun law case, is the court’s most committed advocate of gun rights, Adam Liptak, June 23, 2022. Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the gun case decided on Thursday, is the Supreme Court’s most ardent supporter of the Second Amendment.

After the Supreme Court established an individual constitutional right to own guns in a pair of decisions in 2008 and 2010, it turned down appeals from lower-court rulings sustaining gun control laws in the next decade.

Justice Thomas responded by issuing a series of sharp dissents accusing his colleagues of treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right.

In 2015, when the court refused to hear a challenge to a Chicago suburb’s ordinance that banned semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, Justice Thomas said the court had abdicated its responsibility to enforce the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles,” Justice Thomas wrote, referring, he said, to “modern sporting rifles.”

“The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,” Justice Thomas wrote. “Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”

In 2017, when the court turned down a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that placed strict limits on carrying guns in public, Justice Thomas again chastised the court for what he called “a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force,” he wrote, “the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

 

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, Live Updates: Trump Tried to Misuse Justice Dept., Former Officials Say, Luke Broadwater and Staff Reports, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on Agency.

A White House lawyer told Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who wanted to push forward with a plan by former President Donald J. Trump to subvert the 2020 election results based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, that he would be committing a felony if he did so, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed on Thursday.

As the committee opened its fifth hearing revealing the findings of its investigation, lawmakers played video of Eric Herschmann, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office recounting how, after hearing Mr. Clark’s proposal, he used a pair of expletives and said: “Congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony.”

The disclosure came as the panel began laying out evidence of how Mr. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election. To help make the case, the committee is taking testimony from three former top Justice Department officials who, unlike Mr. Clark, pushed back strongly on Mr. Trump’s efforts to misuse the attorney general’s office to overturn his defeat, an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.

“He wanted the Justice Department to legitimize his lies,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said of Mr. Trump, who at one point proposed placing Mr. Clark at the helm when other officials refused to bow to his demands.

The witnesses testifying are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting attorney general; Richard P. Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general; and Steven A. Engel, the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Among the other revelations by the panel on Thursday:

The committee played new testimony from former Attorney General Bill Barr in which he suggested in a videotaped deposition that he was aware that Mr. Trump wanted to use false claims of voter fraud as a pretense for refusing to leave office. Had he not moved quickly to investigate and debunk Mr. Trump’s voting fraud allegations, Mr. Barr said, “I’m not sure we would have had a transition at all.”

The committee displayed on a large screen Mr. Donoghue’s handwritten note of Mr. Trump’s instructions to the Justice Department: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the committee, is playing a central role in the questioning of witnesses and presentation of evidence. He has hinted that the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress who sought pardons after Jan. 6.

The panel is planning at least two more hearings for July, according to its chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Those sessions are expected to detail how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Mr. Trump did nothing to call off the violence for more than three hours.

 

steven engel jeffrey rosen richard donoghue jonathan ernst pool getty images june 23 2022

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue attend the fifth hearing held by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2022 in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC (Pool Photo by Jonathan Ernst via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Examines Trump’s Pressure on the Justice Department, Luke Broadwater, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). At its fifth hearing, set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the House committee turned its focus to how President Donald J. Trump tried to enlist the Justice Department in his efforts to cling to power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unveiled new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.

 

jeffrey clark nyt

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Officials Search Home of Trump Justice Dept. Official, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark Was Central to Efforts to Overturn Election.

Federal investigators descended on the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official shown above in a file photo, on Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling inquiry into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

It remained unclear exactly what the investigators may have been looking for, but Mr. Clark was central to President Donald J. Trump’s unsuccessful effort in late 2020 to strong-arm the nation’s top prosecutors into supporting his claims of election fraud.

The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s home in suburban Virginia came just one day before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was poised to hold a hearing examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department after his election defeat.

The hearing was expected to explore Mr. Clark’s role in helping Mr. Trump bend the department to his will and ultimately help in a bid to persuade officials in several key swing states to change the outcome of their election results.

Politico, Multiple House Republicans sought pardons after Capitol riot, hearing reveals, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Former politico Customtop Department of Justice officials who testified thwarted the then-president's election subversion by threatening a mass resignation. Days after Jan. 6, 2021, Republican lawmakers who strategized with President Donald Trump asked top White House officials to help louis gohmertarrange for pardons, according to testimony released Thursday by the select panel investigating the Capitol attack.

Several top Trump White House aides at the time, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee, described outreach from multiple members of Congress seeking clemency: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), matt gaetz o Customabove right, Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Additionally, according to the former Trump aides’ testimony, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), below right, sent an email on Jan. 11, 2021, asking for “all purpose” pardons for every lawmaker who objected to electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. mo brooks oRep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) never asked for a pardon but did request an update on the status of requests by other members, Hutchinson said.

The flurry of pardon requests followed what the select committee showed was weeks of efforts by Trump’s top congressional Republican defenders to spread misinformation about the results of the 2020 election. Those GOP lawmakers also helped apply pressure on the Justice Department to legitimize those false fraud claims. None of the lawmakers ever received pardons.

 

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Blocks New York Law Limiting Guns in Public, Adam Liptak and Emily Cochrane, June 24, 2022 (print ed.). Ruling Will Make It Harder for States to Restrict Guns; The 6-3 decision was based on a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment.

The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.

The ruling comes after a spate of mass shootings reinvigorated the debate over gun control. The Senate is close to passing a bipartisan package of gun safety measures, a major step toward ending a yearslong stalemate in Congress.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent. (Excerpted story continued below.)

June 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Officials Search Home of Trump Justice Dept. Official, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022. Jeffrey Clark Was Central to Efforts to Overturn Election.

Federal investigators descended on the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, on Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling inquiry into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

It remained unclear exactly what the investigators may have been looking for, but Mr. Clark was central to President Donald J. Trump’s unsuccessful effort in late 2020 to strong-arm the nation’s top prosecutors into supporting his claims of election fraud.

The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s home in suburban Virginia came just one day before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was poised to hold a hearing examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department after his election defeat.

The hearing was expected to explore Mr. Clark’s role in helping Mr. Trump bend the department to his will and ultimately help in a bid to persuade officials in several key swing states to change the outcome of their election results.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Will Examine Trump’s Pressure on the Justice Department, Luke Broadwater June 23, 2022. At its fifth hearing, set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the House committee plans to turn its focus to how President Donald J. Trump tried to enlist the Justice Department in his efforts to cling to power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.

At its fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the panel plans to hear testimony from three former top Justice Department officials who are expected to lay out the ways in which Mr. Trump tried to misuse the attorney general’s office to overturn his defeat, an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.

The House committee plans to unveil evidence on how former President Trump tried using the agency to cling to power. Watch live at 3 p.m. Eastern. Inside the Capitol, television crews, reporters and photographers lay at the ready. Journalists lingered in the Cannon House Office Building’s halls for hours, ready to sprint, iPhones outstretched, after members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Photographers pointed their lenses through cracks in doors, hoping to catch a rare unorchestrated moment.

The hearings themselves were stage-managed in part by a veteran television executive, hired to capture the attention of Americans weary from two impeachment trials and countless breaking news banners. But outside the building, Washington seemed unfazed. Masses of color-coordinated schoolchildren trudged from monument to monument, oscillating between wonder and boredom.

Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker, with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot.Credit...via Alex Holder

ny times logoNew York Times, A British documentary filmmaker is a potentially key witness in the House’s Jan. 6 investigation, Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022. Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who had extensive access to President Donald J. Trump and his family ahead of and after the 2020 election, has emerged late in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as a new and potentially important witness.

Mr. Holder is testifying behind closed doors on Thursday morning before the House committee investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the election he lost. His deposition is taking place ahead of a separate public hearing by the committee on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s effort to install a loyalist to run the Justice Department in the closing weeks of his administration.

Mr. Holder’s footage — some 11 hours of it with the Trump family discussing the campaign and the election — was subpoenaed by the committee ahead of the interview.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Issues More Subpoenas in Trump Electors Investigation, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors sought information from two men who had worked on behalf of former President Trump’s campaign and a third who signed up as an elector in Georgia.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department stepped up its criminal investigation of a plan by Donald J. Trump and his allies to create so-called fake slates of electors in a bid to keep Mr. Trump in power during the 2020 election, as federal agents delivered grand jury subpoenas on Wednesday to at least three people connected to the plan.

One of those who received a subpoena, according to two people familiar with the matter, was Brad Carver, a lawyer and official of the Georgia Republican Party who claimed to be one of Mr. Trump’s electors in the state, which was won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Another subpoena recipient was Thomas Lane, an official who worked on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign in Arizona and New Mexico, the people said.

A third person, Sean Flynn, a Trump campaign aide in Michigan, also got a subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter. The issuance of new subpoenas was first reported by The Washington Post.

None of the three men could be reached for comment about the subpoenas.

The fake elector plan is the focus of one of two known prongs of the Justice Department’s broad grand jury investigation of Mr. Trump’s multiple and interlocking attempts to subvert the election. The other has focused on a wide cast of political organizers, White House aides and members of Congress connected in various ways to Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech near the White House that directly preceded the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

June 20

June 20

RealClearPolitics, Watergate at 50 Investigation: Revelations From Newly Declassified Evidence, James Rosen, June 20, 2022. "'Secret Agenda' and its progeny force us … to conceive of Watergate as a Cold War-era power struggle between a duly elected president and the national security state, with Nixon as much a victim in the affair as he was a perpetrator.”

The one duty we owe to history,” said Oscar Wilde, “is to rewrite it.” By this admirable standard, no non-fiction writer of the 20th century fulfilled his duty to history – to the record of our times – more fully, more brilliantly, than Jim Hougan.

jim hougan secret agenda best co vWhen Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA was first published by Random House in November 1984 – more than a decade after the resignation and pardon of Richard Nixon – it presented such a large volume of new and revelatory information about a subject so widely considered exhausted that the book was greeted with the staggered astonishment typically reserved for apparitions.

“If even half of this is true,” wrote J. Anthony Lukas in the New York Times Book Review, “Secret Agenda will add an important new dimension to our understanding of Watergate.” Lukas’ was an important voice. A Pulitzer Prize-winner, he had covered Watergate for the New York Times Magazine and wrote Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years in 1976. This critically acclaimed book was the first comprehensive account of Watergate. “But,” Lukas added, “it may be months before reporters can sort through this material, check Mr. Hougan’s sources and decide which of these revelations is solid gold, which dross.”

Now, 40 years after Secret Agenda appeared, the verdict is in. While some of Hougan’s analytic conclusions have come under challenge – including by me, an avowed acolyte of the author – the wealth of new facts and documentation he presented has stood the test of time. Where once it seemed impossible to reckon with the contribution Secret Agenda made to Watergate, it is now impossible to reckon with Watergate, even after the release of thousands more tapes and documents, without reference to Hougan.

jim hougan photo2Introducing his findings, Hougan, right, described Secret Agenda as “an attempt to correct the record … and to suggest avenues of further investigation.” Several authors over the ensuing decades, including me, took him up on that challenge, and a couple of epic lawsuits unfolded, with the result that the book’s central thrusts were only strengthened.

james rosen the strong man croppedReckoning with Secret Agenda is hardly an academic matter. If Hougan and the other Watergate revisionists are correct, then the scandal that toppled Richard Nixon from power was about much more than a third-rate burglary attempt, the wiretapping of the opposing party, or even a series of covert crimes ordered by a paranoid president. Secret Agenda and its progeny force us, instead, to conceive of Watergate as a Cold War-era power struggle between a duly elected president and the national security state, with Nixon as much a victim in the affair as he was a perpetrator. In a time when legions of Americans believe in the existence of a “deep state,” getting the history of Watergate right takes on new urgency.

Central to Hougan’s challenge to the Established Order were the two discoveries that represented, amid all the incredible sleuthing he accomplished, his twin masterstrokes: the evidence that the Democratic National Committee in the spring of 1972 was, like the Nixon White House and the Committee to Re-elect the President, engaged in criminal conduct.

It took courage for Hougan to declare nothing less than that all the armies of investigators had missed the heart of the Watergate scandal – that Woodward and Bernstein and the rest of the national news media had gotten it wrong. Nowhere in the official Woodward and Bernstein canon – All the President’s Men (1974), The Final Days (1976), and The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat (2005) – do the names Spencer Oliver or Maxie Wells even appear. The key Eugenio Martinez struggled to conceal was, as Secret Agenda put it, “quite literally the key to the break-in”: its presence on “Muscolito” pointed to the critical role played by the CIA in the operation and to the mission’s true target.

No less startling was Hougan’s unveiling of the official correspondence between Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert and the FBI laboratory. With painstaking methodology, the bureau’s lab technicians presented unassailable evidence to buttress their conclusion that the Democrats themselves had planted the crude and inoperative bugging device they “discovered” on Oliver’s telephone, and announced to the press, in September 1972 – three months after the arrests.

“No one seems to have asked the obvious,” Hougan wrote at a separate point in Secret Agenda – yet nowhere else in the Watergate saga was this observation more apt than with respect to the September Bug. Here were the top officials of the Democratic National Committee, in an election year, announcing their discovery of a bugging device in their headquarters three months after the bugging suspects had been arrested on the premises, and after the FBI had made three exhaustive sweeps of the DNC telephones and found no devices installed.

That this planting of evidence, this obstruction of justice, didn’t blow the Watergate scandal wide open, didn’t trigger the dismissal of the charges against the burglars, Hunt and Liddy, was only because federal prosecutors wrongly withheld the September Bug correspondence – exculpatory evidence in any bugging case – from the defendants’ attorneys.

Not until Hougan published the FBI files in Secret Agenda did the news media offer anything like a critical eye on the September Bug. On Nov. 6, 1984, the week the book was published, the New York Times carried an article about Hougan’s archival discovery by reporter Philip Taubman:

’72 DATA SHOW F.B.I. QUESTIONED IF BURGLARS BUGGED THE WATERGATE

Challenge Accepted

Two events subsequent to the publication of Secret Agenda forced a re-examination of the issues Hougan had raised.

The first was the publication by St. Martin’s Press, in 1991, of the book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin. A kind of successor to Secret Agenda, this book was treated to some of the same suppression tactics by the self-appointed guardians of the publishing industry. Nonetheless, Silent Coup became a bestseller.
St. Martin's Press

The main text alternated between two areas of avowed revisionism: the Watergate break-ins and cover-up; and the military spying of the Moorer-Radford affair. (This latter scandal disappeared from public view amid the daily revelations of Watergate; but it was appalling in its own right. It concerned Yeoman Charles Radford, a Navy-trained stenographer and courier, who was detailed to Henry Kissinger’s NSC staff and was later found to have passed some 5,000 classified documents up the chain of command to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Thomas Moorer.)

Over seven years of research, the authors of Silent Coup conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with key players and secured access to several important, previously unpublished documents. Where Secret Agenda had established a link between the Columbia Plaza call-girl ring and the Democratic National Committee, Silent Coup went a step further and asserted a link between Columbia Plaza and White House Counsel John Dean, a central figure in Watergate. The book alleged that the name Maureen Biner, Dean’s girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife, appeared in the Columbia Plaza “trick books.” In 1984, Hougan had been the first to report John Dean’s interest when news of the call-girl ring hit the newspapers on June 9, 1972, shortly before the final Watergate break-in. As Secret Agenda revealed, Dean summoned the federal prosecutors in the case to his office and instructed them to bring all the evidence with them to the White House. There Dean circled names in the trick books with a Parker pen.

Silent Coup alleged that Dean’s observation of his own girlfriend’s name in those pages gave the impetus to the second, doomed Watergate break-in of June 16-17.

Silent Coup established that the ring’s madam, Heidi Rikan – referred to in Secret Agenda as “Tess,” a pseudonym created by Hougan – was in fact Mo Dean’s close friend and occasional roommate. A photograph of Rikan appeared in the photographs section of Mo: A Woman’s View of Watergate (1975); in 1967, the same woman appeared arm-in-arm in a photograph with Joseph Nesline, one of Washington’s top organized crime figures. The federal prosecutor who investigated Columbia Plaza identified Rikan as the ring’s madam. On the basis of this and much other evidence, including arrest records, Colodny and Gettlin made what many considered a persuasive case: that John Dean ordered the first Watergate break-in to exploit his knowledge of the DNC-Columbia Plaza nexus, and then ordered the second break-in, after the existence of the Columbia Plaza ring was publicly reported, to conceal his girlfriend’s connection to it.

Hougan spoke well of Silent Coup. When Hays Gorey of Time magazine, the coauthor of Mo: A Woman’s View of Watergate, contacted Hougan to denounce the Colodny-Gettlin book as “garbage,” Hougan spent three days reading Silent Coup before responding on July 22, 1991:

I think it’s a good book. Colodney [sic] and Gettlin … have added considerably to our knowledge of the Watergate affair.… We may wonder, of course, why John Dean was so concerned about a Washington call-girl operation being run by his fiancee’s best friend … I think it’s time for the press to begin asking the Deans some hard questions… As Mo’s biographer, it is understandable that you should be upset at your subject’s having concealed what was obviously a very interesting (and politically significant) chapter in her life. To attack Silent Coup for shedding light upon that chapter, though, would be nothing more than an exercise in bad faith.

When Gorey faxed in a scathing reply, denouncing Hougan as a “conspiracy theorist,” the latter responded again on July 24:

I’m astonished by the vituperative tone of your fax---what’s your problem, dude? And what’s this bit about my being a “conspiracy theorist”? Is it your position that Watergate was something other than a conspiracy, perhaps the work of a “lone-burglar”? I don’t like to be the one to break the news, Hays, but conspiracy is precisely the crime for which McCord and the others were indicted.

John and Maureen Dean have always strenuously denied involvement in prostitution activity. Their determination to discredit the Watergate revisionism of the 1980s and 1990s created the second major event in the post-publication life of Secret Agenda.

The Courts Weigh In

In 1992, the Deans filed a multimillion-dollar defamation suit against Jim Hougan, Gordon Liddy, the authors of Silent Coup, and various publishing companies. Hougan was swiftly dropped as a defendant. But the epic struggle that ensued between the Deans on one side, and Liddy and Colodny on the other, would be to Watergate what M*A*S*H was to the Korean War: the chronicle of an event that lasts three times as long as the event itself. As a result, the Watergate scandal – a phenomenon of the early 1970s, the era of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers – became the subject of testimony and court rulings in the 21st century, with surviving figures tracked down and returned to the witness stand.

[Snip]

Wells v. Liddy II was held in the courtroom of Frederic N. Smalkin, the successor to Motz as Maryland’s chief district judge. On July 3, 2002, the jury found in Liddy’s favor. The re-litigation of Watergate – a remarkable court test of academic debate over the quintessential public event, powered by compulsory document production and sworn testimony from the surviving players – was finally over. The revisionists had prevailed: The texts of Secret Agenda and Silent Coup stood unchanged.

James Rosen is the chief White House correspondent for Newsmax and the author, among other books, of The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate (Doubleday, 2008).

June 19

 

 

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

Proof, The New York Times Has Just Published An Excellent Third-Party After-Action Report on the Battle at the Capitol That’s Nevertheless seth abramson graphicMissing the Most Important Element of All, Seth Abramson, left, June 19, 2022. Two hundred Proud Boys made the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol possible, but we know far more about the other 1,800+ rioters who went into the building—and why they did so—than the NYT reports.

The New York Times has just published the most incisive after-action report (AAR) on the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol seth abramson proof logothus far. The report confirms the attack as a premeditated paramilitary assault on a defined target—an act of war that wasn’t a skirmish but a series of orchestrated battles only one side knew had been carefully strategized. But for one flaw, the report would stand as the most significant major-media achievement of the post-January 6 era.

To call this 17-minute video presentation—built through the work of the New York Times Visual Investigations Unit and a scores-strong cadre of independent digital researchers known as the Sedition Hunters—incomplete is not to diminish its value, but simply to urge the Times to close a circle it’s opened. If this is done, the picture of what happened at the Capitol on January 6 will be almost complete under 18 months after the attack, which is much faster than many anticipated.

The AAR published by the New York Times can’t be embedded here, but you can click on this link to view it. You can also watch a brief discussion of it on MSNBC, below.

If you watch the New York Times video, you’ll notice that its focus on the Proud Boys as the chief instigators of January 6—which they surely were—devolves into a certain degree of tunnel vision: it fails to track or account for the rest of the 2,000-plus-strong crowd that surged into the Capitol on Insurrection Day. Proof refers in particular here to the actions of Stop the Steal’s two-man leadership before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol, as well of the massive crowd they’d drawn to themselves on January 6.

The two Stop the Steal leaders in question were, of course, Ali Alexander and Alex Jones.

While the Sedition Hunters did yeoman’s work in detailing the circumstances at the Capitol on January 6, Proof has focused instead—as any Proof reader will know—on Stop the Steal, which has been confirmed, in part through research published here, to have been a giant leap closer to the White House than any of the far-right Trumpist paramilitary foot-soldiers on Capitol Hill on Insurrection Day. Recall, for instance, that then-president Donald Trump had contact with all three of the leaders of Stop the Steal (including Roger Stone, who ultimately hid in his hotel rather than go to the Capitol) in the ten days before January 6 either directly or through a family member.

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

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

June 18

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Momentum for indictment of Trump & Co. builds across American society in context of House January 6 hearings, webster tarpley 2007Webster G. Tarpley, right, June 18, 2022. Dramatic testimony by famed jurist Judge Michael Luttig leaves no doubt that Trump faction must be seen as “clear and present danger” for 2024.

If Trump cannot take the presidency under color of law, forecasts Luttig, he will attempt a second coup d’etat, this time with greater chances of success; As evidence, Luttig notes that Trump forces are openly announcing what they are doing, and executing their blueprint in plain sight; Will Luttig’s prestige finally prod Merrick Garland to enforce law and Constitution and put aside Comeyism?

Trump’s contempt for Pence’s personal survival shows new depths of cruelty and moral impairment; US system came close to failure under January 6 onslaught;

Time to let Harpoon anti-ship missiles show what they can do by breaking Russian Black Sea blockade and opening a shipping lane for grain to end Putin’s global genocide;

Citing correspondence between Ginni Thomas and Trump’s now-infamous lawyer Eastman, Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ) calls on Clarence Thomas to resign from SCOTUS; Reactionary decisions on guns and Roe thought imminent; Bannon and Proud Boy trials are about to start;

New York Gov. Hochul must not allow wayward Manhattan DA Bragg to scuttle the powerful case against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization-she should bring back Pomerantz as Special Prosecutor;

Private sector greed has created shortages from gasoline to baby formula as part of assault on Democrats, with Big Oil cutting US refining capacity by 1 million bbl/day and collecting extravagant profits; Biden should ruthlessly use Defense Production Act to restore adequate stocks; Death of globalization means no more just in time inventory;

Are we seeing a new version of the Capital Strike of 1937, denounced by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harold Ickes as tool of Organized Money to cripple governance for the general welfare?

Federal Reserve purports to treat crisis of supply chains and real tangible physical output with monetarist-neoliberal methods of interest rates; Credit stimulus for production only, not speculation, is the answer; The Ghost of Paul Adolph Volcker, wrecker of the Carter Administration, stalks the land!

Best wishes for Juneteenth, when the Union Army including USCT reached Galveston with news of the Emancipation Proclamation and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox!

June 15

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Wasington (CREW), Investigation: Group behind Trump SCOTUS picks brought in nearly $50 million in secret money, Robert Maguire, June 15, 2022.As the Supreme Court stands on the brink of loosening gun restrictions and rolling back decades of abortion protections, tax documents obtained by CREW show that the dark money group that poured millions of dollars into helping former President Trump swing the Court sharply to the right raised a record $48.1 million between July 2020 and June 2021, all from deep-pocketed donors who will remain secret.

Filing as the Concord Fund, but better known by its alias, the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), the group has deep ties to Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo, who played a key role during the Trump years helping select Trump’s judicial nominees. Throughout that time, JCN acted as the firepower in the effort to reshape the judiciary, spending millions of dollars from anonymous donors on ads to stymie President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and to boost Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The period covered by the filing includes the confirmation battle over now-Supreme Court Justice Barrett. During that time, JCN spent millions of dollars around the country promoting Trump’s chosen nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As part of the advocacy effort, JCN also set up a website with glowing information about Barrett’s background and record.

Once the confirmation and election passed, the Concord Fund spent another $1 million, under the JCN moniker, on ads sounding alarms about the thus far nonexistent threat of court packing, even using it as an opportunity to attack “left-wing dark money groups,” without apparent irony. Later, under yet another name — Free to Learn Action — the Concord Fund created an ad campaign that targeted the teaching of racial justice topics in schools.

Throughout the time the Concord Fund was spending millions on confirmation battles and culture war fights, it was also sending tens of millions of dollars to Republican-allied groups, according to the tax document. The single largest expenditure the Concord Fund reported in the filing is a $9 million grant to One Nation, the Mitch McConnell-aligned dark money group that poured more than $85 million into the 2020 elections. This windfall from One Nation made it the largest donor to Senate Republicans’ main super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, which is run by the same people as One Nation.

Another grant, totaling more than $4.8 million, went to the political group Republican Attorneys General Association, whose sister 501(c)(4) organization was involved in promoting the January 6th rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Other grantees include evangelical and anti-abortion groups like Susan B. Anthony List ($2.2 million) and the Faith and Freedom Coalition ($1.1 million), and conservative groups like Mike Pence’s new organization Advancing American Freedom ($1 million), the Heritage Foundation’s sister organization, Heritage Action for America ($1.9 million), and Club for Growth ($1.1 million). Another group, N2 America — co-founded by two veteran Republican strategists — received $1 million. N2 America, according to an article shared on their website, was formed “to work on both policy proposals and communications strategy for rehabilitating the GOP brand in the suburbs.”

While Leonard Leo’s name is not on the new tax document, his fingerprints are all over it. The largest contractor payment listed on the document, totaling nearly $7.7 million, was directed at a conservative consulting firm called CRC Advisors, which Leo helped form in early 2020 — around the same time that JCN was rechristened as the Concord Fund. According to Axios, the aim of the rebranded group, along with another sister organization, the 85 Fund, was to use them as vehicles “to funnel tens of millions of dollars into conservative fights around the country.”

CRC Advisors’ role was apparent even in trying to obtain the tax returns in the first place. After reaching out to the Concord Fund multiple times — both by email and by calling the number listed on their tax documents, which appears to have been disconnected — the only response CREW received weeks later was from a CRC representative saying that CREW’s request had been “referred to counsel for processing.” Unfortunately, these kinds of generally meaningless responses are common when requesting public documents from dark money groups, and usually signify that a group is waiting as long as it’s allowed, under IRS rules, to provide paper copies of a document that it could just send in an email.

Another payment listed in the return further indicates Leo’s involvement. The Concord Fund paid half a million dollars to a company called the BH Group. Leonard Leo is a part owner of the firm, which has almost no public presence, aside from large payments from dark money groups tied to Leo and a $1 million contribution to former President Trump’s inauguration — the ultimate source of which remains unknown more than five years later.

For nearly two decades now, Leonard Leo and the Concord Fund, by any name, have been one of the driving forces behind the push to reshape the court and overturn Roe v. Wade, and a recent leaked draft opinion suggests that this dream is about to be realized. Judicial Crisis Network’s president Carrie Severino has already celebrated the opinion, but their work will not end there. The Concord Fund and the small network of well-funded groups tied to Severino and Leo are already engaged in efforts to restrict voting and fight “left-wing dark money” — all without disclosing any of the donors behind its $48.1 million haul.

  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).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ginni Thomas corresponded with John Eastman, sources in Jan. 6 House investigation say, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown, June 11, 2022. The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known, two of the people involved in the committee’s investigation said.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has obtained email correspondence between Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and lawyer John Eastman, who played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, according to three people involved in the committee’s investigation.

The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known, two of the people said. The three declined to provide details and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The committee’s members and staffers are now discussing whether to spend time during their public hearings exploring Ginni Thomas’s role in the attempt to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, the three people said. The Washington Post previously reported that the committee had not sought an interview with Thomas and was leaning against pursuing her cooperation with its investigation.

The two people said the emails were among documents obtained by the committee and reviewed recently. Last week, a federal judge ordered Eastman to turn more than 100 documents over to the committee. Eastman had tried to block the release of those and other documents by arguing that they were privileged communications and therefore should be protected.

Thomas also sent messages to President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and to Arizona lawmakers, pressing them to help overturn the election, The Post has previously reported.

June 9

History Re-examined: The 1972 Watergate Break-in
 
watergate burglarswatergate conference photoKingston School of Art (London) and The Citadel (South Carolina), The Watergate Break-in: 50 Years Later: Two day conference via Zoom, June 9-10, 2022, Conference organizers: Dr. Shane O’Sullivan (Kingston School of Art) and Dr. Melissa Graves (Dept. of Intelligence and Security Studies, The Citadel). Shown above: Collage of Five Watergate Burglars, and a 1970s photo of the Watergate office and residential complex, at center, in Washington, D.C.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the first Watergate break-in, when James McCord planted bugs in two phones at DNC headquarters and Rolando Martinez snapped 38 photos of documents concerning DNC chairman Larry O’Brien. McCord didn’t know where O’Brien’s office was and tapped the wrong phone with a bug that didn’t work, so the burglars went in again on June 17, 1972, and got caught.This free two-day online conference (June 9-10, 2022) will reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and the investigation that followed.
Speakers include lead Watergate prosecutor Earl Silbert, FBI case agent Angelo Lano and three other FBI investigators, whistleblower Judy Hoback Miller, CNN presidential historian Timothy Naftali, and a distinguished line-up of historians, journalists, academics and published authors on the case.
There has been a resurgence of interest in Watergate in recent years, as parallels have been drawn between Watergate events and the Mueller investigation and presidential impeachment hearings, and each new scandal is dubbed “worse than Watergate.”
While much has been written about the White House cover-up and the Nixon White House tapes, the stories of the burglars and the FBI investigation are less well-known. Fifty years after the break-in, the surviving investigators and prosecutors still don’t understand why the burglars entered DNC headquarters in the early morning hours of June 17, 1972; or how the experienced intelligence operatives in the break-in team made such elementary mistakes, resulting in their arrests and President Nixon’s resignation two years later.
Conference organisers Shane O'Sullivan (Kingston School of Art) and Melissa Graves (Dept of Intelligence and Security Studies, The Citadel) aim to widen the scope of Watergate scholarship and explore some of the remaining mysteries of the case.

Day 1

The Watergate Break-in
Watergate in Presidential History
Investigating the Watergate Break-in
The Hidden Motives of James McCord

Day 2

Bookkeeper/Whistleblower

Judy Hoback Miller
John Minderman
Paul Magallanes
Chair: Melissa Graves

Every Tree in the Forest Will Fall: The CIA and Watergate

Jefferson Morley
Christopher Moran
John Prados

Watergate Myths and Counter-Narratives

Garrett Graff
James Rosen
W. Joseph Campbell
Chair: Garrett Graff

The Legacy of Watergate

David Kaiser
Tom Cryer
Chair: Shane O'Sullivan

 

June 8

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows are near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Jared Kushner Washed His Hands of Donald Trump Before Jan. 6, Peter Baker, June 8, 2022. The role of the former president’s son-in-law as the Trump administration ended will be scrutinized by a committee investigating the Capitol attack.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, barely 24 hours after President Donald J. Trump claimed in the middle of the night that “frankly, we did win this election,” Jared Kushner woke up in his Kalorama mansion and announced to his wife that it was time to leave Washington. “We’re moving to Miami,” he said.

The election had not even been called for Joseph R. Biden Jr., but as Mr. Kushner, right, later told the story to aides and associates, the White House’s young power couple felt no need to wait for the official results. They saw which way the votes were going and understood that, barring some unforeseen surprise, the president had lost his bid for a second term. Even if he refused to accept it himself.

djt march 2020 CustomNo matter how vociferously Mr. Trump, left, claimed otherwise, neither Mr. Kushner nor Ivanka Trump believed then or later that the election had been stolen, according to people close to them. While the president spent the hours and days after the polls closed complaining about imagined fraud in battleground states and plotting a strategy to hold on to power, his daughter and son-in-law were already washing their hands of the Trump presidency.

Their decision to move on opened a vacuum around the president that was filled by conspiracy theorists like Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who relayed to Mr. Trump farcically false stories of dead voters, stuffed ballot boxes, corrupted voting machines and foreign plots. Concluding that the president would not listen even to family members urging him to accept the results, Mr. Kushner told Mr. Trump that he would not be involved if Mr. Giuliani were in charge, according to people he confided in, effectively ceding the field to those who would try to overturn the election.

Proof, A Guide to Watching the January 6 Hearings, Seth Abramson, left, June 8, 2022. Congress will televise its most significant hearings seth abramson graphicin a half-century beginning June 9. PROOF has offered readers America’s most comprehensive January 6 coverage; now it offers a HJ6C viewing guide.

What to Watch: Live, televised hearings of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, commonly known as the “House January 6 Committee” or (colloquially) the “HJ6C.”

seth abramson proof logoWhere to Watch: The HJ6C direct link. Also ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN.

When to Watch: Session 1: June 9, 8PM ET [primetime]; Session 2: June 13, 10AM ET; Session 3: June 15, 10AM ET; Session 4: June 16, 10AM ET; Session 5: June 21, 10AM ET; Session 6: June 23, 8PM ET [primetime]. Note that the Committee has previously said that there will be “eight” live, televised hearings in June 2022, so it’s possible that two additional hearing sessions will be announced sometime soon.

What You’ll Get: Live testimony; taped depositions; multimedia presentations; visual exhibits; and limited statements from committee members. A former ABC executive is working with the Committee to craft what aims to be a highly watchable experience.

What to Watch For: CNN recently reported a House January 6 Committee member as saying that the hearings will “blow the roof off the House.” A different Committee member—a Republican—told reporters that based on the evidence the Committee has discovered and will reveal in these hearings, Donald Trump was part of a “chilling” “conspiracy” that was both “extremely broad” and “extremely well-organized.”

One thing we know for certain, via NPR and countless other major-media outlets, is that the Committee promises “previously unseen [January 6] material” will be shared.

The House January 6 Committee has interviewed over 900 witnesses, per CBS News. The list below will be updated in real time as Proof receives additional witness information.

Witnesses Reported By Major Media Outlets

  • Ivanka Trump, daughter of former president Donald Trump (recorded depo)
  • Jared Kushner, son-in-law of former president Trump (recorded depo)
  • Nick Quested, documentarian embedded with the Proud Boys
  • Caroline Edwards, USCP officer injured in the attack on the U.S. Capitol
  • J. Michael Luttig, former U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit judge
  • Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows
  • Marc Short, aide to former Vice President of the United States Mike Pence
  • Greg Jacobs, counsel to former Vice President Pence

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

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

June 7

 

john eastman

Politico, Judge sends another trove of Eastman emails to Jan. 6 committee, Kyle Cheney, June 7, 2022. The ruling is another victory for the Jan. 6 select committee.

A federal judge Tuesday ordered John Eastman — the attorney who developed former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch strategy to overturn the election — to disclose a batch of 159 sensitive documents to the Jan. 6 select committee, including another email that the judge said presented evidence of a likely crime.

politico CustomIn a 26-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter also ordered Eastman to provide 10 documents about meetings Eastman held with a secretive pro-Trump group that included a “high-profile” leader discussing strategies for overturning the 2020 election.

The 10 documents in question related to three December meetings held by the group. “Five documents include the agenda for a meeting on December 9, 2020,” the California-based judge indicated. “The agenda included a section entitled ‘GROUND GAME following Nov 4 Election Results,’ during which a sitting Member of Congress discussed a ‘[p]lan to challenge the electors in the House of Representatives.’” Other meetings of the group took place on Dec. 8 and Dec. 16, Carter noted.

“The Select Committee has a substantial interest in these three meetings because the presentations furthered a critical objective of the January 6 plan: to have contested states certify alternate slates of electors for President Trump,” he ruled. “Dr. Eastman’s actions in these few weeks indicate that his and President Trump’s pressure campaign to stop the electoral count did not end with Vice President Pence — it targeted every tier of federal and state elected officials. Convincing state legislatures to certify competing electors was essential to stop the count and ensure President Trump’s reelection.”

The ruling is another victory for the Jan. 6 select committee as it prepares to present its findings to the public. Eastman was ordered to deliver the new batch of emails to the select committee by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the day before the panel’s first public hearing.

Among the documents Carter ordered disclosed were several communications directly from Trump, which Carter said were not protected by his attorney-client relationship with the president. One of the documents was a photo with a handwritten note from Trump about the size of his campaign rallies, and two were relayed by Trump’s executive assistant and sought advice for framing Trump’s public statements about a plan to send alternate slates of electors to Congress — an element of the effort to overturn the election.

The single email that Carter said pertained to a potential crime was an exchange on Dec. 22, 2020, in which an unidentified attorney encouraged Trump’s legal team not to pursue a case in court related to the Jan. 6 session of Congress.

“Because the attorney concluded that a negative court ruling would ‘tank the January 6 strategy,’ he encouraged the legal team to avoid the courts,” Carter indicated.

“This email cemented the direction of the January 6 plan,” Carter continued. “The Trump legal team chose not to seek recourse in court — instead, they forged ahead with a political campaign to disrupt the electoral count. Lawyers are free not to bring cases; they are not free to evade judicial review to overturn a democratic election. Accordingly, this portion of the email is subject to the crime-fraud exception and must be disclosed.”

June 5

richard nixon desk archivesPolitico Magazine, History Dept.: Nixon, the CIA and the JFK Assassination, Jefferson Morley, right, June 5, 2022. Jefferson Morley is the jefferson morley newauthor of the forthcoming book, "Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster and Watergate" (St. Martin’s Press), from which this article is adapted.

President Nixon’s obsession with “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” has intrigued historians, journalists and conspiracy theorists. A largely overlooked tape provides answers.

politico CustomThe Washington Post dubbed it “the smoking gun tape.” It was the recording that doomed the presidency of Richard Nixon (shown above in a photo from the Nixon Library archives).

The transcript of a conversation that took place on June 23, 1972, when made public by Supreme Court order in July 1974, became the climactic revelation of the Watergate affair, proving beyond all doubt that Nixon used CIA director Richard Helms to suborn the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate burglars.

Fifty years after the botched break-in that transformed American politics, the gangsterly dialogue of the smoking gun tape is less shocking than Trumpian. Blackmail as a mode of White House politics? President 45 had nothing on President 37.

“We protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things,” Nixon growled on the tape. “You open that scab there’s a hell of a lot of things, and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, [ex-CIA man and Watergate burglar Howard] Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.”

Nixon advised chief of staff H.R. Haldeman on how to get the CIA director to kill the FBI’s probe.

“Say, ‘Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that, ah, without going into the details ... don’t, don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.’”

CIA LogoThe June 23 tape was incontrovertible evidence that Nixon had obstructed justice. The last vestige of support for Nixon on Capitol Hill evaporated. Two weeks later, on Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon resigned.

But the “smoking gun tape” was not only the denouement of the Watergate affair. It was — and is — an unsettling glimpse into the dark heart of the Watergate scandal, and the workings of American power in the mid-20th century. The commander in chief voiced ominous threats that reeked of unspoken crimes to his intelligence chief, whose agency had employed four of the seven burglars.

For the next 50 years, Nixon’s entourage, JFK conspiracy theorists, journalists and historians pondered the June 23 tape as a Rosetta Stone of Nixon’s psyche. What “hanky panky” was Nixon referring to? What did he mean by “the whole Bay of Pigs thing?” What story was going to “blow” if the CIA didn’t cooperate?

A long-overlooked White House tape provides the answers. The “hanky panky” referred to CIA assassination operations in the early 1960s. The “whole Bay of Pigs thing” was the Agency’s reaction to its most humiliating defeat. And the story that might blow was the connection between those events and the murder of JFK.

Washington Post, Barry Sussman, Washington Post editor who oversaw Watergate reporting, dies at 87, Emily Langer, June 5, 2022 (print ed.). Working alongside reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, he provided invaluable if at times unheralded contributions to the news coverage that helped force President Richard M. Nixon from office.

barry sussmanBarry Sussman, left, the Washington Post editor who directly oversaw the Watergate investigation by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, providing invaluable — if at times unheralded — contributions to the news coverage that helped force President Richard M. Nixon from office, died June 1 at his home in Rockville, Md. He was 87.

The cause was an apparent gastrointestinal bleed, said his daughter Shari Sussman Golob.

In Hollywood and in the public eye, newspapering is often imagined as a solitary undertaking, the work of shabbily dressed reporters hunched over their keyboards with telephones cradled between shoulder and ear, barricaded in by notepads and papers piled high atop their desks.

richard nixon wIn truth, journalism is a far more collective enterprise, with crucial roles played by people whose names do not appear below headlines in the space known in newspaper jargon as the byline. One such person, and perhaps the chief example in The Post’s unraveling of the Watergate affair, was Mr. Sussman.

By Saturday, June 17, 1972, when five burglars wearing business suits broke into the Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, Mr. Sussman was The Post’s city editor, in charge of 40 to 45 reporters and editors responsible for coverage of the District.

One standout Metro reporter was 29-year-old Woodward. A button-down former Navy lieutenant, he had been with The Post only nine months but had already distinguished himself with his inexhaustible work ethic and investigative zeal, although not with his literary flair. Mr. Sussman took Woodward on as a protege and personal friend, journalist and Watergate scholar Alicia C. Shepard reported, helping him improve his writing “at a time when colleagues joked that for Woodward, English was a second language” and teaching him “how to take his hard-earned facts and massage them into readable stories.” The morning of the Watergate break-in, Mr. Sussman immediately phoned Woodward at home and called him into the newsroom.

The more renegade Bernstein, 11 months younger than Woodward but with more than a decade of journalism experience, sensed intrigue in the Watergate burglary and wanted in on the action. While other editors at The Post had grown exasperated by Bernstein’s more trying habits — he was allergic to deadlines and once rented a car on The Post’s dime, parked it in a garage and forgot about it — Mr. Sussman recognized his value as both a reporter and a writer and argued successfully to keep him on the Watergate story.

Paired by Mr. Sussman, Woodward and Bernstein — known collectively as Woodstein — became the most famous reporters in American journalism. Their incremental and inexorable revelations of the political sabotage, corruption and coverup that began with the Watergate break-in helped send numerous Nixon associates to prison and ultimately precipitated Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 9, 1974. During their reporting, Mr. Sussman was detailed to serve as special Watergate editor.

The Post’s Watergate coverage received the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for public service, the highest honor in journalism, and was dramatized in All the President’s Men, the 1976 movie directed by Alan J. Pakula. Robert Redford played Woodward, convening by night in a parking garage with his highly placed source called Deep Throat. Dustin Hoffman played the shaggy-haired Bernstein. Mr. Sussman was omitted entirely.

In her 2007 book Woodward and Bernstein: Life in the Shadow of Watergate, Shepard wrote that the filmmakers excised Mr. Sussman “for dramatic reasons.” The story already had three editors — executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee, portrayed in an Oscar-winning turn by Jason Robards; managing editor Howard Simons, whose real-life role the movie diminished, played by Martin Balsam; and Metropolitan editor Harry M. Rosenfeld, played by Jack Warden.

If Mr. Sussman was deemed superfluous for the movie — a decision that deeply wounded him, according to Shepard’s reporting — he was by all accounts the opposite in the actual events that inspired it.

“Barry was essential for The Post’s Watergate” coverage, said former executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., who worked as an editor on the Watergate investigation, “just as essential as Bob and Carl.”

Journalist David Halberstam, writing in his 1979 book about American media, The Powers That Be, described Mr. Sussman as “the perfect working editor at exactly the right level.”

“Almost from the start, before anyone else at The Post,” Halberstam wrote, Mr. Sussman “saw Watergate as a larger story, saw that individual events were part of a larger pattern, the result of hidden decisions from somewhere in the top of government which sent smaller men to run dirty errands.”

Woodward and Bernstein, for their part, described Mr. Sussman as “Talmudic” in his mastery of the most arcane details of the Watergate affair and “Socratic” in his ability to elicit leads from them through his insightful questioning.

“More than any other editor at The Post, or Bernstein and Woodward, Sussman became a walking compendium of Watergate knowledge, a reference source to be summoned when even the library failed,” the two reporters wrote in All the President’s Men, their 1974 book upon which the movie was based.

“On deadline, he would pump these facts into a story in a constant infusion, working up a body of significant information to support what otherwise seemed like the weakest of revelations. In Sussman’s mind, everything fitted. Watergate was a puzzle and he was a collector of the pieces.”

The book All the President’s Men reportedly contributed to a rift that opened between Mr. Sussman and the two reporters he had supported through the most difficult days of the Watergate investigation, when an error in their reporting involving grand jury testimony invited questions about their credibility, and when Nixon was privately threatening “damnable, damnable” consequences for The Post in retaliation for its coverage.

Mr. Sussman had hoped to co-author the account of Watergate with Woodward and Bernstein, Shepard wrote, but the reporters ultimately moved forward alone with “All the President’s Men,” which became a bestseller. Shepard quoted Woodward as saying that “it was a reporter’s story to tell, not an editor’s,” and that Mr. Sussman’s “role is fully laid out in the book.”

By the time the book was published, Shepard wrote, Mr. Sussman had stopped speaking to Woodward and Bernstein. According to barry sussman cover newMr. Sussman, they were “wrong often on detail” in the book and had a tendency to “sentimentalize” the Watergate story.

Mr. Sussman wrote his own book about Watergate, The Great Cover-Up (1974), which broadcast journalist Brit Hume, writing in the New York Times, praised as establishing “with clarity the compelling case for Nixon’s complicity in the Watergate coverup.”

Decades later, when Shepard called Mr. Sussman to inquire about his two former colleagues, he replied, “I don’t have anything good to say about either one of them.”

Reached after Mr. Sussman’s death, Woodward, left, said in an interview that “Barry was one of the bob woodward twittergreat imaginative, aggressive editors at The Washington Post during Watergate. We all owe him a debt of gratitude, particularly Carl Bernstein and myself.”

In 1987, Mr. Sussman was hired by United Press International as managing editor for national news; he resigned within months in opposition to large-scale staff cuts at the troubled news agency.

He later ran a private survey research firm, was a consultant to newspapers in Spain, Portugal and Latin America and served as editor of the Nieman Watchdog Project at Harvard University. As the Internet upended the newspaper business model and hollowed out newsrooms across the United States, he cited reductions in the ranks of editors as “the single greatest failing of newspaper investigations these days.”

“There’s no cohesion in the reporting,” he told Investigating Power, an online history of investigative journalism. It seemed, he said, that when new scandals arose, “there’s not an editor who is told ‘[this] is your story,’ the way I was told Watergate was my story, and you’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

June 2

 

 

Justice Department logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Barr’s extraordinary defense of the John Durham probe, Aaron Blake, June 2, 2022. From the start, then-Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to appoint special counsel John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation was controversial.

And more than three years later, the inquiry has largely come up empty. It has secured one guilty plea that led to a sentence of probation, and it has now come up short in the much-watched trial of Michael Sussmann, who was acquitted Tuesday.

It’s a marked contrast to the probe Durham was tasked with investigating, in which Robert S. Mueller III secured more than half a dozen guilty pleas or verdicts. Those included several high-profile aides and associates of then-President Donald Trump. And that’s to say nothing of the extensive evidence Mueller laid out suggesting Trump might have committed obstruction of justice. A later bipartisan Senate report also suggested there was more to the collusion portion of the investigation than even Mueller was able to unearth.

To the extent people on the right have believed the Russia investigation was a “hoax” and the real crime was the Mueller probe itself, the evidence thus far paints quite a different picture.

william barr new oWhich leaves everyone involved to account for that. And on Wednesday, Barr himself attempted to do so — in a rather novel way for a lawman. Indeed, his defense reinforced Barr’s dual role under the Trump presidency as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and a political actor often preoccupied with taking extraordinary steps to right the supposed wrongs committed against Trump.

Fox News had hyped the significance of the Sussmann verdict beforehand and then just as quickly fox news logo Smalldownplayed the acquittal afterward, suggesting the jury was unfriendly. But when Barr, right, appeared for an interview, one of its hosts pressed him on the probe’s lack of deliverables.

“Do you feel in any way responsible for how this Durham situation’s unfolding?” Jesse Watters asked. “And are you disappointed in John Durham?”

Barr assured he wasn’t disappointed. He noted that it’s difficult to obtain guilty verdicts and suggested repeatedly that the jury was slanted.

But he also pointed to a way in which Durham’s probe was supposedly successful: telling a story.

To wit (emphasis added):

“I think he accomplished something far more important, which is he brought out the truth in two important areas. First, I think he crystallized the central role played by the Hillary campaign in launching as a dirty trick — the whole Russiagate collusion narrative and fanning the flames of it. And second, I think he exposed really dreadful behavior by the supervisors in the FBI, the senior ranks of the FBI, who knowingly use this information to start an investigation of Trump …”

“The other aspect of this is to get the story out.”

“Complicated cases like this take a long time to build; they occur step-by-step and in secret. People don’t like that. If they want people punished, that’s what it takes. If they want the facts of what happened, you can get it that much more quickly.”

To summarize: Even without convictions, this is good, because it has exposed something. And that something apparently need not be proven crimes or anything amounting to the supposed conspiracy that has been alleged.

That is decidedly not how this is supposed to work. There is a reason the Justice Department doesn’t generally disclose its investigations when it can avoid doing so: because it wants to avoid impugning those who didn’t commit crimes. The role of the Justice Department is to enforce the law — not to expose “dirty tricks” that haven’t been shown to be crimes. Yet Barr is basically suggesting the value of this investigation lay largely in getting information out there, regardless of whether that information is ultimately tied to a proven crime.

(Here, we are leaving aside the actual substance of the information Durham has put out, which has been misleading in its most high-profile instances.)

This is a remarkable view of the special counsel investigation Barr launched, to be sure, but it’s also in keeping with Barr’s general posture. While decrying the politicization of law enforcement, he took an extraordinary interest in the affairs of Trump and Trump allies who found themselves afoul of the law. Some prosecutors resigned in response. In what was arguably an audition for his job in the first place, Barr wrote a remarkable 2018 memo, while he was still a private citizen, assailing Mueller’s investigation. At one point, he even suggested that Mueller’s probe was less substantiated than a debunked conspiracy theory involving the Clintons and Uranium One.

Against that backdrop, saying that your decision to launch a special counsel investigation is validated by the information it has put out, rather than the laws enforced, isn’t terribly surprising. But it’s still a remarkable admission.

June 1

 

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, left, and defendant Michael Sussmann, a cyberlaw attorney and former federal prosecutor. split

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, left, and defendant Michael Sussmann, a cyberlaw attorney and former federal prosecutor whose trial began with jury selection on May 16 on a false statement charge in Washington, DC's federal court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Sussmann Is Acquitted in Case Brought by Trump-Era Prosecutor, Charlie Savage, June 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Democratic-linked lawyer was accused of lying about his clients to the F.B.I. when he passed on a tip about possible connections between Donald J. Trump and Russia.

Michael Sussmann, a prominent cybersecurity lawyer with ties to Democrats, was acquitted on Tuesday of a felony charge that he lied to the F.B.I. about having no client in 2016 when he shared a tip about possible connections between Donald J. Trump and Russia.

The verdict was a blow to the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration three years ago to scour the Trump-Russia investigation for any wrongdoing.

The case centered on odd internet data that cybersecurity researchers discovered in 2016 after it became public that Russia had hacked Democrats and Mr. Trump had encouraged the country to target Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The researchers said the data might reflect a covert communications channel using servers for the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked bank. The F.B.I. briefly looked at the suspicions and dismissed them.

On Sept. 19, 2016, Mr. Sussmann brought those suspicions to a senior F.B.I. official. Prosecutors accused him of falsely telling the official that he was not there on behalf of any client, concealing that he was in fact working for both Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and a technology executive who had brought him the tip.

Mr. Durham and his trial team used court filings and trial testimony to detail how Mr. Sussmann, while working for a Democratic-linked law firm and logging his time to the Clinton campaign, had been trying to get reporters to write about the Alfa Bank suspicions.

But trying to persuade reporters to write about such suspicions is not a crime. Mr. Sussmann’s guilt or innocence turned on a narrow issue: whether he made a false statement to a senior F.B.I. official at the 2016 meeting, by saying he was sharing those suspicions on behalf of no one but himself.

Mr. Durham used the case to put forward a larger conspiracy: that there was a joint enterprise to essentially frame Mr. Trump for collusion with Russia by getting the F.B.I. to investigate the suspicions so reporters would write about it — a scheme involving the Clinton campaign; its opposition research firm, Fusion GPS; Mr. Sussmann; and a cybersecurity expert who brought the odd data and analysis to him.

That insinuation thrilled supporters of Mr. Trump who share his view that the Russia investigation was a “hoax,” and have sought to conflate the actual inquiry with sometimes thin or dubious allegations. In reality, the Alfa Bank matter was a sideshow: The F.B.I. had already opened its inquiry on other grounds before Mr. Sussmann passed on the tip, and the final report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, made no mention of the Alfa Bank suspicions.

But the case Mr. Durham and his team used to float their broad insinuations was thin — one count of making a false statement in a meeting with no other witnesses or contemporaneous notes. The evidence and arguments the lead prosecutor, Andrew DeFilippis, and his colleagues marshaled fell flat with the 12 jurors, who voted unanimously to find Mr. Sussmann not guilty.

Some supporters of Mr. Trump had been bracing for that outcome, pointing to the District of Columbia’s reputation as a heavily Democratic area and putting forward the prospect that a jury might be politically biased against a Trump-era prosecutor trying to convict a defendant who was working for the Clinton campaign.

Mr. Durham expressed disappointment about the verdict but said he respected the decision by the jury, which deliberated for about six hours.

“I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case,” he said in a statement.

Shortly after the verdict, Mr. Sussmann read a brief statement to reporters outside the courthouse, expressing gratitude to the jury, his defense team and those who supported him and his family during what had been a difficult year. He did not take any questions.

“I told the truth to the F.B.I., and the jury clearly recognized that with their unanimous verdict today,” he said, adding: “Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case.”

The defense, which portrayed prosecutors’ insinuations as “political conspiracy theories,” had argued that Mr. Sussmann only brought the matter to the F.B.I. when he thought The New York Times was already on the cusp of writing an article about the matter, to give the bureau a heads-up so it would not be caught flat-footed.

Clinton campaign officials testified during the trial they had not told or authorized him to go to the F.B.I. — and that doing so was against their interests sean berkowitz michael bosworth jip IMG 8260because they did not trust the bureau and it could slow down the publication of any article.

In a statement, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, two of Mr. Sussmann’s defense lawyers [shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo leaving the courthouse, with Berkowitz in the foreground), criticized Mr. Durham for bringing the indictment.

“Michael Sussmann should never have been charged in the first place,” they said. “This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overreach. And we believe that today’s verdict sends an unmistakable message to anyone who cares to listen: Politics is no substitute for evidence, and politics has no place in our system of justice.”

Mother Jones, How John Durham’s Probe Has Exposed Trump’s Russia Con, David Corn, June 1, 2022. His three-year investigation has so far shown the only hoax was orchestrated by the former president.

Donald Trump has bad timing. On Friday, he sent a letter to the Pulitzer Prize Board reiterating his demand that it rescind the awards given to the New York Times and the Washington Post in 2018 for their coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal. (That’s not what he called it.) He based this request on the prosecution of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was indicted by special counsel John Durham for allegedly lying to the FBI during a September 2016 meeting when he shared with the bureau computer data research that suggested there might be a connection between a Trump-related business and Alfa Bank, a large Russian financial entity. Trump claimed the Sussmann case showed the “Russia hoax was a dirty campaign trick promulgated by Crooked Hillary Clinton and her associates.” Five days later, the jury, after only several hours of deliberation, acquitted Sussmann. Oops.

The quick not-guilty verdict was a sharp slap at Durham’s three-year-long investigation, which was launched by William Barr, when he was Trump’s loyalist attorney general, and which has come across as a political crusade mounted to undermine the various Trump-Russia investigations. Durham was tasked by Barr to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe of the Russian attack on the 2016 election (which, according to multiple investigations, was waged to help Trump win) and the interactions between Trump associates and Russian operatives.

Put simply, Durham’s job was to find that Trump had been set up by the bureau. When the Justice Department in late 2019 issued a report concluding the FBI had legitimate cause to investigate the Russian assault and the Trump campaign, Durham, in an unusual move, released a statement declaring, “we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.” A-ha, Trumpists exclaimed. Durham was on track to reveal that the FBI investigation was bogus from the get-go and Trump was right: It was all a hoax and a witch hunt.

Yet after years of toil, Durham has produced nothing to suggest the Russia investigation was a Deep State hit-job against Trump. He has brought three cases that have nothing to do with the origins of the investigation. One involved an FBI lawyer who altered an email used to obtain a search warrant after the investigation was started. (The attorney pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of probation.)

 

May

May 31

 

michael flynn djt

BuzzFeedNews, Investigation: Michael Flynn’s Identity Was Not Improperly Revealed By Obama Officials, A Secret DOJ Report Has Found, May 31, 2022. The 52-page document was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

A Justice Department probe found that members of the Obama administration did not seek to reveal the identity of Michael Flynn “for political purposes or other inappropriate reasons,” a newly disclosed report reveals.

The document details the results of a monthslong investigation into the so-called unmasking of Flynn, who briefly served as national security adviser to then-president Donald Trump (shown together above in a file photo) before he resigned in February 2017 in the wake of the revelation that he had lied about phone conversations he held with Russia’s ambassador to the US.john bash

Republicans later accused officials in the Obama administration of using their positions to reveal anonymized names in classified documents, known in the intelligence community as unmasking, in order to target individuals in Trump’s orbit. In May 2020, Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, ordered an investigation into the practice of unmasking. That review, conducted by John Bash, right — at the time the US attorney for the Western District of Texas — was finished the following September without finding any evidence of wrongdoing.

Although Bash’s conclusions, including his decision not to prosecute anyone, were first reported in late 2020, the report itself has not previously been seen by the public. The full 52-page document, which had been classified top secret, was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and is being shared here for the first time in its entirety.

The probe was one of several ordered up by Barr scrutinizing the origins of federal investigations into ties between Trump and the Russian government. On Tuesday, a federal jury acquitted a Democratic lawyer who had been charged with lying to the FBI in one of those probes, overseen by special prosecutor John Durham.

In his case, Bash employed a team of two prosecutors, three FBI agents, and one FBI analyst to review unmasking requests made to the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and the FBI between March 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, and to conduct interviews with 20 government employees involved in intelligence briefings. He examined whether anyone in the Obama administration had improper motives when seeking to reveal the true identities of US citizens — including Flynn — whose names were not disclosed in classified intelligence reports.
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Bash, who left the Justice Department in October 2020, found no such activity.

“My review has uncovered no evidence that senior Executive Branch officials sought the disclosure of” the identities of US individuals “in disseminated intelligence reports for political purposes or other inappropriate reasons during the 2016 presidential-election period or the ensuing presidential-transition period,” Bash’s report says.

A central focus of the probe was the leak showing that Flynn had been in communication with then–Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration, and whether Flynn’s involvement was revealed through an unmasking request from a government official.

But Bash’s review of unmasked intelligence reports about the calls found that the FBI did not in fact disseminate any that contained Flynn’s information, and that a single unmasked report that did contain Flynn’s information did not describe the calls between him and Kislyak. “For that reason, the public disclosure of the communications could not have resulted from an unmasking request,” Bash’s report concludes.

Intriguingly, the prosecutor did find that “the FBI shared transcripts of the relevant communications outside the Bureau without masking General Flynn’s name,” but notes that he did not investigate those incidents any further because “evaluating that dissemination, and determining how the information was provided to the media, is beyond the scope of this review.” Bash's report contains no information about who shared those transcripts and who received them.

Although Bash writes that he had not found a justification to conduct a criminal investigation into anyone who was involved in the unmasking process, he says he was “troubled” by “how easy it is for political appointees of the incumbent administration to obtain nonpublic information about individuals associated with a presidential campaign or a transition team.”

“There exists a significant potential for misuse of such information— misuse that could be difficult to detect,” Bash writes. His report recommends that the intelligence community should consider implementing “certain prophylactic safeguards for unmasking requests that relate to presidential campaigns or transitions, including a more demanding substantive standard for granting those requests, special notification requirements, and a centralized approval process.”

May 26

The Ransom: Investigating The Root of Haiti’s Misery

ny times logoNew York Times, Reparations to Enslavers, For generations, Haitians were forced to pay France for their freedom, Catherine Porter, Constant Méheut, Matt Apuzzo and Selam Gebrekidan, Updated May 26, 2022. How much was a mystery — until now. The Times scoured centuries-old documents to find out.

For generations after independence, Haitians were forced to pay the descendants of their former slave masters, including the Empress of Brazil; the son-in-law of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I; Germany’s last imperial chancellor; and Gaston de Galliffet, the French general known as the “butcher of the Commune” for crushing an insurrection in Paris in 1871. The burdens continued well into the 20th century.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s what we learned about what Haiti was forced to pay after overthrowing France, Eric Nagourney, May 20, 2022. A failed state. An aid trap. A land seemingly cursed by nature and human nature alike.

When the world looks at Haiti, one of the poorest nations on the planet, sympathy for its endless suffering is often overshadowed by scolding and sermonizing about corruption and mismanagement.

Some know how Haitians overthrew their notoriously brutal French slave masters and declared independence in 1804 — the modern world’s first nation born of a slave revolt.

But few know the story of what happened two decades later, when French warships returned to a people who had paid for their freedom with blood, issuing an ultimatum: Pay again, in staggering amounts of cold hard cash, or prepare for war.

For generations, the descendants of enslaved people paid the descendants of their former slave masters, with money that could have been used to build schools, roads, clinics or a vibrant economy.

For years, as New York Times journalists have chronicled Haiti’s travails, a question has hovered: What if? What if the nation had not been looted by outside powers, foreign banks and its own leaders almost since birth? How much more money might it have had to build a nation?

For more than a year, a team of Times correspondents scoured long-forgotten documents languishing in archives and libraries on three continents to answer that question, to put a number on what it cost Haitians to be free. Here are the takeaways from a series of stories appearing this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, The French bank that captured Haiti: We tracked its profits — and Haiti’s losses, Matt Apuzzo, Constant Méheut, Selam Gebrekidan and Catherine Porter, Published May 20, 2022, Updated May 26, 2022. A Haitian president tried to hold France to account for its years of exploitation. He ended up in exile. ​The U.S. occupation of Haiti began with the bank that became Citigroup, records show.

Haiti’s central bank was set up by a Parisian bank, Crédit Industriel et Commercial. At a time when the company was helping finance one of the world’s best-known landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, as a monument to French liberty, it was choking Haiti’s economy, taking much of the young nation’s income back to Paris and impairing its ability to start schools, hospitals and the other building blocks of an independent country.

Crédit Industriel, known in France as C.I.C., is now a $355 billion subsidiary of one of Europe’s largest financial conglomerates. But its exploits in Haiti left a crippling legacy of financial extraction and dashed hopes — even by the standards of a nation with a long history of both.

May 21

morally.

tom barrack cbs

rnc convention logo

Yahoo News, Prosecutors say Trump ally Thomas Barrack altered 2016 Republican platform to shroud ties of 9/11 hijackers to Saudis: report, John L. Dorman, May 21, 2022. Barrack, shown above in a file photo, altered language about the 9/11 hijackers and Saudis in the 2016 GOP platform, per The Daily Beast.

Thomas Barrack, a billionaire private equity investor who chaired former president Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee, altered the official GOP platform for the 2016 Republican National Convention in an effort to minimize connections between the Saudi Royal Family and the 9/11 hijackers, according to The Daily Beast.

The Department of Justice updated its indictment against Barrack — who in July 2021 was arrested and charged with illegal lobbying, obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI — to reveal the extent of his role at the party's convention, which was held in Cleveland that year.

Barrack was released shortly after his arrest last year on a $250 million bond.

The revised indictment revealed that an individual listed as "Person-1" sent an email to Barrack to alter the Republican messaging at the convention.

"We need to talk about language for me to put in [the national political party] platform at national convention. Can be much more expansive than what we did in speech," said the individual. "Platform language [should be] based on what you hear from your friends."

Trump sought to disclose roughly 28 pages of information that was absent from the September 11 Commission report that detailed Saudi ties to the hijackers, but "Person-1" was insistent that anything that could be construed as "anti the Saudi Royal Family" needed to be axed from the party platform.

Barrack then sent the email to Rashid Al-Malik, an Emirati businessman who last year was indicted by the Justice Department for relaying information to United Arab Emirates spies, per the report.

World Crisis Radio, In wake of Buffalo massacre, US must focus on strategic imperative of national unity to meet totalitarian threats from Russia and China, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., May 21, 2022. webster tarpley twitterFascist ideologues peddling crackpot replacement theory are doing the work of enemy despots Putin and Xi;

Cfr. the track record of Axis agents fomenting race riots at US defense plants during World War II; Lo the bankrupt GOP: not conservative but fascistoid, not Christian but apostate, not nationalist and not patriotic but fishy, not stare decisis but at war with custom, tradition and precedent; To neutralize Thomases & Co., simple statute should add four new justices capable of justice and morality, not legal positivism!

Eleven GOP Quislings in Senate and 57 in House vote against $40 billion to help Ukraine break the back of the world’s worst nuclear menace; Finnish-Swedish bids for NATO membership formalized; Kremlin moves nukes to border and cuts natural gas; Biden activates Defense Production Act to end shortages created by private sector oligopoly. 

 

djt hands open amazon safe

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DOJ under Merrick Garland cannot be trusted to rifle through J6 Committee files, Wayne Madsen, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallleft, syndicated columnist, author of 21 books, former Navy intelligence officer and special temporary FBI agent, May 19-20, 2022. wayne madesen report logo

When it was recently revealed that the Department of Justice had requested the House January 6 Select Committee to provide it with transcripts of committee interviews with individuals involved in the attempt to overthrow the government, this editor's reaction was for the committee to be careful about what it would be sharing.

merrick garlandThere are several reasons why the J6 Committee should distrust DOJ. The first is that [Attorney General Merrick] Garland, right, has shown himself to be completely untrustworthy and bordering on incompetent. His failure to prosecute the January 6 perpetrators at an early stage is one reason. Garland has also permitted federal prosecutors to offer sweetheart plea deals to some of the January 6th insurrectionists, some of whom were extremely violent in both word and action.

john durham CustomAnother reason for distrusting Garland is his failure to fire two prosecutors who are on fishing expeditions on behalf of Donald Trump.

One is Special Prosecutor John Durham, left, who was appointed as one of the last acts by Trump Attorney General William Barr to investigate an alleged massive conspiracy theory dreamed up by Trump and his associates that the "Russia collusion" investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign was a hoax concocted by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and then-President Barack Obama.

Durham is a right-wing ideologue and hack who previously served as U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. Durham is also accused of committing acts of major prosecutorial misconduct in cases in Connecticut. So why is he still on Garland's DOJ team? The answer says more about Garland than it does the corrupt Durham, trying to flog a dead horse on behalf of Trump and his conspiratorial musings.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump falsely assails another election, Pa. officials gird for November, Colby Itkowitz and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 20, 2022 (print ed.). Republican U.S. senate primary likely headed to recount as Trump repeats baseless attack on mail-in ballots.

pennsylvania map major citiesFormer president Donald Trump escalated his baseless assault on Pennsylvania’s elections Thursday even as other Republicans declined to embrace his stance and election officials cautioned that his rhetoric could further erode confidence in the democratic system.

For the second day, Trump again questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots in the state’s too-close-to-call Republican Senate primary race as the former president’s preferred candidate saw his narrow lead dwindle.

A recount is basically assured as Mehmet Oz, who Trump endorsed, now leads David McCormick by just 1,080 votes with thousands of mail-in ballots left to count out of the million-plus that were cast. The winner will go on to compete in one of the most consequential campaigns of the midterms against Democratic nominee John Fetterman.

May 19

NBC News logoNBC News, Michigan election chief: Trump suggested I be arrested for treason and executed, Cynthia McFadden, Kevin Monahan and Alexandra Chaidez, May 19, 2022. Jocelyn Benson said she was told that the former president made the remark in a White House meeting. A Trump spokesman accused Benson of lying.

Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s top election official, faced an onslaught of threats after the 2020 presidential election for refusing to overturn results that showed Joe Biden had won the state. In those hectic weeks, she says she also received an especially disturbing piece of information: President Donald Trump suggested in a White House meeting that she should be arrested for treason and executed.

Benson, a Democrat, revealed the alleged remark for the first time in an interview with NBC News. She said she learned of it from a source familiar with Trump’s White House meeting.

“It was surreal and I felt sad,” Benson said, recalling her reaction.

“It certainly amplified the heightened sense of anxiety, stress and uncertainty of that time — which I still feel in many ways — because it showed there was no bottom to how far he (Trump) and his supporters were willing to stoop to overturn or discredit a legitimate election.”
Secretary of state races in the spotlight as false election theories take root in U.S.
May 19, 202203:33

Reached for comment, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said: "I have it on good authority that Secretary Benson knowingly lied throughout her interview with NBC News."

Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, is now locked in an election fight with a Republican candidate who parrots Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. In speeches and on her podcast, Kristina Karamo has said the election was “rigged and stolen” and “Secretary of State Benson should go to jail.”

A community college instructor, Karamo has secured the endorsement of the state GOP party and, more pivotally, Trump himself.

“She is strong on crime, including the massive crime of election fraud,” Trump said in his endorsement.

May 14

World Crisis Radio, Kremlin responds with rocket-rattling to looming NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, May 14, 2022. Expansion of 1949 North Atlantic Pact is once in webster tarpley twittera century event made possible by Putin’s fanaticism and stupidity; Russians forced into humiliating retreat from Kharkiv, blowing up bridges as they go; Ukrainians close to border at Belgorod;

Weak and sickly Putin presides over low-budget May 9 nothing-burger commemoration under pall of defeat; Possible contenders for anti-Putin palace coup reputedly include Bortnikov of FSB, now eclipsed by GRU owing to unreliable Ukraine intel; National Security Council boss Patrushev, the foremost among the siloviki; and (less likely) the boyish Kremlin apparatchik Dmitri Kovalev;

Abortion now tied with inflation as top US voting issue;

Consternation at Fox News over next Tuesday’s Pennsylvania GOP primary marked by fratricide of negative ads: If extremism is the only coin of the realm, a bidding war among nihilist demagogues is likely; Troglodyte reactionares Mastroiano and Barnette could top PA GOP ticket!

Breaking: Hill GOP’s sabotage of Covid funding puts American lives at risk!

May 12

 

 

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents..

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump wanted to court-martial prominent retired officers, former defense secretary’s book says, Dan Lamothe, May 12, 2022 (print ed.). In A Sacred Oath, former defense secretary Mark Esper details his often uneasy tenure in Trump’s Cabinet.

mark esperPresident Donald Trump wanted to court-martial two prominent retired military officers for their perceived slights and disloyalty, his former defense secretary Mark T. Esper, right, alleges in a new book, the latest insider account to raise claims about the combative commander in chief and his attempts to upend government institutions.

Department of Defense SealTrump, Esper recounts in A Sacred Oath, had developed a disdain for Stanley McChrystal and William H. McRaven, popular and influential leaders who, in retirement, criticized the president.

When Trump informed Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (below right,, of his wish to see McChrystal and McRaven court-martialed, the two Pentagon leaders “jumped to their defense,” Esper writes, arguing that both completed distinguished military careers and that taking such action would be “extreme and unwarranted.”

“Doing this ‘will backfire on you, Mr. President,’ we said,” Esper writes. “The discussion went back and forth a little while longer in the Oval Office, with Milley finally figuring out a way to get the president to back down by promising that he would personally call the officers and ask them to dial it back.”

mark esper bookThe alleged episode highlights Esper’s often uneasy tenure in Trump’s Cabinet, a fraught 15 months when, according to his memoir, he endeavored to serve as a guardrail on Trump’s most alarming and inappropriate impulses.

White House intensifies effort to install Pentagon personnel seen as loyal to Trump

Elsewhere in the book, Esper describes a campaign to purge officials deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump in favor of others thought to be more pliable.

mark milley army chief of staffA White House liaison assigned to the Pentagon “expressed an interest in ‘interviewing’ the DOD’s senior officers, which we saw as a code for loyalty tests,” Esper recalls. “We shut this down immediately.”

In an interview, Esper said Trump’s desire to punish McChrystal and McRaven was “obviously disconcerting” and that he considers the two men to be heroes.

“If I wasn’t there and Milley wasn’t there, what would have happened?” he said. “And what would it have done to the military profession for a president to call back to active duty two … retired four-stars and to try and court-martial them for publicly expressing their views?”

May 10

  

Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ obtains secret January 6th text messages between Roger Stone and Alex Jones, Bill Palmer, May 10, 2022. Shortly after the DOJ rounded up the entire Oath Keepers leadership in January, and flipped at least one of them against Trump world, it set up a dedicated prosecutor and grand jury to target Trump world for January 6th related crimes. Since that time, additional Oath Keepers and Proud Boys leaders have cut cooperation deals with the DOJ.

bill palmer report logo headerNow CNN is reporting that the DOJ has obtained encrypted January 6th “Signal” text messages involving Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, and the Oath Keepers. The CNN article doesn’t explicitly say as much, but since Signal is an encrypted app, the implication is that someone who’s cooperating may have turned over these messages to the DOJ.

In any case, we now have confirmation that the DOJ has indeed pierced Trump’s inner circle with regard to January 6th. Keep in mind that while we didn’t learn until last month that the DOJ has a grand jury targeting Trump world, the reporting is that the grand jury has been proceeding since at least January – and now we know the DOJ has the secret encrypted January 6th communications that Roger Stone and Alex Jones were counting on never seeing the light of day.

May 9

 

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 Inaugution.

May 7

 

 

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter, Cat Zakrzewski, May 7, 2022 (print ed.). The former president accused the social network of violating the First Amendment by suspending his account after Jan. 6.

A California judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that Donald Trump filed against Twitter, the latest blow to the former president’s high-profile battles with major tech companies over their decisions to suspend his accounts in the fallout of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

twitter bird CustomThe lawsuit, which Trump initially filed last year in Florida along with suits targeting Google and Facebook, was viewed as part of a broader strategy to appeal to conservatives who have long argued that social media companies unfairly censor their viewpoints. The judge’s dismissal comes after Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced his plans to buy Twitter, taking issue over content moderation decisions he views as limiting free speech — and raising speculation that Trump could return to the platform.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge James Donato rejected Trump’s argument that Twitter was operating as a “state actor” when it suspended his account in January 2021, calling it not plausible. Trump had claimed that Twitter was constrained by the First Amendment’s restrictions on government limitations of free speech because it had acted in cooperation with government officials.

May 4

 

 

stewart rhodes

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Sought to Ask Trump to Unleash His Militia, Alan Feuer, May 4, 2022. An account of how the militia leader, Stewart Rhodes, tried to reach Donald Trump on Jan. 6 with a plan to help keep him in power was revealed in federal court.

Even as the beleaguered police were still trying to disperse a violent mob at the Capitol last January, Stewart Rhodes, above, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, undertook a desperate, last-ditch effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in the White House, according to court papers released on Wednesday.

In a suite at the Phoenix Park Hotel, just blocks from the Capitol, Mr. Rhodes called an unnamed intermediary and, the papers said, repeatedly implored the person to ask Mr. Trump to mobilize his group to forcibly stop the transition of presidential power.

But the person refused to speak with Mr. Trump, the papers said. And once the call was over, Mr. Rhodes, turning to a group of his associates, declared, “I just want to fight.”

Witnessing this scene, which unfolded in the twilight hours of Jan. 6, 2021, was William Todd Wilson, a midlevel Oath Keepers leader from North Carolina. On Wednesday, Mr. Wilson, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to charges of seditious conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigation of the Oath Keepers’ role in the Capitol attack.

Mr. Wilson’s tale of what took place at the Phoenix Park — the same hotel that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys, had stayed at days earlier — was among the most dramatic accounts to have emerged so far in the government’s monthslong investigation of the Oath Keepers.

In a 15-page statement of offense released in conjunction with his plea, Mr. Wilson also admitted to helping stockpile weapons in hotel rooms in Virginia for a so-called quick reaction force assembled to “provide firearms or cover to co-conspirators” who were “operating inside of Washington” on Jan. 6.

With his guilty plea, Mr. Wilson, a military and law enforcement veteran, became the third member of the Oath Keepers charged with sedition to reach a deal with the Justice Department to help in its most serious criminal case connected to the Capitol attack. As part of their inquiry, prosecutors have fanned out across the country interviewing dozens of members of the group. More than 20 Oath Keepers have been charged.

The new court papers paint a picture of Mr. Wilson as a man enraged by the results of the 2020 election. In early November, for example, he expressed outrage in an Oath Keepers group chat after Georgia was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Rigged,” he wrote. And then, “I’m ready to go coyote hunting.”

On Dec. 14, 2020 — the day that a majority of electors cast their votes for Mr. Biden in the Electoral College — Mr. Wilson saw an article posted in the group chat that was written by Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s onetime national security adviser. The article warned about “unelected tyrants,” and Mr. Wilson wrote to his compatriots, “It is time to fight.”

After several phone calls with Mr. Rhodes in early January, Mr. Wilson admitted driving from North Carolina to the Washington area on Jan. 5 with an AR-15-style rifle, a 9-milimeter pistol, 200 rounds of ammunition, body armor, pepper spray and a pocketknife. As he traveled, court papers say, he posted a message in the group chat, saying, “It’s going to hit the fan tonight!”

Just two days after voting ended, prosecutors say, Mr. Rhodes told several members of his group to refuse to accept Mr. Biden’s victory — by force, if necessary.

“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” he wrote on the encrypted chat app Signal. “Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”

CBS News, DHS watchdog says Trump's acting DHS secretary changed intel report on Russian interference in 2020 election, Nicole Sganga and Olivia Gazis, Updated May 4, 2022. Former Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf changed and delayed an intelligence report detailing Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, according to a new review by the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) top watchdog.

CBS News logoThe decision to deviate from DHS standard review procedures "rais[ed] objectivity concerns," according to the report, and led to the perception that unorthodox interference by a top DHS official was intended to help Donald Trump's reelection bid.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at DHS, through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), released the redacted results of its investigation into Russian interference in the election — "DHS Actions Related to an I&A Intelligence Product Deviated from Standard Procedures" — on Tuesday.

us dhs big eagle logo4"We found that DHS did not adequately follow its internal processes and comply with applicable [intelligence community] policy standards and requirements when editing and disseminating an I&A intelligence product regarding Russian interference with the 2020 U.S. Presidential election," the DHS OIG report states, in part.

"The acting secretary participated in the review process multiple times despite lacking any formal role in reviewing the product, resulting in the delay of its dissemination on at least one occasion," the DHS inspector general report continued. "The delays and deviation from I & A standard process and requirements put [them] at risk of creating a perception of politicization."

Analysts in DHS' Cyber Mission Center (CYMC) began drafting the original intelligence product titled, "Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Electoral Dynamics" in April 2020, to warn state and local governments of a noticeable uptick in Russian state media efforts to question then-candidate President Joe Biden's mental health after Super Tuesday.

The DHS analyst who first raised the concern "believed foreign efforts questioning a candidate's health were worth exploring because they could impact voters' willingness to vote for that candidate and began drafting the product," the OIG report read. "In its initial form, the product was approximately two pages in length and included information relating to one 'current Democratic presidential candidate' and to Russian activities to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential election."

At a July 8, 2020, meeting, Acting Secretary Chad Wolf — who is referenced to by his title but never named in Tuesday's OIG report — determined that the intelligence document should be "held" because it "made the President look bad," according to a whistleblower complaint.

The whistleblower, Brian Murphy, who was then principal deputy under secretary at I&A, also alleged that Wolf ordered him to shift the focus of future assessments to interference efforts by China and Iran, and that instructions to do so had come from White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien. Murphy declined to comply, he said in the complaint, because "doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger."

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Jury to Consider Whether Trump Illegally Interfered in 2020 Election, Richard Fausset, May 3, 2022 (print ed.). The panel will have up to a year to recommend whether the prosecutor should pursue criminal charges against the former President Trump and his allies.

As the criminal investigation of Donald J. Trump by Manhattan prosecutors appears to be stalling out, the separate investigation into whether the former president and his allies illegally interfered with Georgia’s 2020 election results took a significant step forward on Monday, as 23 people were chosen to serve on a special investigative grand jury.

djt hands up mouth open CustomThe panel will focus exclusively on “whether there were unlawful attempts to disrupt the administration of the 2020 elections here in Georgia,” Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court told 200 potential jurors who had been called to a downtown Atlanta courthouse swarming with law enforcement agents.

The ability of the special grand jury to subpoena witnesses and documents will help prosecutors, who have encountered resistance from some potential witnesses who have declined to testify voluntarily. The panel will have up to a year to issue a report advising District Attorney Fani T. Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges.

Some legal experts have said the inquiry could be perilous for Mr. Trump, who, in a January 2021 phone call, asked Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to put Mr. Trump ahead of his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in Georgia’s presidential election tally.

The seating of the Georgia grand jury comes as a criminal inquiry in Manhattan has come to an apparent standstill. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, is said to be concerned about the strength of the New York case, which focuses on whether Mr. Trump exaggerated the value of assets in annual financial statements. People close to the investigation have told The New York Times that the inquiry may lose steam if other witnesses do not step up to cooperate.

In the Georgia case, a group of legal experts, in an analysis published last year by the Brookings Institution, wrote that the call to Mr. Raffensperger, and other postelection moves by Mr. Trump, put the former president at “substantial risk” of criminal charges in Georgia, including racketeering, election fraud solicitation, intentional interference with performance of election duties and conspiracy to commit election fraud.

The investigation is also likely to look at Trump allies who inserted themselves into election administration matters in Georgia, including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff. The investigation is within the purview of the Fulton County district attorney because many of the actions in question took place in or involved phone calls to officials in Fulton County, which includes the State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta and numerous government offices.

 Recent Headlines

May 7

World Crisis Radio, Commnetary: Alito draft ending Roe v. Wade declares war on all rights in US, but backlash builds! Webster G. Tarpley, right, May 7, 2022 (74:49 webster tarpley twittermins). Supreme Court leak reveals GOP’s creeping coup to overthrow democracy;

Mass mobilization, not ultra-left sectarian fratricide, needed to decimate Republicans in Congress, end filibuster, pass Roe as a statute, and add new justices; Extinction of Republicans as biggest threat to America now long overdue; Fascist dictatorship looms;

Depravity of Supremes majority derives from postwar legal positivism, a doctrine which banishes justice and morality from law; Originalism and textualism are forms of legal positivism;

Alito proves himself a constitutional ignoramus by neglecting Ninth Amendment, which leaves door wide open to new rights deriving from social, economic, and scientific progress;

Self-cannibalization of GOP, the party of hedge fund hyenas: Pompeo attacks Dr. Oz as security risk, Esper attacks Stephen Miller as mad bomber of Mexico, and Trump’s endorsement leaves Ohio Hillbilly with fewer than one third of the votes;

Biden job expansion continues strong beyond twelfth month; Inflation is an international phenomenon generated by objective factors of pandemic; Nuclear renaissance triggered by Putin’s energy war;

Putin prepares for May 9 monster fest with no victories to show; Reports say Russian frigate Admiral Makarov crippled by missile, and first T-90 tanks destroyed; Alt-left and alt-right spread demoralization in west; Beware demagogic stunts by the sickly dictator during hollow anniversary!

May 6

Proof, Investigative Commentary:The Real Supreme Court Leak in Dobbs v. Jackson Isn’t the One You Think—and May Point Toward the Leaker’s Identity, Seth seth abramson proof logoAbramson, May 6, 2022. It turns out Alito’s draft opinion on abortion may have leaked earlier than believed, and not to Politico but another—farther right—outlet. This revelation may hold the key to a historic leak probe.

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

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

May 5

 

supreme court Custom

 

supreme court 2018 group photo cropped Custom

SCOTUSblog, Analysis: How the leak might have happened, Tom Goldstein (SCOTUSblog editor and founder, and prominent litigator before the Supreme Court), May 5, 2022. Among the debates generated by the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs is whether the leaker was conservative or liberal. The leak will ultimately pale in importance to the court’s decision once it is issued; the ruling will directly affect the lives and rights of tens of millions of people. But in the meantime, the motives of the leaker are an important topic because they help explain why an institution that zealously guards its secrets suddenly seems porous.

Start from the premise that there were actually (at least) two leakers, and three leaks. The first leak was to the Wall Street Journal editorial board last week. john roberts oIn substance, it was that the court had voted to overrule Roe v. Wade, but that the precise outcome remains in doubt because Chief Justice John Roberts, right, is trying to persuade either Justice Brett Kavanaugh or Justice Amy Coney Barrett to a more moderate position that would uphold the Mississippi abortion restriction without formally overturning Roe.

While not formally presented as relying on a leak, the editorial transparently does. The most obvious example is that it predicts that Alito samuel alito ois drafting a majority opinion to overrule Roe, but gives no explanation for that prediction and none is apparent. We now know that Alito, left, did draft that opinion.

The second leak was to Politico. Likely within the past few days, a person familiar with the court’s deliberations told them that five members of the court – Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch – originally voted to overturn Roe and that remains the current vote. In addition, the position of the chief justice is unclear. The remaining justices are dissenting.

The third leak was also to Politico. It was presumably – but not certainly – by the same person. Someone provided them with Alito’s Feb. 10 draft opinion.

Note as well what was not leaked. Politico seemingly was not told which justices had joined the Alito opinion. (The fact that five justices voted in December politico Customto overturn Roe as a general matter does not mean that all five of them necessarily would have agreed to sign on to Alito’s draft.) And Politico apparently was not provided with a subsequent draft, which ordinarily would have circulated to the court by now – in response to comments from some members of the would-be majority.

Here is what you would conclude is the state of play if you took all the leaks as both accurate and pretty complete (assumptions that, admittedly, are by no means certain). Alito’s opinion probably has been joined by Thomas and Gorsuch. Kavanaugh and Barrett have yet to join – most likely because they are waiting to consider an alternative opinion from the chief justice.

In these circumstances, which ideological side would think it benefits from leaking the opinion? It seems to me, that is the left. I can see conservatives believing that they would gain from leaking the fact that Kavanaugh had originally voted to strike down Roe. They might believe it would tend to lock him into that position. But that was accomplished by leaking that fact to both The Wall Street Journal and Politico.

The question here is who believed they would benefit from leaking the opinion itself. That document was much more likely to rally liberals than conservatives. It brought home the fact that the court was poised to overrule Roe in much more concrete terms than merely leaking the vote. The opinion is also a full-throated attack on abortion rights and – with important caveats – substantive due process rights more broadly. And as a first draft – without the benefit of later refinement – it does not yet present the critique of Roe in its most persuasive form.

It is also important to look at the leak of the opinion through the lens of the fact that someone – almost certainly a conservative – had just before leaked the court’s tentative decision and the state of the voting to The Wall Street Journal. That leak was itself an extraordinary and unethical breach of confidences and certainly caused very deep concern inside the court.

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoMy guess is that someone on the left felt somewhat justified in releasing the opinion in response. Through the opinion, one would see what the Journal was saying Kavanaugh and Barrett, right, were considering. That leak was a historically unprecedented violation of the deepest and most solemn trust among the justices and the court’s staff. It wounded the institution.

One small note about the identity of the leaker. There has been some speculation that turns on a supposed relationship with Josh Gerstein, the Politico legal affairs reporter who is the lead author on their story. It seems to me that the leak very likely runs instead through the other reporter with a byline on the story: Alexander Ward, who is a national security reporter. In response to questions from The Washington Post, Politico confirmed that the story was very tightly held from even its own staff. Almost surely, the leaker would have insisted on that confidentiality. I cannot think of a reason that Ward would have been on the story other than that the leaker communicated through him, not Gerstein. And Politico would have felt compelled to give Ward a byline on such a historic scoop.

May 3

disney world mickey mouse facebook

San Francisco Chronicle, Opinion: No, Ron DeSantis’ battle with Disney isn’t just political grandstanding, Burt Neuborne and Erwin Chemerinsky, Updated May 3, 2022. The core principle underlying the First Amendment is that government cannot punish speech because it disagrees with its viewpoint. But that is exactly what Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have done to the Disney corporation for having dared to oppose legislation limiting discussion of gay issues in Florida’s public schools.

We think the Supreme Court was wrong in Citizens United when it granted full free speech rights to corporations like Disney. Nor are we fans of delegating government powers to profit-driven corporations. But, as long as corporations continue to function as powerful First Amendment speakers, the worst thing we could do is empower an all-powerful regulatory state to turn corporate speakers into mouthpieces for the government by punishing them for failing to toe the party-line. That’s how Vladimir Putin rules Russia.

ron desantis hands outGov. DeSantis, right, and Florida state lawmakers have revoked a 55-year-old arrangement that allowed the Walt Disney Co. to self-govern its 25,000-acre Disney World complex. Stripping Disney of its local governmental powers was done for just one reason, and DeSantis was explicit about it: Disney CEO Bob Chapek had criticized Florida’s recently adopted law prohibiting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain elementary school classrooms. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature were simply retaliating for Chapek’s criticism of the “don’t say gay” law.

It was once the law that government could condition the grant of a so-called “privilege,” like Disney’s authority to exercise delegated local government power, on any terms it wished. But over a half century ago, the Supreme Court rejected that approach and repeatedly has held that the regulatory state may not condition the continued enjoyment of a government-granted benefit on the recipient’s waiver of its First Amendment rights. Under disney logosettled First Amendment principles, the Florida Legislature could not provide that a person’s license to practice medicine or law, or their eligibility to receive welfare benefits, could be made contingent on supporting government policy.

Simply put, the government cannot condition the discretionary grant of a benefit on a recipient’s waiver of a constitutional right. The Supreme Court, applying its “unconstitutional condition” doctrine, has struck down efforts to condition government funding of public television stations on a waiver of the station’s First Amendment right to use privately raised funds to support news programs.

Florida’s effort to condition Disney’s continued exercise of local government authority on its support for the governor’s anti-gay bill is no different. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have unconstitutionally conditioned Disney’s ability to exercise local government benefits on the company’s silence.

There is a temptation to dismiss Florida’s action as political grandstanding by a governor who wants to run for president and is seeking issues that play to his base. Going after Disney for being too supportive of gays received just the headlines DeSantis wanted.

But if DeSantis and the Florida Republicans can get away with this, there will be no stopping their power to use the machinery of government to punish and silence their critics — corporate or otherwise. If DeSantis gets away with punishing Disney for its speech, any corporation, indeed any person receiving a benefit from a government will risk losing it unless they toe the party line. The potential for government manipulation of corporate — and other — speech is enormous.

May 2

Investigations: Challenges To Democratic Norms

 

tucker carlson fox horizontal

ny times logoNew York Times, Part 1: Tucker Carlson, once a failed pundit, stoked white fear to conquer cable, Nicholas Confessore, April 30, 2022. A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

Tucker Carlson burst through the doors of Charlie Palmer Steak, enfolded in an entourage of producers and assistants, cellphone pressed to his ear. On the other end was Lachlan Murdoch, chairman of the Fox empire and his de facto boss.

fox news logo SmallMost of Fox’s Washington bureau, along with the cable network’s top executives, had gathered at the power-class steakhouse, a few blocks from the office, for their annual holiday party. Days earlier, Mr. Carlson had set off an uproar, claiming on air that mass immigration made America “poor and dirtier.” Blue-chip advertisers were fleeing. Within Fox, Mr. Carlson was widely viewed to have finally crossed some kind of line. Many wondered what price he might pay.

The answer became clear that night in December 2018: absolutely none.

When “Tucker Carlson Tonight” aired, Mr. Carlson doubled down, playing video of his earlier comments and citing a report from an Arizona government agency that said each illegal border crossing left up to eight pounds of litter in the desert. Afterward, on the way to the Christmas party, Mr. Carlson spoke directly with Mr. Murdoch, who praised his counterattack, according to a former Fox employee told of the exchange.

“We’re good,” Mr. Carlson said, grinning triumphantly, as he walked into the restaurant.

In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful.

 

sean hannity uncredited

ny times logoNew York Times, Part 2: How Tucker Carlson reshaped Fox News — and became Trump’s heir, Nicholas Confessore, May 2, 2022 (print ed.). A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

Tucker Carlson had a problem.

tucker carlsonAfter years in the cable wilderness, he had made a triumphant return to prime time. And his new show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” had leapfrogged to the heart of Fox News’s evening lineup just months after Donald J. Trump’s upset victory shattered the boundaries of conventional politics.

But as Mr. Trump thrashed through his first months in office, Mr. Carlson, right, found himself with an unexpected programming challenge: Fox was too pro-Trump. The new president watched his favorite network religiously, and often tweeted about what he saw there, while Fox broadcasts reliably parroted White House messaging. No one was more on message than Sean Hannity, shown above, then Fox’s highest-rated star, who frequently devoted his show to Mr. Trump’s daily battles with Washington Democrats and the media.

Newly planted in Fox’s newly vacated 8 p.m. time slot — previously held by the disgraced star Bill O’Reilly — Mr. Carlson told friends and co-workers that he needed to find a way to reach the Trump faithful, but without imitating Mr. Hannity. He didn’t want to get sucked into apologizing for Mr. Trump every day, he told one colleague, because the fickle, undisciplined new president would constantly need apologizing for.

The solution would not just propel Mr. Carlson toward the summit of cable news. It would ultimately thrust him to the forefront of the nationalist forces reshaping American conservatism. “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the host and his producers decided, would embrace Trumpism, not Mr. Trump. The show would grasp the emotional core of Mr. Trump’s allure — white panic over the country’s changing ethnic composition — while keeping a carefully measured distance from the president himself. For years, as his television career sputtered, Mr. Carlson had adopted increasingly catastrophic views of immigration and the country’s shifting demographics. Now, as Mr. Trump took unvarnished nativism from the right-wing fringe to the Oval Office, Mr. Carlson made it the centerpiece of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

ny times logoNew York Times, American Nationalist: Part 3, Nicholas Confessore, April 30, 2022 (print edition upcoming). A New York Times investigative analysis in three parts of 1,100 episodes of the apocalyptic worldview of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," the top-rated 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Fox News.

The nightly message to audience about the audience's domestic enemies in the media and among Democratic leaders and Left activists: "They don't care what you think. They want to control what you do."

 

April Updates

April 30

World Crisis Radio, 40 nations meeting at Ramstein AFB to assist Ukraine defense, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, April 30, 2022. Over 40 nations webster tarpley 2007meeting monthly at Ramstein AFB to assist Ukraine defense are the world’s alternative to Putin’s cutthroat anarchy; Dictator threatens Blitzkrieg attack on nations sending arms to Ukraine;

Russians fire 5 missiles at downtown Kyiv just minutes after Zelensky’s meeting with UN Secretary General Guterres: was it reckless disregard for his life or a deliberate assassination attempt? The legal basis for expelling Russia from the United Nations emerges-

Possible application of the enemy states clause of the UN Charter against the USSR/Russian Federation as de facto Axis power & ally of Nazi Germany between August 1939 and June 1940;

Twilight of the oligarchs: cynical nihilists run wild on Kremlin media: RT boss Simonyan sees nuclear war as most likely outcome of Russia’s defeat; Solovyov agrees; all claim to be willing to die for mission of Third Rome; Dugin wants Russsian troops in Cuba;

To block threatened Russian moves west of Odessa, EU should sponsor long-awaited unification of Moldova with NATO member Romania, producing a stronger state allied with west and further neutralizing Russian-occupied exclave of Transnistria;

Dems take note: Goal of redistricting is not to prevent gerrymandering, but to stop fascist dictatorship; GOP primary tests of value of Trump’s endorsement start next week!

April 28

 

Collage of photos portraying the career and memoir of Abraham Bolden, recruited by President John F. Kennedy from the Illinois State Police force to become the first African-American on a Secret Service presidential protection detail. Bolden's memoir,

Shown above is a collage of photos portraying the career and memoir of Abraham Bolden, recruited by President John F. Kennedy from the Illinois State Police force to become the first African-American on a Secret Service presidential protection detail. Bolden's memoir, "The Echo from Dealey Plaza," documents how he was framed and convicted on corruption charges in a trial with many highly dubious procedures after he sought to describe publicly security flaws in JFK's Secret Service protections. The Justice Integrity Project, among other researchers, has for years described Bolden as victim of a frame-up who deserves a presidential pardon, wihch President Biden announced on April 26, 2022.

JFK Facts, Commentary: Biden pardons Abraham Bolden, the only Secret Service agent who sought JFK accountability, Jefferson Morley, right, April 27, 2022. The jefferson morley newgood news is that President Biden has pardoned Abraham Bolden, the first African-American Secret Service agent, who was falsely convicted on bribery charges in the 1960s.

The bad news is that initial reports emphasize Bolden was persecuted for the color of his skin, which is true enough but not the whole story.

Bolden was silenced because he raised questions about the causes of JFK’s assassination. For doing his job, he was targeted, defamed, and railroaded.

After Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, Bolden said lax procedures and heavy drinking in JFK’s detail may have contributed to the breakdown of security in Dallas. He also called attention to a possible plot against Kennedy in Chicago in early November 1963.

From British historian John Simkin:

Bolden claimed that in October, 1963, the Chicago Secret Service office received a teletype from the Federal Bureau of Investigation warning that an attempt would be made to kill President John F. Kennedy by a four-man Cuban hit squad when he visited the city on 2nd November. Armed with high-powered rifles, the men from “a dissident Cuban group”. According to investigative journalist Edwin Black, the Secret Service arrested two suspects, however, they were eventually released.

Abraham Bolden later discovered that this information was being kept from the Warren Commission. When he complained about this he was warned “to keep his mouth shut”. Bolden decided to travel to Washington where he telephoned Warren Commission Counsel J. Lee Rankin.

That’s when Bolden was arrested and charged with discussing a bribe with two known counterfeiters. He was convicted on the testimony of a witness who later recanted and spent close to four years in prison.

In fact, the Secret Service and J. Edgar Hoover, the racist FBI director, wanted to blame JFK’s death entirely on Lee Harvey Oswald–the accused assassin who was conveniently dead–and absolve their agents of any responsibility for Kennedy’s violent death. In the end, only one Secret Service agent lost his job after Kennedy’s murder, the only one who served the martyred president faithfully: Abe Bolden.

Bolden chronicled his journey from a ‘first’ to a ‘disgraced’ Secret Service agent in his 2008 memoir ‘The Echo from Dealey Plaza.’”

Nonetheless, ABC News is reporting the story without reference to JFK’s assassination.

Following his conviction in a second trial, key witnesses admitted lying at the prosecutor’s request. Bolden, of Chicago, was denied a retrial and served several years in federal prison. Bolden has maintained his innocence and wrote a book in which he argued he was targeted for speaking out against racist and unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.

Source: Biden pardons former Secret Service agent and 2 others – ABC News

The bad faith of the Secret Service was exposed in 1995 when the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) was seeking documents about the events of 1963. The Secret Service informed the ARRB that it had just destroyed “presidential protection survey reports for some of President Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963.” Those records might have given credence to Bolden’s allegations. Instead they were shredded.

Major U.S. news organizations often tip-toe around inconvenient facts of the JFK story that call into question the official theory of a “lone gunman.” The full story of Bolden’s overdue pardon is one such story.

joe biden 4 26 2022

ap logoAssociated Press via ABC News, Biden pardons former Secret Service agent and 2 others, Aamer Madhani, April 26, 2022. President Joe Biden is announcing he has granted the first three pardons of his term.President Joe Biden has granted the first three pardons of his term, providing clemency to a Kennedy-era Secret Service agent convicted of federal bribery charges that he tried to sell a copy of an agency file and to two people who were convicted on drug-related charges but went on to become pillars in their communities.

The Democratic president also commuted the sentences of 75 others for nonviolent, drug-related convictions. The White House announced the clemencies Tuesday as it launched a series of job training and reentry programs for those in prison or recently released.

Many of those who received commutations have been serving their sentences on home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several were serving lengthy sentences and would have received lesser terms had they been convicted today for the same offenses as a result of the 2018 bipartisan sentencing reform ushered into law by the Trump administration.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the clemencies. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities.”

Those granted pardons are:

— Abraham Bolden Sr., 86, the first Black Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail. In 1964, Bolden, who served on President John F. Kennedy's detail, faced federal bribery charges that he attempted to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. His first trial ended in a hung jury.

Following his conviction in a second trial, key witnesses admitted lying at the prosecutor's request. Bolden, of Chicago, was denied a retrial and served several years in federal prison. Bolden has maintained his innocence and wrote a book in which he argued he was targeted for speaking out against racist and unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.

— Betty Jo Bogans, 51, was convicted in 1998 of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in Texas after attempting to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice. Bogans, a single mother with no prior record, received a seven-year sentence. In the years since her release from prison, Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing cancer treatment, and has raised a son.

— Dexter Jackson , 52, of Athens, Georgia, was convicted in 2002 for using his pool hall to facilitate the trafficking of marijuana. Jackson pleaded guilty and acknowledged he allowed his business to be used by marijuana dealers.

After Jackson was released from prison, he converted his business into a cellphone repair service that employs local high school students through a program that provides young adults with work experience. Jackson has built and renovated homes in his community, which has a shortage of affordable housing.

Civil rights and criminal justice reform groups have pushed the White House to commute sentences and work harder to reduce disparities in the criminal justice system. Biden’s grants of clemency also come as the administration has faced congressional scrutiny over misconduct and the treatment of inmates in the beleaguered federal Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for inmates serving sentences of home confinement.

Biden, as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped shepherd through the 1994 crime bill that many criminal justice experts say contributed to harsh sentences and mass incarceration of Black people.

During his 2020 White House run, Biden vowed to reduce the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. and called for nonviolent drug offenders to be diverted to drug courts and treatment.

He also has pushed for better training for law enforcement and called for criminal justice system changes to address disparities that have led to minorities and the poor making up a disproportionate share of the nation's incarcerated population.

Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, granted 143 pardons and clemency to 237 during his four years in office.

Trump sought the advice of prison reform advocate Alice Johnson, a Black woman whose life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense he commuted in 2018. He was also lobbied by celebrity Kim Kardashian as well as advisers inside the White House, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as he weighed applications for clemency.

The Republican used his pardon authority to help several political friends and allies, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father-in-law of Ivanka Trump.

Among Trump's final acts as president was pardoning his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Al Pirro, the husband of Fox News host and Trump ally Jeanine Pirro.

Prosecutors alleged that Bannon, who had yet to stand trial when he was pardoned, had duped thousands of donors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, Bannon allegedly diverted more than $1 million, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself. Pirro was convicted in 2000 on tax charges.

With the slate of pardons and commutations announced Tuesday, Biden has issued more grants of clemency than any of the previous five presidents at this point in their terms, according to the White House.

In addition to the grants of clemency, Biden announced several new initiatives that are meant to help formerly incarcerated people gain employment — an issue that his administration is driving home as key to lowering crime rates and preventing recidivism.

The Labor Department is directing $140 million toward programs that offer job training, pre-apprenticeship programs, digital literacy training and pre-release and post-release career counseling and more for youth and incarcerated adults.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year includes a trio of grant programs that the administration says promote hiring of formerly incarcerated individuals. And the Labor and Justice Departments announced on Tuesday a collaborative plan to provide $145 million over the next year on job skills training as well as individualized employment and reentry plans for people serving time in the Bureau of Prisons.

Biden said the new initiatives are vital to helping the more than 600,000 people released from prison each year get on stable ground.

"Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime," Biden said.

April 24

Kennedys & King, Book Review: Michel Gagne: On Not thinking Critically, April 24, 2022. Introduction: Jim DiEugenio, left, dips into the mire and provides a jim dieugenio filemercifully brief and even somewhat generous review of Michel Jacques Gagne ironically named book, Thinking Critically about the Kennedy Assassination, which might be one of the worst written tomes in the last few years.

Michel Jacques Gagne teaches at a junior college near Montreal. He has titled his book about the murder of John F. Kennedy Thinking Critically about the Kennedy Assassination. From that title, one would think the author would set forth a rather cool and methodical description of the state of the evidence in the JFK case today.

That is not what this book is about. Gagne uses the same general pretext that the late Gary Mack used when he became an employee of the Sixth Floor Museum, namely, that he had formerly been a believer in a JFK conspiracy. But suddenly, one fine day, like St. Paul on the way to Damascus, he had a vision. The vision told him to read the Warren Report, which rather weirdly he had not yet done, even though he had been in the JFK field awhile. He then wrote two published pieces, one in 2013 and one in 2017 about the case. (The second one was for Michael Shermer in Skeptic, which tells us a good deal.)

In his Author’s Preface, he tells us he has learned three things on his journey:

1. To follow sound logic and evidence wherever they lead.
2. Engage in respectful and meaningful exchanges.
3. Do not speculate too much, if it’s not merited.

Very soon, Gagne writes that a conspiracy could not have occurred without being exposed by the proper authorities. (Gagne, p. 5) The FBI and the Warren Commission were the proper authorities. Knowing the kind of inquiry those two bodies ran; how could anyone make such a statement? FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover admitted on more than one occasion that he knew Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, p. 246) Gagne then breaks his rule #2 as described above with: “As we will see, conspiracists rarely subject their convictions to the scrutiny of formal logical analysis…” When in fact, this process happens all the time in the critical community. (That rule will now be broken literally scores of times by Gagne. Per page count, he uses as much in the way of insult and invective contra the critics as say Vincent Bugliosi did.)

We then go into Part 1 of the book. This whole opening section is simply a recital of the Warren Report’s evidence against Oswald. Right here I said to myself: “This is Gagne’s idea of thinking critically?” How anyone today could accept every major conclusion and every aspect of the evidentiary record as left by the Commission is kind of shocking. To note one lacuna: In this section, Gagne does not mention Sam Holland, who Josiah Thompson in Last Second in Dallas names as the most important witness to the crime. To note another: Gagne places Oswald on the 6th floor without comment. (Gagne, p. 27) He even notes the three witnesses on the 5th floor who allegedly heard shells hitting the ceiling above them, when, to take just one of them, Harold Norman made no mention of this noise during his first FBI interview on November 26, 1963. And there is no trace of him saying any such thing prior. The story did not materialize until December 2, 1963, apparently under the tutelage of the notorious Secret Service cover up agent Elmer Moore. (DiEugenio, p. 55)

...

As the reader can see, under analysis, this book is really almost a comedy of errors. I won’t even go into the personal portrait of Kennedy that the author draws. Gagne insinuates that the Kennedys were in on the CIA/Mafia plots to kill Castro. The CIA’s own 1967 Inspector General report admits the Agency never had presidential approval for the plots. (I.G. Report, pp. 132–34) He also writes that Lyndon Johnson believed he was following Kennedy’s policy in Vietnam. (Gagne, p. 186) In JFK Revisited, Oliver Stone plays a tape of Johnson talking to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. On that tape LBJ says he was aware of Kennedy’s withdrawal plan and disagreed with it.

Which brings up what is perhaps the reason for the book. Gagne had to have been aware of Oliver Stone’s two documentaries released last year and this year. Those films had a worldwide impact. His strategy seems to be to try and demean the director by attacking the 1991 feature film. Talk about not thinking critically! But beyond that, I could find no reference by Gagne to The Book of the Film, published in 1992. That was a reference work to that movie. It included a profusely annotated script. Talk about loading the deck. These are the techniques Gagne uses to attack critics of the official story.

In sum, here is a book that might be one of the worst written in the last few years. This review could be much longer, but it would just be repeating the pattern above. Routledge Publishing, the house that released it, should be held responsible for letting such a volume enter the public arena.

April 23

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Pool photo by Evgeny Biyatov).

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Pool photo by Evgeny Biyatov).

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Speak softly and carry a big 155 mm howitzer! Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, April 23, 2022 (72:17 mins.). Acting webster tarpley 2007out of weakness, fear of massive casualties, and domestic backlash, Putin gives up on conquest of Azovstal complex in Manriupol; He covers backdown with rocket rattling against NATO and testing a new ICBM; Putin’s incessant escalation of nuclear threats is removing any rationale for restraint by western powers;

Weird antics of Trump, McCarthy, and deSantis increase chaos in GOP; DoJ fights back against crackpot anti-mask judge;
US must maintain supply line of weapons deliveries at $1 billion per week for the duration;

Macron leads re-toxified ultra-reactionary Le Pen by 10 to 14 points in Sunday’s vote; turnout likely to decide outcome; Putin is her banker, and her demand for ban headscarves would trigger civil war: Allez Macron! Allez la France!

The moral bankruptcy of neutrality, aka "both-sidesism," in journalism;

Oderint dum metuant as watchword for Dems in 2022.

April 21

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Text Messages Show the Critical Role the Trump White House Had in Giving MBS His Job, Vicky Ward, April 20-21, 2022. On Monday, I published excerpts including text messages from legal documents that supported my previous reporting about the relationship forged between Jared Kushner and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known as MBS.

The messages showed that, in the spring of 2017, MBS and Kushner discussed how MBS—then only the deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia—did not have the support of three US intelligence agencies (the CIA, the FBI and the NSA) to dislodge his cousin, then-current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a long-time counterterrorist asset and ally of U.S. intelligence who had even been awarded a medal for saving American lives.

I reported how sources told me Kushner played a role in helping MBS ultimately dislodge MBN in June 2017 and how MBN was aware of their plans (which he believed were formed early in the Trump administration) to oust him. At the time, MBN warned confidants (who spoke with me on the condition of anonymity) that, should they succeed, he suspected money would change hands (between MBS and Kushner) and there would be evidence of it ultimately.

This month, it was reported by the New York Times that Kushner recently received an investment of $2 billion from the PIF, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, at the behest of MBS, who overrode advisors who had been leery because of Kushner’s lack of investing track record. (A spokesperson for Affinity, Kushner’s investment fund, told the NYT, “Affinity, like many other top investment firms, is proud to have PIF and other leading organizations that have careful screening criteria, as investors.”)

The excerpts I published are from the complaint of Saad Aljabri, MBN’s right-hand aide, who is suing MBS and his alleged henchmen for attempted murder (“ongoing attempted extrajudicial killing,” as the document says), including activities carried out on American soil. In his complaint, Aljabri alleges that MBN was aware by the spring of 2017 that MBS and Kushner were talking about the succession issue.

erik prince amazon proof Proof, The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Seth Abramson, April 20-21, 2022. Part 7: Erik Prince. Is it possible the longtime shadow seth abramson graphicTrump national security adviser and international arms dealer known as the “Prince of Darkness,” Erik Prince, shown above, was one secret driving force behind January 6? Evidence is mounting. 

Introduction. The U.S. House of Representatives long ago referred Erik Prince to the Department of Justice for immediate federal criminal indictment—but as with nearly every other criminal referral made to the DOJ by the legislative-branch investigators now looking into Donald Trump seth abramson proof logoand his past and ongoing treacheries against the United States (as well as the men and women who aided and abetted such treacheries), DOJ

But is there a chance this situation could change? And could the ongoing January 6 investigation inside the DOJ focusing on high-level targets, currently shrouded in mystery to a degree perhaps unparalleled in the Department’s long history, be the thing that finally changes it?

Those who watched with horror as longtime shadow Trump national security adviser and international arms dealer Erik Prince got away with repeatedly perjuring himself before Congress have long believed that Mr. Prince’s years-long spree as a malfeasor—which saw him help Trump’s 2016 campaign execute a domestic disinformation plot by spreading elaborate lies, via Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon’s media outlet, about a supposedly pending indictment of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton—would continue if Prince weren’t at some point stopped by the long arm of the law.

And still-unfolding public revelations about January 6 now suggest that that may be exactly what happened. Along with dozens and dozens of major-media news outlets across the United States—encompassing exposés from the New York Times to the Washington Post, from TIME to The Intercept—Proof has been issuing warnings about Prince for almost five years now, having begun writing about him in long columns connected to the Proof project at the Huffington Post in 2016 that subsequently transformed into a lengthy chapter in Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018), a book in which Prince is a “mid-major” figure; large portions of Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019), a 600-page book in which Mr. Prince is one of a handful of major players; and more minor appearances on both this substack and in Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020).

If there’s one thing that Proof has often opined about—using thousands of sources in support of the claim—it’s that Donald Trump actually has only a relatively small cadre of men and women willing to aid and abet his international corruption, which is why he sticks with them in caper after caper.

These same few dozen names appear as the totality of the rogues’ gallery in every Trumpist election-interference, transnational collusion, and business corruption scandal of the last six years, including the violent insurrection Trump incited on January 6, 2021. And Prince is a known member of that cadre.

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).

April 19

William

Legal Schnauzer, Investigative Commentary: In the wake of Birmingham attorney's shocking suicide, attention turns to possible obstruction of justice, criminal roger shuler and murphyconcealment, and civil RICO cases, Roger Shuler, right, April 19, 2022. The suicide last week of Balch & Bingham attorney William "Bo" Lineberry, shown above, was a stunning and perhaps telling event in the years-long effort to unwind apparent scandal in the Alabama corporate, legal, judicial, and law-enforcement worlds.

Where does attention turn next? Ban Balch Publisher K.B. Forbes provides clues, under the headline "After Suicide, National Media and Feds Zero in on Alleged Obstruction and “Criminal Concealment;” RICOs Coming?" The sub-headline -- "Suicide. Resignations. Internal turmoil. Corporate strife" -- provides insight into the unrest that seems to be roiling elite circles in Birmingham and beyond. Writes Forbes:

Since November, Birmingham is seeing what appears to be the collapse of the house of marked cards allegedly propped up by the deep resources of Alabama Power. The Three Stooges (Balch & Bingham, Drummond, and Alabama Power) have seen their dominance stumble.

High-level sources told us in late October that Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and a former partner at embattled law abdul kallonfirm Balch & Bingham, was an alleged target of an obstruction investigation.

Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon, left, resigned along allegedly with two Assistant U.S. Attorneys earlier this month, while Balch partner Bo Lineberry committed suicide last week.

What enormous pressure and worry caused Lineberry to end his life? Was he facing unbearable consequences? Was there an offer on the table that was too brutal for Lineberry to accept?

Seasoned law enforcement authorities tell us the Lineberry suicide spoke volumes about the depth and seriousness of the alleged federal probe.

Attention appears to be spreading beyond Alabama. Writes Forbes:

Now national media are focused on the alleged unsavory and criminal misconduct and alleged abuse of power surrounding the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. once run by disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned in 2020.

Concurrently, federal investigators are allegedly looking at obstruction of justice and accusations of “criminal concealment.”

In what looked like sheer panic with the rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, the illustrious Mark White, Mark Crosswhite’s go-to criminal attorney, fumbled the ball and showed how concealment appears to be part and parcel of the work product and a standard operating procedure of the Three Stooges and their hired guns.

As we reported about the “Tale of Two Marks” in January of 2021:

alabama power logo[Alabama Power’s] team of attorneys at White, Arnold, & Dowd, led by white-collar criminal attorney Mark White, filed an avalanche of court pleadings in December [2020] at the courthouse office, over the counter as if it were 1950 not 2020. (We wonder if Mark White still uses a rotary phone, stencil duplicator, and Royal typewriter.)

The delay and “hiding the goods” tactic failed. The paper court pleadings were [immediately] scanned and uploaded by the clerk to Alacourt where we, the CDLU, were able to download them.

Concealment might be an unfamiliar legal term to the general public, but it seems to be central to the unfolding Birmingham story:

Concealment has been a consistent element.

Concealment was discovered in January when Alabama Power’s multi-million-dollar secret contracts (no invoicing required) with obscure political consulting firm Matrix and its founder “Sloppy Joe” Perkins were exposed.

Attorneys for “Sloppy Joe” attempted to call the secret contracts “trade secrets” and sent worthless demand letters to an environmental group and blog that published the concealed million-dollar agreements.

Allegations of non-disclosure and concealed indemnity agreements tied to Alabama Power and Balch have swirled since 2017.

Absolute concealment was achieved when ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75-million civil lawsuit was sealed in its entirety in the Winter of 2021 in an attempt to hide alleged criminal misconduct. The secretive Star Chamber does not allow anyone to follow or read proceedings in the case.

The conservative Alabama Supreme Court reinstated Balch as a defendant in Roberson’s civil case this past February. Bloomberg reported that Balch must face fraud claims due to “misrepresention and concealment.”

chase espyBalch terminated an alleged pedophile months before he was arrested for soliciting a child online. Ex-Balch attorney Chase T. Espy, left,  had worked at the embattled firm for eight years. He then went on to work briefly for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey when he was kay ivey current 2022arrested and immediately fired last August. What caused Balch to fire Espy? What did Balch conceal from the public and the governor, right, regarding Espy?

The biggest concealment appears to be Alabama Power’s alleged secret deal during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial in which the company was “unmentionable” during the trial and criminal defense attorneys allegedly had to clear any mention of Alabama Power with Mark White.

The federal statute of limitations for obstruction of justice is five years. The timing of the alleged federal investigation makes sense. The trial happened in July of 2018. The statute would expire in the summer of 2023.

Those aren't the only worries likely knocking around Birmingham board rooms. Writes Forbes:

Now Alabama Power and their sister-wife Balch & Bingham appear to have even bigger issues coming.

If obstruction of justice indictments are handed down and/or alleged criminal information is disclosed related to the alleged federal probe and the Matrix Meltdown, expect a federal civil RICO lawsuit or two against Balch, Alabama Power, and others.

The first civil RICO lawsuit will be based on the Newsome Conspiracy Case, a travesty of justice in which an innocent man, Burt Newsome, was allegedly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch in an attempt to steal his law practice providing legal services to banks.

Newsome was arrested by a cop who was the son of a now-retired Alabama Power executive. Ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town allegedly blocked four investigations related to the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Another, separate civil RICO lawsuit could be filed on behalf of “fall guy”and ex-Drummond executive David Roberson.

Either way, the Three Stooges and their defenders are exposed in the open no matter how many concealed deals, secret smear campaigns, or Star Chambers they create.

April 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter underscores the risks of social media ownership, Joseph Menn, Cat Zakrzewski and Craig Timberg, April 17, 2022. After years of struggling to get Facebook to confront its problems, experts worry about the impact of a Twitter owned by one individual.

elon musk 2015Social media industry safety professionals and outside experts who’ve spent years trying to slow the empowerment of tyrants and violent mobs by Facebook and other platforms are aghast that a second major company might come under the control of just one person — especially one complaining that Twitter places too many limits on what can be posted on its site.

In tweets and a TED conversation that followed his surprise bid last week to take Twitter private, billionaire Elon Musk, right, has decried decisions to bar some users as censorship and said moderation that blunts the spread of legal but offending content as going too far.

twitter bird Custom“If it’s a gray area, let the tweet exist,” Musk said Thursday.

Such comments alarm those whose experience has been that unfettered speech makes social media platforms unusable and that lightly controlled speech favors those who can direct thousands to make versions of the same point, which is then amplified by algorithms designed to maximize engagement and thereby advertising dollars.

“This is a disaster, and it’s not only about Elon Musk, but he kind of puts it on steroids,” said Shoshana Zuboff, a retired Harvard Business School professor and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,”which says that the money coming from the collection of data about human behavior is the lifeblood of a new and thus far nearly unregulated era.

facebook logoZuboff’s work argues that Facebook, Twitter and others extract as much data about users as possible and then attempt to maximize their time on the site because that earns them money. But platforms, she argues, aren’t neutral — in driving users’ online interests, they alter not only discussions but also beliefs and even physical actions, encouraging people to do what they otherwise would not, such as joining real-world protests.

April 16

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Pentagon confirms that Russia’s Black Sea flagship Moskva was sunk by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles! Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, Ph.D., right, April 16, 2022. Kremlin chaos spreads: Baltic Fleet Commander Admiral Igor Osipov arrested; 20 generals probed; 150 FSB agents fired; 5th Service boss Col. Gen. Beseda goes from house arrest to infamous LeFortovo prison; Defense Minister Shoigu incapacitated by suspicious hearth attack;

Vindman: finish Ukraine struggle in 4-5 weeks or be dragged into conflict by Russia; US weapons airlift to Poland reported operational; High priority needed for Harpoon anti-ship missiles;

Dramatic sinking of Putin’s heavy cruiser may convince despot Xi that attack on Taiwan is beyond his reach;

Kremlin gangsters threaten US with ”unpredictable consequences” if arms shipments to Ukraine continue; UK told that weapons deliveries are legitimate targets; Medvedev proclaims nuclear re-armament in Baltic as Finland and Sweden move towards fast-track NATO membership in response to Russian aggression; CIA Director Burns warns that Moscow’s threats must be taken seriously;

Kreminologists estimate Putin cannot last longer than 2 years after Ukraine failure, similar to Khrushchev going from defeat in Cuban missile crisis to ouster for ”harebrained scheming” in October 1964; But today things move faster; Russia misses dollar-denominated payments on government bonds, with clock now ticking on 30-day grace period before final default;

DoJ January 6 investigation is expanded, with Electoral College imposters as key targets; Scurrilous mockery for Trump’s infantilism among insiders at Gridiron Club; Trump backs hillbilly poetaster J.D. Vance as evidence piles up that his endorsements do more harm than good; GOP MAGAt operative promised dupes that Trump would stop Biden presidency using a ”limited form of martial law”;

Ward off Musk with a poison pill defense before he puts Benedict Donald back on Twitter!

Holiday greetings to those observing Easter, Passover, and Ramadan!

April 15

 

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump in August last year. Prosecutors consider each one of Giuliani and the other lawyers’ acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation (Photo by Sarah Silbiger via Reuters).

Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani, at center, with Donald Trump in August 2020 (Photo by Sarah Silbiger via Reuters). 

Palmer Report, Opinion: DOJ brings intriguing new indictment, amid reports that a charging decision against Rudy Giuliani is imminent, bill palmerBill Palmer, right, April 15, 2022. Earlier this week a CNN article reported that the Department of Justice is on the verge of making a charging decision in the criminal case against Rudy Giuliani for violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

The CNN article portrayed Giuliani as having voluntarily unlocked his own seized cellphone in order to prove to the DOJ that nothing was incriminating on it – and the point of view of this gave away that Giuliani was almost certainly the source for CNN’s story.

bill palmer report logo headerThis meant we had to take the report with a grain of salt. At the time, we suggested watching for any signs from the DOJ that might serve to corroborate Giuliani’s claims in any way. Now the DOJ has indeed made a move, by criminally indicting a Russian government official yesterday for having illegally paid an unnamed U.S. citizen to violate the Foreign Agent Registration Act back in 2017.

There are a number of intriguing aspects to this indictment. For instance, the Russian official will never be extradited for trial. So this indictment against him appears to be purely to set up the rest of the indictment. After all, the unnamed U.S. citizen is also allegedly guilty of FARA violations.

There are two plausible reasons why this U.S. citizen was not indicted yesterday alongside the Russian official. The first would be that the DOJ is still completing a broader criminal case against the individual. The second would be that the individual has cut a plea deal, and thus his or her identity is being concealed during the cooperation period.

The only clues in the court filing to this person’s identity: it’s a “New York City-based individual with experience relating to international relations and media” who was first recruited by the Russians back in 2011, and committed the alleged FARA crime in question back in 2017.

Rudy Giuliani fits the above description, and he lives in New York City – but so do about ten million other people. Maybe it’s him, maybe it’s not. But either way, this indictment suggests that the Garland DOJ has indeed been going back and working to catch up on the Trump-era FARA crimes that the DOJ was previously blocked from prosecuting by Trump or Bill Barr.

The statute of limitations on FARA is five years, and the alleged crime in question took place in 2017, which could explain why this indictment was brought now. So unless the U.S. citizen in question has cut a deal, we would expect that person to also be indicted rather quickly, given that the statute of limitations is ticking.

Even if this person is not Rudy Giuliani – and there are plenty of other people it could be – this still very much appears to be bad news for Giuliani. It points to the DOJ having indeed been working on all those Trump-era FARA cases all this time. Keep in mind that when the Feds raided Giuliani’s home and seized disputed evidence that the courts just turned over to the DOJ ten weeks ago, the warrant was based largely on Giuliani’s alleged violations of FARA laws.

And now, even as the DOJ has begun bringing indictments in Trump-era FARA cases, Rudy Giuliani is leaking to the media that the DOJ has supposedly told him it’s about to make a FARA charging decision against him. Interesting to say the least.

April 13

World Crisis Radio, Beware Putin’s bid to crush Ukraine in time for May 9 1945 victory anniversary! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., April 10, 2022. NATO Harpoon anti-ship webster tarpley 2007missiles arrive in Odessa, ready to sink Russian warships and transports! Mariupol also needs this capability to break siege & wreck Russian land bridge; All-out battle for Donbas looms with new Russian missile atrocity at Kramatorsk station killing over 50; still no criticism from self-styled Confucian humanitarians of Beijing;

Peskov forced to admit ”significant losses of troops ” in Ukraine ”tragedy ”; First mutinies in Russian forces when 60 paratroopers in Pskov region defy order to go to front;

Macron leads in first round of French presidential contest, just 3% to 4% ahead of neo-Vichy Marine LePen; French reactionary candidates total almost 40% of vote, but are split three ways;

BND German intelligence secures audio intercepts proving mass murder is official policy of Russian occupation forces;

166,000 new jobless claims make last week the best performance since 1968, but corporate cable hacks talk only about inflation;

Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson makes US polity stronger; GOP’s vile character on full display; Origins of stubborn myth of Soviet and Russian military superiority despite a history of defeat.

April 7

Probes Into Jan. 6 Trump Insurrection

 

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

 

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

President Trump, his attorney and Ukraine strategist and fixer Rudy Giuliani, center, and Ukraine President Volodymyer Zelensky. Trump's machinations regarding Ukraine led to his first impeachment.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Biggest Lie Trump Just Told the Washington Post Was About January 6. It Now Requires An Investigation, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, April 7, 2022. Proof has been trying to get mainstream media to investigate the actions of the U.S. Secret Service in the days before January 6. Trump has just given Congress a reason to finally do so—and urgently.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: In a just-released interview with the Washington Post, former president Donald Trump—as is par for the course with him—uttered barely an honest word across a 45-minute conversation, most of which comprised Trump monologuing to avoid having to answer more (and more difficult) questions from Washington’s paper-of-record.

Among the lies Trump told the Post, apparently confident that they would be dutifully reported out to the very voters he hopes will vote for his chosen Republican primary candidates in 2022 (and perhaps he himself in the 2024 presidential race), were these:

(1) That he “liked” new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky immediately upon the latter’s election in spring 2019. In fact, Mr. Trump told aides he both disliked and distrusted Zelensky, for the reason that—as is now even more clear than it was then— Zelensky was committed to ending the pro-Kremlin (and, notably, Kremlin-sponsored) corruption inside the Ukrainian government Trump sought to benefit from politically.

(2) That he spent the hours of the attack on the U.S. Capitol asking aides why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t stopping the assault. In fact there’s no evidence from any eyewitness that Trump spoke of Pelosi during the Capitol riot, or had any doubt that the responsibility for calling up the National Guard was his. Nor is there any evidence that he misunderstood that GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on January 6 had responsibilities concurrent with and coextensive to those of Rep. Pelosi.

(3) That, as it was happening, he told aides the attack on the U.S. Capitol “had to be taken care of.” In fact, as reported on by Proof at great length in January and February of 2021, at least six major-media reports published immediately after the attack on the Capitol used eyewitness sources to confirm that Trump was both excited and gleeful—even giddy—during the attack, whose continuation (and whose success as obstruction of the official business of the U.S. Congress) he very much seemed to be rooting for.

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).

 

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump deflects blame for Jan. 6 silence, says he wanted to march to Capitol, Josh Dawsey, April 7, 2022. The former president (shown above in a file photo) struck a defiant posture and repeated false claims in an interview with The Washington Post.

Former president Donald Trump voiced regret Wednesday over not marching to the U.S. Capitol the day his supporters stormed the building, and he defended his long silence during the attack by claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others were responsible for ending the deadly violence.

“I thought it was a shame, and I kept asking why isn’t she doing something about it? Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi doing something about it? And the mayor of D.C. also. The mayor of D.C. and Nancy Pelosi are in charge,” Trump said of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in a 45-minute interview with The Washington Post. “I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it.”

The 45th president has repeatedly deflected blame for stoking the attack with false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and in the interview, he struck a defiant posture, refusing to say whether he would testify before a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault. Trump said he didn’t remember “getting very many” phone calls that day, and he denied removing call logs or using burner phones.

Trump also said he had spoken during his presidency with Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. A seven-hour gap in Trump’s phone records on Jan. 6, and Thomas’s texts to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows urging the White House to fight the election results, have both come under scrutiny by the Jan. 6 committee.

During the attack, Trump watched television, criticized then-Vice President Mike Pence and made calls pushing lawmakers to overturn the election as the violent mob of his supporters ransacked the Capitol. He was eventually persuaded by lawmakers, family members and others to release a video asking his supporters to go home — 187 minutes after he urged them to march to the Capitol during a rally near the White House. He was described by advisers as excited about the event.

Trump, speaking Wednesday afternoon at his palatial beachfront club, said he did not regret urging the crowd to come to Washington with a tweet stating that it would “be wild!” He also stood by his incendiary and false rhetoric about the election at the Ellipse rally before the rioters stormed the Capitol. “I said peaceful and patriotic,” he said, omitting other comments that he made in a speech that day.

In fact, Trump said he deserved more credit for drawing such a large crowd to the Ellipse — and that he pressed to march on the Capitol with his supporters but was stopped by his security detail. “Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute," he said.

The former president praised organizers of the rally, some of whom have now received subpoenas from federal authorities, and repeatedly bragged about the size of the crowd on the Ellipse, when questioned about the events of Jan. 6.

“The crowd was far bigger than I even thought. I believe it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken to. I don’t know what that means, but you see very few pictures. They don’t want to show pictures, the fake news doesn’t want to show pictures,” he said. “But this was a tremendous crowd.”

Trump defends praise of Putin, makes strongest hint yet of a run for president in 2024

On at least a dozen occasions in the interview, Trump blamed Pelosi for the events of Jan. 6. On that day, Pelosi was taken to a secure location and worked with some of Trump’s top military officials and others to help secure the building. Trump supporters stormed her office and vowed to hurt her, with some shouting for her by name.

Pelosi does not have total control over the Capitol Police, as Trump alleged, but shares control of the Capitol with the Senate majority leader. Most decisions on securing the Capitol are made by a police board. He also blamed the D.C. mayor, whose advisers furiously tried to reach Trump’s team that day.

“The former president’s desperate lies aside, the speaker was no more in charge of the security of the U.S. Capitol that day than Mitch McConnell,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi.

Trump said he had not been contacted by the Jan. 6 committee and added that he didn’t know what he would do if he were. “It depends what the request is,” he said. He has repeatedly invoked executive privilege in a bid to block the committee from seeing documents.

He said the committee’s interview with his daughter Ivanka Trump for eight hours this week was a “shame and harassment,” though he insisted he did not know what she had told the members. He said he also did not know what her husband, Jared Kushner, had told the committee, and that he had offered the couple “privilege” if they wanted it. They declined, Trump said.

Trump said he had not destroyed any call logs from the afternoon of Jan. 6 and took part in no phone calls on “burner phones,” even though there is a large gap in his White House phone logs. Trump said that he remembered talking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other people during that period. He said he had a “very good” memory but could not say exactly who he talked to that afternoon, or when.

“From the standpoint of telephone calls, I don’t remember getting very many,” he said, later adding, "Why would I care about who called me? If congressmen were calling me, what difference did it make? There was nothing secretive about it. There was no secret.”

Trump said he had talked at times during his presidency with Ginni Thomas, whose texts with Meadows urging him to overturn the election were obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News. But Trump said he wasn’t aware of her electoral efforts. He declined to say whether he thought Meadows should have handed over the text messages to the Jan. 6 committee.

 

 djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

CNN, Bannon can't use lawyer's advice as defense for not cooperating with House January 6 probe, judge rules, Tierney Sneed, April 6, 2022. Why Steve Bannon is losing to the January 6 Committee. A federal judge said Wednesday that Steve Bannon will not be able to include as part of his trial defense any evidence that he was following the advice of his attorney in refusing to participate in the House January 6 probe.

cnn logoThe move by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to grant the Justice Department's request for that evidence to be excluded is a major blow to Bannon, who is scheduled to go to trial in July.

The ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to the contempt of Congress charge that was brought against him after his failure to comply with a House January 6 committee subpoena for documents and testimony.

In the pre-trial proceedings, his legal team previewed a defense that would highlight the advice Bannon got from his attorney before not complying. While the House was demanding Bannon's participation in the probe, his lawyer pointed to the indications from Trump that the former President would seek to shield certain evidence the House committee was seeking on executive privilege claims.

Nichols, a Trump appointee, said in a short order Wednesday that his decision to exclude such evidence was bound by precedent of the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

"After all, Licavoli involved a prosecution under the exact statute that Bannon is charged with violating," Nichols wrote, referring to the relevant precedent, "and the Court of Appeals expressly held that an advice-of-counsel defense is unavailable for that charge."

   djt as chosen one

ny times logoNew York Times, The Growing Religious Fervor in the Right: ‘This Is a Jesus Movement,’ Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, April 7, 2022 (print ed.). Rituals of Christian worship have become embedded in conservative rallies in the U.S., as music and prayer blend with anger over vaccines and the 2020 election.

They opened with an invocation, summoning God’s “hedge of thorns and fire” to protect each person in the dark Phoenix parking lot.

They called for testimonies, passing the microphone to anyone with “inspirational words that they’d like to say on behalf of our J-6 political prisoners,” referring to people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, whom they were honoring a year later.

This was not a church service. It was worship for a new kind of congregation: a right-wing political movement powered by divine purpose, whose adherents find spiritual sustenance in political action.

The Christian right has been intertwined with American conservatism for decades, culminating in the Trump era. And elements of Christian culture have long been present at political rallies. But worship, a sacred act showing devotion to God expressed through movement, song or prayer, was largely reserved for church. Now, many believers are importing their worship of God, with all its intensity, emotion and ambitions, to their political life.

At events across the United States, it is not unusual for participants to describe encountering the divine and feel they are doing their part to install God’s kingdom on earth. For them, right-wing political activity itself is becoming a holy act.

These Christians are joining secular members of the right wing, including media-savvy opportunists and those touting disinformation. They represent a wide array of discontent, from opposing vaccine mandates to promoting election conspiracy theories. For many, pandemic restrictions that temporarily closed houses of worship accelerated their distrust of government and made churchgoing political.

At a Trump rally in Michigan last weekend, a local evangelist offered a prayer that stated, “Father in heaven, we firmly believe that Donald Trump is the current and true president of the United States.” He prayed “in Jesus’ name” that precinct delegates at the upcoming Michigan Republican Party convention would support Trump-endorsed candidates, whose names he listed to the crowd. “In Jesus name,” the crowd cheered back.

The infusion of explicitly religious fervor — much of it rooted in the charismatic tradition, which emphasizes the power of the Holy Spirit — into the right-wing movement is changing the atmosphere of events and rallies, many of which feature Christian symbols and rituals, especially praise music.

With spiritual mission driving political ideals, the stakes of any conflict, whether over masks or school curriculums, can feel that much larger, and compromise can be even more difficult to achieve. Political ambitions come to be about defending God, pointing to a desire to build a nation that actively promotes a particular set of Christian beliefs.

Times Reporters Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham have covered religion in America for more than a decade.

 

djt ivanka rnc photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Ivanka Trump, former President Trump’s eldest daughter, testified before the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Luke Broadwater, April 6, 2022 (print ed.). The former president’s daughter and adviser (shown in a file photo with him at a rally) was in the West Wing with him as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

She is said to have tried to persuade him to call off the rioters. vanka Trump, former President Donald J. Trump’s eldest daughter, who served as one of his senior advisers, testified for about eight hours on Tuesday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear how revelatory her testimony was for the committee, but those familiar with the interview said Ms. Trump did not seek to invoke any privilege — such as executive privilege or the Fifth Amendment, as other witnesses have done — and broadly, if not garrulously, answered the panel’s questions.

Ms. Trump was one of several aides who tried to persuade the president to call off the violence that ultimately injured more than 150 police officers and sent lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for safety, according to evidence gathered by the committee. She is not known to have been associated with the more extreme supporters of the former president who spread lies about widespread fraud after the 2020 election and planned efforts to try to keep him in power.

Her testimony came days after her husband, Jared Kushner, who was also a top adviser to Mr. Trump, sat for an interview and provided what one member of the panel described as “valuable” and “helpful” information.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Did Javanka Testify About Jan. 6th to Get Accepted to a Country Club? Vicky Ward, April 6, 2022. We know that, in the past few days, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump testified voluntarily to the House Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

But why did they do so?

After all, there are other Trump loyalists, such as Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, who have refused—apparently on the order of Trump—and risk being held in contempt of Congress.

vicky ward kushner bookCould it be there was a reason for Javanka’s compliance that the public is not aware of?

My sources say their cooperation with the committee likely has everything to do with wanting admission to the notoriously exclusive Indian Creek Country Club in Miami, Florida, where, as of now, Jared and Ivanka are not members, despite having bought a property on the exclusive Indian Creek Island.

The Kushners are reported to have paid $30 million dollars for the land there. They have been spotted regularly going for walks on the island. But they’re not members of the club. Yet.

As of now, the Kushners are perceived to be struggling socially in Miami.

Readers of Kushner, Inc. know that the guiding principles of the couple are transactionality and public relations. In my book, I reported that even their union was part of a three-point plan devised by the late PR guru Howard Rubenstein to rehabilitate the Kushner name following the disgrace when Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, was imprisoned for charges that included a particularly sordid blackmail effort.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Find Two Trump Aides in Contempt in Jan. 6 Inquiry, Luke Broadwater, April 7, 2022 (print ed.). The vote was mostly along party lines to recommend that the Justice Department charge Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr. for defying subpoenas.

The House on Wednesday voted to recommend criminal contempt of Congress charges against Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., two close allies of former President Donald J. Trump, after the pair defied subpoenas from the special committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The mostly party-line vote of 220 to 203 referred contempt charges to the Justice Department, calling for prosecutions of Mr. Navarro, a former top White House adviser, and Mr. Scavino Jr., a former deputy chief of staff. It came as congressional investigators have grown increasingly frustrated with some of Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters who have refused to meet with the panel or turn over a single page of evidence to the committee as it digs into the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

“We have two people who are flagrantly, brazenly defying the authority of the House of Representatives of the United States,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the committee. He said the men had “nothing but excuses for their noncompliance — excuses you would not accept from a teenage child.”

Only two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both members of the investigative committee, voted for the charges. The rest of their party refused to support the move.

ny times logoNew York Times, Dissatisfied With Their Party, Wealthy G.O.P. Donors Form Secret Coalitions, Kenneth P. Vogel, Shane Goldmacher and Ryan Mac, April 7, 2022 (print ed.).  Wealthy pro-Trump conservatives like Peter Thiel are involved in efforts to wield greater influence outside the traditional party machinery.

A new coalition of wealthy conservative benefactors that says it aims to “disrupt but advance the Republican agenda” gathered this week for a private summit in South Florida that included closed-door addresses from former President Donald J. Trump and an allied Senate candidate at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, according to documents and interviews.

peter thiel twitter smileThe coalition, called the Rockbridge Network, includes some of Mr. Trump’s biggest donors, such as Peter Thiel, left, and Rebekah Mercer, below right, and has laid out an ambitious goal — to reshape the American right by spending more than $30 million on conservative media, rebekah mercerlegal, policy and voter registration projects, among other initiatives.

The emergence of Rockbridge, the existence of which has not previously been reported, comes amid escalating jockeying among conservative megadonors to shape the 2022 midterms and the future of the Republican Party from outside the formal party machinery, and often with little disclosure.

In February, another previously unreported coalition of donors, the Chestnut Street Council, organized by the Trump-allied lobbyist Matt Schlapp, held a meeting to hear a pitch for new models for funding the conservative movement.

If those upstart coalitions gain momentum, they will likely have to vie for influence among conservatives with existing donor networks that have been skeptical of or agnostic toward Mr. Trump.

One that was created by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch spent more than $250 million in 2020. Another, spearheaded by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hosted top Republican politicians in February.

The surge in secretive fund-raising does not end there — a number of nonprofit groups with varying degrees of allegiance to Mr. Trump are also vying to become leading distributors of donor funds to the right.

Taken together, the jockeying highlights frustration on the right with the political infrastructure that surrounds the Republican Party, and, in some cases, with its politicians, as well as disagreements about its direction as Mr. Trump teases another presidential run.

The efforts to harness the fortunes of the party’s richest activists could help it capitalize on a favorable electoral landscape headed into this year’s midterm elections, and — potentially — the 2024 presidential campaign. Conversely, the party’s prospects could be dimmed if the moneyed class invests in competing candidates, groups and tactics.

April 6

 

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, right-wing lobbyist Virginia Thomas were portrayed a decade ago in a collage entitled

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, second from the right, and his wife, right-wing lobbyist Virginia Thomas were portrayed a decade ago in a collage entitled "Bought by Billionaires" by critics who denounced the justice's false annual sworn financial statements that failed to report his wife's six-figure annual income from advocacy, as legally required

ny times logoNew York Times Sunday Magazine, With ‘Stealth Politics,’ Billionaires Make Sure Their Money Talks, Jaime Lowe, April 6, 2022 (print ed.). What do they actually want?

Billionaires are neither good nor bad for the country — at least that’s what more than half of Americans think, according to a poll published by the Pew Research Center last year. Maybe this is because they don’t know how billionaires affect their lives or what political power they wield; maybe it’s just because a billion is such an unfathomably large number.

northwestern logoA decade or so ago, three political scientists at Northwestern University, Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright and Matthew Lacombe, set out to determine the impact that superrich Americans have on congressional and presidential policies. They weren’t starting from scratch; previous work done by another political scientist, Martin Gilens, used years of surveys of thousands of poor, middle-income and affluent Americans to show that policymakers responded almost exclusively to the preferences of that last group.

Following this earlier research, Page told me recently, “I wanted to find out how much influence the truly wealthy have and what they want from government.” Page and his colleagues wanted to do a quantitative analysis of political inequality. First, however, they had to figure out where to get the data.

Teaming up with a colleague at Vanderbilt University, Larry Bartels, Page and Seawright started by surveying wealthy people in the Chicago area — interviewing a random sample of 83 individuals from households with a median worth of $7.5 million. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that these multimillionaires skewed very conservative on economic issues, expressing a preference for marketplaces and philanthropy, rather than governments, to solve public problems; some also supported reductions to Social Security and Medicare. (At the same time, earlier research showed, affluent Americans tended to take socially liberal stances, supporting abortion and gay rights.)

The resulting study, “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans,” felt small to Page, its data insufficient and limited by geography. But he thought he could use it as proof of concept to generate interest for a first-of-its-kind national data set.

“I spent most of two years running around the country — you know, Hewlett Foundation, MacArthur, Rockefeller, sort of all of the foundations I could get in the door — and nobody wanted to fund it,” Page says. There were two reasons, he thinks: “The obvious one was it was going to take five or six million dollars to do it. And that’s a lot of cash. I think in the background, a lot of boards of corporations, which have wealthy people on them, were not all that enthusiastic about studying the politics of wealthy people.”

“Maybe we’ll never be able to do this national study,” Page told Seawright at the time.

“These multimillionaires only have $10 million typically,” Seawright said. “Why not study the really wealthy people like billionaires?”

“How do we do that?” Page asked.

They couldn’t just talk to billionaires. The ultrarich generally don’t respond to surveys, nor are they particularly interested in being studied by academics. Their gatekeepers have gatekeepers, Page is fond of saying. So Seawright suggested a workaround: On Google and the LexisNexis database, they could search for various keywords on economic and social issues. It would then be possible to find and connect billionaires’ words and actions. This was a cheaper approach that allowed for a narrow focus on the extremely wealthy and the role they play in American democracy.

bill gatesThe authors chose to look at the decade between 2003 and 2013 and limit their searches to the 100 wealthiest billionaires in 2013, as determined by Forbes magazine. Their subjects — individuals with a net worth of at least $4.6 billion — included familiar figures like Bill Gates, left, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, the Koch brothers, the Waltons, Mark Zuckerberg, Phil Knight, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page. And against these names Lacombe cross-searched 34 key words or phrases like “tax burden,” “tax revenue expansion,” “tax revenue enhancement,” “Social Security retirement pension,” “estate tax,” “corporate tax rates” and “flat tax.”

But Page was intrigued. “It was only later that I realized, first of all, what that finding was and what it signified,” he says. “In social science, people hate nonfindings. I’d been hoping that we figured out a clever way that we could tell what billionaires did for all these different issues, and it was disappointing not to.” But this nonfinding was different; perhaps the ultrarich didn’t talk about economic theory because they were practicing “stealth politics,” or actively working behind the scenes to shape government policies. This could be a serious finding, they realized. “If they’re being very influential, but it’s in a stealthy way without talking about public policy,” Page says, “that’s a special problem for American politics.”

The main reason Billionaires practice stealth politics, Page says, is that taken collectively, their political preferences do not align with what a majority of Americans want. Their near total silence on issues like taxes and Social Security is “almost certainly deliberate — probably caused mainly by a desire to avoid offense concerning their unpopular political opinions.” This makes it easier for them to avoid being held accountable.

Page was surprised by the difference between perception and reality when it came to billionaires and their politics. A few characters with public personas and relatively centrist or even left-of-center reputations — figures like Mike Bloomberg, michael bloombergright, George Soros and Warren Buffett — tended to define how the public felt about the cohort as a whole. “But it turns out when you look at all the wealthiest billionaires, the picture is very different, much more economically conservative,” Page says.

Forty percent of all political donations come from the top 1 percent of the 1 percent.

Though the billionaires barely showed up in the public record talking about taxes, for example, it was still possible to connect their sizable contributions to ideological political action committees and to candidates who supported issues like tax cuts for the wealthy, privatizing Social Security, reduced social spending and abolishing the estate tax. “What we see basically is a class of people who have more money than God, who are very politically active in relatively unknown ways and who we have reasons to believe have been politically influential and have used their political influence in ways that don’t really serve the interests or preferences of what most Americans want,” Lacombe says. And yet Americans whose interests are not being served by those wealthy contributors are being swayed by politicians working toward the billionaires’ ends.

“They’re mobilizing them on the basis of cultural grievances,” Lacombe says. “And I think those two things in conjunction are fairly large contributors to the dysfunction that we’ve observed in American politics.”

April 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: The gatekeepers who open America to shell companies and secret owners, Debbie Cenziper, Will Fitzgibbon, Emily Anderson Stern, Michael Korsh and Alice Crites, April 5, 2022. With scant oversight, registered agents have long been seen as a weak point in the U.S. financial system. Oligarchs, criminals and online scammers have reaped the benefits.

The clapboard house sits off a gravel road on the outskirts of town, partly hidden behind a fence and a heaping pile of trash. Here, amid grassland that stretches for miles, 77-year-old Cyndy Jackson is the official gatekeeper for more than 350 companies that operate in the United States and around the world.

The state doesn’t require any training for company representatives like Jackson, known as registered agents. She said she uses the Internet and gut instinct to size up the owners she represents, but has no formal procedures for examining their backgrounds. The state doesn’t require that, either.

“You just have to kind of go on trust,” said Jackson, an agent for 30 years. “Nobody knows who anybody is anymore.”

  • Read key takeaways from the Pandora Papers investigation

Few facilitators in the U.S. financial system operate with as little oversight as the thousands of registered agents who often serve as the only publicly known contact for companies with anonymous owners.

Jackson, for example, has represented companies tied to a disbarred lawyer convicted in California of “pimping and pandering” at massage parlors, a felon who served time in New York for defrauding investors, and a Ukrainian tycoon accused of stealing billions of dollars from one of his nation’s largest banks.

Their names and others turned up in an extensive examination by The Washington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of thousands of company records filed with the state of Wyoming, one of America’s most secretive tax havens. The records came primarily from limited liability companies (LLCs), a business structure that offers tax breaks, legal protections and privacy safeguards.

On most of the records, the only names listed were those of registered agents. In Wyoming, the owners of LLCs are not required to identify themselves, although some choose to do so on corporate filings. The Post and the ICIJ found additional names linked to LLCs and other companies by scouring court documents and other government records.

Across the United States, registered agents provide routine corporate services, filing incorporation documents and annual reports. In many cases, they are the lone contact for anyone looking to sue companies or lodge a complaint.

Experts have warned for years that the sprawling industry — comprising attorneys, part-time participants and multistate specialty operations representing thousands of companies — is a weak point in the U.S. financial system. While banks must vet customers, registered agents aren’t uniformly required to verify their identities.

“If I were a criminal or ran a criminal enterprise, I would have a field day with registered agents, because I just need to find another adult with a pulse,” said Sarah Beth Felix, a former banking compliance executive. “Who’s going to make sure they are doing the right thing?”

April 2

 

merrick garland new

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens, Katie Benner, Katie Rogers and Michael S. Schmidt, April 2, 2022.
The inquiry is a test for President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who have promised to restore the Justice Department’s independence.

Immediately after Merrick B. Garland was sworn in as attorney general in March of last year, he summoned top Justice Department officials and the F.B.I. director to his office. He wanted a detailed briefing on the case that will, in all likelihood, come to define his legacy: the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Even though hundreds of people had already been charged, Mr. Garland asked to go over the indictments in detail, according to two people familiar with the meeting. What were the charges? What evidence did they have? How had they built such a sprawling investigation, involving all 50 states, so fast? What was the plan now?

Justice Department log circularThe attorney general’s deliberative approach has come to frustrate Democratic allies of the White House and, at times, President Biden himself. As recently as late last year, Mr. Biden confided to his inner circle that he believed former President Donald J. Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted, according to two people familiar with his comments. And while the president has never communicated his frustrations directly to Mr. Garland, he has said privately that he wanted Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action over the events of Jan. 6.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr. Garland said that he and the career prosecutors working on the case felt only the pressure “to do the right thing,” which meant that they “follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”

Still, Democrats’ increasingly urgent calls for the Justice Department to take more aggressive action highlight the tension between the frenetic demands of politics and the methodical pace of one of the biggest prosecutions in the department’s history.

“The Department of Justice must move swiftly,” Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the House committee investigating the riot, said this past week. She and others on the panel want the department to charge Trump allies with contempt for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.

“Attorney General Garland,” Ms. Luria said during a committee hearing, “do your job so that we can do ours.”

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen people, including officials in the Biden administration and people with knowledge of the president’s thinking, all of whom asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In a statement, Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said the president believed that Mr. Garland had “decisively restored” the independence of the Justice Department.

World Crisis Radio, Daring night raid by Ukrainian helicopters destroys oil storage tanks in Russian city of Belgorod, near Kharkiv, Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, webster tarpley 2007April 2, 2022 (72.27 mins.). Despite Kremlin whining, Russia cannot count as privileged sanctuary for aggression; retaliation is not escalation!

Collapse of Russia’s failed envelopment of Kiev and defeats in south confirm initiative now belongs to Ukrainians; Russians holding only in east; Mariupol still waiting for anti-ship missiles;

In real world economic win for Biden, US jobs increase by 431,000 in February, bringing unemployment down to 3.6%, with 93% of covid-era job losses recouped; Michigan economics professor calls this pattern a classic boom, but cable pundits fixate on bondholders’ obsession with inflation;

Will GOP’s subservience to Russia destroy party? Putin stooge and pro-MAGAt ”Viktator” Orban of Hungary faces voters Sunday; his opponent Marki-Zay leads 6-party united front that could prevail, showing Republicans their own future;

Breaking: Florida federal judge strikes down DeSantis voter suppression law; ”Grotesque history of racial discrimination” triggers PRE-CLEARANCE on state; Staten Island Amazon workers stick it to megaparasite Bezos, win vote to form union!

 

March Updates

March 30

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Truth About Trump and Ukraine Inside Trump’s vicious, illegal, years-long war on Ukraine—a clandestine effort seth abramson graphicthat has dovetailed with the political, economic, and military aggression against Ukraine authored by Vladimir Putin, Seth Abramson, March 30, 2022.

Preface: Bringing "Proof of Corruption" to Substack. Condensing a 576-page national bestseller with 44 chapters and 4,750+ major-media citations into a single Substack article is, of course, impossible.

seth abramson proof logoWhat this Proof essay aims to do, instead, is focus on just one of the narrative threads in Proof of Corruption: Donald Trump’s thirty-year relationship with Ukraine (Macmillan, 2020), which bears no similarity whatsoever to the former president’s anodyne description of it.

Even in focusing on just one narrative, this essay must elide over 75% of the full story, which has twists and turns in it (as well as many suddenly appearing and disappearing characters) to such a degree that it can’t be reduced to a single article. This is why I wrote a book on the subject, and the reason even that nearly 600-page work benefited from the fact that much of its foundation had already been laid in two earlier tomes, Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018) and Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019).

I mention this only to underscore that if you have no familiarity with the truth about Donald Trump and Ukraine, what you are about to read will at once be shocking and the barest tip of a towering iceberg. And it matters—because the story of Trump and Ukraine, both the abridged and unabridged versions, are significant now not as dry history but because they may well determine the fate of America. The implications of what you will read below are that dire. Please note that what follows is more akin to a novella-length nonfiction narrative than a mere essay. It may take you several sittings to read and digest the text in full.

Introduction: The True Story of Trump and Ukraine. A little over a week ago, former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton made a startling statement revealing that when Donald Trump was president, the longtime New York City real estate developer could barely locate Ukraine on a map.

As with all else we’ve heard from Bolton over the last two years, the statement was a combination of a minute but accurate observation laced with some very subjective personal venom. Trump may or may not be able to locate Ukraine on a map—neither possibility would be surprising—but if Bolton intended to leave the impression that Trump is broadly unfamiliar with Ukraine, that implication would not only be inaccurate but a deeply troubling cover-up of the true story of Trump and the largest nation wholly in Europe.

As with nearly everything we’ve ever heard from the ex-president, his own narrative isn’t so much a nub of truth packed in layer upon layer of deceit, but an intentional, almost brutalizing mass of prevarication that aims to manipulate voters at every point, in every contour, and without exception.

To hear Donald Trump tell the tale, he has long been a champion of Ukraine, and has admired Vladimir Putin’s handling of Russia’s western neighbor only as an academic might—acknowledging the purported tactical genius of Russia’s strongman without approving of his methods.

In this fantasy world of Trump’s own creation (which is, unfortunately, now relevant to all of us because it reflects the belief of nearly 40% of Americans), in the same way that Russia has never had a more dangerous adversary than Donald Trump, Ukraine has never had a better friend than the former POTUS. I’ve often written on social media, and on occasion here at Proof, that the best way to parse any statement made by Mr. Trump is to start with the assumption that the exact opposite of anything he’s said is true.

While it’s an imperfect method of interlocution—sometimes when you take the opposite of everything Trump says, only 97% of it is true—it serves as a far better starting point then taking seriously or at face value anything declaimed by the former president. In the matter of Trump and Ukraine, however, the conventional reading of Trump long advised by Proof and its attendant Twitter feed is wholly sufficient: Russia has never had a better friend among American politicians than Donald Trump, and Ukraine no greater enemy.

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

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

March 28

 

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, Trump ‘more likely than not’ committed crime in trying to block confirmation of Biden’s win, judge says, Matt Zapotosky and
John Wagner, March 28, 2022. A federal judge said in a ruling Monday that then-President Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a federal crime in trying to obstruct the congressional count of electoral college votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

The determination from U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter came in a ruling addressing scores of sensitive emails that Trump ally and conservative lawyer John Eastman had resisted turning over to the House select committee investigating the insurrection. Eastman wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” Carter wrote. A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 44-page opinion offers a careful analysis of 111 documents the committee wanted, ultimately concluding that lawmakers are entitled to have 101 of them.

But it is less notable for what it might given the committee access to and more for the judge’s analysis of Trump’s conduct leading up to the riot on Jan. 6. Breaking down the law on each point, Carter, who sits on the Central District of California and was nominated by President Bill Clinton, writes it is “more likely than not” that Trump and Eastman conspired to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes on Jan. 6 — which would be a crime under federal statutes.

“Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history,” the judge concludes. “Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory. The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.”

The judge’s ruling does not mean Trump will be charged with, or even investigated for, a crime — though it will certainly increase pressure on the Justice Department to intensify its probe of the Jan. 6 riot and potentially examine the conduct of Trump himself. Carter noted that he was only assessing the legal arguments surrounding whether Eastman could be compelled to turn over documents to the Jan. 6 committee.

“More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it,” Carter wrote. “The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit.”

The judge ultimately wrote on whether there was evidence Trump had committed a crime because the committee had alleged as much in a bid to convince a judge it should be allowed to access Eastman’s emails.

The committee cited the “crime-fraud exception,” essentially arguing that because there was evidence Eastman advised Trump in the commission of a crime, he could not legally shield his communications using attorney-client privilege.

Carter zeroed in on 11 documents as he assessed whether the “crime-fraud exception” applied. He determined it did for just one: “a chain forwarding to Dr. Eastman a draft memo written for President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.”

Carter wrote that the memo recommended that Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from contested states on Jan. 6.

“This may have been the first time members of President Trump’s team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action,” the judge wrote. “The draft memo pushed a strategy that knowingly violated the Electoral Count Act, and Dr. Eastman’s later memos closely track its analysis and proposal. The memo is both intimately related to and clearly advanced the plan to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”

March 26

 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).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Ginni Thomas’s texts reveal fears, motivation behind efforts to overturn election, Dan Balz, right, March 26, 2022. The dan balz column portraitmessages offer ample evidence that the drive to keep Trump in office went to the highest levels of the government amid fears of a Democratic administration.

“Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.”

What more does anyone need to know about the many text messages sent by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after the 2020 election? A dozen words (above) sum up everything.

That the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was imploring the president’s highest-ranking adviser to do all he could to overturn the 2020 election may seem beyond extraordinary. It is, but it is more than that.

The messages once again show how former president Donald Trump’s conspiracies, lies and obsessions infected the Republican Party (and in many quarters still do), from its rank-and-file base to some of its most establishment figures. The more that is known about the events between Election Day 2020 and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the clearer it is just how extensive the efforts to overturn the election were and how high up they went.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ethics experts see Ginni Thomas’s texts as a problem for the Supreme Court, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, March 26, 2022 (print ed.). The conservative media stars at the heart of the Ginni Thomas texts.

Justice Clarence Thomas checked out of the hospital Friday after a week-long stay and walked into the latest ethics controversy about the intersection of his Supreme Court duties and his wife’s political activism.

Democratic lawmakers and many legal ethicists said they were shocked by revelations that Virginia Thomas, known as Ginni, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, at a time when President Donald Trump was saying he would challenge the results at the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post and CBS News jointly reported Thursday that in 29 text messages exchanged between Ginni Thomas and Meadows, she advocated for certain legal strategies, urged him to continue to dispute the election results and asserted that Joe Biden did not win the election.

“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!” Ginni Thomas texted Meadows in November, days after the election. “… You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show

Democrats on Capitol Hill said they were outraged by the messages and Justice Thomas’s participation in some of the election-related cases that reached the high court, none of which were decided in Trump’s favor. One of the strongest reactions came from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“Justice Thomas’ conduct on the Supreme Court looks increasingly corrupt,” Wyden said in a news release. “Judges are obligated to recuse themselves when their participation in a case would create even the appearance of a conflict of interest. A person with an ounce of common sense could see that bar is met here.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Thomas’s wife is a political extremist. This is a problem for the court, Editorial Board, March 26, 2022 (print ed.). It is no revelation that conservative activist Virginia Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, is a political extremist. But The Post’s Bob Woodward and CBS News’s Robert Costa showed just how close she was to President Donald Trump’s plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol ransacking. The disturbing revelations only deepen the threat her entanglements pose to the court’s legitimacy.
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Mr. Woodward and Mr. Costa revealed Thursday 29 text messages between Ms. Thomas and Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, as Mr. Trump sought the Supreme Court’s help to reverse the election. “We are living through what feels like the end of America,” she wrote four days after Jan. 6 — but not in reference to the rioters who called for then-Vice President Mike Pence’s blood. “Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in listening mode to see where to fight with our teams,” she said, indicating that she wished Mr. Pence had illegally overturned the election results.

Ms. Thomas flooded Mr. Meadows’s phone with bizarre far-right conspiracy theories about ballot watermarks, secret military operations and the possibility of locking up Democrats and journalists on barges off Guantánamo Bay.

The House committee investigating Jan. 6 obtained the texts from Mr. Meadows before he stopped cooperating with the panel. The 29 messages appear to be just a portion of the communications between the two, meaning there might be more that the panel will seek to force Mr. Meadows to turn over. The texts also suggest Ms. Thomas was in touch with others in the Trump White House, communications the committee will likely want to see.

This raises questions about Justice Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from cases involving Jan. 6. In one text, Ms. Thomas talked about having a conversation