Jan. 2021 News


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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative January 2021 news and views

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

 

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).

 

Jan. 18

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

U.S. Civil Rights, Capitol Threats

 

U.S. 2021 Politics, Governing

 

Trump Watch

 

World News

 

Courts, Crime, Civil Rights

 

Media News

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year of Coronavirus Devastation: How the U.S. Ensured Its Own Failure, Sarah Mervosh, Mike Baker, Patricia Mazzei and Mark Walker, Jan. 18, 2021. The Trump administration largely delegated responsibility for controlling the virus and reopening the economy to governors, fracturing the U.S. response. As the country hurtles toward 400,000 deaths, interviews with more than 100 health, political and community leaders offer a picture of what went wrong.

The path to beating the coronavirus was clear, but Kelley Vollmar had never felt so helpless.

As the top health official in Missouri’s Jefferson County, Ms. Vollmar knew a mandate requiring people to wear masks could help save lives. She pressed the governor’s office to issue a statewide order, and hospital leaders were making a similar push. Even the White House, at a time when President Trump was sometimes mocking people who wore masks, was privately urging the Republican governor to impose a mandate.

mike parsonStill, Gov. Mike Parson, right, resisted, and in the suburbs of St. Louis, Ms. Vollmar found herself under attack. A member of the county health board called her a liar. The sheriff announced that he would not enforce a local mandate. After anti-mask activists posted her address online, Ms. Vollmar installed a security system at her home.

“This past year, everything that we’ve done has been questioned,” said Ms. Vollmar, whose own mother, 77, died from complications of the coronavirus in December. “It feels like the Lorax from the old Dr. Seuss story: I’m here to save the trees, and nobody is listening.”

For nearly the entire pandemic, political polarization and a rejection of science have stymied the United States’ ability to control the coronavirus. That has been clearest and most damaging at the federal level, where Mr. Trump claimed that the virus would “disappear,” clashed with his top scientists and, in a pivotal failure, abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that required a national effort to defeat it, handing key decisions over to states under the assumption that they would take on the fight and get the country back to business.

But governors and local officials who were left in charge of the crisis squandered the little momentum the country had as they sidelined health experts, ignored warnings from their own advisers and, in some cases, stocked their advisory committees with more business representatives than doctors.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Official Warns U.S. Virus Deaths Will Pass 500,000 Within Weeks, Chris Cameron, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). States are reeling after the Trump administration’s vaccine promises unravel. The world is bracing for a surge of virus variants that are more contagious. Phil Spector, the imprisoned music legend, spent his last days suffering with Covid.

Follow our live news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccine and variants here.

  • States are scrambling after the Trump administration’s vaccine promise falls apart.
  • The Dutch police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in Amsterdam.
  • Chinese officials trace a growing new outbreak to a salesman hawking health products.

Officials in the incoming Biden administration braced the country for continued hardship in the days after the inauguration, with the president-elect assuming control of a struggling economy and surging coronavirus outbreak in less than three days.

ron klain headshotRon Klain, right, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s incoming White House chief of staff, had a dire forecast for the course of the coronavirus outbreak in the new administration’s first weeks, predicting that half a million Americans will have died from the coronavirus by the end of February. The current toll is nearing 400,000.

“The virus is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Klain said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month, will add to the death toll in late February, even March, so it’s going to take a while to turn this around.”

Average daily U.S. deaths from the virus have risen to well past 3,000, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sounded the alarm about a fast-spreading, far more contagious variant of the coronavirus that officials project will become the dominant source of cdc logo Custominfection in the country by March, potentially fueling another wrenching surge of cases and deaths.

Mr. Klain, in comments directed at states’ disappointment that a reserve of additional vaccines that the Trump administration had promised to release did not exist, said that his team was “inheriting a huge mess” in terms of vaccine production and distribution.

“But we have a plan to fix it,” Mr. Klain said, alluding to a federal vaccination campaign that Mr. Biden announced on Friday. “We think there are things we can do to speed up the delivery of that vaccine.”

He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, having served as the “Ebola czar” under Mr. Obama during an outbreak of the deadly disease in his second term. A video of Mr. Klain lecturing Mr. Trump about the pandemic was widely seen during the campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll: Biden wins wide approval for transition, but GOP skepticism on issues persists, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Two-thirds of Americans approve of President-elect Joe Biden’s handling of the transition ahead of his inauguration Wednesday, but mixed confidence in his leadership on major issues along with President Trump’s hold on the Republican Party present sizable challenges for the early days of the new administration, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotBiden enters office with 49 percent of Americans confident that he will make the right decisions for the country’s future, compared with 50 percent who take the opposite view. The 49 percent represents much greater trust than Trump’s 38 percent mark four years ago but much lower than the 61 percent who expressed trust in Barack Obama’s decisions on the eve of his inauguration in 2009.

The equally divided result on the broad question about confidence in Biden’s leadership and decision-making is mainly the result of strong distrust among Republicans about the incoming president, a finding that persists throughout the poll and underscores the degree to which the deeply polarizing presidential campaign — along with Trump’s baseless claims about a stolen election — have shaped Republican attitudes.

Overall, more than 6 in 10 Americans say Biden was legitimately elected as the 46th president, including more than 9 in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents. But 7 in 10 Republicans say he was not legitimately elected. That suggests that Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, propagated by many other Republicans, have taken root within the party despite the absence of credible evidence, dozens of failed legal challenges and multiple recounts affirming Biden’s victories in Georgia and Wisconsin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump prepares to offer clemency to more than 100 people in his final hours in office, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, Jan. 18, 2021. The president has been consumed with the question of whether to issued preemptive pardons to his children, top aides and himself, but it remains unclear whether he will do so.

President Trump is preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office, decisions that are expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans.

Trump met Sunday with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and other aides for a significant amount of the day to review a long list of pardon requests and discuss lingering questions about their appeals, according to the multiple people briefed on the meeting. The president was personally engaged with the details of specific cases, one person said.

In the past week, Trump has been particularly consumed with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides and himself, said the people familiar with discussions.

Neither Trump nor his children have been charged with crimes, and they are not known to be under federal investigation.

But the question of a presidential self-pardon has become more urgent and controversial since the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by the president’s supporters. Some aides think Trump could face criminal liability for inciting the crowd.

Others think a self-pardon, never before attempted by a president, would be of dubious constitutionality but could anger Senate Republicans preparing to serve as key jurors at Trump’s impeachment trial, and would amount to an admission of guilt that could be used against Trump in potential civil litigation related to the Capitol attack.

washington post logoWashington Post, State capitols, D.C. brace for potentially violent protests, Paulina Firozi and Griff Witte, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). As troop levels swell in D.C., National Guard commander says he believes he has city officials’ trust; Trump has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement, experts warn; Balance sought between First Amendment protests and securing the Mall.

Numerous state capitols nationwide were locked down Sunday, with windows boarded up, National Guard troops deployed and states of emergency preemptively declared as authorities braced for a day of potential violence mimicking the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington by a mob of pro-Trump rioters.

The extraordinary show of security in capital cities — and in D.C., where an unprecedented safety cordon continues to tighten — reflected the anxious state of the nation just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Axios Sneak Peek, Off the rails: Descent into madness, Axios investigative series by Jonathan Swanjonathan swan twitter, right, and Zachary Basu, Episode 3, Jan. 17, 2021. Beginning on election night and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software. President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in fom lawyer Sidney Powell.

republican elephant logo"Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up."She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.

"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it.

"She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

It was clear that Trump recognized how unhinged his outside legal advisers were. But he was becoming increasingly desperate about losing to Joe Biden, and Powell and her crew were willing to keep feeding the grand lie that the election could be overturned.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rallies ahead of Capitol riot were planned by established Washington insiders, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). ‘Trump said to do so’: Accounts of rioters who rushed Capitol could be pivotal testimony; Chronology: How law enforcement and government officials failed to head off the Capitol attack. 

The fiery rallies that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were organized and promoted by an array of established conservative insiders and activists, documents and videos show.

djt maga hatThe Republican Attorneys General Association was involved, as were the activist groups Turning Point Action and Tea Party Patriots. At least six current or former members of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an influential group that for decades has served as a hub for conservative and Christian activists, also played roles in promoting the rallies.

The two days of rallies were staged not by white nationalists and other extremists, but by well-funded nonprofit groups and individuals that figure prominently in the machinery of conservative activism in Washington.

In recent days, as federal authorities rounded up those involved in the Capitol riot, promoters and participants of the rallies have denounced the violence and sought to distance their events from the events that followed.

christopher carr“I support the right of Americans to peacefully protest,” wrote Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, right, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), “but the violence and destruction we are seeing at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable and un-American.”

Organizing warm-up events is not the same thing as plotting to invade the Capitol. But before the rallies, some used extreme rhetoric, including references to the American Revolution, and made false claims about the election to rouse supporters to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory

Unless Congress responds to the protests, “everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” tweeted Ali Alexander, a former CNP fellow who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement. “1776 is *always* an option.”

On Jan. 5, at Freedom Plaza in D.C., Alexander led protesters in a chant of “Victory or death.”

ali akbar alexander stop the stealAlexander, right, did not respond to a request for comment for this story. He previously told The Washington Post that he had “remained peaceful” during the riot and said his earlier speeches “mentioned peace” and were being misrepresented.

In the days and hours before the riots, Alexander and his allies attracted tens of thousands of protesters from around the country — a crowd that included white supremacists, Christian activists and even local police officers.

Events included a “Patriot Caravan” of buses to Washington, a “Save the Republic” rally on Jan. 5 and a “Freedom Rally” on the morning of Jan. 6. A little-known nonprofit called Women for America First, a group run by Trump supporters and former tea party activists, got approval to use space on the Ellipse for what they called a “March for Trump,” according to the “public gathering permit” issued on Jan. 5.

Nearly a dozen political activists — including former White House, congressional and Trump campaign staffers — served as on-site rally coordinators and stage managers, the permit said. A spokesperson for Women for America First did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 18, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 95,566,768, Deaths: 2,041,418
U.S. Cases: 24,483,583, Deaths: 407,212

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

ny times logoNew York Times, In Minnesota, a G.O.P. Lawmaker’s Death Brings Home the Reality of the Virus, Trip Gabriel, Jan. 18, 2021. A state senator fell ill after an election victory gala and died, underlining the consequences of the party’s rejection of health experts’ guidance.

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

jim jordan shirtsleeves

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans call for unity but won’t attest Biden won fairly, Amy B Wang, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Many Congressional Republicans have refused to acknowledge the election was not stolen, the baseless claim that drove thousands to take part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The call for unity came from one of President Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, nearly a week after a pro-Trump mob rampaged the U.S. Capitol in a riot that left five people dead.

“What happened at the Capitol on January 6 was as wrong as wrong can be,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), shown above, told colleagues during a virtual committee meeting about Democrats’ demands that Trump be removed from office. Now was the time for “healing,” and in Jordan’s opinion, that meant allowing the president to finish out his term.

The committee chairman, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), pressed him on one point. Hadn’t Jordan and more than 140 other Republicans given oxygen to the false conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that motivated the Capitol rioters — that the election had somehow been stolen — when they had voted to object to certifying the electoral college results?

“We all want healing. But in order to get to healing, we need truth, and we need accountability,” McGovern said. “So my question for you is: Will you admit that Joe Biden won fair and square, and the election was not rigged or stolen?”

McGovern’s question was met with 17 seconds of silence before Jordan said Biden would indeed be inaugurated president — a clear dodge of the question about the nature of Biden’s victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, filling out his government, to name five women as deputy secretaries, Lisa Rein, Jan. 18, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday plans to nominate five women to serve in the No. 2 spots at key Cabinet agencies, moving to fill out vital day-to-day operations roles in the government he will take over on Wednesday.

The moves, which will install deputies with hands-on experience in critical departments, reflect Biden’s push to elevate women and his desire to quickly tackle the nation’s crises and repair agencies suffering from morale and other problems.

The nominees, who must be confirmed by the Senate, include Jewel H. Bronaugh at Agriculture, Polly Trottenberg at Transportation, Andrea Palm at Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Klein at Interior and Cindy Marten at Education.

American FlagFour of the women — Bronaugh, Trottenberg, Palm and Klein — held roles in the same departments during the Obama administration, part of Biden’s strategy of turning to a familiar team so his administration will face less of a learning curve.

Deputies at large federal departments often have crucial responsibility for managing day-to-day operations in their sprawling organizations. The deputy has traditionally functioned as the leader who holds things together while the secretary travels or acts as the agency’s better-known figurehead.

That may be particularly true when the secretary is a political figure, like Pete Buttigieg at Transportation or Xavier Becerra at HHS, who has not devoted his career to mastering the policy details that are the department’s focus.

Bronaugh, Biden’s choice for deputy agriculture secretary, is commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She could help blunt criticism of Tom Vilsack’s nomination to lead the agency, especially from Black farmers who said Vilsack was inattentive to their needs during his first stint as secretary.

Vilsack was at the center of a storm in 2010 when he fired Shirley Sherrod, a Black department official, after a conservative blogger released a misleading video clip that appeared to show Sherrod admitting animosity toward a White farmer. Vilsack later apologized and tried to rehire her.

Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to serve as the agency’s deputy secretary. She served as Virginia executive director for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) during the Vilsack era.

Vilsack said in a statement that he hoped to work with Bronaugh to build the “most talented, most diverse USDA leadership team in history” to address climate crisis, end the coronavirus pandemic, improve access to nutritious food and rebuild rural America.

At the Transportation Department, Trottenberg would bring federal, state and municipal experience that could add significant expertise to Buttigieg’s team.

Trottenberg for the past seven years has led New York City’s transportation department, a 5,800-person operation that oversees the city’s roads, bridges, traffic and parking systems, as well as the Staten Island Ferry and extensive bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. She was under consideration as transportation secretary before Biden turned to Buttigieg.

Axios Sneak Peek, Congress holding back Biden Cabinet, Staff report, Jan. 17, 2021. Just five of Biden's Cabinet nominees are slated to have Senate confirmation hearings before Inauguration Day — far fewer than most recent presidents-elect, according to data from the U.S. Senate analyzed by Stef.
George H. W. Bush had only two nominees receive hearings before his inauguration in 1989.

The five hearings scheduled Tuesday for Biden — for State, Defense, Homeland Security, National Intelligence and Treasury — point to the importance of maintaining national security and economic confidence.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, The Jamaican connection: Kamala Harris’s father, a proud islander, made sure his daughters know their heritage, Robert Samuels, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Donald Harris deemed teaching his children lessons about his homeland to be both a patriotic and a paternal duty.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileOn a summer evening in 1978, Donald Harris took his two young daughters to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif., to their first concert.

Kamala, right, the girl who would become vice president, was the eldest at 13. As she watched Bob Marley and the Wailers sing and sway at the outdoor arena on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, she found herself mesmerized.

“We sat up top in the back of the theater and, as I watched the performance, I was in complete awe,” Harris said in an email to The Washington Post. “To this day, I know the lyrics to nearly every Bob Marley song.”

The experience was meant to be more than musical. Her father, a prominent Jamaican economics professor teaching at Stanford, was trying to imbue his two American-born girls with a sense of pride in their roots. Like the Harrises, Marley was from a parish on the north coast of the island called St. Ann.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Chronology: How law enforcement and government officials failed to head off the Capitol attack, Aaron C. Davis, Jan. 17, 2021. Off-duty police were part of the mob. Now police are turning in their own. As troop levels swell in D.C., National Guard commander says he believes he has city officials’ trust. 

In the 17 days after President Trump began to encourage his supporters to descend on D.C. until the siege that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, law enforcement and city officials braced for potential violence in the nation’s capital.

secret service logoBut despite numerous internal briefings, intelligence warnings and planning meetings, officials failed to take sufficient action to fend off the attacks — with deadly consequences. Once rioters began to move en masse to the Capitol, it was too late.

Too few Capitol Police officers stood in their way, and there was no chance to summon enough backup quickly enough to keep out the violent mob. The riot unleashed hours of unchecked aggression and close calls as marauders came within 60 seconds of encountering Vice President Pence, nearly trapped lawmakers, and looted and vandalized the seat of U.S. democracy for the first time since British forces burned the Capitol on Aug. 24, 1814. Five people died in the violence and dozens of police officers were injured.

Scores of federal criminal investigations have been opened. The inspectors general at four federal agencies and the Capitol Police Board have launched investigations into the preparedness and response to the attack, and numerous congressional inquiries are expected.

This reconstruction of the key moments leading up the Capitol siege and the law enforcement response that day is based on video footage, public documents and the accounts of members of Congress, congressional aides and officials with the Capitol Police, D.C. government, D.C. police, Defense Department, FBI and D.C. government. It will update with new information.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 18, 2021.  Trump supporter arrested near Capitol for carrying gun; woman charged with impersonating police.

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI screens U.S. troops for possible insider threats, Paul Sonne, Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.).
U.S. defense officials say the federal government is conducting insider-threat screening on the 25,000 National Guard troops who have begun flowing into the nation’s capital to secure the inauguration, as concerns intensify about extremism in the ranks.

The extra precaution comes after a number of pro-Trump rioters involved in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 turned out to have military ties, raising questions about extremist sentiment within the armed forces. Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington as the deadly riot unfolded.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive preparations, said the Army is working with the FBI to vet all service members supporting the inauguration. The Army maintains awareness of threats but does not collect domestic intelligence itself, the official said. It was not immediately clear how extensive the FBI vetting of the military personnel would be.

washington post logoWashington Post, Undeterred, Biden will push unity in a capital locked down after an insurrection, Michael Scherer, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Joe Biden will assume the presidency at the peak of a deadly pandemic in a city on lockdown, its streets cleared and many subway stations closed, with about 20,000 National Guard troops patrolling against domestic terrorism and in front of a U.S. Capitol still under repair after a violent insurrection.

But rather than pivot his plans after the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol, advisers say he has scripted inaugural events built around the same unifying themes of post-partisanship and governmental competence that undergirded his campaign. Biden’s answer to the roughly 1 in 3 Americans who doubt his legitimacy and a departing president who refuses to formally hand off power will be a program of nationally televised inaugural broadcasts anchored around the country’s potential to unite in the face of crisis.

Aides say little was changed in the programming after the U. S. Capitol riot, with most curbs — like the absence of guests on the Mall — dictated by the pandemic. The decision to focus beyond the circumstance is aimed broadly at what Democrats widely see as a moment of political opportunity, as the Republican Party struggles with an internal crisis of identity brought about by President Trump’s rejection of the 2020 election results and his repeated incitement of his supporters.

Biden’s target audience is not the minority of the country that has rejected his election but the much larger group of Americans, including Trump voters, who are open to changing the channel on the dystopian present.

“The inaugural gives us a fresh start, an ability to begin closing a very dark chapter in our history and start a new journey,” said Stephanie Cutter, a co-executive producer of the inauguration. “Given recent events, there is more willingness on the other side of the aisle to reset and protect our democratic norms than there has been for more than four years.”

 

U.S. Civil Rights, Capitol Threats

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: After MLK’s home was bombed, he refused to back down: ‘This movement will not stop,’ DeNeen L. Brown, Jan. 18, 2021. Minutes after 9 p.m., on the night of Jan. 30, 1956, a segregationist parked his car in front of the modest white clapboard parsonage home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Ala. In the shadows, the man walked up five steps leading to the front door and planted a stick of dynamite on the porch.

King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, and a fellow Dexter Avenue Baptist Church member, Mary Lucy Williams, had been in the living room when they heard noise on the porch, according to a Jan. 31, 1956, report in the Montgomery Advertiser. The two women ran to a backroom of the house, where the Kings’ newborn baby daughter, Yolanda, was asleep.

Seconds later, the dynamite exploded, blasting out windows, tearing a hole in the porch, shredding floor boards and ripping through a porch pillar holding up the house that sat on a quiet Alabama street.

At the time of the bombing, King had just celebrated his 27th birthday. He’d been the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery for 19 months. And he’d started leading the Montgomery bus boycott, a movement organized after the Dec. 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to vacate her bus seat to a White man.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Words of Martin Luther King Jr. Reverberate in a Tumultuous Time, Audra D. S. Burch, John Eligon and Michael Wines, Jan. 18, 2021. The 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory.

He lived and died in a time of tumult and a racial awakening, so perhaps it is no surprise that the 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory: A raging pandemic. Protest and civil unrest after the killing of Black people by the police. A momentous election. And an insurrection.

Even the title of his final book — “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” — seems ripped from today’s headline.

“I think it’s still an unanswered question,” said Clayborne Carson, a history professor at Stanford University, referring to the title of Dr. King’s book.

“I think the most important word in that question is ‘we’ — who are we, and until you figure that out, it’s very hard to tell where we are going,” said Dr. Carson, who is also the founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which is publishing a collection of Dr. King’s papers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In a civil war, accountability must precede healing, Melody Barnes and Caroline E. Janney, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Long before the Trump presidency spiraled completely out of control, many Americans comforted themselves by asserting we were not in a civil war. As we sift through the debris left by the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and anticipate what is likely to come — we ignore at our peril the cautionary tale of the last Civil War and what followed it.

Today’s reunification efforts, led by Republicans who call for healing just days after the riot, mask challenges much as similar calls did in 1865. Then, as now, we were a country divided by different values, including a contingent willing to use violence and anti-democratic means to accomplish its goals. Healing isn’t possible until those challenges are placed squarely on the table and addressed. Nor is it possible when those who seek to thwart the Constitution aren’t held accountable.

History reminds us that avoiding this difficult work only pushes division and violence into the future. With no consequences for their acts of rebellion, the months after Appomattox saw former Confederates regain local and state control and bend it to their purposes. They passed Black Codes, which limited the freedom of 4 million newly emancipated men and women. They escalated violence against both African Americans and White Southern Unionists. While White Southerners acknowledged that their quest for Confederate independence failed, they refused to concede that their cause had been unconstitutional or their actions treasonous.

Melody Barnes is co-director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Has America finally heard Martin Luther King Jr.? Editorial Board, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). When President Ronald Reagan signed the bill creating a federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he warned that “traces of bigotry still mar” the country. This may seem the understatement of the 20th century; it would be an understatement today.

King spoke in his “I Have a Dream” speech of the “sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent.” This would not pass, he explained, “until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” He said this on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial — not far from where armed insurrectionists this month tried to overturn an election decided, in part, by Black voters in Southern states who surmounted all manner of racist restrictions. He said it not far from the White House, where on the first day of June the president of the United States ordered the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters to clear his way for a photo op.

President Trump held up the same Bible from which King preached to send the opposite of his righteous message: exhorting governors to “dominate the streets” with troops to silence Black Americans, who, in their own summer of discontent, were crying out precisely against being dominated. The killing of innocent men such as George Floyd by police, the incarceration of so many more for minor offenses, the systemic neglect and disenfranchisement of communities of color even in an age when redlining and voter suppression are supposed to be illegal. These are the so-called traces of bigotry that continue to disfigure our country.

King exhorted nonviolence until his violent death, but still he declared the year of his assassination that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” He asked: “What is it America has failed to hear? . . . It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of White society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

Has America finally heard? Hindsight brings convenient moral clarity, so an admiration for King has become practically a matter of public curriculum. Yet what looks unimpeachable now was unpopular then, whether his full-throated opposition to the Vietnam War or his insistence that there were two versions of this nation — one full with the “sunlight of opportunity” and the other with a “daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.” The reality that the invigorating autumn of which King dreamed has not yet arrived is met with resistance today, too. It is easier to think about how far we’ve come than how far we’ve yet to go.

But without thinking about the great distance to our destination, we will never get there. The anger of a rent country, King said, turned his dream into a nightmare — yet still he would ask the Almighty to deliver him to “a few years in the second half of the 20th century” if he had his choice of all the ages: “I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working . . . that men, in some strange way, are responding.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis: Lincoln’s first inauguration met with threats of kidnapping, killing and militias, Michael E. Ruane, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The 1861 ceremony was held on the East Front of the Capitol, where last week mobs terrorized Congress and breached the building.

Abraham Lincoln rose from his chair and walked to the speaker’s table on the East Portico of the Capitol. He pulled his cut-and-paste address from the breast pocket of his coat, and slowly put on his metal-rimmed glasses.

As he stood bareheaded, a throng of 30,000 people spread before him — the largest inauguration crowd the city had ever seen, and one that included many African Americans, who were legally banned from the grounds unless on “menial” duty.

But below the platform the Army had deployed artillery. Snipers watched from rooftops and windows, and Lincoln had been guarded by infantry and cavalry on his carriage ride through the streets to the Capitol.

Many people wanted him dead.

“There goes that Illinois ape, the cursed Abolitionist,” a woman in crowd was heard to say. “But he will never come back alive.”

As a tense Washington approaches President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday amid apocalyptic right-wing threats and a massive military lockdown, historians say it was Lincoln’s first inaugural that was really the most hazardous in the life of the country.

“By far,” said Lincoln historian Harold Holzer.

Since his election in November 1860, there had been endless reports of plots to kidnap or kill him, or march on Washington and seize the government, according to accounts by Holzer and fellow historian Ted Widmer.

One alleged plot called for the seizure of the city and the public archives, and for the insurrectionists to be acknowledged abroad as “The United States of America.”

“Government of the people hung by a slender thread,” Widmer wrote.

As for Lincoln, someone had planted a bomb on one of his railroad cars. He had been offered a pistol and a knife for his protection. (He declined.) And he had to be sneaked to Washington through hostile Baltimore as the “package” on a secret train under the code name “Nuts.”

The country was seething over the issue of enslavement, which Lincoln and many in the North would seek to end, and most in the South vowed to maintain at all costs.

Seven states had already seceded from the Union to set up an “alternate” government, as Holzer put it in an interview.

 

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Prospect of Pardons in Final Days Fuels Market to Buy Access to Trump, Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump’s allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars — and potentially much more — from people seeking pardons. The brisk market reflects the access peddling that has defined his presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked clemency powers.

As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers.

The brisk market for pardons reflects the access peddling that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked presidential clemency powers. Pardons and commutations are intended to show mercy to deserving recipients, but Mr. Trump has used many of them to reward personal or political allies.

The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say.

A onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement.

And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization.

After Mr. Trump’s impeachment for inciting his supporters before the deadly riot at the Capitol, and with Republican leaders turning on him, the pardon power remains one of the last and most likely outlets for quick unilateral action by an increasingly isolated, erratic president. He has suggested to aides he wants to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of pardoning himself, though it was not clear whether he had broached the topic since the rampage.

Legal scholars and some pardon lawyers shudder at the prospect of such moves, as well as the specter of Mr. Trump’s friends and allies offering to pursue pardons for others in exchange for cash.

“This kind of off-books influence peddling, special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by Justice Department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair,” said Margaret Love, who ran the Justice Department’s clemency process from 1990 until 1997 as the United States pardon attorney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney Roberta Kaplan is about to make Trump’s life extremely difficult, Karen Heller, Jan. 18, 2021. On the other side of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting.

Leaving aside his Senate impeachment trial, mounting government investigations include a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, right, a criminal letitia james o headshotprobe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and a federal probe by acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin that may include Trump’s role in the catastrophic storming of the U.S. Capitol this month.

But already pending for the soon-to-be South Florida retiree is a trio of lawsuits that allege defamation, fraud and more fraud — all of which are helmed by one attorney.

Roberta Kaplan’s clients include writer E. Jean Carroll, left, who filed a defamation case after Trump claimed she was “totally lying” about her e jean carrollallegation that he raped her a quarter-century ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, and niece Mary L. Trump, who claims that Trump and two of his siblings deprived her of an inheritance worth millions.

“I became the go-to person to sue the president,” says Kaplan, 54, with considerable relish.

She is in many ways the ideal legal adversary to take on Trump. Kaplan is a brash and original strategist, with neither a gift for patience nor silence, a crusader for underdogs who has won almost every legal accolade imaginable. Kaplan, says New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in an email, “has been indispensable in the fight against the cancer of hate and division that Trump spent four years exacerbating.”

Before the presidency, Trump was often as engaged in legal tussles as he was in real estate, suing and threatening to sue his way out of financial trouble. With a return to private life, “his terror is that he will no longer be protected by the office and will have to deal with these lawsuits,” says his niece. Trump faces the prospect of spending considerable time in the role of defendant. Kaplan says she will seek to depose him in all three cases. Trump’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment on the cases in this story.

 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian court rules Navalny can be held in custody for another 30 days, Robyn Dixon, Jan. 18, 2021. As international pressure mounted for the release of arrested Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, he was abruptly summoned to a court hearing that he described as “the highest degree of lawlessness.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained on his arrival in Moscow five months after near-fatal poisoning, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Loveday Morris, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The Washington Post is with Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on the plane taking him to Moscow from Berlin, five months after a near-fatal poisoning.

alexey navalny 2017Russian authorities detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, right, on his return to Moscow Sunday evening for alleged probation violations. Navalny, 44, arrived on a flight from Berlin, where he had been recovering after being stricken in August during a trip to Siberia by a nerve agent similar to Novichok. Navalny and his allies claim the attack was carried out by Russian security agents. Moscow denies the accusation.

Five months after a near-fatal poisoning, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday, setting up another showdown with the Kremlin. ive months after a near-fatal poisoning, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday, setting up another showdown with the Kremlin.

Russian authorities announced that Navalny is on a wanted list for allegedly violating the terms of his suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which Navalny and the European Court of Human Rights have called a political prosecution. Russia’s prison service said it has “an order to take measures to arrest him when establishing his whereabouts.”

washington post logoIran FlagWashington Post, Europe sees a narrow window for Biden to revive Iranian nuclear deal, Loveday Morris and Erin Cunningham, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). But it's unclear how receptive Iran's leadership remains to renegotiate with world powers after the President Trump pulled out of the pact.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: North Korea could become one of Biden’s biggest challenges — and not just because of its nukes, Victor Cha, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). In the past, the Kim regime drew attention to itself with provocations involving missiles and nuclear tests, and that could be the case in 2021 as well.

Yet Biden and his team should be on their guard against another form of North Korea crisis — one involving a catastrophic mix of covid-19, nuclear weapons and a collapsing economy.

Victor Cha is senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a professor at Georgetown University and author of “The Impossible State: North Korea.”

 

U.S. 2021 Politics, Governing

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Joe Biden has already shown us that governing is back, E.J. Dionne Jr.,Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Since Donald Trump has stopped being president in anything but name, President-elect Joe Biden decided to assume the role six days early.

In announcing his $1.9 trillion economic rescue package on Thursday night, ahead of his inauguration this Wednesday, Biden made clear that his quest for bipartisanship will not crimp his policy imagination or his determination to go big to revive the economy.

He showed that Democrats have learned from the Obama years that excessive caution in the face of a severe economic downturn is a mistake for both policy and politics.

And he argued his case in terms that can be described only as “populist,” pointing to the “growing divide between those few people at the very top who are doing quite well in this economy and the rest of America.”

Biden also made clear that he intends to fend off criticism from Trump-style economic nationalists by stressing his commitment to U.S. manufacturing, to “a future made in America, all made in America and all by Americans.” At one point he said “American” (or some variation) nine times in nearly one breath.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s bizarre endgame, Bill Palmer, Jan. 18, 2021. With barely forty-eight hours left in his failed presidency, what is Donald Trump even doing? Surely he doesn’t know, because his endgame moves are looking more and more incoherent, pointless, and frankly just plain weird.

bill palmer report logo headerAt one point this weekend, Trump leaked that he was considering hiring Rudy Giuliani as his impeachment trial lawyer. Then at a later point this weekend, Trump had his lone remaining spokesman announce that he hadn’t yet decided on an impeachment trial lawyer. This comes after reports last week that Trump had cut off Giuliani entirely. At this point Trump appears to simply be indecisive and confused.

Trump is still installing his most inept loyal stooges in positions where they’ll surely be fired the minute President Biden takes office. What’s the strategy here? There doesn’t appear to be one. Perhaps it’s Trump’s way of trying to get them a pension or something. But there is, clearly, no master plan here.

Trump is also whining, through his spokesman, that the only reason he hasn’t done more to condemn political violence is that he’s lost his social media accounts. In reality, the one message that Trump would be able to get out on social media (and the mainstream media) would be if he did properly condemn violence. It’s all odd, and small.

Donald Trump will pardon a boatload of terrible people, many of them also named Trump, and he’ll perhaps make some last ditch grab for narcissistic attention on his way out the door. This is all shaping up to quite a stupid ending for him, even by his standards. If anything is left up his sleeve, it’s a pair of twos. Stay vigilant. Trump has lost. It’s just a matter of how he wants to finish losing.

 

U.S. Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone, Margaret Sullivan, right, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It’s not margaret sullivan 2015 photoenough to simply present truthful information to the public. We need it to sink in.

His administration is down to its last hours, but you can bet that the false belief held by millions of Americans that the election was rigged is not going away when President Trump does.

Journalists, if they take their core mission seriously, should think hard about how they’re going to confront this Big Lie, as it’s become known.

Our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted — “to create a public square with a common set of facts,” as Tom Rosenstiel, an author and the executive director of the Virginia-based American Press Institute, put it.

But how? Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox Settled a Lawsuit Over Its Lies. But It Insisted on One Unusual Condition, Ben Smith, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The network wanted a settlement with the family of a murdered young man to remain undisclosed until after the election. Ben Smith looks at why.

On Oct. 12, 2020, Fox News agreed to pay millions of dollars to the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member, implicitly acknowledging what saner minds knew long ago: that the network had repeatedly hyped a false claim that the young staff member, Seth Rich, was involved in leaking D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Russian intelligence officers, in fact, had hacked and leaked the emails.)

Fox’s decision to settle with the Rich family came just before its marquee hosts, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, were set to be questioned under oath in the case, a potentially embarrassing moment. And Fox paid so much that the network didn’t have to apologize for the May 2017 story on FoxNews.com.

But there was one curious provision that Fox insisted on: The settlement had to be kept secret for a month — until after the Nov. 3 election. The exhausted plaintiffs agreed.

Why did Fox care about keeping the Rich settlement secret for the final month of the Trump re-election campaign? Why was it important to the company, which calls itself a news organization, that one of the biggest lies of the Trump era remain unresolved for that period? Was Fox afraid that admitting it was wrong would incite the president’s wrath? Did network executives fear backlash from their increasingly radicalized audience, which has been gravitating to other conservative outlets?

Fox News and its lawyer, Joe Terry, declined to answer that question when I asked last week. And two people close to the case, who shared details of the settlement with me, were puzzled by that provision, too.

The unusual arrangement underscores how deeply entwined Fox has become in the Trump camp’s disinformation efforts and the dangerous paranoia they set off, culminating in the fatal attack on the Capitol 11 days ago. The network parroted lies from Trump and his more sinister allies for years, ultimately amplifying the president’s enormous deceptions about the election’s outcome, further radicalizing many of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

 

Courts, Crime, Civil RightsMartin Luther King Jr., Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

Martin Luther King Jr., Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

washington post logoWashington Post, Tom Lankford: 1935–2021; Civil rights reporter secretly in league with police dies at 85, Matt Schudel, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). On orders of his publisher, Tom Lankford worked with the Alabama police and wiretapped the civil rights leaders he covered.

Tom Lankford, a journalist who covered the civil rights movement in the troubled city of Birmingham, Ala., while also conducting secret surveillance for his publisher and local police authorities in the 1960s, died Dec. 31 at a hospital in Gadsden, Ala. He was 85.

His family announced the death in a notice in the Gadsden Times newspaper. His former newspaper, the Birmingham News, reported that he died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

tom lankford headshotMr. Lankford began working for the News, then an afternoon newspaper, in 1959, when the civil rights movement was gaining strength, along with White resistance to it. For several years, he seemed to be everywhere in the South, covering major civil rights flash points.

Working as both a reporter and a photographer, Mr. Lankford, right, won numerous awards for his front-line coverage, which sometimes put him in danger. He covered the Freedom Riders, the civil rights activists who rode buses into the South to protest segregated transportation facilities, only to be attacked by White thugs and often jailed.

He covered marches and other demonstrations led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham and across the South. Pretending to be a student, he photographed James Meredith in class when Meredith became the University of Mississippi’s first African American student in 1962. He outran U.S. marshals to the local Associated Press office, which put his picture on the news wire.

Mr. Lankford, left, reported on the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963, which killed four Black girls. He took a memorable tom lankford dawn bowlingphotograph of civil rights marchers, led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965. The peaceful marchers were beaten by White police officers on a day so notorious that it became known as Bloody Sunday.

“That man was present for almost all the historical civil rights events,” former Birmingham police officer Teresa Thorne, who interviewed Mr. Lankford for an upcoming book about the civil rights era, told the News. “He had a lot of respect for Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth. He admired their courage. He was on a friendly basis with them.”

During those years, Mr. Lankford was not just a “multi-portfolioed Birmingham News reporter,” Diane McWhorter wrote in Carry Me Home, her Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham. He also had a secondary identity as a “surrogate cop, spy, and ‘have gun, will travel’ agent provocateur.”

At the behest of Vincent Townsend, assistant publisher of the News, Mr. Lankford had a lavish expense account to buy wiretap and photographic surveillance equipment. He had a truck with a phone company logo on the side and became adept at climbing telephone poles and putting wiretaps on the lines. He entered churches and union meeting halls to put surveillance devices in place.

eugene bull connorHe also worked closely with Birmingham’s police department, which was led until 1963 by the notoriously brutal segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor, right. One of Connor’s detectives introduced Mr. Lankford to members of the Ku Klux Klan, which saved his life at least once. After he photographed White gangs beating civil rights protesters, Mr. Lankford was roughed up in an alley by Klan members until one of them recognized him as “Bull’s boy.”

“He was embedded with the police department,” Thorne told the News in its obituary of Mr. Lankford. “By his own admission, he became too involved and too close for an objective journalist. He did not regret it one bit.”

 

Jan. 17

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

 U.S. Politics

 

Trump Watch

 

World News

 

Courts, Crime, Civil Rights

 

Media News

 

Top Stories

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Seeks Quick Start With Executive Actions and Aggressive Legislation, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden plans to roll out dozens of executive orders in his first 10 days on top of a stimulus plan and an immigration bill. The blitz of orders signify a clean break from the Trump era as Mr. Biden inherits a collection of crises unlike any in generations.

On his first day in office alone, Mr. Biden intends a flurry of executive orders that will be partly substantive and partly symbolic. They include rescinding the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries, rejoining the Paris climate change accord, extending pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments, issuing a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from families after crossing the border, according to a memo circulated on Saturday by Ron Klain, his incoming White House chief of staff, and obtained by The New York Times.

The blueprint of executive action comes after Mr. Biden announced that he will push Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package of economic stimulus and pandemic relief, signaling a willingness to be aggressive on policy issues and confronting Republicans from the start to take their lead from him.

He also plans to send sweeping immigration legislation on his first day in office providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally. Along with his promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans for the coronavirus in his first 100 days, it is an expansive set of priorities for a new president that could be a defining test of his deal-making abilities and command of the federal government.

djt apprentice

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside Twitter’s Decision to Cut Off Trump, Kate Conger and Mike Isaac, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, was working remotely on a private island in French Polynesia frequented by celebrities escaping the paparazzi when a phone call interrupted him on Jan. 6.

jack dorsey resized 2018On the line was Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer and safety expert, with an update from the real world. She said she and other company executives had decided to lock President Trump’s account, temporarily, to prevent him from posting statements that might provoke more violence after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol that day.

Mr. Dorsey, shown in a 2018 file photo, was concerned about the move, said two people with knowledge of the call. For four years, he had resisted demands by liberals and others that Twitter terminate Mr. Trump’s account, arguing that the platform was a place where world leaders could speak, even if their views were heinous. But he had delegated moderation decisions to Ms. Gadde, 46, and usually deferred to her — and he did so again.

twitter bird CustomMr. Dorsey, 44, did not make his misgivings public. The next day, he liked and shared several tweets urging caution against a permanent ban of Mr. Trump. Then, over the next 36 hours, Twitter veered from lifting Mr. Trump’s suspension to shutting down his account permanently, cutting off the president from a platform he had used to communicate, unfiltered, with not just his 88 million followers but the world.

Jack Dorsey had reservations about locking President Trump’s account. But the calls for violence that his tweets provoked were too overwhelming.

The decision was a punctuation mark on the Trump presidency that immediately drew accusations of political bias and fresh scrutiny of the tech industry’s power over public discourse. Interviews with a dozen current and former Twitter insiders over the past week opened a window into how it was made — driven by a group of Mr. Dorsey’s lieutenants who overcame their boss’s reservations, but only after a deadly rampage at the Capitol.

Axios Sneak Peek, Off the rails: Descent into madness, Axios investigative series by Jonathan Swanjonathan swan twitter, right, and Zachary Basu, Episode 3, Jan. 17, 2021. Beginning on election night and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software. President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in fom lawyer Sidney Powell.

republican elephant logo"Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up."She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.

"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it.

"She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

It was clear that Trump recognized how unhinged his outside legal advisers were. But he was becoming increasingly desperate about losing to Joe Biden, and Powell and her crew were willing to keep feeding the grand lie that the election could be overturned.

 

djt handwave file 

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Trump said to do so’: Accounts of rioters who rushed Capitol could be pivotal testimony, Rosalind S. Helderman, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). The accounts of people who said they were inspired by the president to take part in the melee inside the Capitol vividly show the impact of Trump’s months-long attack on the integrity of the 2020 election and his exhortations to supporters to “fight” the results.

Some have said they felt called to Washington by Trump and his false message that the election had been stolen, as well as by his efforts to pressure Congress and Vice President Pence to overturn the result.

But others drew an even more direct link — telling the FBI or news organizations that they headed to the Capitol on what they believed were direct orders from the president issued at a rally that day.

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 17, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 95,056,834, Deaths: 2,032,953
U.S. Cases: 24,308,366, Deaths: 405,266

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

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

Axios Sneak Peek, Congress holding back Biden Cabinet, Staff report, Jan. 17, 2021. Just five of Biden's Cabinet nominees are slated to have Senate confirmation hearings before Inauguration Day — far fewer than most recent presidents-elect, according to data from the U.S. Senate analyzed by Stef.
George H. W. Bush had only two nominees receive hearings before his inauguration in 1989.

The five hearings scheduled Tuesday for Biden — for State, Defense, Homeland Security, National Intelligence and Treasury — point to the importance of maintaining national security and economic confidence.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Biden May Hit A Manchin Roadblock, Editorial Cartoon by DonkeyHotey, Jan. 17, 2021. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) may side with Republican opponents against a new round of stimulus checks, depriving Biden of the majority he needs for his relief plan.

 washington post logoWashington Post, NSA will install former GOP political operative as agency’s top lawyer 3 days before Trump leaves office, Ellen Nakashima, Jan. 17, 2021.The announcement by the National Security Agency came a day after acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller ordered the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, to immediately place Michael Ellis in position as the agency’s general counsel.

christopher miller official.jpgThe National Security Agency is “moving forward” to install Michael Ellis, a former GOP political operative and White House official, as the agency’s top lawyer, the agency said Sunday.

The announcement came a day after acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller, right, ordered the NSA director, Gen. Paul Nakasone, nsa logo 2to immediately place Ellis in position as the agency’s general counsel.

Ellis had been selected for the job in November by the Pentagon general counsel after a civil service competition. But Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection and sought to delay his installation, according to several people familiar with the issue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Ellis was selected under pressure from the White House, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The move drew criticism from national security legal experts as an attempt to politicize a career position.

Palmer Report, Opinion: So this is what competence looks like, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2021.  Joe Biden has picked Wendy Sherman as his Deputy Secretary of State. She’s brilliant. I’m still trying to wrap my head around having a President who picks the best people, instead of the worst people.

bill palmer report logo headerI’ll never understand why the UK still insisted on letting Brexit play out all the way to the end, even after it was clearly a disaster. Then again, I’ll never understand why the US still insisted on letting Trump’s presidency play out all the way to the end, even after it was clearly a disaster.

Some folks are dissing a $15 minimum wage because a fast food worker would make nearly as much as some people with professional jobs. But when the lowest income earners see their wages increased, natural economic forces then cause higher income earners to also start making more. Economics 101.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump administration’s vaccine plan is a mess. Here’s how Biden plans to fix it, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 17, 2021. “The Trump jennifer rubin new headshotadministration never had a federal or comprehensive strategy” for getting coronavirus vaccines into Americans’ arms, Jeff Zients, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to coordinate the federal covid-19 response, told a small group of journalists Saturday.

He, along with Biden’s pick for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, said the Biden administration remains optimistic that it can meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his presidency.

Zients pulled no punches in characterizing the challenge. “Uneven at best” was how he described the administration’s effort, which largely consisted of dropping everything in state officials’ laps. “We’re struck by the incompetence across the board,” he underscored. “Worse than we could have imagined,” he repeated.

The incoming administration’s goal isn’t complicated: To get more people vaccinated, Biden will invoke the Defense Production Act to create more supply, set up more places to do the vaccinations and hire more personnel to administer the shots.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

Daily Beast, NJ Army Reservist With Security Clearance Busted for Capitol Riots, Justin Rohrlich, Updated Jan. 17, 2021. A confidential source told the feds that daily beast logoNavy contractor Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli is “an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer,” court documents show.

A U.S. Army reservist with a secret-level security clearance and “access to a variety of munitions” — described in court papers as a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer — has been charged with taking part in the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli of Colts Neck, New Jersey, works as a contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle, which is also in Colts Neck, according to an FBI affidavit filed last week.

He now faces five federal counts: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority; disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; disrupting the orderly conduct of government business; parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building; and obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Naval Weapons Station Earle is the operational support base for four Military Sealift Command combat logistics ships: USNS Arctic, USNS Robert E. Peary, USNS William McLean, and USNS Medgar Evers.

At least 22 present or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have now been accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, according to the Associated Press. The first U.S. military member to be arrested for their participation in the deadly riot was Jacob Fracker, a Virginia police officer and current Army National Guardsman.

Hale-Cusanelli, who does not have a lawyer listed in court records and could not be reached for comment, was outed by a confidential source to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Jan. 12, six days after the deadly siege. A charging document filed by prosecutors says Hale-Cusanelli showed the source videos on his cell phone of himself “making harassing and derogatory statements toward Capitol Police officers both inside and outside the Capitol building.”

“During our meeting on January 12, 2021, the [source] reported to me that Hale-Cusanelli is an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts video opinion statements on YouTube proffering extreme political opinions and viewpoints under the title the ‘Based Hermes Show,’” NCIS Special Agent Daniel J. Meyers wrote in an affidavit.

“Prior to traveling to the rally and protest on January 6, 2021, Hale-Cusanelli wrote ‘Trust the plan, it’s the final countdown, stay tuned next episode,’ and ‘Trust the plan, major announcement soon.’”

Two days later, the source secretly recorded a conversation with Hale-Cusanelli, who “admitted to entering the Capitol and encouraging other members of the mob to ‘advance’ — giving directions via both voice and hand signals,” the affidavit explains.

“Hale-Cusanelli told the [source] that if they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building. Hale-Cusanelli also admitted to taking a flag and flagpole that he observed another rioter throw ‘like a javelin’ at a Capitol Police officer, which Hale-Cusanelli described as a ‘murder weapon.’”

Many of Hale-Cusanelli’s “Based Hermes” content has been removed from the internet, but some of it remains available. In one April 2020 video, Hale-Cusanelli, as Based Hermes, rails against Jews and references the “Boogaloo,” a slang term used by white supremacists for the second civil war they claim to be fomenting.

The Jan. 6 sacking of the Capitol “was a failed attempt to overthrow a duly elected branch of government and undermine our democracy,” Reps. Ruben Gallego and Sara Jacobs, Democrats from Arizona and California, wrote in a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller last weekend. “Congressman Gallego and I agree that the Department of Defense must actively and aggressively investigate any potential active duty or retired service members who took part in the violence. Any service member who violated their oath to the Constitution should face the fullest extent of military justice.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A small town seethes after learning one of its own says he joined Capitol’s mob, John Woodrow Cox, Hannah Natanson and Julie Tate, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). In Aberdeen, Md., the police chief’s son declared he had “stormed the Capitol,” prompting the same reckoning underway in communities across the country.

“Yeah, I stormed the Capitol. Yeah, I took my country back,” Christian Trabert, dressed in a red, white and blue snow cap, wrote above a photo of himself and five friends standing outside, his finger pointed toward the building’s Corinthian columns. “And no, I don’t feel bad. I feel great!”

In Aberdeen, 70 miles northeast of Washington, word of Trabert’s Facebook post quickly spread among the town’s 16,000 residents, and what followed there was the same thing happening all over America, including in the halls of the desecrated Capitol: fear and fury, silence and obfuscation, lies and conspiracy theories, allegations of a coverup and, before long, a threat of more violence.

But in the beginning, Iser and the rest of the activists just wanted answers.

Palmer Report, Analysis: FBI probes whether Trump’s U.S. Capitol attack was funded by overseas operative who died by suicide, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2021. Each new arrest proves that the people who invaded the U.S Capitol were disorganized and bumbling stooges who had no idea what they were even trying to do. They clearly had some kind of help, or they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did.

bill palmer report logo headerNow the FBI says it’s investigating whether the operation was funded by overseas entities. It’s traced huge bitcoin payments from an operative in France to various right wing entities, some of whom were leading the charge in pushing the phony election claims that were FBI logorepeated by the Capitol attackers.

Even more suspicious: NBC News says that the operative who made these payments then died by suicide shortly thereafter. This obviously raises all kinds of red flags.

The Feds haven’t determined whether this might have originated in Russia or in some other nation. But the whole thing keeps getting more and more suspicious. American right-wing propaganda outlets have spent the Trump era parroting the same false information that Russian state owned propaganda outlets have promoted, so it wouldn’t be shocking to find a financial connection and/or propaganda coordination. With Trump, all roads seem to inevitably lead to Russia.

Daily Beast, Karl Rove: ‘Strong Likelihood’ Trump Will Be Convicted if Giuliani Leads Impeachment Defense, Justin Baragona, Jan. 17, 2021. The longtime GOP daily beast logoconsultant warned that if the president’s personal lawyer leads the defense against incitement charges, it’s likely that enough Republicans would vote to convict.

Fox News contributor Karl Rove, right, lamented on Sunday that if Rudy Giuliani leads President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense in the Senate, there is a karl rove h  s“strong likelihood” the president will be convicted.

Over the weekend, Giuliani — who infamously called for “trial by combat” hours before the Capitol riot—told ABC News that he’s on the president’s second impeachment defense team and that he will argue Trump couldn’t have incited a riotous mob to attack the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election.

The impeachment team’s defense of the president, according to Giuliani, will be to prove that Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud — which have been rejected by dozens of courts — are actually true.

“They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud — or I do, or anybody else — we’re inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it’s totally untrue,” Giuliani said. “Well, if you can prove that it’s true, or at least true enough so it’s a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words.”

During Sunday’s broadcast of Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Rove — a longtime Republican strategist who has criticized Trump’s “stolen” election rhetoric — if he felt there was a chance 17 Republicans could join Senate Democrats to convict Trump and potentially keep him from running for office again.

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly open to the idea of convicting the president for incitement, Rove said Giuliani’s defense strategy would cause a lot of GOP lawmakers to jump on board the impeachment train.

“Rudy Giuliani charted a very bad course for the president in the morning papers when he suggested that the argument was going to be, ‘Well, there couldn’t have been incitement because all the charges of widespread voter fraud are true,’” Rove sighed. “Well, those charges and the so-called experts that the campaign has mustered to advocate them have been rejected by over 50 courts, with judges appointed by President Trump, President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, and I think even one Reagan justice.”

“If it’s the Rudy Giuliani defense, there’s a strong likelihood that more than 17 Republicans will, because essentially that argument is: ‘This was justified, the attack on the Capitol and the attempt to end the congressional hearing on certifying the election was justified because all these charges are true.’ And frankly, they aren’t,” he added.

Rove went on to say that Trump and his allies have had every opportunity to prove their baseless allegations in court and failed to do so over and over, reiterating that if Giuliani goes down this road “it raises the likelihood of more than 17 Republicans voting for conviction.”

While Giuliani has insisted that he has been tapped to lead Trump’s defense and was seen visiting the White House this weekend, Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley appeared to contradict the former New York City mayor’s claims.

“President Trump has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the ‘impeachment hoax,’” the spokesman tweeted Saturday night. “We will keep you informed.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Undeterred, Biden will push unity in a capital locked down after an insurrection, Michael Scherer, Jan. 17, 2021. Joe Biden will assume the presidency at the peak of a deadly pandemic in a city on lockdown, its streets cleared and many subway stations closed, with about 20,000 National Guard troops patrolling against domestic terrorism and in front of a U.S. Capitol still under repair after a violent insurrection.

But rather than pivot his plans after the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol, advisers say he has scripted inaugural events built around the same unifying themes of post-partisanship and governmental competence that undergirded his campaign. Biden’s answer to the roughly 1 in 3 Americans who doubt his legitimacy and a departing president who refuses to formally hand off power will be a program of nationally televised inaugural broadcasts anchored around the country’s potential to unite in the face of crisis.

Aides say little was changed in the programming after the U. S. Capitol riot, with most curbs — like the absence of guests on the Mall — dictated by the pandemic. The decision to focus beyond the circumstance is aimed broadly at what Democrats widely see as a moment of political opportunity, as the Republican Party struggles with an internal crisis of identity brought about by President Trump’s rejection of the 2020 election results and his repeated incitement of his supporters.

Biden’s target audience is not the minority of the country that has rejected his election but the much larger group of Americans, including Trump voters, who are open to changing the channel on the dystopian present.

“The inaugural gives us a fresh start, an ability to begin closing a very dark chapter in our history and start a new journey,” said Stephanie Cutter, a co-executive producer of the inauguration. “Given recent events, there is more willingness on the other side of the aisle to reset and protect our democratic norms than there has been for more than four years.”

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, 2020 Hindsight: Civil War Interrupted in Former Capital of the Confederacy, Allan Dodds Frank, Jan. 17, 2021. The FBI, ATF, and state police stopped a planned attack by white supremacists in Virginia in 2020; what did they do to stop the Capitol insurrection in 2021?

To avert bloodshed last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the state capital of Virginia, the FBI swooped into a Delaware apartment on January 16, 2020, to arrest three neo-Nazi white supremacists bent on provoking a race war.

The arrests — based in part on information the FBI obtained by bugging the apartment — stopped the men four days before they had an opportunity to kill people, including police, at a massive pro-gun rally in Richmond. Their ultimate aim, according to a federal indictment, was to overthrow the government.

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Capitol Riot, Calls for Cash and Talk of Revolution, David D. Kirkpatrick, Mike McIntire and Christiaan Triebert, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A network of far-right agitators spent weeks organizing and raising money for a mass action to overturn President Trump’s election loss.

Keith Lee, an Air Force veteran and former police detective, spent the morning of Jan. 6 casing the entrances to the Capitol.

In online videos, the 41-year-old Texan pointed out the flimsiness of the fencing. He cheered the arrival, long before President Trump’s rally at the other end of the mall, of far-right militiamen encircling the building. Then, armed with a bullhorn, Mr. Lee called out for the mob to rush in, until his voice echoed from the dome of the Rotunda.

Yet even in the heat of the event, Mr. Lee paused for some impromptu fund-raising. “If you couldn’t make the trip, give five to 10 bucks,” he told his viewers, seeking donations for the legal costs of two jailed “patriots,” a leader of the far-right Proud Boys and an ally who had clashed with the police during an armed incursion at Oregon’s statehouse.

Much is still unknown about the planning and financing of the storming of the Capitol, aiming to challenge Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat. What is clear is that it was driven, in part, by a largely ad hoc network of low-budget agitators, including far-right militants, Christian conservatives and ardent adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mr. Lee is all three. And the sheer breadth of the movement he joined suggests it may be far more difficult to confront than a single organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amtrak to suspend some service south of D.C. ahead of inauguration, Luz Lazo, Jan. 17, 2021. Amtrak is suspending some service south of Washington because of security concerns related to Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Northeast Regional trains will end their trips at Union Station on Tuesday and Wednesday, skipping the stations in Virginia.

 

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Are Headed for a Bitter Internal Showdown, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). G.O.P. leadership would like to blunt President Trump’s influence over the party. Mr. Trump wants to punish those who have crossed him.

As President Trump prepares to leave office with his party in disarray, Republican leaders including Senator Mitch McConnell are maneuvering to thwart his rnc logogrip on the G.O.P. in future elections, while forces aligned with Mr. Trump are looking to punish Republican lawmakers and governors who have broken with him.

The bitter infighting underscores the deep divisions Mr. Trump has created in the G.O.P. and all but ensures that the next campaign will represent a pivotal test of the party’s direction, with a series of clashes looming in the months ahead.

The friction is already escalating in several key swing states in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s incitement of the mob that attacked the Capitol last week. They include Arizona, where Trump-aligned activists are seeking to censure the Republican governor they deem insufficiently loyal to the president, and Georgia, where a hard-right faction wants to defeat the current governor in a primary election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Joe Biden’s Catholicism is all about healing. Now, he will lead a suffering America, Michelle Boorstein, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Pitching himself as president, Joe Biden promised to heal America’s hurting soul. His experiences with suffering and healing were well known, including the deaths of his wife and two of his children, his struggle against stuttering and many political losses. On a bigger stage than ever, Biden was trying to show the country how he did it.

Now, Biden will lead a nation deeply in need of healing — with soaring coronavirus cases, thousands dying daily and millions out of work and hunkered down in isolation. But he is facing not one America but two, each claiming with new religious fervor that God and righteousness are on its side.

As divided as any are Biden’s own people, U.S. Catholics, with millions who don’t even see him as a legitimate Catholic at all, because of his support for abortion access and LGBT equality.

The question is how the country will adjust to a man whose faith doesn’t feature literal Bible-waving promises to “save Christianity” or threats that political opponents might eliminate God (all Trumpian moments).

Biden presents a less common image: a devout, churchgoing liberal. The country will soon observe for the first time a president who goes to Mass every Sunday, plus on Catholic feast days, and sprinkles conversation casually with scripture, religious hymns and references to religious history but describes faith’s purpose in general, inclusive terms — as sustenance for the weary, encouragement for the suffering and an obligation to welcome and care for one another.

 

Trump Watch

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, When Trump leaves Washington, he’ll seek rehabilitation in a MAGA oasis: Florida, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump will leave Washington this week politically wounded, silenced on social media and essentially unwelcome in his lifelong hometown of New York.

djt golf in shape customBy migrating instead to Palm Beach, Fla., Trump plans to inhabit an alternative reality of adoration and affirmation. The defeated president will take up residence at his gilded Mar-a-Lago Club (shown above), where dues-paying members applaud him whenever he eats meals or mingles on the deck. He is sure to take in the same celebratory fervor whenever he plays golf at one of the two Trump-branded courses nearby.

In Florida — one of only two top battleground states Trump won in November — Trump will be living in a veritable MAGA oasis, to use the acronym for his “Make American Great Again” campaign slogan. South Florida has fast become a hub of right-wing power brokers and media characters, and some of Trump’s adult children are making plans to move to the area.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The rot from within, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 17, 2021. One of the two Congressional mandates of the US Secret Service is the protection robert harringtnn portraitof high ranking officials of government, including and especially the president of the United States. This includes tactical protection, such as the immediate protection of the president’s person at public events, and strategic protection, such as anticipating potential threats to the physical well-being of the president and, accordingly, securing the president to a safe and remote location.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the many disturbing reports coming out of the insurrectionist assault on the American government by violent hoodlums on January 6th, is that no effort was made to remove the president to a remote location. This fact has alarming implications and raises disturbing questions, not least is the question of who is in charge and whose side are they on? That the Capitol was being sacked and overrun by a murderous mob and no effort was made to remove the president to a different secure location is a disturbing departure from protocol.

One unavoidable implication of this departure could be that Donald Trump was recognized by the Secret Service and himself as the ex officio leader of the insurrection. No further action was required.

Meanwhile, on an “Instagram Live,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, left, explained that, during the violent insurrection, she was fearful for her own life, alexandria ocasio cortez officialnot only from the insurrectionists, but also from her very own colleagues. “I can only tell you I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die.”

She went on to explain that while lawmakers were told to take refuge at a specific extraction point in the Capitol building, she declined to go, explaining, “there were Q-anon and white-supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point who I know and who I felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera. So I didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress.”

ayanna pressley twitterCongresswoman Ayanna Pressley, right, had a similar experience. She tweeted: “The second I realized our ‘safe room’ from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker Members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited. Furious that more of my colleagues by the day are testing positive.”

It is now clear that some members of Congress led people on a reconnaissance tour through the Capitol building on January fifth, and the very next day those same people were back as part of the mob of insurrectionists. The implications are broad and troubling.

When Donald Trump departs forever at noon on January 20th, much of the rot and corruption that he created will remain behind. Because of this we will be cleaning up the filth that is the now moribund Trump administration for a very long time to come. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Hollywood PoliTrivia, Film Criticism: Cheering the Demise of the Antagonists, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 17, 2021. Throughout the history of the movies, audiences have cheered the final demise of its antagonists, fictional and real life.

As real-life arch-villain Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House and the U.S. presidency, we are reminded how Hollywood has treated the final curtain on its most loathsome bad guys.

 

World News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Pompeo’s last-minute actions on foreign policy will complicate Biden’s plans for a new direction, Karen DeYoung, Jan. 17, 2021 (print ed.). While President Trump and many of his top aides seem to have left the nation’s business behind, largely disappearing from view in the days since Joe mike pompeo portraitBiden’s election was formalized and Trump-inspired violence erupted, one corner of the administration has moved into overdrive.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, has made near-daily announcements of major foreign policy actions, many of which appear designed to cement Trump priorities and create roadblocks to new directions charted by the incoming Biden team.

Among the barriers put in place are the relisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, the designation of Yemen’s Houthi rebels as terrorists, the removal of long-standing restrictions on contacts between senior U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the long-contested Western Sahara, the fast-track approval of controversial arms sales, and a slew of new sanctions against Iran.

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Amid Charges of Election Fraud, Uganda Reelects Museveni, William Dowell, Jan. 17, 2021. Despite serious competition from rising opposition candidate, Bobi Wine, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wins election to a seventh term in office. 

 

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: A QAnon ‘Digital Soldier’ Marches On, Undeterred by Theory’s Unraveling, Kevin Roose, Jan. 17, 2021. Valerie Gilbert posts dozens of times a day in support of an unhinged conspiracy theory. The story of this “meme queen” hints at how hard it will be to bring people like her back to reality.

Every morning, Valerie Gilbert, a Harvard-educated writer and actress, wakes up in her Upper East Side apartment; feeds her dog, Milo, and her cats, Marlena and Celeste; brews a cup of coffee; and sits down at her oval dining room table.

Then, she opens her laptop and begins fighting the global cabal.

Ms. Gilbert, 57, is a believer in QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Like all QAnon faithful, she is convinced that the world is run by a Satanic group of pedophiles that includes top Democrats and Hollywood elites, and that President Trump has spent years leading a top-secret mission to bring these evildoers to justice.

She unspools this web of falsehoods on her Facebook page, where she posts dozens of times a day, often sharing links from right-wing sites like Breitbart and The Epoch Times or QAnon memes she has pulled off Twitter. On a recent day, her feed included a rant against Covid-19 lockdowns, a grainy meme accusing Congress of “high treason,” a post calling Lady Gaga a Satanist and a claim that “covfefe,” a typo that Mr. Trump accidentally tweeted three years ago, was a coded intelligence message.

“I’m the meme queen,” Ms. Gilbert told me. “I won’t produce them, but I share a mean meme, and I’m kind of raw.”

These are confusing times for followers of QAnon, a deranged conspiracy theory birthed in the bowels of the internet. They were told that Mr. Trump would be re-elected in a landslide, and that a coming “storm” would expose the global pedophile ring and bring its leaders to justice. These setbacks have left QAnon believers like Ms. Gilbert hoping for a last-minute miracle. Her current theory is that Mr. Trump will not actually leave office on Wednesday, but will instead declare martial law, declassify damning information about the “deep state” and arrest thousands of cabal members, including President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

marjorie greene campaign

Palmer Report, Opinion: Marjorie Taylor Greene has been temporarily suspended from Twitter, Bill Palmer, Jan. 17, 2021. Last night Palmer Report pointed out that brand New House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene had gone completely off the deep end with a semi-coherent Twitter rant. Now it turns out she’s been temporarily suspended.

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter has suspended Greene for twelve hours due to her recent false tweets. In response she’s released a completely unhinged statement, ranting about a “Silicon Valley Cartel.” This is notable because her pattern of recent tweets suggests that she’ll continue making a point of breaking the rules and getting repeatedly suspended, raising the question of whether Twitter will end up permanently twitter bird Custombanning her. Twitter banned Donald Trump for life, but that was at a point where he was a few weeks away from being out of office anyway. Greene is set to be in the House for two more years, unless she resigns in scandal first.

To be clear, while Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter account is still visible to the public, she is in fact suspended. Twitter leaves accounts still visible while they’re temporarily suspended, but the individual can’t use the account. Twitter only takes accounts offline if they’re suspended permanently, as in the case of Donald Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump, having lost Kayleigh McEnany, is now relying on… Hogan Gidley? Bill Palmer, Jan 17, 2021. Over the weekend the news leaked that Donald Trump was blaming Kayleigh McEnany of all people for his ongoing downfall. This was followed by the news that McEnany, below right, has simply stopped kayleigh mcenany djtshowing up for work. So, without a press secretary for his final few days, Trump is now relying on someone named Hogan Gidley.

bill palmer report logo headerHogan Gidley appeared on Fox News this morning and insisted that the only reason Donald Trump hasn’t done more to denounce the U.S. Capitol domestic terrorist attack is “because the platforms have removed him.” No really, he said this.

The mere fact that Trump was able to send Gidley on national television to deliver his message is proof that Trump could have simply gone on television himself; if Fox was willing to book Gidley, they’d certainly rather have had Trump. Instead Trump is hiding behind whatever PR flack is left in his White House, and blaming it all on Twitter. Three more days and Trump will no longer be our problem.

 

Courts, Crime, Civil Rights

washington post logoWashington Post, Phil Spector (1939–2021): Lionized producer of 1960s pop and convicted murderer dies, Glenn Rifkin, Jan. 17, 2021.  He was known as the creative force behind such hits as “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” — and for disturbing behavior that culminated in a murder conviction in 2009.

In his career’s twilight, Mr. Spector was found guilty of fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his sprawling neo-Gothic chateau east of Los Angeles after a night of drinking. After a mistrial, he was retried and convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.

 

Jan. 16

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

U.S. Politics

 

U.S. Media News 

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Pledges Federal Vaccine Campaign to Beat a Surging Coronavirus, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Katie Thomas, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., racing against a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant that could worsen the crisis, is planning a vaccination offensive that calls for greatly expanding access to the vaccine while using a wartime law to increase production.

In a speech on Friday in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden told Americans that “we remain in a very dark winter,” allowing, “the honest truth is this: Things will get worse before they get better.”

“I told you,” he said, “I’ll always level with you.” But he also tried to offer hope for an end to a pandemic that has taken nearly 390,000 American lives and frayed the country’s economic and social fabric.

“Our plan is as clear as it is bold: get more people vaccinated for free, create more places for them to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms, increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible,” he said, calling it “one of the most challenging operation efforts ever undertaken by our country.”

He pledged to ramp up vaccination availability in pharmacies, build mobile clinics to get vaccines to underserved rural and urban communities and encourage states to expand vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older. Mr. Biden also vowed to make racial equity a priority in fighting a virus that has disproportionately infected and killed people of color.

“You have my word,” he declared, “we will manage the hell out of this operation.”

But the president-elect’s expansive vision is colliding with a sobering reality: With only two federally authorized vaccines, supplies will be scarce for the next several months, frustrating some state and local health officials who had hoped that the release of a federal stockpile of vaccine doses announced this week could alleviate that shortage.

Mr. Biden is clearly prepared to assert a role for the federal government that President Trump refused to embrace, using the crisis to rebuild the nation’s public health services and Washington’s money to hire a new health work force and deploy the National Guard. But many of his bold promises will be difficult to realize.

Even if Mr. Biden invokes the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, it may take some time to alleviate vaccine shortages. The law has been invoked already, to important but limited effect. His promises to build federally supported mass vaccination sites and develop new programs to serve high-risk people, including the developmentally disabled and those in jail, will work only if there are vaccines to administer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Vaccine reserve already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena H. Sun, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). States were anticipating a windfall after federal officials said they would stop holding back second doses. But the approach had already changed, and no stockpile exists.

When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses that had been held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available, starting at the end of December, taking second doses for the two-dose regimen directly off the manufacturing line.

Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others were still in the dark Friday.

Because both of the vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States are two-dose regimens, the Trump administration’s initial policy was to hold back second doses to protect against manufacturing disruptions. But that approach shifted in recent weeks, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Attack Could Fuel Extremist Recruitment For Years, Experts Warn, Neil MacFarquhar, Jack Healy, Mike Baker and Serge F. Kovaleski, Jan. 16, 2021. An ideological jumble of far-right extremists and hate groups flourished under President Trump and claimed new energy after the attack.

washington post logoWashington Post, Before he stormed the Capitol, ex-W.Va. lawmaker harassed women at an abortion clinic, Samantha Schmidt and Caroline Kitchener, Jan. 16, 2021. Derrick Evans walked with his phone out in front of him, camera facing forward, as he advanced on the patient in the abortion clinic parking lot. Surrounding the car, clinic volunteers tried to shield the patient with umbrellas and their own bodies. It was no use: On this February morning in 2019, Evans captured the patient on Facebook live, streaming to tens of thousands of followers.

derrick evans“You will not do this in secret in West Virginia,” Evans said. He wore a “Make America Great Again” hat, as he did every week when he protested outside the Women’s Health Center, the only abortion clinic left in the state.

Evans was a fixture at the clinic for much of 2019, with a reputation for harassment so severe that the clinic erected a 10-foot fence to deter him. A volunteer escort obtained a restraining order against him, accusing him of stalking her. When Evans was around — often accompanied by dozens of supporters — women would cry in the waiting room, said clinic patient Hunter Crites, afraid they’d be identified and screamed at as soon as they stepped outside.

By the time Evans stepped foot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he had amassed over 32,000 followers on Facebook — and enough votes in the 2020 election to win him a seat in the West Virginia legislature. Everywhere he went — the abortion clinic, Black Lives Matter protests, drag brunches — Evans brought along his phone, and his following, doing what he could to shame and agitate the people around him.

rosanne boyland

ny times logoNew York Times, Visual Investigations: Videos Show How Rioter Was Trampled in Stampede at Capitol, Evan Hill, Arielle Ray and Dahlia Kozlowsky, Updated Jan. 16, 2021. Rosanne Boyland, shown above, died after losing consciousness in the crush of a pro-Trump mob as it surged against the police. Here’s how it happened.

Rosanne Boyland, a 34-year-old Trump supporter from Georgia who died during the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, appears to have been killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line, according to videos reviewed by The Times.

Though the videos have circulated widely, Ms. Boyland’s presence in them had gone unnoticed until now, and the manner of her death had previously been unclear. The videos show her body on the ground just outside a door on the Capitol’s west side that was the scene of some of the day’s worst violence.

Her clothes and backpack strap in the videos match those she was seen wearing in a picture of her taken earlier that day, and two witnesses, one of whom tried to help her, gave similar accounts of her death.
ImageA picture of Ms. Boyland from earlier on Jan. 6 showing her clothes and backpack helped The Times identify her in the crush of the mob.
A picture of Ms. Boyland from earlier on Jan. 6 showing her clothes and backpack helped The Times identify her in the crush of the mob.Credit...Justin Winchell

Here is how the fatal rush unfolded.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, paramedics who responded to a call regarding a medical emergency at the Capitol arrived to find two Capitol Police officers in the Rotunda performing CPR on Ms. Boyland, who the officers said had collapsed in the protest.

The day after Ms. Boyland’s death, her brother-in-law told reporters that he held President Trump responsible.

“Rosanne was really passionate about her beliefs, like a lot of people are,” he said. “I’ve never tried to be a political person, but it’s my own personal belief that the president’s words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans last night.”

 

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 16, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 94,433,200, Deaths: 2,020,385
U.S. Cases:   24,104,425, Deaths:    401,868

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

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

fda logony times logoNew York Times, Biden Picks Former F.D.A. Chief to Lead Federal Vaccine Efforts, Sheila Kaplan, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Dr. David Kessler, who helped speed the development of AIDS drugs, will become President-elect Joe Biden’s top science official at Operation Warp Speed. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has chosen Dr. David Kessler to help lead Operation Warp Speed, the program to accelerate development of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, according to transition officials.

david kessler 2009Dr. Kessler, shown in a 2009 photo, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the Food and Drug Administration during the presidencies of George Bush and Bill Clinton, has been a key adviser to Mr. Biden on Covid-19 policy and is co-chair of the transition team’s Covid-19 task force.

He will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a researcher and former drug company executive, who will become a consultant to Operation Warp Speed. Dr. Kessler will share top responsibilities for the initiative with Gen. Gustave F. Perna, who will continue as chief operating officer, according to a Biden transition spokesman. Dr. Kessler’s responsibilities will cover manufacturing, distribution and the safety and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics.

“Dr. Kessler became a trusted adviser to the Biden campaign and to President-elect Biden at the beginning of the pandemic, and has probably briefed Biden 50 or 60 times since March,” said Anita Dunn, co-chair of the transition team. “When staff gets asked, ‘What do the doctors say?,’ we know that David Kessler is one of the doctors that President-elect Biden expects us to have consulted.”

Dr. Kessler will join Operation Warp Speed at a critical time. Although the program is widely credited with making possible the development of two highly effective coronavirus vaccines in record time, it has been much less successful at actually delivering the shots to the public — a complex task it shares with numerous federal, state and local authorities.

The Trump administration had vowed to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020, but as of Thursday, just over 11 million inoculations had been given, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At some vaccination sites, long lines of elderly people have queued up for hours waiting for a vaccine; at others, a lack of willing recipients is forcing providers to offer the shots to random passers-by, before the doses expire.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s most rabid goons are now turning against him, Ron Leshnower, Jan. 16, 2021. A poll from Pew Research Center released yesterday shows only 29% of Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing, down from 38% in August. Most significantly, the figure for Republicans and Republican-leaning voters dropped from 77% down to 60% in the same time period. Now, there’s growing evidence it’s not just traditional or “reasonable” Republicans who are giving up on the cretin, but that the insurrectionists Trump radicalized are quickly turning their wrath on him as well.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Trump’s biggest supporters were resorting to “parsing Trump’s limited remarks” to figure out what he wanted them to do next, after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In his short video seemingly condemning the Capitol attack, Trump’s failure to mention Biden’s transition suggested to a QAnon forum member that Trump had a plan to stay in power. In another example, the perceived sound of an echo in Trump’s audio generated excitement that Trump was plotting a military coup from a bunker.

The next day, however, HuffPost reported that many far-right extremists feel Trump betrayed them for returning to the camera while impeachment was underway to call out the violence and acknowledge the need for a peaceful transition of power. Having reviewed thousands of posts across many pro-Trump platforms, HuffPost found that a growing majority of Trump’s most ardent supporters are now rejecting him while still demanding the armed insurrection he incited.

More than merely parting ways or ignoring Trump, many of the extremists who believed he called them to battle are now strongly denouncing him for what they believe is his shameful betrayal and capitulation.

According to the review, several disgruntled insurrectionists appear willing to forgive Trump if he declares martial law to remain in power. But, as Palmer Report has said, Trump lacks the muscle to pull this off — no matter what the My Pillow guy might dream. Trump is running out of friends, options, and time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting defense secretary orders NSA director to immediately install former GOP operative as the agency’s top lawyer, Ellen Nakashima,
Jan. 16, 2021. The acting Defense Secretary, Christopher C. Miller, has ordered the director of the National Security Agency to immediately install Michael Ellis, a former GOP operative, as the agency’s general counsel immediately, an unusual move that raises concerns of improper politicization.

christopher miller official.jpgIt is unclear what the NSA will do. The agency and the Pentagon declined to comment.

In November, Pentagon General Counsel Paul C. Ney Jr. named Michael Ellis, then a White House official, to the position of general counsel at the NSA, a career civilian post at the government’s largest and most technologically advanced spy agency, The Post reported. He was selected after a competitive civil service competition. He has not taken up the job, however, as he needed to complete administrative procedures, including taking a polygraph test.

Miller, right, gave NSA Director Paul Nakasone until 6 p.m. Saturday to install Ellis in the job, according to several people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity. The 6 p.m. deadline passed without Nakasone taking action. It was unclear Saturday evening what nsa logo 2the Pentagon’s next move would be.

Nakasone was not in favor of Ellis’s selection and has sought to delay his installation, according to several people.

Ellis previously was chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a staunch Trump supporter and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Ellis joined the White House in 2017, when he became a lawyer on the National Security Council and in 2019 he was elevated to senior director for intelligence.

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: This just keeps getting stranger, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2021. Donald Trump has four days left in his presidency – perhaps less than that if bill palmerhe tries to follow through on any of his latest potential antics. Trump has now apparently hitched himself to a last ditch plan from the My Pillow guy, which the My Pillow guy was dumb enough to place within camera lens range of a newspaper photographer, because these people really are just that stupid.

bill palmer report logo headerBut that’s only the half of it. Even amid disturbing new mainstream media reports about just how close Trump came to getting Mike Pence killed during the Capitol attack, Pence still sees fit to allow Trump to finish out the rest of his term. The only thing that could get even stranger about all of this is if Trump’s My Pillow stunt ends up being the thing that prompts Pence to change his mind about removing him.

Trump is still losing cabinet members who mistakenly think that resigning in protest at the last minute is somehow going to save their reputations and future employability. Trump is surely going to pardon some more people before he leaves office, and the only thing we know for sure is that they’ll all be terrible people. This stuff is just par for the course, at least for another four days.

Meanwhile there’s a worsening pandemic still going on, and President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to fix the vaccine rollout is every bit as solid as Trump’s ongoing mishandling of it. Of course we haven’t had a President for four years, so what’s another four days? We’re about to find out.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Police Investigating Whether Lawmakers Gave Tours Before Riot, Staff reports, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The police are looking into whether members of Congress inappropriately gave visitors access. The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in a police officer’s death.Vice President Mike Pence, occupying a leadership void, called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations and assistance. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House managers were preparing to take their impeachment charge to trial in the Senate, but offered no timeline. 

  • Josh Hawley, who led Senate efforts to overturn the election results, is being targeted by a super PAC.
  • Pence, occupying a leadership void, calls Harris to offer assistance — as Trump plans his Inauguration Day getaway.
  • The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in the killing of a Capitol Police officer by a pro-Trump mob.
  • Pelosi says impeachment managers are preparing for Senate trial, but declines to offer timeline.
  • Federal watchdogs open a far-reaching investigation into failures in the lead-up to the Capitol riot.
  • As Washington and several states brace for unrest, Biden reveals his vaccine and economic plans.
  • A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for seeking to disenfranchise them.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘We Need to Stabilize’: Big Business Breaks With Republicans, David Gelles, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Low taxes and light regulation made the party popular with corporate America for decades. President Trump and his supporters have frayed those bonds.

republican elephant logoThe longstanding alliance between big business and the Republican Party is being tested as never before. As President Trump and his allies sought to overturn the election results in recent months, chief executives condemned their efforts and called on Republicans to stop meddling with the peaceful transfer of power.

Now, in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol rampage by Mr. Trump’s supporters, corporate America is turning its back on many senior Republicans, and flexing its political muscle. One major trade group called on Mr. Trump’s cabinet to consider removing him from office. Dozens of companies, from AT&T to Walmart, have said they will no longer donate to members of Congress who opposed the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rioters storming Capitol came dangerously close to Pence, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Paul Kane and Emma Brown, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). About one minute after the vice president was hustled out of the Senate chamber and into a nearby room, members of the pro-Trump mob arrived at the top of a nearby landing.

mike pence leftThe violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, left, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day.

Secret Service officers eventually spirited Pence to a room off the Senate floor with his wife and daughter after rioters began to pour into the Capitol, many loudly denouncing the vice president as a traitor as they marched through the first floor below the Senate chamber.

About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate

Palmer Report, Opinion: So much for Blue Lives Matter, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 16, 2021. If you’re wondering how “Christians” can worship a murdering, raping, hate-tweeting, raging criminal who they robert harringtnn portraitmistakenly think of as “rich,” how “patriots” can support a man who tries to shortcut the rule of law and subvert the sacred peaceful transition of power, then I have another puzzle for you. How do “Blue Lives Matter,” flag-waving Republicans murder one police officer and rough up 50 others, putting fifteen of them in the hospital?

bill palmer report logo headerJust ask DC Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone. After being torn from a small phalanx of cops protecting the Capitol building on January 6, officer Fanone reports that rioters were screaming out, “Kill him with his own gun!”

“At that point it was like, self-preservation,” Fanone explains, “how do I survive this situation?” After being nearly torn apart, his gear and badge ripped from him, Fanone finally figured out a formula that did the trick. ”I just remember yelling out that I have kids, and that seemed to work.” At that point some members of the mob helped him get out of what was very nearly a life-ending situation.

Fanone summarizes it this way: “People have asked me my thoughts on the individuals in the crowd that helped me or tried to offer some assistance. I think the conclusion I’ve come to is, ‘Thank you, but f*ck you for being there.”

So there you have the Blue Lives Matter crowd. Officer Fanone got lucky that day. He had a fortunate inspiration and remembered that these were also supposed to be the people who were the “Pro-life Anti-abortion” crowd, so maybe mentioning that he had kids might penetrate their dim-witted, insane bloodlust for murder.

They were also part of the same violent mob who beat another police officer, Brian Sicknick, to death with a fire extinguisher. Maybe Sicknick didn’t have kids, or maybe he did and he didn’t have the presence of mind to tell the bloodthirsty scum who robbed him of his life that he had kids. Or maybe he told them and they just didn’t give a crap. When you’re dealing with the Kool-aid drinking mob of glassy-eyed Trump idolaters, anything goes.

So if you’re looking for another “apparent contradiction” (read: screaming hypocrisy) of the Trump claque, here’s another one. So the next time a contemptible, Trump-loving moron shrieks “Blue Lives Matter” as a supposed refutation of Black Lives Matter, remind them of officers Fanone, Sicknick and the fifty others they roughed up, hospitalized, murdered or nearly murdered.

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: Three days before attack, Capitol Police report warned Congress could be targeted, Carol D. Leonnig, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Three days before thousands of rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol, an internal Capitol Police intelligence report warned of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry supporters of President Trump on Jan. 6, laying out a stark alert that deepens questions about the security failures that day.

In a 12-page report on Jan. 3, the intelligence unit of the congressional police force described how thousands of enraged protesters, egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups, were likely to stream into Washington armed for battle.

This time, the focus of their ire would be members of Congress, the report said.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the memo, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Post. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

The internal report — which does not appear to have been shared widely with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI — was among a number of flags that security experts say should have alerted officials to the high security risks on Jan. 6.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats wrestle with length of Trump trial, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats are eager to punish President Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but wary of a Senate trial dragging on too long and slowing President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.

Few if any Senate Democrats want a lengthy impeachment proceeding, senators and aides said Friday — particularly as Biden faces a raft of crises with potentially no Cabinet secretary in place on the first day of his presidency, a break from past practice. Some have suggested the trial be put on pause to first tackle confirmations and pandemic relief.

But Senate leaders have not yet found a way to move ahead simultaneously on the impeachment trial and the chamber’s normal activities, such as confirming nominees, despite Biden urging them to do so.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could delay the starting date by withholding the article of impeachment until a later time. At a news conference Friday, Pelosi declined to specify when she would send the article to the Senate.

 

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Josh Hawley’s big event just got evicted from Loews Hotels, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2021. In the days since he helped incite a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republican Senator Josh Hawley has ceased tweeting, and seems to be trying to keep himself out of the mainstream media – perhaps in the hope that the public will forget what he did.

bill palmer report logo headerBut Hawley isn’t letting the attack get in the way of his desire to fundraise. He had a big fundraiser scheduled for next month at a Loews Hotel property. Not anymore. Loews (no relation to hardware store Lowe’s) just released this statement:

“We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions. In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.”

They didn’t mention Josh Hawley by name, but they didn’t have to. It’s his fundraiser. He might try to host it somewhere else, but he may have trouble finding a suitable venue who wants the controversy. This comes even as numerous major corporations have cut off PAC donations to Hawley and the other House and Senate Republicans who refused to certify the Electoral College results. If Hawley keeps getting hit in the fundraising wallet, he may not be a viable candidate for reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. ends Pa. election investigation, having found ‘insufficient evidence’ of criminal intent, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). The top federal prosecutor in Harrisburg, Pa., announced Friday that his office has closed an investigation into nine discarded ballots found in the northeastern part of the state that President Trump had touted to support his unfounded claims of election rigging, saying in a statement that the probe had found “insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent on the part of the person who discarded the ballots.”

Justice Department log circularThe investigation had been controversial from the start, as election law experts said the department seemed to be violating department policy and tradition in revealing an ongoing probe in such a way that could affect the election.

Though just nine ballots in a dumpster were at issue, then-U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, who oversaw prosecutors in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced the probe in a public statement in September soon after Trump alluded to what happened on Fox News Radio’s “The Brian Kilmeade Show.” Freed also first claimed that all nine ballots were cast for Trump, though he later clarified seven of the ballots had been cast for the president and two were found sealed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Capitol Riot, Calls for Cash and Talk of Revolution, David D. Kirkpatrick, Mike McIntire and Christiaan Triebert, Jan. 16, 2021. A network of far-right agitators spent weeks organizing and raising money for a mass action to overturn President Trump’s election loss.

Keith Lee, an Air Force veteran and former police detective, spent the morning of Jan. 6 casing the entrances to the Capitol.

In online videos, the 41-year-old Texan pointed out the flimsiness of the fencing. He cheered the arrival, long before President Trump’s rally at the other end of the mall, of far-right militiamen encircling the building. Then, armed with a bullhorn, Mr. Lee called out for the mob to rush in, until his voice echoed from the dome of the Rotunda.

Yet even in the heat of the event, Mr. Lee paused for some impromptu fund-raising. “If you couldn’t make the trip, give five to 10 bucks,” he told his viewers, seeking donations for the legal costs of two jailed “patriots,” a leader of the far-right Proud Boys and an ally who had clashed with the police during an armed incursion at Oregon’s statehouse.

Much is still unknown about the planning and financing of the storming of the Capitol, aiming to challenge Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat. What is clear is that it was driven, in part, by a largely ad hoc network of low-budget agitators, including far-right militants, Christian conservatives and ardent adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mr. Lee is all three. And the sheer breadth of the movement he joined suggests it may be far more difficult to confront than a single organization.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Attack Could Fuel Extremist Recruitment For Years, Experts Warn, Neil MacFarquhar, Jack Healy, Mike Baker and Serge F. Kovaleski, Jan. 16, 2021. An ideological jumble of far-right extremists and hate groups flourished under President Trump and claimed new energy after the attack.

New York Post, GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert and husband racked up arrests in home district, Jon Levine, Jan. 16, 2021. Rep. Lauren Boebert, the gun-toting freshman Republican Colorado congresswoman who ran on a law-and-order platform, has had several dust-ups with police, starting as a teenager.

The 34-year-old lawmaker, who beat her district’s very conservative Rep. Scott Tipton in a primary upset last June, has a rap sheet unusually long for a member of Congress.

lauren boebert mugshot 2017And her track record of thumbing her nose at law continued this week after she tussled with Capitol Police officers over her refusal to walk through newly installed House metal detectors.

“I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, DC, and within the Capitol complex,” she tweeted in defiance, while calling the detectors “another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.”

While the lawmaker, shown in a 2017 mugshot, was eventually allowed to enter the House chambers, she is facing growing questions about her role in assisting the deadly riot on Capitol Hill Jan. 6. Just hours before the violence, she tweeted, “today is 1776.” In the days leading up to the unrest, Boebert made a spectacle of her intention to remain armed in the Capitol, earning another rebuke from local law enforcement.

Back in June 2015, Boebert was cuffed for disorderly conduct at a Country Music festival near Grand Junction, Colo., after police said she attempted to interfere in the arrest of minors busted for underage drinking and encouraged the accused to run off. Boebert said the revelers had not been read their Miranda Rights and that the arrest was illegal.

Boebert subsequently missed two court appearances and was arrested again in December 2015. The charge was dismissed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lauren Boebert’s top staffer resigns as everything falls apart for her, Bill Palmer, Jan. 16, 2021. Last night Palmer Report pointed to Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s lauren boebertworsening meltdowns on Twitter and asked how much longer she was going to last before she melted down completely. Now she’s received some news that’s not exactly going to help her keep it together.

bill palmer report logo headerBoebert’s Communications Director has resigned today, according to Axios. This is a big deal because Boebert, right, is brand new in the House, and so is her staff. Her Communications Director thought he’d be taking the job for at least two years, and he barely lasted a week before he’d seen enough.

Notably, Lauren Boebert’s Communications Director was okay with Boebert being a gun addicted QAnon freak when he signed on to work for her – but what’s transpired over the past ten days has apparently sent him running for the exits. Boebert openly incited insurrection on the House floor on January 6th, and then she repeatedly tweeted Speaker Pelosi’s location while the Capitol was under siege. We won’t be shocked if this ends with Boebert’s resignation. This is all falling apart for her rather quickly now.

capitol richard barnett jim lo scalzo epa efe rex shutterstock

New York Post, Federal judge reverses bail for accused Capitol rioter Richard Barnett, Jon Levine, Jan. 6, 2021. The alleged stun gun-carrying Capitol Hill rioter photographed with his boot up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been ordered to remain in jail and brought immediately to Washington, DC, so his case can proceed, according to a new report.

Arkansas-native Richard Barnett, 60, above, was initially scheduled to be sprung Saturday on $5,000 bail, to house arrest, pending the resolution of charges against him that could send him to prison for over a decade.

“If (Barnett) will travel across the country and engage in this level of criminal behavior because he believes that he is right and it is the Electoral College that is wrong, what would deter him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Harris said in arguing against the original decision to grant bail, the Associated Press reported.

The decision from Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell stayed a ruling from federal magistrate judge Erin Weidemann, who said Barnett’s house arrest would be under “very, very restrictive conditions.”

“He appears to be a law-abiding citizen, for the most part, although there have been incidents that do cause the court concern with him being armed at rallies,” Weidemann said at the time.

Associated Press, Far-right personality ‘Baked Alaska’ arrested in riot probe, Michael Balsamo, Jan. 16, 2021. Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been ap logoarrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

Gionet, right, was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity.

capitol tim gionet baked alaskaThousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem.

Gionet faces charges of violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller said in an affidavit filed in the case that Gionet streamed live for about 27 minutes from inside the Capitol and could be heard encouraging other protesters not to leave, cursing and saying “I’m staying,” “1776 baby,” and “I won’t leave guys, don’t worry.”

She wrote that Gionet entered various offices and when told by law enforcement officers to move, identified himself as a member of the media. Miller wrote that Gionet then asked officers where to go before cursing a law officer while alleging the officer shoved him, then leaving the building.

Gionet also posted video that showed Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” and “God Bless Trump” hats milling around inside the Capitol and taking selfies with officers who calmly asked them to leave the premises. The Trump supporters talked among themselves, laughed, and told the officers and each other, “This is only the beginning.”

Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes. So far, they have brought nearly 100 cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court.

In a 2017 interview with “Business Insider,” Gionet said he was given the nickname “Baked Alaska” because he is from Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: How Trump’s Mantra of ‘Law and Order’ Collapsed, Elaina Plott, Jan. 16, 2021. The president’s response to the riot at the Capitol underscored the ways he has twisted the phrase over the past four years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. man arrested at inauguration checkpoint says he was lost; didn’t mean to bring gun, ammunition to the District, Jessica Contrera, Carol D. Leonnig and Katie Mettler, Jan. 16, 2021. A Virginia man was arrested after law enforcement found at least one firearm and ammunition in his truck as he tried to enter an inauguration security checkpoint near the Capitol on Friday evening with a credential that was not authorized, according to court documents.

Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, drove his Ford F-150 up to a checkpoint on E Street Northeast of the Capitol, where he was met by Capitol Police officers, according to the court documents.

Beeler was arrested on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition, a Capitol Police spokesperson said. A judge ordered him released on personal recognizance and issued a stay-away order from the District.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler explained after being released. In a tear-filled interview, he said he has spent the last week working as hired security in downtown Washington ahead of the inauguration. He was running late to work and forgot that his firearm was in his truck when he left his home in Virginia, where he said he has a license to carry. He denied that he had more than 500 rounds of ammunition listed in his arrest report.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

Beeler said he was given a credential by his employer, MVP Protective Services. A man who answered a phone number connected with MVP protective services said, “Unfortunately, at this time I am not authorized to speak,” when reached by a reporter Saturday evening.

The officers asked Beeler if he had weapons in the car, and he volunteered that he had a Glock in his center armrest, charging papers said.

After removing Beeler from the truck, officers found the firearm, a 9mm handgun, was loaded with a high-capacity magazine and 17 rounds of ammunition and the pistol was chambered and ready to fire, court document said.

Police said they also found more than 500 rounds of pistol ammunition, including hollow-point bullets. Nearly two dozen shotgun shells were “located in plain sight in the rear cargo area of the vehicle,” the court documents said.

mike lindell screengrabRawStory, MyPillow guy Mike Lindell prays for military coup after meeting with Trump: report, Bob Brigham, Jan. 16, 2021. When controversial MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell visited the White House on Friday, a Washington Post reporter captured a photo of "martial law" appearing on the notes he brought with him.

Lindell, above, said he was there to brief Trump on what he was missing out on after his lifetime suspension from Twitter.

"Following his meeting with President Trump on Friday, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said in a Facebook interview with Right Side Broadcasting News today that he's praying that the military presence in Washington is part of Trump's plan to retain power," Tim Miller of The Bulwark reported Saturday. "In Lindell's interview—which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook in just a few hours—he recounts the details of his meeting with the president and rattles off a series of unintelligible conspiracies in a Minnesota lilt."

Lindell believes he has "proof" of election fraud, pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that incited the fatal January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"You know I've been looking down every hole for election fraud since November 4th and about eight or nine days ago this proof came out. One-hundred percent footprints from the machines of the machine fraud," Lindell said. "I wanted to get it to the president. This is it. This shows that Joe Biden lost: 79 million for Donald Trump and 68 million for Joe Biden."

"I said I talked to the guy. This is real. I said it's got the IP address of the computer that it came out of. It also has the latitude and longitude like over in China this went over there came back and it shows the number of votes flipped," Lindell argued.

WZDX-TV (Huntsville, AL), Alabama NAACP and local branches demand Rep. Mo Brooks to resign, lawmakers to be censured

WZDX-TV (Huntsville, AL), Alabama NAACP and local branches demand Rep. Mo Brooks to resign, lawmakers to be censured, Keneisha Deas, Updated Jan. 16, mo brooks o2021. Members of the NAACP Alabama State Conference are calling on Congressman Mo Brooks to resign or be expelled by his colleagues. The group along with local branches in Brooks' district made the announcement in front of his office today.

Leaders say Brooks helped stoke the violence on the Capitol last Wednesday.

"We do not want him, we've lost faith and confidence in him as a Congressman, Representative for the 5th District, and so it's time for him to go," says NAACP Alabama State Conference President, Benard Simelton.

The group also wants newly-elected Senator Tommy Tuberville and Alabama congressional leaders in all districts except Congresswoman Terri Sewell's district to be censured for rejecting the electoral votes.

Leaders say Congressman Mo Brooks helped perpetuate the violence on the Capitol last Wednesday.

 

U.S. Politics

CNN, Fact Check: Analysis: The 15 most notable lies of Donald Trump's presidency, Daniel Dale, Jan. 16, 2021. The lies that could define Trump's legacy. cnn logoTrying to pick the most notable lies from Donald Trump's presidency is like trying to pick the most notable pieces of junk from the town dump. There's just so much ugly garbage to sift through before you can make a decision.

But I'm qualified for the dirty job. I fact checked every word uttered by this President from his inauguration day in January 2017 until September 2020 -- when the daily number of lies got so unmanageably high that I had to start taking a pass on some of his remarks to preserve my health.

Trump got even worse after November 3. Since then, he has spent the final months of what has been a wildly dishonest presidency on a relentless and djt smiling filedangerous lying spree about the election he lost.

As the country grapples with the deadly consequences of this deception, I've selected the 15 Trump lies that stand out to me from his four years in power -- for their importance, for their egregiousness, for their absurdity, or for what they say about the man.

  • The most telling lie: It didn't rain on his inauguration
  • The most dangerous lie: The coronavirus was under control
  • The most alarming lie saga: Sharpiegate
  • The most ridiculous subject of a lie: The Boy Scouts
  • The ugliest smear lie: Rep. Ilhan Omar supports al Qaeda
  • The most boring serial lie: The trade deficit with China used to be $500 billion
  • The most entertaining lie shtick: The burly crying men who had never cried before
  • The most traditional big lie: Trump didn't know about the payment to Stormy Daniels
  • The biggest lie by omission: Trump ended family separation
  • The lie he fled: He got Veterans Choice
  • My personal favorite lie: Trump was once named Michigan's Man of the Year
  • The most depressing lie: Trump won the election

 

U.S. Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Wikipedia turns 20: Fighting disinformation on the world’s encyclopedia, Heather Kelly, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). Amid heightened concerns about the spread of disinformation and misinformation, Wikipedia’s pages on controversial topics — such as QAnon and the Proud Boys — can be a balm.

Wikipedia is a thing that shouldn’t work, but somehow does. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers, without pay, collectively trying to document every corner of human knowledge, including history happening in real time.

This month, the online encyclopedia‘s strengths and quirks were on full display as hundreds of volunteers furiously worked to create a page for the Capitol riots as events unfolded Jan. 6. As it transitioned from a protest to something more violent, Wikipedia’s volunteer editors added key details while debating the article title, as shared by editor Molly White. Was it a protest, an insurrection or a riot? It ended up the “2021 storming of the United States Capitol.” Hundreds of people were working on the ballooning document at a time, which has now been touched by nearly 1,000 editors, is more than 10,000 words long and has been viewed nearly 2 million times.

wikipedia logoLike most Wikipedia articles, it will continue to change, a fluid draft of history meant to stick as closely to dispassionate facts as possible while regularly swatting off attempts to insert opinions and disinformation.

“I think the large number of editors helps to make sure different viewpoints are considered,” said White, who has put in 12 hours of editing on the page and related wikis since last week. “Any changes must be carefully sourced, and there are constant discussions to ensure neutral tone and appropriate weight to topics within the page. … It is the lower-profile pages that are more susceptible.”

Wikipedia is turning 20 years old on Friday, and in the midst of heightened concerns about the spread of disinformation and misinformation, its pages on controversial topics or current events can be a balm. The page for QAnon gets straight to the point in its first line, saying it “is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory.” The page for the Proud Boys is equally straightforward, calling them “a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only political organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States and Canada.”

jimmy wales wikipedia logoFounded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, right, and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia is an ad-free site edited by volunteers and hosted by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation. It’s one of the 20 most popular sites on the Internet, and its pages are regularly the top results for Google searches.

Anyone interested in changing an article is allowed, and people with more experience can gain more privileges. Some editors have specialties, others are generalists, and they all donate their time and energy to try to keep the resource clean and informative in multiple languages. Editors follow a few basic tenets, including that posts should have a neutral point of view, they should treat each other with respect and that there are no firm rules.

What’s most striking about Wikipedia is its sheer size. Like the number of posts (55 million), the number of volunteers (270,000 active editors a month) and even the number of edits that have taken place (it just passed a billion).

kayleigh mceneny collage

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kayleigh McEnany runs and hides, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2021. Over the weekend it was reported that Donald Trump is now pissed off at bill palmerKayleigh McEnany because even though she was willing to lie for him throughout his attempt at overthrowing the election she hasn’t been willing to defend him in the wake of his Capitol terrorist attack. Now it turns out Kayleigh is running for the hills.

Now Kayleigh McEnany is “finished” at the White House as of yesterday, according to the New York Times. She hasn’t resigned or anything, she’s just not planning to show up for work this upcoming week. No reason has been given, but we suspect it has something to do with the bill palmer report logo headerfact that Trump is now blaming her for his downfall.

And so yet another of Donald Trump’s henchmen is facing a disastrous end. Kayleigh McEnany destroyed her future employability by leading the charge in pushing Trump’s deranged lies about the election result. Now she’s on the outs with him anyway. She’s getting the worst ending possible, and she deserves it.

 

Trump Attorneys Rudolph Giuliani, flanked by Sidney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis (Nov. 19, 2020).

Trump Attorneys Rudolph Giuliani, flanked by Sidney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis (Nov. 19, 2020).

washington post logofox news logo SmallWashington Post, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell have disappeared from Fox airwaves, Jeremy Barr, Jan. 16, 2021 (print ed.). They’ve not been on Fox cable news shows since a legal pushback from the voting-technology companies they maligned. At one point, it was hard for Fox viewers to avoid Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis.

For several weeks starting in November, the Trump-associated lawyers were an almost-daily presence on Fox shows, arguing that the president had been robbed of a second term by a fraudulent process that they claimed they would soon have the evidence to reveal.

But Giuliani and Powell have not appeared on any Fox cable news show in more than a month, according to a review by The Washington Post. Giuliani’s last appearance was Dec. 12 and Powell’s was Dec. 10 on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” a show that was once a regular vehicle for both her and Giuliani. Ellis has appeared only once on the networks since early December.

In November and December, all three were frequent guests on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows, sometimes doing double duty, as Powell did in appearing on shows hosted by Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity on the same night — even though she had already been booted from the Trump campaign’s efforts. Ellis appeared on three Fox News Media shows on Nov. 20.

The network would not comment on the trio’s absence. But the timing of their disappearance aligns with the first legal pushback from a pair of voting-technology companies that say they’ve been falsely smeared by baseless conspiratorial claims of election fraud by Trump allies.

 

Jan. 15

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 

U.S. Media News 

 

U.S. Law, Politics, Courts

 

Top Stories

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden rolls out $1.9 trillion relief proposal, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden’s proposal includes more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families and $350 billion in emergency funds for state, local and tribal governments. He is aiming to get GOP support, although the price tag is likely to be too high for many Republicans to accept. Related story:

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Package to Combat Virus and Downturn, Jim Tankersley and Michael Crowley, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signaling the shift in the federal government’s pandemic response as Mr. Biden prepares to take office.

The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. Another $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers and large subsidies for child care costs.

“During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck,” Mr. Biden said in a speech to the nation. “There is real pain overwhelming the real economy.”

He acknowledged the high price tag but said the nation could not afford to do anything less. “The very health of our nation is at stake,” Mr. Biden said, adding that it “does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly.”

Mr. Biden took swift action to shape the agenda at a time of national crisis and a day after President Trump’s impeachment in the House. While it reflects the political shift in Washington as Democrats take control of Congress, support for Mr. Biden’s program will immediately run into challenges, starting with the possibility that a Senate trial of Mr. Trump might delay its passage.

capitol mob

washington post logoWashington Post, Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. Note left by ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence, Teo Armus, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As federal law enforcement officers sift through evidence tied to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, they have tried to determine what compelled rioters to force their way into the building. Namely, did any of them plan to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers?

Officials now say they have found clues to that question from one of the mob’s most distinctive figures: Jacob Anthony Chansley, shown in the Capitol at center above, the shirtless, tattooed man often referred to as “QAnon Shaman,” who stood out in a headdress made of coyote skin and buffalo horns.

FBI logoIn a court filing late on Thursday, federal prosecutors in Phoenix wrote that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”

The 18-page memo, which asked a judge to keep Chansley detained before his trial, said the 33-year-old Arizona man left an ominous note for Vice President Pence at his desk in the Senate chamber: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right groups make plans for protests and assaults before and after Inauguration Day, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Razzan Nakhlawi, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump’s incitement of his supporters before their attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement and fueled those determined to disrupt the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and violently challenge the legitimacy of the election for months — and possibly years, according to U.S. officials and independent experts.

U.S. officials have warned authorities nationwide to be on alert for potential acts of violence at state capitols, as well as a possible second attack on the Capitol or on the White House. Law enforcement authorities have said extremists might use firearms and explosives and are monitoring online calls to rally in cities nationwide beginning Sunday. Security at the inaugural ceremony in Washington on Wednesday probably will be the most intense ever.

At the center of the amorphous but increasingly motivated extremist movement sits the current president, now twice impeached, deprived of his social media megaphones but still exerting a powerful influence over his followers who take his baseless claims of election fraud as an article of faith.

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll finds clear opposition to riot, support to bar Trump from serving again, Scott Clement, Emily Guskin and Dan Balz, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The vast majority of Americans say they oppose the actions of the rioters who stormed and ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, while smaller majorities say President Trump bears responsibility for the attack and that he should be removed from office and disqualified from serving again, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

djt hands up mouth open CustomEven as the findings are sharply partisan, over half of Americans — and 1 in 8 Republicans — say Trump should be criminally charged for his role in the attacks.

The president also comes in for broad criticism over his repeated and baseless assertions that the November election was rigged and tainted by widespread fraud. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, Americans say the president has acted irresponsibly in his statements and actions since the election.

Nonetheless, the president continues to enjoy strong support from Republicans, among whom a clear majority agree with his false claims about what happened in November, oppose his removal from office and believe Republican elected officials should continue to follow his lead in the future.

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

steve bannon trump

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Foreign involvement in U.S. coup attempt a certainty, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 15, 2021. Foreign involvement in the January 6 coup attempt by pro-Trump insurrectionists who stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol assuredly had foreign involvement and financial support based on Donald Trump's pre-coup dealings with his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, shown above left.

In the weeks prior to the failed putsch, Bannon returned to his role as Trump's adviser, according to various news reports. Bannon, who was federally-indicted last year for fraud involving a charitable organization, may have been fishing for a Trump pardon, but it is Bannon's close connections with several foreign fascist political parties and leaders, including exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, that should be raising eyebrows at the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Greg Palast, Insider: White House was Warned March was Illegal, Greg Palast, Jan. 15, 2021. Trump’s Call to March Broke Organizer's Promise to DC Police. Before Donald Trump exhorted the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, the White House had been warned by the rally sponsor that there was no permit for a march, that DC Metro Police were promised there would be no march, and that such an unplanned march was dangerous. (Continued below.)

mike lindell anderson cooper aug 18 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is reportedly plotting something deranged with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021. There are just five days to go until Donald Trump is out of office and no longer our problem. He’s already announced his plans to leave office on the morning of January 20th, so he knows it’s over. And while Mike Pence has thus far been unwilling to do the right thing and remove Trump, he still has the 25th Amendment in his back pocket as a way of keeping Trump in line.

bill palmer report logo headerAll that said, Donald Trump met in the Oval Office today with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell (shown above in a CNN screenshot with host Anderson Cooper), and Lindell was apparently careless enough with his notes that the Washington Post was able to photograph them:

Lindell’s notes include ideas about invoking “martial law” and “emergency powers” while installing lunatics like Sidney Powell in unspecified positions, and reshuffling the CIA. To be clear, none of these things are realistically possible. This list is the kind of things Trump wishes he pull off, when in reality he’s reduced to urging random clueless idiots to storm buildings.

But this list in Lindell’s hand, and the fact that he took it to Donald Trump, means that Lindell apparently has gone full insurrectionist. At this point the Feds need to detain and question Lindell immediately. And Mike Pence should take this Trump-Lindell meeting as a sign that he needs to invoke the 25th Amendment after all.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A pillow salesman apparently has some ideas about declaring martial law, Philip Bump, Jan. 15, 2021. The galaxy of individuals who have orbited President Trump over the past five years is not lacking for unusual characters. Few, though, have had quite the same trajectory as businessman Michael Lindell.

Lindell is the CEO of the company My Pillow, which, as you might expect, makes pillows. His company advertises heavily on Fox News, often with spots featuring Lindell himself. A major Republican donor, he participated in an event centered on manufacturing early in Trump’s administration. Since then, he’s returned to the White House regularly and has touted his close relationship with the president. That includes an effort last August to get Trump to endorse a supposed coronavirus treatment in which Lindell had a financial stake. (Trump did not do so.)

Since Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, Lindell has been a fervent champion of the utterly baseless claim that the election was somehow stolen from Trump.

At about 3 p.m., he was escorted into the West Wing. The subject of his visit? If notes Lindell was holding while he waited to enter were any indication, he wanted to discuss his thoughts on how Trump might finagle those “4 more years” Lindell had promised his Facebook followers.

The Washington Post’s Jabin Botsford captured an image of the notes Lindell was carrying with him as he went to meet with Trump. Only half of the page can be seen, but even that tells a lot.

The CEO of MyPillow has a strategy for shuffling around administration staffers to gather up the evidence of electoral fraud he thinks exists — and to use military resources in an effort to keep Trump in power, or, as he apparently puts it, to protect the Constitution.

It’s hard to characterize how bizarre and outrageous this is. From Lindell having a platform in any media to hype his allegations to his being invited into the inner sanctum of American power to apparently argue to the president or his team that there’s a path to rejecting the legitimate election of President-elect Joe Biden? There aren’t sufficient adjectives to explore how far from normal — or reality — this is.djt michael cohen disloyal

ap logoAssociated Press, NY prosecutors interview Michael Cohen about Trump finances, Jim Mustian and Michael R. Sisak, Jan. 15, 2021. New York prosecutors conducted an hourslong interview Thursday of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney (shown above with his best-selling memoir, Disloyal), asking a range of questions about Trump’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

The interview focused in part on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his biggest and longest standing creditor, according to the three people, who weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The interview, at least the second of Cohen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, comes amid a long-running grand jury investigation into Trump’s business dealings. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has been waging a protracted legal battle to get access to the president’s tax records.

The New York investigation is one of several legal entanglements that are likely to intensify as Trump loses power — and any immunity from prosecution he might have as a sitting president — as he departs the White House.

The Manhattan-based grand jury has been continuing its work despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has curtailed many court operations.

The Republican president also faces a civil investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James into whether Trump’s company lied about the value of its assets to get loans or tax benefits. Cohen also is cooperating with that inquiry., including $125 million to finance the purchase and renovation of his Doral golf resort in 2012, according to previous disclosures.

ny times logoNew York Times, Atlanta Prosecutor Appears to Move Closer to Trump Inquiry, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Jan. 15, 2021. The Fulton County district attorney is weighing an inquiry into possible election interference and is said to be considering hiring an outside counsel.

georgia map 2Prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, an inquiry into offenses that would be beyond his federal pardon power.

The new Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, is already weighing whether to proceed, and among the options she is considering is the hiring of a special assistant from outside to oversee the investigation, according to people familiar with her office’s deliberations.

At the same time, David Worley, the lone Democrat on Georgia’s five-member election board, said this week that he would ask the board to make a referral to the Fulton County district attorney by next month. Among the matters he will ask prosecutors to investigate is a phone call Mr. Trump made in which he pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the state’s election results.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Four Rules That Should Guide Bidenomics, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Basically, damn the torpedoes, full speed paul krugmanahead. Here we go again. For the second time in 12 years a newly elected Democratic president is inheriting an economy in deep distress. And while it’s hard to focus on such things after last week’s Trumpist putsch, a lot depends on whether Joe Biden’s plan to deal with our economic woes is effective.

The narrow Democratic margin in Congress means that the most ambitious progressive goals will have to be put on hold. But the rescue package Biden unveiled Thursday already indicates he won’t exhibit the excessive caution that inhibited President Barack Obama’s response to economic crisis.

Still, in case anyone on the Biden team is feeling cautious, let me offer four rules, based on hard experience, that should encourage them to be bold in dealing with the mess we’re in.

Rule #1: Don’t doubt the power of government to help. The last time Democrats took the White House, they were still in something of a reflexive cringe, halfway accepting the conservative dogma that government always does more harm than good. But everything that has happened since 2009 says that government spending can be hugely beneficial.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2washington post logoWashington Post, Death toll approaches 400,000, far exceeding Trump’s benchmark for success in containing the virus, Derek Hawkins, Jan. 15, 2021. If U.S. deaths remained below 200,000, he said in March of last year, it would show his administration had “done a very good job.”

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 15, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

World Cases: 93,533,527, Deaths: 2,002,407
U.S. Cases:   23,848,410, Deaths:    397,994

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Speed Up Vaccinations and Reduce the Red Tape, Zeynep Tufekci (Associate professor at the University of North Carolina and the author of “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest"), Jan. 15, 2021. Punitive efforts to ensure strict adherence to complicated eligibility rules endangers people who could be protected.

While there is no one best way to roll out a vaccine in short supply, we’ve seen the wrong way — distributing it too slowly; setting up a complicated maze that needs to be navigated for access; and punitively micromanaging the process, which stalls it further.

We should focus on speed and access, not on punitive efforts to ensure strict adherence to complicated eligibility rules. Micromanaging the vaccination process to make sure these rules are never departed from is more likely to contribute to slowing us down and wasting vaccines, not to fairness. It’s not our only challenge, but complicated prioritization and bureaucratization of the process is one of the reasons that while nearly 40 million doses have been distributed to states, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, only about 12 million have been administered, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

ny times logoNew York Times, C.D.C. Warns New Virus Variant Could Fuel Huge Spikes in Covid Cases, Apoorva Mandavilli and Roni Caryn Rabin, Jan. 15, 2021. The more contagious version, first identified in Britain, is expected to spread widely and lead to further strains on an overburdened cdc logo Customhealth care system.

  • New York Fears Being ‘Starved’ for Vaccine Just as Rollout Speeds Up
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would run out of doses by next week.

Federal health officials sounded the alarm Friday about a fast spreading, far more contagious variant of the coronavirus that is projected to become the dominant source of infection in the country by March, potentially fueling another wrenching surge of cases and deaths.

In a study released on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that its forecasts indicated outbreaks caused by the new variant could lead to a burgeoning pandemic this winter. It called for a doubling down on preventive measures, including more intensive vaccination efforts across the country.

ny times logoNew York Times, Disneyland as a Vaccination Site? Airports as Test Centers? The Travel Industry Pitches In, Debra Kamin, Jan. 15, 2021.  Devastated by the pandemic, many travel companies have become part of a relief effort.

The coronavirus, which has killed more than 384,000 Americans and infected millions more, has brought the travel industry to its knees. The U.S. Travel Association, a trade group that promotes travel to and within the country, estimates that nearly 40 percent of all travel jobs have been eliminated since the virus took hold in March. But with hotels at record-low occupancy, some airports running on skeleton crews and fairgrounds emptied of guests, many domestic travel companies and operators have begun donating their resources and newly vacant spaces to help get the pandemic under control.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: As Eligibility for Coronavirus Vaccines Expands in U.S., So Does Confusion, Staff reports, Jan. 15, 2021. At least 28 states have begun inoculating older people against the coronavirus, prompting questions about which groups get priority. Demand has far outweighed supply, leading to overwhelmed public health departments. Here’s the latest pandemic news.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Inevitable End, Michelle Goldberg, right, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Finally the world agrees that Trump is exactly the man his michelle goldberg thumbfiercest critics said he was. But has the reckoning come too late?

The House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report quotes, at length, the speech that Donald Trump gave to his devotees on Jan. 6 before many of them stormed the Capitol, baying for execution.

“We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them,” said President Trump. He urged his minions to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the place where Congress was meeting to certify the election he lost: “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

liz cheney resizedA week later, Representative Cheney, right, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, would vote to get rid of him, joining nine of her fellow Republicans in backing impeachment. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement, adding, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Half of all presidential impeachments since the Republic began have been impeachments of Trump. This latest impeachment is different than the first, and not just because it was bipartisan. It culminates a week in which Trump has finally faced the broad social pariahdom he’s always deserved.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘It looked like a medieval battle scene’: How battered D.C. police made a stand against the Capitol mob, Peter Hermann, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). D.C. officers describe being battered by flagpoles, beaten with their own clubs and choked by bear spray as they defended the U.S. Capitol.

Blinded by smoke and choking on gas and bear spray, stripped of his radio and badge, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone and his battered colleagues fought to push back rioters trying to force their way into an entrance to the U.S. Capitol.

The officers had been at it for hours, unaware that others in the mob had already breached the building through different entrances. For them, the West Terrace doors — which open into a tunnel-like hallway allowing access to an area under the Rotunda — represented the last stand before the Capitol fell.

“Dig in!” Fanone yelled, his voice cracking, as he and others were being struck with their own clubs and shields, ripped from their hands by rioters. “We got to get these doors shut.”

An officer since 9/11, the 40-year-old Fanone, who has four daughters, had been working a crime-suppression detail in another part of the District on Jan. 6. He and his partner sped to the Capitol when dispatchers broadcast an urgent citywide emergency call.

“They were overthrowing the Capitol, the seat of democracy, and I f---ing went,” Fanone said.

ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in the killing of a Capitol Police officer by a pro-Trump mob, Eileen Sullivan and Adam Goldman, Jan. 15, 2021.  The F.B.I. is investigating 37 people related to the killing of Officer Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died after being injured during the pro-Trump riot on Jan. 6, according to an F.B.I. memo sent to the private sector and others on Friday. The Times obtained a copy of the report.

brian sicknickFBI logoMr. Sicknick, shown at right, was struck with a fire extinguisher as a violent mob flooded the halls of Congress, according to two law enforcement officials. Lawmakers hid under their desks from violent protesters after President Trump encouraged them during a rally to head to the Capitol. Mr. Sicknick died in the hospital where he was getting treatment for his injuries.

Fourteen other Capitol Police officers were injured in the mob last week, the memo said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump threatens the President of the United States, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 15, 2021. With such an embarrassment of riches from which to robert harringtnn portraitchoose, if you still want yet another insight into how broken and delusional Donald Trump is, try this latest on for size: he threatened the President of the United States. Here’s what he said: “The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.”

Let me see if I have this right. Donald Trump, who colluded with the Russians to get elected, obstructed justice at least ten times (in reality more like a hundred), violated dozens of emoluments clauses, withheld military aid to Ukraine because the President of Ukraine refused to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, recently incited a vicious, destructive riot on the nation’s Capitol in which five people died, has nothing to fear from the 25th Amendment. But watch out Joseph “Wild Joe” Biden!

bill palmer report logo headerI don’t know about you, but I’m reasonably convinced that we don’t need to worry about Joe Biden doing anything sufficiently shocking or illegal to cause his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. But if I wanted an opinion about it, the last person I’d ask would be a twice-impeached, one-term loser like Donald Trump. Let’s just say I’m not worried that Joe Biden will try to whip his supporters into a frenzy and get them to attack a federal government building, or something.

The good news is with this second impeachment we have an actual shot at convicting this criminal monster. Such a conviction (which, if it happens at all, will almost certainly occur after he’s left office), will have many dividends. For one he could be barred from ever holding public office again. He could also lose his pension and his Secret Service detail, and, best of all, any evidence adduced during the impeachment can and will be used in a court of law. So Trump’s impeachment certainly won’t help him stay out of prison, and if ever anyone ever deserved to go to prison, it’s Donald J. Trump.

Incidentally, in case you noticed, I referred above to Joe Biden as “President of the United States.” I am not tempting fate, I’m just making an observation. Trump may be president de jure, but Biden is President de facto. Biden has begun the work — on coronavirus, on fashioning his cabinet, on unifying Americans and making policy moving forward — and for that reason Biden is the true leader of the country. Trump doesn’t come close and he never has, and even some of the Republican mollusks in the Congress and the Senate are finally coming round to that point of view. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence is now the de facto President of the United States (and that’s a problem), Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021.  On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence held a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and other law enforcement and security leaders. The meeting, which was televised, was clearly aimed at making the American people feel more confident with the nation’s ability to protect itself from domestic terrorism.

bill palmer report logo headerYep, it was Mike Pence leading this meeting, saying the right things, asking the right questions, looking vaguely presidential. And that’s a problem. It’s becoming more clear that Mike Pence is serving as the de facto President of the United States. He led this meeting, with Donald Trump nowhere to be found. By all accounts it was Pence who ordered the National Guard to the Capitol on January 6th after Trump refused to do so. The odds are that, behind the scenes, Pence is handling every aspect of the presidency that’s getting done at all, and Trump is handling none of it. Again, that’s a problem.

Mike PenceDonald Trump is still the President of the United States. Mike Pence, right, is just the Vice President. Even if Trump has mentally checked out and Pence is the one doing the job now, Trump could theoretically overrule him at any time. Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment at that point. But if something goes wrong, is that the battle we really want going on at a time when we need the President to take decisive action?

Mike Pence is being unbelievably reckless by refusing to remove Donald Trump from office. Pence is hiding behind the legally empty claim that he doesn’t have the ability to invoke the 25th Amendment under these circumstances. That’s because he’s a coward. He’s leaving the rest of us in a jam. At this point Pence is the de facto President but not the actual President, and that’s not okay.

Greg Palast, Insider: White House was Warned March was Illegal, Greg Palast, Jan. 15, 2021. Trump’s Call to March Broke Organizer's Promise to DC Police.  (Continued from above.)

Before Donald Trump exhorted the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, the White House had been warned by the rally sponsor that there was no permit for a march, that DC Metro Police were promised there would be no march, and that such an unplanned march was dangerous.

As a result, the Metro police were stunned, undermanned and unprepared for Trump’s surprise launch of thousands of his enraged Trump supporters, some armed, on the Capitol.

“I mean, it was shocking. It’s something we advocated against doing for exactly the reasons that ended up playing themselves out,” said a high-level source inside Women for America First, the organization that held the permit for the rally. They spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity.
Even more damning, the march Trump set in motion was led and promoted by ultra-right, violence-threatening extremist Ali Alexander, head of Stop the Steal. The Palast Investigative Team filmed Alexander, only weeks before the riot, exhorting a crowd:

“Either they take Trump …[or] we’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

The White House had been warned about Alexander and his dangerous plan to move on the Capitol. The leaders of Woman for America First sent several frantic, angry text messages to the White House warning that such a march was both illegal and dangerous. “When Ali was putting up things about the Capitol on the sixth, [we were] screen-shotting that, sending it to people both at Parks and at the White House, a couple of times, like ‘WTF’!,” an organizer source said.

One series of texts between the sponsors apparently sent two days before the rally reads, “Did you see that Ali’s website says we are marching at 1.” The reply: “We’ve just had to up our numbers with the NPS [National Park Service] and we can’t say anyone is marching.”

Women for America First founders Amy and Kylie Jane Kremer, who have had a well-reported feud with Alexander and Alex Jones, the far-right radio host with whom Alexander had teamed to lead the march. It is credible that the Kremers would have tried to prevent their sworn enemy from using their rally to launch a march which would leave the group on the hook for violation of their permit.

The Kremers have been feted by the president, and so has Alexander. That gave Alexander access to the front of the rally where Trump would speak. “Ali was running amok in the VIP section–it was disgusting–saying we’re going to go to the Capitol. What the f***! We’re not doing a march to the Capitol! What a terrible idea to try to move that number of people all the way to the Capitol,” the source said.

The insider claims that Woman for America First was quite worried that they had no marshals to keep the crowd in line. “We did advocate against [the march] for all kinds of reasons. So, excuse me, it’s not a big stretch to say when you have a bunch of people heading that way, it’s going to be a problem.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Plans Trial for Trump as G.O.P. Weighs Risks of Convicting, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Senators expect to try President republican elephant logoTrump at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of his successor, an exercise never attempted.

A day after the House impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were developing plans on Thursday to try the departing president at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of the incoming one.

ny times logoNew York Times, Abandon Trump? Deep in the Party Ranks, the MAGA Mind-Set Prevails, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). As President Trump prepares to exit the White House, his ideas continue to exert a gravitational pull among grass-roots Republican officials.

As Mr. Trump prepares to exit the White House and face a second impeachment trial in the Senate, his ideas continue to exert a gravitational pull in Republican circles across the country. The falsehoods, white nationalism and baseless conspiracy theories he peddled for four years have become ingrained at the grass-roots level of the party, embraced by activists, local leaders and elected officials even as a handful of Republicans in Congress break with the president in the final hour.

Interviews with more than 40 Republican state and local leaders conducted after the siege at the Capitol show that a vocal wing of the party maintains an almost-religious devotion to the president, and that these supporters don’t hold him responsible for the mob violence last week. The opposition to him emerging among some Republicans has only bolstered their support of him.

marjorie greene campaign

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is just as hollow as it sounds, James Sullivan, Jan. 15, 2021. Donald Trump was formally impeached for the second time on Wednesday, making him the first president to have this specific dishonor.

bill palmer report logo headerWhatever happens from here on out, Trump and the GOP can’t erase this – it’ll be the most permanent legacy he leaves behind.

No wonder they’re urging unity and healing while not acknowledging the venomous rhetoric that’s been coming from right-wing media long before Donald Trump announced his presidential run.

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing on their own part, the Republicans opposing impeachment like to claim that going after Trump in this way would only cause further division.

The argument is just as hollow as it sounds – and not even the Republicans believe it. If they truly did believe it, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wouldn’t be announcing her latest plan to invoke an article of impeachment against Joe Biden on the day after he’s inaugurated, but that’s her latest buffoonish plan. Citing an abuse of power that she never really gets around to defining, Greene is trying to figure out a way to blame the Capitol siege on the same guy who’s made healing the country a part of his platform.

This nonsense is guaranteed to go nowhere, aside from rightfully embarrassing Greene in Congress if she actually does keep to her word – but it’s a sign of what we can expect from Trumpers in the future if they’re trusted with power: Using constitutionally prescribed norms as partisan weapons until they become useless. Reps like her are the reason we can’t afford to get complacent in 2022.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Pelosi Expected to Speak About Timing of Impeachment Trial, Staff Report, Jan. 15, 2021. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to address reporters at 11:30 a.m., the first time she will field questions since the House impeached President Trump. Senator Mitch McConnell has privately said he approves of the impeachment drive, but refused to begin the proceedings this week. Federal watchdogs open broad investigation into possible failures before Capitol riot. Here’s the latest.

  • A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for seeking to disenfranchise them.
  • Biden names more administration picks, including a FEMA head and deputy director of the C.I.A.

Capitol Records, Opinion: Our republic was attacked on January 6. Where do we go from here? Greg Olear, Jan. 15, 2021. The Civil War is the only precedent in our nation’s history to what’s happening right now. “Stupid Watergate,” we jokingly called it, but Trump has gone far beyond the wildest excesses of Richard Nixon.

The republic is under attack — present tense. The peaceful transition of power, which took place even in 1860, is in jeopardy. Troops are bivouacked in the Capitol. The lame-duck president, an inveterate criminal, wants to remain in office, mostly to avoid prosecution.

Whether motivated by cynical political calculation, rank delusion, authoritarian radicalism, coercion, or fear for their family’s lives, the lion’s share of a once-proud political party — ironically, the Party of Lincoln —has thrown in with him. Republicans failed to remove Trump a year ago; 400,000 Americans are dead because of their failure. Granted a second chance to do the right thing, most of the GOP balked.

Last Wednesday, a coup attempt came a hair’s breadth away from succeeding. The collaborators sought to, first, stop the electoral votes from being counted, because Trump had been told, wrongly, that this would prevent Joe Biden from taking office (by the same lousy low-rent lawyer who wrote the Kamala Harris birther attack in Newsweek!); and second, hunt down and execute Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and possibly Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley, so that Trump could resign and be pardoned by unctuous lapdog Mike Pompeo, who as Secretary of State is fourth in line to the presidency.

If the second part sounds conspiratorial, I ask: Why else had Q whisperer Lin Wood called for the VP’s execution? Why else were there gallows erected outside? Why else would the Secret Service have whisked Pence away? The besiegers were seeking out Mike Pence, and they were seeking out Nancy Pelosi — and they made it into the latter’s offices, terrorizing her young staffers, smashing her mirror, and making off with her fucking laptop. What do we think these berserkers would have done if they had found her there? Shared a pot of tea? Binged Downton Abbey? Quilted?

Again: January 6 was an attempt to do harm to leaders in the presidential line of succession. This is no small thing. It’s not something we can gloss over because of “unity.”

It’s the worst attack by secessionists since Lee surrendered. And only by the grace of God, and the heroic acts of police like Eugene Goodman, were we spared a bloodbath.

 

U.S. Media News 

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Twitter ban shows that tech companies held keys to Trump’s power all along, Craig Timberg, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). It may take historians years to grasp the full implications of the social media hurricane that President Trump conjured. But it took just a single week to hear what happened when that storm headed out to sea.

twitter bird CustomDuring President Trump’s first impeachment, in December 2019, he tweeted more than 600 times — an average of 58 times a day. One of the last said, “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!”

During President Trump’s second impeachment, this week, he tweeted not once.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Barring Trump, Facebook and Twitter Face Scrutiny About Inaction Abroad, Adam Satariano, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Human rights groups and activists have spent years urging the companies to do more to remove content that encouraged violence.

In Sri Lanka and Myanmar, Facebook kept up posts that it had been warned contributed to violence. In India, activists have urged the company to combat facebook logoposts by political figures targeting Muslims. And in Ethiopia, groups pleaded for the social network to block hate speech after hundreds were killed in ethnic violence inflamed by social media.

“The offline troubles that rocked the country are fully visible on the online space,” activists, civil society groups and journalists in Ethiopia wrote in an open letter last year.

For years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed calls to remove hate speech or other comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups and activists said risked inciting violence. The companies stuck to policies, driven by American ideals of free speech, that give such figures more leeway to use their platforms to communicate.

But last week, Facebook and Twitter cut off President Trump from their platforms for inciting a crowd that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Those decisions have angered human rights groups and activists, who are now urging the companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in smaller countries where the platforms dominate communications.

washington post logoWashington Post, Politico brought Ben Shapiro on as a ‘Playbook’ guest author to bring balance. It brought a backlash instead, Elahe Izadi, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The platform given to the right-wing pundit enraged Politico staffers, forcing a top editor to defend the choice.

Top editors at Politico thought they would mix things up by tapping a rotating cast of guest writers for the daily “Playbook” before they named a permanent new team for their marquee newsletter. The guests included documentarian Ken Burns, Free Beacon editor in chief Eliana Johnson, MSNBC host Chris ben shapiro HS2Hayes and PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

And then came Ben Shapiro, right. The popular and provocative right-wing commentator authored Thursday’s Playbook, in which he wrote sympathetically that the GOP’s resistance to impeaching President Trump for inciting the Capitol riot was not because they were untroubled by his behavior but because of “a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction.”

A number of reporters at the outlet were flabbergasted by the choice of author. Why did Politico give “its biggest platform” to a pundit with “a long history of bigoted and incendiary commentary, particularly in the aftermath of last week’s violence,” one Politico reporter posted on an internal messaging platform. More than 80 colleagues signaled agreement.

“It’s not just that he’s incendiary or conservative,” said one reporter. “It’s that he sells falsehoods as an incendiary persona.” Several Politico journalists spoke to The Washington Post under an agreement not to use their names because they were not authorized to speak publicly about their employer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Laura Poitras says she’s been fired by First Look Media over Reality Winner controversy. Now she’s questioning the watchdog itself, Sarah Ellison, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Filmmaker Laura Poitras revealed her departure from First Look (parent company of The Intercept) in an open letter on Thursday. The news came nearly seven years after she and several other prominent investigative journalists launched the company they hoped would provide tough-minded, independent and original reporting, with the help of generous funding from billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

laura poitrasIn a statement early Thursday afternoon, First Look described Poitras’s parting from the company as a “natural” decision to not renew her contract after she “decided to step away from her role at the company to pursue her own projects.” The company denied that its decision was based on Poitras, right, talking to the media.

Later Thursday, First Look issued another statement that Poitras had “not been active in any capacity with our company for more than two years. This is simply not a tenable situation for us or any company.” Poitras denied this, saying she had been active on several films in production when she was fired as well as making an online security guide for filmmakers.

Her departure means only one person from First Look’s founding team remains after years of turmoil and turnover at the organization, during which she says she was repeatedly “raising concerns internally about patterns of discrimination and retaliation.”

Poitras, a 2012 MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, came to prominence for her 2013 Pulitzer-winning work with Glenn Greenwald bringing to light the edward snowden twitterblockbuster disclosures of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald was also one of First Look’s co-founders; he quit in October with a fiery and meandering resignation letter objecting to what he called censorship of a column he had written about then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

reality winner mug CustomNow, Jeremy Scahill, a former Nation writer who is close to the Intercept’s editor in chief, Betsy Reed, is the only member of the founding team remaining at the organization.

The events leading up to Poitras’s departure are ironic given that First Look’s primary concerns at its outset were data privacy and source protections — areas in which the Intercept failed when it came to the case of Reality Winner, a young Air Force veteran and NSA intelligence specialist who in 2017 sent the publication a classified document about Russian hackers accessing U.S. voter registration databases. Even before the Intercept published the documents, federal investigators traced them back to Winner (shown at left in prison garb) and arrested her.

john bolton djt palmer images Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge says John Bolton may probe whether White House delayed his memoir to protect Trump, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A federal judge on Thursday rejected for now a Justice Department bid to claw back profits from an explosive memoir written by John Bolton, above left, finding that the former national security adviser may probe whether President Trump or senior White House officials acted in bad faith to delay approval of The Room Where it Happened.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied a Justice Department motion for an immediate ruling, holding that evidence of “unclean hands” by the White House could support Bolton’s defense that Trump aides politicized the review to stall publication and protect the president from embarrassment.

john bolton room where cover CustomPublished in June, Bolton’s best-selling account of his 17 months as Trump’s top security adviser depicted the president as “stunningly uninformed” and said he repeatedly asked foreign leaders’ assistance for his personal benefit. Bolton wrote for example that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection and dangled military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s son.

At the time, Lamberth denied a belated government lawsuit seeking to halt publication, but ruled in October that it could sue to seize the book proceeds, finding that Bolton was required to let the White House complete a prepublication review to prevent disclosure of classified information. In an 18-page opinion Thursday, Lamberth reiterated that Bolton could not challenge whether the book actually contained properly classified material. The judge said he had already confirmed that based on closed-door submissions by the government.

 

U.S. Law, Politics, Courts

Palmer Report, The NRA just filed for bankruptcy, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021. In a press release, the NRA just announced that it’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and shutting down its New nra logo CustomYork-based operation, in the hope of reincorporating in Texas. Considering how broke the NRA reportedly is, it’s not clear if they’ll be able to pull off the move or not. But here’s the thing.

bill palmer report logo headerThe NRA is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General – and it operates as a nonprofit. When Donald Trump tried to shut down the Trump Foundation while it was under investigation by the state of New York, the Attorney General forced it to remain in operation until the state was finished investigating and dismantling it.

So the NRA might not actually be allowed to just cut and run to Texas. We’ll see what happens. But it’s a relief to see that the NRA, a violent domestic terrorist group, is finally on the ropes

ny times logoNew York Times, Pastor Who Advised Two Presidents Is Sentenced to 6 Years for Cheating Investors, Michael Levenson, Jan. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The former pastor of a Houston megachurch who advised former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to cheating investors in a multimillion-dollar scheme, prosecutors said.

The former pastor, Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 67, was the leader of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston and rose to prominence as a friend and adviser to Mr. Bush from his days as Texas governor.

As the leader of a predominantly African-American congregation, Mr. Caldwell helped Mr. Bush as he sought to appeal to Black voters.

He supported Mr. Obama when he ran for president in 2008 and was part of a small circle of Christian pastors who would pray with him, sometimes in person and sometimes over the phone. He also served on a task force that advised Mr. Obama on fatherhood and healthy families.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Caldwell’s scheme had begun in 2013, when he and another man, Gregory Alan Smith, a Louisiana investment adviser, started conspiring to use their influence and standing to persuade victims to invest with them.

Mr. Smith began approaching clients and acquaintances that year about what he described as an opportunity to invest in historical Chinese bonds, prosecutors said.

In fact, the bonds, which had been issued by the former Republic of China before Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, were virtually worthless, prosecutors said. The current Chinese government does not recognize the bonds, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission considers them collectibles with no value outside the memorabilia market, prosecutors said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Josh Hawley has a whole new problem, Bill Palmer, Jan. 15, 2021. Yesterday Palmer Report pointed out that Republican Senator Josh Hawley hasn’t tweeted anything in a week, and that he’s apparently now trying to lie low in the hope that the public (and perhaps prosecutors) will forget about his role in inciting a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerIf this is Hawley’s plan, it’s not working out particularly well for him. New polling shows that a majority of people in Hawley’s state of Missouri now want him to resign. He has nearly four years left in his term, and a lot can change by then. But if these numbers hold up as the year goes on, the Republican establishment will likely begin pressuring him to resign so they can replace him with someone who’s less likely to lose to a Democrat in 2024.

So yeah, we might be getting rid of Josh Hawley after all. It’s a tough position to be in when the majority of your own constituents are calling for your immediate resignation. Of course if this same majority had turned out to vote for Senator Claire McCaskill in 2018, Hawley wouldn’t be in office to begin with. Voting has consequences. It’s a lot easier to keep these creeps out to begin with than it is to try to force them to resign.

 

Jan. 14

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

 

U.S. Power Transfer

 

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

capitol confederate flag capitol

 

Trump Watch

 

Media, Court News

 

Top Stories

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over second Trump impeachment action on Jan. 13, 2021 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presides over second Trump impeachment action on Jan. 13, 2021 (New York Times photo by Erin Schaff).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Impeached Twice, Now Faces Another Senate Trial, Nicholas Fandos, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A Conviction Could Mean He Would Never Hold Office Again. Donald J. Trump on Wednesday became the first American president to be impeached twice, as 10 members of his party joined with Democrats in the House to charge him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in egging on a violent mob that stormed the Capitol last week.

Reconvening in a building now heavily militarized against threats from pro-Trump activists and adorned with bunting for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., lawmakers voted 232 to 197 to approve a single impeachment article. It accused Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results, and called for him to be removed and disqualified from ever holding public office again.

djt march 2020 CustomThe vote left another indelible stain on Mr. Trump’s presidency just a week before he is slated to leave office and laid bare the cracks running through the Republican Party. More members of his party voted to charge the president than in any other impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, declaring the past week one of the darkest chapters in American history, implored colleagues to embrace “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”

A little more than a year after she led a painstaking, three-month process to impeach Mr. Trump the first time for a pressure campaign on Ukraine to incriminate Mr. Biden — a case rejected by the president’s unfailingly loyal Republican supporters — Ms. Pelosi had moved this time with little fanfare to do the same job in only seven days.

“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” the speaker said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks kevin mccarthymy heart.”

The top House Republican, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, left, conceded in a pained speech on the floor that Mr. Trump had been to blame for the deadly assault at the Capitol. It had forced the vice president and lawmakers who had gathered there to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory to flee for their lives.

lisa murkowski 2 blue dressd oMurkowski Signals Possible Support for Convicting Trump, The Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, shown at right in a file photo, said the House had acted “appropriately” in impeaching President Trump. Here’s the latest in politics.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” said Mr. McCarthy, one of the 138 Republicans who returned to the House floor after the mayhem and voted to reject certified electoral votes for Mr. Biden. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

washington post logoWashington Post,10 Republicans support the unprecedented indictment, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, Jan. 14, 2021. The House broke new ground by impeaching a president for a second time, a week before he leaves office, indicting President Trump for inciting a riot with false claims of a stolen election that led to the storming of the Capitol and five deaths.

The House made history Wednesday by impeaching a president for a second time, indicting President Trump a week before he leaves office for inciting a riot with false claims of a stolen election that led to the storming of the Capitol and five deaths.

Unlike Trump’s first impeachment, which proceeded with almost no GOP support, Wednesday’s effort attracted 10 Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 party leader in the House. The Senate now appears likely to hold a trial after Trump’s departure, an unprecedented scenario that could end with lawmakers barring him from holding the presidency again.

The final vote was 232 to 197.

washington post logoWashington Post, State, federal officials turn focus to security, Holly Bailey and Tim Craig, Jan. 14, 2021. Governors warn of long-term dangers to their state capitols. Officials say the riots in Washington and state capitals last week signal a dark and dangerous period of extended upheaval.

The nation's governors, facing increasing threats to their capitols and little support or information from the federal government, said Wednesday that they are bracing for long-term danger from extremist groups who already have breached government buildings, damaged property and been linked to threats against state leaders and their families.

“It’s going to take quite a while to turn back what’s been started here,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), who has participated in joint calls in recent days with other Midwestern governors about the possibility of fresh violence in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol and an FBI warning about armed far-right extremists gathering across the country this weekend.

The weekly calls began last spring between the governors — mostly Democrats, but some Republicans — as a way to informally coordinate and trade ideas about how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic amid a perceived leadership vacuum by the Trump administration.

But in recent days, the calls — which have included the governors of Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — have taken on a new urgency as state officials have shared information and advice about how to confront what many believe could be a dark and dangerous period of extended insurgency against state and even local governments.

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Sophistication of fascist coup attempt coming to light, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 14, 2021. America is just starting to wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalldiscover that it came within a hair's breadth of witnessing its Constitution upended and a fascist dictatorship declared by Donald Trump as a result of the January 6 insurrection targeting the U.S. Capitol.

With the historical and ideological basis for the January 6 coup attempt established, we can now look at the planning for the operation, which involved at the very least two freshman Republican members of the House of Representatives, both Qanon cultists: Lauren Boebert lauren boebertof Colorado, right, and Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia.

Both are currently under a criminal investigation by the US Capitol Police and FBI for permitting January 6 terrorists to reconnoiter the U.S. Capitol complex on January 5, the day prior to the attack. Boebert and Taylor-Greene face expulsion from the House if they are found to have provided coup participants with inside information regarding the location of offices of the House Speaker, the Senate Parliamentarian, offices of individual senators and representatives, and Capitol security systems.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Suspicious’ Visits to Capitol Eyed as Dragnet Snares 2 Police Officers, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.).  Democratic lawmakers demanded answers about visitors to the Capitol a day before the riot.

One week after an angry mob stormed the Capitol, Congress struggled on Wednesday to make sense of the most serious incursion on its home in more than two centuries as lawmakers called for new investigations and federal authorities fanned out across the country, taking into custody several more suspects, including two police officers from Virginia and a firefighter from Florida.

The flurry of arrests and appeals for inquiry came as the House brought a historic second impeachment charge against President Trump and federal law enforcement officials continued to examine whether the assault on the Capitol included coordinated efforts by small groups of extremists and was not merely a mass protest that spiraled out of control. All of this took place as official Washington remained in a defensive crouch, with much of the city surrounded by mikie sherrillprotective fencing and armed troops camped inside the Capitol complex.

Led by Representative Mikie Sherrill, right, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers called on Wednesday for an investigation into visitors’ access to the Capitol on the day before the riot.

In a letter to the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the U.S. Capitol Police, the lawmakers, many of whom served in the military and said they were trained to “recognize suspicious activity,” demanded answers about what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the Capitol on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Separately, the inspector general’s office of the Capitol Police said it was opening a potentially wide-ranging inquiry into security breaches connected to the siege. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, signaled that it would look into what role, if any, members of Congress may have played in inciting the mob of Trump supporters who breached metal barricades and shattered windows on Jan. 6, seeking to overturn the results of the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Dozens of people on FBI terrorist watch list came to D.C. the day of Capitol riot, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Marissa J. Lang, Jan. 14, 2021. Dozens of people on a terrorist watch list were in Washington for pro-Trump events Jan. 6, a day that ended in a chaotic crime rampage when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, according to people familiar with evidence gathered in the FBI’s investigation.

The majority of the watch-listed individuals in Washington that day are suspected white supremacists whose past conduct so alarmed investigators that their names had been previously entered into the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, a massive set of names flagged as potential security risks, these people said. The watch list is larger and separate from the “no-fly” list the government maintains to prevent terrorism suspects from boarding airplanes, and those listed are not automatically barred from any public or commercial spaces, current and former officials said.

The presence of so many watch-listed individuals in one place — without more robust security measures to protect the public — is another example of the intelligence failures preceding last week’s fatal assault that sent lawmakers running for their lives, some current and former law enforcement officials argued. The revelation follows a Washington Post report earlier this week detailing the FBI’s failure to act aggressively on an internal intelligence report of Internet discussions about plans to attack Congress, smash windows, break down doors and “get violent ... go there ready for war.”

Other current and former officials said the presence of those individuals is an unsurprising consequence of having thousands of fervent Trump supporters gathered for what was billed as a final chance to voice opposition to Joe Biden’s certification as the next president. Still, the revelation underscores the limitations of such watch lists. Although they are meant to improve information gathering and sharing among investigative agencies, they are far from a foolproof means of detecting threats ahead of time.

Since its creation, the terrorist watch list, which is maintained by the FBI, has grown to include hundreds of thousands of names. Placing someone’s name on the watch list does not mean they will be watched all of the time, or even much of the time, for reasons of both practicality and fairness, but it can alert different parts of the government, such as border agents or state police, to look more closely at certain individuals they encounter.

djt virus trump did it Custom

Strategic Culture Foundation, Historical Commentary: Should Trump and His Supporters Face ‘Damnatio Memoriae’? Wayne Madsen, right, Jan. 14, 2021. “Condemnation of memory” is how Trump wayne madsen screen shotand his supporters should be viewed by the U.S. government and public now and into the future, Wayne Madsen believes.

strategic culture logoThe Roman Senate had a method for dealing with traitors, one that can still be seen today in etched stone proclamations among Roman ruins. It was to declare those who brought dishonor upon the Roman Republic to be forever condemned in the memory of future generations, what in Latin is known as “damnatio memoriae.” The Romans borrowed the concept of purging its bad actors from the Egyptians. This is known by archaeologists from examining the faces and hieroglyphs that were chiseled off by order of two pharaohs who employed “condemnation of memory,” Akhenaten and Hatshepsut.

Such “condemnation of memory” is how Trump and his supporters should be viewed by the U.S. government and public now and into the future. The name “Trump” should never grace any federal, state, and municipal structure, thoroughfare, proposed legislation, scholarship, award, or anything else that would bestow honor on a person who encouraged an attempted politico-military coup d’état against the constitutional government of the United States.

The Roman Republic viewed damnatio memoriae as a fate worse than death. Donald Trump, who has called for his inclusion on Mount Rushmore with the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, would likely find his condemnation of memory to be the ultimate punishment, considering Trump’s extreme narcissism and vaingloriousness.

djt smiling fileDamnatio memoriae was employed in the Soviet Union after Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s denouncement of Joseph Stalin in 1956. Statues and other images of Stalin came down across the USSR.

Damnatio memoriae has also been used in the United States to purge any honorifics bestowed on the Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold. Actions included Arnold’s removal from the official records of West Point. The monument of the Battle of Saratoga, in which Arnold defeated the British before he switched loyalties, also omits any reference to his being in command.

Critics argue that purging a nation of honors bestowed on leaders who became tyrants is a form of Orwellian re-writing of history. However, there are just as many arguments that the elimination of honors to those leaders who committed genocide and other atrocities must occur if a nation hopes to reclaim its reputation in the eyes of its citizens and the world.

Often, damnatio memoriae measures are taken while the abuses of tyrannical and corrupt leaders and governments are still fresh in the memories of citizens. Witness the speed at which Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania was relegated from hero worship to one of the most despised leaders in Romanian history after his overthrow in 1989.

The process of eliminating Trump from any honorable mention is being led by a coalition not seen in the United States since World War II. Condemnations of Trump’s provocative actions came from the National Association of Manufacturers – which called for Trump’s removal from office pursuant to the 25th Amendment; the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International, and United Auto Workers unions; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; chief executive officers of the Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Alphabet, PwC, McDonald’s, and PayPal, as well as the influential Business Roundtable; Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) – of which Trump is a congregant; and the University of Pennsylvania (Trump’s alma mater), and Yale, Harvard, George Mason, John Hopkins, and Lehigh Universities (the latter revoking Trump’s honorary degree).

A successful post-impeachment conviction of Trump for insurrection, even if it comes after he leaves office on January 20, will have the benefit of stripping his presidential pension, his annual allowance to maintain and office and staff, lifetime Secret Service protection and postal franking privileges, and his right to run again for future federal office. Informally, people would no longer feel obligated to refer to Trump as “Mr. President,” perhaps the greatest humiliation of all.

Wall Street On Parade, Investigative Commentary: The Untold Story of How the Republican Attorneys General Association, Pam Martens and Russ Martens (shown below right), Jan. pam martens russ martens14, 2021. Funded with Large Sums from Corporate Felons, Including OxyContin Drug Pusher Purdue, Participated in Recruiting the Mob that Attacked the Capitol
Executive Committee of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA)

If there was ever a DEFCON 1 warning to Americans that campaign finance reform must be a top priority of the incoming President Biden administration, it is the cautionary tale of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and their recruitment efforts of the mob that descended on the Capitol of the United States on January 6. Five people are now dead from that siege, including a Capitol Police officer, and dozens injured. The U.S. Attorneys office for Washington, D.C. has also confirmed that two live pipe bombs with timers were found in front of the Republican National Committee and Democrat National Committee, both located near the Capitol.

When one thinks of a group with the word “Association” in their name, it invokes the idea that this is a fraternal organization or a trade association. What doesn’t come to mind is that it is a campaign financing group to elect Republican Attorneys General – the highest law enforcement officer in a state – by taking vast sums of money from the very companies committing crimes in those states. But that is what RAGA has been doing for many years now.

RAGA defines itself as follows on its website:

“The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) is the only national organization whose mission is electing Republicans to the Office of State Attorney General (AG). RAGA collaborates with our current Republican attorneys general and recruits outstanding candidates, providing them assistance with research, message development, and financial support.”

The day after the attack on the nation’s Capitol, Jamie Corey at the watchdog group, Documented, released an audio tape of robo calls being made by a unit of RAGA. The robo call message went like this:

“I’m calling for the Rule of Law Defense Fund with an important message. The ‘March to Save America’ is tomorrow in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse in President’s Park between E St. and Constitution Avenue on the south side of the White House, with doors opening at 7:00 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, 202-796-5838.”

By January 5, the date of the above robo calls to potentially thousands of people urging them to “stop the steal,” there was no evidence of any significant election fraud. No one was in a better position to know that as a fact than the State Attorneys General who had just watched their states certify the votes in early December. In addition, William Barr, the Attorney General of the United States who was selected for that position by Donald Trump, told the media on December 1 that the Justice Department had uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the outcome of the presidential election.

The Executive Committee of RAGA includes Attorneys General from nine states (see above graphic). Its Chairman is Chris Carr, right, Attorney General of Georgia. christopher carrFor RAGA to participate in fomenting a riot at the Capitol on incendiary information it knew to be false demands a thorough and formal FBI and Congressional investigation. RAGA has thrown a bone to the media by firing its Executive Director, Adam Piper. But the entire structure of RAGA needs deep scrutiny.

The Rule of Law Defense Fund is the dark money fundraising arm of RAGA and located at the same address and suite number as RAGA according to its IRS filings.

Both the Rule of Law Defense Fund and RAGA were at varying times listed as “Coalition Partners” on websites set up to promote the January 6 event. While many of these websites have been taken down, we were able to access them at the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine, which captures website content on past dates. Website names used to promote the January 6 event include: TrumpMarch.com, MarchtoSaveAmerica.com, and WildProtest.com, among others. The obvious question, of course, is why would State Attorneys General want to associate themselves as a Coalition Partner with a group calling itself WildProtest.com, not to mention a false claim of a stolen election.

The WildProtest.com website told its readers this on the day before the event:

“We the People must take to the US Capitol lawn and steps and tell Congress #DoNotCertify on #JAN6! Congress cannot certify this fraudulent Electoral College. Our presence in Washington D.C. will let Members of Congress know that we stand with Rep. Mo Brooks and his colleagues in the House of Representatives who will bravely object to the certification of the Electoral College. We’re in need of at least one Senator. We’ve identified six (seven including Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville) that could join our cause. StopTheSteal.us is working closely, whipping the vote up, with patriots in the Congress.”

Yesterday, 34 Democrats in the House of Representatives signed a letter asking for an investigation by the Capitol Police and Sergeant of Arms in the House and Senate into unnamed persons giving potentially “reconnaissance” tours in the Capitol building the day before the attack. The letter states that on the day before the attack, January 5, “there were unusually large groups of people throughout the Capitol who could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff.”

The Rule of Law Defense Fund is structured as a dark money, tax exempt 501(c)(4) group so that its donors can remain anonymous. Each year it provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to RAGA, in part to pay large salaries.

Exactly why RAGA needs a dark money group is hard to say. RAGA itself is accepting millions of dollars a year in contributions from some of the creepiest corporations in America, including those that have admitted to multiple felony counts brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

RAGA is structured as a 527 tax-exempt organization that is allowed to raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporations. The IRS requires that it file an 8872 form each quarter showing its contributions and expenditures. We’ve spent this week looking at those forms. It’s not a pretty picture.

purdue pharma logoPurdue Pharma has given more than $570,000 to RAGA in just the three-year span between 2015 and 2017. In 2007, Purdue Pharma was fined $600 million by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges that it “illegally marketed and promoted OxyContin by falsely claiming that OxyContin was less addictive, less subject to abuse and diversion, and less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than other pain medications — all in an effort to maximize its profits.” The company clearly viewed that as a slap on the wrist.

Last October, the Justice Department brought three felony charges against Purdue and $8 billion in fines. At the time of last year’s announcement by the Justice Department, Tim McDermott of the Drug Enforcement Administration said this: “This resolution closes a particularly sad chapter in the ongoing battle against opioid addiction. Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States’ efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion. The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted.”

RAGA seems to have a fondness for companies addicting young people. Reynolds American, whose cigarette brands include Camel, Newport, Pall Mall and others, has given more than $400,000 to RAGA since 2014. Altria, parent of Philip Morris, whose brands include Marlboro, Parliament, Benson & Hedges, Virginia Slims and others, has enriched RAGA to the tune of $484,154 since 2014.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Philip Morris, Reynolds and seven other large tobacco companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The government charged that the tobacco companies engaged in a 40-year conspiracy to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking, distort the dangers of secondhand smoke, and target the youth market as “replacement smokers.” In 2006, following a nine-month trial, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a 1,683 page opinion. The Court found that “Cigarette smoking causes disease, suffering, and death.”

When we saw Big Tobacco was funding RAGA, we knew fossil fuel companies would be there also. Indeed they were, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Koch Industries and Anadarko Petroleum. Why did we know that fossil fuel companies would be donating if Big Tobacco was funding RAGA? Because the makeup of RAGA’s donors looks very much like donors to a Koch brothers’ front group called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), a 1984 group founded by the late David Koch of Koch Industries and Richard Fink, a former professor of economics at George Mason University, who had a long career at Koch Industries beginning in 1990.

In 2013 the health professionals’ journal, Tobacco Control, published a comprehensive report funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), a federal agency. The report was titled ‘To Quarterback Behind the Scenes, Third Party Efforts’: The Tobacco Industry and the Tea Party.

The report explains that Citizens for a Sound Economy, which split into the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (a big funder of the Tea Party movement) and FreedomWorks in 2004, “supported the agendas of the tobacco and other industries, including oil, chemical, pharmaceutical and telecommunications, and was funded by them.” The report indicates that between 1991 and 2002, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies gave CSE at least $5.3 million.

Philip Morris and other tobacco companies launched an offensive in 1994 and 1995, using nonprofit front groups including CSE, to undermine the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which was attempting to regulate second-hand smoke. One Philip Morris memo in late 1994 indicated that CSE and other front groups were working “to define the FDA as an agency out of control and one failing to live up to its congressional mandate regarding regulation of drugs and medical devices.”

As we have previously reported, Koch Industries and its front group, Freedom Partners, have played a central role in the Trump administration. See our report here.

The largest funder of RAGA is the Judicial Crisis Network, which has contributed $5 million to RAGA since 2015. The bulk of the money flowing to the Judicial Crisis Network has come from a dark money group called the Wellspring Committee, which abruptly shuttered its operations in December 2018. Wellspring has given the Judicial Crisis Network over $52 million from unknown sources. If that sounds like legalized money laundering, you’re thinking correctly.

An IRS public tax filing by the Wellspring Committee for tax year 2016 shows that it received a whopping $32 million (more than three times its prior year’s income) in dark money. According to MapLight, $28.5 million of the $32 million came from a single, anonymous donor. In 2016, Wellspring took 72 percent of its annual income and gave it to the Judicial Crisis Network, a stunning $23,454,997. In turn, the next year, 2017, the Judicial Crisis Network handed a whopping $2.9 million in a single year to RAGA. (What kind of Attorneys General group would accept $2.9 million and have no idea from whom the money was actually coming?)

The Center for Responsive Politics has connected Wellspring to Charles Koch’s network, writing: “Since Wellspring’s birth from a short-lived union of the Koch network and GOP political operatives leading up to the 2008 election, it has accounted for more than 90 percent of JCN’s [Judicial Crisis Network’s] total funding.” Charles Koch is the billionaire Chairman and CEO of the fossil fuels juggernaut, Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world, with vast interests in oil, refineries, chemicals, paper and trading.

In addition to taking money from the opioid criminals, cigarette manufacturers, and climate change denial funders, RAGA also accepted large sums from two Wall Street banks that have also pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

jp morgan chase logoJPMorgan Chase had donated more than $86,000 to RAGA since 2017. In the span of the last six years, JPMorgan Chase has pleaded guilty to six felony counts. Throughout that period, its Board has allowed its Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, to keep his job. Dimon’s annual compensation is now $31.5 million.

Citigroup has just one felony count, to which it has admitted guilt, but its long rap sheet strongly suggests a criminal enterprise. See our 2017 report: A Private Citizen Would Be in Prison If He Had Citigroup’s Rap Sheet. Since 2014, Citigroup and its subsidiaries have donated $331,745 to RAGA.

U.S. Power Transfer

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden to Propose $1.9 Trillion Package to Combat Virus and Aid Economy, Jim Tankersley and Michael Crowley, Jan. 14, 2021. The sprawling proposal includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, $1,400 direct payments and more generous unemployment benefits.

The plan is a bold move by President-elect Joe Biden, coming at a moment of national crisis and just one day after President Trump’s impeachment. While it reflects the political shift in Washington, Mr. Biden’s proposal will also immediately face logistical challenges.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will propose a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining on Thursday evening the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signaling the coming shift in the federal government’s pandemic response as Mr. Biden prepares to take office.

The sprawling package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including accelerating vaccine deployment and safely reopening most schools within 100 days of passage, along with $350 billion to help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls. It also features more help for workers and families, including $1,400 direct payments, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers and large subsidies for child care costs.

The plan amounts to a bold move by Mr. Biden to step forward at a moment of national crisis and take control of the political narrative and policy agenda a day after President Trump’s impeachment in the House. While it reflects the political shift in Washington as Democrats take control of Congress, Mr. Biden’s plan will also immediately face logistical challenges, starting with the possibility that a Senate trial of Mr. Trump might delay its passage.

It is also unclear how easily Mr. Biden can secure enough votes for a plan of such ambition and expense, especially in the Senate. Democratic victories in two Georgia special elections last week gave Mr. Biden’s party control of the Senate — but only with a 50-50 margin after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. Mr. Biden will have to compensate for any defecting moderate Democrats with Republican votes at a time of scarce bipartisanship.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden swells the ranks of his White House climate team, Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin, Jan. 14, 2021. New hires reflect a sweeping approach, include former top Democratic officials and environmental justice advocates.

President-elect Joe Biden added more than a half-dozen climate staffers to his White House team Thursday, drawing from the ranks of green groups, environmental justice advocates and former Democratic administration officials to grow an inner circle that will help him try to slash the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The new hires include David J. Hayes, who served as Interior deputy secretary under both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Cecilia Martinez, a prominent environmental justice advocate based in Minneapolis who advised the transition team; and Stef Feldman, a top Biden campaign aide who helped craft his climate plan. They will work with several incoming Cabinet officials new to Biden’s orbit, including North Carolina environmental regulator Michael S. John KerryRegan, picked to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), set to serve as interior secretary.

The incoming White House team — which also includes former secretary of state John F. Kerry, right, and former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, below at left, along with Obama administration veterans in the National Security Council and the White House Counsel’s Office — represents the most robust climate-focused group assembled in the West Wing.

gina mccarthy“These qualified, diverse and experienced appointees share the president and vice president-elect’s view that there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world than climate change,” the transition team said in a statement. “From marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science these appointees will be instrumental in utilizing all the tools at the incoming administration’s disposal to address climate change head on.”

Biden, set to take office in less than a week, will try to execute a far-reaching strategy to embed climate action across government agencies and in legislation on Capitol Hill. He has also pledged to address the disproportionate pollution burden carried by poor and minority neighborhoods.

 

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

djt looking up

ny times logoNew York Times, News Analysis: A Preordained Coda to a Presidency, Peter Baker, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. The impeachment of President Trump for a second time — in a Capitol ringed by troops — seemed like the almost inevitable culmination of four years that left the nation fractured, angry and losing its sense of self.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Political Live Updates: Biden Set to Call for Big Spending on Stimulus and Vaccines, Michael D. Shear and Michael Crowley, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden is expected to lay out plans today for an initial effort to fight the virus and a subsequent one to address the economy.

In a statement after the vote, Mr. Biden denounced the attack and said the bipartisan group of lawmakers who backed impeachment had rightfully followed “the Constitution and their conscience.” But he also pledged to ensure that Americans “stand together as a nation” when he becomes president next week, exhibiting the deliberate approach to politics that characterized his path to the White House.

joe biden 2020 button CustomMr. Biden’s focus on the governing challenge ahead is based on the view that the nation is in a devastating crisis that requires him to prioritize keeping Americans healthy. But it also underscores the contrast between his cautious, centrist approach to politics and the anger of many Democratic officials and voters over Mr. Trump’s assaults on democratic norms.

The president-elect has made it clear that he intends to work toward repairing the breach in American political culture after Mr. Trump’s four tumultuous years in office. But he will be pursuing his agenda with slim Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, forcing him into a balancing act that is sure to be especially precarious in his administration’s opening weeks as the Senate focuses at least some of its attention on the trial of Mr. Trump.

“This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday. “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

The president-elect is scheduled to deliver remarks in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday evening on the public health crisis and outline his proposals for trillions of dollars in government spending to combat the pandemic and its effects on the economy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Read what the polls say about President Trump’s impeachment and possible removal, Giovanni Russonello, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Clear majorities of Americans believe the president is responsible for the riot at the Capitol last week, but support for impeaching and removing him is not as widespread, polls suggest.

washington post logoWashington Post, For DNC chair, Biden picks Jaime Harrison, who set fundraising records in bid to unseat Lindsey Graham, Michael Scherer, Jan. 14, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Senate candidate Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, as he moves to remake the national party infrastructure to better compete with Republicans.

jaime harrison twitterHarrison, 44, left, a former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, raised more than $130 million in his effort to defeat Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R) last year, making himself a well-known name among Democrats nationwide. His candidacy for the DNC chairmanship had been promoted by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close Biden ally who played an instrumental role for Biden during the Democratic primary contest. Harrison’s selection was confirmed by two Democrats familiar with Biden’s decision.

dnc square logoHarrison, who is not expected to face an internal challenge, will arrive as the Biden transition effort has begun planning for a renewed focus on party building at the national level in the coming years. Former president Barack Obama had initially housed his own political operation at the committee, a decision that many Democrats now blame for allowing a weaker party structure that made it possible for Republicans to catch up, and in some cases pull ahead, in the race for data and organizing.

The Democratic National Committee, by tradition, does not have competitive internal elections after winning the White House, giving the incoming president the power to shape the party. This year, the election rules for open positions were not announced until Jan. 11, just three days before candidates were required to submit their names and 10 days before members were set to vote.

The open seats include the chair, five vice chairs, secretary, treasurer and national finance chair, and the winners of those seats, under party rules, must be as “equally divided by gender as practical.”

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Live Updates: Southwest Surge Helps Drive Record Covid-19 Death Toll in U.S., Staff reports, Jan. 14, 2021. Deaths from the coronavirus are skyrocketing in the United States, reaching levels never before seen, largely fueled by relentless surges in California and Arizona; World Health Organization experts are finally in Wuhan for an investigation that Beijing has impeded by delaying approvals and declining visas.

As the national death toll nears 400,000, weekly deaths in Maricopa County, Ariz., and in Los Angeles and Fresno Counties in California have reached new highs, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Nationwide, the numbers largely remained grim on Wednesday, though in the Northern Plains, cases this week were at about a quarter of their peak in mid-November, when the region was among the hardest hit in the country. There were at least 3,900 virus deaths in the United States on Wednesday, a day after the country hit a daily record of more than 4,400.

Earlier in the pandemic, cities bore the brunt of the virus. But now, although metropolitan areas are still suffering, rural communities are, too. Data compiled by The Times shows that deaths have spiked in less populous places, among them Butler County, Kan.; Sevier County, Tenn., and Etowah County, Ala.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 14, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2

World Cases: 92,778,983, Deaths: 1,986,903
U.S. Cases:   23,616,345, Deaths:    393,928

ny times logoNew York Times, Sharp Rise in Jobless Claims Underscores Pandemic’s Economic Toll, Sydney Ember, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). New claims for state unemployment benefits sharply increased last week as the resurgent coronavirus pandemic continued to batter the economy.

A total of 1.15 million workers filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits during the first full week of the new year, the Labor Department said. Another 284,000 claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program for freelancers, part-time workers and others normally ineligible for state jobless benefits. Neither figure is seasonally adjusted. On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 965,000.

Economists had been bracing for a fresh wave of claims as the virus batters the service industry. The government reported last week that the economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first drop in employment since last spring’s steep losses, with restaurants, bars and hotels recording steep losses.

“We know that the pandemic is worsening, and with the jobs report last Friday, we can see that we’re in a deep economic hole and digging in the wrong direction,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist with the career site Glassdoor.

The labor market has rebounded somewhat since the initial coronavirus wave in the spring. But of the 22 million jobs that disappeared, nearly 10 million remain lost.

Still, economists and analysts see better times ahead. As more people are vaccinated, cases will begin to fall, which will ease restrictions on businesses and could lead to a resurgence in consumer activity, helping to revive the service industry.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Members of W.H.O. Team Are Denied Entry to China, Javier C. Hernández, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A team of experts arrived in Wuhan, but Beijing has repeatedly impeded the global inquiry into the emergence of the coronavirus.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Siphons $2.5 Billion in N.Y.C. Property Tax Revenue, Dana Rubinstein and Jesse McKinley, Jan. 14, 2021. As New York City officials fight to control the coronavirus by this summer, it is becoming clear that the economic fallout will last far longer: The city’s property tax revenues are projected to decline by $2.5 billion next year, the largest such drop in at least three decades.

The anticipated shortfall, which Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce on Thursday, appears to be largely driven by a projected drop in the value of office buildings and hotel properties, which have all but emptied out since the pandemic began, according to several people briefed on the new budget numbers.

Roughly half of the city’s tax revenue comes from real estate, and the economic projections suggest the city’s budget will remain in a precarious position for the foreseeable future.

The city will partially offset the loss with increased revenues from income taxes: The “rich got richer,” according to a slide from the mayor’s upcoming presentation acquired by The New York Times.

But the city will still likely have to substantially cut spending elsewhere.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

capitol confederate flag capitol

ny times logoNew York Times, A man who carried a Confederate flag into the Capitol has been arrested, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Jan. 14, 2021. A man who was photographed holding a Confederate battle flag inside the U.S. Capitol last week during the riot was arrested Thursday in Delaware, two law enforcement officials said. The man, Kevin Seefried, was wanted by the F.B.I., which had sought help from the public to identify him and had widely circulated a dispatch plastered with images of him.

FBI logoIn a bulletin, the agency said that it was looking for assistance to identify individuals “who made unlawful entry” into the Capitol, including the man with the Confederate flag, now identified by the New York Times as Mr. Seefried.

The F.B.I. had received more than 126,000 photographic and video tips as of earlier this week, as agents also scrubbed airline passenger manifests and video of air travelers to and from Washington to find potential suspects. The top federal prosecutor in Washington said this week that he expected the number of people charged with crimes tied to the Capitol riot to rise into the hundreds.

On Wednesday, federal agents made more arrests in New York, Maryland, Texas and Florida, among them a firefighter from the town of Sanford, near Orlando.

ali alexander djt

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Legal expert notes that Ali Alexander admits Stop the Steal was designed to intimidate Congress, meaning the protest organizer likely will face federal charges, Roger Shuler, Jan. 14, 2021. A Legal Schnauzer lawyer source, having reviewed recent reports about last week's Capitol riot, says Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander almost certainly is headed for time behind bars. Our source particularly focuses on a report at Yahoo! by Alex Montrose. Says our source:

Ali Alexander (shown above in a collage with Donald Trump) admits that the purpose of the Stop The Steal was to make congressional members so afraid of the mob that the House would not want to be on the wrong side of the mob (i.e., to intimidate Congress to stop the Electoral College state certification process; send certification back to states; and allow states to recertify in favor of Trump so Trump wins the election instead of Biden).

On CNN today, Ali Alexander said essentially the same thing, which guarantees he will be convicted of federal crimes for organizing a mob and encouraging the mob to lay siege to the Capitol; intimidate congressional members to stop and delay the Elec. College certification process; help Trump buy time to get certifications sent back to states for re-certification in Trump's favor. In other words, a complicated coup that is doomed to fail and Trump shall never recover.

From the Yahoo! report:

The lead organizer of last week's "Stop the Steal" rally that morphed into an attack against the U.S. Capitol claims that GOP congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama all participated in planning of the Jan. 6 catastrophe.

As CNN points out, Arizona resident and pro-Trump activist Ali Alexander implicated the three members of the House of Representatives during a December livestream on Periscope, where he told followers the four of them had been "planning something big."

“I’m the guy who came up with the idea of January 6 when I was talking with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Andy Biggs, and Congressman Mo Brooks. So we’re the four guys who came up with a January 6 event — #DoNotCertify — and it was to build momentum and pressure, and then on the day change hearts and minds of congresspeoples who weren’t yet decided, or saw everyone outside and said, ‘I can’t be on the other side of that mob,’” Alexander said in a livestream on Dec. 29.

Alexander's alleged conspirators deny involvement in the plot: Biggs, who is chair of the House Freedom Caucus, denied associating with Alexander.

"Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point -- let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest," his spokesperson told CNN. "He did not have any contact with protestors or rioters, nor did he ever encourage or foster the rally or protests. He was focused on his research and arguments to work within the confines of the law and established precedent to restore integrity to our elections, and to ensure that all Americans -- regardless of party affiliation -- can again have complete trust in our elections systems."

The Arizona Republican Party, which Gosar and Biggs belong to, faced backlash last month after promoting one of Alexander's tweets and asking Republicans if they were willing to die to overturn the legitimate outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

nancy pelosi erin schaff new york times

ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Urges Police Chiefs Across U.S. to Be On High Alert for Threats, John Eligon, Frances Robles, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Helene CFBI logoooper, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A joint intelligence bulletin warned that the deadly breach at the Capitol will be a “significant driver of violence” ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amid Riot Chaos, Some National Security Leaders Are Absent From View, Katie Benner, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Adam Goldman, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). The Trump administration’s response to the attack, incited by the president, has lacked broad reassurances to a country on edge.

Amid the sea of troubling facts, arrests and iconic images that have emerged in the days since the assault on the Capitol, one element remains largely absent: reassurances from some of the nation’s top national security officials.

Neither the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, nor the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, has appeared at the type of high-profile news conference that typically marks a major criminal investigation, instead issuing news releases. Mr. Rosen also called for calm and vowed to fully investigate the violence, but the comments came in a video posted by the Justice Department on YouTube around midnight.

us dhs big eagle logo4Chad F. Wolf, the departing acting secretary of homeland security, was in the Middle East during the siege and did not return until later in the week. He also issued a news release that week calling the riot “tragic and sickening.”

For the most part, officials have not addressed that President Trump himself incited the attack by his supporters on Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results. Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the election or to acknowledge his role in goading his supporters has forced administration officials to choose between remaining relatively silent or speaking out in a public setting where they could be pushed to directly contradict him, according to two current government officials and two former national security officials.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is circling the drain as we speak, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 14, 2021. Jim Jordan, right, has a lot of nerve. He is the last person who should have the word “unity” in his mouth. He is one of the very Republicans CNN mentioned when they discussed the Republican failure to stand up to Trump from the beginning. Had they done so, we likely would not be here. His argument against impeachment fell on deaf ears. In fact, the arguments of all Republicans against impeachment were rightfully ignored. They spent much of their time trying to deflect by bringing up violence involved jim jordan headshot Customin the BLM protests, violence that was not perpetrated by the protestors. Continuing to compare what happened on January 6 to anything else was an effort in futility, and it was wrong.

The talk on Twitter was that Republicans are afraid of being violently attacked by Trump’s base. That fear is no excuse for the cowardice the Republicans displayed in impeachment debates. After months of listening to Donald Trump cry “fraud” about the election—even after losing over 60 cases in court—and hearing him continue to say the same thing, those people came to the Capitol to destroy. They came armed, and bill palmer report logo headerthey came prepared to stop anyone in their way. Trump set this up as soon as he began claiming fraud in the election. He exacerbated the problem and riled up these thugs by continuing the lie. He was joined in his lie by others whom these people saw as trustworthy when they were nothing of the sort. They refused to see wrong in Trump’s threatening call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger or in his attempts to interfere in the very signature check he requested.

Because they were now all in, the speeches given that afternoon — not only by Donald Trump but by Donald Trump Jr, Mo Brooks, and Rudy Giuliani — spurred them to action.

The sad part of the entire “movement,” for lack of a better word, is that these people have been taken in by two grifter conmen: Donald Trump and Ali Alexander, who started the “stop the steal” campaign. Ali Alexander is nothing more than a convicted felon who changed his name from Ali Akbar to attempt to hide from those convictions. He is at the center of this thing, and he now claims that three congressmen helped plan the rally: Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, paul gosarand Paul Gosar, right. Gosar previously tagged Alexander in a post prior to the January 6 event, so one must wonder whether they were indeed in this together.

Donald Trump, in concert with others, ran the greatest con of all time on the American people, both while in office and after he was defeated. Some chose to fall for that con and now find themselves facing federal time, which, by the way, has no parole. They may well choose to see impeachment as punitive, but it was necessary. At no time in U.S. history has there been a president like Trump, and a second impeachment can ensure that he can never run for office again.

capitol riot robert sanford

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Man Who Allegedly Threw Fire Extinguisher at Police Arrested on Federal Charges, Aruna Viswanatha and Erin Ailworth, Jan. 14, 2021. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers at the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol as captured on video, U.S. officials said.

Robert Sanford of Chester, Pa., faces three federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer after he was allegedly identified as the person who lobbed a fire extinguisher on the west side of the Capitol, at around 2:30 pm, as the mob crashed past a thin line of Capitol police officers and stormed towards the building on Jan. 6.

In an affidavit filed in connection with Mr. Sanford’s arrest, an FBI special agent described the mob as “insurrectionists.” “The video was shot from an elevated position and showed an area of the Capitol with a large group of police officers surrounded on at least three sides by a group of insurrectionists,” the statement of facts said. It also described the object hitting all three officers in the head, including one who was not wearing a helmet.

Around the same time, a radio dispatch captured by OpenMHZ, a platform that records radio chatter from law enforcement and life- safety services agencies, relayed an emergency code: “There is a 10-33 at the Capitol building. It has been breached.” The 10-33 code signifies an emergency in which an officer needs assistance.

The extinguisher that Mr. Sanford allegedly threw is separate from the one that killed Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the unrest and died from his wounds, officials said.

One of the officers who was hit, William Young, was evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty, the charging document said. A friend of Mr. Sanford’s tipped off the FBI to his involvement, the document said, adding that he was around 55-years old and had recently retired from the Chester Fire Department.

The tipster relayed to the FBI in an interview that Mr. Sanford had told his friend that he had traveled to Washington, D.C., with a group of people on a bus, that the group had gone to the White House and listened to President Trump’s speech “and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol,” the statement said.

Law-enforcement officers on Capitol grounds were targeted by the crowd with a variety of makeshift weapons, including extinguishers and flags. Dispatches captured by OpenMHZ caught several instances of officers injured in the melee.

“Multiple officers injured at the Capitol, west side,” one dispatch says around 1:20 p.m. Another at about 2:05 p.m. relays: “Saying that they have an officer down, hit in the head.” Related story:

Daily Beast, Retired Firefighter Arrested for Allegedly Hurling Fire Extinguisher at Cops During Capitol Riots, Pilar Melendez, Jan. 14, 2021. A retired Pennsylvania daily beast logofirefighter accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers and a man photographed holding a Confederate flag inside the Capitol have been arrested for their roles in the MAGA insurrection.

capitol peter stager

Raw Story, Arrested Capitol rioter claims he thought officer he beat with US flagpole was 'antifa': report, Matthew Chapman, Jan. 14, 2021. On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), has been arrested after being identified as a Capitol rioter who beat a Metropolitan Police officer with an American flagpole.

"Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that members of the MAGA mob who stormed the building last Wednesday grabbed the officer, dragged him down a flight of stairs, and forced him into a 'prone position,' before 'forcibly and repeatedly' hitting him in the head and body with 'various objects,'" reported Pilar Melendez.

"Video footage of the violent attack shows Stager with a large group on the stairs of the Capitol building and holding a flagpole," said the report. "Another video shows Stager hit the officer while he 'remained prone on the steps' of the government building. The FBI said they learned of Stager's identity from a confidential informant who saw the videos on social media.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Trump Can Be Convicted Even as an Ex-President, Stephen I. Vladeck (professor at the University of Texas School of Law), stephen vladeck resizedJan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). He is the poster child for why such accountability is not just constitutionally permissible but necessary.

Yesterday’s vote by the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump (again) came notwithstanding objections from Republicans that such a move is unnecessary. Because Mr. Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20, the argument goes, there is little point in expending energy to reinforce what is already, despite Mr. Trump’s best efforts, a legal inevitability.

But some commentators have gone further — arguing not only that Congress should not impeach and remove Mr. Trump but also that come Jan. 20, it cannot do so, because the Constitution doesn’t allow for the impeachment and removal of “former” officers. This argument is wrong as a matter of text, structure, historical practice and common sense. And Mr. Trump is the poster child for why, even after he leaves office, such accountability is not just constitutionally permissible but necessary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are still conspiring, Bill Palmer, Jan. 14, 2021. After Steve Bannon was arrested for fraud, Donald Trump more or less publicly disowned him. But Trump has a habit of always circling back to whichever of his henchmen are still willing to help him, and so it’s not surprising to learn that Trump and Bannon have continued to conspire since his arrest.

Bloomberg is reporting that Steve Bannon has been advising Trump on his antics to try to overthrow the election result. That’s gone absolutely terribly for Trump, so it’s another reminder that Bannon is a garden variety bumbler, and not the evil genius that he was once widely painted as being.

But it’s nonetheless a big deal that Trump and Bannon are still conspiring. It makes clear that Bannon is still angling for a pardon. We’ll see if he gets it or not. But because Bannon has been a co-conspirator in Trump’s latest crime spree, for all we know it could make Bannon’s pardon easier to beat in court. Our guess is Bannon still ends up in prison one way or the other.

john eastman rudy giuliani

washington post logoWashington Post, Law professor John Eastman spoke at rally before Capitol riots. Facing outrage, he won’t return to his university, Andrea Salcedo, Jan. 14, 2021. Hours before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, John Eastman, a conservative attorney and professor who challenged election results on President Trump’s behalf, took the stage to rally the president’s supporters outside the White House.

“We know there was fraud,” the Chapman University professor, shown above at left in a Los Angeles Times photo, said to loud cheers, echoing the president’s baseless claims of mass wrongdoing in the election. “We know that dead people voted.”

His remarks at the rally sparked outrage from his colleagues at the Orange County, Calif., school, with scores of faculty demanding the university remove him from his role and the school president denouncing his speech.

On Wednesday, Chapman announced Eastman would retire immediately. In exchange, the school and professor agreed not to sue each other, although Eastman had accused the institution of defamation over the blowback.

“Dr. Eastman’s departure closes this challenging chapter for Chapman and provides the most immediate and certain path forward for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman,” President Daniele Struppa said in a statement.

In a statement, Eastman confirmed his retirement “with mixed feeling,” while continuing to echo Trump’s unfounded fraud claims and defending his appearance at the rally.

“I participated in a peaceful rally of nearly [half a] million people, two miles away from the violence that occurred at the capital and which began even before the speeches were finished,” Eastman said.

Eastman, who had taught at Chapman since 1999 and previously served as dean of the law school, drew national attention in August with an op-ed in Newsweek that falsely cast doubt on Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris’s citizenship and eligibility for the White House. President Trump and his allies seized on the argument, which Newsweek later apologized for.

More recently, Eastman represented the president in a failed lawsuit requesting the Supreme Court to block four states from certifying Biden’s victory. A day before the Capitol riots, the New York Times reported, Eastman met with Trump and Vice President Pence in the Oval Office, where he argued Pence had the power to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

At the Jan. 6 rally outside the White House, Eastman was joined onstage by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat.” Eastman then repeated unfounded claims about voting machines causing election fraud.

The blowback from Eastman’s colleagues was swift.

The University of Colorado Boulder, where Eastman is a visiting professor, called his claims “baseless and unfounded” and noted he wasn’t representing the school at the rally. The university chancellor described Eastman’s allegations as “repugnant” but added he would not fire the professor, the Daily Camera reported. More than 700 students, faculty and staff signed a letter demanding his dismissal.

At Chapman, more than 160 faculty members and members of the Board of Trustees also signed a letter demanding Eastman’s removal. Struppa denounced his rally speech, adding his “actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” but argued he didn’t have the power to fire him.

 

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Under Heavy Pressure, Trump Releases Video Condemning Capitol Siege, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Updated Jan. 14, 2021. A week ago, only hours after the rampage, President Trump told his supporters who had rioted: “We love you. You’re very special.”

Under heavy pressure from his advisers, President Trump on Wednesday released a five-minute video recorded in the Oval Office condemning last week’s mob violence at the Capitol and urging his supporters to stand down from further rioting next week.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The video was made public hours after Mr. Trump was impeached a second time and was the result, advisers said, of his realization of the catastrophic fallout from the deadly siege, which also left lawmakers fearing for their lives in the seat of American democracy.

The video was released on a White House Twitter account.

The president offered no note of humility, regret or self-reflection about his two months of false claims that the election was stolen from him. But it was also a broader condemnation of the violence than he has offered so far.

A week ago, hours after the rampage began, Mr. Trump told his supporters who had stormed the Capitol: “We love you. You’re very special.”

The president’s aides have warned him that he faces potential legal exposure for the riot, which was committed by his supporters immediately after a speech in which he urged them to “fight” the results of the election. The House impeached him on a single article, accusing him of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

kayleigh mcenany djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is isolated and angry at aides for failing to defend him as he is impeached again, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). When Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first president ever impeached twice, he did so as a leader increasingly isolated, sullen and vengeful.

With less than seven days remaining in his presidency, Trump’s inner circle is shrinking, offices in his White House are emptying, and the president is lashing out at some of those who remain. He is angry that his allies have not mounted a more forceful defense of his incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol last week, advisers and associates said.

Though Trump has been exceptionally furious with Vice President Pence, his relationship with lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most steadfast defenders, is also fracturing, according to people with knowledge of the dynamics between the men.

Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees, two officials said, and has demanded that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on the president’s behalf to challenge election results in key states. They said Trump has privately expressed concern with some of Giuliani’s moves and did not appreciate a demand from Giuliani for $20,000 a day in fees for his work attempting to overturn the election.

As he watched impeachment quickly gain steam, Trump was upset generally that virtually nobody is defending him — including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a senior administration official.

“The president is pretty wound up,” said the senior administration official, who, like some others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. “No one is out there.”

harold bornstein cropped

ny times logoNew York Times, Harold N. Bornstein, Trump’s Former Personal Physician, Dies at 73, Katharine Q. Seelye, Jan. 14, 2021. He attested that President Trump would be the “healthiest president ever” but was later expelled from his circle.

Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, shown above, who for a time was President Donald J. Trump’s personal physician and who had attested that Mr. Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” died on Friday. He was 73.

His death was announced on Thursday in a paid notice in The New York Times. The notice did not give a cause or say where he died.

Loquacious, hirsute and eccentric, Dr. Bornstein, a gastroenterologist, was Mr. Trump’s personal physician from 1980 to 2017. He had inherited Mr. Trump as a patient from his father, Dr. Jacob Bornstein, with whom he shared a medical practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, at Park Avenue and 78th Street.

When Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016, Dr. Bornstein had hoped to be named White House physician and suggested as much to a longtime Trump assistant. But he was expelled from the Trump orbit after he disclosed to The Times that the president was taking medication to make his hair grow.

Dr. Bornstein came to public attention in December 2015, during his famous patient’s campaign for president.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, had been insinuating that Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent, did not have the stamina to serve as president. In response to questions about his own health, he ordered Dr. Bornstein to issue “a full medical report.” Mr. Trump predicted that although he would be 70 when he took office, the oldest president ever to be inaugurated for the first time, the report would show that the state of his health was “perfection.”

In a series of interviews with The Times in 2017, he said that President Trump was taking a prostate-related drug, Propecia, to promote hair growth — the same drug that Dr. Bornstein himself was taking to maintain his own shoulder-length locks.

Dr. Bornstein later told NBC News that two days after The Times article appeared, three representatives of Mr. Trump had “raided” his office and taken all of Mr. Trump’s medical records. They also told him to remove a picture he had on the wall of him with Mr. Trump.

“I feel raped,” Dr. Bornstein told NBC.

washington post logoWashington Post, The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail, Peter Jamison, Carol D. Leonnig and Paul Schwartzman, Jan. 14, 2021. Many U.S. Secret Service agents have stood guard in Washington’s elite Kalorama neighborhood, home over the years to Cabinet secretaries and former presidents. Those agents have had to worry about death threats, secure perimeters and suspicious strangers. But with the arrival of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (shown at right in a file photo), they had a new worry: finding a toilet.

images/jared-ivanka-kushner-may-20-2017-9-day-djt-trip-Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.

secret service logoBut it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

A White House spokesperson denied that Trump and Kushner restricted agents from their 5,000-square-foot home, with its six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, and asserted that it was the Secret Service’s decision not to allow the protective detail inside. That account is disputed by a law enforcement official familiar with the situation, who said the agents were kept out at the family’s request.

 

Media, Legal News

ny times logoNew York Times, Millions Flee to Chat Apps Behind Walls of Encryption, Jack Nicas, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Encrypted messaging services like Telegram and Signal have become the world’s hottest apps, driven by anxiety over big tech companies and privacy concerns. Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesman for a cryptocurrency think tank, has typically used the encrypted messaging app Signal to chat with privacy-minded colleagues and peers. So he was surprised on Monday when the app alerted him to two new users: Mom and Dad.

“Signal still had a subversive shine to it,” said Mr. Agrawal, 32. “Now my parents are on it.”

Over the past week, tens of millions of people have downloaded Signal and Telegram, making them the two hottest apps in the world. Signal allows messages to be sent with “end-to-end encryption,” meaning no one but the sender and receiver can read its contents. Telegram offers some encrypted messaging options, but is largely popular for its group-based chat rooms where people can discuss a variety of subjects.

Their sudden jump in popularity was spurred by a series of events last week that stoked growing anxiety over some of the big tech companies and their communication apps, like WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. Tech companies including Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of far-right accounts — including President Trump’s — after the storming of the Capitol. Amazon, Apple and Google also cut off support for Parler, a social network popular with Mr. Trump’s fans. In response, conservatives sought out new apps where they could communicate.

ny times logoNew York Times, New York Post to Staff: Stay Away From CNN, MSNBC, New York Times and Washington Post, Katie Robertson, Jan. 14, 2021 (print ed.). As the Murdoch tabloid navigates a fraught political moment, high-level editors instructed reporters not to base articles on reporting by four news outlets that President Trump has falsely labeled “fake news.”

CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times are among the news organizations that President Trump has falsely labeled “fake news.” And now articles based on reporting from the four outlets are no longer welcome at Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, according to three journalists who work there.

High-level editors at The New York Post instructed staff members this week not to use reporting from CNN, MSNBC, The Times and The Washington Post as the sole basis for any Post article, the three journalists said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. A Post spokeswoman declined to comment.

It is common practice at The New York Post and its website, nypost.com, to publish articles based entirely on other news outlets’ reporting, without independent confirmation by a Post journalist. The Post is not alone in following this widespread practice, and many news sites have had success by repackaging material from other news organizations. The directive at the Murdoch tabloid was unusual in that it deemed material from certain outlets off limits.

The order was handed down by Michelle Gotthelf, the editor in chief of nypost.com, and section editors, the three Post journalists said. Post journalists who now spot a report on the four forbidden outlets that they think is worth writing up must now do some reporting before they go to the keyboard.

Why did The Post single out these four outlets and not, say, Variety or CBS News? The three journalists said no explanation had been given, but they added that the reason did not have to be detailed. CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The Times are seen as liberal within the Murdoch empire, which is home to Fox News and Fox Business, cable networks that were instrumental to the rise of President Trump. To publish articles based on the work of those organizations would not fit The Post’s right-leaning identity, the journalists said.

kyle rittenhouse

washington post logoWashington Post, Kyle Rittenhouse flashed hate symbols, posed with Proud Boys in a Wisconsin bar, prosecutors say, Katie Shepherd, Jan. 14, 2021. The excursion while out of jail on a $2 million bond raised red flags for prosecutors handling the state’s case against Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during an August protest following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.

kyle rittenhouse resized cropped mugShortly after pleading not guilty to murder and weapons charges earlier this month, Kyle Rittenhouse, shown above center and at right in a mug shot, showed up at a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wis., clad in a T-shirt that said “Free as F---,” prosecutors said. Then the 18-year-old allegedly drank three beers, posed for photos with members of Proud Boys and flashed a “white power” hand sign.

The excursion raised red flags for prosecutors handling the state’s case against Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during an August protest following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis.

On Wednesday, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office asked a judge to forbid Rittenhouse from drinking alcohol, using “white supremacist” signs and spending time with members of the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist group with ties to white nationalism.

“The defendant’s continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm,” prosecutors said in a motion.

 

Jan. 13

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

U.S. Capitol Riot Follow-Ups, Politics

 

Looking Ahead


Buildup To Impeachment

 

Biden Transition

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media

 

Top Stories

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, TRUMP IMPEACHED AGAIN, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 13, 2021. Charge Is ‘Incitement of Insurrection’; 10 Republicans Break With President. The House on Wednesday impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection against the United States government, as 10 members of the president’s party joined Democrats to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors for an unprecedented second time.

Reconvening in a building now heavily militarized against threats from pro-Trump activists and adorned with bunting for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., lawmakers voted 232 to 197 to approve a single impeachment article. It accused Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in his quest to overturn the election results, and called for him to be removed and disqualified from ever holding public office again.

The vote left another indelible stain on Mr. Trump’s presidency just a week before he is slated to leave office and laid bare the cracks running through the Republican Party. More members of his party voted to charge the president than in any other impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, declaring the past week one of the darkest chapters in American history, implored colleagues to embrace “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”

A little more than a year after she led a painstaking, three-month process to impeach Mr. Trump the first time for a pressure campaign on Ukraine to incriminate Mr. Biden — a case rejected by the president’s unfailingly loyal Republican supporters — Ms. Pelosi had moved this time with little fanfare to do the same job in only seven days.

Reconvening under the threat of continued violence and the protection of thousands of National Guard troops, the House was determined to hold Mr. Trump to account just one week before he was to leave office. At issue was his role in encouraging a mob that attacked the Capitol one week ago while Congress met to affirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, forcing lawmakers to flee for their lives in a deadly rampage.

The House adopted a single article of impeachment, voting 232 to 197 to charge Mr. Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” and requesting his immediate removal from office and disqualification from ever holding one again.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach: Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California and Tom Rice of South Carolina.

The defections were a remarkable break from the head of the party by Republicans, who voted unanimously against impeaching Mr. Trump just over a year ago.

The vote set the stage for the second Senate trial of Mr. Trump in a year, though senators appeared unlikely to convene to sit in judgment before Jan. 20, when Mr. Biden will take the oath of office. The last proceeding, over Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to smear Mr. Biden, was a partisan affair.

Mr. Trump showed no contrition for his actions. But in the run-up to the vote on Wednesday, he issued a statement urging his supporters to remain peaceful as federal authorities warned of a nationwide wave of violence surrounding Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

“There must be no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind,” the president said in a statement that was read by Republicans from the House floor. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on all Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.”

The House’s vote was historic. Only two other presidents have been impeached; none has been impeached twice, by such a large bipartisan margin, or so close to leaving office.

Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger)

Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are weighing sedition and conspiracy charges and expect to arrest ‘hundreds’ tied to Capitol riot, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). The top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said on Tuesday that more than 70 people tied to the Capitol riot had been charged with crimes and that he expected that number to rise into the hundreds, with prosecutors looking at charging some rioters with sedition and conspiracy.

Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said at a news conference that the federal investigation was unprecedented in its scope, with the entire Capitol grounds being “essentially, a crime scene.” He cautioned that the investigations would take months or longer.

Mr. Sherwin said investigators had identified at least 170 people who they believe committed a wide range of crimes on the Capitol grounds, with brian sicknickprosecutors looking at charges ranging from trespassing to felony murder. At least four people died during the riots — some of medical emergencies — and a fifth, Brian D. Sicknick, right, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died the next day from injuries he sustained during the mayhem.

“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Mr. Sherwin said, adding that he had assembled a team of national security and public corruption prosecutors specifically to pursue sedition charges against people who had committed “the most heinous acts” on the Capitol grounds last week.

Justice Department log circularSteven D’Antuono, the head of the F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, defended the agency at the news conference after reports that F.B.I. officials in Virginia had warned about a threat of violence the day before the riots. The Washington Post had reported that the warning had mentioned people sharing a map of tunnels and an online thread in which people said people should be “ready for war.”

Mr. D’Antuono indicated that the information had quickly been shared with other law enforcement agencies and he said other intelligence had led the authorities to disrupt the travel of several people who had planned to attend the rally. He also noted that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys group known for brawling at protests, had been arrested shortly after arriving in Washington for the event.

The F.B.I. is working around the clock on the investigation, and the agency has already received 100,000 pieces of digital media, Mr. D’Antuono said. He added that agents would identify and pursue anyone who had committed a crime at the Capitol that day, even if they had left Washington.

“Agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door,” he said.

In addition to pursuing possible charges of seditious conspiracy, which is defined as an effort by two or more people to overthrow the government or use force to hinder its operations, investigators are also prioritizing investigations into attacks against police officers, theft of confidential information from the Capitol and attacks against reporters. Related developments:

  • F.B.I. report is said to have warned of plans for violence at the Capitol.
  • House Democrats have been briefed on active security threats.
  • Chicago man charged with threatening President-elect Biden.
  • ‘The Michigan Capitol is not safe,’ the state’s attorney general warns.
  • New York City weighs ending contracts with the Trump Organization.
  • In first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the mob.
  • Three lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the days since the riot.
  • Schumer calls for those involved in Capitol riots to be placed on no-fly lists.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell breaks with Trump, says he’ll consider convicting him in Senate trial, Seung Min Kim and Paul Kane, Jan. 13, 2021. The majority leader’s statement marked a dramatic shift from his position during President Trump’s first impeachment, when he stressed that he was “not an impartial juror.”

mitch mcconnellThe bipartisan impeachment vote in the House against President Trump on Wednesday set up a politically explosive reckoning for Senate Republicans, who spent four years enabling Trump’s behavior but in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot are grappling with how — or whether — to punish him with just seven days left in office.

The most striking position came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said Wednesday that he will consider convicting Trump on inciting the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a remarkable break between the two men who worked in lockstep for four years, even as the majority leader continually deflected questions about Trump’s untoward conduct and rhetoric.

It was also a dramatic shift from his position during Trump’s first impeachment a year ago, when he publicly stressed that he was “not an impartial juror” and privately worked in concert with White House officials to map out the president’s eventual acquittal in the Senate.

Read: Article of impeachment against President Trump

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said in a message to his colleagues, an excerpt of which was released by his office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: McConnell Privately Backs Impeachment as House Moves to Charge Trump, Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. The House formally called on Vice President Mike Pence to move to wrest power from the president, as Republican support built for impeaching him of inciting violence against the nation.

mitch mcConnell o portraitSenator Mitch McConnell, right, has concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Mr. Trump from the party, according to people familiar with Mr. McConnell’s thinking.

The private assessment of Mr. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol while lawmakers met to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

In a sign that the dam could be breaking against Mr. Trump in a party that has long been unfailingly loyal to him, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, announced her intention to support the single charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, as other party leaders declined to formally lobby rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose it.

republican elephant logo“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Even before Mr. McConnell’s position was known and Ms. Cheney had announced her plans, advisers to the Senate Republican leader had already privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Mr. Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House. Seventeen Republicans would most likely be needed to join Democrats in finding him guilty. After that, it would take a simple majority to disqualify Mr. Trump from ever again holding public office.

In the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he ought to call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the Capitol, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations. While he has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders did not mount an official effort to defeat the push, and Mr. McCarthy was working on Tuesday to build support for a censure resolution to rebuke the president for his actions.

washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon reshaped Trump’s party and radicalized believers. The Capitol siege may just be the start, Drew Harwell, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Razzan Nakhlawi and Craig Timberg, Jan. 13, 2021. The failed insurrection marked a grim milestone in how the paranoid conspiracy theory QAnon has radicalized Americans, changed the Republican Party and gained a forceful grip on right-wing belief.

washington post logoWashington Post, National Guard plan for inauguration expands to at least 20,000 troops in D.C., acting police chief says, Missy Ryan, Alex Horton, Matt Zapotosky and Dan Lamothe, Jan. 13, 2021. National Guard forces from a growing list of states moved into positions across Washington on Wednesday as authorities scrambled to understand the extent of threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and prevent a repeat of last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

City and federal officials conducted tabletop exercises to rehearse inauguration security and strengthen coordination among a massive patchwork of police, National Guard troops and federal personnel that is expected to fan out ahead of protests this weekend and the Jan. 20 transfer of power.

By next week, the D.C. police chief said, upward of 20,000 guardsmen were expected to be in place to guard against violence, days after supporters of President Trump smashed their way into the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s electoral win.

washington post logoWashington Post, Nation’s governors gird for worst, warn of long-term dangers to their capitols, Holly Bailey and Tim Craig, Jan. 13, 2021. The nation's governors, facing increasing threats to their capitols and little support or information from the federal government, said Wednesday they are bracing for long-term danger from extremist groups who already have breached government buildings, damaged property and been linked to threats against state leaders and their families.

“It’s going to take quite a while to turn back what’s been started here,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), who has participated in joint calls in recent days with other Midwestern governors about the possibility of fresh violence in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol and an FBI warning about armed far-right extremists gathering across the country this weekend.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: January 6 was a full-blown insurrection, whether the "loony left" believes it or not, Wayne Madsen, left (progressive syndicated columnist, author of 18 books, and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyist), Jan. 13, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. There has been a faction of the "progressive left" that has always held accommodating views of Donald Trump.

They point out that Trump avoided news wars, tried to extricate the U.S. military from Iraq and Afghanistan, and purged the neo-cons from the government.

They conveniently forget that Trump made every attempt to goad Iran into a major war with the United States, backed Saudi Arabia's war of genocide in Yemen, sold out the Palestinians to the Israelis at the risk of a new Intifada, assisted in a mercenary invasion of Venezuela to oust President Nicolas Maduro and backed a coup in Bolivia that tossed out the democratically-elected President Evo Morales.

capitol camp auschwitzNow, the progressive left, or, as they should be known, the "loony left," is advancing a revisionist view of Trump's attempted January 6 coup d'état against the U.S. Congress and the Vice President. They claim that what occurred on January 6 was merely an extreme protest and nothing on the scale of the 1973 military coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende and the OTPOR-led rebellion in Serbia in 2000. They also feel that Trump was justified in raising concerns about postal voting forgetting that such measures were taken during a lethal pandemic.

The practitioners of "both-siderism" are claiming that the armed protesters who planned to execute Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, take hostages, and make terrorist demands were merely legitimately upset protesters. Bullshit.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes 223-205 to Call on Pence to Strip Trump of Powers Rejection All but Ensures Impeachment Vote, Staff and wire reports, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats proceeded with the resolution even after Vice President Mike Pence ruled out the option, and they warned of an impeachment vote on Wednesday. Five House Republicans said they would vote for impeachment. There had “never been a greater betrayal,” Liz Cheney said. Catch up on political news.

Lawmakers adopted a resolution that would compel Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after President Trump incited a mob attack on the Capitol last week. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the evening, Mr. Pence rejected the effort.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Distracted by Political Crisis, U.S. Sets Record for Virus Deaths, Mike Ives and staff reports, Jan. 13, 2021. More than 4,400 people in the country died of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the day before lawmakers were set to charge President Trump with inciting last week’s violence at the Capitol.

As America slogs through this grimmest of winters, there is no relief in the daily tabulations of coronavirus-related deaths: More than 4,400 were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database, a number once unimaginable.

Yet even as Covid-19 touches thousands of families, the nation is distracted by the political crisis gripping Washington in the last days of the Trump administration.

Tuesday’s death count, which set another daily record, represented at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The U.S. death toll, already the world’s highest by a wide margin, is now about 20,000 shy of 400,000 — only a month after the country crossed the 300,000 threshold, a figure greater than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II.

But much of the nation’s attention is focused on the fallout from the Capitol siege, prompted in part by President Trump’s efforts to prevent Congress from certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the November election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden team briefs Congress on emerging stimulus plan, aims for bipartisan deal, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden is finalizing his coronavirus relief plan, with aides briefing congressional staffers Tuesday and indicating that the measure will be tailored to get bipartisan support.

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotThe proposal, which Biden intends to unveil on Thursday, is expected to include $2,000 stimulus payments, an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance, money for vaccine distribution and delivery, funding for cities, states, schools, child care and more.

Transition officials indicated in meetings with Democratic staffers that Biden will try to get bipartisan support for the measure, instead of using a special budgetary tool that could allow him to push legislation through Congress with only Democratic votes, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were private.

That’s led to speculation that the price tag of the package could be below $2 trillion — although Biden said last week that it could cost in the multiple trillions of dollars. Republicans are likely to balk at spending too much more after Congress has already devoted around $4 trillion to fighting the ravaging coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 13, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2World Cases: 92,014,026, Deaths: 1,970,117
U.S. Cases:   23,369,732, Deaths:   389,621

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump won’t quit the presidency, Trump won’t leave the country, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 13, 2021. In the 24 hours since I last robert harringtnn portraitwrote to you, brothers and sisters, 4,350 Americans have died from coronavirus. That’s almost one and one half times the number of deaths from the attack of September 11, 2001. That’s almost 2,000 more Americans than died at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. There is more shocking difference than similarity here, of course. Those are just the deaths for today. There will be a similar number tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s try never to become numb to the grim reality that these are real people with real lives cut short — by months, years and even decades — by that toxic, murdering, raping monster still defiling the People’s House. These coronavirus deaths were real people who were loved and will be mourned. Their deaths left holes in families and communities.

It’s a grim statistic that will never be acknowledged by Donald Trump. Trump will never feel an ounce of remorse or pity for their deaths. If confronted, Trump would blame Barack Obama for their deaths before he blamed himself, even though Obama hasn’t been President for four years.

Welcome to the world of the malignant narcissist. If you’ve managed to live your lives thus far unpoisoned by a narcissist, particularly a malignant one, I congratulate you. You don’t know what you’re missing. It is one of the few instances where ignorance is a good thing.

 

U.S. Capitol Riot Follow-Ups, Politics

capitol confederate flag capitol

Politico, Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led ‘reconnaissance’ tours ahead of Capitol attack, Kyle Cheney and Sarah Ferris, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. 
Rep. Mikie Sherrill said Tuesday that she witnessed colleagues escorting people through the Capitol on Jan. 5 for what she described as "reconnaissance" ahead of the next day's violent insurrection that left five dead.

In a 13-minute Facebook video billed as an address to her constituents about the House's efforts to hold President Donald Trump accountable for inciting the mikie sherrillriot, Sherrill (D-N.J.), right, included the allegation as part of a call to hold Trump's allies in Congress accountable as well.

"I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him — those members of Congress who had groups coming through the capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day — those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I'm going see that they're held accountable," Sherrill said.

Sherrill did not identify the lawmakers she was referring to, how she was able to describe their activities as "reconnaissance" and how she knew they were connected to the riots that consumed the Capitol the following day. She told POLITICO on Wednesday that she's referred her information to authorities.

"We're requesting an investigation right now with certain agencies," she said.

tim ryan o 2010Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), right, said he's aware of "a couple" names of colleagues who are being eyed as potentially giving tours to the would-be insurrectionists. But he said he wouldn't name them yet.

"I'm going to wait to make sure we get verification," Ryan told a reporter at the Capitol Wednesday.

Ryan said the information was passed to authorities as early as last Wednesday night. He said it involved "handfuls" of people who were escorted through the Capitol. Enough to know that these weren't "one-on-one" tours or "a small family."

"You look back on certain things and you look at it differently," he added.

The startling allegation comes as lawmakers are still seeking answers about the extent of planning and coordination behind the Jan. 6 Trump rally that became the violent assault on the Capitol. Federal investigators say they're pouring enormous resources into unearthing details of a potential "seditious conspiracy" and that some of the undisclosed evidence about what happened inside the Capitol will be "shocking."

Some Democrats, like Sherrill, are also calling for punishment for the Republicans who — like Trump — delivered incendiary remarks that preceded the violence at the Capitol, as well as others who joined Trump's effort to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.

 ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his story: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?

washington post logoWashington Post, A ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally, Teo Armus, Jan. 13, 2021. Weeks before a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, right-wing activist Ali Alexander told his followers he was planning something big for Jan. 6.

Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight, an investigative nonprofit. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

After riots inside the Capitol left five people dead — and Alexander and his group were banned from Twitter this week — those three GOP lawmakers are now under increasing scrutiny over their role in aiding the right-wing activist.

In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesman for Biggs said the congressman had never been in contact with Alexander or other protesters and denied he had helped organize a rally on Jan. 6.

“Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” the statement said.

Neither Brooks nor Gosar responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post. But in a lengthy, defiant statement on Wednesday, the Alabama lawmaker insisted he also bore no responsibility for the riot. Brooks added he would not have promoted any action that could undermine GOP efforts to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.

“I take great offense at anyone who suggests I am so politically inexperienced as to want to torpedo my honest and accurate election system effort I spent months fighting on,” Brooks wrote.

Videos and posts on social media suggest links between all three Republicans and the right-wing activist.

Alexander, a felon who has also been identified in media reports as Ali Akbar, gained a large following by live-streaming monologues in which he professed his conservative views and support for Trump. Speaking to Politico Magazine in 2018, he called himself an “interpreter of energy for this period.”

Lawmakers gave groups ‘reconnaissance’ tours of the Capitol one day before riots, Democratic congresswoman says

Gothamist, Congressional Reps Were “Nearly Assassinated” During Capitol Riots, AOC Says, Sophia Chang, Jan. 13, 2021. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared for her life during the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while Rep. Mikie Sherrill — a former Navy pilot—reported that other members of Congress were leading people on “reconnaissance” tours in the Capitol building the day before the January 6th riots.

alexandria ocasio cortezThe details of violent threats against lawmakers have emerged as Congressional lawmakers spoke about their experience when a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters breached the Capitol January 6th. Directly before the violent riots broke out, the president repeated lies about the election being stolen from him, and urged attendees of the Stop the Steal rally to march to the Capitol, where the House and Senate were undertaking certification of the election results naming Joe Biden as the next President.

Five people were left dead after the riots, including a Trump supporter who was shot by a Capitol Police officer while allegedly trying to breach the House chambers; and a Capitol Police officer who was reportedly beaten by a rioter.

During an Instagram Live post Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) (shown in a file photo) spoke of a “close encounter” she had while hiding in an undisclosed location, though she did not release more details because of security concerns. “Wednesday was an extremely traumatizing event. And it was not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The U.S. Capitol attack just keeps getting uglier, Ron Leshnower, Jan. 13, 2021. When Congressional representatives fled to safety after Trump-incited insurrectionists breached the House Chamber last Wednesday, they faced a different type of danger of their own making. As Palmer Report told you, several House Republicans shunned Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester when she offered them masks as they sat close together. A week later, we are now seeing the scary and wholly predictable consequences of their pigheadedness unfold.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressional Attending Physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan issued a warning over the weekend that lawmakers and staff “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection” as they sequestered during the Capitol attack. Sure enough, three Democratic representatives—Pramila Jayapal, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Brad Schneider—have announced within a 24-hour period that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

This disturbing development prompted Dr. Anthony Fauci to predict that more lawmakers will get infected. “Of course, when you have people in close indoor settings without social distancing or masks there are likely going to be some infections,” he told The Daily Beast yesterday. Dr. Fauci compared the crowded room to a “subway car during rush hour,” and stressed that it “[d]oesn’t matter who you are.”

All three representatives who have so far tested positive had already received the first dosage of the vaccine and are now in quarantine. Having recently undergone chemotherapy for lung cancer and in her mid-seventies, Rep. Coleman told the Washington Post she was “nervous about spending a week among so many people who regularly flout social distancing and mask guidelines.”

Rep. Schneider released a statement slamming the “selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff.” He then called for sanctions against colleagues who refuse to wear masks and ejection by the Sergeant at Arms. In her own statement, Rep. Jayapal also called for “serious fines” after “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”

Fortunately, the House last night adopted, 222-204, a rule that threatens lawmakers with fines—$500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second offense—for mask refusal. The fines get deducted from pay, which means lawmakers won’t be able to use campaign funds to shirk responsibility for their own reckless assault on public health. The GOP is running out of ways to pose a danger to society. Thankfully, they are also running out of time clinging to power.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). There still will be a place for tom friedman twitterprincipled Republicans.

When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”

That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind him being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump republican elephant logocultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.

If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Several House Republicans go berserk in metal detector showdown, Bill Palmer, Jan, 13, 2021. Earlier, we brought you the story of how lauren boebertRepublican Congresswoman and depraved gun toting maniac Lauren Boebert, right, got into what CNN called a “standoff” with Capitol Police after her bag set off a metal detector on her way into the House chamber. It turns out she’s not the only one.

bill palmer report logo headerNBC News is now reporting that Steve Stivers, Van Taylor, Debbie Lesko, Larry Bucshon, and domestic terrorism official mascot Louie Gohmert also threw tantrums about the metal detectors or tried to sneak around the checkpoints. Boebert responded by calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “communist” on Twitter. Lesko also had a berserk Twitter meltdown.

Even as law enforcement works to determine which if any House Republicans conspired with the domestic terrorists who invaded the Capitol building, let’s just say that the people on the above list aren’t doing much to make themselves look innocent.

Congresswoman Cori Bush posted this in response: "To my colleagues who won’t go through the metal detectors: Have you ever had a job before? If you work at McDonald’s and you don’t wear the uniform, you don’t work that day. If you won’t abide by the rules of this job, go find another one.”

We have a feeling that some of these House Republicans won’t last long before they’re forced to find a new line of work.

aaron mostofsky capitol afp getty

Aaron Mostofsky is shown in the Capitol at right with a stick and a pastic shield apparently of the kindused by Capitol Hill federal police overrun by insurrectionists on Jan. 6. 

Daily Mail Online, Cry baby! Son of Supreme Court Judge who stormed the Capitol armed with a stick ditches his fur pelts and dons Baby Yoda pants as he weeps in court facing federal charges and is released on $100,000 bond, Valerie Edwards, Updated Jan. 13, 2021. The son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge left court wearing Baby Yoda pajamas after he was released on a $100,000 bond having been arrested by the FBI on four federal charges in connection with the riot at the US Capitol last week.

FBI agents arrested Aaron Mostofsky, 34, who is the son of Judge Shlomo Mostofsky, in New York Tuesday morning. He cried when he appeared in court and now faces up to 10 years behind bars.

The younger Mostofsky, who dubbed himself a 'caveman', has been hit with multiple charges, including theft of government property for allegedly stealing a police riot shield and bulletproof vest, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mostofsky made an appearance before US Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara on Tuesday. Bulsara, who called the charges 'quite grave', approved Mostofsky's release on a $100,000 bond along with other restrictions that include GPS monitoring. Mostofsky also must surrender his passport.

The government asked for the travel restrictions to ensure Mostofsky doesn't flee the jurisdiction or participate in any other political protests, especially ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week. He was also ordered not to have contact with co-defendants or co-conspirators involved in the riot on the Capitol.

His attorney, Jeffrey Schwartz, told the court: 'I believe evidence will show that he was not part of the mob, he was not rampaging, he got caught up in it.'

Mostofsky's arrest comes nearly a week after he was pictured walking down the stairs outside the Senate Chamber dressed in fur pelts and a bullet proof vest and carrying a wooden walking stick. Mostofsky was seen walking just ahead of a man carrying the confederate flag during the riot. He told the New York Post at the time: 'The election was stolen.'

During the riot, protesters attacked police with pipes, sprayed irritants and even planted live bombs found in the area.

Daily Beast, Opinion: Meet the Mama’s Boys of Donald Trump’s Chickenshit ‘Army,’ Erin Gloria Ryan, Jan. 13, 2021. From the rioters who came with their moms daily beast logoto the chickensh*ts in Congress who riled them up to the “most masculine” president ever, these are a sad bunch of men. Jacob Anthony Chansley, the 33-year-old self-proclaimed “QAnon Shaman” seen in face paint and animal pelts during the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, hasn’t eaten a bite since he turned himself into the FBI on Saturday.

That’s because, according to his mother Martha, Jacob the chest-thumping revolutionary gets “very sick” if he doesn’t maintain an all-organic diet. Martha is proud of her sweet boy, telling reporters that it takes courage to be a “patriot.” Maybe not as much courage as it takes a person to eat the same prison food they serve everybody else, but still!

Thirty-year-old Eric Gavelek Munchel, a bartender from Nashville, Tennessee, was photographed during the riot inside the capitol carrying zip ties and a gun, in full tactical gear.

Also with Eric was Lisa Eisenhart, his 57-year-old mommy, who drove with him from Tennessee. Now that her sweet little guy is in federal custody and charged with multiple crimes, Eisenhart claims that the pair didn’t have any “nefarious” intent. The riot was just like a Mother-Son dance, except the men are in their thirties and they’re carrying guns.

New York Post, Ex-Texas mayoral candidate arrested for rioting at US Capitol, Natalie O'Neill, Jan. 13, 2021. Texas mayoral candidate who stormed Capitol brags about how MAGA mob 'broke down Pelosi's office door.

An ex-mayoral candidate from Texas who broke into the US Capitol building, then bragged about tearing down Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office door has been arrested.

Jenny Cudd, of Midland, Texas, was taken into custody Wednesday by the FBI, CBS 7 reported.

After the deadly siege last Wednesday, Cudd posted a video on Facebook laughing about her involvement and boasting that she and other “patriots” stormed the Capitol, “[broke] down Nancy Pelosi’s office door” and “stole her gavel.”

She described the mob of pro-President Trump rioters as a “bunch of red-blooded American patriots that actually give a s–t about our country and keeping it.”

Cudd — whose Facebook page has since been shut down — previously told CBS 7 she had no regrets about breaking into the building.

Jenny Cudd broke into the US Capitol building, then bragged about tearing down Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office door. Cudd ran for mayor of Midland in 2019 and lost to Patrick Payton, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Palmer Report, Opinion: In the end, Donald Trump was too clever by half, Shirley Kennedy, Jan. 13, 2021. The horrible events that occurred at the Capitol last week continue to reveal the sheer depths of a dark movement that violently attempted to overtake certification efforts and to, in fact, quash democracy. This dark movement was created by conspiracy theorists who have led people to believe ludicrous lies, but prior to January 6, it was just that — a bunch of conspiracy theorists who lived in their own heads.

bill palmer report logo headerOn January 6, however, they were invited outside of their heads into the real world, and as anyone could have predicted, it resulted in a disaster — five deaths, multiple injuries, and threats to national security.

While many bear responsibility, the blame rests solely at the feet of the man who was supposed to be our president, Donald Trump. Trump has never been “our” president. He repeatedly talked of “blue” and “red” states, evil immigrants coming to take over our country, and socialism that would destroy life as we know it. Trump has always been a part of those conspiracists, and he knew how to push their buttons. He took full advantage of that knowledge, unleashing an angry, deranged crowd on the Capitol.

Trump began espousing rigged election conspiracies long before the vote ever took place. He saw the proverbial writing on the wall, and he was not going down easily. Always erroneously thinking himself smart, Trump outsmarted himself in inciting this riot. He likely had no idea it would go this far, and he is paying the consequences of his narcissism and false sense of self-worth. While he reportedly “enjoyed” watching terrorists overrun the Capitol on his behalf, he had no idea just how far things would go. He had to set in place a “Plan B.” That plan has now come back to bite him in the ass.

Congress has introduced an article of impeachment against “president” Donald Trump for “inciting an insurrection,” which is exactly what he did. The focus is now on Donald Trump, though others may soon regret their own involvement. No matter how much Trump tries to call this impeachment “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in history,” this impeachment is different — it may become a bipartisan effort, apparently with the blessing of Mitch McConnell. According to the New York Times, McConnell is “pleased” with the impeachment effort. McConnell believes that a second impeachment will make it easier to “purge the GOP of Trump,” according to those close to him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump appointee at U.S. foreign aid agency out after minimizing Capitol riot, Yeganeh Torbati, Jan. 13, 2021. Tim Meisburger, a mid-level appointee at USAID, will be ‘away from the office until further notice,’ staffers were told.

The Trump appointee at America’s top foreign aid agency who minimized last week’s riots at the Capitol in remarks to employees on Tuesday will no longer be at the agency “until further notice,” according to an internal memo sent on Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post.

Tim Meisburger, a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation, told staff during a video call on Tuesday that the riots at the Capitol last week were the work of “a few violent people” and that “several million” others were protesting peacefully for electoral reform.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Someone removed the panic button from Ayanna Pressley’s office before the Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 13, 2021. The details coming out of last week’s U.S. Capitol domestic terrorist attack continue to grow more disturbing. And the uglier this gets, the more it’s beginning to look like the terrorists had some sort of inside help from people in the building.

bill palmer report logo headerSarah Groh, Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, now says that when she attempted to use the “panic button” in Pressley’s office, the entire unit had been ripped out of the wall, rendering it unusable. This comes after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, hinted during a live stream last night that she had a very close call with regard to her safety during the attack. It all suggests that the “Squad” was being targeted specifically by Trump’s invaders.

Last night Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill announced that she saw unnamed House Republicans giving “reconnaissance tours” to the Capitol invaders the day before their attack, suggesting that some House Republicans weren’t just inciters, but domestic terrorism co-conspirators.

 

Looking Ahead

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: McConnell leaves open the possibility of voting to convict, Colby Itkowitz, Amy B Wang, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Jan. 13, 2021. Pelosi signs article of impeachment, speaks from lectern that was taken from chamber during Capitol siege; Trump: ‘I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week;’ In Senate impeachment trial for Trump, question is whether chief justice or vice president would preside; McConnell says there is ‘simply no chance’ that Senate could finish an impeachment trial before Trump is out of office.

The House voted 232 to 197 on Wednesday to impeach President Trump an unprecedented second time, on a charge of “inciting violence” against the U.S. government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left open the possibility of voting to convict at a trial, which would occur after Trump leaves office next week.

During debate on the House floor, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Trump “bears responsibility” for last week’s violent takeover of the Capitol but argued against impeachment so close to the end of his term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump “a clear and present danger” and said “he must go.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone feels ‘betrayed’ by Trump over riots, Noah Manskar, Jan. 13, 2021. Ken Langone — the billionaire Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor — said he feels “betrayed” by President Trump after last week’s siege on the Capitol.

Langone blasted Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and pledged to help President-elect Joe Biden “be the best president we ever had.”

“I feel betrayed,” Langone told CNBC in a Wednesday interview. “… Last Wednesday was a disgrace, it should never have happened in this country, and if it doesn’t break every American’s heart, something’s wrong. It breaks my heart for sure. I didn’t sign up for that.”

Langone is a prolific donor to GOP candidates — he and his wife, Elaine, made nearly $517,000 in political contributions over the last two years, $496,500 of which went to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The 85-year-old financier has reportedly supported some of Trump’s economic policies, such as his tariffs on China, and made a $2,700 donation to the president’s 2016 campaign, federal records show.

But he suggested that the Capitol rioters were wrong to try to stop Biden from taking office by disrupting Congress’ counting of electoral votes last week.

“Going through the court system to try and get some results — he exhausted everything, it was over,” Langone told CNBC.

“I feel those people who sought to stop the process were ill-advised,” he added.

Asked whether Trump should be impeached — a step the House was moving toward Wednesday — Langone responded bluntly: “I don’t care.”

“All I care about is one thing: Jan. 20, Joe Biden’s going to be sworn in as president and I’m going to work my ass off any way I can because I win — if he’s a great successful president, we all win,” he said.

ivanka jared country club

Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump are portrayed on the New York Post's Page Six in photos via Instagram and Getty Images.

New York Post Page Six, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner ‘need not apply’ to snooty Florida country club, Emily Smith, Jan. 13, 2021. Following her “American patriots” tweet, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner “need not apply” to the upscale Indian Creek Country Club near their $30 million plot of land on the exclusive Florida island nicknamed “The Billionaire’s Bunker.”

The island community — one of the wealthiest in the US — has just 29 residences, and residents include Julio Iglesias, Carl Icahn, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen — but owning a home there doesn’t mean you get automatic membership in the country club.

A local source sniped, “You have to be nominated and make a formal application. But it only takes one member to object against any new member, and many members are objecting, particularly after the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Jared and Ivanka can lunch with their fellow ‘patriots’ at Mar-a-Lago.

“The Indian Creek Country Club members are very picky and the word is that Javanka need not apply.”

Ivanka — who was at the side of her father, President Trump, in DC as he made his incendiary speech to protesters before they descended on the Capitol — was heavily criticized for calling the mob “American Patriots” in a tweet that she deleted, even though she also called for an end to the illegal behavior.

And as the president prepares to leave office, Ivanka and husband Jared have been planning their post-administration life.

Page Six exclusively revealed the couple bought the $30 million-plus parcel of land on Miami’s uber-swanky and high-security Indian Creek Island. At the center of the island is the Indian Creek Country Club, once referred to as “Miami-Dade County’s most exclusive, and controversial, private society.”

The 300-member club, built in 1930, has an 18-hole golf course, a restaurant and initiation fees exceeding $150,000. It is run as a separate entity from the wealthy residents of the island.

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City terminates its contracts with Trump’s company, David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 13, 2021. New York City is terminating its contracts with President Trump’s company to run a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Wednesday — calling it a reaction to Trump’s encouragement of a mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form.”

That decision — which will cut off the Trump Organization from businesses that bring in $17 million per year in revenue — makes New York the latest business partner to cut ties with Trump’s company. Trump still owns his company from the White House, and his actions as president now seem to have made it a pariah, cut off by even longtime partners.

Since Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, the company has lost two of its banks, its e-commerce vendor and two of its real-estate brokers. The company also lost its chance to host the prestigious PGA Championship golf tournament in 2022, and lost its hopes of hosting another major golf tournament in Scotland.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Marjorie Taylor Greene goes completely off the deep end after Donald Trump is impeached, Bill Palmer, Jan. 13, 2021. It turns out electing QAnon lunatics to the House of Representatives is every bit as bad of an idea as it sounded on paper. Lauren Boebert just keeps digging a deeper hole for herself with regard to the U.S. Capitol attack, and now Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to top her in the embarrassment department.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump was impeached today with a bipartisan vote that included ten House Republicans. Marjorie Taylor Greene not only voted against impeachment, she then told a far right fringe outlet that she’s planning to introduce articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the day after he’s inaugurated.

That’s nice, but perhaps she should try reading the room. First of all, such articles will go nowhere, considering the Democrats control the House. Second, there clearly isn’t even Republican support for such a thing, considering it’s clearly an attempt at retaliation over Trump’s impeachment, and a double digit number of Republicans just voted for that impeachment. It’s as if Boebert and Greene are in a race to see who can get expelled first. 

 

Buildup To Impeachment

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Disagree on a Lot. But We Both Think Trump Should Be Impeached, Steven G. Calabresi and Norman Eisen, Jan. 13, 2021. It’s not a complex case. There’s no real reason for the Senate not to try him immediately.

One of us is a Republican who proudly served in the Reagan administration and voted for Donald Trump in 2016; the other is a Democrat who worked for President Barack Obama and served as a special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment and trial.

We have considerable political differences. But we firmly share a view that should transcend partisan politics: President Trump must be impeached again and tried as soon as possible in the Senate, either before or after Inauguration Day on Jan 20.

Mr. Trump’s most egregious impeachable offenses are inciting a violent insurrection against his own vice president, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes for him to overturn the legitimate election result there.

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon to Arm National Guard Troops for Inauguration, Helene Cooper and Adam Goldman, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). About 15,000 members are expected to be deployed in Washington, D.C. Those stationed around the Capitol will carry weapons, officials said.

National Guard troops who are flooding into Washington to secure the Capitol for Inauguration Day will be armed, the Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, has decided, Defense Department officials said Tuesday.

The armed troops will be responsible for security around the Capitol building complex, the officials said.

As up to 15,000 troops continued to arrive in Washington from all over the country, Defense Department officials had been weighing whether to deploy them with arms. Mr. McCarthy has decided that at the very least those around the Capitol building will carry weapons, said the officials, who confirmed the decision on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. McCarthy’s decision came after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Ms. Pelosi, according to congressional staff members, demanded that the Pentagon take a more muscular posture after a mob, egged on by President Trump last week, breached the Capitol.

Pentagon officials say they are deeply worried about protests that are planned for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. next week. About 16 groups — some of them saying they will be armed and most of them made up of hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, officials said.

One Defense Department official said law enforcement agencies are planning for a range of outcomes, including a worse-case scenario in which people with firearms try to attack dignitaries, “suicide-type aircraft” try to fly into the capital’s restricted airspace and even remote-controlled drones that could be used to attack the crowd.

Roll Call, House’s second impeachment of Trump will be different from first, Lindsey McPherson, Jan. 13, 2021. This time, vote will be bipartisan and unify all Democrats. House Democrats in their second impeachment of President Donald Trump are poised to accomplish what they couldn’t in their first: Keep their party unified and bring some Republicans on board.

The House on Wednesday will vote on a single article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for encouraging his supporters who attacked the Capitol last week.

The impeachment resolution is certain to be approved, with a majority of the House having announced support for it ahead of the vote.

The article outlines Trump’s impeachable conduct, describing how for months leading up to the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College votes, he “repeatedly issued false statements” alleging widespread fraud and saying state and federal officials should not certify the results.

Trump reiterated those false claims in a Jan. 6 speech outside the White House where he also “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,’” the resolution says.

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the resolution reads.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). After four years of tongue-biting silence, Vice President Mike Pence would not yield to President Trump’s intense pressure to overturn the election.

For Vice President Mike Pence, left, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay mike pence leftin his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

ny times logoNew York Times, These are the Republicans who said they support impeaching President Trump, John Eligon, Jan. 13, 2021. As the House prepared to move forward with an impeachment proceeding, a small number of Republicans said they support the effort. The vote is set to come exactly one week after the United States Capitol was breached by an angry mob of Trump loyalists.

republican elephant logoIn 2019, not a single Republican voted in favor of impeachment. House Republican leaders have said they would not formally lobby members of the party against voting to impeach the president this time, and these are the Republicans who have said that they intend to vote for impeachment.

Representative John Katko. Representative John Katko of New York was the first Republican to publicly announce that he would back the impeachment proceedings. A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Katko said he looked at the facts of the siege, which began as lawmakers were working to certify the presidential election results.

“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection — both on social media ahead of Jan. 6, and in his speech that day,” Mr. Katko said in a statement. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Double trouble, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 13, 2021. Of all the presidential impeachments in the past 250 years, half of them have been against bill palmerDonald Trump. That alone tells you how bizarre things have gotten here at the end of the most calamitously treasonous presidency in American history.

bill palmer report logo headerEven Trump’s most crucial allies like Mitch McConnell and his most stupidly loyal of friends like Geraldo Rivera are now in favor of impeachment. As the number of Republicans in favor of impeachment continues to grow, it looks like there just might be enough votes to convict and remove Trump. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “seven days or less.”

Trump has now been cut off by three banks in the past three days. He’s lost his Twitter account, which was going to be worth a lot of money to him once he left office and needed to raise legal defense funds. He’s lost a prestigious golf tournament. He’s even somehow lost Bill Belichick.

Donald Trump is being dismantled right in front of us. The first impeachment didn’t work, but the second one just might stick. It’s double trouble for him. And if he insists on sticking it out for the entire seven days instead of resigning, the bad news for him will just keep coming.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House poised to impeach Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection,’ John Wagner, Jan. 13, 2021. Democratic effort to impeach Trump a second time takes dramatic turn. A lone Black officer faced down a mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman; Analysis: How experts define the deadly mob attack at the U.S. Capitol; Pelosi calls for Trump’s immediate removal, promotes Cheney’s support for impeachment

U.S. House logoThe House is poised to impeach President Trump for a second time as it meets Wednesday to consider an article charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s takeover of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob. At least several Republicans plan to support the resolution.

liz cheney resizedAn hour before the House was scheduled to convene, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went on Twitter to call for Trump’s immediate removal and to promote the position of Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), right, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, who supports impeachment.

“Donald Trump’s incitement of a deadly insurrection against the U.S. Capitol is without precedent in our nation’s history and an egregious violation of his oath of office," Pelosi tweeted. “Fulfilling our oath to defend our Constitution requires that we act to remove him from office immediately.”

She attached a statement made by Cheney on Tuesday saying, “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of attack.”

ny times logoNew York Times, In Georgia, Trump’s Attacks on Election Still Haunt Republicans, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). State officials face harassment and threats, and a district attorney is weighing an inquiry into President Trump’s actions.

The impeachment charge that House Democrats have filed against President Trump stems from his role in inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol last week. But included in the resolution is another element of Mr. Trump’s behavior that is also drawing condemnation as an abuse of presidential power: His pressure campaign to persuade Georgia officials to overturn his electoral loss in the state.

georgia mapBefore inspiring a throng of supporters to attack the Capitol, Mr. Trump had previously sought to “subvert and obstruct” the results of his failed re-election effort, a draft article of impeachment released Monday reads, citing in particular the president’s extraordinary intervention in Georgia.

Even if Democrats’ second effort to remove the president from office fails or fades, Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the will of Georgia’s voters will continue to resonate, both for the president and for politicians in Georgia. State elections officials continue to face harassment and death threats. A number of Georgia Republicans are now blaming Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations of election fraud for the losses by the state’s two Republican senators this month.

And in Atlanta, the Fulton County district attorney is weighing whether to start a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump for a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president exhorted him to “find” the votes that would deliver Mr. Trump victory.

That call was part of a much broader push by Mr. Trump and his allies to subvert Georgia’s election results. The effort played out over two months and in the end was based on allegations of fraud that were consistently debunked by his fellow Republicans charged with overseeing the state’s election.

Gabriel Sterling, one of the most outspoken of those officials, said in an interview this week that the president’s effort was both inappropriate and crude.

“There was never an overarching strategy,” Mr. Sterling said, adding: “It was a series of tactical moves in an attempt to get a different outcome here. The president shouldn’t be trying to do things to put his thumb on the scale. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat, no president should do that.”

 

Biden Transition

OpEdNews, Opinion: Biden's Nominee for CIA Director, John Kiriakou (human rights whistleblower, author and former CIA officer, right), Jan. 13, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden has finally named a new CIA director, one of the john kiriakoufinal senior-level appointees for his new administration. Much to the surprise of many of us who follow these things, he named senior diplomat William Burns to the position.

williams burns 2005Burns, left, is one of the most highly-respected senior U.S. diplomats of the past three decades. He has ably served presidents of both parties and is known as both a reformer and as a supporter of human rights.

Burns is currently the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an important Washington-based international affairs think tank. He served as deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama and was ambassador to Russia under President George W. Bush and ambassador to Jordan under President Bill Clinton. He was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal and spent much of his career focused on the Middle East Peace Process. Burns joined the Foreign Service in 1982.

When he made the announcement of Burns' appointment, Biden said,

"Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the word stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure. He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect. The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director."

The message from Biden is clear: The CIA will not be led by a political hack like Mike Pompeo, a CIA insider like John Brennan, or someone associated with the CIA's crimes of torture, secret prisons, or international renditions like Gina Haspel. Instead, the organization will be led by someone with experience engaging across a negotiating table with America's enemies, someone experienced in solving problems, rather than creating new ones, someone who has dedicated much of his career to promoting peace, rather than to creating war.

Rank & File Response

The question, though, is what will be the response from the CIA's rank-and-file to Burns' appointment? I can tell you from my 15 years of experience at the CIA that there will be two reactions. At the working level, analysts, operators, and others will continue their same level of work no matter who the director is. Most working level officers don't even care who the director is. It doesn't matter to them. They never encounter the director and policies made at that top level generally don't impact them on a day-to-day basis.

CIA LogoAt the senior levels, the leadership levels, CIA officers will be of two minds.

Some will welcome Burns and his professionalism. They'll welcome a director who doesn't attract adverse press because of a past history of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. (Even if they supported those crimes when they were being committed, press attention is always unwelcome.) They'll welcome a director who didn't head secret prisons overseas. They'll welcome a director who wasn't in charge of Guantanamo. They'll welcome a director who wasn't in charge of maintaining a secret "kill list."

Others will resent Burns, though, as they resented an earlier outsider, Admiral Stansfield Turner. Turner had been appointed by President Jimmy Carter to "clean up" the CIA. Turner then fired fully a third of the CIA's operations officers, some just months away from qualifying for retirement. He was universally reviled after that, and he never regained the trust of agency personnel.

That's not Burns' style. He's not a military officer who demands fealty. He's a diplomat, a negotiator. The CIA has to be cleaned up. Its policies have to be reformed. If there must be a CIA, I feel better with Bill Burns being in charge of it. At the very least, we should give him enough time to at least get started.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media

Associated Press via New York Post, ‘Womb raider’ Lisa Montgomery is first woman executed in US since 1953, Staff report, Jan. 13, 2021. “The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,” Henry said. “Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.”

It came after hours of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to move forward. Montgomery was the first of the final three federal inmates scheduled to die before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to discontinue federal executions.

But a federal judge for the District of Columbia halted the scheduled executions later this week of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs in a ruling Tuesday. Johnson, convicted of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia, and Higgs, convicted of ordering the murders of three women in Maryland, both tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Montgomery killed 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own.

An appeals court granted Montgomery a stay of execution Tuesday, shortly after another appeals court lifted an Indiana judge’s ruling that found she was likely mentally ill and couldn’t comprehend she would be put to death. But both appeals were lifted, allowing the execution of the only female on federal death row to go forward.

One of Montgomery’s lawyers, Kelley Henry, told the Associated Press Tuesday morning that her client arrived at the Terre Haute facility late Monday from a Texas prison and that, because there are no facilities for female inmates, she was being kept in a cell in the execution chamber building itself.

“I don’t believe she has any rational comprehension of what’s going on at all,” Henry said.

Montgomery has done needlepoint in prison, making gloves, hats and other knitted items as gifts for her lawyers and others, Henry said. She hasn’t been able to continue that hobby or read since her glasses were taken away from her out of concern she could commit suicide.

— A Kansas woman was executed Tuesday for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb, the first time in nearly seven decades that the US government has put to death a female inmate.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m. Wednesday after receiving a lethal injection at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection there since July when President Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.

 Daily Beast, Fox News Host Pete Hegseth’s Weak Trump Defense: He Never Said the Word ‘Insurrection,’ Justin Baragona, Jan. 13, 2021.  “When you talk to daily beast logoTrump supporters, there is a feeling that for the most part, this was a protest that got out of hand,” the host said while describing a seditious riot.

Moments after President Donald Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice, Fox News host Pete Hegseth on Wednesday grasped at straws for a defense: “What happened happened,” he said, and besides, Trump literally never used the word “insurrection.”

Appearing on Fox News’ The Five, the unwaveringly pro-Trump Fox & Friends Weekend host first excoriated the impeachment process, complaining that Democratic “hyperbole was off the charts” because they used terms like “sedition” and “insurrection” to describe the Capitol riots in which five people, including a police officer, were killed.

Hegseth, who has spent much of Trump’s term advising him to pardon war criminals, loudly defended both the president and the throng of “Stop the Steal” protesters who gathered in Washington last week.

 

Jan. 12

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Capitol Riot Responses

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

 

U.S. 2021 Elections, Politics

 

Biden Transition

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime 

 

Media News

 

Jan. 12

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no sign of looming violence, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The internal FBI warning, reviewed by The Washington Post, is the starkest evidence yet of the sizable intelligence failure that preceded the mayhem caused by President Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6.

A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.

FBI logoA situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.

“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

BLM is likely a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice. Pantifa is a derogatory term for antifa, a far-left anti-fascist movement whose adherents sometimes engage in violent clashes with right-wing extremists.

Yet even with that information in hand, the report’s unidentified author expressed concern that the FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: On Eve of House Vote, McConnell Is Said to Be Pleased About Effort to Impeach Trump, Staff Reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Senator Mitch McConnell is said to believe that the impeachment effort will make it easier to purge President Trump from the party. And Representative Kevin McCarthy has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell just threw Donald Trump all the way under the bus, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. Mitch McConnell is still trying to force mitch mcconnellDonald Trump’s impeachment trial to take place after January 20th, so it ends up being the Democrats’ problem instead of being his problem. But now McConnell is basically coming out in favor of impeaching Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerMcConnell, right, is leaking to the New York Times today that he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses, and that he’s “pleased” Trump is being impeached, because it’ll help rid the Republican Party of Trump going forward. This is remarkable, because it means McConnell is basically telling Republican Senators to go ahead and convict Trump once the impeachment trial happens, so that Trump can’t run again in 2024.

Now we’ll see if Mitch McConnell relents and allows Trump’s Senate impeachment trial to take place before January 20th. But either way, McConnell has clearly decided to throw Trump all the way under the bus, in the selfish hope of salvaging what’s left of his Republican Party. McConnell can never be trusted to do the right thing, but he can always be trusted to do whatever he thinks is personally best for himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Joint Chiefs of Staff issue military-wide memo condemning Capitol riot, confirming Biden will be commander in chief;; Rep. Liz Cheney, No. 3 House Republican leader, says she will vote to impeach Trump, Felicia Sonmez, liz cheney resizedJohn Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Kim Bellware, Jan. 12, 2021. Rep. Liz Cheney, No. 3 House Republican leader, says she will vote to impeach Trump; Senate panel will hold hearing for Biden’s Homeland Security nominee on Jan. 19.

President Trump called the effort by House Democrats to impeach him for a second time a “witch hunt” and offered no regrets for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol last week as he emerged from seclusion Tuesday to travel to Alamo, Tex., to tour a section of the border wall.

In an unusual move, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon body composed of the military’s top leaders, issued a memo to the entire U.S. military condemning the Capitol riot and confirming Joe Biden will become the 46th commander in chief of the armed forces on Jan. 20.

The House was poised to vote Tuesday on formally calling on Vice President Pence to declare Trump unfit for office and remove him by invoking the 25th Amendment. If Pence doesn’t act, the House was on track to vote on impeachment as soon as Wednesday.

USA TODAY, President Trump’s job approval rating plummets after mob attack at the Capitol, Joey Garrison, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has plummeted, tying the lowest point of his presidency, following last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 33% of American voters said they approve how Trump is handling his job, a dramatic drop of 11 percentage points since December when 44% said they approved of his job performance. Sixty percent of voters disapprove of his job performance.

It's the lowest mark for Trump since Aug. 2, 2017, when it was also at 33%. That drop came after the Senate rejected Trump's attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Anthony Scaramucci was removed as White House communications director just 10 days into the job.

Among Democrats, 94% disapprove of Trump’s job performance and 4% approve. Seventy-one percent of Republican voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 20% disapprove. Independent voters, by a margin of 65% to 28%, disapprove of his job performance.

The poll found 56% of voters hold Trump responsible for storming the Capitol, while 42% said they do not hold him responsible.

A slight majority of voters, 52%, said Trump should be removed from office, while 45% of respondents said he should not. A slightly higher percentage, 53% to 43%, said he should resign as president.

"A majority of Americans hold President Trump responsible for the chaos at the Capitol, and a slight majority believe that he should be removed from office," said Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst.

capitol ties

Eric Gavelek Munchel, right, the Tennessee man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy shown above, was later arrested by the F.B.I. (Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn./AP). The rioter, above at center, heavily disguised, invaded the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest eric munchelcarrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trumpist masculinity reaches its high water mark with Zip Tie Guy suspect, Monica Hesse, Jan. 12, 2021. In one of the more terrifying images of last week, a man believed to be Eric Munchel, wearing dark fatigues and a face-obscuring black gaiter, climbed over a railing in the Senate Gallery.

He wore a Taser holstered to his hip and gripped a bunch of zip-tie handcuffs in one hand. While his fellow raiders were busy “scratching their balls” in Nancy Pelosi’s office or literally pooping on the Capitol’s floors, Zip Tie Guy had the mien of someone who had breached the complex with an actual nefarious plan involving hostages or worse.

The man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy was unmasked over the weekend by the Internet, then arrested by the FBI: Munchel, 30, has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. On Sunday, the FBI released more images, allegedly of Munchel, that had been captured throughout the day of Jan. 6.

In several, he was accompanied by a graying 57-year-old woman. And this is the point at which the portrait of Munchel became fuller, because this is the point at which it became a working theory that Zip Tie Guy had brought his mom to the revolution.

In a security camera image from earlier that afternoon, a pair of tourists, believed to be Munchel and mom, left their Hyatt hotel with matching cups of coffee in hand as if setting off for a long day at the Smithsonian. In a cellphone clip a few hours later, he ushers her up the stairs inside the Capitol, one hand steering her shoulder as they went about their illegal siege.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: House Plans Vote to Demand That Pence Seize Power From Trump, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. The House is poised to vote this evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of power by invoking the 25th Amendment. If Mr. Pence refuses to act, an impeachment vote is expected Wednesday.

U.S. House logoHere’s the latest from Washington. The House is poised to vote Tuesday evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of his duties by invoking the 25th Amendment. The vote comes a day after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment charging the president for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, where rioters ransacked the seat of American government and killed a Capitol Police officer.

djt march 2020 CustomThe motion on Monday set off a high-stakes standoff between two branches of government, as House Democrats pressured Mr. Pence to intervene.

Republicans on Monday objected to unanimously passing the resolution, which asked the vice president to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

Mr. Trump also met with Mr. Pence on Monday for the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault, which had put the vice president in danger. The two talked for an hour or more in the Oval Office in what amounted to a fraught peace summit meeting with the remainder of the Trump presidency at stake.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump has been suspended from YouTube, Rachel Lerman, Jan. 12, 2021. YouTube will not allow Trump to upload new videos for at least a week. YouTube suspended President Trump from uploading new videos to his official account for at least a week, joining fellow social media giants Twitter and Facebook in shutting the president out of his account because of concerns his posts will incite violence.

youtube logo CustomYouTube, the streaming video service owned by Google, said it removed new content uploaded to the president’s account for violating its policies and “in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence.”

It will not allow Trump to add new videos for a minimum of seven days, it said in a Twitter post late Tuesday night. It will also disable comments on his entire channel for an indefinite period of time.

Twitter on Friday banned Trump from its site, which had been a favorite communication tool of the president. Twitter cited the potential for future violence stemming from the president’s tweets, particularly concerning the inauguration of President elect Joe Biden.

Social media companies have been cracking down on Trump’s posts for the past year, labeling and fact checking posts that contained misinformation about the coronavirus and the 2020 election. But after the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, which Trump did not immediately condemn, the mainstream social media companies decided the risk was too great to keep Trump online.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Riot Live Updates: Fallout Continues as Trump Finds Himself Increasingly Besieged, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Businesses, institutions and cabinet members are cutting ties with the president as Washington and state capitols are bracing for renewed threats leading up to Inauguration Day.

  • In the wake of the Capitol attack, the president is spurned and abandoned.
  • Did mixing a riot with a pandemic yield a superspreader event?
  • Enhanced security measures for the inauguration are starting earlier than planned.
  • Trump Organization faces an urgent reckoning as businesses break away.
  • Trump loyalists in Congress fanned flames before Capitol riot.

A president who famously demands loyalty has found himself increasingly cut off. Even New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who publicly supported Mr. Trump when he ran for office, has spurned him, turning down the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, because of the “tragic events of last week” a reference to the deadly riot.

Schools have stripped Mr. Trump of honorary degrees. The P.G.A. of America announced it would no longer hold a major tournament at Mr. Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Mr. Trump’s primary lender for two decades, Deutsche Bank, said it has decided not to do business with Mr. Trump or his company in the future, according to a person familiar with the bank’s thinking. Twitter has permanently suspended Mr. Trump’s account, while Facebook barred him at least through the end of his term on Jan. 20.

chad wolfChad F. Wolf, right, the acting secretary for the Homeland Security Department, stepped down from his position on Monday. The department includes the Secret Service, which is leading inauguration security.

Mr. Wolf told employees of the Department of Homeland Security he would be stepping down in part because of court rulings that invalidated some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing the likelihood that Mr. Wolf was unlawfully appointed to lead the agency. He did not address the Capitol riot in his letter.

White House officials, including several members of the cabinet, have resigned, saying they were deeply troubled by the deadly siege. Prominent Republicans have threatened to leave the party or called on Mr. Trump to resign.

Scores of the president’s supporters who participated in the Capitol riot are the subject of a nationwide manhunt, according to law enforcement officials. The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, a number that is almost certain to grow, an official said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chuck Schumer pushes no fly list for Trump insurrectionists, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 12, 2021. Over the weekend a number of viral videos bill palmershowed Trump insurrectionists being blocked from air travel, which some observers mistakenly interpreted as some kind of no fly list. But in reality it appeared those individuals were simply blocked from air travel due to refusing to wear a mask.

bill palmer report logo headerNow incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is indeed calling for all the insurrectionists who breached or entered the Capitol to be placed on the no fly list. This would prevent them from being able to travel back to Washington DC to participate in more such attacks. It would also help facilitate the arrests of those insurrectionists who are still at large and haven’t yet been tracked down by law enforcement.

Now it’s up to the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to decide whether they’re willing to go along with what Leader Schumer is calling for. There are longstanding questions about whether we should have a no fly list. But if we’re going to have one, these Capitol insurrectionists are the very first people who should be on it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at social media sites as Democrats plan to ramp up scrutiny, Tony Romm, Jan. 12, 2021. House Democrats are planning to look into social media’s role in Capitol riot as part of a broad disinformation inquiry.

President Trump lashed out at Silicon Valley on Tuesday in his first public comments since Twitter banned him from the site, stressing the industry had done a “horrible thing for our country and to our country.”

The president told reporters that the social media sites had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a politically “divisive” manner after punishing him for comments the companies said threatened to incite violence. And Trump defended his speech in front of a mob last week that later stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent, failed insurrection that left lawmakers on lockdown, stressing even its controversial parts were “totally appropriate.”

Trump’s renewed attacks come as House Democrats plan to ramp up their scrutiny of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Party lawmakers in recent days have faulted tech giants for acting too slowly to stop Trump’s online rhetoric from precipitating real-world chaos.

washington post logoWashington Post, The remarkable rift between Trump and Pence, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 12, 2021. The rupture is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience.

Mike PenceVice President Pence, right, was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m.

republican elephant logoTrump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited.

The remarkable break between the two men — played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president — is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience. The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him — even to his own closest advisers — now seems to be largely estranged from him.

Pence has committed to attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, even though Trump is not going. The vice president has begun telling staff goodbye, posing for pictures and having sentimental moments with key aides in his Executive Office suite.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: An Epiphany Moment’ for Corporate Political Donors May Have Arrived, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jan. 12, 2021. As companies put donations to candidates on hold, they should reassess political giving entirely, making the halt permanent.

As companies from Coca-Cola to Amazon to Citigroup appear to be tripping over each other to declare that they are “pausing” or “reassessing” donations to citigroup logoRepublicans who sought to overturn the election — and, in some cases, suspending giving to both parties — they might want to look at a company that didn’t say anything.

That company is IBM. It didn’t need to issue a mea culpa for a simple reason. It doesn’t donate to candidates on either side of the aisle — at all, ever.

IBM is one of only a handful of large companies in the United States that is not involved in direct political giving to candidates. It has no political action committee, or PAC. Even when it gives money to trade groups, it restricts its money from being funneled to candidates.

It was a policy put in place more than a century ago by Thomas J. Watson, the founding father of the modern IBM.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The width and depthness of Trump's coup, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 12, 2021. We are just now learning that the storming of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallthe Capitol may have involved Republican members of the House of Representatives, who were in cahoots with twenty or more U.S. Capitol Police officers, including one who committed suicide, two who have been suspended, and one who has been arrested.

Investigations of police involvement have spread to the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Police Department, the North Miami Beach Police Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, Arkansas State Police, and the Chicago Police Department.

wayne madesen report logoNewly-elected 25-year old North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn told the Trump rally at the Ellipse, "Call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say, you know what, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you, everybody’s coming after you.”

There are calls in North Carolina for Cawthorn's resignation. Cawthorn has an affectation for Nazis and Adolf Hitler. In a 2017 Instagram posting, Cawthorn had his photograph taken at Hitler's Alpine lair, the Eagle’s Nest, in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Cawthorn also referred to Hitler as "the Führer" in his posting. Cawthorn denies he is a Nazi, but his affiliation with neo-Nazi organizations is common knowledge.

It is increasingly appearing that the January 6 storming of the Capitol was a re-enactment of the 1933 burning by the Nazis of the Reichstag.

ny times logoNew York Times, State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence, Neil MacFarquhar and Mike Baker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Officials are bracing for any spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. State legislatures already have become targets. It was opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage gear, most of them carrying tactical rifles.

On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. Facing them in the pouring rain was a small group of demonstrators, some also wearing military fatigues and carrying weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!”

And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, showed up outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.”

Gone is a large measure of the bonhomie that usually accompanies the annual start of the legislative season, replaced by marked unease over the possibility of armed attacks and gaps in security around statehouses that have long prided themselves on being open to constituents.

georgia map 2“Between Covid and the idea that there are people who are armed and making threats and are serious, it was definitely not your normal beginning of session,” said Senator Jennifer A. Jordan, a Democratic legislator in Georgia who watched the police officers assembled outside the State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday from her office window. “Usually folks are happy, talking to each other, and it did not have that feel.”

Dozens of state capitols will be on alert in the coming days, following calls among a mix of antigovernment organizations for actions in all 50 states on Jan. 17. Some of them come from far-right organizations that harbor a broad antigovernment agenda and have already been protesting state Covid-19 lockdowns since last spring. The F.B.I. this week sent a warning to local law enforcement agencies about the potential for armed protests in all 50 states.

In a video news conference on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that “everybody is on high alert” for protests in Sacramento in the days ahead.

washington post logoWashington Post, State capitals face threat of armed protests, FBI warns, Tim Craig, Holly Bailey and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The FBI warned Monday that armed far-right extremist groups are planning to march on state capitals this weekend, triggering a rush to fortify government buildings amid concerns that the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol last week could spread throughout the country.

The memo is something of a raw intelligence product, compiling information gathered by the bureau and several other government agencies, an official said. Some of it is unverified, and the threat is likely to differ significantly from place to place, though the memo said there were plans in all 50 state capitals, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bulletin is considered a law enforcement document not authorized for wide public release.

But the data points it highlights for law enforcement are nonetheless troubling — including that there was information suggesting people might storm government offices, or stage an uprising were President Trump to be removed from office, the official said.

The Grayzone, Chaos agent: Right-wing blames US Capitol riot on notorious instigator banished by Black Lives Matter, Max Blumenthal, right, Jan. 12, 2021. John Sullivan was at the front of the max blumenthal screenshot rt americaTrumpist mob in the Capitol, egging it on as he recorded the rampage. The far-right is pointing to him as proof of Antifa’s role in the riot. But leftist activists call him a dangerous provocateur and have banished him.

The most dramatic footage to emerge from the far-right storming of the US Capitol on January 6 depicted the lethal shooting of Ashli Babbit, a pro-Trump activist and military veteran, by a Capitol Police officer. The man responsible for capturing that video was John Sullivan, a self-styled activist who has operated under aliases “Activist X,” “Activist John,” and “Jayden X.” Since an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who described him as a “left-wing activist,” Sullivan has become Exhibit A in the right-wing’s conspiratorial case claiming Antifa was responsible for the violence in the Capitol.

(Update: On January 14 – two days after the publication of this article – John Sullivan, left, was arrested in Utah and charged in District of Columbia federal court with “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and one john sullivancount of interfering with law enforcement engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties incident to and during the commission of civil disorder.”

Through interviews with Sullivan, his brother, a video-journalist documenting his exploits, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists who have encountered him, an unsettling portrait has emerged that stands at stark odds with the pro-Trump narrative about the notorious instigator. While Sullivan has attempted to brand himself as a BLM leader, he has been effectively locked out from activist communities across the country, where he is almost universally regarded as a dangerous provocateur.

A close review of the raw footage he shot inside the Capitol and published on his personal YouTube channel shows him enthusiastically identifying with the right-wing rioters and their objectives, volunteering to use a knife to assist them, and instigating them to commit acts of violence on all the way up to the moment of Babbit’s shooting. He has insisted to me that he has no political ideology, while associates describe him as a nihilist committed to spawning chaos above all else.

In his appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Sullivan was allowed to paper over this disturbing reality by portraying himself as an independent journalist who was merely documenting the pro-Trump mob. In the Washington Post, he was described as a “liberal activist,” while the centrist fact-checking organization Politifact referred to him as a “left-wing activist.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes played Sullivan’s video at length during a January 8 broadcast, stating that it was “licensed from a self-described civil rights activist.”

Right-wing media has feasted on these characterizations to paint Sullivan as a leading Black Lives Matter figure, driving the narrative that the violence inside the US Capitol was the result of leftist infiltration, and not the well-coordinated pro-Trump operation it clearly was. Fox News has dedicated an entire article to Sullivan’s presence at the Capitol, describing him as an “anti-Trump activist” with close ties to Antifa and BLM.

Trump legal counsel and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took to Twitter to highlight Sullivan’s role in the riot, calling him a “suspected BLM activist.” His post was retweeted over 28,000 times.

Despite the overwhelming presence of far-right and openly white nationalist activists in the Capitol, the right-wing has exploited Sullivan’s presence to blame the left for a catastrophe that Trump inspired. A recent Data For Progress/Vox poll showed how the right’s narrative has broken through, with 47% of Americans and 68% of Republicans holding Antifa responsible for inciting the violence in the US Capitol on January 6.

So who is John Sullivan, and what was his connection, if any, to Black Lives Matter and the wider left-wing activist community?

According to self-described BLM and anti-fascist activists familiar with the 26-year-old Sullivan, he is best known for his propensity for inspiring chaos, engaging in counterproductive tactics that often trigger arrests, and consistently undermining BLM objectives. From Salt Lake City to Portland to Washington, DC, left-wing activists consider him persona non grata.

The slick but scammy content of Sullivan’s Insurgence USA website underscores the reputation he has earned in BLM circles as a grifter. The most extensive section of his site is dedicated to hawking expensive riot gear, including a $45.95 spear tip knife. Sullivan happens to be a former salesman who left his career during the summer of 2020 after winning a racial discrimination settlement.

Many activists have characterized Sullivan as an agent provocateur, while others have speculated that he is a law enforcement asset. What all seem to agree on is that he thrives off of creating as much chaos as possible.

“If there’s violence to instigate, he will raise it to another level. But he’s not the one that does it,” Sean Michael Love, a DC-based BLM activist and publisher of Blackhouse News, said of Sullivan. “And that’s a dangerous type of person. That’s one of the most dangerous types of people to me.”

Sullivan currently faces charges in his hometown of Provo, Utah for inciting a riot and criminal mischief. The charges stem from a counter-protest he helped organize against a July 2020 pro-police rally during which a woman driving an SUV was shot by one of his associates. The incident led to the formation of the Utah Citizen’s Militia and galvanized right-wing forces across the state.

Among the pro-Trump activists leading the charge against John Sullivan in Utah is his own brother, James Sullivan. The founder of a right-wing outfit called Civilized Awakening and a close ally of the Proud Boys, James Sullivan described John to me as an “agitator” who suffers from mental health issues and is driven by an insatiable desire for media celebrity.

“What he does is he creates hysteria, and he takes these phony videotapes of it, so that’s why he got kicked out of the movement [in Utah],” James Sullivan said. “They kicked him out because he would he would instigate violence to the point that people would get would get arrested. And then he would get views on Facebook or YouTube… He’s doing it for attention.”
An “apolitical” agitator becomes star of brother vs. brother documentary project

I reached John Sullivan by phone on January 8, while he still lingered in the DC area. He argued that his flagrant encouragement of the mob in the US Capitol was textbook undercover journalism. “It’s like investigating into something or like getting access into let’s say – you’re trying to get access into an underground drug ring,” he insisted when asked about his encouragement of the pro-Trump mob. “You know, you have to get your way in there somehow, like how do you do that?”

When I asked him about his own views, Sullivan was unable to offer anything resembling a coherent political position. He initially described himself as “more on the BLM (Black Lives Matter) side, ending the police brutality, the racial discrimination.” But moments later, he insisted, “Even to this day, I don’t have a political ideology… I don’t have a political stance.”

Through my conversations with the Sullivan brothers, I learned that they had become the subject of a documentary by a Los Angeles-based photojournalist named Jade Sacker. Sacker appeared briefly in Sullivan’s footage filming inside the Capitol and could be heard congratulating him for the invasion. “We did it!” she chirped to Sullivan as the mob flowed inside the building.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration reverses stance, will no longer hold back second shots of coronavirus vaccine, Lena H. Sun and Laurie McGinley,  Jan. 12, 2021. Change comes several days after President-elect Joe Biden said he planned to release nearly all available doses to speed protection for more Americans.

The Trump administration will announce sweeping changes to its vaccination rollout on Tuesday, including making many more doses of the coronavirus vaccine available and urging states to provide shots to anyone 65 and older. The steps are an effort to speed up a delayed and disjointed rollout.

The changes are a sharp departure from the administration’s previous strategy, and they come just days after President-elect Joe Biden announced plans to alex azar o cropped Customrelease nearly all the vaccine supply. Biden is expected to provide a detailed blueprint on reinvigorating the rollout later this week.

The Trump administration has been holding back roughly half the vaccines to ensure sufficient supply for people to get a required second shot.

But in draft remarks prepared for a scheduled call Tuesday afternoon with governors and obtained by The Washington Post, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, right, disclosed the change in plans. The remarks were confirmed by a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 12, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals here):

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2World Cases: 91,442,603, Deaths: 1,956,357
U.S. Cases:   23,147,508, Deaths:    385,380

washington post logoWashington Post, 9 million vaccinated: The number of people who have received the first dose of the vaccines, covering 9.2% of the prioritized population and 2.7% of the total population. Jan. 12, 2021.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Virus Is Killing Tribal Elders, Causing Crises for American Indians, Jack Healy / Photographs by Victor J. Blue, Jan. 12, 2021. The virus has killed American Indians at especially high rates, robbing tribes of precious bonds and repositories of language and tradition.

The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.

“It takes your breath away,” said Ira Taken Alive, the couple’s oldest son. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”

One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.

“It’s like we’re having a cultural book-burning,” said Jason Salsman, a spokesman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in eastern Oklahoma, whose grandparents contracted the virus but survived. “We’re losing a historical record, encyclopedias. One day soon, there won’t be anybody to pass this knowledge down.”

The loss of tribal elders has swelled into a cultural crisis as the pandemic has killed American Indians and Alaska Natives at nearly twice the rate of white people, deepening what critics call the deadly toll of a tattered health system and generations of harm and broken promises by the U.S. government.

washington post logoWashington Post, After hiding with maskless Republicans, Rep. Jayapal feared she would catch the coronavirus. Now she’s tested positive, Teo Armus, Jan. 12, 2021. After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, forcing Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), below right, to take shelter in a crowded committee room, she began preparing for the worst.

pramila jayapal resized oMany of the GOP members of Congress hiding out with her were not wearing masks, she said, and had refused to accept them from a colleague. So, soon after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory later that night, she began to quarantine, fearing she could have contracted the coronavirus.

Her prediction turned to be right. Late Monday night, Jayapal announced that she had tested positive, making her the second Democratic representative to do so this week, after New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

republican elephant logoJayapal, who said she was locked down in a committee room for hours with more than 100 people, placed the blame squarely on some of her GOP colleagues.

“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said, accusing them of “creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack.”

Her statement pointed to a video published by Punchbowl News on Friday, which showed several maskless Republicans in the room with her — including Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Tex.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) and Scott Perry (Pa.) — refusing surgical masks from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

 

Capitol Riot Responses

ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his story: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Mo Brooks implicates Trump White House after he’s accused of inciting Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021.  Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the January 6th pro-Trump rally that turned into a domestic terrorist attack, claimed yesterday that he worked in advance with three House Republicans including Mo Brooks to plot the entire thing. This comes even as the House is moving to censure Brooks for his overall role in the day’s events, and after the Washington DC Attorney General announced that Brooks is under investigation for inciting violence.

bill palmer report logo headerIn response, Mo Brooks is pushing back and insisting that it was the Trump White House who plotted the rally. In a statement, Brooks cites his own phone records and says that “on Tuesday morning, January 5, I had a telephone call with Brian Jack, White House Political Director. He asked me to speak at the Trump rally the next day.”

mo brooks oIn effect, Congressman Mo Brooks, right, is trying to reduce his own criminal culpability in the attack by implicating the Trump White House in the debacle. He’s not quite yelling “Trump made me do it” but he’s coming close. At this point it sounds like Brooks is just trying to figure out how to avoid prison time over this.

Answering questions from reporters for the first time since the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Trump sidestepped questions about his culpability in the deadly riot that shook the nation’s long tradition of peaceful transfers of power.

“People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to visit the wall along the Mexican border. Instead, Mr. Trump claimed that protests against racial injustice over the summer were “the real problem.”

“If you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s defiance came despite near universal condemnation of his role in stoking the assault on the Capitol, including from within his own administration and some of his closest allies on Capitol Hill.

 

ali akbar alexander stop the steal

Legal Schnauzer, Investigation: As Parler data leak spews forth files about planning of deadly Trump rally, organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander goes into hiding, with legal problems likely looming, Roger Shuler, Jan. 12, 2021. Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander, he of the Alabama ties via Montgomery lawyer and talk-show host Baron Coleman, has gone into hiding, according to a report at the Daily Beast.

Is Alexander's disappearing act driven, in part, by reports that security researchers have cracked all the files at Parler, the site reportedly used by right wingers to plan last week's protest-turned-riot at the U.S. Capitol? Does Alexander (shown above in a file photo) know the security pros plan to provide Parler files to law enforcement, perhaps posing serious legal implications for planners from the Trump fringe who launched the rally that turned into a deadly assault on Congress?

It's too early to have definitive answers to those question, but it appears likely Alexander knows he's gone too far and might need to lawyer up shortly. Under the headline, "Stop the Steal’ Organizer in Hiding After Denying Blame for Riot," the DailyBeast's Will Sommer writes:

Two weeks before thousands of Trump rioters breached Congress, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander said his group wasn’t violent—“yet.”

“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks,’” Alexander told a crowd at a Dec. 19 rally at Arizona’s state capitol. “I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!”

Alexander, who has described himself as one of the “official originators” of the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, went on to use “yet” as a code word for violence. Then Alexander told the Phoenix crowd about his plans for Washington.

“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” Alexander said. “And if we have to explore options after that…‘yet.’ Yet!”

Alexander apparently is not quite so glib these days. Writes Sommer:

Alexander led a host of activists in ratcheting up the rhetoric ahead of Congress’ certification of the electoral votes, threatening to “1776” opponents of Trump’s re-election. Now that five people, including a Capitol Police officer, are dead, however, Alexander has gone into hiding, and the website promoting his Jan. 6 rally has been wiped from the internet.

Alexander is defiant, saying he won’t “take an iota of blame that does not belong to me.”

“I didn’t incite anything,” Alexander said in a video posted Friday to Twitter. “I didn’t do anything.”

That last statement suggests Alexander already is thinking of a defense to federal incitement charges that could be coming. Does Alexander's claim that he "didn't incite anything" mesh with reality? Not exactly. Writes Sommer:

Alexander’s voice grew more menacing in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 rally. He tweeted that he would “give my life for this fight,” a call that was promoted by the Arizona Republican Party.

Alexander also began tweeting frequently about “1776,” a reference to the start of the American Revolution. Alexander wrote in one post that the choice was “45”—Trump’s re-election—“or 1776.” In another message, he wrote that “1776 is always an option for free men and women.”

Most pointedly, Alexander responded to a tweet from QAnon-supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claiming that top congressional leaders were working to block objections to the electoral vote. If that happened, Alexander said, he and hundreds of thousands of other protesters would “1776” the Capitol.

“If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building,” Alexander tweeted on Dec. 30. “1776 is *always* an option”

The night before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander riled up Trump supporters in Washington with a “victory or death” chant and once again brought up “1776.”

“1776 is always an option,” Alexander told the crowd. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want, or we are going to shut this country down.”

For now, Alexander is out of sight and begging his followers for money:

Alexander claims to be in hiding, alleging in a video posted Friday that he needs $2,000 a day to fund his security detail and other expenses and hitting his fans up for donations. In a bizarre moment in his fundraising pitch, Alexander claimed that he was being targeted by the supernatural: “Witches and wiccans are putting hexes and curses on us.”

It’s not clear how, however, if Alexander’s supporters can send him money at all. On Saturday, he posted on Parler that he had been banned from Venmo and PayPal.

In his Friday video, Alexander claimed that his “rally never turned violent.” But Alexander also read a quote from talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that positively compared the rioters to the heroes of the American Revolution, and said rioters who entered the Capitol should suffer light consequences, if any.

“I think people should be rowdy, I think people should be messy,” Alexander said. “I do believe that we own that U.S. Capitol. So I’m not apologizing for nothing.”

As for Parler, the story of its downfall -- and the resulting data leak -- broke early yesterday, and that could prove to be a gift from heaven for federal investigators. Writes Dell Cameron at Gizmodo:

parler logoIn the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher [from Austria] began an effort to catalogue the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by her Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence. According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, among other sources, Parler is one of a several apps used by the insurrections to coordinate their breach of the Capitol, in a plan to overturn the 2020 election results and keep Donald Trump in power.

Operating on little sleep, @donk_enby began the work of archiving all of Parler’s posts, ultimately capturing around 99 percent of its content. In a tweet early Sunday, @donk_enby said she was crawling some 1.1 million Parler video URLs. “These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” she said. Included in this data tranche, now more than 56 terabytes in size, @donk_enby confirmed that the raw video files include GPS metadata pointing to exact locations of where the videos were taken.

@donk_enby later shared a screenshot showing the GPS position of a particular video, with coordinates in latitude and longitude.

The privacy implications are obvious, but the copious data may also serve as a fertile hunting ground for law enforcement. Federal and local authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in recent days accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, where a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, was fatally wounded after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

DC Report, Texas Has Its Own Vote-Counting Issues, Alison Greene, Jan 12, 2021. State Election Officials Have Known for Years that Voting Equipment Used in Many Counties Is Too Easy to Hack.

Texas has 254 counties. Each accepts delivery of computerized vote-counting equipment, trusting that it properly counts votes. It’s the Texas secretary of state who bears responsibility for reliability and checking that built-in security features safeguard the integrity of the software.

In February 2020, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Ruggero Hughes received a disturbing report about the ES&S election equipment Texas used in some counties. She had assigned Brian Mechler, an expert in electronic data communications systems, to certify the equipment.

“There were a few issues with the hash verification procedure,” Mechler wrote of equipment from the nation’s largest vote-counting software firm, a secretive Nebraska outfit reincorporated as ES&S in 1997.

Texas trusted ES&S to act with scrupulous integrity, catch any simple mistakes as well as big ones and ferret out any intrusions by third parties.

Mechler’s report on verification issues was an understatement. Hash verification ensures no tampering of a program. It is a critical element in ensuring that the proprietary software counts all votes correctly. With the hash verification procedure having issues, the software could be set, for example, to count every 27th vote for one candidate as a vote for their opponent without the software detecting or recording it was modified.

Hash verification tracks digital fingerprints to monitor any modifications to the software from the time it leaves the vendor to when ballots are cast and counted. If the hash verification procedure is not operating properly, the ability to detect changes and ensure the integrity of software is compromised.
Trump Hasn’t Attacked ES&S

Significantly, Donald Trump has not attacked ES&S, whose machines counted ballots in counties where Trump and Republicans did unexpectedly well.

ES&S originally was started more than three decades ago by conservative Republicans under the name American Information Systems, but its current ownership is something the company has refused to discuss with Democratic lawmakers in Washington or DCReport.

Seven months after his initial report, Mechler issued a new detailed and disturbing report. Mechler found that the hash verification issues he had identified were still a major problem.

His report came in late September—just 44 days before the presidential election. It was a tight window to fix problems that had lingered unresolved for months, especially in a state as diverse and with as many counties as the Lone Star state. In contrast, California, the largest state, has just 58 counties, about one-fifth of the Texas count.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lauren Boebert just got called to the carpet, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. House Republican Lauren Boebert has only been in Congress for a few days, and she’s already causing demonstrable harm to the country. Even as Donald Trump’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol was playing lauren boebertout, and the terrorists were roaming the halls looking for high value targets, Boebert, right, was busy tweeting changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location.

bill palmer report logo headerSenator Brian Schatz is now calling out Boebert for this, tweeting that “We were specifically instructed by those protecting us not to tell anyone, including our family, where exactly we were, for reasons that remain obvious.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell took things even further, tweeting this: “So were we in the House. Lauren Boebert was told by the Sergeant of Arms in the chamber to not make any social media posts. It was said repeatedly. She defied it because she is more closely aligned with the terrorists than the patriots.”

It’s difficult to imagine that this will play out well for Lauren Boebert. She had already painted herself as a deranged QAnon conspiracy theorist before the attack, which now makes her a pariah. Now corporate donations to insurrectionists like Boebert are being withdrawn. We imagine she’ll face a much better financed Republican primary challenger in 2022. Boebert has been in Congress a week and she already has no political future, and now she could face criminal liability. She’d do well to resign now and just go home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). As senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery television images of the crisis.

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”

Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive.

“It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” Graham said in an interview. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”

Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally and riot, Aaron C. Davis, Rebecca Tan and Beth Reinhard, Jan. 12, 2021. Several U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the demonstration last week that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to members of Congress, police officials and staff members briefed on the developments.

Eight separate investigations have been launched into the actions of Capitol officers, according to one congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the status of the internal review.

In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol Police investigators found to be messages showing support for the rally on Wednesday that preceded the attack on the complex, including touting President Trump’s baseless contention that the election had been stolen through voter fraud, the aide said.

Investigators in another instance found that a Capitol officer had posted “inappropriate” images of President-elect Joe Biden on a social media account. The steve sund recroppedaide declined to describe the photographs.

The scrutiny of the Capitol Police comes amid intensifying recriminations over why the complex was insufficiently protected when thousands of Trump supporters converged on Washington to protest the congressional action to certify Biden’s win.

On Sunday, former Capitol police chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, told The Washington Post in an interview that congressional security officials rebuffed his efforts to put the D.C. National Guard on standby before the joint session

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

ny times logoNew York Times, How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism, Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, Jan. 12, 2021. A mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom see themselves as participants in a holy war.

Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.

djt as chosen oneThe group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.

Then they rose. Their leader declared into a bullhorn that the media must “get the hell out of my way.” And then they moved toward the Capitol.

The presence of Christian rituals, symbols and language was unmistakable on Wednesday in Washington. There was a mock campaign banner, “Jesus 2020,” in blue and red; an “Armor of God” patch on a man’s fatigues; a white cross declaring “Trump won” in all capitals. All of this was interspersed with allusions to QAnon conspiracy theories, Confederate flags and anti-Semitic T-shirts.

The blend of cultural references, and the people who brought them, made clear a phenomenon that has been brewing for years now: that the most extreme corners of support for Mr. Trump have become inextricable from some parts of white evangelical power in America. Rather than completely separate strands of support, these groups have become increasingly blended together.

This potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among a wide swath of Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war, according to interviews. And many, who are swimming in falsehoods about the presidential election and now the riot itself, said the aftermath of Wednesday’s event has only fueled a deeper sense of victimhood and being misunderstood.

Like many Republicans in Congress, some evangelical leaders who have been most supportive of Mr. Trump distanced themselves and their faith from the rioters. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, called the violence “anarchy.” The siege on the Capitol “has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity,” he said. “Our support of President Trump was based on his policies.”

But critics said it was too late to try to separate the white conservative Christian culture that helped push Mr. Trump to power from last week’s violence in Washington.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Putsch Was Decades in the Making, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). G.O.P. cynics have been coddling crazies for a long paul krugmantime. One striking aspect of the Capitol Hill putsch was that none of the rioters’ grievances had any basis in reality.

No, the election wasn’t stolen — there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud. No, Democrats aren’t part of a satanic pedophile conspiracy. No, they aren’t radical Marxists — even the party’s progressive wing would be considered only moderately left of center in any other Western democracy.

So all the rage is based on lies. But what’s almost as striking as the fantasies of the rioters is how few leading Republicans have been willing, despite the violence and desecration, to tell the MAGA mob that their conspiracy theories are false.

kevin mccarthyBear in mind that Kevin McCarthy, left, the House minority leader, and two-thirds of his colleagues voted against accepting the Electoral College results even after the riot. (McCarthy then shamelessly decried “division,” saying that “we must call on our better angels.”)

Or consider the behavior of leading Republicans who aren’t usually considered extremists. On Sunday Senator Rob Portman declared that we need to “restore confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.” Portman isn’t stupid; he has to know that the only reason so many people doubt the election results is that members of his party deliberately fomented that doubt. But he’s still keeping up the pretense.

For a long time Republican elites imagined that they could exploit racism and conspiracy theorizing while remaining focused on a plutocratic agenda. But with the rise first of the Tea Party, then of Donald Trump, the cynics found that the crazies were actually in control, and that they wanted to destroy democracy, not cut tax rates on capital gains.

The G.O.P. has reached the culmination of its long journey away from democracy, and it’s hard to see how it can ever be redeemed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Grieving Son’s Death, Maryland Lawmaker Fights to Impeach Trump, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 12, 2021. Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve. Then he survived the mob attack on the Capitol. Now, he leads the impeachment effort.

jamin raskin american university Custom 2On the last awful day of the brutal year 2020, Tommy Raskin, a 25-year-old Harvard University law student, social justice activist, animal lover and poet, concluded that the pain of the world was too deep for him to be in it anymore. He left his parents an apology, with instructions: “Please look after each other, the animals and the global poor for me.”

Tommy Raskin was buried last week in a simple Jewish graveside service. The next day, his father, Representative Jamie Raskin, shown in a years-old file photo from his teaching days, found himself hiding with his House colleagues from a violent mob incited by President Trump, and fearing for the safety of a surviving daughter, who had accompanied him to the Capitol to witness the counting of electoral votes to seal Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Impeachment won’t keep Trump from running again. Here’s a better way, Bruce Ackerman and Gerard Magliocca, Jan. 12, 2021. House Democrats’ plans to rush through an impeachment of President Trump won’t work, for a simple reason: The Constitution envisions impeachment only as a tool for proceeding against a president while he remains in office. Impeachment is meant to protect the country, not punish the offender.

But that needn’t be the end of efforts to prevent Trump from again holding federal office. There is another, little-known constitutional provision that can achieve precisely that without distorting the Constitution’s meaning.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, bars Trump from holding another federal office if he is found to have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution of the United States.

The finding could be accomplished by a simple majority vote of both houses, in contrast to the requirement in impeachment proceedings that the Senate vote to convict by a two-thirds majority. Congress would simply need to declare that Trump engaged in an act of “insurrection or rebellion” by encouraging the attack on the Capitol. Under the 14th Amendment, Trump could run for the White House again only if he were able to persuade a future Congress to, “by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Section 3 was enacted to bar any “civil or military” officer who had served the United States before the Civil War from regaining a position of authority if he betrayed his country by supporting the Confederacy. During the height of Reconstruction, a number of former Confederates were, in fact, barred from holding office. It was only in 1872 that Congress once again allowed these men to serve the United States by passing an Amnesty Act with the requisite two-thirds majorities.

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling professor of law and political science at Yale Law School and author of a multivolume series, "We the People," dealing with the dynamics of American constitutional development over the past two centuries. Gerard Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen professor at Indiana University’s law school in Indianapolis and the author of a forthcoming article dealing with the amnesty provisions of the 14th Amendment.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I do regret being there’: Simone Gold, noted hydroxychloroquine advocate, was inside the Capitol during the riot, Neena Satija, Jan. 12, 2021. A doctor and outspoken critic of the coronavirus vaccine was among those who entered the Capitol building last week during the siege that disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Simone Gold gained national attention in July when she and other physicians appeared in front of the Supreme Court for a sparsely attended news conference to decry pandemic lockdowns and criticize government efforts to stop the spread of the disease. Video of the event, organized by conservative activists, was retweeted by the president and viewed by millions before social media platforms took it down.

Gold confirmed to The Washington Post that she is the person pictured carrying a bullhorn on the Capitol grounds Wednesday in FBI and D.C. police bulletins seeking more information about individuals who were present.

Although dozens of Capitol Police officers were injured when they were overrun by pro-Trump protesters and one later died as a result, Gold said she did not witness any violence.

After Trump supporters gathered on the Capitol grounds, tensions soon boiled over and an angry mob assaulted the building, breaking through doors and windows. Vice President Pence was moved to a secure location in the complex. Police sought to evacuate lawmakers and their staffers, but some locked down in rooms behind makeshift barricades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Son of Brooklyn Judge Is Arrested Over Role in Riot at Capitol, Nicole Hong, Jan. 12, 2021. The son of a Brooklyn judge was arrested Tuesday morning over his role in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Aaron Mostofsky was taken into custody at his brother’s home in Brooklyn, according to a person briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Mr. Mostofsky is among the dozens of people who have been investigated by federal and local authorities in the days since the riot in Washington. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, sifting through tens of thousands of tips after asking for the public’s help in identifying those who forced their way into the Capitol.

Mr. Mostofsky’s father is Kings County Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Mostofsky. In a video from inside the Capitol on Wednesday, Aaron Mostofsky told the New York Post: “We were cheated. I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump — I think it was close to 85 million. I think certain states that have been red for a long time turned blue and were stolen, like New York.”

The video showed Mr. Mostofsky wearing fur pelts and what appeared to be a bulletproof vest while holding a protective shield belonging to the Capitol Police. He faces four federal charges, including illegal entry into a restricted area, disorderly conduct and theft of government property.

 

Biden Transition

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s final picks: If confirmed, his Cabinet will be more diverse than Trump’s — and Obama’s, Staff report, Jan. 12, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden has finalized his selections for his incoming Cabinet and top White House positions. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will require Senate approval, which may face delays.

joe biden twitterPresident-elect Joe Biden has finalized selections for his incoming Cabinet and top White House positions. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will require Senate approval, which may face significant delays.

Biden promised to be “a president for all Americans” and build a Cabinet that reflects the country’s diversity. If confirmed, his Cabinet will be more diverse than not only Trump’s Cabinet, but also Obama’s.

washington post logoWashington Post, Insurrection adds to full plate of calamities Biden will face as he takes office, Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, Jan. 12, 2021. The terrifying attack on the Capitol has done little to upend the preparations President-elect Joe Biden is making for the beginning of his administration in nine days, for the worst of reasons: It is only one of several calamities that will confront the new president and his administration.

His advisers have recommitted to holding his swearing-in and inaugural speech on the steps of the Capitol, in the same place where a Trump-propelled mob pressed through a line of Capitol Police officers to storm the building. Biden said Monday that he was “not afraid” of taking the oath outside.

The administration-to-be’s priorities as they prepare to confront twin coronavirus and economic dilemmas as well as the nation’s obvious political divisions also have not changed, advisers say. This week, he will more fully unveil a covid-19 relief package in the trillions of dollars aimed at speeding vaccinations, helping the unemployed and reopening schools.

He has shrugged off questions about whether President Trump should be impeached, deferring to members of Congress but saying they and he need to hit the ground running when he is sworn in Jan. 20. On Monday, entertaining the subject more seriously than he had before, he raised the prospect of a bifurcated system in which Congress would take up impeachment and other pressing matters on parallel tracks.

 

U.S. 2021 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Sheldon Adelson 1933–2021: Casino magnate who influenced policy from D.C. to Jerusalem dies at 87, Donald Frazier, Jan. 12, 2021. He used his vast fortune to advance conservative causes and leaders, including a $25 million donation to help elect Donald Trump as president in 2016.

sheldon adelson wSheldon G. Adelson, right, a billionaire casino tycoon and free-spending political donor who helped bankroll conservative candidates in the United States and Israel, and who pushed the governments of both countries to reject the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, died Jan. 11 in Malibu, Calif. He was 87.

The cause was complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a company statement.

Mr. Adelson (pronounced ADD-ul-son), who fought his way up from a meager childhood in Boston, was a vivid and polarizing character, a serial entrepreneur who transformed gambling in Las Vegas and Macau and brought the same bare-knuckled approach to the exercise of political influence.

One of the world’s richest self-made men, he amassed an estimated fortune at one point this decade valued at $40 billion — Forbes now lists it at $35 billion — and used much of it to advance conservative causes and leaders, including a $25 million donation to help elect Donald Trump as president in 2016. He also played a sizable role in underwriting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009.

In Jerusalem and Washington, Mr. Adelson brandished his money and influence to advance his favorite cause: a strong Israel that precludes a Palestinian state. He also started and bought newspapers in Nevada and Israel that promoted his views.

Little known outside the business world for much of his life, Mr. Adelson vaulted to the forefront of national politics in 2012, when he and his wife buoyed the faltering presidential campaign of former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) with tens of millions of dollars in donations to a political action committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Mich. governor Rick Snyder to face criminal charges in Flint water crisis, according to report, Kim Bellware and Brady Dennis, Jan. rick snyder 201312, 2021. The ex-governor and several other former officials are expected to face imminent criminal charges for their role in the 2014 Flint water crisis.

Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder (R), right, and several former officials are expected to be indicted in connection with the 2014 Flint water crisis that led to at least 12 deaths and dozens of illnesses in the predominantly Black city, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Snyder, his former health department director Nick Lyon and former adviser Rich Baird were among those notified by the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) of the pending indictments and advised to expect imminent court dates, the AP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the prosecution. The nature of the criminal charges were not immediately clear.

washington post logoWashington Post, What is Arizona’s GOP doing to recover from defeat? Attacking Cindy McCain, Dana Milbank, right, Jan. 12, 2021. If you were holding out dana milbank Customhope that Trumpism might end with Trump (oh, my sweet summer child), please allow me to present Exhibit A: the Republican Party of Arizona.

You might think the state party would be chastened. Republicans in the state just lost a second Senate seat, leaving them without a Republican senator for the first time since 1952. (In a dubious first, the party’s nominee, Trump-tongued Martha McSally, managed to lose both seats in back-to-back elections.) The state also went for Joe Biden, backing a Democrat for only the second time in 72 years.

Next, two prominent officials in the Arizona GOP, Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, became ringleaders of a plot to overturn the election results. They have been identified as architects of last week’s protest that turned into a deadly invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

So what is the Arizona Republican Party doing to recover? Why, it’s attacking John McCain’s widow.

cindy mccain 2018The party just rolled out a “censure resolution” against Cindy McCain, right. Childish and bizarre, it attacks the wife of Arizona’s beloved late (Republican) senator for having “a past riddled with drug abuse.” (She admitted three decades ago to a previous pain-medication addiction.)

It admonishes her for supporting “leftist causes such as gay marriage.” It scolds her for endorsing Biden, “in direct opposition to … the Constitution.” It upbraids her for objecting to Trump’s “criticism of her husband” — and then it repeats such slander, saying the late senator, a war hero and POW, committed “serious wrongdoing during his military service.”

The text then says Republicans will “officially censure her” at their “Jan. 23, 2020 Mandatory Meeting.” (I’m still writing 2020 on my censure resolutions, too.)

The self-destructive madness can be traced to the 2019 election of Kelli Ward (R-Wackadoodle) as state GOP chairwoman. Under the leadership of Ward — a two-time loser of Republican Senate primaries, one against McCain — the party embraced election conspiracy theories.

washington post logoWashington Post, Congressional Republicans struggle to mount response to Capitol riot, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Five days after a pro-Trump mob moved to sack the Capitol, congressional Republicans have yet to mount a coherent response as they spar among themselves about whom to hold accountable for the rampage and how exactly they should do it.

The effort to take stock of Wednesday’s shocking events has been complicated by President Trump’s ongoing hold on the vast majority of the party’s voters — as well as the role numerous lawmakers played in validating, repeating and amplifying Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.

Instead, the GOP is retreating to a tried-and-true playbook: Accusing Democrats of overreaching and dividing the country with a second push for Trump’s impeachment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Jim Jordan just got destroyed, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. Jim Jordan is already having a very bad week. He’s among the insurrectionist Republicans who have lost significant corporate donations as a result of their role in trying to overthrow the presidential election result.

bill palmer report logo headerJim Jordan has decided that it’s time to call for “unity” – which is the last thing anyone wants to hear from a guy who has criminal culpability in a recent domestic terrorist attack. Now everyone is piling on.

Congressman Jim McGovern went on CNN and sarcastically said this to Jordan: “Glad that all it took for you to call for unity and healing was for our freedom and democracy to be attacked” – while pointing out that Jordan, right, spent months breathing life into Trump’s most dangerous phony jim jordan headshot Customconspiracy theories.

Congressman Jamie Raskin said that Jim Jordan needs to do some “soul searching.” We’d add that Jordan has never shown evidence that he has a soul. Notably, when Congressman Ed Perlmutter demanded that Jordan say whether Biden won the election, Jordan responded that “I’ve never said this election was stolen.” This suggests that Jordan is scared and trying to find a way to distance himself from his own criminal culpability on this.

It’s time for Jim Jordan to resign or be expelled. Then a judge and jury can sort out what punishment he deserves for his role in this insurrection. While they’re at it, the judge and jury should look at what really went on with Jordan when he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats want to fine colleagues $1,000 a day if they refuse to wear a mask on Capitol grounds, Paulina Firozi, Jan. 12, 2021. After numerous lawmakers refused to wear masks while hunkered down with their colleagues during last week’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) have introduced a bill that could penalize lawmakers for making the same choice again.

The legislation introduced Tuesday would impose a $1,000 fine on members who refuse to wear masks while in the Capitol complex. The legislation would amend House rules to add that lawmakers are required to wear masks while in the Capitol.

If the Ethics Committee “determines that any Member, Delegate or Resident Commissioner” is in violation, the committee “shall fine such individual $1,000 for each day that such violation occurs,” according to the text of the bill.

It is a move that comes as at least three Democratic House members — Reps. Brad Schneider (Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.) — revealed within 24 hours that they had tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering with dozens others in a committee room on Wednesday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. Several Republicans in the room refused to wear a mask.

 

Rudoph Giuliani, speaking with two other Trump campaign lawyers on Nov. 19, 2020.

Rudoph Giuliani, speaking with two other Trump campaign lawyers on Nov. 19, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani hit with disbarment complaint, faces possible expulsion from New York lawyers association, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 12, 2021. The New York State Bar Association will consider expelling President Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and a state lawmaker is seeking his disbarment after inflammatory comments during a rally preceding last week's deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol.

Hours before the pro-Trump mob breached security and stormed the building, Giuliani encouraged the president’s loyalists to fight the election results “by combat.” Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the attempted insurrection.

In a statement Monday, the bar association said it has received “hundreds of complaints in recent months” about the former New York mayor and his failed bid to help Trump overturn his loss to Joe Biden. “Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to take matters into their own hands,” a spokeswoman for the group, Susan DeSantis, said in the statement. “Their subsequent attack on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power.”

New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, filed a formal complaint to an appellate court related to “rampant and egregious violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct” and Giuliani’s “complicity” in inciting last week’s violence, he said in a statement.

Hoylman, who chairs the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee, argued that Giuliani’s advancement of election-related conspiracy theories “appears to have contributed to bloodshed in furtherance of the overthrow of our federal government.” Appellate courts in New York field and review complaints against lawyers that can lead to punitive action.

It’s unclear when the court may consider Hoylman’s complaint.

Speaking to a charged crowd of thousands near the White House on Wednesday, Giuliani said: “If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat!”

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Revives Abortion-Pill Restriction, Adam Liptak, Jan. 12, 2021. In the Supreme Court’s first ruling on abortion since the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the court on Tuesday reinstated a federal requirement that women seeking to end their pregnancies using medications pick up a pill in person from a hospital or medical office.

supreme court graphicThe court’s brief order was unsigned, and the three more liberal justices dissented. The only member of the majority to offer an explanation was Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said the ruling was a limited one that deferred to the views of experts.

The question, he wrote, was not whether the requirement imposed “an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion as a general matter.” Instead, he wrote, it was whether a federal judge should have second-guessed the Food and Drug Administration’s determination “because of the court’s own evaluation of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Here as in related contexts concerning government responses to the pandemic,” the chief justice wrote, quoting an earlier opinion, “my view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence and expertise to assess public health.’”

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, said the majority was grievously wrong.

“This country’s laws have long singled out abortions for more onerous treatment than other medical procedures that carry similar or greater risks,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Like many of those laws, maintaining the F.D.A.’s in-person requirements” for picking up the drug “during the pandemic not only treats abortion exceptionally, it imposes an unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.”

She suggested that the next administration should revisit the issue.

“One can only hope that the government will reconsider and exhibit greater care and empathy for women seeking some measure of control over their health and reproductive lives in these unsettling times,” Justice Sotomayor wrote.

Judge Theodore D. Chuang, of the Federal District Court in Maryland, had blocked the requirement in light of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that a needless trip to a medical facility during a health crisis very likely imposed an undue burden on the constitutional right to abortion.

The case concerned a restriction on medication abortions, which are permitted in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. About 60 percent of abortions performed in those weeks use two drugs rather than surgery.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups, all represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued to suspend the requirement that women make a trip to obtain the first drug in light of the pandemic. There was no good reason, the groups said, to require a visit when the drug could be delivered or mailed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Columbia Settles a Complicated Sexual Assault Case, Anemona Hartocollis, Jan. 12, 2021. The university restored the diploma of the accused man, but stands by its initial findings against him.

It began as a night of drinking and flirtation between two Columbia University classmates four years ago. It turned into a federal lawsuit with unusually detailed documentation.

columbia logoAnd now it has ended in a settlement that underscores the contentiousness of the national debate over campus sexual misconduct cases, a debate that the incoming Biden administration is expected to join soon as it considers whether to overhaul federal sexual assault policies.

Under the settlement filed on Dec. 23, Columbia has restored the diploma of Ben Feibleman, whom a three-member university panel had found responsible for sexually assaulting a female classmate. It has also agreed to pay him an undisclosed cash award and to send a statement to prospective employers describing him as an alumnus in good standing, Mr. Feibleman’s lawyer and a spokesman for the university said.

The case is unusual because Mr. Feibleman willingly sued under his own name, rather than a pseudonym, and because he had made a 30-minute audiotape of the sexual encounter. That recording became a centerpiece of his defense.

In a statement, Columbia said that it had not withdrawn its findings against Mr. Feibleman even though it had settled with him. And the accuser, who has not been identified in court papers, continues to say that an assault took place. But Mr. Feibleman’s lawyer, Kimberly Lau, said: “We consider this a victory.”

The case spanned two presidential administrations and now may have implications for a third. It paints a picture of a campus culture in which students have become hyper-aware of the rules of academic sexual misconduct and worry about how every intimate encounter is going to look down the road.

The complaint against Mr. Feibleman was filed in the fall of 2016 during the Obama administration, whose campus sexual assault policies broadly favored believing the accusers, who are usually women. Those policies were in effect through the adjudication of the case by Columbia.

In the background was the presidential campaign, during which a tape surfaced of Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate for president, boasting about forcing himself on women. Columbia had also in the recent past received widespread media attention from the case of Emma Sulkowicz, who carried a mattress around the campus as a piece of performance art to protest what she said had been her rape by a fellow student, whom Columbia cleared.
Editors’ Picks
Why a Vogue Cover Created an Uproar Over Kamala Harris

Columbia issued its verdict against Mr. Feibleman in June 2017, declining to give him his diploma. He filed a federal suit against the university in May 2019. That suit was settled after the Trump administration had adopted a regulation to give more due process protections to the accused, generally men, effective in August.

Now, the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to consider whether to try to dismantle the Trump administration’s rules.

 

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Talk Radio Giant Tells Hosts to Stop ‘Stolen Elections’ Rhetoric: Live Updates, Tiffany Hsu, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). The talk radio network that airs Dan Bongino and Mark Levin warned staff to stop ‘dog-whistle talk.’

  • Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services.
  • Government watchdog warns of $3.6 billion in potentially fraudulent P.P.P. loans.
  • Ford, citing the pandemic, will stop making cars in Brazil and shut three factories.
  • The government settled with a company accused of using stored photos to create facial recognition databases.

cumulus media logoCumulus Media, a talk radio company with a roster of popular right-wing personalities including Dan Bongino, Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, has warned its hosts to steer clear of misinformation about election fraud.

Brian Philips, an executive vice president of Cumulus, sent the stern memo on Wednesday, the same day that a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the halls of Congress. Addressed to employees working in the company’s programming and talent divisions, including those at its syndication arm, Westwood One, the memo’s first section appeared in bold typeface, with many words capitalized for emphasis.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” the memo began.

“Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” it continued. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.”

Twestwood one cumulushe memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media, underlined a statement at the end of the paragraph: “Through all of our communication channels, including social, we will work to urge restoration of PEACE AND ORDER.”

Cumulus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Levin, right, who has attacked Democrats and many Republicans who have not supported Mr. Trump, has tweeted about a “massive fraud perpetrated against the president” and promoted the Jan. 6 demonstration in the days leading up to it. On the Wednesday episode of his radio show, Mr. Levin, who also hosts a Fox News program on Sunday nights, criticized those who mark levin resized cpacstormed the Capitol, but defended “people who are peacefully protesting” against “a stolen election” — a characterization that has been repeatedly debunked as false.

Mr. Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and a current Fox News contributor, is also an investor in Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Bongino fulminated against the suspension of Parler by major technology companies, referring to “tech tyrants,” “tech totalitarians” and “the communists at Apple and Amazon and Google.”

Mr. Bongino, who hosts a podcast and has a popular Facebook page, has raised questions about “irregularities” in the 2020 election. On an episode of his podcast in November, he said, referring to the election, “Ladies and gentlemen, these claims that there are no evidence of fraud are utterly absurd.”

Cumulus owns and operates 416 stations across 86 markets, including WMAL in Washington, WNBM in New York and KABC in Los Angeles.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fashion Commentary: Why a Vogue Cover Created an Uproar Over Kamala Harris, Vanessa Friedman, Updated Jan. 12, 2021. The vice president-elect is on the cover of the U.S. fashion magazine. Many people were not happy with the result.

Though it might seem, in light of all that is going on currently in Washington, D.C., the least of the matter, on Sunday a leaked shot of Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris’s Vogue cover set off an unexpected firestorm.

kamala harris coverFebruary’s issue features, as shown at left, Ms. Harris in a dark jacket by Donald Deal, skinny pants, Converse and her trademark pearls. She stands against a leaf green backdrop bisected by a spill of pink curtain, colors meant to evoke her Howard University sorority, caught in what seems like mid-laugh, hands clasped together at her waist.

The image was shot by Tyler Mitchell, who, in 2018, became the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover (his subject was Beyoncé) and is known for his unstudied aesthetic. Though Gabriella Karefa-Johnson receives credit as the sittings editor, a.k.a. the fashion editor in charge, Ms. Harris chose and wore her own clothes. The selected photo is determinedly unfancy. Kind of messy. The lighting is unflattering. The effect is pretty un-Vogue. “Disrespectful” was the word used most often on social media.

As the maelstrom of public hot takes began to swirl, Vogue released another, more formal portrait of Ms. Harris (shown at kamala harris vogue alternative coverright) in a powder blue Michael Kors Collection suit with an American flag pin on her lapel, her arms crossed in a sort of executive power pose against a gold curtain — the “digital cover.”

The journalist Yashar Ali wrote that this was the print cover Ms. Harris’s team had expected, and that, like the internet opinionators, her people were unhappy with the more casual shot. Vogue was seen as acting in bad faith.

Ms. Harris’s team declined to comment on what happened. The magazine released a statement: “The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris’s authentic, approachable nature — which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration.”

Well, yes. And no.

Ms. Harris may be authentic and approachable, but she is also about to become the second most powerful person in the country. And right now, the country is in the midst of a crisis and deeply in need of authority and assurance. Ms. Harris has also already made history, as the first female vice president, the first Black female vice president and the first female vice president of South Indian descent.

 

Jan. 11

Top Headlinescapitol confederate flag capitol

 

 

Virus Victims, Remedies

 

Reactions To Insurrection

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

 

Biden Transition

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media News

 

World News

 

capitol guns drawn

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

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

 

Top Stories

 nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who will become Senate Majority leader when Georgia officials certify the results of the Jan. 5 special election, which is expected by the date of Jan. 22 at the latest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats introduce article of impeachment as GOP blocks measure to invoke 25th Amendment, John Wagner and Paulina Firozi, Jan. 11, 2021. House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol last week by a violent pro-Trump mob. The House could vote as early as Wednesday. Other headlines:

  • Bowser tells Americans to stay home for inauguration
  • Republican former lawmakers urge Trump’s impeachment
  • Timothy Blodgett sworn in to serve as House sergeant-at-arms

U.S. House logoIn a brief session Monday, House Republicans blocked a measure calling on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, a move that ensures a vote in the full House.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), below left, had a stark message to Americans on Monday: Do not attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in Washington.

muriel bowser CustomWith the combined threats both of spreading the coronavirus in a city that reached its highest average daily new case rate ever on Monday, and of violence from those who reject the election result, Bowser said, Americans who would ordinarily flock to Washington should stay home.

The right-wing groups threatening to mass before and during the inauguration are different from the protesters the city normally welcomes, Bowser said. “People coming to demonstrate peacefully are very different from the people who stormed the Capitol,” she said.

When a reporter asked if she was scared of what might happen Jan. 20, Bowser said: “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy. Because we have … factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”

In an effort to make the city inhospitable to guests, Bowser said she would also “likely” extend the mandated closure of indoor dining through Jan. 24 in the interest of public safety around the inauguration. The ban was implemented in December to address rising coronavirus cases and was set to end Jan. 15.

Bowser said she would decide Tuesday. She said she will be briefed by the FBI daily on threats to the city.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are weighing sedition and conspiracy charges and expect to arrest ‘hundreds’ tied to Capitol riot, Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater, Jan. 11, 2021. Before Capitol Riot, Republican Lawmakers Fanned the Flames A “1776 moment”: Several of the president’s closest allies in Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to attend the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a deadly riot.

Several of the president’s closest allies in Congress used bellicose language to urge their supporters to attend the rally that turned into a deadly riot. Standing before a crowd of thousands of MAGA-clad protesters on the National Mall on Wednesday, Representative Mo Brooks roared out a message that he said members of Congress who dared to accept President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory needed to hear.

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Mr. Brooks, Republican of Alabama. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”

mike pence leftHours later, urged on by President Trump at the same rally, rioters stormed the Capitol, where Congress was meeting to formalize Mr. Biden’s election, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” threatening to shoot Speaker Nancy Pelosi and forcing lawmakers to evacuate the building in a scene of violence and mayhem. Afterward, police officers recovered long guns, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zip ties. At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the protests and the siege and in the immediate aftermath.

Even after the tear gas cleared and the Capitol was secured, more than 135 House Republicans, including the party’s two top leaders, ultimately voted to throw out millions of lawfully cast votes, fulfilling the rioters’ demands and answering Mr. Trump’s call for Congress to subvert the election results in his favor.

But a handful of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in the House had gone even further in the days and weeks before the riot, urging their supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to make a defiant last stand to keep him in power. They linked arms with the organizers of the protest and used inflammatory, bellicose language to describe the stakes.

Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, first-term lawmakers who ran as outspoken defenders of Mr. Trump, referred to the day as Republicans’ “1776 moment.”

The House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, who have resigned, are facing scrutiny after the siege.capitol camp auschwitz

washington post logoWashington Post, Video shows mob dragging a police officer down stairs. One rioter beat the officer with an American flag pole, Katie Shepherd, Jan. 11, 2021. As a mob of pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol on Wednesday, one man in a white hat and backpack grabbed a police officer by the helmet, dragging the officer down the stairs. Soon, other rioters kicked and punched the officer, and one man even bashed the prone figure repeatedly with a pole flying an American flag.

The shocking violence against an outnumbered officer is shown in a video first aired by CNN on Sunday. It swiftly went viral, garnering more than 1.6 million views on Twitter by early Monday.

The Capitol mob: A raging collection of grievances and disillusionment

The officer seen in the video, as well as in other photos and videos of the moment that later surfaced on social media, has not been officially identified. The extent of the injuries the officer suffered in the attack is not clear. D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the video late Sunday.

The video adds a new layer of evidence documenting the violence that pro-Trump rioters unleashed during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, where overrun police tried to protect the federal building. One U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered injures in the incident and later died, and more than 50 other police officers were hurt. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three other people died following medical emergencies.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why We Are Introducing an Article of Impeachment, David N. Cicilline (D-RI, shown below at right, a U.S. representative and a member of the House Judiciary Committee), Jan. 11, 2021. One of the authors of the impeachment article against President Trump makes his case.

Since his resounding defeat in the presidential election in November, Donald Trump has done everything but concede to the democratic will of the American people.

He unleashed an avalanche of lies and baseless claimsdavid cicilline of fraud — conspiracy theories that filled his supporters with a delusional belief that the election had been stolen from him. He filed a bevy of absurd lawsuits. He attempted to cajole and intimidate officials at all levels of government into subverting the election and keeping him in office. And then, running out of recourse, legitimate and illegitimate, he incited an insurrection against the government and the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

The attempted coup at the United States Capitol last Wednesday, which took place as lawmakers inside counted the electoral votes that would formalize Joe Biden’s overwhelming election by the American people, marks one of the lowest points in our country’s 245-year experiment in democracy.

What happened last Wednesday was an abomination. There is no question about that. There is also no question that Mr. Trump becomes more of a threat to public safety by the moment.

The only question now is what Congress will do about it.

djt march 2020 Custom

Associated Press via KTLA, Hundreds of historians call for Trump’s removal from office after Capitol riot, Eric Spillman, Jan. 11, 2021. Pulitzer-Prize winners ap logoGarry Wills, Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham and Stacy Schiff are among hundreds of historians who have signed an open letter calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office after last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

“By fomenting violence against the Congress and seeking to subvert constitutional democracy, which resulted in the killing of a Capitol police officer and the deaths of several rioters, Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the letter, released online Monday, reads in part. “He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States.”

The letter’s principal drafters were Sean Wilentz, Sidney Blumenthal and David Greenberg. Others endorsing it include Douglas Brinkley, David Blight, Mary Beth Norton, Rick Atkinson, Diane McWhorter and Rick Perlstein.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Law enforcement individual arrested in relation to U.S. Capitol attack, multiple others suspended, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. Over the past week it’s become increasingly clear that the bumbling idiots who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building must have had some kind of inside help from law enforcement. Sure enough, that’s now playing out.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressman Tim Ryan, right, has announced that two Capitol Police officers have been suspended, one for giving directions to the tim ryan o 2010domestic terrorist invaders, the other for taking selfies with them. Another ten or more Capitol Police officers are under investigation. Most importantly, as relayed by CNN, one unidentified “law enforcement individual” has been arrested.

It’s not yet been revealed whether this law enforcement individual is a member of the Capitol Police. It could also theoretically have been an off duty police officer who traveled to DC and participated in the attack. In any case, it’s becoming more clear by the minute that Trump’s idiot terrorists had help from law enforcement – and that those law enforcement personnel are going to pay for it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing chief says security officials impeded efforts to call in National Guard, Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 11, 2021. Even as rioters violently overran his forces, outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in an exclusive interview, the sergeants at arms for the House and Senate took more than an hour to approve his request.

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest.

steve sund recroppedTo be on the safe side, Sund, left, asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down.

In his first interview since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Sund, who has since resigned his post, said his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd President Trump had invited to Washington to protest his defeat probably would be much larger than earlier demonstrations.

House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.

Stenger declined Sunday to comment when a reporter visited his Virginia home. “I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

It was the first of six times Sund’s request for help was rejected or delayed, he said. Two days later on Wednesday afternoon, his forces already in the midst of crisis, Sund said he pleaded for help five more times as a scene far more dire than he had ever imagined unfolded on the historic Capitol grounds.

An army of 8,000 pro-Trump demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue after hearing Trump speak near the White House. Sund’s outer perimeter on the Capitol’s west side was breached within 15 minutes. With 1,400 Capitol Police officers on duty, his forces were quickly overrun.

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Coup attempt dissection yields police and military involvement, Wayne Madsen (Political commentator, left, author of 18 books, former Navy intelligence officer and Department of Defense National Security Agency analyst), Jan. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small11, 2021.

It is becoming painfully clear that the January 6 coup attempt against the Congress involved on- and off-duty police from Washington and around the country, as well as active duty and reserve military personnel going up the chain of command to the acting Secretary of christopher miller official.jpgDefense, retired Army General Christopher Miller, right.

As for the Department of Defense, it is becoming increasingly clear that the acting Defense Secretary Miller and a group of Trump loyalists installed in the Pentagon and at the National Security Agency (NSA) willfully turned a blind eye to well-advertised planning for the events of January 6 on social media. Not only were requests for National Guard security assistance rebuffed, but some Pentagon players may have been actively involved in the coup attempt.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden looks at whether Senate can tackle impeachment and his agenda simultaneously, Annie Linskey, Jan. 11, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he is consulting with Senate leaders and the chamber’s parliamentarian about whether the Senate can “bifurcate” its schedule, so it can move forward simultaneously with impeaching President Trump and enacting Biden’s agenda, including a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus relief plan.

joe biden oBiden’s comments, made Monday just after he received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a Delaware hospital, revealed his most detailed thinking to date about the threat that congressional Democrats’ impeachment efforts could overshadow the early days of his us senate logopresidency.

The remarks also affirmed that the president-elect wants Congress to focus on improving the response to the virus and bolstering the struggling economy ahead of rebuking Trump for his role in inciting a deadly mob that briefly took control of the U.S. Capitol building last week.

“My priority, first and foremost, is the stimulus bill,” Biden said Monday, “and secondly to begin to rebuild the economy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in D.C. during inauguration, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 11, 2021. Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in Washington during the presidential inauguration, senior defense officials said Monday, part of a rapidly expanding response following a deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week.

Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a call with reporters that about 6,000 guardsmen from six states already are in the nation’s capital, and that the military response will expand to about 10,000 by the weekend.

Hokanson said the numbers will be determined by the requirements that federal agencies have for support. The National Guard will bring their weapons to Washington and carry them based on discussions with the FBI, police and other agencies.

“Obviously, we’re very concerned that we want our individuals to have the right to self-defense," the general said. “And so, that will be an ongoing conversation, and if the senior leadership determines that that’s the right posture to be in, then that is something that we will do.”

The shift comes after the Defense Department carved out a narrow role ahead of a protest against President Trump’s election loss on Wednesday. Trump directed thousands of people to the Capitol afterward, some of whom began storming the building and attacking Capitol Police officers, including one who later died.

Just 340 D.C. National Guard members had been activated ahead of the riot, and none were posted outside the Capitol. Instead, they were assigned to traffic duty in other parts of the city, because the Capitol Police and the Pentagon had not worked out a plan in the event of a crisis at the home of Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Acting homeland security secretary Wolf to step down, nine days ahead of Biden inauguration, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, Paulina Firozi, Felicia Sonmez and Nick Miroff, Jan. 11, 2021. What we know about Trump’s possible second impeachment; Some House Democrats hope to impeach President Trump for a second time for high crimes and misdemeanors. Here is what that accelerated process might entail.

chad wolfActing homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, right, is stepping down, nine days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and amid widespread fears about security in the aftermath of the mob attack on the Capitol last week.

us dhs big eagle logo4In Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that the House will move forward with impeaching President Trump for a second time if Vice President Pence does not seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment by Wednesday.

Her threat came shortly after House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob on Wednesday. Democrats say that measure already has 218 co-sponsors, enough to guarantee passage.

The Intercept, Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs Helped Plan January 6 Event, Lead Organizer Says, Ryan Grim, right, and Aída Chávez, Jan. 11, 2021.  In ryan grim CustomDecember, Ali Alexander claimed he and three House Republicans were organizing the rally that led to a storming of the Capitol on January 6.

The head of the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, helped plan the January 6 event that culminated in a storming of the Capitol, according to Ali Alexander, a lead organizer of the gathering. Alexander, a pro-Trump personality, was an early founder of the “Stop the Steal” movement and helped bring together various right-wing factions around a mass event on January 6, aimed to coincide with objections to the counting of Electoral College votes.

Alexander made his claim in three separate livestreams in late December, adding that Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama were also involved. “We’re the four guys who came up with a January 6 event,” Alexander said. On December 8, the Arizona Republican Party boosted Alexander, asking supporters if they were willing to give their lives in the fight over the results of the presidential election.

His claim is also buttressed by a fourth video from a December 19 rally at the Arizona State Capitol, at which Alexander played a video that Biggs had supplied. In the video, Biggs mentions Brooks as his ally in the fight. Gosar spoke in person at the event.

Biggs’s connection to Alexander was reported on Sunday by the Arizona Republic, which quoted his spokesperson, Daniel Stefanski, denying any connection to Alexander. “Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” Stefanski said. “He did not have any contact with protestors or rioters, nor did he ever encourage or foster the rally or protests.”

Gosar did not respond to inquiries from The Intercept. Alexander did not respond to a text or phone call; his voicemail was full. Alexander, who adopted a new name after pleading guilty to felony property theft in 2007 and felony credit card abuse in 2008, has been suspended from Twitter and other platforms for his role in organizing the January 6 event. As the Daily Beast reported, he has said he has been unfairly blamed for the violence on January 6, and has gone underground.

Brooks, after the event, sought to legitimize political violence in a radio interview.In a statement to The Intercept following publication, Brooks’s office denied the congressman incited violence, writing in part: “Congressman Brooks has no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is. Congressman Brooks has not in any way, shape or form coordinated with Ali Alexander on the January 6th ‘Save America’ rally. Congressman Brooks spoke at the ‘Save America’ rally at the invitation of the White House (the invitation was extended the day before), not anyone else.”

Alexander’s contemporaneous claims have taken on new relevance as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has floated the possibility of expelling members of Congress who are found to have been involved in the riot. “Your views on the 25th Amendment, 14th Amendment Section 3 and impeachment are valued as we continue,” she wrote to her colleagues over the weekend.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, reads:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any pogo logo squareState legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Alexander made his comments in a livestream posted December 28. Jason Paladino, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight, archived the video from Alexander’s now-suspended account and provided it to The Intercept. “I was the person who came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and then Congressman Andy Biggs. We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside,” Alexander said in the livestream.

 

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Impeachment Live: House Vows to Move Swiftly on Impeachment if Pence Refuses to Act, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. The House plans to introduce a resolution today calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of power.

Leading Democrats have suggested impeachment could move forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek. Here’s the latest.

U.S. House logoThe House on Monday plans to introduce a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of the powers of his office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated the pressure on Mr. Pence in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, calling on him to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Democrats planned to try to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but it is expected to fail.

capitol mobNext, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor. Though she did not specify how quickly it would move, leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote in the letter. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Ms. Pelosi’s actions in effect gave Mr. Pence, who is said to be opposed to the idea, an ultimatum: use his power under the Constitution to force Mr. Trump Mike Penceout by declaring him unable to discharge his duties, or make him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

With few Democrats hopeful Mr. Pence would act, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the party’s No. 3, said the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump by Wednesday, one week before Inauguration Day. Lawmakers were put on notice to return to Washington, and their leaders consulted with the Federal Air Marshal Service and law enforcement on how to safely move them back into a Capitol that was ransacked in a shocking security failure less than a week ago.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler, a Chosen App of Trump Fans, Has Become a Test of Free Speech, Jack Nicas and Davey Alba, Updated Jan. 11, 2021. The app has renewed a debate about who holds power over online speech after tech giants yanked their support for it. Parler went dark early on Monday.

From the start, John Matze had positioned Parler as a “free speech” social network where people could mostly say whatever they wanted. It was a bet that had recently paid off big as millions of President Trump’s supporters, fed up with what they deemed censorship on Facebook and Twitter, flocked to Parler parler logoinstead.

On the app, which had become a top download on Apple’s App Store, discussions over politics had ramped up. But so had conspiracy theories that falsely said the election had been stolen from Mr. Trump, with users urging aggressive demonstrations last week when Congress met to certify the election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Those calls for violence soon came back to haunt Mr. Matze, 27, a software engineer from Las Vegas and Parler’s chief executive. By Saturday night, Apple and Google had removed Parler from their app stores and Amazon said it would no longer host the site on its computing services, saying it had not sufficiently policed posts that incited violence and crime.

amazon logo smallEarly on Monday morning, just after midnight on the West Coast, Parler appeared to have gone offline.

Those moves had set off a furious effort to keep Parler up. Mr. Matze said on Sunday that he was racing to save the data of Parler’s roughly 15 million users from Amazon’s computers. He was also calling company after company to find one willing to support Parler with google logo customhundreds of computer servers.

“I believe Amazon, Google, Apple worked together to try and ensure they don’t have competition,” Mr. Matze said on Parler late Saturday. “They will NOT win! We are the worlds last hope for free speech and free information.” He said the app would probably shut down “for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”

 

Virus Victims, Remedies

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: In 5 U.S. States, Crushing Numbers and Hospitals at Capacity, Staff reports, Jan. 11, 2021. Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina are now averaging the most daily new cases per person. Major coronavirus outbreaks are no longer confined to one part of the United States. Students in Chicago return to classrooms today. Here’s the latest pandemic news.

  • Russia considers altering its vaccine dosage to inoculate more people.
  • Ice festival in China goes forward amid the country’s worst outbreak in months.
  • Some small businesses got $1 relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • The N.B.A. said it had ‘no plans to pause the season’ as virus cases increase.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 11, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2here):

World Cases: 90,799,733, Deaths: 1,945,134
U.S. Cases:   22,925,341, Deaths:  383,318

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, 75, tests positive for virus after sheltering with maskless lawmakers during Capitol riot, Colby Itkowitz, Jan. 11, 2021. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor, has tested positive for the coronavirus after taking shelter in a room with other lawmakers, some of whom refused to wear masks, during last week’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time,” she said in a statement. “While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents.”

bonnie watson colemanWatson Coleman (D-N.J.), right, said she believes she contracted the virus while in protected isolation during the riot. Many lawmakers were sheltered in a large committee room together as the mob stormed the Capitol.

On Sunday, Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress and the Supreme Court, told lawmakers that the people in that room may have been exposed to someone with the virus.

A video published by Punchbowl News showed a group of Republicans in close conversation in a lockdown room refusing to accept masks from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

President-elect Joe Biden told reporters after receiving his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine that he was “appalled” by the video.

“I was appalled when I saw, in fact, it was my distinguished congresswoman from the state of Delaware. . . when they were hiding from the mob, she was going around trying to hand out masks to everybody. And her Republican colleagues wouldn’t wear a mask. I think it’s irresponsible,” Biden said.

 

Reactions To Insurrections

ny times logoNew York Times, Beyond Impeachment, a Push for Ethics Laws That Do Not Depend on Shame, Elizabeth Williamson, Jan. 11, 2021. Congressional Democrats and a slew of groups are preparing to press ahead with the kinds of changes not seen since the post-Watergate era.

As House Democrats move toward punishing President Trump with a history-making second impeachment, they are also pressing ahead with a parallel effort to try to ensure that Mr. Trump’s four-year record of violating democratic and constitutional norms cannot be repeated.

Mr. Trump’s term has revealed enormous gaps between the ideals of American democracy and the reality. Even before he incited a mob to attack the Capitol and the legislative branch of government, he ignored watchdog rulings and constitutional safeguards, pressed to overturn the outcome of an election, and pardoned those who covered for him, all while funneling taxpayer dollars to his family business.

In response, lawmakers and pressure groups are pushing for a wide-ranging overhaul of ethics laws, the likes of which have not been seen since the post-Watergate era, hoping to reconstruct and strengthen the guardrails that Mr. Trump plowed through.

Among the changes embraced by House Democratic leaders are limits on the president’s pardon powers, mandated release of a president’s tax returns, new enforcement powers for independent agencies and Congress, and firmer prohibitions against financial conflicts of interest in the White House.

“We kept on having to add to it as the administration engaged in new abuses,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s a long list.”

Two major pieces of legislation, the Protecting Our Democracy Act and H.R. 1, will be the main vehicles to address the sweep of questionable practices in the Trump era, which culminated in the president’s efforts to reverse the election outcome and provoke a riot to thwart the final electoral vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Last Tuesday, a provision in the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would shield independent inspectors general from retaliation and help ensure that vacant watchdog slots are filled promptly, was pulled out and passed by the House by a bipartisan voice vote.

As keen as Republicans may be to put limits on Mr. Biden’s presidency, they may not be so acquiescent to the Democrats’ broader bills if they are seen as a rebuke to Mr. Trump. But Democrats say they will press hard, especially in the wake of the Capitol’s desecration.

“This president has exploited people’s fears in a way that is reckless and hugely damaging to our democracy and our society,” said Representative John P. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the legislative effort. Congress, he added, must seek “ways of hardening our democracy against attacks from within and without.”

The bigger question may be whether Democrats will “remain as interested in reining in executive branch overreach when it’s their guy in the White House,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that investigates governmental abuses.

Bob Bauer, an author of the book “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency” and a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, suggested that any administration’s support would have its limits.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Donald Trump needs to go to prison, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s what the Times of India is calling the Coup Klux Klan. robert harringtnn portraitViolent white supremacists, some intent on kidnapping or physically harming members of Congress, took over the Capitol building in Washington DC while lawmakers shivered in the gallery in terror.

bill palmer report logo headerProtesters carried dozens of flex cuffs — handcuffs made of zip ties — intent on arresting members of Congress and holding them hostage. Protesters were even heard to speak of hanging some of them. Many in the DC Police and the National Guard virtually stepped aside and let them in.

This was nothing less than an attempted coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacist cretins known as his base. This is why Donald Trump must go to prison for the rest of his life. At least, that’s what I think. And I present that case to you in the form of a victim impact statement.

djt prison palmer reportI hasten to add, I don’t mean to claim any special victim significance for myself. I am simply an average American claiming my share of the evil that Donald Trump has visited on every average American. To be sure, some Americans have had a greater share of Donald Trump’s evil than others. They deserve their day of justice even more than I. I’ve taken it upon myself to speak for some of them because some of them cannot speak at all. Because some of them are dead.

But I am outraged by what Donald Trump has done to the land of my birth, how he has dragged its reputation through the mud of racism and cheapened its message of freedom, how hundreds of thousands of Americans have died because of him. For example, by the time he leaves office, more than 400,000 Americans will lie dead of coronavirus thanks to Donald Trump. They are dead because Donald Trump refused to take any serious steps against the global pandemic.

But as if that were not enough, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, five people died and the sanctity of the nation’s Capitol building was violated thanks to Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Politics Live: Wall Street Banks Halt Political Donations After Capitol Riot, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees. Here’s the latest on business.

Big businesses often donate to both political parties and say that their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That became increasingly fraught last week, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and some Republican lawmakers tried to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win in the presidential election.

A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees, according to the DealBook newsletter.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations:

    • Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period,” a spokesman, Jake Siewert, told DealBook.
    • JPMorgan Chase is halting donations through its PAC for six months. “There will be plenty of time for campaigning later,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
    • citigroup logoCitigroup is postponing all campaign contributions for a quarter. “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, the bank’s head of government affairs, wrote in an internal memo.

Other banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, said they would review their corporate contribution strategy.

Some companies are pausing donations to specific politicians. Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. She did not say how long the break would last or how the hotel operator would decide when to resume.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, More Companies Halt Political Donations, Brody Mullins and Drew FitzGerald, Jan. 11, 2021. Some of country’s biggest businesses, including AT&T, Facebook and UPS, said they are rethinking their giving to candidates after Trump supporters breached the Capitol and GOP lawmakers contested the election. 

A growing wave of big businesses are deciding to suspend or review their campaign donations in the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol, with many saying they would stop donating to Republicans who objected to the election’s certification.

att logoAT&T Inc., ConocoPhillips, Dow Inc., Facebook Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. were among companies announcing Monday that they are halting or reviewing campaign donations from their political-action committees to lawmakers and political candidates.

Those announcements follow JPMorgan Chase Inc. and Citigroup Inc., which said over the weekend they were halting their PAC donations. Some, including Amazon.com Inc., Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co., pledged to stop donations to the Republican lawmakers who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

“Last week’s attempts by some congressional members to subvert the presidential election results and disrupt the peaceful transition of power do not align” with company values, said American Express Co. Chief Executive Stephen Squeri in a memo sent to employees Monday, announcing the company’s decision to suspend PAC donations to more than 100 congressional Republicans who voted to challenge the election results.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Bill Belichick Says He Won’t Accept Medal of Freedom From Trump After Capitol Riot, Andrew Beaton and Louise Radnofsky, Jan. 11, 2021. The New England Patriots coach said ‘the decision has been made not to move forward’ on him receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor in the aftermath of the attack on Congress

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he will not receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump in the wake of the riots last week at the U.S. Capitol.

nfl logoBelichick, who has previously spoken publicly about his friendship with the president, was set to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor after Trump offered it over a week ago. That was before a mob of the president’s supporters laid siege to the Capitol, leaving five people dead.

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.”

News of the offer to Belichick only emerged Sunday, prompting questions over whether the most accomplished coach in football history would stand by his friend amid the controversy.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Facebook Removes All ‘Stop the Steal’ Content, Sarah Needleman,Jan. 11, 2021. Citing use of the phrase among members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol, the tech giant said its move is aimed at stemming incitements to violence ahead of Inauguration Day. Breaking: Twitter Says It’s Purged More Than 70,000 QAnon-Associated Accounts; Twitter Cites ‘Potential to Lead to Offline Harm’ as Reason for Purge.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Republican Attorney General Official Resigns Over Group’s Role in Capitol March, Deanna Paul and Jess Bravin, Jan. 11, 2021. The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned after the group was criticized for soliciting thousands of Trump supporters to march on the Capitol last week and fight to support President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

The Republican Attorneys General Association’s policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, authorized robocall messages urging “patriots” to join last Wednesday’s march to “fight to protect the integrity of our elections.” Marchers eventually stormed the Capitol building, disrupting Congress’s ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump and leaving five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

More than a dozen Republican attorneys general, including the association’s chairman and vice chairman, quickly condemned the violence. The group’s executive director, Adam Piper, resigned over the fallout of the association’s role emerging publicly, earlier reported by Documented, a watchdog group that is critical of corporate influence on public policy.

Adam Piper was executive director of Republican Attorneys General Association, which sent robocalls asking people to join rally that turned into deadly riot.

The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned after the group was criticized for soliciting thousands of Trump supporters to march on the Capitol last week.

Vice, Parler Is Gone, But Hackers Say They Downloaded Everything First, David Gilbert, Jan. 11, 2021. Including posts made during last week's insurrection at the Capitol, which could now be used to expose and arrest pro-Trump rioters.

Right-wing social network Parler was taken offline in the early hours of Monday morning, but not before a hacker found a way to download all data posted by users — including messages, images, videos, and users’ location data — shared during last week’s attack on the Capitol.

The data taken from Parler is still being processed, but Trump supporters are already voicing their concerns about what the data dump could expose about them and their activity in Washington, D.C. last week.

Twitter’s decision on Friday to ban President Donald Trump from its platform permanently — together with a raft of major QAnon accounts — should have a boon for Parler, the right-wing Twitter alternative that positioned itself as a “free-speech social network” but was in effect home to hate speech, anti-Semitism, and wild conspiracies.

But before CEO John Matze could even begin to dream of Trump moving his 80 million followers from Twitter to Parler, the roof fell in.

First, within minutes of Trump’s Twitter ban, Google announced it was banning the Parler app from its app store because of lax moderation policies.

A day later, Apple followed suit, and on Sunday, Amazon Web Services, where Parler hosts its platform, announced that it would be pulling the plug. And so, just after 3 a.m. ET Monday morning, Parler went dark. But that’s not even the worst of it.

A hacker who goes by the name Crash Override on Twitter claims she found a web address that Parler used internally to retrieve data. That allowed the hacker to make a list of all posts, videos, and images uploaded to Parler — including posts that users had deleted, such as those referring to the Capitol attack last Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City to consider ending contracts with Trump that bring his company $17 million a year, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Jan. 11, 2021. The city of New York said Monday that it was “reviewing whether legal grounds exist” to terminate its business relationships with President Trump, whose company has contracts to run a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said that review was spurred by Trump’s actions on Wednesday — when, after encouragement from the president, a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

“The attacks on our Capitol killed a police officer, left four rioters dead, exposed lawmakers to COVID-19 and threatened the constitutional transfer of power. They were a national abomination,” said spokeswoman Laura Feyer.

“We’re reviewing whether legal grounds exist in light of these new circumstances to terminate concessions with the Trump Organization,” Feyer said. Feyer did not say when the city expected to announce a decision.

The statement from New York was another sign that the fallout from Wednesday’s events has spread to Trump’s private business — already hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic, and struggling with backlash to Trump’s divisive career in politics.

On Monday, one of Trump’s banks said it was closing his personal bank accounts, which had about $5.3 million in them. Signature Bank, based in New York, issued a statement saying that this was a reaction to the “displeasure and shock” of bank executives after Wednesday’s events.

“To witness a rioter sitting in the presiding chair of the U.S. Senate and our elected representatives being told to seek cover under their seats is appalling and an insult to the Republic,” the bank said in a statement, first reported by the New York Times. “We witnessed the President of the United States encouraging the rioters and refraining from calling in the National Guard to protect the Congress in its performance of duty.”

Signature Bank also called on Trump to resign. Trump has done business with Signature Bank since at least 2011, according to documents released by the bank, and at one point Ivanka Trump was on the bank’s board.

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York is taking a golf course away from Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s bad enough for Donald Trump that the PGA just announced it’s taken the 2022 PGA Championship away from Trump’s golf course in New Jersey, in response to Trump’s domestic terrorist attack against the U.S. Capitol Building. Now, New York is looking to one-up New Jersey by taking one of Trump’s golf courses away entirely.

bill palmer report logo headerEven though New York City hates Trump, and Trump hates New York City, he still has a longstanding contract to manage a handful of city properties, including a golf course and multiple ice skating rinks. Now the city is looking to void that contract and take the properties out of Trump’s hands, according to the Washington Post.

This will cost Donald Trump about $17 million per year in revenue. It might not be a crushing financial blow to Trump on its own. But this week we keep seeing one chain reaction of consequences after another, so we expect that Trump will continue to lose these kinds of contracts. For that matter, we expect Trump to lose more golf courses. This is all before the inevitable asset forfeitures as Trump’s financial crimes are prosecuted.

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services, Jan. 11, 2021. Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media start-up Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services.

parler logoAmazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because “a steady increase in violent content” on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler’s data was preserved so that it could migrate to a new hosting provider.

Before Parler went dark, technologists also raced to scrape publicly available data from the app, as part of a broader effort to identify those who helped organize and participated in the riot at the Capitol last week.

Millions of people have turned to Parler since the November election and after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump after the Capitol riot. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores last week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on amazon logo smallAmazon’s cloud computing technology to work.

Parler’s complaint was dated Sunday, before Amazon suspended Parler. But the suit was not filed with the court until Monday.

In the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler accused Amazon of terminating, not just suspending, its account — and said it should have received 30 days’ notice. It also argued that Amazon violated antitrust law by conspiring with Twitter, a major Amazon customer, to boot Parler just as it was gaining broader appeal. It said it had 12 million users, and “expects to add millions more this week given its growth the last few days.”

Parler did not provide direct evidence showing that Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter’s own challenges policing its content.

Parler said losing Amazon’s services would be a “death knell,” though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have recovered after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Wash., filed the suit for Parler. Amazon did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: If Trump did not get his way with electoral contest, GOP operative and Stop the Steal organizer Ali (Akbar) Alexander threatened to "light the whole sh*t on fire," Roger Shuler, Jan. 11, 2021.  Mounting evidence suggests last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol was more brutal -- and had darker intentions -- than many originally had imagined, according to a report from Andrew Kreig at the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project (JIP). Kreig notes that Ali (Akbar) Alexander, with ties to Alabama and Montgomery attorney/talk-show host Baron Coleman, was front and center in organizing the protest that turned into a riot.

Writes Kreig:

This editor, whose office is located within two blocks of the protest march route in the District of Columbia, has reported for years on the topic of election fraud and several of the leading figures suspected of corrupting elections.These tactics include propaganda via blogs, broadcast and social media, plus courtroom efforts necessary to steal elections.

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

Akbar, now using the name Ali Alexander was a speaker at last week's pro-Trump rally at the White House. Via his association with the affiliated Proud Boys gang of white nationalists, Alexander played a significant role in organizing sinister activities in both the Georgia and Washington political events last week, according to an expose published on Jan. 9 by investigative reporter Greg Palast, a pioneering investigator of election fraud, including illegal vote suppression of racial minorities.

The Palast story "Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?" is a cutting-edge column by the former BBC investigative reporter and author of multiple books on election fraud.

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

The robocalls story has strong ties to Alabama and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) -- and its affiliate, the ironically named Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF.) Alabama AG Steve Marshall is head of the RLDF and claims he had no knowledge of the group's efforts to promote the Jan. 6 protest. Jessica Medeiros Garrison, one-time campaign manager and alleged mistress (per former State Sen. Lowell Barron) to former AG Luther Strange -- and once an of counsel attorney at scandal-plagued Balch and Bingham -- is a former executive director of RAGA.

As for the Palast story, it unmasks Ali Alexander with surgical precision--and notes his incendiary role in working with the GOP on the Georgia Senate run-off. Palast writes under the headline "Why did the Georgia GOP team up with a Riot Instigator? “WE’LL LIGHT THE WHOLE SH*T ON FIRE!”

The star of the GOP’s get-out-the-vote door-knocking program in the Georgia Senate run-off, standing next to Alex Jones, was blasting his threat through a megaphone in front of the Governor’s home. “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

Ali Alexander’s threat in December would become all too real when he repeated his performance on January 6 in Washington, DC.

In the US Capitol that day, looking over the scene of screams, teargas, and mayhem, Alexander said, “I warned you this would happen.”

Yes, he did. Nevertheless, the Georgia Republican Party’s Metro Atlanta Field Director Kevin Mason was more than happy to team up with Alexander. With his huge reach within the Alt-Right, Alexander could bring in a swarm of volunteers for the door-knocking campaign they desperately needed to hold back the looming Democratic victory in the US Senate run-offs.

As ugly as the Capitol riot became, it could have been much worse, Kreig reports:

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

Most shocking to many has been new evidence of the brutality of some protesters — including discovery of pipe bombs, explosives and plastic "ties" that terrorists would use to take hostages.

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

American System Network, House Democrats Introduce Resolution for Second Impeachment of Trump, Webster G. Tarpley, Jan. 11, 2021. Biden Suggests webster tarpley 2007Two-Tiered Bifurcated Schedule to Handle Confirmations, Emergency Legislation, and Trump Senate Trial; Republicans Block Ultimatum to Pence to Activate XXV Amendment Immediately, which Will Be Approved on Tuesday;

Memo from FBI, DEA, ATF, Defense Department, US Park Police, and US Marshals Warns of Armed Fascist Attacks on Public Buildings in All 50 State Capitals from January 16 to January 20; This is in Addition to Previous Warning of Armed Putsch Attempts in Nation’s Capital Expected between January 17 and January 20; DC Mayor Bowser Demands and Gets Declaration of State of Emergency from White House; Beware of Fascist Networks Infiltrated into Law Enforcement, and of Foreign Intelligence Services at Work for Subversion!

Former AG Barr and Current White House Counsel Cipollone Warn Trump not to Attempt Self-Pardon; Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is Third Cabinet Office to Quit Since January 6 Putsch Attempt; Does Cabinet Still Have Quorum Needed to Oust Trump?; Ongoing Probe of January 6 Coup Attempt Points to Attempted Violent Overthrow of US Government;

Across Entire Society, Proliferating Signs of Traditional American Revulsion Against Fascism: Array of Social Media Banish Don and His Lies; Business CEOs and Trade Associations Cutting Campaign Contributions to GOP Fanatics; Professional Golfers’ Association Boycotts Trump Country Club in New Jersey; Calls for New York Bar to Ban Giuliani; Broadcasters Admonish Reactionary Talkers to Stop Raving About Trump Victory and Stolen Election or Be Fired; Cutoff of Cash from Big Money Donors is Threat to GOP Supply Line, Bringing Extinction into View;

About 100 Perpetrators Arrested So Far, with Many More to Come; Sentiment Growing in Congress for Expulsion of Cruz, Hawley, and Brooks;”
Waiting for Certification of Georgia Results, which Will Deprive McConnell of Senate Control and Empower New Majority Leader Schumer to Determine the Legislative Calendar;

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans who aren’t willing to act against sedition are complicit, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 11, 2021. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) jennifer rubin new headshotand NBC’s Chuck Todd had this exchange on “Meet the Press” on Sunday about the consequences Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) should face for fomenting the deadly mob that breached the Capitol last week:

TOOMEY: "Look, I think the — they’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do. And the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen. They compounded that with this notion that, somehow, this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time."

pat toomeyThis is President Trump’s first impeachment all over again. “Yes, bad things were done,” Republicans such as Toomey acknowledged. “But let voters decide.”

No. Toomey, left, was elected. He has the constitutional obligations to try to remove a president who subverts democracy. He has an obligation under the Constitution to, in appropriate circumstances, expel members by a two-thirds vote. He cannot shirk his duties as he did in acquitting Trump the first time.

Why have impeachment and expulsion in the Constitution if the answer is: “Let the voters decide"? For goodness’ sake, he is not even running for reelection in 2022. I find it unfathomable that he remains so timid.

It is this sort of weakness — the failure to repudiate Trump years ago; the refusal to dump him in 2020; the silence, if not active support to overthrow the election — that defines the “good” Republicans. Not good enough. Inaction is complicity. Inaction allows Trump and lawmakers to escape accountability for their heinous actions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stripped of Twitter, Trump Faces a New Challenge: How to Get Attention, Maggie Haberman, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump became a celebrity through television, but Twitter had given him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the presidency.

His public persona was a product of television for decades.

twitter bird CustomThrough “The Apprentice,” he built a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire. His wrestling match-style rallies helped him dominate television during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ever attuned to how he was playing and the power of ratings, he personally chose which anchors he wanted to interview him, and persuaded hosts to allow him to simply phone into their Sunday shows.

But as his campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the small screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, whose itchy Twitter finger became many things at once: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Now, his Twitter account yanked away from him permanently, President Trump faces the challenge, for both his remaining days in the White House and in a post-presidency, of how to thrust himself into the conversation on his own terms.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has assured the worst possible outcome for himself, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. This is like Watergate, if Richard Nixon bill palmertried to have Gerald Ford killed in an attempt at remaining in power. Unlike Trump, Nixon had enough of a small fraction of decency in the end – or maybe just enough pragmatism – to pack up and leave when it was over.

bill palmer report logo headerNixon got to carve out a life outside of politics after he left office, specifically because he left office peacefully. By leaving peacefully, Nixon was able to finagle a federal pardon, and move on with his life. Of course Nixon wasn’t facing state level charges that were going to send him to prison anyway, like Trump is.

But still, even Nixon didn’t incite a terrorist attack on the Capitol building with Ford in it, in one last ridiculous attempt at somehow magically remaining in power. Trump has assured an absolutely horrible outcome for himself, and no semblance of a life after this.

It’s no longer simply a matter of whether Trump can beat the financial fraud charges during his criminal trial in New York. Even if Trump were to somehow pull that off, what does his life look like? He’s lost Twitter, meaning he can’t reach his base. Society is turning against his supporters by the minute. He’s even forced a number of prominent Republicans to cut him off, when they were hoping not to have to. Trump even lost a major golf tournament today, just to rub it in.

Donald Trump has ensured that the rest of his life will consist of criminal trials, financial destruction, ostracizing, and prison. He’s already miserable, impotent, lost, cut off, hobbled. He’ll likely never have another enjoyable day in his life. He spent four years trying to destroy America, and when he learned he wouldn’t get to do it for another four years, he opted to destroy himself. 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage, Katherine Stewart (author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism), Jan.11, 2021. Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?

In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines.

In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

Mr. Hawley has built his political career among people who believe that Shariah is just around the corner even as they attempt to secure privileges for their preferred religious groups to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove. Before he won election as a senator, he worked for Becket, a legal advocacy group that often coordinates with the right-wing legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom. He is a familiar presence on the Christian right media circuit.

Yet Mr. Hawley isn’t against elites per se. He is all for an elite, provided that it is a religiously righteous elite. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School and he clerked for John Roberts, the chief justice. Mr. Hawley, in other words, is a successful meritocrat of the Federalist Society variety. His greatest rival in that department is the Princeton debater Ted Cruz. They are résumé jockeys in a system that rewards those who do the best job of mobilizing fear and irrationalism. They are what happens when callow ambition meets the grotesque inequalities and injustices of our age.

Make no mistake: Mr. Hawley is a symptom, not a cause. He is a product of the same underlying forces that brought us President Trump and the present crisis of American democracy. Unless we find a way to address these forces and the fundamental pathologies that drive them, then next month or next year we will be forced to contend with a new and perhaps more successful version of Mr. Hawley.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the remarkable rift between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 11, 2021. Vice President Pence was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m.

Mike PenceTrump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited.

The remarkable break between the two men — played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president — is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience. The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him, even to his own closest advisers, now may be largely estranged from him.

Pence has committed to attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, even though Trump is not going. The vice president has begun telling staff goodbye, posing for pictures and having sentimental moments with key aides in his Executive Office suite.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: We Worked Together on the Internet. Last Week, He Stormed the Capitol, Ben Smith, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). At BuzzFeed, we followed the signals of social media. A young employee followed them all the way to Charlottesville and Capitol Hill.

He fit in as well as anyone did at our Los Angeles studio, a place full of ambitious misfits with an unusual gift. They knew how to make web videos people wanted to watch.

His real name was Anthime Joseph Gionet, though he preferred others. His value to BuzzFeed was clear: He’d do anything for the Vine, the short video platform that had a brief cultural moment before being crushed by Instagram and Snapchat in 2017.

He was, in that way, a natural for BuzzFeed when he arrived in the spring of 2015, where I was editor in chief, overseeing the website. Mr. Gionet was hired to run the Vine account for our video operation, and his job mostly consisted of editing down to six seconds the silly, fun videos his colleagues produced. Within months, he took over a BuzzFeed Twitter account, too, drawing on his same intuition for what kind of video people would share.

And so the language I heard from Mr. Gionet, now 33, on his livestream last Wednesday was familiar. “We’ve got over 10,000 people live, watching, let’s go!” he said excitedly. “Hit that follow button — I appreciate you guys.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ivanka Trump is reportedly selling out Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. Once Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his kids were never going to have a future in politics. They were always going to be too busy fighting criminal charges and financial ruin to have time to run for office. But the media played up the fantasy for the sake of ratings anyway, and it appears Ivanka Trump bought into it.

bill palmer report logo headerBritish newspaper the Daily Mail is now reporting that Ivanka intends to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration in the hope of salvaging what she thinks is a “promising political career.” This is utterly laughable. But it’s notable that she’s reportedly begun feuding with Donald, because he doesn’t want her to do it.

If this reporting is accurate, then it means that Ivanka Trump is selling out Donald Trump in a hilariously stupid attempt at propping up a political career that she’ll never have. But this isn’t surprising. In addition to being garbage, the Trumps have always been tone-deaf when it comes to just how widely they’re despised by most Americans. And they were always going to selfishly turn on each other once things got ugly enough for them.


Biden Transition

ny times logoNew York Times, William Burns, a career diplomat, is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to head the C.I.A., Julian E. Barnes and Pranshu Verma, Jan. 11, 2021. President-elect Joseph R. Biden has selected William J. Burns, a career State Department official who led the U.S. delegation in secret talks with Iran, to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

In selecting Mr. Burns (shown in a file photo), Mr. Biden is turning to an experienced diplomat with whom he has a long relationship. The two men have williams burns 2005worked together on various foreign policy issues, not just during the Obama administration, but also while Mr. Biden led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Burns has also long worked with Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s pick for national security adviser, and has been influential in helping foster the younger man’s career.

Mr. Biden’s choice sends a message that American intelligence will not be influenced by politics.

CIA LogoIn a statement early Monday, the president-elect said that Mr. Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

Still, Mr. Burns’ experience is as a consumer of intelligence, not as a producer. C.I.A. directors are expected to put aside their policy recommendations and focus on information and prediction. Still, former agency officials have asserted the most important quality in a director is not expertise in intelligence, but a relationship with the president, which Mr. Burns has.

During his presidency, President Trump has undermined and dismissed intelligence officials and has called them “passive” and “naïve” in their analysis of national security threats posed by Iran.

Currently, Mr. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has been vocal in his belief that American diplomacy has been damaged in the Trump administration.

Described as a “steady hand” and a “very effective firefighter,” by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Burns spent 32 years at the State Department, where he was the American ambassador to Moscow and Jordan, and in high-level leadership positions in Washington.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump’s Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf just resigned, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. This evening chad wolfActing Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that he was abruptly resigning. Within the context of Donald Trump being impeached, the specter of the 25th Amendment, and Trump’s increasingly psychotic behavior, the resignation has raised a number of alarms.

bill palmer report logo headerBut in reality, Chad Wolf, right, has been serving as Acting Homeland Security Secretary for far longer than the statute allows, and based on court rulings, he was set to lose his “Acting” status a few days before the end of Trump’s term. In other words, the courts pretty much fired him for being an illegal appointment, and even Wolf is acknowledging that this is the reason.

This would all sound like a convenient excuse to cover up something else that’s going on, but the reality is that the court battle over Wolf’s Acting status has been playing out in court for awhile, and unless the courts sided with him, he was never going to make it all the way to the end of Trump’s term.

So no, this isn’t a pretext for “martial law” or whatever hyperbolic theories are being kicked around the internet. Donald Trump, for all of his unhingedness, isn’t within a million miles of having the muscle to successfully pull off something like martial law. He just isn’t. If he could pull something like that off, he’d have already done it, instead of resorting to relying on inept goons to storm the Capitol. Over these final nine days, it’s more important than ever for us to remain reality based. The reality is that Chad Wolf was already going to be a goner this week, for unrelated reasons, before the Capitol attack happened.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media News

New York Magazine, White House Forced Out U.S. Attorney Amid Effort to Overturn Election in Georgia, Chas Danner, Jan. 9, 2021. Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor was apparently forced by the White House to resign earlier this week, ahead of the Georgia runoffs, because he didn’t do enough to help President Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak, who had cited “unforeseen circumstances” for his sudden resignation on Monday, had been told by a senior Justice Department official that he needed to step down because Trump was not satisfied with his efforts to investigate alleged voter fraud. Pak, who had originally planned to resign on January 20, was the top federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Georgia. He has refused opportunities to comment about the circumstances of his resignation from both the Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump had complained about Pak during the recorded call he made to Georgia election officials on January 2, writing the prosecutor off as a “Never Trumper.” This was the same call in which the president attempted to pressure Georgia’s secretary of State to “find” him enough votes to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the state. The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump had also made an earlier call to Georgia’s top elections investigator to pressure them to “find the fraud” in late December. It’s possible, if not likely, that these were not the only direct efforts the president and his allies made in the state. The Journal additionally reports that “an official at the Georgia secretary of State’s office on Saturday said the White House called officials and staff at the office for weeks demanding proof of election fraud — long before the call to Mr. Raffensperger”:

“They were desperately trying to find evidence for lawsuits that were about to be thrown out of court,” the Georgia official said. “They kept telling us that, ‘You need to give us the evidence’ and the truth is there isn’t any evidence to give.”

The forced resignation of Pak is the first reported instance of Trump and White House apparently retaliating against someone over a failure to substantiate the president’s baseless conspiracy theories regarding Georgia’s returns. It also suggests that Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn his loss to Biden there may not have been limited to state election officials. As the Journal-Constitution pointed out on Saturday, Pak’s resignation wasn’t the only suspicious development regarding the Northern District of Georgia this week:

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice reported that Trump replaced Pak on an acting basis with Bobby Christine, the [Savannah-based] U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The move was unusual, bypassing the next-highest ranking prosecutor in the Atlanta office for a Trump-appointed top prosecutor in another district.

Not surprisingly, the move has also prompted concerns that Trump and the White House may have been attempting to interfere in law-enforcement investigations for political gain. On Saturday night, the Washington Post reported that Christine “has brought to his new assignment two assistants previously tasked with monitoring possible election fraud, raising fears that he might be taking steps to lend credibility to Trump’s baseless claims of electoral malfeasance, people familiar with the matter said.”:

Christine tapped two assistant U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of Georgia — Joshua S. Bearden and Jason Blanchard — for some type of work in the Northern District, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s political sensitivity. Their task is unclear, but Christine had recently assigned both to serve as district election officers reviewing complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses …

The move, legal observers say, is unusual on multiple levels. Atlanta already has more prosecutors than Savannah, including those with experience in election cases, so it is unclear why Christine would want additional personnel there. It would be atypical for an acting U.S. attorney to initiate an investigation or special assignment so close to the end of a presidential administration.

New York Times, Opinion: The Scary Power of the Companies That Finally Shut Trump Up, Michelle Goldberg, Jan. 11, 2021. Tech giants were right to ban the president. We still need to break them up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee improperly paid a $49,000 bill incurred by his company, D.C. attorney general alleges, David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 11, 2021. President Trump’s private business failed to pay a $49,000 hotel bill incurred during Trump’s 2017 inaugural — and then, after the bill went to a collections agency, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee agreed to pay the charge instead, according to a new filing from the D.C. attorney general.

karl racineD.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D), right, had already sued Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, alleging it had wasted donors’ money on an overpriced, barely used ballroom at Trump’s own D.C. hotel.

On Monday, Racine added an allegation to that suit. He said the president’s inaugural committee — a tax-exempt charity — had improperly paid a bill it did not owe, using nonprofit funds to pay a bill owed by a for-profit business.

“The Trump Organization was liable for the invoiced charges,” Racine’s office said in the filing. “The [Inaugural Committee’s] payment of the invoice was unfair, unreasonable and unjustified and ultimately conferred improper private benefit to the Trump Organization.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Fox News overhauls daily schedule, moving news anchor Martha MacCallum to make way for opinion expansion, Jeremy Barr, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s the top-rated cable channel’s most dramatic programming shift in years. Rival news network CNN also unveiled a slate of programming changes fox news logo Smallthat includes an expansion of news anchor Jake Tapper’s show and a shrinking of veteran anchor Wolf Blitzer’s.

Her move means that Fox’s daily news programming will end after anchor Bret Baier’s 6 p.m. show concludes and not pick up again until anchor Shannon Bream’s show begins at 11 p.m.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Parler is over, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. And then one day, like a miracle, Parler disappeared. The far right lunatic social network was parler logoevicted by its web hosting service last night, meaning parler.com now points nowhere, and the pro-Trump site simply no longer exists.

bill palmer report logo headerThis doesn’t mean Parler won’t be back, as it’s reportedly searching for a new web host. But there are only a small number of web hosting services that can handle a website of its size, and thus far none of them are willing to take on the liability of hosting a site that’s full of violent rhetoric. Even if Parler does come back online in a week or a month, momentum is everything when it comes to building and maintaining a social network, and by that time most of Parler’s momentum (and thus user headcount) will have evaporated.

Here’s the thing. These lunatics all quit (or got banned from) Twitter and went to Parler, only for it to be shut down. Now they’re presumably reduced to standing in their back yard and yelling their conspiracy theories at squirrels.

 

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration to name Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, John Hudson, Anthony Faiola and Karen DeYoung, Jan. 11, 2021. A blitz of 11th-hour moves will complicate foreign policy decisions for President-elect Joe Biden.

cuba flag saving CustomA U.S. economic embargo of Cuba already curbs Americans’ ability to do business or visit the communist island. But the new terrorism label could hinder commercial deals with third countries Cuba relies on to import essential goods and turn off foreign investors in its all-important tourism industry.

The decision is a part of a blitz of 11th-hour moves by the Trump administration to push through hard-line policies championed by influential domestic political constituencies despite the complications they create for State Department lawyers, humanitarian interests abroad and the incoming Biden administration.

 

Jan. 10

Top Headlines

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

More On Mob Attack

 

Inside DC


World News

 

Jan. 10

Top Stories

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Politics Updates: Momentum Grows in Push to Impeach Trump a Second Time, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Ted Lieu said that a draft of an article of impeachment against President Trump had drawn over 190 co-sponsors. Here’s the latest in politics.

U.S. House logoThe House could vote as soon as Tuesday on charging President Trump with inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol. But top leaders want to avoid hamstringing the first days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate trial. Patrick Toomey becomes the second Republican senator to call for Trump’s resignation.

The No. 3 House Democrat said on Sunday that the chamber could vote as soon as Tuesday on an article of impeachment charging President Trump with inciting a violent mob that attacked the Capitol — but then delay sending it to the Senate for trial.

james clyburnRepresentative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, left, the Democratic whip, said that the vast majority of House Democrats believed the president must be impeached for his conduct but that top leaders were still trying to determine how to punish Mr. Trump without hamstringing the first days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency with an all-consuming Senate trial. They recognized it would be impossible to impeach and hold a trial before Mr. Trump leaves office in 10 days, he said.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Clyburn suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was considering impeaching now but not sending the article to the Senate for trial for weeks — possibly until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office. The Senate must immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles, but it cannot begin one without them.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” said Mr. Clyburn, an influential ally to the incoming president. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

The comments came after senior Democrats had met late into the night on Saturday discussing possible options for the week ahead, as support for impeachment grew to encompass nearly their entire caucus. House leaders were giving extra attention to security concerns that could affect the timing after last weeks events, working with the U.S. Air Marshals and the Capitol Police to ensure lawmakers could travel safely back to Washington for a vote.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for Donald Trump to face criminal prosecution, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2021. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is moving forward with fast track impeachment proceedings, even as she continues to ramp up the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Pelosi appeared on 60 Minutes tonight to discuss things.

bill palmer report logo headerPelosi gave 60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl a tour of her damaged office in the Capitol building. Pelosi squarely blamed Donald Trump for inciting the terrorist attack, and she called for Trump to face criminal prosecution for it.

Various Democrats have called for the criminal prosecution of Trump for inciting the Capitol building attack. Republican Senator Pat Toomey also stated earlier today that he believes Trump has criminal liability for this. Pelosi is the highest ranking elected official to call for Trump’s prosecution to date.

Donald Trump is already on track to end up in prison in New York State, where a widely documented grand jury is in the process of criminally indicting him for various financial crimes. In fact Pelosi pointed out during her interview tonight that Trump can’t pardon himself for charges brought against him in New York State. But it’s rapidly becoming more clear that Trump is going to end up facing federal criminal charges as well.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Our President Wants Us Here’: The Mob That Stormed the Capitol, Dan Barry, Mike McIntire and Matthew Rosenberg, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). From QAnon and the Proud Boys to elected officials and Trump-supporting Americans, the protesters came from around the country with one allegiance. The mayhem was the culmination of a sustained assault by President Trump and his enablers on fact-based reality, one that began long before the election.

It was the table setter for what would come, with nearly 2,000 people gathering in Washington on Tuesday evening for a “Rally to Save America.” Speaker after angry speaker stoked stolen-election conspiracy theories and name-checked sworn enemies: Democrats and weak Republicans, Communists and Satanists.

djt hands up mouth open CustomStill, the crowd seemed a bit giddy at the prospect of helping President Trump reverse the result of the election — though at times the language evoked a call to arms. “It is time for war,” one speaker declared.

As the audience thinned, groups of young men emerged in Kevlar vests and helmets, a number of them holding clubs and knives. Some were aligned with the neofascist Proud Boys; others with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group.

“We’re not backing down anymore,” said a man with fresh stitches on his head. “This is our country.”

That night reflected a disconcerting mix of free speech and certain menace; of everyday Americans supporting their president and extremists prepared to commit violence for him. All had assembled in answer to Mr. Trump’s repeated appeals to attend a march to the Capitol the next day that he promised would be “wild.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: For some Republicans, it’s time to head for the exits, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 10, 2021. Readers know that for a couple of years, I jennifer rubin new headshothave argued that the Republican Party failed the test of character and decency when it embraced President Trump and, therefore, should be leveled. The insurrection this past week highlights how essential it is to leave a party that is now thoroughly infested with neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic and lawless elements.

It is no surprise that several Republican state elected officials have been identified as having participated in Wednesday’s riot. The involvement of so many elected Republicans not simply in perpetuating the lie of a stolen election but in participating in a deadly event in which anti-Semitic, pro-Confederate thugs roamed the halls of Congress is horrifying, but predictable. The rioters on Capitol Hill — even before committing a slew of crimes — were decked in neo-Nazi/ and racist regalia. They refused to allow democracy to take its course. This was the band elected officials joined or republican elephant logosupported.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) raised his fist in solidarity with this crowd. Fox News and right-wing radio catered to this crowd, filling its participants with conspiracies and outright lies. The notion that the Republican Party can be separated from the mob is nonsensical. The mob is the party’s base.

Republicans, including House and Senate members, have a choice: Associate and co-exist with this Republican Party, or leave. When 147 House members object to electoral college votes, it is impossible to excise the threat. The threat is the majority of the House Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump leaves office weakened, Republicans wonder if his wounds are fatal, Philip Rucker, Jan. 10, 2021.  In the wake of the mob attack on the Capitol that he incited, President Trump is now destined to slink out of the White House diminished and isolated.

Trump had planned to retreat from Washington to plot a comeback, but now he will have to contend with a possible second impeachment or perhaps even criminal charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: For Trump, the end is coming swiftly and with stinging rebukes, Dan Balz, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). The last chapter in the presidency of Donald Trump has come down to this: Under what circumstances will he leave office and how much will that departure further sully an already besmirched legacy.

The end is coming in ways Trump could not have imagined before Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol by his supporters. He is hearing calls for his resignation from conservative voices, among them Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Members of his Cabinet and White House staff are deserting him, though perhaps too late to escape the fallout from having stood by him for so long. Twitter has banned him permanently due to the risk of further incitement of violence, denying him the favored platform for his incendiary messaging and attacks on rivals.

More ominously, he faces the prospect of being impeached for a second time by House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Were that to Mike Pencehappen, Trump would stand alone among the nation’s presidents for such ignobility.

Absent a resignation or a move by Vice President Pence, right, to lead the invoking of the 25th Amendment, for which Pence shows no stomach, impeachment proceedings could be on a fast-track. In just a few days, the idea of impeachment has gone from preliminary conversations to the prospect of possible floor action early next week, if Trump has not resigned.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans largely silent on consequences of deadly attack and Trump’s role in inciting it, Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). Three days after a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol carried out in President Trump’s name, Republican leaders had yet to outline plans to hold anyone accountable or to alter a platform and priorities lashed to the outgoing Republican president.

Trump and some congressional Republicans, meanwhile, stepped up their efforts Saturday to head off Democratic efforts to impeach Trump over what they call his incitement of violence.

Behind closed doors, Trump and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner have encouraged allies to fight against a potential impeachment by issuing statements on social media or elsewhere that discourage or condemn the move, people familiar with the calls said.

It was not clear whether those efforts were having much success. Republican allies of the president were mainly muted Saturday, as pressure continued to mount among Democrats to try to force Trump from office before his term expires Jan. 20.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol attack stoked by false claims of vote fraud, promises of violent restoration, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Razzan Nakhlawi, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). The problem with devotion to a prophet of falsehoods is that reality eventually intrudes.

By mid-December, President Trump’s fraudulent claims of a rigged election were failing in humiliating fashion. Lawsuits were being laughed out of courts. State officials, including Republicans, were refusing to bend to his will and alter the vote. And in a seemingly decisive blow on Dec. 14, the electoral college certified the win for Joe Biden.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosIt was a disorienting sequence for legions of supporters who believed Trump’s lies that the election had been stolen from him but that he would prevail and reclaim it — especially those who had already descended into deeper, more disturbing conspiracies.

Some clung to the hope that Vice President Pence would use his procedural role on Jan. 6 to write an alternative ending. But as it became clear that Pence would refuse with the backing of most Senate Republicans, Trump’s most ardent abettors began planning the siege of the Capitol.

“War it is,” read a post on TheDonald.win, a rabid pro-Trump forum that exploded in fury at post-election realities. “We kill now,” said another user identified only as “AngloMercia.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A man with an assault rifle was charged with threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi, officials said, Michael Levenson, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). The Department of Justice said on Friday that Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. was one of 13 people who had been charged in federal court after a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

nancy pelosi twitterA man who had an assault rifle was charged with threatening Nancy Pelosi, right, the House speaker, after he traveled to Washington for the pro-Trump rally on Wednesday and sent a text message saying he would put “a bullet in her noggin on Live TV,” the federal authorities said.

Federal agents said the man, Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr., had been staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer, including a Glock handgun, a pistol, a Tavor X95 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

FBI logoMr. Meredith was charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, according to court records. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The Department of Justice said on Friday that he was one of 13 people who had been charged in federal court after a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday and disrupted Congress as it was certifying the results of the presidential election.

Those charged included conspiracy theorists, Proud Boys, elected officials and everyday Americans.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. Meredith had erected a billboard in 2018 in Acworth, Ga., that read, “#QANON” along with the name of his business, Car Nutz Car Wash.

The QAnon conspiracy theory, which the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, accuses Democrats and some Republicans of being beholden to a cabal of bureaucrats, pedophiles and Satanists. Many followers believe that President Trump is secretly battling a criminal band of sex traffickers.

Mr. Meredith told The Journal-Constitution in 2018 that he had put up the QAnon billboard because he was “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

Mr. Meredith, whose current hometown was unavailable, told federal agents that he had been traveling from Colorado and had arrived too late for Wednesday’s rally in Washington.

In a text message, accompanied by a purple devil emoji, he said he had “a ton of 5.56 armor piercing ammo.” In other text messages, he referred to Ms. Pelosi with misogynistic slurs and threatened to run her over, the F.B.I. said. “I predict that within 12 days, many in our country will die,” Mr. Meredith wrote, according to the F.B.I.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Amazon suspends Parler, threatening to take pro-Trump site offline, Tony Romm and Rachel Lerman, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). Amazon suspended the pro-Trump social network Parler from its Web-hosting service this weekend, a move that threatens to darken the site indefinitely after its users glorified the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol.

amazon logo smallThe e-commerce and Web-hosting giant said Parler had violated its terms of service given its inadequate content-moderation practices, adding in a letter that it would implement its punishment just before midnight Pacific time Monday.

The move by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, marks the latest and most crippling blow for the pro-Trump social network, which has emerged as a haven for conservative users who have fled more mainstream Silicon Valley sites that crack down on harmful, viral falsehoods online. Earlier this week, Apple and Google removed Parler’s app from their stores for smartphone downloads, similarly citing concerns that posts on Parler could contribute to violence.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of parler logoanonymity, confirmed that AWS had communicated its suspension to Parler on Saturday.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Parler also did not respond to a request for comment. But its chief executive, John Matze, said in a post on his site that the social network soon could be “unavailable on the Internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump scrambles to find new social network after Twitter ban; White House prepares to blast big tech, Tony Romm and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). Twitter’s decision to ban him days before the end of his term sparked a wide political backlash among his most fervent allies.

washington post logoWashington Post, PGA of America pulls PGA Championship from Trump’s N.J. golf course, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell and Barry Svrluga, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). The organizers of the PGA Championship canceled plans to hold the event at President Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club in 2022 in the wake of last week’s Trump-inspired riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In a statement that did not directly address the unrest in the nation’s capital, Jim Richerson, PGA of America’s president, said the group’s board voted Sunday night to “exercise the right to terminate the agreement” with Trump’s course.

“It’s become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand and would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programs and sustain the longevity of our mission,” Richerson said in a video posted to the organization’s website. “Our board has thus made the decision to exercise our right to terminate the contract to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster.

“It was a decision made to ensure the PGA of America and the PGA professionals can continue to lead and grow our great game for decades to come.”

The PGA Championship is one of the four majors in men’s golf, and therefore it was scheduled to be the most prestigious event ever held at a Trump property. His New Jersey course hosted the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, and his course in Loudoun County, Va., hosted the Senior PGA Championship that same summer.

Since Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, PGA of America spokespeople had not responded to questions about the organization’s intentions about the 2022 PGA. The group made no announcement about a replacement venue.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 10, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2here):

World Cases: 90,271,872, Deaths: 1,938,001
U.S. Cases:   22,714,728, Deaths: 381,557

ny times logoNew York Times, At Elite Medical Centers, Even Workers Who Don’t Qualify Are Vaccinated, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jan. 10, 2021.  Administrators and young graduate students have been inoculated at leading research hospitals, contrary to state and federal guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations intended to ensure that the nation’s vaccines first reach those at highest risk: cdc logo Customhealth care workers who interact with Covid-19 patients, and residents and staff members at nursing homes, followed by people age 75 and older and certain essential workers.

Each state has established its own version of the guidelines, but with the rollout proceeding at a glacial pace, pressure has been growing for a more flexible approach. Officials at the C.D.C. and the Food and Drug Administration have recently suggested that it might be wiser to simply to loosen the criteria and distribute the vaccine as widely as possible.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pressure Grows for States to Open Vaccines to More Groups of People, Abby Goodnough, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Some states are already expanding eligibility to people 65 and over, despite C.D.C. recommendations.

 

More On Mob Attack brian sicknick

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Has Not Ordered Flags Lowered for Fallen Officer, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump has not contacted the Capitol Police officer’s family; Vice President Mike Pence has done so. The two have not spoken since Wednesday.

President Trump has not ordered the flags on federal buildings to fly at half-staff in honor of Brian D. Sicknick, above, a police officer who was killed after trying to fend off pro-Trump loyalists during the siege at the Capitol on Wednesday.

While the flags at the Capitol have been lowered, Mr. Trump has not issued a similar order for federal buildings under his control. A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Sicknick, 42, an officer for the Capitol Police, died on Thursday from brain injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. Hours earlier, addressing supporters at a rally steps from the White House, Mr. Trump denounced the 2020 election as stolen from him and instructed them to march “peacefully” to the Capitol while also repeatedly noting that his side needed to “fight.”

Mr. Trump has not reached out to Mr. Sicknick’s family, although Vice President Mike Pence called to offer condolences, an aide to Mr. Pence said.

Some of the calls for violence during the riot on Wednesday were directed at Mr. Pence, who had made clear to the president that he did not believe he had the power to change the election result, and suggested that the vice president be hanged. Mr. Pence was whisked to a secure location at the Capitol as the rioters broke into the building, but rebuffed attempts by the Secret Service to evacuate him.

 The Daily Beast via Yahoo News, ‘Stop the Steal’ Organizer in Hiding After Denying Blame for Riot, Will Sommer, Jan. 10, 2021. Two weeks before thousands of daily beast logoTrump rioters breached Congress, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander said his group wasn’t violent — “yet.”

“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks,’” Alexander told a crowd at a Dec. 19 rally at Arizona’s state capitol. “I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!”

Alexander, who has described himself as one of the “official originators” of the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, went on to use “yet” as a code word for violence. Then Alexander told the Phoenix crowd about his plans for Washington.

“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” Alexander said. “And if we have to explore options after that…‘yet.’ Yet!”

Alexander’s supporters cheered, yelling threats like “noose!” and “nothing’s off the table!”

Alexander led a host of activists in ratcheting up the rhetoric ahead of Congress’ certification of the electoral votes, threatening to “1776” opponents of Trump’s re-election. Now that five people, including a Capitol Police officer, are dead, however, Alexander has gone into hiding, and the website promoting his Jan. 6 rally has been wiped from the internet.

Alexander is defiant, saying he won’t “take an iota of blame that does not belong to me.” “I didn’t incite anything,” Alexander said in a video posted Friday to Twitter. “I didn’t do anything.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump chooses Alamo for his last stand, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 10, 2021. Donald Trump has ten days left in his presidency – or maybe bill palmerless when you consider that Mike Pence finally began talking about the 25th Amendment last night, and the House is about to impeach Trump as well. Trump has lost his Twitter, and he’s going to lose his freedom once he’s out of office and gets criminally indicted.

Now Trump has decided to make his last stand – and he’s doing it in Alamo. No, really. To be clear, he’s not going to the Alamo, in San bill palmer report logo headerAntonio. According to Bloomberg he’s visiting a Texas town called Alamo, which is about three hours south of the Alamo. He’s also planning to pardon more people and try to punish Twitter for banning him.

In other words, Donald Trump is planning to spend his final days as president carrying out a petty, blusterous, corrupt, and stupid agenda. Trump making his last stand at a place called “Alamo” is fitting, considering how poorly it went for the folks who made their last stand at the Alamo. It’s time for Mike Pence to remove him. Today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). Twitter cited dangerous talk and online planning in banning Trump’s account. The planning for Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol happened largely in plain view, with chatters in far-twitter bird Customright forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties and disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election — in what they portrayed as responding to orders from President Trump.

This went far beyond the widely reported, angry talk about thronging Washington that day. Trump supporters exchanged detailed tactical advice about what to bring and what to do once they assembled at the Capitol to conduct “citizen’s arrests” of members of Congress. One poster said, “[expletive] zip ties. I’m bringing rope!”

Such comments were not confined to dark corners of the Web. They were scooped up and catalogued by researchers who made their findings public weeks before a seemingly unprepared Capitol Police force was overrun by thousands of rioters, in an incident that left one officer, one rioter and three other people dead.

The question left unanswered is why authorities didn’t prepare more effectively for a storm that many outsiders saw looming on the horizon — especially when those planning the assault were so open about their intentions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Capitol siege: How barricaded lawmakers and aides sounded urgent pleas for help as police lost control, Karoun Demirjian, Carol D. Leonnig, Paul Kane and Aaron C. Davis, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed).  The growing crowds outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon sounded menacing but at bay as senators began to debate challenges to the electoral college vote. A top adviser to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped out of the ornate chamber for a short break.

Alone in the Capitol’s marble halls, just outside the chamber’s bronze doors, it was suddenly apparent that the citadel of U.S. democracy was falling to the mob incited by President Trump.

A cacophony of screaming, shouting and banging echoed from the floor below. McConnell’s security detail rushed past and into the chamber. The adviser began walking toward the Rotunda and came face to face with a U.S. Capitol Police officer sprinting in the opposite direction. The two made eye contact and the officer forced out a single word: “Run!”

The aide to McConnell (R-Ky.) darted down a side hallway lined with offices. He jiggled one locked doorknob, then another. A co-worker poked his head out of the office of McConnell’s speechwriter. The adviser lunged, pushing him and a colleague back inside.

The screaming and shouting soon seemed right outside. Only then, a text alert from Capitol police blared on every phone in the room: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Police departments across the U.S. open probes into whether their own members took part in the Capitol riot, Kim Bellware, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed). Police officers and at least one police chief from departments across the United States are facing termination, suspension or other discipline for their proximity to or alleged involvement in a chaotic gathering in Washington on Wednesday that ended in a riot at the U.S. Capitol and left five people dead.

Departments in California, Washington state, and Texas are among those that have announced investigations into their officers based on tips, social media posts and other evidence, though more officers could be identified as evidence emerges in the coming days.

The probes come after an especially fraught year for U.S. policing that saw massive civil rights protests against police violence. They are likely to raise questions about free speech, the expansion of surveillance and public trust in law enforcement, while legal experts warn the scrutiny could have unintended consequences.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Things are rapidly falling apart between Mike Pence and Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2021.  Last night Mike Pence leaked to CNN that he would consider invoking the 25th Amendment if Donald Trump becomes “more unstable.” No one found this to be satisfactory, but at least Pence was admitting that Trump is already unstable, and at least Pence is now talking about the 25th Amendment. Pence also leaked to Fox News that he’s disturbed by Trump’s failure to even so much as check up on Pence’s well being during the U.S. Capitol terrorist attack that Trump incited.

bill palmer report logo headerThings are clearly falling apart between Pence and Trump. Interestingly, this comes at a time when Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter, and therefore can’t simply start attacking Pence publicly. However, this is for the best, considering the violence that Trump has already incited against Pence.

This came even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Pence a deadline of tonight to invoke the 25th Amendment before she moves ahead with impeachment and everything else in her bag. So now Pence finds himself enduring his hardest day. Either he makes the difficult but morally and constitutionally mandated move of removing Trump from office, or he forever goes down as the guy who sat there and did nothing while the Speaker of the House had to try to do it for him.

We’ll see what happens as the day goes on. There’s a very small, but greater than zero, chance that Mike Pence could be President of the United States by the end of the day – and the crazy part is that most of us now find ourselves rooting for it, even though we hate Mike Pence. We’re just ten days away from President Joe Biden. But at this rate will he be number 46 or number 47?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The riot happened because the Senate acquitted Trump, Norman Eisen, right, Jan. 10, 2021 (print ed.). The impeachment trial was a norman eisen Smallmissed chance to stop the president’s abusive behavior. (Norman Eisen was a special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee for the impeachment and trial of Donald Trump. He is a senior fellow at Brookings, counsel for the Voter Protection Program and author of “A Case for the American People.”)

There was a terrible paradox in the images of Republican members of Congress driven into safe rooms by insurrectionists whom President Trump had whipped into a frenzy. As a lawyer for the Democratic House managers at Trump’s impeachment and trial, I sat on the floor of the House and the Senate as these same lawmakers refused to hold him accountable, knowingly unleashing the storm that swept over them, their Democratic colleagues and the nation on Wednesday.

Impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, had warned them: “President Trump has made clear in word and deed that he will persist in such conduct if he is not removed from power. He poses a continuing threat to our nation, to the integrity of our elections and to our democratic order. He must not remain in power one moment longer.”

This last week’s events — and indeed all the president’s abuses during this election cycle and the last year — are a consequence of their refusal to convict him in his impeachment trial.

With the sole exception of Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), not a single Republican in the Senate or the House would recognize the threat then. On the contrary. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) went so far as to say: “I believe that the president has learned from this case. The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.”

 capitol ties

A heavily disguised man invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I. arrests a man who had carried zip ties into the Capitol, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, Jan. 10, 2021. The F.B.I. arrested a man on Sunday who was photographed in the Senate chamber clad in military-style clothing and holding zip ties after internet researchers managed to piece together his identity.

Law enforcement officials said the man, Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, was taken into custody in Nashville on federal charges. One of the officials said the authorities had recovered several weapons. No further details were available. Charges were expected to be announced soon.

Efforts to reach Mr. Munchel before his arrest were unsuccessful. He is one of more than a dozen people charged by federal authorities in connection with the attack on the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Notable Arrests After the Riot at the Capitol, Marie Fazio, Jan. 10, 2021. Dozens have been charged after the riot. Here are some of the notable arrests. On Wednesday, a mob of Trump supporters, encouraged by President Trump himself, converged on the U.S. Capitol, swept past law enforcement and rampaged through the halls of Congress.

The insurrection resulted in the deaths of a Capitol Police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher and a rioter who was shot by a police officer as she tried to push her way into the heavily protected Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House chamber. Three others died as a result of “medical emergencies” on the Capitol grounds, according to the authorities.

In the days since the riot, federal and local authorities have begun arresting people who they said were involved. More arrests are expected as investigators scrutinize photographs, videos and social media posts to identify the protesters. The F.B.I. has received more than 40,000 tips, including photos and videos, a number that does not include tips that people have submitted by phone.

On Friday, the Justice Department announced that it had charged 13 people. Dozens of others have been charged in Superior Court in Washington, D.C., with unlawful entry, curfew violations and firearms-related crimes. Here are a few of the people who face charges.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chris Christie calls for Donald Trump’s ouster, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2021. Former New Jersey Governor and current ABC News political analyst Chris Christie has had a surreal love-hate relationship with Donald Trump over the past four years. As recently as three months ago, Christie was helping Trump prep for the 2020 election debates. But now that Trump has gone full domestic terrorist, even Christie is cutting bait.

bill palmer report logo headerChris Christie appeared on ABC News this morning and came out in support of impeaching Donald Trump. This is a big deal because it chris christie press 200means Christie is calling for Trump’s ouster, as a successful impeachment would result in Trump’s removal.

We’re not prepared to give Christie, right, any points for this, as he tried until the very end to give Trump a second term. But it’s notable that even Christie has now decided he has to throw Trump fully under the bus, in order to try to maintain his own viability as a TV political analyst.

MSNBC via Twitter, Report: Trump told Kelly Loeffler before he landed in Georgia for the final rally on Monday that if she didn't back the Electoral College challenges, he would "do a number on her" from the stage, according to a source familiar with the events, Kyle Griffin, Jan 10, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Insurer, hotel chain say they won’t donate to lawmakers who opposed electoral college results, Todd C. Frankel and Jeff Stein, Jan. 10, 2021. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said in a statement that its political action committee was suspending contributions “to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy.”

sam nunberg msnbcPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump reportedly went berserk and cursed out Mike Pence just before U.S. Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 10, 2021. Twitter has rightfully taken away the voice of domestic terrorist Donald Trump, and Mike Pence has been disappointingly quiet of late, so it’s been difficult to know precisely what’s been going on between the two of them.

bill palmer report logo headerBut now longtime Trump adviser Sam Nunberg (shown in a file photo) has appeared on MSNBC and recounted the details of a recent lunch meeting between Trump and Pence. This meeting apparently took place just before January 6th, during which Pence informed Trump that Pence had no ability to somehow overturn the election results.

In response, Nunberg claims that Trump said to Pence something along the lines of “I saved you. I made you. You would’ve lost without me? How dare you do this to me? You’re completely misinformed.” Then Trump called Pence a “p*ssy” to his face.

This is notable because after this disastrous meeting, Trump went on to incite a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol building while Pence was inside, which amounted to a de facto murder attempt on Trump’s part. This reported conversation reveals how enraged Trump was at Pence at the time Trump tried to get Pence killed. We won’t be shocked if Nunberg ends up being called as a witness when Trump is eventually put on criminal trial for all of this.

 

Inside DC

Axios Sneak Peak, Analysis: Harris' huge tiebreaker, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba, Jan. 10, 2021. While Democrats relish Kamala Harris' power kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileto cast tie-breaking Senate votes in their favor, it has the potential to define her as vice president — and as a possible 2024 presidential contender, writes Axios' Stef Kight.

Why it matters: As Senate president and a 51st vote for Democrats, Harris, right, faces the prospect of weighing in on specific bills she would have avoided after leaving Congress. Her domestic and international travel — a key perk for the vice presidency — also could be inhibited by the need to remain close to Washington.

"That could be a game-changer," said former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, "from the perspective of creating a political narrative down the road."

A slim Senate majority allowed Vice President Mike Pence to cast more tie-breaking votes — 13 — than any vice president in the modern betsy devos oera, according to Pew Research Center.

One vote confirmed Betsy DeVos, right, as education secretary. Another backed a federal judge, and a third allowed for a vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, which ultimately failed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands of law school alumni and students push for disbarment of Sens. Hawley and Cruz, Valerie Strauss, Jan. 10, 2021. More than 3,000 law school alumni and students have signed a petition calling for the disbarment of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) over what it says were their “efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election.”

josh hawley missouriHawley, left, and Cruz led efforts in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to stop the counting of electoral votes certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Trump in the November election.

Critics are accusing the senators of using rhetoric that helped inflame a pro-Trump mob that engaged in acts of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as the vote-counting was underway. Both have rejected the accusations.

harvard logoBut alumni and students of the law schools that the men attended — Cruz is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Hawley of Yale Law School — and others have signed a petition in recent days urging the Texas, Missouri and Washington bars to “immediately begin disbarment proceedings” against the two senators.

Note: Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig, a 1983 graduate of Yale Law School, signed the petition.

ny times logoNew York Times, Days After Capitol Siege, Police Officer Who Protected Senate Dies Off Duty, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 10, 2021. Officer Howard Liebengood had been with the Capitol Police since 2005 and assigned to protect the Senate. The cause of his death was not provided.

Officer Liebengood, 51, had been a Capitol Police officer since 2005, and was assigned to the agency’s Senate division. His father, who shared his name, served as the sergeant-at-arms, the chief security official, of the Senate from 1981 to 1983.'

Nexstar Media Wire, Off-duty U.S. Capitol Police officer has died, Wire and staff reports, Jan. 10, 2021. U.S. Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood died Saturday while off-duty of unknown causes, the department announced Sunday. On Twitter Sunday, CBS News Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes said Former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer told the news organization that Liebengood’s death was a “line of duty casualty.”

 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Strong Views and ‘Close to the Boss’: How This Envoy Reshaped a Conflict, David M. Halbfinger, Jan. 10, 2021. President Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer-turned-ambassador, leaves his post having radically overhauled policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

Love him or hate him, and most people who have paid attention fall into one camp or the other, Ambassador David M. Friedman will complete his tour of duty in Israel this month having etched his name in history as one of America’s most influential envoys.

It was Mr. Friedman, 62, who drove the radical overhaul of White House policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dreaming up the seemingly endless list of political giveaways that President Trump bestowed upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters on the Israeli right.

 

Jan. 9

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Police, Capital Mob Riot

 

Virus Victims, Responses

 

Biden Transition

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Trump Removal Pressures

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Impeachment Updates: A Muted Trump Faces an Impeachment Threat Next Week, Staff Reports, Jan. 9, 2021. Pat Toomey called the president’s actions “impeachable.” He’s the third G.O.P. senator to signal openness to his ouster or demand he resign. Here’s the latest.

pat toomeyAs Saturday dawned on a White House in turmoil, with President Trump unable to communicate on Twitter and other platforms, momentum for impeaching him a second time was rapidly growing among rank-and-file Democrats and some Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday threatened to impeach Mr. Trump unless he resigned “immediately” for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol this week, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican senator to follow her lead.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski (shown in a file photo) told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

lisa murkowski 2 blue dressd oRepresentative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, announced on Saturday that the articles of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn 180 co-sponsors.

“We will introduce the Article of Impeachment this Monday during the House’s pro forma session,” he said on Twitter.

With less than two weeks left in Mr. Trump’s term, the timing for an impeachment would be tight.

Yet the Constitution allows House lawmakers to introduce charges and proceed directly to a debate and floor vote in a matter of days, triggering a Senate trial that could take place even after Mr. Trump leaves office. If he were convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office again.

Already, Twitter’s move to permanently suspend Mr. Trump “due to the risk of further incitement for violence” has effectively scuttled his favorite method of communicating with the public, even as he retains his authority as commander in chief. Facebook and other digital platforms have limited his access.

As federal law enforcement officials on Friday announced arrests in connection with Wednesday’s siege, Twitter said that Trump supporters had been using the platform to plan similar attacks, including a proposed one on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings three days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

In one of his last Twitter posts before being banned, Mr. Trump said he would not attend the inauguration. He would be the first incumbent in 150 years to skip his successor’s swearing-in.

Mr. Biden on Friday pressed ahead with his agenda, promising an accelerated response to an array of challenges. On Friday, the economy was said to have lost 140,000 jobs in December and officials across the United States reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time.

In a sharp break with the Trump administration, Mr. Biden intends to release nearly all available doses of coronavirus vaccines soon after he is inaugurated, rather than hold back millions of vials to guarantee second doses will be available. He has vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days in office.

The Trump administration has shipped more than 22 million doses, and millions more are already in the federal government’s hands. Yet only 6.7 million people have received a dose, far short of the federal goal of giving at least 20 million people their first shots by the end of December.

It is unclear how many more Covid-19 inoculations the administration can deliver before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, particularly as more senior officials leave the White House in the wake of the mob violence at the Capitol.

Also unclear: what the Republican Party will look like after Mr. Trump leaves office. The wave of resignations by administration officials continued. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development said Saturday that Michael T. Harvey, assistant administrator for the Middle East bureau, and Hallam H. Ferguson, senior deputy assistant administrator in the same bureau, had both left the agency on Friday.

At a meeting of the Republican National Committee in Florida on Friday, the chaos of the past week was a mere afterthought. While the R.N.C. chair, Ronna McDaniel, condemned the attack on the Capitol, neither she nor any other speaker publicly hinted at Mr. Trump’s role in inciting the violence.

“We can’t exist without the people he brought to the party — he’s changed the direction of the party,” Paul Reynolds, a Republican committeeman from Alabama, said of the president. “We’re a different party because of the people that came with him, and they make us a better party.”

Democrats ask the Justice Dept. what they are doing to prosecute those involved in the Capitol attack, including Trump.

Democrats have asked leaders of the Justice Department for more information about what the department is doing to investigate and prosecute the attack on the Capitol, including the role that President Trump played in the attack.

Five people died in the riot, including a police officer, and dozens have been arrested.

Mr. Trump’s role in the carnage underpins the articles of impeachment that House Democrats have drawn up, accusing the president of inciting an insurrection. The U.S. attorney in Washington initially refused to rule out investigating Mr. Trump’s role in the riot. A day later, one of his deputies reversed his statement during a news conference.

“Don’t expect any charges of that nature,” Ken Kohl, a top prosecutor in the office, told reporters on Friday.

G.O.P. Senator Patrick Toomey says Trump ‘committed impeachable offenses.’

Mr. Toomey’s remarks came as Democrats are preparing to bring articles of impeachment to the House floor as early as Monday over Mr. Trump’s role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.

“I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” Mr. Toomey told “The Journal Editorial Report” on Fox News. In the interview, Mr. Toomey said Mr. Trump’s “behavior this week does disqualify him from serving.” But he expressed doubts about the efficacy of impeachment with only 11 days remaining of the president’s term in office, and added that he worried that House Democrats might attempt to “politicize” the impeachment process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces mounting demands to leave office or face impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump faces mounting pressure for his immediate ouster after he incited Wednesday’s violent siege at the Capitol — an increasingly louder drumbeat chastising his actions that threatens not only to prematurely end his waning tenure but to put him in legal jeopardy once he leaves office.

democratic donkey logoIn Congress, a growing cadre of House Democrats is pushing to rapidly impeach Trump a second time before he is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20. They are preparing to introduce articles charging him with inciting an insurrection and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States” and its institutions.

In public, Trump has come as close as he is likely to get to admitting he lost the election, acknowledging that there will be a transfer of power and confirming Friday that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But in private, the president has tried to rationalize his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest that would garner news coverage and rattle members of Congress — not for his supporters to actually storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden stimulus plan includes checks, jobless aid, Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he is assembling a multitrillion-dollar relief package that would boost stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000, extend unemployment insurance and send billions of dollars in aid to city and state governments, moving swiftly to address the nation’s deteriorating economic condition and the rampaging pandemic.

joe biden twitterThe package will also include billions of dollars to improve vaccine distribution and tens of millions of dollars for schools, as well as rent forbearance and assistance to small businesses, especially those in low-income communities, Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del.

“We need to provide more immediate relief for families and businesses now,” Biden said.

“The price tag will be high,” he said, adding, “The overwhelming consensus among leading economists left, right and center is that in order to keep the economy from collapsing this year, getting much, much worse, we should be investing significant amounts of money right now.”

Biden said he would lay out the package in more detail next week. It would build on some $4 trillion in economic assistance Congress has already devoted to battling the devastating pandemic, including a $900 billion package President Trump signed into law last month.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live U.S. Political Update: Democrats Lay Groundwork for Impeaching Trump Again, Staff Reports, Jan. 9, 2021. ‘I Want Him Out’: Murkowski Is First G.O.P. Senator to Call for Removal.

House Democrats intend to introduce an article of impeachment on Monday charging President Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.” President-elect Joe Biden prioritizes the economy, saying there is a “a dire, dire need to act now.”

  • Furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, pressured President Trump to leave office after a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski suggested she may leave the Republican Party if it continued to align itself with Mr. Trump.
  • But the president struck a defiant tone. Behind closed doors, he made clear that he would not resign. Here’s the latest from Washington.
  • Biden pledges action to address the economy and the pandemic.
  • Pelosi asked the Pentagon about preventing Trump from using the nuclear codes.
  • A judge has blocked Trump’s sweeping restrictions on asylum applications.
  • Trump's suspension from Twitter caps an online revolt against him.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell memo outlines how Senate would conduct second trial for Trump if House impeaches, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Based on the Senate schedule and timelines, the proceedings would occur after the president leaves office.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump held Senators hostage in the Capitol while calling them and demanding the election be overturned, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 9, bill palmer2021 (12:03 a.m.). We all saw Donald Trump incite the domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol Building. And it’s since been revealed that Trump refused to sign off on the mayor’s request that the DC National Guard be sent in to retake the Capitol. But now things have taken an even darker turn.

bill palmer report logo headerCNN is reporting that while the Capitol was under siege by Trump-terrorists, and while Trump was refusing to sign off on sending the National Guard, he called at least one Senator on the phone and demanded that the election results be overturned. CNN is reporting that Trump tried to call Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville and instead reached Republican Senator Mike Lee, making his demand.

This means that if the timeline of events as we understand it is indeed accurate, Donald Trump was holding members of Congress hostage in the basement while calling them and making demands. This is way beyond merely inciting the attack, or even refusing to do anything to put it down. This is some kind of ransom situation. Trump allowed the Vice President, every Senator, and every House member to remain held hostage and in danger of violence, while he made demands. This is one of the ugliest crimes in American history – and Trump will never get out of prison.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Busted: Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani caught coordinating their efforts during U.S. Capitol terrorist attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. When the news first broke that Rudy Giuliani tried to call new Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville to ask him to overthrow the election results, but mistakenly left a voicemail for a different Senator instead, it was largely written off as just Rudy being Rudy. Of course his half-functioning brain called the wrong person while trying to carry out a crime.

bill palmer report logo headerBut now CNN is reporting that Donald Trump also tried calling Tuberville during the U.S. Capitol attack, and also mistakenly called the same other Senator instead. That is certainly not a coincidence.

The fact that Trump and Giuliani both tried to call the same senator during the capitol attack, but each called the same wrong number, is proof that Trump and Giuliani were conspiring together during the attack. One of them gave the other the wrong phone number to call, or the same person gave them each the wrong number.

When it comes to prosecuting people for something like inciting violence, proving coordination is key to proving conspiracy. Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were coordinating with each other during the attack, or they were each conspiring with the same third party. It’s already becoming clear that Trump tried making these demands of the Senate while he was refusing to sign off on sending in the National Guard, meaning he was holding them hostage and blackmailing them. Now it turns out Trump and Giuliani were coordinating this effort.

NBC News, Investigation: Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging march to the Capitol, Laura Strickler and Lisa Cavazuti, Jan. 8, 2021. “At 1 p.m., we will nbc news logomarch to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the voice on the recording, which was obtained by NBC News.

An arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a national group representing the top law enforcement officers in their states, sent out robocalls encouraging people to march to the U.S. Capitol the day before the building was stormed by a pro-Trump mob.

“At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the voice on the recording, which was obtained by NBC News.

The calls, which did not advocate violence or suggest the building should be breached, was sent out by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association. The groups share funding, staff and office space in Washington, D.C.

In a statement to NBC News, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who runs the fund, said the calls were sent out without his knowledge.

“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally,” said Marshall, who assumed his role Nov. 10. “Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions. I have directed an internal review of this matter.”

A website set up to promote the rally that preceded the Capitol incursion lists the Rule of Law Defense Fund as one of the participating organizations. The site has since been taken down.

Adam Piper, the executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and Peter Bisbee, the executive director of the fundraising arm, did not return requests for comment about the robocalls, which were first reported by the watchdog group Documented.

A spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, the chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, said he “had no knowledge or involvement in this decision.”

“Attorney General Carr has been working diligently to determine how this situation occurred and ensure that it does not happen again,” said spokesperson Katie Byrd. “The stance of the protestors was not consistent with Attorney General Carr’s position on election fraud. And, as he has been saying since moments after seeing news break, the violence and destruction we saw at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable and un-American.”

microsoft logo CustomThe Republican Attorneys General Association raised more than $18 million in 2020 from several top corporations, including Pepsi, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase and Comcast, the parent company of NBC News. Its supporters also include interest groups such as the NRA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was its top donor in 2020 with a $750,000 contribution.

nra logo CustomMany companies that donated to the Republican Attorneys General Association also gave to the Democratic Party equivalent. Several told NBC News that spending money on this kind of recruitment for protest runs counter to the purpose of their donation.

Reached for comment, the Chamber of Commerce provided a statement from Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

“We are appalled at Wednesday's incursion into the Capital, and did not support any efforts by the Rule of Law Defense Fund,” he said. “We do not support any similar activities now, and will not in the future.”

A Microsoft spokesperson said: “We condemn the actions taken by the RLDF and are raising our concerns directly with RAGA. Earlier this week, we spoke out alongside others in the business community regarding the violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol.”

A JPMorgan spokesperson said its political action committee donated $25,000 to the attorneys general group and none of it went to the Rule of Law Defense Fund.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account, Nitasha Tiku and Tony Romm, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). “Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote.

Hundreds of Twitter employees demanded in a letter written this week that the company’s leaders permanently suspend Donald Trump’s Twitter account because of his actions surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, calling the company’s response insufficient.

twitter bird CustomIn an internal letter addressed to chief executive Jack Dorsey and his top executives viewed by The Washington Post, roughly 350 Twitter employees asked for a clear account of the company’s decision-making process regarding the President’s tweets the day that a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol. Employees also requested an investigation into the past several years of corporate actions that led to Twitter’s role in the insurrection.

donald trump twitter“Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote. “We request an investigation into how our public policy decisions led to the amplification of serious anti-democratic threats. We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm.”

“We play an unprecedented role in civil society and the world’s eyes are upon us. Our decisions this week will cement our place in history, for better or worse,” the added.

In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Brandon Borrman wrote, “Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees expressing their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them.”

Twitter on Wednesday initially labeled Trump’s tweets about the election as disputed. But a subsequent video from the president — calling for calm while continuing to peddle disinformation — prompted the company to step up its enforcement actions.

Twitter ultimately locked the president out of his account for the first time, requiring him to delete his offending tweets — then wait 12 hours — in order to regain access. That came Thursday morning, and Trump issued his first public comments on the site later that night. Twitter said it would suspend Trump permanently if he continues to break its rules, putting users at risk.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pressured Ga. elections investigator in a separate call that experts say could amount to obstruction, Amy Gardner, Jan. 9, 2021
More than a week before he urged the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the election results, the president urged the state’s chief elections fraud investigator to “find the fraud.

 ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast.

GregPalast.com, Investigation: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator? Greg Palast, Jan. 8-9, 2021. “WE’LL LIGHT THE WHOLE SH*T ON FIRE!”

The star of the GOP’s get-out-the-vote door-knocking program in the Georgia Senate run-off, standing next to Alex Jones, was blasting his threat through a georgia map 2megaphone in front of the Governor’s home. “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”GOP Operative: “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

Ali Alexander’s threat in December would become all too real when he repeated his performance on January 6 in Washington, DC.

In the U.S. Capitol that day, looking over the scene of screams, tear gas, and mayhem, Alexander said, “I warned you this would happen.”

Yes, he did. Nevertheless, the Georgia Republican Party’s Metro Atlanta Field Director Kevin Mason was more than happy to team up with Alexander. With his huge reach within the Alt-Right, Alexander could bring in a swarm of volunteers for the door-knocking campaign they desperately needed to hold back the looming Democratic victory in the US Senate run-offs.

republican elephant logoThe far-right celebrity was the magnet to draw scores of young enthusiasts to a January 3 training session at the DoubleTree Hotel in Roswell, an Atlanta suburb. The Palast Investigative Fund’s photojournalist, Zach D. Roberts, a specialist in white-fringe violence who’d been tracking Alexander’s pitch for mayhem across the nation, signed up.

Roberts, who joined up through Alexander’s website, StopTheSteal.US, was quite surprised to receive instructions, not from the right-wing group, but from Daniel George of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Why would the GOP team up with Alexander, a leader of the Stop the Steal extremists, especially after his well-broadcast warning of violence? The threat was not out of character. There are widely circulated films of Alexander with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. And there is a video chat with Alexander yucking it up with a right-wing jokester holding up a giant flag with a Nazi Swastika flag.

That is, if “Alexander” is his real name. He adopted it after his reported conviction for a felony crime under the name “Ali Akbar.” [See 2012 column excerpted immediately below.]

Alexander is a shapeshifter, sometimes the eye-swiveling crazy, sometimes the dapper guest for Alt-Right podcasts. We cannot link to his most incendiary outlets such as WildProtest.com because they’ve been taken down for inciting violence.

In Georgia, with Alex Jones and Nick Fuentes, a known white nationalist, Alexander hid nothing of his hopes for Washington on January 6. “Either they take Trump, prove that they won or they’re not going to hand them back the country again. We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

To fire up its base, the GOP is apparently willing to cavort with the violence-threatening fringe. The Grand Old Party dismissed Alexander’s warnings. And they also forgot John Kennedy’s warning that “Those who ride the tail of the tiger soon end up inside.”

greg palast logo

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC), shown above, is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits," out as major motion non-fiction movie: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election," available on Amazon and Amazon Prime.

 ali akbar mugshot

Crooks and Liars, The National Bloggers Club And Their Super PAC Friends, Matt Osborne, Co-authored with Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Bill Schmalfeldt, Research assistance by Melissa Brewer, Sept. 12, 2012. Ali Akbar, now President of the National Bloggers Club, is one of the conservative blogosphere's most infamous characters. He began his campaign of notoriety with a crime spree in 2006, blazing a six-year trail of fraud. That's him up there, in the mug shots.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just screwed himself even worse than you think, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. If Donald Trump had behaved during the transition period, he probably could have convinced the judge in his New York criminal trial to let him serve house arrest at Mar-a-Lago, perhaps even let him out on bail completely, while awaiting trial. But now that he’s a documented domestic terrorist threat, the odds of his pretrial incarceration just went up.

bill palmer report logo headerI’d like to thank Donald Trump for doing more to destroy Trumpism this week than I ever could have done on my own. I’d like believe i’ve certainly put a dent in Trump these past four years, but he just took a sledgehammer to his own cause.

Donald Trump’s subreddit has just been banned from Reddit. Do you know how badly you have to screw up in life to get banned from Reddit? YouTube has permanently banned Steve Bannon.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got kicked off Twitter for the THIRD time tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 8, 2021. Shortly after Donald Trump got permanently banned from Twitter tonight, he tried rogue tweeting from the @POTUS account, which is supposed to be for government use. That only lasted about thirty seconds before Twitter cracked down, deleting his rant. Now it’s happened again on another account.

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter has now permanently suspended Donald Trump’s official campaign Twitter account @TeamTrump after he and/or his handlers used it to post the same rant that Twitter had just removed from the @POTUS account. That’s right, Trump has now been kicked off Twitter for the third time tonight.

At this rate Donald Trump’s next move will be to create a new account called “Ronald Trump” and hope that Twitter doesn’t figure out it’s also him. Trump is the dumbest villain of all time, and he’s getting dumber as the night goes on.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting machine firm Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion in defamation claim, Emma Brown, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for havoc it says Powell has caused by spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations, including that Dominion played a central role in a fantastical scheme to steal the 2020 election from President Trump.

For weeks, Powell has claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for former vice president Joe Biden.

dominion voting systemsIn a 124-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion said its reputation and resale value have been deeply damaged by a “viral disinformation campaign” that Powell mounted “to financially enrich herself, to raise her public profile, and to ingratiate herself to Donald Trump.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include Powell, her law firm and Defending the Republic, the organization she set up to solicit donations to support her election-related litigation.

In an interview, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the lawsuit aims to clear his company’s name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election.

lin wood gage skidmorePoulos said he would like the case to go to trial rather than settle. “We feel that it’s important for the entire electoral process,” he said. “The allegations, I know they were lobbed against us . . . but the impacts go so far beyond us.”

Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. L. Lin Wood, left, a lawyer who has worked alongside Powell on post-election lawsuits and who says he is representating her in connection to defamation matters, called the lawsuit an attempt “to censor speech or try to intimidate people from telling the truth.”

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: House Will Vote Monday on Impeachment Resolution, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 9, 2021. House Will Vote Monday on Impeachment webster tarpley 2007Resolution by Democrats Cicilline, Raskin, and Lieu with Single Article Focused on Trump’s Attempt to Steal Georgia Electoral Votes and His Open Incitement to Violent Riot During Electoral Vote Count; Abundant Evidence to Convict and Remove is Already Available on Videotape; 185 Democratic and One Republican Co-Sponsor So Far; Craven Pence and Cabinet of Bootlickers are AWOL on XXV Amendment Duty; Parts of Trump’s Base Attack Him for Cowardice;

In Fading Twilight of His Lost Senate GOP Majority, Moscow Mitch Undermines US National Security with More Dangerous Stalling; Impeachment Even After January 20 is Imperative to Bar the Demagogue from Any Future Federal Office; Right Now, He Must Be Deterred and Dissuaded, Hemmed In, Pinned Down, and Boxed In, with All Circuits Overloaded to Prevent Wag the Dog Attempts; Trump, Who Claimed to Love Cops, Takes No Notice of Murder of US Capitol Policeman;

Decisive Practical Argument for Rapid Second Impeachment is to Keep Trump’s Tiny Fingers Away from Nuclear Button; We Need New Version of Schlesinger-Kissinger 1974 Restraints on Nixon’s Access to Nuclear Launch Codes;

Trump Tweets Finally Shut Down after Fomenting Violence; He Reportedly Reneges on Promise of Peaceful Transfer of Power; Over-Ripeness of Seditious GOP for Extinction is Now Beyond Doubt, but Many of the Deluded Are Dodging the Obvious; Sherrod Brown: Expel Cruz and Hawley!

Fascists Planning More Terrorist Actions in Washington and State Capitals on January 17 and January 19-20; FBI Dragnet Arrests Ringleaders; Grotesque and Infantile Excuses from Rioters: Sovereign Individuals Claim They Were Duped by Antifa Provocateurs!;

More Likely: Private Military Contractors and Espionage Agents of Foreign Enemies; Planned Actions May Have Included Kidnapping, Assassination, or Demolition; Government Computers Were Stolen, Pipe Bombs at DNC and RNC; Were SKIFS Penetrated?

Ossoff and Warnock Await Certification by Georgia Authorities, Who Need to Accelerate Process to Protect Nation; Toomey, Murkowski and Other Senate Republicans Waver; Arrival of Two New Democrats Will Flip Senate, Demote McConnell, and Bring Removal Closer!

Tragic Irony: Magamuffins Are Broken Souls, Reduced by Finance Capital to Desperation and Frenzy, and Deployed for Reactionary and Fascist Purposes.

 

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. surpasses 300,000 daily coronavirus cases, Staff report, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The United States on Friday surpassed 300,000 daily coronavirus cases, the second alarming record this week. The number, which roughly equates to the population of St. Louis, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, comes about two months after the country reported 100,000 coronavirus cases a day for the first time, and one day after more than 4,000 people died from the virus, also a record.

The milestone comes just 65 days after the country surpassed 100,000 infections a day, signaling an explosion of cases as the pandemic rages across the country.

Back in early December when the country topped 200,000 daily cases, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, warned the upcoming winter months could be “the most difficult in the public health history of this nation” due to the strain on the already overwhelmed health-care system.

Redfield’s somber forecast appears to have crystallized on Friday, as the nation reached a record of 303,373 cases in a single day, and it set yet another record of seven-day average cases 244,793 — surpassing Thursday’s average of 228,316, which had been the highest so far, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

The country has reached consecutive alarming records this week. Thursday was the deadliest day since the pandemic started with more than 4,000 deaths reported on a single day for the first time.

Redfield, along with other health experts, has warned the total tally of coronavirus-related deaths in the United States could near 450,000 by February if people didn’t follow precautionary measures such as strict use of face coverings, avoid travel and social distancing.

Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated: Jan. 9, 2021), with some governments reporting slightly lower numbers than the totals covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2here):

World Cases: 89,480,116, Deaths: 1,924,550
U.S. Cases:   22,463,747, Deaths:   378,228 

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: More Than 150,000 Are Fully Vaccinated in the U.S., Staff Reports, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The number reflects those who have been given a second shot, according to a New York Times survey of all 50 states. Here’s the latest on the pandemic.

  • Ukraine, blocked from obtaining vaccines from the U.S., has turned to China.
  • Los Angeles is having its ‘New York moment’ with a harrowing rise in virus cases.
  • Biden pledges action on the pandemic and the economy.
  • False reports of a new ‘U.S. variant’ originated from Dr. Deborah Birx on the task force.
  • More than 17 million people near Beijing are under stay-at-home orders.
  • Iran’s supreme leader bans vaccine imports from the U.S. and the U.K.
  • A religious event in Manila draws thousands, raising concerns that it might become a super-spreader event.
  • A new study traces contagion on an 18-hour flight.

 

Deaths From Pro-Trump Riot

brian sicknick

ny times logoNew York Times, He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Tracey Tully, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The death of Brian Sicknick, above, a veteran and experienced officer, amplified the tragedy of the riots and undermined President Trump’s pro-police claims.

Brian Sicknick followed his Air National Guard unit to Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and a military base in his home state of New Jersey, all in the hopes of one day wearing a police uniform. It was a wish fulfilled more than 10 years ago when he joined the police department tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol.

Then on Wednesday, pro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy, overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.

“Brian is a hero,” his brother Ken Sicknick said. “That is what we would like people to remember.”

The death of Officer Sicknick amplified the nation’s grief in the wake of the shocking attack on the Capitol by rioters, inflamed by President Trump’s calls to stop Congress from counting electoral votes and officially declaring Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of November’s election. One of those rioters, Ashli Babbitt, also died in the melee, shot by a police officer as she tried to push her way into the heavily protected Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House chamber.

In all, five have died since the riot began, though three of them were not killed by hostile action. But the beating of an officer brought waves of condolences from lawmakers in both parties still reeling from the event. It also exposed one of the many contradictions of the Trump presidency in his final weeks in the Oval Office. A president who campaigned as a “law and order” candidate, boasting about his relationships with police unions and demonizing those protesting racist policing, incited a riot that led to the death of a member of the law enforcement community.

“It’s a bunch of” nonsense, William J. Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, said of Mr. Trump’s pledges to the police, though he used a stronger word. “It was a misappropriation of the term ‘law and order.’”

Justice Department officials said during a news conference on Friday that they were investigating the circumstances of Mr. Sicknick’s death, but would not say whether it was a federal murder investigation. One official said that “felony murder is always in play,” but that investigators needed to complete their work.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters, Peter Hermann, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Officer Brian D. Sicknick, below right, brian sicknickcollapsed after returning to his division office and was rushed to a hospital, where officials said he died Thursday night.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history. But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

capitol ties

An as-yet unidentified rioter, center, heavily disguised, invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI focuses on whether some rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they are sifting through evidence to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Dozens have been arrested, and Friday, officials announced charges against an Arkansas man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with a foot on her desk. But investigators also are working to determine the motivations and larger goals, if any, of those who had weapons or other gear suggesting they planned to do physical harm.

FBI logoSome rioters, for instance, were photographed carrying zip ties, a plastic version of handcuffs, and one man was arrested allegedly carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds.

“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” said a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

No photos or videos that have surfaced so far suggest any of the individuals with zip ties tried to take hostages. One possibility being pursued by investigators is that some who burst into the building may be current or former law enforcement officers, or current and former military personnel, people familiar with the investigation said.

Some who participated in the larger pro-Trump protest this week do work in law enforcement.

Chris West, the sheriff of Canadian County in Oklahoma, for example, held a news conference Friday to dispute that he was the person pictured on social media who claimed he was inside the Capitol, according to a Fox affiliate there. West told reporters that though he did come to rally in D.C. as an “individual” and Trump supporter, he never set foot in the Capitol building and thought he was walking from Liberty Square in the direction of the Capitol when the violence began.

A sheriff in Bexar County, Tex., meanwhile, told reporters that one of his lieutenants ­— Roxanne Mathai ­— was under investigation after her Facebook posts appeared to show she was at the Capitol, according to a local ABC station. Mathai has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

rnc logoMany of the initial charges have been for unlawful entry, but authorities also found suspected pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and they arrested the owner of a truck they said was spotted nearby with 11 molotov cocktails inside. The FBI is still searching for the person who left the suspected pipe bombs.

Adding to the investigation’s urgency, Twitter on Friday noted that plans for future armed protests have begun circulating online, including a proposed second attack on the U.S. Capitol and assaults on state government buildings Jan. 17.

Officials cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who broke into Congress, and they said that a key part of their investigation is determining whether any individuals or groups had planned in advance or were coordinating in the moment to commit violence against individual politicians. Others may simply have been caught up in the moment and committed rash, unplanned crimes, officials said.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), The anatomy of a fascist military-police coup in the United States, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 8, 2021. This editor worked for several wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallyears out of the U.S. Capitol complex, attending press conferences, covering hearings, and interviewing members, and got to know almost every nook and cranny.

On January 6, 2021 – truly a date that will live in infamy – armed marauders believing conspiracy theories were able to enter the U.S. Capitol unimpeded by Capitol police.

wayne madesen report logoThe reason was simple. They were aided and abetted in an attempted coup d’etat against the United States by top law enforcement officials of the U.S. Capitol, far-right Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Defense, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), elements within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Park Service and Police, Secret Service, and state-level offices.

The conspiracy to do exactly what was done on January 6 was advertised on social media, from Gab and Parler to Facebook and Instagram.

USA Today via Yahoo News, Florida man photographed carrying Speaker's lectern in Capitol riot arrested by federal marshal, Rich McKay, Jan. 9, 2021. A usa today logoFlorida man photographed carrying U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern from the House of Representative chambers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol was arrested late Friday, according to jail records.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida, was arrested on a federal warrant and booked into the Pinellas County jail Friday night, the records said. No bond was allowed.

Following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, where lawmakers had gathered to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, the FBI had asked the public for help identifying participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet.

Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

Johnson was one of those identified on social media and was identified by the Bradenton Herald as being from Parrish, a community about 25 miles (40 km) south of Tampa.

In addition to the arrest of Johnson, there were at least 13 people facing criminal charges in U.S. District Court in connection to the riot, and at least another 40 people were facing lesser charges in the District of Columbia Superior Court, a local venue.

Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released, with an order from the judge not to return to Washington unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their attorneys.

They included Cleveland Meredith, who was charged with threatening Pelosi as well as possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition, and Richard Barnett, the Gravette, Arkansas, man who was photographed sitting at Pelosi's desk and is also known as Bigo.

USA Today, Fact check: Claims of electoral fraud in Rome, dubbed 'ItalyGate,' are baseless, Camille Caldera, Jan. 8, 2021. The claim: Votes were switched usa today logofrom Trump to Biden at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. At 3:41 a.m. on Jan. 7, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump — an act that marked the formal end of the presidential race, per USA Today.

Nonetheless, some internet users have continued to levy baseless claims about electoral fraud. This week, there were multiple videos posted to Facebook that alleged the vote count was changed in Rome.

Pages like Conversation Controversy and Trump Train News Media shared a 52-minute video in which Maria Strollo Zack explains the theory, dubbed "ItalyGate."

"The theft of the election was orchestrated in the Rome Embassy, on the second floor of Via Veneto, by an employee, Stefano Serafini, foreign service officer of over 20 years," she said. "Stefano Serafini coordinated with a General Claudio Graziano."

"General Graziano is on the board of Leonardo — the defense contractor, Leonardo SPA," Strollo Zack continued. "Leonardo used their military satellite uplink to load the software and transfer it over to change the votes from Trump to Biden."

"ItalyGate" has quickly spread to around the internet. The three videos have amassed a combined 100,000 views and 7,000 shares on Facebook. An interview of Strollo Zack on America Can We Talk? on YouTube has also garnered over 400,000 views.

Conversation Controversy, Strollo Zack, American Can We Talk? have not responded to requests from USA TODAY for comment. Trump Train News Media told USA Today that they are not responsible for the content, since it was sent to the page to share.

Johnson told USA Today that "it’s clear from Italian newspapers this is going on," though he provided no proof.

The claims in both videos on "ItalyGate" are baseless. They are also easily contradicted by statements from multiple federal officials who have found no proof of electoral fraud.

On Nov. 12, a national coalition of election security officials announced that "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," per USA Today.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rampage Weighs on Congressional Staff Members and Capitol Workers, Aishvarya Kavi, Jan. 8, 2021. The violence caused by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday has shaken many who work at the Capitol. And some people of color say the law enforcement response reopened old wounds.

Some huddled in corners of the U.S. Capitol, texting loved ones. Others were glued to their televisions at home as their place of work was overrun by rioters who smashed windows, ravaged offices and tore down American flags, shocking the country.

For many congressional staff members and Capitol workers, in particular people of color, the damage wrought on Wednesday was visceral. It will be a long time before they feel safe again at work, they say, knowing that a building once thought to be among the most secure in Washington could be breached by a mob carrying, among other things, a Confederate flag and displaying anti-Semitic iconography.

“They came into our house with the worst of intentions,” said Tré Easton, a legislative assistant to Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. “You add, on top of that, this open bigotry in what are supposed to be hallowed halls? I don’t know if I can feel safe, just knowing that this is possible.”

The Capitol Police have come under fire for seeming, at times, to offer little resistance to the pro- Trump mob. While some experts defended their actions as prioritizing the protection of lawmakers over the securing of the building, many congressional staff members, along with custodial and food service workers, were left wondering whether they were safe.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Schmitt had ‘no knowledge’ of AG group’s robocall before Capitol siege, spokesman says, Eric Schmitt, Jan. 9, 2021. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt had “no knowledge” of a robocall a group tied to GOP attorneys general sent out ahead of violent clashes at the U.S. Capitol, Schmitt’s spokesman said Saturday.

The Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising entity connected to the Republican Attorneys General Association, sent out the robocalls a day before the siege, NBC News reported, following an investigation by the watchdog group Documented.

The robocall urged people to march to the U.S. Capitol, using phrases such as “continue to fight” and “stop the steal,” Documented reported.

“(W)e will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall said, according to Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Schmitt is vice chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“Attorney General Schmitt absolutely had no knowledge of or involvement in the robocall, and condemns the violence that took place on Wednesday in the strongest possible terms, period,” Schmitt spokesman Chris Nuelle said in a statement.

capitol mob

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump supporter in horns and fur is charged in Capitol riot, Fredrick Kunkle, Jan. 9, 2021. He described himself as a QAnon digital warrior, a shaman and ordained minister, a published author and former YouTube personality and, above all, a huge fan of President Trump.

On Saturday, Jacob Anthony Chansley — a.k.a. Jake Angeli — received yet another identifier: one of more than a dozen protesters federal prosecutors have so far charged with being part of a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

Chansley, 33, of Phoenix, shown above at center, was one of the most distinctive individuals roaming the Capitol Wednesday: Shirtless and tattooed, wearing face paint and sporting a headdress made of coyote skin and buffalo horns (not bearskin, as alleged by authorities), he was photographed flexing near the vice president’s chair in the Senate.

Carrying a bullhorn and a flag-draped spear as he joined a mob of people who forced their way into the building, Chansley said in an hour-long, often rambling interview on Friday that he danced, sang and prayed there, drumming on the floor with his pole “to reclaim our nation.” He denied committing any violent acts.

Chansley said he called the FBI himself — which the agency confirmed in court papers — to acknowledge that he was the person in photographs of the riot. He spoke as he was driving back to Arizona, and he said he was not afraid of arrest.

“I trust in God and I know that I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “And even if I was arrested, wasn’t Gandhi arrested a lot? Wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr. arrested a lot? Wasn’t Jesus arrested? I put my trust in God, not the government.”

Chansley supports the baseless claim that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election. He said he traveled to Washington to strike a blow against what he called the “deep state.” He rejected the idea that his actions could be construed as rioting or insurrection.

 

Biden Transition

 washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, who ran on unity, now leads a party furious at GOP, Annie Linskey, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden, who campaigned on a promise to reach out to Republicans and unite the country, found himself Friday leading a party angrily bent on impeaching President Trump, forcing the resignation of GOP senators and making Republicans pay for their baseless challenge to the election results.

joe biden 2020 button CustomBiden, speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Del., essentially offered a divided response, calling some Republicans “shameful” and praising others for their “enormous integrity.” He said his goal of bipartisanship is, if anything, more achievable after Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, citing Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who he said has talked to him in disgust about the rioters.

“I think it makes my job easier,” Biden said. “We must unify the country.”

He sidestepped questions about a growing drive by House Democrats to impeach Trump, but he strongly suggested that Congress’s time would be better spent tackling his agenda. “What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” Biden said. “But they’re going to have to be ready to hit the ground running.”

washington post logotwitter bird CustomWashington Post, Twitter warns of new plans for violence, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Jan. 9, 2021. The company described a looming “secondary attack” on the U.S. Capitol and state government facilities next weekend.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s who objected to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan and Denise Lu. Here are the eight senators and 139 representatives who voted to sustain one or both objections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chart: Who Joe Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet, Staff reports, Jan. 8, 2020. One of President-elect Joe Biden’s very first tasks will be filling the top positions in his White House and Cabinet. In contrast to President Trump’s notably White and male Cabinet, Biden has promised to be “a president for all Americans” and build a Cabinet that reflects its diversity.

joe biden kamala harrisIn making his selections Biden (shown at right with Vice President Election Kamala Harris) is looking to appease factions of the Democratic Party from moderates to progressives and longtime allies to newer faces. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will also require approval from a Republican Senate, unless Democrats can win two Senate race runoffs in early January.

Once confirmed, they will be instrumental in carrying out his goals and setting the tenor his presidency. We’re tracking the people who Biden has already named and the top contenders for unfilled roles.

  • Washington Post, Biden still planning to be sworn in on the steps of U.S. Capitol two weeks after mob attack, Emily Davies and Matt Viser, Jan. 9, 2021. 

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

ronna mcdaniel djt Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, In Capital, a G.O.P. Crisis. At the R.N.C. Meeting, a Trump Celebration, Jonathan Martin, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Party members at a gathering of the Republican National Committee endorsed President Trump to lead the party forward, despite turmoil in Washington.

In Washington, Republicans were dealing with a burgeoning crisis in their ranks, with high-profile resignations and bitter infighting over how to deal with an erratic and isolated president. But at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting on Friday, most party members were operating in a parallel universe.

rnc logoIn a chandelier-adorned ballroom at the seaside Ritz-Carlton here, there was no mention of President Trump’s disruption of the coronavirus relief package or his phone call to the Georgia secretary of state demanding that he help steal the election, both of which contributed to Republicans’ losing control of the Senate.

And while the R.N.C. chair, Ronna McDaniel (shown above with Trump in separate file photos), condemned the attack on the Capitol, neither she nor any other speaker so much as publicly hinted at Mr. Trump’s role in inciting a mob assault on America’s seat of government.

Even as the president faces a possible second impeachment proceeding, this collective exercise in gaze aversion was not the most striking part of the meeting. More revealing was the reason for the silence from the stage: Party members, one after another, said in interviews that the president did not bear any blame for the violence at the Capitol and indicated that they wanted him to continue to play a leading role in the party.

“I surely embrace President Trump,” said Michele Fiore, the committeewoman from Nevada, where Republicans have lost two Senate races and the governorship since 2016. Ms. Fiore, who was sporting a Trump-emblazoned vest, said the president was “absolutely” a positive force in the party.

The fealty to Mr. Trump was made plain on Friday when the state chairs and the committeemen and women who make up the R.N.C.’s governing board unanimously re-elected Ms. McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chair. They also reappointed her co-chair, Tommy Hicks, who was first appointed to his post because of his friendship with the president’s eldest son.

Mr. Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over the loss of the White House, the House and the Senate in a single term and will be the first since Andrew Johnson to boycott his successor’s inauguration. That hasn’t yet fazed the Republican rank and file.

“This room, they’re in denial, and that’s on the record,” Bill Palatucci, a committeeman from New Jersey, said during a break in the Friday session, acknowledging the “damage done to the country” and the Republican “brand” this week.

But Mr. Palatucci was a lonely voice of dissent, at least in public.

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Senator Josh Hawley, who drew condemnation for challenging the election results, defended his decision, Catie Edmondson Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The day after Josh Hawley became the first Republican senator to say he would indulge President Trump’s demand that lawmakers try to overturn the election, a reporter asked if he thought the gambit would make him unpopular with his colleagues.

“More than I already am?” he retorted.

Even before Mr. Hawley lodged what was certain to be a futile objection to Congress’s certification of the results, the 41-year-old senator — regarded as a rising Republican star who could one day run for president — was far from the chamber’s most popular lawmaker.

His insistence on pressing the challenge after a violent mob egged on by Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol to protest President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, endangering the entire Congress and the vice president in a day of terror that left at least five people dead, has earned him pariah status in Washington.

But while Mr. Hawley’s role in the riot may have left him shunned — at least for now — in official circles, it may only have improved his stock with his party’s djt maga hatbase in his home state, which remains deeply loyal to Mr. Trump.

His fellow Republicans in the Senate lined up to blame Mr. Hawley for the riot. The editorial boards of major newspapers in Missouri accused him of having “blood on his hands” and called on him to resign. His publisher canceled his book deal and his erstwhile mentor called his efforts to get Mr. Hawley elected to the Senate “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”

“But for him, it wouldn’t have happened,” former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri, the Republican elder statesman, told The Kansas City Star of his former protégé’s role in the riot.

Mr. Hawley has remained defiant, arguing Wednesday evening that the electoral count in Congress was the proper venue to debate his concerns about fraud in the balloting, though he never made a specific charge of wrongdoing.

republican elephant logo“I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections,” Mr. Hawley said in a statement. “That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

But many Republicans dismissed his effort as grandstanding intended to further his own political ambitions. Some Democratic senators demanded his resignation. And on Friday, Mr. Biden said that Mr. Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, were part of “the big lie” that had animated Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, invoking Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda.

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Legacy: Voters Who Reject Democracy and Any Politics but Their Own, Trip Gabriel, Jan. 9, 2021. Interviews with voters this week show that President Trump’s subversion of democratic values will have enduring influence within the Republican Party.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Parler Pitched Itself as Twitter Without Rules. Not Anymore, Apple and Google Said, Jack Nicas, Updated Jan. 9, 2021. Google and Apple told Parler, a social network popular with far-right conservatives, that it must better police its users if it wants a place in their app stores.

parler logoParler is one of the hottest apps in the world, a social network that has attracted millions of far-right conservatives over the past year with its hands-off approach to policing users’ posts. And with the news that President Trump had been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, Parler was the odds-on bet to be his next soapbox.

But just as it has been gaining new clout, Parler is now suddenly faced with an existential crisis.

apple logo rainbowOn Friday, Apple told the company that it had to step up its policing of the conversation on its app — undercutting its flagship feature — or lose its platform on iPhones. Several hours later, Google suspended Parler from the Play Store, the main way to download apps on Android devices, until it better polices its app.

In an email to Parler, Apple said it had received complaints that people used the Parler app, which mimics Twitter, to plan Wednesday’s deadly riot in Washington. Apple said it had determined that Parler was not “removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users.”

google logo customA day earlier, John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, had said in an interview with The Times about Wednesday’s melee that he didn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.”

In its letter, Apple referenced his stance and added, “We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users.”

Apple gave Parler 24 hours to comply before the app would be removed from Apple’s App Store.

Google said in a statement that it had pulled the app because Parler was not enforcing its own moderation policies, despite a recent reminder from Google, and because of continued posts on the app that sought to incite violence.

DJT lisa murkowski

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is a game changer, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. Timing is bill palmera funny thing. When Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, above right, called for Donald Trump’s resignation today and threatened to leave the Republican Party over him, we were all instinctively expecting Trump to fire back at her on Twitter. Murkowski surely knew it was coming, and didn’t care.

bill palmer report logo headerBut then the bombshell dropped last night, squarely on Donald Trump’s head. After he was temporarily suspended from Twitter but then misbehaved again after getting his account back, Trump got banned from Twitter entirely – permanently. There are a lot of implications here. One of them is that he never got a chance to fire back at Murkowski. And now he’ll never get to tweet mean retaliatory things about another politician again.

This means that if some Republican Senator wants to unload on Donald Trump going forward, there will be no easy or immediate way for Trump to fire back in retaliation. If Trump can’t harm them in this way, it should make it easier for Republicans to attack Trump whenever they want. Even if some of them only do it for self-serving or backside-covering reasons, the path still just got a lot easier for them.

This is a potential game changer. Any Republican coward who’s spent four years wanting to lash out at Trump, but has been too fearful of retaliation, now gets to take free pot shots at Trump. Let the games begin, if any of these cowards want to play.

Editor's Note: The following reports are drawn from sources not normally cited here but appear to provide more details about deaths during the Capitol rioting than available elsewhere, at least at the time of publication:

 

kevin greeson via parler

MeBere, Kevin Greeson obituary died at riot US Capitol Washington DC, Roni Sianturi, Jan. 9, 2021. The family of an Alabama man who died at the capitol during the violence on Wednesday says he was not involved in the protests, but went to express his support for President Trump.

One of the four (later five) people who died during the U.S. riots on Wednesday was Kevin Greeson (shown above in a photo via Parler and at right), of kevin greesonAthens, Ala. Greeson, 55, was one of three who died of medical problems. Police also shot and killed a woman from California (and a policeman died).

Kristi Greeson emailed a statement to WKRG News 5, the sister station of CBS 42, saying, "He was excited to be there to experience this event-he was not there to engage in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions." His wife says he had a history of high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack. "Our family is devastated."

Related story: MeBere, Kevin Greeson tasering and heart attack, Roni Sianturi, Jan. 8, 2021. He died in the U.S. Capitol after tasering himself mistakenly and getting a heart attack. A pro-Trump crowd marched to the United States Capitol and assaulted it while vandalizing and assaulting police officers.

Outlets say that one of the individuals who died in an emergency probably played a role in their own death. News 1130, as well as other news outlets, claim that [Gleeson] died after mistakenly shocking himself with a taser [in the groin area], which caused him to have a heart attack.

rosanne boyland

MeBere, Woman trampled to death at Capitol riot, Roni Sianturi, Jan. 9, 2021. The woman trampled in the Capitol riots had a flag of 'don't tread me.' When a few rioters started pushing people, Rosanne Boyland, 34, shown above in crowd-sourced photos, was killed in the crush, her friend Justin Winchell said.

"They essentially created a panic, and the police, in turn, push back on them, so people started falling," Mr. Winchell said. "I put my arm under her and pushed her out, and then another guy fell on top of her, and there was just another guy wandering around (on top of her). There were people stacked two-three deep…people just crushed."

Desperately, paramedics attempted to revive her, but were unable to.

Pictures from earlier that day showed her bearing the "Don't tread on me" flag. The so-called Gadsden flag dates back to the American Revolution, but has been co-opted as a means of protesting government interference by conservative groups.

Mr. Winchell, from Georgia, said he did not blame the riot on Donald Trump. "I've never tried to be a political person but it's my own subjective opinion that the president's words incited a riot that killed four of his biggest fans last night and I conclude that we should invoke the 25th amendment at this time," he said.

"Our family is grieving on every level for our country, for all the family that have lost loved ones or suffered injuries, for our own loss."

A legislative mechanism authorizing the cabinet to expel a president if he is found unfit for office is the 25th amendment.

benjamin philips

MeBere, Benjamin Phillips obituary death at Capitol, Roni Sianturi, Jan. 9, 2021. On Wednesday, Ben Philips (shown above at right) rode to Washington in a white van, smiling at the steering wheel as he described the day's significance.

"To be honest, it seems like the first day of the rest of our lives," he said, ready to denounce what he claimed was a stolen election with crowds of other Trump supporters, including a party he brought to Washington from Pennsylvania. "They ought to name Zero this year, because something's going to happen."

After suffering what fellow demonstrators said was a stroke in the nation's capital, Philips, 50, of Bloomsburg, died that day.

Without him, the group of Pennsylvanians he assembled returned on a peaceful, somber ride home, following a violent day when the Capitol building was targeted by insurrectionists incited by President Donald Trump's false allegations of election rigging. One of the four people who died in the chaos was Philips. There's no evidence that Philips himself took part in the Capitol raid.

Philips, a computer programmer who founded a website for Trump supporters on social media and arranged transport for several hundred people, arrived in Washington about 10:30 a.m. with the party.

Honesdale group member Gordy Smith said he and others were calling Philips when it was time to leave and he hadn't arrived. One of those calls was answered by the Washington police, telling them that Philips suffered a stroke and died at George Washington University Hospital.

"They were all shocked," said Smith. "It was a very somber home drive."

Before dawn Wednesday, the party left for Washington, sleepy but happy, from the Bass Pro Shop in Harrisburg and picked up additional passengers in York. A separate van was operated by Philips, trailing behind the bus. He split off to find a place to park once everyone arrived in Washington and the party went to hear Trump talk near the Washington Monument.

"That was the last time we saw him," said Smith.

No one from the Pennsylvania party, Smith said, was with him throughout the day. Police in Washington did not immediately answer requests for more detail about the death of Philips. The department reported that three more people died outside of medical emergencies, including Philips, in addition to one woman shot by police inside the Capitol.

It was a surprising end to a day for the Pennsylvania party, most of whom had met Philips that day, which started out peacefully but turned into a Capitol uprising, with some of them fleeing the region once things became violent.

"The event seemed to be spreading an important message until ignorance began," said David Stauffer, a member of the York party. "As far as I have noticed, those people who broke in did not fit the pattern of the day's protesters."

ny times logoNew York Times, Woman Killed in Capitol Embraced Trump and QAnon, Ellen Barry, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Dave Philipps, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). After 14 years in the military, Ashli Babbitt bought a pool supply company and delved into far-right politics.

ashli babbittAshli Babbitt had been preparing for this day, the day when world events would turn her way. When a discouraged friend on Twitter asked last week, “When do we start winning?” Ms. Babbitt had an answer: “Jan 6, 2021.”

Her name will now be connected to that date, and to shaky footage showing a crowd of rioters smashing glass on the door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol.

At the front of that crowd is the small figure of Ms. Babbitt, wearing snow boots, jeans, and a Trump flag wrapped around her neck like a cape.

“Go! Go!” she shouts, and then two men hoist her up to the rim of a broken window. As she sticks her head through the frame, a Capitol Police officer in plain clothes fires a shot, and she falls back into the crowd. Blood starts pouring from her mouth.

A day after Ms. Babbitt’s death, as part of a mob storming the Capitol amid counting of Electoral College votes, a portrait of her is taking shape.

Ms. Babbitt had left the Air Force after two wars and 14 years, settling near the working-class San Diego suburb where she was raised. Life after the military was not easy. After briefly working security at a nuclear power plant, she was struggling to keep a pool-supply company afloat.

As a civilian, she found herself newly free to express her political views. Her social media feed was a torrent of messages celebrating President Trump; QAnon conspiracy theories; and tirades against immigration, drugs and Democratic leaders in California.

“You guys refuse, refuse to choose America over your stupid political party, I am so tired of it,” she said in a video message posted on Twitter, addressing California politicians. “You can consider yourself put on notice. Me and the American people. I am so tired of it, I am woke, man, this is absolutely unbelievable.”

The people close to Ms. Babbitt have all responded with shock. Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, 39, told a Fox affiliate in San Diego that he had sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting, and she never responded.

Her brother, Roger Witthoeft, 32, said Ms. Babbitt had not told her family that she was planning to go to Washington. But he was not surprised that she would protest.

Her social media accounts suggest that she also, increasingly, embraced the conspiratorial thinking of QAnon, which has asserted that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by an elite Satan-worshiping cabal, and that it was up to ordinary people to reinstate Mr. Trump.

She retweeted a post that promised a violent uprising that would lead to Mr. Trump’s second inauguration.

“Nothing will stop us,” she wrote on Twitter the day before her death. “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours …. dark to light!”

 derrick evans

 West Virginia House of Delegates member Derrick Evans, left, is given the oath of office in December, 2020. Authorities have announced his arrest in the fatal rioting that occurred in the nation's Capitol on Jan. 6 that resulted in five deaths and more than 500 police injured.

WSAZ News, Delegate Evans announces resignation from House of Delegates, Staff Report, Jan. 9, 2021. Delegate Derrick Evans, who was seen on video with rioters going inside of the Capitol Wednesday, has announced his resignation from the West Virginia House of Delegates according to a spokesperson. The Wayne County Republican’s resignation goes into effect immediately.

“Delegate Evans was unfortunately a part of the events this week that threatened what has historically made America a beacon for the rest of the world: the peaceful transfer of power,” said House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw in a statement.

“In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt. In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: The insanity continues, Ron Leshnower, Jan. 9, 2021. Two days after Trump’s seditious mob stormed the Capitol, President-Elect Joe Biden offered a reminder that sane and competent leadership is only days away. After introducing his economic team on Friday, Biden responded to a question about unity: “We need a Republican Party. We need an opposition that’s principled and strong. I think you’re going to see them going through this idea of what constitutes the Republican Party.”

In a democracy, the idea of a political party governing without opposition is not realistic. Nevertheless, the Democrats are poised to hit the ground running and transform the country into something magnificent. As Biden pointed out, this is because the Republican opposition has become both profoundly amoral and, thankfully, weak.

After the riots were quelled, you would think Congress would reconvene to finish the ceremonial job of vote certification. Instead, Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz decided to hold the legislative branch — and America’s democracy — hostage in a different way, keeping everyone up until dawn for a perverse debate over the same seditious objections that led to the violence.

bill palmer report logo headerIn the meantime, Democratic Congressman Andy Kim was on his hands and knees clearing the Rotunda of broken flags and furniture, cigarette butts, body armor, Trump flags, and more. Despite having just endured the tragedy of burying his son the day before, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin showed up to fulfill his role in the peaceful transition of power—only to join colleagues in fleeing for his life. As Raskin later told The Atlantic, “The president is a lethal danger to the American republic and the American people. There has been nothing like this since the Civil War.”

Before the attack began, the Republican Attorneys General Association sent robocalls urging people to join a march that was widely expected to turn violent. “At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal!” the AG group encouraged, according to NBC News. As rioters stormed the Capitol with weapons and zip ties shouting “Hang Mike Pence!” while urinating and smearing their own feces around them, Hawley and Cruz shamelessly sent emails to fundraise off the lunacy.

At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting on Friday, members went on record to insist that Trump was blameless for the attack and claimed he should continue playing a leading role in the Republican Party, according to reporting from The New York Times. Despite the humiliating Republican loss of both the presidency and the Senate, the RNC governing board unanimously reelected Ronna McDaniel as the chair.

Over the next year, Democrats will indeed have an opposition that is neither principled nor strong. As we watch the Republican Party hobble along, splinter, or dissolve, we will know that such are the consequences for a party that has embraced a fascist and spread dangerous lies about the election. Under a Biden-Harris administration and with a Democratic Congress, there is no doubt that America’s best days lie ahead.

New Yorker, An Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate, Ronan Farrow, ronan farrowright, Jan. 9, 2021. ProTrump protesters in the Senate Chamber. As insurrectionists new yorker logostormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building.

Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.

A day after the riots, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, notified the F.B.I. that he suspected the man was retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a Texas-based Air Force Academy graduate and combat veteran. Scott-Railton had been trying to identify various people involved in the attack. “I used a number of techniques to hone in on his identity, including facial recognition and image enhancement, as well as seeking contextual clues from his military paraphernalia,” Scott-Railton told me.

Brock was wearing several patches on his combat helmet and body armor, including one bearing a yellow fleur de lis, the insignia of the 706th Fighter Squadron. He also wore several symbols suggesting that he lived in Texas, including a vinyl tag of the Texas flag overlaid on the skull logo of the Punisher, the Marvel comic-book character. The Punisher has been adopted by police and Army groups and, more recently, by white supremacists and followers of QAnon. Scott-Railton also found a recently deleted Twitter account associated with Brock, with a Crusader as its avatar. “All those things together, it’s like looking at a person’s C.V.,” Scott-Railton said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: These pro-Trump terrorists who invaded the Capitol had inside help, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. We all knew Donald Trump’s goons would gather outside the Capitol. But it was reasonable for us all to expect that they’d be kept outside, and that if anything, they’d skirmish with law enforcement before getting arrested. After all, Trump’s goons are clueless disorganized idiots.

bill palmer report logo headerThese idiots clearly had inside help, and that’s the only reason they got in and any of this happened. Identifying the inside help is absolutely crucial. This isn’t merely some theory. It’s been widely documented by the mainstream media that the Capitol Police removed barriers for the marauders, gave them directions to certain offices, took selfies with them, and ultimately gave them an escort out of the building instead of arresting them.

The only way any of that happened was if certain Capitol Police were plotting with the invaders in advance, or if they were instructed by a higher-up to cooperate with the invaders. The good news is that with an operation this sloppy, and involving this many co-conspirators, and so many of them now having been arrested by the Feds, some of these in-over-their-heads idiots will soon start squawking about why they got the white glove treatment that they did.

BuzzFeed News, These Black Capitol Police Officers Describe Fighting Off "Racist Ass Terrorists," Emmanuel Felton, Jan. 9, 2021. Two Black officers told BuzzFeed News that their chief and other upper management left them totally unprepared and were nowhere to be found on the day.

The first glimpse of the deadly tragedy that was about to unfold came at 9 a.m. on the morning of the insurrection for one Black veteran of the US Capitol Police. But it didn’t come from his superiors — instead the officer had to rely on a screenshot from Instagram sent to him by a friend.

“I found out what they were planning when a friend of mine screenshot me an Instagram story from the Proud Boys saying, ‘We’re breaching the capitol today, guys. I hope y’all ready.’” The officer, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from his superiors, told BuzzFeed News that it was just a sign of the chaos that was to come, which saw officers regularly finding themselves unprepared and then outmanned and overpowered by the mob.

The officer said that while the department’s upper management had been telling them to prepare for Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol like they would for any other protest, that Instagram post sent a clear message: this wasn’t going to be just some kind of free speech protest, this was going to be a fight.

Management’s inaction left Black police officers especially vulnerable to a mob that had been whipped up by President Donald Trump, a man who has a record of inspiring racist vigilantes to action. One of the most defining videos of that day was of one of their colleagues, another Black officer, trying in vain to hold back the tide of rioters who had broken into the building and were hunting for Congressional members.

BuzzFeed News spoke to two Black officers who described a harrowing day in which they were forced to endure racist abuse — including repeatedly being called the n-word — as they tried to do their job of protecting the Capitol building, and by extension the very functioning of American democracy. The officers said they were wrong footed, fighting off an invading force that their managers had downplayed, and not prepared them for. They had all been issued gas masks, for example, but management didn’t tell them to bring them in on the day. Capitol Police did not respond to BuzzFeed News’s request for comment about the allegations made by officers.

andy kim ap photo by andrew harnik

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Al.com, Opinion: The hypocrisy of the GOP is beyond astounding, Anthony Daniels (Member, Alabama House of Representatives), Jan. 9, 2021. Republicans in Congress and across the nation played a direct role in setting the stage for Wednesday’s attempted coup at the United States Capitol. They did so deliberately through an extensive and unrelenting campaign of lies about the election. They repeatedly lied about the results. They lied about fraud. And now they are lying about an act of domestic terrorism.

The last group to storm the U.S. Capitol were British soldiers more than 200 years ago. On January 6, we witnessed a homegrown attack on one of our most sacred institutions and an attempt to overthrow duly elected leaders in favor of a losing candidate. Comparing it to other instances of unrest is a continuation of that disinformation campaign. Calling it anything else is merely a cowardly attempt to avoid responsibility.

mo brooks oThe hypocrisy of the GOP is beyond astounding. It is criminal. Republicans like Congressman Mo Brooks, right, goaded the mob to “start taking names and kicking ass” in the morning, only to try to distance themselves from the “un-American” attacks later that day.

The very people who added gasoline to an explosive situation and lit the match, then hide under their desks when the flames erupted. Talk about cowardly. Talk about un-American. Today, the party of “law and order,” the party that supposedly respects the heritage and time-honored traditions of this nation, incited violent attacks on law enforcement and encouraged the desecration of our seat of government. Congressman Brooks and any who joined him should resign now. If not, they should be removed from all committees or leadership positions.

The peaceful transfer of power every four years is what truly makes our nation great. The attempted disruption of that sacred exchange today reminds us that our Democracy is under attack.

AL.com, SPLC calls for investigation into Alabama AG’s role in Capitol protest, Dennis Pillion, Jan. 9, 2021. The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling for an investigation into the role a group headed by Alabama AG Steve Marshall played in organizing a rally at the U.S. Capitol that turned violent, resulting in five deaths and the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Marshall said earlier this week he has ”directed an internal review” after reports that the policy branch of the Republican Attorney Generals Association -- a branch headed by Marshall -- played a role in organizing and promoting the protests around the U.S. Capitol Building. Marshall said that decisions were made within that group without his authorization but did not specify further.

The SPLC Action Fund issued a news release Saturday saying that the Alabama Ethics Commission and Alabama State Bar should investigate the matter, not Marshall and the RAGA.

“Attorney General Marshall’s account of his involvement in Wednesday’s insurrection is not credible,” SPLC Action Fund CEO and President Margaret Huang said in a news release.

“He’s asking the public to believe that he was completely unaware of his staff’s work to organize the rally and insurrectionist efforts urged by the disgraced President Trump. It appears he is lying to his constituents – the Alabama people – and the American public at large about the outcome of the 2020 election and his role in the failed yet deadly coup.”

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